Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter Biscotti

Here is a great biscotti recipe I came up with the other day. I love a crisp biscotti with a dark cup of coffee. It was snowing outside, so it seemed like the perfect day for baking. My little girl helped me make these, and she loves them. She enjoyed hers with a glass of homemade hot chocolate, and then another with a glass of soy milk! I think the fruit-chocolate-nut mixture would make a great chewy cookie as well.

Winter Biscotti
-2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-3/4 cup evaporated cane juice
-1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
-1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 large organic eggs
-1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts (walnuts would be delicious also)
-1/3 cup dried cranberries
-1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a medium sized bowl just to blend. Using an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, butter, orange zest, and salt until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and slowly incorporate the nuts, cranberries, and chocolate chips.

Form the dough into a 14 inch, 3 inch wide log on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Place the cooled log on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Arrange back on the baking sheet, cut side down. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden and dry, about 15 minutes. Cool completely and store in a large Ziploc bag. So delicious with a good French press of dark organic coffee!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sauteed King Oyster Mushrooms with Cool Weather Herbs and Cream

I found some beautiful King Oyster mushrooms at my farmer's market last week and just had to buy some. Back in my restaurant days I cooked a lot of King Oyster mushrooms glazed in demi glace and cream and finished with chopped parsley and thyme. While quite delicious, they were so rich. With this recipe, I decided to keep some of the decadence with a little half n' half added at the end, but without the huge amount of calories. I used a mixture of terrific cool weather herbs; thyme, parsley, and tarragon. Make sure to add the half n' half at the very end and only cook for a brief second to keep the mushrooms coated.

King Oyster Mushrooms with Cool Weather Herbs and Cream

-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-8 oz King Oyster mushrooms, halved lengthwise if small, quartered if large
-2 shallot lobes, minced
-2 tablespoons of mixed herbs such as tarragon, thyme, and parsley
-1/2 tablespoon butter
-2 tablespoons half n' half or heavy cream
-Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add in the mushrooms. Season with a little salt and saute the mushrooms, stirring or flipping often, until they begin to soften and brown on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the shallot and briefly saute for 1 minute more. Add in the herbs and butter, stir to coat. Add in the half n' half or cream and cook just until the half n' half is warmed through and the mushrooms are coated. Pull off the heat and season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve hot.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Now that I am trying to post again, I have updated the "In Season" list, as well as "My Top Five Farmer's Market Picks". The "In Season" list is a general list of what is available in California. Most everything on it I found at my local market. I am going to try and post 2-3 times a month, at least. My daughter is becoming more independent everyday, so cooking is getting easier again. As much as I love food, I love my daughter more, and I had to let something go for awhile (it had to be the blog). Thanks everyone for coming back!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Carrot-Apple-Fennel Salad with Walnuts

One of my most favorite autumn vegetables (as if they all are not my favorite) is fennel. I think fennel is the best in autumn, even though you can get it year round in mild climates. When raw, it is crisp and refreshing with a licorice like scent and flavor. When sliced paper thin, it's crunch really adds a wonderful texture to salads. My husband and I actually love just plain raw fennel salads dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil and some parsley, delicious! It is also wonderful cooked too. If someone tells me they don't like fennel, I make them some simple roast fennel and they take back their words every time. When cooked, it will lose much of it's licorice like flavor.

In this salad, paper thin fennel slices are combined with sliced apples and shredded carrots for a beautiful, colorful combination. I add raw walnuts for a little nuttiness and extra fat (the walnuts can be toasted, but their omega-3 fatty acids will be damaged in the process). A simple dressing and some fresh herbs is all this salad needs to finish it off. I like to use the fennel's fronds as an herb, so if you buy your fennel with the stalks on, save the fronds for an herb and the stalks for vegetable stock.

This salad is great with any white fish, chicken, or even pork, or along side a tomato chickpea stew.

Sorry, no picture today, the camera is acting up and I can't get it to work. I will post one later if possible.

Carrot-Apple-Fennel Salad with Walnuts

Serves 4-6
 Autumn

-2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
-1 sweet, crisp apple (such as Gala)
-1 bulb fennel, fronds removed and reserved
-2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
-1 tablespoon agave nectar
-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 tablespoon chopped parsley
-1 tablespoon chopped fennel frond
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
-Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Place the shredded carrots into a large bowl and set aside.
Quarter the apple lengthwise and cut out the core. Halve the fennel bulb and cut out the core. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice the apple and fennel thinly and add to the bowl with the carrots. Squeeze 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice over the vegetables and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl whisk together the agave nectar, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, parsley, and fennel frond. Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Add in the walnuts. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice if necessary.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Roasted Autumn Harvest Vegetable and Bulgar Wheat Salad

Autumn is the best time of year at the farmers market, especially here in SLO county. I have to say that September through November are probably the most abundant three months of the entire year, and I feel sorry for whom ever does not take advantage of it. Summer and autumn sort of crash into each other, and it seems like everything is in season. It is amazing to see autumn apples right next to dry farmed watermelons; pumpkins next to bell peppers and green beans; and tomatoes next to collard geens. I LOVE it!!! I have been so busy lately that I feel like autumn is passing me by way to quickly. I have hardly entered the kitchen except to throw something quick together (between teaching night culinary classes, my one year old, and my husband's two businesses, I feel quite swamped). This recipe sort of came out of using up what was left in the fridge before the next mornings trip to the farmers market. I really like it, but I have done bulgar wheat salads before. I love whole grain salads though... they are so easily adapted to any season, are nourishing and filling, and typically quite easy to prepare. Hope you like it!! Oh... and I know I have been using sheep milk feta and goat cheese way too much... I am going to try and incorporate some different cheeses in. It is just that they both are so good, especially with autumn fruits (by far the most unique of the year)!!!

Roasted Autumn Harvest Vegetable and Bulgar Wheat Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
-1 cup bulgar wheat
-1 3/4 cup vegetable stock or water
-1 bulb fennel cut into 1/2" wedges through the core
-1 small orange bell pepper, seeds removed and pepper quartered
-1 small red bell pepper, seeds removed and pepper quartered
-2 portobello mushrooms, sliced into 1 inch slices
-1 red onion, cut into 1/2" wedges
-1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine the bulgar wheat and vegetable stock in a sauce pot. Add a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil, immediately turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook until the bulgar wheat has absorbed all liquid, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Toss cut autumn vegetables with the extra virgin olive oil, a good pinch of salt, and a few grindings of fresh pepper. Pour out onto a baking sheet or tray, and roast in the oven until tender and slightly browned in areas, about 20-25 minutes. Set aside to cool. Rough cut the vegetables into bite sized pieces. In a large bowl combine the vegetables with the bulgar wheat. Finish the recipe as follows...

To Finish
-1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
-1/3 to 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or sheep milk feta
-1/4 cup chopped basil
-Juice of 1 orange
-1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
-2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Toss the bulgar wheat and vegetables with all of the above ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Peruvian Beans with Roasted Peppers, Sheep Milk Feta, and Cilantro

I bought a large bag of Peruvian beans today at the farmers market in SLO. Also known as a Mayocoba bean, this tan, oval shaped bean is similar to a pinto bean in both flavor and texture, and is used quite a bit in Latin American cooking. It cooks up nice and plump, with a creamy texture and good flavor, and it holds it shape perfectly. The beans I bought today were picked and dried just recently, so they took no time to cook, about 40 minutes with no soaking. The older the bean, the longer the cooking time!

I have never worked with this bean before, so I decided to keep it simple. I had a few small red and yellow bell peppers to use up, as well as a bunch of cilantro. I also just bought a very good, very soft and creamy sheep milk feta, and decided to incorporate that as well. The below recipe is what came out, and I really like it! My 1 year old daughter and I ate these beans with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and some steamed and marinated collard greens, all from this mornings market. Autumn is by far the best time of year at the farmers market here on the central coast!

Peruvian Beans with Roasted Peppers, Sheep Milk Feta, and Cilantro
Serves 4 as an entree, 6 as an entree with tortillas

For the Beans
-1 cup freshly dried Peruvian Beans
-1 bay leaf
-1 dried chipotle pepper
-salt to taste

Pick over the beans and discard any pebbles and/or twigs. Rinse the beans well. Place in a large, heavy bottomed pot and cover with four times the amount of water. Add in the bay leaf and chipotle and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, and cook the beans until tender but still holding their shape, about 40 minutes. Add salt to taste and simmer five minutes more. Strain the beans, saving the broth, and discard the bay leaf. If you like heat, mince up the chipotle and add back into the beans, otherwise, discard. Set the beans and broth aside.

To Finish
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 small onion, diced small (about 4 ounces)
-1 small red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
-1 small yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
-1 large clove garlic, minced
-Cooked beans from above
-1 cup bean broth
-1/4 packed cup sheep milk feta
-1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
-salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste
-Lime wedges and fresh tortillas

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add in the onion. Saute, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the diced peppers and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes more. Add in the beans and the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid has reduced to about 2-3 tablespoons. Turn off the heat and stir in the feta and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground white pepper. Serve with lime wedges and tortillas if desired.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rinconada Dairy Pozo Tomme

I want to give a wide, open arm welcome to Rinconada Dairy at the Saturday morning farmers market in SLO. Rinconada Dairy makes one of the best raw sheep's milk cheeses I have ever had. It is called Pozo Tomme,and it is delicious. Rinconada dairy showed up at the SLO Saturday morning market a couple of weeks ago, but I kept forgetting to bring extra money so I could buy a wedge of their fantastic cheese. Well, this week I remembered. The best way to eat this cheese is just as it is, though, this morning dipping it in Stotley's Bee Farm Honey was quite exceptional. Rinconada Farm also brought pasture raised chickens to the market this morning. As far as I know, they are the only local farm raising eating chickens this way. I am bringing even more extra money next week so that I can buy a chicken as well. If you are looking for healthy meats to feed your family, pasture raised and grass fed are the only way to go. Please go to the market and show your support for this great farm, I want them to stick around!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two Great Summer Condiments: Roasted Poblano and Tomatillo Sauce, and Mixed Tomato Pico De Gallo

Here are two great summer condiments to keep in the refrigerator; Roasted Poblano and Tomatillo Sauce, and Mixed Tomato Pico De Gallo. The poblano sauce is great to drizzle over quesadillas or corn crepes filled with black beans and goat cheese, and the pico de gallo is perfect for dipping organic corn chips, to roll into tortillas with avocado, or to eat with eggs. Both are quick to make and stay fresh in the fridge for at least 4 days, though the pico de gallo probably won't be around that long (ours hasn't anyway!). Sorry, no photos, our camera has been broken and we just have not gotten around to getting a new one.

Roasted Poblano and Tomatillo Sauce

-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 yellow onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, smashed
-1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded, and chopped
-8 tomatillos, husks removed, tomatillos chopped
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 cup vegetable stock
-salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add in the diced onion. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes, stirring often. add in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook until the tomatillos are falling apart, about 15 minutes. Puree in a food processor until smooth and season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Mixed Tomato Pico De Gallo

-3 large tomatoes, chopped
-4 small yellow tomatoes, chopped
-2 small orange tomatoes, chopped
-Handful or sun gold tomatoes, quartered
-6 scallions, chopped
-1-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 jalapeno, minced
-2 tablespoons citrus juice
-salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine everything in a bowl and mix. Season to taste with citrus juice, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Let sit at least 15 minutes so the flavors can begin to meld.