Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy BlogDay it BlogDay already?

BlogDay is something new to me. In fact, I just heard about it! BlogDay is the day to share five newly discovered blogs with others, so here are five terrific blogs I've recently discovered:

1. Maison Dorre Trifles : a delightful food blog out of Holland with the most delicious food photos. Check out the delectable White Peach Pie and the Potatoes with Goat Cheese - yum! And, of course, be sure to check out the trifles!

2. Vanesscipes: a friendly new vegetarian blog by Vanessa, who is located in Brooklyn and works at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (I'm jealous!). Another marvelous food photographer with scrumptious recipes. Check out this pizza with a chickpea crust.

3. Spittoonextra a splendid food blog by Andrew from Henley-on-Thames in England. Andrew's stunning photographs and English foods make me wonderfully homesick. One favorite is his rhubarb fool.

4.An Obsession with Food (and Wine) by Bay Area local, Derrick. I exchanged hellos with Derrick at a recent Food Blogger event and then discovered his discriminating blog. Derrick is a highly polished writer with a wonderful talent for describing tastes.

5. Kaji's Mom...A Transition to Vegan: a brand new blog by Kaji's Mom out of Ohio, following the culinary journey of "a vegetarian making the transition to becoming vegan- with occasional anecdotes about her dog Kaji. Here's a tasty post for Vegan Mocha Chip Muffins.

Enjoy and Happy BlogDay to you all!


Tofu with Stir-Fried Pea Shoots

I'd wanted to try pea shoots ever since I had them in dumplings at Yank Sing. I found a bag in our local Asian market and this was my first attempt at pea shoot stir fry.

I'd read you had to stir fry them quickly at very high heat with garlic and add soy sauce at the end. I did this and they smelled wonderfully crisp and fresh and, well, pea-like, as they cooked for about one and a half minutes. I served them over rice with triangles of teriyaki tofu.

The pea shoots were excellent, although some of the stems were too woody to eat, so I'll cut off the stem ends next time. I used two large minced garlic cloves with the pea shoots, but next time I'll double that. I think a little toasted sesame oil would be an excellent companion. I expected the pea shoots to have more greenery, but their crisp pea taste was a welcome addition to my veggie repetoire.

I'd love to hear any pea shoot recommendations/recipes in the comments. And, of course, I'll have to try my hand at pea shoot dumplings. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mushroom & Basil Pizza

This palatable pizza, topped with garlicy mushrooms, truffle cheese, onions, and basil has the thinnest spread of pizza sauce on a boboli thin crust.

Next came a layer of shredded mozzarella. I sauted the onion for about five minutes in olive oil then added a teaspoon of vermouth to the pan to add a caramalized flavor. I then added the sliced mushrooms to the skillet, with a teaspoon of butter and a minced garlic clove. While they cooked for a few minutes (until the mushrooms release their juices), I chopped about ten basil leaves (fresh from the garden) and mixed them with olive oil and salt. I added this to the mushrooms and cooked for about one minute longer. I spread the mushrooms over the mozzarella, sprinkled a few pine nuts, and topped the pizza with shavings of Cacio di Bosco al Tartufo, an Italian pecorino cheese with white truffles.

The result was a delicate tasting, juicy pizza. I loved the truffle pecorino flavor. This cheese would be awesome shaved on top of a salad or pasta (must get more).

Note: You can now click on the photo for a larger version.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Five Foods Everyone Should Try

Susan from Fatfree Vegan tagged me with this meme, started by Melissa at The Traveler's Lunchbox. More of a "joint project," than a meme, the idea is to "create a list of food bloggers' top picks for things you've eaten and think that everyone should eat at least once before they die."

I found it very difficult to limit myself to five foods, but it was fun to mentally review all my food memories, searching for those taste and texture epiphanies.

So here goes:

1. Red Lentil Rice Patties with Cilantro Sauce : This incredible recipe for lentil rice patties made from red Bhutanese rice and red lentils with fragrant cumin, topped with a deliciously green cilantro sauce made with coconut milk and jalapenos from The Healthy Hedonist by Myra Kornfeld was definitely a food epiphany for me.

2. Humboldt Fog Cheese with its twisting river of vegetable ash, Humboldt Fog is an incredible combination of tangy, crumbly, fresh goat cheese, and ousy ripeness together in one phenomenally smooth goat cheese. Made in Arcata in Humboldt County, a product of its unique foggy coastal California environment, Cypress Grove Chevre uses only goats milk that comes from a handful of small, local, pasture-based farms.

3. Squash Blossoms: add beauty to your life by enjoying these succulent flowers. A unique food experience, enjoy them fried, stuffed with cheese, or on pizza.

4. An English cream tea complete with scones with butter, jam, and cream, and cucumber sandwiches with butter, vinegar, salt and pepper. I wish I was enjoying one right now!

5. Gooseberry fool - a lovely English summer dessert made from tart gooseberries and heavy cream.

While there's no pressure if you don't want to participate, I'm tagging these folks 'cos I'd love to know their five choices:

  • Tofu from What the hell does a vegan eat anyway?

  • Melody from Melomeals

  • Christine from Christine Cooks

  • Jenniferschmoo from Vegan Lunchbox

  • Dori from The Bakehouse

  • And anyone else who wants to add their say to the joint project!

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    More Vegetable & Tofu Steamed Dumplings

    The last batch of steamed dumplings were so delicious, I decided to make some more: this time with tiny slabs of firm silken tofu with broccolini and minced garlic

    Baby spinach leaves gently tossed with sesame oil and soy sauce with minced ginger, and halved sugar snap peas.

    I actually did a variety of mixture using the basic ingredients listed above, plus chopped scallions. Here they are steaming away:

    I enjoyed them with soy sauce and seaweed salad (purchased at a fancy grocery store's sushi counter):

    They were all delicious!

    Here's my favorite combination: snap pea, tofu, and spinach:

    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    Corn Tortillas with Refried Beans, Grilled Veggies & Avocado Salsa

    Delicious warmed corn tortillas, spread with refried beans, then piled high with grilled zucchini, peppers, and onion, and topped with a fresh homemade salsa of heirloom tomatoes, avocado, red onions, jalapenos, and cilantro.

    This healthy meal incorporates a number of ideas I picked up from perusing the book Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss, namely "double the vegetables" (actually a recommendation for eating out), and for three weeks of his six week program, Dr. Hyman forbids dairy (look Ma, no cheese!), wheat, and gluten to clear the slate on potential allergies. While I don't plan on following Dr. Hyman's diet (it isn't vegetarian), it did get me thinking. Would I feel better if I cut out wheat? (I've never tried it.) While giving up dairy isn't going to happen for me, I'm definitely interested in moving towards less reliance on cheese for protein (and taste).

    I have to say I was surprised I didn't miss the sharp cheddar I would normally have grated over this dish. I realize, much as I love the taste of cheese, it covers up the taste of other things. The sprouted corn tortillas were fabulously fresh tasting, the roasted peppers and tomatoes were juicy and flavorful, heck, even the refried beans tasted good without the cheese!

    And, although it seemed like a huge plate of food (and I ate the lot), I didn't have the weighed down feeling. In fact, I felt energized.

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    Apricot Bars

    These juicy and oaty apricot bars make a fabulous breakfast or the perfect healthy snack for picnic, beach, or home! I found the recipe on, but added dried apricots that I had tenderized by boiling in water for 5 minutes and then chopped to the apricot jam filling.

    I love apricots and I've seen some gorgeous apricot recipes on food blogs in the last month. I have to admit, apricot recipes have had a particularly tantalizing effect on me this summer, mostly because our tree has produced no apricots this year. Yep, zero!

    While I've grabbed a few mediocre apricots at the farmers markets, I have to admit, its not been a good apricot year here. Happily, this delicious recipe hits the spot using jam and dried apricots (optional).

    Here's a few of those gorgeous apricot goodies that have been inspiring me:

  • Apricot Muffins from Spittonextra

  • Apricot Cakes from La Tartine Gourmande

  • Fresh Apricot Tart from Cream Puffs In Venice
  • Monday, August 21, 2006

    Off to the Beach

    We're off to the beach for a couple of days. Happy summer!

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    Vegetable & Tofu Steamed Dumplings

    These steamed dumplings, filled with tofu and veggies, were phenomenal! Filled with a mixture of cabbage, carrots, cilantro, tofu, red pepper, ginger and onion with sesame oil and hoisin, they were packed full of healthy flavor while being fabulous tender mouthfuls. I ate them simply, dipped in soy sauce.

    I sort of followed this Alton Brown recipe on the Food Network, but as this was lunch for one, I significantly decreased quantities (I made 10 dumplings and ate them all!) I'm easily intimidated by fiddly recipes, so sealing the dumplings was a challenge. Mine were understuffed, although I didn't realize this until after I steamed them. Still, had I realized how easy and quick they were to prepare, I'd have made these a long time ago. I was pleasantly surprised at how close they were to dumplings I've eaten in restaurants.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    Salad Days

    With hubby away on a trip, I am faced with the freedom of not having to cook a substantial supper. So it's salad all the way on this glorious sunny evening - yep, two salads for dinner.

    The first (above) is an heirloom tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad, also know as a caprese salad, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

    The second, a simple Caesar salad with crunchy croutons and plenty of grated Parmesan.

    So where does the term "salad days" come from?

    "My salad days,/ When I was green in judgment, cold in blood."
    — Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare

    The great thing about salad for dinner is that you still have room for a pretty dessert:

    Delicious fresh figs with Mt. Tam Cheese!

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Garlicy Mushrooms with Pasta , Parsley & Pine nuts

    Garlicy mushrooms are the main attraction in this simple pasta dish. Green parsley adds leafy texture and that attractive speckled look and toasted pine nuts add crunch. To make this simple dish special, I topped it with Piacentinu di Enna, a lovely Italian cheese, made from sheep's milk, yellowed with saffron, and studded with black peppercorns. A dry cheese with a mild flavor, until you hit a hot peppercorn - pow!

    All the nutritional guides say the same thing: eat as many mushrooms as you can 'cos they're so good for you. Happily, I like them raw, simply as they are or sliced in a salad. But, in the many cookbooks I've been reading, I note a lack of interesting recipes for plain white mushrooms (vs. portobellos or fancy wild etc). All the recipes seem to have the same partners: walnuts, red wine, tomato sauce, cream, blue cheese. So, I invite your comments on your favorite partners or dish for the humble white mushroom.

    Of course, garlic is an excellent partner!

    Garlicy Mushrooms with Pasta , Parsley & Pinenuts

    6-8oz pasta
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1/2 onion, finely chopped
    2 large garlic cloves, minced
    8 oz white mushrooms, wiped and sliced
    2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
    1 tbsp pine nuts
    1 tsp truffle oil (optional)
    s & p
    cheese & chives to top (optional)

    While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion gently for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are browned and have released their juices. Add the parsley and pine nuts and cook 2 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the skillet with the truffle oil, stirring gently until the pasta is evenly covered with mushrooms and parsley. Season and serve topped with cheese and snippets of chives.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Russian Tea Cookies

    Everyone loves these buttery, homemade Russian Tea cookies! Their old-fashioned goodness is irresistible and these crumbly and jammy gems make the perfect partner for a nice a cup of tea.

    The recipe comes from Mrs Fields Cookie Book, which is filled with tasty looking recipes, but I always seem to end up making these ones.

    Russian Tea Cookies (adapted from Mrs Fields Cookie Book):

    1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
    1/2 cup confectioners' (icing) sugar, sifted
    2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1/4 tsp salt

    Your favorite jam(s) for topping

    Preheat the oven to 325. With a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the vanilla extract and blend until fully incorporated. Combine the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until combined (the dough will be thick but moist).

    Lightly grease a baking tray. With your hands, take out about a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten it slightly and place it on the baking sheet. Use your finger or thumb to make a small round depression in the center of the cookie. Place cookies about an inch apart. Fill the depression in each cookie with your jam of choice. Bake until light golden, about 15-20 minutes. Allow them to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before removing (they are deliciously crumbly).

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Sweet Potato Soup

    This warm and light sweet potato soup with carrots, cauliflower, red lentils, and red peppers was the perfect lunch dish now the winds are suddenly blowing cooler here and we are sleeping cozy under our duvets and wearing long sleeves. I haven't thought about hot soup for a while and this refreshing and tasty soup was a welcome return. The broth is very delicate, mostly water with bouillon and the spices included garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander.

    I have been guilty of ignoring the sweet potato, despite its excellent nutritional reputation, because it makes me think of overly sweet dishes. This soup really showed off the potato's slightly sweet taste, along with fellow sweeties: carrots and red peppers. The white crunch of tiny cauliflower florettes provided a nice visual and textural contrast and topping the soup with snipped cilantro beautifully highlighted the delicate spices.

    Sweet Potato Soup

    1 tbsp olive oil
    1/2 large onion, chopped
    1 large garlic clove, chopped
    1' piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
    1 med. sweet potato, peeled and cubed
    5 small thin carrots, sliced
    1 med. red pepper, seeded and sliced into 1 " slivers
    1 vegetable bouillon (I used Massel Vegetarian Chicken, an Australian brand)
    4 cups water
    2 tbsp red lentils
    1/2 cup tiny cauliflower florettes
    salt & pepper

    Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onion, covered, for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, sweet potato, carrots, and red pepper and cook for 4 minutes longer, covered. Dissolve the bouillon in 3/4 cup hot water and add to the other ingredients, along with the balance of the water. Add the red lentils and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt & pepper and cauliflower and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Check seasoning and serve with chopped cilantro.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Vegetable Fried Rice with Chinese Long Beans

    This healthy vegetable fried rice was very heavy on the fresh veggies, particularly Chinese long beans. I also included Savoy cabbage, yellow zucchini, mushrooms, sliced red pepper, and large cubes of extra firm tofu.

    The Chinese long beans, trimmed and cut in half in the skillet above, are also known as yardlong beans or dow gauk. Related to black eye peas, I found these at the farmers market and now wished I bought the lovely purple ones too! Beans are high in Vitamins A, C, and K, manganese, potassium, and iron, and good providers of dietary fiber. This toothsome, satisfying meal is my contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food).

    I fried a little chopped white onion and a minced garlic clove in a little olive oil, then added the red pepper and mushrooms and sauted for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms started to release their juices. I steamed the Chinese long beans, cabbage, zucchini, and tofu for a few minutes, before adding them to the onion mix along with less than a cup of cooked rice, 1-2 tbsp sesame oil, a little ginger juice, a little rice wine vinegar, and 1-2 tbsp soy sauce. I stir fried all ingredients over medium heat for about 5 minutes before serving. Yum!

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Yank Sing Dim Sum

    I enjoyed a wonderful (and expensive) dim sum lunch at Yank Sing in San Francisco this weekend. Most of my photos didn't come out well, but I wanted to share the above: Stuffed Tofu wrapped with seaweed. The tofu inside was minced with seasoning and mushrooms - yum!

    I also enjoyed the pea shoot dumplings, green onion pancakes, Chinese Broccoli, and the spicy green beans:

    The atmosphere and service was excellent and the dim sum was really delicious. That said, I was stunned at the cost of the meal. The two of us did choose dishes with relative abandon, and there were a couple of beers, but $90 still seemed like a lot (and I was hungry again by 5pm!). I think of dim sum as inexpensive food. I'd definitely return to Yank Sing for a special occasion (which, happily, this lunch was), but plan to head back to Ton Kiang for great dim sum that meets my budget.

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Olive & "Ham" Loaf

    Here's an elegant and simple recipe for a vegetarian Olive and "Ham" Loaf. Perfect picnic and weekend getaway fare, this rich bready loaf, studded with chopped olives and "ham", is made ahead of time and served cold with your favorite salad items.

    The recipe comes from Paris Boulangerie Patisserie: Recipes from Thirteen Outstanding French Bakeries, this one created by Chef Claude Moreau of Stohrer. I substituted Yves Veggie Canadian Bacon for the diced ham in the original recipe and cut the 7/8 cup of olive oil to 1/2 cup. With the whopping 7/8 cup, I found this bread too oily, but, although much drier with just 1/2 cup, the bread remains moist and even suggests a topping. I also cut back on the quantity of "ham", cheese, and olives and was very happy with the tasty result.

    This loaf, being filled with fatty goodies, is substantial enough to build a meal around. It has a nice fruity flavor from the wine and vermouth. I will definitely play with other fillings: my thoughts - Mexican version with jalapeno and cheddar and cilantro, asparagus and mushroom, perhaps. The Gruyere flavor was barely detectable - I can imagine feta and black olives being very good.

    Olive & "Ham" Loaf (adapted from Paris Boulangerie Patisserie: Recipes from Thirteen Outstanding French Bakeries):

    2 cups of flour, less 2 tbsp.
    2-1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup white wine
    1/2 cup dry vermouth
    4 eggs, beaten
    1/2 cup olive oil (original recipe calls for 7/8 cup)
    4 slices of Yves Canadian Bacon, diced (original recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups diced ham)
    1 cup Gruyere, grated (original recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups)
    3/4 cup green olives, chopped (original recipe calls for 1-1/4 cups)

    Preheat your oven to 350. Blend the flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add the wine, vermouth, and eggs to a well in the center and mix until incorporated. Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time, making sure the oil is blended in before each addition. The dough will be smooth and shiny. Add the grated cheese, "ham", and chopped olives and blend just until incorporated.

    Grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan and pour in the batter, using a spatula to scrape all the batter into the pan. Bake for 50 minutes, until a tester comes clean in the center and the crust is pleasantly browned. After 5 minutes, use a sharp knife to cut around the edges of the loaf to loosen. Wait 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and allow to completely cool.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Squash Blossom Pizza

    Go ahead, give me grief for posting another pizza recipe! The great thing about pizza is ... variety! Heck, people eat sandwiches everyday, don't they?

    The truth is, I have a bit of a crush on squash blossoms right now. I love discovering new veggies and, well, I have squash blossoms on my mind. Particularly, on my pizza mind, especially since Catherine over at Food Musings raved about Coco500's squash blossom flatbread. So Catherine was kind enough to provide a description of the pizza and I then took a few liberties to create the yummy pizza you see above.

    I took a Trader Joe's plain pizza dough, covered it with grated mozzarella, and baked at 450 for 5 minutes. I then added the squash blossoms, which I had lightly sauted with olive oil and minced garlic, and slivers of Cowgirl Creamery's Mount Tam cheese. I baked the pizza for 5 minutes more, then drizzled it with Trader Joe's Black Truffle Oil and sprinkled it with sea salt.

    I loved this pizza, particularly the just-right-garlicy succulent squash blossoms. The truffle oil added depth without too earthy a taste. I chowed victoriously, until hubby said he loved the pizza except for the gummy squash blossoms. Gummy? To me, they were tasty and succulent - gorgeous! I happily took the last squash blossom from his pizza and feasted upon it.

    I served this fab pizza with sliced Heirloom tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Perfect.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Portobello Pizza

    I bought two perfect large portobello mushrooms from the farmers market and knew exactly what to make: Portobello Pizzas. The juicy portobellos play the crust for this scrumptious pizza, topped with pesto, pesto jack, a thick slice of organic Heirloom tomato, mozzarella, pine nuts and basil.

    My photos were very disappointing - it was so hot today, we ate late, and the light was fading when it was time to photograph, so my sliced side views were all blurred. Despite the photo, the taste was top notch and this is my new favorite way to stuff portobellos.

    I found this basic recipe at Whole Foods. What I like about this recipe is that the mushrooms are grilled, so there was no hot oven adding to the inside heat.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Sesame Rice Salad with Peas & Carrots

    Rice is the perfect mindful food: how can you not pay attention to those tiny toothsome grains? can you avoid noticing your connection to all the other people in the world who are also about to enjoy a bowl of rice?

    Rice is such a gentle food, it's my first choice when I feel in need of comfort. Just looking at those perfect little grains calms my mind. I always feel grateful for a bowl of rice.

    Eating this Sesame Rice Salad with fresh organic peas and carrots and a dressing of sesame oil and rice vinegar felt good - good for the body and soul.

    Sesame Rice Salad with Peas & Carrots

    I-1/2 cups cooked rice, cooled
    2/3 cup fresh peas
    1/4 cup sliced baby carrots
    1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
    1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
    1 tsp soy sauce

    Combine the rice, carrots, and peas in a bowl. Whisk together the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce until blended. Pour dressing over rice and mix gently.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Zucchini & Mushroom Pizza Topped with Squash Blossoms & Pine Nuts

    Another scrummy pizza! This time I used pesto as my base on Trader Joe's plain pizza dough and added garlicy grilled zucchini, sliced mushrooms, Heirloom tomatoes, and mozzarella. I topped the pizza off with strips of my last two squash blossoms, a little torn basil, and pine nuts.

    The squash blossoms looked pretty, but were overwhelmed taste-wise by the other ingredients. That said this was a succulent summer pizza that hit the spot. Next time, perhaps, I'll top a pizza with a crowd of lightly sauted julienned blossoms. Suggestions welcome!

    Anyway, this veggie-laden pizza is this week's juicy contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food).

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Fried Squash Blossoms with Garlic-Cheese Filling

    These fried squash blossoms, stuffed with a garlic-cream cheese filling, were exquisite, mouthwatering, unbelievable. With their crisp masa harina batter, they were my first taste of this fragile delicacy. Fresh from this morning's farmers market and cooked for lunch, this dish really had a California gourmet taste.

    The squash blossoms, or zucchini blossoms, are literally the beautiful orange flowers of the zucchini or other small squash plants.

    They have a very light zucchini-like taste. I had never heard of squash blossoms until I went to Coco 500, where they had a Squash Blossom Flatbread with truffle oil, creme fraiche, and sea salt on the menu. I didn't try their pizza, but was intrigued by the main ingredient. So when I saw a lovely basket of squash blossoms at the farmers market ($4), I couldn't wait to try them. Which is lucky, because squash blossoms really need to be used as soon after they're harvested as possible or they go bad.

    I followed this recipe by Laurel Miller, except for the filling, I simply mixed cream cheese with a minced garlic clove and some chopped chives and oregano from the garden. I also fried several just with the masa harina batter and left out the cheesy filling. These were also delicious and really allow you to appreciate the blossom's subtle flavor.

    I might try a light, smoky chile cheese filling next time. Dipping the fried blossoms in salsa balanced out the richness of cheese and batter perfectly.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Fiorentine with Garlic-Herb Butter, Tomatoes, & Mt. Tam.

    Simple. Pretty. Delicious!

    Gotta love herb butters. They're so easy to prepare and make plain pasta a treat!

    For this dish, all I did was microwave soften 1-1/2 tbsp butter (10 seconds). Mashed in a minced clove of garlic, and fresh chopped herbs from the garden (basil, chives, and parsley), and added to my cooked and drained pasta - in this case pretty Fiorentine. Topped with some chopped yellow and red farmers' market tomatoes, a sprig of basil, and slivers of the incredible Mount Tam Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and I'm in heaven!

    Mount Tam is our local Marin landmark and if you're not familiar with it, here's how it looks from our backyard on a good evening:

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Green Thai Curry with Tofu

    I wish I'd made more of this tangy Green Thai Curry with sweet potato leaves, green beans, broccoli, and Savoy cabbage with tofu because hubby and I scarfed down the lot and still wanted more!

    I really love sweet potato leaves. I steamed them this time, along with the other veggies:

    I love the way the leaves look as well as they way they taste - aren't they striking?

    The leaves were deliciously complemented by the coconut and lemon grass curry sauce, which came (conveniently) from Trader Joe's:

    This sauce, like the Indian T.J's simmer sauces, is very tasty. However, unlike the other sauces, this one is very high in fat (15 g per 1/4 cup - ouch!).

    I served the curry over jasmine rice - scrummy!

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Got Nachos?


    Here's another happy way to use that Cheese-Jalapeno sauce!

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Greek Pizza

    Alternating slices of juicy yellow and red tomatoes, slivers of red onion, salty black olives, smoky eggplant, and plenty of tangy feta combined flavors and textures to create this luscious Greek Pizza!

    And that's basically the recipe! Except I did have a couple of secret ingredients, both by a local Marin Gourmet company, Affi's. Affi's sell their wares at our local farmers markets and better grocery stores. I used both their smoky Eggplant Pesto and Pesto Provence (a roasted pimento pesto) on the base of my Trader's Joe's prebaked pizza crust. Added the veggies as above and some grated mozzarella hold it all together and baked at 450 for 9 minutes.


    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Farfalle with Golden Beets and Gorgonzola

    This pretty farfalle pasta dish with golden beets and Gorgonzola was the best beets dish I've ever tasted!

    The secret was caramelizing the onions with a little vermouth and then saying, "Hey, why don't I add a little more vermouth when I combine the beets to remove any bitterness." And, then, heck, having added a little butter and vermouth, I might as well add a little half-and-half when I add the pasta. The result tasted delicious, but was a little too yellow. Happily, a little chopped watercress in addition to the watercress garnish highlighted the blue veined Gorgonzola and made this look as good as it tasted.

    Goat cheese is often used in combination with beets, but on a taste test, I found it too creamy and mild. Salty Gorgonzola really hit the spot. I imagine feta would be awfully good too.

    So what else is fabulous about this dish? It's certainly fancy enough to prepare for guests and extremely economical! And using golden beets, you won't be sitting up at the table looking like Lady Macbeth. Gotta love that!

    Farfalle with Golden Beets & Gorgonzola

    5-6 small -medium golden beets
    1/2 onion, sliced very thinly
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tbsp butter
    1-2 tbsp vermouth
    1 oz Gorgonzola, slivered
    1-2 tbsp half-and-half (I didn't measure - use your own judgment)
    1 tbsp chopped watercress
    salt & pepper
    watercress to garnish

    6oz farfalle

    Scrub the golden beets and cut off the stalks leaving the tails intact. Steam the beets until very tender.

    Heat the oil in a skillet and start cooking the onions over lowest heat. Start boiling water for the pasta.

    When the onions are soft (10 mins), add a drop of vermouth and cook until the liquid is absorbed. While the onions are cooking, peel and slice the beets and cut slices in half. Cook the pasta. When the onions are cooked, add the beets to the pan with a little vermouth, butter and salt and pepper. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the beets with half-and-half. Cook for a 2-3 minutes and add the chopped watercress and shavings of Gorgonzola. Turn off the heat and stir until well combined. Serve with a sprig of watercress and crumbs of Gorgonzola.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Steamed Cabbage, Edamame, & Snap Peas with Tofu, Avocado, and Peanut Sauce

    In this week's green-themed contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food), we have cabbage, edamame, snap peas, and avocado. The veggies were steamed with tofu (not the avocado, of course), drizzled with spicy peanut sauce, and topped with sliced avocado and black and white sesame seeds. Not only did this dish taste great, it's full of good health!

    Did you know cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin C and can help protect you against cancer? Edamame, a.k.a. soybeans, provide a ton of protein and lower your cholesterol, unlike most protein sources. And sugary snap peas, a cross between peas and snow peas, have lots of Vitamin K to keep your bones strong, as do avocados.

    The quick peanut sauce recipe comes from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I've been making this sauce for years and even have it tabbed so I can find it quickly. It's super easy and very tasty and turns a few veggies into a meal!

    Quick Peanut Sauce (adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone):

    3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
    2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
    1 tbsp chopped cilantro
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 tsp soy sauce
    1/2 tsp chile oil

    In a rounded edge saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook over lowest heat, stirring constantly. As it starts to dry out, add water to achieve your desired consistency (I like it quite liquidy). Remove from the heat and serve over veggies and tofu.