Autumn Salad with Pomegranate, Fuji Persimmon, Strawberries and Nuts

early autumn salad

I make this salad in early Autumn, when Pomegranates and Fuji Persimmons are appearing and there are a few decent strawberries left. As the season progresses, you may not find the strawberries, but the sweetness and fall colors of the persimmons and Pomegranate seeds still brighten this salad. I added a handful of raw shelled pistachios and sliced raw almonds for delicious flavor, texture and protein. Throw them together with mesclun (mixed lettuce greens) or baby spinach. It’s fine undressed or with a bit of blue cheese dressing.

Agua fresca del melón -Fresh Melon Drink

agua de melon                                  agua de melon honeydew

This refreshing natural beverage is a perfect compliment to spicy Mexican food. I add no sugar or sweeteners to mine, using a ripe sweet melon and water only. This is wonderful with any kind of firm melon, such as cantaloupe or honeydew. This is similar to agua de sandia.

melon

I large melon

4 cups water, or 3 cups water, 1 cup ice

If you make this the night before your party, you only need to add water and refrigerate. Stir before serving, as the beverage will separate.

Wash melon well.Cut melon in half and scoop out seeds. Scoop out melon fruit and fill the blender, then add 2 cups of water for each blender quart. Blend on high until fruit is liquified. I think it’s sweet enough with just the ripe fruit, but you can add a bit of sweetener if you like.

Yams on the barbie

grilling yams

My friend Randi introduced me to grilled yams and they were delicious! I tossed mine with butter and cinnamon for a sweet fragrant richness and and they were a hit! Easy to make and a healthy side dish for your next barbecue party.

For each large red garnet yam, use 1 Tb melted butter and several shakes of cinnamon.

Select oval red garnet yams. Slice them about 1/2 inch crosswise (discard ends) and place in a bowl large enough to toss with the butter. Melt the butter and pour over yams. Sprinkle in cinnamon and toss until each yam is coated with butter and cinnamon.

Roast over a medium flame until soft. grill marks will show. Serve warm. I kept them in my oven in a metal bowl under low heat until the rest of the barbecue dishes were ready. They filled the kitchen with a delicious fragrance.

serving yams

 

Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower and Broccoli

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This version of the classic comfort food gets heat from cayenne, white pepper and dry mustard, and sharp flavor from extra sharp cheddar and Parmesan, and a kick from the Chardonnay. I add cauliflower which is good on its own with the cheese sauce, and if you like, broccoli for extra color.
Preheat oven to 375◦

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Serves 10

½ large onion or 1 small onion, chopped
1 large head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 Tb butter
Melt butter in heavy frying pan. Chop onion and stir into butter over medium-low heat until soft. While the onions are cooking, slice cauliflower and broccoli and cut into flowerets. Stir into onion mixture and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower in the oven and add to the onions and broccoli. I use a food processor with a grater attachment to grate the cheese.
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tsp salt
Boil a large pot full of water. Stir in salt and macaroni and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain. Pour back into the pot. Stir the cauliflower and broccoli into the macaroni.

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roux:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
a few shakes cayenne to taste
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups milk (I use 1%)
¼ cup dry white wine such as chardonnay
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until it makes a thick, smooth paste. Cook the roux for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in one cup milk until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the milk. Stir in cayenne, mustard, bay leaf, salt and white pepper. Cook this béchamel sauce for 15 minutes, whisking constantly. Turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Whisk in grated cheese until fully incorporated in sauce. Stir in ¼ cup wine. Adjust salt if desired.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and vegetables and stir until it is well combined. Spray a large casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole.

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Bake at 375◦ for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Champagne-Shallot Vinaigrette

saladThis light vinaigrette is perfect to toss into salad greens and arugula. I sprinkle a few strawberries, blueberries, feta cheese and sliced almonds over the coated greens.

Champagne vinegar is a light golden, mild vinegar made from Chardonnay grapes aged in oak barrels. It can be expensive, but the Berkeley Bowl brand is a good deal. I’ve generally avoided salad vinegars because of their strong acidity. But  just ½ tsp honey is needed to balance the acidity of the champagne vinegar in this dressing. Since I don’t like the sharpness of fresh raw garlic, I prefer to get the garlic flavor from garlic olive oil. I used a shallot, which is milder than an onion.

Makes ¾ cup, which is enough to sprinkle on about 6 large or 10 small salads. Refrigerate leftovers and use within a week.

vinaigrette ingredientsIngredients:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tb minced shallot
3 Tb champagne vinegar
½ tsp honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
a few grinds of black pepper
1 Tb garlic oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

champagne vinaigretteIn a small bowl or blender, whisk together all ingredients except oils. While blending or whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a stream until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Chicken and Bell Peppers with Black Bean Garlic Sauce

???????????????????????????????I made this dish for Chinese New Year. The red and green bell peppers made it so pretty.  I used Lee Kum Kee brand black bean garlic sauce which is made from soy sauce, fermented black beans, garlic, water, sugar and salt. It gave a recipe on the jar for this dish, which I dressed up with scallions and Serrano chili.

???????????????????????????????Serves 4

1 Tb canola oil

3 half-breasts chicken (1 ½ breasts)

1 large red bell pepper

1 large red green bell pepper

1 Serrano chili pepper

½ bunch scallions (green onions)

3 Tb black bean garlic sauce

½ tsp sugar

soy sauce to taste

Mince chicken into bite-sized pieces. Remove seeds and ribs from peppers. Slice bells julienne-style into thin pieces, and then slice into 1inch lengths. Mince Serrano finely. Discard roots from scallions, and then slice into small pieces.

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Heat oil in a wok or large heavy frying pan. Add chicken, peppers, garlic sauce and sugar. Stir constantly for five minutes. Add scallions and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add soy sauce to taste. Serve over brown jasmine rice.

Punjabi-style Potatoes and Cauliflower

potatoes in panMy colleague Purva told me a version of this vegetarian recipe made by her mother, who comes from the Punjabi region of India. Purva says onion, ginger and garlic are the base of Indian cooking. She cautioned me to always add garam masala at the end. Turmeric powder adds a nice yellow color and is reputed to have many health benefits.

To make this a vegan dish, omit the butter.

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1 large head cauliflower

4 large Russet potatoes

1 large yellow onion

4 Tb olive oil, divided

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp powdered turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 – 2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp whole mustard seeds

2 tsp melted butter (optional)

1 tsp garam masala

Preheat oven to 400°F.

???????????????????????????????Cut cauliflower into florets, and then cut florets in quarters or smaller pieces. Place in an oiled shallow baking dish. Drizzle with 2 Tb olive oil and toss gently. Spread in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes until it begins to brown.

Peel potatoes, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice crosswise thickly.  Place in a large pot of boiling water, so that the water covers them by 3 inches, and cook for 25 minutes until soft.

???????????????????????????????While potatoes and cauliflower are cooking, stir whole mustard seeds in a dry frying pan over medium flame until they begin to pop. Set aside.

???????????????????????????????Chop onion into small pieces. Sauté in remaining 2 Tb olive oil until soft, and then add minced garlic, and sauté another minute. Stir in mustard seeds, ginger, turmeric, cumin, pepper and salt.

???????????????????????????????When potatoes are soft, drain, and then mash with a potato masher in the big pot.

DSC03390Add the cauliflower mixture to the potatoes and stir until well combined.

Stir in melted butter and garam masala, and adjust salt.