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.

Eggnog Popovers

popovers in basketPerfect for Christmas or New Year’s morning. These popovers are crispy on the outside and custard-like on the inside, with the rich taste of eggnog.

Mix the batter the eve before, then pop them in the oven for a breakfast treat. I use  good quality eggnog for best results.

1 cup eggnog, heated with milk

½ cups hot milk. I use 1%, but you can use non fat or whole milk. (But don’t use lactose-free or other milk substitutes; they won’t work.)

3 large eggs

1 ½ cup white all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 Tb melted butter

non-stick pan spray

Heat the milk and eggnog for 2 minutes in the microwave or in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.

Beat eggs well in a blender. Pour in eggnog/milk while beating until foamy. Add the flour and nutmeg, scraping the sides of the blender. Add melted butter and mix again. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, and preferably overnight.

???????????????????????????????In the morning, preheat the oven to 375’. Place a muffin pan into the oven for 3 minutes. Remove the pan and spray with non-stick pan spray.

Pour in the batter until holders are ¾ full.

baked popoversBake for 30-35 minutes, until tops are puffed up and browned. If popovers are baking unevenly, rotate the pan the last 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Persimmon bread

???????????????????????????????We have a Hachiya persimmon tree. These persimmons are oval shaped, and can only be eaten when very soft, unlike their flat-bottomed Fuyu cousins which I eat hard.

???????????????????????????????When you cut them open, they can look either jewel-like or very sexy, (depending on what kind of mind you have.)

???????????????????????????????I based this recipe on my banana bread, and used a couple of ripe bananas for sweetness. I add spices, brown sugar, and a tad of maple syrup. to complement the taste of the persimmon.

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% milk

1 tsp lemon juice

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 soft bananas (3/4 cup mashed)

2 very soft Hachiya persimmons

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tb canola oil

1 Tb pure maple syrup

1 ½ cup unbleached white flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

½ cup walnut or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Add lemon juice to milk. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk instead if you prefer).

Sift white flour, baking soda, salt, spices, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Stir in whole wheat flour and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Add bananas and persimmons to mixer and mix well, then whip on high. Add the maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Add nuts and mix slowly until they are just combined.

Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan or Bundt pan with non-stick spray. Pour in batter.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated 350º oven. Bake for 1 hr 15 min minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out dry. Dust with powdered sugar mixed with a few shakes of cinnamon.

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Steel-cut oats oatmeal with apples and nuts

???????????????????????????????This fiber-rich, creamy and crunchy oatmeal will stick to your ribs on these cold winter mornings when you need something to warm you up and keep you going.

I used the quick-cooking steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s. They cook in only 8 minutes. Nuts add crunch and protein, and apples and/ or raisins add sweetness and fiber. This recipe serves 2, but you can double or triple it to store some for those weekday mornings when you need a quick warm-up before work. It’s all-natural, so much better than those instant oatmeal packets.

Serves 2

1 1/2 cups water

a few shakes salt

1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats

2 Tb ground flax seed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 apple (I used a honey crisp apple)

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup milk

1 Tb cream (optional)

pure maple syrup or brown sugar (optional)

Peel and chop the apple into bite-size pieces. Bring water to a boil. Add salt, oatmeal. flax seed, cinnamon, apple and raisins. Lower heat and cover pot, and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in nuts and milk for one minute. Pour into bowls and add a tablespoon of cream for a treat. If you desire added sweetness, add maple syrup or brown sugar to taste.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Maple Syrup and Garam Masala

???????????????????????????????This pie combines traditional ingredients, such as fresh pumpkin and maple syrup, with the Punjabi spice blend garam masala, which adds an exotic highlight to the traditional pumpkin pie spices.
I make the pie on Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. I like to roast and puree the pumpkin on Tuesday night so it will be all ready on Wednesday. I roast it with a Kabocha squash which I’ll make into Creamy Spicy Kabocha Soup
DSC03214I use a Sugar Pie pumpkin. Just the name gets me singing “Sugar Pie Honey”! These are available at produce markets such as Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market. They are slightly smaller than a basketball, and have more flesh and are less fibrous than a Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin. You will need about 2 ½ pounds per pie.

Pierce pumpkin several times and place on oiled roasting pan. Roast at 450◦ for 45 minutes until soft. Place it on a large plate and cut off the stem. Use a knife to coax the peel off; it should easily come off.

Let the pumpkin cool enough to handle. Discard the seeds and stringy pulp.

???????????????????????????????Put the flesh of the pumpkin in the food processor. Process until smooth.

??????????????????????????????? Since the puree is too watery for pie, pour it into a fine sieve over a bowl. Place a bowl on top of the puree and several heavy cans on top of the bowl. Let it drain for an hour.

Measure 2 cups of drained puree. Reserve the liquid  to add to squash soup such as Creamy Spicy Kabocha Soup or butternut squash soup. You can put extra puree in those soups or save it for Fresh Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

Preheat oven to 375◦

Ingredients: Have all ingredients at room temperature. (You can warm the eggs in a bowl of warm water.)

maple syrup and spices2 cups pumpkin puree, drained. (You can substitute a 15-oz can of pumpkin, but it won’t be as good.)
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 ½ cups (one 12-oz can) evaporated milk,
¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp allspice
2 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt

Put pumpkin puree in large bowl under a mixer.
Add rest of ingredients and beat well.

brush egg on bottom of crustHave a 9” or 10″ pie crust at room temperature. Brush with an beaten egg. Place it in a 375◦ oven for 10 minutes.

Remove crust from the oven and immediately pour pumpkin pie filling into it. Bake at 375◦ for 35 – 40 minutes until the center quivers when you wiggle the pan.

???????????????????????????????Check that crust doesn’t burn. Place a circular metal crust protector over it once it browns.
Cool thoroughly on a rack and then refrigerate until Thanksgiving Day.

???????????????????????????????Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream sweetened with pure maple syrup.

Gluten-free Cornbread

???????????????????????????????To make gluten-free cornbread, I substituted masa harina, the corn flour used to make tortillas or tamales, for wheat flour in my cornbread recipe. The result was a fluffy textured cornbread which had a taste of tortillas. I added a bit more salt. You can put rosemary in it if you like.

Ingredients:

masa harinamasa harina

1 cup 1% milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup masa harina

¼ cup ground flax-seed

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (about a one-inch sprig) optional

3/4  tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 425’

Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

Sift baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients and rosemary if using, and mix well.

Mix eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then stir in applesauce and oil until well mixed. Pour into dry ingredients. Mix with a large spoon only until ingredients are combined.

Spray an 8 inch square pan with olive oil spray. Pour in batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Delicious out of the pan, or use for making Low-fat cornbread sage stuffing with chestnuts and apples.

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Creamy Spicy Kabocha Soup

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This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash and seasoned with cumin and spicy garam masala. Although it is rich and creamy, it uses no cream; only 1% milk and broth.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. Use leftover squash for other dishes or freeze for future soups.

serves 3 bowls

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Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 1 hour at 450◦

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Cut top off then let cool. Cut flesh from peel and into chunks, and discard stringy seed pod

3 cups squash chunks

1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 cups 1% milk

3 cups squash chunks

Heat broth and milk and add squash. Let squash sit in warm liquid for 15 minute to soften.

Blend in batches.

Stir in ½ -1 tsp salt to taste

½ tsp cumin

a pinch to ¼ tsp garam masala to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

Toast ¼ cup pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet and toss on top of soup to garnish

Rosemary-Parmesan Popovers

DSC03254These Rosemary-scented cheesy popovers are an easy way to start a weekend morning.  I make the batter the night before and just pop them in the oven when I first get up. By the time I shower and make the coffee, they are hot and ready. They also make a tasty accompaniment to soup.

The recipe was inspired by Chronicle writer Marlene Sorosky Gray’s article on popovers on http://www.sfgate.com/recipes/article/Baker-s-quest-What-makes-perfect-popovers-4601293.phpThis is a take-off on her pepper-jack and chive popovers.  I used only Parmesan cheese and added fresh rosemary from my garden.

The lightest popovers use only white flour, but I really like whole wheat flour. I’ve tried varying combinations of whole-wheat pastry flour and white all-purpose flour. Using all whole-wheat yields a bread-like version, so the happy medium is to use 1/3 whole-wheat pastry flour.

Makes 12 popovers

1 ½ cups hot milk. I use 1%, but you can use non fat or whole milk. (But don’t use lactose-free or other milk substitutes; they won’t work.)

3 large eggs

1 cup white all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour or finely ground whole-wheat flour

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ Tb melted butter

¼ cup plus 1 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ tsp finely minced fresh rosemary

2 Tb minced fresh chives

non-stick pan spray

Heat the milk for 2 minutes in the microwave or in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.

DSC03252adding minced fresh rosemary to batter

Using a mixer, whisk, blender or food processor, beat eggs well. Pour in milk while beating until foamy. Add the flours and salt, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add butter, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and herbs, and mix again. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, and preferably overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 375’. Place a non-stick muffin pan into the oven for 3 minutes. Remove the pan and spray with non-stick pan spray.

DSC03253Pour in the batter until holders are ¾ full. Sprinkle 1 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of batter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until tops are puffed up and browned. If popovers are baking unevenly, rotate the pan the last 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

DSC03255

Fresh Pumpkin Spice Muffins

???????????????????????????????Fragrant with spices and crunchy with pumpkin seeds and nuts, these muffins are a delicious October treat!

DSC03214I roast and puree  a sugar pie pumpkin. Just the name gets me singing “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” (I can’t help myself! ) These are available at produce markets such as Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market. They are slightly smaller than a basketball, and are more fleshy and less fibrous than a Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin. If you must, use canned pumpkin, but it won’t be quite as good.

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Pierce pumpkin several times and place on oiled roasting pan. Roast at 450 for 45 minutes until soft. Remove to a plate, and cut off stem. Use a knife to coax the peel off; it should easily come off. Let the pumpkin cool enough to handle while you mix the dry ingredients and whip the fats and sugars. Then put the flesh of the pumpkin in the food processor and process until smooth. It should make between 1 1/2 to 2 cups, depending on the size of the pumpkin. Measure 1 cup and reserve the extra for future muffins or  Pumpkin Pie.

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Makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 350’

Ingredients:

4 Tb butter at room temperature

2 Tb olive oil

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs at room temperature

¾ cup unbleached white flour

¾ cup finely ground whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)

½ tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup pureed roasted pie pumpkin

½ cup pepitas (green, shelled pumpkin seeds)

½ cup broken walnuts

Add lemon juice to milk and let it sit while you while you mix the dry ingredients and whip the fats and sugars.

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl.

Whip butter and oil for a few minutes, then add sugars and whip five more minutes at high speed, stopping to scrape the bowl a few times. Add eggs and beat, then add pumpkin puree and vanilla, beating until well combined.

While beating on the slowest speed, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, ½ the milk mixture, another 1/3 of the dry, the rest of the milk, and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix only until combined. Add the pumpkin seeds and walnuts and stir in briefly.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups and bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. cool on wire rack and enjoy!

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