Ginger Mint Strawberry Lemonade

strawberry ginger mint lemonade

This summer drink gets a healthy kick from fresh ginger and ginger tea. Fresh mint brings the flavor up a notch! If it’s a hot and sweaty day, I like to add a bit of salt to replenish my electrolytes, much as a sports drink would.

I picked up some very sweet and ripe strawberries, fresh mint and  ginger root from the farmers market. Some of the strawberries were so soft they had to be picked over, and these sweet things went into the lemonade.

Ingredients:

ingredients

2 teabags ginger tea (I use Yogi Tea, which contains ginger root, lemongrass, licorice root, peppermint, and black pepper.)

about 2 inches ginger root

1/2 pint very ripe strawberries

a few sprigs fresh mint leaves

1/2 lemon

1 Tb honey (to taste)

1/4 tsp salt for a hot and sweaty day (optional)

Heat a kettle of water to boiling.

While it’s heating, peel the outer skin of the ginger root and discard. Peel the inner parts of the ginger root into a large teapot. Add the mint sprigs and the teabags. Pour boiling water over everything and let it steep for at least 10 minutes.

in blender

Remove green tops from strawberries and any parts that went bad. Cut them into quarters and put in blender. Remove the teabags from the tea, and pour remaining ingredients with the tea into the blender.

tea in blender

Peel a few pieces of lemon zest (just the yellow parts) and squeeze 1/2 the lemon into the blender. Stir in honey and the salt if you like. Add some ice to the blender, then run it on the highest setting until all ingredients are liquefied. Add more ice and water until you get a few quarts to the strength you like. One Tb honey is all I need, but sweeten with more if you like.

Strawberry-Bacon Salad for a Cheating Vegetarian

salad with dressing

“I am a vegetarian. But I also love bacon. And the only thing more satisfying than being a vegetarian is being a cheating vegetarian!” Sonia Mena, 2011.

Strawberries and bacon are the perfect complement to each other, sweet and salty, juicy and crunchy. I throw in some raw pecans and sprinkle everything over a bowlful of salad greens. Then I toss them with a strawberry-balsamic dressing flavored with black pepper and rosemary. A cheating vegetarian couldn’t ask for more!

For healthiest results, use organic or non-pesticide strawberries and greens and nitrate-free bacon (I found some at Trader Joe’s)

This makes 2 dinner salads or one large salad for lunch.

strawberries, bacon and pecans

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 slice bacon
3 ripe strawberries
¼ cup (or one handful) whole raw pecans
2 heaping cups of salad greens

Salad dressing:
2 small soft very ripe strawberries
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp water

a few few grinds of black pepper

a few needles rosemary, minced
1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
salad without dressing

Salad:Fry bacon over medium heat until well done. Drain on paper towels. Crumble when cool enough to handle.
Rinse greens and strawberries. Put greens in bowls; either one large or two smaller bowls. Sprinkle pecans and crumbled bacon over greens. Slice strawberries over salad.

Dressing: Slice over-ripe strawberries into a blender bowl and add rosemary, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar and water. Run on liquefy until strawberries are mostly liquefied. Add olive oil and run on liquefy until oil emulsifies. Pour over salad and toss so that it coats the greens.

Roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic and thyme

roasted fingerling potatoes

Springtime brings new potatoes, and they are addictive when roasted in a bit of olive oil with fresh thyme and garlic and sprinkled with salt. I like to roast these miniature potatoes which are called fingerlings, ’cause, well, they look like fingers! The yellow ones are Russian fingerlings and the red ones are French fingerlings. These French ones here are freshly dug new potatoes that I got at the farmer’s market and their skin is very thin.

garlic and thyme in pot

I adapted this recipe from Alice Water’s wonderful cookbook “Chez Pannisse Vegetables”.

Preheat oven to 400

Soak potatoes in salt water for about 10 minutes or so, then scrub the skins. Dry with paper towels.

garlic thyme in olive oil

Select a shallow baking dish that the potatoes can fit  snugly in one layer, Cover bottom of the baking dish with 2 Tb olive oil. Sprinkle about 8 small sprigs of fresh thyme leaves. Halve a bulb of garlic crosswise and separate the cloves, (you don’t need to peel them), and place them in the dish.

fingerling potatoes before roasting

Toss the potatoes in the oil then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Arrange the potatoes so they fit snugly in the dish in one layer, and the garlic and thyme are evenly disbursed. Add 1/4 cup of water for a 8″ square baking dish, less for a smaller one. Tightly cover with a lid or foil.

Bake at 400 for 40 minutes. Uncover dish and bake for another 5 minutes or so until potatoes are dry and a fork easily pierces them. Sprinkle with more salt and serve hot.

Sticky Rice with Mango

sticky rice n mango in dish
This is one of my family’s favorite desserts. It’s actually quite easy to make.Making the sticky rice is the most time-consuming part. You can also just purchase 2 cups of sticky rice from a Lao or Thai restaurant and go from there!
Serves 5
1 cup sticky rice (glutinous rice)
10.5 oz can coconut water (with pulp is nice).
13.6 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar to taste
A few shakes salt
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut                                                                                                                                             2 Manila mangoes

Isn't this a pretty package!

Isn’t this a pretty package!

Rice: You can get sweet glutinous rice from Asian grocery stores. (Despite the name, it does not have gluten.) Rinse the rice several times, soaking in water for a few minutes, then draining in fine mesh sieve. Soak it in water for 7 hours or overnight. You can soak it in coconut water if you want a bit more coconut flavor.

My friend Jenny Chan uses a traditional Lao rice steamer basket to make her sticky rice. Since I don’t have one, I used my rice cooker.  Cook the mixture in a steamer basket in a rice cooker until done. If the steamer’s holes are too big for the rice, place a piece of cheesecloth over them first.

Coconut Milk: Heat 1 can coconut milk (lite coconut milk is basically watered down regular milk and has less calories; regular is much richer). If it has separated and you can’t shake it together in the can, you can either whisk it well or put it in the blender first. Stir in sugar, salt, shredded coconut, and then two cups cooked rice. Cook a few minutes until thick and pudding-like.
Manila mangoes

Peel mangoes with a vegetable peeler. I think that Manila mangoes are sweeter and easier to use. Cut into pieces.
Scoop rice mixture in serving dish and cover with mango slices.

This is best served warm. If you leave leftovers in the fridge, it will harden. It will still be good, but you can heat it in some sweetened coconut milk if you like a softer dessert.

Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust

baked chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie is one of those comfort foods from my childhood I always craved. A local restaurant, “Assemble”,  features one with a delicious cheddar cheese crust, which inspired this recipe. This is not your pop-in-the-oven Swanson’s pot pie; it involves a few hours of chopping and stirring. But your reward will be a fresh-tasting delicious pie that’s worth all the trouble.

This deep-dish pot pie serves 6. I only make a top crust.

veggies for pot pie

Vegetables and Chicken Filling

Chop the chicken and vegetables ahead of time. You can shell the peas while the veggies are cooking.

Place the cubed carrots, potatoes, celery and chicken in a separate bowl to cook together. Quarter the mushrooms and place in their own bowl. Place the boiled onions, cubed zucchini, the shelled peas in separate bowls as well.

2 ½ cups chicken stock. Use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup for best results
8-10 small or 20 tiny white pearl onions

2 large boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts, cubed
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
3 large carrots, cubed
5 outside stalks of celery, cubed
About 10-12 medium white mushrooms, quartered
2 small zucchini, cubed

½ lb English peas, shelled

Heat chicken stock to boil. Place pearl onions in boiling stock for 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to cool on a plate or cutting board.

Stir cubed potatoes, carrots, celery and chicken into boiling stock. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from stock with a slotted spoon, into a large bowl. Add mushrooms to stock and cook for a couple of minutes. Add zucchini to mushrooms and cook for just one minute. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon in to the bowl with the other vegetables.

Cut the root end off the onions and squeeze the onion out from its skin, and put in the bowl.
Mix all the cooked vegetables and chicken together with uncooked shelled peas in the large bowl, then set aside, Cool down the stock. You can do this part ahead of time and refrigerate until the next day. If you are making this in one day, place the pot with stock into an ice bath to cool down.

Next make the pie crust.

dough disk

Cheddar whole wheat Pie Crust
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (white whole wheat flour)
¼ cup white all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
1 Tb cold butter
3Tb frozen vegetable shortening (such as Crisco cubes)
2 Tb ice water. I fill up a small cup with cold water and ice cubes and let it sit a few minutes, then measure it out.
¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Add flours and salt to food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and shortening and pulse a few times. Add grated cheese and pulse again. Add ice water and pulse a few times until dough begins to come together. The dough will be moist. Gather it into a ball then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Roll between two sheets of plastic wrap out to approximately 1 ½ inches beyond the edge of the casserole edge. Let it rest while you make the gravy.

pot pie without crust

Gravy
1 Tb butter
3 Tb olive oil
1/3 cup flour
2 cups cold chicken stock
1 Tb white wine
½ tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
Several grinds black pepper
¾ to 1 tsp sea salt, to taste
In a medium saucepan, melt butter with olive oil. Whisk in flour and continue whisking over medium heat for several minutes. Add pepper and thyme and continue to whisk. Whisk in cold chicken stock and wine. Add salt to taste, starting with ½ tsp then slowly up to 1 tsp, depending on the saltiness of your broth and your taste. Cook over medium-high heat until gravy thickens, then cook a few more minutes, whisking constantly.

Assembling the pie

unbaked pot pie

Heat oven to 425◦

Pour the gravy over the mixed vegetables and chicken in the large bowl and stir until the gravy is mixed in with them. Grease or spray a 2.5 liter (10.5 cup) casserole bottom and sides with nonstick spray. If you have a pie bird, place it in the middle. Pour the chicken and vegetables into the casserole, making sure the gravy is mixed well. With a large spoon, make a mound in the middle of the filling, so that the sides are lower than the middle.

If you are using a pie bird, cut a small hole or slot for it in the middle of the crust. Carefully lift the crust so that is centered over the pie. Crimp the edges of the crust with your fingers. If you aren’t using a pie bird, cut a few slits in the crust so that the steam can escape. Place the casserole in the middle of the oven. To avoid burning the edges of the pie, place a pie shield over them or cover them with foil. (I obviously did not do this, resulting in burnt edges.) Bake for 30 -35 minutes until crust is crispy and browned. Let the pie cool a bit before cutting it. The gravy will thicken as it cools.

Chocolate Strawberry Tart with Macaroon Crust

tart slice tart

I made this rich tart for Passover, but it’s delicious all year long. If you make the pastry cream with the potato starch it is also gluten free. The coconut macaroon crust is covered with chocolate ganache, and then topped with pastry cream. I decorated the pastry cream with chocolate swirls and fresh strawberries. It’s something you’ll want to make the day before the feast, and then pop the strawberries on just before serving. It’s actually not too sweet, but it is rich! macaroom crust

Macaroon crust:

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

4 egg whites

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp vanilla

½ tsp almond extract

Coconut oil spray

Preheat oven to 300◦ Mix all ingredients well. Spray a tart pan well with the coconut oil, paying attention that the fluted edges get covered. (Alternatively, you can spread a thin layer of coconut oil on the pan),  Spread coconut mixture evenly on bottom and sides of tart pan. Cover edges with foil or a pie protector. Place in middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes until it begins to lightly brown. Edges will brown more. Cool completely on a rack while you make the ganache.

Ganache:

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

½ cup each good quality semisweet and bittersweet chocolate chips

1 tsp coconut oil 1 tsp vanilla

1 Tb brandy

Heat cream in a saucepan until simmers but is not bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and coconut oil until they are completely melted. Stir in vanilla and brandy. Once ganache is completely smooth, let it cool until it’s warm. When crust has cooled to room temperature, use a spatula to smooth the ganache over it. Reserve a few tablespoons of the ganache for decorating the top of the tart. Let the tart cool on the counter, and then put in the refrigerator to harden. Meanwhile, make the pastry cream.

Pastry Cream: This is basically the same recipe I used for Valentine’s Tart, except it’s Kosher for passover using potato starch. (If you prefer to make it with flour and cornstarch, I put the equivalents here)

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar

1 1/2 Tb potato starch (OR use 2 Tb each flour and cornstarch)

4 large egg yolks

1 1/3 cup light coconut milk OR 1% milk

1 tsp vanilla

Whip sugar and egg yolks on high speed until light yellow. Add potato starch (or flour and cornstarch) and whip again. Heat milk in a medium saucepan until it just begins to simmer. With mixer on medium-low, slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture until it is well combined, and then put mixer on high speed. Pour it  back into the pot and cook over low-medium heat, whisking constantly while the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Strain the pastry cream into a clean glass or metal container Place parchment paper directly on the hot pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool on the counter.

When pastry cream is cool and the ganache has hardened, cover the ganache with the pastry cream, using a spatula. Place in the refrigerator to harden a bit.

Then heat the ganache again, adding a bit of cream to make it more liquid. Spoon designs onto the pastry cream, I attempted to make a swirl. Sprinkle with a little bit of the sweetened coconut. Refrigerate until solid. Cut strawberries in half and decorate the top.

Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Banana Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal cookiesThese scrumptious oatmeal cookies are lower in sugar than conventional recipes; banana, raisins and chocolate chips add sweetness. I used a mix of coconut oil and butter. Whole wheat flour and a few spoonfuls of flax seed add to the nutritional value. Shredded coconut and walnuts provide delicious crunch and fiber. These cookies are great crumbled over your morning oatmeal or just enjoyed with a glass of milk.

Makes about 30 cookies

Preheat oven to 350◦
Have all ingredients at room temperature

½ cup white unbleached flour
½ cup finely ground whole wheat flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 Tb ground flax seed

4 Tb coconut oil
4 Tb butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 large speckled banana, smashed

½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup raisins
¼ cup semisweet and/or bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ¾ cup oatmeal
coconut oil spray

Stir in flax seed to sifted dry ingredients.
Cream coconut oil and butter. Add brown sugar and beat until light. Add eggs and vanilla. Smash a soft banana with a fork, then beat into batter. With mixer on low, stir in dry ingredients until well combined. Add coconut flakes, raisins, chocolate chips, and walnuts and stir until incorporated. Stir in oatmeal.

Spray a baking sheet with coconut oil. Drop batter by spoonfuls to make 12 cookies per sheet. Bake at 350◦ on center rack for 10 – 12 minutes, or until brown. Cool on rack. Too many cookies? These freeze well.