Hurray for the Red White and Blueberry Shortcake!

berries shortcakePerfect for Independence Day* dessert! I kept the sugar low, but the fat content is, well it is what it is, but the fresh berries make up for all that cream, right?

The shortcake recipe is based on my Light as a Feather Cream Biscuits. I added vanilla, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar, and a tad of nutmeg to complement the berries. Buy a pint of cream to make the shortcakes, and softly whip the remaining 1/2 cup to top them.

*4th of July in USA, and or any country whose flag is red, white and blue.

Shortcakes:  Makes 5 or 6 large shortcakes

2 cups flour

1  Tb baking powder

1/4 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 Tb sugar

1 1/2 cups cold cream. I put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before mixing it in the dough.

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 450′

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir in sugar. Add vanilla to the cream and pour it into the flour mixture. Slowly stir until the dough is shaggy. Turn it over a few times with your hands to gather up any flour into the dough.

Spray an insulated cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make and quickly form it into circle with your hands. You don’t want to handle the dough too much, so the circle doesn’t need to be perfect.

Bake for 12 minutes, until biscuits are light brown. Keep the oven light on so you can keep an eye on them.

Let cool on a rack about 20 minutes.

Softly whip 1/2 cup cream with 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp sugar or maple syrup.

berriesRinse 1 pint each strawberries and blueberries. Organic berries are best, since conventionally grown berries contain a lot of pesticides. Cut tops off strawberries, then slice. Mix berries together in a bowl.

middle of shortcakeSplit shortcakes in half crosswise (top and bottom). Spread whipped cream on the center, cover with berries, then put a dab of whipped cream on the top and cover with more berries.

Tender Juicy Pan Fried Lemon Butter Salmon

salmon with sauceI’ve developed this cooking method through trial and error to make the most tender and juicy salmon. The secret is to fry the salmon skin side down and covered. This makes the skin crispy enough to easily remove and makes the salmon moist and tender.I brush it with lemon butter and finish it with a wine reduction with lemon butter.

I use the tail piece which has the least bones. Coho wild salmon is a good choice, economically and ecologically.

Serves 2

1 Tb olive oil

1/2 pound salmon tail

Sprinkle of dill weed

1 lemon to make 2 tsp lemon juice, plus lemon slices to garnish

1 Tb butter, melted

2 Tb Chardonnay or other dry white wine

Sprinkle of sea salt

Approximately 1 Tb sliced almonds to garnish

Mix lemon and melted butter together and set aside.

Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan
Place salmon skin side down in hot oil
Reduce heat to medium

sprinkle dill weed
Sprinkle dill weed on salmon.

cover panCover pan.
Cook until salmon is almost all pink. It will only take a few minutes.

brush top with lemon butterBrush top with lemon butter. Flip salmon over.

remove fried skinRemove skin using a metal spatula.

brush bottom with lemon butterBrush salmon bottom with more lemon butter.

Turn off heat and cover salmon. Leave salmon in pan about a  minute, then flip onto to a plate so the top side is up.

 

sprinkle saltSprinkle salmon with a tiny bit of sea salt to taste.

wine reduction with lemon butterAdd 2 Tb white wine  to the pan and stir about a minute. Add remaining lemon butter to the wine reduction.

salmon with saucePour sauce over salmon.

Cut salmon lengthwise in half to serve two people.

Garnish with a sprinkle of sliced almonds and a slice of lemon.

salmon with almonds and artichoke and lemon butterServe with steamed artichokes with lemon butter dip and a glass of Chardonnay

Caprese Fruit Salad

Caprese Fruit Salad

This is a delicious summer fruit salad masquerading as a caprese salad.

I got the idea when I visited the SF Giants Baseball Stadium (AT &T Park) Organic Garden with our CHEFS students. After the garden tour, they gave each of us a delicious strawberry wrapped in a basil leaf.

Cut summer fruit: Strawberries, stone fruit such as plums, apricots and /or peaches. Mix in ciliegine, little balls of fresh mozzarella. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle over the fruit and mozzarella. Drizzle a little olive oil over the fruit and cheese.

 

Making a Pesto Myself with Mushrooms

serving pesto

What’s better than pesto on pasta? Pesto with sauteed mushrooms on pasta!

I made the pesto, and then sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil. I used oyster mushrooms, ’cause that’s what I had in the house, but you can experiment making this with different types of mild flavored mushrooms. When the mushrooms are soft, stir the pesto into the mushrooms and serve over pasta. I used brown rice penne in the picture above and it worked great.

Heat a large pot of water until boiling fast. Add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 pound pasta, and 1 tsp olive oil. Cook until al dente. While heating water and cooking pasta, make the pesto and mushrooms.

Pesto:

1 small clove garlic

1 bunch fresh whole basil leaves, stems discarded (I got mine for $1 at the San Francisco Civic Center Farmer’s Market)

¼ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Pulse garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add all ingredients except oil and pulse until fine. Drizzle in oil and pulse until almost smooth.

cooked mushrooms

Rinse 1/2 pound mushrooms and chop roughly. Heat 1 Tb olive oil in a frying pan and add mushrooms. Sprinkle with a few shakes sea salt and saute until soft.

pesto mixed with mushrooms

When mushrooms are cooked, stir in pesto

Mix cooked pasta with mushroom-pesto.

 

 

 

 

Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

kabocha squash coconut soup with pepitasThis smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with a hint of ginger. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. Brandy Giggey, my student in the Episcopal Community Services CHEFS program, http://www.ecs-sf.org/programs/chefs.html, helped me develop this recipe, and critiqued each batch. After a particularly gingery batch, she suggested that I saute the ginger to mellow out the flavor.

I’ve tried this recipe with both regular and light coconut milk. The regular milk gives a more pronounced coconut flavor, but the light is lower in calories. I’ll let you choose what’s right for you.

You can roast the squash and vegetables and/or make the vegetable broth ahead of time. You can cook the vegetables in the broth ahead of time, and then blend and heat before serving.

makes 3 1/2 quarts (15 cups)

IMG_3902

Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth (recipe below) or chicken broth

1 small kabocha squash

14 oz can coconut milk

2 cups 1% milk (To make this vegan, use milk substitute)

3 large carrots, peeled

3 large leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed well.

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tb olive oil

1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

a few grinds pepper

¼ cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and roast for 30 minutes. Toss white part of  leeks and peeled carrots with olive oil on a foil-lined heavy pan. Leave squash in the oven and roast all the vegetables for another 30 minutes.???????????????????????????????While vegetables are roasting and cooling, prepare vegetable broth: Heat about 5 cups of water to boiling. Soak green parts of leeks in salad spinner and rinse at least 3 times, making sure to remove all the dirt. Roughly chop them and 4 celery sticks, and put in boiling water. Season with 1 tsp celery seeds, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp salt, simmering 1 hour. Pull out green leeks and celery with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain broth into a large bowl, then pour back into pot to boil. (If you prefer, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.)

Cut top off roasted squash then let cool. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod. Cut flesh from peel and into 1 inch chunks and slice carrots.  Saute the minced ginger in coconut oil for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown.

Heat broth and coconut milk and then add roasted squash, carrots, white part of leeks, and ginger. Simmer vegetables for about 30 minutes, and then  cool enough to blend.

Pour soup and milk into a large bowl. Fill blender half-way with liquid and then add vegetables. Liquefy and return to the pot. It took me about 3 batches to blend.  If you have an immersion blender, use that instead.

Add a few grinds of pepper, Stir in about 1 tsp sea salt, to taste, then simmer for another 15 minutes and serve.

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

Kale Kalamata Salad

curly kale

Curly kale fresh from the farmer’s market pairs wonderfully with Kalamata olives. Massage the raw kale with vinaigrette to break down the cell walls and toss in some carrots and Parmesan for sweetness. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes and you have a pretty, Mediterranean-themed salad. (Vegans can omit the Parmesan and still enjoy!)

kale salad

1 head of curly kale

Dressing: 2 Tb olive oil
1 ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tb brine from olives
¼ tsp dried oregano
a few grinds black pepper

10 pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
4 tsp pine nuts
12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Tear kale off of stems and into bite size pieces. Rinse several times, and spin dry in salad spinner. Whisk dressing together and massage kale with dressing and olives until it turns dark and is roughly 1/3 the original size. Add Parmesan and massage into kale. You can let it sit a few hours to let the flavor develop.
Just before serving, mix in grated carrot. Place on plates. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes halves.

Summer and Autumn Fruit Tarts

It’s so fun to decorate a tart with seasonal fruit. Fill lemon-rosemary tart pastry with pastry cream, decorate with fruit, and then glaze it with apricot preserves.

Autumn fruit tart

Autumn fruit tart with blackberries, fuyu persimmons, kiwi fruit and strawberries

peach and berry tart

peach and berry tart

peach tart with thyme

peach tart with thyme

I substituted fresh lemon thyme leaves for the rosemary when I made the peach tarts. I garnished the peaches on one tart with small sprigs of thyme.

Pastry cream:

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar

2 Tb all-purpose flour

2 Tb cornstarch

4 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cup milk (I used 1% )

2 tsp vanilla

Separate eggs and remove the thick white chalazae from the yolks. Whip egg yolks on high speed. Add sugar and sift in flour and cornstarch, then whip again until light colored.

Heat milk in a medium saucepan until it just begins to simmer. With mixer on medium-low, slowly pour 1/2 cup  milk into the egg mixture until it is well combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and whisk in well. Then pour it slowly back into the pot with rest of the milk, whisking constantly. Cook over low-medium heat and continue whisking while the mixture thickens, then whisk for another minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Strain the pastry cream into a clean container,

Place plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on the hot pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool on the counter. Pour the pastry cream into the cooled lemon-rosemary tart pastry  and spread it evenly.

Wash fruit, then dry on paper towels. Cut the green tops off the small strawberries and slice the larger fruit lengthwise.

Arrange fruit on top of the pastry cream. Have fun and let your artistic side come out!

Heat about 1/4 cup apricot preserves and 1 Tb water in a bowl for about 30 seconds in a microwave and stir well. Strain into another bowl. Gently brush jam over the fruit for a shiny glaze. You can glaze the strawberries, then layer them to stick them together, then glaze again.

peach berry tart

peach berry tart