Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

watermelon heirloom tomato wholeNothing says summer like watermelon and heirloom tomatoes, those oddly-shaped multicolored orbs, bursting with flavor. Cut them up and you have a veritable painting on your plate. Mix with sweet watermelon and sprinkle a little salt, maybe a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the tomatoes. Simple. That’s it!

watermelon heirloom tomato salad

Quinoa Tabouli

quinoa tabouliA dressed up tabouli made with protein rich quinoa instead of the traditional Bulgar wheat makes a delicious low-carb summer meal. I based my recipe on Mollie Katzen’s Bulgar wheat one in the classic moosewood cookbook  and added lots of extras like artichoke hearts, pine nuts and feta cheese.

Make the quinoa ahead of time and stir in the olive oil and lemon. Then refrigerate until cold. I used a food processor to mince the green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts.  I learned the hard way not to use it for the cucumbers or red peppers (it got mushy) Just take out the sharp knife and chop chop!

Makes 10 cups

Ingredients

Tabouli ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa. You can use white or red

2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large or 2 medium lemons)

3 Tb high quality extra virgin olive oil

1 Tb garlic infused olive oil

 

1 bunch parsley -approximately 4 cups leaves makes 1 cup minced leaves

4 scallions, both white and green parts

3 sprigs fresh mint leaves (about 15 leaves)

3 medium tomatoes. I used dry-farmed tomatoes for outstanding flavor

1 red bell pepper

3 pickling cucumbers, peeled and seeds removed

1 avocado

14 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained and rinsed

15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Rinse quinoa well under cold water, rubbing the seeds between your hands. Drain quinoa for a few minutes, then add water and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes. It will make 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa. You can also make it in a rice cooker using the white rice setting.

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, salt, and olive oils in a small bowl, then stir into the quinoa. Let it cool and refrigerate until cold.

Using the blade in the food processor, mince green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts until feathery. Stir into cooled quinoa.

Dice red bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado and stir into quinoa along with garbanzo beans.

Serve cold, sprinkled with feta cheese and pine nuts.

tabouli with quinoa

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese-style Braised Eggplant and Shiitake Mushrooms with Fresh Basil

servingBraised eggplant is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. Our favorite restaurant, King Yen in Berkeley, serves it fragrant with fresh basil. I picked up long Asian eggplants, fresh basil and green onions (scallions) from the farmer’s market. I added red bell peppers for color and Shiitake mushrooms for their wonderful texture and unami flavor. You can use fresh Shiitakes  or soak dried ones in warm water for a more toothsome feel.

I also added a chicken breast for more protein. Vegetarians and vegans can omit the chicken, use vegetable broth and swap hoisin sauce for the oyster sauce. I only add a teaspoon of Sriracha because I can’t handle much heat, but feel free to amp it up.

I got inspiration for my sauce from Martin Yan’s recipe http://www.yancancook.com/recipes/Spicy-Spicy/selected.php?CHOICE=eggplant_w_garlic_sauce

If you don’t have a wok, you can use a Dutch oven. This is even better the next day, when the basil has a chance to permeate the dish.

Serves 4

ingredients

Ingredients

2 Tb canola oil for frying

1 Chicken breast, about 3/4 pound

1 pound Asian eggplants (long skinny ones)

5 large Shiitake mushrooms

1 medium or 2 small red or yellow bell peppers

2″ piece of fresh ginger to make 1 Tb grated ginger

5- 6 large cloves of garlic to make 1 Tb grated garlic

2 green onions (scallions)

1/3 bunch fresh Thai or regular basil to make 1 cup basil leaves

1 can water chestnuts

 

Sauce:

3/4 cup chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup )

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons oyster sauce OR hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (add more for more heat)

Thickener:

4 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Prep:

shitakeIf using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water for 30 minutes, then rinse

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop into bite-sized pieces

ginger n garlicPeel and grate ginger to make 1 Tablespoon

Peel and grate garlic to make 1 Tablespoon

Chop eggplant at angles into uneven bite-sized pieces. This will prevent it from sticking to the pan.

Slice red peppers into strips

Slice green onions crosswise, Sliver the green parts and reserve for garnish.

Rinse and chop water chestnuts

Chop chicken breast into bite-sized pieces

Pull leaves off of basil stems to make 1 cup of leaves

Mix sauce ingredients together in a bowl

Directions:

stir frying before sauce addedHeat wok and add oil. Stir-fry chicken a few minutes to sear it, then toss with ginger, garlic, green onions and red bell peppers. Add chopped vegetables and water chestnuts and stir-fry a few minutes over high heat.

Add sauce and mix with metal spatula to incorporate browned bits of chicken. Heat to simmering, then lower heat and cover wok. Simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that vegetables are submerged.

cooking with basilStir in the basil leaves and continue simmering covered for another 3 minutes until eggplant is thoroughly cooked and tender.

Stir in the thickener and bring sauce to a boil until it thickens

Serve over brown rice or on its own. Garnish with a few basil leaves and green onions.

ingredients in sun

 

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.

caprese fruit appetizers

Make caprese salad appetizers by threading a piece of fruit, basil and half a ciliegine on a toothpick. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. I mixed in a bit of blood orange infused olive oil with the regular oil.

 

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.