These easy baked fries satisfy my craving for fries with only 1 Tablespoon olive oil per potato. I sprinkled cinnamon on the sweet potato fries for a sweet spiciness. I used garlic olive oil with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and sea salt on the potato fries.
Sweet potato fries
1 large sweet potato or yam, scrubbed well
1 Tb olive oil
cinnamon for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 450′
Cut off ends and slice sweet potato in half crosswise and lengthwise. Cut each quarter into matchsticks. Place in a pile on a baking sheet and pour olive oil on top. Use your hands to coat the sweet potato with oil, then spread out on the baking sheet so the sticks don’t touch. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Place on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes and use a spatula or tongs to flip the fries over. Bake another 10 minutes until nicely browned. Serve hot. They will be softer than potato fries, but they will be delicious!
1 large potato scrubbed well. I’ve used both Russet and Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Tb garlic olive oil
smoked paprika (use regular paprika if you can’t get smoked)
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450′
Cut off ends and slice potato in half crosswise and lengthwise. Cut each quarter into matchsticks. Place in a pile on a baking sheet and pour garlic olive oil on top. Use your hands to coat the potato with oil, then spread out on the baking sheet so the sticks don’t touch. Sprinkle with paprika, pepper and salt.
Place on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes and use a spatula or tongs to flip the fries over. Bake another 10 -15 minutes until nicely browned and crispy. Serve hot.
An article from the New York Times convinced me to try San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes to make Marinara sauce. These tomatoes from Italy’s Sarnese Nocerino Area, close to the famous Mount Vesuvius volcano, are sweeter and more flavorful than American ones. I tried their recipe, but couldn’t resist tweaking it to make it my own improved version. I found the ingredients at Trader Joe’s.
1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
7 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
8 crimini mushrooms, quartered and sliced
A few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
A few grinds black pepper
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced.
Pour the can of tomatoes into a blender and blend a few seconds.
Heat the oil in a skillet until it shimmers. Add garlic, onion, seasonings and mushrooms. Fry until onions are soft and garlic is yellow. Stir in the artichoke hearts.
Stir in the pureed tomatoes. Swish the can with 1/4 cup water and swish in the blender, then stir into the tomato sauce.
Cover skillet and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix it with pasta or make it a day ahead for the next day’s pasta.
For red linguine with prawns, I grilled the prawns, then mixed with sauce and pasta and grated a bit of Parmesan on top. You could also fry the prawns with the garlic and onion, then remove them while cooking the rest of the sauce, and add them in later.
Braised eggplant is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. Our favorite restaurant, King Yen in Berkeley, serves it fragrant with fresh basil. I picked up the veggies from the farmer’s market: long Asian eggplants, mushrooms, with fresh basil, red bell peppers and green onions (scallions) for color.
I added a chicken breast for more protein. If you have leftover roasted breast you can chop it in bite sized pieces and add it in with the basil.
I make it vegetarian/vegan by swapping the chicken for tofu. and use vegetable broth. I also use both chicken and tofu. I add flavor to the tofu by salting it and frying it in the same oil I used for frying the onions, garlic and ginger.
I only add a teaspoon of Sriracha because I can’t handle much heat, but feel free to amp it up, adding it at the end to taste.
This is even better the next day, when the basil has a chance to permeate the dish.
This is a time consuming dish. Be sure to do all the chopping and sauces prep before you start to cook so you’re not all stressed out while you’re cooking!
3 1/2 Tb canola oil for frying (2 Tb if not using tofu)
1 Chicken breast, about 3/4 pound (optional)
1 package extra firm tofu. Salt for sprinkling on tofu
1 pound Chinese eggplants (3 long skinny ones)
8 medium mushrooms (crimini or white)
6 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
1 medium or 2 small red or yellow bell peppers
2″ piece of fresh ginger to make 1 Tb grated ginger
5 large cloves of garlic to make 1 Tb thinly sliced garlic
2 green onions (scallions). You can mince a slice of regular yellow onion to make 2 Tb if you don’t have green onions.
1/2 bunch fresh Thai or regular basil to make 1 1/2 cups basil leaves
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (add more for more heat)
4 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) water or reserved soaking liquid from dried mushrooms.
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Make brown rice
Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup warm water
If using tofu, cut the block into 3 or 4 slices. Pat dry with a paper towel and wrap in a clean dishtowel. Press between two cutting boards and place a heavy frying pan on top for 15 minutes while you prepare the sauce. Unwrap and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch slices and sprinkle both sides with salt.
Peel and grate ginger to make 1 Tablespoon
Peel and thinly slice garlic to make 1 Tablespoon
Trim woody ends from mushroom stems, then quarter.
Slice red peppers into strips
Slice green onions crosswise. Mince the green parts and reserve for garnish.
Chop eggplants at angles into uneven bite-sized pieces. This will help prevent them from sticking to the pan.
Rinse water chestnuts and chop them into halves
Chop chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, if using
Pull leaves off of basil stems to make 1 1/2 cups of leaves
Heat wok on high and add oil (2 Tb if adding chicken, 1 1/2 Tb if not.) Stir-fry chicken a few minutes to sear it, then toss with onions and red bell peppers. Mix in ginger and garlic with metal spatula to incorporate browned bits of chicken.
If you are making this vegan, just stir fry the pepper and onion mix
If adding tofu: remove vegetables (and chicken if using) to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil behind as possible. Add 1 Tb of oil and add 1/2 the tofu at a time and fry on each side until browned. Remove and set on paper towels to drain, then add anther Tb of oil and fry the remaining tofu and drain.
Slice the reconstituted dried mushrooms and discard the stems. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the soaking liquid for the thickener. If making vegan, use soaking liquid in the sauce instead of chicken broth.
Add the onion mix back into the pan along with the rest of the chopped vegetables and water chestnuts. Stir-fry a few minutes over high heat.
Pour in the sauce and toss the vegetables to coat. Add the fried tofu and gently toss to coat it. Lower heat and cover wok. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that vegetables are submerged.
Stir in the basil leaves and continue simmering covered for another 3 minutes until eggplant is thoroughly cooked and tender.
Mix the reserved mushroom soaking liquid with the cornstarch. 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.
The last 10 minutes of San Francisco’s Heart of the City Farmers Market are filled with vendors shouting “$1 a bag!” which is how I ended up lugging home 2 bags of eggplant and a huge bag of tomatoes home on the Bart train!
We’re in the middle of one of those rare but scorching Bay Area heat spells, so I decided to use my Crockpot to cook the eggplant and veggies instead of roasting them in the oven. Although not as toothsome as roasting, they came out tasty and ready to mix with penne or rigatoni pasta.
A very large bag of tomatoes. It’s fine if they’re a little soft, and that’s what you’re going to get with bargain bag tomatoes anyway.
5 long Italian eggplants and 4 small globe eggplants
1 ½ small onions, (or one large onion)
2 bell peppers (or a bag of frozen sliced bell peppers).
5 large mushrooms
6 spicy chicken Italian sausages (you can use sweet if that’s too spicy for you)
8 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
4 bay leaves,
Sprig of rosemary
1 Tb oregano
1 ½ tsp salt
A few grinds black pepper
1 Tb of olive oil
1 Tb red wine
1 Tb of sugar
Add after cooking sauce:
1 can artichoke hearts
1 fresh bunch of basil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 pound of penne or rigatoni pasta
Chop the vegetables and sausage and add the other ingredients in the first list to the Crockpot. I went to the trouble of dipping the tomatoes in boiling water and peeling them, but it’s not really necessary to do that.
Cooked sauce in the Crockpot
I started the sauce after work and let it cook all night. (You can also start yours in the morning and cook it all day.) I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be enough liquid to cook it properly, but in the morning I realized that the vegetables had released plenty of liquid. I removed the Parmesan rind, which had given up its flavor to the sauce.
I added a can of chopped artichoke hearts. I chopped half the bunch of fresh basil I had bought at the farmers market and stirred it in with the freshly grated Parmesan. I let it sit in the fridge until dinner time so the flavors would develop.
At dinnertime, I boiled 2/3 of a pound box rigatoni pasta and mixed it together with the sauce. I chopped up the rest of the fresh basil and sprinkled it on top with more Parmesan. This made 9 meals. Yay for leftovers!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This delicious Italian-style eggplant is marinated in olive oil, Meyer lemon and a touch of balsamic, with garlic and oregano. It makes an excellent side-dish for Italian food.
Make the dish a day before serving and marinate overnight in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.
3 medium or 4 small globe eggplants or 3 long eggplants
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tb garlic infused olive oil
1 cloves garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb balsamic vinegar
Juice of Meyer lemon
Several grinds black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
12-oz jar Italian-style roasted red bell peppers
14-oz can of artichoke hearts in water
10 fresh basil leaves
2 slices Meyer lemon (from blossom end)
Cut the eggplants at different angles into 2 inches pieces. Each piece should have skin on it. If using long eggplants, slice lengthwise, then cut crosswise into half coins. Put them on a rack above a rimmed baking pan, such as a jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the eggplant. Let it sit for 30 minutes. You will see it sweat. This improves the texture of the eggplant and is supposed to make it less bitter.
While eggplant is sweating, heat the oven to 350º F. Cut the white part of the leek length-wise and then crosswise into 1 ” pieces. Soak in a salad-spinner, then rise thoroughly. Spin until dry.
After eggplant sweats for 30 minutes, briefly rinse the pieces in the basket of the salad spinner, then spin, and pat dry with a paper towel. Grease a roasting pan with 2 TB garlic infused olive oil and add eggplant. Pour in the rest of the garlic oil and toss so that all the eggplant is coated with oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 350º F. Add the leeks to the roasting pan and roast an additional 15 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the hot pan. Turn off the oven and let the baking dish sit in the oven until it is cool, about an hour. The eggplant and leeks should be very tender.
Cut two thin slices of lemon from the blossom end (opposite the stem end), then cut each in half and set aside. Juice the lemon and pour it into in a deep casserole dish. Whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano with the lemon juice.
Transfer the eggplant and leeks to the casserole dish. Stir in the Kalamata olives.Pour the jar of roasted peppers into the eggplant, then fish out the peppers and slice into strips and stir into the eggplant. Drain the artichoke hearts and quarter them lengthwise and stir into the eggplant. Place the lemon slices on top.
Let the eggplant sit at room temperature. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for about 24 hours, and fold in the fresh basil leaves. If you have time, let it sit until it is room temperature before serving, but if not, it’s delicious cold as well. Serve as a side dish or over a lettuce and tomato salad.
My 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.
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.
Add the cauliflower mixture to the potatoes and stir until well combined.
Stir in melted butter and garam masala, and adjust salt.
This is truly the best tomato sauce I have ever tasted. The recipe comes from our Roman airbnb house guest, Cinzia. She made it simply with fresh tomatoes, sliced onion, olive oil and a few basil leaves. I added a bit of garlic, bay leaf and fresh oregano. We used Phat Beet’s farmer’s market tomatoes along with some dry farmed tomatoes from Monterey Market here in Berkeley. But it would be good even with grocery store tomatoes.
Makes 2 cups sauce:
8 ripe medium tomatoes
1 Tb olive oil
1/3 medium onion, sliced. We used a purple onion.
½ tsp kosher salt to taste
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
5 leaves of fresh oregano
10 small leaves basil (or 4 large leaves, cut up)
Fill a medium pot half-way with water and bring to a boil. Wash the tomatoes and de-stem them using a paring knife, then plop them into the boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes, and then drain in a colander to cool a few minutes.
While cooking the tomatoes, slice the onion.
While tomatoes are cooling, pour oil into the same pot, heat a minute, and then add sliced onion and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until onion softens. Mince the garlic and stir in.
Put tomatoes in a food processor with a steel blade, and pulse until the tomatoes become liquefied.
Stir tomatoes into onions. Let sauce cook for a few minutes, and then add bay leaf and fresh basil and oregano. If you are using large basil leaves, tear them up first. Cover pot and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I made my own teriyaki sauce after noticing that the bottled sauce generally has sugar or corn syrup as the #1 ingredient. This simple to make sauce has a little bit of brown sugar, but gets its flavor from the ginger, garlic and Mirin cooking sake (SAH- kay).
Combine in a small saucepan:
1 Tb corn starch
1 Tb tap water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Mirin
3 Tb brown sugar
1/4 tsp ginger powder
4 cloves garlic, smashed in a molcajete or mortar and pestle, and finely minced to make 1 Tb
2 inch piece of ginger, finely minced to make 1 TB
Whisk cornstarch and water together, then whisk in soy sauce, Mirin, ginger powder and brown sugar. Add fresh garlic and ginger. Heat to boiling, whisking constantly, then simmer for a few minutes until thick.
For chicken teriyaki: I’ve made this in the frying pan and barbecued, depending on the weather.
Pan cooked teriyaki:
Slice chicken breast and slice one onion. Heat pan with 1 Tb of canola oil. Add onions and chicken and teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 20 minutes until onions are soft and chicken is tender. Serve with rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
6 boneless, skinless breasts.
Cut off excess fat. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Place in on a large plate. Pour canola oil over breasts and spread it over both sides with your hands. Place breasts on hot grill and cook for approximately 10 minutes on each side until done. Brush teriyaki sauce on one side of chicken and put that side down on the grill. Reduce flame to low. Cook for 5 minutes. Brush other side of chicken with teriyaki, flip chicken to that side, and cook on low for another 5 minutes. Plate the chicken and pour a bit more sauce over it.
Use 3 salmon steaks or 1 1/2 lb filet:
Marinade salmon in 1 cup Mirin for 15 minutes
Place on hot grill. Cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon piece. Turn to other side and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Brush teriyaki sauce on one side of salmon, turn down flame, and cook for one minute, repeating for the other side.