Autumn Salad with Pomegranate, Fuji Persimmon, Strawberries and Nuts

early autumn salad

I make this salad in early Autumn, when Pomegranates and Fuji Persimmons are appearing and there are a few decent strawberries left. As the season progresses, you may not find the strawberries, but the sweetness and fall colors of the persimmons and Pomegranate seeds still brighten this salad. I added a handful of raw shelled pistachios and sliced raw almonds for delicious flavor, texture and protein. Throw them together with mesclun (mixed lettuce greens) or baby spinach. It’s fine undressed or with a bit of blue cheese dressing.

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.

???????????????????????????????

Smooth Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

coconut cream heart

This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, onions and carrots, It is rich and creamy from coconut milk and brightened with fresh ginger. I’ve tried this soup with both regular and low-fat coconut milk, The regular gives a rich coconut flavor.but the low-fat is lower in calories. Chose what’s right for you. In any case, I recommend the most natural coconut milk you can find, with only guar gum added, no preservatives.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. It’s a good way to warm up the kitchen on a frosty morning. If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave it for 10 minutes (stab it first so it won’t explode!)

serves 4 bowls (8 cups), more or less, depending on the size of squash

Ingredients:

???????????????????????????????

1 medium kabocha squash

2 large carrots, peeled

2 tsp unrefined coconut oil (it tastes like coconut)

2 tsp grated ginger root

1 onion, chopped

2 – 3 cups water

several grinds black pepper

14 oz can coconut milk (regular or low-fat)

1 1/2 tsp salt to taste

Garnish: 1/3 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Instructions:

roasted squash and carrotsPreheat oven to 430◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 20 minutes.  Add carrots and turn off oven. Let the vegetables sit in the oven for half an hour.  Remove carrots from oven. Let squash stay in the oven several hours until it’s cool.

Melt coconut oil in a medium- large pot. Saute chopped onions until they soften. When squash is cool, cut it in half and scoop out and discard stringy seed pod from the squash. Carefully cut off the thin peel and add chunks of squash to the sauteed onions. Stir a few grinds black pepper.

Slice carrots crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Add carrots and ginger to the onions and saute a few more minutes.

veggies in soup for smooth kabochaSimmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

pour coconut milk into soup.jpgReserve a few tablespoons of coconut cream from the top of the can for garnishing the soup. Pour coconut milk into the broth and stir well.

Let soup cool for 30 minutes.

Pour into blender in batches and blend until smooth.

Stir in salt to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

toasting pepitasToast 1/3 cup pepitas on a comal or heavy skillet over medium low heat and toss on top of each soup bowl to garnish

Have fun making designs with reserved coconut cream.coconut cream topping.jpg

Peach Smoothie

???????????????????????????????Summertime means peaches, juicy and sweet. I bought a couple that were not as perfect. I popped them in the blender along with a speckled banana,  a scoop of plain non-fat yogurt and a glass of orange juice. Gave it a whirl and poured out this delicious smoothie!

???????????????????????????????

4 Bananas Chocolate Chip Banana Bread or Muffins

banana loaf

I used four soft, speckled bananas to add natural sweetness and rich banana flavor to this delicious bread with minimal oil and sugar. The bananas and just 3 tablespoons of olive oil make this bread moist.  Add strawberries for a taste of strawberry jam or blueberries. Add chocolate chips for a nice gooey sweetness.

strawberry banana bread

muffMakes one loaf or 12 muffins.

speckled bananas

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

A dash each of nutmeg and cinnamon.

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar plus 1 Tb for sprinkling on top. I used turbindo sugar for sprinkling.

4 bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

3 Tb olive oil

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar pieces

3/4 cup roughly chopped strawberries (optional)

1/2 cup blueberries (optional) If you are using frozen blueberries, defrost them and drain them before adding

½ cup walnut and/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 both flours, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

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

Mash bananas with a fork or potato masher. You can also whirl them in a food processor. Add them to the egg mixture, along with olive 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. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips and/or blueberries (if using) until they are just combined.

Spray a loaf pan or muffin tins with non-stick spray. (because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray paper muffin cups with non-stick spray if you choose to use them.) For extra buttery flavor, wipe a smear of butter at the bottom. Pour in batter. Sprinkle the top with turibindo sugar.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 1 hour- 65 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes,  just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a rack a few minutes before slicing.

banana bread with cream cheeseDelicious spread with cream cheese!

Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs, mushrooms and peas

???????????????????????????????Kasha Varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of kasha and farfelle (buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta). I dressed up my mom’s recipe with fresh herbs, mushrooms and freshly shelled peas.

toasting kasha

toasting kasha

Did you know that buckwheat is gluten-free because it is a fruit? Kasha is the roasted buckwheat seed (groat). Buckwheat has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol, is low-glycemic, and is a good source of protein and magnesium.

Did you know that even though farfelle is called bow tie pasta, it is named for farfella, which means butterfly in Italian!

Ingredients:

1 large pot of salted water

8 oz farfelle (bow-tie pasta)

1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

1 egg

1 Tb olive oil

1 small onion

1 ½ cups mushroom

1 tsp minced rosemary

¼ tsp minced thyme

¼ tsp dill weed

2 1/4 cups Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. If you want to use prepared broth, salt the kasha to taste.

½ – 1 tsp salt to taste, depending on saltiness of the broth.

A few shakes or grinds of black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups shelled English peas (you can substitute frozen peas)

1 Tb chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling

Heat broth to boiling in a heavy, medium saucepan.

While you are heating the liquids, prepare the kasha:

Sauté onion in olive oil over low heat about 10 minutes until soft,

While the onion is cooking, mix kasha with a beaten egg in a bowl until the kasha is coated. Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

???????????????????????????????Add mushrooms to onions, cover and cook another 3 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in herbs and cook another minute, then add the toasted kasha.

Pour hot broth into kasha mixture. Add bay leaf, lemon juice and pepper.  Salt it to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes until most liquid is absorbed. Stir in fresh peas in the last 7 minutes. If you choose to use frozen peas, stir them in at the last 4 minutes.

While kasha is cooking, cook pasta for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and Stir into cooked kasha. Extra broth from the kasha will act as gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Tinga de Pollo Adobado (Shredded chicken stew with adobo style chipotles)

Tinga de Pollo Adobado (Shredded chicken stew with adobo style chipotles)

chicken tostadaMy colleague, Gabriela Pingarron, brought this to our last potluck for tostadas.  I loved the flavor. It is so easy to make too, especially using boneless chicken breasts. Gaby made it with whole chicken as well, but I imagine she spent a bit more time separating the chicken from the bones and skin.

Chipotles in adobo sauce are smoky chipotle chili peppers cooked in tomato puree, onion, vinegar, garlic, spices and salt. Opening the can is easy, but I’ve also seen some recipes on the web to make it from scratch.

Ingredients:

2 Tb olive oil

1 onion, finely sliced

1 package of 6 chicken breasts

1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

7 oz can chipotles in adobo sauce

3 cups chicken soup. You can use homemade broth, such as Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup, or commercial broth

5 bay leaves

Rinse breasts and trim any fat. Cut into quarters. Pour oil into a medium-large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir the onions with a wooden spoon until they begin to soften. Add the chicken breasts, salt, and garlic and stir until they begin to brown.

Pour the can of chipotles en adobo into a blender. Add 3 cups of broth. Blend for a few seconds. Pour the blended mixture over the chicken and add enough broth to cover it. Add bay leaves and stir to separate chicken. Bring to boil, then lower to medium and cook for 20 minutes.

Fish the chicken out of the soup with a fork. Let it cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken by hand. Discard bay leaves.

chicken in pot

Add the chicken back to broth. Stir over medium heat until chicken absorbs almost all of the broth.

Serve as tostadas, or use as filling for tacos or Enchiladas Rojas. You can add the leftover chicken and broth to tortilla soup

chicken taco

Unbeetable Borscht!

borsht

This was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made when I was a kid. We used to eat it with blintzes  on the side. This is not traditional Russian hot borscht which has meat, cabbage and potatoes, but cold simple beet borscht, served back in the day with sour cream, Meyer lemon juice and a spoonful of sugar.

I roasted the beets before boiling them, for a deeper flavor. I’ve added the beet greens for more body and nutrients, as well as a bit of salt, dill and lemon zest for flavor. Since I’m watching my waistline, I added nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Not quite the same, but not bad either.

Ingredients:

beets with lemon

2 3/4 cups mild vegetable broth (see below)

1 bunch of 2 large beets, leaves included

1 Meyer lemon (a regular lemon will do if you can’t find a Meyer)

A few shakes, dill weed, salt, sugar, to taste

Trim “tails” and stems from beets. Scrub beets well. Line a covered container with foil (to prevent baked-on beet juice), then place beets in with ¼ cup of water, cover and roast at 400 for 40 minutes.

While beets are roasting, make vegetable broth. (You can do both a day ahead of time.)

trimmed leeks

3 1/2 cups water

1 large leek, dark green parts trimmed

2 large stalks celery. chopped

1 parsnip or 1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 sprig parsely

1/2 tsp dried thyme, or several springs fresh thyme

1/4 tsp dried dill weed, or several springs fresh dill

Several grinds black pepper

3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar to taste

Salt to taste

Directions:

veg broth with leeks celery parsnip garlic thyme and dill

Bring water to boil in medium pot. Trim outer dark leaves from leeks. Slice lengthwise into quarters, then chop crosswise and rinse thoroughly several times in a salad spinner

Rinse and chop celery and peel and chop parsnip or carrot. Thinly slice shallot and garlic clove. Add all vegetables to boiling water with herbs. Simmer for 25 minutes. After it cools, strain through a sieve into a bowl, pushing on the vegetables with a large spoon.. You should have approximately 2 3/4 cups left.

washed beet greets

While broth is booking, rinse beet leaves thoroughly: first rinse, then soak in a salad spinner for about 10 minutes in warm water, then rinse several more times. Chop them finely.

grating beets

Remove beets from oven and let cool. Peel them under running water. The peel should come off easily, revealing the jewel-like beets. Grate them on the large part of a box grater. Unless you have a pair of thin gloves handy,  prepared for hot pink hands!

grated beets

Bring vegetable broth to a boil and add grated beets and greens. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Grate lemon zest (the yellow part) on a fine grater into the soup, and then squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in vinegar, a few shakes of dill weed, ¼ tsp salt to taste and 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp sugar to taste. Let borscht cool, then refrigerate. You can also serve it room temperature.

Serve with more lemon juice and sour cream. (or substitute plain Greek yogurt for a low-fat alternative.)

Lemon Ricotta Cornmeal Pancakes

serving with pecans, strawberries ricotta cream

Inspired by a similar pancake I ate at the organic restaurant Gather in Berkeley, I invented this recipe. I loved the lemon ricotta cream with the grated Meyer lemon, topped with strawberries. Mix a few tablespoons of pecan pieces with maple syrup and scatter on top. It is sublime mixed with apricot jam and fresh peaches.

Flax seed meal amps up the nutrition level. Combine milk with lemon juice first, and let it sit while you mix the other ingredients. The lemon juice will curdle the milk so it resembles buttermilk.

Makes about 15 medium-sized pancakes. Half recipe is in parenthses.

Mix milk and lemon juice:

2  2/3 (1 2/3) cups milk (I use 1%)

1 (1/2) tsp Meyer lemon juice

Mix other wet ingredients:

¾ cup (1/4 cup plus 2 Tb) ricotta cheese (full fat is rich and low-fat is healthy. Sometimes I combine them to get the best of both worlds.

2 (1) large eggs

½ tsp grated rind of Meyer lemon

2 (1) tsp vegetable oil

2 (1) tsp melted butter

Mix dry ingredients:

1 (1/2) cup cornmeal

1 1/4 cup (1/2 cup plus 2 Tb) whole wheat pastry or finely ground flour. If you can’t find this, use 3/4 cup (1/4 cup plus 2 Tb) whole wheat flour and 1/2 (1/4) cup all-purpose white flour

1/4 (2 Tb) cup ground flax seed

2 (1) tsp baking powder

½ (1/4) tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

2 (1) Tb sugar

Stir in:

½ (1/4) cup sliced blueberries and crushed raspberries if desired

1/2 (1/4) cup pecan pieces

Directions:

Combine wet ingredients, mixing well.

Alternate 1/2 of milk mixture and dry ingredients, stirring only until lumps disappear. Fold in blueberries and nuts if desired.

Heat oiled skillet or pancake grill. Rub a cube of butter over surface. Fry pancakes over low-medium heat.

Lemon-ricotta cream:

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

½ tsp lemon juice from Meyer lemon

½ tsp grated Meyer lemon rind

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp maple syrup (pure is best)

Whip ingredients together for about 2 minutes. Serve over pancakes with fresh strawberries and peaches. Top with apricot jam or maple syrup if desired.

Pollo pibil – Achiote chicken

DSC01318Achiote paste is used in Mayan Yucatán cusine, the most famous dish being cochinita pibil (literally pork cooked in a pit). The deep red paste is made with ground annatto seed. Friends from tropical countries have told me that they just went to their achiote tree and broke open the pods to use the seeds for a fresh flavor. For the rest of us, buy it in a  3 ½ ounce brick in a small paper box at a Mexican market.

Seville OrangesYucatán cooks use sour oranges, called su’uts’ pak’áal in the Mayan language, which are also known as Seville oranges.. If they are hard to find in the your area, you can substitute juices from one orange, one lime, one lemon and one grapefruit.

The chicken is traditionally served with red onions which have been pickled with salt and lime juice.

Lorena del Carmen, a Mayan woman I know here in Berkeley, inspired me with her recipe. She made her chicken a bit differently though. She first boiled it, then split it in half and painted the achiote mixture on the inside of the chicken. She then baked it. But I’m following her recipe for the onions. Although she didn’t measure the ingredients, I estimated the amounts from watching her make them.

Ingredients:

ingredients for achiote chicken w grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange and achiote del MayaMarinade:

one pack of chicken breast halves (about 5 or 6 halves) and/or thighs

1/2 brick achiote paste

3 Tb olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp sea salt

several grinds black pepper

1 tsp or more to taste Tapatio sauce

Juice of 3 large Seville Oranges

OR

1 1/2 Tb  juice from one lime

1 Tb juice from half a lemon

1/3  cup  juice from 2 small juice orange

1/3 cup juice from one small grapefruit or half a large grapfruit

red onionsPickled onions:

1 red onion

1 Tb salt (I like to use sea salt)

Juice from 3 limes

Make the marinade:

achiote with olive oil oregano and salt

In a non-reactive container, mix achiote paste with olive oil, using a fork to make a smooth paste. Add oregano, salt and pepper and mix well.

Add the Tapatio sauce and  citrus juices and stir well until no lumps remain.

achiote sauceStab the chicken a few times on both sides to let the marinade permeate it. Submerge in marinade so that all sides of the meat are covered. Marinade 2 -4 hours.

onions sliced, salted and w lime juice marinadeAfter you put the chicken in the marinade, make the pickled onions. . Slice a red onion thinly.  Put a layer of onions in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle salt  over it, and continue to layer with salt, using  a total of 1 Tb salt. Squeeze 3 limes over the onions.  mix with your fingers, and then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate until chicken is cooked. The onions will soften when pickled. Stir every so often while the onions are pickling. Serve with the chicken.

Grill meat on barbecue over medium flame.

If you’re not up for barbecuing, you can place the chicken in a shallow baking pan under the broiler for 15 minutes until they brown.

serving

Serve with pickled onions and  fresh tortillas. Or make tacos or tostadas with them.