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.

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Creamy Spicy Kabocha Soup

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This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash and seasoned with cumin and spicy garam masala. Although it is rich and creamy, it uses no cream; only 1% milk and broth.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. Use leftover squash for other dishes or freeze for future soups.

serves 3 bowls

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Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 1 hour at 450◦

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Cut top off then let cool. Cut flesh from peel and into chunks, and discard stringy seed pod

3 cups squash chunks

1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 cups 1% milk

3 cups squash chunks

Heat broth and milk and add squash. Let squash sit in warm liquid for 15 minute to soften.

Blend in batches.

Stir in ½ -1 tsp salt to taste

½ tsp cumin

a pinch to ¼ tsp garam masala to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

Toast ¼ cup pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet and toss on top of soup to garnish

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!

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4 Bananas Low-fat Banana Bread or Muffins

banana nut bread  banana muffins in basket

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 one tablespoon of olive oil make this bread moist. If you only have 3 bananas you can add a half cup of blueberries. My daughter likes the chocolate chips, but you can omit them to lower the sweetness and calorie count even more.

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

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 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

1 Tb olive oil

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (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.

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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. 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 sugar.  Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 45-50 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.

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 kasha mixture into hot broth; 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. Stir in 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