Sweet n Salty Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

Roasted pecansYou’ll go nuts for these easy and delicious roasted pecans! Sprinkle on pear or apple salad, stir into cereal and yogurt, or just eat em out of the jar.

Make these with olive oil for a healthy, vegan treat. Or substitute butter for all or part of the oil if you like.

ingredients for roasted pecans.jpgIngredients:

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
A dash of cinnamon
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup (optional)
Preheat oven to 325’
Toss together all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until nuts are coated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts out to make an even layer.
Put pan on the middle rack. Roast for 10 minutes.
Let cool a few minutes, then use the parchment paper to pour them into a jar for storage.
raosted pecans in pear and fig salad

Roasted Mushroom Barley Soup with Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth

I made a simpler version of my roasted mushroom barley soup with rich chicken stock instead of beef broth and a mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms. I used Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup made with double the amount of bones and drippings. I save the bones and drippings from roast chicken in a container in the freezer, then boil them with the vegetables and herbs to create a rich broth. After letting it sit long enough for the fat to solidify, I spoon out the fat, leaving a spoonful for flavor. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan you can substitute Vegetable Broth

I use a variety of dried mushrooms, including porcini, shiitake, and chanterelle. I soak them in warm water for ten minutes, then chop them and add to the broth, along with the soaking liquid.

roasted mushrooms

Roasted fresh Crimini mushrooms make the bulk of the mushrooms in the soup. These brown mushrooms are a more mature version of the common white mushroom, so you can sub white mushrooms if you can’t find criminis in your grocery store.

I roasted fresh shiitake, king and oyster mushrooms. They stand up to roasting and add a variety of flavors and textures. You may be able to find them at your farmer’s market in the fall. You don’t need to buy too many of these more expensive but flavorful mushrooms. Feel free to mix up the mushrooms as you find them. King mushrooms can make some good food porn too, if your tastes run that kinky!

King and Oyster mushrooms

Ingredients

6 cups chicken broth

½ cup pearl barley

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2  tsp white pepper

several grinds black pepper

3 – 4 Tb olive oil

1 lb crimini (brown) mushrooms

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms

1 fresh King mushroom

5 fresh oyster mushrooms

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

5 dried porcini mushrooms

5 dried chanterelle mushrooms

3 Tbs dry sherry

1 tsp salt, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring broth to boil in a large pot over high heat.

While waiting for the broth to boil, soak the dried mushrooms in enough water to cover them by 2 inches.

Rinse and gently scrub the fresh mushrooms with a wet paper towel or mushroom brush and let them dry over paper towels.

When broth is boiling, Stir in barley, thyme and pepper.

Place fresh mushrooms in a roasting pan and toss with olive oil. until they are coated on all sides. Roast for 20 minutes. When they are done, let cool, then ladle a few cups broth over them, then remove the mushrooms to a cutting board and pour back the extra broth.  Chop the mushrooms roughly and stir them into the broth.

chopped soaked dried mushroomsRemove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid onto a cutting board. Dice them, then add to the soup along with the soaking liquid.

Simmer  the soup for 30 minutes. Correct seasonings, stir sherry in and salt to taste.

serve.jpg

Serve the pearl barley inside the oyster mushrooms for good luck!

 

 

Black Beans with Yams

serving black beans and yamsSlow cooked black beans brightened by chunks of yams in a rich, slightly chocolaty sauce will warm your winter chill. Thanks to CHEFS student Maria for inspiring this recipe from her vegetarian chili.

Ingredients:

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped, seeds and ribs discarded

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans

8 cups cold water

1 Tb cumin

1/4 tsp ancho chili powder. Add more if you like spicy beans.

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp oregano

3 large Diane yams, peeled, thickly sliced and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces

about 1 Tb salt. Add a bit at a time until it’s to taste

Instructions:

Fry onions and bell pepper in olive oil until the skin begins to char. Add garlic and fry for a minute more. Remove from heat.

Rinse beans and discard imperfect ones. Add to cold water in a large pot. Stir in seasonings and bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Add fried vegetables and chopped yams to water and bring to boil again. Pour contents of pot into a slow cooker. Add more water if needed to cover the beans. Set cooker on low and cook all day or all night, depending on whether you start in the morning or evening. It could take at least 8 hours until the beans are soft. Salt to taste, stirring in salt a bit at a time. Freezes well.

 

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.

Roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic and thyme

roasted fingerling potatoes

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.

garlic and thyme in pot

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.

garlic thyme in olive oil

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.

fingerling potatoes before roasting

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.

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.

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

Fantastically Fresh Tomato Sauce

DSC03130This 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.

DSC03134Put tomatoes in a food processor with a steel blade, and pulse until the tomatoes become liquefied.

DSC03139Stir 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.

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

Bright and Crunchy Kale/Broccoli/Carrot Salad

DSC03091I combined 3 popular salads: kale, broccoli and carrot, into one delicious and nutritious salad. Carrot and jicama add natural sweetness and a bit of crunch, Meyer lemon juice and cilantro brighten the flavor; and almonds give an added crunch.

Kale is quite tough and bitter, but a good massage will break down its cell walls. This cell damage frees the enzymes which break apart the bitter chemical compounds. You can even light candles and put on soothing music to relax the kale.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Broccoli Broccoli stems are very tender once you peel off the tough outer layer. Broccoli salads are made from grating these stems.

I made this with only one bunch of kale, which created a balance between the kale and the other vegetables. If you like your salad with more kale, add another bunch.

Serves 4

ingredients1 bunch Dinosaur kale (also known as Tuscan or Lacinato ), or curly kale ,stems discarded

3 large carrots, peeled

3 or 4 broccoli stems, peeled (use crowns for another purpose)

1 small jicama, peeled

2 Tb cilantro leaves, stems discarded

1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

Dressing:

2 Tb garlic-infused olive oil (or 2 Tb olive oil and 1 clove garlic)

¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

¼  tsp salt to taste

2 Tb lemon juice (Meyer lemon is best)

If you don’t have garlic-infused olive oil, pour extra virgin olive oil into a teacup or ramekin with 1 clove garlic and microwave for 1 ½ minutes. Pour into a food processor with blade and run on high until garlic is minced.

Add tahini and salt to garlic olive oil. Run processor on high until dressing is emulsified. It will be  thick.

chop kaleStrip the leaves from kale and discard the stems. Chop leaves, rinse well in salad spinner and spin dry. Put in a medium bowl.

DSC03087Roughly squeeze and massage dressing into kale leaves with your hands for several minutes until kale shrinks to half its volume and becomes darker and silky.

Peel carrots, broccoli stems and jicama, then shred using the grater attachment to the food processor.

Add these vegetables and the lemon juice to the kale. Toss salad until the dressing coats it.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with almonds and cilantro leaves. Throw on some pomegranate seeds if they are in season.

Perfect 3- minute Corn on the Cob

corn on the cobMy big sister, Leanna, gave me this easy recipe for perfect corn on the cob: Fill a large pot 1/3 with water and cover it. Heat to boiling. While water is heating, shuck the corn and rinse it. When water is boiling, put the corn in and cover the pot. Turn off the flame. Let the corn sit in the hot water for 3 minutes. Cut off the stem end, strip off leaves and silk, and enjoy! We love the white Brentwood corn here in the Bay Area. It is so sweet I like to eat it for dessert.