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November 30, 2016

Green and Gold Immunity Boosting Stew


I’d rather not fill a prescription at the pharmacy, and it’s not just because of the crowds in line.  The first seasonal colds and viruses circulating through my community, and more recently in my own body, remind me of the value of a good homemade “medicine.”  It’s a boost to our immune systems when we eat whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, especially foods that deliver a great Rx of anti-inflammatory properties.  I’ll take a bowl of soup or stew over a dose of NyQuil anyday!
You probably already have your favorite recipes for bone broths or chicken soup to nurse a cold or ward one off, so this recipe is a plant-based alternative that counts on shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, lima beans, and kale to deliver a healing elixir.

Green and Gold Stew
makes 2.5 quarts, or 6 hearty servings
stems from wild mushrooms to make mushroom stock
extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms or other wild mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
5 cups butternut squash, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
1 bay leaf
​8 cups homemade mushroom stock
6 cups thinly sliced Lacinato kale (leaves from a small bunch)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Clean the mushrooms one by one with a damp paper towel and cut off their stems.  Place the mushroom stems in a medium saucepan with 8 1/2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer while you prepare the rest of the stew.  Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Cook the onion until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Transfer the onion and garlic to a large bowl and set aside while you cook the mushrooms.  Add a slick of oil to the hot pot and toss in about half of the mushrooms, cooking and stirring occasionally until they begin to brown.  Add the browned mushrooms to the onion mixture and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.  When all of the mushrooms have been browned, return the onion and mushrooms to the pot and add the squash, lima beans, and bay leaf.  Remove the mushroom stock from the heat and strain it through a sieve into the bowl that held the onions and mushrooms. Discard the stems. Pour the stock over the stew vegetables and bring everything to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Season with a few big grinds of black pepper.  Cook 40-50 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and add the ribbons of kale, stirring to combine.  Cook 5 minutes longer until the kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

February 13, 2016

Etti’s Herb Salad from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

This salad is truly a labor of love.  It’s best made when friends or family gather in the kitchen and you have plenty of hands to keep busy.  Once you have spread out your mounds of fresh herbs, picking all these cups of leaves will probably still take a group of four about fifteen minutes – or at least that’s been my experience with a few chatty groups so far!

Etti’s Herb Salad                                     
From Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi            Serves 6

2 cups cilantro leaves
1 ¼ cups Italian parsley leaves
2 cups dill leaves
1 cup tarragon leaves
1 ¼ cups basil leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 heaping cup whole raw almonds
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Gently immerse the herb leaves in cold water, and be careful not to bruise them.  Drain in a colander, then dry in a salad spinner or spread them out on clean kitchen towels and pat gently to dry.
Heat the butter in a pan, and add the almonds, salt, and pepper.  Sautéeé for 5 to 6 minutes over low to medium heat, until the almonds are golden.  Remove the almonds and transfer to a colander to drain.  Reserve the butter left in the pan, and keep it in a warm place so it does not set.  Once the almonds have cooled, coarsely chop them.
Assemble the salad when it will be served: Place the herbs in a large bowl; add almonds, cooking butter, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Toss gently and season to taste.  Serve immediately.

Why It’s Good For You
Fresh herbs deliver loads of chlorophyll to your body, which detoxifies your blood from metals and feeds the good gut bacteria.  The nutrient density of fresh herbs is really remarkable.  Consider this salad a powerhouse multi-vitamin:  Parsley and basil are high in vitamin K, which protects cells from oxidative damage, as well as vitamin A.  Parsley is also packed with iron to boost your energy.  Cilantro may reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood.  It is high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and a good source of folate, and fiber, as well as minerals calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.  Like so many herbs, cilantro is also a great source of vitamins K, A, and C.  Dill is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and it is a good source of folate as well as minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.  Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure.  Arugula’s sulfurous glucosinolates protect cells from DNA damage, lower inflammation and protect against UV damage.  Almonds are a great source of good-for-you fat as well as vitamin E. 

February 12, 2016

Pesto, Pistou, Gremolata, Chimichurri, Salsa Verde, and More!

Herbs.  There’s so much beautiful flavor and aroma in a summer herb garden.  And on the third consecutive day of freezing temperatures that sure seems like a long way off.  Adding herbs to the menu on these cold days is a great way to brighten some cold-weather cooking. Maybe the best part is that herbs won’t just add zest to these dishes, but they also deliver great nutrition.  In fact, most herbs common in our markets are as nutritious as kale and other leafy greens.
If you can take the time to smash your own herbs with olive oil, citrus zest, and maybe some garlic or nuts, the variety of herb sauces and dressings you can make will be right at home with everything from grilled fish or chicken to raw veggies to pasta or quinoa or a hearty bowl of soup.

Pesto, Pistou, Gremolata, Chimichurri, Salsa Verde, and More!
Across the Mediterranean region, traditional cuisines developed green condiments and sauces made from herbs such as basil or parsley combined with olive oil, garlic, and sometimes nuts such as pine nuts or walnuts, and often a bit of hard cheese such as Parmesan.  Whether it’s Genovese pesto, South American Chimichurri, or Northern Italian style gremolata, this heritage of green condiments and sauces brings superfood nutrition to your table.

Chimichurri traditionally accompanies grilled red meat.  It’s as simple as loading up the food processor and cleaning up.  Combine 1 cup Italian parsley, 1/2 cup cilantro, 2 garlic cloves, 1 seeded jalapeño, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, a big pinch of ground cumin and a teaspoon of kosher salt.  Pulse them together in the food processor and then allow the flavors to develop for at least half an hour before serving.  It’s a great addition to a rice dish, and used as a dressing for a grain salad it pairs well with all kinds of vegetables.

Chimichurri is so good for you – Parsley is packed with iron to boost energy, and it delivers chlorophyll, which oxygenates blood, detoxifies metals in our body, and feeds good bacteria in the gut.  Another great source of fat-soluble vitamin K, parsley is associated with promoting bone health and limiting neuron damage in the brain.  Parsley is one of the herbs highest in antioxidant beta-carotene.  Cilantro may reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood.  It is high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and a good source of folate, and fiber, as well as minerals calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.  Cilantro is also a great source of vitamins K, A, and C.

Gremolata originated in the cuisine of Milan.  It is a simple pairing of garlic, lemon zest, and parsley.  Try it over blanched green beans or asparagus.  It was traditionally served over meat such osso buco.  To dress about a pound of green beans or asparagus combine 2 cloves of garlic, minced, with the zest of two medium lemons, 1/4 cup of minced Italian parsley.   If you’d really like to ramp it up add 3 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan,  2 tablespoons of pine nuts and about 2 tablespoons of your favorite olive oil.  For a short cut, I use my microplane zester for the garlic and lemon zest and only have to chop some parsley.

Pesto, made from Genoa basil, the variety common to our markets, is a wonderful addition soups such as minestrone, and of course an ideal dressing for pasta and potatoes, or an Italian sandwich.  Basil contains flavonoids that protect your cells from oxidative damage.  Its essential oils deliver anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits.  Basil is high in vitamin A, essential for vision and maintaining healthy skin.  It is a good source of vitamin K, which is important for healthy blood clotting and strengthens blood vessels to reduce dark circles and prevent varicose veins.  Basil is also an excellent source of iron.  Make big batches of basil when your herb garden is full, and freeze 2 tablespoon portions in ice cube trays.  You’ll have the bright, warm taste of summer all winter long.

Combine 3 tablespoons of pine nuts and 1 clove of garlic in the food processor or with a mortar and pestle.  When the garlic is smashed to a paste and the nuts are finely ground, incorporate a cup of packed basil leaves, 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, and a big pinch of salt, and then slowly add in 1/4 cup of olive oil.

January 29, 2016

Lentil Cashew Stuffed Peppers


Lentil-Cashew-Stuffed Peppers
serves 4

1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup raw cashew milk (recipe below)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup curly kale leaves, roughly chopped
¾ cup diced tomatoes
1/3 cup unsulphured raisins
½ cup cashews, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked French lentils or brown lentils
sea salt, to taste
4 red, yellow, and/or orange peppers, cut in half lengthwise, cored, and seeded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk the curry powder into the cashew milk.  Set aside.  In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent.  Add the kale, tomato, and raisins, and sauteé for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the kale leaves begin to wilt.  Reduce the heat to low and add the chopped cashews and curry cashew milk  to the skillet.  Stir until the kale and raisins are evenly coated and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat, combine with the cooked lentils, and season with salt to taste.  Stuff the pepper halves with the lentil-cashew mixture, arrange in an oiled baking dish, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the lentil mixture is heated through.

Homemade Raw Nut Milk: Almond Milk, Walnut Milk, or Cashew Milk
(makes 4 servings)
1 cup raw almonds, walnuts, or cashews, soaked overnight in refrigerator
3-4 cups water
Seeds from ½ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
3 Medjool dates (optional)

Combine the nuts with just enough water to cover.  Soak overnight in the refrigerator.  Drain the soaking water and discard.
Combine the nuts, water, vanilla, and dates (if using) in a blender.  Using 3 cups of water makes a creamy milk, and 4 cups of water makes a thin milk.  Blend on high speed until smooth.

Strain the nut milk through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or nut skins. Refrigerate in an airtight jar for up to 3 days.  Tastes best after being chilled for several hours.  If separated, shake vigorously or give a quick pulse in the blender.


December 8, 2015

Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Bites

Healthy Holiday Tip #3: Serve your favorite sweets in smaller portions. When there’s a big spread, a one-inch square of fudge or brownie is more than enough.  Remember most people would rather sample a bit of everything than commit to larger portions.  Serving bite-sized sweets and hors d’oeuvres sends a subtle signal about reasonable portions.  


Chocolate-Peppermint Brownies
from Food&Wine December 2015
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 candy canes, crushed (1/3 cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper; allow 2 inches of 
overhang on the long sides.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, combine two-thirds of the chopped chocolate with the 2 sticks of butter. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir until melted. Scrape the chocolate into another bowl and let cool slightly. Add the remaining chopped chocolate and the peppermint extract to the heatproof bowl and melt over the simmering water; remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk 
the eggs with the brown sugar 
until combined. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture until glossy and thick. Sprinkle the flour and salt into the bowl and stir until just incorporated. Spread the brownie batter in the prepared baking pan. 
Dollop the peppermint chocolate onto the brownie batter and swirl in with a table knife.
  4. Bake the brownies in the 
center of the oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, 
until the edges are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let the brownies cool in the pan for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve.

This recipe appeared in Food & Wine December 2015.  It comes from Clarie Ptak, the California native who opened London’s hugely popular Violet Bakery.  If you’re looking for a new baking cookbook, the American edition of The Violet Bakery Cookbook could just be it.
December 8, 2015

Healthy at the Holiday Table


Keeping healthy habits can be a challenge at the holiday table.  In all the enthusiasm for making special memories and serving dishes we remember fondly, it’s all too easy to end up with a buffet of foods that offer mainly empty calories in unhealthy fats and sugars. Good enough while you’re caught up in the moment, but oh so regrettable when your body rebels the next day.  Moderation makes all the difference.  I don’t shy away from making special sweets and rich dinners at this time of year, but I’m sure to serve them alongside beautiful salads, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.  Keeping a base of solid nutrition is especially important at this time of year when festivities, busy schedules, and travel have us indulging day after day.

So today I’m sharing some easy tips and recipes to brighten your holiday table with good food that’s good for you, too.

Healthy Holiday Tip #1: Always serve a salad.  Make it colorful and interesting with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.  Start your meal with a hearty salad and you’re less likely to overdo it at the cheese platter or dessert cart.  If there won’t be a salad where you’re going, grab some raw vegetables or a green smoothie before you go.

Healthy Holiday Tip #2: Lighten up old favorites with whole grains, natural sweeteners, or more healthy fats.  The cheese balls pictured here swapped out cheddar and cream cheese for two lighter alternatives.  It’s easy to makeover baked goods, rice, dips, and dressings.  Try whole grain rice instead of white rice, white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, and plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Healthy Holiday Tip #3: Serve your favorite sweets in smaller portions. When there’s a big spread, a one-inch square of fudge or brownie is more than enough.  Remember most people would rather sample a bit of everything than commit to larger portions.  Serving bite-sized sweets and hors d’oeuvres sends a subtle signal about reasonable portions.  

Christmas Beets for an Hors d’ouevres or for a Salad
I served these at a recent party alongside assorted cheese, brownies, spiced nuts, olives, and biscuits.  The beets recipe was the most requested.  So they’re that good.  Because beets are high in antioxidants, folate, manganese, and potassium, they make a great immunity booster to counter the sugar at the holiday table.

This recipe makes a lot – about 6 cups – but they’ll keep well for a week in the fridge, and they make a beautiful gift – just fill small Mason jars with your beautiful red beets and tie a ribbon around the jar.  Pass along with a button of goat cheese for a delicious winter salad.  ​

​Spiced Pickled Beets
adapted from Food&Wine December 2015.
Makes about 6 cups

3 pounds medium beets
coarse sea salt
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups sugar
3 bay leaves
one 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons whole allspice berries
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
¾ teaspoons whole cloves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Scrub the beets and put them in a large baking dish with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt.  (I used a combination of golden and red beets, but they were all red after being pickled overnight.)  Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until a knife slides easily through the center of the larger beets.  Uncover and set aside to cool.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into ¾-inch wedges.  Transfer to a large Pyrex bowl or deep dish.

In a large saucepan, combine 1½ cups water with the sugar and vinegar.  Add the bay leaves, cinnamon, allspice, peppercorns, cloves and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  Pour the liquid over the beets and let cool before covering.  Refrigerate over night or for at least 8 hours.  Drain before serving or some time within a day.  The drained beets will keep well in the refrigerator for up to one week.

These were a beautiful addition to a salad.  I served the beets over baby arugula and spinach with toasted walnuts and tiny rounds of seasoned goat cheese.

December 8, 2015

Hint of Lemon Mini Cheese Balls

Healthy Holiday Tip #2: Lighten up old favorites with whole grains, natural sweeteners, or more healthy fats.  It’s easy to makeover baked goods, rice, dips, and dressings.  Try whole grain rice instead of white rice, white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, and plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  The cheese balls pictured here swapped out cheddar and cream cheese for two lighter alternatives.
I think “Hint of Lemon Mini Cheese Balls” is a terrible name, but the people who loved these most all remarked on the trace of lemon, and they really are just little bites of cheese.  I welcome comments offering a better name!
These make a great swap for a traditional cream cheese and cheddar cheese ball, and they deliver great taste for about half the fat of a traditional cheese ball.  Goat cheese, like almond cream cheese, is a healthier choice than the traditional counterpart.


Mini Cheese Balls
makes about 40 bite-sized servings

8 ounces Goat Lady chèevre or other mild goat cheese
8 ounces Kite Hill plain almond milk cream cheese
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Beat the cheeses, honey, and lemon zest together on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until smooth.  Freeze for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, blitz the almonds and thyme in a food processor or blender until finely ground.  Place the herbed nut mixture in a shallow dish.
Divide the cheese mixture into small portions, about 2 teaspoons each, and roll each into a small sphere.  Freeze 10 minutes.  Roll each cheese ball in the nut mixture.  Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for up to five days.  Note that the coating will lose its crunch over time.

These make a great hors d’oeuvres on their own or with rounds of toasted baguette, and they are a wonderful addition to so many salads.  Try them on a salad with roasted beets or with figs and caramelized onions.


December 7, 2015

Granola for a Special Day


There is always homemade granola in my pantry, and as much as I love it, that everyday granola is not much like this one.  Here is a granola worthy of birthday mornings, special weekend get-aways, and gift-giving.  I’ve adapted this recipe from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, and you can make it your own by changing the nuts, seeds, and fruits you use.

Granola for a Special Day
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup pecans
½ cup cashews
3 cups thick rolled oats
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup honey
1 cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup dried blueberries

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Coarsely chop all the nuts and combine them in a large bowl with the oats, and seeds.  In a small saucepan over low heat, gently warm the water, salt, oil, syrup and honey.  When it is warm, pour it over the nut mixture and stir until well combined.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola over it evenly in a thin layer.  If it is thicker than ¼ inch, spread it out on two baking sheets.
Bake the granola for 40 minutes, turning it and spreading it back out in a thin layer every 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool on a rack.
Five minutes after you remove it from the oven, stir in the dried fruit.  Leave to cool in the pan.  Store in an airtight container.
Enjoy this granola with your favorite yogurt or milk, or as a topping for a frozen dessert.

November 9, 2015

Veggie Burgers Aren’t Just for Vegetarians


Just like the first cold days send you reaching for chili and stew, there are moments that call for a burger.  But the meatless burger options out there leave a lot to be desired.  There are all too many restaurant menus and prepared food cases offering veggie burgers out of a sense of obligation and not because they believe in it.  Often they lack flavor and nutrition, and the texture can be one step removed from chewy paperboard. But a good veggie burger isn’t just for vegetarians, and it can deliver tremendous taste and fuel for an active lifestyle.  Here’s one delicious version that you can whip up in no time.

makes 4- 6 patties

1 cup smashed cooked potato OR 1 cup cooked brown rice
extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley or cilantro
kosher salt
the zest of 1 small lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine the potato or rice with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the minced garlic.  Set aside 1/4 cup of the chickpeas.  Add the remaining chickpeas to the seasoned potato or rice, and combine with a potato masher or large fork.  Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and fold in the parsley or cilantro.  In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, cumin, smoked paprika, and black pepper with the egg.  Stir into the burger mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer.
When ready to prepare, heat a slick of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Divide the burger mixture into 4 to 6 patties.  Cook the patties 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until the bottoms are slightly golden.
Playing around: a great addition to these burgers is sautéeed mushrooms.
Make it ahead: these can be frozen in an airtight bag.  Freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a container for up to 3 months.

October 2, 2015

Foster’s Market Chipotle-Squash Soup

I still haven’t received the season’s first CSA box with winter squash, so I picked up a couple small butternut squashes at the Wednesday market.  I could easily just have cubed the squash and roasted it for a big green salad, but the weather has been so gloomy, and I thought soup would brighten our spirits.  You can make this soup with any winter squash and use butter, chicken stock, and cream, but I prefer to keep it vegan, using olive oil at the base and omitting any meat or dairy.  A bit of coconut milk at the end would add that hint of creaminess without the dairy.

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Rosemary
makes almost 3 quarts

2 small butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
2 chipoltle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Put the squash, cut side down, on a sheet pan and add add 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of oil.  Roast until it is soft to the touch, about 40 minutes, depending on their size.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is very soft and beginning to brown.  Add the carrots and red pepper and cook about 10 more minutes, until the carrots begin to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.  Then add the broth, chipotle chiles, salt, and pepper and bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat.

While the soup is coming to a boil, scoop the squash flesh from the skins.  Add the squash to the soup, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and add the rosemary.  Puree the soup directly in the pot with an immersion blender, or allow it to cool and puree it in two or three batches in a blender.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


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