delicata squash

delicata squash + various seasonal veggies

rainbow carrots 2

The day after a girls night with glass of wine after glass of wine will make for a slow moving Saturday, and this was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. After making it back to Santa Cruz I grabbed my friend K and headed to New Leaf, where we rambled through the store like a pair of lovers and picked out veggies and spices to put together this savory curry. I also picked up a breakfast burrito and a six pack, to help cure the hangover, because we were both moving at a snails pace this afternoon. The rain and the completely free day made preparing dual curries at her home feel guilt free and productive. I had planned on starting the curry at noon, which would make it perfect to consume six hours later during the SF Giants game 4 of the World Series, even with the extra pair of hands we didn’t end up starting our cookers until 2:30pm and now we have dinner (or breakfast) for Sunday. It was fun to share ingredients and stories with my girl and using the slow cooker made it brainless and left time to take a West Cliff stroll with the doggies. (K made her curry sans chicken and can easily be made veggie or vegan)

Serve with brown or white rice.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of organic boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 delicata squash, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 bunch rainbow carrots, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 (15 oz) can of plain tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 heaping tbs of red curry paste
  • 2 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp gram masala
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 bunch of curly leaf kale, stems removed and chopped

Instructions

  1. Add the chicken thighs to the bottom of your crock pot with the chopped onion and delicata squash.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, tomato sauce, garlic, ginger, curry paste and spices. Once whisked together well, pour it on-top of your chicken and squash in the crock pot.
  3. Cook on low for six hours, adding the kale in the last 15-30 minutes of cooking time.
  4. Serve over rice, cauliflower “rice”, or simply on it’s own! Enjoy!
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Kale and crimini mac’ and cheese

with smoky gouda, white cheddar and parmesan bread crumbs.
buffalo chick mac and cheese 2

Adopted from this recipe on Epicurious.com

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • 2 cups (packed) coarsely grated smoked gouda
  • 2 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp white cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lacinato kale, stems and center ribs removed
  • 12 ounces mini shell pasta
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless sourdough bread

It is Game 1 of the WORLD SERIES and the San Francisco Giants are playing the Kansas City Royals. What better reason to make this American favorite while watching America’s favorite sport. It was perfect to bring to a friend’s backyard BBQ and share with new and old friends. I even got to sneak in some nutrient rich kale for added texture and flavor.

Sautee the onions, crimini mushrooms and garlic in a pan with the coconut oil, add the kale towards the end until it is wilted and the cayenne pepper for added kick.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium heat. Add flour; stir constantly 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups coarsely grated Gouda and 1 cup white cheddar. Stir until cheeses melt, about 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter casserole dish.

Bring water in pot to boil. Add pasta; cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Stir pasta into warm cheese sauce. Place half of macaroni in dish; smooth top. Top with 1 cup cheddar cheese, then veggie mixture. Top with remaining pasta mixture; spread evenly.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter. Place breadcrumbs in medium bowl. Drizzle butter over; toss. Add 1/2 cup finely grated parm and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over mac and cheese.

Bake mac and cheese until breadcrumbs are golden and edges are bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

home-kalettes-new

Coming this Fall: Kalettes
This Fall/Winter Season we can look forward to a new cross-pollination of brussel sprouts and kale, coming exclusively from LOCAL grower, Mann Packing. Kalettes are a brand new vegetable combining the nutty and sweet flavors of the two vegetables. They have a very appealing look and are easy to work with, as well as being packed with nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Keep your eyes out for this new item, I cannot wait to play with this new veggie.

Photo Aug 14, 8 25 59 PM

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Pizza to me is many things: the ultimate comfort food, my guilty pleasure and a blank canvas. In being a blank canvas, pizza allows the home chef to “get-rid-of” excess produce before tossing it in the compost. I am pretty sure most home gardens are still over flowing with zucchini and squash this week, while I happened to go overkill at the Farmer’s Market and purchased a pre-selected giant bag of the delicious summer staple. Did you know that August 8th is even Sneak Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch Day?

I have been putting zucchini in everything, my eggs in the morning, salads, on the grill, in pasta dishes, and I am down to my last single zucchini and yellow squash. Clearly this calls for thinly rolled pizza dough and squash sliced on the mandolin, with a sprinkling of goat cheese, olive oil, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Voila!

pineapple-margarita-032-685x1024
Tequila, in moderation, is one of my favorite things. I cannot remember when I fell in love with tequila, but spending my college days working at a tequila bar definitely added fuel to the fire. Trying new tequilas can be like tasting new wine, find out what you like and do not believe every up selling bartender or lurker with a black Amex, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be great. Go with your personal palate and please step out of the Patron box. My favorite silver tequila is Herradura, but I was on a bit of a budget so I used Hornitos silver.
I love how easy it is to infuse the spice and flavor of the jalapeño that keeps you coming back for more. As a bonus, jalapeños are super easy to grow at home, so consider adding them to your veggie garden next time you plant.
For the infused tequila:
  • 3 jalapenos, washed
  • 750ml bottle of silver or reposada tequila, 100% Agave only please
  1. Slice jalapenos into ¼ inch size pieces, including the seeds. Place them in a large quart size jar. Pour in a 750 ml bottle of tequila. Seal the lid and give the jar a good swirl. Keep the jar in a dark place for 2-3 days. I like to swirl the jar once a day to mix. I use mason jars for both infusing the tequila and for creating the cocktails.
  2. After your 2-3 days, pour the tequila through a fine mesh strainer to remove all the pieces of jalapeno and seeds. Funnel the infused tequila back into the jar or bottle for storage.
  3. Refrigerate

Jalapeno_Estonia_3

To make 2 cocktails
  • 2.5 oz jalapeño infused tequila (I tend to have a little heavy hand)
  • 3 oz FRESH Pineapple juice, I bought mine at Whole Foods
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Diced jalapeño for extra spice if needed, I’m obsessed with jalapeño and like the fresh pieces in my cocktail
  • Dash of soda water for bubbles
  • Jalapeño or pineapple wedge to garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in jalapeño infused tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice, Grand Marnier. Shake to combine and chill. Strain into prepared glasses and if desired, garnish with a pineapple wedge,  jalapeño slice or lime.

cherry tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are finally here and in abundance. Be careful of storing your summer bounty. When you refrigerate a tomato you damage the internal membrane and create the ubiquitous mealy texture that we connect with bad or off-season tomatoes. The best place to store tomatoes is in the open air, they continue to develop their flavor until maturation peaks a few days after harvest.

I wanted to try out this recipe from Food52 that was originally a Martha Stewart creation. Claiming to create a sauce as it cooked the ingredients in one pot by simply using the appropriate proportions appealed to me, as well as being able to feature the beautiful sungold and cherry tomatoes coming from our local farms.

Here is the recipe

12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1/2 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, I used more than recommended for extra spice
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet (the linguine should lay flat). Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs or a fork, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with olive oil and Parmesan.

I sautéed crimini mushrooms and a little onion in a sauté pan, and added them at the end for a little more substance. This negates the dish being truly a one pot pasta, but I was worried the mushroom flavor would overwhelm the rest of the dish. I made this for my friends with a delicious light salad and everyone was happy and full as we dined alfresco in the Summer air. This became an instant classic, and something I am bound to cook for the rest of my life.

white-cauliflower-head-lo

Filet Mignon with Truffled Mushrooms. Cauliflower and Manchego gratin. Padrón peppers. Simple spinach salad.

I was looking forward to Friday night staying in and cooking a decadent meal with someone special all relaxed during this unseasonal July cold spell. This was not intended to be a healthy meal, but I wanted to include the Farmers Market buys I picked up this week. Cauliflower has become somewhat of a trendy food lately, as you’ll notice by the cauliflower “rice” and the cauliflower “mashed potatoes” you see all over the food blogs and in the hot food section of Whole Foods. Cauliflower has many health benefits, such as cancer prevention, detox support, antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits and digestive support. If we fail to give our body’s detox system adequate nutritional support, yet continue to expose ourselves to unwanted toxins through our lifestyle and our dietary choices, we can place our bodies at increased risk of toxin-related damage that can eventually increase our cells’ risk of becoming cancerous. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to bring cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables into our diet on a regular basis.

My dad and his friends have this dinner club, that pairs two gentlemen together, and monthly they take turns doing what they call Man Meals at rotating houses. This means there is a lot of meat, comfort food and scotch. Think premium steaks, macaroni and cheese, garlic bread and very little greens. This meal is inspired by those man meals, filet mignon and mushroom ragout, with manchego cauliflower gratin and padrón peppers. I added a simple spinach salad to complete the feast, because I am eating this meal too and greens are a must at my table.

For the filet and mushroom ragout:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 12 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/3 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 2 1-inch-thick filet mignons (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
  • Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and marjoram; sauté 30 seconds. Add mushrooms; toss to coat with butter. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook until mushrooms have released their juices, about 13 minutes. Add chicken broth, wine, and whipping cream and bring to boil. Cook uncovered until mushrooms are tender and sauce coats mushrooms, about 5 minutes. Season mushroom ragout to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Ragout can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover skillet and refrigerate.
  • Heat heavy medium skillet over high heat until hot. Add peanut oil and tilt skillet to coat evenly. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plates. Rewarm mushroom ragout in skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Spoon ragout partially over steaks and onto plates. Drizzle mushrooms on each plate with 1/4 teaspoon truffle oil.

Cauliflower and Manchengo gratin

  1. 3/4 cup half-and-half
  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  4. 1 cup whole milk
  5. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. One 2-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
  8. 1/2 cup whole roasted almonds with skin, plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds (3 ounces)
  9. 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely shredded Manchego or other mildly nutty semi-aged sheep’s- or cow’s-milk cheese (3 1/2 ounces), such as Gouda
  10. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  11. 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half until steaming, then transfer it to a food processor or blender. Add the 1/2 cup of whole almonds and process until finely ground. Let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the half-and-half through a fine sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the almonds to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the ground almonds.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the milk and the half-and-half and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 3/4 cup of the Manchego and whisk until melted. Whisk in the nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  3. In a large skillet, bring 1/2 inch of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower, cover and cook over high heat until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the cauliflower in a colander. Wipe out the skillet.
  4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer the cauliflower to a 7-by-10-inch glass or ceramic baking dish and spread the Manchego sauce on top.
  5. Sprinkle the gratin with the remaining cheese, the 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds and the paprika and bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, or until bubbling and browned on top. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I completed the meal with blistered padrón peppers, cooked over high heat and salted, because I know my date loves this seasonal specialty. And a simple spinach salad with balsamic and heirloom cherry tomatoes.

We both were satisfied.

 

Photo Jun 20, 8 19 24 PM

Summer is here.

My all time favorite peaches come from Dwelley Farms out of Brentwood, there is nothing else like them. Juicy, white, sweet gems. Stone fruit season is the symbol of summer and all my favorite things, especially the 4th of July. I love the tradition of fully enjoying my home town, biking about and playing tourist for the day. Summer Solstice starts the celebration of beach days, longer sunshine hours, and alfresco dinners.

flank steak cubes. roasted summer squash. grilled peach salsa. shishito peppers

lime+tequila+basil+kiwi

Ah-mazing

Photo Jun 20, 7 33 46 PM

Grilling peaches caramelizes the natural sugar in the peaches with the added flavor from the grill. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit, add a little olive oil to the grill and leave on for 8-10 minutes. While the peaches are grilling:

dice 1-2 cloves of garlic

half a red onion also diced

chopped cilantro

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced

Combine ingredients with fresh lime juice and the cooled peaches

For the flank steak cut into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Use a cast iron pan to cook until done.

Summer squash is my favorite, pretty and yummy. Season with salt and olive oil and throw on the grill or  use your broiler.

Photo Jun 20, 8 18 30 PM

I wish I could quote my dear friends, because I think they said it was “the best meal ever” but I had one to many delicious kiwi/lime margaritas and I cannot recall their exact words.

shishito peppers- raw

Last Summer I was enthralled with Padrón peppers. Incredibly easy to prepare, the Padrón pepper is a little like playing Russian roulette, most are sweet but every once in a while you get a HOT one. Invariably my heat sensitive bestie would nab the hottest one and set her pretty little mouth on fire. There is no rhyme or reason to their heat, size and shape do not matter, but they are so ridiculously yummy and worth the suspense. Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend it camping in Yosemite with some of the best people on the planet, and I brought a few pounds of Shishito peppers to throw on the BBQ. Shishito peppers are very similar to the Padrón pepper, a little thinner and oiler, but with the same 1 out of 10 odds that you will get a spicy one. I drizzled olive oil and lemon salt into a plastic bag full of these delectable veggies, put them in a grill basket and let them blister on the fire. They are also perfect for skewers if you do not have a grill basket. Enjoy Shishito peppers year round.

 

 manns2

A simple salad with amazing lettuce options, like this Scarlett Butter  lettuce that is unbelievably delicious and delicate, paired with oven roasted gold beets makes a perfect accompaniment to any meal. I am obsessed with all the specialty greens from Mann’s packing, out of our very own Watsonville. Currently this company is growing these greens year round, sourcing their seeds from Europe and growing out of the Yuma. The price is right, they are picture perfect and the small heads make an easy meal for a chef or home cook.

Photo Feb 20, 7 02 05 PM

 

I used my mom’s simple salad dressing, oven roasted gold beets, and black sesame seeds. Simple. Quick and delicious. You can roast the beets ahead of time and have then on hand to add to salads all week.