Black Bean Salad

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Another flexible recipe that will adjust to whatever you have on hand, but as always, the more colorful, the better-looking (for your eyes) and the better for your health. This one had:

1 cup dried black beans, which I brought to a boil with water to cover in a saucepan, over high heat, then turned off and left overnight, then cooked a bit more the next day to just the right tenderness, which takes 15 minutes or so — this will amount to about 2 1/2 cooked beans
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced, tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil and roasted in 400 degree oven 12-15 minutes or just until it has a touch of color (indicating a Maillard reaction has occurred — this brings out flavor)
1 cup frozen corn, toasted in a dry skillet until slightly colored
1 orange, peeled, cut into sections and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 handful cilantro, minced
1 red pepper, roasted in 400 degree oven ~20 minutes, then cooled, peeled under running water, and diced
the juice of 1 lime
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (I do this to taste because of the kids)
1 avocado, chopped and immediately tossed with some juice from the lime
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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After you’ve got all that up there done, the rest is easy. Just toss, adjust seasonings, and enjoy.

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Note: I try to use all organic ingredients whenever I can, so if you peruse the recipes here, there are many that will specify “organic this” and “organic that”. I’ve decided to stop doing that now since many people are more aware about the benefits and implications of opting for organic foods whenever and wherever possible. However, to make it easy for the reader who isn’t used yet to this kind of intentional shopping, here’s a handy guide that may help.

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This is a graphic that appeared here but it seems they’ve taken the original down and I can’t find a new link. No copyright infringement intended.

Addicted to Ayran

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Ayran is my go-to drink this summer. It goes so well with Mediterranean food, or you can try it with Mexican or anything that has a bit of a kick or bite to it. Ayran is easy to make too, just three ingredients:

yogurt
ice water
salt

I start out with a 1:1 ratio with the yogurt and ice water, run it in a blender, or whip quickly in a bowl with a whisk, and adjust accordingly to the thickness I like. I prefer it just a little thinner than a smoothie. Add salt to taste. The saltiness shouldn’t overpower at all, just add another dimension to the flavor. It’s *kinda* like a very mild, drinkable cheese. Really refreshing with samosas, or a gyro. Enjoy!

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Fresh Figs

Was getting a bit tired of our usual veggie salads, and needed more vegetarian ideas, specifically those with more of a Mediterranean bent, so I got me Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. I cannot wait to try ALL the recipes. Okay, maybe 99%. I’m not a leg-o-lamb person. But hubby is, so maybe I’ll make that one for him. For now, I’m going page by page and just having fun discovering new flavor combinations. This one with the figs and sweet potato and reduced balsamic is excellent, though I wish I would have added some feta to up the salty element. (I don’t like goat’s cheese, which is in the original recipe. But maybe next time I make this I’ll add some just for the hubs, since he can eat that.)

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3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into wedges (I cut each in half lengthwise, then each half into quarters, then each quarter into 3 pieces, lengthwise)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss the above in a large mixing bowl, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast about 20 minutes until tender and browned in places.

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While sweet potatoes are roasting, reduce

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (doesn’t have to be fancy)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (superfine if you have it, but regular will do, what’s important is it gets dissolved well before you heat it up)

in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer a few minutes until thickened, but not too thick as to be unpourable or undrizzleable.

Also, prepare

2 tablespoons olive oil
large bunch green onions, trimmed, cut into 2-inch thickish shreds
1 red hottish pepper, sliced thin
6 ripe figs, wiped or rinsed clean, quartered (if large) or halved (if small)
Maldon sea salt (or other coarse salt) and additional black pepper for seasoning

Heat olive oil in a saucepan or skillet. Add green onions and red pepper and cook over medium heat, for a few minutes or just until wilted and fragrant.

When sweet potatoes are done, arrange in a platter, along with the figs. Scatter the green onion-red pepper mixture all around, including the oil, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Sprinkle Maldon sea salt and black pepper on top to finish and you’re done! Enjoy!

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Can be prepared for St. Albert of Jerusalem‘s Feast on September 25, though fresh figs may be tricky to find at that time. I wouldn’t hesitate to sub dried Calimyrna figs, which is available year-round, either stewed in a bit of wine, or soaked in the balsamic vinegar prior to use in the recipe, or used as is but chopped.

French Onion Soup / Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinée

Reposting from my old blog.

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Onion soup is a lovely thing to make right after the onion harvest at end of season, when the weather’s just starting to cool down. Onion soup is also a lovely thing to start love stories with. Like ours, which certainly didn’t begin with onion soup, but has seen its share of this dish through the years. Our first real date (though with a group) was at the now-defunct 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant in St. Louis. My then-suitor invited me via a sweet 2-page note, hyping up the view of airplanes taking off and landing as “romantic”. I didn’t see anything romantic about airplanes doing what they do, but whatever. Well, everyone ordered this starter served in a crock like the one in the last photo. I fell for the crocks.

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Now ubiquitous, French onion was in vogue at the time, served in a crock at the (also defunct) Famous-Barr‘s basement restaurant on Kingshighway and Chippewa in St. Louis. St. Louis Bread Company chose to serve it in sourdough bread bowls, crowned with golden melted cheese flecked with brown. You take the bread lid that’s served on the side and dip it in the soup, then you eat the soup, then you eat the bowl it came in. Scrumptious and brilliant.

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As a newlywed, I burned my hand making Julia Child’s version (in The Way to Cook) in our apartment one monthiversary. The soup had just finished its short foray into the broiler to melt the cheese and when I pulled the sheet bearing the cups (we didn’t have crocks) a bit too quickly and sloshed the boiling liquid right onto my wrist. My hubby promptly got butter and ice and ice water in a large bowl, and I ate dinner with one hand in the bowl and one hand holding my fork. Yeah, romantic indeed.

Our children all love French onion soup, and it’s one of our emergency meals, the closest SLBC (now Panera) a mere 5 minutes away. The homemade version, of course, is so much better, cheaper, and customizable. To make it, you’ll need:

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3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 large onions, sliced thin (red and yellow combo is nice, as are Vidalias, and no need to get too fanatic about slicing evenly)
2 large pinches sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup wine, red or white (almost any dry wine will do, or sherry or French vermouth)
2 tablespoons flour (gluten-free instructions below)
1 French baguette, sliced and toasted
2 quarts beef broth or stock, or as some will debate, water
Grated Gruyere, I prefer Swiss over French, but your choice
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Pecorino or Grana Padano), optional

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Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring every once in a while, until onions are limp and just beginning to brown.

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Add the sugar, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring every few minutes, until onions are caramelized nicely, 20 minutes or so. Add garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. I just stick the thyme sprigs in there — if you want to go through the trouble of picking the leaves off the stem, be my guest, but I don’t usually bother as the leaves tend to fall off anyway in the cooking and I can fish out the stems easily enough later. Cook a few minutes more. Add wine and bring to a boil by turning up the heat. When boiling, reduce heat and simmer until wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over, and cook about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the beef broth and bring back to a boil. When boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes more.

While soup is cooking, toast bread slices and grate the cheeses.

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Fish out the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and you’re done! Ladle into crocks or individual soup bowls, top with toasted bread slices and sprinkle on the cheeses. I prefer Swiss Gruyere and try to find the real thing as I find locally produced ones too salty. I do like the touch of Parmigiano on top. You can also use use grated or sliced Swiss cheese (holey or not), or any yellow melty cheese for the top, like Mozzarella or Provolone.

Amusing trivia I found while researching for this post: the French/Swiss Gruyere Cheese war.

Broil for 3 minutes or so, just until cheese is melted and top is golden.

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Gluten-free note: If you wish to make this gluten-free, besides subbing gluten-free bread slices for the bread, omit the flour and thicken the soup instead, right before ladling, with some tapioca, arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in some water. Bring the soup to a boil again and stir the starch mixture in to incorporate and cook a few more minutes. Taste to make sure the soup doesn’t have any raw starch taste before serving.

The Lyon(s), France version of this is known to be particularly thick and rich, so preparing this dish would be a great way to celebrate St. John Vianney‘s Feast Day on August 4.

It’s also perfect for our meatless days during the Lenten season.

Chopped Horiatiki Salata / Greek Salad

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I make no claims at all about the authenticity of this recipe. I’ve read in places that romaine lettuce does not play a part at all in traditional horiatiki. All I know is that our Greek foodie friend who married a Greek foodie gal are two of the coolest people around, and this is how THEY serve horiatiki in THEIR home. So who am I to argue with that? 🙂

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped, rinsed, spun-dry a couple of times
1 large tomato (love heirlooms for this), chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled or semi-peeled or not peeled, your choice — chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1/2 of a medium red onion, sliced thinly or chopped
large handful kalamata olives, halved
pepperoncini — I leave these whole because I’m the only one who likes them in my Greek salad
3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, Greek if available
handful Greek oregano if using fresh, a tablespoon or so if using dried
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Greek feta cheese, sliced, chopped into cubes, or crumbled (I let my family indulge when it comes to real Greek feta since they’re not allergic to goat/sheep milk cheese)

Toss all vegetables in a large bowl. Either whisk the red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in another bowl and then pour it into the bowl with the vegetables and toss, OR, sprinkle onto the vegetables directly and toss, toss, toss, until flavors are evenly distributed. Top with feta cheese. Drizzle more olive oil on top as desired.

Serve by itself, or with warm pita or a crusty baguette.

A great lunch item for the feast of St. Andrew of Crete, on the 4th of July.

Vegetables in Coconut Milk and Shrimp Paste

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This is a very basic Filipino recipe. I fell in love with coconut milk stews sometime in high school, and I’m still in love. I remember calling my mom a couple of weeks after I got married and asked her how to prepare this, since I had found some lovely hyacinth beans at the Asian store. I could not believe how simple it was, and how delicious! Every newlywed should know how to make this, it’s a lifesaver. You can use it for just about any vegetable there is, and you can also add things like fish or shrimp. If you don’t know what bagoong is and don’t really want to learn, don’t worry. You can always use salt or fish sauce.

1 can coconut milk
2 inches gingerroot, peeled and crushed (or minced)
5 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled (minced if desired)
1-2 tablespoons shrimp paste, or 1/2 teaspoon salt, or 2 tablespoons fish sauce
Thai peppers if you like things hot — I sometimes prepare half the dish in one pot and half in another, and I put the hot peppers in MY POT :D. Serranos or jalapeños will also work here.

Veggies, cut up — for instance:
1 pound green beans or yard long beans or other podded bean, cut into 2 inch pieces
1-2 pounds winter squash like butternut or acorn, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
okra or eggplant will work too
3 bunches spinach, kale, Swiss chard — all of these will work
Stuffed leaves (the aforementioned spinach, kale, or chard — with shrimp, or chicken, or a combo of pork and shrimp, or some smoked fish)

any or all of the above, in combo, will definitely work — if cooking large amounts you might want to double the coconut milk and other ingredients so you don’t end up with a dry stew. Although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In some regions in the Philippines that’s exactly what they do — let the whole thing dry up a bit and allow the fat from the coconut milk to be released. Yummy either way.

You can also add things like cut up cooked pork (or increase cooking time if using raw pork), or raw shrimp — peeled or unpeeled, doesn’t matter. Fish pieces will also work, just watch that they don’t overcook and break apart. And of course, you can make it an exclusively meat dish — pork cubes with some fat in them will work perfectly, as will chicken thighs, boneless or not. If you want extra tanginess sprinkle in a few tablespoons of vinegar or lime juice.

The method is fail-safe — dump everything into the pot, bring to a boil, bring down to a simmer immediately, cover and let cook until veggies (and/or meat) are done, stirring occasionally. If using a combo of meat and veggies, cook the meat first, then add the veggies the last 10 minutes or so, so they don’t get mushy.

If you’re using hot peppers but don’t want the final dish to be too spicy, you can add the peppers during the last 10 minutes or cooking, and taste every few minutes or so. Take out the peppers when you’ve reached the level of heat you want.

So delicious over hot rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro if you like.

Summer’s End Vegetable Soup

This is a lovely soup to have on hand those beginning autumn days when the air starts getting chilly, but you still have an abundance of veggies from the summer harvest. Of course, you can always change up the vegetables all through the year and use whatever’s in season.

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1 pound cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight then simmered with a few sage leaves, or konbu, in water to cover, until tender — drained

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth (more if soup is too thick for you at the end)
1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, or 2 bunches mature spinach, trimmed, washed thoroughly and chopped
1/2 head green cabbage
6 large tomatoes, chopped, or 2 15-oz or 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (I like the fire-roasted kind, but regular will do)
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A leftover cheese rind, if you have one (to make it creamier) — optional
Your favorite cheese, grated — I used Swiss Gruyere for this one, but Parmigiano or Pecorino will do just as well (optional for those avoiding dairy — I’d sub a small bowl of sea salt flakes like Maldon for serving, so people can help themselves)
More olive oil for serving, in a bowl with a spoon, or a pourer so people can help themselves

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until carrots are partly tender, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini pieces and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it reaches the boil, bring down to simmer and cover 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard or kale, cabbage and tomatoes, and cover again. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. If soup looks too dry, add a bit more broth. When veggies are tender, add beans. Season with salt and pepper, and the cheese rind if using. Cook 15-30 more minutes, stirring every few minutes, until all veggies are tender and the entire mixture is creamy. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve hot!

Stovetop Ratatouille, with Roasted Eggplant

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Ratatouille is just one of those dishes that make me happy-happy-happy. Besides having all my favorite veggies, it also has such a fun name to say: rat-a-too-ee. Doesn’t that word just make you smile? I try to make this often because I know my days of enjoying it are numbered. My mom, at not-quite-79, can’t really have nightshades anymore because they trigger gout. I suspect I will be the same by the time I get to her age. Here’s some helpful information on nightshades and nutrition.

But what’s even more fun about ratatouille, from a cook’s standpoint, is that you could almost never get it wrong. There are so many ways to prepare it — as a stew, as a casserole, sorta like a stir-fry will work too. Chop up your veggies a bit more finely and voila! You have Italian caponata. Replace the peppers with squash, add some okra and Filipino bagoong, some shrimp and some pork if you like, and you have Filipino pakbet.

This version uses roasted eggplant, which is an extra step, so you can omit it if you don’t have the time. My benchmark is Julia Child’s recipe in The Way to Cook, but this comes a close second.

1 medium-large eggplant, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 -inch cubes and tossed with ~2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Several tablespoons more extra-virgin olive oil
1 large zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, cubed or sliced thin
1 bell pepper (you can use red or green — I like red — but sometimes I use both), cubed
1 tablespoon minced garlic, or if you like, several large cloves cut into slivers/thin slices
3 large tomatoes, cubed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs thyme
a handful of basil, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F while you prepare the eggplant. Spread eggplant cubes evenly on parchment-lined sheet and roast, turning a few times, 15-20 minutes or until just tender, while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.

Heat large skillet (I like using my cast-iron for this) over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and when hot but not smoking, add zucchini cubes. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then just until tender but not falling apart. Remove to bowl, leaving oil behind.

Add more oil if necessary, then cook onions, letting soften a bit, before adding the peppers. When peppers and onions are tender, add garlic, stir a few more minutes until garlic is golden, then add tomatoes, salt, bay leaf and thyme. Stir well and cover, cooking ~7 minutes or so. Add eggplant and zucchini and cook 12-15 minutes more, stirring halfway to meld flavors. Adjust seasonings and serve hot. Or not! Since ratatouille is just lovely at any temp — hot, room temp, or cold, making it ideal for picnics in the summertime.

Delicious over rice, if you’re gluten-free. Or with a crisp-crusted baguette, for dipping into the veggie juices. Mmmmm.

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I like to eat a plateful of this (or more), topped with a fried egg. 🙂

Since ratatouille incorporates so many summer vegetables, it would make a great addition to the dinner or lunch table when celebrating some of our French saints’ summer feast days:

St. Eugene de Mazenod, May 21
St. Bobo, May 22
St. Maximinus of Aix, June 8

Three Salads

I’ve been meaning to blog about each of these salads, but the days are just so filled in the summertime that food blog posts get buried at the bottom of the pile. But I wanted a record of the salads we’ve loved, to make it easier for next summer.

The amounts I’m giving here are approximate, as they’re sorta the put-together-with-whatever-you-have salads. If one or two items are missing, don’t worry about it. Whenever I make a salad, I try to have some salty, some sweet, some sour, some fatty-crunchy element in the form of nuts or bacon, some soft-to-creamy element and LOTS OF crispy-crunchy veggies and/or greens. Here, without further ado, are three salads for you to experiment with and enjoy:

Red, White and Green Salad
Red, White and Green Salad

This would be perfect for celebrating the feastday of any of our Italian summertime Saints, like St. Anthony of Padua (well okay, he was born Portuguese, but he did live and die in Padova) or St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Ingredients:

1 zucchini, sliced thin (preferably from a zuke harvested young, so the seeds aren’t very prominent yet)
a few red radishes, sliced thin
1 avocado, cubed (mine was a bit on the overripe side, it doesn’t hurt the texture or flavor, but it’s not as aesthetically pleasing 😀 )
1 medium cucumber, peeled if you like and cubed
cherry or pear tomatoes, halved
red or orange pepper, diced
feta cheese, crumbled
a bit of red onion, sliced thin
some jicama, diced

Dressing

lime juice + sherry or other white wine vinegar
toasted and ground up cumin, a few pinches
ground cardamom, a few pinches
1 large garlic clove, mashed to a paste with some sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
cilantro, a small handful, minced
additional sea salt to taste
a teeny tiny bit of minced jalapeño if you want some heat (optional)

Variation: Half of the avocado can also be mashed up and mixed or blended with the dressing ingredients to get a mayo-like thickness.


Jicama Relish with 3 Citrus (Citri? :D) Dressing
Jicama Relish with 3 Citrus (Citri? :D) Dressing

Ingredients:
a large jicama, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
juice of an orange, plus another orange cut into supremes
juice and a bit of zest from half a grapefruit
juice of a lemon
sea salt to taste
a couple of pinches cayenne pepepr
a handful of red radishes, julienned
small handful cilantro, minced

Toss everything together and put in the fridge until chilled. I was never a big jicama fan growing up though some family members loved it, but I love what the Mexicans do with them! A simpler version would be just jicama, the juice of either lemon or lime, and some cayenne.


Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Apples and Walnuts
Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Apples and Walnuts

This is my most favorite yet, except for the fact that I still have to use the stove and oven… but the results are just worth it so I’m willing to put up with some heat in the kitchen. And it really is more of a fall salad, but I just *love* walnuts and will use any excuse to use them in a salad, especially toasted like this, even if it’s in the middle of summer!

A handful of walnuts, tossed with a bit of oil (walnut if you have it) and some salt and pepper, then toasted in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or just until fragrant (do not burn!!!!)
a few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
Some red onion, sliced thin (I used about a quarter of a large one)
Cut up red cabbage (I used about half of a fairly large head)
Several splashes balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A really crunchy apple, quartered or sixthed or eighthed 😀 then sliced thinly — I prefer Golden Delicious or Granny Smith for this, but only found Galas when I was at the store, so I got that instead
Feta or Jack or whatever salty cheese you like, diced
a couple of tablespoons of parsley and/or marjoram, minced

Set aside the walnuts (chop into bits if you like, I prefer to leave them whole).

In a large skillet, heat up olive oil and garlic just until garlic is sizzling (DO NOT BROWN). Add red onion and stir a bit, just to soften slightly, but NOT UNTIL LIMP, you want a bit of crunch left. Add the cabbage, stir a bit, then the balsamic vinegar. Sauté until cabbage is somewhat wilted but still on the crunchy side. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more vinegar if it isn’t tart enough. Stir a couple minutes more, then remove to a large bowl. Add the apple slices and the walnuts. Toss, toss, toss. Top with the diced cheese and sprinkle the herbs over all. Enjoy warm.

A Summer Menu

Last week, we spent a couple of days prepping and cooking for Saturday. We had some favorite people over as Aisa’s leaving for a 10-week internship in Michigan, Paco’s leaving for 7 (though he’ll be home on the weekends) and Migi will be gone for 3. We prepared so much food that our fridge is still full of goodies that we snack on and base our main meals on. It’s so relaxing to be able to just pull things out and not worry about cooking every single day. It’s so freeing, that I’m putting the whole menu here, and I’ll try to keep up a routine of 2x a week cooking all summer. I know some moms who do once a month cooking, but 2x a week is already a VAST improvement for me.

1. Filipino barbecued pork, which Aisa broke down from a whole Boston Butt Roast — marinated and skewered and grilled.
2. Chicken thighs, marinated and grilled.
3. Mussels, steamed and marinated in remoulade.
4. Shrimp, poached in Pernod, optionally tossed in pesto.
5. A white bean-kalamata-goat cheese spread that Aisa put together, with/without zucchini. Very nice on allergy-free bread from Schar (which we will try to copy).
6. Blanched green beans tossed with an almond-butter-soy-sesame dressing.
7. Blanched cauliflower tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and shichimi togarashi.
8. Boiled eggs, aioli optional.
9. Pickled carrot sticks.
10. Pickled zucchini sticks.
11. Quick-pickled cucumber slices.
12. Boiled chickpeas tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper.
13. Peter Reinhart’s pizza crust, my half-whole-wheat version, rolled out and ready to use.
14. Various toppings for pizza, e.g., fresh arugula from the garden, nitrite-free salami, mozzarella (on the list of to-dos for the summer), and my favorite no-cook pizza sauce.
15. Lemon bars. (need to make an allergy-free version)
16. Cream cheese brownies. (need to make an allergy-free version)
17. Thai tea in the pitcher and thai tea ice in ziploc bags. (thinking of a healthier rooibos-almond-vanilla-star-anise version)
18. Green-tea-mango concentrate in the pitcher, more as ice cubes in ziploc bags.
19. Yena’s fabulous apple tart.
20. My finally-successful cioccolato gelato.
21. Jiaozi made with ground turkey instead of pork, and of course the accompanying sauce.
22. Raw mushroom salad.
23. Berry sorbet.
24. Aisa’s beer sorbet.
25. Aisa’s chocolate sorbet.

(It helps to have daughters who love to cook.)

The fridge is finally starting to get empty again, so tomorrow I’m making our edamame, maybe tossed with the same almond-butter dressing that I used on the green beans, a carrot soup with fried sage leaves for topping, turkey meatloaf, our favorite lentil salad, and some spicy broccoli. Those plus the leftovers from up top should be good for 3 days or so. And then I’ll start another cycle.

Strawberries from Ohio Brush Creek Cooperative

Twenty-five pounds of these gorgeous beauties. Picked up Saturday from Adam Batson of Ohio Brush Creek Cooperative, at the Montgomery Farmer’s Market. Processed and packed for consumption! And going, going, going…. fast.

First up was the must-have summer treat: Strawberry Shortcake. I firmly belong in the camp of “cake” over “biscuit”. Yena made the cake recipe from her favorite cookbook. The flour was freshly milled, using wheat grains I picked up from Tiffany Shinkle on the same day (from last year’s harvest). I whipped the cream and macerated the strawberries in a bit of sugar and lemon juice. Unfortunately, the baker didn’t like the combo and settled for a bowl of strawberries after everything was assembled. And ugh, no pics — the batteries died soon after I took the pic above.

Personalized Zucchini Muffins

personalized zucchini muffins
personalized zucchini muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used freshly milled
1 3/4 cups sugar (I’ve been working with this recipe for a bit and everytime I make it it seems I could still do with less sugar — next time I’ll try 1 1/2)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 cup silken tofu
2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flax seeds (optional)
3 tablespoons butter (I used Kerrygold)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
2 handfuls chocolate chips or coarsely chopped dark chocolate (optional)
handful of walnuts (optional)

Mix everything in a large bowl. It should look like cookie dough, just the teeniest bit thinner. Bake in a preheated 325 F degree oven for about 40 minutes. Makes about 20 regular-sized muffins.

I said “personalized” because I have one child who wants no chocolate chips and is allergic to walnuts, 3 children who want chocolate chips, 2 of whom are allergic to nuts, and me, who likes both dark chocolate and walnuts (aren’t they just fabulous additions to quick breads). If you want to do this, leave out all the optionals and just add them to each individual muffin before you bake them, as I have done above.

I recommend using local and/or organic products whenever you can.

Cambodian Eggplant and Pork Stir-Fry (Cha Traop Dot)

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For 4-6 servings

1 pound eggplants
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound ground pork
1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined and minced
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 green onions, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prick eggplants all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet in one layer. Bake 30 minutes or until cooked through. Remove skins and discard. Mash pulp in a bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until just beginning to turn color, about 15 seconds. Add ground pork and shrimp, breaking up any clumps; stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes more, then add the mashed eggplant and continue stir-frying until eggplant is evenly distributed, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in green onions.
Serve hot over rice.

Cambodian Grilled Corn (Poat Dot)

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GRILLED CORN (Poat Dot)

For 6 ears of grilled or steamed corn:

In a saucepan, mix together 2 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons minced green onions, a tablespoon each of water, sugar and fish sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over high heat until scallion starts to wilt. Brush or spoon sauce over hot corn and serve.

This is a simple dish, but truly delicious. In Cambodia this is sold by street vendors. A nice dairy-free alternative. You may use steamed corn, but I think the strong flavors of the sauce is better put to use as a counterpoint to the somewhat smoky sweetness of grilled corn. (I grilled mine indoors as the weather wasn’t cooperating today.) Putting fish sauce on corn may sound a bit unusual, but the combination works well. My family was pleased, and I bet yours will be too!