Friday, December 28, 2012

Ginger Carrot Clementine Soup

Ahhh.  Soup on rainy days is just the best.  This one takes advantage of that box of cuties you have in your fridge.  You can make this soup with oranges too and we will be doing that when Olsen starts selling at the Sunday market (maybe this weekend!).  Another great source for organic citrus is from Twin Girls.  We had this soup Christmas Day as is and then the next day for leftovers I added some roast chicken to it for a very satisfying lunch.  Steve swears the leftover pork roast was delicious in it as well. 

Ginger Carrot Clementine Soup
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh ginger, minced--this amount gives a pretty good heat, use to your taste
4 cups chopped and peeled carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)--more for a thicker soup
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup fresh squeezed clementine juice (or orange juice)
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, sautee onions and ginger in olive oil until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add carrots and stock and reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes, or until carrots are soft. Add clementine juice and stir well. Working in small batches and using a food processor or blender, process soup until smooth. Return to pot or serving bowl and add nutmeg, salt and pepper, stirring well.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake

File this under: SPECIAL TREAT (It also has virtually no ingredients from within a 100 mile radius).  It was Steve's birthday last week and I really wanted to make him a cake that we could all enjoy with our various dietary restrictions.  I found this cake recipe originally at Epicurious but it was full of gluten and dairy and sugar, three things we are all desperately trying to avoid.  BUT.  It was his birthday so I modified this to be gluten and dairy free.  I could do nothing about the sugar thing--it's cake, okay?  Man, this was one of those cakes that came out so, so good.  It smelled good, it tasted good, it really is vying for "birthday cake forever on Daddy's birthday."

Start the cake the day/night before you want to serve it.  You could start it the morning of, but there's a fair amount of components to it, so breaking it up helps alleviate some of the mess and dish doing in the kitchen.  I also got a chance to try out some new products with this.  King Arthur Gluten Free Flour mix, Earth Balance Coconut Spread, and Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread.  All were great and I would use them again when baking.

Banana Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake

For the cake:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 cups gluten free cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons kosher salt
 1/2 cup Coconut spread
1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3-4)
1 cup plain coconut milk or almond milk yogurt
1 10-ounce bag mini chocolate chips

For the peanut butter filling/frosting (optional):
I used this sparingly, you can omit completely for allergies or use more if you want more of a peanut butter taste
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup organic creamy peanut butter
2.5 TBSP. Earth balance butter spread (or 1/2 and 1/2 with the coconut spread)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 TBSP cup coconut milk from a can (not Light!)

For the chocolate fudge frosting:
1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules (I used Medaglia d'Oro)
1 1/2 TBSP. hot water
8 TBSP. Dutch processed cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
8 TBSP. Earth Balance
2 TBSP. almond or coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2  1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
* I have found that making 2 batches is best  vs. just doubling if you want more frosting for your cake...

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment; coat paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butters, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in vanilla.

Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend. Add bananas and yogurt; beat just to blend. Fold in mini chips. Divide batter evenly among pans; smooth tops.

Bake cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes, but don't be surprised if it goes a little longer. Transfer to wire racks; let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator.
Make chocolate frosting:  Dissolve the coffee granules in the hot water.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the cocoa, "butter", milk, vanilla and prepared coffee.  At medium speed, gradually add the confectioner's sugar and mix until smooth.  Add more milk to get to your desired consistency.  I like mine more on the "fudgy" side but it's really up to you.

Make the peanut butter frosting: Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, "butter", vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream (again watching your consistency, this one should be a little more creamy) and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Assemble the cake:  Frost the first layer with a layer of the chocolate frosting then swirl the peanut butter frosting on top.  Set the top layer on and finish frosting with the rest of the chocolate frosting.  I used the peanut butter frosting as an accent.  I put it into a pastry bag and did this:

The heart outlines are with the peanut butter and I just used a cake mate gel frosting for the writing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Delicata Taco Bombas

Delicata squash have taken over my seasonal taste buds for the moment.  This squash ranges in size and for this particular rendition I used the smallest ones I could find.  I got these from Paradise Valley Produce at the Thursday San Rafael Civic Center Market.  Last week I put sloppy joe filling in them and Steve commented that I should really try to do a "taco" version as he was just picking them up whole and taking huge bites out of the entire combo.  The kids really liked them too, I thought they might balk at eating the skin, but once they tried it they cleaned their plates. 

This flavor profile is really different to me.  Not particularly sweet, just the right amount of heat and a very clean feeling after you eat them.  I'm not sure it will please everyone but after the excesses of Thanksgiving it was a nice break.  There's not a ton of cooking time, the bulk of the work is actually in the prep.  I had "leftovers" with this quantity, actually looking forward to trying it the next day to see if the flavors settled in any kind of exciting way, but alas, Steve struck before he went to bed and when I went to try them the next day they were a distant memory. 

Delicata Taco Bombas

6-8 small delicata squash (no bigger than the size of your hand--if bigger use less squash and cut accordingly)
1-1.5 lbs. grass fed skirt steak
1-2 poblano (pasilla) chiles
3 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped white onion
organic olive oil

Rub the skirt steak with the garlic on all sides and season with salt and pepper.  Leave out on counter and let come to room temp while getting everything else ready.  Turn on grill to high or oven to broil and roast peppers until blackened all over (If using the grill get your oven going to preheat to 375 as well).  Put roasted peppers in a glass bowl and cover, or in a plastic ziploc, to allow to steam on their own--turn oven down to 375 if you need to.  While peppers are going, start prepping the squash.  Wash the squash well and cut off stem ends and slice lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and set them cut side up in whatever pan you are roasting them in. Drizzle then brush all squash with olive oil.  Sprinkle half the sage on to the squash along with salt and pepper and put in oven for 20 min. or until tender when pierced with fork. 

10 min. before pulling out the squash, grill the skirt steak about 3 min. side for medium.  I went 2 min. and it was a little too rare on the thicker end of the steak, but it's really up to you.  Combine the chopped onion, cilantro and remaining cilantro.  Remove the skins from the poblanos, seed them and take the tops off.  It's easy to do under runing water.  Chop the poblano into strips

Assemble your "taco".  I did chopped steak first, a slice of poblano and a spoon of sage onion cilantro mix.  Very delicious!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pickled Watermelon Radish

I'm going to miss my CSA box from Tomatero Farms this winter.  Although I go to their stand weekly anyway at the Farmer's Market, it was always nice to have a few vegetable decisions made for me.  For a few weeks running we were getting watermelon radish, something I had zero experience with.  The first time we didn't get a lot and they were mixed in with the beets so I assumed they were turnips and I roasted them off.  They were nice that way but it wasn't something I was going to pull off every night.  Then we got quite a few the next week--I just stored them in my Debbie Meyer Green Bags and waited.  I was waiting for inspiration.  Then we got another big bag of them.  Time to make a decision.  I REALLY did not want to waste these so I looked up a few pickling recipes and decided to try out one that didn't take a ton of effort.  I'm still working my way into preserving--I have all the supplies, I just need to convince myself to do it (I have some beets that are on their last stand, maybe I'll get to them this week).  Anyway, this recipe worked well, and it turns out the pickled radish is a nice snack, you start eating them and it's difficult to stop.  Because I had at least 5 pounds of them I ended up with 5 quart jars full of the stuff and took it to a potluck to try to get through them, they were a hit with most, I did have one person who was not into them AT ALL.  They last about a month max in the fridge, so maybe if you have a ton of them you can bring them as a fun contribution to Thanksgiving dinner.  There is honey in this recipe, I don't think you can leave it out, it really balances the sour out.  Use a local source and get it raw Grade B.  Also, you can do this with any radish really.  I love this information about the health benefits of radish from  Radishes have been revered as a powerful food throughout history. It's said the Greek physician Androcydes ordered his patients to eat radish to avoid getting intoxicated, which makes sense given they stimulate the function of our livers and digestion. Radishes and their leaves are an excellent source of vitamin C. The leaves are also a good source of calcium. Studies have found radishes can aid the body in the lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure and chances of getting certain cancers

Pickled Watermelon Radish

1.5 pounds radishes, sliced thin with a mandolin--if you are using small radish, you can leave them whole
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemons
1 cove minced garlic
3 (2 inch) pieces of lemon zest

Place the radishes in a colander in the sink and toss with salt. Let rest for 15 minutes to extract some of the water.
Mix the sesame oil, honey, vinegar, lemon juice and garlic in a bowl and set aside.
Rinse the radishes and dry with a paper towel.
Add the radishes to the pickling mixture you created.
Add the lemon zest.
Place into a Ball jar and let marinate at least 1 hour.
Refrigerate to store. Lasts up to 1 month.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Yes, in all caps!  RIBS!  These are pretty easy to pull together, it just takes some time in the oven.  If you are watching the sugar intake, do these without BBQ sauce, they taste amazing without it, but you can add your own favorite if you want at the end--I get that ribs are not ribs without all the goop for some of you.  I have a good BBQ sauce recipe from Nourishing Traditions that's easy to pull together and avoids all the additives you find in the commercial brands. I got my ribs from Marin Sun Farms and they were soooo good.  Other good resources here in the Bay Area are from  Prather Ranch or Fallon Hills, or Tara Firma Farms.   I used pork spare ribs this time out, but you can use baby backs too.  You can also do this recipe with beef ribs, they typically do not have as much meat on them and tend to be a tad bit tougher, but they are less expensive than pork ribs.

I pulled this recipe from Emeril Lagasse and scaled it back a bit so I didn't have a ton of extra spice rub--original recipe here.  I also didn't use the grill at all, just did everything in the oven to keep things simple. 

One more thing about the spices.  In 2010 there were a couple of bad salmonella outbreaks from imported spices and while I haven't seen any news about repeat problems, better to be safe than sorry.   Please try to use all organic spices and ones that are made and processed here in the US, the FDA has pretty strict guidelines and can (somewhat) enforce them here.   


2 racks pork ribs

For the Rustic Rub:

1 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoons cayenne 
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoons dried thyme

3 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon celery salt

Blend all ingredients in a small bowl, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.  I use it for my "taco seasoning" when we do ground beef tacos.  This rub has lots of heat in it--feel free to dial back the cayenne and paprika if you don't like things too spicy. 

For BBQ sauce:

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, mashed
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. raw honey
1/2 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Coconut Aminos if avoiding soy
3/4 cup agave sweetened ketchup
1/4 cup fermented fish sauce (optional)

Mix everything together with a whisk.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil that is large enough to cover the pan twice  lengthwise (you will be folding this over the ribs and sealing it).  Arrange the ribs, meat side up, in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. Divide the seasoning evenly between the 2 slabs of ribs, coating them well on both sides. Fold the extra length of foil over the ribs, and seal it tightly on all sides. Place the ribs in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the ribs are very tender. Alternately you can cut the racks into 5 or 6 rib pieces and put them in the slow cooker on low for about 6 hours

Preheat a grill to medium-high (or a 300 degree oven).

Remove the ribs from the oven and peel back the foil so that the ribs are exposed. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, coat the racks lightly on the meaty sides with the barbecue sauce. Place the slabs of ribs, meaty side up, on the grill and cook until the barbecue sauce is thickened and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, return to the oven until sauce is thickened and lightly browned, about 20 minutes longer.

Remove the ribs from the grill (or the oven) and set aside to cool briefly before cutting between the ribs and serving. Serve with more barbecue sauce, if desired.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Roast Leg of Lamb with Pomegranate Cucumber Relish

I'm seeing these beautiful red globes all over the markets these days--pomegranates are so pretty and even though they take a little work I eat them once a week during their season. I actually picked mine up a little earler in the season from Twin Girls a couple of weeks ago and they had these beautiful red seeds.  Right now, though, you can get great ones from Full Belly, Feather River and Balakian Farms at the San Rafael farmer's markets.  The leg of lamb I used for this was boneless and tied from Marin Sun Farms but you can use any cut of lamb, it's the relish that really makes this dish shine. In fact, I made a pretty big serving of it and ended up polishing it all off that night. 

This recipe was hacked from Epicurious, they are calling the relish a salsa, maybe because of the mint jelly (that I omitted), but when I put it on the table Sophia asked, "Is this some kind of relish?  It looks so good!"  And I said, "Why yes, it is, that's exactly what it is."  So there you have it.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Pomegranate Cucumber Relish
original recipe here

5 garlic cloves
a half leg of lamb (butt end; about 4 pounds)
tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

For relish

1/2 cup pine nuts (about 4 ounces) I got some really nice organic ones from the bulk bins at Whole Foods
1 English cucumber or one of those lemon cucumbers at the markets now
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
seeds from 1 large pomegranate (here's a handy technique)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Mince garlic. Put lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and in small bowl stir together garlic, rosemary, mint, and oil. Rub mixture onto lamb and season with salt and pepper. Roast lamb in middle of oven 1 1/2 hours, or until a meat thermometer registers 145°F for medium-rare, 150-155 for medium. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let stand, covered loosely with foil, 10 minutes.

Make relish while lamb is standing:
Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over moderate heat until golden. Watch this, they go from browned to burned in a snap.  Seed cucumber and cut into 1/4-inch dice. In a bowl whisk together vinegar and oil and add remaining salsa ingredients, tossing. Season salsa with salt and pepper. (Do not make relish too far ahead or it will become watery.)

Thinly slice lamb across grain and arrange on a platter. Top lamb with some relish and serve remaining relish on the side.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Ceviche is one of my favorite things to eat.  I got hooked on it when I worked at Cafe Marimba, a Oaxacan restaurant in San Francisco.  Sadly, the restaurant is no longer around but I remember very clearly the ceviche and the little bump of an ingredient that was used to make it unique to the restaurant--it was the addition of "el topil"-- the chipotle salsa that was new to the culinary scene back then (yes, this was that long ago.)  Now is a fantastic time to make a ceviche of your own, you can get all the ingredients locally and they are at their peak of ripeness.  I got my fish from Mission Fresh Fish at the Thursday Farmer's Market in San Rafael.  I used a combination of snapper, halibut, and bay shrimp all retrieved from local waters, even the shrimp.  Do not bother to make this unless the fish is really fresh, do not use previously frozen or thawed ingredients (with the exception of shrimp) it just will not be all it's meant to be.  It seems that almost all the farm stands have tomatoes right now--mine were from Tomatero, peppers and cilantro from Triple T Ranch and Farms, onion from Full Belly Farm, avocado from Williamson Farm and limes from De Santis Farm.

1 lb halibut fillets or 1 lb sea bass fillets or 1 lb red snapper fillet (or use a mixture of fish and shrimp)
5 -6 limes (enough juice to cover fish)
1 cup diced fresh tomato
1 green pepper, sweet, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped parsley or 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I used cilantro)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (or more to suit your taste)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 -2 TBSP. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce chopped. 
lettuce leaf (to line serving bowls)

Dice the fish (approximately 1/2-inch dice if using shrimp use cleaned shrimp).
Marinate fish in the lime juice in the fridge overnight (this step cooks the fish).

Stir often.

Pour off most of the lime juice (just leave it moist).

Add remaining ingredients except lettuce and avocado. Do this preferably a few hours before serving & refrigerate.

Add some extra lime juice, toss well, taste for salt or more lime, and arrange in individual serving bowls that are lined with the lettuce leaves.  Garnish with avocado.

This will serve 4 people for lunch, or 6 as an appetizer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Huevos Verde "al Diablo"

Holy Guacamole!  NOW is the time to go out to the Farmer's Markets and get all your ingredients for this really delicious appetizer.  California avocados are going for about a $1 a piece now (No, not at Whole Foods--supermarkets in general are reaping huge profits on these) and when I let the ladies know I was doing guacamole that very afternoon they hand picked me 12 perfect avocados and charged me $6! (I'll let you know which farm stand when I get their name--they are on the west side of the Thursday Civic Center San Rafael market and only sell avos and strawberries--not organic but they are very reputable and responsible farmers who I have been buying from for years.)  I got the eggs and tomatoes from Tomatero Farm, cilantro and green onions from Marin Roots, jalapeno from Triple T Ranch and Farm, and limes from Ortiz Produce.

These are pretty rich, you want to keep eating them, but your body definitely tells you when you've had enough.  I used 2 dozen eggs so scale accordingly.

Huevos Verde "al Diablo"

You can use your favorite guacamole recipe and tailor to your heat/lime/cilantro ratio preference.  For 24 servings:

2 dozen eggs
3 tomatoes roasted in a 350 oven for about 45 min., they need a nice char on them,  cooled and mashed rough
6 avocados
Juice from 4 limes
3 Tbsp. cilantro chopped fine
4 green onions chopped fine
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped fine
sea salt and pepper to taste

Hard boil the eggs and let cool.  While eggs are cooling start to make the guacamole by combining all the ingredients and mashing together. Taste and adjust--more lime? salt? cilantro?  Make sure the flavor is a little on the sharp side, you'll be adding egg yolks to everything so it will mute down a bit.  Peel and cut the eggs* in half length-wise scooping 9 of the egg yolks in.  Mash all the ingredients together blending the egg yolks in thoroughly, you want it somewhat smooth, not too much chunk in it.  Add more egg yolk if the consistency is too thin.  I filled a pastry bag with a large piping tip and filled the egg whites, but a dollop with a spoon is just as good.  Garnish with finely chopped cilantro or green onion, or if you really want to go crazy, some bacon (O BOY). 

*I'm so cavalier about this peeling of the egg thing--it's probably one of my least favorite things to do, see if you can get someone to help you at this point.  I always have some fallen soldiers when I make deviled eggs, so in general I make more eggs than I want to serve.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roast Pork with Butternut Squash

"This is a 12 out of 10, Susan.  You know, I  don't say that very often, but man this is good."  Says Husband Steve after a long day at work where he didn't even get to eat it with us, the kids were already in bed by the time he got a shot at it.  Prather Ranch has these beautiful pork roasts that are bone-in (this one had 4 bones) at the Thursday and Sunday market here in San Rafael.  I bet you can get it at the Ferry Building too, maybe just call ahead. While not cheap, this was absolutely worth every penny.  I paired it with some cubed butternut squash and sage and everything all combined was wonderful.  A really nice Sunday dinner, or just when you want to make someone feel really good about themselves, it does not take ages to prep but give yourself about an hour and a half cooking time.

I've adapted this recipe slightly to accommodate dairy allergy.

Pot-roasted Pork in White Wine with Garlic, Fennel and Rosemary
From Happy Days With the Naked Chef, by Jamie Oliver

1 2-3 lbs. pork roast (bone-in or loin)
sea salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil (or butter)
Olive oil (organic--does not need to be extra virgin)
8 cloves garlic, skin left on
1 handful fresh rosemary, leaves picked (every organic farmstand has this right now, or get yourself a plant and keep it at home)
4 bay leaves
1 large fennel bulb, or 2 small, sliced
1/2 bottle of Chardonnay, your choice

Preheat the oven to 400.  If using a boneless loin, tie up the pork so that it is a nice snug cylinder.  Season with the salt and pepper then roll the roast in the fennel seeds until covered.  In a dutch oven or ovenproof large skillet heat some olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and a tablespoon of coconut oil.  Brown all sides of the roast, but watch that you don't burn the fennel.  It smells amazing but it can turn so don't get too caught up in the aroma.  The whole process should take 5-8 min. tops. 

Add the garlic, herbs, fennel, and wine all at once.  You can cover the top with some wet wax paper or if using a dutch oven, the lid is fine.  If you have the bone in roast for about an hour and a half maybe an hour and 20 min. if the roast is on the smaller side.  Pull everything out and let the meat rest on a separate plate.  Without using any more heat, finish off the sauce in the pan, scraping any bits off the bottom and adding a little more coconut oil (or butter).  Correct the seasoning and squash open a couple of the garlic cloves.

Butternut Squash

When you are about 30 mins. out from pulling the pork peel and dice a butternut squash.  Toss in olive oil and a small handful of sage leaves, spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 20 mins., turning and checking at the 10 min. mark. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When Life Gives You Tomatoes

Make your own sun-dried tomatoes!  LOTS of Tomatoes out there right now.  I've been getting a ton of them in my CSA box and there's only so much sauce you can make.  This recipe works great for all kinds--this group is a batch made from Early Girls from Tomatero Farms.  I found this great link that gives you a few different options on preparing them--here in the San Francisco Bay Area we're starting to move out of our typically foggy mess so you might even be able to do it the old fashioned way (I said MIGHT!)...

Sun Dried Tomatoes
Original post here

7 -8 lbs firm ripe roma tomatoes 
2 teaspoons salt 
1 teaspoon dried basil (optional) 
 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional) 
1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional) 
Cut out the stem and scar and the hard portion of core lying under it. 
Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise. If the tomato is more than about 2 inches long, cut it in quarters.
Scrape out all of the seeds that you can without removing the pulp. 
Mix together thoroughly basil,oregano, thyme, and salt.
Sprinkle a small amount of this mixture on each tomato. 
OVEN-DRYING (approximately 12 hours)
Arrange the tomatoes, with the cut surface up, on non-stick cookie sheets (glass or porcelain dishes are OK.) Do not use aluminum foil or aluminum baking sheets as the acid in the tomato will react with the metal.
Bake in 170°F oven for about 3 hours.
Leave the oven door propped open about 3 inches to allow moisture to escape.
After 3 hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat with your hand or a spatula.
Continue to dry, turning the tomatoes every few hours, and gently pressing flatter and flatter, until tomatoes are dry.
DEHYDRATOR (approximately 8 hours):
Place the tomatoes, cut side up, directly onto the dehydrator trays.
Set dehydrator temperature to about 140°F.
After 4 or 5 hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat with your hand or a spatula.
After a few hours, turn the tomatoes again and flatten gently. 18 Continue drying until done.
SUN-DRYING (approximately 3 days):
Dry in hot weather, with relatively low humidity.
Place tomatoes, cut side down, in shallow wood-framed trays with nylon netting for the bottom of the trays.
Cover trays with protective netting or cheesecloth.
Place in direct sun, raised from the ground on blocks or anything else that allows air to circulate under the trays.
Turn the tomatoes over after about 1 1/2 days, to expose the cut side to the sun.
Place the trays in a sheltered spot after sundown, or if the weather turns bad.
No matter what method you choose, be aware that not all of the tomatoes will dry at the same rate. They do not all have the same amount of moisture, nor do they experience the same temperature and air circulation while they are drying. 29 They are done when they are very dry, but still pliable. Texture is about that of a dried apricot. If dried too long, they become tough and leathery. If not dried long enough, they will mold and mildew, unless packed in oil. So watch them carefully while they dry. Try to remove them on an individual basis, before they become tough.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Plum Chutney

I know it's been a while since my last post, not because of lack of abundance at the markets that is for sure.  I assure all of you I've been cooking a ton, it's just been very simple food as Summer demands.  As plums and berries are in full force right now, I thought it would be a perfect time to try to make a chutney with no sugar.  The pork tenderloins were the perfect foil to this endeavor and Prather happened to have two 1 pound tenderloins so I was in business. 

Pork Tenderloin
original recipe here
1 lemon, zest grated
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons--I only had limes so used those instead)
Good olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large oven-proof saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork tenderloins on all sides until golden brown. Place the saute pan in the oven and roast the tenderloins for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meat registers 137 degrees F at the thickest part. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be quite pink (it's just fine!) and the thinnest part will be well done. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.   Serve with Plum Chutney.

Plum Chutney
original recipe here 

1 whole star anise
1 whole clove
1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
1/4 cup port wine vinegar
1/4 cup pomegranate vinegar  (I was a little short on this so put in some sherry wine vinegar to top it off)
1/2 cup in season blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, ollalieberries, etc. (I used blueberries from Hidden Star Orchards in this recipe)
1 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds red, black, green, or blue plums, or pluots--I combined pluots from Hamlow Ranches and red plums from Twin Girls (tart or sweet; about 5 large),quartered, pitted

Finely grind star anise, clove, and cinnamon stick in spice mill or coffee grinder.
Combine spice mixture, vinegars, berries, ginger, mustard seeds, and pepper in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Add plums; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chutney thickens and chunky sauce forms, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool. Season to taste with salt.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Cucumber Watermelon Salad

A few days ago I made a plain cucumber salad using coconut milk yogurt and though Steve and Sophia liked it well enough, I felt the coconut yogurt was not sour enough for what I was expecting to taste.  I had to think about it.  I really wanted to make the coconut yogurt thing work but used in this traditional sense it just wasn't doing it for me. Yesterday morning I was at the Farmer's Market and Full Belly had a nice selection of melons.  I asked about this smaller one, I had a feeling it was a yellow-flesh , and was told it was beautifully sweet and very refreshing as most watermelons tend to be.  Then, Balakian Farms had some nice Armenian cucumbers and I was all set.  I really like buying from Balakian, their pricing is simple and their produce is consistently excellent. The dressing is straightforward, but do prep it early in the day as it takes a few hours to "cure".

Cucumber Watermelon Salad 
with Coconut Milk Yogurt Dressing

1/2 cup plain coconut milk yogurt 
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
1 TBSP. fresh mint chopped

Peel and crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef's knife.  Stir into yogurt and store in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Before dressing salad, stir in fresh mint. (This will keep the mint bright green if you are in to aesthetics, it will brown fairly quickly though not affecting taste)

Armenian Cucumber
Watermelon (any kind)

Wash and chop the cucumber (no need to peel these!) and watermelon in to desired chunks/sizes.  Drizzle yogurt dressing to taste.  Seriously.  It can not be any easier. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Coq au Vin "ish"

I really wanted to make a chicken stew this week.  All of us had been going pedal to the metal getting to the last day of school, and were feeling a bit wiped out.  We had a ton of activities winding up the year and had to eat out for dinner quite a bit.  Poor Leo, by Thursday, he was just begging to go home and could barely muster any enthusiasm to eat dinner out at Mamacita.  This one does take a little more prep to get it into the slow cooker, so give yourself about 30-40 min. on the front end.  You can cook this one in 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.  I served this with Cauliflower Rice and a Stone Fruit Salad

Coq au Vin "ish"
original recipe here

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces (from Tara Firma Farms)
1 lb. ground chicken (I ordered mine ahead of time from Marin Sun Farms)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bacon, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 to 3/4 lb. mushrooms, quartered ( I used crimini from Solano Mushroom Farm)
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 large sprigs thyme

Arrange cut chicken pieces on a large sheet of waxed paper. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden and just crisp, 3 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Discard drippings and wipe out skillet. Melt 2 tablespoons butter (or heat oil, if using) in same skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken into the slow cooker as done and set aside. Brown the ground chicken and put into the slow cooker.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter or oil in same skillet. Add mushrooms and cook until edges begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add carrots, onions, garlic and salt and cook until vegetables just begin to soften. Transfer vegetables and broth to crock pot. Arrange chicken on top. Sprinkle bacon over chicken. Add wine and thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Another Liver Conversation

This morning Steve and I are talking about the liver dish and all the stuff that goes with it and Sophia walks into the kitchen and listens to what we are saying.  She then declares:  "Liver and onions?!  That's disgusting.   I'd NEVER eat that, that's just bleccch." 
Steve and I just look at her, "So, you'd never eat that, huh?"
"No, it's gross!"
"Okay, then."
Should I feel a little guilty about not letting her know that the "special steak" she had seconds on the other night was exactly that?  I don't know, we probably will at some point.  The whole scene just reminded me of exactly how strong the perceptions of reality we all live in are really not all that concrete.  There are so many things I was sure I would never do in my life and yet, all the impossible things are not so improbable any more to me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Liver and Onions--"code: Special Steak"

I have never cooked liver in my life.  I think my mom made it once for us way back in the 70's and the dish was never repeated.  I may have tasted a bite of my friend, Amy's, once in the 90's at a restaurant and I never had the desire to repeat that either.  She swore it was one of her favorite things to eat growing up.  Lately, though, I've been dancing around the idea of organ meats.  I've been reading about how great they are for you and have even added an "offal" pack to the new meat CSA I just signed up with.   Then Peter Defty from Vespa planted a bug in Steve's ear about how he should start eating it, loudly echoed by our Crossfit coach, Marcus Filly, and then all I heard for a week from Steve was how he wanted liver.  So, the Crane family is going for it.

I got my calf's liver this time from Prather Ranch--make sure you get yours from a pasture raised animal and that it's from a juvenile, I hear the older the cow the stronger the taste.  I was nervous to cook this, Steve kept asking me questions about it and I finally had to have him leave the kitchen, he was bugging me.  The kids were the biggest surprise.  We told them it was "special steak", something we'd only get about once a month.  Sophia cleaned her plate and asked for seconds.  Steve and I were dumbfounded.  Leo ate his too but was fine with just the one serving.  Oddly, Steve was the last to finish--an almost unheard of phenomenon--but he did have seconds.  So, here's the liver recipe I pulled together from various methods and sources:

1-1.5 lbs. sliced liver
juice from 1 lemon
coconut milk
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee), or lard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 red onions (I used some leaks too) sliced into rings
3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped rough

Cook off the bacon on a skillet or in an oven at 425 for 12-15 min.  Strain the bacon fat and set aside.  I did this in the morning with a 12 oz. package of bacon and saved 3 slices for later in the evening.  The bacon fat I just kept in the fridge until later that day.

A few hours before you want to serve marinate the liver in the lemon juice and enough coconut milk to cover the liver pieces completely.

In a shallow bowl combine the coconut flour and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In either the lard or butter and olive oil saute the separated rings until soft and golden, about 20 minutes.  Add the bacon, and keep warm in a separate bowl.  In the same skillet, add some more of the fat and heat to high.  Dredge the liver pieces in the flour and saute on both sides until golden and the liver feels firm when you press on it.  Not stiff as a board, but firm.  About 5 minutes a side.

Serve with onions strewn on top.

Notes:  I read in several places that soaking in milk was the key to taking some of the metallic taste out of the liver.  Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, recommended using the lemon juice, so I thought I'd combine both methods.  Maybe it was overkill but I wasn't going to take any chances.  It worked out great.  You can use regular cow's milk (organic whole or even heavy cream) if you want but we're dairy allergic.  I had maybe two bites that tasted like pate, but overall the experience wasn't bad.  I'll be repeating this one...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Halibut with Stone Fruit Salsa

Stone Fruit is starting to make an appearance at the Farmer's Market this week--I've noticed them in the stores too.  It's a little early for some organics but when you get them at the Farmer's Market you can have a chat with the grower and see what they use to manage their crops.  Right after I picked up some halibut from Mission Fresh Fish, I got some wonderfully sour peaches from Twin Girls Farm and my first thought after tasting them was "salsa."  The cherries are from Hamlow Ranches and although a little tart, still a great start to cherry season.  Golden cauliflower from Balakian Farms finished off the meal.  It's going to be a great summer!

Stone Fruit Salsa

1-2 cups cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1 cup peaches (about 2 large or 3 small), cut into 1/4" dice--here's a handy tool to remove the stone
1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup red onion, 1/4" dice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno (or more to your taste)
sea salt and pepper

Combine everything in a non-reactive bowl and let sit for at least an hour covered in the fridge.  This will last about 2 days in the refrigerator--but there won't be any left after the first day.

Halibut and Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
Halibut fillets (about 3-6 oz. per person)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.  Wash and chop or thickly slice the cauliflower.  Spread on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a little sea salt over everything.   Roast in oven for 10 min. While cauliflower is roasting rinse and pat dry halibut fillets, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Get a large skillet and over medium high heat, melt the coconut oil until hot.  At the 10 min. mark of your cauliflower, turn over the cauliflower pieces and roast another 10 min.  Start searing your halibut, about 5 min. a side or until it is fully opaque in the center. Cauliflower and halibut should be done at the same time. 

The kids loved the combination of the salsa with the fish and even gobbled up all the cauliflower, it was a really nice fish dish!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Zucchini's Are Here! The Zucchini's Are Here!

I look forward to zucchini every year.  For some people it's asparagus, for others, tomatoes.  Like tomatoes, you see zucchini in the grocery stores year round so maybe it's odd to think of them having a season.  But, just like a tomato, zucchini taste a certain way when they are eaten in season.  I saw these at the Thursday market at the Tomatero stand and literally clapped my hands.  They had the blossoms still attached too!  Double fast clapping.

As the season progresses I'll have more involved recipes but for last night I just roasted everything right up with a little olive oil and coconut oil for the squash blossoms and a new special salt I picked up at Paradise Foods.

Roasted Zucchini and Squash Blossoms

Zucchini with Squash Blossoms still attached
Olive oil
Sea Salt
Coconut Oil Spray

Preheat oven to 425.  Wash zucchini and blossoms.  Cut blossoms off ends keeping them whole and set aside.  Cut zucchini into uniform size chunks (1-2").  The ones I had were little globe shapes, so I just halved them.  Coat zucchini in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and roast for 10 min.  Flip zucchini over and roast for another 10 min.  Take the pan out of the oven, make some room for the squash blossoms and put them on the same sheet spraying them with the coconut oil.  Put everything back in the oven for another 10 min.

The cooking times are approximate.  Just watch the veg while it's roasting.  I like mine pretty well browned with char marks on it, you may not.  I noticed the coconut oil started to smoke a bit towards the end, so in my oven (which runs a little on the cold side) it took about 10 min for the blossoms.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

True Texas Chili

I've seen this recipe on a few other food blogs and I've made it several times now.  I believe I have finally hit the right combination of timing and ingredient modifications to post this.  This chili is from Lobel's Meat Bible. It's the kind of spicy that you can't stop eating--heat but not burn.  The kids sucked it down too. I paired it with cauliflower rice to help soak up some of the sauce and a nice cool traditional green salad with romaine lettuce from Tomatero Farm, tomatoes from Bruins Vegetables out of Winters, CA, organic California English cucumbers from Whole Foods, and carrots from Full Belly Farm.

Don't be scared off by the chili prep, it really does make the chili truly special.  I bought my dried chilis at Mi Pueblo Foods in San Rafael. Start to finish give yourself 4 hours. It'll take an hour to get to the part where everything sits on the stove and simmers.  I started mine at 2pm left it on the stove at 3 to get the kids and do all our stuff, came home at 5.45, made the cauliflower rice, and we were eating by 6.15.  This may have to be a weekend meal for you but it is really worth it, better yet, bring it to your next potluck/chili cook-off and you will be the "WINNER"

Double this if making it for more than 2 adults/2 kids and add 30 minutes to your prep time.  We had zero leftovers.
True Texas Chili
original recipe click here 

my version:

2 ounces dried, whole New Mexico (California), guajillo, or pasilla chiles, or a combination (6 to 8 chiles)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
5 tablespoons lard, coconut oil*, or rendered beef suet
1  pound boneless beef chuck, well trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1  pound ground beef
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3-4 cups beef or chicken stock, or canned low-sodium beef broth, plus more as needed*
2 tablespoons almond flour (if you have nut allergy use arrowroot powder)
1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed

*An excellent new source of stock is now at the Prather Ranch farm stand, Marin Sun Farms farm stand and Belcampo Meat Co.  Their pricing is far less than what you would spend trying to make it home on your own, especially the beef stock.

Place the chiles in a straight-sided large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast the chiles until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Don't let them burn or they'll turn bitter. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with very hot water and soak until soft, 15 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice. 

While chilis are soaking, return skillet to medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the lard/coconut oil. When it gets hot, swirl skillet to coat and add half of the stew cut beef. Lightly brown on at least two sides, about 3 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat threatens to burn. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of lard and the remaining beef.  Brown the ground beef and reserve all the meat in one bowl together. 

Drain the chiles; split them and remove stems and seeds (a brief rinse helps remove seeds, but don't wash away the flesh). Place the chiles in the bowl of a blender and add the cumin, black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup water. Purée the mixture, adding more water as needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the blender jar), until a smooth, slightly fluid paste forms (you want to eliminate all but the tiniest bits of skin.) Set the chile paste aside.

In a dutch oven, or you can use the same skillet you browned the meat in, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of lard/coconut oil; add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, and gradually whisk in the almond flour to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a spatula to loosen any browned bits. Add the reserved beef (and any juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain the barest possible simmer (just a few bubbles breaking the surface) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender but still somewhat firm and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of thickened but still liquid sauce surrounds the cubes of meat, about 2 hours.

Before starting the Cauliflower Rice, stir in the vinegar thoroughly and add more salt to taste; gently simmer 10 minutes more. At this point, it may look like there is excess sauce. Turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet, leaving the meat bathed in a thick, somewhat fluid sauce. Stir in additional broth or water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, allow it to simmer a bit more. 

Reheat gently

*I used coconut oil this time out and it turned out really nice.  I've used suet in the past that I rendered myself from Marin Sun Farms and that was great too.  If you want a good resource for lard, Prather Ranch has been selling it at the Farmer's Market, but I would call ahead to make sure they bring it if you want to pick it up from them.

Here is a handy reference guide for fats and oils.  In the past I have used/advocated sunflower or grapeseed oils for high heat cooking.  I'm starting to try to work around those now too.  Tropical oils are starting to become easier to find now and I know we've all been trained to think of them as not great for us but there is mounting evidence that a lot of things we believed to be true about what is good and bad for us is being turned on its ear.  Just keep your mind open...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cabbage Rolls

I made these a little while back when we were getting cabbage in our veggie box.  I used two heads and thought, "whoa, I'm going to have too much of this"--pictured is a quarter of the whole batch.  We blew through it all in 2 days, they made excellent leftovers, especially at breakfast (!).   It's also a good one to bring to a potluck as they retain their heat well and taste great room temperature or even cold.   I used green cabbage--you could use savoy as well but don't use Napa or red cabbage, it won't translate well. I was a little leery with this one for the kids, I remember my mom making this for me when I was a kid and I didn't love it--in our home it was called Sarma.  When I asked the kids if they thought it was good, Leo said, "this isn't good, Mom, it's GREAT."  So, there you have it.

Another note:  from start to eating-at-the-table this took about an hour and half--not too bad for an entire meal.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Cabbage Sarma)

2 lbs. ground meat (I used beef and pork from Prather Ranch this time out)
3/4 c. cauliflower rice
3 large tomatoes diced small
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. cinnamon (or you could go in the other direction and use dried mint)
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
2 heads cabbage from Tomatero Farms
3 T. lemon juice

Combine meat, cauliflower rice, tomatoes, cinnamon, garlic, tomato paste, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate while preparing cabbage leaves.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  While water is heating, prepare the cabbage.  Leaving heads of cabbage whole, remove hard core centers to make it easier to separate leaves after they are softened. Place cabbage, stem end down, in water to cover.  Return to boil again.  As cabbage cooks, begin to peel off outer whole leaves as they soften.  Continue until all leaves are softened. 

Line bottom of large pan or dutch oven with largest outside leaves.

Place spoonful of filling along bottom of each leaf and roll up. Roll up bottom over filling, tuck in both sides, then roll to the top creating a nice snug rollup.  Don't let any filling seep out.  Don't use the leaves with the biggest vein in them.

Arrange seam side down and nestle them closely together.  I had about 3 layers, make sure the top layer is even across.

Combine lemon juice and water to almost cover cabbage and pour over top.  Place an inverted plate on top to keep the rolls in place while cooking.  Cover with pan lid and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes.  Drain off cooking liquid and serve on the side or use to reheat leftovers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Braised Artichokes with Basil Coconut Cream Sauce

I grew up in Southern California where artichokes were on our dinner table at least twice a month from Spring through early Summer.  It was easily my favorite thing to eat as a child. My mother prepared them simply.  She would steam the big ones for about 45 minutes in a big pot of water, melt about half a pound of butter, divided into two dipping bowls, set a big empty plate in the center of the table and we would systematically pull the leaves, dip them, and then rake the tender bases through our teeth creating a mountain of stripped leaves as a centerpiece.  The real treat came when you got to the delicate yet extremely pointy interior leaves.  My father would carefully scrape out the fibrous center (it was such a beautiful purple color) and we would treasure eating the hearts dipped in yet more butter.  I really could go on and on about this vegetable but I want to get to another way of preparation I've been favoring lately.

Swanton Berry Farm  has had some really nice artichokes the last few weeks.  They have them in various sizes and I've been picking the smallest ones to use for this method as they don't have a choke and prepping them is fairly straightforward.  The first time I did this I only picked up 8 artichokes.  They weren't enough.  This time out I had at least 15 and I think we all got what we wanted.  The basil cream sauce goes with anything (I made it with pork chops the other night using the pan juices and bits from the chops).  You can make it vegetarian by just using vegetable stock...

Braised Artichokes with Basil Coconut Cream Sauce
serves 4--you can easily halve this or double it

15 small or "baby" artichokes
3 TBSP. olive oil
3 TBSP. butter or ghee
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 lemon halved

for the sauce:
1/4 cup coconut milk from a can
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Prep the artichokes by getting a large bowl of cold water and squeezing the lemon halves into it.  Leave the squeezed lemon itself in the bowl.  Prep each artichoke individually.  Cut the stem right up to the bottom of the base and top 1/2 inch off each artichoke.  Snap off and discard outer leaves until you get to pale center leaves.  Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and put it right into the bowl of lemon water.    The lemon will help keep the artichoke from turning an unsightly brown color.

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil and butter until foamy.  Drain the artichokes and saute for about 10 minutes over medium high heat, letting the artichokes gain some color but don't let them burn.  Add the stock, set the heat down to low, cover the pan and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Transfer artichokes to a separate bowl, leaving stock in the pan, and keep warm.  Add chopped basil, coconut milk, salt and pepper and whisk together until blended.  Turn heat up to medium and let the sauce reduce to your desired consistency.

I served this with a simple grilled flank steak tonight and we just drowned everything in the sauce.  It was VERY tasty!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala with Cauliflower Rice

There is so much goodness going on with this dish, it's hard to decide where to start.  First, I have to give thanks to both my friends Alexis and Liz for posting elements of this dish in separate posts.  Cauliflower is going big over at Tomatero Farm right now and we have had the "rice" dish twice now already this week and I bought another head today to have with the leftover tikka masala sauce.  Make sure you save that sauce--it's gold!  The cucumber salad is excellent--I managed to find a US grown English cucumber (not organic) at Whole Foods as it is a little early in the season for local ones.  This dish is very simple to pull together but it is a slow cooker meal so be ready to go in the morning, it will take 8 hours to be done.  The cauliflower rice comes together in a snap, and I'm doubling the cucumber relish as the original recipe was not enough for our family...

Chicken Tikka Masala
original recipe post here 

my version: 

15-ounce can organic crushed tomatoes 
medium onion, chopped 
cloves garlic, chopped 
2 tablespoons organic tomato paste

2 teaspoons garam masala (here's some info on spices--it's long but eye opening)
kosher salt and black pepper 
1 1/2 to 2 pounds organic boneless skinless chicken thighs (8-10 pieces)
1 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin)
1/2 cup organic chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon organic  fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup organic coconut milk from can
In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
Twenty minutes before serving, start the cauliflower rice.
Just before serving, stir the coconut milk into the chicken tikka masala. Serve over the rice with the cucumber relish.

Cauliflower Rice

my version:
1 head cauliflower
1-2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece fresh peeled ginger
2 Tbs coconut or olive oil or ghee
coconut aminos, curry, garlic or freshly ground black pepper(optional seasonings)
Place the cauliflower, garlic cloves, and ginger into a food processor and pulse until it has a grainy rice-like consistency.  Do this in batches to keep the cauliflower uniform.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Saute the cauliflower in a pan with oil and any additional seasonings desired (sea salt,  coconut aminos, curry, or just freshly ground black pepper).