Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fresh Mint Tea

Recipe by Robin

Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, semi-wild mint pops up with the first winter rains. Planted in some nearby herb garden years ago, it has spread by runners to form a thick mat of leafy stems throughout our back yard. As delicate as the leaves seem, they don’t mind the cold at all. Some sturdy spearmint variety, these leaves are famously stirred into mint juleps and muddled into mojitos. But in winter they make a refreshing and warming tea that soothes body and spirit.
The super-easy recipe is uplifting and thirst-quenching, whether you are sick or well, by yourself or with a friend.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Dauphin Easy Apple Soufflé

Try it with Cream, or Not

Recipe adapted from Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen

I’m on an apple roll this season. After spiced poached apples, old school apple cake, and pear crisp with apples substituted for pears, I’m taking it to the next level with a more esoteric recipe. From an upstate New York monastery, it's Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Loutourette's Dauphin Easy Apple Soufflé. Dauphin was the dynastic title  of the French heirs apparent during the 14th-19th centuries. It also translates to dolphin. What exactly Dauphin has to do with the apple soufflé remains a monastic mystery.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Old School Apple Cake

slice of apple cake on plate
Apple Cake for All!

Recipe from Sunset Light & Healthy

It’s officially the holiday season. Let there be cake! I’ve tried many cakes in the quest to recreate my Gram’s Apple Cake, with a notable divergence into Amen Farms Apple Cake, a delicious go-to recipe. Old school apple cake differs from my past posts in that it contains raisins and nuts. I call it a 70’s recipe because it’s from Sunset Light & Healthy cookbook—and what’s considered healthy these days is different from when the book was published. This recipe is low fat and free of saturated fats. It is not low carb, low sugar, gluten free, dairy free or egg free. It tastes perfect without frosting, though you could sprinkle it with powdered sugar and cinnamon, or decorate it with edible poinsettias, roses, or glitter stars for holiday festivities.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Apples Poached with Spices

Option #1: Serve Chilled with Mint Leaves

Recipe from Unidentified Clipping

Between Halloween candy overindulgence and Thanksgiving pie decadence is a peaceful season where simple autumn desserts give our bodies a break as well as a lift.  While raw persimmons, pears, and pomegranates conveniently fill the everyday dessert bill, baked or poached apples provide more elegant treats for special occasions. And with very little fuss—10 minutes of prep and less than an hour of cooking time. Plus, an aromatic apple and spice smell issues forth from the kitchen, imbuing the entire household with an iconic fragrance of autumn.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Melinda’s Pear Crisp

Bowl of Fresh Pear Crisp
Pear Pizazz

Recipe adapted from Sunset Light & Healthy

If you’ve got to work for a living, finding a job with people that you enjoy makes it easier. I lucked out at my job with Melinda, who is not only smart, energetic, and forever making me laugh, but also loves food and cooking. When her pear trees were in full fruit, she brought in a pan of pear crisp one morning, still warm from the oven. She said the recipe was reasonably healthy, and that she’d reduced the sugar. Unlike most crisps, it’s flavored with vanilla and nutmeg, not cinnamon. Originally “oatie peach crumble,” her tweaked recipe compliments pears perfectly.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Vegan Red Pepper Soup

Bowl of Vegan Pepper Soup
Health and Happiness

Recipe from Women’s Health Big Book

In my quest for new smoothies this year, I came across a book with the rather intimidating title: The Women's Health Big Book of Smoothies & Soups: More than 100 Blended Recipes for Boosted Energy, Brighter Skin & Better Health. Although I liked some of the smoothie ideas, I looked askance at the blender soups, particularly those made with all raw ingredients that could be served hot or cold. Yet, Radiant Red Pepper Soup was compelling—especially with 5 red bells in the fridge due to a hot, long pepper season this year. I whipped up this soup as an appetizer, thinking that the flavor would be more healthful than delicious. Sometimes I love it when I’m wrong!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pacific Rim Honey Grilled Pork

Two Honey Grilled Pork Steaks
Nontraditional Octoberfest Food

Recipe from Letters from the Hive

BBQ season isn’t over, so my friends on both US coasts tell me. And they’re right. Golden October days are perfect for grilling, provided that we start early enough to avoid grilling after dark. Also, rake away those dry leaves from the BBQ area to keep it safe. Autumn grilling is especially good for roasting meats that pair well with seasonal homemade applesauce.  This sweet-savory pork recipe comes from an unlikely source. The book Letters from the Hive is an informative and rather sexy look at bees, honey, and beekeeping—see my Goodreads review for details. Essentially, the pork is saturated in an Asian-inspired honey-lime marinade, then grilled or broiled. This marinade also works on fish.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ginger Glazed Winter Squash

Glazed Buttercup squash half on plate
Try it on Buttercup

Recipe adapted from Classic Zucchini Cookbook

One of the great loves of my life is butternut squash. I have whipped it, pied it, baked it, minestroned it, honeyed it, spiced it, saged it, saladed it, seeded it, puddinged it, muffined it, blondied it, and even microwave-steamed it in a motel room. And after all of this, I found yet another delicious way to serve it. Essentially, it’s baked, but adding sherry and ginger to the mix distinguishes it from the more usual cinnamon-maple syrup glaze. It’s a more sophisticated flavor that’s at home at fancier dinner parties and potlucks. So far I've glazed both butternut and buttercup squash.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Baked Tunisian Eggah

Slice of Tunisian Eggah Garnished with Parsley
Eggah! A Fantastic Way to Eat Your Veggies

Recipe from Mediterranean Light

Eggah! I made it because I love saying it, and because bell peppers and tomatoes will soon be out of season. Tunisian eggah is technically an oxymoron, since eggah is an Egyptian dish, and the closest dish in Tunisia is called tagine (and is quite different that tagines from other Arabic countries). It’s called kuku in Iran, and Ej’jah in other places. It’s similar to Spain’s omelette, except it’s packed with festive red and green veggies rather than potatoes, and spiced up with cumin, cinnamon, and other lovely aromatics. It’s similar to a frittata, but thicker and more fragrant.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fish and Corn Chowder

Bowl of Fish and Corn Chowder with spoon and napkin
Late Summer Veggies Compliment Fish

Recipe adapted from Everyday DASH

It's odd to take a recipe from a healthy cookbook and add potatoes, extra flour, extra bacon, and half and half. But whoever heard of fish chowder without potatoes or cream? And so I padded this light recipe with traditional flavors. Just a small amount of half and half kicks up flavor and texture. Potatoes, though not the healthiest veggies, contain potassium and other minerals. Their high glycemic index is mitigated when eaten with lean protein, like fish and lowfat milk. The extra bacon adds indispensable flavor, and the amount is still less than one strip per serving.