Sunday, September 27, 2015

Honey Butternut Soup

Bowl of Honey Butternut Soup with Honey and Yogurt Garnish
Ringed with Honey and Dolloped with Yogurt

Recipe Adapted from the National Honey Board

What better way to honor autumn than by making butternut squash soup? But the endless variety of recipes had me befuddled about how to begin. Shall I add apples, savory veggies, or use just straight butternut? Do I add allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, or not? How about cream or yogurt, yes or no? Then, since September is National Honey Month, a recipe from the very interesting bee book, “Letters from the Hive, an Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind,” caught my attention. After a bit of adaptation to reduce the fat and better quantify the ingredients, I had the perfect season-appropriate recipe. It’s both sweet and savory, with an earthy honey flavor.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dukkah Honey Crusted Fish Fillet

Dukkah Honey Crusted Fish served with Tomatoes, garnished with basil
 Fish with Honey, Nut, Seed, and Spice Crust

Recipe Inspired by The Recipe for Radiance

September is National Honey Month, so I’m on the lookout for unusual honey recipes. Dukkha (duqqa) is an Egyptian condiment of toasted nuts, spices, and herbs. This homemade version combines brilliantly with honey to make a unusual topping for fish that’s crunchy, sweet, spicy, and hearty. You can adjust the spices to your liking; in particular you could double the amount of red or black pepper if you’re going for a hot and sweet taste. The natural oils in hazelnuts, almonds, and sesame seeds benefit both heart and skin health. Plus, they make the topping exotically delicious.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini

Closeup of Yum
Recipe from Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without

Is there ever a garden that suffers a shortage of zucchini in August? As the zukes roll in, and we’ve tried steamed squash, panfried squash, squash with herbed butter, stuffed squash, zucchini bread, and maybe even shrimp with zucchini, Swiss steak and ratatoille. Yet, we still crave something new, different, and above all, easy. This recipe by Mollie Katzen, author of the classic vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks, suits the bill—sautéed on one side, then finished in the broiler. With just garlic, a little olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and optional breadcrumbs, zucchini become delightfully crunchy on the top and succulent in the middle, reminiscent of deep-fried zucchini, but fresher and far more healthy.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Natural Summer Skin Care Recipes

Selection of Masks and Creams with Rose Blossom
Ingredients so Pure, They're Edible

Recipes from The Recipe for Radiance

Something about summertime makes me nostalgic. I love remembering summertimes past. Reading on the porch swing, running around with friends, practicing needlework with my expert grandmother, jumping into the neighbors’ pool, going on excursions with my eccentric great aunt Sophie, the 80-year old baby of her generation. She would have loved the idea of making skin products from kitchen ingredients since she was crazy about unusual hands-on projects. We’d have made up the formulas in the morning, the only time her big sisters allowed her in the kitchen--after all they still considered her just a baby. We'd have applied them during a mini-spa afternoon, laughing about our goop-covered appendages. So with Aunt Sophie in mind, I gave a kitchen-based spa day a try.

Image shows, clockwise from center left, Cucumber Rose Cooling Mask, Baby Bottom Balm, Avocado Banana Hand, Face, and Foot Mask

Friday, July 31, 2015

Blueberry Clafoutis

Slice of Blueberry Clafoutis with Whipped Cream
Blueberry Heaven

Recipe adapted from Crumbles and Cobblers

Clafoutis! Who knew that such an impressive French dessert would be so fast and easy to make? Essentially, clafoutis is custard-like batter surrounding seasonal fruit. Cherries are typically used in this classic dish, but the British cookbook Crumbles and Cobblers inspired me to use the last of this season’s blueberries. Clafoutis can be served warm or at room temperature. In addition to dessert, some cooks serve clafoutis for brunch or luncheon. And I’ve noticed that refrigerated leftovers make a dandy breakfast.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes garnished with blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream
Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue

Recipe Tweaked from Advertising Flyer

According to Ma in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, no great evil occurs without also bringing some bit of goodness. Thus, when one autumn I mail ordered frozen blueberries that arrived rotten and smashed, I was also graced with this recipe. Sort of. The recipe left out important ingredients and steps, but gave me the idea of adding yogurt or sour cream to pancakes. This makes the pancakes light and fluffy, and makes it easier to tell when to flip them. With the wonderful local blueberries that are available for the near future at the farmers’ market, plus a few seasonal strawberries, I whipped up a brunch that was fun, satisfying, and patriotic.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fresh Mushy Peas

Mushy peas garnished with chives
Try a Chive Blossom Garnish

Recipe adapted from Victoria Magazine

Mushy peas don’t sound like something that most Californians would like. But my husband and I were pleasantly surprised by this classic British side dish while visiting the Isles last year. The Brits reconstitute and cook dried peas with minced onion and plenty of butter. I wanted to  use fresh peas rather than dried, and Victoria Magazine had the same idea. Using their recipe as a starting point, I added extra herbs from the garden. It's lighter in color and texture than the dried pea version and highlights the sweet delicate flavor of fresh peas. This could become a springtime habit. Try it with the last of this year’s English pea harvest.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mom's Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Closeup of Pineapple, cherry, and pecan topping
Fabulously Retro Cake

Recipe from Mom’s Best Desserts

Among my earliest childhood memories are the wonderful desserts that my long-gone mother made.  It’s hard to find some of these recipes nowadays. How lucky I was to find Mom’s Best Desserts, a treasure trove of retro recipes, at the library. After bookmarking 30 pages, I realized that I knew the second author, Fran Raboff. A fantastic baker and chef, Fran used to bring me homemade treats years ago when she studied sculpture in the community college art department where I worked. “This is for you, not the students,” she would say. Knowing her dessert expertise, I immediately bought the book. This cake tastes just like my mom’s.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Salmon and Asparagus with Orzo

Bowlful of Salmon with Asparagus and Orzo
One Bowl Might Not Be Enough

Recipe adapted from Monday to Friday Cookbook

With new spring asparagus on sale and plenty of sustainable salmon on the market, this one-pot meal was inevitable. The first time I made it, our neighbor Matt dropped by. He loves salmon, but rarely eats it because his wife is a strict vegetarian. Since this recipe makes a large potful, I served him a bowlful, which he greatly appreciated. I encouraged him to have seconds if he liked. He assured me that one bowl was plenty—until he finished it and admitted that a little more would be even better. We agreed. Plan accordingly.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Parmesan Pine Nut Broccolini or Broccoli

Plate of Parmesan Pine Nut Broccolini
Broccolini Italian Style!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Last month I became enamored of broccolini, a hybrid of broccoli and gai-lan. It's more slender and graceful than broccoli, pungent and tender as gai-lan, but sweeter. Starting in April, it’s available from local farms. So after my sesame lime success, I couldn’t resist adapting one more of Cooking Light’s suggestions. Just zest and juice a lemon, shave some Parmesan cheese, then toast the pine nuts while you steam the broccolini. Stir the dressing ingredients together, and toss the hot broccolini with the dressing, pine nuts, and Parmesan. Super-simple, but looks and tastes like gourmet fare.