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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sesame Lime Broccolini or Broccoli

Plate of Sesame Lime Broccolini Garnished with Lime
Broccolini: Kinda Like Broccoli

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light


Broccolini, also known as broccolette, is a cross between regular broccoli and gai-lan, so-called Chinese broccoli, which we find doused with oyster sauce at authentic dim sum restaurants. Broccolini resembles gai-lan; its long graceful stems are sleek and sexy when plated. It’s tender and pungent like gai-lan, but not as bitter, more sweet like broccoli. I’ve added a good amount of oyster sauce to this recipe. Fresh lime, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, a sprinkle of sugar, and crushed red pepper round out the easy-to-make sauce. This recipe can also be used with gai-lan or broccoli.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Plate with Maple Roasted Sprouts and Spring Mix
Serve with Spring Greens for Lightness

Adapted from Yoga Journal


It’s an odd time of year. It’s almost spring, but few things besides chard, kale, and cabbage are growing in most Santa Cruz gardens. The local Farmers’ Markets don’t start for another month or two. It’s nearly a new spring but with the same old winter veggies. So we’ll be stuck with root veggies, winter squash, chard, and cold-friendly crucifers for a while. On the bright side, it's the perfect time to try something new and different with the more-of-same old veggies—something more creative than just steaming or baking.  Let’s (re)introduce the Brussels sprout, with in-season maple syrup.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Citrus Salad with Honey and Rosewater

Platter and 2 plates of Citrus Salad
Winter Brightness

Recipe inspired by Lindsay


As readers know, I’ve been uninspired to cook or create lately. February can be like that. Dark and cold weather, winter illness, lack of local veggies; these things happen. And yet, our citrus possibilities will never be better than right now. In the midst of my doldrums, a magazine article reminded me of a luncheon that my friend Lindsay served years ago. Though I’ve forgotten the entrĂ©e, I’ll always remember the dessert, so simple and so elegant. All she did was open up and dish out a can of mandarin oranges, then sprinkled them with a bit of rosewater. What a flavor revelation! The large variety of citrus in the market right now inspired me to try a fresh variation of this dessert. I served it as a salad to accompany broiled swordfish. It would be equally bright and delicious at breakfast. Sunny colors, Vitamin C, and a bit of sweetness (not to mention easy prep) provided the perfect antidote to winter blues.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Whipped Winter Squash

Serving Bowl of Whipped Butternut Squash
Simple Comfort Food

Recipe adapted from Recipes from the Root Cellar


I hope you have had as quiet and contemplative a month as I have. After lots of socializing and baking during the holiday season, I’ve been quite lazy. True that I started a weight-lifting program and have been reading a lot. But in the kitchen, less has been more. Hence this super-simple recipe for an elegant winter side dish that requires few ingredients and little effort. If you’re really lazy, like I am, you can spread the prep over two days by cooking the squash one night and whipping it up the next. Vary the ingredients as you like, and don’t even measure if you’re really lazy (fewer dishes to wash). A splash of this, a dollop of that will do the trick.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Turkey, Apple, and Basil Sausage Burgers

Sausage Burger with Green Beans
Basil, Apple, Sweet Onion and Spices Compliment Meat

Recipe adapted from Smart Cooking the Costco Way


Happy 2015! During the final weeks of 2014 we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather in California. Our garden basil continued to produce strongly flavored if somewhat peaked-looking leaves. Right before the first cold snap, I harvested the remaining leaves and wanted to use them in a seasonal recipe for an oddly warm December. I found this recipe for mini-burgers in a book left over from our library’s book sale, which I purchased for just a buck. Right now you can purchase this cookbook, which has a surprising number of intriguing recipes, for $.01 (ten times less than I paid) at Amazon. I didn’t need another cookbook, but finding this wonderfully unusual combination of basil and sweet apple in a deliciously spiced burger was well worth my impulse buy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake

Slices of Chocolate Cloud Cake
Leftover Cake, But Not for Long

Recipe from Classic Home Desserts


As the year winds down to the solstice, dark days and long nights are upon us. What better time to bake a deep, dark, dense, chocolaty cake? And to keep the light alive during this annual time of darkness, how about adding a thick layer of whipped cream on top? If only this cake had lasted longer at a recent potluck, I could have gotten better photographs of it. But the combination of dark chocolate and light cream is irresistible. The cake itself is lighter in texture than some flourless cakes; the eggs make it rise and stay moist inside, and form a thin chewy (and chocolaty) crust on top. It’s no wonder that Richard Sax features this cake on the cover of his Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes, the best-ever dessert cookbook.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Persimmon Walnut Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Plate of Frosted Persimmon Date Bars
Perfect for Holiday Sharing
Recipe adapted from old magazine clipping


When it comes to desserts, old school is often the best. At least that’s what I hear whenever I bring an old fashioned treat somewhere to share. This recipe came from Bruce’s parents’ recipe collection. Back in the 70s, most cooks kept a small metal box full of index cards with recipes written or glued onto them. This recipe came from just such a box. Although not terribly practical—since these boxes are small, most contain folded-up recipes that didn’t fit—these little boxes give us a glimpse back into the past, especially when they’re filled with tried and true family recipes. This recipe is more like a moist spice cake than a chewy bar cookie. The browned butter frosting has gone out of fashion, but its exquisite yet simple flavor makes it a delicious and unexpected addition to modern holiday baking.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

Bowl of Garnished Moroccan Soup
Swirled with Spicy Oil, Topped with Raisins and Cilantro

Recipe by Melinda’s friend


I love everything about my new job, even the fact that it cuts down on the amount of time that I have for blogging. What better job for a writer than library aide: juggling books, lifting, shelving, pushing carts, reaching, bending and generally getting off one’s duff and away from the screen? Also, there’s constant exposure to great (and not so great) literature for inspiration. Even better, Melinda, my new coworker, is cheerful, smart, and an amazing cook. Her version of butternut soup has a spicy kick to it, along with chunky interest provided by chickpeas, bell peppers, and not-pulverized butternut. The spicy olive oil and golden raising garnishes add yet more flavor. Since my husband is ho-hum about any super-smooth, creamy, bland soup, this kicked-up, texture-rich squash soup became an instant family favorite at my house.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Turkey and Veggie Meatloaf

Carrots, Celery, Onion, Green Onion, Garlic, Red Bell Pepper
Turkey Loaf Requires a Variety of Fall Veggies

Recipe adapted from The Cooking Decade


It’s that turkey time of year here in the US, and the colder weather makes me crave more comfort foods. Yet, it would be smartest not to gain weight before December’s usual slide into decadence. This spinoff from classic beef-and-onion meatloaf is chock full of healthful veggies and lower-fat ground turkey. My sister clipped this recipe from an unknown source many years ago. She presented it to me in a binder of family favorite recipes a few years back. She claimed to be starting her second “non-cooking decade,” and since I was just starting to cook family recipes, she dubbed this binder “The Cooking Decade.” Her kids loved eating this turkey loaf while they were growing up, and so will yours. Turkey Veggie Loaf is perfect for this time of year because it's hearty enough to stand up to cold weather and also takes advantage of the last of this  year's red pepper harvest.