Sunday, November 29, 2015

Savory Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Bowl of garnished soup
With Green Onions and Yogurt

Recipe by Melinda

My friend and work colleague Melinda is a fabulous cook. Not that I’ve tasted anything that she’s prepared, but we do exchange recipes. After enjoying her amazing Moroccan Butternut Soup, I was excited to try her pumpkin soup. One key to its deliciousness is, like Zach’s Butternut Sage Soup, the squash (pumpkin) is roasted rather than boiled. Celery and onion provide classic aromatic flavors, and a touch of tomato paste zests up the soup in a unique way. Half and half adds creaminess. Finally, a touch of honey, salt, and pepper, to enhance the flavor of your particular pumpkin.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate

Plate of Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate abd Pumpkin Seeds
Bright and Beautiful, Plus Nutritious

Recipe Adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

Butternut squash is a popular autumn vegetable, yet most recipes are more or less the same. The squash roasted or steamed till soft, then combined with sweet and/or savory spices, or perhaps nuts or seeds. Or it’s made into soup. This recipe is completely unique because the butternut is cooked crisp-tender. This takes less than 10 minutes in the oven. The texture can surprise people, especially when served at room temperature. At a recent potluck, one person thought it was persimmon, and another marveled at this new use for cantaloupe. This easy side dish is an unusual addition to the Thanksgiving table. It’s colorful and gluten-, meat-, and dairy-free. Substitute another oil for walnut, and it’s also nut-free.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tomato Basil Catsup or Jam

Tomato Basil Catsup on Burger
The Ultimate Burger Condiment

Recipe Adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

At last it’s getting colder in Santa Cruz, after a couple of too-warm winters. Our garden tomato and basil crops are winding down, and there are only a few over- or under-ripe varieties left at the Farmers’ Markets. These tomatoes might not be flavorful enough for salads. But any sort of tomato, even green, can be preserved in a catsup-like jam, according to author and Moosewood restaurant chef Mollie Katzen. I tried it with both over-ripe paste tomatoes and old pithy heirlooms. I might try it again with my green tomatoes, if the frost comes before they ripen. The sweetness (or tartness) of the tomato variety will dictate the sweetness/tartness ratio of the end product. You can alter this somewhat by varying the amount of honey and cider vinegar added to the mix.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Butternut Sage Soup

Closeup of soup with hazelnuts and sage leaves
Closeup of Soup with Toppings
Recipe by Zach

Back in March, I attended a music workshop in chilly (to Californians) Whidbey Island. Not only did Ruzivo teach us 3 songs for 8-piece marimba ensembles in less than 48 hours, each band member was also responsible for feeding us a delicious meal. This warming soup hit the spot on a rainy afternoon. We pretty much insisted that Zach, who’s been playing marimba professionally since age 11, give us the recipe. He said that though the soup is supposed to be pureed, he pureed just half—creating an agreeable texture. Cooler weather, impending frost on the garden sage, and Farmers’ Market butternut inspired me to recreate this soup.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lemon Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Lemon Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Bacon Makes it Better

Recipe adapted from Jamie Deen

This month I’ve been on a Brussels sprouts kick. The autumn crop is still fresh, and they’re still available on the stalk—at Trader Joe’s as well as the farmers’ market. Whether purchased on or off the stalk, smaller sprouts are tender and can be served whole or halved, with mustard-, maple-, or balsamic-based sauces. The real challenge is how to make large, tough sprouts from the top of the stalk into something tender and delicious. Halving and thinly slicing these large toughies makes them amenable to any sort of cooking treatment you’d use for cabbage, including this lemony sauté seasoned with brown sugar and bacon.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Plate of Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts
Spicy, Sweet, and Healthy

Recipe Adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

Consider the humble yet bizarre Brussels sprout. The first time my friend claimed that a large field of turgid, leafy 4-foot stalks overlooking the Pacific Ocean was Brussels sprouts, I thought he was kidding. Like when he said that the Zinfandel that I’d bought for my parents was aged in chicken manure. But surprising ly, many Brussels sprouts were indeed clinging to the stalks. Although most sprouts are harvested by machines, those of us close to the central coast can pick up freshly harvested sprouts on the stalk this month at the Farmers’ Market. My gems are organic  sprouts from Rodoni Farms, lightly browned and steamed, then dressed with an easy 3-ingredient sauce that’s strong enough to stand up to Brussels sprouts yet not overpower them.

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