Poached eggs, kale-lemon salad, buttery toast

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Easy dinner –

Step 1: Put a shallow pan of water on to simmer (for the eggs). Add a dash of vinegar and salt.

Step 2: Wash, stem and roughly chop one bunch of kale. Massage in a bowl with the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Step 3: Melt lots of butter in a big pan. Toast bread in the melted butter until golden on both sides.

Step 5: Crack eggs into a heatproof saucer and slip into the simmering water, one at a time. Poach for about 5 minutes for a medium-soft yolk.

Step 6: Stack the salad in a large bowl with toast on the bottom, topped with kale salad, crumbled feta and a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper.

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It’s squash roasting season, obviously, but I wanted to make a specific plug for spaghetti squash. Cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, coat with olive oil and fill the halves with sliced garlic, herb sprigs and a sprinkle of salt.

Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the squash strands separate as you drag a fork across them. The texture should remain crisp, and it’s better to under-bake than over. If you really want to soften it, just throw it back in the oven for a few more minutes. An over-baked squash is just mushy and sad.

I like to toss the strands with toasted walnuts, red pepper flakes, black pepper and shards of parmesan or aged gouda. It’s also great coated with some fresh pesto.

Savory rice waffles (again)

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This post is only to remind you that you should make rice waffles for dinner very soon, and, more broadly, that you can put so many things in your waffle maker! These rice waffles were pretty basic, but topped with some seared bass, sauteed cabbage and a spicy black bean sauce.

Just take day-old (or week old, I’m not judging) rice, mix in an egg, some salt and any other add-ins (green onions, basil, chopped bacon, diced cooked shrimp). Cook in your waffle maker until the edges are nice and crispy. Top with sauteed veggies, meats, gravies, melted cheese, you name it. You can usually make a topping in the time it takes your waffle to crisp up!

Chocolate cookie ice-box cake

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It’s always fun when something is even better tasting than you imagined. This was one of them. I made it as a celebration cake for a loved one using Smitten Kitchen’s recipe (minuse the peanut butter). I didn’t bother making it look perfect, so the shape was more modern art than “bakery case ready,” but that didn’t affect our enjoyment of it one bit. I did top with chocolate curls and cocoa nibs, so that made up for the shape a little.

While it was a lot of work to roll out and bake each layer individually, it was fun to have the layered look when cutting into it. I might not bother in the future, just rolling out random shapes and then layering them up as best I can like a triffle. Either way, super delicous.

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Johnny cakes for every meal

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Johnny cakes are kind of like fried cornbread, but easier to make. While the roots of the name are debated, we definitely can give credit to Native Tribes up and down the eastern Americas for the dish itself. While you can make more of a cornbread batter and fry like pancakes, these are simpler, denser, and satisfyingly toothsome. I like them savory with melted butter or cheese, as a side for BBQ or braised meats, or sweet with a drizzle of maple syrup or  honey.

  • 1 cup course cornmeal (this is a great time to use that heirloom, stoneground stuff you’ve been saving, because the taste of the corn is front and center)
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (if you want them sweet, otherwise, you can leave it out)

Combine all of the ingredients, pouring in the boiling water or milk gradually until you get a wet mixture that will plop off the end of your spoon and flatten out slightly. Cook in a greased medium-hot griddle or pan for about 6-10 minutes per side, depending on how dark you like your edges. I like to keep them warm in the oven on a rack while I make a whole batch. The time in the oven also helps to soften the corn granules in the middle, as they can be a bit crunchy at first.

Magic quiche (crustless egg pie)

My mom used to make a betty crocker recipe called something like “impossible hamburger pie,” that consisted of bisquick, eggs, and some kind of filling and cheese. I had the idea to try the same recipe structure, using gluten-free biscuit mix instead. It is fantastic, and easy, and can be made with nearly any ingredients. Perfect go-to weeknight meal (plus leftovers were delish for lunch).

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Magic Quiche

  • 1/2 cup gluten free biscuit mix (or regular mix)
  • 1 cup milk (regular or dairy free)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb meat or meatless filling (I used garlic pork sausage. You could use mushrooms, veggie meat product, ground beef or lamb, etc)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar or your favorite cheese

Whisk the biscuit mix, milk and egg together. Set aside.

Brown the meat or meatless filling in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir to cook until transparent. Remove to a greased pie pan. Cook the kale in the same pan with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt until wilted. Add to pie pan. I sprinkled in some chopped basil, just because I had some growing at the time. Green onions and other fresh herbs would be great as well.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the fillings in the pie pan. Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes in a 400 F oven or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. As with most gluten free baking, the cook time can be a bit longer. If you are using regular biscuit mix, cut the time by 5 minutes.

Pesto-caesar with kale, christmas beans and toasted pepitas

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Dark green dino kale (the flat, oval shaped kind), heavily massaged and coated in a pesto-caesar style dressing and toasted pepitas with pretty, speckled christmas beans and cornbread on the side. The christmas beans are also called chestnut beans, and are in the lima family. They have a nutty-sweet, smooth interior, and are just lovely. Unlike most beans, they keep their pretty pattern even after cooking.

Pesto-ceasar dressing

  • 2 cups basil, washed, stemmed
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan, romano or other hard Italian cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 anchovies, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • white wine vinegar or lemon juice to taste, start with 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and let whir until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I will admit that I actually add an entire tin of anchovies, but I don’t recommend that unless you really love that fishy, umami, which I do! You can also leave them out completely to make this a vegetarian dressing.

Wash and de-stem the kale, tearing into small pieces. Massage the kale with a few tablespoons of dressing for at least 5 minutes. This will improve the texture immensely. Add more dressing to taste and sprinkle with toasted pepitas.

Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

  • 2 cups raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 egg white, beaten to loosen
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac

Mix all of the ingredients together and spread out on a greased or lined cookie sheet in one layer. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until turning golden and starting to puff out in the middle. The pepitas will change shape from flat to more football shaped as they toast. In case you are wondering, the egg white helps the spices to stick and creates an extra crispy coating. You can leave it out if you prefer, and use a drizzle of olive oil and water instead.

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Mu shu pork with homemade pancakes

Mu shu (fill in your preferred protein here: chicken, pork, tofu, etc) has always been a favorite go-to Chinese take-out fave for me. I find that even in restaurants where quality is meh, the mu shu is a safe bet. Like many restaurant dishes, if I like it, I figure out how to make it. Mu shu can be super easy by substituting in flour tortillas for the pancakes, but making the pancakes from scratch isn’t too much work if you have some extra time (and don’t mind flour all over the kitchen…and you)

  • 8oz white flour (you could probably use whole wheat, but might need a bit more water)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and add in the boiling water. Stir to combine and then knead with your hands for 5 minutes or so. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll dough into a long snake and cut into 12 pieces. Traditionally, and in order to get a really thin pancake, you then dip one piece of dough into toasted sesame oil and press against another piece of dough. By rolling and cooking these paired pancakes together, you can peel them apart at the end to get 2 super thin pancakes. Depending on your mastery of this, it can be a more or less successful technique. You may also want to just roll each piece on its own using a well floured rolling pin and counter.

Either way, cook the pancakes in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds. If you’ve rolled and cooked them as pairs, be sure to peel them apart (gently) while still hot. Cover with a dish towel to keep warm while you cook the rest.

The filling often has sliced napa cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, omelette strips, scallions and some kind of protein. I survey the fridge and make it with whatever I have on hand, and it seems to work. This time I had green cabbage, mustard greens, carrots, and shitake mushrooms hanging around. I also had some fresh bamboo shoot from our CSA that was really fun to play with. (tip: you have to boil it for about an hour before you can peel, slice and use it) The basic idea is to stir-fry your veggies, starting with the ones that take longer to cook, with garlic, ginger, soy and sesame.

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I like to cook the veggies in batches, moving the cooked ones to a large bowl. It allows me to get the pan screaming hot for each new type of veggie, which gives me that little bit of char that tastes so good. I made omelette strips by whisking 2 eggs with a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, salt and some chive blossoms. Cook in a non-stick skillet until firm and cut into strips.

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To serve, each person takes a pancake and smears on some hoisin sauce (also called plum sauce, which can be found in most grocery stores, or you can try making your own!). I also like to add some chili paste for heat. Add some filling, roll up and enjoy!

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Rhubarb, apple, strawberry crumble

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Our CSA share came with rhubarb this week, and I couldn’t resist making a crumble. With my family visiting (including a loved one who can’t eat milk but can have yogurt), I also whipped up some easy frozen yogurt to go with it for a special treat.

There were only 4 stalks of rhubarb in the share, so I bulked up the crumble with strawberries and apples. The apples didn’t cook down as much as the other fruit (not surprising), so they had more of a bite to them. Not a bad thing, but I might cook them a bit on their own before adding to the crumble next time. I always make a double batch of topping, because everyone loves extra topping. I don’t use a recipe anymore, so if you want precision, I am not the place. I think if you have the general ratios, you’ll be fine. Just taste it before you bake it to make sure it has enough sugar, spice, salt, etc.

  • 4 stalks rhubarb, leaves trimmed away (they’re poisonous) and diced (bright red is best)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled, quartered if large
  • juice and grated zest of 1/2 lime or lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Mix all above ingredients together in a large bowl to blend. Place them into a buttered pie or tart pan. I like to use a wide, shallow dish to allow for the extra topping to get crispy.

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  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can use gluten free flour)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (be sure they are gluten free if you making this gluten free, not all oats are)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Place flour, sugar, oats, salt and cinnamon into a food processor and mix to combine. Pulse in the diced butter until mixture looks like coarse pebbles. Add the walnuts and vanilla and pulse to combine. Take handful of the mixture and squeeze together, crumbling over the fruit filling. Cover fruit evenly with topping.

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown, crispy and bubbling around the edges. Let cool slightly before serving. This is also yummy room temp or cold.

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I served mine with some strawberry-raspberry fro yo. Take your favorite full-fat fruit yogurt and sweeten a little bit more. I used maple syrup. Sweetness is dulled by the cold temperature of fro yo or ice cream, so you want the starting mixture to be slightly sweeter than what the final product will taste like. I also added some lime zest and a dash of salt. Process in your ice cream maker and serve right away for soft-serve style or freeze until hard for scoop-able fro yo.

Nachos on the roof deck

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Always in search of the perfect nacho, I most often find them at home. My partner has a patented “one layer” method that involves laying corn chips side by side (never overlapping) on a cookie sheet and topping each carefully with cheese. The other toppings are added later, as seen in this photo: pinto beans, sour cream, lime-cabbage slaw, pico, and guacamole. Eaten on a roof deck at sunset, doesn’t get much more perfect.

Missing but desired: pickled jalapeños, black olives (I know, not for everyone), maybe some carnitas?