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.

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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?

Savory strawberry ricotta dip

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Besides being gorgeous and delicious, this strawberry ricotta dip comes together in less than 5 minutes. The creaminess of the cheese, matched with the sweet tartness of the strawberries is perfect. The vinegar, herbs and salt keep it from feeling like dessert. Variations abound, and you can easily customize to your tastes. A vegan version could also be made with macadamia nut ricotta or a strained vegan yogurt.

I like to choose a pretty serving plate to maximize the artsy vibe of this dish. Any fresh herbs could be used here, and edible flowers are lovely as well. I used tarragon, mint, baby arugula, thyme, and chive blossoms.

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta (fresh chevre, whipped with whole milk to loosen, or mascarpone would also be good, see note above about vegan options)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-5 thinly sliced, hulled strawberries (sliced blueberries, cherry tomatoes, plums or peaches would also be lovely)
  • a drizzle of olive oil (the best you have)
  • a drizzle of balsamic vinegar (another fruity vinegar would work, but I like the dark color of balsamic)
  • small handful of herb leaves, baby leaves if possible, or torn into smaller pieces if needed

Spread the ricotta onto a serving plate (1/2-1 inch thick layer), making dips and swirls with the back of your spoon. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Arrange the strawberry slices across the cheese, leaving white space between, and then drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic. Scatter the herbs over, arranging so that each portion of the dip will have some strawberry and some herbs. Serve with crackers, apple slices or toasts. Alternatively, you could top small toasts for some fancy bruschetta to pass at a party.

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Backstage dinner party: grilled asparagus elote style

I had the pleasure of hosting dinner for the band members of DC’s Humble Fire (I might know the drummer) last week. The bounty at the farmer’s market made cooking easy and fun. I’ve made this particular recipe for grilled asparagus elote-style (Mexican street-style corn) many times now, and I suggest you do too.

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Serves 5-6 as a starter or side

  • 2 bundles asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1/3 cup crema or sour cream (mayo is also used, could use soy or coconut yogurt to make vegan)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta (could use vegan cheese)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • pinch of cayenne or smoked hot paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle the asparagus with oil and grill over high heat for 1-2 minutes until crisp tender and beginning to char in spots. Ours got forgotten on the grill for about 5 minutes on this particular evening (because we are so rock and roll), and they were still delicious.

Arrange the asparagus on a large platter in a thin layer (so each spear gets some toppings). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle the crema over the spears and then sprinkle with cheese and cilantro. Squeeze the lime over and then dust with cayenne or paprika. I garnished with some chive flowers for fun.

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Grilled asparagus is so rock and roll.

Asparagus, marinated tomato and Irish cheddar omlette

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Simple in technique but big on flavor, I made this asparagus, marinated tomato and Irish cheddar omelette for a friend visiting from Durham, NC. In the spring, when my chive plants bloom, I love to use their soft lavender blossoms to make everything pretty. They have a light onion flavor, and they just make me happy.

As you can see from the color of the omelette, I actually like the crispy edges of egg dishes, so I let mine cook over medium high heat to get a bit of toasty-ness. I know that I’d get in big trouble if I were in French cooking class, but oh well. The marinated tomatoes really lift this dish up to something special. I highly recommend doing a quick marinade on tomatoes anytime you are adding them to a dish where they won’t really be mingling with other flavors (like in a salad or even on a sandwich). They pack a flavorful punch instead of just being a bit watery, and it’s a good trick if you don’t have peak-of-summer tomatoes on hand.

  • 1 large tomato, seeded, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (wine, malt, champagne or other yummy vinegar will do
  • 6 eggs (this was for 3 people)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 5-10 asparagus stalks, trimmed and blanched for 60 seconds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Irish cheddar (any cheese will do, but I especially love sharper, well aged cheeses to provide some bite and salt)
  • handful of chopped chives or chive blossoms for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix the diced tomatoes with the vinegar and salt to taste. Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, coat with olive oil or butter. Whisk the eggs, milk and a dash of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Pour the eggs into the heated pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes, lifting up the edge of the omelette to let liquid egg run underneath to cook. Once the eggs are beginning to firm, sprinkle the cheese over the surface of the omelette. Let the cheese melt and the eggs get to your desired doneness. I like to have a bit of creaminess, but some folks like hard-cooked eggs.

Distribute the chopped asparagus evenly over one half of the omelette, reserving a few asparagus heads for garnishing. Distribute the tomatoes as well. I add the tomatoes last so that they don’t cook too much or water down the eggs.

Fold the omelette over on itself to create a half moon shape and move to a cutting board. Slice into three even portions. Place one portion on each of three warmed plates and garnish with chives and reserved asparagus heads.

Falafel

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I love falafel, and while I cannot replicate (or don’t have the time to anyways) the vast toppings bar that is featured in many falafel-rias, homemade falafel is delicious and easy. I don’t deep fry, but just use a good amount of oil to get a crunchy exterior.

I use Honey & Co.‘s recipe by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer (love this cookbook all around!), but you’ll notice they have several variations listed. I did my own combination of all of them, because I wanted them to have bright green herbs and sesame seeds and some spicy kick to them….so I did a mash-up. You’ll need to soak your garbanzo beans overnight, so this takes a little planning.

  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 250g soaked chickpeas (from 125g dried)
  • 1 green chilli, seeds and all
  • 3 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground curry powder (or cumin) – I like to use one with a bit of cinnamon in it
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp flour (use gluten free flour to keep these gf)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

Start the night before: Wash the chickpeas and soak in fresh water overnight. Make sure to cover the garbanzos with plenty of water – they really expand! Never use canned chickpeas. Drain and remove any stones or grit.

Put the onion, garlic, chilli and herbs in a food processor and pulse them to chop roughly. Add the chickpeas and blitz until mixture becomes a thick paste with small, even-sized bits and a rough bread crumb consistency. Put the mixture into a large bowl, add the spices, salt, flour, baking powder and sesame seeds. Mix to combine well.

Traditionally, small balls of the mixture would be deep fried, but I make small patties and fry in a healthy dose of olive oil in a sauté pan. I put these on a salad with a feta-tahini-yogurt dressing and lots of other fresh veggies, but they’d be great tucked into a pita with all the fixings as well.

 

Roast Turkey Dinner in April

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As some of you know, I don’t do Thanksgiving as a holiday. There are lots of reasons, foremost being its link to Native American/Tribal genocide (MTV attempted to use humor to explain where we’ve gone wrong in celebrating some truly horrific atrocities in our history, and they do a pretty good job of it). I do like getting together with friends, and I like to provide a gathering place for folks who don’t have family close by. The Friday after, I gather folks for Friendsgiving, where I make an Italian feast. Part of my family is Italian, and I figure that folks have had enough stuffing and turkey by then.

I must admit, however, that I do love a good roast turkey with all the trimmings. After the winter holiday season, our local farmer had a few turkeys in their freezer still, and put them on sale. I bought a pretty giant one, about 17lbs or so. It wasn’t until this month that I had the time and inspiration to thaw it, brine it, roast it, and whip up all the sides. I am proud to say that (aside from the 3 day thawing and brining process), I did all of this in just one afternoon! I used Alton Brown’s brining recipe for the turkey, and I finally got to use my handy-dandy new meat thermometer (gift from my in-laws) to monitor the cooking.

My most exciting discovery was how great my spaetzle press works for perfect mashed potatoes! I just boiled the yukon golds in salted water until tender enough to be easily pierced with the tip of a knife and then was able to put the whole potato into the press, skin and all.

Out came perfectly riced potatoes, no skin or eyes at all. I added in hot whole milk and melted butter, salt and pepper to taste, just mixing enough to get a smooth consistency. I added a touch more milk before serving to loosen them up, and they held beautifully in the meantime while I finished the gravy etc.

I will never make mashed potatoes any other way. I actually can’t wait to make spaetzle as well. Also pictured: mushroom, walnut, sourdough stuffing, turkey giblet gravy, roast brussels sprouts, cranberry-clementine chutney.

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Wasabi Pea Hummus

IMG_1958I use green peas as the base for a lot of hummus-type dips. This time I added wasabi paste (from a tube), rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili garlic paste and salt to steamed green peas. About 30 seconds in the food processor, and you have a really yummy dip for veggies, pita chips, or an interesting addition to a sandwich. I garnished mine with a few whole peas and some wasabi powder (though I wish I’d had some actual crunchy wasabi peas on hand).

  • 2 cups frozen green peas, boiled for 30 seconds or defrosted in the microwave
  • 2 tablespoons wasabi paste
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (from a jar)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic paste
  • salt to taste

Blend to a chunky paste, adding water or olive oil to thin if necessary. Taste and add more spicy, salt, sour, etc as needed.

Taco Salad on the Terrace with TSCP

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I brought Stone Soup to work with me! Taco Salad on the Terrace (out in San Francisco). Everyone signed up to bring one or two ingredients, and then each person builds their own salad, buffet style. Some folks went all out, braising pork overnight, while other folks opened a tub of sour cream or salsa and called it a day. That is the beauty of Stone Soup, the foodies can cook if they like, but if you don’t like to cook or don’t have the time, most ingredients can be bought and served with little prep. We had chopped lettuce, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, avocado, beans, veggie meat, grilled peppers and onions, sliced carrots and snow peas, and many more toppings.

With so much variety, it is easy to accommodate all types of dietary restrictions, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, etc. The best part was that we had leftovers for the following day! Stone Soup is the gift that keeps on giving. (Photo credit to KP. Thanks!)

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Cajun BBQ Shrimp

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BBQ can mean so many things, so I won’t get into why these are called BBQ shrimp when they are just cooked in a pan on the stove, but I will confirm that they are delicious. Super simple recipe as well (good shrimp recipes should be simple, in my opinion, to let the shrimp shine through).

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 stick of cold, unsalted butter (I know it’s a lot!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 1/2 cup Crystal  hot sauce (can use franks or texas pete in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (I usually add a little more, but depends on your taste)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite Creole seasoning mix (or make your own)
  • 4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds fresh shrimp, head on preferred
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire, lemon, Creole seasoning and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and spread into one even layer. Flip after about 1-2 minutes and cook until opaque. Turn  heat to low and add in the remainder of the butter, one chunk at a time, stirring to incorporate each piece before adding another. This will create an amazing, velvety sauce. Season with salt to taste and serve with bread or rice for sopping up all the goodness!