Category Archives: other goodies

Spring oven hash

This is what the light looks like in my dining room at dinner time. That is, this is what it looks like since I broke the cheap plastic blinds and can no longer open them. Little slits of light come through the west-facing window and cast magical shadows on dinner plates. I photograph dinner so rarely (What’s the point when it’s usually a not-so-pretty meal eaten in the half-light?) but I couldn’t let this one go.

At first I was disappointed in my pictures of this glorious meal. Who wants to drool over shadowy potatoes and dimly-lit avocado? I guess I do because when I uploaded my pictures the day after taking them I really, really wanted there to be more potatoes and lima beans in my fridge. The memory of how they tasted was still vivid and I could taste the fresh parsley and melty goat cheese just looking at the photographs.

Sometimes things we throw together on a Sunday night just work. Often they don’t but it’s those bullseye dishes that make cooking a worthwhile endeavor for me. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I love the plain, “boring” comfort foods that I make all the time with whatever is lying around too.

Back to the potatoes. I would like to thank Mariquita Farm for including little, red, new potatoes and a grocery bag full of fresh lima beans in my veggie box last week. I’ve never been much of a potato person but when I eat them I prefer the crisp, new potatoes or sweet potatoes baked to the point of caramalization. Yum.

The potatoes and lima beans worked so well with the fresh herbs in this dish and something about this combination of foods roasting in the oven is the perfect transitional spring meal. I served it for dinner but it would make a perfect bed for eggs at breakfast. When I’m combining a lot of different elements for one meal, it’s nice to have at least one of them in the oven. That makes for fewer pans to manage on the stove.

Spring Oven Hash

Ingredients

  • All your potatoes (I had about 10 small, red ones), cut into halves or quarters so that all pieces are about the same size.
  • 1 cup shelled lima beans
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly oil a roasting pan or baking sheet, or use a Silpat
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or plastic bag and toss to evenly coat everything with oil+herbs
  4. Spread mixture on baking sheet and place in the oven.
  5. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring 1-2 times part way though.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in parsley. You can serve the hash now or place is back in the turned-off oven to wilt the parsley a bit more.
  7. Serve with goat cheese (or another creamy, flavorful cheese) and maybe an egg or two.
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Filed under CSA, other goodies

French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

This post covers a lot of things, all of which revolve around what I ate for lunch today.

First, why I love weekdays off:

  1. I get to take Doc (the dog) for walks up and around Potrero hill and see how happy he is to trot down the sidewalk beside me.
  2. Relaxed oatmeal breakfasts with coffee and the Chronicle on my Kindle
  3. Multitasking laundry with baking, blog-reading, house cleaning and daydreaming.
  4. It doesn’t matter when I forget to brush my teeth until half way through the day.
  5. I can eat French toast for lunch.

That last one is the kicker. There are several things that I can only make for lunch when I’m at home. Smoothies have been my specialty of late but there was a time when I made French toast for lunch all the time. Why did I ever stop? True, French toast is something normal people eat for breakfast on weekends and may seem too fancy, complicated, or rich for an every-day lunch. My counterargument goes something like this: bread+egg+milk=French toast.

I know, I know. I’m glossing over all kinds of key components like (for some) sugar, butter and rivers of syrup. There is a time and place for that breakfast. For me, a simpler version is a perfect vehicle for fresh fruit at lunch time.

This is where the strawberries come in. I’m kind of a strawberry snob. I don’t think I could have turned out any other way after growing up in Southern California where dreamily fresh, delicious strawberries grew right down the road. I remember early summer as a time for gorging on half flats of strawberries from roadside stands. My mom knew the best places to buy them. We would pick some up on the way home from somewhere, rush to the kitchen and plunge berries into cold water before devouring as many as it took to decide whether or not they were the best strawberries we’d ever tasted. Sometimes they weren’t that great. Often enough, they were spectacularly sweet and luscious: not too soft but never crunchy and always tasting like summer.

I don’t know how we ate as many berries as we did. I know they went on cereal, ice cream, waffles, and salads. I think my brother and I mostly ate them whole and unaccompanied off of moist paper towels by the sink. My dad dipped strawberries in sour cream and brown sugar for dessert.

Yesterday I brought home this week’s CSA box and immediately dug the little container of strawberries out from underneath the greens. I ran cold water over one, bit into it and closed my eyes. I must have done the same with two or three more. Yum. This is what a strawberry is supposed to taste like.

This morning I had strawberries on my oatmeal. They melted into the hot bowl while I read the paper and drank my coffee – my day-off morning ritual. Afterwards, while walking Doc up and around the hill, I thought of French toast and knew I had to have it for lunch. There was goat cheese in the fridge…and strawberries.

French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 medium-sized strawberries, more or less
  • 1-2 oz. fresh chevre

Instructions

  1. Beat the egg and milk in a bowl.
  2. Add the nutmeg and vanilla, blending completely
  3. Pour the egg mixture into a flat pan or dish.
  4. Place both slices of bread in the dish, allowing one side of each slice absorb the liquid.
  5. Carefully flip bread slices after a few minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spread a little oil or butter in the skillet.
  7. When the bread has absorbed most or all of the egg mixture, place it on the skillet and cook until browned to your liking, then flip and cook the other side. (I like to cover my toast while the first side is cooking. This helps the middle cook more fully.)
  8. While the toast cooks, wash your strawberries in cool water (Simply placing them in a bowl full of water is the gentlest way). Cut out the green tops and slice the berries.
  9. When the toast is done, place one slice on a plate, cover with sliced strawberries and a couple dabs of chevre. Layer the second slice of bread on top of the first (trust me, this helps melt the cheese and warm up the berries). Top this slice with the rest of the berries and a few more smears of chevre.
  10. Sit down with your meal and relax.
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Roasted Citrus Parfait

By now, I’m on the island of St. Kitt’s, trying to adjust to Caribbean heat and humidity. Today, my little brother turns 24. Today is also the first Wednesday Recipe Swap for Burwell General Store. Wow, there’s a lot going on!

While it may sometimes come along during busy periods in my life, I have loved every single recipe swap since joining the group. I always learn something about a dish or two, about my own cooking, and about the astounding abilities of my co-swappers. This little activity has become so popular (yeah, we’re pretty cool) that Christianna, the swap’s founder, proposed that we split into two groups. There is now a Monday Swap and  Wednesday Swap every month. Each group starts with a different recipe, making for even more delicious madness.

As you can see, I fell in with the Wednesday swap crowd. I drooled over the Monday group’s pizza recipes earlier this month. At the time, I already had my own dish in the works, as I knew I’d be in the tropical wilds on the swap date.

I smiled when I saw this months recipe. Ah, jello salad. My mom makes a jello salad, just one but it’s a good one. It incorporates all the wonderful things about jello salads: fruity jello, crunchy things, cottage cheese…I could go on. I actually kind of love it, although I’ve never made it myself.

Anyway, back from that tangent. I didn’t make that salad, or any jello salad. After briefly considering an experiment with agar agar or unflavored gelatin I veered towards simplicity. A simple parfait is much more my style. I carried the citrus and cottage cheese over from the original recipe but needed little else.

I made this for lunch one day last week while I was trying to clean out the fridge and frantically ready myself for three weeks in the Caribbean. Breakfast might be a more appropriate meal for a parfait and it could certainly be a dessert or even dinner with some minor tweaks. The possibilities of varying the grain layer, sweetening the fruit, or maybe adding a layer of wilted kale and some savory spices make this an extremely versatile dish.

My main inspiration was Joy the Baker’s Roasted Winter Citrus. I bookmarked this post last month because I love roasting everything and will try that technique on anything at least once. I’d never tried it with citrus fruit but the idea immediately had me thinking of hot sweet-sour juices paired with something cold and cheesy. I ended up roasted a sliced grapefruit, partly because I’m always looking for different ways to eat that somewhat challenging fruit. Layered with chilly cottage cheese and cooked millet, roasted grapefruit was truly delicious and different.

Look at that soupy cottage cheese running down the inside of the glass. I wished I had my favorite cottage cheese on hand when I made my parfait. Nancy’s cottage cheese is cultured, like yogurt, so it’s tangy and richer tasting, even in a reduced fat version. I love it.

The pineapple in the original Orange Snowflake Salad seemed a little tropical to me. Maybe I just had the tropics on my mind, because knew I had to top my parfait with coconut butter. Coconut butter (like all nut butter) makes everything better, obviously. A more indulgent cook would have put gobs of this incredible spread/topping/syrup between every parfait layer. Next time.

I’m not the only one taking jello salad in a totally different direction!


Roasted Citrus Parfait

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup cooked grain (millet was nice)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • A few wedges of Roasted Winter Citrus
  • Coconut butter, warmed in a bowl or pot of hot water so it is a liquid.

Instructions

  1. Roast your citrus first, or maybe you have some leftover from another meal.
  2. In any case, cut fruit out of rinds once it is cool enough to handle.
  3. Spoon a layer of grain into the bottom of a pretty glass or dish.
  4. Follow that with a layer of citrus, followed by cottage cheese.
  5. Repeat layers until you run out of room or ingredients.
  6. Top parfait with a couple spoonfuls of coconut butter.
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Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Anyone who knows me really well is familiar with my love for peanut butter and jelly. I could eat a PB&J sandwich every day. If it weren’t for all the other wonderful nut butters in the world I probably would. My fridge is always stocked with at least two, more likely three or four, different kinds of nut or seed butters. Right now I have a GIANT jar of PB, a tub of tahini, and a jar of T.J.’s sunflower seed butter. I’ve been on a serious open-face, forget-the-jelly, nut butter on toast sandwich kick lately. That and toast with avocado, smoked sea salt, and pepper are my lunchtime obsessions.

Back to the peanut butter and jelly. I used to find peanut butter kinda scary. It was sooo high-calorie and so high-fat! I tried to get away with spreading as little of it as possible on my sandwiches and, consequently, never savored that peanut butter’d up sticky mouth feeling.

Nowadays, no one can tell me to use less peanut butter, or any nut butter for that matter. Those are healthy fats and useful calories, especially for a vegetarian! The same goes for baking with nut butters. I purposely bought a two-pack of giant PB jars at Costco so I could bake with it. Otherwise, one PB-containing recipe can use up most of a jar!

Determined to bake something other than 5-minute-a-day bread last week, I broke out the giant peanut butter jar, some grape jam, and some oats for a batch of granola bars. It’s been quite a while since I made granola bars last and I’ve never found a recipe that I really, really love. This one comes close. The bars held together. They’re fully on the healthy side of the spectrum (in my opinion) and they’re beautiful to look at!

After a sample, I carried these over the hill to Lee’s work, where hungry engineers promptly devoured them. This was my second walk of the day with Doc, who was thrilled to go on a granola bar delivery. The weather in San Francisco was summer-like for a couple of days last week and I did not let it go to waste. Come to think of it, isn’t there something about summer weather, PB&J, and granola bars that fits together? It’s like a deconstructed childhood memory centered around summer camp lunchboxes and snacks eaten on the grass.

I couldn’t make these bars without including an unusual ingredient. I think they owe at least some of their deliciousness to the leftover sweet potato I mashed into the mix.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ, or oat bran, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 a baked sweet potato, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4-1/3 cup honey (more if you like things sweeter)
  • 1 "flax egg" (2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 4 tablespoons water)
  • About 1/3 cup grape jam
  • Additional 1/4 cup oats for topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a square or rectangular baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together flax seed meal and water, set aside.
  4. In a larger bowl, mash sweet potato.
  5. Add honey, peanut butter, and "flax egg" to sweet potato, mixing well.
  6. Add oats and wheat bran, stirring until mixture is evenly moist.
  7. Spread peanut butter-oat mixture into prepared pan, flattening it with a spatula or spoon.
  8. Spoon jam on top and and spread evenly over peanut butter-oats.
  9. Sprinkle reserved oats and coconut over the jam.
  10. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until firm and starting to brown at the edges.
  11. Remove pan from oven, lift bars out with parchment paper and cool on a wire rack.
  12. When bars are partially cool, place them on a cutting board (parchment and all) and cut into squares.
  13. You can put the bars back on the rack to cool, with or without the parchment. I kept mine on the parchment for easy transport and cleanup.
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