Sunday, December 15, 2013

Banana, walnut, and white chocolate scones

A few weeks ago, an out-of-town friend was visiting with her teenage son.  I wanted to have a treat on hand for an afternoon snack and/or breakfast--a good occasion to try out a recipe that looked very appealing to me.  One afternoon, my friend brought a scone to her son, who was up in our guest room.  After he'd eaten it, she asked if he liked it.  His reply, "Could I have two more, please?"  Words to warm a cook's heart!  And since this recipe makes 12, I had plenty more to share.

Banana, Walnut & White Chocolate Chunk Scones

Makes 12
adapted from

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
            or use 1 T. dried buttermilk powder with dry ingredients, and 1/4 c. water with the wet ingredients.  Then brush scones with a T. of regular milk
1 large egg
1 ripe banana, well-mashed
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli baking white chocolate, broken into chunks)
6 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into a dozen or so pieces
sprinkling of sugar crystals

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Using a fork, lightly beat a 1/4 cup of buttermilk (or water, if using dried buttermilk powder), egg and banana together in a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.
Add the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a deep medium-sized bowl (and the dried buttermilk powder, if using). Whisk to combine. Work the butter pieces into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, until it forms a sandy-looking texture with some pebble-sized pieces.
Stir in the walnuts and chocolate.
Pour in the liquid-egg-banana mixture, and use a fork to stir together until it forms a crumbly-looking dough, and the flour is mostly absorbed.
Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured counter.  (I find it helpful to use a silicone mat on the counter; I use a Roul'pat.) Knead it once or twice to help the dough stick together. Divide the dough in half, and flatten it into two 1/2-inch thick circles. Use a sharp knife to cut each circle into 6 triangles (like cutting pizza slices).
Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of buttermilk (or regular milk) and sprinkle the tops with the sugar crystals. Bake for 11 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and set the tray on a wire rack to cool a few minutes before serving.

These are best the day they're baked, but are also fine frozen and re-heated.

Fish Greek Style

My sister Cookie sent me a recipe she'd adapted from Pierre Franey's recipe for "Shrimp Greek Style."  Knowing that I don't eat shellfish), she suggested I try it with fish.  The recipe is similar in principle to my standard way of making white fish (usually cod)--the fish cooked in a chunky tomato sauce--but somewhat different ingredients and proportions, and the distinctive addition of feta cheese.   I made the recipe with Alaskan Black Cod (sablefish) that I purchased from Sitka Salmon Shares.  Definitely a nice way to prepare this fish.  I'm sure it would also be good with most any firm-fleshed white fish.

The piece of fish I cooked was quite thick, so I knew the timing in the original recipe would be too short (10 minutes, for shrimp).  I've recently been enjoying reading The Science of Good Cooking, which explains all kinds of things about cooking, as well as providing recipes.  Its table of temperatures to cook food to included fish.  I'd never thought of using a thermometer for fish, but, armed with my new instant-read thermometer (recently purchased to make it easier for me to measure water temperature when I'm dyeing fabric), I cooked the fish to perfection!

Adapted from Pierre Franey’s  "Shrimp Greek Style" in 60 Minute Gourmet

Serves 3-4

1 lb. firm-fleshed white fish
2 t. olive oil
1 ½ t. finely chopped garlic
9 scallions, thinly sliced
14 oz. can petit diced tomatoes, not drained
Fresh tomatoes, diced, up to 1 cup (optional)
¼ c. dry white wine or sake
¼ t. salt
¼ t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat 2 t. olive oil in mid-size sauce pan.

Cook scallions, stirring constantly for 15 seconds.

Add garlic and cook for another 15 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, basil and oregano.

Cook uncovered over moderate heat for 10 minutes.

Put the fish into a Pyrex baking pan.   Sprinkle the feta over the fish and then spoon the tomato sauce over all.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily (140 degrees, if you have an instant-read thermometer).

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

I made this dish the other night, to accompany fish baked with tomatoes, with some brown rice on the side.  All delicious!  I'll post the fish recipe also.  This brussels sprouts recipe would also be great for Thanksgiving dinner.  I'll have to try to remember it for next year. . .

adapted from a Steamy Kitchen recipe
4 servings

1-1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts, bottom of base cut off and halved
3/4 lb. seedless red grapes, halved
2 T. olive oil
2-1/2 T. soy sauce
1-1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Put the brussels sprouts and grapes in a bowl and toss with the oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper.  Cover a rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil.  Put the sprouts and grapes in the tray, spreading out to one layer.  Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, tossing them halfway through.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cranberry Bread

Cranberry time is back at the grocery store. . .  I like cranberry nut bread, and usually make the recipe found on the Ocean Spray bag of cranberries, but thought I'd explore the web for other options.  One was to leave out the nuts and put in golden raisins instead.  What I've put below is an adaptation of the recipe on the bag, reducing the amount of nuts and adding in raisins.  I really like this variation--the raisins give a very nice texture and moistness to the bread.

Cranberry Bread
 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup sugar (I used about 3/4 cup)
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 T. oil
1 egg, well beaten
1 t. orange zest (or 1/2 t. orange citrus oil, something I keep on hand for when I don't have fresh citrus  in the refrigerator)
3/4 c. orange juice (I used frozen, and it was fine)
1 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1-1/2 c. coarsely chopped cranberries

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray/grease one 9x5 loaf pan.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mix together egg, oil, orange peel/oil, orange juice; mix into dry ingredients.  Stir in raisins, nuts, and cranberries.

Pour into loaf pan and back for 55 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes, remove from pan, and cool on wire rack.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thai Hot and Sour Soup


On the lookout for ways to use the fresh lemon grass I have in the garden, I picked out this recipe, and David made it a couple of days ago.  It was sooooo good!  A complex taste that was both comforting and enlivening.  I couldn't help myself from oohing and aahing throughout the eating of the soup.

Scroll down past the blog entry and video to get to the actual recipe:

David made this just as directed, substituting lime peel for the kaffir lime leaves. He used fresh mushrooms (just regular button mushrooms) instead of canned straw mushrooms.  He added bean thread noodles and about a cup of snow peas (cut in half).  If you want to make a vegetarian version, you could use vegetable broth and substitute tofu for the chicken.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Easy Thai Salmon Cakes

The salmon we get is so good that I usually do a fairly simple preparation, not wanting to cover up the great taste of this wild salmon.  But I was interested in trying to make salmon cakes, which I haven't done before, and I noticed a recipe in a Thai cookbook that used red curry paste, something I had recently bought a small jar of for a particular recipe.  These were excellent--I'll definitely make them again.  The original recipe calls for using either canned or fresh salmon.

adapted from Quick and  Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott 
serves 4

about 14 oz. salmon, cooked  (see instructions below for steaming the fish)
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs, whisked
1 T. red curry paste
1 T. fish sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
spray olive oil

1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. sour cream (lite is fine)
1/2 lemon, juiced (or a Tbsp. or so of bottled, frozen lemon juice)
sliced tomatoes (optional)

To steam the salmon
Place an inch of water in the bottom of a large pot, set a steamer basket on top, then add the salmon.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer the fish about 5 minutes, or until it is opaque and flakes with a fork.  (NB:  I hadn't tried this utterly simple preparation before.  The fish was delicious just like this.)

Sour cream sauce (Yes, I borrowed this sauce from the tacos I made last week.)
Mix together the cilantro, sour cream, and lemon juice.  Chill in the refrigerator while making the patties.

To prepare the cakes
Remove the skin from the salmon, and any bones, and then flake it with a fork.  Add the mashed potatoes, onion, and cilantro.  In a small bowl, whisk up the 2 eggs.  In another small bowl, mix up the red curry paste, fish sauce, salt, pepper, and about half of the egg mixture.  Add to the salmon mixture and combine everything well.  Add more of the egg if you need it to make the salmon mixture hang together.  Shape into 8 patties and set aside.

Spray a pan with olive oil.  (I used a Foreman grill.)  When the pan is hot, add however many salmon patties will fit in the pan and cook about three minutes, turn carefully, and cook another 3 minutes; the patties will be golden brown.  (If you use something like a Foreman grill, 3 minutes total is fine).  Transfer these to a serving platter and cook the remaining patties; serve hot or warm.  Extra patties can be refrigerated.  They were just as good the second day, heated up a bit in the microwave.

I served the salmon cakes with the sour cream sauce on freshly made pita bread, but a bun would be fine too--or they would be delicious without any bread at all.  The second day I thought to put on a slice of garden tomatoes, which made a nice addition.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Using leftover salmon--tacos!

David and I are happy shareholders in Sitka Salmon Shares.  This means that we received 15 lbs. of very high quality Alaskan salmon this summer, and will this fall be getting 5 lbs of black cod and 5 lbs. of halibut.  The salmon is usually packaged in pieces of about 14-16 ounces.  This is more than David and I eat in one meal; there's some leftover, but not enough for a second meal with a regular portion of fish.  So, I'm on the lookout for things to make with the smaller amount of salmon for a second meal.  Standards have been a Nicoise Salad or an omelet.  Last night I tried fish tacos, using baked salmon from the night before.  They were great!!  I'm sure this would be tasty with other fish also.  I havn't specified amounts, except for the sauce--I just estimated enough to fill the 4-5 tacos that the two of us would eat.  This is my own version, after looking at a variety of different recipes.


leftover cooked salmon (or freshly cooked salmon, or other fish)
small flour tortillas
finely shredded cabbage (I sliced off about a 1-1/2" from the edge and cut into thin threads)
diced onion (red or yellow, or scallions)
diced tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes, halved)
avocado, diced (optional--I meant to include this, but forgot; it would have been nice)
Sriracha sauce (optional--I like this for a little bit of heat)
sour cream sauce, below

Sour cream sauce (enough for about 7 tortillas)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. sour cream (I used lite)
1/2 lemon, juiced

Mix the sauce ingredients together.  Heat tortillas in the microwave; do enough for one taco for each person, then do another round when needed.  (In my microwave, about 15 seconds per tortilla.)  Have other ingredients in small bowls at the table, and assemble tacos individually.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fish with spicy tomatoes and capers

This is my go-to fish recipe—simple and delicious.  I usually make it as an ordinary-day dish, but last night I served it to guests, and was reminded that it was definitely a good meal for company too.  Really nice when something so easy is good enough for company!  The sauce can be made ahead of time, and then just put the fish in about 10 minutes before you want to serve it.  I generally serve this with a side of rice and a salad.  Last night, I also served a cold carrot-parsnip soup.

(4 servings)
adapted from Weightwatchers Simply Delicious

Be sure to use the fresh lime—it really perks up the flavor.

2 t. olive oil
1 onion, halved and then sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced (from a jar of minced garlic is fine)
1/4 t. crushed red pepper or a couple of squeezes of Sriracha sauce (recipe calls for 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped, but I use these easier substitutes )
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2 T. drained capers
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 t. dried oregano
1-1/4 lb. cod or halibut fillets (I generally use cod; any white fish is likely to be fine)
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Part 1 of the recipe can be done well ahead of time and set aside.

1) Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the onion.  Sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and hot pepper and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, capers, and salt; bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. 

2) Stir in the parsley and oregano.  Add the fish, spooning the sauce over it; cover and simmer until the fish is just opaque in the center, about 8 minutes.  Serve with the lime wedges.  (The freshly-squeezed lime is a key part of the success of this dish.)

Per serving: 215 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g fiber

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thai cucumber salad

Here's a nice cucumber salad for the last days of summer--simple and refreshing, with a bit of jalapeno heat.

adapted from
serves 5-6

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and sliced (if using English cucumber, can leave unpeeled)
1 onion, sliced very thin
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
3/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. water
2 T. sugar
1 t. kosher salt

Put in a serving bowl the cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, and onion. 
Mix together the wager, vinegar, sugar, and salt, and then pour over the salad. 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Frozen Fruit Yogurt

I sometimes buy small containers of yogurt with fruit, intending to have one for lunch or a snack, but then they just sit in the refrigerator uneaten.  I saw a post about home-made frozen yogurt on the angry chicken blog, and thought I'd try it.  It's great!  Now I'm buying a tub of non-fat yogurt each week, and enjoying this often for lunch.  The angry chicken post (and the recipe it's linked to) talk about eating it either right after it's made (soft) or freezing it for a while, when it will be more like ice cream.  I haven't had any luck with the frozen variation--it gets too hard.  So, I just make up one serving at a time, and enjoy it right then.  So far I've made it with mangoes (photo above) or blueberries.  I'm sure it would also be delicious with strawberries, raspberries, and peaches.  Maybe I'll also try plums.  Here's how I make it--recipe for one serving:

1)  The day before, freeze small pieces of fruit.  Blueberries are fine left whole.  Below is a photo of a mango that I've cut into small pieces and laid on a piece of parchment paper (so that they don't stick to the metal tray when freezing).  Yes, you could skip this step and just use fresh fruit, but the point of the recipe is that using the frozen fruit lowers the temperature and thickens the consistency of the resulting yogurt, and this is what makes it more pleasing to eat than regular fruited yogurt.

 2)  When you're ready to make the frozen yogurt, mix up the following in a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender:

  • 2/3 cup of non-fat plain yogurt
  • a squirt of honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of fruit (e.g., I used half a mango)
If you're using an immersion blender, mix up the fruit and yogurt a little bit before you blend.  Here's what mine looks like in the beaker that came with the immersion blender:

Press the immersion blender down slowly into the yogurt, and then move it up and down a few times to blend.  You may need to stir with a spoon once, if some of the fruit gets stuck on the bottom of the beaker.  Although I show the finished yogurt at the top in a bowl, I usually eat it directly from the beaker--one less dish to wash :-)

Friday, August 2, 2013

An abundance of cherry tomatoes--Puttanesca!

When the cherry tomatoes first start ripening in mid-July, they are a great treat, and are mostly eaten directly in the garden.  At this point in August, they've reached the stage of abundance at which I turn to recipes to try to keep up with them.  I had Spaghetti alla Puttanesca in an Italian restaurant earlier in the week, which gave me the idea to make it at home.  I used a recipe that called for canned tomatoes, but substituted fresh cherry tomatoes.  Delicious!  I also have fond associations with this dish as something my mother made later in life, after decades of making her regular, excellent, spaghetti sauce with meatballs (recipe from Mrs. Vilano, our neighbor 60 years ago).  My mother was a great cook, but tended to stick pretty close to her repertoire.  It was a bit of a thrill to have her serve something else!

adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta, by Marie Simmons

1 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained (or 28 oz. of cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters)
1/2 c. pitted, chopped Kalamata olives
2 T. small capers, rinsed
1/2 t. crushed dried red pepper (recipe called for 1 t., but I found 1/2 t. to be enough)
1/2 t. dried oregano
pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided in half
1 2-oz can anchovies, drained, blotted dry, & cut into small pieces
1 lb. spaghetti

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add garlic and sauté over low heat about 1 minute; do not brown.  Stir in tomatoes with their juice, olives, capers, crushed red pepper, oregano, black pepper and 2  T. of the parsley.   Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 15-20 minutes.  Stir in anchovies and other 2 T. of parsley; simmer 2 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente; drain.  Toss with the sauce.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Great Greens

I've been trying to make a point of cooking greens more frequently.  They're good for you, and taste great too!   I planted both chard and kale in my garden this year, and the chard is just about ready to harvest.  Here are a few recipes I've really enjoyed.

adapted from
Serves 2

1-1/2 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 lb. fresh chard
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced 1/4" thick
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 eggs

Cut out the center ribs of the chard leaves.  Chop the ribs into 1/2-inch pieces.  Cut the remaining chard leaves crosswise into 1-inch ribbons and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan (with cover) on medium-high heat.  Add the chard ribs, chopped onion, and sliced mushrooms.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are a little browned on the edges and have started to give up their moisture.

Add the sliced chard leaves to the pan.  Turn the leaves over in the pan so that they get coated with some of the oil and mixed in with the onions and mushrooms.  Cook until the leaves are wilted a bit.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Crack the eggs onto the mixture, spacing them around the pan.  Lower the heat to low and cover the pan.  Cook for about 4 minutes, until the whites are cooked.  Serve immediately, two eggs per person.  Cut into the egg yolks so that the runny yolks run over the chard and mushrooms, making something of a sauce.  With a salad, this is a meal in itself.

adapted from
Serves 2

1 lb. mustard greens, center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (4 cups packed)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. olive oil
2/3 c. water

Blanch mustard greens for 1 minute in a large pot with boiling salted water to cover.  Drain greens in a colander and wipe pot dry.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until pale golden.  Add greens and water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

(neglected to note source of this recipe)
Serves 2

1 t. olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch of greens (chard, spinach, or kale)
1-1/2 T. Balsamic vinegar
1 T. grated lemon zest (or lime)
1 t. sesame seeds, toasted

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add green onions and garlic, and cook until softened slightly.

Add the greens, packing them in.  Cover the pan tightly and cook, stirring once or twice, until the greens are wilted and tender, but still bright green--about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from the heat.  Add the vinegar and lemon zest and stir until combined.  Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve hot or cold.

adapted from
Serves 2-3
  • 1 oz. pitted green olives (about 10 medium), roughly chopped or sliced [if the olives have pimentos, those can be used too]
  • 1/2 t. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 green onion or shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 t. capers
  • olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, rinsed and patted dry
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix together the olives, rosemary, green onion, and capers with 1 T. of olive oil, and let sit while preparing the chard.

Cut out the stems of the chard,and then slice the stems into half-inch pieces and set aside.  Cut the leaves into 1" thick ribbons.  Leaves and stems will be cooked separately.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium high heat.  Coat the bottom of the pan with 2 t. olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the chard stems.   Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until they begin to soften.  Then stir in the olive mixture.  Cook for a minute more, and then add the chopped chard leaves, tossing them in with the rest of the mixture.

Cover the pan and reduce heat to low.  Let cook a few minutes, lifting the cover a few times to turn the leaves over in the pan.  Cook until the chard has all wilted.  Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

And just to put related recipes in one place, here are links to two previous posts on soups that star kale:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Barbecue chicken pizza

I've had the pizza and flatbread book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) for quite a while, but hadn't gotten around to trying anything out.  The other day I saw a recipe for Barbecued Chicken Pizza on the Recipe Girl blog (Lori Lange), and it called out to me.  I studied the basic pizza dough method in the Artisan Pizza and Flatbread book, which also had a recipe for barbecued chicken pizza.  I combined elements of the two recipes, as given below.  It was very, very good.  I put one leftover piece in the fridge, and had part of it for a late night snack--delicious cold also. The second pizza is in the fridge for tonight's dinner.   This is not my usual low-fat fare, but I will be making it again!  

combination of
and the recipe for Barbecued Chicken Pizza in ArtisanPizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day

This recipe is for two 12" pizzas, each made with 1/2 lb. of Artisan pizza dough.  With a hearty salad, one pizza serves 3 people.

The ingredients below are for TWO pizzas, made sequentially
2 balls pizza dough (each a 1/2 lb. of dough) (I used the artisan recipe, but you can use any pizza dough 
olive oil for greasing baking sheet
about 1-1/2 c. barbecue sauce (Recipe Girl recommends Bull's Eye Original, which is what I used)
1 red onion, sliced very thinly (I used a mandolin)
several chicken thighs, skinned and boneless, grilled or otherwise cooked (I used a Foreman grill)
most of a basket of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 strips bacon (I used turkey bacon)
a couple of large handfuls of arugula or fresh spinach (can substitute a few tablespoons of fresh cilantro)
about 6 oz. smoked Gouda cheese, diced in 1/2" cubes

Preheat oven to 550 (or 500 if your oven only goes that high); have baking stone on rack in bottom third of the oven.  Preheating this high can take a while—about as long as it took me to prepare all the toppings, which need to be prepared and at hand before rolling out the dough.

Roll out the dough for one pizza into a 12" circle, 1/8" thick; a rectangle also fine, and fits well in the heavy-gauge baking sheet with short-rimmed sides that I used (one option recommended by Artisan Pizza book, easier than transferring the pizza from peel to baking stone.)

Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.  Spread half the barbecue sauce on top, enough to lightly cover the dough.  Take half of each of the toppings, and put them on the pizza, cheese last.

Place the baking sheet on the baking stone.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  While the first pizza is baking, assemble the second one.

When first pizza is done, put on a wire cooling rack to cool for a few minutes.  Put the second pizza in the oven.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Great new Asian cookbook--healthy and simple

I've really been enjoying a new Asian cookbook:  Jaden Hair, Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites:  100 Recipes That are Fast, Fresh, and Simple Enough for Tonight's Supper.  The recipes really are simple enough to do for an ordinary night's dinner, and they use much less oil than is common in Asian cooking.  My standout favorites so far are Dan Dan Mien (a noodle, cabbage, and ground meat dish) and Stuffed Miso Eggplant (stuffed with ground meat).  We've also enjoyed a cucumber salad, Asian slaw, Kung Pao chicken, lemon chicken, and Mapo Tofu.  I highly recommend that you purchase this book!  The recipe below has just some very small tweaks.  Thanks to Jaden Hair for permission to include it here.  This recipe was great as is!

serves 4

8 ounces dried egg noodles

2 T. soy sauce
1 T. white balsamic vinegar (recipe calls for Chinese black vinegar or non-aged tart balsamic vinegar; I had white balsamic on hand, and it was fine)
1/2 t. cornstarch
1/4 c. cool water
1-1/2 t. sriracha sauce (recipe calls for 2 t. hot chili-garlic sauce, such as sambal oelek; I had siracha sauce on hand, and it was fine)
1/2 t. sesame oil

1 T. cooking oil
8 oz. ground chicken or turkey
8 oz. napa cabbage, julienned (or chopped fine)
3 green onions chopped
2 cloves garlilc, finely minced
1 t. finely grated fresh ginger

Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain, and set aside

In a bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat.  Swirl in the oil and when hot, add the meat.  Stir-fry until browned, about 2 minutes.   Add the cabbage, green onions, garlic, and ginger.  Stir-fry 1 minute.  Add the noodles and pour in the sauce. Toss until heated through and serve.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Really good guacamole

I'm easy to please with guacamole.  I've found a commercial brand I like, so I rarely make it myself these days.  But on a recent trip to Austin, I had some that was so good, I made a stab at replicating it at home.  Definitely worth the extra effort!  So, the story is:  I was in Austin with several friends for a quilt show.  The first night there, we went to the Iron Cactus restaurant.  The food was excellent, and the guacamole delicious.  The waiters make it table-side, so you can see exactly what ingredients they put in.  Everything was so good, we went there the next night too.  Different waiter, somewhat different take on the guacamole, still great.  So here's my version, adapted from the restaurant, and also with help from a recipe by Mark Heyman I found online here.  Serve with tortilla chips--homemade are easy and tasty; see instructions here.

Iron Cactus Table-Side Guacamole
Serves 4 to 6

2 ripe avocados (if need further ripening, put in a brown paper bag for a day or two)
1 T. finely chopped red onion  (yellow onion would likely also be fine)
2 heaping T. chopped tomato (I used several cherry tomatoes)
1/4 t. Sriracha hot chile sauce  (The restaurant used some finely chopped jalapeno, about half a pepper.  I forgot to buy the jalapeno when I was at the store, so I substituted the hot sauce.  This was fine, and it's easier than dicing the jalapeno.)
2 T. finely chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime
juice from half an orange (juices together come to a scant 1/3 cup; less also OK)
Salt, to taste
  1. Mix lime juice, orange juice, salt, hot sauce or jalapeno, onion and cilantro together in bowl.
  2. Add avocado and mash with fork.
  3. Add tomato.
This makes a "juicier" guacamole than usual, but the fresh juice adds a lot to the taste.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and White Beans

I've been looking out for ways to get more kale/chard/spinach into our dinners, and I love the taste of butternut squash, so I was happy to find this recipe that combines butternut squash with kale.  The recipe did not disappoint--it's very good.  I made one major change in the recipe--I added a step where some of the soup is puréed, rather than leaving all the vegetables as is in the broth.  The original recipe also called for fresh rosemary and thyme, but I rarely have those on hand, so I substituted dried.  On the other hand, the original called for garlic salt; I substituted fresh garlic.  Et voila, a great healthy soup.  Serve with bread and salad, and it is a full meal.

Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and White Beans
adapted from RecipeGirl blog (URL below)
6-8 servings

2 t. olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3/4 c. chopped carrot (about 2 large)
3/4 c. chopped celery (about 3 large stalks)
3 scallions, chopped
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups water (adding 2 t. powdered/paste bouillon)
4 cups peeled/chopped butternut squash (chop into about 1/2-3/4" pieces)
4 c. torn/chopped kale leaves
1/2 t. dried rosemary
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 15-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (I use cannellini beans)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
optional:  grated Parmesan cheese, for serving.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and scallions.  Cood and stir for about 5-6 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.

Add the broth, water and butternut squash.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Then take out about 4 cups of the soup, add about 1 cup of the beans, and blend to a puree.  (Use an immersion blender if you have one.)

Put the puree back into the pot of soup.  If you'd like the soup to be thicker, puree more of it before proceeding to next step. 

Add the kale, rosemary, and thyme and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the rest of the beans and heat through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutritional information:
serving size: 1-1/2 cups
calories: 126
fat: 0.4 g
fiber: 7g
protein: 6g
carbohydrates: 26g
WW points per serving:  Points Plus: 3    Old Points Program: 2
the original recipe:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

When I grocery shop, I go to the store with a list--ingredients lined up for a week of meals.  Avocado wasn't on the list last week, but they were on sale for $1.00, so I brought one home.  And then forgot to put it in the salad I made that night.  I wanted to use it today before it got too mushy.  I also happened to have a grapefruit on hand, so I looked online for an avocado and grapefruit salad.  I mixed and matched from various recipes, added a bit of my own, and came up with the recipe below.  I really like the contrast of the smoothness of the avocado with the tartness of the grapefruit.

serves 2

1 ripe avocado
1 grapefruit (I used red)
juice from half a lemon
1 shallot, minced
drizzle of olive oil

Peel and pit avocado; cut into slices about 1/4" thick.  Arrange in a shallow bowl.  Pour lemon juice over the slices--will keep them from turning brown.

Cut the rind off the grapefruit, and cut the sections of fruit out from between the membranes; set aside the membranes.  Lay the grapefruit sections on top of the avocado.  Squeeze the juice from the membranes over the salad.

Sprinkle on minced shallot.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

N.B.  Since I take a statin medication for lowering cholesterol, I generally don't eat grapefruit, because of the warning against a drug interaction.  But a few times a year, I go ahead and have a half a grapefruit in the evening.  No adverse reaction so far.