Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beet, Orange, and Almond Salad

Sometimes I like a vegetable salad on the side, instead of a green salad.  This beet salad is not as dramatic as one with nuts and blue cheese or goat cheese--which I like very much--but I also like the fresh taste of this one.  Nice colors too, though by the second day everything will turn red.

adapted from Simply Light Cooking: 250 Recipes from the Kitchens of Weight Watchers
makes 4 servings

2 small navel oranges
3 cups drained, canned whole beets, cut into largish bite-size pieces (or use freshly roasted beets, below).  If using fresh beets, you'll need about a bunch and a half.
1/4 cup sliced scallions (about three scallions)
2 t. seasoned rice vinegar
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. olive oil
1 ounce slivered almonds, toasted

1.       Toast the almonds. (Or skip—fine with the nuts not toasted.)
2.       Put cut-up beets into a medium-sized bowl.  Add scallions. Peel the oranges and cut sections into the beets.  Squeeze the juice from the rest of the orange into a small bowl. 
3.       Add vinegar and oils to the reserved orange juice and whisk to combine.  Add dressing to beet mixture and toss to coat.
4.       To serve, sprinkle with almonds

Roasting Beets:

Heat oven to 425.  Wash beets and trim off ends, but don't bother to peel them.  Put large piece of foil on a roasting tray or jelly roll pan.  Put beets on top of foil and then pull up foil around beets to make a closed package.  Bake for about an hour, or until beets can be pierced easily with a knife.  Let beets cool a bit and then rub off the skin.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cranberry Pie with Pecan Crumble

For Thanksgiving this year, David requested my mother's Pumpkin-Coconut Chiffon Pie, and I'm fond of the recipe also, so that's what I made.  But I was very intrigued by a recipe for Cranberry Pie posted earlier in November by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen blog.  Happily, I had an occasion the week after Thanksgiving for which I needed to contribute a dessert, which gave me a chance to try out this pie.  It is wonderful!  I like all pies, but do prefer fruit to creamy ones.  This one is on the tart side, but very pleasing.  (It's also quite a bit easier to make than the pumpkin chiffon.)  Said one taster, "I don't usually try new things, but I really like this!"

I've included the recipe for the pie crust, but you can definitely make this pie with a purchased pie crust.  I think the Pillsbury ones are very good, and used them for years, as the few pie crusts that I had tried to make on my own over the years invariably stuck to the counter and ended up not flaky in any case.  I also disliked cleaning up the mess of all the flour on the counter.  Then my friend Louise mentioned how easy the cleanup was with a silicone mat (just bring it to the sink and rinse off), as well as how easy it is to roll out the dough on the mat, without sticking, so I indulged in one.  Definitely a big improvement!  Now I enjoy making my own crusts.  I have this one, and like it very much.  Yes, expensive (even more now than when I purchased it), but I'm glad to have it.

Cranberry Pie with Thick Pecan Crumble

Yield: 1 standard 9-inch pie (not deep-dish)

Crust (can be made a day or two in advance )
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup very cold water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a wooden spoon until large clumps form. Knead the dough together with your hands, right in the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too dry to stick together, add the additional tablespoon of water.

Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

On a floured counter or silicone mat, roll the dough out into a 12 to 13-inch circle.  Fold dough gently in quarters without creasing and transfer to a 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate. Unfold dough and trim overhang to about 1/2-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp around the edge. Return to fridge until ready to fill.

4-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 1-1/2 12-ounce bags)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 to 2 more tablespoons, if desired, to taste
a few gratings of orange zest (clementine zest also fine)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine all filling ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (No need to defrost frozen cranberries—just cook a couple of extra minutes.)  After about 5 minutes, berries will begin to leak juices. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes more until filling is loose. Transfer filling to a bowl to let it cool slightly for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the crumble topping.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup rolled oats ("old-fashioned," not "quick")
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse or sea salt
3/4 cup pecans, toasted if you have the time

Melt the butter and put it aside to cool.  Toast the pecans.  Grind the oats to a powder in a food processor (close to flour in grain). Add pecans and coarsely grind them with the oats. Add remaining ingredients except the butter, pulsing a few times to combine. Add butter, pulsing until crumbles form. Sprinkle topping over cranberry filling.

Bake pie 
Bake pie for or 45 to 50 minutes, until juices are bubbling enough that come up a bit onto the crumb topping. If pie browns too quickly, cover top with a piece of foil for remaining baking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a bit before serving.

To serve
I served the pie just as is, and it was wonderful.  You could also top it with powdered sugar, sweetened whipped cream with a little vanilla extract added, or vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Baked Apples

I don't often make baked apples--I think about how wrinkly and ugly they look, and about how few ingredients there are, and if I'm going to go to the trouble of making dessert, I turn to something more elegant.  But I was looking for a simple dessert for a small dinner with guests last week, and turned to this recipe, which I've used before.  I need to make them more frequently--they truly are delicious, just like the recipe title says.  And next time, I'll make a couple of extra, so we can have them again for breakfast the next day.  By the way, the source for this recipe is one of my favorite cookbooks.

adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet
serves 4

3/4 cup dry white wine
6 T. apple juice or cider
3 T. sugar (optional)
1-1/2 T. butter 
rounded 1/8 t. cinnamon
4 Golden Delicious apples (be sure to use a cooking apple, e.g., not Granny Smith)
about 1/3 c. golden raisins (as much as it takes to fill cavities in apples)

Preheat oven to 350.
Core the apples.  (I don't have an apple corer.  I start the hole by cutting into the center of the apple with a paring knife.  Then I use a potato peeler to scrape away a deeper hole, taking out all the seeds.)  Make a cavity about an inch wide.
In a small saucepan, combine the wine, apple juice or cider, sugar (if using), butter, and cinnamon.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring it occasionally, lower the temperature, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Peel the top third of each apple, and place the apples, peeled side up, in a baking dish (8" square works fine).  Fill the cavities with raisins and pour the wine mixture over the apples.
Place the uncovered dish in the middle of oven and bake the apples, basting them a few times with the wine sauce, for 1 hour 20 minutes or until the apples are tender but not mushy (poke a knife in to test); at the last basting, pour any remaining sauce over the apples.  Serve the apples warm, chilled, or at room temperature with the wine sauce spooned over them.

Vanilla ice cream is nice on the side, but the apples are a really nice dessert all on their own!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Simple Stir-Fry

serves 3

The starting point for this stir-fry was a recipe for "Spicy Garlicky Tofu and Broccoli" in my favorite Asian cookbook, Jaden Hair's Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites.  I had picked up some beautiful snap peas at Mariano's on a drive home from Chicago, and wanted to do a simple stir-fry with what I had in the house.   Turned out that meant a half-pound of ground turkey to go with the snap peas.  So, what I cooked doesn't have either tofu or broccoli in it, but the basic outline of the recipe served me well.  Obviously, feel free to substitute other ingredients!

2 t. cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 t. grated or finely minced ginger
1/2-lb ground turkey
several handfuls of snap peas*
3 T. stir-fry sauce or oyster-flavored sauce (I used House of Tsang bottled sauce, found at my grocery store)
1-1/2 T. water
1 T. white balsamic vinegar
Sriracha sauce to taste
basmati or other rice

1.  Put the rice on to cook.
2.  Chop the garlic and ginger.
3.  Mix together the stir-fry sauce, water, white balsamic, and Sriracha sauce.
4.  When the rice is about 5-7 minutes from being done, heat the oil in a wok or large sauté pan.  Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry about 1 minute.  Add the ground turkey, and sauté until meat is no longer pink. 
5.  Add the sauce mixture to the pan and stir into the meat mixture.  Add the snap peas and stir-fry for a minute or two, until the peas are cooked but still crispy.  That's it!

*If you are using a vegetable that needs more than 1-2 minutes to cook, you'll want to pre-cook it part-way before assembling the stir-fry.  For broccoli, for example, Jaden Hair puts it a head of broccoli in 1 cup of boiling water for 2 minutes, cooking until crisp tender, and then drains and puts it aside until the last step of the stir-fry.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Quick, while blueberries are still in season, make this cake!  The recipe caught my eye on The Smitten Kitchen blog, and with some friends coming over for dinner last night, I had an excuse to try it out.  It was really delicious--both for dessert last night and for breakfast this morning.  I don't know how it would be made with frozen blueberries, but I might be tempted mid-winter. . .

serves 8

5 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 t. cinnamon
4 T. unsalted butter, cold
pinch of salt

2 cups minus 1 T. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 T. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
1 pint fresh blueberries (2 to 2-2/3 cups), clean and dry
1/2 cup milk (skim is fine; original recipe calls for whole)
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped medium fine (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.  Butter an 8" square baking pan and dust lightly with flour.

Prepare topping: 
Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and then cut in the butter with a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

Prepare cake: 
Sift into a medium bowl the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, starting and ending with 1/3 of the dry mixture.  The batter will be quite stiff.   Fold blueberries into the cake batter.
Spoon cake batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is flat.  If using walnuts, scatter them on top.  Sprinkle with the prepared streusel.
Bake in 375 oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out batter-free.  Cool in the pan on a cooling rack.

Cake keeps for 3 days at room temperature if covered with plastic or foil.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Quick Indian Dish

This is a tasty dish that can be made quickly, in the time that it takes the rice to cook, from ingredients easy to have on hand in the cupboard.  We ate it as a main dish with a watermelon/cucumber/feta salad on the side, and it was very nice for a simple meal.  I probably wouldn't serve this as a main dish for guests, but it would work well as a side dish for a multi-course Indian meal.

I've adapted the version of the recipe Jaden Hair posted on her blog; she's the author of the great Asian food cookbook I've mentioned before.  Jaden in turn adapted the recipe from a vegetarian/gluten-free cookbook by Dahlia Abraham-Klein--that looks like a great cookbook also.

adapted from
serves 4

1 cup dried basmati rice (brown rice would be nice also)
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped)
1 15-oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 T. olive oil
1 T. garam masala
3/4 t. kosher salt
8 oz. coconut milk (I used "lite")
some chopped parsley (optional)

Put the rice on to cook.  While the rice is cooking, prepare the curry.

Cut each clove of garlic into 2-3 pieces and mince in a food processor; leave the garlic in the processor.  Cut the onion into 1-inch chunks and chop in the food processor.  (Of course dicing by hand is fine also—this is just what I do.)

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent and soft.  Add in the garam masala and cook for 30 seconds.

Add to the pan the chopped tomatoes, drained chickpeas, salt, and coconut milk.  Stir well, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, until thick and creamy.  Top with parsley and serve with bottled chutneys.  Plain yogurt on the side would also be nice.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Watermelon Gazpacho

I really enjoy cold soups in summertime.  We were invited to dinner with friends last night, and I brought this soup.  Everyone loved it, and clamored for the recipe--always very gratifying!  This soup looks like gazpacho and has the same texture, but the taste is distinctive because of the watermelon.  It's quite sweet, even though there is no added sugar--it's all from the sweetness of the watermelon.  This definitely joins the list of my favorite cold soups, others of which can be found by clicking on "soup-cold" in the label list on the right hand side of this blog.

I brought this as a first-course soup for a larger meal; it easily served the 6 of us with hefty leftovers.  I think the soup would work as a light main course as well, served with a good bread and cheese or hummus.

adapted from
serves 8

1 red onion, cut in half  (Half of the first 4 ingredients will be cut in large chunks and then puréed; the other half will be finely chopped and added later.)
1 large green pepper, cut in half
1 English cucumber, cut in half 
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half
2 cups roughly chopped fresh garden tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)
7 cups roughly chopped seedless watermelon (or watermelon with seeds removed); this was have of a 5-6 lb. watermelon
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
1 t. kosher salt
1 T. olive oil
        sour cream (lite is fine)
        diced avocado (I used one for 6 people)

1.     Set aside one half of the onion, green pepper, cucumber and jalapeno.  Cut the rest in largish pieces, and purée together in a food processor; put into a large bowl.
2.     Put the chopped tomatoes in the food processor and purée; add to the mixture in the large bowl.
3.     Put the chopped watermelon in the food processor (probably need to do in two batches); purée and add to mixture.
4.     Add the 1/4 c. vinegar to the mixture, and then whisk in the salt and olive oil.
5.     Take the reserved half of the onion, green pepper, cucumber, and jalapeno, and chop finely.  Chop the cilantro.  Add all to the mixture in the large bowl.  Taste, and add more vinegar and/or salt, if you like.
6.     Chill for at least a few hours; chilling overnight is also fine—tastes as good or better the second day.

7.     Garnish with sour cream and diced avocado.  Also good with a side of toasted artisan bread.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Salmon with yogurt-dill sauce

Last night we used the last remaining piece of salmon from our 2013 purchase of Sitka Salmon Shares.  The superb quality of the fish holds up amazingly well--this fish was delivered to us (frozen) last August.  The yogurt-dill sauce makes this an especially nice dish for summer.

4 servings

2 lemons
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 T. fresh dill, chopped (if fresh dill is not available, use fresh parsley)
1/2 t. salt
about 1-1/4 lb. salmon fillets
freshly ground pepper & salt

YOGURT-DILL SAUCE:  Grate the peel off one lemon—you'll need about 1/2 or 1 t. (according to your taste).  Squeeze both lemons and set aside the juice.  In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, yogurt, dill, 1/2 t. salt, and half of the lemon juice (other half goes on the fish),

Put the salmon fillets on a large dish or platter.  Pour the rest of the lemon juice over the fillets and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick olive or canola spray and set over medium-high heat.  Reserving the lemon juice, add the salmon (skin side down) and cook until just opaque in the center, about four minutes on each side.  After both sides have charred some in the cooking, you can add some of the lemon juice to the pan.  My fillet was thick, and not cooked through after 8 minutes, so I added some more of the lemon juice, put a cover on the pan, and turned the heat down to low for another couple of minutes.

Alternate ways to cook the salmon:
--Bake at 425F for about 25 minutes.
--Grill on a table-top grill or outside.

Serve salmon with a generous serving of sauce on top.

There will be enough sauce to put on a side dish as well—I have made this once with small red new potatoes and once with kasha; the sauce is delicious on both.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cucumber, Onion, and Parsley Salad

Cucumber, Onion, Parsley and Feta Salad
adapted from
about 4 servings

In my continued quest for non-lettuce salads, I came across this one, which we enjoyed very much!  Note the list of options at the end of the ingredients list.  I made the salad without any of those, and it was delicious.  The next day, I added to the leftovers some avocado and chopped cherry tomatoes, and that was great also.  I look forward to trying further variations.

1 large English cucumber
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped parsley, chopped (either curly or flat)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used fat-free)
2 T. olive oil1 T. fresh lemon juice
fresh ground black pepper to taste

optional additions/substitutions
chopped cherry tomatoes
chunks of avodado
kalamata olives, halved or quartered
blue cheese instead of feta
mint instead of parsley
balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice.

Peel some stripes off the cucumber.  (Or peel entirely, if using domestic cucumbers.)  Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthwise, and then slice about 1/4" thick.

In large bowl, combine the cucumber, onions, and parsley (and any other additions).  In a small container, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, and add to the vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle the feta cheese over the salad, and stir gently.  Season with black pepper to taste, and serve.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Parsley Salad

I was looking for a change from our usual green salad, and thought of this recipe that I had enjoyed a while ago.  It's as good as I remember!  I'm surprised I ever tried it, as it seems so unlikely to have parsley be the main event rather than the accompaniment to something else.  But this salad is very refreshing, with the other ingredients contributing great flavors.

I make it with regular curly parsley, but I think it would be nice with flat leaf also.  This salad is definitely better on the first day--the parsley goes limp by the second--so next time I'll just make as much as we'll eat in one day.

adapted from
serves 4

4 oz chopped parsley leaves (about 2 bunches)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup (or more) chopped tomato (I used cherry tomatoes, quartered)
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced

1.     Toss together the parsley, onions, garlic, olives and tomatoes.
2.     In a separate small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Pour over salad and toss.

3.     Put in a serving bowl and place egg slices on top.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fried Rice

I was looking to expand my repertoire for what to do with the 4-5 oz. of leftover salmon we get after cooking up one of our lovely salmon pieces from Sitka Salmon Shares.  Fish tacos is a favorite,  and I've also done an omelette with salmon, and sometimes a Salade Nicoise.   Now this fried rice recipe is my current favorite.  The original recipe from Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites called for 6 oz of shrimp and 6 oz of scallops, but just 5 oz of the cooked salmon on its own was plenty to get a nice added flavor. I'm guessing that cooked chicken or beef (or just more vegies) would also be good.  I made this with white rice, but I imagine it would also be good with brown rice.

I love eating Chinese food, but don't cook it very often.  The quick sequence of adding a variety of ingredients all at the last minute makes me nervous.  The first time I made this fried rice, I was going back and forth from cookbook to counter to stove multiple times, as I tried to keep up the pace.  I then re-wrote the recipe, explicitly reminding myself to prepare all the ingredients ahead, and to line them up on the counter next to the stove (not across from the stove, where I do all the chopping).  This helped for a more relaxed preparation the next time!

adapted from Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites
serves 6

Set out on the counter next to the stove:

cooking oil (will use 2 T.)
4 egg whites
2 green onions, minced
about 5 oz. cooked salmon
2 t. grated fresh ginger
4 cups leftover cooked rice, grains separated with a fork
2 cups frozen peas and carrots, defrosted (all peas, or peas with some corn also fine)
mixed together in a small bowl:
1 t. sesame oil
2 T. fish sauce
1 T. soy sauce

1.        Spray some oil on a small Teflon pan and heat on medium.  Add egg whites and scramble quickly.  Set aside.
2.        Heat a wok over medium-high heat.  Add 2 T. cooking oil, and spread it around, up the sides of the wok.
3.        When hot, add green onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
4.        Add ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
5.        Stir in the rice, peas/carrots, and cooked egg whites. 
6.        Toss the ingredients, and then spread the rice over the surface of the pan.  Turn the heat to high and let cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes.  Toss the rice well, spread over the surface of the pan again, and cook, undisturbed for 1 more minute. 
7.        Scatter salmon over the top of the rice, and continue cooking for another minute.
8.        Pour in the sesame oil, fish sauce, and soy sauce.  Toss well and serve.

Served with a light soup or salad, this makes a full meal.  (Very nice with Tofu-Mushroom Miso Soup, also from the Steamy Kitchen cookbook.)