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Monday, July 28, 2014

Panzanella Salad, A Cottage Cooking Club Recipe

Today's post is the third installment of the Cottage Cooking Club, a virtual cooking group started by Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. As a group we are cooking our way through the "River Cottage Veg", cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The key idea is to incorporate more vegetables in our daily meals. Every month Andrea will select 10 recipes and we can pick and choose which one or ones we want to blog about in a single post.

This month I choose a classic Panzanella, which is essentially a bread and tomato salad. The whole idea is to use simple fresh ingredients. The outcome will depend greatly on the quality of the ingredients you put into it. The tomatoes should be at their peak, sweet and ripe. A few glugs of a good olive oil and slightly stale cubed bread are the backbone of this recipe.

The bread will soak up the tomato and olive oil dressing and pick up the flavors from the Kalamata olives, capers and feta cheese. It is suggested that you allow the ingredients to rest together a bit for more flavor. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

This recipe was easy to follow and certainly showcased the ripe summer tomatoes I used in the dish.

Recipe adapted from "River Cottage Veg", by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, cookbook chapter Hearty Salads, Panzanella, page 86.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for July on the CCC website, by clicking here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Garden To Grill - Salted Fava Beans

Every year I grow at least one veggie that I have never grown before. Last year it was oca, this year it is the fava bean. I bought 6 plants at the farm stand and watched them grow from a couple of inches to several feet tall. Then they started to flower. The flowers were white and grew in clusters with each flower having a big dark spot on the lower petal. These grew into the green pods seen below.

If picked early, while the pods are still thin, fava beans can be eaten whole like any other bush bean. If you let them grow until they are large and plump just pull the outside string and remove the beans. They will be covered with a thick waxy shell. Parboil them for just a minute, plunge into ice water, and peel the waxy layer off. Now you have a bright green oddly shaped bean.

Today we grilled fava beans and ate them right out the shell. Prep was minimal; just a quick toss with a little olive oil and salt. My husband grilled them for four to five minutes on the first side and then a minute or two on the other, before removing them from the grill. They were cooked perfectly soft and had a sweet buttery taste. The olive oil and salt that was initially tossed on the beans stuck to my fingers and reminded me of edamame that I have eaten before at one of our favorite restaurants.


Fava beans
Olive oil

To prepare:

Toss beans with olive oil and salt. On grill lay pods in a single layer, turn after 4 to 5 minutes on first side, then grill for another minute or two on the next side. Remove, salt again if needed.

To eat, tear open pod and squeeze the beans out, if tender enough eat whole pod. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grilled Mesquite Salmon with Grilled Zucchini and Green Onions with Lemon and Walnuts

We use a charcoal grill here in Oregon and a gas grill back home. Between them I believe the charcoal grilled food taste better. It takes more time and work, but it's worth it. Also, it's always a big treat to sit put on the deck with a cool beverage and watch my husband grill. (wink)

The last time we had salmon my husband soaked mesquite chips in water. Once the charcoal was white hot, he turned the charcoal chimney over, and spread the coals out. The soaked chips were then positioned over the coals. The grate was replaced and the salmon was put over the hottest coals, the veggies were set off to the side. Then the dome top was set over the grate and grill and the top valve was adjusted to allow the flow of air through the vents.

Here's a picture of the salmon right off the grill. The flavor was wonderful. It's amazing what little things you can do to bring about certain flavors in a dish. The salmon was served alongside grilled zucchini and green onions with lemon and walnuts. This recipe is from the Bon Appetite magazine and has been slightly adapted. In the original recipe leeks were used. But since I have plenty of green onions available in the garden I decided to use them instead. The slight char is a great enhancement for this combination of veggies and the fresh lemon juice really brightens the flavor.


For the salmon

1 large salmon steak (about a pound)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the grilled zucchini and green onions:

1/3 cup walnut (roasted and coarsely chopped)
1 clove garlic (finely grated)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
3 large green onions (cleaned and cut into 3 inch pieces)
1 large zucchini (halved lengthwise, cut into 3 inch pieces)
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley (kept whole with a tiny bit of stems)

Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare salmon:

Follow above directions for salmon, rub olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before grilling.

To prepare zucchini and green onions:

Brush 2 tablespoons of olive oil on zucchini and green onions, season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning often, you want them cooked until tender and a few char spots. About 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer veggies to to serving dish, add parsley, and lemon and olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside salmon for a complete meal.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Raw Corn Summer Salad

Yesterday was the annual trails party. It is always celebrated as a potluck. Everyone that attends brings some sort of salad, appetizer or dessert to go along with the grilled hamburger, hotdog and veggie burgers the trail group provides. Now the one thing I have learned is that in this town people really know how to bring a great dish when attending. The food is amazing and the salads rival closely to a Whole Foods Market showcase, you know the one that has every type of grain and fresh veggie salad thought of available.

So comes another year that I rack my brain and go through magazines and the internet looking for something different to bring, I come up with many options. But still not exactly what I was looking for. Oh my goodness, why can't I make up my mind. The morning of the party comes and we go to the farmers market in town. I scour the farmers and vendors and there in the bin was the answer.......first of the year fresh corn. On the spot I decide upon a simple salad I saw on my internet search from Heidi Swanson's "101 Cookbooks", blog, raw corn, a dressing of lemon juice and brown sugar and some herbs. Voi·là! This was the answer.


6 ears corn (shucked, silken strings removed)
1 small shallot (minced)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 medium sized lemons)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano (minced)

To prepare:

Whisk lemon juice and brown sugar together. Taste, if needed add a little salt, if too tangy add a little more sugar.

Cut kernels off corn with a sharp knife. I used a large shallow bowl, held corn right side up and cut downward.

Right before serving add dressing, stir then add oregano. Taste, if salt is needed add now. Enjoy! It's that easy. This is a wonderful summer salad, love the corn raw here, the lemon juice slightly softens it.

*Fresh oregano is very strong so add a little at a time. Original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, that was a little too strong for me. Next time I will try this with fresh cilantro and lime juice.

Recipe has been adapted from 101 Cookbooks website, follow link for the original recipe.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chickpea, Farro and Feta Salad with a Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

Today we woke to sunny skies. The morning started out with a brisk walk into town. Along the way on we spotted an American bald eagle. The eagle looked so majestic perched at the top of the pine. We could not tell if this was a male or female as they look very much alike. After a little research it was noted that the females are supposed to be 25% larger with similar plumage and color. A park ranger told me once that eagles are very opportunistic creatures and are known for stealing food from other birds.

We walked over this bridge to cross the Yachats river which flows out to the ocean. In the afternoons depending on the tides there will be people fishing off the point perched on rocks along the shore. Sometimes early in the day we will see an egret or two, but today there is none.

Now for this fresh summer salad. The main ingredients are chickpeas, barley and feta cheese with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. The vinaigrette is made first by toasting spices in a dry skillet until fragrant. The base of this dressing is comprised of coriander, cumin and fennel seeds. After the spices cool, whisk with a touch of Dijon mustard and olive oil. The end result is a delicious vinaigrette that is not only great on salads but wonderful on grilled meats and produce too.

This recipe has been slightly adapted from the July edition of Bon Appetit magazine.


For toasted spice vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic white wine
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

For the salad:

8-ounces green beans (cleaned, trim and then cut in half)
1/2 cup farro (cooked according to package directions, I used quick cooking)(recipe used barley)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (toasted)
1 15-5-ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
4-ounces feta (crumbled)
2 tablespoons fresh dill (chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

To prepare:

Start with the vinaigrette; add coriander, cumin and fennel seeds to a small dry skillet (no oil or butter), over medium heat, tossing until fragrant, about 3 minutes, (I used a wooden spatula). Let cool. In a small bowl; whisk spices together with the oil, vinegar and mustard. Taste, season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add green beans to a large pot of salted, boiling water. Cook about 3 minutes, check beans, they should be done. You want them crisp-tender, so they have a slight light crunch. Remove from heat and plunge beans into a bowl of ice and water.

Toss green beans, barley, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, feta, dill, lemon juice and vinaigrette into a large bowl. Stir gently to combine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nutty Millet Breakfast Cookies

First thing every morning we take Miss Olive across the street for a short walk. Our driveway is quite steep so when you are a little sleepy it's not a big deal, it's the trek back up that is. Every year when we first get here we huff and puff our way up. After a few weeks it's smooth sailing.

Across the street, down Windy Way this is what we see. I know, I still can't believe it. One day, I actually saw a mother sea lion and her two pups. Of coarse at that time I did not have my camera or phone, but it's true. I still feel so fortunate to be here when we can; just wish there was a way for us to make a real living.

Right before we left for Oregon I received the "Whole Grain Mornings" cookbook by Megan Gordon. As I packed I must of stuffed the book into the side pocket of my suitcase and did not think of it again until 2 weeks ago when I repacked my bag for a short trip. There are so many great recipes to choose from but I started out with the Nutty Millet Breakfast Cookies. Millet is a new ingredient for me. I purchased 1/2 pound in the bulk food department at the grocery store. After getting home and examining the seed I realized we have something very similar to it if not the same in our bird feeder out back. Millet is really a small round seed with a nutty flavor that provides iron, calcium, potassium and B vitamins.


1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup barley flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup wheat bran (I used oat bran)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, (melted)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 large egg (beaten)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries (she used raisins)
1/4 cup roasted walnuts (chopped)
1/3 cup roasted pecan (chopped)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

In a large bowl, add the flours, oats, millet, bran, baking powder, baking salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Mix until combined, set aside.

In medium sized bowl add the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, egg and vanilla, mix; then add to flour mixture stirring ingredients together with a wooden spoon. Stir in cranberries, walnut and pecans. Mixture will be very thick. Let sit 10 minutes. Using a large spoon scoop out dough and roll into a ball using both hands. Place on cookie sheet about 1-1/2 inches away from each other. Flatten with the palm of your hand to about 3/4 inch thick.

Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet 10 minutes before moving to wire rack. Store in a airtight container.

Makes 12 to 14 cookies.

Recipe has been slightly adapted from the Whole Grain Mornings cookbook by Megan Gordon.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

I would like to thank Susan of the The Wimpy Vegetarian for tagging me for the writing process tour. Susan's focus is mainly on vegetarian food and her life with Carnivorous Maximas her husband. Her blog is wonderfully written and you feel like you are right at home in her kitchen chatting over a cup of coffee or tea.

When Susan first nominated me as one of three people for the Writing Process Blog Tour I hesitated. Why the hesitation? At first I was not quite sure myself. Maybe part of it was that I was going to have to take time and sit down and really think about what I am really doing. Am I going down the right path? What is it I am trying to accomplish?

I started my blog in 2010 but never really told anyone, including family or friends. I never commented on other sites, I was very private. It was a long time coming but I have come out of my shell if you will. In January of this year I changed all that and decided to live out loud, so here I am.

So here is the part of the tour where I answer 4 questions;

1.) What am I working on?

Currently I am on the Oregon coast using veggies from my garden and local farmers markets to create new recipes. Additionally I am trying my hand at sprouting and fermenting. Also constantly working on better photography, finding the right light is much harder than it looks.

2.) How does my work differ from others of it genre?

My work does not differ from that of many other food blogs. I like to incorporate my recipes into our daily activities, which usually is gardening and hiking. I enjoy writing about my life in food in Phoenix Arizona where I spend most of my time and then summers on the coast in Oregon. The two regions are so completely different from each other but I try to focus on what is healthy and in season.

3.) Why do I write what I do?

It all started as a way to connect with others that shared the same type of food and interests that I did. I have found the blogging community to be supportive and helpful in so many ways. This has helped me tremendously along this part of my journey. Also food seems to go hand in hand with people you care about and special occasions in creating stories and memories to be treasured.

4.) How does my writing process work?

It all starts with an ingredient or recipe that I have seen on-line, at a restaurant, friend's house etc. I research it, think about it and then start gathering the ingredients if necessary. I jot down on paper my ideas and then go from there. Sometimes my ideas go as far as the folder on my desk, while others make there way into my kitchen. I have found that mornings are usually the best time for me to write. There is something about the quiet and having a space completely to my self.

Another part of the writing tour is passing the baton to other bloggers. Here are 2 bloggers that I enjoy reading, each with a special talent:

Scrummy Lane: Helen currently lives in Perth Australia and before that Greece. On her blog she states she is working her way back to the U.K. her original home. Many of her recipes are fresh and seasonal and revolve around her everyday life and travels that are narrated by her witty humor. Always a great recipe and story.

Simply Fresh Dinners: Robyn lives in the Pacific Northwest on Vancouver Island and loves finding new ways to create dishes with fresh ingredients. Many are low in calories and all are delicious. I look forward to her Tuesday's Tidbits as she features other blogs and links to interesting things around the internet. Always as great read.