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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Avocado Toast and Superfoods

This post has been inspired by Oscar Health insurance company. Recently I was invited by Andrea the outreach coordinator to write a post about my perspective on superfoods. Oscar health insurance company and New York and New Jersey health insurance plans use technology to take the stress out of healthcare. The plans defer from state to state but most plans give you free preventive care and a doctor on call tool that allows members to reach out to a team of doctors and nurses. Preventative care, exercise, stress and the kinds of foods you put in your body are all important factors in being as healthy as you can be.

So when I began my research about superfoods I quickly came to the conclusion that it depends on who you ask. Everyone has a slightly different idea. Next I decided to look-up the definition of what is a superfood and that also depends on what source you use. What I came to realize is that eating a well-balanced diet that consists mainly of dark green, bright and intense colored veggies, nuts, seeds, berries, citrus fruits and fatty fish is a good way towards staying on the right path. A big part of the way I cook comes from following the seasons. I believe that certain times of the year and in different climates food fuels us through that season. For example, watermelon brings more water to our bodies in the summer and so on.

One of my favorite I foods is the avocado. Prevention magazine refers to it as the world’s smartest fruit. A diet rich in this creamy delicious fruit can help your waistline, your eyes, memory and blood sugar. A couple of mornings a week I will have a simple breakfast of whole wheat toast topped with mashed avocado. Sometimes I will top with a sliced hard-boiled egg and sprouts. Other times with cucumber and sprouts. I have made guacamole, sandwiches, puddings, ice cream and salads. My sister and I will even to this day fight over them……..

What are your thoughts about super foods?

I wanted to share my thoughts on the above "avocado Knife" that my daughter bought for me a couple of years ago. It is a Kuhn Rikon made in Switzerland and it is an awesome gadget. This cuts through the skin, takes out the pit, removes the flesh......everything.

*I did not receive any compensation for this item.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cottage Cooking Club Month of September

Here we are in the month of September, the Cottage Cooking Club a group of international blogger's cooking together and then posting our experiences along with the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cookbook, "River Cottage Veg". Our group is meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes in our everyday cooking, and is and has been inspired by our dedicated leader Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. Andrea usually picks one recipe from each of the 10 chapters but this time she proposed a different plan of action. We are having a make-up month; one that gives us as a group the opportunity to make-up previous dishes from the past that we did not have a chance to make or one of our favorites dishes that we made before and loved. Along with this challenge our motto of the month is to “Get out there and make the very best of the seasonal/autumnal produce that is available to YOU in YOUR neck of the woods”.

The first dish I prepared was the Oven-roasted roots frittata, I’m not sure why I did not prepare this dish previously; perhaps I did not want to turn the oven on. Regardless of that fact this is a wonderful way to use up extra veggies. Hugh does suggest that the use of some kind of onion is essential to the flavor here. The intense flavors from caramelizing the veggies is what makes this dish so special. Another big bonus is that this dish is timeless meaning it can be served anytime of the day.

The second and last dish I prepared was the Zucchini and raisin tea loaf. Here you beat the sugar and egg yolks together and separately the whites are beaten until they form soft peaks and are folded in the batter at the very end.

There is no butter or oil in this recipe which in the beginning really appealed to me. But the instructions did not mention if the water should be squeezed out of the zucchini….. so I did….. In the end my loaf was a little dry. Next time I would skip that step. I added golden raisins and the flavor was delicious.

These recipes have adapted from the River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. First recipe; from the chapter "Pantry suppers" Oven-roasted roots frittata" (page 234). Second dish from the chapter "Side dishes" Pumpkin and raisin tea loaf” (page 394).

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for September 2015 on the CCC website, by clicking here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sunflower Sesame Seed Brittle Chew and a Food Truck

My sister came to visit and on the last day we drove her to the airport in Eugene Oregon. On our way we stopped by Tam’s Place; a Vietnamese food truck. The food is locally sourced and Tam (the owner) makes everything from scratch. She is at the same place every day except Sunday. The tables are decorated with fresh flowers and condiments. My sister and I split the tofu broken noodle plate and it was the best tofu that we ever had. I think the tofu was grilled and served with some kind of Bonita flakes, fried vegetable rolls, shrimp, noodles and a magical secret sauce that we poured over everything. My husband had the banh mi and he felt the same way, so delicious.

Also, while my sister was here we prepared this sunflower sesame brittle chew. While this was completely different from what we had grown up on as kids we both loved the flavor. I substituted honey for the brown rice syrup and our batch turned out more chewy than crunchy. Not sure if I used too much honey, or if I should have baked for a longer period of time. But I did end up baking them 10 minutes longer anyway. The brittle is salty and sweet and reminded me a little bit of a Larabar but way better.

Recipe has been slightly adapted from “My New Roots”, by Sarah Britton.


1 ¼ cups sunflower seeds
½ cup unsweetened coconut
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ cup dried cranberries (can substitute raisins, apricots, dates, blueberries)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup honey or brown rice syrup

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all the ingredients except the coconut oil and honey in a medium sized glass bowl, mix well.

Melt coconut oil and add honey, whisk until completely mixed. Pour wet liquid over dry and combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Spoon onto the prepared baking sheet. Smooth out and even edges. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. (I baked 10 minutes longer and my brittle was still very chewy).

Store in a sealed container 10 to 14 days.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

We are counting down the days; less than two weeks until we head back. Bittersweet is all I can say about this time of year. My dahlias are just starting to bloom and it looks like we are going to miss out on the artichokes again this season. At least our caretaker and his wife will enjoy the fruits of our labor. Once again I am torn between the two places that we call home. A week ago we hiked Sweet Creek Falls Trail (picture of bridge above). This was a new adventure for us, amazing how much water was still there after months of no rain. While walking I thought back on how the bridge symbolized the connection between our two different lives.

This salad was inspired by ”Jerusalem”, the cookbook. I am such a fan of all of Yotom’s recipes. I checked my site and I have eleven other recipes from him. His cooking sense and style is my favorite. One of the great things I love about cookbooks is that you can pull out the same book months or years later and find a new recipe; one that you did not pay so much attention to previously. Maybe it was a different season or you are in a different place mentally, who knows…..

This recipe has been inspired by "Jerusalem", A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.


1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ of a small white onion (thinly sliced)
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon sumac
3 ounces dates (pitted and quartered)
1/3 cup sliced and roasted honey almonds (Trader Joes)
5 to 6 ounces of baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare:

Combine vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt, sumac and mix well. Let marinate for 20 minutes. When ready to serve toss spinach, date mixture, almonds and olive oil. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fresh Fig Spread

The last few days have been foggy. I love the mystique and the mist that comes along with it. The picture above is of Seal Rock. We drive by this state park on our 25 mile trek to Newport where all the shops and action is.

I love the quotes, “sometimes we need the fog to remind ourselves that all of life is not black and white” by Johnathan Lockwood Huie and “that beyond the fog lies clarity”, by anonymous.

Anyway, quick post today about the fig spread that I made for a little get together. I cleaned and quartered the figs and then cooked them on the stove top with water and sugar for about 45 minutes. Cinnamon and fresh lemon juice were added and gave the flavor a little tartness and spice. The consistency was thick and jammy. We served it along with a cheese plate and a baguette. It was very easy to prepare and I must say was a hit.


12 to 15 fresh figs (rinse, dry and quarter)
¾ to 1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

To prepare:
In a medium sized pot add figs and water. Use ¾ amount first, if more is needed, can add later. Cook until boiling, add sugar and stir.

Turn down heat to low, cover and simmer about 45 minutes or until figs are soft and jammy. Remove from heat, add cinnamon and lemon juice, stir. Cover pot with a kitchen towel (to absorb condensation) and let cool completely.

Spoon into glass jar, seal and refrigerate. Good for 7 to 10 days.

*Pairs very well with cheese

Monday, September 7, 2015

Two Soups, One a Celebration of Summer, The Other of Fall

This time of year I start getting restless. There are only a few more weeks until we head back home. For some reason the process never gets easier, there is so much to do to prepare for the trip back. This is when I begin earnestly cleaning out the freezer and pantry drawers. Many strange meals will be eaten. The garden will be winterized, the outside furniture brought in and the gutters cleaned. Our trip back will include a few days in Northern CA. We plan to spend time in the Mendocino area with a stop by glass beach and bowling ball beach and hike the trails.

Here are two soup recipes, one I made last week with late summer corn and the other yesterday with the season’s first butternut squash; both veggies from the farmers market. One a celebration of summer; the other of fall. In the corn chowder cumin and turmeric was added to give the soup a nice flavor twist. And with the butternut black bean soup, cumin and red pepper flakes were added for a spicy finish.

Corn Chowder

Slightly adapted from 50 chowders by Jasper White.


3 medium ears corn (husk, and cut kernels from cobs)
3 slices bacon (cut into 1/3 dice)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium olive (diced)
2 stalks celery (diced)
2 sprigs fresh thyme, (leaves removed and chopped)
1/2 ground cumin
1/8 turmeric
3 medium Yukon potatoes (cut into ½ dice)
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chives (for garnish)

To prepare:

Heat a soup pot over medium low heat; add bacon. Cook until bacon is crisp. Pour off all but one tablespoon of fat, keep bacon in pot. Add butter, olive oil, onions and celery; stirring occasionally cook about 5 minutes then add cumin and turmeric stirring more often for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add potatoes and stock and cook until potatoes are cooked through about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and add corn, cover and let sit about 10 minutes. Remove completely from heat. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: dish into bowls and garnish with chives.

*Some mix cornstarch and water and stir in before cream is added to thicken, I prefer more of a soupy soup, not as thick.

Butternut and black Bean Soup


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
½ bunch chard (de-stemmed and cut into ribbons)
1 small butternut squash (about 2 cups)
1 15-ounce can organic black beans
½ teaspoon cumin
4 cups vegetable broth
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of cilantro for garnish

To prepare:

In a soup pot on medium heat add olive oil and onion, stirring occasionally about 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown, add garlic stirring constantly for about a minute. Add chard, squash, black beans and cumin stirring another minute or so add red pepper flakes and broth.  Cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, remove lid, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: dish into bowls and garnish with cilantro

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cornmeal Crepes with Figs and Pears

This morning I made cornmeal and flour crepes with fresh figs, pears and a dollop of whipped cream. Sounds kind of fancy right, but really it’s not and this recipe ended up being very easy to put together. The recipe came from the September 2013 issue of Bon Appetite. I have had page 73 torn out since that date. They are “filed” by where they land in the box and left for a rainy day. Apparently this was the day……….

The hardest part of preparing this dish for me was turning the first crepe (see pic below) So for the next one I followed their prep school tip which was; "Once the edge of your crepe is golden and lacy and the center has set, gently loosen it with a spatula. Then, using your fingers pull up the crepe and swiftly pull over.” I used this method and the rest of the crepes turned out near perfect. But there was one more tip to add which was not anywhere in the instructions. The cornmeal easily sank to the bottom of the bowl in between cooking each crepe. I quickly learned that before pouring the batter into the skillet that I needed to re-stir each time so that the cornmeal was throughout the batter and not laying at the bottom of the bowl. Adding the cornmeal in the batter gave the crepes a little more texture than was I was used to but both my husband and I enjoyed the way they turned out.

My last concern was would this combination of fresh pears and figs taste good together as part of the topping. Would the delicate pear pair well with the fruity fig? Most fresh figs have been described to taste like a mix between a strawberry and a peach. I don’t know if that is how I would describe them but they worked together famously. After the first bite I knew this meal was a home run. This would make a wonderful breakfast, brunch or even an after dinner dessert.


1 large egg
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (divided) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (divided)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups heavy cream (divided)
1 pear (cored, skinned at cut into slices)
4 fresh black mission figs (cut into half and then each half into 1/3rds)
2 tablespoon roasted pistachios (garnish)

To prepare:

Combine egg, milk, flour, cornmeal, sugar, vanilla, salt and 1/4 cup cream in a medium bowl, whisk until smooth.

Take the remaining 1/2 cup of whip cream, pour into a cool glass bowl (if possible put one in your freezer for about 1/2 hour. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with a hand beater until soft peaks before. Set aside and put into refridgerator.

Heat a 10" skillet over medium heat. Add a small pat of butter, then 3/4 of a ladle of batter, swirl pan around until bottom of skillet is covered. Cook until edges are golden brown and batter is set, with a spatula lift up and then using your fingers, lift up and turn over, 30 another 30 seconds or so. On to the next one until batter is gone.

Serve crepes folded, topped with cream cream, pears and figs. Then garnish with pistachios. Enjoy!