Celery Root Slaw

I once again find myself turning to Jack Bishop in my time of vegetative need. When you get a celery root in your CSA bag you sometimes need some inspiration. Luckily, Jack is usually there for me. This recipe comes from his superb 'Vegetables Every Day' book which I have mentioned countless times on this site.

I wish I hadn't been in a hurry yesterday so that I could produce a photo of the very dirty, very ugly (but very delicious!) celery root I used in this recipe. You probably waltz past its ugliness in the grocery store where it is relegated to obscure status, drying out by the horseradish and taro root (if your grocery store even bothers to carry them!). Fortunately, our farm pops one in our bag as a surprise every now and then and they *are* fun to cook with.

This salad took me all of 6 minutes or so to make last night as a side to go with roasted potatoes and buffalo burgers. Give it a try - you won't be disappointed. I will note here that the recipe does require a food processor (or good knife skills and a LOT of patience). I used to think it was too fussy to mess around with the other blades on the processor but now that I've worked the shredder into the rotation, I don't give it a second thought.

Celery Root and Apple Slaw
Adapted from Jack Bishop's Vegetables Every Day
Serves 6 as a side

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (Bishop calls for lemon juice, but I didn't have any, hence the 'adaptation')
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves or 1.5 tsp minced fresh tarragon leaves (it was cold and rainy and I didn't feel like going outside to find parsley, so I didn't add any fresh herbs. Dish was still great, though undoubtedly could have been even better with the herbs!)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium celery root
1 medium Granny Smith apple

Whisk the vinegar and mustard together in a bowl. Whisk in the oil until the dressing is smooth. Whisk in the yogurt and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cut a thin slice from either end of the celery root. Place the root on a cutting board and cut around the root with a paring knife to remove the skin as if removing the peel and pith from an orange to expose the flesh. Cut the peeled celery root into chunks that will fit in the feed tube of a food processor. Quarter and core the apple, but do not peel.

Shred the celery root and apple in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk. Place the shredded celery and apple in the bowl with the dressing and toss well with your hands until all is well coated. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 2 hours and serve chilled.

Fall photos

Goodbye summer...

Hello autumn...

Hello snow...

Technicolor tacos

When I am confronted with too many vegetables to come up with an easy, cohesive meal (and that is rather frequently), I tend towards the 'how much can I use in one recipe' solution. Tortillas in all of their glorious forms tend to help in this kind of situation.

You've got tostadas and tacos (though it's very hard to find tostadas without partially hydrogenated oils in them anymore - let me know if you do! Sadly, Whole Foods have stopped carrying the 'Bearitos' brand, which were pretty darn wholesome), and flour tortillas in various sizes and grains. You can jam them full of any sort of vegetable (or meat if you wish) and some beans and call it a meal.

This particular recipe is more of a method...a way to get lots of veggies into one place and then into your belly. I use whatever I have on hand at home that will go well together and cram it all into a tortilla and call it dinner. But really, it's better than that. It's a go-to meal that requires little forethought, just a fridge with some vegetables in it and whatever tinned beans you have on hand. It comes together to deliver a tasty meal that is nourishing.

Technicolor Tacos
Serves 2
4-6 tortillas (flour hold up better)
1/2 can tinned refried beans with green chiles
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb sturdy greens (I used beet greens, but chard, kale, collards, etc will work)
tomatoes, sliced
cabbage, sliced
tomatillos, diced
onions, sliced
peppers, sliced
radishes, diced
(or *any* combination of vegetables you have on hand that would take well to Mexican flavors)

Wash greens thoroughly. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large skillet. Add greens and cook over medium high heat until they wilt and drastically reduce in volume, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp oil in the same skillet. Add onions and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add peppers and saute a further 3-5 minutes until all veggies are soft.

Heat beans over a flame or in the microwave until bubbly. Heat tortillas in microwave (about 10-15 seconds). Put veggies in containers and let people assemble their own tacos as they see fit. Repeat as needed.

ALL of these ingredients are optional. Nearly any combination will work. Add some cheese on top if you wish. Or salsa. Or guac. Or sour cream. Do whatever you want and don't be limited by my suggestions above. It's an easy, no fuss way to get a healthy dinner on the table.

Bean and tomato salad with honey vinaigrette

Have I mentioned Rancho Gordo in any of my posts yet? Let me take that opportunity now. RANCHO. GORDO. They are an heirloom bean producer out of Northern California, and if you like beans, they deserve your attention.

They produce myriad beans, many of which you've never heard of, such as the Ayocote Morado beans in the photo above. One thing that is unique about their beans (aside from the diversity of their offerings) is that they are fresh. I know that isn't intuitive, as they are dried beans, but they are fresh in the sense that when you get them, they haven't been sitting in a warehouse for a year or two (or on a supermarket shelf for that length of time). They cook quicker and are, in my opinion, superior tasting to any other beans I've had. I've tried about 6 different varieties, and a testament to the love I have for all that I've tried is the 23 lb box of beans I currently await from the UPS guy.

I love beans. They are simple, hearty and nourishing. The are not at all a hassle to cook from scratch, and you can bubble up a good sized batch and freeze whatever you don't eat with pleasing results. They can be used a million different ways, and generally they cost next to nothing, somewhat fancy heirlooms aside. The dried beans in my local Whole Foods bulk bin start at $.99/lb.

You're starting to get the theme throughout recent postings that I have a LOT of tomato and basil plants, and that I get green beans from the farm nearly every week. Well, I don't like to eat them the same way every time, so I'm constantly scouring recipe books for ideas and inspiration. Fortunately, there seems to be no limit to the number of books I can check out from my local library, so the ideas keep coming.

I have found quite a few very inspiring recipes in the newest book from the folks at Eating Well. I've never subscribed to their magazine, but I need to rethink that, as every cookbook of theirs I own or have borrowed from the library has been particularly good. Their latest offering Eating Well In Season: The Farmer's Market Cookbook is fairly conducive to the produce that I receive from our local CSA each week.

This next recipe uses (Rancho Gordo!) dried beans, fresh green beans, tomatoes AND basil, so it's an ideal staple for the summer months!

Bean and tomato salad with honey vinaigrette
Adapted from Eating Well In Season
Serves 8 as a side dish

1 1/4 c dried beans, preferably heirloom (I used Ayocote Morado from Rancho Gordo)
Bay leaf or epazote
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c red onion, minced
1/4 c cider vinegar
4 tsp wildflower honey
1 tsp peanut or canola oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 in. pieces
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 lb medium or large mixed tomatoes, multiple colors, chopped
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Pick over dried beans for stones or debris, rinse them, then place in a stockpot, cover with 3 inches of water and soak at room temperature for 2 hours or up to overnight.

Bring beans and bay leaf/epazote to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer very gently until tender, 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the age and freshness of your beans. Check the level of the liquid regularly. If it drops below the beans, add one cup (or more as needed) hot water. When the beans are tender, remove from heat and drain.

Combine the beans, the salt, onion, vinegar, honey, oil and pepper in a large bowl. Stir, cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Pat dry and add to the marinated beans. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Taste seasoning and adjust as necessary.

**Note: I often cook more dried beans than called for then freeze the extra in some of the pot liquor when done so that I can grab them on a day I don't want to cook. They freeze beautifully.

Another pollenation image for you...


A little bread never hurt anyone. Heck, even a little white bread never hurt anyone...however there's never a LITTLE bit of bread around this house. It's either all or nothing.

That's how I ended up making panzanella a few days ago with (hard to believe) leftover baguette and the freshest ingredients on earth, plucked from my back garden just before assembling the salad.

This salad takes very little time to assemble. Just a bit of chopping and perhaps toasting (or grilling?) if your bread isn't stale enough. You could omit the green beans and substitute something else if you didn't want to go to the trouble of filling a pot to blanch them. Any way you look at it, it's an easy, no heat, low fuss dinner.

Serves 4

Pint (or more) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 or 2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
8 oz green beans, blanched
3/4 c fresh mozzarella, cubed
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 day old baguette, white or whole grain, toasted or grilled if not dried out
1 garlic clove
1 medium cucumber, seeded, quartered and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 c very thinly sliced red onion
1/4 c (or more) thinly sliced basil
Basil flowers, for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Halve garlic clove. Rub cut side of garlic on toasted bread. Cut bread into bite sized chunks. Set aside.

Combine vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl or a jar. Drizzle in oil and whisk or add oil, put a lid on the jar and shake vigorously.

Put tomatoes, cucumber, onion bread and basil in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over and toss well to combine. Divide among four plates and garnish with basil flowers.

Did I mention that we had garlic bread as a side? Like I said...it's all or nothing...

Gazpacho Verde

Thanks to my excellent neighbors and their surplus crop of seedlings this spring, I'm growing tomatillos for the first time this summer. They are fairly easy to grow and are somewhat similar in maintenance to a tomato plant. They first show husks, then the tomatillos ripen and fill the husks and are ready for harvest (though I've had to learn when to pick them, as much of my harvesting has been from the ground!).

They seem to do well left on the counter for several days. When you are ready to use them, you remove the husk, rinse them (they are very sticky!), cut out the small core and then use them to your hearts desire. After said excellent neighbors stopped by with a bag of nearly two pounds of their tomatillos, I knew I had enough for a big batch of tomatillo gazpacho, or gazpacho verde as I've renamed it.

It's a simple recipe and merely requires a quick saute of some garlic, some chopping and blending in the food processor and chilling in the fridge. It's great for a hot summer day, and is a refreshing change from regular gazpacho.

Gazpacho Verde
Adapted from Eating Well In Season by Jessie Price and the Editors of Eating Well
Serves 4

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 avocado, halved and pitted (*see note)
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chipped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 c chicken or vegetable broth (or 1c broth and 1c water)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12 oz cooked and peeled shrimp, chopped (optional *see directions below Note for use)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat.

Coarsely chop half the cucumber and the avocado and place in food processor. Add tomatillos, bell pepper, jalapeno (if desired) and garlic. Process until smooth (1-2 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl; stir in broth, sugar and salt.

Chill gazpacho for 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Dice remaining cucumber and set aside. Ladle gazpacho into bowls and top with a sprinkling of diced cucumber.

Note: The original recipe calls for avocado and shrimp 'salad' on top. I made my gazpacho ahead of time to chill most of the afternoon and didn't want my avocado to brown, so I just blended the whole avocado into the soup, rather than using half as the recipe stated (the other half being reserved for the salad). I had no jalapenos so didn't use them. I didn't feel like thawing shrimp, so I didn't use that either. I've included additional directions below for using the shrimp and avocado salad on top.

Alternatively, dice remaining cucumber and avocado and place in medium bowl. Add shrimp. Drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp oil and gently toss to combine. Ladle gazpacho into bowls and top each portion with about 3/4 c of the shrimp 'salad'.

On the cusp of pollination

Sauteed wax beans with tomatoes and basil

I am cooking and eating vegetables at rates previously unknown to man. Another Tuesday has arrived and another CSA pickup has occurred. This is our first week for corn and melons (wahoo!). I don't know if the photo above looks like a lot or a little to you, but that's what we got for a 'single' share this week. There are two people in my household. Though we entertain a lot, it still only makes a dent in our weekly share, so we just eat veggies left right and center.

Generally, I like to use the corn the day we get it because it's just SO DANG GOOD, but I wasn't up for shucking and consuming five ears of corn Tuesday night (though now I can't remember why?), so I thought I'd attack squash (I still hadn't finished last week's squash - more on that recipe in a few days) and the yellow wax beans that came in this bag. I had cherry tomatoes from the back garden that needed using, so that along with a few fresh herbs and a bit of onion made up the dish.

We grilled a bit of salmon as our main protein (about 8 oz for the two of us - I'm working on making meat a side dish rather than a main) and I fixed a fussy squash dish that was worth every bit of hassle - will share that with you later - then fixed a little off the cuff veggie medley as our other vegetable melange for the evening.

Sauteed wax beans with tomatoes and basil
Serves 2-3 as a side

1/2 lb yellow wax beans (or green if that's what you've got), parboiled for 2 min, cooled to stop the cooking and sliced into 1 in pieces
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 onion (any color), sliced
1 tbsp basil, cut in a chiffonade (or chopped, or torn up, or however you want)
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a pan with the oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until soft, but with no color. Add the parboiled beans and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and toss; cook for 1 minute. Taste, add seasoning as you like, sprinkle basil on top and serve immediately.

Other fresh herbs would work here - chives and tarragon come to mind as good choices. Use whatever is freshest that's available to you!

Grilled Eggplant with Cherry Tomato and Cilantro Vinaigrette

After some major pruning last week, I discovered I had several eggplant ready for harvest in the back garden. I get so excited to garden, I sometimes don't think about what I will do with all of the veggies I've planted when it's time to harvest. I don't think I have *ever* purchased an eggplant in the store, but I have gotten them from the farm for the last several years. But I always have to go searching for something to do with them when they show up in my produce bag.

'Perfect Vegetables' to the rescue. This cookbook is put out by the wonderful people at Cook's Illustrated. Every cookbook of theirs that I've tried as well as every recipe from the magazine have always been successful, and that's obviously because of their methods. They test the heck out of every recipe before publishing. So it takes the guesswork out for you and me. That said, whenever I don't have a specific ingredient on hand, I will change a recipe to accommodate what I do have in the house versus going out to the grocery store to buy a shallot or something.

Faced with the two globe eggplant from out back (wear gloves when you harvest eggplant - OUCH!) and the Japanese eggplant from the farm, I wanted to find something that would be so good that I would eat it all (and use them all up at once). For that I was willing to take a few extra steps to get it right.

I also have a constant stream of cherry tomatoes at the ready; every time I pick one, ten new ripe tomatoes appear in its place. The herbs were also no problem as I've got them growing absolutely everywhere. So this dish was local and sustainable in the extreme and that's the cooking that is the most fun for me.
Grilled Eggplant with Cherry Tomato and Cilantro Vinaigrette
adapted from Perfect Vegetables by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, each tomato quartered (about 1c)
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 small red onion, sliced (PV specified 1 shallot, minced)
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon juice (PV specified lime)
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 recipe grilled eggplant (see below)

Mix tomatoes, salt, cayenne, onion, cilantro, lemon juice and oil together in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature until the flavors meld, about 20 minutes.

Transfer grilled eggplant to a platter. Pour the vinaigrette over the grilled eggplant and serve immediately.

Grilled Eggplant

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh thyme or oregano leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 small to medium eggplant (about 2 lbs), ends trimmed, cut crosswise into rounds

Combine oil, garlic, herb, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Place the eggplant on a platter and brush both sides with the oil mixture.

Grill the eggplant over a medium-hot fire, turning once, until both sides are marked with dark stripes, 8-10 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

*some people insist upon salting eggplant to reduce bitterness. If you use really fresh eggplant, there will be nothing bitter about it!

Vegetables in Thai Red Curry

I recently received a complimentary issue of Vegetarian Times in the mail and browsed through it with excitement about the recipes therein. As I mentioned, I have been recently accosted with veggie abundance via my CSA and have been trying to use as many veggies as possible in everything I cook. There was a section on 'The Zen Kitchen' and cooking the Tassajara way (which means nothing to me because I only read the recipes - so I'll have to go back and read about it) where I found a recipe for 'Vegetables in Thai Red Curry' that I realized could be used as a method rather than strictly a recipe.

I've listed my version here, however you could either go to their website or buy the magazine (it's on page 63 of the September issue) to get their exact recipe or you could just use whatever veggies you have at your house that might be good in a curry sauce. And let's be honest - what *isn't* good slathered in curry sauce??

Vegetables in Thai Red Curry
Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine
Serves 4

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
5 or 6 small carrots, cut into chunks
1 sweet bell pepper, any color, sliced into strips
1 large zucchini, cut into chunks or rounds
1 tbsp canola oil
1-2 tbsp Thai red curry paste, or to taste (I use the Thai Kitchen brand)
1 14oz can light coconut milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbs tamari or soy sauce
20-30 fresh Thai basil leaves

Place cut zucchini in a colander and sprinkle two teaspoons kosher salt over it and toss. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Wipe salt and blot dry with paper towels. Set aside until ready to use. You can skip this step, but honestly I think it's worth the trouble. It let's the zucchini release all of its moisture and you can brown it a bit and give it better flavor.

Blanch cauliflower for 3 minutes in a pot of boiling, salted water. Remove with a strainer and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Repeat with carrots in same pot of water. Set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and cook for 5 minutes until nicely browned in spots. Add carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes further then remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 1tbsp curry paste with a few tbsps of coconut milk. Stir together until the paste dissolves into the milk. In a wide saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, curry slurry, sugar, tamari and 1/2 cup water. If it is not spicy enough for your taste, make another slurry with a bit of water and add it to the sauce.

Add vegetables and 1/2 of basil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with the rest of the basil. Serve over some type of grain (I used whole wheat couscous).

Yellow summer squash and shrimp whole wheat couscous

It's very suddenly become the season of abundance. Well, perhaps not suddenly, but I very recently spent three weeks in winter in the southern hemisphere which has thrown off my internal calendar completely.

I picked up our weekly produce share from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) the other night and had to heave the bag into the car. We get a single share, which theoretically is enough for 2-3 omnivores or 1-2 vegetarians. I would agree with the omnivore statement if you eat a LOT of vegetables. Which we've been doing more and more of since we 'joined' the farm.

It's also suddenly the season of massive, shocking quantities of summer squash. In the last week, I've made squash bread, squash cake with cream cheese frosting (yum), roasted squash and the dish I'll share with you below that I made last night. I still have enough for grilled squash as a side with dinner tonight, and a really nice summer squash gratin that I will make this weekend. By God, I hope that covers the squash. I still have a lot of other veg in that bag to eat.

I picked up a cookbook I have called 'A Passion For Vegetables' by Paul Gayler. It was a gift from a friend in London and I haven't used it nearly as much as I should have. Paging through, I found a recipe for 'Yellow Courgette and Prawn Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Olives'. Inspiration enough, I got down to business.

Courgettes (zucchini) were no problem - I have dozens of them stuffed into every crevasse of the refrigerator. But I didn't have preserved lemons, or a red chili, or sultanas. The last thing I can bear to do during the summer when I have so many veggies around I'm about to go mental is go to the store and buy additional things just to make a recipe work. So, I had to figure out how to make it fabulous with what I had on hand.

I did have an overabundance of green beans and fresh picked cherry tomatoes (harvested from my garden plot just prior to starting dinner). Also, while I love leftovers and not having to think what to make for lunch, I didn't need 8 servings, so I sort of halved much of the recipe and nearly doubled the veggies (because it's healther and I have so dang many of them!). So here's what I made:

Yellow summer squash and shrimp whole wheat couscous with lemon dressing
adapted from A Passion for Vegetables by Paul Gayler

Serves 4

4 servings of cooked whole wheat couscous (follow the directions on the box)
1 tablespoon olive oil (more if needed)
12 medium shrimp
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 medium yellow summer squash, sliced into rounds
1.5c chopped green beans, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes
1 c cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons of blanched, slivered almonds
8 black olives, diced
1 red chili, deseeded and sliced (optional)
1 tsp chopped fresh mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
2 oz olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh mint or Italian parsley
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced squash to the hot pan and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes and and chili and saute for a further 2 minutes. Add shrimp and saute until pink and nearly cooked. Add remaining ingredients (including cooked couscous) and toss to warm through.

Whisk dressing ingredients together and season to taste. Pour over couscous mixture, toss and serve warm. If you're serving it to my husband, make some garlic bread to go with it.

Green madness

Three weeks on holiday and I come back to a garden that is totally unrecognizable. Did someone put crack in the water? The large planter out back had some small, tidy tomato plants, some herbs, greens and beans. I came back to a forest of green broken only by the smattering of tomato blossoms and the occasional marigold peeking through. I have enough epazote to supply Rick Bayless' restaurants until year end. (In fact, I whacked a bunch of it out and took it to my favorite local restaurant where it's in their walk in until the chef can figure out how to use it).

Who knew what three weeks could do??

I went over to my community garden plot prepared for the worst, or so I thought. I literally couldn't recognize my plot when I arrived. Nor could I figure out what had happened to all of the vegetables. I couldn't see them for the weeds. This is the challenge of the first year in the plot that was previously abandoned. Three weeks of rain and untamed growth made it scary enough that I considered giving up then and there.

But salvation came in the form of little boys (and their mom!). The garden leader's boys to be more specific. Just my luck that they wanted to start a weeding business to suppliment their allowance. I became their first customer right there on the spot. It's got to be the best $12 I've ever spent. Those kids should be charging more; it must have taken them all weekend!

Once they were done, I was able to see what was going on underneath and it's all very exciting. Winter squashes, eggplant, loads of different (still green) tomatoes, herbs, greens and beans galore. And the bees are busy pollinating everything, bless them. I even found a few errant strawberries and popped them in my mouth, dirt and all. There's nothing better than a sun warmed strawberry straight off of the vine! So I'll need to go back to weeding every few days. Also, being mid-July, it's time to plant my fall crops of lettuces, onions and cruciferous veg. Heaven knows I could use the distraction after coming home from a really great vacation and being faced with sitting behind a desk for 10 hours a day.

Here's to the joys and challenges of nurturing plants. And eating them!


I know I've mentioned before that about 70% of my meals (or maybe even more?) are vegetarian. By choice. It's not even a conscious choice most times anymore; it's just how we eat. But sometimes, we really enjoy meat. Today is a special occasion, so I've taken a buffalo filet mignon out of the freezer to have for dinner. (It's nearly 9 oz, which is plenty for two people). I mention this because I want to share with you the miraculous secret of how we cook lean and fancy steaks in this house.

We do not grill them.

We pan sear them on the stove then pop them into a really, really, hot oven. Then we let them rest before we tuck in. Trust me on this. Try it once with a filet mignon and then thank me later.

Filet Mignon
Serves 2 (if you're not a big meat eater!)

1 8-10 oz cut of filet mignon (beef or bison)
Salt and pepper to taste
Any other herbs or spices you might want on your meat, though I like to keep it simple

Remove your steak from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it. Preheat the oven to 450 or 500 degrees (depending on what else might be roasting away in there and how hot your oven gets). Heat a small, oven proof skillet* over medium high heat (or high, if the flames aren't licking over the sides of the pan) with a very small amount of oil in it (1tsp if it is non stick, more if it's not). Really heat it. Get it smokin' hot.

Liberally season one side of your steak with salt and pepper, then use tongs to place the steak seasoned side down into your skillet. Leave it be fore three minutes. Don't touch. Don't peek. Leave it alone. Season the side facing up while you're waiting. After three minutes, flip the steak over and throw the whole thing, pan and all into the preheated oven. Roast for 8 minutes (for medium/medium rare** For bison, reduce cooking time about 2 minutes).

Remove from the oven, set the steak on a plate and tent with aluminum foil and leave it alone for 10 minutes. Really. Leave it ALONE! This lets the juices redistribute back into the steak. I've tried it both ways and it's worth the wait.

Remove foil, eat and be amazed. Best served with crispy roasted potatoes and a green veg or salad.

*An oven proof pan has metal handle(s) that are 'oven safe' up to a certain temperature. If you don't have one, put a lightly oiled Pyrex dish or other oven safe baking dish into the oven when you preheat it so that when you transfer the steak into that vessel in the oven, the pan is plenty hot and will do the job more or less the same way.

**I am of the opinion that meat cooked past medium pretty much isn't worth eating. Especially filet. But if you insist, leave it in longer. If you like it more rare, take it out a few minutes earlier. I would always err on the side of rare...

Beans n Greens ... Round 2

So, I made a tried and true recipe again for lunch today and wanted to share it with you. I've posted it here before, but it bears revisiting, especially since this is the first time I've made it with ingredients that I've grown in my own backyard. I grow both kale and chard, but the first round of chard has already been harvested and the next is too small, so today I used Tuscan kale. It is dark green, crinkly and has a sort of squeaky texture when it is raw.

I cut what grows as a single bunch, and it was just perfect for one person. I love how it's at least $1.50 for a bunch of greens in the store (on a good day), but you can get an entire packet of organic seeds for $1.50 and grow 100 bunches of kale. Granted, the latter takes a little time and patience, but it's well worth the reward.

I dug a can of great northern beans out of the pantry and found some feta in the fridge. I located an onion and some garlic and was good to go. Simple, healthy and very satisfying.

Beans and greens

Serves 1

1 bunch kale (or other greens)

1 can white beans

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c vegetable stock, divided

1/4c crumbled feta

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, minced (optional)

Drain beans and rinse under cool water. Combine beans and 1/4 vegetable stock in a food processor and blitz until you have a very creamy consistency. Set aside. Clean greens in several changes of water. Remove ribs and save for later use or compost. Heat a large lidded pan with the olive oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add onion and saute 2 minutes until soft. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add greens with some water still clinging to them and vegetable stock. Put a lid on your pot and leave it be for 3 minutes. Take a peek or a taste. If greens look nearly done or done, shove them to one side and add the beans (keeping them separate) just to warm them up. Put the lid back on for 1 minute. Taste beans to ensure they're hot.

Get a low, wide bowl and spoon beans in, top with greens and sprinkle a little feta o top, as well as the parsley (if you wish). You could serve this with garlic toast or a hunk of crusty bread, or just as it is.


Have you made it to Fisher Clark Deli yet? If not, shame on you. If you are a sandwich lover, a fresh bread lover, a dessert lover, or a deli lover, you are MISSING OUT.

After a walk in the park on this perfect, sunny morning, we headed over to Bonnie Brae to grab a sandwich (well, to be real, you grab very little there. You patiently wait while they hand craft their fantastic sammies for you). Husband had the egg salad (which they must have changed the recipe for and frankly neither of us was too keen, but it's literally the first thing we haven't enjoyed 100% there!) and I had the Friday special, which was a turkey sandwich with Gorgonzola cheesecake and carmelized onions. Yes, I should be eating like a monk for the rest of the day.

The sandwich is lightly toasted and layered with house made carmelized onions that are dark, sticky and sweet. Next there is high quality deli shaved turkey, covered by lettuce and the unfathomably decadent gorgonzola cheesecake. As you eat it, you keep wondering how it could possibly be so creamy, then you guiltily remember what you're eating.

I have a well-honed appetite and generally am a member in good standing of the clean plate club, but this sandwich bested me. I had to pop a quarter of it into the fridge. I just couldn't make it.

We can vouch for most of the sandwiches on the menu. I'd encourage you to be adventurous. Their soups are terrific as well. Seating is limited, though there are cute outdoor tables for warm days.

I often used to struggle to think of a place to have a 'really good' sandwich close to home. Now I don't have to think at all.


Tragically, the rains over the past few days wiped out the strawberries at our CSA this week. No (backbreaking) strawberry picking this year. I really am disappointed. I don't think I've ever tasted better strawberries than the ones I ate warm off the vine up at the farm. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I ate the first ripe strawberry off the vine of my strawberry plants that I have been tending to for the last month or so. I meant to take a picture, but it made it to my mouth before the camera made it into my hand. Sorry about that. Can't wait for a few more to turn that gorgeous red so I can eat them sun warmed right in the garden. YUM.


That's a photo of a butternut squash seedling pushing its little self out of the earth. It's a pretty neat thing to watch over a few days.

I can't express what a pleasure it has been to learn to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers from seed. Last summer I started small with a few seedlings and some container gardening. This year, I've gone full bore with a Denver Urban Gardens allotment a few blocks from home that I've split with neighbors, as well as the large (3'x9') raised bed I have out back.

I'm growing a variety of veggies and herbs, but the focus was to grow things we don't already get through our CSA, or things we get from them that we could always eat more of (let's just say that we're not growing extra cabbage).

I've planted the following in the big garden:

Radishes (which I've already pulled, eaten, and planted something else in their place)
Tomatoes (8 varieties!)
Peppers (5 kinds)
Tomatillos (thanks for the seedlings, my good neighbors!)
Pickling cukes
Armenian cukes
Broccoli rabe
Persian Garden Cress
Butternut squash
Hokkiado squash
Beetberry (this should be interesting!)
Beans (three types including one soup bean!)
Okra (this is something of an experiment!)
'Little Caesar' lettuce

Weirdly, I could go on, but I just realized how long this list is already. Anyway, a few things I did from seedlings, but the rest I did from seeds. Every day that I go visit to weed or water, things look different. I kneel down to pull a weed or check a plant, and suddenly realize how alive the garden is. There are bees buzzing around all of the flowers, ladybugs crawling around, weeds growing at a rate so fast you can nearly see them get bigger...it's amazing.

If you've never cared for a plant from the moment you place it into the earth and give it a bit of water, you should try it. It's interesting and satisfying. If nothing else, it will give you a significantly greater appreciation for the labor that goes into producing the food that you eat.


I just had to share this with you. I grew this radish from seed in the raised bed in my back garden. I planted it on March 19th and harvested it in late April. It took some water, some TLC (like covering it when it snowed and on cold nights) and some patience. It was two bites...and it was perfection. Gardening is really cool.

More things to do with oats

I just realized I've never posted my method for museli! Probably because it's not very hard and I really don't give it much thought as it's something I do nearly every morning. It's not a super quick breakfast, but it is super delicious and it's worth the effort. In addition, it's one of those things you could start at night to cut out most of the time involved in preparation.

Quality ingredients are key here. If you're going to put some foul, sugary yogurt on top, don't tell me about it. If you're topping it with strawberries in January (and you don't live in the southern hemisphere), I really don't want to hear about it. However, if you can get your hands on full fat, raw milk yogurt from a trusted source, this just might become one of your favorite morning meals.

Morning museli
Serves 1

2 heaping tablespoons of raw oats (the 'quick' stuff from the bulk bin or Quaker are fine)
2 tablespoons milk (skim, 1%, whole...anything works here)
3-4 huge plops yogurt (I use a soup spoon and overfill it shamelessly)
sliced fresh fruit
1 tbsp honey

Optional ingredients: (though I use all of them)
cinnamon, to taste (I use lots as it's meant to be a very beneficial spice)
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1 tbsp wheat germ

Place raw oats in a bowl. Add milk. These need to soak for 15 minutes (alternatively, you can do this the night before and whack it in the fridge overnight and resume fixing first thing in the morning). You can continue to add ingredients on top, but make sure you soak for 15 minutes or so before eating. My husband thinks I'm absurd and that it's fine without soaking, but I prefer the slightly soggier texture of the oats after soaking. Add yogurt, cinnamon, nuts, seeds and wheat germ. Top with sliced fruit and drizzle with (local!) honey. Voila! Healthy breakfast that will keep you going all morning.

Roasted broccoli and shrimp

Last night I wanted to make something yummy for dinner without resorting to a trip to the store. I had broccoli, radishes, asparagus and celery in the fridge and all manner of protein in the freezer. Browsing the usual food blogs I like (Orangette, Pioneer Woman, 101 Cookbooks) for inspiration, I was eventually led to a recipe for roasted broccoli and shrimp by Melissa Clark.

As usual, I tweaked it to make it my own. The asparagus wasn't going to get any better sitting in the fridge and it is particularly good when roasted in the oven, so that was getting added in addition to the broccoli. Point is, a lot of vegetables respond well to roasting. And this recipe could not be easier. It's probably 30 minutes start to finish (including prep work), and wham! - you've got dinner on the table for your family.

I dug out a half empty bag of very large frozen shrimp from Costco from the freezer and utterly disregarded the sinister warning that tells you that it's improper to run cool water over your shrimp (they call it 'force thawing') to thaw them, because I didn't take them out in any sort of time to thaw in the fridge. I grabbed the other ingredients and got going.

Roasted green veg and shrimp (by Melissa Clark via the Wednesday Chef with tweaks by the skigirl)

1.5 lb broccoli cut into florets (don't throw out the stems! Peel them with a vegetable peeler and cut into chunks)
1 lb asparagus
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1.5 tsp kosher salt
black pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder
Zest of 1 large lemon, lemon cut into slices after zesting
1 lb large shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, spices, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Spread broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Rinse out the bowl then combine shrimp, asparagus, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and additional pepper. Add shrimp and asparagus to baking sheet and toss with broccoli. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until shrimp are just opaque and broccoli is tender and getting color on its edges, about 10 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over everything, add any additional seasoning you think it may need and serve with additional lemon wedges.

I served this with hulled barley that I cooked in chicken broth (takes about 30 minutes), but any grain or rice would work well here. In addition (as is so common in our household) we had some obscenely buttery garlic bread made with a loaf from the local bakery. All in all, this was a ridiculously easy recipe that took virtually no time to put together with a very satisfying result!

Rrrrrrrrrapini! (Spicy broccoli rabe with orecchiette)

I'm afraid I'm going to wax poetic about a vegetable today. Last night was the first time I cooked broccoli rabe (aka rapini). It's a rare day when I see it in the store, but I noticed it last week, so I snapped it up. I've planted quite a lot of it this year, both in pots and in the ground; we'll see how it does. In the meantime, I wanted to confirm that my vague recollections of it were accurate in their remembered rapture. Mission accomplished.

Rapini is a stalky, leafy green with small buds and flowers. It is cooked like a green. To prepare it, you need to cut off the bottom of the stalk roughly just below where the leaves begin. Then cut it into 1-2 inch lengths and plunge into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. It is a little bit peppery (though that can vary by batch), and has a lovely flavor and multiple interesting textures (stalk, leaf, bud, flower). It is all edible, though the bottoms that you cut off are too tough to eat.

I made a very simple preparation of spicy broccoli rabe with orecchiette pasta (little ear shaped pasta which is easier to find dried in your local grocery than you might expect). It came together in about 15 minutes. I think it disappeared from our plates in less time than that. If you see broccoli rabe in the store, don't hesitate - buy it! Then try this very simple preparation. You won't be sorry.

Spicy rapini with orecchiette
Serves 4

1 lb dried orecchiette (whole wheat if you can find it!)
1.5 lb bunch rapini/broccoli rabe (use more if you like your veggie to pasta ratio to be higher!)
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic)
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (omit to feed vegans)
salt, to taste

Bring a very large pot of salted water to boil (preferably with a colander insert). Plunge the rapini into the boiling water and let it boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Remove the rapini from the water and drain well.

Add dried pasta to the still boiling water (and perhaps a little more salt) and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile (when the pasta is at least 1/2 done), heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until it is lightly golden. Add the rapini and the red pepper flakes and toss to coat with the olive oil. Saute until heated through.

Drain the pasta well, reserving a mug full of pasta water. Toss the pasta in the saute pan with the rapini and add pasta water until you are satisfied with the consistency of the 'sauce'. Add the grated cheese and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with steamy, grilled garlicky bread.

Breakfast in my belly! (oatmeal, skigirl style)

I learned to love oatmeal after my first cholesterol test as an adult. I didn't want to take drugs to combat elevated LDL (though the rest of my numbers were just fine and nearly brilliant, thank you very much), so I decided to take oatmeal and beans and cinnamon and whatever other food might positively impact my LDL reading.

It started with packet oatmeal. I look back on it now and even the Kashi in envelopes is really not very good at all compared with taking 5 minutes to make some in a little pot on the stove. I graduated to cylinders of Irish or Scottish oats in the oatmeal section. Eventually, I just bought big bags of rolled oats in the bulk bin.

Whether bought in bulk or in a carton, the rolled oats really do only take a few minutes of effort. Boil some water, add the oats, simmer for 5 minutes and viola!, you're done. You can top with fruit, honey, nuts or whatever strikes your fancy.

If you're willing to spend a little more time, I would highly recommend steel cut oats. They look like little pellets (like tiny pet food or something) and take rather longer to cook but are well worth the effort. I swear some days it takes 15 minutes and some days it takes 25, but it probably has more to do with what texture I'm looking for that day. As with anything, taste as you go, and it's done when you think it's ready.

Really healthy (and yummy!) breakfast for two

1/2 c steel cut oats
1 c water
scant dash of salt

chopped nuts
sliced fruit (banana is probably my favorite here)

Bring water to boil in a 2.5 - 3 quart saucepan. Add salt. Slowly stir in oats. Reduce heat to a less vigorous boil and stir oats fairly constantly for about 5 minutes, or until you notice them thicken (whichever comes first). Do pay attention; you are at risk for the oats to boil over if you walk away to get something out of the refrigerator.

Reduce heat to medium low or until you have a slow simmer. Let the oats simmer, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes. If the water gets low and you think the oats are still too chewy for your taste, add a little hot water and cook longer. If you think they're spot on but they have too much liquid, serve with a slotted spoon. This really is a matter of taste. I like mine sort of al dente, with some chewy texture left.

Serve in two bowls topped with whatever you'd like. I like to stir in cinnamon, then top with a big dollop of full fat yogurt, sliced banana and then drizzle it with wildflower honey. YUM.

*We are lucky enough to have a source for locally made full fat, raw milk yogurt. A good substitute for this would be (full fat - come on, give it a try) Greek yogurt. Or if you just can't cope with the thought of full fat dairy you could use reduced fat Greek yogurt. But I promise you, it won't be as tasty!

**Heat kills the good bacteria in honey (I assume (but have not researched) that is true for yogurt as well). Honey is a living food. I would advise drizzling it on top of the yogurt if you're using it, not directly on the oatmeal. If you do put it directly in the hot oatmeal, enjoy it anyway...just realize that you're not getting the full benefit of the magic of honey.

Park Burger

For those of you that live in Denver, we have what promises to be an excellent addition to the restaurant scene opening up this week! Park Burger is scheduled to open this Wednesday in the Platt Park neighborhood on the corner of Pearl and Jewell. Jean-Philippe Failyau is not only the proprietor, but a neighborhood resident, and he's serious about bringing tasty burgers to South Denver. His opening adds to the vibrant merchant scene on the Old South Pearl corridor. I'm really looking forward to a (from scratch) veggie burger or maybe buffalo. And don't even get me started on the hand cut french fries!

We're headed to the friends and family pre opening tomorrow night. I'll give you a full report later in the week. Until then, check out the menu and drool...

Mother's Day Brunch Casserole

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and like so many holidays in my family, we center activities on special days around food. My brother had the ingenious idea of bringing brunch/brinner *to* Mom. I volunteered to do the main dish, and also made some (partially whole grain) banana bread to accompany.

I wouldn't ordinarily think of serving eggs in the middle of the afternoon, but I had brunch stuck in my head, so that's just what happened. I have several good breakfast cookbooks (though some would be a little to 'earthy' for some folks' taste!). I turn to them for recipes or just inspiration when I'm responsible for part of meal. Two books came into play when I was browsing for ideas.

Gale Gand's Brunch was recommended on someones food blog recently (can't remember whose!), and I've been pouring over its interesting, innovative and elegant recipes in recent weeks. While I didn't use it for yesterday's meal, I would highly recommend taking a look at it, especially if you're having a more intimate gathering where you do not have to cook for a large number of people.

I did however use a recipe from the Big Book of Breakfast (a wonderful gift from my sister in law, Kathy) to jump off into my own creation. Here's what I ended up with:

Mother's Day Brunch Casserole

12 large eggs (preferably cage free, humanely raised)
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1 1/4 c milk (skim is fine)
1.5 c cheddar cheese
1.5 c jack or blend

12 oz bulk Italian sausage (you may use pork or chicken; I used pork here. Again, preferably humanely raised)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (button or cremini)
14 oz asparagus (please leave this out if it's not in season! Use something else that *is* in season.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 baking pan. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and begin to brown the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon. After about 5 minutes, add the mushroom and saute for a further 5 minutes. If using asparagus, add and saute for a final 3-4 minutes. Sausage should no longer be pink. (If using another vegetable, add earlier or later depending on how long it needs to cook to become somewhat tender). Pour the sausage mixture into the prepared baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk your 12 eggs. In a measuring cup, add a splash of the milk (about 1/4 cup) and your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and mustard powder), and whisk to remove lumps as best possible. Add the remainder of the milk to the measuring cup, then add the contents of the measuring cup to the eggs and whisk vigorously to blend. Add 1/2 of the cheeses to the egg mixture and whisk to mix. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture in the baking pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese*. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a green salad and some fresh fruit.

Serves 8 hungry people.

*You may reduce the cheese a bit if you would like. It won't suffer terribly if you leave out 1/2 -3/4 cup to save a few calories.

I left our Mother's Day celebration without any leftovers. There were 8 of us. My favorite thing is to leave empty handed!

Green Posole Soup

One of my favorite go-to meals on a cold night is Green Posole Soup, a recipe by Sarah Moulton that I tweak to suit my mood. It's mind numbingly easy, and it requires little in the way of preparation and even less in the way of shopping. Hopefully, you generally have the basics in your pantry.

Green Posole Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
Large pinch red pepper flakes (if you like heat)
1 medium white or yellow onion
1c green (tomatillo) salsa
6c chicken broth + 2c reserved in case you prefer a more liquid soup
1 cooked rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded, bones discarded or saved to use for stock
1 28oz can hominy (found in the 'Mexican' section of almost any supermarket), drained and rinsed


Diced radishes
Minced cilantro
Sliced avocado
Sliced green onion
Halved cherry tomatoes
Shredded cheese
Whatever your imagination comes up with, as long as it's in season and not shipped to your local store from Tierra del Fuego

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large (5q) soup pot/dutch oven. When hot, add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatillo salsa and pepper flakes and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add shredded chicken and hominy and simmer another 10-15 minutes to heat through and to allow the flavors to meld. Add more stock if the soup is too thick for your liking. Serve up in big bowls and garnish to your heart's desire. (Though I must add it's still delicious without any garnishes at all). Serve with a warm tortilla. Slurp away!

Serves 4

Note: I usually roast or grill a whole chicken the night before for dinner. The Mr. and I each have a portion for dinner and then after it cools, I remove and shred the remaining meat to use in the soup. In other words, use what you have. If you have leftover cooked chicken breasts or thighs or whatever, use them in here. You don't have to have a whole chicken, but adjust or bulk out the soup accordingly.

Cookbook note

A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends
A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends by Jack Bishop

My review

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

At least one dinner this week will come from this book. Probably a red curry spring vegetable stir fry. The cookbook is arranged seasonally, which I'm always a big fan of. The spring section is perhaps the least inspiring to me (though I couldn't pinpoint why), but there are a few really good recipes in there (roasted asparagus with egg on feta toast - yum!). Overall this is a really good cook book (though not as good as Vegetables Every Day). Recipes are fairly easy, use fresh, seasonal ingredients and can serve as inspiration for your own modifications.

View all of my reviews...