Archive for July, 2010

Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad

The finished salad without the preserved lemons since those made it on at the last-minute and the walnuts since we burnt them

Whenever we travel to Chicago for either Flatstock or the Renegade Craft Fairs, we are lucky enough to stay with our good friends Jason (of Delicious Design League), his lovely wife Margaux and their adorable 18-month old son, Desmond. They are always so incredibly gracious and welcoming to us and staying with them makes being on the road not so uncomfortable. Margaux always cooks or bakes for us, which is one of my favorite parts of our visit. I absolutely love traveling, but being away from my kitchen and home-cooked food is hard, especially since we spend so much time working when we travel, that we rarely get to go out and experience nice restaurants fit for a foodie, so it ends up being a lot of fast eating and festival food. That part of traveling exhausts me.

This trip, since Margaux and I both recently started our own cooking blogs, we decided to make something together, along with our good friend Anne, and post about it on our blogs. Check out Margaux’s blog,  Sweet and Savory Kitchens, that she keeps with her Aunt Suzy. I love the way they post and comment on each other’s recipes or take inspiration from each other’s dishes and create their own.

Margaux had made some preserved lemons, when the Meyer lemons were in season this year and has been experimenting with a lot of different Moroccan dishes using them. She really wanted to make a Moroccan inspired dinner for us and I was all for it since I had never cooked Moroccan food. The dish we were both most excited about was this Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad which features the preserved lemons (which coincidentally, we almost forgot at the end). Since Meyer lemons are no longer in season, you could purchase premade preserved lemons from the store, make preserved lemons with regular lemons or you can skip them all together in this salad and it would still be great. Either way, you must try preserved lemons if you never have, they are incredible and bring a level of fresh and tangy flavor that I have never tasted before. I definitely plan on making some preserved lemons next year when they are in season. I can’t wait.

With this Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad, we also made a simple Oven Baked Chicken, which Margaux marinated beforehand with some delicious Moroccan inspired spices. As an additional side we made Margaux’s house staple, Green Rice, which I loved so much that I made it the first day we were home (look for a blog post about that soon).

Being with good friends and/or family, sharing food, cooking and spending time in the kitchen is most definitely one of my favorite things in the world and I cherish those memories and hold them close to my heart. I have memories from being a child and cooking with good friends of the family, with my Yia Yia, my Dad and so many other people whom I love. Those moments, whether you realize it at the time or not, have so much emotion attached to them that you can smell or taste something years later, that you cooked with someone you love and those memories just come flooding back. Preserved lemons will definitely do that for me and always remind me of Margaux and this dinner.
Check out Marguax’s post about this dinner here.

Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad

The Beets

Me cutting the beets for the Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad

Me, cutting the beets, which by the way really leave your hands stained

Beets for the Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad

1 lb. beets
olive oil

Wash beets, pat dry, peel and cut into wedges. Place in a baking dish and lightly coat with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake 45-60 minutes in a 375 degree oven until done. Cool and set aside. The original recipe called for baking the beets whole with the skin on, slipping it off after they come out and cutting them into wedges then. We decided it seemed easier to peel and cut them first.

The Walnuts

Walnuts for the Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad

the walnuts, before they were burnt

1/2 cup walnut halves
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp walnut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together and place on a baking sheet. Toast in the 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes (keep a close eye on them after 5 minutes!!! (We had them on the bottom rack in with the beets and I was in charge of watching them. I definitely burnt them and we didn’t have extra, so had to go without in the salad). Cool. Chop coarsely and set aside.

The Dressing

5 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Whisk together.

Final Assembly


we ended up with blood oranges, which we didn’t know until we cut into them, but they were delicious and so beautiful

2 navel oranges
1/4 preserved lemon, diced (optional)
1 head romaine lettuce

Prepare the oranges by cutting off the top and bottom. Cut off the skins with a knife so that no white pith remains. Then cut into sections. Wash the lettuce and either tear or cut into pieces. Dry. Toss the lettuce with half the dressing and place on a platter. Toss the beets with the remainder of the dressing and place on top of the lettuce. Garnish with the orange sections, preserved lemon and walnuts.


Margaux and Anne in the kitchen


Desi being cute.


The spread

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Penne with Deconstructed Zucchini Pistou

I came across a recipe recently for a classic Provencial dish, Penne with Zucchini Pistou, and I couldn’t wait to use the zucchini from our garden and make it. I had planned on making this dish last night after we got home from a long day at the studio, but I was so exhausted from all the late nights of work and travel. So, I instead decided I would simplify the dish and deconstruct all the bold flavors from the South of France that were featured in the original recipe and make it my way.

Pistou is to the French what pesto is to Italians, and I really love pesto, so I knew this recipe was a win. The only major thing missing from my recipe that was in the original was 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, which is also part of the reason I decided to change the recipe up. Since we didn’t have any on hand and I didn’t feel like hitting the grocery store, I decided to skip it. I, of course, made this with gluten-free pasta and I served it with a beautiful green salad, made completely from our garden. This was the first salad of the season and it made me so incredibly happy.

This is a fantastic vegetarian entree or would make a lovely side dish as well. I can’t wait to make it again from the original recipe, heavy cream and all! Yum. Oh and if you are even thinking about leaving the toasted pine nuts out, or skipping the toasting step, you are CRAZY! Those toasted pine nuts make this dish!!

Penne with Deconstructed Zucchini Pistou

Penne with Deconstructed Zucchini Pistou

Penne with Deconstructed Zucchini Pistou
serves 4

8 ounces uncooked organic brown rice penne pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Boil water with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in a large sauce pan over high heat, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain over a bowl and reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid, rinse pasta in hot water, drain. Leave in colander.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add pine nuts and toast until golden brown, tossing often so they don’t burn. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

In the same large skillet heat 2 teaspoons of oil, over medium-high heat. Add 2 cloves garlic and zucchini to pan, saute 5-10 minutes until tender and golden. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large serving bowl, add the pasta, zucchini, pine nuts, chopped basil, the last 2 cloves of minced garlic and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and mix. Add the cheese to the pasta mixture and slowly add the reserved liquid as needed to coat the pasta and make it creamy. Toss again, salt and pepper to taste and top with a bit more shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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Toasted Spicy Almonds

Sorry for the lack of posts – we have been very busy over here. We were in Chicago this past weekend for the Pitchfork Music Festival and Flatstock 26 and before that we were busting our butts designing and printed, getting ready for the festival. I have still been cooking, but pulling out the camera, trying out new recipes, etc., gets put on hold when life gets this crazy. Before we left town I did get a chance to make this delicious snack to munch on in the car on the road trip to Chicago.  I know most of the reason I crave salty snacks in the car is due to boredom, but I have accepted that and I am happy to enjoy not having a mountain of work and a long to-do list, and to sit back watch the road and enjoy my hubby’s company. Rather than salty processed potato chips from a random gas station, I thought that these would be the perfect alternative. We also packed up some of the gluten-free blueberry muffins that I had previously made and froze and some chipotle hummus with sliced cucumbers from our garden. No reason to hit a drive-thru for lunch or to eat junk!

These almonds were so satisfying and easy to make. I started with roasted almonds since that is what I had on hand, but you could also start with raw almonds, and just toast them even longer. Mark and I both really love spicy food, so you can adjust the peppers accordingly. I used a premade salt-free Black and Red Spice mix from Penzeys, that was a mix of Tellicherry black pepper and hot cayenne red pepper.

We leave again in less than one week for San Francisco for the Renegade Craft Fair, then we are back home for a bit. Hoping to be able to cook a bunch and really use all the goodies we’re getting from the garden.

Toasted Spicy Almonds

1 tablespoon organic butter
8 ounces organic roasted almonds, unsalted
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Slowly melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the nuts, peppers and salt. Toss with a rubber spatula to coat the nuts and spread them out in the pan in a single layer. Allow the nuts to start to brown a bit, then toss or stir to flip, allow them to continue to toast. This process only takes a few minutes (3-5), remove the pan from the heat when the desired amount of doneness is achieved. Adjust spices and salt to taste. Allow to cool before serving.

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Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes. My mom has always, hands down, made the best mashed potatoes in the world. One of her secrets? She always boils the whole garlic cloves with the potatoes and then leaves them in to get mashed up with the potatoes. And in our family, we don’t scrimp on the garlic, none of this one clove crap, you need at least two and they need to be huge.

I almost didn’t type this recipe up and include it, since to me, everyone knows how to make mashed potatoes and has a recipe. Then I got to thinking about all the mashed potatoes I have tried that weren’t very good. For such a simple dish, it requires a bit of a finesse, so as not to over mash, add too much milk, or undercook the potatoes, etc. I have definitely eaten mashed potatoes whose consistency mirrors that of joint compound that you use on dry wall. (I am not naming any names.)

The potatoes at the farmers market have been abundant, so I decided rather than another potato salad, mashed potatoes would be the perfect way to enjoy them. Since I had the goat cheese on hand, I decided to go with a twist on the classic. The goat cheese gives these chunky garlic smashed potatoes a delicious tangy flavor and the crisp, tasty chives on top is the perfect finish.

Goat Cheese Garlic Smashed Potatoes

serves 4

1 pound baby red potatoes, washed, skins left on
2 large cloves of garlic, whole, peeled
2 ounces goat cheese
1 cup organic milk (whole or skim, whichever you prefer)
1 tablespoon organic butter
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
small bunch of fresh chives

Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan, cover with salted cold water by 1 inch. Simmer, covered, until tender – 15 to 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, return potatoes and garlic back to the saucepan.

Add the butter to the potatoes and garlic and slowly pour the milk in, a little bit at a time. Don’t add it all at once, in the event you don’t need it, otherwise you will have runny potatoes. As you add each bit of milk, mash the potatoes either with a fork, potato masher or electric hand-mixer. Continue adding milk as needed to get your desired consistency. I like my potatoes a bit on the chunky side, though there has to be the perfect balance of chunky and creamy. Crumble the goat cheese into the potatoes and add half of the chopped fresh chives; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with the remaining fresh chopped chives.

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Green Bean and Tomato Salad

This is a very simple, fresh and quick summery salad, perfect side to so many summer dinners. You can serve it room temperature or make it ahead and serve it chilled. Had I had a red onion on hand, I probably would have thinly sliced a bit and included it, but it definitely didn’t need it.

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

serves 8 (approx 1 cup serving each)

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 plus tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges (or 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add green beans; cook 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Drain thoroughly and place in large bowl with tomatoes.

Combine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle over bean mixture, toss gently to coat. Top with freshly ground black pepper.

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Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins with Almond Flour

I’ve never been much of a baker, however once I made the decision to avoid all processed foods entirely, I knew with that choice came the fact that I would have to start experimenting with baking if I wanted to enjoy any baked goods again. Thankfully, there are many lovely gluten-free bloggers that have done a lot of the experimenting part for me and I can play around with their recipes. See for me, the problem with baking is that you can’t wing it the way you can with cooking. If you change a measurement or try a different flour, you can’t taste it as you go and tweak it, you have to completely bake it and wait to see what happens, if it’s wrong there is no fixing it. You either have to suck it up and eat said ‘failed experiment’ or start over.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins with Almond Flour

Last week was the start of blueberry season locally and I came across this recipe while searching around. It sounded and looked so good, that I decided to just go for it and make a double batch. This way we can freeze one batch and take it with us on our road trip to Chicago this upcoming week.

I am so incredibly pleased with these muffins. I believe my exact words when I took the first bite were “HOLY F*CK THESE ARE AMAZING”. Seriously, not only are these the best gluten-free blueberry muffins I have ever had, these may be THE best blueberry muffins I have ever had. They plumped up perfectly, so light and airy. They have a delicious nutty flavor from the almond flour and the blueberries just burst in your mouth. This is the first time I have baked with the almond flour and I am very pleased with it. I can’t wait to try out more stuff.

Karina of Gluten-Free Goddess (who created this recipe), recently adopted being vegan on top of her already gluten-free diet, so her recipe used Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of eggs. Since we have been buying the beautiful organic free-range brown eggs direct from the farmer, we used those instead. If you are vegan, use Karina’s original recipe and make these muffins, you won’t regret it.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins with Almond Flour

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins with Almond Flour

makes a baker’s dozen
adapted from Gluten Free Goddess

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together:

1 1/3 cups almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour)
1 cup sorghum (or brown rice flour, if desired)
1/2 cup tapioca starch or potato starch (not potato flour!)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Beat in:

1 1/3 cups organic light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 organic free-range egg whites (depending on the size, you are looking to get 1/4 cup of liquid), beaten until frothy
1/2 cup warm water, more as needed, up to 3/4 cup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Beat the batter until it is smooth, like a slightly thickened cake batter.

Add in:

1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and patted dry

Stir gently and briefly.

Plop the blueberry muffin batter into the twelve lined cups. You’ll probably have some xtra- for a baker’s dozen.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 23 to 25 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. A wooden pick inserted into the center should emerge clean.

Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Gently pop the muffins out to continue cooling on the rack (don’t cool them in the hot pan- they’ll get soggy).

If your muffins are soggy or slightly underdone– due to unforeseen oven temperature variations– place them back into the warm oven directly on the center rack for five minutes or so.

Wrap and freeze cooled muffins for future breakfast treats or road trips 😉

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins with Almond Flour

Thanks for this lovely recipe Karina, I am forever indebted to you.

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Penne with Pistachio Pesto, White Beans and Arugula
I am not super crazy about this photo, but it was late and I was hungry so I did my best.

OK, so it is fair to say my pasta addiction is probably very obvious by now. It has always been one of my favorites and it is definitely both my go-to quick dinner option and my favorite comfort food. When I learned of my gluten intolerance, the loss of pasta in my life is what scared me most, then I discovered Tinkyada’s rice pastas. They are so amazing!! They are light and tasty. I much prefer them to regular pasta, any day, though I really don’t have much choice. Mark actually really loves rice pasta and always mentions how much lighter it is in your ‘gut’.

We got home late from work last night and we were both very tired from a long day of printing and other projects, so while I was contemplating dinner, Mark pulled a Wegman’s pizza out of the freezer for himself. I had pulled this recipe from a recent issue of Cooking Light and had all of the ingredients for it on hand, since it seemed so easy and quick, I decided to make it. In the time it took the oven to preheat and for the frozen pizza to cook and cool, I had made this pasta dish, served it, photographed it and I was finishing up eating, just about the time Mark was sitting down to eat his pizza. Granted, I produced WAY more of a mess and tons more dishes, but I would say cooking from scratch and eating fresh foods wins again!!

The pesto had an amazing flavor to it from the pistachios and the arugula had that lovely peppery crisp that just added to the creaminess from the beans. I was a bit unsure on the beans, but I thought they were really nice and was glad I decided not to omit them. Admittedly, I don’t usually buy romano cheese, as I tend to go for parmigiano-reggiano every time, but the romano had a stronger taste that went perfectly with these flavors, a bit saltier and sharper. I will definitely be buying more of it for pasta dishes.

Penne with Pistachio Pesto, White Beans and Arugula
serves 4
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, July 2010

8 ounces uncooked organic brown rice penne pasta (any pasta will do)
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup roasted shelled pistachios
6 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can organic great northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups arugula
1/4 cup shredded fresh pecorino Romano cheese

Cook pasta according to package direction. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain.

Combine basil, nuts and garlic in a food process; process until finely chopped.

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add basil mixture, cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in pasta, tomato, and next 3 ingredients (through beans); cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, tossing to combine. Remove from heat. Add arugula to pan, and toss slightly to wilt.

Place about 1 1/4 cups pasta mixture in each of 4 bowls and top each serving with 1 tablespoon of cheese.

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