I can count the number of times I remember eating spaghetti squash on two fingers. That's right: two.

1) I was in San Francisco with a friend and we ate a late lunch/early dinner at Pizzeria Delfina (a restaurant that I also blogged about here). We ordered pizza (of course), but we also ordered a spaghetti squash/red pepper flake/pancetta mixture. It was perfection, actually: a light lemony salad that had enough pancetta to seem just slightly decadent.

2) Tonight: I had purchased a spaghetti squash a few weeks ago that I finally tonight decided to use. I microwaved half of it in a glass pan with water, covered with plastic wrap. After 8 minutes, I let it sit a bit while I grated asiago cheese. I shredded the squash with a fork, put the asiago cheese on top, and added red pepper flakes, salt, capers, sliced grape tomatoes, and sliced kalamata olives. I loved it. I'll definitely be making this again.

The summer of eating healthy continues. I'm trying to eat a lot more fruit and vegetables--and I am loving so many different kinds of foods. I love that I live in a place that produces so much good produce.

Recently, I bought a new cookbook with a gift card that someone gave me: Sara Forte's The Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl + Spoon. Check out the link and you'll find inspiration (and recipes) for some really good food. I decided to try a recipe tonight which I chose by assessing which recipe I could make using ingredients that I already had. I did have to go out and buy some basil, but other than that, I had everything in my pantry. I chose the recipe for "Double-Pesto Zucchini Noodles."

I loved this dish. It was so beautifully green and the pesto added enough richness that the dish seemed indulgent. I basically made a single serving of the zucchini, but made extra pesto to use in the next few days. I think I might have to buy another zucchini tomorrow so I can do a repeat! Here's the recipe, mostly following the instructions in the book (with a few notes on how I diverged from the recipe).

Double-Pesto Zucchini Noodles

**

5 large zucchini (I only used one zucchini so I scaled everything back except the pesto since I know I can use it in so many ways)

Sea salt

**

Pesto:

1 large clove garlic

1/4 c. toasted pine nuts

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 t. sea salt

1/4 t. black pepper

2 c. firmly packed basil (I think I only had about a cup, so I used a little less of the other ingredients)

1/2 c. olive oil

1/3 c. grated Parmesan

**

1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes, stems attached (I detached mine since I was using the toaster oven to roast them)

2 T. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 c. white beans, rinsed and drained

Freshly ground pepper

1/3 c. toasted pine nuts

1 c. basil julienned

3/4 c. shaved parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the zucchini into thin strips (the recipe suggests using a julienne peeler, but I don't have one so I used a knife). Place the zucchini onto paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt--and let them sit for 20 minutes, then blot and get rid of as much of the water as you can (but do so gently!).

While the zucchini sweats, make the pesto. Place the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend.

Rub the tomatoes with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and then roast in the pre-heated oven until they begin to get soft. For me, this took a little over 15 minutes since my tomatoes were large.

In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute. Add white beans, salt and pepper, and saute until the beans are warm. Add the zucchini and saute for ONLY another 5-6 minutes. Toss the zucchini "noodles" with 1/3 c. of the pesto, pine nuts, julienned basil, and parmesan. Make sure to add a tomato on the side of the dish.

The recipe suggests adding red pepper flakes and lemon zest, but I totally missed this step and the dish was still delicious.

1

Recently, I read a New York Times article about the composed salad, in French, the "salade composee." Something about this concept intrigued me, so Monday I bought a lot of beautiful, fresh, organic vegetables and made my first composed salad. It was the perfect summer meal: so fresh and delicious.

Yesterday, I was going to lunch at a friend's house and decided to bring my second composed salad. Another friend had just given me a lovely dish to put it in. Here's a photo:

Although one can put anything in this salad, here's what mine contained:

Grape tomatoes, sliced in half

Cucumbers, peeled, halved, and seeded

Shredded carrots

Breakfast radishes, sliced thinly

Arugula sprouts

Capers

Shallots (diced)

A mix of feta and various olives

I sprinkled it with an Oliviers and Company herb/salt mix, squeezed lemon on top and drizzled with good olive oil.

I can imagine so many other ingredients to put in it: tuna or smoked trout, red peppers, peas, fava beans, lentils. This is such a versatile salad, one that I'm sure I'll eat repeatedly throughout the summer!

I'm not sure why, but when I was first introduced to a recipe involving salmon and cream, it seemed like an unlikely pairing. I have since discovered how wrong I am, so I'd like to share two recipes that are meant to be served with pasta.

Fresh Salmon and Cream (thanks to Grete who introduced me to this combination):

Saute some onion in a skillet until soft. Add some fresh salmon, breaking it into small pieces as you cook it. When the salmon is cooked through, add some half and half (or cream, if you'd rather). Cook it down a bit and then add a tablespoon or two of pesto. Simmer until the pesto integrates with the cream. Serve on any kind of pasta (I like it with rotelli).

Fettucini with Smoked Salmon (thanks to LaReesa for this recipe, which I made tonight).

12 oz. fresh fettucini, or 6 oz. dried

1 T. butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

4 oz. white mushrooms, thinly sliced

3/4 c. heavy whipping cream ( I used half and half and cooked a little longer)

3 oz. smoked salmon, coarsely chopped

salt and pepper

2 T. freshly grated Parmesan

chopped fresh parsley

Cook fettucini as per the instructions on the package. Meanwhile, heat medium skillet over medium high heat and add butter to coat pan. When butter stops sizzling, add shallots and mushrooms. Cook stirring continuously until mushrooms soften, about 3 minutes. Add cream and smoked salmon and stir until the liquid reduces by half, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat.

Toss noodles with sauce. Top with parmesan and parsley.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I have a crush on the small Kerr jars used for canning (the cursive writing on the side, the diminutive size, the satisfying seal of the lids?). It all started when I bought some quince jam at the Farmer's Market. I loved the Kerr jar it came in which, once empty, was perfect for homemade vinaigrettes.

Recently, I lost the jar. I thought I'd just go get some more jam, but then I saw a recipe for pickled veggies that I couldn't get out of my head. I couldn't help it, I had to buy a box of the Kerr bottles--and, last weekend, I sliced beets, carrots, and jalepenos and brined them.

I now have a crush on the beautiful colors in these jars. And tonight for my SJVWP meeting, I served spring greens with goat cheese as a side salad--and allowed my guests to add whichever veggies they wanted. Esther and Karen were ideal diners, since they both come from cultures (Dutch and Swedish) that value the pickled veggie.

I sent them home with a bottle of pickled beets, even though Esther confessed that I'd left my original jar at her house.

Pickled Veggies (adapted from Sunset magazine)

3 c. white vinegar

1 1/2 c. rice vinegar

1 c. plus 2 T. sugar

3 beets

6 jalapenos

2 carrots

Whisk vinegars, sugar, and salt in a bowl with 3 c. water until sugar dissolves. Slice vegetables into very thin slices. Put the veggies in jars, gently tamping them down and cover with brine. Chill, covered, at least one day.

The other night, my mom asked if I wanted a homemade gingersnap. I kind of sniffed at the idea, especially when she told me that they were frozen. But then, she took one out of the container and bit into it--and suddenly, I remembered these gingersnaps from when I was a kid. I remember making the recipe and how satisfying it was to roll the dough into balls, coat them in sugar, and then bake them in the oven. The other night, I had my first gingersnap in years--and it was chewy, spicy, and rich. I even loved them straight out of the icebox.

In the spirit of the season, then, I give to you this recipe which came off a "C&H pure cane sugar" cardboard box at one point. Enjoy!

C&H Gingersnaps
¾ c. soft shortening
1 c. C&H Golden Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1 egg, unbeaten
¼ c. molasses
2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
¼ t. salt
2 t. soda
1 t. EACH ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves

Combine shortening, sugar, and egg in mixing bowl, beat until fluffy. Add molasses and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together and add, mix well. Chill dough thoroughly; shape into 1” balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place 2” apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen “crinkle-top” cookies.

A few months ago, I was in Berkeley to meet some friends at Jupiter. I arrived a little early, so I walked down to Pegasus, a bookstore I love, to kill some time browsing. I collect cookbooks, so after looking at some of the new books, I moved to that section and found a gem. In fact, this may be the perfect cookbook: Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi. It has a gorgeous cover (check my link to Amazon) with a picture of roasted eggplant with pomegranate seeds--and the interior is filled with beautiful, imaginative recipes for vegetable dishes. Although I'm not vegetarian, I tend to cook vegetarian food at home. But I'm also bored by many of the vegetarian cookbooks I own, which is why Plenty was such a great find. I love that the recipes combine ingredients in interesting and innovative ways--and that they include "exotic" spices and herbs. I also find just about every picture appealing; I turn each page and think "Oh, I want to make THAT!"

Picture from the book
Picture from Plenty

Today I cooked a dish adapted from the cookbook: Puy Lentil Galettes. I left out the galette part and only prepared the lentils. The result was a fresh tasting, slightly (surprisingly) sweet, and healthy dish. I highly recommend it. Here's the recipe:

Puy Lentils (adapted from Plenty)

Ingredients:

1 c. puy lentils

2 bay leaves (mine were quite small so I used four)

1 t. cumin

1 t. coriander

4 T. olive oil

1 medium onion (roughly chopped)

2 large garlic cloves (minced)

3/4 c. Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)

2 c. baby spinach leaves

3 T. chopped cilantro

2 T. chopped mint

juice of 1 lemon

salt and black pepper to taste

1. Cook the lentils in a quart of boiling water with the bay leaves for 20 to 30 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil and fry the onion for 6 to 8 minutes until golden and very soft. Add the cumin, coriander, and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add to the lentils and cool.

3. Add the yogurt, spinach, herbs, and lemon juice to the lentils. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

1

The temperatures are plunging, rain is softly pinging my roof, dusk came early thanks to daylight savings time, and today I decided to make soup. Not just any soup, but lime and chicken soup which translated the liminality of the day into the flavors of summer and fall. Bad picture, good soup.

Tortilla and Lime Soup (based on a recipe by the wonderful Joyce Goldstein)

Poach and shred a chicken breast. Then set aside.

Saute 1/3 diced onion for about 8 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon canned green chiles. Saute for about 2 minutes, then, add 2 c. of chicken stock, 1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons minced green onions, 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes to blend the flavors, then add the shredded chicken. Cook for another few minutes.

Meanwhile, tear a small corn tortilla into strips and fry until golden brown. Put a half of an avocado cut into smaller pieces into the bottom of a bowl. Pour the hot soup over it and top with the tortilla pieces.

Serves one. Perfect for a stormy day.

1

Time for a food blog entry! A lot of Fresnans love Don Pepe Taqueria. I went there many years ago--don't remember what I had, but I really didn't like it, so I hadn't been back, in spite of everyone's rave reviews. A few weeks ago, I decided to give it another try.

I'm so glad I did. The fish taco I ordered was really good: soft white fish, shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and crema. It was big and flavorful.

I'll be returning to Don Pepe!

In addition to another great fish taco at Las Barcas in Huntington Beach, CA, I also recently prepared fish at home. I have a great tapas cookbook by Joyce Goldstein which features an unusual fish recipe, white fish and pine nuts. I noticed it a few weeks back and decided to try it. Again, so glad I did. The fish was perfectly cooked, and the tomatoes and peas in the sauce complemented the fish well. This is a recipe that I'll be making again.

Actually, you should try the recipe, too. Here it is (with the adaptations I made because I didn't have everything the recipe called for).

Fish in Pine Nut Sauce (Merluza en Salsa de Pinones)

1/4 c. pine nuts
2 T. olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 T. finely minced garlic
1/8 c. bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 c. dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Nice piece of white fish fillet (enough for 2 servings)
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/8 c. chopped parsley

Toast pine nuts (8 minutes at 350 degree farenheit)

In a frying pan, heat 1 T. oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic, 1/2 of the pine nuts, bread crumbs, stirring often for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cooking wine and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat.

In another frying pan, heat 1 T. oil over medium heat. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side. Pour the sauce over the fish, add the peas, and simmer until the fish is opaque throughout, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with pine nuts and parsley. Serve at once.

I've tried a number of recipes from this cookbook--Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain--and have loved them all. Make this recipe AND buy the cookbook!

Don Pepe
4582 N Blackstone Ave
Fresno, CA 93726
(559) 224-1431


Recently, I made a quick trip to New York City, a city I love and a city I love to eat in. One evening, I had vouchers to see A Winter's Tale at Shakespeare in the Park. I traded my vouchers for tickets, sat in the park awhile, and then decided it was time for dinner.

I have a lot of favorite restaurants in New York, but none are on the Upper West side, so I used the Yelp application on my iPhone to explore nearby eateries. One looked especially intriguing to me: Kefi (which, according to the restaurant website, means "bliss" in Greek). It was relatively close, so I dashed through the rain that began en route and took shelter in a bright, inviting restaurant. There were many, many things that looked interesting on the menu, but one thing in particular sounded so appealing: sheep's milk dumplings with tomatoes, pine nuts, and spicy lamb sausage. I don't really eat lamb, but I decided to go outside my comfort zone and try this dish out.

I was so glad I did. The dumplings were so smooth and delicious which counteracted the delicious sausage's spiciness. And the pine nuts were an enjoyable addition to the meal. I think the dish also had spinach in it--which added a pleasing flavor. I ate every bit of this dinner; it was so delicious I couldn't stop myself. I so recommend this charming restaurant.

P.S. Just found a recipe for this dish:

Sheep's Milk Dumplings with Tomato, Pine Nuts, and Spicy Lamb Sausage

Yield: 6 people

Ingredients for Gnudi:

1 lb of sheep's milk ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp of salt
Pinch of white pepper
1/3 cup of pecorino Romano
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, salt, pepper and pecorino and mix well with a spatula. Beat egg and add to ricotta, folding in well. Sprinkle a third of the flour onto a clean, flat working station. Transfer ricotta onto flour. Begin to incorporate flour until it pulls from the surface. Let rest for 10 to 15 min. Cut into 4 equal parts. Dust the station with flour and begin to roll into logs ½ inch in diameter. Using knife, cut logs into ½ inch long dumplings. Transfer to a tray lined with parchment paper, dusted with flour. Continue until all dumplings are complete. You can freeze dumplings for 3 to 4 days. Wrap in plastic on the tray spaced far enough apart so air can flow in between.

Ingredients for the Sauce:

1 lb. Loukanika Greek sausage (Sweet or hot Italian sausage can substitute)
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 shallot chopped
3 Tb. Extra Virgin Olive Oil + 1 teaspoon
1 Cup tomato sauce
1/2 Cup chicken stock
4 oz. triple-washed fresh spinach, shopped
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 Cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 Cup sliced sundried tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil

Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat brown the sausage lightly in the olive oil. Add garlic and brown lightly, then the shallots. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock and add the tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes and the spinach. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the gnudi for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked gnudi to the pan of sauce, season with salt and pepper, and toss. Plate the dish, sprinkle with crumbled feta, drizzle with one teaspoon of olive oil, sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

Kefi
505 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY
212-873-0200