Category Archives: cooking

Stuffed tomatoes

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I love this time of year. It’s usually when our backyard garden is at it’s peak, and my menu planning is guided by a Sunday afternoon harvest. We had a late and rocky start to planting this year due to some unexpected SDGE projects in our yard, and I was worried that we wouldn’t have the success we’ve had in previous summers. Thankfully we’ve got a very powerful “volunteer” tomato that sprouted and has completely taken over a corner. It’s been giving us a handful of tomatoes every week, and this week we got an abundance!

I saw a video online recently for stuffed tomatoes, and was reminded of making stuffed tomatoes in a cooking class in Italy during my study abroad program in 2005. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my hands on that recipe, but between perusing The Silver Spoon and a few online recipes, here’s what we landed on: Plump hollowed out tomatoes stuffed with zucchini, rice, tomatoes and herbs, surrounded by diced tomatoes.

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Stuffed Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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7 tomatoes
1/2 yellow onionIMG_2635 3 garlic cloves
1 zucchini
1/4 cup cooked rice
1/2 lemon
2 small yukon gold potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese optional for finishing
an abundance of italian herbs. I used rosemary, oregano, thyme and basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the tops off of the tomatoes and reserve. Using a spoon, hollow out the inside of the tomato, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. If desired, turn the tomatoes upside down and let them drain. I’m not entirely sure of the benefits of this, but I do feel like the sides of my tomatoes held up a bit better. Pulse onion, garlic, 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch salt in a food processor or blender, and dump into a large bowl. Separate tomato flesh chunks from the juice and pulse in the food processor, add to large bowl. Shred zucchini in food processor or with a grater, and add to large bowl. Add rice, lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and chopped herbs to everything in the large bowl. Place the tomatoes into an oiled baking dish. Using a fork to slightly drain the mixture, stuff the hollowed out tomatoes with the zucchini rice mixture.

Dice up the potatoes and toss with salt, pepper, olive oil and herbs. Stuff potatoes all around tomatoes. Pour the remaining tomato juice and any juices from the stuffing mixture over the potatoes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 385 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes. If desired, finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese before the last 5 minutes of baking.

Serve with a small green salad and some crusty bread, and a nice glass of red wine. Bon appetit!

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Fava beans

IMG_2049Fava beans are in season! I don’t know why I love these so much as they are a bit of a pain to deal with. But the end result is so worth it. So fresh and creamy, tastes just like spring should.

We have tried to grow fava beans in our garden, but have only had one successful season. This year we have ONE bean pod growing so far…image

Thankfully these were in my CSA box this past week.

IMG_2051First you peel off the tough outer pods, and get big beans inside. Boil these for about 7-10 minutes, depending on if you are planning on cooking them additionally later, and how soft you want them to be. For me, 8 minutes was long enough to soften them up, but they still had a nice al dente bite to them. Let them cool, and peel away the waxy light green covering.

IMG_2052You end up with this beautiful bowl of favas. I like to keep things simple so that you can still taste them.

IMG_2054I tossed these with a lemon olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh mint, and salt and pepper. At this point you can eat them as is, mash them up a bit to spread on toast, toss with pasta, you name it!

IMG_2055I added some cooked farro, and mixed the whole thing together for a satisfying side dish. This dish is good warm or cold.

Enjoy!

Fava Bean and Farro Salad

  • Servings: 4 as a side
  • Difficulty: Medium
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INGREDIENTS
1 bunch fava beans, approximately 16 pods
2 Tb lemon olive oil, or regular extra virgin olive oil will work well too
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup cooked farro
2 Tb chopped mint
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Peel all of the fava beans out of their pods. Boil the beans for 7-10 minutes, let cool, and peel off the waxy coating. Toss shelled fava beans with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, mint and farro. Serve warm or cold.

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Belgian Waffles

IMG_2038One of our favorite weekend traditions is to have one sleep in day, with a fancy breakfast, home made lattes, and lounge on the couch for an episode of Scandal while we enjoy. A top contender for lazy Sunday breakfast is Belgian Waffles. Our favorite recipe is actually a make ahead yeasted waffle recipe from Ina Garten that I hope to share later, but alas we aren’t always that prepared. This past weekend we tried Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Belgian Waffles and loved it. You separate the eggs and beat the whites, which really helps to make the batter light and fluffy. A few tips: melt your butter ahead of time and let it cool, and let the eggs and milk come to room temperature. This will help when adding the butter to your liquids if everything is closer to the same temperature.

IMG_2042What are some of your favorite lazy, loungey weekend breakfast recipes?

Belgian Waffles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Recipe from Emeril Lagasse

INGREDIENTS
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups milk
non-stick cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In 1 medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl use the wooden spoon to beat together the egg yolks and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved and eggs have turned a pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract, melted butter, and milk to the eggs and whisk to combine. Combine the liquid mixture with the flour mixture and whisk just until blended. Do not over mix. In third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Do not overmix! Coat the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour enough batter in iron to just cover waffle grid. Close and cook as per manufacturer’s instructions until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Oven Roasted Salmon over Pasta with Greens

imageA quick and easy weeknight dinner that has a little bit of carby goodness to keep you warm at night, but can easily transition to a light summer meal. Perfect for this time of year.

Also, we’ve got swiss chard growing so happily in the yard that we’ve got to incorporate it into every meal :). Feel free to sub any kind of green.

Oven Roasted Salmon over Pasta with Greens

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS
2 fillets of salmon
1 lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and chopped
2 servings of pasta
Parmesan cheese to taste
2 Tb prepared pesto

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Add the salmon, and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice a 1/2 a lemon and layer slices over the salmon. Roast in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, turn the oven to the BROIL setting and broil for 2 additional minutes.

While the salmon is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until almost al dente, about 7 minutes. Add the swiss chard and boil for one more minute. Scoop out 1/2 c of cooking water, and drain pasta and chard. Return to the pot.

Mix the 1/c of cooking water with 2 Tb of prepared pesto, and add to the pot of pasta and greens. Add the juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon. Stir to mix well.

Plate up pasta and greens and top with a fair amount of grated parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Plate your salmon on top and enjoy!

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Pickled Radishes

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Our garden is very happy lately. A little bit of rain, a little bit of sunshine…  We ended up with a ton of radishes that needed to be pulled right before heading out of town. We figured the best way to keep them fresh was to pickle them. Pickled radishes are so good on salads, tacos, sauteed cabbage…and so much more.

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Super easy: slice the radishes thinly and fill a mason jar.

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Add desired seasonings.

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Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil, and pour over radishes.

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Let cool, cover and store in your fridge.  You could use this bring with a variety of thinly sliced vegetables (I’m thinking carrots, cauliflower) and experiment with the spices to see what you like best.

Pickled Radishes

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS
1 large bunch of radishes, thinly sliced
1 pinches of red pepper flakes
1 tsp mustard seed
whole peppercorns
4 garlic cloves, sliced
6 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 c white vinegar
1 1/2 c water
4 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine radishes and seasonings in a jar. Bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil and pour over radishes. Let cool before storing in your fridge. These should last about a month in your fridge (if you can keep from eating them all before then!).

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Ribs!

IMG_0821One of our favorite things to do on a weekend is have a “cooking project day.” This past weekend a Sunday with no plans, and a ribs on sale at the market led to a rib-centered cooking project day. It was perfect to play around with a spice rub, slow cook the ribs while we did some garden projects, and enjoy a tasty meal in our clean backyard.
IMG_6488We’ve done dry rubbed ribs in the oven once before, and this time set out to actually document what went in the dry rub. We looked at a few different recipes, and went off of a tiny jar of the last batch we made, tasting and adjusting along the way. Most important is to find your preferred balance between sweet (brown sugar), spicy and salty. The rub was so good I couldn’t help but sneak little tastes along the way. IMG_6497Rub up those ribs, covering every available inch of space in spices. IMG_6521Slow roast in a 250 degree oven for two and a half hours while you go about your at home projects, baste with a “mop” sauce and roast for another half hour at 300 degrees. Finish off with a broil at the end to crisp up the crust. IMG_6528The mop sauce we made was a bit too tart for my taste, so we added some of the juices from the ribs and the rest of the spice rub, and simmered it down into a tasty sauce.IMG_6530

AMAZING!

Dry Rubbed Oven Roasted Ribs

  • Servings: 2 half racks
  • Difficulty: Medium
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DRY RUB
(for two half rack baby back ribs)
2 Tb brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp smoked salt

2 half rack baby back ribs

MOP SAUCE
3 Tb Mustard (or 2 TB dry mustard and 3 TB water if you find yourself out of yellow mustard like myself)
12 Tb apple cider vinegar
1 Tb honey

Take the ribs out of the fridge and mix all of the dry rub ingredients together. Rub the ribs all over with the dry rub. Pack as much on as you can, and don’t forget about the sides. Do this part early in the day so the flavors have a chance to permeate the meat. Wrap the ribs in foil, and put them back in the fridge until you are ready to start slow roasting them. Place the foil wrapped ribs on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 250 degrees for approximately two and a half hours. Meanwhile mix together the ingredients for the mop sauce and set aside.
After two and a half hours, take the ribs out of the oven. Collect the juices from the meat to simmer down into a sauce. Baste the ribs, bone side up, with the mop sauce and put back into the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Baste the ribs again, meat side up with the mop sauce and put back into the oven HOW LONG. Baste the ribs again and broil about 5 minutes on each side to crisp them up.

Boil 1/3 c of the mop sauce with the juice from the ribs, and any left over spice rub to make a delicious sauce.

And, if your interested, some pics of the garden after a day of planting:IMG_0815 IMG_0823

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Cranberry Orange Cardamom Scones

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Recently my in-laws gifted us with more oranges than we could possibly eat before they go bad.IMG_0276

Since we actually had a Sunday with no morning plans, I decided to look to my favorite scone recipe and make use of some of this citrus. Tyler Florence’s recipe for Blueberry Scones has become my go to recipe for making light and flaky scones. I’ve tried a few different fruit varieties to great success. 

I ground whole cardamom pods because I had them in my pantry. You could also use pre-ground cardamom. Of course, fresh ground spices are always a little stronger.

The dough is pretty gooey, so be sure to flour your work station before you pat it out into a rectangle, 1-1/4 in high. You could also use biscuit cutters if you want round scones.IMG_6174Cut in half, half again, and into triangles. 8-16 depending on how big you want your scones. This time around I cut 16 so that I would have some leftovers to share with my coworkers. IMG_6175

Orange Cranberry Cardamom Scones

  • Servings: 8-16
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen “Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze”

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work surface and your fruit
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold, grated
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp cardamom

Preheat the oven to 4oo degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom and sugar. Using a standard cheese grater, grate the very cold butter into the flour mixture. (Check out Kitchen Konfidence to see where I got this great idea). The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not over work the dough. Toss the chopped cranberries with some flour to help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the scone when baked; then fold them into the batter.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 x 3 x 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in half; then cut the pieces in half again, giving you four 3-inch squares. Cut the squares in half on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. You can also cut these in half again if you want smaller scones.

Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until beautifully browned. Let the scones cool.

These are delicious served with a honey whipped butter or an orange marmalade, or a pomegranate jam. Make use of some seasonal citrus and enjoy these with a nice cup of coffee this weekend.

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