Bolillos with Soft-Scrambled Eggs & Dill, Asparagus & Tomatoes

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Heat a cast iron pan to medium-high, rise 4 asparagus and cut into thirds. Lay on the bottom of the pan and cook without oil or water until tender, turning so it browns evenly. Slice 8 cherry tomatoes in half and toss in and cook for 2-3 minutes with the asparagus. Remove from the pan, and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Cut two boltllos in half and lay them on the cast iron pan, turning the heat down low. Put a lid on and let them toast. The lid will help them heat all the way through, not just on the toasted side.

In another pan, on medium-low heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter. Meanwhile, beat 3 eggs with 1 tsp of dry dill weed. Do not add salt and pepper. Pour into the melted butter and scramble. This is a soft scramble, which makes a creamy, tender scrambled egg. It’s imperative you add no salt until the eggs are done or they won’t get the creaminess you want. Stir constantly until the eggs are cooked to a creamy consistency. Then add some salt and pepper.

Remove the now toasted bolillos, spread the eggs on the pieces, then place some asparagus and tomatoes on top.

These are a delicious blend of flavors, the creamy soft-scrambled eggs are wonderful foils for the asparagus and tomatoes. The crunchy bolillos are a good contrast in texture to the creamy eggs, juicy tomatoes and the semi-crisp asparagus. These make a nice light meal or great snack.

 

Sausage, Green Beans & Dried Plums

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This was a fast, simple dinner that took very little time or effort.

  • 2 pork sausage links
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1 cups of green and yellow beans
  • 3 dried plums
  • salt and pepper

I sautéed two breakfast links in my cast iron pan. When they were half done, I added some chopped onion, green and yellow beans and put the lid on my pan, adding salt and pepper. While they cooked, i sliced the dried plums in strips. I added them when the beans were nearly tender and put the lid back on. When they veggies were tender, it was ready to serve.

It’s a nice, hearty dinner with lots of umami and a bit of sweet surprise from the plums. Pork and dried fruit are always delicious together.

Asparagus Pear Couscous Salad

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I made the couscous using the leftover broth from cooking farro just to add the richness of the vegetable broth to give it a deeper flavor. I made the farro and couscous at the same time and after the couscous was done, I stuck it in the fridge overnight to make a salad for lunch the next day.

  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Bosc pear
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 4 stalks asparagus
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • Seasoned rice vinegar

To make the couscous, I poured 1/2 cup of hot broth on top of 1/2 cup of couscous in a plastic container and put the lid on it for 5 minutes. Then I stirred it so it did not stick together. I put the lid back on and left it in the fridge overnight.

To make the salad, I took four thin early asparagus and cooked them in simmering water just long enough to be tender. I cut into chunks. While the asparagus was cooking, I chopped up about 1/4 of an onion, chopped up a 2 tbsp of parsley and cored and cut up a Bosc pear. I added a bit of salt and pepper. I added 1 tbsp of seasoned rice vinegar. I shook it on so that is a guess. I added enough to add dress the salad lightly.

This is was light, fresh and delicious. The pears and asparagus are amazing together with the seasoned rice vinegar. The onion adds a bit of bite, the parsley a bit of freshness and then the couscous is a great foundation.

 

 

 

 

Farro with Sausage & Dried Plums

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This is one of those recipes that begin with one ingredient and then just come about by thinking what would be good with it, then what would work with two ingredients, with the third, the fourth and so on until you know it’s done.

So, I had about 1/2 cup of farro and decided to use it up. I had an open container of vegetable broth, too, so I decided to cook the farro in the broth for extra flavor. I used about 2 cups of broth for the 1/2 cup of farro even though I only needed 1 cup because I would simply drain the extra off and use to make some couscous for a salad.

Farro: Add 1/2 cup of farro to 1 cup of vegetable broth and bring to a boil, lowering to a simmer for 30 minutes or so. Strain (I used an extra cup and reserved it to cook some couscous because doubling up is smart cooking.)

Meanwhile, I cooked 4 breakfast links in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. When the sausage was half done, I added 1/2 can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained). I wanted to use cannellini beans but I didn’t have any. No matter, chickpeas worked great. I added some salt and pepper and added about 1 cup of chopped spinach and just a splash of water, covered with a lid and let the sausage, beans and spinach steam a bit.

Meanwhile, I sliced 5 dried plums into strips, added them to the mixture and put the lid back on for a minute. Stirred and mixed everything together.

I put the farro in the bottom of my bowl and then spooned the sausage, spinach, beans and dried plums mixture on top. I sprinkled a bit of feta over it and served. Makes a great one-dish single serving meal.

The flavors are so wonderful together. The pork sausage and the dried plums are perfect together. The feta and spinach were made for each other, the farro and beans add a great foundation for these flavors. Cooking the farro in broth gave it a rich flavor to begin crafting the dish. The spiciness of the sausage and the sweetness of the plums meant there was no need for anything other than salt and pepper.

 

Spinach Pear Salad with Hazelnuts

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My best friend came over for dinner last night, so I whipped up a lovely salad. Those pears I got from the Food Bank last week are ripe and I need to be using them up quickly, so I decided on a salad with pears.

First I sliced 1/2 of a yellow onion on the mandolin so I could get super thin slices. Then I cut up 5 of those mini peppers. (A 4 pound package of mini peppers costs less than 3 regular red peppers.) into thin strips, removing the seeds. I also corned and sliced three Bosc Pears. I put all of this in a plastic container with a lid. I added 1/3 cup rice vinegar, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of dry mustard powder.I put the lid on and shook it all as much as I could to mix it together. Then I added about 6 cups of baby spinach. Put the lid back on, shook some more and put it in the fridge for about an hour.

I toasted some hazelnuts (about 1/4 cup) with tajín (a spice mix of lime and chilis) in a dry pan.

To serve, I put the salad mix on the plate, added some hazelnuts and slice some asiago cheese on top.

The flavor is a wonderful blend of sweet, sour and a bit of heat. The hazelnuts are a great crunch and it was one of the best salads I have come up with this year. Service two.

Zucchini Melt

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A fast and easy lunch made with just a few ingredients.

In a sauté pan, I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil and added a pinch of anise seeds to it. When the aroma filled the air, I added 1/2 of a yellow onion, sliced thin along with 3 small peppers (the mini red peppers. I actually used a red, orange and yellow) or 1 large red pepper, cut into stripes. Add salt and pepper and let cook until tender.

I sliced two small zucchinis into little rounds and added them to on top of the onions and peppers. Then I cut about a 10 cherry tomatoes in half and tossed them on top with some salt and pepper. I let them cook for a while until tender.

Lastly I grated a bit of parmesan on top and let it melt. This made one large serving for a lovely, flavorful lunch. Anise is usually used in cookies and candies, but it is amazing with vegetables. It does not add a sweet flavor, it adds a subtle bite, sharper than you might imagine, but so delicious.

Apple, Celery & Celeriac Puree

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Since this will be pureed, there is no need to dice or chop finely. Big chunks are just fine, so long as they can cook evenly and will fit in blender or Magic Bullet.

Heat 3 TBSP of butter (or olive oil for vegan option) at medium low (4 on a 10 point electric dial) in a large stock pot. Add 2 yellow onions and a bunch of celery, all chopped. Add salt and pepper. Cook until the onions have sweat and are translucent.

While that’s cooking, chop up 4 large or 6 small apples. I used some Galas and a Pink Lady. Eating apples, not cooking apples because we are not adding any sugar. Crush and peel 3 cloves of garlic. Add the apples and garlic to the stock pot. Add tsp of thyme. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on a let cook about five minutes.

Meanwhile peel and chunk the celeriac. Add to the crock pot with 1 quart of vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper.  Bring heat up to medium. When everything is tender, remove from heat and let cool.

After it’s cooled down, puree with an immersion blender, blender or Magic Bullet. Serve hot with a bit of chopped parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds and, if you’re feeling ambitious, some thinly sliced pear grilled on a hot burner. I accidentally spilled enough pumpkins seeds to two servings in this picture. They were delicious, though.

The soup is a smooth, mildly tart puree with a delicious, rich flavor. There’s a nice bit of bitter heartiness from the celery that is lightened and balanced by the apples, the onions adding some bright notes and of course, celeriac is always delicious.

This makes about 8 servings, but it also tastes better as leftovers. In fact, it’s so much better the next day that I didn’t eat it the day I made it but let it wait overnight. Unlike most celeriac purees, I don’t add any cream so it will keep several days and can also be frozen.

 

 

Grilled Pear Sandwich

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  • 1 pear, sliced and grilled
  • small handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 slices of multi-grain bread
  • cream cheese

 

I went to Harvest Share, an Oregon Food Bank project, at Impact NW on Friday morning. it takes place the fourth Friday of the month and Harvest Share programs are more likely to have fresh fruits and vegetables. This month there were sacks of potatoes, onions and pears. I think my sack of Bosc pears is about 10 pounds. They aren’t quite ripe, but you know pears, once they ripen, your window of perfection is short.

I thought cooking the pears would be a good option for using them while I wait for them to ripen, so I experimented with grilling the pears for a sandwich. I heated my cast iron griddle on medium heat, put no oil or butter on it, leaving it completely dry. I sliced the pears and let them heat. They were softening, but I wanted a caramelized pear, so I turned up one of the electric burners on the stove up to high. I turned on the  fan and opened the door and windows. When the pears were nearly done on the griddle, I laid them directly on the hot burner for a few seconds to give them the charred look and caramelized flavor I wanted. Just a few second, because you don’t wan them to catch fire. My fire alarm still went off for a bit, so it’s a good thing I didn’t make these when I woke up at 6 a.m.

I set them back on the griddle to stay warm while i toasted two slices of multigrain bread (also from Food Bank) and chopped a handful of cilantro. I spread the bread with cream cheese, laid the cilantro on top and then added the pear slices.

This makes one serving. It was delicious, the cream cheese and cilantro complement the sweetness of the pears beautifully. I can’t think of anything to make it more delicious except maybe chèvre or crème fraîche instead of cream cheese. Cream cheese fits my budget better, though.

 

Asparagus, Fennel & Grapefruit Salad

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I made this delicious salad, riffing off a delicious sounding salad in the Italian Diabetes Cookbook by Amy Riolo. Her recipe served six and include oranges to which I am allergic. I miss oranges terribly as they were one of my favorite fruits and I loved citrus-based cleansers. I guess I must have already eaten my lifetime allotment of oranges because all of sudden about 10 years ago, I became terribly allergic to them. So for me, I often substitute grapefruit which oddly enough I can still eat. It’s not the same, it is not nearly so sweet, but it’s in the ballpark. And sometimes, I think it is probably even more delicious precisely because it is less sweet.

The thing to remember about cooking is that it’s like jazz while baking is like classical music. When you cook, you can extemporize. Don’t have an ingredient, use something else. Use your instincts and your taste buds. Her recipe also called for fresh parsley and I did not have any. I used the fennel fronds instead just for the color. Parsley would have been a good addition and I will make this again with parsley, but it still made a delicious salad. In fact, that I can mess around with the original recipe here and there is proof, in my opinion, of the soundness of the foundation recipe. Good recipes can tolerate a lot of fiddling.

  • 3 asparagus spears, lightly boiled or heated on low for a few minutes in microwave, until tender
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced and chopped fennel
  • 1/2 grapefruit supremed (cut segments out)
  • 4 black olives, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp of fennel fronds

Mix together in a bowl, squeeze the juice out of the leftover grapefruit, add 2 tsps of olive oil, a splash of rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

This was light, flavorful and satisfying. The olives were a surprisingly good addition, adding a satisfying bit of fattiness to the very light meal. I have loved green olives and grapefruit in salads. I thought black olives would be too mild, but they are a surprisingly good match. Asparagus is mild, which makes it a great foundation for strong flavors like fennel and grapefruit. Crunchy, light, flavorful, what more can I ask?

 

Caramelized Potatoes with Jamaica Jerk

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Boil a dozen small new potatoes until fork tender. Let cool.

About 15 minutes before serving, heat a pan on medium. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and let melt and start to brown. When the sugar is brown, add 1.5 tbsp of butter and 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix them together, keep the heat low. If it gets to high they start to separate. Drop the potatoes in the caramelized syrup and  heat the potatoes thoroughly, about 7 – 10 minutes.

Turn repeatedly so the potatoes are completely coated. Before serving, sprinkle a couple teaspoons of Jamaica Jerk seasoning over the top, stirring and rolling the potatoes around so they are completely coated.