Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas from Pascale’s Kitchen

 

Holiday Gift Ideas from Pascale’s Kitchen

 

The holiday season is right upon us and it’s a great time to be creative in the kitchen. This time of year always brings with it great food and good friends. Whether you are reviving a favorite family recipe  (here’s one of mine), sharing an ethnic specialty, or basking in the joy of winter produce, food always adds to the holiday celebrations. It’s also a time for exchanging gifts, and I have some great last minute holiday gift ideas for all the foodies on your list, or maybe as gifts that Father Christmas can bring for you!

 

    • Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet Recipes from the Market Table: My latest book is all about fruit: 240 mouth-watering pages filled to the brim with new recipes that show cooking with fruit in a new light; from a multitude of delicious salads such as Apple, Fennel and Watermelon Radish or Citrus Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette, to main courses featuring succulent dishes such as a Roasted Duck with Apples, Parsnips and Leeks or Citrus Salmon, to a myriad of desserts such as an Eton Mess, a Pear and Pomegranate Pavlova or perhaps an Apple and Pear Strudel; all of these dishes celebrate fruit in all its guises.

 

    • Gift Sets: Food just tastes better when prepared and presented in appealing ways. We have a variety of salad bowls, salt sets, olive oil sets and more, all combined in thoughtful packages that will delight any serious cook.

 

    • Cook Books: All of my cookbooks make tantalizing additions to any cook’s library. Choose one of the Menu for All Seasons books or get the boxed set of four for only $99.95.

 

    • Bags: Shop my collection of attractive and eco-friendly market linen and jute bags.

 

  • Herbs and Spices: Enjoy a tasty addition to any spice collection. Seamless combinations of herbs and spices to season fish, vegetables and more. If you can’t choose just one, then try the set of nine blended herbs and spices to find your favorite. The set of nine is also available wrapped in a charming tea towel.

 

There is so much more on the Pascale’s Kitchen website that you are going to love—salts and peppercorns, olive oils and vinegars, teas and jams, wooden and ceramic items, salt cellars, linens, and thoughtfully coordinated gift sets.

 

Happy Holidays and Bon Appètit!

pascale

About Pascale’s Kitchen: Pascale’s Kitchen is Santa Barbara’s unique culinary online boutique offering cooking tips and pantry items, including everything from entertaining and informative cooking classes which showcase the fragrant seasonal produce of local farmer’s markets, to an enticing line of Mediterranean cookbooks. Creative items for your kitchen or holiday gift-giving ideas include olive oils, balsamic vinegars, unique gifts and more. Visit the website at http://www.pascaleskitchen.com to subscribe to Pascale’s weekly YouTube video channel. “Like” the Facebook page to receive seasonal cooking ideas. Call 805-965-5112 to learn more about the essence of cooking ala California, the Mediterranean and beyond.
Posted in Holiday, Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apple and Radish Salad

apple radish 1September 10th, 2015

The Market Table blog is back! I have missed my monthly musings and photo shoots. But there was a good reason. For the last 10 months I have been writing a new book – on fruit – which is due out soon and it has been an EPIC project. 240 pages of savory and sweet fruit recipes to be exact, so I thought it would be appropriate to start up The Market Table blog posts again with a recipe that features one my favorite fruit – apples.

As we are only a couple of weeks away from the first day of Autumn (hard to believe with the near 100 degree heat we have right now) I thought making something that showcases one of the seasons most versatile fruit would be appropriate. From pies and tarts to crisps, crumbles and sauces, apples are usually thought of as a sweet treat. One of the first dishes I learned to make with my mother was a thin Tarte aux Pommes. To this day these types of apple tarts are my favorite dessert and a benchmark of the season for me. However, given the continued summer-like weather, when the idea of turning on an oven and baking makes you run from the kitchen, I thought I’d make lighter fare – a salad. This one is filled with crunchy apple slices and thinly sliced, peppery radishes, all tossed with a variety of delectable and delicate lettuce. The salad is fresh and vibrant with a jumble of red and purple hues that are a harbinger of the season to come.

IMG_1598 (2)

IMG_1604Serves 8 people

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or pear champagne vinegar
Coarse sea salt
Black pepper
4 crunchy red apples – quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 bunch French breakfast radishes – trimmed and thinly sliced
2-3 green onions – trimmed and thinly sliced
2-3 small heads assorted lettuce – leaves left whole
1 large handful basil leaves

1. In a large salad bowl whisk together the olive oil and vinegar to form an emulsion. Add a large pinch of sea salt and 4-5 grinds black pepper.
2. Place serving utensils over the vinaigrette and place the sliced apples, radishes and green onions on top of the utensils. Add the lettuce and basil leaves on top of the apples, making sure the leaves do not sit in the vinaigrette. When ready to serve, toss the salad well.

Note: You can make a lovely, heartier version of this salad with the addition of some poached chicken or feta, or both.

IMG_1617

 

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Persimmon-Apple Salad

October 15, 2014

persimmon-apple 1

Persimmons are back! Fuyu persimmons that is. You probably know that I am not a fan of the other variety (Hachiya) as they have a peculiar texture that I find unappealing.  I have now probably offended lots of you who love them, but to me they have this odd gelatinous feel about them that just makes my my taste buds cringe. That is not the case with Fuyu which are similar to, and as tasty as, crunchy apples. As I found both apples and persimmons at the market I thought about making another salad.

Amazingly I also came across some pea sprouts  which, given that it’s early October, seems at little out of season, but there were baskets full of them at one of my favorite stands. This farmer, who originally came from Laos, also has the most incredible herbs. Huge, huge bunches of delicate basil, cilantro, parsley, dill and mint. It’s heavenly just to pick them all up and bury your nose in them inhaling all that fragrant herbaceousness – that probably isn’t a word, but it should be! At another stall I found some fresh Za’atar (Origanum Syriacum) which is a type of wild oregano, yet tastes of thyme and marjoram at the same time. Za’atar is also the name of a Middle Eastern spice blend that has become hugely popular right now, but this was the first time I’d seen the fresh herb at the market. I popped a bunch in my basket, along with some lemons and small torpedo onions which I wanted to add to the dish.

Back in the kitchen I set about preparing the ingredients. I used a mandolin to get the really thin slices of the apples and persimmons. Be careful when you use them as they can be lethal (they have a finger guard for a reason!)  but you do get almost transparent slices with the mandolin which adds a delicate touch to the salad. I ate the salad for lunch, and then also for dinner with some feta cheese added to it. So yummy. I’m going to try another bowl with some almonds or perhaps some pistachios tossed in. This would also be pretty good alongside some roast chicken or a piece of grilled fish. I think I’ll add this to the dishes I’m going to serve at Thanksgiving as it’s light and refreshing and will make a nice counterpoint to the roasts and stuffing. Sometimes I think I like all the side dishes at Thanksgiving more than the turkey – perhaps I’ll have to try that one year – no bird, what do you think?

persimmon-apple 2

persimmon-apple 3

persimmon-apple 4

persimmon-apple 5

persimmon-apple 6

Serves 6-8 people

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 small torpedo onions – peeled and thinly sliced
1 large tablespoon fresh Za’atar leaves – roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 additional tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fig balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
1 large bunch pea sprouts – roughly chopped (if you cannot find pea sprouts you can use spinach and/or watercress)
2 crunchy apples (Fuji work well) – very thinly sliced on a mandolin if possible, leaving the skin on
2 Fuyu persimmons – very thinly sliced on a mandolin if possible, leaving the skin on
1 large handful basil leaves – left intact
1 teaspoon flake salt – pink if possible
5-6 grinds black pepper

1. Pour the olive oil into a medium sized pan placed over medium heat. Add the onions, za’atar and lemon zest and cook until the onions are soft and slightly golden – about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Once cooked add the additional olive oil, vinegar, lemon and lime juice to the pan, stir to combine and then transfer the mixture to a salad bowl.
2. Place the chopped pea sprouts, sliced apples, persimmons and the basil leaves in the bowl and toss gently to combine, taking care not to tear apart the delicate apple and persimmon slices. Once tossed, add a sprinkling of salt and some black pepper. Toss once more and serve.

persimmon-apple 7

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Green Tomato Soup

September 30, 2015

green tomatoes

The Fifth Annual SOL (Sustainable-Organic-Local) Food Festival was held in Santa Barbara last weekend, and I had the pleasure of participating once more, and doing a cooking demonstration on their Cooking with SOL stage. The weather was spectacular. The city was bathed in warm sunshine and a gentle breeze drifted through the many booths and across the park. By noon, the breeze had strengthened a little. Thirty minutes later – WHOOSH! A swirling dervish of blustering gusts blew up. Everyone (by this I mean all my lovely friends and family who had generously volunteered for this event) hung on the tent poles, lest our booth flew away. Over the years I have done many outdoor events: cooked under the trees in the vineyard, on a beach, in a chilled winery, prepped food inside a walk-in cooler (only place cold enough to hold the cake I was making together, on a 102-degree hot day) and in many parks. I can safely say that I have never encountered the howling wind that greeted me up on stage on Saturday. It made for a lively and unexpected demonstration, complete with flying peach pieces that had to be held down with a handy spatula!

The fabulous people at SOL Food had asked me if I would do something tied into the Eat Local Challenge that runs the month of October in Santa Barbara, and making the most of an abundance of any one fruit or vegetable. (See my new article in the Fall 2014 issue of Edible Santa Barbara)  As we have an abundance of tomatoes at the market right now, we decided that ‘Cooking with Tomatoes’ would be apt. Jacob Grant, owner of Roots Organic Farm, provided a spectacular variety of heirloom tomatoes for the demo. I had thirty minutes on stage and made five dishes, hurried along by the breeze. One was the Green Tomato Soup from my Spring cook book. It’s fresh and it’s easy to make. It’s also great for a picnic as it’s easy to transport – just make sure you keep it in a cooler.

The assorted tomato dishes made it back to the booth in one piece, albeit with odds bits of dust and the errant leaf attached. The by now weather beaten team ate lunch between flapping tablecloths and scuttling recycle bins that skidded past our tables. Conversations took place standing 10 feet apart (the distance between tent poles) as we clung onto the canvas. . Yet despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, we met lots of wonderful people, all interested in good food. We talked about cooking classes, wineries and where to get good cheese? local restaurants, farm-to-table dinner (upcoming at Zaca Mesa Winery on October 11th) and what I was going to do with the leftover tomatoes? I made – what else – more soup!

 

green tomato soup

Green tomato soup 3

 

 

 

Green tomato soup 4

Green tomato soup 5

For the diced tomato concassé:
1 lb green tomatoes – finely diced
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon cilantro – finely chopped
1 tablespoon basil – finely chopped

For the soup:
2 medium English cucumber – peeled and diced
2 green tomatoes – quartered
Black pepper
8 sprigs dill – very finely cut
1 small bunch chives – very finely sliced
8 mint leaves – finely sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yogurt – use a Russian style or another fairly liquid yogurt
Juice of ½ lemon

1. To make the concassé, combine the diced tomatoes, lime zest, cilantro and basil in a small bowl and then divide the tomato mixture equally amongst 8 glasses, spooning the tomato concassé into the bottom of the glasses.
2. Place the peeled cucumber pieces, green tomatoes, a few grinds of black pepper, dill, mint and chives in a blender and puree for 1 minute. The mixture should be fairly smooth. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, yogurt and pinch salt and pureé again for 1 minute. Chill until ready to serve.Whisk the soup again for 30 seconds and then pour the cucumber soup over the tomatoes.
3. Serve with toasted baguette that has been brushed with lemon olive oil.

Green tomato soup final

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Basil, Mint, Tomato and Grilled Fig Salad

August 26, 2014

fig salad 1

Ah figs! As you may know I have a complete passion for figs. They are luscious. At their prime they are honey filled delights that transform any dish, and of course they are just perfect by themselves. The markets are bursting with them, which means fig dishes galore in my kitchen.

Figs came early this year – extraordinarily early – six weeks ahead of schedule. I was bewildered when I saw them at the market in June but delighted at the same time. I have friends telling me that their fig trees are dripping with fruit – I have serious fig tree envy with visions of fig jam dancing in my eyes. Given how early they arrived, I am a little concerned about how long we’ll have them in the markets – hopefully for a few more weeks.

Until then I’ll eat them for breakfast with some Greek yogurt and a little granola, for lunch in a salad, and for dinner alongside some grilled duck with some quinoa.  I love the flavor and texture that figs impart, particularly when they are cooked. The sugars in the fruit become concentrated and caramelized, and if paired with something savory, such as cheese or nuts, they create a fabulous balance of salty and sweet.

This salad does just that. It’s a lovely dish by itself or if you wish something more substantial you can add some goat cheese or feta to the salad or serve it alongside some roasted or grilled chicken or grilled fish.

 

fig salad 2

fig salad 3

fig salad 4

grilled fig

fig salad 5

Serves 8 people
2 dozen figs – halved
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
12 small Roma tomatoes – quartered
1 large handful basil leaves
1 large handful mint leaves

1. Place the cut figs into a medium sized bowl and drizzle with some olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper and toss to coat.

2. Place a griddle pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, grill the figs for 2-3 minutes on each side. Set them aside on a plate.

3. Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil and the vinegar in a salad bowl. Place salad utensils over the vinaigrette. Add the remaining salad ingredients and the figs to the bowl. When ready to serve toss all the ingredients together taking care not to crush the figs.

fig salad final

 

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sautéed Onion, Grilled Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tart

June 30, 2014

20140622_121535

It has been a couple of months since my last post – not for the lack of desire – but rather a whirlwind of activity, book signings, tastings, demos and traveling, all linked to the release of my new book, SALADE. It has been exciting to finally have the book in hand, exhilarating to see it literally flying off the shelves (fifty percent of the print run has been snapped up in just 3 weeks!) and fun to meet lots of new people at the farmers markets, bookstores, gourmet food shops  and wineries where all of these events have taken place.

I have to say a HUGE thank you to all of YOU for coming out to all these events, for all your support and all the lovely things you say about the new book and the feedback about the recipes!

Last weekend I drove to Buttonwood Farm and Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara to prepare lunch and do a book signing as part of their farm and vineyard tour. The event took place in a private garden, steps from the tasting room. Tables had been set under trees adorned with produce from their farm in the form of zucchini, large onions and grape vines. A warm breeze drifted across the bucolic setting as guests sampled the wine and tasted the salads. It was a picturesque and enchanting afternoon. I had the added treat of taking home the freshly picked zucchini and onions after the event. As I unpacked the vegetables in the kitchen it occurred to me that I could make an onion tart – always one of my favorite dishes in the summer – but this time with a twist. There were LOTS of zucchini, so what about grilling them and adding that to the tart? I also had some goat cheese and herbs in the fridge which I creamed together to form a thin layer on top of the tart crust. The tart is made in two parts:  preparing and cooking the vegetables and preparing and cooking the dough. Here is what ensued.

tart 2

tart 3

tart c

tart 5

tart 6

tart 9tart b

tart 7

tart 11

tart 12

For the Vegetables:
Olive oil
3 large white onions – peeled, halved and finely sliced
3 torpedo or red onion – peeled, halved and finely sliced
Salt and pepper
6 large zucchini – ends trimmed then cut on a bias in thin slices

1. Pour a little olive oil into a large skillet or saucepan placed over medium heat. Add the onions, a large pinch of salt and 5-6 grinds of black pepper, stir frequently and cook until the onions are completely soft and slightly golden. This will take at least 15 minutes. Be patient with the onions as you do not want them to burn, which they tend to do if you turn the heat up too much. Once cooked you can leave the onions in the pan until you are ready to finish the tart.
2. Place all the zucchini slices in a large bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the top, add a sprinkling of salt and some pepper. Toss so that the slices are lightly coated.
3. Heat a griddle pan over high heat. Once hot, add the zucchini slices and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. The zucchini should be just cooked through. Be careful not to burn the slices. You will probably have to do this in 2-3 batches. Place the cooked slices on a platter.

For the pastry:
9 oz unbleached all purpose flour
5 oz slightly softened butter – cut up into small pieces.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chives – finely chopped
1 large egg
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Butter an 11 or 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
3. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and use repeated pulses until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then use longer pulses until the dough forms a ball in the bowl of the food processor.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before rolling out.
5. Place the unwrapped dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness. Line the tart pan with the dough, trimming any excess from the edges.
6. Prick the dough using the tines of a fork. Cover the dough with parchment paper and place pie wights (or dried beans) on top.
7. Cook the tart shell in the center of the oven for 20 minutes. The crust should be a pale golden color.
8. Remove the tart shell from the oven, leaving the oven on at 400 degrees. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Let cool for 8-10 minutes.

For the goat cheese:
5 oz slightly soft goat cheese – I like to use half a goat cheese log
2 tablespoons parsley – finely chopped

1. Using a spoon, cream together the parsley and goat cheese so that it forms a rough paste. Leave it at room temperature. Once the tart shell has cooled (step 8 above), spread the goat cheese mixture all over the bottom of the tart.
2. Spoon the cooked onions onto the goat cheese mixture and spread it out to cover the entire tart shell. Heap all the zucchini slices on top of the onions and then return the tart to the oven and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.
3. Serve while still warm.

tart 13

tart 14

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grilled Baby Gem Lettuces with Mustard Vinaigrette

April 24, 2014

baby gem 2

My lovely grandmother Genevieve used to make a number of dishes using braised lettuce. One had spring peas and lettuce which she’d cook in a pressure cooker – sounds odd I know as you’d think the lettuce would be overcooked – but trust me it was delicious. The lettuce took on a completely different texture and flavor; wilted and herbaceous. On my last visit with my grandmother I sat with her and wrote down some of my favorite recipes. The braised lettuce was one of them. The odd thing is that in the many years that have passed since she left us, I have never made this dish. A few weeks ago I had dinner in a local restaurant. The main course had wilted lettuce in it and I was transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen, her pressure cooker and her lovely dish.

As luck would have it, a couple of weeks ago at the local market I spied some beautiful, small, baby gem lettuce. I couldn’t resist and bought a few of them and began experimenting. I made a classic salad with one of them, with a light vinaigrette and some chopped chives. I remembered the braised lettuce at that moment and not having a pressure cooker on hand decided to grill them instead. I used my trusty griddle pan to sear the greens. This dish was so simple and quick to make. Each lettuce, quartered, drizzled with olive oil and grilled. There was an echo of Genevieve’s dish in this salad. It was so vibrant, slightly crunchy, slightly wilted and earthy. I ate one for lunch, and then took the entire dish over to my publisher’s office so that everyone there could have bite too. By the end of our meeting the entire plate was clean. I love meetings where we can be productive and eat something tasty at the same time!

baby gem 3

baby gem 4

baby gem 5

baby gem 6

Serves 4 people as a first course or 8 people as an accompaniment for a main course

For the lettuce:
2 heads baby gem lettuce – quartered
1/2 bunch green onions – root ends trimmed and then cut into 1-inch pieces on a bias
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 large handful purple basil leaves – left whole
1 large handful lemon basil or Thai basil leaves – left whole
zest of 1 lemon

For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
Pinch of salt and black pepper

1. Place the quartered lettuce and green onions into a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add a good pinch of salt, 4-5 grinds of black pepper and toss to coat.
2. Heat a griddle pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Place the lettuce on the griddle and cook for 2-3 minutes, turn once and cook again for 2-3 minutes. Place the cooked lettuce onto a serving dish. Add the basil leaves to the dish.
3. Place the mustard into a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil and vinegar into the mustard so that it forms a smooth emulsion. It will resemble a light mayonnaise. Season with a little salt and pepper, whisk again, and then drizzle over the grilled lettuce. Sprinkle the entire dish with the lemon zest and serve while the greens are still warm.

I also tried adding some feta cheese to this and some prosciutto, both of which added a nice salty element to the salad.

baby gem 7

baby gem 8

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Apple and Pear Crumble

March 11, 2014

DSC_5574_rW

Well after months of dry weather we finally got rain. You could feel the earth drinking it all in. Little green shoots  suddenly emerged from the parched land alongside the trails in the local hills and the scent of eucalyptus is in the air as the fragrance from the those tall trees always seems to be released when it rains. On Saturday, everyone in town seemed to hibernate trying to avoid the 5 inches of the wet stuff that fell on our town.  During a brief interlude in the downpour I took my dog for a walk. She loved walking in the puddles and I was reminded of childhood walks on Hampstead heath in London in very similar weather. Perhaps that’s why when I returned, I decided to make a crumble. They are so satisfying, they warm you up, they make you smile and they are just about the most delectable treat to eat when you’re bundled up in the house.

I was reading about the history of apple crumbles, which originated during the WWII. A pudding created due to rationing as there was not enough butter for a more traditional pie. Whilst reading about crumbles I came across this wonderful whimsical description by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall:  These homey puds are certainly not fine patisserie. They’re designed not to seduce the eye so much as to have rural rumpy-pumpy with your tastebuds. And they’re perfect for the pastry-challenged. There’s no rolling, no wrestling with tricky dough, no blind baking. Just a bit of chopping and mixing stands between you and hot, fruity pleasure. The crumble is, rightly, a national institution. So it’s surprising that we’ve only really been making them since the second world war. We’ve even exported them to France, where they can’t get enough of “le crumble.” Our humble, bumbling, tummy-rumbling crumble now rubs shoulders with crème brûlée and tarte au citron. And so it should.    Marvelous isn’t it!

This is a variation of the crumble my mum taught me to make when I was little. It makes me want to brew a pot of tea, grab a good book and sit by a fire and enjoy a ‘tummy-rumbling’ crumble.

DSC_5586_rW

DSC_5609_rW

DSC_5614_rW

DSC_5617_rW

DSC_5622_rW

DSC_5626_rW

Serves 8 to 10 people

4 pears – peeled and chopped
4-5 apples – peeled and chopped1/2 cup golden flame raisins
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
2 cups flour
8 oz butter (2 sticks) – cut into little pieces
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup roasted pistachios – roughly chopped
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup almonds – roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the chopped fruit, raisins and lemon zest in a deep oven-proof baking dish. Pour the lemon juice and water over the fruit.
3. Place the flour and all but 1 tablespoon of the chopped butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Don’t worry if there are lumps of butter left. It should look like that. Add the sunflower seeds, pistachios, oats, almonds and 2 tablespoons of sugar and stir well to combine.
4. Spoon the crumble mixture over the prepared fruit. Dot the surface of the crumble with remaining pieces of butter and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the surface.
5. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. It’s also really good with a dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

 

DSC_5668_rW

 

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Red Quinoa, Leek and Roasted Tomato Salad

 January 28, 2014

scallions

Last week I was thinking about tomatoes. It’s January, I know, but the thing is, there are heirloom tomatoes and those tiny little sweet cherry tomatoes at the farmer’s market. In J-A-N-U-A-R-Y!  There was a piece in the L.A. Times food section last week about eating seasonally, something that is dear to my heart. I am always telling people “Don’t eat apricots in December, they’ll taste revolting (unless you’re in the southern hemisphere of course) and will have traveled thousands of miles to get here.” Now I am writing a post about roasting tomatoes in winter. Huge apologies to those of you who are not in California right now. We may be having a drought, but we do have tomatoes at the market.

All kidding aside, I would actually happily trade tomatoes for buckets of rain right this minute as we are seeing our local lakes evaporate before our eyes. The local mountains, normally green at this time of year, are an August shade of brown. Everything is bone dry. We had about three drops of rain yesterday which sent everyone into a tizzy with comments along the lines of,  “wow, what is this strange wet stuff falling from the sky?” or “be careful driving in the hazardous conditions!” It rained exactly three drops. If anyone knows a rain dance, please dance away.

Which leads me back to my tomatoes. You see, I couldn’t resist the little gems and although my mind was saying “these are not in season, why are you buying them?” I did because they were grown locally and I found them at the farmers market. I love slow roasting cherry tomatoes. Their flavor is concentrated, they become sweeter and they enhance any dish they are added to. They’re a great addition to pasta, grilled salmon, pretty much anything that comes off a barbecue (I once put some on top of a small goat cheese stuffed lamb-burger which took tomato sauce to an entirely different level), and in salads.

I’ve become a bit obsessed with red quinoa. It has a marvelous nutty flavor. It’s versatile and can be eaten hot or cold, and is a tasty, hearty addition to salads. Here’s the one I made with the roasted tomatoes. Be sure to add all the juice from the dish the tomatoes roasted in. If there’s any left in the bottom of the dish, take a piece of fresh bread (olive is my personal favorite) and mop up the little brown bits. It’s a heavenly little treat!

Roasted Tomato

scallions

Quinoa and Roasted Tomato Salad

Serves 4 people as a main course, 8 people as a first course

Olive oil
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper
2 cups red quinoa – rinsed
4 cups water
6 long thin leeks – ends trimmed, leeks rinsed clean and then cut into 1/4 inch disks
4-6 green onions – ends trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch cilantro –  leaves removed from the stems and left whole
1/4 cup pistachios – roughly chopped
1/4 cup almonds – roughly chopped

1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Pour a little olive oil into a small oven-proof dish. Add the tomatoes and sprinkle the Herbes de Provence over the top. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper and shake the dish backwards and forwards a few times so that the tomatoes are coated with the oil. Place in the center of the oven and roast for 2 hours. The tomatoes will look slightly wrinkled (they should).
3. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Once cooked, remove the pan from the heat and let the quinoa cool. You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker, using the same proportions.
4. While the quinoa and tomatoes are cooking, prepare the leeks. Pour a little olive oil into a large skillet placed over medium heat. Add the leeks and spring onions and cook, stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes. The leeks should be softened but not browned. Remove from the heat and let cool in the pan.
5. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and pour the vinegar over them when they are hot. Spoon the tomatoes and the pan juices into a salad bowl. Add the cooked leeks and the cooked quinoa to the bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and the lemon juice and toss all of the ingredients together taking care not to squash the tomatoes. Sprinkle the lemon zest and the nuts over the salad and serve warm.

Quinoa and Roasted Tomato Salad

Save

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Warm Roasted Kale and Beet Salad

January 22, 2014

IMG_6668_rW

First of all Happy New Year everyone. I hope that 2014 is filled with good food, less stress and time to sit around the dinner table with friends and family.

I finally managed to get back to the farmers market  for the first time in weeks (life got in the way) with my good friend Nancy. We ambled slowly past the stands, bumping into other friends, chatting with farmers and generally catching up on all the news. We spied mounds of beautiful kale, small colorful beets, long, long leeks (that are delicious steamed and then served with a drizzle of olive oil by the way), the last of the barhi dates which is a great shame as they are my absolute favorite, and a plethora of other seasonal goodies.

My apologies to those of you who are in less temperate climes, but we walked around the market in light cotton shirts. It was nearly 80 degrees in mid-January. Even in central California we are usually wrapped up in at least a sweater at this time of year, but mother nature appears to have taken matters into her own (rather unseasonal) hands. While the rest of the country is literally freezing, we are watching the water evaporate from the local lakes and reservoirs. Water rationing is not far away… in January no less! I digress.

Back to food…

This salad came together as we walked through the market. Everything looked so tempting and we soon had a couple of baskets filled with produce. I always think that we eat with our eyes first, drawn to something because it looks appetizing. Once home I unpacked everything onto the kitchen counter and marveled at the fabulous array of colors displayed in the various vegetables. The candy stripped chioggia beets mixed with the purple kale looked almost surreal. I took a LOT of photos. Once roasted, the beets’ jeweled tones glistened when tossed with the roasted kale. Mum came over for dinner and arrived with some fresh salmon which we roasted slowly with some lemons and served alongside the salad. The next day I made a meze plate; a little green salad, some hummus, a slice of olive-almond bread and a little of this salad with some feta added to the mix. I sat outside in the sun. It felt like summer and I started of thinking of tomatoes?! … hang on a second, it’s January… those recipes will have to wait.

 

IMG_6698_rW

Serves 8 people or 4 people as a main course

12-14 baby beets (different varieties if possible) — peeled and cut into eighths
2 leeks (try to find long thin leeks) — rinsed clean and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large bunch green kale — roughly chopped
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
3-4 sprigs thyme — leaves removed from stems
½ lb purple kale — roughly chopped
6-8 spring onions — finely chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place the beets and leeks in a roasting pan. Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables. Add the thyme, a little salt and some pepper over the beets. Shake the pan to coat the vegetables well. Cover the roasting pan with parchment paper and then with foil.
  3. Roast the beets for 35-40 minutes. They should not be over cooked.
  4. Place all the chopped kale into a roasting pan or onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the green onions on top of the kale. Drizzle some olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Roast the kale for 10 minutes. These can be cooked at the same time as the beets, on a lower shelf in the same oven.
  5. Combine all the roasted vegetables into a salad bowl and toss to combine. Serve warm.

Note: This pairs well with roasted or grilled salmon, grilled chicken and other roasts. You can also serve it as part of a vegetarian meal with a quinoa or rice dish. You can also add feta cheese and toasted almonds for a variation of the salad.

IMG_6703_rW

kale and leeks

IMG_6721_rW

Save

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments