Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Tart

I had been eying this recipe from Deborah Madison's, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and decided to make it when I had company over this weekend. The flavor of the filling is nice. It tastes like it was made with love and would make a wonderful pasta sauce on its own if some red wine were added. The actual tart is reminiscent of a red jammy old fashioned pizza pie, minus the cheese. It would probably also be great with smoked mozzarella or thin slices of Romano on top.


Tart Dough
2 t active dry yeast
1/2 t sugar
1/2 cup warm water
3 T olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 t salt
1.75 cups flour, as needed

Tart Filling
2 red onions, finely diced
3 T olive oil, plus extra for glazing crust
1.5 lbs ripe roma tomatoes
3 large red bell peppers
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t saffron threads
salt and fresh pepper to taste
2 T chopped fresh basil
16 kalamata olives


Make the dough first!
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water in a bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Add the oil, egg and salt, then stir in the flour. When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn it onto the counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Set the dough in an oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, cover with a towel, and let rise in a window until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the dough out and roll into a thin circle and use it to line a 10" tart pan.

Cook the onions in the oil over medium heat until soft, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the onion is cooking, half and seed the bell peppers. Roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes on broil until peppers are soft and skin is shiny. Set aside one pepper for topping and finely dice the rest. Peel and seed the tomatoes and finely chop those as well. Add the garlic, tomatoes and peppers to the onions. Crumble in the saffron threads and anise and season with salt and pepper. Cook mixture for 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will be quite thick. Taste for proper seasoning and add basil at the end of cooking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add filling to the tart pan. Cut the reserved bell pepper into narrow strips and decorate top with a lattice pattern. Place the olives in the spaces formed by the peppers. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the tart from the tart pan and brush the crust with olive oil. Serve warm with a nice salad.

*Make sure to keep an eye on your tart in the oven. I left mine in too long and I feel the crust was a little dry because of it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Salad with Bulgur, Red Onion and Brandy Soaked Raisins

This sounds like an odd combination, but it made a really enjoyable salad and we were sad there weren't any leftovers! It makes for a nice light yet filling lunch that will give you enough energy to keep going through the afternoon. The sweetness of the raisins combined with the chewy texture of the bulgur and saltiness of the olives is really nice. This recipe is enough to make a large salad for 4 people.

1 cup bulgur
1.75 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup raisins
2 T brandy
1/2 T honey
1/4 cup hot water
small bag organic mixed greens
1/2 head chopped red leaf lettuce
1 small thinly diced red onion
1/4 cup green olives
feta cheese - just enough for sprinkling on top
your favorite dressing

Bring the broth to a boil. Add bulgur and turn off heat. Cover and let set for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, sautee the raisins with the water, honey and brandy to reconstitute them.

When bulgur and raisins are done cooking, toss all remaining ingredients together. Serve slightly warm if possible.

I think this recipe would also be great with goat cheese instead of feta. Next time I might also add slivered toasted almonds.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vegetarian Sandwiches

We have quit deli meat and have been on a vegetarian sandwich kick lately. Garret and I have been trying them at most of the local sandwich shops that we enjoy. Here is a rundown of our favorites:

Gus' Deli Vegetarian Sandwich:
any kind of bread, herbed cream cheese spread, mashed avocado, sprouts, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers

High Street Deli Mother Nature Veggie Sandwich:
Sliced wheat bread, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, cheese, sprouts, sliced mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, tomato, pickle, red onion

Old Edna Deli Rochella Sandwich:
Italian baguette with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, pesto and pesto oil- they also have a variation on this one that's on focaccia. It has all the above ingredients plus artichoke hearts, arugula, olives and herbed mayonnaise

Sidewalk Market Denicce Sandwich:
French roll, buffalo mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, red onion, basil, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar

We also created a sandwich at home that costs less than the average made-to-order deli sandwich that is pretty tasty. Recipe follows...


Organic whole wheat bread
herbed cream cheese (recipe follows)
Dijon mustard
brie slices
halved cherry tomatoes
English cucumbers
avocado slices

variations include: shaved carrots, Gruyere cheese, red onion slivers

Toast bread, put together sandwich to your liking.

Herbed Cream Cheese
I have a little herb garden in my front yard, so I just took a variety of what I grow and mixed it with am 8 ounce block of light cream cheese.

Take cheese and let it set out until it reaches room temperature. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the following: basil, cilantro, chives, Italian parsley. Add sea salt and fresh pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning and half of a clove of garlic that is minced finely. Mix everything together and refrigerate. The longer it refrigerates, the better the flavors mix together.

You can also make a great appetizer with this by spreading it on toasted baguette slices and adding roasted red peppers and a basil leaf or kalamata olives.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Asparagus and Sugar Pea Summer Salad

This is a very easy, light and refreshing side dish that I made in 10 minutes. I got this in my May 09 Cooking Light magazine. They had it served with chicken scallopine. I made it as a 'healthy' side dish to mac and cheese:)


1/2 of 1 bunch of thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into thirds
1 cup sugar snap peas, julienne cut (cut the ends off and cut once down the length, not on the seam)

1 T chopped fresh mint
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t grated lemon rind
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1/4 t salt


Steam peas and asparagus in hot water for 4 minutes, rinse with cold water and chill until ready to serve. Whisk together remaining ingredients and set aside until ready to serve. Toss vegetables with oil mixture to coat.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quinoa and Corn Griddle Cakes with Salsa

I was going to post something else tonight, but I made these this evening and they were so delicious I decided to use these instead. My mom sent me this recipe from Prevention Magazine and said it was a hit at her house. The griddle cakes are reminiscent of latkes but a little chewier and have a nice sweet corn crunch to them. This recipe serves two with some leftover salsa. The salsa is nice and acidic with a beautiful array of colors. The leftovers would be great with chips or on a baked potato. This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but I think you will find that you have most of this stuff on hand already.


(adapted from Prevention Magazine)

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup reduced sodium savory vegetable broth
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
3 scallions, sliced finely
1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 T buttermilk or regular milk
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
a few shakes of hot sauce
2 T canola oil

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 jalapeno chile, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 medium red bell pepper, minced
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
1/8 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Optional Toppings
Sour cream
Avocado slices

Make the salsa by combining all the salsa ingredients together. Chill in fridge while making the cakes or longer.

Prepare quinoa by cooking with broth in a sauce pan until it boils. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low until the broth is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, and add remaining ingredients except for the oil.

Heat oil in a large fry pan at a medium high temperature. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the quinoa mixture at a time onto the pan and flatten with the back of a spatula. Cook about 3 minutes on each side until browned. Serve topped with salsa and other toppings as desired.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Puff Pastry Traingles with Feta, Spinach and Artichoke

I was having a craving for spanikopita and had some extra puff pastry in the freezer from the tarts that I made about a week ago, so I came up with this. These are easy to make, just require a little time to stuff and seal the pastry squares. I served these over a little mixed green salad with home made balsamic dressing. Recipe makes 16- I would recommend making 3-4 per person.


1 cup cooked spinach
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/3 cup mix of fresh herbs- I used basil, thyme, chives and Italian parsley
1/2 t Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup herbed feta crumbles
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
splash of red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 package puff pastry, thawed (2, 10" squares)


Mix the first 10 ingredients together in a bowl. Lay out puff pastry on a cutting board and cut each piece into 4 squares. With a butter knife, take each square and make a perforation diagonally through it to make 2 triangles- do not cut in half. Put 2-3 spoonfuls of the spinach mixture onto one side of the diagonal line and fold pastry over so that it folds into a little triangular pouch. Press sides together and roll up slightly until sealed.

Repeat this process with remaining pastry squares. Place triangles on a cookie sheet, spray tops with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Take out of oven, let cool for 5 minutes and cut each larger triangle in half to make nice bite sized ones.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Steak and Pineapple Kabobs with Grilled Vegetables

Dave and I celebrated the first 'summer-like' weekend in Newport by purchasing a gas grill. I have enjoyed my charcoal Weber for years, but we had been discussing for some time that we would probably use a grill much more often if we didn't have to wait for coals, especially during the week. This recipe is really simple and does not require a lot of work...perfect tribute to summer after a day at the beach!

Ingredients (serves 2):
3 large red potatoes
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 T olive oil
1 T thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1 2 lb top sirloin, fat trimmed and cut into chunks
1 pineapple, chopped into large chunks (you will have some leftover)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 T Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T canola oil


Trim steak and put into a large ziplock bag. Add all ingredients, except pineapple to bag to create a marinade. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. I made this in the morning and headed to the beach all day.

Chop vegetables, mix in bowl with garlic, seasonings, and olive oil. Put in grill basket and grill over low heat for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, assemble kabobs by alternating steak and pineapple chunks on skewers. If using wooden skewers, make sure to soak in water prior to assembling. Once vegetables have cooked a while, flip the grill basket to grill the other side, add kabobs to barbecue. Cook on low to medium for an additional 20 minutes (turn every 5 minutes so all sides are seared) until desired doneness is achieved. Remove from grill and serve side by side. We also served this with rice pilaf.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pizza Sauce

My husband and I got a pizza pan and a spring form pan as wedding presents seven months ago and it has spawned a love for making pizzas. We probably make pizza twice per month. We've tried everything from deep dish barbecue pizza with cornmeal crust to spinach, artichoke and chicken sausage (pictured above). As pizza toppings are a personal preference for many, I am not going to post how to make pizza, but rather my sauce recipe. Go grab yourself a bag of Trader Joe's pizza dough, make some sauce, and enjoy creating!


1 T olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can of organic crushed tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
1 T Italian seasoning
1 T thyme
1/2 t fennel seeds
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped


Mice the garlic and onions, add to sauce pot with olive oil and saute on medium heat until translucent. Add cans of tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and remaining ingredients through fennel. Simmer for at least 10 minutes, turn down heat and add fresh basil. Now, you are ready to create pizzas. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gingerbread Waffles with Lemon Curd

I have been an avid reader of Cooking Light for many years. Most of their food is delicious while remaining health conscious. I came across these waffles in their Reader Recipe column a few years back and they are delicious. The waffles are a beautiful crisp brown color and the crystallized ginger adds wonderful spicy chewy bits to some of the bites. I definitely recommend seeking out prepared lemon curd because it really adds an extra layer of complexity to this meal. I made these waffles for a little mimosa brunch with my family this Easter. They were a hit and didn't take very much effort to make. I served them with fresh sliced strawberries, prosecco and mandarin mimosas and some bacon.


recipe from Cooking Light March 2007
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups fat-free buttermilk
3 T canola oil
3 T molasses
2 T finely grated peeled fresh ginger
2 large egg yolks
1 (4-ounce) container applesauce
3 T minced crystallized ginger
2 large egg whites

jarred lemon curd for topping

Spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk. Combine buttermilk and next 5 ingredients (through applesauce) in a small bowl. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in crystallized ginger.

Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter.

Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray, and preheat. Spoon about 1/3 cup batter per 4-inch waffle onto hot waffle iron, spreading batter evenly to edges. Cook for 5 minutes or until steaming stops, and repeat procedure with remaining batter.

This recipe supposedly makes 9 servings, but I would say it serves about 6 people or 5 really hungry people. The leftovers freeze well and heat back up in the toaster nicely.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Asparagus and Mushroom Tarts

This weekend we moved to our new place, so first off, I would like to say GOODBYE TINY KITCHEN with 14 inches of counter space and hello new perfect kitchen! I have been without a dishwasher or a garbage disposal for the last two years, and boy have I missed them!

This was the first meal that I made in our new house. My lovely family came down from Roseville to help us move and were a wonderful help to us. I wanted to make them a nice little meal after a long day of moving that we could enjoy lots of wine with. I saw this recipe while reading this month's Bon Appetit and decided to try it. I have been intrigued by tarts lately- they are something I have found plenty of perusing through my vegetarian cookbooks.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
Makes 8
1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
12 ounces baby portabello mushrooms, cut into thin pieces
1 t coarse kosher salt
1/2 t coarsely ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed, cut along length and then into 1" pieces
1 1/2 t chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 t lemon peel
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out puff pastry and cut each sheet into 4 equal pieces. Set on foil lined cookie sheet. Score the edges of the squares with a knife making a 1/2 inch design around each piece.

In a fry pan, melt butter. Add mushrooms and part of the salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain mixture and let cool.

In a bowl, combine mushrooms through gruyere to make the filling. Mound the filling in the center of each tart. Cook tarts for 12-15 minutes in the oven or until puffed up and golden and filling is cooked through.

I served these with a large garden salad and some balsamic roasted artichoke halves with a basil garlic aioli. To make the aioli, mix a half cup mayonnaise with 1 clove crushed garlic, splash balsamic, and 5 large minced basil leaves and set in fridge for at least an hour. I think everyone enjoyed their meal. Our favorite wine of the evening was Work Vineyard's Syrah.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Restaurant Review: Greens Restaurant, San Francisco

a guest post by Jenna Boyd

For my birthday, the lovely Miss Natalie Mathews who knows me all too well (being the food fiend that I am) gave me a gift certificate to the vegetarian restaurant Greens in San Francisco. Until I traveled around Spain, I had no idea that vegetarian food could actually be GOOD... in fact, I had always viewed it as strange concoctions of tofu and faux meat. Well, I learned my lesson. Vegetarian food can actually be AMAZING, and no more so than at the iconic Greens restaurant which is in the upper echelon of vegetarian cuisine.

Located in Fort Mason, the restaurant has stunning views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge with expansive windows lining the entire wall. After settling into our table and nibbling on some complimentary roasted almonds (which were delicious), I got down to business and eagerly started pouring over the menu. I could hardly contain my glee while picking the items I wanted to order. Normally, I exhibit slightly more restraint, but as I had this magical gift card, I felt as though I had free reign to order whatever I pleased. And so I did. I ordered two appetizers, an entree, and two desserts. Mind you, I was with two friends so I did intend to share some of this.

First came the potato and masa griddle cakes with jalapenos, green onions, salsa, and sour cream. These were delicious and quickly devoured– a great start to our meal. The menu changes regularly so unfortunately I do not have a menu to which I can refer. Next, came the artisan cheese plate with two different kinds of cheese, a small sampling of olives, and a fennel salad. The distinct taste of fennel complemented the smoothness of the cheese nicely as did the saltiness of the olives.

Our waiter, Gregory, had taken a liking to us by this point and insisted on bringing us all samples of the Italian butter bean soup. How could we resist? It was good, especially with the cheesy hunks of croutons which had soaked up some of the soup.

For my main course, I chose the risotto cake with grilled asparagus, turnips, and other veggies in a Meyer lemon cream sauce. The sauce was deliciously silky, and the asparagus was beautifully grilled. My friends ordered the veggie tacos and a leek pizza, but I have to say, mine was my favorite. I definitely cleaned my plate!

By this point, the other ladies had started discussing how full they were and did not need any dessert.. so I had to pull the birthday card and order two desserts which they seemed to have no problem eating once they arrived! The chocolate pot de creme came with a candle for me and two chocolate chip biscotti- perfect for dunking. The second was a fancy ice cream sandwich with Mitchell's (a SF favorite) baby coconut ice cream between two delectable chocolate chip cookies. Mmmm... I left full having blown my gift certificate out of the water.

Happy Birthday Jenna! Jenna has been doing a small restaurant tour of San Francisco for her 25th birthday festivities. As a side note, she is visiting world renown, Chez Panisse of Berkeley tonight, so be prepared for another SF area restaurant review coming up!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sweet Potato Hash

I love yams, but I can never think of ways to cook them besides baking them in the oven and putting a little browned butter and molasses on them or making the traditional marshmellowed Thanksgiving kind. I thought it would be interesting to make them in a manner similar to regular potato hash browns and see what happens. This makes a healthy, colorful and nutritious side dish.


3 sweet potatoes (yams), cleaned and peeled
1 T salted butter
1 large shallot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Sage, chili powder, fresh cracked salt and pepper to taste

Grate the potatoes with the largest setting on your box grater and soak in a bowl of water until ready to use.

In a frying pan, melt the butter and cook shallots on medium high for two minutes. Add bell pepper and drained grated potatoes and sautee for 12 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Season to taste and serve warm.

Yams are high in vitamins A, B6, C, fiber and potassium.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

If you can't tell my my all of the sudden artistic pictures, Natalie was in town for a visit this weekend. One thing we have been experimenting with for the last year or so (since Nat discovered that she actually liked eggs in some format) is making variations of poached eggs. Recently, I acquired the skills of hand poaching eggs so they don't look like something that comes out of a McDonald's breakfast sandwich, as they do when they are made in a poaching pan. This recipe got 5 stars from the crew and was actually inspired by a trip to the Elite Cafe in SF (thanks Kelsey).

(makes 4 plates)

6 corn tortillas
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese + some extra for garnish
2 cans organic black beans
1 jar red salsa (I used Trader Joe's Salsa Authentica)
4 eggs
4 T hot sauce (we used Cholula)
4 T Mexican Sour Cream- cut your normal sour cream with a splash of salt and nonfat milk, whisk until smooth and runny

Drain beans and put on stove top in saucepan with salsa. Let cook on low until cooked through. Meanwhile, put three tortillas on a baking sheet, add cheese, top with remaining tortillas. Cook on 350 for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into slices. Poach eggs (see directions below). Layer each plate with 3-4 quesadilla triangles, 1/2 c bean mixture, 1 egg, and garnish with sour cream, cheese, and hot sauce. This went great with our Bloody Mary's I posted yesterday!

How to poach an egg:
Boil enough water in a 4-6 quart pan to cover the top of an egg plus an inch. (I used my 6 qt all clad stock pot that has low sides). Once water is boiling, reduce to a simmer so it no longer bubbles. Slowly crack an egg into a serving spoon, gently lower into the water. Cook for about 4 minutes until it reaches desired doneness. Repeat with remaining eggs. Remove with a slotted spoon, salt, and serve immediately. It doesn't sound that hard, but it took me almost a year to figure out how to do this and have them look pretty. The trick is getting the water hot enough to boil before reducing it and using a pan with low enough sides to give you leverage with the spoon. Good luck!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Breakfast Bloody Marys

I would consider myself a connoisseur of bloody marys. When I lived in San Diego, I developed a love for these drinks. One morning every weekend was sure to include them. About a year ago, I started trying to perfect the recipe- something not too tomato, not too spicy, good texture, lots of garnish. I came across this recipe in the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. Works the best if you have a food processor, but I have also made them in the blender. If you like them really hot, make sure to add more hot sauce and Worcestershire than the recipe calls for. Enjoy!

3 large celery stalks
3 t prepared horseradish
the juice of 3 lemons
2 t grated yellow onion- I used about 1/4 of a small onion and threw it in the food processor
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t celery salt
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t Tabasco- I used Cholula
46 ounces of tomato juice
2 cups vodka- I recommend Absolut Peppar

Cut the celery in large chunks and puree in the bowl of a food processor. Add horseradish, onion, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, kosher salt, and Tabasco and puree it again. Pour tomato juice into a 2 1/2 quart pitcher, stir in the mixture and add vodka and chill. Salt glass rims and fill with ice. Garnish with celery stalks, lemon, and green olives. I made this a day ahead and it worked great!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Black Bean Jalapeno Dip

I made this for a taco party. It was tasty and pretty healthy too!

1/2 a white onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos, diced
1 t olive oil
8 oz light cream cheese (room temperature)
salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and chile powder to taste
2 cans black beans (or make them from scratch!)
1/2 cup jack or pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Mix onion through olive oil in a blender or in a bowl with a hand blender. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add spices and black beans and make sure black beans get mashed, but not fully pureed. Put mixture in a small oven proof dish and top with cheese. Cook at 400 degrees until heated thoroughly- about 20 minutes. When finished, top with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips. You can add more jalapenos or serranos for an extra kick!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's Worth Buying Organic?

This month's Cooking Light has a good amount of information on organic products. Organic foods can be quite expensive, and while I try to buy many organic fruits and vegetables, I have always wanted to know what's really worth spending the extra money on. According to some research I have done, foods that come with the heaviest burden of hormones, additives and pesticides are most important to be purchased organically when available. Here is a list I've compiled that can be used as a quick reference guide when shopping:

Buy Organic:
Bell Peppers
Leafy Greens

Buy Regular
These items are least likely to contain trace levels of pesticides.
Sweet Potato

Sources: April 2009 Cooking Light,