Monday, April 20, 2015

Chicken Curry Salad

Several years ago we ate at a charming little restaurant in St. Helena called Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen.  We loved our curried chicken salads so much that when we got home we tried to duplicate them.  Here's what we came up with:

·        2 cups chicken stock
·        2 T curry powder
·        sea salt
·        2 large organic chicken breasts
·        4 strips applewood smoked bacon fried until perfectly crisp and golden
·        2 eggs
·        1 t dijon
·        sea salt and white pepper
·        1/8 c lemon juice
·        2/3 c canola oil
·        2 t curry powder (I like Morton and Bassets for its mild pleasant flavor)
·        farmers market organic tomatoes, preferably cherry, cut in half
·        fresh organic greens
·        almonds
·        golden raisins

Pour several cups of chicken stock into a skillet, add 2 T of curry powder and sea salt.  Place 2 organic chicken breasts in and let simmer slowly until breasts are tender and just poached throughout.  Remove from heat and slice.  Meanwhile cook down the curry and broth until there is a very small amount left in the pan.  Add the chicken pieces back into the curry mixture and stir so they are thoroughly covered on all sides with curry. Remove and let come to room temperature.

To make the curried mayonnaise dressing, add 1 egg and 1 egg yolk to your food processor.  Add 1 t dijon mustard, a generous pinch of sea salt, a generous sprinkling of white pepper, and 1/8 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Process for a minute or so and begin to very slowly drizzle in 2/3 cup of canola oil while processor continues to run until mayonnaise is thickened.  Stop processing and add in 2 t curry powder. Process until blended.

Put the lettuce into a large salad bowl and toss with the tomatoes, almonds and raisins.  Scatter the bacon (whole slices) and chicken pieces on top and slather on a generous quantity of the yummy curry dressing. 

Serves 2

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vintage, but Still Kicking!

I just found a folded, spindled and torn version of a recipe for Mulligatawny soup.  The recipe is xeroxed (not copied or scanned) from February 1980 Bon Appetit magazine.

I used to make this recipe regularly, and I do remember that it was well-loved by everyone. However, it has long been forgotten in my life.

A few days ago, I decided to adapt the recipe to make it healthier and simpler to cook. Afterall, who has time these day to start soup with a whole chicken?  I wanted to create a Tuesday night version of Mulligatawny that was quick, easy and still tasty.  And I did. It's here.   

Thinking about Mullilgatawny got me wondering about what happens to these wonderful recipes as the years pass by. I decided to search the internet for this recipe.  When I went to search the current Bon Appetit site I found a newer, simpler version for Mulligatawny, very similar to my adaptation, in fact.   But then, low and behold, on pinterest I found a photo two years old of my original recipe:

It even had some of the introductory copy from the original article in Bon Appetit!

Anyway, here is the recipe, in case you like to cook classic and want the longer version.  It's more effort, but definitely more complexly flavored, too, and worth it if you love to cook.  

Bon Appetit's 1980 Mulligatawny Soup

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 t cumin seed, ground
6 whole cloves, finely crushed
1 T curry powder (or to taste)
1/4 t ginger, ground
cayenne pepper
1/4 c unsalted butter
1 4-4 1/2 lb roasting chickens, cut into serving pieces
chicken giblets, coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, with leaves, thinly sliced
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots diced
1 leek thinly sliced (white part only)
11 cups chicken stock, deffated (preferably homemade, 2 quarts plus 3 cups)
salt and pepper, freshly ground
2/3 c long grain rice
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced (tart)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 T fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
2/3 c whipping cream, warmed
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
lightly toasted sliced almonds, to garnish

  1. Combine garlic and spices.  Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until lightly browned on all sides.  Add giblets and saute until cooked through.  Transfer chicken and giblets to stockpot. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add celery, onion, carrot, leek and spice mixture and blend well.  Add a small ladle of stock and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until vegetables are tender.  Add to chicken.  Stir in remaining stock and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Remove chicken with slotted spoon and set aside. Add rice to soup and continue cooking 15 minutes.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut meat into bite-size pieces, discarding skin and bones.  Return chicken to soup and blend in apples and yogurt. Simmer 10 minutes.  Degrease soup if necessary.  Stir in lemon juice, then blend in cream.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Pour into heated tureen and sprinkle with parsley and almonds.

Hunting and Gathering in California's Farmland

Road Trip

California driving-- In California, once you get outside of the major cities,  you'll find roadside farm stands almost anyplace you go.  After all, most of the state is devoted to agriculture. 

Last week my sister and I were in Southern California and we decided to take a leisurely drive home in a somewhat northward vector.  After a wonderful lunch with old friends at a charming outdoor Pasadena restaurant, we hit the freeways. 

Yipes!  Traffic...let's get off these freeways.

From LA we selected an alternate route down a little known highway (126 out of Santa Clarita) that took us through a beautiful interior valley, Santa Clara River Valley.  This scenic valley is planted virtually wall to wall with picturesque orange and avocado groves.  It's pretty much undeveloped other than by ranchers and farmers, and looks like pictures you see of Southern California from the 20's and 30's. 

Santa Clara River Valley, absolutely stunning this time of year.  
As the miles flew by, this was the direct view we had our the car window...row upon row of orange trees bearing fruit.

Oh, oh!  Detour, emergency U-turn.  We just passed a roadside farm stand! 

And what did we find there?

Only the best oranges we can remember tasting in years, above.  We bought a box full. Later, at home, our kids ate them all up.  Lickety split! 

And lemons...

Gorgeous bright yellow lemons.  We bought a box of these, too.  And we made our mother use them to bake our favorite lemon meringue pie for Easter Sunday. 

The group voted.  This was not to be a gluten-free, sugar-free pie!

What else did we buy? 

Tangelos, and this caused some regret.  We only bought half a dozen of these, to discover later that they were fabulous.  We should have bought a box!

Once we were deep into the valley we detoured through Ojai (a beautiful old Spanish Rancho town) on the road to Santa Barbara,

Ojai was originally a dry air health haven built in the 1880's for East Coasters who wanted to escape the cold winters and take "the cure".  Now it is well known for it's health spa, shopping, inns and restaurants.

What did we hunt and gather up in Ojai? 

A good cup of cappuccino, of course, 

It was getting to be early evening by the time we left Ojai and we had a number of driving hours yet to do that night if we were to make it to Arroyo Grande on the Central Coast.  

The next morning we woke up on our cousin's beautiful ranch in a breathtaking interior valley near Arroyo Grande.  On the charming winding road into town, we passed many lovely ranches and small farms with organic gardens.  Early spring plantings were in full swing.  

Oh, oh...detour again.  Uturn!

We just passed a row of cottages with front yard farm gardens.  Each one was selling farm produce on the honors system.  

We bought free-range eggs from the first.  (And were able to verify the free-range aspect.  The hens were roaming around in the backyard.)

Right next door was a beautiful little artichoke patch.  You can see the farmer himself supervising his early morning watering in a big straw hat.  

We decided this artichoke patch was equally beautiful as a landscaping element!  

A little pile of artichokes waiting for takers. We bought them all.   

On the honors system.  You put your money in the plastic container with the red lid on the upper left of the photo.  
It's so important to connect the food we eat with it's original source.  Seeing the farms it comes from helps us all appreciate it so much more.  I'm grateful to live in a beautiful place with the bounty of California's farmland so closeby.  


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Sonoma Style

I'm planning a Sonoma County-sourced Thanksgiving.  Fresh, free-range turkey, local potatoes and veggies.  My heirloom Halloween decorations have already been baked and are waiting in the freezer to become delicious Thanksgiving pies.

Rose hips, persimmons, pumpkins and pomegranates from the garden will make a beautiful centerpiece.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Is it a Soup or a Stew?

Hearty soups and stews are on the menu this time of year.  It always seems that when the first of the cold weather shows, our bodies crave the warmth of thick, warming and brothy dishes.

So put on a sweater and slurp up some soup.  This minestrone will keep you toasty. This is no soup for light-weights.  Big chunks of meat, mushrooms and pasta make this almost a stew.

(By the way, I found the grass-fed Chuck at my local Safeway supermarket.  Kudos to Safeway for stocking more and more grass-fed meats, chicken and eggs.  And kudos to all of you out there who vote with your wallets, making it possible for stores like Safeway to stock their meat departments with high-quality health-promoting product.)

Minestrone with Grass-Fed Chuck Roast

This soup is a meal all on its own.  Serve it alone, or add a green salad on the side if you wish.

The grass-fed chuck I used was tender and delicious.  Be sure not to overcook the meat and do not let the soup come to a boil once the meat has been added.

1 1/2 lb grass fed Chuck cut into bit-sized pieces and gristle cut away (I found the grass-fed chuck at my local Safeway)
3 T olive oil
1 onion chopped medium-fine
2 c celery chopped medium-fine
1 large carrot chopped medium-fine
1 clove of garlic minced
1/3 c red wine
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
32 oz organic beef broth
1 15 oz can cannellini beans drained and rinsed thoroughly
6 oz mushrooms sliced
5-6 oz quinoa pasta rotelle shaped
2 c water
Generous fresh ground Himalayan pink sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 t oregano dried
1/2 t basil dried
Fresh basil leaves
Optional:  Parmesan Cheese

Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and raise heat to medium-high.  When oil is heated, add half the meat to the pot and brown and sear stirring for several minutes.  Remove meat to a bowl while there is still some pink showing through.  Do not overcook.  Brown and sear the remaining meat.  Remove and let sit.

Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pan and cook until vegetables are turning soft.  Add the 1/3 cup wine.  Add the tomatoes and beef broth and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes with lid on.

Remove lid and add in the cannellini, mushrooms, spices and quinoa pasta.  If the liquid seems to have cooked down and there is not enough broth, add the 2 cups of water.  Cook about 8 minutes.  Add the beef.  Serve with chopped basil on top.

This soup is perfectly delicious without any cheese, so don't feel like you're missing anything if you are avoiding dairy.  If you're not, go ahead and sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan cheese into each bowl.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

And More Squash!

We're still eating squash...and loving it.  In fact, right now, with the leaves still golden, coral and salmon outside, we're in the mood for foods in those very same gorgeous warm and rosy colors.  Autumn season is short and sweet, why not celebrate it in every way possible?  

Gorgeous Autumn Colors!

Butternut Salmon Thai Curry

This is a truly delicious dish.  Serve it with rice and you've got a meal.  We're loving the Tru Roots sprouted brown rice these days.  It has a great texture and the sprouting makes it more alkaline and easier to digest.  Yes!  Healthy, plus delicious, is our favorite combination.

2 cups canned coconut milk
2 T red Thai curry
3 c chicken broth
6 T fish sauce
4 lemon grass stalks cut into thirds and smashed with the flat blade of a knife
grated peel from 2 tangerines  (great for healing skin conditions)
1 t turmeric
3-4 cups cubed butternut squash (about 1 lb)
2 cans organic garbanzo beans (rinsed thoroughly to aid digestion)
1 lb salmon filet cut into bite-sized pieces*  
6 oz shiitake mushrooms stems removed and sliced
bok choy leaves (2 generous handfuls) roughly chopped into large pieces
chopped cilantro for garnish

Put the coconut milk and curry in a stock pot and whisk together over medium high heat.  Add the broth, fish sauce, lemon grass, turmeric, and squash and cook ten minutes.  Add the garbanzo beans and cook another ten minutes watching the squash until it is about 5 minutes away from being cooked. Add the salmon* and mushrooms and cook another few minutes until the salmon just barely cooked. Add the bok choy leaves. Serve in bowls with rice and sprinkle cilantro over the top. 

*If you find it difficult to remove the skin from the salmon, place the whole filet in the soup pot skin side down for about 60 seconds.  Pull the filet out and the skin should peel off easily. Chop the filet and add back to the pot to continue cooking.   

  Pumpkin or Squash Tart

2 cups baked pumpkin or butternut squash cubes
1 grated baked potato
1 sweet onion sliced and carmelized
3 scallions, sliced thinly
For pumpkin add 2 T coconut nectar
3 eggs, beaten

With a fork, slightly mash together all of the ingredients except the eggs.  Stir in the eggs just enough to coat the other ingredients.  Spoon into the center of einkorn pastry circles (see here for recipe).  Fold up all of the edges 1/3 of the way to the center and press onto filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until filling is just firm to the touch and crust is golden brown.

A few other really great squash recipes:

Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

Sugar Free Low Gluten Pumpkin Pie--It's Yummy!

And for the best pumpkin soup ever (of course, you have to make the ham to get the ham stock), but this recipe is spectacular--my family begs for it!  It's from one of Chef Gordon Ramsay's Christmas specials.  I've attached the video below, but I've also pasted in the actual recipes for your convenience.  Fabulous!

Chef Gordon Ramsay's Roasted Pumpkin Soup (to serve with ham--need ham broth--see recipe below)

About 1.5kg cooking pumpkin .
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1 bulb garlic, cut in half horizontally.
Handful of rosemary sprigs.
1½ tbsp olive oil.
1 onion, peeled and chopped.
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg .
30g grated parmesan cheese (or a small block of parmesan rind).
About 800ml hot ham stock or chicken stock.
100ml double cream.
15g butter.

To garnish

1½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle.
400g wild mushrooms (e.g. trompette de la mort, pied de mouton and chanterelle), cleaned and trimmed.
Parmesan shavings.
1.Preheat oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. First, cut the pumpkin in half horizontally and remove the seeds (reserve the seeds as they can be cleaned and roasted later). Score the pumpkin flesh using a small sharp knife and season with salt and pepper. Rub the pumpkin flesh with the cut garlic halves, then lay the rosemary sprigs and garlic pieces in the centre of each half. Drizzle both pumpkin halves with a little olive oil.
.2.Put the pumpkin halves in large roasting trays and roast for 1-1½ hours, or until tender. (The exact cooking time will vary based on differences in oven temperature and the variety, shape, density and thickness of the pumpkin). The pumpkin is ready when you can effortlessly slip a knife into the thickest part of the flesh. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove the rosemary and garlic from the pumpkin and reserve the garlic. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh and set aside.
.3.Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and stir frequently for 5-6 minutes until translucent but not browned. Scoop out 2-3 cloves of the reserved roasted garlic and add to the pan along with a touch of seasoning and pinch of grated nutmeg. Continue to sauté for a further 1-2 minutes. Add the pumpkin flesh to the pan along with the grated parmesan and stir together.
.4.Pour in the ham stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Stir in the double cream and heat for a further minute. In several batches, ladle the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the butter and blitz again until you reach a rich, velvety smooth texture. Pour the soup into a clean pan to reheat.
.5.For the garnish, heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan until hot and then add the mushrooms. Fry over a high heat for a few minutes until the moisture released from the mushrooms has cooked off and the pan is quite dry. Season the mushrooms and remove the pan from the heat.
.6.Spoon the sautéed mushrooms into the middle of each serving bowl and top with parmesan shavings. Carefully pour the hot soup around the mushrooms and serve immediately.

Glazed Ham
3kg unsmoked boneless gammon joint.
4 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped .
1 leek, cleaned and roughly chopped .
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped .
1 tsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed .
1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed.
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half.
3 bay leaves.
Handful of cloves .

Honey glaze

100g demerara sugar .
50ml Madeira .
25ml sherry vinegar .
125g honey.
1.Put the gammon into a large saucepan and pour on enough cold water to cover. Add the carrots, leek, onion, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 3 hours, topping up with more boiling water if necessary. Skim off the froth and any impurities that rise to the surface from time to time. If cooking in advance, leave the ham to cool in the stock overnight. Otherwise, allow it to cool a little, then remove from the pan. Strain the stock (and save for soups, sauces, etc.).
.2.To make the glaze, put the sugar, Madeira, sherry vinegar and honey into a pan
.3.and stir over a low heat. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3–4 minutes, until you have a glossy dark syrup. Do not leave unattended, as it can easily boil over.
.4.Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Lift the ham onto a board. Snip and remove the string and then cut away the skin from the ham, leaving behind an even layer of fat. Lightly score the fat all over in a criss-cross, diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the meat. Stud the centre of each diamond with a clove.
.5.Put the ham into a roasting tin and pour half of the glaze over the surface. Roast for 15 minutes.
.6.Pour on the rest of the glaze and return to the oven for another 25–35 minutes until the ham is golden brown, basting with the pan juices frequently. It also helps to turn the pan as you baste to ensure that the joint colours evenly.
.7.Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Squash Season!!

Beautiful autumn squash is everywhere these days.  Are you cooking with it?  

One of the things I love about squash is how easy the prepping and cooking can be.  Of course, like any ingredient, you can make it complicated if you want to, but autumn squash taste great simply prepared.  

With squash, most of the effort is in the cutting.  Once you have that done, the oven does the rest.

Here are a few simple ways you can prepare squash ...and then, because we just couldn't stop ourselves, some more complicated ideas are below and in the next posting.  They're all delicious.

Delicata Squash

Slice thinly using a mandolin.  Toss the squash with olive oil and garlic salt.  Bake at 300 degrees until brown.  Serve like chips or over kale with balsamic drizzle.

Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash
2 T grass-fed butter
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 T coconut palm sugar or coconut nectar  

Cut a butternut squash in half and scrape out seeds and stringy pulp.  Put cut side down in a baking dish and add 1 cup of water.  Bake 40 minutes.  Check for tenderness.   To serve, while hot and just out of the oven, turn the squash inner side up.  Add the butter, salt and pepper and coconut sugar and let the ingredients melt in with each other.  1 squash serves 2 generously or 4 modestly. 

Kabocha Coconut Soup
1/2 Kabocha Squash
2 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 cup chicken broth
1 can coconut milk

Toss squash, green onions and ginger in a soup pot with 1 cup chicken broth and simmer until tender. Puree in food processor. Return to pan, add coconut milk and heat. 

Links to other squash recipes:

Low Gluten, Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie

Spaghetti Squash with Shitaki