Grilled Salmon with Dill-Pistachio Pistou May 31, 2010
Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa May 19, 2010
Our grill has been getting a serious workout. I just finished an assignment for “5 Fresh Homemade Burgers.” I also developed “3 No-Cook Summer Meals.” Needless to say, we’ve been eating well (as usual.) I will send you the links to the articles once they are published. In the meantime, I’ve added a page for links to other recently published articles, many of which include recipes. Check it out.
So there I was, last Sunday, reading the NY Times Magazine (it’s an addiction). I could not believe my eyes when I saw the recipe for Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa. I had most of the stuff on-hand because I had actually planned on something very similar for dinner. It was meant to be!
This recipe is tasty and tackling a pineapple is simple. Use a large chef’s knife to chop off the crown/stem end. Chop off the root end. Place the pineapple on the counter and slice down the side, removing the skin and “burrs” so that all you see is the gorgeous yellow flesh. It’s up to you whether you keep and eat the core – I do – but some people discard it. I imagine if you don’t have a pineapple around, when in season, mango or peach would serve well as a substitute.
Besides the fact that it’s just plain tasty, I love pineapple for it’s healing properties. Pineapple is loaded with enzymes that reduce inflammation. I eat it like mad after a long run, or marathon, to help soothe my aching legs and joints…it helps!
Fish Tacos with Southwest Rice and Corn Salad May 16, 2010
We had special guests with us this weekend, so we wanted to make a fun dinner at home, allowing us to linger over drinks, dinner, and, um, more drinks. On Saturday morning, before they arrived, we made the rounds to our new favorite places for the freshest ingredients. The coup of the morning was finding the Kanaloa Seafood Market. I learned about it on yelp.com, which I am finding is a fantastic resource for someone like me, new to a community. Kanaloa’s only uses select fishermen to source their sustainable seafood. Their mission is “doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right individual, for the right reason, with the right feeling…every time.” This place is amazing – you should check it out. Not only do they eat their values, they ship everywhere.
We learned from them that the only locally, sustainably sourced fish for us at the moment is halibut. Given that our menu included fish tacos, halibut was actually what we wanted – either that or mahi mahi. We dressed our halibut with a bit of lime juice, tequila, olive oil, Old Bay, chipotle chili powder, and then grilled it. Taco toppings included guacamole made with fresh avocados from the farmer’s market, cabbage, cilantro, and my housemade tomatillo salsa. These tacos rocked. On the side, we served this Southwest Rice and Corn Salad. The flavors are bold but light and make a nice companion for fish or fowl. Black beans, margaritas, good tunes, and family…some evenings are better than others!
High on Loquats May 11, 2010
Loquats are a small, round fruit native to China. They are tangy like citrus, yet fleshy like an apricot. No need to peel them, but you do need to remove the (rather large) seeds. I find them delicious plucked right from the tree, warm from the sun. I have also had success baking and making a compote with them.
My loquat cooking adventure started with Cardamom Tea Bread, which was delightful. This bread gets its name from the instant tea in the mix, which is why I was drawn to this recipe. That, and the fact I could use my loquats. I also used whole wheat pastry flour and grapeseed oil. I learned the virtues of grapeseed oil while working at Golden Door, where they use it regularly for it’s neutral flavor, relatively high smoking point, and anti-oxidant properties. I baked my bread in mini-loaf pans, which are nice for giving as gifts or easy to freeze for future use.
I also made a really nice Fruit Compote. I started with a simple syrup and added the loquats, peppercorns, and some star anise. Teamed with goat cheese on a slice of toasted baguette, this compote makes for a simple and lovely treat.
I love it when nature inspires us to try new things!
Navigating the Farmers’ Market May 6, 2010
There’s nothing like spending a morning or afternoon outdoors, at the market, surrounded by the bounty of your local farms. A trip to the farmers’ market is a way of nourishing your community and yourself. In many communities, farmers’ markets are held on the weekdays, which is a nice way to shake things up and avoid skipping it for the sake of other (more important?) items on the weekend’s to-do list.
I have friends who like the idea of the farmers’ market but are paralyzed by the thought of actually purchasing produce and cooking with it. Either that, or, they go crazy buying produce at the farmers’ market, get it home, look at it and think – “uh-oh, what now?”
I find that a little pre-planning goes a long way when it comes to visiting the farmers’ market. You need to take cash to buy produce and reusable bags to carry it home. It’s also nice to have a shopping list, which means you’ve thought a bit about what you want to cook for the week. Visit the recipe index for inspiration.
It’s also helpful to have some guidelines in mind for selecting the best possible produce whether it’s fresh herbs, greens, asparagus, summer fruit, corn, berries, or root vegetables. For guidelines and more tips on how to make the most of your next visit to the farmers’ market, see my article on How to Pick Farmers’ Market Produce.
Welcome to Santa Barbara! May 3, 2010
As of today, we are officially residents of Santa Barbara, California. Otherwise known as the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara is perched on California’s central coast, about 90 miles north of Los Angeles. Flanked by the mountains and the sea, it is, um, paradise.
Last week, my husband, the cat, and I drove across the country. This is the third time I have made the trip across country by car, although I’d never taken I-40, which parallels the historic Route 66. We hit Nashville, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Amarillo, and Flagstaff (just to name a few cities) before cruising into California.
Honestly, eating healthy while road-tripping is no easy task. Gas stations, hotel breakfast buffets, and food courts are mine fields for a healthy diet. Keeping a few food rules in mind, I must say, we fared pretty well. Very early on, we decided to stock up on only healthy snacks for the car. We would visit local markets to buy bananas, apples, grapes, water, and low-fat string cheese. Candy was not allowed in the car, with the exception of sugarless gum. For lunch, we would split a healthy sandwich. Sometimes we had it made to our specifications at a market deli counter and other times we paid a visit to Subway (conveniently located at EVERY gas station between DC and CA). In the evening, we were sure to start (and sometimes end) our meal with salad and we drank LOTS of water. We also made it a point to exercise every day. Feeling good about my food choices made the time in the car just that much more sufferable.
The drive across country is a wonderful lesson in history, geography, food, and culture. It reminds me of how deeply our eating habits and food values are shaped from childhood. Growing up in California, my Mom would pick lemons, limes, and oranges from our trees to flavor our meals. We also had pomegranate and apricot trees. The climate, tradition, and foodways of California are just a few of the many reasons I am so happy to be back in Santa Barbara!
Assuming all goes according to plan, our stuff should arrive sometime this week. Once the kitchen is up and running, I will begin testing recipes once again. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of what to do with all of the oranges, kumquats, and pineapple guavas growing in my new back yard…