Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roasted Purple Carrots, Sun Chokes and Candy Striped Beets (Week 5)

Beautiful array of color on my winter plate thanks to a few wildly colorful veggies from the Vineyard.
Purple Carrots, Sun Chokes and Candy Striped Beets

2 purple carrots, peeled and chopped
2 candy striped beets, peeled and cubed
3 small sun chokes, cut in rough cubes
4 gloves of garlic smashed
4 Tbsp olive oil
ground black pepper
rosemary leaves, wood removed
sea salt with lavender, ground with mortar and pestle

Par cook carrots and beets for 4 minutes in the microwave on high.  Place olive oil in the cast iron skillet in the over at 350 till oil starts to smoke.  Add the sun chokes, garlic, carrots and striped beets.  Roast for 25 minutes or until crisp on the edges, Toss with pepper, sea salt and lavender.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tuscan Cabbage and White Bean Soup (Week 4)

J. Marchini Farms turned me on to Tuscan cabbage so ...guess what?  Tuscan cabbage and white bean soup.  It's very simple and it fills your kitchen with an utterly divine aroma.  Here is the product below served in my Deda (Grandpa) Jack's soup dishes (circa 1930).  Note, there is a similar recipe in Whole Foods "4 Pillars of Health" flyer.  Basically, its the same but I added the Tuscan cabbage with the kale and added dry white beans, lentils and chestnuts.  Their recipe looks equally as tasty and probably a lot faster.

By the way, this was really good with the La Brea Olive bread  I picked up while I was shopping today.

Tuscan Cabbage and White Bean Soup
1 bunch of Tuscan cabbage, chopped
1 bunch of curly kale, chopped
1 c. of chopped carrots
6.5 oz of chestnut meats (Melissa's), chopped (great product, by the way, since it comes vacuum packed and "meats only")
1 onion chopped
3 Tbsp of Bari olive oil
6 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
1 Tbsp of chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 c. dry white beans (soaked and rinsed first)
1/2 c. green lentils (soaked and rinsed first)
2 cans chicken broth
4 to 6 cups of water

Olive oil in the pan.  Saute onions and garlic till wilted and browned.  Add in kale and Tuscan cabbage and saute till wilted.  Add in carrots and chestnuts.  Lightly brown.  Add in spices then lentils and beans.  Add in broth and water.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All Hail the Beet! (Week 4)

Today (and very timely since I have beets in my shopping bag) the Fresno Bee featured two fabulous recipes for beets:  the Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza (courtesy of TasteFresno...yahoo!) and Beet Risotto with Greens, Goat Cheese and Walnuts (Fresno Bee file).  I am inspired!!  Being my husband is Polish, I think I have had my fair share of beets.  Heck, my bother in law actually has a business that processes and sells "pre-cooked" shredded beets (buraczki).  I'm not wild about this preparation but I LOVE LOVE LOVE these new "inspired" beet dishes. My personal pick for the beets in this weeks bag is the Sweet Potato and Beet Chips with Garlic and Rosemary Salt (from the Food Network, love you guys!!)  Besides, I still have arugula aoli in the fridge from my last adventure :-)

Sweet Potato and Beet Chips with Garlic and Rosemary Salt

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 beets
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon very finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 10 cups vegetable oil

  • Directions
  • Special Equipment: V-slicer or mandoline, deep-fry thermometer. Wash the vegetables and dry very well. Set aside. In a small bowl combine the garlic, rosemary and salt. Set aside.Warm the oil in a large pot over high heat to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, trim 1-inch off the end of each sweet potato. Using the V-slicer or mandoline, slice the sweet potato into very thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick. Trim 1-inch off the root end of the beets. Using the V-slicer or mandoline slice the beets into very thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick. When the oil is hot add about a quarter of the sweet potato slices. Let fry until golden and the bubbling has almost completely subsided, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the chips to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with some of the garlic, rosemary, and salt mixture. Continue with the remaining sweet potatoes. Transfer to a serving plate. Next, fry 1/4 of the beets. Let fry until curled at the edges and most of the bubbling has subsided, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the beets to another paper-towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt mixture. Continue with the remaining beets. Let cool and transfer to a serving plate.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hats off to St. Agnes and Whole Foods!

Just received a flyer in the mail for the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating.  What a fabulous idea and each week is a new healthy section, each with a unique ethic flair!  YEAH!!  Fresno is so culturally diverse - its great to see it reflected in healthy menu.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Globe Squash, Turnips and Mexican Zucchini (Week 4)

This week's recipes are side dishes.  I made a pot of wonderful Chili Verde and was stumped with what to do with my three "super stars".

The two side dishes are both  extremely easy and not exactly what ones typically using these veggies. I would add here that it is best if you already have some of the leg work done (i.e. the chili verde is basically done and you pre-cook the globe squash and the turnips. I was inspired  by Tracy Newel's turnip recipe on TasteFresno.  This was OMG tasty and perfect with my Mexican entree.

Mexican Zucchini and Turnip saute

5 small turnips, peeled and quartered then braised in a mixture of chili verde sauce and water till fork tender (this can be done in the microwave for 4 minutes)
2 medium Mexican Zucchini, halved then sliced in half moons
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
3 table spoons of Verni olive oil
1/4 cup pepitas
salt and pepper

Heat skillet and add olive oil.  Saute onions and zucchini.  Add in the turnips and toss with pepitas, salt and pepper.  Shake a few times and let the onions caramelize before serving.

Globe Squash Mash

2 globe squash, halved, seeded and baked then flesh removed
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp chili verde sauce
salt and pepper

Place squash flesh in a pan, along with butter.  Warm to melt, add spices and mash with a fork.  Stir in chili verde sauce and maybe a splash or two of hot sauce.

We used this instead of refried beans in making burritos with our chili verde.  Here's a look at my husbands burrito in process.  Fabulous!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Romanesco Broccoli (Week 3) and "the road to hell"....

Some say "the road to hell is paved with good intention".  This is my experience with that cute table decoration, the Romanesco broccoli.  It started out as the table decoration, then it was the "show and tell" item when my parents were visiting.  Later it ventured in to the "let me try it - I'm brave" realm when my 26 year old stuck his head in the fridge .......now it MUST be dealt with....and so begins the road to hell.

Here is what "good intentions" looked like (thank you, Rachel Ray):

Romanesco Broccoli and Rigatoni


  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 head romanesco broccoli 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese (a couple of generous handfuls), plus more to pass around the table
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a couple of ladlefuls of the pasta cooking water.
  2. While the pasta is working, in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the wine for 1 minute, then the chicken stock. Add the broccoli, lemon peel, rosemary and crushed red pepper; season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. In a serving bowl, toss the pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, cooked vegetables, cheese and nuts for a minute. Season with salt and black pepper and serve, passing extra cheese at the table.

Where is what happened to my good intentions:

Romanesco Natural

1 head of Romanesco broccoli, washed, leaves, bottom and core removed
1/4 cup shaved Romano cheese
Drizzle of olive oil
Sea salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Put in the microwave safe pan, splash it with a bit of water, cover and microwave for 4 minutes.  Drain, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle seasonings and top with cheese.  Serve......natural perfection.  Simple and delicious.  Great taste.  Texture like cauliflower but a hint of the green flavor.

"More Arugula, please" The Kick Butt Grilled Cheese (Week 3 Bonus)

I have arugula.  Yes...I have too MUCH arugula!!  With this, I came up with a snack item (probably due to the fact I am home sick and needed carbs) The Kick Butt Grilled Cheese Sandwich (your week 3 bonus item....I'm still working on the Romanesco Broccoli!)

The Kick Butt Grilled Cheese Sandwich 
Serving size: 1

2 slices of LaBrea Jalapeno Cheddar loaf
Slices of dry Jack (enough to cover one side of the bread
2 slices of beef steak tomato
1 handful of of fresh chopped arugula
Salted butter 
Smoked Paprika
Sea salt

Butter one side of the bread (both slices).  Layer the sandwich with the cheese, the arugula then the tomato.  Be certain no to overlap the tomato (you want a single layer of each).  Sprinkle the tomato with seat salt and put last piece of bread on top.  Sprinkle the top slice with smoke paprika and put the smoked paprika side down on a heated frying pan.  If you are using a double sided grilling device like a panini grill, put smoked paprika on both sides.  Grill till crispy and cheese melts.

I know....scandalous amounts of cholesterol but, well, who cares!  The mixture of the dry jack and the arugula is fabulous and the zesty bread makes the old boring grilled cheese POP!

It's all about "Comfort Food" (Week 3)

Well.....I guess I couldn't escape the cold and flu season!  This week, we are trying that Tatsoi in a quiche that I am calling my Pan Asian Quiche.  Read on....it was delicious and made me feel all "warm and happy"!!


  • 1/3 cup Bari extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 head of fresh tatsoi, washed and chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a medium skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in tatsoi and soy sauce.  Just before removing from the pan, toss with 1/2 the cheddar cheese. Spoon mixture into pie crust.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into the pastry shell, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with remaining cheddar cheese, and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until set in center. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Weird and the Wonderful, produce....that is!

Ah yes.....the weird and the wonderful produce.  Nothing is better than hauling a Romanesco broccoli (shown on the left) out of your bag and having your friends think you are eating veggies from another planet!  Thanks to the Shaw and Blackstone Farmers Market and J. Marchini Farms in Le Grand, I have a centerpiece today -- side dish tomorrow.  These pretty veggies cook up like cauliflower and can also be eaten raw.  I'll report back when I tire of my "decoration".  Another odd find was Tatsoi (shown on the right).  Cooks up like spinach but I have a little something special in mind for this one.  More on this later. 

In this weeks bag:
Chinese winter melon (again, my hubby like the soup so it gets a repeat performance)
daikon radish

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Melon Meatball Soup (Week 2 bonus)

OK. I admit, I was going to hold this one in case I lost my creativity next week but I couldn't let the melon sit there lonely in the fridge (frankly, it looked too much like a fruit and I was afraid that my Hubster would find a way to consume it for breakfast)!

This soup is actually a "keeper" and was a BIG surprise to the both of it.  It was unique and tasty.  It reminded me of a Thai soup and I modified it a bit to give it a "kick" ...very glad I did since it gave it a sweet-hot finish.  The winter melon is a gray looking small melon the size of a small honey dew.  The exterior is not very appealing, sort of rough and weathered but it turned out to make a nice entree soup!!

Winter Melon Meatball Soup

1 lb ground pork (I used ground turkey. worked fine).
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar (I used Truvia)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 eggs

6 cups liquid (3 cups water and 3 cups fat free chicken broth)
1 jalapeno finely chopped
2 lbs winter melon cut in to one inch cubes
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp white sugar

1.  Sprinkle ground meat with cornstarch, cilantro, soy sauce, sugar garlic and ginger from the first part of the list.  Mix in half the jalapeno and the eggs until the mixture is fully Incorporated and sticky.

2. Combine all the ingredients from the second half of the list in to a large sauce pan (I put it all in the crock pot and went to watch a movie).  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer for 5 minutes or until the melon is very tender and can squish with a fork.  Meanwhile, form teaspoon sized meatballs with the meat mixture.  Gently drop the meatballs in to the simmering soup and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes more till the meatballs are done.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Salmon with Swiss Chard, Fennel and Penne (Week 2)

LOVED this recipe.  I know I am not a "food stylist" but this gives you an idea.  I served it with pan seared brussel sprouts.  

In general, it was no big "whoopie" with the salmon (grilled salmon is grilled salmon) but the pasta was wonderful.  Being Croatian (more specifically, Dalmatian) eating Swiss chard is a standard.  To me (and most of my family), it is our "comfort food" and usually served with boiled potatoes, garlic and Vegeta.  This was a nice departure and adds to my repertoire.  See my "tweaks" below.

  • lb salmon, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 fennel, sliced thinly
  • bunch Swiss chard, chopped 1/2 inch
  • lb penne
  • tablespoons olive oil (Verni this time)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped (I added 6)
  • 1 Meyers lemon
  • teaspoon Cajun seasoning (avoid the low salt one)
  • 2 dashes of Tabasco
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  1. 1
    Bring large pot of water to boil, add salt to water just before pasta and boil pasta until a 2 minutes short of done according to directions.
  2. 2
    Heat a pan until very hot, add about 2 tbsp olive oil season both sides of salmon with Cajun seasoning and then cook the salmon chunks on first side until browned and cooked half through. It's easy to tell when half-done because the flesh becomes pale as it cooks through. When flesh is lightened half-through, flip and cook another few minutes until just browned on the other side. A really hot pan is needed for this. I prefer my salmon cooked medium and still a little pink in the middle. Remove salmon and if you want cooked through more, place in oven at 350F until cooked through.
  3. 3
    In a separate pan heat oil in pan and cook fennel and Swiss chard.
  4. 4
    In fish pan add garlic, tomato paste and a little water to thin out for sauce. Add vegetables back in and cook through. Add pasta to finish cooking, taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  5. 5
    Serve pasta with salmon on top and a bit of lemon squeezed over at the last minute and some fennel fronds as a garnish.

Grapefruit Pound Cake

This was by far and away my "easy find" - beautiful grapefruit from my parents enormous, 50+ year old grapefruit tree.  This tree is amazing: huge, thick skinned, tasty grapefruit that normally goes to waste since both of my parents, due to medication, can no longer eat this terrific fruit.  I selected four golden gems and went to work on this Grapefruit Pound Cake (thanks Cooking Light, see link).  As promised, I will provide my picks and pans.  This is a little of both.

Grapefruit Pound Cake RecipeThe cake is moist and the grapefruit provides a wonderful, fresh citrus flavor.  I reduced the juice as instructed and it made this WOW glaze on top.  Just delightful.  I did find, however, that it is best not to monkey with the recipe.  I did a fooled thing and used cake flour and it promptly fell.  I admit, I felt a little defeated but ....what the heck.....I ate it any way and it was superb.  My original plan was to serve it with coffee on Sunday afternoon but my hubby got sick and I was left to enjoy that FLATTENED cake all by myself.  Oh well.

Next up, Salmon with Swiss Chard, Fennel and Penne Pasta.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The French Breakfast Radish (Week 1)

Week 1 - I am exploring the French Breakfast Radish.  Bright and early this morning, I started my day with some wonderfully nutting toasted (thanks, Leesa for the suggestion) whole wheat bread, smothered with butter and topped with thinly (as think as could get them without contacts) sliced French Breakfast Radish, green onions and Dalmatian sea salt (sorry, a favorite but not local).  It was Divine and a big departure from my oatmeal and almond milk.  Mike was right, the radishes do not have the "bite" that the traditional radishes have and are much more turnip-like in flavor.  They made an excellent snack (pre dinner last night) when I was showing them off to my hubby (apparently, he remembers having sandwiches as a child with radishes and butter.....must be a Polish as well as French).  This little breakfast treat paired well with my French roast and the nice ripe orange off our backyard tree.  So folks......give that cute little radish a try.  Bon Appetit!!

PS:  Speaking of Bon Appetit, check out their "Food lovers cleanse" ....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oh, what to do....what to do??

Two hands loaded down with bags of goodies from the Farmer's Market at our local Kaiser and I am puzzled asking myself "what to do" with the Chinese winter melon, French breakfast radish, ginger, arugula and Swiss chard so I started cruising the websites for ideas.  Big thanks to Mike Smith (SmithsFamilyOrganicFarm.com) for talking me in to the French breakfast radish.  They look so cute and perky.  I can't wait to try them in a sandwich tomorrow am (now you see where I am leaning, huh?)  Maybe a poached egg with scallions and arugula on top of lightly buttered whole wheat break and thinly sliced radishes?  I'm getting hungry already.

More on the squash and chard later.....perhaps a winter melon meat ball soup or salmon with fennel, Swiss chard and penne pasta?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter Squash....and I am getting ahead of myself..

So I thought I would share the "inspiration" for the 52.....

Yesterday, while admiring the empty space in my normally overloaded refrigerator, I was feeling a dash of creativity.  Looking in the the pantry, I found a lonely spaghetti squash and a bag of onions that had managed to survive the over load of house guests and the mind night snacking of my husband (typically, winter squash isn't high on the list of snack items).

What to do......I pulled out the Julia Child Cookbook series and found nothing to my taste (that is, without modification) and then thought "I should really expand my horizons and develop a collection of recipes that are fresh, local and in season." Voila!!  I decided to eat one thing totally fresh, local and in season once a week.....even if this meant eating something that I would normally turn my nose up on.  I figured, I should try it at least once and, hopefully, get creative and maybe even healthier in the process.

So, what ever become of that squash:

Spaghetti Squash Soup:

1 large spaghetti squash (top cut to look like a lid and seeds removed)
1 cube of butter
1/2 to 1 cup toasted cracker crumbs (I had to do something with the New Years Eve party left overs)
2 tablespoons locally grown Bari olive oil (getting off to a good start here)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried sage
a can or two (depending on the size of your squash) chicken broth
a few splashes of hot sauce
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven at 350.  Rub half the butter inside of the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute the onions in the remaining butter and olive oil.  Add sage and stir.  Add crumbs when onions are brown (I went with a cup but you don't want the whole interior of the squash to be crumbs.  Brown a bit more till butter is absorbed.  Should be about 1/2.  Spoon the onion mixture in to the squash.  Cover to the top with chicken broth.  Add a couple of splashed of hot sauce and cover with the squash lid.  Place squash upright in a baking dish so that it doesn't tip over (I used an oven-proof cereal bowl and sat it on another pan to catch any mistakes).

Bake for approximately 1 hour to an hour an a half (the exterior should start to look a bit brown-golden).

Remove, scrap the inside and serve with the broth.  It's extra nice with Swiss cheese on top.  YUMMMMMM!!

Ready, Set.......EAT!

Welcome to the Fabulous 52.  This is, for now, my personal 52 week journey to cook something totally fresh and local once a week over the next 52 weeks, venturing outside my "comfort zone" every now and then to try that "odd looking veggie" or something that would cause a typical 8 year old to say "yucky".  I am reaching out to all my fellow Fresno foodies to join my on this journey and to weigh in on their picks and pans. 

So it's off to the farmers market tomorrow at noon, with a quick pass by Dusty Buns for inspiration!  Reporting in by weeks end.....