Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Caramelized Fennel and Kohlrabi (Week 10)

My sister called and asked what to do with fennel (she was trying to figure something to pair with a very French meal) and was somewhat stumped.  I shared something quick that I had on our plate tonight.  I told her about my little adventure with kohlrabi (this odd looking veggie that tastes like a broccoli stalk).  I like them but I find they are challenging to prepare since the skin is so tough.  See photo...."sputnik"
I peeled therm then thinly sliced them in rounds.  I then took a small bulb of fennel that I purchased from Smith Organic Farms, washed, trimmed then sliced finely.  In a skillet, I melted about 2 tablespoons of butter and about 2 tablespoons of Verni EVO.  I then tossed in the fennel and browned the added the kohlrabi.  I let it caramelize then sprinkled Vegeta (well...what else?  I'm Croatian).  Wonderful delicate flavor...and very quick (we were headed to see the tax man.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kudos to Kaweah!!


Kimberley Palermo
Senior Marketing Specialist

p: 559.624.5283 f: 559.635.4048

Purple Cauliflower (Week 10) + Kat's "extra"

Week 10 was kicked off a bit early with a brunch item Purple Cauliflower Casserole. I am also adding in an extra from one of my favorite home cooks, Katrina (see below).  She knows my love for Mexican food all too well and this look far too good not to blog.  This is "what's for dinner" in the Lucka house tomorrow night!  Bring on the tortillas.....

First up: the Purple Cauliflower Casserole!!

I have to laugh, when things come out of the over in in my house there is little time to get a camera.  I have had several of my readers ask for photos but .....They usually have a HUGE bite out of it so they aren't ready for their close up LOL  This time, I managed to get in a photograph AFTER it was served (I guess I have to be thankful that this made more than one serving).
Sadly the beautiful purple color doesn't come out in the photo.....sort of look like a burn spot.

Easy Purple Breakfast Casserole

  • 1 head of purple cauliflower, washed and cut in to flowers
  • 2 cups of cubed stale sour dough french bead
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c. non fat milk
  • 3 c. shredded low fat Jack and Cheddar cheese combo
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes (I actually used more)
  • Pam spray
  • Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 9x13 generously with Pam (or a nonstick spray).  Place cauliflower in pan then add bread cubes.  Toss them a bit with the seasonings and the cheese.  Mix well.  Beat together the eggs and the milk.  Pour over the veggies and bread.  Let stand for at least 20 minutes so the eggs absorb.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until eggs puff up and bread turns golden.  Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese and a few more red pepper flakes.

NEXT.......My buddy Katrina is a fabulous cook and this is my inspiration for dinner tomorrow night (BTW, crockpot ideas are always welcome in my house since at least 2 nights a week, my hubby teaches a night class and its...."run, run, run"!!)  Here is her thoughts as a "cut and paste".

"Some of the Pork Carnitas I've EVER HAD...even in AZ, Mexico, CA or AK. 
1) I took a pork picnic roast about 3.5lbs   I seasoned the outside of it with garlic salt, black pepper, ground cumin, chili powder, and oregano seared it to a dark golden brown all over in a hot skillet with a little olive oil in the bottom.  
2) I put it in the crockpot on high for 2-3 hours with about 5 whole cloves of garlic, 2 whole fresh serrano chilis, one large diced onion, and 1 c. stock (I used 1 tsp beef base w/ 1 c. water).  After 2-3 hours, turned it on low for 3 hours. (I'm sure you can cook it on low for 8-9 hours, but duffie me, forgot to plug in the crock pot!)
3) After it cooked, I pulled it out and carefully, put it on a sheet pan under the broiler (on high)  crisp up the the top layer of fat, and to render more of the fat from  from the meat.  When you think it is about done (outside is bubbling/crispy) just turn off the broiler and let it sit in the oven to dry out a little bit.
You end up with this super tender juicy pork (you can't slice it, we tried after letting it rest for a LONG time) with this crispy flavorful crust!  I'm sure it would make some awesome tacos, however we are on a slow carb kick.  We served it with a 3 bean salad, and a SW cabbage slaw (Cabbage, celery, carrots, red pepper, cilantro, green onion with a lime/chili vinaigrette.)" 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lemon Curd (Week 8 -- the week of lemon-overload)

While swapping recipes with a new friend (one who actually LIKES wild game and is willing to tackle it in the kitchen), I was sent a great new recipe for lemon curd.  Thanks Anita!  I am probably going to make nonettes and use this as filling.  Nonette recipe to follow (they are little muffin-like gingerbread flavored cakes that we stumbled upon while in Dijon).  Enjoy!!

Lemon Curd
Gayles Recipe
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 TBL unsalted (sweet) butter
  • 2 TBL grated lemon zest

Anita’s variation
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2-3 TBL sweet butter
  • ½  (or 1 cup, if  you like it sweeter) sugar

Whisk tog eggs & sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice & cook over medium heat (in heavy saucepan or double boiler) until mixture resembles lightly whipped cream or a soft custard
Chill and use within 3-4 days. Freezes well.  If you use the grated lemon zest it is nice to strain it out for a perfectly creamy sauce. Use more sugar if you like sweet curd and less for a more tart taste. You can choose to use whole eggs or just egg yolks depending on whether you want the egg whites for another use. I haven’t noticed a difference but have never compared to two versions side by side.  I try to maximize the amount of lemon juice the eggs will support, which is why Anita’s version has so much more lemon juice. At 1 ½ cup lemon juice the curd seems close to ‘breaking’ (separating). I have decided as of 3/11 that 1 ¼ cup juice is probably perfect. If the curd does separate on you, try rescuing it: whisk up one more egg and slowly whisk in the curdled sauce same as rescuing a curdled hollandaise or mayonnaise. This should work (although I have never tried it.) 13 Meyer lemons for one recipe (2 ¼ cups juice)


This is a "re-print" copy and this the best recipe I have found - not my personal one but it is VERY close to authentic!...hats of to the blogger at 64 sq. ft. Kitchen

-5.82 oz all purpose unbleached flour
-1.60 oz light brown sugar
-2 oz honey (you can go until 4 oz)
-1/2 cup fresh orange juice
-3 tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 star anise
-1/4 cinnamon stick
-1 tbsp candied orange rinds roughly chopped
-1/2 tsp ground cardamom
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground ginger
-Pinch of ground cloves
-Pinch of salt
-Orange marmalade or jelly (1/2 tsp for each baking cup)

In a bowl, mix the flour with the baking soda, salt and the ground spices. Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the butter with the orange juice, the cinnamon stick, the star anise and the orange rinds. Once the butter melts and the liquid reaches a boiling stage, remove the saucepan from the stove, discard the cinnamon stick and star anise and pour the liquid over the dry ingredients while whisking vigorously, until all gets blended. Let it cool a little bit, then spoon the batter into mini-muffin cups or standard muffin cups. Top each cup with the orange marmalade and press gently. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 12-14 min in mini-muffin cups and for 15-18 min in a standard muffin cups. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container and serve until the following day. Your patience will be rewarded.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When life gives you (Meyer) lemons (Week 8)

While surveying what looked like a mountain of yard work, I noticed my poor dwarf Meyer lemon tree was nearly toppling over from the weight of its crop (some how nature forgot my tree was "dwarf").  It was time to harvest!  Normally, I walk outside and pick one of two (sort of like my own personal super market) but now I clearly had a bumper crop in a very large bag (note here that I already took a hefty crop to my a batch of lemoncello).  For those of you without a tree (since the Meyer lemons are actually the BEST), I ran in to the folks at Smith Family Organic Farms and they had them out at the Kaiser Farmers Market.....time for pickin'

I had to find a way to preserve my sunshine.....

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

  • 8-10 Meyer lemons, scrubbed clean and quartered
  • 1/2 c. kosher salt
  • extra fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • sterilized canning jars

Put a layer of salt in the bottom of the jar.  place a layer of the lemons and squish them down a bit then layer with more slat and repeat until you can squish no more in to the jar. Salt generously and top with more salt.  Let sit out for couple of says at room temperature.  Turn upside down occasionally.  Place in fridge for 3 weeks to soften the rinds.

Well, I wasn't done with those lemons so I made two more items.......

Roasted Lemon Peel

  • 8-10 lemons
  • parchment paper

I used a zester and made the pretty little strips.  I placed the strips on the parchment paper and dried them till golden brown in a 200 degree oven.

....still not done.....

Citrus Finishing Salt

  • 8-10 lemons
  • 1/2 c. flaky sea salt (per tablespoon of zest)
  • parchment paper

On this recipe I used the micro-plane zester (a fine grade of zest and not the strips).  Preheat your oven to oven 225F / 105C. Combine the salt and citrus in a medium bowl and mix well. Really work the zest into the salt, making sure there aren't any clumps of zest. Spread across a parchment lined baking sheet. If you're making more than one flavor of salt, repeat this as many times as necessary. For example, this time I made 6 salts, and I arranged them across two baking sheets.  Bake for 70 minutes, or until the citrus is completely dried out. Flecks of zest should crumble when pinched between your fingers. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. At this point you can pulse each salt a few times in a food processor if you like, which is what I do. Or, you can enjoy it as is. Salts keep in an air-tight jar for a couple of months.

....and more lemon obsession.....I squeezed the juice from all of the lemons I zested and placed the juice in ice cube trays for the rest of my cooking.  Thank you Pinterest for playing along with my lemon flavored OCD!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Pan Tadeusz" or the Polish Spring-tini (Week 7)

As promised, I made a killer martini with beet juice and some of the fixings from a very famous cold Polish summer soup called "Chlodnik".  I named it after a wonderful Polish novel (turned movie) called Pan Tadeusz.  This is a wonderfully romantic film that touched my heart and  carried with it the whole cultural romance of the 1800's in old Poland.

Since I am in to the whole fresh and local...this has beets.  Yum yum....enjoy!

Pan Tadeusz - the Polish Spring-tini
2 oz fresh beet juice (water from boiling fresh beets till tender)
2 oz buttermilk
1.5 oz vodka (I used Bakon vodka)
1 oz pickle juice (straight from the ole jar!)
Fresh dill weed
salt to taste
1/2 a fresh cucumber (sliced and diced)

Take cucumber and cut in half.  Dice half of it and place in the martini glass reserve rounds for garnish.  Put the liquids in the martini shaker and shake with ice.  Pour in to martini glass.  Salt and garnish with dill weed and sliced cucumber.  Pretty in pink....such fun!

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash (Week 7)

I have been remiss in posting this recipe.  The week got away from me ...again.  Ah yes, life!  While at the Vineyard Market (sadly the rain killed my little trip to Kaiser's Farmers Market on Wednesday....actually it was HAIL!), I spotted something I've never tried: Kohlrabi.  What a weird looking veggie!

I had some luck finding recipe ideas using the new ap on my iPhone from Epicurious.  Here is our dinner "super star" for the week.....

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash

4 medium kohlrabi, (about 2 pounds with the greens)
2 Tbsp Verni olive oil (extra virgin)
2 tsp finely chopped thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt (I prefer my lavender sea salt, mashed with a porter and pestle)
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 pounds (more or less) of butternut squash
1 shallow heavy baking pan (17 by 12 if you have it)

Note, I cut up the squash and the kohlrabi a day ahead and put them in zip locks since I was doing this when I got home from work.  It saved time.

Put rack int he middle of the over.  Put pan on the rack then preheat to 450.  Toss your pealed and trimmed kohlrabi (cut in 3/4 inch pieces) with 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp pepper.  transfer kohlrabi to the preheated pan in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes.  Mean while peel the squash if you haven't done so already.  3/4 inch pieces.  Toss with remaining oil, thyme salt and pepper in the same bowl you used for the kohlrabi..

Stir kohlrabi, turn and push to side of the pan.  Add squash and roast till tender and lightly brown 9about 30 minutes, after the squash is added).  Toss together and then transfer to dish for serving.  I added a sprig of thyme to garnish.  Very nice!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The CCMC (The Central Valley Monte Cristo Sandwich - Week 6)

Roll with me here, all your Central Valley foodies!  I wanted to surprise my ever-patient taster (the Hubster) with a little pre-Valentines Day brunch so I thought "Why not give the Monte Cristo a try?"  So I picked up a nice fresh and fragrant loaf of the La Brea Toasted Sunflower and Honey loaf at the Market and added my own valley twist.  Sorry folks....so pictures because it FLEW off the plate.  :-) But I managed to steal a photo off of a recipe site so you'll get an "idea" of what it looks like BUT this is with ham (BORING)

I give you......
The CCMC - The Central Valley Monte Cristo Sandwich

Ingredients are based on a per sandwich

  • 3 slices of bread (I liked the La Brea Toasted Sunflower and Honey BUT I you are in love with crust....bye bye)
  • 4 slices of roasted turkey, deli sliced
  • 2 slices of pepper jack cheese, deli sliced is better if you can get it
  • 1 Tbsp French mustard
  • 1 Tbsp central valley quince paste (or quince jam, see below) - VT Iwo Ranches (Vineyard Farmers Market) sells quince 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c milk
  • butter powdered sugar

Trim the crust off of the bread slices.  Layer as follows:  Bead down, spread with mustard, 2 slices of turkey, 1 slice of cheese, bread, spread with quince jam, 2 slices of turkey, 2 slices of cheese then the last slice of bread. Press edges together an squish flat then wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Squeeze the air out and let sit for 30 minutes.  Repeat for each sandwich.  The La Brea loaf, because of its size, ends up needing 6 slices (or)2 sandwiches per serving.  Mix up the eggs and the milk.  Heat frying pan with a few pats of butter.  Unwrap and dip sandwich in egg mixture and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Dust with powdered sugar.

I just loved the pepper jack against the quince jam.  It was really delicious.

Quince Jam

  • 5 quince
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 4 c. sugar

There are several ways to prepare quince.  My method is to scrub the fuzz off and bake them at 350 till fork tender and THEN slice and peel.  Another method is to scrub the fuzz then grade (skin and all ) down to the core.  Once you have your pulp, place in a slow cooker (all the rest of the ingredients and cook over low heat until thick, stirring frequently.  I then put mine in jars and freeze.  If you get really lazy, my Mom tells me you can buy quince paste at Von's....but that's cheating!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Red Devil Cake (Week 6)

"The devil made me do it!"  Yes, that's right.  I did it yet again and this time my Valentine's secret is now yours!!  I experimented, as a surprise for my hubby, with a Betty Crocker Super Moist cake mix and some beautiful local produce for what turned out to be a stellar Valentine's treat.....my little Red Devil Cake.

Red Devil Cake

  • 1 box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Devils Food cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cup of juice (I used cherry)
  • 1/2 cup roast beets (2 medium beets) puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 quart of sliced strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate jelly
  • 8 oz of cream cheese
  • 12 oz nonfat Cool Whip (slightly frozen)
  • 1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven at 350.  Grease and flour heart shaped pan.  Mix the cake mix with the juice, the beets and the eggs till smooth and as directed on the box.  Pour in to pan and bake as directed on the box.  My pan was a single sheet so it took about 40 minutes.

When cake is cool, mix jelly with strawberries and place most of the strawberries in between the layers.  Reserve about 1 cup to decorate the top of the cake when frosted.

Whip cream cheese with sugar till smooth.  Add  Cool Whip and beat till smooth and fluffy.  Frost the top of the cake and decorate with strawberries.  I dusted the top of the cake with red sugar but you can't see it in this photo.  Great cake and very impressive way to get a little fresh local veggies in your diet!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Red Velvet Cake (Week 5)

I know, you are looking at this and saying...."Red Velvet Cake?  What is she up to this time?"  Well, I stumbled upon something fabulous and really tasty:  Beets in a Red Velvet cake!  They are OMG wonderful and with the beets substituted basically for the oil, the are actually healthy and somewhat good for you.  I offer, for your Week 5 pleasure, two options.  Both made with Smith Family Organic beets....one is a "from scratch" and the other is a Duncan Hinds modification (for those of you with little time and a need to be creative).  

Red Velvet (or Chocolate Beet Cake)

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk (use non-fat if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup real unsweetened butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup egg substitute 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups beets, peeled and shredded

First, wrap your beets (about 3 medium sized beets) in foil and bake at 350 until tender.  When finished, let them cool and then rub off the skins.  Place beets in the blender with a scant amount of water and puree.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray, or rub with olive oil or melted butter. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flours, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in buttermilk. Beat in butter, egg substitute and vanilla. Add beets. Pour in prepared cake pan. Bake 45 minutes. Cool, then frost with low fat cream cheese frosting.

Low Fat Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. Non fat/low fat cream cheese cheese
  • 12 oz. fat-free frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip), thawed
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Using an electric mixer, beat  cheese until smooth. Stir in thawed whipped topping and powdered sugar.  

The "Sinner's" Red Velvet Cake

Thanks to my sweet friend Ana who named her Mom's modification of a box cake to make it look like my Grandma's sponge cake.....the Sinner's Sponge Cake...we have the Sinner's version of the Red Velvet Cake.  This by the way was the first of the two efforts and I have to say, it past the taste test with my most picky eater, Dad.  I let him get all the way through the cake then told him it was beets.  He rolled his eyes but kept on chomping away!

Follow the directions on the box but here are my modifications (and I used the frosting from the above recipe).

  • 1 box of Duncan Hinds Red Velvet Cake Mix (but I suspect you could use a white cake mix)
  • 3 eggs (as directed)
  • 1 and 1/4 water (as directed, but I added the 1/3 in apple juice)
  • 1/3 cup beet puree (in place of veetable oil)