Thursday, March 29, 2012

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Peas and Sugar Snaps (Week 14)

Found this wonderful recipe on Epicurious (this really cool ap on my iPhone) while I was sitting in the parking lot of the Vineyard Farmer's Market last night.  I was inspired and I luckily had couscous in my pantry!  I am using their photo (thank you Bon Appétit, so much nicer than the photos all of you routinely get from my iPhone).

Oh....I did not have the Israeli couscous but it worked fine with regular couscous!  Really fresh and yummy.  I am thinking this would be great on our table Easter Sunday!

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin Verni olive oil, divided 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (organic Meyers)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel (from the same Meyers lemons above)
  • 1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous (6 to 7 ounces) -- I used regular couscous
  • 1 3/4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
  • 14 ounces thin asparagus spears, trimmed, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces (2 1/2 cups)
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup shelled fresh green peas or frozen, thawed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

  • Whisk 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, and lemon peel in small bowl; set dressing aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until most of couscous is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups broth, increase heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 10 minutes, adding more broth by tablespoonfuls if too dry. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, green peas, and remaining garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Add couscous to bowl with vegetables. Drizzle dressing over. Add chives and cheese; toss. Season with salt and pepper.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Fennel Gratin and Pheasant Soup (Week "Lucky 13")

    Tick-tock, tick-tock.....the days of lent are passing by and I am getting emails from my Facebook friends (plus a few verbal comments -- how rare!) that I am going straight to hell because my blog posts are showing up on Facebook.  Truth is the auto-post features on Blogger.Com are doing the sinning for me!!  So, what have I learned thus far in my Lenten journey? The "home page" is similar to the invasion of the body snatchers!  I had an interesting conversation with a BFF recently (on the way to an absolutely fabulous food and wine gig at Trelio in Clovis -- Great job Mike and Chris) about the venomous techno-vortex that one gets sucked into reading the Facebook "home" page.  I swear you click on and you brain shifts in to "park"!  Minutes turn to hours!   I will admit it has been a huge challenge staying off my personal page and that dreaded home page since I am responsible for doing the postings and upkeep for the College (, all seven departments and two of our centers/institutes.  I remain resolute!!

    On to my reason for being .....FOOD - GLORIOUS FOOD!!  Here we are at week 13.  13 has always been a lucky number for me (met my husband on the 13th so we do the dorky thing and celebrate all 13's) so here is a little something on our table to celebrate 13 with Dana and Wojtek.  

    Fennel Gratin

    • 2 lbs. of fennel bulbs (purchased this week at the Vineyard Farmers Market from Angel Farms in Laton) - 3 to 4 bulbs
    • Sea salt (always!)
    • 3-4 Tbsp. Bari orange infused olive oil (you can use unflavored EVO but the orange goes well with the fennel)
    • 1/2 C. Bread crumbs
    • 2 tsp. fresh thyme (I usually get mine from my Mom or KMK in Kingsburg)
    • 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese.
    • chopped fronds for garnish

    Cut fronds and stems of the fennel and save them for another dish.  Great in stocks and broth.  Cut bulbs in quarters, then in 1-2 inch pieces.  Discard the woody core.

    Grease the casserole pan with 1 tsp of oil and preheat over at 375.
    Went fast!  I am lucky have even half a pan to show you.
     Boll the fennel in a pot of salty water for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender.  Drain well and toss with a tablespoon of oil.  Mix parmesan, thyme and breadcrumbs then mix half that mixture with the fennel.  Add the fennel to the casserole in an even layer.  Top with mozzarella cheese then the rest of the bread crumb mixture.  Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil over the top.

    Cover the casserole and bake for 20 minutes.  Take cover off and bake until well browned 9about 15 minutes). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

    Country French Pheasant Soup

    • 2 small pheasant carcasses, drumsticks, wings, etc. (breast meat removed and deboned for another dish)
    • 1 large onion sliced thick
    • 2 large ORANGE or white potatoes (No purple. We don't talk about THAT experimental soup), chopped in large chunks
    • 1 large celery rib, corasly chopped
    • 12 cups of water
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 6 springs of parsley
    • 1 tsp of thyme
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tsp of pepper corns
    • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
    • Cheese cloth

    My husband and my son went pheasant hunting.....$140 per person and four little birds total.  Yes, folks....that's $70 a bird so we must make the most of this catch!

    Place the carcass in a foil lined pan and bake at 450 oven, stirring once or twice after about 30 minutes.  Add in the veggies and continue to brown.  Should take another 30 to 40 minutes. This gives the stock a rich wonderful flavor.  Once the bones look nicely browned and cooled, place in cheese cloth (to keep the bone fragments from making a mess) and loosely tie OR you can dump it all in and strain later with the cheese cloth.  The only problem is that the herbs and such get filtered out and I happen to like them :-)

    Put water in stock pot and bring to boil.  Add a little water to the baking pan and deglaze, scraping the bits.  Add this to the stock.  Add the remainder of the ingredients above and simmer for about 2 hours skimming the froth.

    When done, strain and set aside.

    • 1 c. wild rice
    • 1/2 c. diced carrots
    • 1/2 c. diced onions
    • 1/2 c. diced celery
    • 1/2 c. chopped mushrooms
    • 1/4 c. dry sherry
    • 2 Tbsp butter
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Rinse rice and add to stock.  Bring to boil and continue cooking till rice is tender.  Heat saute pan and melt butter.  Saute veggies will lightly cooked.  Add sherry to the veggies, swish around and add to the soup when the rice is finished.
    I managed to snag this picture right before the butter melted.....
    As you can see, this soup goes wonderfully well with a warm slice of La Brea's Rosemary Olive Oil Round.  La Brea bread is available at The Market (for those of you in the Fresno area)

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Bubble and Squeak - St. Patrick's Day Brunch (Week 12)

    What a perfect Saturday morning breakfast!  Bubble and Squeak topped with Canadian bacon and a fried egg....YUMMY!  I do try to keep my recipes healthy but  I realize this may be a little of a cholesterol fest.  Happy St. Paddy's Day!!  

    Since I have a "day job", weekends are reserved for the more adventurous recipes.  With that being said, make note that this is not your typical week day morning fare.  
    Bubble and Squeak
    • 1 pound large red potatoes*, cut in to 2 inch chunks (the original recipe had them peeled, I like the skin)
    • 4 medium turnips*, peeled and quartered
    • 1 large bunch of kale* (or a small green cabbage, but our valley kale is MUCH better!)
    • 2 large leeks*, halved lengthwise
    • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
    • salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1/4 c. vegetable oil, plus more for frying and a little nonstick spray
    • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1 pound chanterelle (if you are lucky enough to find them AND have a fat bank account) or cremini mushrooms (you can also just use regular brown mushrooms), sliced
    • 3 green onions, chopped
    • All-purpose flour, for dusting
    In a pot simmering with salted water, cook the potatoes and the turnips till tender (15 minutes), drain.  Transfer to bowl and mash. Add kale, Brussels spouts and leeks to the pot and simmer till tender.  Drain and chop.  Add potato mixture to the kale mixture and toss with Worcestershire sauce and celery seeds.  Salt and pepper to taste.

    In a non stick skillet, brown mushrooms mushrooms with the butter and mix in to the mixture.  Mix in all together and then form patties (about 16 patties).  Flour them and fry in the skillet with 1/4 inch of oil over medium heat. Turn once and cook till browned and crispy.  Transfer to plate.

    Wipe out the skillet.  Give it a shot of nonstick spray and fry your eggs to your liking.  Layer patties on your plate.  Top with Canadian bacon and a fried egg.  Garnish with green onions.

    I served this with a broiled grapefruit half and the remainder of the Irish soda break from last night!

    *Note, each of these wonderful veggies were found at the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays at Kaiser (Smith Family Organic for most but they ran out of kale so I picked this up from their neighboring vendor!)

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Going "healthy" Irish (Week 12 +)

    A little "plus" for week 12 in honor of a HEALTHY St. Patrick's Day.  You may want to save a couple slices with your weekend Bubbles and Squeak!

    Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

    2 c. whole wheat flour
    2 c. all purpose flour, plus a little extra for dusting
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 1/4 c. buttermilk

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little flour.
    2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
    3. Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.
    4. Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minute

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Going locally Irish (Week 12)

    Top of the mornin' to you all as I get ready for St. Paddy's day. 

    I, just so you know am NOT Irish.  I do have 3 half Irish cousins (big shout out to my Cousin Kathy who likes to eat about as much as I do!!)  I will say that my Dad (a master story teller) once told me that St. Patrick (patron saint of the Catholic church in my home town) was actually Croatian.  Well....if you saw "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" you will understand.  Dad can find a way to make nearly everything attributed to the Croatians!  As (Dad's) legend has it...St. Pat was born in southern Dalmaticia (cradle of civilization) to wealthy parents (clearly not realted to us!) and was taken by gypsies as a baby.  My Baka (Grandmother on Dad's side) used to move our beds away form the windows for fear someone would snag us during the night....someone told her about St. Pat....poor dear!  

    After being taken by those nasty gypsies, he was sold in to slavery and worked as a pirate.  He then jumped ship in Ireland and became a priest (I guess bus fare was not an option in that day and age).

    Believe what you like but the recipe for Colcannon bears a very striking resemblance to the Swiss chard and potato dish that Croatian kids crave like a bad drug!

    In an effort to go local and go Irish, I offer up this weeks recipe (taken from Cooking light a number of years ago) modified to suit our valley veggies

    Colcannon Soup - Valley style

    • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
    • 2 1/2 cups diced peeled red potatoes (about 14 ounces)
    • 1 cup diced onion (about 4 ounces)
    • 1/2 teaspoon Meyer lemon sea salt, divided (check this out from a prior blog)
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
    • 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 cups water
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 8 cups thinly sliced organic kale or Swiss chard (about 1 pound)
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
    • 4 strips of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
    • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add potato, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook 6 minutes. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potato is tender.
    • Combine 3 tablespoons water and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large Dutch oven; bring to a simmer. Add kale and thyme. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
    • Place half of potato mixture in blender*. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. (*I leave mine in the pot and use a hand blender stick - much easier!!) Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Add potato mixture to kale mixture; cook over medium-low heat until thoroughly heated.
    Next up for week 12...........Bubbles and Squeak!  YES...this is a recipe and not the aftermath of a night of green beer.  Follow the blog (click on to the right) and find out!!!

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Week 11 - Celebrate National Nutrition Month (+ Bulldog Bites recipe)

    March is National Nutrition Month (it is also National Frozen Food Month, National Flour Month, National Sauce Month and National Noodle about competition!)  In celebration of National Nutrition Month I am blogging today to encourage visitors to my blog as well as my followers to go out and eat something fresh and local......then start tracking what you eat.  Weight Watchers has been very successful using this as one of the tools for weight loss (and to find weak spots in your diet).  It is also helpful in tracking WHEN you eat (my personal demon is the squishy chair opposite the flat screen in my loft......I think it comes packaged with "treats".  Bad Dana!)

    Celebrate good nutrition!!  Visit a farmers market this month!  I have an ap on my iPhone that lists all the farmers markets in my area (and the days of operation).  My personal favorites are the Kaiser market on Wednesdays (mostly because I can grab Dusty Buns for lunch (right) and say hi to Mike and Sandi (get to know your grower, folks), the Vineyard on Saturdays and that little downtown spot behind KJWL on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

     In addition, the College of Health and Human Services and the Central California Obesity Prevention Program published a Buy Fresh Buy Local guide last year that now is a bible of sorts in my office.  You can also find the information on-line at

    If you are reading this on the post date (March 8, 2012), get your "buns" down to the convention center for the Fresno Food Expo!!  Today can see AND TASTE some of our valley's local goodies.  Visit the website at for more details.

    Since I am preparing for my Rotary Club's campus visit to the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market (where the guests will be treated to a farm fresh lunch and a tour), I am going to be baking my little heart healthy Bulldog Bites.  For you adventurous souls (and those of you who did not give up sweets for lent):

    Heart Healthy Bulldog Bites

    • 3/4 c. mashed white beans
    • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
    • 1 c. brown sugar
    • 1/3 c. stevia or white sugar
    • 1/4 c. egg substitute (I used liquid egg whites)
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 c. whole wheat flour
    • 1 tsp sea salt (crushed fine)
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 c. Fresno State raisins

    Preheat oven to 350.  Mash white beans with oil.  Beat sugars, egg and vanilla till smooth and creamy.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl then mix dry with the sugar mixture.  Add in beans, then raisins and mix well.  Drop on to greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes approx. 36 cookies.

    Perhaps after a visit to your local farmers' market, a peek at my blog or a trip to the Fresno Food Expo, you'll come up with a health alternative to National "Something on a stick" Day (March 28th)!

    Saturday, March 3, 2012

    Rack of Lamb on Wilted Greens (Week 11)

    My, my!  So......Mike's wife, Sandie (Smith Family Organic Farm), talked me in to taking a bunch of dandelion greens.  I know they are good for me but  I was perplexed with what to do.  I tried them in a salad and she was right....they are like arugula.  I did however have a large bunch so salad topping was a big much.  I needed something more plentiful.

    So here is my recipe (this is basically a guess as I was making it up as a went along).  I was outstanding!!

    Pistachio crusted rack of lamb on wilted greens.

    1 c. pistachio meats
    2 tbsp. mustard
    2. tbsp honey
    tbsp. olive oil
    splash of wine vinegar
    1 rack of lamb
    sea salt with lavender tbsp olive oil
    3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
    6 cloves of garlic

    3 tbsp oil
    1 bunch dandelion greens
    1 bunch Swiss chard
    2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
    salt and pepper

    Preheat to 375. Take the above (above the rack of lamb) a whirl in the small chopper to the pesto-like consistency.  Trim the rack and remove the fat.  Cut between the racks so that you can season between the ribletts.  Salt and pepper the rack then place meat side up in a pan that has been covered with olive oil.    Heat the rack for about 10 minutes.  Microwave the potatoes for 5 minutes on high to give them a running start. Place the "pre-cooked" potatoes in the oil, add the garlic cloves and salt with the sea salt and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

    While lamb cooks.  Heat 3 tbsp oil till nearly smoking.  Toss in chopped greens (stalks and stems removed), garlic, slat and pepper.  Cook till wilted.

    Place greens on the plate.  Top with three ribletts and make sure to put the nut mixture on top of the ribs....the pesto is sort of crunchy and the nut favor compliments the lamb really well.