Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Balsamic Strawberry Mojito and Easy Daikon Radish and Carrot Salad (Week 18)

On the theme of "when life gives you lemons..."  I am happy to report I found a new, kicky drink that is perfect for the season.  TA DA.... The Balsamic Strawberry Mojito.  This is a a sweet and savory drink prepared by muddling in an empty mixing glass a small handful of fresh mint leaves, strawberries, brown sugar and lime wedges, after which you stirs in a jigger of Rum, adds ice, a healthy dose of sparkling water and a 1/2 tsp drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. Mint (organic and very fresh was from KMK Farms and the strawberries were from Kao Farms!  Thanks guys - Delightfully aromatic.

Next on my list was this weird radish: The Daikon Radish.  I was on my way out to Kerman and stropped by Kao Farms (on Shaw just west of Grantland) and picked up the strawberries for my drink.  I also picked up the snap peas that I love (stay tunedmore on them in a later post) and I stood there musing over the ugly looking white carrot-like thing.  The young man behind the counter told me to try them (only a dollar for a bag of three) and he told me to eat them raw in a salad.  OK....I am game.  I trotted off to my car with my loot and drove to my Parents to join them for a Chinese dinner out.

As I walked in the door, I showed the radish to my Dad

 "What the H*** is that?""It's a Daikon radish.  Want some?"
"I'm hungry but not THAT hungry.  For God's sake, go get your mother....she's taking forever to get ready and I am starved."

I walked down the hall, with Dad in tow (he was hoping that my prodding would get her moving).  
She sees me and asks, "Ooooo....what's that?""It's a Daikon  radish.  Want a bite?"
"Sure" and she takes a big bite "tastes like a radish!  No big surprise.  You try it."
I bite off a big chunk "BLEH.... Oh instant heart burn.  Not a good idea....I think it needs salad dressing or something"
Sitting on the bed, very annoyed with the delay"Ah-hem.....Ladies, while you are having appetizers I am STILL waiting for dinner!"

....I digress......

So it was abundantly clear that this radish needed a "friend" or two in the dish.  Here is my easy Daikon radish salad.

Easy Daikon Radish and Carrot Salad
1 large Daikon radish
1 cup chopped carrots
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp ground ginger
salt, pepper and a dash of garlic powder

Gate the radish and squeeze out the water in a paper towel.  Mix the radish with the chopped carrots.  Add remaining  ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to set.  Really turned out tasty and was a great match to my grilled salmon.  I also thought that I could kick it up a bit by adding chopped nuts and raisins so you may want to give that a try.

Over heartburn....but I don't recommend standing in the master bathroom chomping on it raw!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I love my apron + Leek and Walnut Fritters (Week 17)

Everyone needs a new apron from time to time.  It brightens those kitchen moments and gives a little spring in your step.  A shout out and a big thank you to my buddy (and CHHS partner in crime),Donna, for the BEAUTIFUL hand made apron for Professional Assistants' Day.  I fully realize that I didn't qualify for the gift but she was kind enough to humor me when dropping one off for my trust assistant.  LOVE, LOVE , LOVE it!  Thanks!!
Now on to food again.....Thank you Smith Family Organics for the tasty, tender leeks.  Very good ....made better because they were tender and less woody which proved essential for this recipe, Leek and Walnut Fritters.  Again, this met with that tilted head and odd stare (from my hubby)....."OK, Pastus, what exactly is THAT?"  The leeks, when cooked in salted water were tender and blended well with the walnuts.  It was really good......problem is there are two of us most nights for dinner so this whole "adventure" may cost my waist line!!  YIKES.  
Leek and Walnut Fritters
  • 4 Leeks (white and pale green only)  chopped
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice, plus wedge to garnish (sorry .....didn't put in the picture)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Oil for frying

Cook leeks in boiling salted water till tender.  drain, wrap in a towel and squeeze out the water.  Run through a food processor till a paste (I like to not fully process so you have a bit of texture....but that's me).  add crumbs, eggs, lemon juice and remainder of the ingredients. Mix well.  Add more panko if needed.  Mixture is very moist.

Shape in to 3 tablespoon in to either a ball or a patty (depending on your pan - I used a "fry baby" so I made balls).  Place on plastic lined baking sheet and repeat until mixture is gone.  Do ahead.  Can make up to 1 day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate until frying.

Preheat oven to 300.  Line another baking pan with paper towels.  Heat your oil in the pan of choice (or fryer).  Fry till dark golden brown.  When done place on the paper towels and place in the oven till the batch is done.  Wonderful with a Semillion blend!  

Get out there and COOK local .....and follow FresnosFabulous52 ("Join this site" to the side) 

Let's be healthy - "Heart Healthy Bulldog Bites" (Week 17)

Cookie time!  Well, I was hosting Rotary BIZ Day on campus and my offering was a tour of the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market followed by a fresh, local sandwich lunch and a lecture from Dr. John Capitman on "Place Matters".  I just HAD to bring out my Heart Healthy Bulldog Bites.  I love them and they are SO good for you compared to the box cookies.  There is just a "trace" of fat and they are filled with fiber and lots of good things but best of all.....they taste great.

Here's the kicker folks......don't get side tracked by the ingredients and for heavens sake, don't tell your non-foodies what is in it.  It stops them cold.  Seriously, my boss was a hard sell.....called them "hummus cookies" but managed to sneak a few when I turned my back :-)

Heart Healthy Bulldog Bites

  • 3/4 mashed white beans (microwave a 15 oz can of garbanzo or northern white beans for 3 to 4 minutes on high with a bit of water)
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. stevia (or 1/2 c. white sugar)
  • 1/4 c. egg whites or egg substitute
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. oats
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour (you can use all purpose flour too!)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c. Fresno State raisins (the big, fat juicy ones!!)

Preheat oven to 350.  Mash the beans and add the oil.  Beat in the sugars (and the stevia) with the egg and the vanilla until creamy and smooth.  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add beans to the sugar mixture and mix well.  Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the raisins.  Drop heaping teaspoon size cookies on to a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes (mine took 10).  Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 to 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.  Yields about 36 cookies.

By the way......this recipe is in the Alumni Centennial Cookbook, available in the Kennel Bookstore!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fabulous Strawberry Chocolate Granache (Week 17)

Beautiful fragrant strawberries.  Truly this is a wonderful time to be in the valley...especially if you love strawberries!  I toyed with bringing a strawberry shortcake to dinner with Caroline and Ken and thought...nah...let's kick it up a bit.  Voila.....Strawberry Chocolate Granache.  It's rich, velvety and fabulous with ripe valley strawberries.

Strawberry Chocolate Granache

  • 1 8oz package of Baker's semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. strawberry jam
  • 2 basket's of strawberries
  • 1 graham cracker or Oreo cookie crust
  • 1/4 c strawberry jam, melted till liquid as glaze

Roughly chop chocolate squares and cream in a microwave safe bowl.  Melt for about 2 minutes on high, stirring every 30 seconds.  Remove and stir in 2 Tbs. jam.  Pour in to pie crust and chill till firm.  Take tops off the strawberries and place on pie point side up and top with melted jam.  Place back in refrigerator till cool and firm.  Fabulous!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fried Pool Ball Squash (Week 16)

These little gems were too hard to pass up! I was about to leave the Kaiser's Farmers Market on Wednesday (plus I was chatting with my friend Rosemary ....I was distracted) when I stumbled upon these cuties.  Pool Ball Squash or 8 Ball Squash is a hybrid zucchini variety  with speckled flesh and a mild taste.  I had to laugh....they made me want to take up juggling!

Pan Fried Pool Balls

  • 4 or 5 firm Pool Ball squash, cut in to half in pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil (I used my Fresno State Arbosana for this one)
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 good quality anchovy fillets
  • zest and juice of half a lemon

Swirl olive oil in a frying pan.  Heat and add chili flakes and garlic.  After about 30 seconds, toss in the squash and the herbs.Shake pan (make sure its not too hot) then cover  so the squash can steam a bit.  Cook for about 10 minutes shaking ever so often.  In the last 2 minutes add the anchovy, the lemon zest and the lemon juice.  Once anchovies have melted, season to taste and serve immediately.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stir fry and "Pink Salad" (Week 16)

Ah yes...the rains from last week thwarted two of my efforts to get in to a farmers market.  It was so nasty that I had to walk throw a 2 inch deep puddle to get to my boss's office.

So my supply was limited.  That being said, I have two treats:  A simple stir fry (so simple that I won't event deal with weights and measures) and a "dump and go salad from my neighbor that showcased the wonderful strawberries from the farm stand near Shaw and Grantland.

1 bunch of dandelion greens, washed and chopped
double handful of small red and yellow peppers, stems removed and chopped
double handful, heaping of snap peas, strings removed
1/2 chopped red onion
2 tablespoons of Bari olive oil
1 tsp powdered ginger
3 dashes of soy sauce
1 tsp powdered garlic.
Put oil in the pan and heat to nearly smoking. Toss in the veggies ande stir.  Add spices and soy sauce.

Leesa's Pink Salad
1 container of cool whip
1 can of Comstock cherry filling
1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk
1/2 c. chopped nuts
3 baskets of strawberries, stems removed and sliced.  Mix all but the strawberries.  Place in a ringed mold (I lined mine with saran  wrap), freeze.  When solid, unmold and fill with strawberries and surround for decoration.  Decorate with mint leaves.  Slice the mold and top with strawberries.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Uncork Central Valley Wines (Week 15)

A close friend of the family is entering her last days at Fresno State (YAY!) and is wrapping up her senior project.  Typically, I hear about ALL of these world record breaking deals (water balloon toss, egg dying, standing on one foot, etc.) but this one REALLY hits the mark for me.  YES....this is a "Must See".
Four creative young ladies make up "Hip Chicks Marketing" (thanks Hilary for the correction) and they have got a super idea.  Grab a friend and join nus May 4th at 7:00 p.m. At ApCal (Yeah Darren.....this looks like fun!!) for UnWINEd Central California which will feature ONLY Central California Wines and we ALL KNOW this is my GIG, right?  Uncorking begins promptly at 8:00 p.m. and there is live jazz.  What a great way to spend a Friday night in the Valley

From their Press Release:

"Their aim is to gain national recognition for local valley wineries by promoting them through UnWINEd Central California events and throwing the biggest free admission “uncorking” party in the Central Valley.
Appellation: California is hosting this official Guinness World Records ™ event. The current standing record is 308 people uncorking wine simultaneously in Las Vegas. With a free Jazz Blues concert and plenty of wineries being represented, the UnWINEd Central California event intends to make history by breaking a world record.
The history making event will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 4th at Appellation: California in Madera, CA. Wine can be purchased from a variety of wineries including Fresno State wine, for the actual uncorking which will take place promptly at 8 p.m. The first 50 people will receive a free participation kit which includes a bottle of wine and an official opener, sponsored by Metrokane.
For more information or to schedule an interiew, call the girls of UnWINEd Central California at (559) 905-8984 or email Visit our website at and Facebook page"

The last record was in Las Vegas with 308 bottles....A party at my Uncle Tony's when I was a kid could beat this hands down so I think they have a shot.  Hopefully you will come out and be a part of a very unique Central Valley event!! See you there!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Croatian Easter Bread (Sirnica - Week 14)

As promised, I am blogging my annual baking frenzy - Croatian Easter Bread!  This time I used only local fresh eggs, organic and locally grown lemons plus my usual major imported Croatian booze!  You can use nearly any golden colored liquor but it has to be sweet.  You can find this lovely kruskovac at Alpine Village Market in the LA area (when I lived in San Pedro - aka 'Pedro - this place stocked most of the supplies necessary to create a totally faux Hvar!)  Easter is a really big deal to my Dad's side of the family (only slightly more than my Mom's which come from the Dubrovnik region) .  This may be because of the whole procession on Hvar.  See (LOL....most of these guys in the You Tube clip look like my relatives!!)

Easter Bread
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 packages of yeast
1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 cubes butter
1/2 c. regular milk
1 c. sugar
1 (6 oz) can evaporated milk
1 whole eggs
1 egg yolk (white reserved to brush later)
1 orange zest
1 orange juiced
1 lemon zest
1 Tbsp. anise flavoring
1/2 c. sugar
1 jigger of brandy
1 jigger of kruskovac (pear liquor)
2 1/2 c. flour (plus about 3 or 4 more c.)
1/4 c. Bari orange infused olive oil

Pick out three separate bowls and set them aside.  In the first bowl, mix the top set of ingredients in to a yeasty batter then set aside in a warm quiet place until bubbly. In a sauce pan, mix the second set and heat until the sugar dissolves.  Keep warm.  In the second brown combine the last set (EXCEPT for the flour).  Do not use any booze that is brown or dark, the mixture needs to be anise shade of golden yellow.  Mix it well and set aside.  In your last and hopefully the largest of the bowls, sift the 2 1/2  c. of flour.  Add the contents of bowl 2 (the one with the eggs) and then add the contents of the sauce pan slowly.  Mix well then add the yeast batter. Mix well.  Add more flour, bit by bit until it forms a soft and stick dough.  Turn it on to a floured board and kneed for 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth.   Place in an oiled bowl (I used the orange infused Bari olive oil to keep the flavor in the bread, a must in my book).  Let raise about an hour.  Punch down and form in to four balls and place in oiled cereal bowls (spray Pam also works fine for this).  Place back in the oven to let raise.  They should double in size which may take another hour or so.  Bake bread in preheated oven of 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before done (at 30 minutes), brush with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar.

Totally wonderful toasted.  This was a HUGE treat after midnight mass when I was a kid.  The smell is heavenly and this bread was a very competitive thing when I lived in 'Pedro.  Every female relative I knew (in the older generation) swore they made the BEST and they NEVER gave out their "secret" recipe.  My Mom tells me that mine is darn near perfect so I am passing it on.  May the tradition continue!

Dobro tek i sreta uskrs!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seriously, unhealthy? Try my Yuchoy!! (Week 14)

I am lucky enough to get the "Maddy Report" every day which sends me summaries of news clips, etc.  I always scan them for possible re-posts for work (related to health and human services).  This morning I stumbled upon something AWFUL.  California’s Health: County by County Rankings  !!

Oh my OUCH!  Like Dr. John Capitman told me (and also supported by his research...."Place matters").  Fresno ranks 42 out of 56 and counties like Madera, Kern and Tulare are all lower.  Sad really considering we are in the bread basket of California.  Add to this the weather here is such that you can pretty much be outside most days of the year being physically active.  The factors contributing to this nasty ranking are obesity, smoking, physical inactivity and excessive drinking (plus automobile fatalities, just to keep the numbers interesting).  Come on readers!!  Seriously?  We need to start a healthy trend:  The San Joaquin Diet!  Fresh, local and in season with a decent amount of exercise.  Stay tuned, follow my blog, check in at Taste's change this number for the better (and please buckle up!)

Sooooooo... It's just my opinion but I think anyone can be healthy in this Valley.  We have it ALL!!  This would include today's pick from my Farm Market bag - Yuchoy!
Yuchoy soup and parsnip

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium potato, peeled
  •  3 parsnips, peeled
  • 30 yuchoy stalks (with leaves and flowers)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 c. white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (light in color....brown makes it look nasty)
  • Sour cream and green onions for garnish

Cut the stems of yuchoy (each comprising several branches) in coarse pieces.  Separate the leaves and flowers.  Stems take longer to cook J Then cut the onion, potatoes and parsnips into pieces. In a large saucepan or casserole, sweat the onion in olive oil. When translucent, deglaze with the balsamic vinegar. Add yuchoy stalks (without leaves and flowers), potatoes and parsnips. Salt and pepper. Stir in broth and simmer for thirty minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add finally the leaves and flowers of yuchoy and cook for one minute only. Using a hand blender (my favorite) mix to make a smooth soup that looks like a green lawn….very pretty for Easter. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of green onion or chives.

Next fabulous Easter Bread made with farm fresh local eggs and Farm Market oranges!!!!