Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blackberry Mint Julep - National Mint Julep Day!! (Week 22)

Thank you Kim Collier for bringing to my attention a national holiday that demands celebration "National Mint Julep Day"  I caught her post on Facebook and then went to the link provided.  It had 5 delicious recipes and one that was BEGGING for my attention.  You see, in the Mizuno Farms basket (mentioned in my last post) there was a pint of blackberries.  My, my ....this certainly beats the heck out of National Donut Day (June 1st)  YAHOO!!  Here's the reprint.

Blackberry-Mint Julep
The tartness of the berries in this recipe is the perfect match for the drink’s signature sweetness.
Ingredients (makes 4 drinks)
  • ½ cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 6 tbs sugar
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 4 cups small ice cubes
  • 4 sprigs of mint for garnishing
To start, roughly chop the mint leaves (you can enjoy their fragrance while you're at it!) Using a blender, puree your mint, blackberries, and sugar. You will then want to press the liquid through a fine sieve and discard any seeds. A quick rinse will ensure that your blender is clean. Return the puree to the blender along with the bourbon and small ice cubes. Blend until smooth, divide the mixture among 4 glasses, and garnish each with a mint sprig. Your drinks will have a gorgeous tint of purple from the berries!

Ole' Corn and Zucchini Saute (Week 22)

This week, my basket from Mizuno Farms contained a couple of fabulous zucchini and I just picked up some fresh corn from a local market.  I was SET for the Corn Zucchini Saute!  My Mom was given the recipe from my Teta Bunny (Aunt Frances)...Teta Bunny is the keeper of most of the really good family recipes.  She is also probably the only one who subscribes to all the latest and greatest food magazines AND cooks every day....even at 82!  Granted, my Mom tells me that when her son isn't around for the "taste test", she tries out new creations on her Jack Russel Terrier (named Jack .....but my Dad calls him Jacka**).  I am about 90% sure this is from Epicurious!  This is a fun and fresh way to prepare your corn.  
Corn and Zucchini Saute

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 cups corn (from about 4 ears)
  • 2 medium zucchini (1 lb total), quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallions, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add corn, zucchini, cayenne, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

    On the subject of corn.....I know everyone has their own way of corn on the BBQ.  Mine is nothing unique but my Mom was just introduced to it and GASP ....without foil!  Remove the silk and the husks.  Grab a cold cube of butter and rub it generously over the corn. Sprinkle with sea salt, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.  Grill till evenly golden brown.  Do not let burn.  For an extra treat, sprinkle on a little crumbled Mexican cheese!!  Ole!

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    Nectarine Mint Salsa (Week 21)

    I had a hard time moving away from just fresh sliced peaches.  Typically when I get my first basket, I want to roll around in all these peaches and nectarines.  I had nearly one with every meal so far (plus a few for snacks).

    Stone fruit is such a big deal in our house that my dog (Bissou) actually does this "sad dog" face when he sees me eating them.  If I break down and give him a slice, he does the "happy dog" dance and won't leave me alone!

    (Smiling face to the left....he sulks away when he's doing the "sad dog" face).

    Today I am back to one of my seasonal favorites - with a twist

    Nectarine Mint Salsa
    • 3 to 4 firm white nectarines, chopped
    • 2 to 3 tbsp. of finely chopped green onions
    • 1 large jalapeno seeded and chopped
    • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
    • Juice of 3 limes
    • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
    • 1 tsp. sugar (you can use 1/2 tsp of stevia)
    Add fruit, onions, jalapeno, mint, juice, sugar and ginger in the food processor.  Pulse 2 or 3 times but don't kill it and make it a paste.  Should be small easy to eat pieces.Place in a bowl and cover for an hour or so to let the flavors meld.  Totally delicious and healthy.  Excellent on fish or chicken tacos or grilled salmon.  Here (below) is my BBQ'd quesadillas with smoked Bravo Farms cheese (plated with a little salsa.)    Thanks Genny and Jim for the tasty cheese!!  By the way......the original recipe called for 2 to 3 jalapenos. way!  One big fat one was MORE than enough to light me on fire...whew!

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Oh glorious peaches..... Stay tuned

    It has BEGUN! My glorious season of fresh stone fruit. Mizuno Farms dropped off my first basket. Ah yes ..... Let the munching begin!

    Stay tuned: Peach perfection to follow!

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    Consumed with Kale (Week 20)

    Last night I was on a roll.  I whipped up yet another batch of Kale pesto (this time with Romano cheese and pecans).  I used yesterdays recipe and did a few tweaks (I was out of my Dad's walnuts!  Darn!)  After cleaning up the kitchen, I still had a bunch of kale left so I whipped up a batch of kale chips (thank you Katrina for the inspiration).  I used Kat's easy recipe and they were wonderful.  (Basically wash the kale, dry the leaves and spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with salt (and I added garlic powder) and bake at 375 till crispy.

    I love those things but last night was Wojtek's first time with kale chips.  I trotted up to the loft where he was watching TV.  He was like Pavlov's dog thinking I brought a treat.  When I gently handed him one of my crispy morsels, he popped it in his mouth and gave me "that look."  Still not a huge fan BUT this didn't get the cattle feed comment!!  Things are looking up.

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Carried Away with Kale (Week 20)

    Thank you Mike (Smith Family Farms) for loading me up with kale.  It has been an experience....

    I trotted over to the Farmer's Market outside Kristina's on Saturday and picked up a healthy bag of kale.  My bag had at least 3 kinds of kale, a bunch of dandelion greens and a large bunch of spinach.  I considered juicing it but, since I was in an experimental mood, I thought "let's cook first.....and test it out on my Hubby".

    First up was a braised kale made with dinosaur kale

    •  1 large bunch of kale chopped, rough ribs removed
    • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
    • 1 Tbsp Bari olive oil
    • 1/4 dry white wine (I used Fresno State Chardonnay left over from the night before....left over wine......not a norm in our house)
    • 1/2 to 2 cups of chicken broth
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • About 2 Tbsp lemon juice

    Bring pot of water to boil and cook the cake for 3 to 5 minutes till wilted.  Drain.

    In a heavy frying pan, add oil and garlic and heat.  Add kale and wine, cover and cook till almost dry.  Add stock and cook covered until tender (about 30 minutes).  Add more broth if not tender and continue's where I went "wrong" -- I removed this a tiny bit too soon.  My husband loves veggies on the slight side of raw so I always under cook.  HA not do this with kale.  The "review" was "This tastes like a straw bale!  Honey, why do you insist on torturing me with cattle feed!"

    I personally loved it....he wasn't a fan.  Enough said.

    Next, I moved towards Kale and Toasted Walnut Pesto.  This was fabulous and by far the best way to get the nutrients (no serious cooking).

    • 1/2 c. plain walnuts (Thanks, Dad....he raked them up from our old tree in the backyard, cracked and cleaned them!!  YEAH Dad!!)
    • 2 smashed garlic cloves (I like 3 but, hey, I'm a Dalmatian girl....we live for garlic)
    • 3 c. chopped kale with ribs removed (I used the more tender kale, plain old green kale)
    • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 to 1 c. of Fresno State Arborsana (love the "green" flavor but any good quality olive oil will do)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Chop the walnuts coarsely and toast in a dry frying pan.  Shake/stir till lightly toasted.  Remove from heat.  Pulse garlic in the food processor.  Add kale, walnuts (cooled) and cheese and pulse until chopped.  You may have to open it a few times and push the kale down.  With processor running on low, add the olive oil in a steady stream until you get the consistency you want.  Add salt and pepper to taste (at least a tsp of each).

    As you may have read from my arugula musings, I really like to spread  pesto on bread.  This was exceptionally good with french bread and goat cheese!

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Happy 100 Julia

    So folks.....what is your favorite Julia Child recipe?  Please post.  FresnosFabulous52 has joined the JC100 challenge (making 100 Julia Child recipes...oh my) and we could use a little help from our followers (not sure I can kick out 100 recipes by her birthday in August so I need HELP).

    Fresno's Fabulous 52 Salutes the wonderful Julia Child (another tall gal in the kitchen!)
    Stay tuned for my valley version of her soup "Fresno French Onion Soup"!!

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    Roasted Pork with Kumquat Jalapeno Marmalade (Week 19)

    Oh my.... So simple and so fabulous! I walked in tonight and found a gallon bag of kumquats from my parents farm. It's the same old tree that my Baka used to raid. It's the same old tree that we used to collect "ammo" to fire at cousins Ronnie and Randy. These little gems are MUCH better as a marmalade :-)

    Kumquat Jalapeno Marmalade

    • 2 c. Kumquats, thinly sliced
    • 2 1/2 c. sugar
    • 1/2 c. water
    • 1/2 a seeded jalapeno, chopped

    Place in sauce pan and cook at a slow boil for 15 minutes and until thickened.
    Fabulous!! you have this kick butt marmalade....what do you do with it?

    Roasted Pork with Kumquat Marmalade

    • 1 fat trimmed pork tri tip roast (2 -3 lbs)
    • 1 Tbsp. Meyer lemon sea salt (see prior recipe)
    • Black pepper to coat lightly
    • 1/2 c. or more of the Kumquat Jalapeno Marmalade
    • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
    • 4 or 5 small limes, cut in wedges
    • 12 whole wheat tortillas

    Preheat oven to 350.  Place seasoned meat in the center of a foil lined baking pan.  Foil comes in handy because when the marmalade bakes on, you'll need blasting caps to remove it from your pan!!  Insert the meat thermometer.  Top the roast with generous amounts of marmalade and bake to 150 degrees (45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes).  Remove from oven and layer on a bit more marmalade while warm.  Turn off the oven and turn on the broiler to high.  Place roast back in for only a few moments or until the marmalade caramelizes.

    Remove and let sit for 15 minutes or so.  Slice and serve with lime wedges, freshly chopped cilantro and warm whole wheat tortillas.

    Sunday, May 6, 2012

    Ćevapčići Festival....really!!

    Ćevapčići...."it's what's for supper" (Week 19)

    Nothing in the WORLD is better than the smell of Ćevapčići on the grill.

    After Cinco de Mayo, it was time to get back to my roots. This stuff is so good that they have a FESTIVAL to celebrate it! See next post!


    • 1 lb ground lamb (today I used ground elk)
    • 1 lb ground pork (I actually use Jimmy Dean"s)
    • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
    • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 3 tbsp sweet paprika
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp pepper
    • 1Tbsp Vegeta
    • 1 bunch of parsley chopped
    • 2 sprigs of mint chopped
    Mix the meat together with the onion, garlic and spices.  Roll the meat into small logs about 3 inches in length, the width of your thumb (I was in a hurry tonight so I made them bigger about the length of my palm and about double the size of my thumb). Brush them with olive oil and grill them on a  BBQ.

    Cinco De Mayo, with a twist (Week 19)

    Cinco de of those holidays when everyone switches nationalities for at least a day (see also "St. Patrick's Day")  I think it must be an American thing.....or perhaps an excuse to party...or an excuse to double the number of DUI check points!

    I opted for a much tamer experience (well I had to since I was out on Friday with 400+ others uncorking wine at Ap Cal! Good Job ladies.  As a Fresno State employee, I see tons of those marketing projects and that one was especially creative!) .  So on to Cinco de Mayo.....

    This Cinco De Mayo we did a bit of entertaining and here is the menu:

    Pheasant Enchiladas (recipe below)
    Chili Rellenos (from Toledo's)
    Spanish Rice (with toasted almonds, from my parents orchard)
    Caesar Salad (with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese, peppitas, white cord tortilla chips)
    Grilled Asparagus and red peppers (topped with Fresno State olive oil, sea salt and red pepper flakes)

    As you may recall from a prior post, we had a this UBER expensive hunting trip that netted only a few birds.  My sweet husband is an angel and cleans the birds exactly to my specifications.  This means that I have cleaned and bagged, boneless, skinless pheasant breasts in the freezer.

    Pheasant Enchiladas
    • 4 pheasant breasts
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 2 Anaheim chili peppers, seeded and chopped
    • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
    • 4 Tbsp taco seasoning
    • 12 yellow corn tortillas
    • 1/2 c. fresh salsa
    • 1 large can of red enchilada sauce
    • 3 cups of shredded cheddar
    • vegetable oil

    Rinse the pheasant and toss with the taco seasoning.  Let sit for at least an hour.  Cut pheasant in to small bite size chunks.  In a frying pan, heat a little bit of oil and saute half of the onions and all of the peppers.  Add the pheasant and cook till lightly brown.  Add in the salsa and a tablespoon or so of the enchilada sauce.  In a sauce pan warm the enchilada sauce.  In a new frying pan, add more oil and fry up the tortillas till soft and pliable.  Ladle a little sauce in to a greased 9x13.  Preheat the oven to 350.With the short end in front of you, take one Torricelli, dip in the sauce then  add a layer of the pheasant mixture, sprinkle on onions and a layer of cheese.  Roll up and repeat.  Once the pan is full, take any remaining meat and spoon over the top.  Cover with sauce then cheese.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
    If you are really lucky, you have two wonderful friends (thanks ladies!!) who bookend the meal with a Sun-dried  Tomato Jam crostini and Margarita Cupcakes

    Sorry pictures.  We ate it all before I could take a picture. 

    Oh yes.....speaking of Cinco de Mayo and margaritas.....  I purchased a bag of those tiny-tiny limes and nearly drove myself nuts trying to juice them in to my fresh agave nectar margaritas.  I came up with a great use for my garlic press.  Ole'

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    All Hail the Farmer's Market AND UNWined with ME! (Week 18)

    From Fresno Bee: Mark Crosse
    Oh boy!  Hats off to the Bee for a great little bit on our beautiful Farm Fresh Markets.  They have a wonderful listing of our local markets and lots of detail.  Get out and EAT FRESH.  AS you will see in the article, there are several markets that run year round here in Fresno (most popular being the Vineyard on Blackstone and Shaw, the Downtown Market on 1420 Broadway and the Wednesday market at Kaiser on North Fresno Street.  I am also blessed to have a funky ap on my iPhone that sorts them by date and location - YEAH.  It's all part of the growing trend to eat fresh and local!  To my faithful followers and my classic voyeurs (love you too), I am going on a little "food adventure" and I am inviting you along for the ride.  

    I know you have seen episodes of Anthony Bordain (and know he uses @#$% as a noun, verb and adjective) so I figured "why the @#$% not!?" and I am taking my blog ON THE ROAD in Weeks 24 to 28 (June 10 to July 15).  I am hitting the farm fresh markets in Croatia and Poland....I might even take you wine tasting on the Peljesac Peninsula or wild mushroom hunting in the forests near Warsaw.  Stay tuned.

    However, there is still much to explore here in our beautiful and bountiful valley. 

    I am inviting my followers to share my blog with their foodie and aspiring foodie friends.  Please log in and "follow" my blog.  I would truly and most gratefully appreciate my Central Valley followers to share their local, seasonal recipes in the comment section.  Please let me know what you are cooking in California while I am out eating a healthy portion of lignje na zaru :-)  So please by all means, pass my blog along, invite others to follow so I won't feel homesick (our produce ROCKS!)

    Reminder:  Will you be there?  Come UNwined with me at ApCal this Friday night  at 7pm and beat the Guinness Book of Worlds Record for number of bottels uncorked.  $10 gets you a great bottle of wine, an opener and a ton of fun listening to live music and hanging with your friends!!  Details and other cool stuff at