Roasted Buttercup Squash and Soba Noodle Salad with Creamy Miso Ginger Dressing

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This hearty autumn salad was inspired by last week’s trip to Napa Valley. On our first day, we drove to Sonoma County and spent a lazy afternoon wandering around Healdsburg. SHED, the foodie paradise market and café, was by far our favorite spot. My friend Domonique, a San Fransisco native, mentioned that it’s probably the most instagrammed place in wine country and after seeing it for myself I understand why. SHED exemplifies Northern California culture – hyper fresh, local, sustainable, organic, simple and thoughtful. The eat-local/organic/farm-to-table movement now prevalent everywhere began in this little corner of the world, and spending time there had a profound impact on me. Continue reading

Weekend Kitchen: How to Grill a Whole Fish

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One of the best parts about a coastal vacation is the abundance of locally caught seafood, and we enjoyed it almost every night during our recent sailing trip. Returning home, I vowed to make fish a more prominent part of our diet (much to the dismay of my teenaged son, who already views our once-a-week salmon as excessive fish consumption). I took inspiration from the bluefish we caught during our trip to the Vineyard Continue reading

Golden Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Pistachios and Clementine Vinaigrette

DSC_0262Wow. It’s been four months since I’ve posted. FOUR MONTHS! Can I let Robert Frost explain? His poem The Armful says it all, and much more eloquently than I ever could:

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns—
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road.
And try to stack them in a better load.

The good news is that my sabbatical allowed me to thoughtfully gather ideas and create. And I can’t wait to come here each week and share with you.

I’m starting with this salad. I LOVE this salad. It’s a super yummy nutritional powerhouse perfect for keeping you healthy during the cold winter months.  Continue reading

Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

 

DSC_0044 Isn’t this French kale beautiful?  I know, I know – the words kale and beautiful don’t normally sit side by side in the same sentence, but the dark green and purple all ombréd together and those perfect, rounded ruffles make it the ODLR of the vegetable world.DSC_0023I brought the above kale home from Elawa Farm’s garden market, tore it into bite sized pieces (which almost made me sad), massaged it with vinaigrette (yes, massaged it…we’ll get to that), and tossed it with ingredients that reside in just about everyone’s pantry.DSC_0212DSC_0237Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

serves 2 for a main course, 4 as a side

for the vinaigrette (makes 1 cup) –

  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

for the salad –

  • 1 bunch kale (any variety), center ribs removed and discarded, leaves torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, from a jar or home roasted, cut into strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted almonds, store bought or homemade (recipe to follow)
  1.  Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until emulsified.
  2. Add torn kale leaves to a large salad bowl.  Pour 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette onto the kale leaves and massage with your hands for a minute or two until kale begins to soften (kale will wilt in a good way and lose its bitter edge).
  3. Add the sliced roasted bell pepper, chickpeas, and a tablespoon or two more of vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.
  4. Divide salad among plates and sprinkle with honey roasted almonds.  Pass extra vinaigrette at table.

Honey Roasted Almonds

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • big pinch kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together honey, oil and salt in a small bowl.  Add chopped almonds and stir to coat.
  3. Spread almond mixture evenly on baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes until nuts are light golden, stirring once during baking.  (Be sure to monitor nuts carefully – they burn in the blink of an eye!)
  4. Allow to cool completely.

DSC_0014This cheery bouquet of yarrow also came home with me…how could I resist?

 

Summer Lovin’

Happy Friday!  It feels like summer is finally here to stay, thank goodness.  Don’t you love how relaxed everything becomes, from the clothes we wear to the way we entertain?  The seasonal shopping bug bit me recently, so I thought  I’d share a few of my warm-weather discoveries.  Chill the white and cue the sunshine!Does anything say summer more than seersucker?  This tablecloth arrived on my doorstep today and I can’t wait to break it out for a casual al fresco dinner.gSKj6_1-86LOCm6hLDh_YVDKc2MEz3J5ge04TLAqVvZ4G4rPmejb7HfN5jo-aEsLP2HyiGSKKLJFiLHcaxs=s1100-cThese  oyster shell salt cellars will be the perfect finishing touch to your summer table.Juliska’s rope detailed wicker caddy  is weathered and vaguely nautical without being theme-y.My official drink of summer is well chilled Lillet Blanc with a slice of orange or plum.  It’s also fantastic over ice with a big splash of Pellegrino and a little splash of Grand Marnier. But I would advise against trying to quick chill your Pellegrino by putting it in the freezer then forgetting about it.  Why, oh why, did I not set a timer?!  If anyone knows how to undo this mess, I’m all ears.  Though it is keeping me out of the ice cream, so maybe I should leave it.  I’ll be cooking from this book all summer long.  The recipes are simple, delicious, and focus on ingredients from your garden (or farmers’ market).  The roasted cherry tomato and goat cheese dip was a huge crowd pleaser at our first summer get-together.

This bad boy was my Mother’s Day present (yes, I asked for it – it was not a vacuum-cleaner-for-Christmas type situation).  So far I’ve smoked a pork shoulder and baby back ribs, both of which were amazing, the first of which took over 8 hours (getting us to the table at 11:30pm).  Lesson learned.

This raffia bag has been on my shoulder every day since the weather turned warm.  Light weight, sturdy, and roomy, it is the quintessential summer bag.Speaking of bags, I literally did a happy dance when my monogrammed clutch and laptop case arrived in the mail.  Buttery soft and beautifully made, they are the essence of simple chic.  I love the summery, grass green (obviously) but it comes in over 50 colors, monogram optional.  And the price point can’t be beat!

I picked up this striped jersey maxi skirt for a song.  Super soft and flattering (even with the horizontal stripes), it will go over my swimsuit as a quick cover up, or out to dinner with a knotted-at-the-waist white button-down.  And it’s an extra 25% off the sale price online right now with code SUMMERTIME.Warm weather begs for a LWD, and this one can go from casual Saturday night barbecue to dressed up Sunday brunch.And finally, it wouldn’t be summer to me without hydrangeas.  I’ve had great luck with the Endless Summer variety – each year I plant them in big pots on our porch, then transfer them into the ground before the first frost.

Images 1-4, 7, 8,10 & 11 from corresponding highlighted retail sites; 5, 6 & 9 via me,  12 via Martha Stewart.

Seasonally Inspired: Raspberry Rhubarb Compote

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Rhubarb is in season right now, so catch it while you can.  Instead of making the usual suspects (pie and crisp), why not try this simple, delicious, sweet-tart compote?  It can be spooned over ice cream, big meringues with whipped cream, pudding or pound cake, or swirled into your morning yogurt if you’re feeling virtuous.  I’m having a friend for lunch tomorrow and plan on serving it over panna cotta that’s chilling as I write this.  I’d planned on making something else for dessert, but abandoned those plans as soon as I spotted those crisp, rosy stalks at Elawa Farm’s garden market this morning.

Raspberry Rhubarb Compote

makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 5 medium stalks rhubarb chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 6 ounces fresh raspberries (1 small container)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Cut bean in half width-wise and save other half for another use.  Cut bean-half length-wise and scrape seeds out by running knife along length of pod.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb, raspberries, vanilla bean seeds and the pod you just scraped them from, lemon zest, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Stir.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until rhubarb has softened.
  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash some of the softened rhubarb pieces and stir to distribute.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Remove vanilla bean pod.
  6. Spoon warm over ice cream or allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.  Compote will thicken as it cools.

 

 

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

DSC_0013This Greek inspired lentil salad hits all the right notes – crunchy, creamy, light-yet-filling, and bursting with bright flavors.  It’s a great take-along for a Memorial Day picnic, and though it stands alone as a vegetarian entree, it would be a fabulous accompaniment to anything from burgers to grilled chicken.  The lemony dressing will seem like too much at first, but the lentils will absorb it over time.  French green lentils are worth seeking out – they have a wonderful nutty flavor and do not get mushy like other lentils.  I also love French feta if you can find it – it is milder and creamier than other varieties.

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic, one peeled and two minced
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup feta, small diced
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with one peeled garlic clove and a large pinch of salt.  Add lentils and cook over medium-high heat until lentils are tender and cooked through, 18-20 minutes.  Drain, then place in a large bowl.
  2. While lentils are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the two minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the still-warm lentils.  Allow to cool completely.
  4. While lentils are cooling, chop veggies, herbs and feta.  After chopping the tomatoes and cucumbers, place in a colander lined with paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Add all veggies and herbs to the cooled lentil mixture.  Stir in feta last.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.