Things I have made (8.13.14)

A few of my favorite things that I made the previous weeks:


Baked egg with bean salad and several pickles.

clam dinner

Clams with garlic, butter, and white wine.
Oh, and parsley.

cantaloupe agua fresca

Cantaloupe agua fresca, good for those overripe melons and humid days. One tip: you don’t have to strain the fruit out if you puree it fine enough, like in a Vitamix.

Sesame soba with carrot-radish-cilantro pickles, chopped peanuts, green onions, and avocado.

Finally, if you are looking for an easy pickle for an overabundance of cucumbers, try the kogi cuke recipe. It works well for thinly sliced radishes, too.

Bon appetit!

Posted in list | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, hello there.


“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
-Mary Oliver

I had, in fact, planned on reviving this blog around this month last year. Due to unforeseen circumstances (a light euphemism if there was one), that never happened.

Until one day, looking through my old notebook, I found what I had planned to write then, and it was too good not to share.

Here goes:
Anyone who says summer is relaxing hasn’t lived in the South. It’s in fact, very tiring– the humidity, the upkeep of incessantly growing vines, the brutal heat. So while I appreciate the virtues of Mexican corn and Szechuan eggplant and tomato stacks, sometimes, simplicity is best.


Here’s a recipe for such simplicity:

  • bunch of tomatoes, preferably homegrown
  • bunch of basil
  • Chapel Hill Creamery mozzarella (or any local mozzarella)
  • your favorite extra virgin olive oil (I use smoked olive oil)
  • salt (can use smoked salt if your oil isn’t smoked)
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Wash tomatoes. Wash basil. Assemble on plates/bowls.
  2. Mix salt and pepper and olive oil in a small bowl.
  3. Slice mozzarella.
  4. Sit comfortably in a screened porch, dip mozarella in oil mixture, wrap a basil leaf around it, and eat. Immediately pop a tomato in your mouth.
  5. Enjoy the flavor explosion and watch the slow, gentle sunset.
Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

[22/52] Week in Food

Photo Jun 01, 2 20 02 PM
lunch: green tomato and ricotta tartine with vin cotto @Scratch Bakery

June 1, 2012
dinner: salad bowl of peanut lettuce “noodles”, marinated radish,  sesame cucumber pickle,  roasted mushrooms, roasted tofu,  steamed broccoli

dessert: peach slices in Julian hard cider Cherry Bomb

spanish tortilla and fennel slaw

brunch: spanish tortilla and fennel slaw
dinner: raw oysters, soft shell crab with cauliflower, lemon tart

June 3, 2012
brunch: sesame cucumber pickle and tomato salad along with leftovers for brunch

June 3, 2012
dinner: salad bowl of cauliflower and carrot chow chow, savory roasted tofu with roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, smoked farmers cheese, fennel orange soda

June 4, 2012
a Korean style dinner: Korean BBQ tempeh, lettuce mixed with bulgogi sauce, cucumber-avocado salad, nori, brown rice, roasted green beans with parmesan

my summer lunch @pando
lunch: 3 salad platter: Greek, tomato and corn, deviled egg @Parker and Otis

yummy dinner
braised leeks and fennel with muscovado lentils
roasted zucchini with parmesan

First thursdays at oval park
Chirba Chirba veggie dumplings and noodles
a slice of cheese pizza and lil’ farm squash slice @piepushers

Whew. That was a productive cooking week!

Posted in list, week in food | Leave a comment

Braised leek and fennel with brown sugar lentils

June 6, 2012

Pretty, no? While the dish sounds complicated, it is actually fairly straightforward and a great way to use up last of spring’s root vegetables, leeks and fennel. And while it is a little bit sweet, the savory flavor of leeks and fennel will make up for it!

yummy dinner

Braised Leeks with Muscovado Lentils (adapted from Sprouted Kitchen)


  • 2 leeks (Bluebird Meadows has a couple excellent o
  • 1 TB unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 cup Imagine No-Chicken Broth
  • 2 tsp agave
  • salt and pepper


  • 2/3 cup Black Beluga Lentils
  • 1/2 TB unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 TB light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 TB fresh parsley (from my garden!)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Halve leeks and wash them- make sure there is no grit on them. Heat butter on a pan at med-high heat and add leeks, cut side down. Cook 3 minutes or until browned.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil, flip, and cook 2 more minutes.
  3. Add broth, agave, salt and pepper. Turn down heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 25 minutes til buttery (it is okay to have a bit of liquid left in the pan, but if you want, you can let it simmer til the liquid is gone while you finish cooking the rest).
  4. Add lentils and 1 1/4 cup water and a pinch of two of salt into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and let cook gently until water is boiled off (you don’t want the lentils to be mushy).
  5. Heat butter and oil in another pan and then add lentils. Stir, then add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and coat evenly (you don’t have to cook this for very long).

Braised Fennel (adapted from La Tavola Marche)

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • a few pinches of red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 large fennel, quartered
  • a glass of white wine (sweet and dry is good)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat olive oil with pepper flakes and garlic until golden brown. Discard or set aside the garlic.
  2. Add fennel, season with salt and pepper, and sautee for a few minutes.
  3. Add wine and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 25-30 minutes or until fennel is tender. As with the leeks, it is okay to have liquid left over, but you can let it cook until the liquid is gone.

On a plate, put the braised leeks and fennel, then the lentils, and sprinkle the dish with parsley.

Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan

roasted green beans

Summer is definitely here. You can tell when there are bushels and bushels of green beans at the market.

If you are looking for a quick way to cook green beans without adding a pot to the stove, consider roasting them. They get soft and a little bit sweet, and complement the spices and cheese very nicely. It’s really a great side dish for any meal, and the leftovers are good cold with a bit of red wine vinegar.

Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan (replicated from Shutterbean)

  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • a pinch of red chili pepper flakes
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Chapel Hill Creamery Asiago
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place green beans, olive oil, pepper flakes and lemon juice on a baking sheet and toss well. Season with salt & pepper and roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
  2. Toss green beans and continue to cook another 10 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle Parmesan on top of green beans and cook for another 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve warm with squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cauliflower and Carrot Chow Chow

cauliflower chow chow

There’s a cauliflower surplus at the market, and while it’s very short, I’ve been buying lots of it and needed to figure out a way to use it up. While I love roasted cauliflower, I think cauliflower shines as a pickle. This chow chow is a great way to use up cauliflower and extend its eating season by a month. It would go well with savory tofu or other sausage-like dishes.

Cauliflower and Carrot Chow Chow, adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1/2″ or bite size florets
  • salt
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1 c apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 c sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c plus 1 1/2 TB sugar
  • 4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 1/4 tsp celery seeds
  1. Boil water with salt (8 cups + 1 TB salt). Add cauliflower and blanch for 2 minutes.
  2. Drain cauliflower and put on a tray. When cauliflower is cool enough to handle, put a mix of cauliflower and carrots in a jar (layering is fine).
  3. Boil apple cider vinegar, onion, sugar, yellow mustard seeds, dry mustard, and celery seeds all together. When sugar is dissolved, pour over the cauliflower and carrot mixture in the jar.

Seal, let cool at room temperature, and enjoy within a month.

Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fennel Syrup

fennel mix drink

This is a great way to extend the flavor of fennel and also an answer to “what am I going to do with all these fennel fronds?” Fennel syrup, with just star anise, tastes strongly like a yummy licorice soda with a very strong anise flavor. Fennel syrup, with star anise, cinnamon, orange zest, and ginger, tastes a bit more mellow and pairs very nicely with cucumber and mint for a very close version of nonalcoholic Pimm’s Cup.

June 9, 2011

Fennel Syrup (from Gluten-Free Girl)

  • 3 cups chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • optional:
  • 2-inch piece of ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • zest of one orange
  1. Put fronds in a large bowl and pour sugar on top. Mix the fronds and sugar and make sure most of the fronds are covered in sugar (it is okay to have bits of green pieces not entirely covered).
  2. Cover and leave alone overnight, or 2 nights (in my case, leave overnight at room temperature and next day, mix again and cover and put in refrigerator for another night).
  3. When ready, pour in enough water to cover the sugar mixture and let sit for one hour.
  4. Pour all into a pot, and add star anise and other optional ingredients. Boil at a med-high heat, then turn down to a simmer for about 15-35 minutes until thick. (It never really got thick, but you could tell it was sweet- try tasting a bit of it).
  5. Strain using a colander or cheesecloth and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and use it in drinks.

Suggested uses:

  • mix with fizzy water
  • muddle lemon cucumber and mint, add syrup, ice, and fizzy water
  • fizzy water and orange juice
Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Fennel Slaw/Relish

Fennel, cucumber, radish pickle

So one thing you should know about me is that I eat a lot of pickles. I am always looking for good pickle recipes, and this was inspired by, of all things, rutabagas. I owe you a post on rutabagas – they are actually quite delicious when pickled.

Fennel, cucumber, radish pickle

Anyway, this was a recipe for fennel and rutabaga pickles, but I had cucumber and radishes on hand, so I experimented with a fennel, cucumber, and radish pickle. Wow. That blew my mind, and I made some more when fennel became available at farmers’ market.


Eventually, radishes reached their peak, so I substituted carrots instead. It’s still quite good, though a bit crunchier. If you are looking for something that will give you a zip and zing, these pickles are for you. They complement just about everything.

I find that these are best julienned, rather than sliced, but you’re welcome to experiment and give them a try.

spanish tortilla and fennel slaw

Fennel Slaw/Relish adapted from Wise Acre Eatery

  • 1 bunch radish or carrots, julienned
  • 4-5 kirby cucumbers, julienned
  • 1 fennel bulb, julienned
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced (I’ve also used green garlic)
  • 1 TB toasted fennel seeds (just heat them on a dry pan til fragrant and dark)
  • bunch of fennel fronds
  • 1 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 c water
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
  1. Put radish/carrots, cucumbers, fennel, garlic, fennel seeds, some fennel fronds in a quart jar. If they don’t fit, you can separate the jars and make them more less equal- just leave about an inch or so of headspace for the brine.
  2. Boil vinegar, sugar, water, salt, and pepper flakes together until sugar dissolves. Simmer for a bit (3-5 minutes) and then immediately pour into the jars.
  3. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Serving suggestions:
on top of cuban black beans with goat cheese and cilantro, top of fried or boiled eggs, in tuna salad, added to broiled/grilled fish, taco topping

Also, if you have an excess of fennel fronds, you can chop them up and kinda mash them to make fennel vinegar:

  • 1 cup or more of white wine vinegar
  • fennel fronds, chopped
  1. Boil 1 cup of white wine vinegar.
  2. Put fennel fronds in a mason jar and mash them with a fork or back of a spoon.
  3. Add white wine vinegar and mash a bit more. Let cool to room temperature. If there is room, you can add 1 cup more of white wine vinegar or to the top of the jar.
  4. Refrigerate and use in place of regular vinegar in salad dressing recipes.
Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Savory Roasted Tofu

June 3, 2012

I have this notebook full of recipes – when I encounter a new recipe, I write it down before I start cooking so I remember what to do, and sometimes I add notes to the book.

This recipe is from the beginning of the book, way back in 2008, and I didn’t find it impressive at first. However, I’ve changed a lot in the way I cook tofu, and I think I have a better grasp on how to best cook it.

This is a savory version of tofu, for when you want something not too Asian-based.

Savory Roasted Tofu (adapted from F. Pea)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, microplaned
  • 1 block tofu, pressed for at least 20 minutes.
  • 2 handfuls of shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and sliced
  1. Mix the marinade (oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, thyme, mustard, garlic) and set aside.
  2. Chop the tofu into cubes and add the marinade. Make sure to coat tofu well (this is better done in a baking dish).
  3. Marinate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  4. When ready, preheat oven to 450 F. Put tofu without marinade (reserve the marinade) on a baking sheet and roast for 20-35 minutes, turning halfway through.
  5. Put mushrooms into the marinade and coat well. Place into the same oven and roast for 35-40 minutes until crispy and slightly charred.

Serving suggestions: in a hero/sub, on a salad, as a side dish…

The salad in the above photo is just a bowl of lettuce, some cauliflower and carrot chow chow, chopped tomatoes, smoked farmers’ cheese (from Chapel Hill Creamery), savory tofu and mushrooms. It was inspired by all the ingredients you normally use in a sandwich, and I wanted a breadless version.

Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Spanish Tortilla, the easy way

spanish tortilla and fennel slaw

This is cooked more like a potato and onion frittata. You basically slice the potatoes and onions through the mandoline, and because the potatoes are fingerling, they will cook faster than normal potatoes. Add the scrambled eggs mixture and you’re almost done. Just add some shredded cheese on top, broil, and it becomes a savory brunch masterpiece.

Spanish Tortilla, the easy way

  • about 1 cup fingerling potatoes (Bluebird Meadows)
  • one vidalia onion
  • 4 TB butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs (Fickle Creek Farm)
  • dash of milk
  • parsley (optional)
  • a cup or so of shredded Chapel Hill Creamery Hickory Grove (cheddar would be a fine substitute)
  1. Slice fingerling potatoes and onion on a mandoline. You should have about 2-3 cups of potato-onion mixture.
  2. Heat butter on a skillet (a 9″ is fine) on med-high. Add onions, sauté until soft, then potatoes. Cook, continuing to stir, until potatoes are clear-looking. Add salt and pepper to taste, and “even out” the mixture.
  3. Beat 4 eggs with salt, pepper, and a dash of milk. Add to the skillet and lower the heat to a med-low. Cook until eggs begin to set at the sides (you can insert a thin spatula at the side and see if the eggs are solid).
  4. Turn on the broiler to high. Sprinkle parsley and cheese on top of the tortilla and place in broiler for 5 minutes or so, until the cheese melts or turns a little brown.
Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment