Category Archives: Entree

TOMATO TIME :: Lemon Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes in the garden
Technically summer has come to an end, yet in the Bay Area the fall harvest summer is just beginning. Aaand, the cherry tomatoes keep on coming. I found this unique risotto recipe, which incorporates roasted cherry tomatoes. It is definitely strong on the lemon flavor, which I like, but be forewarned if you’re not a lover of lemon. This may not be the recipe for you. Recipe from Bon Appetit

Lemon risotto with cherry tomatoes

Lemon Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

12 ounces cherry tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 cups (about) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups arborio rice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups (loosely packed) baby arugula
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1. Preheat oven to 350. Place tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until skins begin to wrinkle, about 12 minutes. Set aside.
2. Pour 5 cups broth into small saucepan; bring to simmer. Cover and keep warm.
3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat in large saucepan. Add onion; saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add rice and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until almost all the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently and adjusting heat if necessary to maintain gentle simmer, about 5 minutes. Continue to add broth by cupfuls, stirring often, until rice is tender, about 25 minutes total.
4. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and all remaining ingredients. Fold in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

cooking risotto

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Apples, Sage and Celery

Stuffed and Roasted Acorn Squash

This recipe is a delicious combination of flavors, it’s filling and comforting yet healthy and a a great way to utilize wintertime squash. The recipe calls for wild rice- I actually used a blend of wild rices that I threw in my rice cooker w/ the chicken stock. (Wild rices usually cook at a ratio of rice to water of 1:3.) I decided to use toasted pecans and fresh thyme in place of walnuts and sage since that’s what I had on hand. The trick with this recipe is to be sure to roast the acorn squash until it is basically fully cooked. Then stuff with the rice, bake another 10 minutes or so, and serve hot. I usually end up with extra rice, which makes a tasty lunch served on top of a bed of mixed lettuce or arugula the next day.

roasted acorn squash stuffed with wild rice

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Apples, Sage, and Celery

2 acorn squash, halved top to bottom, seeds and strings removed
1 1/2 cups wild rice, rinsed
4 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 small apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1 onion, chopped small
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
Small handful of chopped fresh sage leaves
Olive oil to brush or drizzle lightly on squash &/or to saute the vegetables
1 to 1 1/2 cup walnut halves or 3/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 tablespoon butter, divided
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
salt, pepper

1. Bring stock to a boil.  Add uncooked wild rice, reduce heat and simmer about 50-60 minutes or until tender. Let sit.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Score the insides of the squash several times. Put the squash cut side up on a baking pan and drizzle olive oil lightly on top OR coat the inside with 1/2 Tbsp butter and drizzle with a touch of maple syrup. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for about 1 hour until soft and the tops are browning.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, melt two tablespoons of butter (or olive oil), and saute the onions and celery until becoming soft, around 7 minutes. Add the apples, sage, and walnuts or pine nuts. After about five minutes, add the brown sugar and toss to coat. Continue to saute until the celery and apples begin to soften. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

4. Mix the skillet contents with the wild rice in a big bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings.

5. Pull the acorn squash out of the oven when it’s ready. Fill the squash with rice stuffing, drizzle each with olive oil or butter and salt, if needed.  Return to oven for 10 minutes or until a knife goes easily into the flesh of the squash along the top. (If any rice mix is left you can bake it in a separate bowl or heat it in a skillet and serve alongside.)

7. Pull the squash out the oven.  Serve when cool enough to eat.

8. You can make the rice stuffing beforehand or even pre-bake the squash in advance leaving the final 10-15 minute bake before serving.

roasted acorn squashServe this heart-shaped acorn squash on Valentine’s Day! ;)

acorn squash

Serve leftovers with lightly dressed arugula for lunch.

Lamb & Flageolets Stew with Cilantro Relish from “Heirloom Beans”

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m enamored with the cookbook, Heirloom Beans. In perusing the recipes, I had to resist bookmarking every other page. Given the cold winter days we’re experiencing in San Francisco right now, somehow a lamb stew seemed to make the most sense, and I knew this meant I could break out the new Le Creuset. I’m embarrassed to admit, however, after all my excitement for cooking with heirloom beans I ended up using cannellini beans that I already had in my pantry. (Hey, I’m trying  to honor my recent vow to use up the stores I already have.) So, I can’t really vouch for the wonder of flageolet beans, although I swear the next time around I will use the beans according to the recipe. After all, what’s better than an excuse to head down to Bi-Rite? (Even more ridiculous is I bought the lamb at Bi-Rite, but didn’t realize they sold Rancho Gordo beans there at the time. Argh!)

Steve Sando has made me reconsider the non-soaking methods of cooking beans. He is a strong proponent of soaking the beans for even an hour before cooking, but recommends 2-6 hours of soaking. Apparently this helps the beans keep their shape, and I figure this guy knows his stuff. I soaked the beans for 5 hours and was very happy with the results. I recommend making this recipe on a weekend snowy/rainy day. First thing in the morning, throw the beans in cold water to soak, catch up on the news and your laundry, start the simmering in the early afternoon, and you’ll be eating a fabulous early dinner.

I usually associate lamb with rosemary or mint, but I was looking forward to trying this recipe since it calls for a cilantro & lemon relish. Intriguing! I wasn’t disappointed. I also sauteed some chopped Swiss chard with shallot and garlic to serve on the side, but ended up adding it right in along with everything else. Since I normally squeeze a touch of lemon on sauteed chard anyway, the flavor profile fit right in with the relish.

Prather Ranch Spring Lamb with Flageolets and Fay’s Relish
Serves 6.

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
2 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder steaks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 pound flageolet beans, rinsed thoroughly and soaked 2-6 hours (can also substitute with cellini or runner cannellini beans)

1. In large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, add the lamb to the pot and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add more oil if the vegetables stick and splash of water to help release the browned bits.

3. Add the beans and their soaking water to the pot. bring to a boil, skimming off any impurities that rise the top, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly until the beans and lamb are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Fay’s Relish Ingredients:
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 medium shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To make the relish: In a small bowl, stir together the cilantro, shallot, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil.

Remove the lamb from the pot and cut into bite-sized pieces, trimming off excess fat and removing the bones. If you prefer a thicker stew, transfer 1 cup of beans and broth to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth and return to the pot. Return the lamb to the pot, stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and adjust the seasonings.

Serve in warmed shallow bowls and garnish with the relish.

For the sauteed Swiss chard:
1 bunch Swiss chard, thoroughly cleaned, de-stemmed and leaves cut into small pieces
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons water
Salt and pepper
Splash of fresh lemon juice

Directions: Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallot and garlic briefly, 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in the chard well into the oil and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the water, cover, and cook for 6-8 minutes until softened, but still bright, dark green. When cooked, remove from heat and push chard to the side, squeezing and pouring out excess water. Season well with salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice. Serve on the side or mix into serving bowls of stew.

Prather Ranch Spring Lamb with Flageolet Beans

Prather Ranch Lamb with Flageolet Heirloom Beans

Tastiest White Beans

Dried White Cannellini Beans

Mark Bittman has definitely gotten me on the bean train. Having some black beans or white beans in the fridge allows for making quick and tasty meals on the go, such as quesadillas, soups, salads or sides. I recently discovered a love for white cannellini beans. The trick is using homemade chicken stock for the simmering (and not soaking the beans too long in the first step so they can absorb as much of the stock as possible in the second.) The whole process takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours, mostly unattended.

1 pound dried cannellini beans
1 medium onion, chopped small
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced small
1 stick celery, diced small
~1 quart (4 cups) homemade chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Rinse dried cannellini beans. Place in pot with cold water with the water 1-2 inches above the top of the beans. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit about 1 hour. Taste a bean. The beans should be softening on the outside, but still a little hard in the middle, ie. not completely soft yet. Drain water from beans.

2. Add chicken stock to the beans, again with the water level about 1-2 inches above the beans. If you don’t have enough stock, add some water. Turn the heat back onto high to bring to a boil.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion, carrot and celery until soft. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds or so. Stir the vegetables into the beans and stock. Add the bay leaf,  thyme, a few pinches of salt, and pepper.

4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer on low. Check every 10 to 15 minutes. When the beans are completely soft, but not falling apart, remove from heat. It usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour for the beans to completely cook.

5. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Use immediately or store beans with cooking liquid in the refrigerator and reheat as needed. (I find it’s best to only reheat the beans that I plan on using and leave the rest in the fridge, so they aren’t reheated multiple times.) Will last in the fridge for about one week.

Tomato Potato Stew

Tomato Potato and Green Bean StewThis is a new favorite of mine, Tomato Potato Stew. It’s derived from the fact that I keep buying too many tomatoes in all the excitement of tomato season. Then, when I’m running out of vegetables in the fridge, usually what seems to be left are a few carrots and potatoes. Thus, Tomato Potato Stew was born.

Potato and Carrot Stew Simmering on the stove top

This is a hearty, comforting stew. The idea is to cut all the vegetables in large chunks because you want a long simmer to get everything to meld nicely. The tomatoes I cut a bit smaller than everything else since they mostly cook down.  The stew takes about an hour and a half, mostly unattended. I usually place  everything in the pot, get it boiling, then turn it down to a simmer,  wandering off, but checking and stirring occasionally until it’s done. It might be advisable to set the timer for 15 or 20 minute increments so as not to forget about it entirely.

Tomato Potato Carrot and Green Bean Stew

I like serving it over jasmine, basmati or short brown rice. Once you’ve prepared all the veggies and they’re on the stove simmering, it’s a good idea to get the rice going as well. I put it in my rice cooker so it can cook also unattended while the stew is a’stewing.

Continue reading

Spinach Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes

Spinach Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes

This is a great, light summer pasta using fresh cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market. I made it with spinach fettuccine, but regular fettuccine or farfalle would work well too. Serves 1-2.


2 servings spinach fettuccine

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

1 handful of fresh baby spinach leaves

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

~10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or quartered, if they’re large)

salt and pepper

freshly grated Parmesan, if desired


1. Boil water to cook pasta (enough for 2 servings) while preparing vegetables. Cook pasta according to package directions while cooking the vegetables.

2. Heat ~1 teaspoon olive oil in pan. Add onion and saute on medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini. When nearly soft, add garlic and spinach and cook for another minute or two, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in basil and cherry tomatoes. Toss with cooked pasta, adding a bit more olive oil and a pinch or two of salt.

4. Serve with freshly cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Fried Tofu Recipe

Fried Tofu with Shredded VegetablesI had the ingredients to make Mark Bittman’s spicy, grated vegetables recipe (yes- again!) and thought it might be fun to make it with tofu instead of seafood. I usually don’t bread tofu, but decided to give it a try this time using a combination of methods- pressing, marinating, breading and frying.

I’ve tried frying breaded tofu in the past, but have never been very happy with the results. This version came out really well, for one because of the breading mixture of flour, cornmeal and a little cornstarch. Also key is to make sure the oil and saucepan are hot enough before putting in the tofu- this ensures that the outside will brown and crisp up nicely.

First, the low-down on pressing the tofu. In case you’re not familiar with the method, it’s a way of “squeezing” out the extra moisture, so that the tofu will better soak up a marinade. I used a 14 oz. package of Wild Wood organic firm tofu- this brand doesn’t seem to be quite as “firm” as other firm brands I’ve bought in the past, which actually works a little better for pressing.

I pressed the tofu for about an hour and half, although as little as half an hour would be fine. Drain the water from the package, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel (to soak up the water), and place a heavy book (cookbooks work well for this) or a large saucepan on top of the tofu to weight it down and press out the water.

Pressing takes a bit of advance planning, since you’ll also need to marinate the tofu. I usually get the tofu set up for pressing before I head out to run errands, exercise or Continue reading

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter Recipe

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter, Asparagus and Pine NutsI had friends coming over for dinner, and when considering what to make, I remembered a recommendation to check out 101 Cookbooks. I was hoping to make use of my pasta maker, as it’s been collecting dust recently. Lucky for me, the first pasta recipe that came up was Pappardelle with Spiced Butter. The recipe called for saffron egg noodles- again luck was with me- I’d just seen such a recipe in Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Looked like dinner was on!

Apparently, the spiced butter recipe originally comes from Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, in a cookbook called Plenty. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy, because the flavors of this dish are complex, unique, and meld together seamlessly. The recipe calls for saffron tagliatelle, and I probably should have cut the pasta a bit less wide than I did. However, I was so eager to have the pasta appear homemade, that it seemed fun to cut the strips on the wide side.

Making egg pasta for pappardelleI’m still learning how to make pasta using the hand method of piling the flour up on the table, making a little “bowl” for the eggs, and whisking the egg gradually into the flour. The first go ’round didn’t seem to go as well as it could, so I made a second batch. This time it worked much better. In the end, we were glad to have extra pasta on hand and used both batches. Unfortunately, I forgot to put the saffron infused water in soon enough, which would have made the pasta such a beautiful color. Next time!

I added a bit of diced zucchini to the pasta recipe as it’s squash season. This I sauteed very briefly in its own pan with a little olive oil and added it to the final mix at the end. I also forgot the last splash of cream, but it wasn’t remotely missed. The recipe makes a fair bit of spiced butter, but with the additional pasta, I ended up using most of it.

As an accompaniment to the pasta, we made an arugula salad with figs, homemade croutons, goat cheese, and toasted pecans. Delish! I don’t think figs are quite in season yet, but I couldn’t resist, they looked so good.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter Recipe


1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
pinch of salt

1 stick / 4 oz / 100 g butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 medium shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon+ fine grain sea salt
black pepper

1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g dried pappardelle egg pasta (or 1-2 lbs homemade pappardelle)
1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

splash of cream
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g pine nuts, toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley


Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. In the meantime, use a mortar and pestle to crush the saffron and salt into a fine powder. Set aside.

To make the spiced butter: Place the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots gently for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and the butter browns just a bit. Stir in all the spices, the salt, and a bit of freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat (but keep warm).

Salt the water generously and cook the pasta per the package instructions, or until al dente. Barely thirty seconds before the pasta has finished cooking, add the asparagus. Drain and return the pasta and asparagus to the pot. Stir in the saffron salt. Pour about half of the spiced butter over the pasta, add a small splash of cream, and toss well. Taste, then ask yourself if you need to add more spiced butter or salt. Continue adding more butter until it is to your liking, then reserve any leftover for later use. Serve the pasta in a large bowl, or divided across plates, sprinkle with pine nuts and herbs.

Serves 4 – 6.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter dinner

Chicken with Garlic & Herbs, Green Beans & Zucchini with Salsa Verte, and Super Rich Chocolate Brownies

Chicken with Garlic and Herbs

I had a friend over for dinner the other night, and we enjoyed an extremely satisfying meal.

The dinner consisted of:

– Chicken with Garlic and Herbs

– Green Beans and Zucchini with Salsa Verte

– Blend of Wild Rices

– Deep Dark Brownies with Vanilla Ice Cream

There were three of us total, and we each made one dish. (The rice cooker made the fourth dish- a blend of wild rices from Berkeley Bowl.) These were great recipes that went well together.

The chicken recipe came from Nigel Slater’s cookbook, Appetite. It’s basically bone-in chicken parts cooked in a saucepan on the stove top with a wine sauce made from the leftover fat and cooked chicken bits. It’s simple to make and really good.

The Green Beans and Zucchini with Salsa Verte recipe came from the June 2010 issue of Bon Appetit.  The vegetables were briefly steamed in a saucepan and tossed with the “Salsa Verte”- a puree of herbs like a pesto made of basil, parsley, green onion, capers, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic and olive oil.

Regarding dessert: I used to make brownies all the time, but finally got tired of my recipes. I was therefore enthusiastic to try a new recipe I found through Food Buzz on The Peche food blog. I guess it originally came from a cookbook called The Chocolate Bar. Which explains a lot, as these brownies are extremely rich. Freshly baked that night, they were almost like the liquid chocolate cake you often get at restaurants. Very yummy with some vanilla ice cream.

Here’s the chicken recipe:

Chicken with Garlic and Herbs


2 pieces chicken per person (I used thighs and drumsticks), with skin and bones
olive oil
butter – a thick slice
garlic – 6 large, sweet cloves
herbs – a small bunch of fresh parsley, plus thyme (or tarragon or chervil)
wine – a large glass white wine or dry vermouth


Rub the chicken all over with a little oil and some black pepper. In a large pan- it can be high-sided or shalllow but it must have a lid- warm enough olive oil to give a small puddle in the bottom, then add the butter. once the butter starts to froth, put in the chicken pieces and keep the heat moderately high while they colour. A pale and relatively even gold is what you are after.

Meanwhile, put the whole unpeeled garlic cloves on a board and, with the flat blade of a knife, squash them so that they flatten but remain fairly intat. Throw them in with the chicken. Turn down the heat so that the fat under the chicken is gently fizzing, then add a little sea salt, cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook over a low to moderate heat. The time it takes to cook will depend on the thickness of your chicken joins, but you should expect them to need about forty minutes. You will have to turn them during cooking so that they colour on all sides.

While this is happening, pluck the leaves from the herbs and chop them roughly. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish or warm plates, then fish out the garlic (although the garlic has done its work, it may be tender and sweet and is worth adding to the plate, though the skin should be discarded at some point).

Tip off most of the fat from the pan – what you are after is the golden, caramelised juice stuck to the bottom – then turn up the heat, pour in the wine and add the herbs and let it bubble. Scrape away at any stuck bits in the pan, encouraging them to dissolve into the wine with a wooden spoon. Let this all bubble away for a minute or two until you have a thin liquor. It should be pale and interesting. Now taste the juice for seasoning – it may need salt, pepper or a squeeze of lemon juice – and spoon it over the chicken. (Add an extra pat of butter at the end when making the sauce if desired.)

Green Beans and Zucchini with Salsa Verte Recipe.
Super Dark, Chocolatey Brownies Recipe.
Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin from Nigel Slater’s book, Appetite.

Flank Steak BBQ with Grilled Plantains and Tomatillo Sauce

Flank steak barbeque with salad and brown rice pilaf

Beautiful weather + Grilled steak + Grilled plantains + Brown rice with cilantro and sauteed onions + Tomatillo sauce + Salad w/ vinaigrette = Happiness.

Flank steak BBQ with grilled plantains and tomatillo sauce