Archives for category: Organic

white chicken chili indian eggplant 032Kale is the new black.  It is so trendy I even saw a kale soda by Hansen’s on the shelf the other day.  My local market has lacinto kale, red winter kale, green kale, baby kale and many packaged snack foods made with kale.  If you go to the market late in the day where I live in Boulder Colorado it is likely the kale display will be picked over and only a few sad bunches left

The mustard greens are often left untouched.  Mustard greens are part of the cruciferous family of veggies that are powerhouse vegetables for phytochecmicals that are beneficial in a healthy heart.

Mustard greens are quick cooking and add a wonderful slightly bitter flavor to dishes.  Grab some instead of kale.

My favorite way to prepare mustard greens is a light saute in olive oil or hemp oil.  Mustard greens are also great added to soups or stews.

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A  veggie popular combination I make for my clients is a combination of baby kale, chard and mustard greens that are lightly sauteed in hemp seed oil or olive oil with just a dash of sea salt.  I remove the greens from the pan when slightly under done so that the carry over heat finishes the cooking process while the greens rest.  Mustard green take only a few minutes to saute unlike full grown kale or collard greens that take longer to cook.  Pair sauteed mustard greens with pasta, curries, soups or as a healthy side dish.  I  like to thinly slice mustard greens and add them to a salad with a sweet component such as dried cranberries or dried cherries to balance the mustard flavor.  Mustard green salads are great with dried fruits, roasted fennel or roasted sweet potatoes and can be dressed with a sweet balsamic.

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To choose perfect mustard greens look for leaves that do not have any yellow or brown spots.  Leaves should also be firm and spring back to the touch.  The color should be a bright green color for the freshest greens.

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Next time you are at the market choosing greens add some mustard greens to your cart and you will be glad you did.

Farmers Market opening day 021

I love Boulder.  The farmers market is all local.  Everything.  Here are some pictures from opening day for you to enjoy.  I loved the tender spring greens.  All of the local meat and poultry farmers added this year was fantatastic.

Farmers Market opening day 031The people with this company, Zuke are truly food nerds.  The fresh and clean tastes of the pickled veggies they make are extrodinary.  Truly the best pickled foods I have ever had.Farmers Market opening day 039

Lovely Mushrooms.  Farmers Market opening day 145Something to do with your old crocs!

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Local and tasty granola.

Farmers Market opening day 072Windsor Dairy is a favorite of mine.  This high quality dairy keeps adding more tasty selections each year.  The eggs I bought from them had yokes so bright orange they looked un-real.  The taste was outstanding.

Farmers Market opening day 090These tender greens were delicious with a citrus ginger dressing.

Farmers Market opening day 280Sweet carrots.

Farmers Market opening day 355Beautiful babies.

Farmers Market opening day 007These perfect little darlings come from Street Fare.  This is a program by the Boulder Homeless Shelter that trains people in the baking industry.  I had to pick up a box of treats at this stand.

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Last weekend I catered a lovely little party in Jamestown.  My friend Andy had asked me a couple of months ago to cook for his birthday party.  I knew it was coming up but did not realize that he didn’t have my phone number.  I was in Jamestown the friday before dancing at Town Hall to a great line up of local bands including the Gasoline lollipops.  I went out on the porch to cool off because the place was packed and the music had us all dancing and started talking to Nolan Farmer.  Andy rents a room in Nolan’s’ beautiful house nestled in the mountains above Jamestown.  Nolan asks if I am coming to Andy’s party on Sunday.  SUNDAY!  I told Nolan I better call Andy in the morning because I am supposed cater the party for him.  I called Andy in the morning a we worked out a quick and healthy menu.  Andy is committed to eating healthy and he is doing a great job.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 109Here is the birthday boy telling a joke.

I arrived at Andy and Nolan’s on Sunday and had a great day cooking with Andy and listening to the talented Nolan Farmer playing his guitar and singing some of the wonderful bluegrass songs he has written.  Does it get any better than that?

I made a kale and cabbage slaw with oven dried apples.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 056A light platter of salami and olives with some delicious fresh oranges.

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My whole wheat carrot cake cupcakes were a hit.

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Andy made a fantastic guacamole.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 089I also made some yummy goat cheese and veggie flatbread.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 088The center dish was an oven roasted salmon fillet with marinated baby heirloom tomatoes with garlic and fresh basil.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 040The guests loved the food but I think I had the most fun just watching my friends enjoy food cooked with love.

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Oven Roasted Salmon with Marinated Tomatoes

This dish is simple and delicious

2 lb Fresh Salmon Fillet

1 Pint heirloom Grape Tomatoes or Regular Grape Tomatoes

1 Garlic Clove Sliced Thinly

8-10 Fresh Basil Leaves

1 Lemon Sliced into Rounds

Sea Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

8 Hours before cooking marinate Tomatoes slice in half, Garlic and Basil with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Slice the salmon fillet down the center and then slice into the salmon about 1 inch on each side of the center cut so that the salmon will open up.

Rub the salmon with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Open the top and pile in the tomato mixture.

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Top with slices of lemon and bake until salmon is fully cooked.  About 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Serve hot or cold.  The roasted tomatoes take on a bright and sweet flavor.

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Mothers Day is coming up and this dish would be a hit.

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I bought a couple of pounds of roma tomatoes at the store.  They were a wonderful color and looked yummy.  These tomatoes were not very yummy.  As a fresh tomato these little fruits were completely useless.

Being frugal I could not throw them out.  Oven drying was the only solution.  This way the sugars in the tomatoes would be concentrated and the flavor enhanced.  I do not like to waste food.

I had some fresh thyme that I had frozen when I realized I would not use it up by the time in turned.  Freezing thyme is a great way to preserve it when you are not going to use the whole bunch.

I tossed the tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Threw on some sea salt and pepper and tossed some garlic and fresh thyme on top.

Feb 23 2013 053I set my oven and 250 degrees and let the tomatoes roast for 3-4 hours.

Feb 23 2013 079I took out the thyme stems and saved them in a bag in the freezer for stock and packed the dried tomatoes and garlic in a jar with some olive oil.  The tomatoes last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or 2 months in the freezer.  Use the oil to coat veggies, for a tasty salad dressing or spread on some fresh-baked bread.  Do not throw out the oil after you have used the tomatoes as it has a great flavor for the herbs, garlic and sweet tomatoes.

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These sweet dried tomatoes are very versatile.

Here are 10 ways to use oven dried tomatoes:

1.  Pizza topping

2.  Toss with pasta, olive oil, garlic and a good cheese

3.  Antipasti

4.  Top a salad with bacon and blue cheese

5.  Add to mayo and it is great in a sandwich or as a dipping sauce with fresh veggies

6.  Add to your favorite pasta sauce to punch up the flavor

7.  Add to stew at the end of cooking for a sweet complexity

8.  Add to soup with kale, white beans and garlic

9.  Blend tomatoes, oil that you stored the tomatoes in, and more fresh herbs with some balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad dressing

10. Toss with feta, kalamata olives, olive oil and grilled veggies

What do you use your oven dried tomatoes for?

Check out Lucys Friendly Foods for a great antipasti salad recipe.

I am going to admit to one of my strange quirks…. one of many….of course.

I love to watch the cranberries split!  I love it.  This is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.   Most people would say they love eating roasted turkey or pumpkin pie.   They may say that they love the football games or eating stuffing.

For me, right behind hanging out with my family would be watching the cranberries split.  What?  You may be thinking “what does she mean?”  Crazy food blogger…..

Well, let me tell you about it.

It is a multi-sensory activity using your sense of smell, taste, visual and auditory all in one easy cooking activity.  What more could a food obsessed individual need for the holidays

I love looking over the edge of the pot and seeing the different reds and purples and pinks of the fresh cranberries mingled with the dark green rosemary and bright yellow of lemon.  Shiny with water and sugar the berries sparkle in the light.  They dance when the water starts to boil.  It is like a cranberry disco on your stove.

Turn up the heat and wait a couple of minutes and the fun really starts.  The berries start to dance around in the pot and the earthy smell of rosemary and bright smell of lemon reach your nose.  Next comes the popping.  Cranberries will expand and split when cooked and release that quintessential of holiday smells, fresh cranberry sauce.

I just love it.

Simmer the berries a bit longer and that is all you have to do.  The sauce is best cooled overnight and it will thicken naturally.  No need to add gelatin.  Gone forever from your table is the metallic tasting can of cranberry flavored gelatin that slides out in one big ribbed lump.  Canned cranberry gelatin is not nearly as fun as dancing cranberries with fresh herbs and citrus.  You can get very creative with cranberry sauce as you can see from my extensive list of variations at the bottom of this post.  Have fun with this traditional side dish and add dried fruit, nuts, spices and herbs.

Master Cranberry Sauce

200 gram sugar (1 cup)

1 cup water

4 cups fresh cranberries

After you cook the cranberries you may add any savory or sweet additions you would like to flavor your sauce.  At the bottom of this post I will list some of my favorite variations.  Makes 2 1/2 cups cranberry sauce.

1 Wash your lovely cranberries.  In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add cranberries, return to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.   Lovely!

2 At this point you can add all number of optional ingredients.  The cranberry sauce in the picture has fresh rosemary and lemon wedges.   You can add a cup of dried cranberries or dried cherries.

3 Remove from heat.  Cool at room temperature for 1 hour and chill in the refrigerator overnight.   Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Cranberry Sauce Variations

Southwestern Cranberry Sauce

1/2 tsp chipotle powder and topped with minced fresh cilantro and lime juice before serving

Orange and Almond Cranberry Sauce

Substitute fresh orange juice with water and add sliced almonds

Apple and Ginger Cranberry Sauce

1 tbs candied ginger diced fine with 1 cup diced honey crisp apple

Rosemary and Port Wine Cranberry Sauce

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary, 1/4 cup port wine (reduce water to 3/4 cup) and 1 tsp orange zest

Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce

4 tbs maple syrup, substitute brown sugar for white sugar and 1/3 cup diced toasted walnuts

Apricot and cardamom Cranberry Sauce

1/3 cup diced dried apricots and 1 tsp cardamom

Lemon Thyme Cranberry Sauce

1 tbs fresh thyme and 1 tbs lemon zest

Let me know if you have any creative variations for cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving menu.

I have been away from my blog for a while.  I hated putting it aside for so long (4 months) but needed to take some time off.  Much refreshed and ready to go I wanted to start back with a post about one of the hardest recipes I have worked with.  Corn bread muffins!

Fickle little devils.  I had to figure out how to make a great corn bread muffin.

I wanted a savory muffin that was light and had a good corn flavor.  The corn muffins I had tasted in the past have been overly sticky and sweet or dry and fell apart.  I was looking for a tender crumb, not too sweet and a good corn flavor.  It did not seem like it would be too hard to accomplish this.  I was wrong.

My first few attempts were complete failures.

After researching corn bread and corn bread muffins I found that the type of corn meal you use is very important.  You have the choice of a de-germinated corn meal or a whole corn meal.  The de-germinated meal made a bland tasting muffin with very little corn flavor and a dry texture.  The whole corn meal made a very dry muffin.  The whole corn meal was too dense for this recipe.

I was not sure how to solve this problem.  When I added real fresh corn the muffins did not fare much better.  I could get a light and moist muffin adding more flour and sour cream but it had very little corn bread flavor.

I thought about my granola bar recipe and how I lightened the whole oats by grinding a portion in my food processor and made oat flour.  Maybe I could lighten the corn meal by making a corn meal flour?  This worked perfectly.  I could use the more flavorful whole corn meal by grinding it in the food processor for about 5 minutes.  I made a light whole grain corn flour.

The recipe yielded a moist, sweet and tender muffin with the savory components of bacon and cheddar and the slight heat of chipotle powder.

Perfect for your holiday brunch.  Make mini muffins for a savory appetizer.

Bacon, Cheddar and Chipotle Corn Bread Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins or 24 Mini Muffins

10 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (I recommend King Arthur) or 2 cups

5 oz stone-ground cornmeal ground fine in the food processor (I recommend Arrowhead Mills) or 1 cup

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 large organic eggs

4 oz sugar or 3/4 cup

7 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (use a dry cheese like Dubliner Sharp Cheddar for best results)

1/2 cup finely mined bacon cooked crispy

1/4 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne pepper

Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Line your muffin tin with paper or foil muffin cups and spray cups lightly with non-stick spray.

Mix dry ingredients together, flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda and whisk to fully combine.

In a separate bowl mix eggs and sugar together until thick and homogenous.

Add melted butter, sour cream and milk and whisk for about 30 seconds to add some air into the wet mixture.

Add cheese and bacon to dry ingredients and toss lightly to coat with flour.  This will help the bacon and cheddar stay suspended in the muffins instead of sinking to the bottom as they bake.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix just until fully combined.  Do not over mix.

Let muffin batter rest for 5 to 10 minutes after mixing.  This will help develop gluten strands in the muffins and will make them lighter and puff up more in cooking.

Scoop batter into muffin tins and make sure the batter makes a dome.  Do not smooth the dome.  It will seem like you are filling the cups too high but this batter will not expand as much as other muffin batters.  Sprinkle the top of muffins with chipotle powder as needed for taste.

Bake muffins at 400 degrees until they are light golden brown.  About 15-18 minutes.

Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes.

I had always wanted to buy that bag of organic farro at Costco.  I would pick it up and just look at it but I would always put it back.  Nothing was coming to mind as to how I would use it.  I love it in soups but I am usually in a salad mood this time of the year.

I read this post from Orangette.  She used farro as a warm side dish with caramelized onions and feta.

I then saw this post from Epicurious.  This salad was a bit closer to what I was looking for.

I had some lovely grape tomatoes, a chunk of french feta and some kalamata olives.  I think you can see where I am going here…

I cooked the farro as per the instructions on the bag but added some herbs and garlic to the cooking water.  Make sure you cook the farro al dente.  It keeps a wonderful chewy texture and sweet flavor if you do not over cook it.

Letting it sit after being cooked in a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs overnight in your fridge is really the way to go.

I wanted to bulk out the salad and bit so I tossed some baby organic spinach in right before serving and poured some more olive oil over the salad.

Perfect.  Just the right combination of nutty grain, sweet tomatoes, salty olives and feta and the fresh bite of spinach.

Farro, Baby Spinach, Tomato and Feta Salad

Cooking the farro

1 cup dried farro

2 cups water

1/4 tsp granulated garlic

1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil and add salt, garlic and thyme.

Add farro and boil until tender but not over cooked.  Al dente is just perfect for this grain.  Drain water and put cooked farro into a bowl with oil, vinegar and season to taste.  Let sit in your refrigerator until chilled or best yet leave it there overnight.

For the salad

1 cup halved sweet grape tomatoes

1/2 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

5-6 cups fresh baby spinach

Toss farro with the above ingredients in a large bowl and serve.  Add more balsamic or olive oil as needed and season to taste.

Last weekend my daughter and I visited Pearl Street in Boulder.  When down on Pearl Street  we always stop by the Boulder Book Store.   We can spend  hours browsing this well stocked independent bookstore.  The cooking section is outstanding.

Next we stopped for a snack at Brasserie Ten Ten

This is one of my favorite restaurants.  They have a happy hour that is delightful.  Lots of delicious little plates that are affordably priced and always excellently prepared.  

Maddie had the Frites, french fries & truffle aioli and I had the Shrimp Cocktail and Choux-Fleur, milk roasted cauliflower with lemon-almond brown butter & shaved comte.  Talk about a little bit of heaven.  The shrimps were perfectly poached and the cocktail sauce had a pleasant bite of fresh horseradish.  The cauliflower was the best preparation of cauliflower I have ever had.  The cauliflower was cooked tender but not over cooked with a sweet flesh.  The brown butter, almond and lemon sauce was perfectly balanced and the salty comte cheese topped it off to perfection. 

Next we headed over to the walking mall to check out Bayleaf.

This locally owned store is an adventure in its self. Pearl Street is well-known for its quirky local shops and this foodie mecca does not disappoint.  With its mixture of imported stock, local offerings and eclectic items, Bayleaf is a foodie delight! 

Our next stop was Oliverde just off Pearl Street on Broadway.

This was my first time in this shop.  I had seen it driving down Broadway but I had no idea exactly what they sold.  I am very glad I stopped in.The wide variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegar had me thinking of different recipes all week.  They had a dark chocolate balsamic that would be just perfect on lightly grilled strawberries on rosemary skewers.  You can sample the different oils and vinegar alone or with bread.  I will be back in that shop again soon.

Our final stop of the day was to Savory Spice Shop. 

Located next to Oliverde on Broadway this store simply amazed me.  I was a bit overwhelmed.  This store literally has hundred of spices, spices blends and dried herbs.  All of it is the highest quality.  The smells alone made me swoon.

The charming owner Dan Hayward talked to me about the store but I can frankly remember very little about what he said as I was too overwhelmed.  He must have thought I was an idiot or he is just used to that kind of reaction from people.  I felt as if I had stepped into a dream world.  Ok so maybe that is exaggerating but not really. 

The place is truly amazing. 

One of the herbs I bought at Savory were Organic French Thyme.  I made a quick chicken salad and tossed in some of the thyme and it tasted fantastic. 

I highly recommend this store to anyone in the Boulder area.   If you are not in Colorado you can purchase online at Savory Spice Shop.

Chicken Salad with French Thyme

2 baked chicken breasts, diced

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Toss together and enjoy on bread, crackers or over salad greens.

Salsa is perhaps the most popular condiment in our house.  No only is it fresh, yummy and healthy but it only takes minutes to throw it together.  You can use a food processor or blender.  Just throw the ingredients in and pulse to mix.  You can blend until it is chunky or smooth which ever you prefer.  After making your own salsa you will never want to go back to the jarred ones again.

Rough chop 1/4 red onion, 1 grilled poblano pepper, 1 large handful of cilantro and add 1-2 chipotle chillies depending on how hot you want it.  Put this all in a blender or food processor.  Add one 16 oz can good diced tomatoes.  I like to use Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes.

I like my salsa a bit chunky but not too big and it will take about 6-8 pulses in the food processor.

This salsa is great right after you make it and gets even better the next day.  It does not have a long shelf life.  I recommend 3-4 days when you store it in an air tight container in the fridge. 

You can enjoy this salsa with chips, tacos (it is particularly good with grilled fish tacos), quesadillas, scrambled eggs, grilled fish, grilled chicken, grilled skirt steak, fajitas and the list could go on….

This week I have been featuring how to cook tender and flavorful chicken with bone-less, skin on chicken breast.  My daughter Maddy loves Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version for her with the same salty ham and cheese combo in a white meat chicken breast filet.  I used the first steps in the last two recipes but ended up rolling the filling into the breast, tying it with kitchen twine and baking it.  The result was outstanding. 

Super Tender and Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Gluten Free, Low Carb and Low Fat

2 boneless skin on chicken breasts

4 oz good ham such as Cure 81

8 oz Gruyère cheese or Swiss cheese

 Sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or sage or all 3

Kitchen Twine

Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

1.  Pan sear chicken breast skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes and pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Dice ham and cheese and clean and cut herbs.

3.  Lay chicken breast skin side down on a cutting board with the kitchen twin underneath lengthwise and pile cheese, ham and herbs on the skin less side.

4.  Roll chicken breast and tie with twine.  This takes a little time and is just a tad bit difficult but have patience it is worth it.  Spread a small amount of oil oil on the bottom of your baking pan so that the chicken does not stick.

5.  Arrange chicken breasts in pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until skin is crispy and internal thermometer reads 160 in this thickest part of the chicken.  Do not insert thermometer into ham and cheese center but off to this side in the chicken meat for best results.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

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