Novio likes to tell people that the first time he went to a Trader Joe’s for a few things (this is long before he knew me or my ways, mind you), he didn’t recognize anything in the store. He felt like he was in some alternate-universe market. “Oh come on,” I’ll chide him, “there must have been something there you recognized… milk? eggs? bananas?!?”
“No, really!” he exclaims, “All that strange stuff just dazed me and so I probably couldn’t even see the regular stuff.” Ahh, easily dazed, that Novio of mine.
Last week I stood with him in front of the wondrous bounty of autumn squash at the Farmer’s Market. We engaged in an impromptu game of “What Am I”
Acorn Squash? No.
Spaghetti Squash? These days? Yes! (But BJ? Before Judy, that is… you would have gotten that same dazed look when asking him to positively ID the squash in question)
Kabocha Squash? Ka-who? Whoops – there’s that familiar look again. We’ll table our friend the Kabocha for another post.
Butternut Squash? Yes? Yes! Turns out he’s known of this one even Before Judy! Did he know what to do with a beautiful butternut in the BJ era? Let’s not push it.
So, let’s put together a healthy and delicious autumn stew featuring one of our favorites, the very lovely butternut.
I had a talk with the Kabocha, who originally elbowed his way into this shot. We came to a mutual agreement that his wonderful assets are best featured through roasting. So we’ll be seeing him again very soon. We promise.
Butternut squash is highly versatile (Shhh… don’t tell the Kabocha you heard me say that). I roast butternut squash often, click here for more ideas, and using it as a side or with quinoa or in salads. Butternut squash makes a wonderful soup, especially when paired with an apple. Click here to view that post. And this post will use the butternut combined with other fall veggies to create a stew.
Yams or sweet potatoes will round out this dish well. Add some aromatics and we’re on our way!
“Do we hear our names being called? Present!”
Something fresh and snappy is just the thing to finish it off
But if you don’t sing in the key of C, then throw in some chopped parsley or green onion before serving.
Begin by slicing up an onion and throwing in a pan with hot olive oil along with some chopped ginger. Add your seasonings and allow to cook with the onion for maximum flavor. Cumin goes beautifully with these veggies. So do coriander, powdered ginger (especially if you don’t have fresh on hand), turmeric, and for a little kick, cayenne.
The vegetables cook together with some liquid under a cover. Think of this as a braising- steaming method. Not all the the veggies are submerged at the same time – there’s not that much room in there.
I like to use a combination of wine and broth for braising. But broth alone will do the job just fine. Add the liquid at a higher heat to reduce it by about a third for fuller flavor. Then send in the cut-up veggies. Let the liquid return to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover with lid askew and cook until tender.
Turn this dish into a main meal by adding a 15 -ounce can of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans in the last five minutes of cooking. Then serve over quinoa, millet, couscous. Okay, okay, rice or pasta works too.
Autumn Veggie Stew
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, cut in half lengthwise, sliced thinly
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. turmeric
dash of cayenne (more, if you like the heat, skip if you don’t)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine (if not using wine, use another 1/2 c. broth)
1 c. vegetable broth (chicken broth can also be used)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
3 small/medium yams, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (use garnet yams or white-flesh yams or a mix)
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (optional, great if using dish as a main meal, not necessary as a side)
2 T. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
bb NOTE: You can swap out cilantro for an equal amount freshly chopped parsley or sliced green onion.
Heat a deep, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven. Add oil and heat. Add sliced onion and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until soft. As soon as onion begins to get limp, add all ground seasonings (cumin and others) and salt and pepper. Add ginger, stir and cook together until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for about another minute more.
Turn heat up and add wine and broth. Cook on medium-high until liquid reduces by about a third.
Add butternut squash, carrots and yams. When liquid returns to bubbling, lower heat to medium-low, keeping it at a very gentle simmer. Cover with lid slightly askew and cook for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
If using this dish as a main, add garbanzo beans and stir through. Adjust salt and pepper.
Top with fresh cilantro.
Serves about 6 as a main dish – serve over quinoa, millet, couscous, rice or short pasta.
Serves about 8 as a side dish.
Happy Day of Giving Thanks!
Make it a daily thing! (Not All that eating part…)
Because this is a post about green beans, I could tell you about the time my Gramma stuck a green bean up her nose when she was a very little girl and had to be taken to the hospital to get it out. But I decided not to.
This method is a quick and delicious way to prepare green beans. You can do this for a weeknight supper or increase the amounts and prepare for a special meal. If you can believe this, Thanksgiving is coming up on us and to those old-fashioned American cooks, here’s something that’s healthful and flavorful that you can do without putting a gazillion extra milligrams of salt and grams of fat because two cans were opened…. a cream of something soup and french-fried something rings. It’s time to lay those things to rest and use the always-delicious and reliable garlic-lemon combo to create a super-quick sauce.
Have a lemon? Some garlic? Some good quality olive oil? You are set!
Whatever warm vegetable you use this combo with, whether it’s green beans, broccoli, asparagus or potatoes, adding all or part of the sauce to the still-warm veggies allows the flavor to get inside them, creating a dish bursting with flavorful goodness.
I cook green beans for 7 minutes with lid askew. Then I remove from heat with lid on fully and allow the beans to continue steaming for another 5 minutes. This is not the crisp-tender school of cooking. I like my cooked veggies cooked.
A traditional topping for green beans is almonds, either slivered or sliced.Try using another nut, like macadamias or cashews, and you’ll be very happy with the results.
Roast the nuts in a dry pan at 350 degrees for just a few minutes, 5 minutes or so, just until they start becoming fragrant. Make a little extra to keep in the fridge and use for topping salads or throwing onto stir-fry or on ice cream (oops, did I just give myself away? I think so).
Experiment with different nuts or pine nuts and enjoy the results!
Green Beans and Roasted Cashews with Lemon Garlic Sauce
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
3 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
juice of a half-lemon
2 T. cashews, roughly chopped
salt & pepper
Trim green beans and cut in half.
Place roughly chopped nuts in a pre-heated 350° oven for 5 minutes or until fragrant.
Fill saucepan with water to about 2 inches in depth. Bring water to boil in saucepan with 1 T. oil, one garlic clove split in two and a sprinkling of salt. When water reaches the boiling point, lower flame and add beans. The water level should barely cover the beans. Increase heat to bring water to boiling, then lower to a gentle simmer.
Cook green beans for 7 minutes with lid askew.
Meanwhile, whisk remaining olive oil with the juice of a half lemon, one crushed clove of garlic and salt & pepper.
Check green beans for desired level of tenderness and remove from heat, keeping lid on fully. Allow the beans to continue steaming for another 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer beans to a serving dish. Toss the beans with half the sauce while still warm. Add more sauce to your taste. Sprinkle roasted nuts on top.
For the holidays this year, I knew I wanted to share this cake with you. My Dad was a man who loved simple desserts. A piece of sponge cake and a glass of tea, and I mean glass, was all he needed to be satisfied. As his time here was drawing to a close, it was no easy feat to get him out of the house. As he grew frailer, I felt him withdraw more and more. When I came to visit him, he often kept his arms at his sides. One day I called him on it and said, “You are still here, Daddy. Your baby expects a hug when she sees you.” He looked at me and lifted his arms to hug me. After that, he made sure to offer a real hug at every visit.
When his 88th birthday approached, I wanted to do something for him that would make him smile inside and out, something that would be just right for him. I decided to make this festive version of a classic sponge cake–moist, with the juice of an orange, and fragrant with citrus zest. I packed up the cake, a thermos of tea, and a small folding table, and headed off to pick up my parents. Over my Mom’s protests, I helped ease my Dad into my Jeep. Together with my Mom, we drove off to nearby Roxbury Park, where we found a lovely bench with the basketball courts immediately behind us, and the children’s playground beyond a gentle meadow facing us. Perfect.
The fresh air, the sounds of children playing, the sight of people walking by, all the things my Dad loved. My parents had no idea what I was doing when I set up the little table in front of my Dad, and set out the sponge cake, complete with birthday candles. Never mind that the breeze kept blowing the candles out. Later, my Dad told me it was one of his best birthdays ever. As it happened, it was his last birthday with us. So, in honor of my Dad, I offer you Citrus Sponge Cake.
Using a large tube pan, the cake easily serves 16. It contains 7 eggs.
This is a departure from my usual style of baking, but it’s a special cake for any special time of year, and, if it makes you feel better, you can always cut each slice in half lengthwise. But I can pretty much guarantee that people will come back for the second half.
The cake calls for cake flour, which I did not have on hand. That should never stop you. It’s a well-known baker’s trick that, from every cup of flour, remove 2 tablespoons flour and replace with 2 measured tablespoons of cornstarch. Then sift the heck out of the flour mixture. What do I mean by that? I mean sift it five times. Not a biggie.
zest of a lemon and orange ⇒ flavorful cake
pre- egg whites and post folded-in beaten egg whites
Wishing you a Sweet New Year
with Good Changes
Citrus Sponge Cake
gently adapted (I ↓ sugar) from Judy Zeidler’s classic Gourmet Jewish Cook
7 eggs, separated
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 c. sifted cake flour (or see NOTE below)
1/2 c. orange juice
NOTE: No Cake Flour? NO Problem! Measure one cup of regular unbleached flour and place in medium bowl. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour AND SUBSTITUTE WITH TWO TABLESPOONS OF CORNSTARCH. Now measure out the remaining half cup of flour and remove one tablespoon of flour from it before adding to the bowl. Now substitute one tablespoon of cornstarch for that spoon of flour. To make it extra light, sift this flour/cornstarch mix FIVE times. Yes, yes, five. It takes no time and it ensures ultra light flour. Just like cake flour.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat until stiff enough to cling to the side of the bowl but not yet dry. Blend in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and orange and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites.
Next, in 3 batches (ending with flour), gently fold the flour alternately with the orange juice into the egg white mixture. Do not overmix.
Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If you have a slow oven, you might try bringing the oven temperature up to 350° for the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
Remove from the oven and invert immediately onto a wire rack. Cool. Loosen from the sides and center of the pan with a sharp knife and unmold to a serving platter.
Ta Da! A sponge cake to swoon over. You’ll have to sponge ’em off the floor.
The end of summer is here and I find myself in a place for which I’m truly grateful and also filled with a spectrum of feelings. Do you ever find yourself in a place of flow? The best way I can describe it is a place you arrive at (hopefully) after finally committing yourself to veering away from so many distractions that are forever swirling around and placing your attention on the little voice within. And this can take years. It’s not easy and it’s so easy, all at the same time.
Novio, Peter, our wonderful website builder, and I just completed the jacket design for my documentary, Life On The Bridge. And last week we picked up 200 DVD copies of the first cut of the film. The support I’m receiving is amazing. And that will be my springboard to move this project forward to share the message it has for others. For more information, check out lifeonthebridge.com.
There’s new stuff to report on the Bumbleberry Breeze front too. I am excited to alert you to a few changes to the site, both in appearance and in function.
There are updates on the header and the sidebar. Best of all, I can now offer you a user-friendly way to print recipes without being bombarded by all the photos spewing out of your printer and without needing to do the copy & paste method. Simply click on the Print Recipe link immediately preceding the recipe (on the right). A new document with the recipe ONLY will pop up which you can print.
I’m looking at all the bounty here in Southern California at summer’s end and reveling in all the delicious food, with all its colors and textures and flavors. We’re eating lots of salads but we don’t always want greens to be the star. The heirloom tomatoes just keep showing up . They’re so sweet, we don’t need to do much with them, other than enjoy.
I love corn on the cob, especially the yellow and white ears. Grilled corn is SO good, but when no one is doing the grilling and my grill pan is buried at the bottom of the drawer, I love to use this method.
I wanted to add some heft to the salad so I mixed in two different types of beans. Of course, that’s your choice.
Added to the mix are diced celery and red onion, for flavor and crunch.
Summer Corn & Tomato Salad
2 ears yellow and white corn
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes (or regular cherry tomatoes)
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 14-oz.can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (or oregano or tarragon or cilantro)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. honey
salt and pepper
Wash ears of corn, removing all silk threads.
Wrap each ear in wax paper, large enough to roll and twist ends, Tootsie Roll- style.
Place 2 ears in glass pie plate and microwave on high for 4 minutes.
Use care removing glass dish from microwave. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
Holding cob vertically, shave kernels off cob with a sharp knife.
In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, tomatoes, celery, red onions and beans.
Combine oil, vinegar, honey in small glass jar and shake vigorously. Pour over vegetables.
Season with salt and pepper. Add fresh herbs and toss.
My life is at a very special place these days… I am about to give birth to a creation that began growing 17 years ago but has really been forming for 40 years (see About Me... August 2015).
How am I supporting my self through this time? By being as aware as I can about taking care of my self. Number One is getting the rest I need…. I’m really listening, Frank…. though the intention isn’t always followed by the action. The action of rest, that’s an interesting phrase.
Taking care of our selves absolutely includes eating foods that are wholesome and good. And not processed.
My dear friend (and adopted niece) Nancee is a dietician. And she’s good. Really good. Nancee told me that this documentary is awesome and I HAVE to see it right away. And I did. And she’s right. The film is Fed Up.
And I completely agree with its message. Get it. Download it. Watch it.
Every time you can, eat food that’s straightforward, simple and delicious. Like this recipe. Enjoy!
I used fresh tarragon as my main flavoring. Using fresh herbs is a great way to boost flavor without needing a lot of extra salt.
You can prepare this recipe with fresh rosemary or oregano or sage or thyme or parsley, to name a few. In a pinch, use a dried herb, about 1/2 teaspoon, depending on your likes. But I’ve got to tell you, using fresh herbs is what makes this dish come alive.
Add to that the mighty trio of olive oil, fresh lemon and garlic. Add just a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
If you like, slice a lemon on a greased roasting pan.
1 1/2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breast
2 T. olive oil
Juice of 1 small lemon or 2 T. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small lemon, sliced (optional)
1 T. chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 t. sweet paprika
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375º.
Rinse and pat dry chicken breast.
Lightly grease roasting pan large enough to fit chicken breasts, leaving space between. If using lemon slices, lay them down on the greased pan. Place chicken breasts over lemon slices, leaving space between each piece of chicken.
Salt and pepper chicken breast followed by olive oil and lemon juice.
Distribute garlic over each piece.
Sprinkle paprika followed by fresh tarragon over each breast.
Roast in oven for 25 minutes. Chicken should be just cooked through. (I check by cutting one in half. That’s the easiest way.)
Remove from oven and loosely tent with a piece of aluminum foil for 5 minutes.
There’s a lot happening these days. And when I have a lot going on, evening snacking hits a peak. My good friend tells me she has the same thing going on. All the time. So her solution is that she keeps a bowl of freshly washed berries in the fridge and when she feels the urge for a little something sweet, she goes at one or two or twenty to satisfy her craving. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. Our bodies love ’em. And so do our taste buds.
I bought extra raspberries at the farmers’ market. And before I munched up all of them, I wanted to use them in some kind of fruit bar. I was thinking of a shortbread-type bar where you make a shortbread dough, press half in the pan, do a fruit center with preserves, crumble the rest of the dough on top and bake.
Then I remembered a struesel bar I’d tried in the Baker’s Dozen Cookbook. It’s more rustic than a straight shortbread bar. It’s got oats so that means we can call it a dessert bar that’s eligible for breakfast standing!
If you don’t know about this cookbook and if you enjoy baking, it is politely asking you to make some room on your shelf for it right now. A group of terrific Northern California bakers (one of them was Marion Cunningham, who has a permanent spot in my heart) got together regularly, all baked their versions of the same thing and compared notes. Thus, a book was born. And a darn good one.
Preserves, dried fruit cooked a bit, fresh fruit. Or a combination. The opportunity to be creative is alive! alive!
Once they were cooled, I cut them into bars and froze them. An easy way for me to share the love.
Everybody loved these bars. Everyone from my mom to my postal carrier. OK, maybe not so objective. The participants in my market research all generally love what I give them. But seriously. They are good. I managed to sequester the last four in a container and took it with me when we went to visit the niece and family in Ohio. Said niece agreed. All three loved them.
And speaking of love, little Sam is beyond delicious. Not only does everyone want to kiss him, but he wants to run around kissing everyone he likes, which is most people. Every time he ran up to me, wrapped his delicious arms around my leg and kissed it, my heart melted. Every time he leaned in to plant a lip-smacking kiss on my cheek, same effect. And every time he took my arm in his little hands, bent over and landed a kiss on my hand….. sheer heaven. Now that’s what memories are made of.
Raspberry Streusel Oat Bars
adapted from Apricot Streusel Bars in Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
1 c. flour
1 c. old-fashioned oats (also called rolled oats)
¼ c. lightly-packed dark brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted OR ½ stick butter plus ¼ c. canola oil OR ½ c. oil
6 T. great-quality raspberry preserves (the kind you can’t wait to spread on a buttered piece of whole grain toast, or a fresh scone, or a warm biscuit)
16-20 fresh raspberries (about 1 scant cup)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º.
Line the bottom of an 8″ square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a bit extra foil on either end for handles. Lightly grease foil.
In a large bowl, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, sugar, and baking soda, and salt. Add melted butter (or oil, if using) and cinnamon and stir well.
Press half the oat mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Spread raspberry preserves over oat mixture and top with fresh raspberries, evenly spaced over the preserves.
Add sliced almonds to remaining oat mixture, and mix.
Crumble remaining mixture on top and gently pat into the filling.
Bake until streusel is golden brown and is set in the center, about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool on rack for at least a couple of hours.
Lifting foil handles, remove from pan, cut into 16 or 20 bars.
Stores well in freezer or refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Note: Variations on raspberry can be apricot, or half a cup of coarsely chopped dates or pitted prunes.
bb note: Save all those yummy crumbs and keep them for ice cream or yogurt.
and the berries keep turning up – can’t get enough of them!
We’re looking at broccoli today. It’s time to re-acquaint ourselves with an old and maybe under-appreciated friend. Kale gets a ton of press these days. And that’s fine. Kale is Kool. But just because something is in vogue doesn’t mean we pass the broccoli on by at the market. Can you believe that a big ad agency, Victors & Spoils, was actually hired to create a campaign for our good buddy Broccoli? I kid you not. I read about it a couple of years back in the Sunday NY Times Magazine section (Nov. 3, 2013). They came up with slogans like:
The Meat of Any Salad
Since When Do Super Foods Have To Be Super Trendy?
The battle was ON between “alpha” broccoli and “trendy” kale and it only helped boost sales on both sides. (Anyone remember the old war between Coke and Pepsi, in which, according to the advertisers, there was no loser? Except for the general public drinking the ____. But that’s our business, not the advertisers.)
So I was leaning with my elbows on the counter, as I’m wont to do, thinking about the lovely broccoli I had just gotten from the market. It was sitting next to a beautiful bowl of tangerines. Green and orange… one of my favorite color combinations. Broccoli with citrus. Beautiful! Lovely as a side.
We’ll do a little something with Mr. Broccoli first. Steam it with a bit of fresh ginger and garlic.
And this combo is just as lovely presented on a bed of greens for a light salad. I generally like to throw a cooked veggie in my salads. And I often throw some type of fruit in my salads – diced apples, pears, orange or tangerine segments, strawberries, peaches, dried fruit. Whatever’s around… locally.
… and a light vinegar. Throw in a squeeze of lemon too.
Ta Da! Simplicity Rules!
As my good friend Ann, reminded me the other day, “I like to stick with the KISS system in life.” You know. Keep it simple, Stupid. Novio informs me that the term was initially coined in a recording studio. Whereever it was born, it’s definitely a good one to remember.
STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH TANGERINES
2 c. broccoli
1 clove garlic, sliced lengthwise
1″ piece of ginger, sliced lengthwise
2 small seedless tangerines
2 green onions, sliced
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. orange Muscato vinegar (or any light fruity vinegar)
salt & pepper to taste
Steam broccoli whole or cut in pieces, along with ginger and garlic. If whole, steam the broccoli for 5 minutes and remove from heat to let rest for 2 minutes. If cut in bite-sized pieces, steam for 3-4 minutes, to your desired level of tenderness. Let rest for a minute. Place in bowl and set aside
Segment the tangerines and toss with broccoli. Sprinkle oil and vinegar over. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. That’s it. Seriously.
Delicious, wholesome food is not hard to do.
bb Note: There all all kinds of variations building on the broccoli-tangerine pairing:
- add spinach or greens to make a salad
- add a cup of cooked quinoa with or without cooked chicken for a main-dish salad
- add greens and goat cheese for a dairy salad