Saturday, June 30, 2012



 Bok Choy is one of my favorite Asian greens. It is full of vitamins and nutrients and low in calories. If it doesn't sound like something you have tried before and you eat Chinese food chances are you have had it. In most Chinese restaurants it is shredded and added to soups or chopped and added to stir-fries.

You can find Bok Choy at most Asian markets and more and more of the local markets carry it now. I buy mine at the Asian stand at our Farmer's Market. You can braise these whole but since I like to buy organic I cut the base off and clean each leaf well. Little bugs are crazy about Bok Choy too and they like to hide in the base and the center.

This method of cooking the greens really help it to retain its sweet, crisp, succulent flavor. You give it a quick braise in broth and butter and then reduce the broth and add some sesame oil. Throw in some minced ginger if you happen to have it around. 


1 cup chicken broth
2 TBSP. unsalted butter
3/4 lb. baby bok choy, trimmed and washed
1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring broth and butter to a simmer in a deep large heavy skillet. Arrange bok choy evenly in skillet and simmer, covered, until tender about 5-10 minutes. Transfer bok choy with tongs to a serving dish and keep warm, covered.

Boil broth mixture until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Stir in sesame oil and add pepper to taste. Pour mixture over bok choy and serve

Makes 2 servings.

Recipe slightly adapted from Gourmet magazine.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


This is my week to host The Food Matters Project. It has been 21 weeks of cooking together with 50 food lovers using Mark Bittman's philosophy and recipes as inspiration for our meal. This week I chose Mixed Grill with Chimichurri. Chimichurri is amazing, it's a very easy Argentinian herb sauce made with parsley and used to top grilled food. Mark's recipe uses parsley but you can substitute other herbs such as cilantro or basil. I followed his recipe using parsley.

When I chose this recipe months ago I had no idea that most of the veggies I would be using to grill would be picked from my garden. How exciting is that???

This was the first year we have grown potatoes. I always thought it was a waste of time since they are so inexpensive to buy.

I was SO wrong.....what a thrill it was to dig this up. They were delicious.

I decided to grill beef and vegetable kabobs.

The potatoes were cooked until almost soft and then finished on the grill. We have been thinning  our tomatoes and ended up with some green tomatoes and learned something new. They were great when grilled. They are on the middle skewer. 

Ron basted the beef and vegetable kabobs with the chimichurri sauce while they grilled.

We served the kabobs family style and passed the sauce.

To see the other members creatives takes on Mark's recipe stop on over at the Food Matters Project by clicking here.

Below is the original recipe as written from Mark Bittman's cookbook The Food Matters Cookbook.


Makes 4 servings    Time  45 minutes

1 or 2 eggplants, cut into thick slices
2 cups fresh parsley (mostly leaves, but thin stems are okay)
Salt and black pepper
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
2 TBSP. sherry vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp. red chile flakes
2 portobello mushrooms
2 summer squash, cut lengthwise into thick slices
4 ripe tomatoes, cored but left whole
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast or pork tenderloin, cut in half crosswise and pounded to about 1/2 inch thick
1 bunch scallions

Prepare a grill or turn on the broiler; the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the fire. If time allows, sprinkle the eggplant liberally with salt, let rest in a colander for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour, rinse, and pat dry.

Combine the parsley with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, the garlic, and about 1/4 cup of the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container once or twice. With the machine running, add the remaining 1/4 cup oil gradually, then add the vinegar and chile flakes. Add a little bit of water if you want a thinner mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Brush the eggplant, portobellos, and squash with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill or broil the pieces, turning occasionally, until browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. When the mushrooms are done, slice them. As all the vegetables finish, transfer them to a large serving platter.

Brush the tomatoes and chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Again, working in batches, grill or broil the pieces, turning once, until the tomatoes are charred and collapsed and the chicken or pork is white or very slightly pink on the inside, 5 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to the serving platter and cut the meat up a bit if you like. Finally, cook the scallions (no need to brush them with oil), turning once or twice, until they are lightly charred, just a minute or 2. Drizzle some of the chimichurri over the meat and vegetables and pass the rest at the table.

Recipe by Mark Bittman from The Food Matters Cookbook

Saturday, June 23, 2012


This salad is at the top of my best ever salad list. The flavors are amazing. I used fresh chard just picked from my garden,

cut into ribbons and mixed with crusty whole wheat croutons.

Then topped with a warm dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, anchovies (you won't even know they are there) and grape tomatoes. The hearty croutons stay crunchy and the warm dressing wilts the chard. And for another flavor blast you top it with salty feta cheese. You can definately make this salad a meal.


1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems removed, leaves thinly sliced
4 TBSP. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups large crusty bread cubes (I use whole wheat)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 to 4 anchovies
1 clove garlic, smashed or minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cut chard leaves into ribbons and put in a large bowl.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 TBSP. olive oil and when warm add the bread cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until toasted on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Add bread cubes to the chard.

Turn heat down and add the anchovies to the skillet mashing with a spoon to form a paste. Add 2 TBSP. olive oil and the garlic. Cook until the garlic is barely brown (about 45 seconds) and then add the tomatoes. Warm the tomatoes slightly, then whisk in the lemon juice.

Pour the warm dressing over the chard, toss and set aside for a few minutes to wilt.

Add the feta to the chard salad and toss.

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

Monday, June 18, 2012


It's Food Matters Project Monday. The host for this weeks recipe is Margarita. Margarita chose Mark Bittman's recipe for Chocolate-Cherry Panini. We don't have a lot of sweets around the house so when I told Ron that this week we were making a dessert recipe he was quite pleased. Mark's panini recipe got me thinking about bread pudding. I went searching for a healthy version of bread pudding and found one from Eating Well Magazine. They did a great job of cutting down the calories by using some egg whites instead of whole eggs and skim milk instead of cream. The recipe even called for whole grain bread!

The Farmer's Market had beautiful, fresh, plump cherries this week. I couldn't decide between the Bing or the Rainier, they both were so luscious and sweet. I ended up buying both.  I had a loaf of whole wheat bread "aging" at home, but I couldn't help myself when I saw fresh loaves of Sicilian Bread at the Farmer's market.

Durum Pane Siciliano. Bread made with fine durum semolina flour and shaped in the form of a pair of eyeglasses in homage to Santa Lucia, the patron saint of vision. I love this bread. It is made with whole wheat flour but it is light and airy, perfect for my pudding.

Cherries, chocolate, almonds, and bread are mixed together with a light custard. This lighter version of a normally high calorie dessert was fantastic.

Thanks Margarita for the inspiration! You can find the original recipe from Mark Bittman's cookbook on Margarita's blog here. For other really creative takes on his recipe click here.

Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Bread Pudding

8 servings | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 1 3/4 hours


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Bread & filling
  • 4 cups whole-grain bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/2 pound, 4-6 slices)
  • 2 cups pitted cherries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, preferably mini
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (see Tip)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted, or Streusel Topping (see Tip)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish or a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
  2. To prepare custard: Whisk egg whites, eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Add sugar, vanilla and cinnamon: whisk to combine.
  3. Toss bread, cherries, chocolate chips and 1/4 cup almonds in a large bowl. Add the custard and toss well to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.
  4. Bake until the custard has set, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with 1/4 cup almonds (or Streusel Topping) and continue baking until the pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the pudding through Step 3; refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake as directed in Step 4.
  • Tips: Toast sliced almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • To make streusel topping: Combine 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup oats (preferably old-fashioned), 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons canola oil in a small bowl. Spread the mixture on top of the pudding after the initial 40 to 45 minutes of baking

           Optional- dust with powdered sugar

Recipe from Eating Well Magazine

Monday, June 11, 2012


The Food Matters philosophy is all about eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods — and the positive impact this has on our health and the environment.
This is week 19 of the Food Matters Project. About 50 food bloggers share the Food  Matters philosophy and we are cooking our way through Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook.

 Lena from Mrs. Garlic Head was our host and she chose the recipe for Braised Chickpea Fritters and Vegetables. Some of us follow the recipe as written and some of us use the recipe for inspiration. In Mark's recipe he has you soak the dried chickpeas in water overnight and then process them with some other ingredients to make a chickpea batter. I knew I wanted a vessel in which to serve the vegetable sauce and that was when "batter" clicked in. I decided instead of soaking my chickpeas that I would roast the dried chickpeas and then grind them into a fine flour, and use that flour to make a waffle batter. You can see how I did this here.

I have a waffle maker that makes little boats. They were the perfect vessel for my tomato-eggplant-chard sauce.

The flour added a wonderful nuttiness to the batter and worked perfectly for my chickpea boats. You could taste the flavor of the roasted chickpeas in the waffles. They were delicious.

I used Mark Bittman's recipe for All-Purpose Tomato Sauce. It is a super quick and a very good sauce. When the sauce was finished I added one large eggplant, peeled and cut into cubes, 1 cup chopped fresh parsley and one bunch of chard, cut into ribbons. This sauce was delicious. It would be wonderful over pasta as well. The savory waffles were perfect when filled with the vegetable sauce.


1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped
Black pepper
About 4 pounds canned whole or diced tomatoes (two 28-35 ounce cans), chopped, liquid reserved
1/2 cup fresh parsley or basil, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it's hot, add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the mixture comes together and thickens a bit, 10-15 minutes. For a thinner sauce add some or all the reserved liquid and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stir in the parsley or basil and keep warm.

After making the sauce I added one large, peeled and chopped eggplant and one large bunch chard. Stems of the chard removed and leaves cut into ribbons. Cook for 20 minutes more until the eggplant is soft.

Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman


1 3/4 cup roasted chickpea flour, recipe here.
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

Preheat waffle iron while you make the batter. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and butter or oil.

Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.

Pour batter into waffle iron and cook until brown.

Makes 8 waffle boats or 3 1/2 round Belgian-style waffles.

This makes a savory waffle, for a sweeter waffle add 2 TBSP. sugar to the dry ingredients.

You can find the original  recipe here on Lena's blog.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


When was the last time you took a whiff of flour and said WOW this smells great? You will if you roast your own chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) and grind it into flour. Roasting the beans gives a rich nutty flavor to the flour and it's gluten free.

Start with some dry garbanzo beans.

Roast them  in the oven at 400~ for 15-20 minutes or until the beans start to give off a toasted aroma and are lightly browned. When cool, transfer to a food processor, spice grinder, or powerful blender (I used the dry blender of the Vitamix) and blend for 2-3 minutes until a powdery flour forms.

Run through a sieve to remove any large particles.
Store in a sealed container until ready to use.

You can find this flour already ground in Asian and Middle Eastern markets and some health food stores however it is usually raw and not toasted. Toasting the beans makes a huge difference in flavor.

I used this flour to make a savory batter.

And turned it into waffle boats.