Monday, July 30, 2012


It's another week of cooking with other food bloggers using recipes from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook. This week our host is Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits. Mireya chose Roast Potatoes and Chicken with Romesco Sauce. Romesco sauce is a nut and red bell pepper sauce originating from Spain. This sauce can be used to accompany anything from vegetables, seafood, meats, or even spread on a slice of rustic bread.

I decided to make the sauce following the recipe that Mark Bittman wrote in his cookbook. You can find the original  recipe here. I changed it a little by using Marcona almonds. Marcona almonds come from Spain and they are sweeter, fatter, and rounder than the typical California variety. They are usually blanched and then roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. If you have never had one go quickly and try them. They are referred to as the "Queen of Almonds" and they truly are. Marcona almonds will take your cheese and fruit platter to another level. It gave an extra depth to this sauce. I also added a bit of cayenne pepper to my sauce for a little zip.

Keeping in the Spanish theme and using most everything from my garden I decided to make a chard and potato tortilla. Most of us think of a tortilla as something round and flat and either corn or flour, but in Spain it is more of an omelet.

Sliced potatoes are first browned in olive oil, next step is to brown the onions and then leave the onions in the pan and top them with the sliced browned potatoes.

The potatoes are topped with the cooked chopped chard. The beaten eggs are poured over everything and you cook this on top of the stove until the edges have set. At this point you can flip the tortilla over to brown the other side or put it under the broiler to brown the top.

Serve this warm, at room temperature, or even cold, and with a side of Romesco Sauce.

For the other members creative takes on this recipe click here.


1 lb. potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 TBSP. for chard
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. chard, center ribs discarded
6 large eggs, beaten

Cook chard in one TBSP. olive oil until wilted. Remove from pan, chop and set aside.

Slice the potatoes into 1/4" wide disks. Pour the olive oil into a cast-iron skillet and heat it over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry the potatoes in one layer until lightly browned. Do not let them get crispy. When they are done, let the potatoes dry on a paper towel and salt them well. Keep frying until they are all cooked.

When the potatoes are done, pour out most of the oil and saute the onions. When they are just starting to crisp, turn off the heat. Arrange the onions so they are evenly covering the bottom of the pan.  Arrange the potatoes on the pan in a scalloped pattern. Sprinkle the chopped chard in a layer over the potatoes.

Turn the heat to medium, and pour the egg mixture over. Add a generous pinch of salt. Shake the pan to get the eggs to coat everything in the pan. Let this cook until you see the edges of the tortilla begin to set. Flip the tortilla over in the pan and continue cooking the other side. Or, place pan under broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the top browns.

Let it sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges and serve with Romesco Sauce.


1/2 cup blanched almonds (I used Marcona almonds)
1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
1 packed cup fresh parsley
2 TBSP. sherry vinegar
dash or two of cayenne pepper

Combine the almonds, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, parsley, and vinegar in a food processor or blender. With machine running, slowly add the remaining 2 TBSP. oil; puree into a thick paste, adding more oil if necessary to keep the machine running and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


 This delicious red pepper and nut sauce originates from Northeastern Spain. It's simple to make and is great as an accompaniment for fish, meat, vegetables, or even spread on a slice of rustic bread. I'll be using it to go along with a Chard and Potato Spanish Tortilla that I'm making tonight.

All you do is throw some almonds (I used marcona almonds) in the blender or food processor with some chopped red bell peppers, ripe tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and sherry vinegar. Give it a whirl and it's good to go. I added a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper to zip it up. This sauce is so good I had to stop myself from eating it by the spoonful.


1/2 cup blanched almonds (I used Marcona almonds)
1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
1 packed cup fresh parsley
2 TBSP. sherry vinegar
dash or two of cayenne pepper

Combine the almonds, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, parsley, and vinegar in a food processor or blender. With machine running, slowly add the remaining 2 TBSP. oil; puree into a thick paste, adding more oil if necessary to keep the machine running and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


It's nice having your nails done right behind a Mexican Restaurant and Bar. It's even nicer when your manicurist keeps the owners nails looking pretty in exchange for cocktails, and they deliver!

A couple of weeks ago I had my usual Margarita and she ordered a Michelada. Huh?? She said it was a Bloody Mary with beer instead of vodka! I had a taste. It was one of those moments where your taste buds take a long pause and then go into the happy dance. It really takes a moment to figure out how these flavors come together, but all of a sudden they work.

I came home and googled Michelada. There were so many different versions (who knew they were so popular) but I decided on tomato juice, light colored beer, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lime juice. I salted the rim of the glass with a mixture of Kosher salt and chili powder. This is a great, refreshing cocktail and perfect for our warm summer days.


12 oz. light colored beer
1-3 oz. tomato juice or clamato juice.
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
2-3 dashes of hot sauce
1 lime
Kosher salt
Chili powder ( hot or mild)

Cut a small lime wedge and use it to moisten the rim of a tall beer or cocktail glass. Dip the rim into a small saucer of kosher salt mixed with chili powder.

Fill the glass with ice and add the ingredients to your liking. Pour the beer in last and give it a stir.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It's another week of cooking from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook. This week our recipe was chosen by Jen of Vanilla Lemon. Jen chose Corn-Avocado Salad (with a Little Something Seared on Top.) You can find the orginal recipe here . We follow the recipe as written or use it as inspiration for our own creation. This week while I was reading the ingredients Ceviche came to mind. Ceviche, pronounced "seh-BEE-chay" is a popular South American dish where raw fish is marinated in the juice of an acidic fruit. The juice basically "cooks" the fish. With the warm summer weather outside you can stay out of the kitchen while the fish cooks in the marinade.

I started off down at the harbor to see what looked good. Using Mark's recipe as a guide I checked out the scallops and they looked great. You can use bay scallops ( the small scallops) but I prefer diver scallops.

I cut each scallop in half (to make two round scallops) and each scallop into quarters. Covered it with lemon, lime, and orange juice and let it marinate for three hours. Then I added avocado, onion, cucumber, serrano peppers, and cilantro. You let it sit another hour and it is ready to serve. The perfect appetizer for a warm summer day.

Makes 4 servings

1 pound scallops (bay or diver, if using diver scallops cut them into bite size pieces)
or 1 pound white fish, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup lime juice (about 10 limes) or any other citrus
1/3 cup minced red onion
1/3 cup seeded and diced tomato
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
1 avocado cut into bite sized pieced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a glass bowl or dish cover the scallops or fish with the lime juice and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Toss gently about every hour.

Add the onion, tomato, cucumber, avocado, serrano, salt and pepper to taste, and chopped cilantro. Let sit in the refrigerator one more hour. Drain out most of the juice before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes- We prefer the flavor of white fish in this recipe because we like the texture better than the scallops. After marinating overnight the texture of the scallops were much better.

For all of the Food Project Members creative takes on this recipe click here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


How does your cocktail grow?

We read an article yesterday about cocktail gardens. It talked about the latest trend, mixologists planting cocktail gardens and using them as a living pantry for their favorite concoctions.  Using fruit for sweet drinks and vegetables for juice bases. Using herbs for infusions and edible flowers for garnishes. What a great idea!

A recipe for a Mojito called for cucumber, mint, and lime....all just steps away. That recipe inspired Ron to create this Coconut-Cucumber Mojito and it was great. The cucumber added a light and refreshing flavor that made this cocktail just perfect for a warm summer afternoon.

 This wasn't the first time we grew our cocktails. Check out this fabulous recipe for Kaffir Lime Lemonade here. Or this gorgeous and yummy Blueberry Mint Lemonade drink here. The possibilities in our garden are exciting. I'm thinking fresh vegetable Bloody Mary's, Blood Orange and Mint Mimosas, and Cantaloupe Coolers!


6 slices cucumber
4 wedges lime
20 mint leaves
2 tablespoon sugar, or 2 oz. agave sweetener
8 oz. coconut juice
8 oz. white or golden rum

Make a simple syrup with the sweetener, 4 oz. coconut juice, and the mint leaves. Chill.

Add lime, cucumber, and ice cubes to a pitcher

Add rum, remaining coconut juice and the simple syrup to pitcher, stir.

Makes 4 cocktails on ice. Garnish with mint and lime.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Try this light and healthy summer salad. Whole wheat couscous is the perfect grain to bring together the sweetness of golden raisins, the goodness of fresh summer squash, the crunch of pistachios, and the refreshing taste of fresh mint. It can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature. On a nice, warm, summer evening we had this salad for our main was delicious.


1 TBSP. lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp. honey
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic,smashed
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 cup couscous (I like to use whole wheat)
1/2 cup diced yellow squash
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
Kosher salt
2 TBSP. chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and let them steep for about 30 minutes.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the couscous, cover, and turn off the heat. Let the couscous sit for about 5 minutes, or until it absorbs all the liquid. Toss the couscous with a fork so the grains don't start clumping together, pour into a large mixing bowl, and set aside.

In a skillet over medium high heat, add about 2 TBSP. of olive oil. Then add the chopped squash and zucchini, shallot, raisins, pistachios and a pinch or two of salt. Only cook for about a minute or two. You want a little crunch to the squash. Set aside and let come to room temperature.

Once the vegetables have come to room temperature, add them to the bowl with the couscous and combine.

Remove and discard the smashed cloves of garlic from the dressing, and toss the dressing with the couscous. Add the dressing gradually until it is dressed to your liking. Fold in the mint, season with additional salt and pepper.

I like to serve this at room temperature.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Internet Cooking Princess.

Monday, July 2, 2012


This weeks Food Matters Project recipe was chosen by Aura of Dinner with Aura. Aura chose Mark Bittman's recipe for Updated Tea Sandwiches. Tea sandwiches, how elegant. I'm not surprised that Aura picked this recipe. Go visit her blog here. It exemplifies elegance.

 I have never had or been to a tea party in Santa Barbara. I went to a tea party at Harrods in London, and high tea at the beautiful Empress hotel in Victoria, Canada, but never at home. I thought about a tea party but we are so casual in S.B. and during the day we are at the beach or outside enjoying the weather so appetizers seemed appropriate.

 Slices of Bavarian sunflowerseed rye bread were spread with a mixture of cream cheese, chopped chives, and lemon juice and stacked on top of each other. Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated until firm.

Sliced into finger sandwich sized squares and served with smoked salmon, chives, onions, lemons, and capers.

This was the perfect way to end a summer day.

For all of the other Food Project Members creative takes on the recipe please click here.

Thanks Aura for a great pick this week.

Recipe and photo inspired by

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I think it's pretty exciting when California grown cherries show up at our local farmer's market. It seems to be a short season, this year it was only in June.

This is the perfect seasonal salad and a new one for me. I usually make a strawberry/spinach salad during the summer months but I couldn't resist the last of our local cherries. Use some thick cut good quality bacon in this salad and it will make it hearty enough for a main course.


8 oz. thick-cut bacon, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (grease reserved)
8 oz. baby spinach
8 oz. pitted Rainier cherries
1 TBSP. champagne vinegar
1 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
2 oz. shaved manchego cheese (Parmesan would work as well)
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced or cut into cubes

Cook bacon until desired crispiness. Drain on paper towels and reserve bacon grease.

Mix vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tsp. reserved bacon grease, salt and pepper together and whisk until emulsified.

Toss the spinach, avocados and cherries in dressing to coat. Sprinkle bacon and cheese on top and serve.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Recipe from Sunset