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Roasted Jewel-Toned Beets

First beets from my garden, ready for roasting.  Varieties here are Red Sangria, Golden and Chioggia, grown from  Jewel-Toned Beets from Renee’s Garden. Candi the dog is waiting excitedly, as she knows the beet greens will go into her dog food!

To roast beets: Wash well and trim, leaving 1 inch of stem. Place in foil pouch, tightly seal, and roast at 425° for 45-60 minutes, until tender when pierced with fork. Cool, then slip off peels.

Super Bowl Fare – Slow Cooker Chile Verde

Chile Verde is a perfect slow cooker recipe, because the longer it simmers, the better the flavors. It doesn’t matter if your pork is boneless or bone-in. For variety, you can substitute chicken thighs or leg quarters for the pork.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pork shoulder roast (3 to 4 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups prepared salsa verde (we like Herdez brand)
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large frying over medium-high heat.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of pork, then place pork in hot oil. Brown both sides, then remove from pan and place in slow cooker.
3. Add onions to pan and saute until just beginning to soften, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour onions into slow cooker.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro to the slow cooker, and cook on low for 6 hours.
5. At the end of cooking, the meat should be falling apart. Stir, taste and adjust seasoning.
6. Serve with warm corn tortillas and steamed rice.
7. Garnish with chopped cilantro

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Meat Stadium!

Having a big Super Bowl Party?  Perhaps a Meat Stadium is in order:

‘Tis the Season for Oranges

Tuscan Grilled Chicken with Orange and Rosemary

Make this quick and easy marinade in the morning and let the chicken marinate all day. Fire up the grill, put on some rice, toss a salad, and you have dinner in 30 minutes!

For the marinade:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or half as much dried)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 chicken, cut into halves or serving pieces

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
2. Place chicken pieces in a plastic zip bag and pour marinade over. Smush it around a bit to coat all the pieces. Let marinate, refrigerated, for 2 to 8 hours.
3. Preheat gas or charcoal grill and grill chicken for 20-25 minutes, turning twice during cooking (Grill temperatures vary, so take care not to burn chicken. You want a deep brown glaze to form.)
4. Remove to serving platter and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and orange slices, if desired.

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Coriander Crusted Scallops with Ginger-Orange Broth

After eating at Tampa’s excellent Restaurant BT, I could not stop thinking about the taste of ginger with chiles and citrus.  When I returned home, I made this dish, which satisfied my craving for those bright flavors.

You can make the broth and prep the vegetables well ahead of cooking the scallops, making this a perfect dish for entertaining, as the final cooking takes less than 10 minutes.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice and snap peas, which can be spooned right into the bowl to absorb some of the delicious broth. Barely steamed snap peas are a wonderful accompaniment.

½ cup chicken or vegetable stock½ cup orange juice
1 knob of ginger, about 1 inch by 1 inch, unpeeled
1 serrano pepper
1 large clove garlic
4 scallions
¾ pound sea scallops (about 10)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons sugar, preferably raw (turbinado)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use
1 teaspoon butter
¼ cup minced cilantro

1.    Pour stock and juice into small saucepan.
2.    Using knife, remove peel and any small side knobs from ginger.   You should end up with approximately 2 tablespoons of trimmings.  If not, add a small slice of ginger.  Toss these trimmings into stock/juice mixture.
3.    Remove stem end of Serrano chile and toss into stock.  Gently simmer stock for 20 minutes, then turn off heat and let rest for 1 hour. Strain, then set aside. You should have 1/3 to 1/2 cup of broth.
4.    While stock is simmering, prepare vegetables: using mandolin or knife, cut ginger into thin julienned strips.  Remove seeds and membrane from pepper, then slice into very thin strips, then cut to 1-inch lengths. Thinly slice garlic. Combine ginger, pepper strips and garlic in small bowl and set aside.
5.    Prepare scallions: Separate dark green ends from light bottoms.  Thinly slice white/light green ends crosswise and set aside.  Slice dark green parts into thin 1-inch long pieces and set aside.
6.    Sprinkle one side of scallops with salt and pepper. Turn over, repeat, then sprinkle ground coriander over scallops.  Sprinkle sugar over tops.
7.    Place large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and butter.  When butter stops foaming, place scallops, coriander side down, into pan, making sure not to crowd them. Cook for 4 minutes, or until deep golden.  Turn over, then cook for 1 minute more. Place in serving bowl or deep platter and keep warm.
8.    While scallops are browning, reheat broth in small pan or in microwave.
9.    After removing scallops from skillet, add remaining tablespoon of oil.  Add ginger/garlic mix and stir for 30 seconds.  Add light scallions pieces and stir 30 seconds more.  Remove from heat and add dark green scallion pieces and stir.
10.    Pour broth around scallops.  Top scallops with the ginger/scallion mixture, then sprinkle with cilantro.

Music in the kitchen – Pierre Bensusan, various cuts

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It is that wonderful time of year, when the garden is still producing tomatoes and peppers, but the evenings are cool enough to make indoor cooking enjoyable again.

Blessed with an abundance of delicious Carmello tomatoes and a basket of colorful mini bell peppers, my thoughts turn to Basque Chicken, a satisfying fusion of French technique with Spanish flavors. The tomatoes and peppers melt into a delicious sauce accented by the smoky Spanish paprika.

I serve this with rice and a simple salad, paired with a Rioja such as Marques de Riscal, which I find at my local Trader Joe’s.

Poulet Basquaise (Basque Chicken)

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or serrano ham, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 3 to 4 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups of chopped bell peppers, any color but green (quartered mini bells are perfect)
6 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups chopped tomatoes (can use one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes)
3 teaspoons Spanish (smoked) paprika, divided use
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1.    Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and sauté until browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.
2.      Sprinkle chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper.  Brown chicken in same pan until golden, about 5 minutes per side.  Work in batches so as to not crowd the pan.  Remove and set aside with pancetta.
3.    Add onions, peppers, and garlic to pan, and sauté over medium heat until peppers are soft.  Add tomatoes (with their juice), wine, 2 teaspoons paprika and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add back the chicken and the pancetta, then cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. The sauce should taste rich and melded.  Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired.
4.    Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon paprika over the chicken pieces.  Garnish with the chopped parsley.

Music in the kitchen – Groove Armada, Just for Tonight

BTW, my favorite Spanish paprika is Chiquilin Bittersweet Paprika, which is widely available in stores and online.Find this recipe, and hundreds more, at

Egghead Revisited

I am cooking from Seven Fires this weekend, and am fascinated by a recipe for a thick bread and tomato soup that is topped with a poached egg. It brought to mind an old blog post, one that I feel deserves re-posting.  More on the soup later…..

Previously posted:

Today I became obsessed with eggs, especially poached ones.

I had just taken a picture of the fresh eggs I get locally, planning on writing a post about the bounty in your own backyard, but before I uploaded the picture, I decided to check my Facebook.  Lo and behold, there is a post from my friend Michelle, chef extraordinaire, that says simply, “Need to remember to top more dishes with a poached or fried egg”. That one really set me off, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it (actually, it seemed to set a lot of people off – many comments were offered about how to best top with an egg). I love almost anything with an egg chapeau, will go right for that item on any restaurant menu, yet I so rarely do this at home.  Why, I don’t know.  So, perhaps to inspire myself, I list my memorable experiences of this treatment, along with some of today’s Facebook suggestions:

One of my favorite salads in the world is of French origin, consisting of Belgian endive, frisee, and duck confit, dressed with a vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg.  Bistro La Bastide in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego makes one of the best I’ve had.

Eggs with Tomato Panzanella as served at Boulettes’s Larder in San Francisco. Blogger ouichefcook has a post about this dish here with a picture.   I have tried to recreate this masterpiece (doesn’t look too hard, does it?), and while I make something good, it does not compare to Boulette’s version. I dream about this one.

How about on top of pizza? Make a lovely pizza with some peppers and sausage, then top with some arugula and a sunny-side-up egg. Heavenly.

Michelle recommends “on a nice pasta with sausage and wilted greens, topped with parm reggiano”. Her rendition would be divine, but since we are a plane ride away from each other, I am not going to taste her version any time soon. I am going to have to work on my own recipe for this one (and of course, I’ll post the recipe).

Eggs dropped in soups got a few mentions on Facebook, from chicken soup to udon. All great ideas – drop it in right as you serve it.

A poached egg on top of sautéed spinach or steamed asparagus is like instant hollandaise (maybe better?) and easy enough for every day:

In case you don’t know, here is how to perfectly poach eggs:
In a deep skillet, bring 2-3 inches of water to simmering. You want to see tiny bubbles on the bottom the pan, but you don’t want the water rolling. The bubbles will keep the eggs from sticking to the pan.

Crack your eggs into a shallow bowl that will allow you to easily slip it into the water. Cracking them into a bowl first guarantees intact yolks, and provides an opportunity to remove any pieces of shell.

Using a large spoon, gently stir the water in circles, creating a bit of a vortex in the center:

Remove the spoon and drop the eggs into this vortex. Notice how the whites curl nicely around the yolks:

Cook for 3-5 minutes, just until whites set. The yolks should be runny for the dishes described above. Remove with a slotted spoon and enjoy.

Oh yeah, you can have poached eggs for breakfast, too:

Music in the kitchen – Ting Tings, We Started Nothing

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This evening’s harvest, and the season has just begun!

Varieties pictured, all from Mandarin Cross (large orange), Big Beef, Carmello, Sungold (orange cherry)

International Grocery Tour – Right Here in San Diego

What are your favorite international food stores in San Diego?  Here is what we did in one fun-filled, delicious day:

Picked up some lemon-saffron fettucine at Assenti Pasta.  I’ll freeze it, then use it later to make Lemon Pasta with Shrimp.

Purchased and immediately started devouring Sangak at Balboa International Market.  Also bought some smoky roasted peppers and fresh lemon basil.

Visited Marukai, where I bought some vegetable brushes in their home goods store, then sampled amazing tofu (House Brand) in the delightful grocery store.

Had some Swedish meatballs at Ikea after resisting the urge to remodel my kitchen with their inventive cabinets and accessories.

Browsed the fresh fish tanks, bought some Thai eggplants, baby bok choy and several noodle variations (fresh and dried) from the incomparable 99 Ranch Market. Lo Mein is on the menu this week!

I can’t wait for the next tour!Where shall we go?

Sweet and Sour Eggplant, Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe is easy to prepare, delicious and healthy.  I adapted a bit, as her recipe called for roasting the eggplant for 40 minutes, and mine was very brown at 30 minutes.  Also, I make my own pomegranate molasses, which is not as tangy as some commercial ones, so I needed to add a bit of lemon juice at the end to kick up the sour component. Sauteed greens of some sort (spinach, kale, collards) are a perfect accompaniment, along with a flatbread (great recipe here) and a cucumber mint salad (recipe at the end of this post).

The eggplant dish is even better when made ahead, allowing several hours for the flavors to meld.

1 large eggplant (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise then cut in 1/2-inch slices
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, grated or peeled, seeded and chopped (or substitute 2 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, or a combination of mint and parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and oil it with olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on top. Salt lightly and brush with olive oil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft to the touch (the surface will be dry). Remove from the heat, and fold over the foil to make a packet around the eggplant slices. Allow them to soften and steam inside the foil for 15 minutes while you proceed with Step 2.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy lidded casserole or skillet. Add the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt to taste, sugar and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell very fragrant.
3. Add the eggplant, molasses and chickpeas. Cover and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The mixture should be thick and the eggplant should be very tender, melting into the mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add lemon juice, if desired. Sprinkle on the parsley and/or mint, and serve. Alternately, allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: Serves four to six.

Cucumber-Mint Salad for 2

1 Persian cucumber, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 teaspoon chopped mint (or more, to taste)
Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon mild vinegar, such as rice or champagne
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Music in the kitchen – Gotan Project, Diferente

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