Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Roasted Vegetables

If you've been reading my blog at all you know I love roasted vegetables. I decided to make Salad Nicoise last night and realized I could roast all the vegetables together! Well, of course it was easy and delicious. So here is my slightly revised Salad Nicoise.

Roasted Vegetable Salad Nicoise

2 small cans of tuna packed in olive oil from Italy, drained
6-8 small red potatoes, halved or quartered into bite size pieces
several handfuls of green beans, trimmed and snapped
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut into pieces
1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered into bite size pieces
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees. Toss all the vegetables together and drizzle with olive oil on jelly roll pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. Check your vegetables, stir and spin pan in oven if necessary. Cook another 15 minutes and repeat until vegetables are soft and browned.

Toss vegetables with tuna and season with more olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


Mike is from Tennessee (Go Vols!) and I'm from North Carolina (Go Tarheels!) and so we can relate to each other on many levels including food. So when he asked me to make spaghetti I knew exactly what he meant. When our moms made "spaghetti" they used ground beef and red sauce served over spaghetti noodles with Parmesan cheese (usually Kraft in the green can). I don't think my daughter would think of this if she heard I was serving spaghetti. Is it Southern or it is that we were growing up in the 60's and 70's. Whatever it is it's comfort food. As my cousin Elizabeth would say I've Californized this recipe. Bolognese this is not!

Mom's Spaghetti my way

1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/3 cup dry red wine
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound dried spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Saute onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and soft. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, anchovy paste and red wine. Stir and simmer over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat water for the pasta. Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Drain. Toss pasta with the sauce and grate cheese over the top.

You can freeze any leftovers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


One of my favorites things to make each summer is ratatouille. Luckily our summers have foggy days so I don't mind being in the kitchen with the oven going. Now is a good time to make it because all of the ingredients are so good! Good tomatoes are key to this dish. I've developed my own version over the years and even my somewhat eggplant phobic daughter likes this.

My Ratatouille

1 large eggplant, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
lots of tomatoes, today I used about 1 pint large cherry tomatoes and 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, halved or chopped

Substitutions: summer squash, green, yellow or orange peppers, Japanese eggplants

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Make all the pieces of the vegetables about the same size. You will need a very large bowl or 2 large bowls to toss the vegetables in.

1/2 extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 large garlic cloves, pressed (I love garlic. Feel free to use less.)
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together. Pour over chopped vegetables. Mix well.

Place the coated vegetables on a jelly roll pan. The pan will be heaped but the vegetables will cook down to about 1/3 of what you started with. As they cook they will release some juices but as they continue to cook and roast those juices will be absorbed and evaporate.

Cook for 20 minutes. Adjust heat if necessary. Stir the vegetables. Spin the pan if they are not cooking evenly. Cook for another 20 minutes and repeat until the vegetables are cooked down and become very soft and begin to caramelize, approximately 1 hour. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Ratatouille is wonderful in crepes and omelettes or served along side grilled or roasted meats. I roasted bone in chicken thighs and made farro which I put under the ratatouille. It would be good with brown rice, pasta or roasted potatoes too.

Ratatouille is really good made in advance and improves the next few days as the flavors come together more. Some sort of alchemy occurs where the ingredients lose themselves and become part of something better. So even if you or someone in your family doesn't love eggplant or zucchini they might still like ratatouille.

I wish Abigail was here to eat with us but she is off to college in NYC learning to cook and fend for herself. Maybe she'll make ratatouille.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday and Mike took me to Sonoma County. We stopped at Gloria Ferrer Winery and tasted champagne on the patio overlooking the vineyards and had some delicious spiced almonds. We especially loved the 1999 Carnenos Cuvee and bought a bottle.

Next we drove to the town of Sonoma and had lunch at The Girl and The Fig. We were seated on the outside patio-beautiful.

Mike and I both choose the Bistro Plat du Jour. Mike also got the wine flight to go with it. The first course was a Provencal tart with roasted tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil. The crust was like puff pastry and Mike's wine was a lovely rose. Delicious!

The next course was a lamb burger with arugula, heirloom tomato and smoked paprika aioli. It came with a delicious salad which I'll give you a recipe for later. The wine was a Mourvedre, perfect with the lamb.

Our last course was a choice of profiteroles with raspberry ice cream and a cheese plate. We got one of each. Mike basically ate all the profiteroles and I had the cheese which was spectacular. The cheeses were Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar & Cypress Grove Bermuda Triangle Cheese and came with some slices of baguette, slices of apple, apple compote and candied nuts. The wine was a Bonny Doon Vinferno, especially good with the nuts. Heaven!

The salad was chickpea, cucumber and feta salad. Perfect with the lamb, cool and refreshing. Easy to make. I asked about the ingredients so I wouldn't miss anything.

The Girl & The Fig's chickpea, cucumber and feta salad

1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed or dried and cooked beans
1 English cucumber, rinsed and thinly sliced
~1/4 cup crumbled feta
drizzle of olive oil

That's it. These quantities are approximate. Toss together. Let sit for flavors to come together. Enjoy!

By the way, I've been out of commission lately due to rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia but I am coming back and will return with more recipes.