Thursday, July 28, 2011


Abigail is on a cleanse this week, eating vegan and what not so I decided to make some lamb since it's not her favorite for Mike and I. The San Francisco Chronicle had some wonderful recipes a few weeks ago and this is another recipe from the July 17th edition. This recipe is from Lynne Char Bennett and combines lamb, eggplant and feta. Yum! How could you go wrong? She served it as an appetizer but Mike and I had it for our dinner.

Eggplant with Lamb Stuffing my way

1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound
extra virgin olive oil, as needed
3/4 pound lean ground lamb
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 minced red onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon Marsala
~3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 hand full chopped Italian parsley
1 ounce grated melting cheese such as aged Gouda

Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Trim eggplants and cut in half lengthwise. Remove a strip down the middle to hold the stuffing, leaving at least a 1/4-inch rim. Chop the removed eggplant and set aside. Brush the cut surfaces of the eggplant with olive oil and set aside.

Add about 1 teaspoon olive oil to a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper; add to the skillet and cook, stirring, until browned, breaking up the meat into small bites.

Remove the lamb from the skillet using slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and chopped eggplant to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent and the eggplant softens, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and coriander, and continue cooking until the garlic becomes aromatic. Add the Marsala and cook briefly to reduce.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the feta, parsley and extra virgin olive oil to moisten, and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the grated Gouda and cooked lamb.

Give the eggplant another light coat of oil, season with salt and pepper and bake until tender, about 12 minutes total, turning about halfway.

Reheat the filling as needed, then spoon atop each eggplant.

This was rich and delicious. Mike and I had it with 2009 Crooked Path Zinfandel, great combo. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

All things hummus...

Abigail and I love all things hummus-y, tahini-y, falafels, pita bread, yogurt sauce, Greek salad etc. The San Francisco Chronicle had some wonderful recipes in it on Sunday but the one I wanted to try first was the Greek Chicken Flatbread sandwiches by Amanda Gold for just that reason.
We were not disappointed and Mike was a happy participant. Now I want to make falafels.

Greek Chicken Flatbread Sandwiches my

The dressing/marinade:

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled, cored and pressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

The sandwich:

2 small chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
1 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved if small
4 small minced scallions, white and green parts
whole wheat flatbread or pita pockets, warmed in low oven
homemade artichoke hummus
1/3 cup tahini
1 - 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled, cored and pressed

hot sauce
crumbled feta cheese
sliced avocado

Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees.

Whisk together the lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper and the olive oil in a small Pyrex measuring cup together until emulsified.

Set aside 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette to dress the salad. Place the chicken in a baking dish, and pour the remaining dressing over it; let marinate for about 15-20 minutes or overnight.

Combine the cucumber, tomatoes and scallions, and toss with the 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Set aside.

Bake chicken for about 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.

Combine tahini, lemon juice and garlic with several tablespoons of water. Heat over low heat and whisk until combined.

Spread some hummus on a piece of flatbread. Top with some cucumber salad and chicken strips, and drizzle with tahini sauce. Add hot sauce, feta and avocado if you like. Wrap up to eat.

The feta and avocado were Abigail's idea (that's my girl!). The hot sauce was one of mine.

I made hummus using the recipe on my blog and added half a jar of grilled, marinated artichoke hearts,, and half a can of artichoke bottoms. I used the food processor to chop them up and to combine them into the hummus.

Mike said it was his favorite hummus ever and we all loved the sandwiches. It was fun to make them and experiment with different fillings. We each had 2. I want to do something similar with falafels. I love these ingredients and flavors and could eat them every day. Enjoy!

Update 07/31/11: I made artichoke hummus again today and tweaked it a bit. I added 1 raw garlic clove to give it a bite and several nice shakes of Frank's Hot Sauce. These additions added a nice depth of flavor.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beets! That's right-beets!

If you've read my blog at all you know I am not a beet fan. What you might not know is that I have tried to like beets. My famous and favorite! cousin Lisa, the incredible chef and cookbook writer, could not even convert me. I decided to give them another try because I found this recipe from Tyler Florence at the Women's Health website.

If you've read my blog at all you know I am a complete roasted vegetable fanatic. Turns out Abigail and Mike like beets so be a grownup, Sebia, and try 'em again, after all they are wildly good for you.

The verdict was pretty darn yummy. Thank you Tyler! How can you go wrong with quinoa, fresh spinach and feta? When I make this again (and I will) I will slip off the skins and then chop the beets into smaller pieces and continue to roast until caramelized and crispy outside.

Roasted Golden Beets with Quinoa And Feta my way

3 medium golden beets, scrubbed and cut in half
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup quinoa
~1 ounce fresh spinach, stems removed, shredded
3 tablespoons raisins
1/3 crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the beets on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the beets until you can slip off the skins, ~45 minutes. Cut beets into bite size pieces and return to oven and roast until caramelized and tender, about 15 more minutes.

Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover and cook according to package instructions. Place quinoa in large bowl and add the spinach, set aside.

Mix together the quinoa mixture, beets, raisins, and feta and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice.

I served this with one of my favorites, wild King salmon from Alaska. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, 2 garlic cloves pressed and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Mike grilled it to perfection! Thanks to Tyler and this salad I am becoming a beet fan. Mike and Abigail loved it. We sat outside, listened to the SF Giants game on the radio and I felt blessed. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cooking for Abigail

Since Abigail's home for the summer my cooking habits change a bit. Things that she likes are different from things I would normally choose for Mike and I. That's a good thing-it expands our horizons and I get to make some recipes with ingredients that I wouldn't make for Mike and I alone. Abigail loves salads with grains like couscous and quinoa with lots of veggies. When I saw this in Food & Wine by Skip Bennett and Jeremy Sewall I knew it was right up her alley.

I made shrimp for Mike and I from to go with the couscous. Delicious and easy!

Israeli Couscous and Tomato Salad with Arugula Pesto my way

5 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled, halved and cored
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 celery ribs, diced

Cook couscous according to the instructions on the package.

Toast the pine nuts in a 350 degree oven, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Transfer the arugula to a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese and the 1/2 cup of olive oil and process until the pine nuts are finely chopped. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

Transfer the couscous to a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto. Gently fold in the tomatoes, bell peppers and celery.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Skewers my way

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, cored and pressed
1 teaspoon oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
~3/4 medium prawns, peeled and deveined

Combine lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper for marinade in a bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat; refrigerate in marinade about 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add prawns and saute for about 2 minutes. Turn and cook another minute or two.

Hit all around. The arugula pesto is particularly good. There was leftover and Abigail has been adding it to everything including an omelet. Enjoy!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Lazy Days of Summer

I have a few favorite pasta salads I've made for years and always like to see something really different to try. I came across this recipe on and it is truly unique. It also appealed to me because it's called "Southern Pasta Salad with Black-Eyed Peas". Being from the South and loving black eyed peas I had to make it. Here's the link to the original recipe.

I thought I had read the recipe over well and made my shopping list but I forgot a few things and had to make substitutions. Unbelievably I made it home from the store without the black eyed peas. I also forgot the Swiss chard. Not wanting to go back to the store I substituted pork and beans and Napa cabbage. It worked fine and no one was the wiser. I did not want to buy Lapsang Souchong tea for the dressing which my very Southern mother would have scoffed at so I used Oolong tea from my pantry instead.

Southern Pasta Salad my way

1 cup sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
8 ounces small elbows macaroni
8 ounces Napa cabbage, shredded
8 ounces smoked turkey thigh, chopped
1 14-ounce can pork and beans, drained, rinsed and pork fat removed
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1/4 cup brewed Oolong tea
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Place sun dried tomatoes in a Pyrex measuring cup, cover with boiling water and let stand until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut into slivers and toss in a large bowl.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, following package instructions. Add Napa cabbage to colander. Drain pasta into colander containing cabbage to wilt it slightly. Transfer pasta and cabbage to bowl containing tomatoes. Add turkey, beans and onions.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients in Pyrex measuring cup. Add to the pasta mixture; toss until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe has some of my favorite flavors including smoked turkey, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, chili powder and cumin. The tea is an interesting inclusion which adds depth. The sun dried tomatoes are not very Southern but add some nice chewy texture. All in all 2 thumbs up, including from my cousin Elizabeth, another transplanted Southerner. Enjoy!