Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Squash Blossom Quesadilla - Farmer's Market Inspired!

Squash Blossom Quesadilla Ingredients
I have eaten almost exclusively organic for about 6 years but I am trying to step up my game, especially when I am craving familiar foods that I grew up with, my comfort foods.  The Mexican grilled cheese sandwich or "Quesadilla" is one of those foods.  Here I used a quality New Zealand sharp cheddar cheese and add squash blossoms to increase my healthy vegetable intake and a roasted yellow chili instead of a traditional jalapeno, anaheim or serrano chili.

I am just going to let the photographs "BE" the recipe with the exception of brushing the corn tortillas with olive oil after softening them on a griddle along with roasting the chilis at the same time.

Serve with avocado, salsa is nice too!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Purslane Salad

Purslane is also known as a common weed in my yard anyway.  I bought some at the Farmer's Market to try it out.  When it starts growing again in the yard it will become a regular part of my salads!  It is super high in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein...a great vegan choice.  It is also used by herbalists as a blood cleanser, has antiparasitic properties...well, see for yourself what Cornell University says here.  Best of all it is a yummy, crunchy green addition to your salads.DSC09578purslanesalad
Purslane Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing for 2
torn leaves of butter, green and red leaf lettuce
leaf clusters of purslane
2 chopped lemon cucumber or 1 persian 
1 chopped tomato 
You can also add cubed avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds if you have them but then you will have to eat this salad all summer long because then, well, it's just TOO GOOD!

Purslane Salad IngredientsLemon Garlic Dressing
sliced clove of elephant garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together ingredients, crush garlic if you don't like the raw garlic flavor of slices.  Pour over the salads right before serving evenly distributing the bits of garlic goodness.  (The secret is for both you and your loved one to eat garlic together.)  

Serve with great crusty bread, I served it with a loaf of Italian Semolina bread from the Farmer's Market.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Farmers Market Bounty

Farmers Market Food Basket
It's the middle of summer and I didn't plant a garden this year but thank goodness for the many Farmer's Markets in Southern California!  I have heard some snooty opinions on the "Best", usually hours from where I live but the best ones for me are always Locally Grown!  I like supporting the small backyard farmers and local growers in my neck of the woods...they are like neighbors to me.  Often I am surprised to find out they are acquaintances who soon become friends as we do business together...that means samples and specials and set asides!
It is good to know that there are people in my area who are equally concerned about the toxic effects of pesticides and herbicides so they grow their own food and in the process have extra to share in the local Farmer's Markets.  I find everything I need in fruits and vegetables except maybe lettuces since we live in such a hot summer area, they don't do well.  Now I just have to get someone to grow golden beets for my favorite roasted beet salad...although one of my new faves is a purslane (weed) salad with a lemony garlicy dressing and good crusty Italian Semolina bread from the market.
That's another great thing about the Farmer's Markets...wonderful breads, marinated garlics, olives, homemade cheeses, local honeys, homemade soaps and so much more.  LOVE IT!  Go visit one and don't forget to recycle your grocery bags or take your cloth ones.  Don't know where you can find one?  In Southern California the Los Angeles Times has a great interactive map here and nationally here.  Have fun!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If You Hate Apple Pie, You Will Love French Apple Pie!

Not just because it's french, but it's a great combination of toasty walnuts, sweet apples, spicy cinnamon and the crumbly crust.  It's easy to make and not too sweet and goopy like a storebought apple pie which is why everyone who hates apple pie usually loves this one.
The only reason I am going to make a Sandra Lee reference in this recipe is because I cheat on the crust.  Okay, the other reason is so that I could reference Anthony Bourdain's hilarious, blog post about her... and of course there is this reason he dislikes her so... this-cake-will-make-your-eyeballs-burst-into-flame

come into the light...angels are singing...really!

Back to the recipe, I am giving you the cheater package measurements:

1 package refrigerated Pillsbury pie crusts (2 in a package)  You can make your own, I am sure Martha Stewart has an amazing recipe but everybody will think you made this cheater crust which is why I stopped  making pie crust messes in my kitchen.  Just throw flour on your face and say, "Yeah, it's my grandmothers recipe from her grandmother!"

1 plastic (sorry, earth) bag of generic green apples
3 or 4 good baking apples like Johnagolds or Gala
2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cups sugar
3 tbsp. butter (best hint ever!  freeze the butter and then grate off the 2 tbsp. with a cheese grater)
1 tbsp. flour

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup raw sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 stick of frozen butter, grated (now that you know about my butter tip, throw away your pastry blender!) 

  • Roll out the cheater pie crusts, dampen the top of one with water and place it on top of the other one to make one crust.  Place into a pie pan (I love stoneware especially Pampered Chef) and crimp, cover the crimped edges with a strip of foil and stick into a preheated 350 degree oven while you prepare apples so you won't have a soggy crust, about 10 minutes.
  • Peel the apples and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks into a bowl.  Throw in the cinnamon, sugar and grate the butter into the apples.  Mix and put into the pie crust.  
  • Throw the remaining ingredients for the topping into the same bowl (now empty) and mix it well.  With your hands, pat the whole mess onto your apples evenly.  
  • Cover the pie top with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour taking off the foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes to brown.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream (like I had to tell you that!)
The raw sugar makes the topping extra crunchy and of course, all that butter makes it french, rich and delicious.

Note:  Please don't add raisins to this or tell me about how wonderful an addition golden local harvest home dried raisins are.  Cooked raisins are as appealing to me as boiled roaches.  'nuff said!