Friday, September 23, 2016

Summer Sunset Salad with Calendula Vinaigrette

This afternoon I bought fresh edible flowers from MEarth. Fresh calendula has always reminded me of a summer sunset on the beach. So, in keeping with that, I made a salad in shades of red, orange, and yellow.


  • 2 to 3 roasted beets, sliced into wedges (this post explains how to roast beets)
  • 2 to 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • petals from 2 to 3 calendula blossoms + a full blossom or two for garnish
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • 1 T ginger syrup
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • also needed: mason jar with lid


Place calendula petals in the bottom of the mason jar. 

Pour in vinegar, olive oil, and ginger syrup. Tighten the lid on the jar. Shake to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To assemble, place wedges of beets and tomatoes in a serving bowl. Drizzle a generous amount of vinaigrette over the top. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with whole calendula blossoms. Serve immediately.

Chamomile-Poached Sanddabs with Candy Caps

Why, yes, I did create this recipe completely around the fresh chamomile blossoms I bought from MEarth today. Fresh chamomile is surprisingly bitter, so I thought I'd temper it with the maple syrup-reminiscent candy cap mushrooms. 

Ingredients serves 4

  • 1 pound sanddab filets, deboned
  • 1/4 C dried candy cap mushrooms 
  • 1 T fresh chamomile blossoms + more for garnish
  • 1/2 C boiling water
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 T shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 T olive oil + more for serving
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • chamomile greens for serving


Place candy cap mushrooms and fresh chamomile blossoms in a bowl. Pour boiling water over them. Let steep until softened and fragrant. Whisk in maple syrup. Set aside.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat olive oil and saute shallots until softened and beginning to turn translucent. Pour in the soaked candy caps, chamomile blossoms, and soaking liquid. Bring to a simmer.

Place sanddab filets into the liquid. Poach until firm, approximately 5 minutes.

To serve, move cooked filets to a low, rimmed bowl. Spoon candy caps over the top. Pour in a few T of poaching liquid. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with fresh chamomile blossoms and greens.

Monterey Market Squid with a Chunky Peanut Sauce

When I saw frozen market squid in our CSF-shop from Real Good Fish this week, I couldn't resist. My boys love squid. And this was a relatively quick dinner that I served one evening this week with an Asian pear and kale salad.


  • 2 lbs fresh market squid, cleaned
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 C coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 T minced fresh lemongrass or lemongrass paste
  • 1 T peanut butter
Chunky Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • 1 1/2 C organic chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 C organic coconut milk
  • 3 T water
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 T coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T hot sauce  (feel free to add more if you prefer more heat)
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 T minced fresh lemongrass or lemongrass paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
Peanut Sauce
In a small mixing bowl, blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Adjust for heat, as needed. You may like yours more spicy.

Mix together the coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass, and peanut butter in a large bowl to make the marinade. Set aside.

Place squid in a large pot. Cover them with water. Make sure they are submerged by at least 1" of water. Bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain the squid.

Place the squid in the bowl with the marinade. Marinate the squid for, at least, 10 minutes at room temperature, turning once halfway through.

Preheat your grill or grill pan. Grill the squid for about 2 minutes on each side, weighing them down (I usually place a pot lid on top of them) to get the nice grill marks.

The squid will turn from translucent to opaque. Take care not to overcook as squid turns rubbery if grilled too long. Move the grilled squid to a serving plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with the peanut sauce.

{Gluten-Free} Quince Cobbler

Autumn means baking. Lots and lots of baking. Okay, truth be told, I bake all year long. But when the days get shorter and colder, I bake more. And when I saw a basket full of quince I think I squealed. Literally squealed. People stared. Oh, well...if they don't understand my joy at seeing this elusive fruit, too bad.

I adore quince. If you're unfamiliar, here's a piece I wrote for Edible Monterey Bay a couple of years back: Queen of Quince Takes Her Show on the Road

Ingredients serves 4
  • 3 C water
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 peeled and cored quince, sliced into wedges 
  • 1 T organic corn starch
  • 1 C gluten-free flour blend
  • 1/2 C lightly packed organic brown sugar
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 3 to 4 T olive oil
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • dash of ground cardamom

Combine water, sugar, and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the quince and vanilla bean. Simmer uncovered for 75 to 90 minutes until the quince is tender. The fruit will turn golden; the longer you poach it, the more pinkish it becomes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a baking dish.

Place the drained, poached quince in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle it with corn starch and toss to coat. Spoon the quince into your prepared baking dish.

For the topping...stir until all of the ingredients are well-combined. The consistency will be like a crumble top. Spoon the topping over the fruit and use a spatula to spread it over the quince. 

Bake the cobbler for 40-50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Smoky Crab Bisque

I was in need of a quick mid-week dinner and had a pound of crab claw meat. And, given that the chill of autumn is descending on the central coast of California, I opted to make soup! This is remarkably simple, but tastes decadent.

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1/2 C bacon, diced
  • 1/2 C onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/2 C diced bell peppers (I used a mixture of yellow and red peppers)
  • 1/4 C gluten-free flour
  • 6 C stock (I used a mixture of fish and chicken stock because that's what I had)
  • 2 C diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 C fresh tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 t smoked paprika
  • 1-1/2 C organic heavy cream
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound fresh, cooked crab meat + more for garnish
  • 1/4 C dry white wine
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 3 to 4 T fresh parsley, minced
  • bread for serving (gluten-free, if needed)

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter in a splash of olive oil. Add bacon and cook until the fat is rendered, but the bacon is not yet crisped. Add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Sauté until softened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in 1 C of broth, whisking to prevent clumping. Pour in the remaining broth, whisking to incorporate.

Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. The soup should be nicely thickened. Stir in the tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, and smoked paprika. Let that simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in the cream and add the crab. Cook until warmed through.

Pour in the wine and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste, adjusting salt and pepper as needed. Add some cayenne, if desired. Just before serving, stir in fresh parsley.

To serve, ladle soup into serving bowls. Float a toasted slice of bread in the bowl and garnish with more crab meat.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bittersweet Cremeux with Coffee Caramel and Bourbon Cream #SundaySupper

Cup o'Joe, Java, Rocket Fuel…whatever you call it, coffee brings happiness and alertness to the masses on a daily basis. So this week the Sunday Supper tastemasters have brewed up some coffee goodness for you with everything from sippables to sweets! Thanks to Wendy from Wholistic Woman for hosting.

A note about coffee: I love coffee. I don't mean I like it a lot. I mean I am borderline obsessed. Ever since I researched and wrote an article - Bean to Cup: Coffee is Getting A Lot More Local for Edible Monterey Bay's Winter 2013 issue - I have been a coffee fanatic. 

Well, admittedly, I was a coffee fanatic before. I fueled my thesis in college with coffee. Way too much coffee. Then I lived in Italy and pretty much kept time by when I was standing at a bar, gulping down a caffè - what we call an espresso here - because it started my day, was a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, and was my post-dinner sweet.

But, after writing that article, I know a lot more about the plant, the production, and am even more particular about the coffee that I'm buying. I could go on and on about coffee, but let me just say this: the lighter roast you buy, the more you actually taste the qualities of the bean. I no longer buy dark roasted beans which masks the flavors of the beans; I also no longer put cream or sugar in my coffee. Again, I like to taste the flavor of the coffee. So, black it is!

The Sunday Supper Coffee Cart


Bittersweet Cremeux with Coffee Caramel 
and Bourbon Cream

I thought about contributing a savory or a main dish with coffee such as a riff on my Coffee Rubbed Prime Rib RoastCoffee-Honey Crusted Rack of Lamb, or Coffee'd Flank Steak. But I opted to share one of our favorite desserts with a coffee twist. My Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf helped me.


For the Cremeux
  • 1-1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 2-1/2 C bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (use a good quality at whatever percent cacao you prefer)
  • 1-1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T ginger syrup
For the Caramel
  • 2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 12 T butter, cubed
  • 1 T instant coffee or espresso
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • 1 T fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)
For the Cream
  • 1 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1 t bourbon
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
For Serving
  • whole coffee beans
  • chocolate for shaving over the top


For the Cremeux
Place 1-1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan ring to a bubble again. Add in 2-1/2 C chocolate chips or chunks and swirl until they are completely submerged.

Let stand for 3 minutes. Then, with a whisk, blend till smooth - like you're making a ganache.

Place 1-1/2 C thick Greek yogurt in a mixing bowl. Stir in 1 T ginger syrup. Once the chocolate-cream is smooth, add it to the yogurt and syrup. Blend until completely combined.

Poured the cremeux into individual ramekins, leaving room at the top of the container for the caramel and the whipped cream. Covered the pots with plastic wrap and let them set overnight.

For the Caramel
Place sugar in heavy saucepan that holds, at least, two quarts. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as it begins to melt. The sugar will begin to form clumps. Keep whisking and they will melt back down.

Once all the sugar has melted, swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar continues to cook.

Cook until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should have a slightly nutty aroma and be almost a reddish brown. Using a candy thermometer, cook till it reaches 350 degrees F.

As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees F, add the butter cubes all at once. Be careful because the caramel will bubble up. Whisk the butter into the caramel until completely melted. Stir in the instant coffee.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, take care because the mixture will bubble up again. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel. Whisk to incorporate.

You can use this sauce warm, but I let it cool until it was spoonable and held its shape.

For the Cream
Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat until peaks have formed.

For Serving
Remove the cremeux from the fridge. Spoon a dollop of caramel over the top. Spoon whipped cream over the caramel. Use a microplane to shave bits of chocolate on the whipped cream. Garnish with a coffee bean.

This was a happy ending to a really long week! 

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest boardWould you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pizza Night with a Lalande de Pomerol 2011 #Winophiles

Here we are at the September event for The French Winophiles, a wine-swilling, food-loving group coordinated by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva. We've made it around France. And by clicking on the following regions you can read my recipe post that includes the #winophiles round-up as well. So far, we've traveled - by tabletop and goblet - to the Loire Valley, Corsicathe SouthwestLanguedoc-Roussillon, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux, Champagne, BurgundyAlsace, and Médoc.

Now that we've made the rounds, we're revisiting regions with a little more specificity. So, today, the crew is heading to the Graves region in Bordeaux.

The Conversation
Join us for a live Twitter Chat Saturday, September 17th at 11 am EST/8 am PCT. You may join in the revelry by following hashtag #winophiles.

Here's where we're headed next: October 15th - Jura. Join us for our upcoming events by emailing your post title to Christy at or Jill at  A Vôtre Santé!

The Rest of the #Winophiles

In the Region
Graves is situated on the left bank of the Garonne river, southeast of the city Bordeaux. Some reading turned up that the name 'Graves' derives from its intensely gravelly soil which was the result of glaciers from the Ice Age. That glacial movement deposited white quartz crystals throughout the region which can still be seen in the soil of many Graves vineyards.

In the Glass
When searching for a wine from Graves, I stumbled across a Lalande de Pomerol from Château Belles-Graves.

Château  Belles-Graves produces Merlot-dominated wines. This particular one has some Cabernet Franc blended into it. To the eye, it's deeply colored. On the nose, there's a hint of oak, but it's mostly fruit. This wine was a bit lighter weight than I anticipated. But, on the second day, the fruit was more concentrated and balanced.

On the Plate
While I typically try to pick a recipe from the same region as the wine, I decided to pour the wine for a casual pizza night at home. I wanted to make something simple and just enjoy the wine! I used my gluten-free crust and used some toppings with a Mediterranean bent: Jamón Serrano, roasted peppers, roasted onions, and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

makes 1 large rectangular pizza approximately 10" x 13"
  • 3/4 C white rice flour (you can use brown rice flour instead)
  • 1/2 C tapioca flour 
  • 1/3 C sorghum flour 
  • 1/3 C buckwheat flour
  • 1 t xanthan gum
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2-1/4 t active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
  • 2 t organic brown sugar
  • 1 - 2 eggs (2nd egg if the dough is too dry)
  • 3 T olive oil + more for baking the crust
  • Also needed: parchment paper
Toppings (use your favorite - for this version we went simple)
  • fresh tomato sauce
  • Jamón Serrano, sliced into thin strips
  • olive oil
  • roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
  • roasted onions, thinly sliced
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, grated at tableside

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together tapioca flour, white rice flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, and sea salt.

Pour milk and water into a saucepan and heat until warm to the touch, approximately one minute. Stir in the yeast and brown sugar and let bloom for 5 minutes.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and beat with a wooden spoon. Stir in one egg and olive oil. Beat till smooth. If the dough looks too dry, add another egg. This dough should be smooth and thick. Cover and let stand for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F while the dough rests. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

After the dough has rested, scrape the dough onto the parchment-lined pan. Drizzle the ball with olive oil, then press and stretch into a rectangle that's about 1/4" thick. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Bake until the top is puffed and firm and the underside is crisped, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 450°F.

Spread sauce over the crust, leaving a slight border around the edge. Top with your toppings. Drizzle olive oil over the whole thing and place it back in the oven. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and browned in places. The crust should be golden brown after approximately 14 to 16 minutes.

Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil, grate fresh cheese over the top. Slice and serve immediately.

Ahwa Beida (White Coffee) for Foodie Reads

As we inch towards the final quarter of the Foodie Reads 2016 Challenge, I picked up a copy of The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber.* I don't know if someone recommended it to me, if I saw it on someone else's reading list or blog, or if I just found it.

I dove into the book and carried in my purse to devour pages in any spare moment that I had. But my interest flagged about two-thirds of the way through and I struggled to finish it. Still, I finally flipped that last page this morning and am glad that I did. She did manage to draw me back in at the end.

On the Page...
This is a memoir about growing up with a foot in each of her parent's cultures. Her mom is American; her dad is from a Bedouin tribe in Jordan. As a kid, the Abu-Jabers moved between the two countries; and, as an adult, Diana has done the same.

There are recipes peppered throughout the book that tie in to the memory she just retold such as Poetic Baklava - for when you need to serenade someone; Innuendo Squash; Forget Me Not Sambusik Cookies; and Distract the Neighbors Grilled Chicken.

Through her narrative, Abu-Jaber makes connections between taste and emotion, between food, family, and celebrations. Food is memory, transporting the eater to distant places with familiar and comforting flavors and ingredients.

"Aunt Rachel removes the knaffea from the oven...the shredded phyllo dough is crisp and brown, crackling with hot, rose-scented syrup. Nestled within, like a naughty secret, is the melting layer of sweet cheese. ...It is so rich and dense that you can eat only a little bit, and then it is over and the knaffea is just a pleasant memory - like a lovely dream that you forget a few seconds after you wake. But for a few seconds, you knew you were eating knaffea."

From My Kitchen...
I drew my inspiration from what was barely a footnote. "Orange Blossom Water, a uniquely fragrant flavored water, is also used to make 'white coffee'...." I had just heard a reference to white coffee and decided to give it a shot. It's become an after-dinner ritual for me. And I know that I'm using pure orange extract instead of the orange blossom water, but I read that this drink can also made with rosewater, so I figured that there was some flexibility in the ingredients.

I have taken a tremendous liking to this simple, calming drink.

Ingredients makes 1 cup

  • 6 to 8 ounces hot water
  • 1 t pure orange extract
  • 1 t honey

Place 1 t pure orange extract in the bottom of a mug. Pour in hot water, then stir honey into the drink. Enjoy!

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in September 2016: here.

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