Friday, August 31, 2007

For the love of Tomatoes

As we near the cusp of Summer we are seeing a gallery of wonderful fruits and vegetables in local Farmers Markets as well as the corner grocery store. By far, the most outstanding pick this week is the tomato….and for that, I give you this recipe for Gazpacho…..a wonderful cold tomato soup. There are many recipes for Gazpacho, but this version delights in a Thai twist to include lemon grass and ginger. The flavors meld unbelievably.

4 large ripe tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
2 stalks lemongrass
1 piece fresh ginger – thumb-sized
Juice of 4 limes
Salt to taste, 1 teaspoon superfine sugar (or Splenda).
1 small white onion, peeled
1 ripe avocado
½ lemon

Blanch 3 tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. Rinse under cold water, remove skins, wrap in plastic, put in refrigerator for 1 hour until thoroughly chilled.
Quarter & seed the 3 tomatoes over a bowl, strain, reserve any juice. Peel, seed and coarsely chop cucumber.
Remove woody outer layer of lemongrass. Use only finest white heart – mince finely. Peel and coarsely chop ginger.
In blender combine 3 tomatoes, juice, cucumbers, lemongrass, ginger, lime juice and salt and sugar – whiz until blended and smooth. Refrigerate.
Seed and dice remaining tomato, onion, & ½ avocado, and combine with juice of ½ lemon and set aside.
Pour Gazpacho into 4 bowls. Add a tablespoon-sized scoop of avocado atop each then atop that add the tomato/onion/avocado salsa. Serve at once or chill until serving.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Happy Chefess

photo by Gabriel Shea

Scroll down and read
why I'm so happy!

Sensual Eggplant Dip

What's so sexy about Eggplant? Ah, ah, now, now, now.....I can hear your mind going wild....good.... try this recipe and you'll be hooked on this smooth, sultry, silky Baba Ghanoush.

Baba Ghanoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)

2 medium/large eggplant
2 tblspns Tahini (a sesame seed sauce found in the ethnic food department)
1-2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tblspn freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp (or less) salt (optional)
3 tblspns best quality EVOO
1 tblspn finely chopped fresh Parsley

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Place in baking dish or baking sheet. Pierce several times with fork. Drizzle or brush with 1 tblspn olive oil on top of eggplant. Roast 45-50 minutes until soft and slightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool (about 15 minutes).

Scoop out eggplant flesh and place in food processor. Add tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tblspn Olive Oil, and salt. Puree/pulse until smooth.

Transfer to shallow serving bowl and garnish with 1 tblspn olive oil and parsley.

Serve with pita (cut in triangles) and/or crudités for dipping.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fast is not always better

I don’t have fancy pictures to put up on my posts…..I’m really not a photographer…..I’m a chef. And hopefully, I am perhaps a better writer than photographer and maybe even a better chef than writer. Anyway...
Today was my Mom's birthday – she turned 79. She wanted to go to Typhoon (restaurant) at the Santa Monica Airport. I picked her up at her house and we drove to the restaurant – a delightful venue overlooking the runway with sightings of small aircraft taking off and landing right before our eyes. During lunch I gave her a framed photo of me in my Chef jacket (same photo as on my blog). She got teary-eyed taking in the photo for a minute and then said....”you look so happy.” Truer words could not be spoken….yes, I am a happy cook.

Why do I love to cook and why am I so happy?

I love the scents, the colors, the textures. I love feeling the food in my hands…working with it, looking at it, selecting it, holding it, washing, chopping and mixing it. I even love treating it like precious jewels that I care for by mindfully wrapping it for storage when necessary. It’s my art and it is my therapy. I love to present a pretty plate with vivid colors and textures placing them just so, so that they create a pleasing picture.
Much of my time is spent thinking about what I will prepare, how I will create it and what I need to create it. And that doesn’t even include the time it actually takes to prepare it… you know… can be time consuming. Which brings me to share this: Several days ago I watched, for the very first time, the Food Channel Show “30 Minute Meals” with Rachel Ray. I was fascinated. Fascinated at her ability to put together some pretty good dishes in less than 30 minutes, but also I was a little unnerved at the franticness of being sooooo fast. I don’t want my life to be so fast that I can’t savor the moment. However, I do respect her for her passion about fast and good and I give her credit because she is good and slick. I see how our lives here in the US, and especially California, have become based on how fast we can accomplish things. That is the message I got from “30 Minute Meals”.
So, this evening I spent 3 delightful hours in my kitchen preparing a meal and eating it with a friend. I loved every minute of it and I am grateful I have the time in my life to spend doing what I love – cooking.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Worlds Healthiest Foods

Let us be mindful of the healthiest foods to put into our body temples - for both nutritional and palate enjoyment. When cooked with love, herbs, and mindfullness these foods are sure to please your body, mind and spirit. ENJOY!

The Worlds Healthiest Foods

Spinach, Chard, Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
Cabbage, Eggplant, Brussel Sprouts, Bell Peppers
Broccoli, Asparagus, Beets
Garlic, Onions
Wild caught fish – salmon, tuna, sardines
Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds
Apples, blueberries, raspberries, black berries, strawberries, papaya
Tomatoes, carrots. squash
Non-fat plain yogurt
Lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans, red, kidney and pinto beans, peas, lima beans
Oats, (oat bran, oatmeal) barley, organic aromatic brown basmati rice
Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms

This is a partial list of the healthiest foods. Please visit for a complete list.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Chefess and her 4-legged friend

This is me and not be fooled by her stearn look...she is the sweetest, most well-behaved friend...she's not much of a cook, but she sure likes eating!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A good time for Eggplant

I was so delighted to see such a variety of eggplant at the Farmers Market last Wednesday. Big fat ones, little round ones, purples, greens, even multi-colored ones. So naturally I purchased several and I'm happy to say that they all tasted absolutely rich and delicious. Even though we can all get eggplant year round, right now I do think they are at their finest in flavor. Eggplant is very nutritious -- did you know it's one of the top ten vegetables in antioxidant it's heart-healthy. Try this easy recipe along with a little pasta or simply by itself for a light meal.

Stuffed Eggplant (for two)

1 medium black eggplant
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ripe medium tomato, peel/seed/chop
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dried bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups boiling water
2 tblsps minced Italian flatleaf parsley (optional)

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Score the flesh, scoop it out, coarsely chop if pieces are big, and put into a bowl. (Leave ½ inch thickness of flesh and skin – for stuffing later). Preheat oven to 400.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and eggplant and sauté for 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent and eggplant is tender. Add cumin, garlic, tomato, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer mixture for 3-4 minutes, turning several times to mix it well and almost all the moisture is absorbed.
Stuff the eggplant shells with the mixture, top with breadcrumbs, then with cheese and finally drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil atop each. Place shells in baking dish and try to prop them up evenly. Pour boiling water into bottom of dish making sure it doesn’t come close to the top of the shells. Cover dish with lid or foil and bake for 40 minutes. Carefully remove shells to plates using two large spoons. Sprinkle tops of eggplant shells with parsley (optional) and serve.