Monthly Archives: April 2014

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

I make several different versions of this meal depending on the vegetables on hand. This is our weekend breakfast (or vacations when we are home to eat breakfast together). Vegetable and protein is the base. Grains can be added in the form of whole grain bread/toast or whatever left over grains that are in the fridge. Dairy to round off the meal in the form of cheese. Simple, delicious, healthy and keeps us going strong all morning.
This serves two (I have 1 egg, Xav has 2) so adjust as needed:

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion; minced
1 celery stalk; minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 small/1 large tomato; chopped
handful cilantro (about packed 1/4 cup); minced
dash fresh ground black pepper
3-4 eggs

Preheat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onion, celery and salt. Cover and sauté for a couple minutes until the onion and celery soften. Add tomato, cilantro and pepper. Stir, cover and cook a few minutes until the juices cook out of the tomatoes. *if you are having toast, get that in the toaster now/or warm up left over grains in the microwave* Crack the eggs on top of the cooked vegetables (we like our eggs with a “runny yolk” but you can pop the yolks) cover and cook until the whites of the eggs set. Remove from heat and scoop out onto a plate as is or with grains on the side. Cheese can be sprinkled on top.


Puerto Rican Inspired Flounder, “Aranitas”, Sweet Potato Fries and Fresh Baby Greens


Puerto Rican Inspired Flounder
1 small onion; halved and sliced thin
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb flounder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
dash paprika (I used Trader Joe’s smoked)
juice of 1/2 lemon

Sweet Potato Fries
4 medium sized sweet potatoes; peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch thick strips
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Saute onion in olive oil over medium low heat until soft and translucent. Meanwhile- toss sweet potatoes with olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Back to the fish dish- stack flounder in a glass baking dish 3 or 4 high. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Pour onions with olive oil over the fish and top with lemon juice. Cover the fish with aluminum foil. Place the sweet potato pan and fish dish in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the fries are soft inside and crisping on the outside. Remove from oven and sprinkle fries with salt.

Mojo Sauce; lemon garlic dipping sauce for the Aranitas
4 cloves garlic; crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and set aside.

DSC_0002Aranitas; shredded green plantain fritters
2 green plantain
canola oil for frying
sea salt to taste

Preheat a small pot with 1 1/2 inches of canola oil over high heat. Peel green plantain (slice through the skin on the “seams” and with fingers separate and pull to remove. Some will peel easily but others come off in small tedious chunks). Shred plantain using the small section of a grater into a bowl.  To test the readiness of the oil place a single strand of the plantain in the pot. If it sizzles and rises to the top immediately it is hot enough. Using two tablespoons grab and squeeze together the shredded plantain and place into the hot oil. Fry just a few at a time, don’t crowd them, so that they fry hot and fast. Remove with a slotted spoon or two forks and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until done and sprinkle with salt.

Enjoy with a fresh salad on the side. We also enjoyed one of my father’s avocados that he so generously ships to the northeast. The amanitas can be dipped in the mojo sauce or simply drizzle the mojo sauce on top. (They are also good with ketchup.)

April Vacation; Summer and Winter Within the Span of a Day

I always look forward to April vacation. The sun and warmth returned just in time on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I breathed a deep sigh of relief at the end of a long cold winter.  It was like little summer- working in the garden, getting the furniture out on the sunny patio to enjoy food alfresco and simply celebrating the end of winter and the dawn of a new growing season.
One lonely and forgotten rose hip still clings to the stem of the Rosa Rugosa that is waking up.
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DSC_0008These are some of the earliest plants in the garden; Elderberry (top left), Gooseberry (top right) and Bogless Cranberry (right). The Gooseberry bushes are well established, they were some of the first plantings we did in the spring of  2001. The Elderberry and Cranberry are young, I planted them last year and am happy to see that they survived the extreme heat of last summer and the extreme cold of this past winter.
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The crocuses are dying down after a brief bloom. The snow and leaves were covering them much longer than anyone would have liked. The snowdrops are longer lasting and still blooming proud among the dead leaves from last fall.
Hop bines are emerging, reminding me that they need to be transplanted. Last year they didn’t have the height that they need to grow along the side of the garage. I moved them to the hot tall brick facade of the house so they will have all the space they need to grow.

Garlic, planted last fall, is growing strong (right). They will be some of our first produce harvested this season. In hind sight I should have planted a full field. Note to self- “plant as much as possible this fall”. Garlic essentially takes care of itself. All I need to do is plant and harvest. Yes, it is time consuming. But the taste of fresh garlic and knowing it is grown with care makes it all worth while.

To juxtapose the weather from Saturday to Wednesday take a look at the two photos below. On Saturday the daffodil buds were just starting to show. Wednesday in the pouring rain the first daffodil bloomed. Today I woke to an icy crust of snow covering the spring green and blooms.
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Good Morning Sunshine; Eggs Sunny Side Up with Portobello Mushrooms

This recipe is for 2 people; adjust as needed

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion; sliced
1 portobello mushroom cap; thinly sliced into bite sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
pinch dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh cilantro; chopped

3-4 eggs (Xav is a 2 egg guy but I only eat 1)
extra virgin olive oil or butter for frying

optional toast

Preheat a medium sized skillet to medium. Prepare vegetables. Add oil to pan and heat a bit. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté till tender.

Meanwhile- preheat a large skillet over medium heat for the eggs. Add oil or butter and allow to heat up/melt covering the bottom of the pan and crack the eggs in. I made the eggs sunny side up but honestly, you can have them however you like. (If you are having toast put that in the toaster now)

Back to the vegetables- add salt, pepper and thyme, stir and simmer 1 minute more. Add cilantro, stir and sauté 2-3 more minutes until it wilts and the smell is amazing. We like the vegetables heaped over our eggs but you can segregate your plate if you wish.

Gluten Free Wraps

This recipe makes 7- 6 1/2 inch wraps; adjust according to how many mouths you are feeding.

1/2 cup besan (aka chickpea flour)
1/2 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup hot water
additional 1/4-1/2 cup water
olive oil for pan

Mix flours and salt in a bowl. (I grind my own oat flour in a coffee mill reserved for gluten free grains, nuts, seeds and spices; don’t use the one you grind your brew in or you will get all sorts of funky flavors. The besan can be found with other gluten free flours or in Indian/Asian markets). Add the hot water and mix with a whisk until there are no lumps and the batter is creamy. Add 1/4 cup more water and mix well. Set aside for 15 minutes (or until your fillings are prepared). Preheat a medium sized heavy frying pan, I like cast iron- nature’s non-stick, over medium high heat. Add an additional 1/4 cup (or so) of water to make the batter thin like crepe batter. When the pan is really hot, add enough olive oil to coat the pan, pour the batter into the pan to cover about 1/2 of the bottom then twirl the pan to coat the bottom with the batter. When the batter is set on top it should be golden on the bottom and ready to flip to cook to the other side. Repeat until all of the batter has been prepared. Fill as desired.

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We filled ours with “barbecued” tempeh, fresh salsa, romaine lettuce,avocado and tomato.

Barbecued Tempeh
1 8 oz package tempeh; sliced to about 1/4 inch pieces
olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch ground coriander
dash cayenne (or to taste)

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil to generously coat and arrange the tempeh. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Fry until golden and crisping on the bottom then turn off heat. Pour the sauce over the tempeh and spread to coat the pieces. Place under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until crispy. Enjoy in your healthy wrap!

Seared Coconut Shrimp with Fresh Ginger, Turmeric and Lemongrass

DSC_0018I served the seared coconut shrimp with fresh ginger, turmeric and lemongrass over brown rice with a spinach salad and balsamic vinaigrette on the side.

3 scallions; thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic; crushed
1 inch fresh turmeric root; pealed and minced
1 inch fresh ginger root; pealed and minced
2 stalks lemongrass; pealed and minced
juice of 1 lime
generous handful of fresh cilantro; finely chopped

1 lb large shrimp; raw and peeled
3 (+) Tablespoons coconut oil

If serving with brown rice; soak and rinse 1 cup of brown rice, drain, bring to a boil with 2 cups water, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until all the water has absorbed and the rice is tender. While the rice is cooking:

Peel shrimp and set aside in a bowl. Prepare scallions, garlic, turmeric, ginger and lemongrass (how to prepare lemongrass in a video from the NYTimes) and place in separate a bowl. Press lime juice and set aside. Prepare cilantro and place in another bowl.


Preheat a large cast iron (or other nonstick heavy bottom pan) over medium high heat. Add coconut oil. Place shrimp in pan one at a time, don’t crowd them. When the tails start to turn orange and the edges are cooked lift to check and flip with crispy. Cook until crispy on the reverse side.


Remove the shrimp from the cooking pan and place in a shallow dish or bowl. Add more oil as needed. Repeat and continue cooking until all of the shrimp is cooked.

Reduce heat to medium and add the scallions, garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemongrass to the “shrimpy” coconut oil and stir to sauté for a couple minutes. Add the lime juice, stir and continue to sauté and additional minute. Turn off heat, add the cilantro and stir to combine.DSC_0011 DSC_0012 DSC_0013 DSC_0016Scrape the sautéed fresh herbs onto the shrimp and toss lightly and serve immediately.

I found that the rice was done just as I completed the rest of dinner. A quick and easy to prepare meal.