Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"We've Got the Beets"

Beets...I love them, some people think they taste like dirt. I call it a rich, "earthy" taste. Any vegetable with a color that deep has to be good for you. This is the beauty of these summer months. We can take full advantage of the bounty of the farmer's markets and load up on vegetables and fruits and the anti-oxidants they provide. Last weekend we enjoyed meals on the deck with friends...breakfast both mornings (even with some raindrops) a glass of wine and snacks while sitting in our neighbor's camper in their driveway (This is how we celebrate the return of summer in the "Golden Ghetto" of Edina) a cooking demonstration from Cat Cora where she taught me you can even grill avocados...(see highlights on my blog) and a Sunday supper with my parents with a plate loaded asian pasta salad, beet salad, Ellen's green beans and Lentil walnut burgers in a pita. Whoa, it was a delicious weekend!!

Taking the ordinary...and making it extraordinary. I love that idea. For example, we had our standard pancakes on Sunday morning, but when you put a table cloth on the deck table, add fresh berries, toasted nuts and hot coffee plus a beautiful sunny have something special. Enjoy the small things.

The anti-oxidants are found in all of the wonderful vegetables and fruits. If you don't eat 6 to 9 servings a day let my suggest taking extraordinary Shaklee nutritional products. These are premium quality food supplements that use only the finest raw ingredients backed by published clinical studies. Shaklee Vitalizer taken once a day with meals can fill in the gaps in your diet. For added protection of your cells add a spoonful of Vivix a day. Vivix contains polyphenols, resveratrol, and ellagic acid which helps protect and repair DNA, activate genetic regulators to help turn down cellular aging, and support cellular energy (mitochondrial biogenesis)...big words I know, but this all supports heart, joint, brain health and cognitive function. Vivix contains ultra-pure resveratrol.

LOVED this first recipe. So uses the whole beet...greens and all, how healthy is that?

Warm Beet Salad

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 small beets
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup water


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon clover honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Coarse salt, to taste

1. Cut off the greens from the beets. Trim and peel the beets. Cut the beets in half lengthwise, and then lay the cut-side down and cut the halves into 1/4-inch-thick slices. *You may want to wear gloves to do this, otherwise your fingers will be stained pink!!*

2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, beets, lemon zest, and water to the pan and then cover and cook until the beets are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes. Add more water as needed during the cooking process.

3. While the beets are cooking, rinse off the beet greens and cut off and discard the stems. Chop up the leaves. When the beets are tender, add the beet greens, cover, and cook until the greens are wilted, about 1 minute.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the dressing ingredients and toss to coat. Sprinkle with coarse salt

Asian Noodle Salad
(adapted from Ina Garten)

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound thin spaghetti
  • 1 pound sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I used less...maybe 2/3 c.)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (used a wee bit less as well...I used bragg's aminos)
  • 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds, divided
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (Trader Joes Creamy natural worked well)
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions (with and green parts), sliced diagonally
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used cilantro)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the sugar snap peas, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Lift the sugar snap peas from the water with a slotted spoon and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Drain.

For the dressing, whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl.

Combine the spaghetti, sugar snap peas, peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the parsley and toss together.

Roasted Beet Hummus
(adapted from Simply Recipes)

  • 1/2 pound beets (about 4 medium sized beets), scrubbed clean, cooked, peeled, and cubed*
  • 2 Tbsp tahini sesame seed paste
  • 5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (zest from approx. 2 lemons)
  • Generous pinch of sea salt or Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
Scrub the beets well cut into quarters. Place on a a baking tray (with a lip) to roast...I have a "jelly roll" type pan that I use only for roasting vegetables etc. give them a few swirls of olive oil salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 425 degrees until you can easily pierce them with a fork.

Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and ingredients as desired.

Chill and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

Eat with pita chips, or with sliced cucumber or celery, or on a crostini with goat cheese and shaved mint.

I'm sure if you want to add the traditional garbanzo beans to this for added protein, it would still be great.

Makes 2 cups.

Here is a great fritatta idea I got from my friend Steph. She is an avid home cook and blogger, she writes the blog, and is contributing home-cooking posts to Dara & Co. in Minnesota Monthly.

This recipe was in her last post to Dara & Co.

Potato-Asparagus Frittata

2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 lb. new potatoes, sliced thin
1/4 tsp. (pinch) dried thyme
1/2 lb. asparagus, tough ends discarded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large eggs
1/4 c. cream or half-n-half
2 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, chives—any one or in combination)
1/2 c. grated cheese (Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, feta—whatever you like)
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the broiler. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, then the shallot, potatoes, and dried thyme. Sprinkle a little salt over the potatoes, stir to coat them with oil, then cover the pan for 5 minutes. Turn the potatoes and cover again for 5 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and lightly browned. Add the asparagus to the pan with another light sprinkle of salt. Cover for 2 minutes or until asparagus is tender-crisp.

While the potatoes and asparagus cook: In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, cream, and 1/2 tsp. of salt together. Pour eggs over cooked potatoes and asparagus. When the bottom of the eggs starts to set, start lifting edges of the frittata to allow uncooked egg to run to the bottom of the pan. When the frittata is mostly set (the top will still be uncooked), remove from heat and sprinkle with fresh herbs and then cheese. Drizzle top with 1-2 tsp. of olive oil. Transfer pan to the oven and broil, watching very carefully, for 1-2 minutes or until the top of the frittata is set, lightly browned, and puffed a bit on the edges. Remove from the oven and top with a few grinds of black pepper.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. The frittata is excellent the next day, cold or reheated.

These "Burgers" were kind of a falafel like made with lentils and toasted walnuts and a nice blend of spices.

Spicy Lentil Walnut Burgers

Martha Stewart

  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup lentils, cooked, drained, and cooled
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 large pitas
  • Yogurt-Cilantro Sauce, for serving
  • Sliced avocado, for serving
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved, for serving
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; process until finely ground. Add lentils, onion, and 1 tablespoon oil; pulse until coarsely chopped (some lentils should remain whole).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk egg. Add lentil mixture; mix until well combined. Divide into quarters; roll into balls, and flatten with the palm of your hands into 3/4-inch-thick patties.
  3. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add burgers; cook, turning once, over medium-low heat until crisp and browned, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve burgers in pitas with sauce, avocado, and cherry tomatoes.
Serve with this yummy sauce :)

Yogurt Cilantro Sauce

  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, cilantro, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

"Enjoy the Season" my husband always says that. (something to do with the Minnesota Vikings!??!) Eat your fruits and vegetables and take Shaklee supplements to build your health.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Go With What You Have" or "How to Grill Everything"

I could get used to this...front row at a cooking demonstration. Imagine my excitement to have the opportunity to meet a famous chef, talk to her personally, have my picture taken with her. Macy's Culinary Council hosted an event promoting Iron Chef Cat Cora in their Edina store this past Saturday afternoon... I was in my "happy place". This all came to be because I recently joined a group of fellow "bloggers" called the "Blog Pantry" An amazing group of women using their gifts and sharing them with others.

Let me share a few things I learned about our celebrity chef. First of all she was in town to promote her third cookbook "Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist". If you've ever seen the Food Network show "Iron Chef" you know the Iron Chef is given a surprise key ingredient to use in several dishes to be cooked in exactly one hour, when we then find out "who's cuisine reigns supreme"! Cat is the first and only female Iron Chef, Bon Appetit Magazine gave her the award of "Teacher of the Year" and made her the magazine's executive chef. Cat is also president and co-founder of "Chefs for Humanity" which was developed in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami disaster. Cat has four young sons all under the age of seven, so "Cooking from the Hip" is what she does best at home...which makes her a great coach for home cooks like me.

When we sat down we were all served a fresh watermelon drink in a little mini martini cute, refreshing too. The main dish she demonstrated for us was a Chili Lime Marinated Flank Steak Tacos with a Grilled Pineapple Salsa.

  • 1 teaspoon pure chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat
  • 16 6-inch corn tortillas

  • For Pineapple salsa
  • 1 small pineapple (3-3 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and minced

  • Cooking Directions

    For the marinade: In a small bowl, mix the spices, salt, pepper, lime juice, and oil to make a paste. Place the steak in a shallow dish and rub the paste evenly over both sides. Cover and let marinate for 1 to 4 hours.

    For the salsa: Light a charcoal grill about 30 minutes before you're ready to cook or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

    Slice off the leafy top of the pineapple and just enough of the bottom so the fruit rests flat on a cutting board. Slice off the skin with a sharp knife, cutting from top to bottom and taking off as little of the flesh as possible, rotating the pineapple as you go. Discard the skin. Cut out any "eyes" with a paring knife and discard. Slice the fruit away from the core in 4 or 5 slabs.

    Place the pineapple slabs on the hot grill and grill until the fruit is just beginning to show some browning, 1 to 2 minutes per side, 4 to 5 minutes per side if you want it charred.

    Let the pineapple cool for a few minutes, then dice. In a medium bowl, mix the diced pineapple, onion, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and chile and blend well.

    To cook the steak: Grill the steak for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or slightly longer for well-done meat. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

    Meanwhile, place the tortillas on the hot grill and grill for 10 seconds on each side, then wrap in a cloth napkin to keep them warm.

    Slice the steak across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on a serving platter. Place the tortillas and the bowl of salsa on the table and serve family-style.

    Cat's note: The steak and pineapple can be cooked in an oiled ridged grill pan on top of the stove and the tortillas can be wrapped in foil and heated in a 350°F oven.

    Cat's heritage is Greek, and she was raised in the South...Jackson Mississippi, so naturally her food is fresh Mediterranean fused with a homey Southern flair. Her style is inspired, fast healthful and family friendly. I say her recipes are easy enough for weeknights, but fancy enough for company. She shared how taking a common ingredient and using it in a different way totally enhances the flavor and adds interest to your dish. For example...she throws just about anything on a grill. Fruit, (pineapple salsa) even avocados, for a grilled avocado guacamole...I am going to try that one for sure. I'll let you know how it turns out.

    Cat gave the crowd a great presentation, encouraging everyone to improvise in the kitchen...don't be afraid, "Go with what you have". Feel free to make substitutions, using the recipes as a guide. In her new cookbook she has side notes on the dishes "Cat's touches" and "Cat's techniques" which are little tricks to make a big impact on the plate. This next recipe is an example of Cat taking an ordinary, familiar dish and taking it to a fresh new level.

    Grapefruit and Cherry Ambrosia

    When I was growing up in Mississippi, ambrosia was brought to family reunions, picnics, graduation parties and potlucks. This version saves what was good in the original but uses fresh, juicy grapefruit segments and sweet, dark cherries in place of canned fruit. Because honey has so many subtle flavor notes, the cream that accompanies the ambrosia tastes much more complex than if it were sweetened with sugar.


  • 1 cup grapefruit segments, membranes removed (2 grapefruits)
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple (1 medium)
  • 1 cup pitted fresh Bing cherries or frozen, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
  • Honey cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Cooking Directions

    In a medium bowl, mix the grapefruit segments, pineapple and cherries with the lemon juice; cover; and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the middle. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven just until it begins to turn golden, 5 to 7 minutes; don't let it get too dark.

    For the cream: With an electric mixer, beat the cream, honey and vanilla until it forms soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes.

    With a slotted spoon, divide the fruit among 6 to 8 dessert glasses or bowls, leaving behind most of the fruit juice. Top with the honey cream, toasted coconut and chopped walnuts and serve.

    Cat's note: You can go with a light honey, such as clover, lavender honey, or a dark, more brooding one, like a full-bodied buckwheat honey.

    Thanks for sharing this experience with me. Let's follow Cat's lead...try to grill something unusual and "Go with what you have" hmm....maybe some of the carrots from last week 5lbs down 10 to go.
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