Strawberry and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

Nathan Lyon Strawberry Canteloupe

Strawberry and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

½ cantaloupe, seeded, rind removed, and sliced into 1-inch sections

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tablespoons of balsamic OR white wine vinegar*

15 medium-sized fresh mint leaves, chopped finely

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

1. Gently toss the cantaloupe, strawberries, vinegar of choice*, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl.

2. Add the feta and chopped mint to the bowl just prior to serving and toss.

*Note: If you prefer the flavor of the strawberries to pop, go with a nice balsamic. If you’re more of a cantaloupe person, go with the white wine vinegar. Both work great.

Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

lemon--herb-kefir-spread-image

Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

(Look for kefir in the yogurt section of your grocery store.)

2 cups plain whole milk kefir
1 teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon (optional)
½ teaspoon lemon zest, grated on a Microplane
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pour the kefir into a nut bag or a triple layer of cheese cloth. Place the nut bag in a strainer. Place the strainer inside a bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 16 to 18 hours.

Discard or reserve the whey (clearish liquid) in the bowl. Transfer the strained kefir from the nut bag into a small bowl. Add the preserved lemon, lemon zest, lemon juice and thyme and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slather on a piece of your favorite toasty bread and serve!

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine!

Brazil Nut and Date Bread with Honey Butter

brazil-nut-bread-with-honey-butter-image

Brazil Nut and Date Bread with Honey Butter

(Serve for breakfast, snack, cheese plate or dessert!)

Yield: 1  9-inch pie

Unsalted butter, to prepare the pie pan
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon orange zest, grated on a Microplane
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup finely chopped Medjool dates, pits removed
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup raw brazil nuts, chopped roughly
3 large eggs

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Butter a 9-inch pie pan, then dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, cocoa powder, zest and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the dates, milk, nuts and eggs and mix very well using a wooden spoon. Get in there with some elbow grease, and really stir until well combined. It’ll be thick and chunky, but that’s a good thing.

Pour the date batter into the prepared pie pan and or use the back of the wooden spoon to level off the batter.

Place the pie pan on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven.

Bake, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is light to golden brown and the center springs back when pressed.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. Once cool enough to handle, remove from the pie pan, slice (using a bread knife) and serve with a slathering of honey butter.

Honey Butter:

1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), softened
2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom

Mix the butter and honey in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Easiest Scrambled Eggs

Super Sous started making her eggs this way because, in her words, she says, “I’m lazy!” Why pre-scramble your eggs (read: another dish to wash) when you can just do it all in the pan.

Watch and try it out next time you’re in the mood for perfectly scrambled eggs! P.S. Don’t forget to use a nonstick pan.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.21.58 AM

Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia

Last week, the NY Times published an article “Your Contribution to the California Drought” which displays the water footprint of various foods. Since California exports 50% of its produce nationwide, Super Sous and I have been developing Drought Friendly Recipes as a way for all of us to conserve California water. We are using the same sources as this NY Times article references, the Water Footprint Organization and studies from UC Davis. We are aiming to create recipes that have a lower water footprint relative to others. So, for example, fruit and vegetable centric recipes which stay clear of animal protein (except wild fish) and nuts.

Today’s recipe is an Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia. It’s definitely a weekend project recipe. It’s not a 15 minute meal, but I can guarantee that it is fluffy, light, sweet, and everything you would ever want in a piece of focaccia, especially since it’s slathered with caramelized onions, garlic and fresh herbs.

Enjoy and save a piece (or two) for us!

 

Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia

Yields: 1 18×13-inch sheet pan of foccacia

 

1½ pounds white sweet potato

5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 cups warm water (115 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon dry active yeast

6 cups bread flour, plus more as needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

nonstick spray

¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (4 cups)

20 large cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped (½ cup)

¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves, rough chopped

¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, rough chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, rough chopped

 

Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place ¼ cup of kosher salt in a pile in the center of a sheet tray and rest the sweet potato on top of the salt mound.

Place sheet tray in the oven and roast sweet potato for 2 hours.

Remove sheet tray from the oven. When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, slice the sweet potato in half and scoop out flesh to fill 1½ packed cups roasted sweet potato. (Enjoy any leftover sweet potato as a delicious snack!)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and stir to combine. Let rest for 15 minutes, until mixture gets very foamy.

Add 1½ cups packed (warm, but not hot!) sweet potato, flour, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the bowl.

Spray the hook attachment with nonstick spray to coat and attach to mixer.

Mix on low for 5 minutes. Check on dough at this point. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary. If dough is wet, add additional flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the flour absorbs the excess moisture. Mix for an additional 5 minutes until a smooth ball is formed. (Photo below)

In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat the inside of the bowl. Transfer dough ball from stand mixer to the large oiled bowl and roll the doll around to coat the dough evenly with oil.

Cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and put the bowl in a warm place in your house. Let rest until the dough ball doubles in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While bread is rising, make the onion garlic topping mixture.

Place a medium (3½ quart) sauce pan over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons oil, onion and 1½ teaspoons salt. Stir to combine and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft.

Remove lid and add garlic, chopped herbs and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir and cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, until all the water evaporates and the onions start to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Evenly coat the bottom and sides of an 18×13-inch sheet tray with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.

Lightly dust a work space with some flour. Turn dough out onto workspace. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangular shape. (Photo below)

Transfer the rectangular dough into the oiled sheet tray. Using your fingertips, gently spread dough evenly to fill the sheet tray. Let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. (Photo below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Evenly sprinkle remaining ½ teaspoon salt over the dough.

Spread the onion / garlic / herb mixture evenly over the dough. Dot/ firmly press your fingertips into the entire surface of the dough to create small “potholes” in the dough. (Evenly space the “potholes” throughout the dough, about 1-inch apart from each other.)

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

foccacia dough ball

Dough ball ready to be oiled and rise 

Foccacia on table

Spreading the dough into a rectangle

Foccacia in sheet tray

Pressing the dough evenly in the sheet tray

cooked foccacia2

Finished foccacia

cooked foccacia

Delicious!

Drought Friendly Vegan Migas

A longer story covering our (Super Sous and my) Drought Friendly Recipes has been posted on the Central Valley NPR site and is  running on KVPR!

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.47.32 AMPLUS~here’s a NEW Drought Friendly Recipe that Super Sous has created. Being from Texas, Super Sous gets a hankering for Tex Mex now and again. The other day, she was craving migas, which in Tex Mex language is a scrambled eggs dish made with tortilla chips. To make it drought friendly, Super Sous subbed crumbled organic tofu for the eggs. The rest is all veggie and spice goodness. Enjoy!

Migas1

Sauteing the onions, bell pepper, potatoes and poblano.

Migas2

Tofu Potato Migas

 

Drought Friendly Tofu Potato Migas

Yield: 4 servings

 

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 large red bell pepper, diced small (1 cup)

½ pound potatoes, scrubbed and diced small

1 small poblano pepper, seeded, deveined and diced small

4 2-inch sprigs fresh thyme

1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced (1½ tablespoons)

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

14-ounces organic extra firm tofu, patted dry and crumbled

1¼ cup broken organic corn tortilla chips

1 lime, halved

2 haas avocados, pitted and thinly sliced

½ cup picked fresh cilantro leaves

1 bottle of your favorite hot sauce

1 jar or batch of your favorite salsa, optional (try my tomatillo tomato salsa)

 

Place a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Let heat for 1 minute until hot. Add onion, red bell pepper, potato, poblano, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika, turmeric, coriander and chipotle powder. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes. Stir and cook for 1 minute, until liquid has mostly evaporated. Add tofu, stir and cook for 5 additional minutes.

Turn off heat. Add in tortilla chips, squeeze over half a lime, stir to combine and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lime as needed. Remove thyme sprigs.

Serve on plates with slices of avocado, cilantro, a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and some salsa.

Drought Friendly Recipe – Roasted Eggplant Caponata

It’s time for another drought friendly recipe.

On March 18, Super Sous and I wrote a blog post about the California Drought and introduced the idea of Drought Friendly Recipes. These are recipes that use foods with a low water footprint. (Lower than some of the heavier hitting foods, like California nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, pistachios) and anything related to the California beef/cattle industry.)

The premise of this idea is that between 74-80% of all water (figures vary) in California is used for agriculture and 50% of all our agriculture is exported to feed the rest of the country, so we are all affected by this drought and we can all help conserve California water.

This week, California’s Governor Jerry Brown announced mandatory cuts to water use for the residential users of California’s water. (A reduction of 25%) And while every drop counts and Californian’s pull up their grass to install drought tolerant plants and restaurants stop serving water to patrons unless requested, what is being done to address the 80% of water use?

California farming/commodities is a 46.4 billion dollar industry with 1/3 of that amount being attributed to milk & cream, grapes and almonds crops.

Let’s take a brief moment to reminisce. What happened to the days of the good ole peanut? Peanut butter, peanuts on a your salad? Virginia grown peanuts?  You know… think back about 5-10 years ago. California almonds use 9-10% of California’s agriculture water. Almonds trees need to be watered year round. I love almonds like the next person, but in a time of extreme drought, how many almonds do we need to be eating? Some figures state that it takes about a gallon of water to produce 1 almond.  In our original blog post, Super Sous and I gave the global water footprint number (from the Water Footprint Organization) which is 1,927 gallons of water for 1 pound of almonds. Upon tweeting this from @chefnathanlyon Twitter account, the California Almond board and I had this conversation:

1of3almonds

20f3almonds

3of3almonds

So… until that number is produced, I think we can safely say that it takes a lot of water to produce a pound of almonds.

I think the real / underlying question is – where is the oversight in our agriculture and water system here in California? Who is looking at the big picture view? Certainly, no one wants a small farmer/family business, regardless of the crop, to go under because of this drought (which sadly is already happening). California grows over 400 crops. It’s a wonderful thing… if you have water.

If you own a farm which has access to groundwater that hasn’t dried out and/or has access to reservoir water and can afford the water, then you are green-light-go. If you own a farm that has no ground water or access to reservoir water or you can’t afford the water, then your fields will go fallow. Anyone can choose to plant any crop on their land. There is no one saying that we need x amount of wheat or x amount of nuts from California to feed the world. In times of extreme drought, should there be? And should Governor Brown give restrictions to farmers? Should farmers also be subjected to a 25% reduction of water?

Jon Stewart from The Daily Show addressed this very issue the other night:

Daily Show Drought Clip

Regardless of restrictions, we need to have a ready supply of water in California if we want to keep California agriculture a thriving business. We need a solution.

So really – when are we going to start talking about a water pipeline or desalination. Every time these ideas come up, the phrase “so expensive” follows suit. Isn’t it more expensive for California to lose its 46.4 billion dollar industry? Or for residents to run out of water (which has already happened in some towns)? Or for the United States to have to import more food internationally?

In the meantime, every bite we take counts in conservation. So, enjoy our latest drought friendly recipe. It’s a Roasted Eggplant Caponata. My take on the classic Sicilian eggplant dish chock full of cooked, sweet veggies. Pairs well with pasta, toasted baguette, over a bed of greens or with a bowl and your favorite spoon. No nuts needed.

eggplant caponata

Roasted Eggplant Caponata

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (approximately 7 to 8 cups)

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

7 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, divided

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground fennel seed

¼ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

1 fennel bulb, diced small (1 cup)

1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored and diced small (1¼ cup)

1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped roughly

1 cup green olives, pits removed and chopped roughly

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

7 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and sliced very thinly

Adjust two oven racks to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons of oil, and season well with salt and pepper.

Spread out the eggplant in one layer onto two parchment paper-lined sheet pans. Roast, uncovered, in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the sheet pans from the oven, stir the eggplant, then place the sheet pans back in the oven, this time on opposite racks. Bake 15 minutes more, until the eggplants are lightly colored and cooked through.

After the eggplant has been cooking for 15 minutes, stir the diced onion with ¼ cup of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, translucent, and lightly caramelized.

Next, stir in the garlic, cumin, ground fennel, and chile flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the diced fennel and the bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, capers, olives, vinegar and baked eggplant. Cook until the caponata has thickened, approximately 15 minutes, then remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley and basil.

Serve and enjoy.

P.S. Check out our recent Drought Friendly Recipe for Eggless Shakshuka.