Watermelon and Feta Salad with Fresh Mint

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

6 cups (1-inch) diced seedless watermelon (approximately a 3 pound watermelon)

3 small Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced medium (1¾ cups)

2 teaspoons roughly chopped lemon zest (zested on a microplane and chopped)

1 pint (25-30) cherry tomatoes, halved (preferably assorted colors)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

¾ cups crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Flaky sea salt, to taste (preferably Maldon or Jacobsen sea salt)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Place watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, basil and mint in a large mixing bowl. Very gently fold to combine (you don’t want the tomatoes to leach their juice) with a large spoon.

 

Arrange on plates. Sprinkle feta, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over each plate. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich with Fresh Goat Cheese and Honey

It’s another meatless Monday dish – this time, a hearty veggie sandwich perfectly suited for this cold time of year when sweet potatoes are plentiful!

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich with Goat Cheese and Honey

Yield: 2 sandwiches

 

For Sweet Potato

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut width wise into ¾-inch rounds

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on onion slices

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

kosher salt, for seasoning

freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch rounds

Balsamic vinegar, for brushing on onion slices

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the sweet potato, olive oil, thyme, cinnamon, and a healthy dash of salt and pepper. to a large bowl. Toss until well combined.

Place sweet potato in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray.

Place onion rounds on the same sheet tray (use an additional sheet tray if needed) and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides of the onion. Using a brush or your finger, rub a small amount of balsamic vinegar on each of the tops of the onion rounds, just enough to cover and coat the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until potato is cooked through and onion is soft.

 

For Sandwich

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small bunch of mixed greens

1 small loaf of walnut (or any other nut or seed bread), cut into 4 sandwich slices

¼ fresh cup goat cheese

1½ tablespoons honey

 

Whisk to combine vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Gently toss some greens in a small bowl to lightly coat with the vinaigrette.

Spread goat cheese on sandwich slices and drizzle honey over the goat cheese. Place a layer of roasted sweet potato on the bottom slice of bread. Add a layer of roasted onions (the more the better!) and top with some of the dressed mixed greens. Top with remaining slice of bread and enjoy.

 

 

 

Book Signing At Le Creuset at the Citadel, LA, this Sunday

So… this is happening – tomorrow, Sunday, December 7! At the Le Creuset store in the Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles. I’ll be signing my seasonal cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, and preparing a delicious dish from the Winter chapter. 2-5pm. Come one come all! Le Creuset cookware + a signed nationally acclaimed cookbook = perfect holiday gifts for you and your loved ones!

Lyon Citadel Promo

Food Investments

Dear Latte, I love this image.

The Facebook Page “Idea Planet” shared this photo, crediting it to Mark Bittman.

People often tell me that shopping for fresh foods and shopping at farmers markets is expensive.  Certainly, if you buy a pre-made salad or sandwich or pre-cut apples, the prices can be expensive.

However, buying raw produce that is in season is usually the most affordable thing you can purchase.  Plus, when in season, the produce is packed with nutrients and bursting with flavor.

Investing your time and money in cooking and eating fresh, whole foods is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, your taste buds and your health.

And the the good news is – it’s also a very affordable investment with a big return.

TODAY has been a great day!

What a day! Woke up at 6:00am sharp for an important meeting with Latte, got to the Today Show studios at 7:30, was whisked off to makeup for a quick head powdering and then I found myself in the magical and beautiful Today Show studio kitchen.

Two quick 10 second teasers later (live promo spots for my segment) and there I was with Al Roker, face to face, cooking it up (preparing my halibut and cherry clafoutis recipes from my cookbook) for a 4 minute segment. I was even able to share about my new TV show, Good Food America.

In case you missed my segment, check out this link. Al, you rock.

http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/47059964

Super-sous took lots of behind the scenes photos and thanks to my sweet friends, I got some snapshots from the TV. Enjoy and thanks for your support everyone!!!

Flying back to San Francisco in a few hours to continue shooting with the Good Food America Production Crew. So long New York. You’ve been great.

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Dueling Muffins.

Last night, I cooked up a batch of my double chocolate toasted almond orange zest cranberry muffins from my cookbook (in the chocolate, yes chocolate, season) to deliver to the crew at KTLA (channel 5) in the morning.

Getting ready for a warm oven:

Truth be told, I have a meeting scheduled with their makeup artist to get some makeup tips since I’ll be hitting the road filming my new show and, well, I’ll be the makeup artist. (Hey, this bald head can get shiny, what can I say?) I wanted to do something a little special for the crew because they so graciously hosted me for a morning cooking spot on March 2nd, which was a lot of fun.

To mix things up a bit, I tried subbing out the almonds with pecans. (Okay. Maybe I was toasting the almonds and got a little sidetracked and they overcooked… a bit. Like burnt popcorn. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but it is a definite possibility.)

Well, one thing I have found again and again – it’s the little mistakes in life that, if embraced, can lead to even greater things. As one of my friends from back in the day used to say, “there are no mistakes, only outtakes.” This is one of the things I love about life and love about cooking. As it turned out, pecans were a delicious substitute for almonds. Dare I say, better? Maybe.

Warm melty chocolate pecan delight:

Well, you’ll have to let me know. Idea! You whip up a batch of the muffins with toasted almonds, I’ll bring the pecan version, and we’ll discuss this with a muffin in one hand and double shot Latte in the other hand. Deal? Okay, deal. In fact, let’s shake on it.

Cookies for Breakfast?

Last night, as I was shopping for ingredients (at my local grocery store) for the recipes I have been testing in preparation for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Cooking for Solutions Event that I am participating in, I spotted, in the frozen section, a “Toaster Breakfast Cookie.” A what? Yes, a “breakfast cookie,” and made with whole grains, to boot. Fascinated, I looked at the nutritional information on the back of the box. 1 cookie has about 6 grams of fat, 300 calories, 230 mg of sodium, 19 grams of sugar… and so on.

It reminded me of ANOTHER amazing food product I saw in the aisles a couple of weeks ago.

Seriously? An “excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A, B….” I almost grabbed the whole lot off of the shelves. I NEED this – for my health! It’s a cookie. How could I resist? Well, cop a squat and let’s read the ingredient list, shall we? The first ingredient is sugar, followed by a number of other “nutritious” ingredients such as vegetable oils (likely GMO canola oil), polydextrose (processed sugar that mainly comes from corn these days and is likely GMO), corn syrup (um, GMO?), dextrose (mainly comes from corn these days and is likely… say it with me, GMO?), natural and artificial flavors (which ones, please), etc.

With processed foods being marketed as nutritious with fancy packaging and colors, it can be so difficult shopping at grocery stores (and I can’t even imagine how much more difficult when you have kids).

As my Director of Photography, Carl,  on my PBS show (Growing a Greener World) once said while we were shooting an episode in a small town (comprised of many overweight people) where there were only fast food restaurant options for dinner, “these people have no chance.”

No chance? What’s wrong with this picture, Latte?

It is becoming increasingly hard to navigate the way through the maze of food marketing and gimmicks: the lack of proper food labeling, the money and politics behind food lobbyists, the fact that so much of the government farming subsidies go for GMO mono crop corn (which we can’t actually eat without processing it first), the news that some fast food restaurants now accept food stamps… and on it goes.

My wish is for people to know that it is fresh food that is synonymous with nutritious and delicious. Maybe even subsidize food that doesn’t need processing before we can eat it. Real food. Now, that’d be something.

This is why I dedicate a whole section in my cookbook to discuss how to shop safely(!) at the grocery store (perimeter shopping) and why I love shopping at farmers markets. At least, when shopping at your local farmers market, you can ask the grower where the food comes from, how it’s grown, and even visit their farm.

Education is a start, however I know it’s complicated. The problems weave through the socioeconomic lines to the political streets to the media train to our education system. And when we are told that a cookie has as much vitamin E as two cups of carrot juice, what chance do we really have?