Savory Mint Almond Pesto

I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for pesto. On second thought, I DO know about you and I haven’t met a single soul that doesn’t love pesto. It’s just that awesome potent sauce that works on pasta or crostini as a dip for crusty bread or a spread on a sandwich. This recipe came out of necessity. I was blessed with an abundance of mint and after one too many mojitos and as many sprigs I could put on ice cream, I still had a whole bag filled with mint. I happened to also have about a cup of basil…not quite enough for basil pesto. So I stuck the basil, equal parts mint, almonds, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, sea salt and olive oil blended it in the Cuisinart. The next think I knew toast was slathered, a bowl of fettuccine was sauced and there was a savory pot leftover for another one or two snacks and a meal. PESTO! Next time I’ll slap a bow on that jar and give as a hostess gift.

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Le Quinoa Coco

I gave this quinoa a fancy name  just for irony because it is actually not fancy at all, it is extremely simple. I’ve found that quinoa can go one of  two ways – either someone cooks it like rice and it ends up a bland, earthy side dish you never try again or you kinda overdo it, add a whole lot of fun stuff and then you end up missing the taste, texture and flavor of this magical gluten-free grain. I love this recipe because it’s in the middle. The quinoa gets to shine but you can use it as a simple side dish or an easy lunch that makes fantastic leftovers.

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Quick Coleslaw

Coleslaw. The thing that stumps many is the dressing. The one I’ll share is simple, with only four ingredients. If the dressing has eluded you in the past you will now be able to bask in the sheer beauty of coleslaw and it’s deliciousness, healthfulness, people pleasing staying power. How liberating to make a huge batch that will hold up well in the refrigerator for at least a few days. It’s a hearty dose of veggies to have for a snack, it’s perfect for working girl lunch, prepare the night before if you know you’ll be low on time the next day… and, this easy peasy dressing lends itself to incorporating “leftovers” in your slaw – that loose carrot, that half a cabbage, that apple going uneaten, that hunk of blue cheese, that ominous leek hanging around during the early spring season when they are so abundant!

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Hamachi Tartare

This happened by accident. I got the inspiration to make a tuna tartare from another blog I follow. I had never made it before. It was for a dinner party. The only problem, I had no idea where to get sushi grade fish. Luckily, my friend coming over said she did. Hurray! Except, when she gets to the store all they have is salmon and hamachi. I’m pretty picky about my raw fish. I’m not a huge fan of raw salmon, so I hoped that hamachi would work. Turns out, it was absolutely lovely. You know how tuna tartare turns into more of a dip, kinda sticky. Well, hamachi was drier more like a chunky salad or salsa. Paired with thick cut crinkly potato chips and it was a huge hit.

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Baby Shitakes Mama

I swear to Goddess that shitake mushrooms must be aphrodisiacs. I just crrraaaaveee the crispy, buttery, nutty, earthy goodness you can only get from some sauteed shrooms. This is definitely a recipe I riff on often with all different kinds of shrooms – crimini, trumpet, chanterelle…but my favorite is baby shitake, the large ones sliced work fine too, but there is something special about the hunt for perfect heirloom baby shitakes. They hold a more potent flavor and tenderness in addition to being slice free. These sexy little babies are sure to please a vegetarian husband or a carnivorous gluten-freer like me.

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Dinner Table Tagine Chicken

The first time I had Tagine Chicken was about 5 or 6 years ago. I went to a dinner party in my home town, a friend of mine who had been living and studying in France invited some of her closest friends over for apero and dinner with her French boyfriend. He cooked. Needless to say there was a lot of fabulous wine, cheese, and conversation but the show stopped was this rich, tender, fragrant tagine. I was floored. It seemed so gourmet, difficult to make, exotic…I asked how to make it and the chef simply said, “It’s so easy, you take, this blech burg beek ffree…” Okay, I couldn’t quite remember, I had had A LOT of wine by that time. I never forgot the smell and taste of this dish and often thought about hunting down a recipe and trying it myself. Fast forward years later and I had a bunch of chicken thighs on hand, a hankering for curry, and some calvestrano olives that weren’t getting any younger. I looked up a bunch of recipes and pieced together this one using things already in my cupboard. I call this recipe Dinner Table Tagine Chicken because it is easy, delicious, can serve the whole family and could be used at a dinner party. It’s the kind of recipe that tastes like it took more work and ingenuity than it did. That’s always fun, right?

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Dungeness Crab Chowder

Whoa my goodness! Such a yummy pot of goodness to be making on a cool night. I absolutely adore Dungeness Crab and when the season hits the San Francisco Bay, I get giddy with joy and often maw down on multiple whole crab over many days during the holidays. I went a little overboard (Tehe) this year because recent holidays have been spent on the East Coast. I bought, ate, and served so much crab that I actually had an assemblage of pieces left over from my last meal of crab. I was crabbed out, but I could let this succulent goodness go to waste! So, I plucked the morsels from their shells, rinsed them and gingerly packaged them in a freezer bag with hopes of a crab soup later on. Last night was the night! The result was a creamy yet light chowder with a base of coconut milk rather than cream and lots of good vegetables. 

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Butternut Squash Galette

This is a recipe that my good friend Sarah made for me for the first time a few years ago. She has worked as a chef at the Tassajara Buddhist Retreat which is where she perfected this recipe. Before I ate gluten free I ate this version of  a savory galette and could not believe my taste buds. Hearty yet pastry like, savory but herby and sweet with smooth baked mozzarella…it had everything. It also happens to be wonderfully seasonal. So I bust out this recipe every fall into winter around Thanksgiving time. It’s a great appetizer to bring for the big bird meal. It can be a special breakfast or lunch and a perfect solution to those constantly searching for different butternut squash recipes. Rolling your own dough can be tricky so I’ve also thrown in a way to get the same effect but with an already created pastry shell.

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Delicata Squash Bake

An indication of Fall in Northern CA is the arrival of squash in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes. In SF, you can’t really stake the claim of foodie or urban organic farm supporter if you don’t get one of these delivered to you weekly – it’s a social requirement only counteracted by frequent visits to the farmers market which for fun loving and busy professionals is not always possible. CSA boxes are wonderful little gems delivered to your door and often you have no idea what’s going to be inside. Many times there are things I would not normally gravitate to when I go to the grocery store, this is one reason why the box is so important to me. It forces me to branch out, try different produce and create recipes. For a couple weeks in a row we’ve been getting delicata squash. I’ve never really known what to do with it. I’ve roasted it in the past with olive oil, salt and pepper and it’s made a decent side dish, but nothing that could make a whole meal. And, frankly, I was very meh about this squash. So when I collected two nice sized, rich creamy yellow and green striped specimens I decided to create a recipe that could act as a side dish but also maximize the delicately sweet flavor, much more mild than butternut squash, and conducive to a savory leaning dish that can serve as a light dinner with salad or a simple lunch.

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Faked Fried Curry Chicken

I’m a fried chicken fiend. Colonel Sanders was like a grandfather figure and I could down a five piece of original recipe at the tender age of 8 years old. I’ve spent years in pursuit of delectable morsels of friend chicken, the crispy, the crunchy, the tangy, the gourmand – a pursuit that has sadly tapered to a halt for a variety of reasons. The first, fried chicken is hella bad for you, dudes. The second, not so gluten free friendly mon frere. So, in honor of Southern Heritage Cooking day on the 11th, I faked it a bit. The original plan was to make some fried okra (I learned this from my North Carolina born mom and its more sauteed then anything using it’s natural slime as the stick for cornmeal, comes out crunchy, a cacophony of unique taste), but the California availability is sorely limited which of course I accept because the year-long availability of so many other fantastic fruits and veggies more than makes up for it. I teased with the okra which I will make and post at a later date but now onto the crispy and juicy Southern inspired chicken with a west coast twist complete with curry and requisite gluten free bread crumbs.

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