Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Freezing Strawberries

Since I prefer frozen local strawberries over the fresh strawberries available during our winter, I freeze a lot of local berries when they are in season, mostly mashed or sliced. In no case do I add any sugar; these berries are deliciously sweet on their own.

Take stems off the berries using a strawberry huller and brush off any visible dirt (do not wash).

For mashed berries, slice berries and place in bowl. Mash gently with a potato masher.* Put in freezer containers and pack berries gently with a fork so that juices completely cover the berries. Do not fill to the top of the container as mixture will expand as it freezes. Most freezer containers have a suggested "fill level" line. I think berries prepared in this manner work best for Strawberry Shortcake and as a middle layer for Chipotle Chocolate - Olive Oil Cake. This is also the most space-efficient way to freeze berries. By comparison, a quart of frozen sliced berries when thawed yields less than 1/2 a quart of sliced berries and juice.

For sliced berries, slice berries and place on a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. Place in freezer just until slices are frozen. Remove sliced berries from paper and place in freezer container. Return to freezer immediately. Sliced berries are especially good for salad (Weeds with Pecans and Fruit) and cereal topping. Sliced or whole berries are good for early spring Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp/Pie as rhubarb comes into season well before strawberries.

For whole berries, place berries in container and freeze. When freezing whole berries, the container can be filled to top as there is enough "air space" for the berries to expand as they freeze.

A full quart box of berries weighs ~ 1 pound,  8 ounces.

A quart container of sliced (frozen, see above) berries weighs about 1 pound, 2 ounces

A quart container of sliced, mashed strawberries weighs about 1 pound, 15 ounces.  This is by far the most space-efficient way to store frozen berries.


* Or skip the bowl and as shown above put slice berries in freezer container and mash dirrectly in container.

This Christmas I ended up with several strawberry stains on my linen tablecloth.  When stain remover did not seem to work, I checked on line and found that vinegar is good for removing strawberry stains.  Sure enough, it took several applications followed by gentle brushing but the stains did disappear and the cloth washed clean.  Had I not used the stain remover/prewash, and gone straight to the vinegar as some sources suggested, the process might have been quicker.  Will keep this in mind for future stains on clothing.

August 2016: Forget the vinegar, see: MAKE STRAWBERRY STAINS VANISH

Reviewed 5/17/17

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Meyer Lemon Risotto

This recipe is inspired by two things: a big bag of Meyer lemons straight from her Berkley garden that the wife of one of Ed’s business colleagues brought me when we met for a recent conference in Las Vegas, and second, a dinner Ed and I had at 808, a restaurant in Caesar’s Palace during that same trip. At 808, a Pacific seafood – Asian fusion restaurant, we had rock shrimp risotto with orange licorice froth for an appetizer. As we often do, we split the appetizer, though in this case I could have easily eaten the whole serving. The risotto was light and appeared cheese-less though certainly contained butter as well as olive oil. Though I have yet to crack the orange froth bit, upon returning home I made the following dish.

This dish can be made either with or without shrimp. This serves 6 generously (or 8 smaller servings with ~10 additional shrimp). If you are not planning to use all of the risotto, cook and add shrimp only for servings that will be eaten immediately. I often halve the recipe.

In a medium sized heavy sauce pan over medium high heat, melt:

2 T butter (I often omit or add additional olive oil in place of some/all butter)
2 T olive oil


4 medium shallots, finely chopped  (or 1/3 c onion, finely chopped onion + 1 t garlic, finely chopped)

Cook stirring for about 2 - 3 minutes, until the shallots are wilted and semi-transparent. Add:

2 c uncooked Arborio rice

and stir well using a wooden spoon to combine the rice and shallots and coat the rice.

BEGIN to add

6 ½ c chicken or vegetable broth which has been heated to the boiling point

about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition until the broth has been mostly absorbed by the rice. Continue to add broth, stirring, until the rice is tender but firm, al dente, about 20 minutes. If shrimp are to be used, start cooking* them when all but 3/4 cup of the water has been added to the rice. Remove from heat and add:

4 T freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice and pulp (about 2 lemons)
Zest from 2-3 Meyer lemons

Stir well and serve immediately on warm plates, or if shrimp are to be used add some/all risotto to wok with the shrimp and toss to mix shrimp evenly. Alternatively, serve shrimp beside the risotto. Top with

Finely chopped fresh parsley.

*TO COOK SHRIMP:  In a large wok over medium high heat melt:

1 T butter (I often omit or add additional olive oil in place of some/all butter)
1 T olive oil

When butter and oil are hot add:

30 (about 5 per person) 21-25 count shrimp, shells but not tails removed

Cook, stirring, until shrimp are pink on both sides, about 3 minutes,  then add:

1 T freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice and pulp (about 1 lemon)

Continue cooking, stirring constantly until shrimp are firm and form "c" shaapes (about 4-5 minutes total cooking time).

Remove shrimp from pan and continue cooking juice until it is reduced and thick.  Pour over the shrimp.

Reviewed 5/29/2015

Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

“When life deals you lemons, make lemonade”…but when a friend gives you Meyer lemons and tells you making lemonade with them would be a waste, what do you do? During a recent conference in Las Vegas the wife of one of Ed’s business colleagues gave me a big bag of Meyer lemons straight from her Berkley garden. After Las Vegas, we visited my Mom who likes pie, so coincidentally on 3/14 I tried to make my first lemon meringue pie. It came out pretty well except I didn’t “stir/whisk continuously” and when I returned from doing another step I found the milk mixture on the stove beginning to form a huge lump. Fortunately vigorous whisking solved this problem, but the lesson learned and reflected in the instructions below is to get all ingredients ready before starting to make the filling.

Also I made only a half recipe of Pie Crust and while this covered the pie plate shell it did not allow for a “pinched edge crust” --- probably not necessary, but if this finish is desired, make two thirds of a crust recipe. Alternatively make full recipe and refrigerate/freeze reminder for future use.

Note: When we returned home, inspired by a dinner in Las Vegas, I tried Meyer Lemon Risotto. While the pie was very tasty, I am going to use the rest of the lemons, making this dish.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

MAKE PIE CRUST:  Line a 9” inch pie plate with crust and finish top edge neatly (half recipe) or crimp edges (two thirds recipe). Line pastry shell with buttered (crust side) aluminum foil and weight foil with pie weights, rice or a tightly fitting heavy pan. Bake in pre-heated 400 degree F oven for ten minutes. Remove foil and weights, prick several holes in bottom of the crust with a fork and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool.


While crust is baking, separate:

4 eggs

into yolks and whites; put yolks in medium size (2-3 cups) bowl and whisk until fluffy; put whites in mixing bowl to later whip for meringue.

Remove and save zest from:

2-3 Meyer lemons

and then squeeze juice (approximately 1/3 c) into a small dish. Remove seeds and add pulp to dish.

MAKE MEYER LEMON FILLING: In a heavy sauce pan whisk together:

1 c sugar
5 T cornstarch

Gradually whisk in

1 c water
1/2 c milk

Cook milk mixture over moderate heat, whisking, until it comes to a boil. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the milk mixture into yolks and whisk yolk mixture into the rest of the milk mixture. Simmer mixture, whisking constantly for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in lemon juice and zest.

MAKE MERINGUE: In another bowl with an electric mixer beat egg whites to which has been added:

1/4 t cream of tartar

until they hold soft peaks. Add in a slow stream:

1/2 c sugar

and continue beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks.

Pour filling into pastry shell and spread meringue on top, covering filling completely and sealing it to pastry. Draw meringue up into peaks and bake pie in middle of preheated 350 degree F oven until meringue is golden, about 15 minutes.

Chill and serve.

Reviewed 6/17/2017

Sesame Ginger Grilled Scallops

Serves 2

This recipe came together when I found the first spring onions of the season and dry scallops on special. I have made this many times since often using the variations given below. The key word here is "dry" - "dry scallops" are scallops that have not been soaked in phosphates  which cause them to absorb water and loose flavor; soaking in phosphates tends to make the scallops "look better" to some consumers and prevents them from losing water hence weight, hence market profits. Dry scallops are occasionally, but not usually, advertised as such; you will probably need to ask the fish monger if the scallops are "dry"/unsoaked.

These are especially good served on a bed of Sauteed Bok Choy and/or with fresh Asparagus


Dry scallops (about 1/2 to 2/3 pound total)
for no more than 30 minutes in:

2 T soy sauce/tamari
1 T sesame oil
1 T fresh ginger, minced

(Optional) Brush

3 large scallions cut in half lengthwise or 6 thin scallion with:

1 t olive oil
1/2 t sesame oil

Heat grill to high. (Or set oven to broil)

NOTE: Scallops can also be cooked under the broiler (3-4 minutes on a side depending on size).*

Put scallops on two wooden (previously soaked in water) or metal skewers and coat with a glaze of:

2 t  lime juice
2 t  maple syrup

Put scallops and onions on grill; cook on high to sear both sides of scallops and then reduce heat to medium. Cook scallops ~3 minutes a side, basting with glaze. Cook onions until wilted but not charred. Remove from heat.

(Optional) Roll scallops while still on skewer in:

Toasted sesame seeds


In lieu of scallops, use white flat fish such as flounder or sole. Marinate fish and add glaze/lime juice just before cooking. Use the broiler method, cooking 3-4 minutes on a side depending on thickness. Sprinkle with sesame seeds when done.


In lieu of scallops, uses ~6 21-25 count shrimp per person. Marinate shrimp and add maple syrup but no lime juice.  Grill ~2 1/2 minutes per side on hot grill.

* April 2013:  After cooking Grilled Scallops with Parsnip-Fennel Puree, I've decided the hot cast iron griddle on a grille or stove is the best way to cook scallops.  Follow the recipe above but when it comes to cooking forget the skewers, heat the griddle to hot, add olive oil to coat and heat, then add the drained (and slightly dried) marinated scallops.

Scallops served with Sauteed Bok Choy  and Grilled Scallions.

Reviewed 7/9/2017

Red Flannel Hash

This is a recipe from childhood when (leftover) roast beef was a much more common occurrence. Though technically “red flannel hash” is usually made with leftover corned beef, my Mom (and I) use roast beef. Though most recipes also call for milk or cream as well as butter or lard and cook the hash stovetop in a frying pan, I remember the baked version given below. Moogie usually serves this with ketchup. Servings of this hash topped with a poached egg are especially good for Sunday breakfast/brunch.

This can certainly be made in a food processor. The most “authentic” version is made using an old-fashioned meat grinder. Although I remember this made with canned beets (in a glass jar), fresh beets are my current choice. Since this is made from leftover meat the amounts of other ingredients will need to be adjusted proportionally based on the amount of meat.

Chop or grind:

1 ½ pounds cold (cooked) roast beef (about 3 cups)


1 pound cooked potatoes, diced (about 2 cups)

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 pound boiled beets, diced (about 2 cups)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix well and place in a large shallow baking dish that has been greased with

Butter/olive oil

Bake at 350 degrees F about 30 minutes until it is well heated through and top is a bit crusty.  Top with:

Poached egg/person (optional).

Reviewed 5/7/17

Mushroom Risotto

This recipe is adapted from Judith Barrett’s "Risotto Ai Funghi" found in her From an Italian Garden cookbook. I love to make this or Lobster Mushroom and Leek Risotto when I am visiting Alex and Dan in Portland. The variety of wild mushrooms available in the Portland Farmer's Market makes this a very special dish. [I find this makes 6 generous servings. I often halve, simplifying and reducing amount of mushrooms as noted for a simple dinner main dish for 2-3.]


1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms [I often omit]

in a glass measuring cup with ½ cup boiling water and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Drain and rise well removing any grit or dirt. Strain the soaking liquid through a double thickness of cheesecloth and reserve. [If there is only a little grit in the bottom of the cup, I pour off liquid carefully to leave residue in the bottom of the cup.]


4 T butter [I use 2 T olive oil]

in a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Add the porcini and:

1 large garlic clove, finely minced or pressed

2 pounds wild mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps and stems coarsely chopped [if  I'm not making this for a special occasion I sometimes use only 1 pound ( 8 oz for 2) mushrooms and trim but don't remove stems completely]

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook stirring for about 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Set aside.

In a heavy four quart sauce-pan, melt:

3 T butter [I  omit]
2 T olive oil [I use 3 T or a combination  of 1 1/2 T olive oil and 1 1/2 T white truffle oil]


½ c chopped sweet onion

and cook stirring until it begins to soften. Add:

2 c uncooked Arborio rice

and stir well using a wooden spoon to combine. Add

½ c dry white wine

all at once and cook, stirring, until wine is mostly absorbed by the rice, about a minute or two.

BEGIN to add

6 ½ c hot chicken or vegetable broth

ABOUT 3/4 CUP AT A TIME, stirring well after each addition until the broth has been mostly absorbed by the rice. Continue to add broth, stirring, until the rice is tender but firm, al dente, about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat, stir in one last addition of broth, the mushrooms,

½ c freshly grated Parmesan cheese [if using truffle oil, I omit the cheese]

2 T chopped fresh parsley [if using truffle oil and no cheese, I often use 2 T chopped fresh sage instead]

and stir until the cheese melts and is incorporated into the rice.  Serve immediately.

VARIATION (NOV 2011): Mushroom Risotto with Winter Squash and Sage

Before starting the risotto:

Cut in half, peel, and cut in 3/4 inch cubes:

1 medium butternut squash


2 t olive oil in a baking dish

Add the squash and toss with the oil. Place in preheated 425 degree F oven and roast for approximately 30 minutes, shaking the pan and/or tossing the squash with the oil every 10 minutes, or until squash is tender.

While the squash is cooking make the risotto but

Omit the Parmesan cheese and parsley and finish the risotto with:

2 t white truffle oil

Toss the squash cubes  with

 1 T chopped fresh sage

See also: Winter Squash with Sage Risotto

Place a serving of squash on top of each serving of risotto.

VARIATION (SPRING 2012) Mushroom Risotto with Pea Tendrils

While squash and sage are a great winter addition to this risotto, ramps and especially pea tendrils are a perfect spring accompaniment.  When making risotto with pea tendrils, use parsley (optional) but no sage. For recipes see: Ramps - Spring Greens - Pea Tendrils

Reviewed 5/29/2017

Sauteed Bok Choy

2 servings, expand as needed


2 t olive oil or sesame oil (heat first)

1-2 cloves minced garlic

1 t minced ginger

2 spring onions/4 scallions (optional) white part only, thinly sliced (reserve green part)

When garlic is golden and onion wilted, add:

2 baby bok choy, thinly sliced

green part of onion/scallions, sliced diagonally in 3/4 inch pieces

Cook until bok choy is barely wilted.

Good served with Sesame Ginger Grilled Scallops


Sprinkle with:

2 t toasted sesame seeds

Reviewed 8/24/2017

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Poached Eggs with Wild Salmon and Spinach

2 servings

When sailing out of Woods Hole, if we are heading home in the morning, we often stop at the Fishmonger Cafe for breakfast . I got the idea for this from a breakfast I had there a few years ago. While they serve this topped with a Hollandaise sauce* (as in Eggs Benedict), I prefer the lighter mustard option.

Fishmonger uses  2 eggs per serving. For a lower cholesterol version, use 1 egg per person and put all of the spinach and salmon plus one egg on one muffin and serve the other muffin plain.

We are fortunate to have a neighbor who sells eggs; I picked up a box yesterday and made this (and took the photos) this morning.  Use the freshest eggs you can find for poaching;  the eggs will hold together so much better.

Heat water (about 1/2 inch deep) in medium skillet until almost boiling then add:

2 eggs (break egg into ramekin then gently place in water)

While eggs are cooking, toast:

2 English muffins, split with fork

Poach eggs until done, 5-6 minutes until white is set and yolk has filmed over; keep water at a simmer, not a hard boil  using a spoon to push the whites toward the yolk. (Alternatively poach eggs for 4 minutes then let sit in hot water for 4 more minutes)

Remove from pan, draining all excess water and place on warm plate.

Wipe out pan and add:

1 t butter or olive oil

2 c (4 oz) fresh baby spinach leaves

Stir and cook until spinach just begins to wilt. Divide

2 oz wild smoked salmon

then the spinach between the two muffin halves. Top with the eggs then

2 t Duck Trap Mustard Dill Sauce (available at Whole Foods) or a mix of Dijon mustard (such as Grey Poupon) and  chopped fresh dill.

* Recipe for Hollandaise Sauce

Combine in a blender:

3 egg yolks
1/2 t salt
1/8 t dry mustard
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 T lemon juice

Blend, adding gradually:

8 T (hot) melted butter

Serve immediately or keep warm temporarily in top of a double boiler or in a bowl nested in a bowl of hot water.

Reviewed 5/12/17

Baked Eggs

Per person

This recipe comes from Moogie. It works well made and served with muffins.

Preheat oven to 350 – 375 degrees F (coordinate with temperature required for muffins, if making simultaneously).

Lightly grease a small ramekin or muffin cup with:

Butter or olive oil

Line ramekin/muffin cup with:

1-2 slices ham; 2 if very thinly sliced, 1 if thicker

Into cup formed by ham, break:

1 egg

Sprinkle with:

Freshly ground pepper

Bake for 14-18 minutes, covering with aluminum foil after ~7 minutes to keep edges of ham from burning, until the eggs are set and the whites solidified. Remove from oven. If baked in muffin tin, remove ham and egg from muffin tin and place on a warm plate. If cooked in ramekin, remove or serve directly from ramekin.

Reviewed 5/12/17

Jason's/Pris's Granola

This is a recipe from Jason’s vegetarian days in Alaska (early 1970s). Although the recipe does not specify stirring, I stir the mixture several time while baking.

July 2014 --- My usual "home breakfast" is a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter or a meatless breakfast sandwich (egg and cheese on a whole wheat english muffin).  But we're heading to Maine soon and English muffins don't toast well on Condor.  I usually buy some granola for the early morning starts, and I'm usually disappointed. Too sweet for my taste. 

Then I remembered this recipe, a forgotten boat staple. In this revival, I skipped the sunflower seeds, remembering how much I liked the Pear Crisp topping, used half brown sugar and half maple syrup and finished with Maple Walnuts and dried cranberries.   As previously stated stirring is important, as well as watching to see mixture does not overbrown.  I cooked at 325 degrees for 30 minutes,  then for 10 minutes at 300 degrees F..  Since the mix looked pretty browned by then, I added the nuts and fruit, stirred well and cooked a final 10 minutes at 250 degrees F.   I made only 2/3 of the recipe which filled a large cookie sheet.

Mix together:

1 c brown sugar [I use half brown sugar, half maple syrup - 
NOTE: have reduced to 1/3 c brown sugar and 1/3 c maple syrup > Perfect sweetness!]

1 t salt [I omit]
½ c canola oil [I use olive oil]
½ c water
1 t vanilla
1 c sunflower seeds [I omit]

Then add:

18 oz oatmeal [~ 6 cups, not the quick cook kind]
7 oz shredded coconut [~2 2/3 c - think this was based on the size of the bag, I use 2 c] 
1 c wheat germ [I usually omit]

Mix well. Bake at 300-325 degrees F for 45 minutes then add:

1 c chopped nuts [My favorite is to add a cup of Maple Walnuts after final baking]
1 c raisins or currants [I usually use dried cranberries]

Bake additional 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan before storing in closed container.

August 2014: Big mistake! Instead of halving the recipe, I should have doubled it.  We are on our way to Maine and this is my breakfast. So much better than the store bought granolas of previous years. Ed likes it too. It is going to disappear very fast.

June 2015:VARIATION  Strawberries are in season and I was looking for a cereal to complement the berries.  Often I've chosen a cornflake variant, but this year I used a variation of this recipe. By reduced the sweetness (1/3 c maple syrup and 1/3 c brown sugar) and omitting the nuts and currants, I made a not-so-sweet cereal that went really well with the berries.

Reviewed 5/12/17
Revised 12/21/23

Carrot Cashew Pate

I bought some of this at our local "Touch of Christmas" many years ago, and later Helen who had made the pate gave me this recipe. This is one of the yummy recipes I had almost forgotten about until I searched my notebooks for this blog, I shall make this again very soon.

In a skillet over medium heat melt:

2 T butter [I use olive oil]


1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Add:

2 c carrots, thinly sliced
3/4 t salt [I omit]
1/2 t curry powder [plus 1 t grated fresh ginger, 1 T lemon juice]*
2/3 c water

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 6-8 minutes. Set aside.

In a blender/food processor fitted with a steel blade finely grind*

3/4 c salted [I use unsalted] roasted cashews

Continue blending, adding:

1½ T olive oil

Add carrot mixture and blend until smooth. Stir in:

1/2 c chopped salted [unsalted] roasted cashews

Serve at room temperature with crackers, pita chips, or raw veggies.

*OCT 2012: Finally made this again.  See photo second from top. Though I usually prefer dips on the chunky side, I should have followed the instructions to finely grind. Also found the original recipe a bit bland.  Tried again, ground much finer and added: 

2 t finely grated fresh ginger
2 T lemon juice

Served on endive leaves topped with crushed cashews and also with crackers.  The consistency of the finer ground dip makes spreading on crackers much easier. NOTE: Full recipe makes ~ 3 1/2 cups. Quantity shown in photos is half the recipe.


Ed did not like the rather bland original recipe, liked the dip with added ginger and lemon juice, especially on endive (also got rave reviews from recent guests) and really liked this pate in a salad.

Press pate into a small (3" diameter) ramekin until ramekin is 1/2 to 2/3 full.  Run sharp knife around inside edge of ramekin.  Turn ramekin upside down on a bed of small lettuces and tap to release pate.  Garnish pate with crushed cashews and thinly sliced chives or scallion greens.  

Lightly dress lettuce with balsamic reduction or balsamic vinaigrette.


June 2017:  I was meeting a friend for a picnic and would not have an opportunity to purchase fresh bread and was wondering what to make when I opened the Spring 2017 issue of edibleBoston and found "Welcome Spring with a Picnic". It suggested several locations in the Boston area that would be ideal for a picnic and the following recipes:Cashew Dip, Barley and Herb Salad, Noodle Frittata with Greens and Gruyere and Rhubarb Almond Cake. Okay, this was going to be a simple picnic.  I opted for the Cashew Dip paired with some Trader Joe's Seeded Mango & Ginger Crisps and Persian (small) cucunber strips, some herbed goat cheese paired with Trader Joe's Fig & Olive Crisps, a jar of Dilly Beans and some good dark chocolate.  The other recipes looked good and I may try later but so far have made the Cashew Dip several times:

The edibleBoston recipe calls for cooking carrots over medium high heat for 15 minutes; I used raw carrots. I also used curry instead of tumeric. The author suggests serving with snap peas and rice crackers, a good option for spring when peas are in season.

Place the following in a food processor bowl:

1/2 pound carrots, peeled, if necessary, and cut into 1!' chunks
1 (1") piece of ginger, peeded and roughly chopped
1/2 c roasted unsalted cashews
3 T coconut milk, more if needed
1 t curry (edibleBoston uses 1 t tumeric)
Sea salt to taste
Juice of i lime  (1 - 2 T)

Puree, scraping sides of bowl until all ingredients form a smooth puree.  Add additional coconut milk if smoother consistency is desired.

Reviewed 7/8/2017

Sautéed Chanterelles

This recipe is adapted from the Wildwood Cooking from the Source in the Pacific Northwest cookbook by Cory Schreiber that Alex gave me for Christmas in 2005. I make this in the fall when I can find an abundance of these yummy mushrooms at a reasonable price. This is particularly good as an accompaniment to roast beef.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat over medium high heat:

1 T olive oil


1 pound chanterelle mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 t salt (to dry out the moisture)

Cook and stir for 2 –3 minutes. Add:

2 shallots, minced
2 t unsalted butter
½ c minced mixed fresh tarragon, chives, chervil and flat-leaf parsley
½ t freshly ground black pepper

Cook 1 additional minute and serve.

Reviewed 6/20/2017

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tortillas and Ice Cream

This is Alexandra’s favorite ending for a Mexican dinner. To make it correctly  requires a fairly large amount of clean oil for frying. (No, you can’t just strain and re-use the canola oil you just used for fried zucchini. However, once you have used the oil to fry the tortillas it will still be “clean” enough to use for other frying purposes). IF you can keep them from getting crushed, the cooked shells freeze well for future use.

Using a “taco basket tortilla fryer” fry

Flour tortilla

In enough

Canola [I would now use peanut] oil

To cover (OK to turn basket a little if all parts are not covered at once) tortilla.

When golden, remove from oil and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Continue this process until you have made the number of tortilla baskets you require.

If not serving immediately, before serving, warm tortillas in a 200 degree F oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Remove tortilla basket from the oven and place in the center of the basket

Scoop of ginger (vanilla works too) frozen yogurt/ice cream

Top with

1 T honey, heated in the microwave

and sprinkle with


Serve immediately.


If you do not want to go the deep-fryer route, this can be made by cutting a tortilla into 6 wedges and frying the pieces in a frying pan containing 2 T canola [peanut] oil. When the wedges are golden, remove from the pan and drain excess oil on paper towel(s). Place scoop of frozen yogurt in a dish, stick points of several tortilla wedges into the sides of frozen yogurt and top with hot honey and cinnamon.

Reviewed 5/17/17

Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce

This recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name in Barbara Tropp’s The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, a wonderful cookbook that Christopher gave me many Christmases ago.

**Assemble Ingredients (6 June 2023)
This is a great cookbook except directions like "about 10 large cloves garlic" and "about 2/3 bunch fresh coriander leaves and upper stems" are not helpful. Sure, this kind of cooking, unlike baking is "to taste" but....  Anyway I started with ""  coriander and 2 T minced garlic but a visual at left (1 tightly packed cup corriander) of what I currently use.

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, mince (pulse so as not to pulverize)

10 cloves garlic (should = 2 T minced)

Approximately 2/3 bunch coriander leaves and upper stems (should = 3T minced and packed)**


½ c peanut butter
½ c + 1 T thin soy sauce
5 T sugar [I use 2 T]
½ t rice wine or sherry
1 –2 T hot chili oil [to taste]*

Process about one minute, until homogenized.. Store at least 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Note this sauce will keep several days when refrigerated in a covered container.


Per Serving

1/2 - 1 cooked chicken breast

Place on top of bed of:

1 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2/3 c bean sprouts
1/3 c cucumber, coarsely chopped

Top with Szechwan Peanut Sauce


Serves 4 - 6

This sauce is good tossed with whole wheat pasta, especially fusilli.

Cook according to package instructions:

16 ounces whole wheat fusilli, thin spaghetti, linguine or other pasta

Meanwhile sauté for 3-4 minutes or until scallions are tender:

1 ½ t olive oil
1-2 bunches of scallions, cut diagonally in 1-inch lengths

NOTE: When cooking scallions I often separate the white ends from the green and cook the white part longer (full 3-4 minutes) and the green less (1-2 minutes)

Drain the pasta, add scallions and:

1 large waxless cucumber, coarsely chopped

Toss with enough sauce to thoroughly coat the pasta, about ½ cup.

June 2013 VARIATIONS: I've started adding the scallions uncooked, also fresh shelled peas or snap peas cut on the diagonal. Also as in photo at left, sometimes poached chicken breast cut in small chunks.  Save a few scallions for garnish.

April 2014 VARIATION:  Saute ~ 4-6 ounces thinly sliced chicken and white ends of ~4 scallions in 1 t  chili oil and 1 t sesame seed oil (adjust ratio according to desired hotness).  Note:  to minimize chicken sticking to the wok, heat wok first, then add oil and heat, then add chicken.  When chicken is cooked through, add two small, thinly sliced heads of bok choy and green ends of scallions, cut diagonally into 3/4 inch pieces.  Cook, stirring constantly until bok choy is just barely wilted.

Meanwhile, cook 6 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti until barely done.  Drain, toss with veggies in wok and add peanut sauce to taste.   (Serves 2-3)

January 2014 VARIATION: Sautee ~6 medium shrimp per person in a mixture of olive and sesame chili oil (choose your hotness!).  Add cooked shrimp to whole wheat fusilli that has been tossed with scallions and peanut sauce per instructions above.  Top (optional) with chopped hot and/or sweet peppers and cliantro.

* June 2017: All chili oil is not equal.  Some brands are much hotter than others; be sure if you change brands (or even open a new bottle) to go by taste not previously used measurements!

Reviewed 6/20/2017
Revised 6/9/2023 see *

Penne with Tomatoes and Spinach

Serves 4

The chervil makes this dish particularly interesting. This said, I have made and enjoyed this dish on several occasions when I have not had chervil on hand and have thus omitted it. And while fresh tomatoes are indeed preferred, I have also made this successfully using Muir Fire Roasted Tomatoes (diced - drain juice and reserve for another use).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil


8 plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
1 T olive oil

and put in baking dish cut sides up. Put in oven and cook for 20 minutes or until tomatoes collapse.

In a skillet heat

1 ½ t olive oil


3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ pound fresh spinach, washed, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped

Sauté for 1 minute, stirring. Set pan aside.

Meanwhile, cook according to instructions on package

1 pound*  penne.

Just before pasta is done, dip a measuring cup into the kettle and reserve ½ cup water from pasta.

Drain the pasta and return quickly to the pot. Do not rinse. Add the tomatoes, spinach and:

½ c Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 T fresh chervil, chopped

Toss lightly but thoroughly and divide among four individual pasta bowls or plates. Serve with extra

Parmesan cheese.

* May 2017: I find I am using less pasta and more sauce these days. 6 oz of pasta would be plenty for Ed and me. For more guidance see HOW MUCH PASTA TO COOK (bottom of post)

Reviewed 5/30/2017

Sze-Chaun Spice Chicken Salad

One winter, years ago before children, Toki and I would meet one evening a week after work, have a drink at Harvest and then go off to (Jeanne Tahnk’s) The Chinese Cooking School. We would make a variety of dishes and then eat them for dinner. This is one of my favorites which I have made many times since....

Bring water to boil in a medium size saucepan. Just before it reaches the boiling point drop in

2-3 chicken breasts

Cook for about 10 minutes (don’t overcook) and then remove the chicken from the water and cool. Then tear/cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile cook according to instructions on the package

½ package bean thread noodles

[OR if I don’t have bean thread noodles on hand I use 8 oz thin spaghetti or linguine]

Place the cooked noodles on a large platter and top with:

1 c bean sprouts [I use more]
1 c cucumber, shredded [I use more]

Place the chicken on the vegetables and top with the following SAUCE:

1 T chopped scallion [I use more]
½ T chopped ginger
½ T chopped garlic
2 T sesame seed paste
3 T soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
1 T sesame seed oil
1 T chili oil
2 t sugar

I omit the MSG that was in the original recipe. If you are increasing the amount of vegetables substantially, you may also want to increase the amount of the sauce. If I have fresh coriander (cilantro) on hand, I top the dish with:

1 T fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

VARIATION: Instead of the sauce above use Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce.

Reviewed 5/13/17

Tomato Paella

Serves 4-5  [Photos are for half recipe - serves 2 -3]

This is adapted from a Mark Bitmann recipe in the New York Times. The key is to use Spanish paprika or as it is called in Spanish, “pimenton”. Whole Foods carries a good selection, 3 different varieties of Safinter Smoked Spanish Paprika. I use the “Bittersweet” variety. This dish is particularly spectacular when done with a variety of tomatoes of different colors. This is also excellent made with a variety of cherry tomatoes.

I have done this about an hour ahead to the step: “put pan in oven” which you may want to do if you are making this for company.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm 3 cups water in a saucepan. In a medium bowl put:

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes [or cherry tomatoes, cut in half] , cored and cut into thick wedges

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with

1 tablespoon olive oil.

Toss to coat.  In a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat put:

7 T olive oil [I use 2 T]


1 medium onion, minced
1 T minced garlic

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in:

1 T tomato paste
Large pinch saffron threads (optional)
1-2 t Spanish pimentón [I use 2 t]

and cook for a minute more. Add:

2 cups Spanish or other short-grain rice {I use aboriuo]

Cook, stirring occasionally, until it is shiny, another minute or two. Add:

1/2 cup white wine

Let simmer until it is mostly absorbed, then add the hot water and stir until just combined.

Put tomato wedges on top* of rice and drizzle with juices that accumulated in bottom of bowl.

Put pan in oven and roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Check to see if rice is dry and just tender. If not, return pan to oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. If rice looks too dry but still is not quite done, add a small amount of water.  When rice is ready, turn off oven and let pan sit for 5 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley and  basil. [I usually just use basil].  If you like, put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

*VARIATION:  I don't like the tomatoes overly cooked so I often add the tomatoes, especially if using cherry tomatoes, after the first 15 minutes of cooking.

VARIATION:  Since tomato and corn season coincide, I often add an ear's worth of corn, sliced from the cob, to the rice mixture, after the first 15 minutes of cooking then add the tomatoes per the above VARIATION.

August 2017: Everytime I make this, I want to take a photo! Did last night and it shows tomatoes that were cooked about 7 minutes, just enough to be warm.  Topped with chooped basil it made a perfect late summer dinner. Enough leftover to have with crusty bread for lunch today.

Reviewed 8/31/2017