Meatless Monday

Beet, Fennel and Arugula Salad

June 20, 2011
Thumbnail image for Beet, Fennel and Arugula Salad

Last week we had a friend visiting Los Angeles on her way back home to where she lives in Cambodia. Living in a developing country can be challenging on many levels, not least among them the quest to find familiar and well loved foods. While it’s often preferable, and easier, to eat local food, sometimes after months of noodles, rice, and curry, the cravings for foods from home kick in.

Knowing that she was on her way back, I tried to craft a meal which included many of the things she likes but cannot get there, chief amoung them beets, arugula, and cheese. While this salad would be lovely with the addition of goat cheese, the night’s meal already included home made pizzas with fresh mozzarella and we had a non-dairy eating guest. When we visited our friend in Cambodia last year we arrived with a cooler bag filled with …

Read the full article →

Wild Mushrooms with Polenta, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

April 4, 2011
Thumbnail image for Wild Mushrooms with Polenta, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Spring has sprung in Southern California! In one week we’ve gone from rain and chill to sunshine and 90 degrees. It was quite a shock to the system and I suddenly find myself craving lighter food, salads filled with fresh vegetables and meatless meals. This dish fit the bill perfectly, served one night with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc and a small spring salad with a light vinaigrette.

Recently, I was contacted by the nice people at Gourmet Mushrooms who asked if I was interested in trying out some of their organically grown mushrooms. This offer piqued my interest because they had some mushrooms I’ve never tried, nor seen in my local market. A box arrived via FedEx, and surrounded by insulated packaging, was a wicker basket tightly packed with 2 pounds of gorgeous mushrooms.  These mushrooms are certified organic, and while not technically “wild” they are certainly …

Read the full article →

Hand Cut Pasta with Maitake Mushrooms and Squash Blossoms

August 9, 2010
Thumbnail image for Hand Cut Pasta with Maitake Mushrooms and Squash Blossoms

Last week I was given some Maitake mushrooms, also called Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and immediately started thinking up dishes where I could showcase their earthy goodness. Sometimes simple preparations are best; good sweet butter, fresh herbs, homemade pasta all compliment the star of the show; the mushroom. I added the squash blossoms because I had them in my garden, but if you don’t have any, you could leave them out, or replace them with zucchini, sliced into very thin ribbons.

These mushrooms not only taste good, but have been heavily researched for their cancer-fighting properties and may help balance blood sugar. In the wild, they can grow in pods of up to 40 or 50 pounds those these were commercially grown, organically, in little 3.5 oz cups, making them look a little like a mushroom cupcake.

Read the full article →

Midsummer’s Garden Vegetable Ratatouille

July 28, 2010
Thumbnail image for Midsummer’s Garden Vegetable Ratatouille

Is there such a thing as too much zucchini?
Oh yes, there is.
We went away for a week and our garden went crazy. It was scorching hot at home while we were in Panama and the garden responded as if breathing its last breath; it pumped out extra vegetables in a last ditch effort to get all its children off a sinking ship.

So what to do with all this bounty? Well, besides cooking up many of the other garden inspired recipes I have, I like to make a simple and fresh ratatouille. This dish is not only versatile, but freezes well for later when all the fresh vegetables are gone. See the end of the post for some ideas on what to do with extra ratatouille.

The vegetables are cooked in stages in this recipe. I did it this way for two reasons; first because I could not …

Read the full article →

Pesto Macaroni Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Fresh Mozzarella

June 29, 2010
Thumbnail image for Pesto Macaroni Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Fresh Mozzarella

My mother and I are a lot alike. People often confuse our voices on the phone, we’ve been known to (independently of one another) buy the same shoes, and we share the same Sicilian temper which flares up on occasion.

But I am not my mother and this is not her justifiably famous macaroni salad. I can’t compete, so I won’t even try. In fact, I still don’t know exactly what she puts in it, so I simply made up my own, and the two salads can stand proudly side by side, as individuals, just as we do.

This salad is a twist on the traditional, adding in some old world flavors and the sweetness of fresh corn so readily available in summer. It’s an easy side salad for a summer BBQ or picnic and makes enough for a crowd.

Tell me, do you have a family recipe which you’ve tweaked or updated?

Read the full article →

Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew

May 24, 2010
Thumbnail image for Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew

Most chefs, like fashion designers, are easily influenced and inspired by those who have gone before them and by the greater world around them. We learn, we adapt, we modify and improve upon the food we eat and even read about. We’re inspired by our environment, our location and even the weather. Basically, like fashion, there is very little “new” in the cooking world unless you are someone like Ferran Adria whipping up a liquid olive in a fit of molecular gastronomy. Cooking is reinterpreting the basics, over and over, in new combinations, to keep it interesting.

When I was looking for ideas for vegan dishes to make during the 21 day cleanse I did a few months ago, I came across dozens of recipes for soups/stews made with garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas). This recipe is not any one of those in particular, but certainly influenced by many of them. …

Read the full article →