Pretend your are in a fancy, expensive spa and imagine being pampered with a delicious meal. I have been making this recipe for my health conscious friends for years using different types of fish. The butternut coulis and mushrooms are vegan and are very low in calories. For fish I have used whatever is available and fresh. Red snapper or cod are good choices. For this occasion I roasted some asparagus as an additional vegetable. This meal serves four with some leftover coulis.
I live in Santa Cruz where over half the population is vegetarian and some folks are vegan. This is the perfect dish because they don't have to eat the fish and all I have to do is substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. The coulis can be turned into a delicious healthy soup by adding additional broth. Last Saturday I invited some friends who were in a middle of a health crisis and needed a comforting and healthy meal. This one fits the bill. A good meal will let you forget about the problems and fears you are facing and enjoy the moment. For an appetizer, I served my baked goat cheese with fresh herbs and garlic. We sat outside enjoying the warm evening, dipping fresh baguette in our goat cheese and sipping a glass of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Hewitt Vineyard which my friends had brought.
The meal was a great success. The halibut was a little overdone, so watch the time when you roast it. My friend’s immune system would not allow any uncooked fish. This is one dish I always plate before serving. I am sorry about the quality of the photos, it does not reflect the food. I have tried to photograph this several times before but what can I say?… I am a slow learner and I am not devoting much time to improving my photography skills. It shows! My dream is to take a workshop somewhere in Europe where I might improve my photography skills.
I had some fresh raspberries and blueberries in my refrigerator . For dessert I decided to make my favorite galette. Okay, this is where I chose not be too healthy and got some bitter caramel ice-cream from the Penny Ice-Cream Shop in Santa Cruz. These guys make the absolutely best ice cream ever. I loooooove the bitter caramel and yes, I know that vanilla ice-cream probably would go better with the galette. But I couldn't help myself. If you are ever in Santa Cruz and before you hit the beach, treat yourself to ice cream from this wonderful creamery. It is worth every bite.
This is an over-the-top salmon dish. Crespelle, an Italian pasta-like version of crepes, makes this a showpiece for a home-cooked meal. The Italians call it Cannelloni Ripieni di Salmone. With a name like this, you can’t go wrong. Crepes or cannelloni are filled with salmon, fennel, shallots, parmesan cheese, crème fraîche and basil. A lemony béchamel sauce puts it all together and creates a memorable meal to share with family and friends. Everything can be assembled ahead of time, which in my opinion is perfect for entertaining.
I found the recipe for the crestelIe in an old Gourmet magazine. I miss Gourmet! I think the crepes give the dish an elegant presentation and add flavor, but you can substitute fresh pasta made into cannoli. Although I have to say, I prefer the crepes.
First, I make the crepes and stack them between paper towels and cover everything with plastic wrap. The béchamel sauce can also be prepared ahead of time, but needs to be reheated before using and maybe thinned out a little. It will save you same time if you can have your fish monger skin the salmon and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Spring is asparagus time and that is what I serve as a side dish. I cut off the woody ends and peel part of my asparagus. I massage them on a cookie sheet with some hazelnut oil (although regular olive oil is fine), sprinkle some salt and pepper on then bake it in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes according to size. I like my asparagus crunchy.
Fregolotta, an Italian giant cookie that is easy to make and the perfect ending for this special meal. Click here for the recipe.
I missed my last book club meeting because I was in Germany. As our next book, our group choose Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, an Australian prisoner who escapes and lives in the underworld of Bombay. It’s a 936-page epic novel about living in the slums, romantic love, prison agony, criminal wars, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas. It’s a huge novel that embraces every human experience imaginable, all framed by a love for India. It was an interesting but long read. I liked it.
It’s been over two weeks since I returned from Germany and there is no question that I have had writer’s block. I did not write while I was in Germany and now I am scrambling for words that will entertain you and tell you about my trip. I had a great time, despite having a nasty cough. Going to Germany means so many things to me. I connect with my family and friends, which is so important to me especially as I get older. There is also something personal for me by connecting with my German side: the culture, the behavior, and the way of life. When my mom still was alive. I was a participant. Now I have become more of an observer. I am more relaxed and don't have to intervene as often, other than helping my niece pick out her bridal gown, which was a lot of fun. (Click here to continue reading this post on my Wanderlust blog ).
Just in case you need another rhubarb recipe! Here is simple but delicious
Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp
Cecilia from The Kitchen Garden, a blog I have been following for years, asked us to post photos of where we work.
Most of my work is done in my kitchen where I do the cooking.
My little desk in my kitchen with some of my recipes and cookbooks
My dining- kitchen table, where I sometimes take photos.
My computer is right around the corner from my kitchen.
I saw the first strawberries at the farmer's market yesterday and some rhubarb in the store. This German Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue cake will make you happy. It is a light cake that brings out the flavors of the strawberries and rhubarb. Enjoy!
This one is a real crowd pleaser. Start any festivity with these savory salt-topped cheese puffs and sparkling wine. They also make a great snack that you can't stop eating.
According to Wikipedia a gougère, in French cuisine, is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. There are many variations. Gougères are said to come from Burgundy, particularly the town of Tonnerre in the Yonne department. In Burgundy, they are generally served cold when tasting wine in cellars, but are also served warm as an appetizer. Gougères can be made as small pastries, 3–4 cm in diameter; aperitif gougères; 10–12 cm, individual gougères, or in a ring. Sometimes they are filled with ingredients such as mushrooms, beef, or ham.
I never made either cream or savory puffs before. But my mom often made large cream puffs filled with sweet whipped cream for Sunday afternoons. She was very good at it and could make them in no time. She used the eggs from her chickens and fresh cream from her farm in Germany. Her cream puffs were large and filling. In Germany, people visit each other in the afternoon to have coffee and sweets. I don't know why I never made them myself and I only ate them when my mom made them. They are called Windbeutel in German, which means bags of wind. I like that name.
When I found this recipe for savory little puffs, I was ready to try them. This is another old recipe from Sunset magazine that was tacked away in my appetizer folder. They were my third appetizer for my book club meeting and everybody liked them. What made these puffs so tasty and good was the strongly flavored, aged cheddar I used and my crunchy sea salt crystals. These little treats are best eaten on the day they are baked. Freeze the rest on a flat sheet and then put them in an airtight container. I put mine in a ziplock plastic bag. If you keep them until the following day, zip them for a few seconds in the microwave. That is what I did with my leftovers. I have to say they are quite addictive.
In the meantime we had our second book club meeting. The Shoppenhauer Cure got mixed reviews. Some people liked it and some did not. We are now reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.
This finger food has it all—it is healthy and low in calories (160 calories for three). Sesame wonton cups filled with smoked salmon, ginger, green onions and avocados. A showpiece at any cocktail party or whenever you want to serve a delicious appetizers.
In my last post, I wrote about my roasted eggplant spread that I served for appetizers at our first book club meeting. I also wanted to add some yummy-tasting appetizers with a wow factor to our meeting. It was like magic. I transformed good old won ton wrappers into the cutest little cups by simply brushing some melted butter over them and arranging them in a mini muffin pan to bake in the oven. How easy is that—and makes a great presentation. The only trick is that you have to own a mini muffin pan. If you don’t, maybe your neighbor or friend has one you can borrow. I deserve no credit for this idea, but my passion for collecting recipes does. This little jewel was hiding in my appetizer folder. It came from an old Sunset magazine.
A healthy vegan spread that has a rich flavor and can be used as a dip, a sandwich spread, or added to pastas or salads. It is made in no time and will nourish your body with wholesome food for days.
My friend, Diane, and I decided to start a book club with some of our friends. At our first meeting at my house, we were off to a good start. Everyone enjoyed themselves and we talked about our personal relationship with books. Three of us (myself included) told stories about reading under the blankets with a flashlight when we were children. All of us love to read and admit that we often don't take the time to do so. Oh, those busy lives we live! As a hostess, I nominated three books and our group chose The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin Yalon, a beautifully told tale about a psychotherapist who is diagnosed with a fatal disease. Knowing he has only one good year left, he is inspired to reexamine his life and work. He chooses to continue to work with his therapy group during this final year. He reconnects with one of his former patients, who is miraculously transformed by the teachings of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
Schopenhauer lived an isolated life, without friends, wife, family, or colleagues. He was a troubled individual and a most peculiar man. Yet his work showed an extraordinary range of depth in his vision. Some philosophers argue that his work contains more interesting ideas than other famous philosophers. He advised to minimize our natural desires for the sake of achieving a more tranquil frame of mind. He was the first western philosopher to look to the east and the Buddhist teachings for guidance. The book is a moving debate about the end of life.
Let's not become too philosophical and return to one of my favorite snack. I like it because it makes me believe that I am eating healthy food, even though it tastes so rich and sinful.
I have made this tasty spread for years. My inspiration comes from Ina Garden's recipe. I have played with it and used it for different purposes. The originally recipe is for a dip. The spread is great with homemade or store-bought pita chips. But it also great as a vegetable added to quinoa or on a sandwich. I love to snack on it. I get hungry just thinking about it.
A light and refreshing desert with a pudding like texture and a crunchy crust. This cake is easy to make.
Right now my lemon trees are full of lemons. I have been picking them as soon as they are ripe and sharing them with friends and neighbors. Actually, my lemon trees are a hedge along the driveway in front of my garage facing a busy street. Often people take some, which I usually don't mind until last year when someone came and picked all my lemons. I was not a happy camper because these lemons are my treasure and I take pride in caring for them. My favorite are the Meyer’s lemons with their thin aromatic peel and fleshy fruit that is sweeter than others. They are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or orange. Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, brought a plant in 1908 from China.
Wouldn't you know, it was Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley who made it popular in the 1990s.
I have a jar of preserved lemons in my fridge and a bowl of lemons on my kitchen counter. When I run out of my own lemons, I get some from a mature tree in my neighbor, Josephine’s, garden. She graciously shares them with me. The recipe I'm going to share with you comes from Deborah Madison's cookbook The Savory Way. This one, in addition to her Greens cookbook, have recipes from her days as a chef at Greens, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant near the waterfront at Fort Mason in San Francisco. This restaurant was a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement almost 30 years ago. Anyway, I have used these two cookbooks for many years and they have never failed me. I have made this lemon pudding cake many times and always get rave reviews. It is easy to make and has a sweet and lemony flavor. I serve it with some fruit, like raspberries or blueberries, and sometimes with a dollop of whipped cream.
Here are some more desserts using lemons . Click on the photos for the recipe.
My Lemon and Buttermilk Sorbet is easy to make. It is refreshing any time of the year. A light treat after a heavy meal.
This Almond Lemon Cake has a distinct lemony taste because whole cooked lemons are being used. The almonds add crunch and one can taste a hint of ginger , a delight for the senses.
A compact bread infused with lemon juice. Take a break in the afternoon and have a piece of this tasty cake with a cup of tea.
Two recipes for Banana Bread! One is the original recipe from the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu, the other is mine.
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, not another banana bread recipe!” A search on the internet will probably give you over a hundred hits, not to mention Aunt Lilly's handwritten recipe card or your grandmother's recipe. Everybody has a banana bread recipe. I make no claim that mine is the best, as l am convinced that there are some absolutely fantastic recipes that are better than mine. If you have one, please send it to me.
But I have to say that I have been experimenting with my recipe for the last six months. It began several years ago when the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu welcomed us with a loaf of warm sweet macadamia nut banana bread. It was divine (and so is the hotel)—rich, sweet and love at first bite. I posted their recipe (the bread came with the recipe attached). It is such a special treat. My goal was to produce a somewhat healthier version, if there is such a thing. I bought more bananas than needed and started to experiment with it to the delight of my neighbors and friends. I slowly reduced the amount of sugar, used whole wheat flour, used roasted walnuts or pecans, raisins and chocolate chips. My personal favorite is the the recipe I am posting here. It is cake-like, fluffy and melts in your mouth. The raisins and chocolate chips add sweetness and flavor. During one of the earlier version I added ½ cup of oats, some people liked it but it was too dense for me
You can read where to eat and what to do in Maui on my Wanderlust Blog
I need protein for my morning meal and these delicious pancakes pack in 10 grams of protein and are ready in 10 minutes. They have three ingredients: a ripe banana, one egg, and 2 tablespoon of whole wheat flour.
In general, I am not a pancake person, but when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light I was intrigued. I have made them several times, sprinkled them with some blueberries, roasted nuts and a little bit of maple syrup. I like these pancakes because they are soft and fluffy and only have 228 calories without the toppings. This is important to me right now since I have expanded a bit over the holidays . I don't like to deprive myself of good food—and don't like being hungry.
Sometimes when life has too many hurdles and I don't have the answers or solutions, I go for a ride or a walk into the countryside. Nature gives me a helping hand. It smiles upon me and let's me forget the worries of the world. It calms my fears and reminds me that there is always a new beginning and beauty wherever I am.
Last week, before New Year’s 2016, my husband and I went on such a ride exploring the country roads off beautiful Highway 1 along our Pacific coast. As an afterthought, I took my camera. This stretch of highway between San Francisco and Santa Cruz is stunning and beautiful—and I can never get enough. But the small roads off Highway One are even better—and not so crowded. One of my favorites is Swanton Road, which parallels Highway One in a horseshoe for about 8 miles. On the way back to Santa Cruz, we stopped at Davenport Landing, another small horseshoe-shaped road on the ocean side of Highway One. There is a place that raises abalone, which I’ve never tasted and hope to get to one day. I have always loved the little town of Davenport, which reminds me of early days of coastal California. Davenport has a great glass studio, Lundberg Studios, where I have gotten several special pieces. They even have a great seconds studio. There is also a wonderful inn and restaurant, called the Davenport Road House, that has live music Tuesdays and Fridays. All the locals seem to like the Whale City bakery, that has a great menu and delicious home-baked treats. Not to mention beer & tacos for $2 each on Thursday nights. With live music..
On the ride back to Santa Cruz, I always go along West Cliff Drive. As many times as I have walked along West Cliff Drive, I never tire of the beauty, serenity and ruggedness of the views where the Pacific Ocean meets the land mass of North America. So many many times, I have sat on one of the benches along West Cliff contemplating my life, sometimes with tears, but always soothed by its never-ending beauty. I am so privileged to call this place home.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
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