Healthy

 

Alas, I have finally  found some beautiful plump fresh tomatillos at a local Mexican market here in the States. I doggedly attempted to grow tomatillos year after year in my garden in Thailand , but with very little success. The maturing tomatillos  always fell prey to marauding aphids or scummed to a feathery mold just about the time they were looking ripe and ready to pluck from the vine.

 

 

 

So I’ve been dreaming about making my favorite roasted tomtillo salsa for years on end. Nothing could be simpler really. A couple of ingredients thrown under the broiler or onto the grill, tossed into a blender and voila. You have a gorgeous tart fresh green salsa that enlivens so many loved regional Mexican dishes.

Tomatillos originate from Mexico and have been cultivated since pre-Columbian times by the Maya and Aztec cultures. Tomatillos are from the nightshade family with the fruit encased in a parchment like covering that is removed before use. Tomatillos, though larger, reassemble cape gooseberries, also a nightshade that has been cultivated by the Incas in Peru.

Fresh tomatillos are available in the US in Mexican markets, at Whole Foods, in some super markets, and online. They are also available canned, but I urge you to seek out the fresh tomatillos which have a decidedly more tantalizing zesty flavor of their very own.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde is delicious served with tortilla chips, with grilled meats, fish, and vegetables, tacos, enchiladas, tamales, empanadas, and quesadillas filled with Mexico’s renowned regional cheeses. 

This is a quick and easy recipe that you will find yourself making again and again.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde       

makes about 2 cups

  • 6 to 8 plump fresh tomatillos, husk removed, and rinsed
  • 1 large clove garlic, skin on
  • 3 to 4 fresh serrano chiles
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced onions
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely sliced cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt or more to taste

 

Position an oven rack about four inches below the broiler and preheat.

Place the tomatillos, garlic clove, and the serrano chiles centered on a baking tray and place under the preheated broiler. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the tomatillos, garlic, and chiles are beginning to char and deeply colored. Turn the tomatillos, garlic, and chiles over and broil another 4 or 5 minutes until deeply colored.

Promptly remove the tray from the oven and set aside. Transfer the chiles to a small bowl, cover with cling film, and set aside to sweat.

Remove the stems from the tomatillos and remove any loose chard skin and discard. Cut the tomatillos into pieces and place them in a blender or food processor.

Remove the charred skin from the garlic and discard. Mince the garlic and add it to the tomatillos in the blender or processor and pulse until the contents are relatively pureed, but still with some texture.

Once the chiles are cool enough to handle remove the chard skin and discard. Slice the chiles open lengthwise and scrape out most of the seeds and discard. Quarter the chiles and slice and dice them.

Add the diced chiles to the pureed toamatillo mixture and pulse until the chiles are combined.

Transfer the tomatillo mixture to a small bowl and add the diced onions and the sliced cilantro leaves. Stir to combine and then add salt to taste and stir until well combined.

You can add a small amount of cold water to thin the salsa if needed.

The salsa is then ready to serve or you can transfer the salsa to a non-reactive bowl or container, cover, and refrigerate for 3 or 4 days.

Serve the salsa chilled or at room temperature depending on the application.

Buen provecho!

Miso Wasabi Salad Dressing

Miso Wasabi Salad Dressing

 

The Japanese ingredients say a lot about this zesty salad  dressing, but it is surprisingly compatible when served with non-Japanese dishes as well.

As always, shop for the very freshest organic ingredients you can find. What I do love about this dressing is how the wasabi note heightens  the crisp garden fresh flavor of the assorted salad components. Perfect for late summer and fall salads!

 

Miso Wasabi Salad Dressing     Makes 3/4 cup

  • 3 tablespoons light miso
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • ¼ cup Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Tamari soy sauce, or regular soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted  sesame oil
  • ¼ cup light vegetable oil, or light olive  oil
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

Combine all the ingredients except the water in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until the dressing is completely emulsified. Add the cold water and shake once again until combined. Refrigerate the dressing until well chilled for serving.

 

Suggestions For the Salad

  • romaine lettuce, leaves cut into thirds
  • baby cos leaves, halved
  • radicchio leaves, torn lengthwise
  • iceberg, torn
  • arugula (rocket) leaves
  • celery leaves
  • mizuna sprigs
  • julienned carrots
  • julienned radishs
  • snap peas, blanched and chilled
  • radish sprouts
  • small vine ripe tomatoes, halved
  • toasted sesame seeds  (see recipe here)

Place the romaine, baby cos, radicchio, iceberg, arugula, and celery leaves in a large bowl and toss. Add a couple of teaspoons of dressing and toss to coat the leaves evenly.

Plating and Serving the Salad

Fan the mizuna leaves on chilled individual salad plates and mound a handful of tossed lightly dressed salad leaves onto each plate. Scatter the top of each salad with the julienned carrots and then the julienned radishes. Tuck the snap peas and halved tomatoes into the salads and lightly drizzle a little more dressing over each salad. Garnish with a flourish of toasted sesame seeds and serve.

 

 

Zucchini is the very essence of summer for me. The shades of deep to light greens along with tinges of yellows tease your memories of endless summer meals gone by where zucchini’s presence on the table defined the taste of unforgettable midsummer meals with family and friends.

Preparation of zucchini is a lesson in less is more. A recipe is hardy required, but keep in mind, a lightness of touch and just a scent of fresh herbs is all that is needed.

Serving this roasted zucchini with a creamy polenta is a match made in heaven! (click here for polenta)

 

 

Roasted Zucchini with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Roasted Zucchini with a Lemon Vinaigrette

 

Roasted Zucchini with a Lemon Vinaigrette     serves 4

Needed: large shallow oven baking tray

Preheat oven to 375 f/ 190 c Have oven rack placed in the middle position.

  • 3 or 4 plump garden fresh zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into ½ inch thick wedges
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

 

Place the wedges of zucchini in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the zucchini and toss to coat the wedges evenly.

Add the lemon thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper and toss until well combined.

Place the zucchini wedges in the baking tray in a single layer. Transfer the tray to the oven and roast for 6 to 8 minutes. Then reverse the tray and roast another 6 to 8 minutes. The zucchini should be very lightly colored and softened, but still firm around the edges.

If you like you can place the try under the broiler for a couple of minutes for added color.

Transfer the tray from the oven to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.

 

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, whole, peeled and pressed
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
  • freshly grated Parmigiano (optional)

In a non reactive bowl combine the shallots, garlic clove, lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined.

Combine both oils in a pitcher. While whisking slowly begin adding the olive oils in a thin slow and steady stream while continuing to whisk vigorously. Once all the oil has been added and the vinaigrette has emulsified, taste the vinaigrette and add additional salt as needed. Adding just a pinch of sugar is optional. Cover and refrigerate the vinaigrette until you are ready to serve.

Serving:

Place the roasted zucchini in a bowl and lightly drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over the zucchini, toss, and serve.

As suggested above, serve roasted zucchini along with creamy polenta is a perfect summer meal in itself.

Dusting with Zucchini and polenta with Parmigiano is optional, but a nice compliment.

Fig, Tahini, and, Dark Chocolate Cookies with Orange Peel

Fig, Tahini, and, Dark Chocolate Cookies with Orange Peel

I came across a recipe for these amazingly scrumptious cookies on David Lebovit’s food blog ( see recipe here)  that was inspired by Margarita Manzke’s recipe in her Baking at Republique cookbook. 

These cookies are decidedly Eastern Mediterranean in spirit along with a flourish of hearty home baked irresistible goodness. Gladly this recipe is open to personal interpretations that make for all that much more fun for the home baker.

My adaptations include using Lindt Intense Orange Dark Chocolate with Orange Peel that pairs perfectly with the dried Mission figs. I also used roasted sesame seeds instead of raw as the raw seeds which would not have enough time in the oven to to roast them and release their subtle flavor.

So without further ado…let’s get baking!

 

Fig, Tahini, and Dark Chocolate with Orange Peel Cookies  makes 20 cookies

Plan to make the dough the day before you intend to bake the cookies.

  • 1 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 0z (115 g ) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (120 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120 g) well stirred tahini
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup chopped soft dried Mission figs, hard stems removed
  • 100 g Lindt Intense Orange Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ to ¾ cup roasted sesame seeds (see recipe here)

In a small bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and the vanilla extract on medium peed until well combined. Mix in the tahini and then the egg, Then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated,

Stir in the flour mixture on low speed, and then add the chopped figs, and finally the chopped chocolate, and mix until just combined.

Line a baking tray with parchment baking paper and portion the dough into balls using and ice cream scoop. Roll the balls gently between the palms of your hands and place them in the lined baking tray. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning preheat the oven to 350 f/180 c with the baking rack set in the middle of the oven. To insure even accurate temperature use an oven thermometer to verify the correct temperature.

Have 2 baking sheets on hand lined with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Put some of the roasted sesame seeds in a shallow bowl.

Remove the chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator and roll each ball gently, slightly flattening the dough. Then gently roll and press the top side of each cookie into the bowl of sesame seeds to coat evenly. Turn the cookie over and place on the lined baking tray. Be sure to allow about 2 inches between each cookie.

Transfer the tray of cookies to the oven and bake for 7 ½ minutes. Then open the oven and reverse the tray and bake another 7 ½ minutes. The cookies should be lightly browned around the edges and the centers slightly raised. This timing is accurate and insures that the cookies are baked to perfection without over baking.


Promptly remove the cookies from the oven and place the baking tray on a rack to cool for a couple of minutes.

Gently tap the top of each cookie with a flat spatula to pat down the domed tops of the cookies.

You can then transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Follow the same procedure for baking the remaining tray of cookies.

Store the cookies in an airtight container for Up to a week or refrigerate for longer storage, though I am pretty sure they will be devoured in no time at all!

Best served at room temperature.

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