Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category



This is from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark.  Very hearty and uniquely spiced, it was great as lunch all week!I used red onions

Crispy onions:

3 medium onions, halved from root to stem and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

pinch salt


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (mine was rotten so I subbed a teaspoon of ground ginger)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cinnamon stick

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

pinch ground allspice

1 bay leaf

Rinse and pick out any stones before using

6 cups vegetable stock

½ cup short grain brown rice (or basmati)

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 ½ cups red lentils

bunch of baby spinach, chopped (I used “teenage” kale)if its young, you can leave in the stems

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

lime wedges


Make onions:  Melt butter and 2 tablespoons oil over medium low heat in a large skillet.  Add onions and cook until they release juices, about 5 minutes.  Raise heat to medium high and cook until the onions are soft and golden, about 7 minutes.  Add remaining tablespoon oil and increase heat to high.  Cook, stirring only a few times, until onions are crisp and charred in spots.

Make stew:  Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until softened, 5 – 7 minutes.  Add ginger, garlic and herbs and spices and cook for about a minute, until fragrant.  Add stock, 3 cups of water, the rice and salt.  Raise heat to high, bring to a boil and then reduce to medium low and simmer for ten minutes.  Add lentils and cook until lentils and rice are soft, about 30 minutes.  Stir in greens and mint and stir until wilted.  Add more salt, and pepper if necessary.  Serve with a squeeze of lime and topped with crispy onions.  If you have leftovers, go ahead and stir the onions into the stew before storing.


before the crispy onions



Here in California, walnuts are local and arugula is fantastic in late winter and early spring. Last week I went to a Farmer’s Market class at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica where we made pesto totally without basil, which was new to me. We had a bunch of arugula in our garden that needed harvesting and I thought: make pesto! This is an adaptation of the recipe we used in class.  Ingredients and amounts are fluid: feel free to adjust to desired taste and texture, and to substitute nuts or greens or hard cheeses.  You can combine spinach with the arugula for a milder taste, use pecans or the traditional pine nuts, pecorino or romano for the cheese.  You can blend until its really smooth, or keep the leaves and nuts coarse for a more rustic pesto.  This will keep in the fridge for several days in an airtight container and freezes well, too.

1 ½ cups walnut pieces, toasted and cooled

4 – 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 cups packed arugula leaves

1 cup grated parmesan

¾ cups olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pulse the nuts and garlic together in a food processor, just until nuts are in very small pieces.  Don’t turn it to butter.  Add arugula and cheese and pulse about ten times.  Scrape down edges if necessary.  Add oil in a slow stream while processor is running, until you reach the desired texture.  Taste; add salt if necessary and stir in lemon juice to preserve color.

Serving suggestion: 

Prepare 8 oz. pasta according to package directions. When the pasta is almost done, stir a few handfuls of thinly sliced kale leaves into the cooking pasta.  After another minute of cooking, drain pasta and kale.  Squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top, and toss with about ½ cup of pesto in a large serving bowl.  You can also add fresh mozzarella, dabs of goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, etc.  Top with additional toasted nuts and/or grated parmesan and enjoy!  Serves 2 – 4.


I’m an enthusiastic participant in Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  Head on over to her blog to link your posts on any foodish topic: cookbook reviews, recipes, food for thought…from Beth Fish Reads

CARROT CAKE MUFFINS with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Liberally adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.  I did my usual flour substitutions, reduced the sugar, and completely changed the frosting recipe.  Nicely carroty and satisfied a pack of picky eaters.

1 cup all purpose flour

¾ cup white whole wheat flour

¼ cup almond meal

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

4 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 lb. carrots)

1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 24 muffin cups (or use paper liners).

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl.  Beat sugars, oil and eggs in large bowl until well blended. Stir in blended dry ingredients. Stir in carrots and walnuts. Divide batter between muffin cups.  Don’t overfill.

Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, then frost.  (Or frost only as you use them, which makes for easier storage.  The muffins and frosting store well in the fridge for several days.)


6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one lemon or orange

Beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar, syrup, and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Stir in zest.

Printable version:  CARROT CAKE MUFFINS


From Melissa Clark’s COOK THIS NOW, I didn’t change it much at all (OK, I eliminated a few bowls along the way) and it was a big hit at our latest FCA.  My only suggestion: ours was beautiful with purple and orange carrots.  To keep such carrots’ color, don’t peel them, but scrub very well.  Then, roast them on separate pans so the colors don’t mix.

1 lb. carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into ½ “ rounds

1 ½ tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons EVOO

salt & pepper

2 teaspoons honey

¼ cup sliced almonds

about 8 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry

1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt & pepper

more EVOO

Preheat the oven to 400.  Toss together carrots, 1 ½ tablespoons EVOO, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet, then spread out in one layer.  Roast, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, 2 teaspoons EVOO, 1 teaspoon water and a couple pinches of salt.  In a small baking pan, toss together almonds with 1 ½ teaspoons of the honey mixture and spread out evenly (though they will stick together a bit).

Once carrots have roasted for 25 minutes, pour the remaining honey mixture over them and toss to coat.  Roast carrots and almonds for another 5 – 7 minutes, until almonds are golden and carrots are tender.  Remove and cool completely.  (Can be done several hours ahead and stored at room temperature.)

For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Whisk in ¼ cup EVOO until fully incorporated.

In a large bowl, toss together the greens with half of the dressing.  Fold in carrots and almonds, drizzle on more dressing to taste and toss gently.

Printable version here:  HONEY ROASTED CARROT SALAD


This is a bright alternative to the traditional (and often unappealing) slow cooking of greens.  I used a few of the reviewer suggestions to adapt this Gourmet recipe from epicurious.

1 large bunch collard greens, halved lengthwise, stems and ribs removed

2 – 3 slices bacon, chopped

olive oil (optional)

1 shallot, minced

1 – 2 cloves of garlic, minced

juice of 1 large lemon

In manageable groups, stack collard leaf halves and roll crosswise into a tight cigar.  Cut crosswise into thin slices.

Cook bacon in a large non-stick skillet.  When browned and crisp, drain off all but about 3 tablespoons of fat (if necessary).  Or drain all but 1 tablespoon and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook shallots with bacon, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant.  Add collards all at once with a generous sprinkling of salt and quickly sauté, making sure to coat greens with fat, until bright green, about one minute.

Toss with lemon juice and more salt as desired and serve immediately.



Adapted from  I made this pretty much as directed, but my vegetables took much longer to roast than she suggested.  This was my first time cooking with farro, and it was easy enough and I love the chewy texture and earthy flavor of it.

2 cups farro, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons sea salt

5 cups water or stock

3 cups butternut squash, cut into ½” dice

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

3 tablespoons EVOO

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted

3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil or more EVOO

¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine farro, salt and water or stock in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour (or half that amount if you are using a pearled version – check your package directions as well).  Check its doneness often; you want it nicely al dente, to retain its shape.  Remove from heat, drain excess water, and set aside.

Once farro is cooking, toss squash, onion and thyme with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt on a rimmed baking sheet.  Arrange in a single layer and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes.  Toss every 5 – 7 minutes to get browning on multiple sides.  Once squash is cooked through, remove from the oven.

In a large bowl gently toss farro with vegetables.  This can be made several hours ahead and left at room temperature (or refrigerate and then let come back to room temp before serving).  Just before serving, fold in nuts and goat cheese with walnut oil, or additional olive oil, adding salt and pepper as needed.


Pumpkin Pie. It’s not just for breakfast anymore


Inspired by a pie we had at the Westwood Tavern, I used a couple of different Bon Appetit recipes to put this together.  Especially good with homemade whipped cream.  I used the Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Cookie Thins for the crust, and one of the little pumpkins they have – the ones with the pie recipe stuck to the bottom.  If you have time, making it from fresh is worth it, I think.  It was really good for breakfast.


9 oz. gingersnap cookies

1 cup pecan pieces

¼ cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

¼ cup butter, melted


1 small pumpkin OR 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup milk

1 ½ tablespoons molasses.

Cook pumpkin: Cut in half vertically and scoop out seeds and strings and discard.  Place cut side down on foil lined baking sheet.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 until tender, about 1 ½ hours.  Remove from oven and flip halves over to speed up cooling.  Or, open can, and don’t feel guilty.  At all.

Break cookies into food processor, then process into crumbs.  May have to loosen with spatula to get even crumbs.  Add pecans, brown sugar and ginger and process until nuts are finely ground.  Add melted butter and process to blend.  Dump into a greased 9” pie plate and press with spatula to cover bottom and up the sides just to the edge evenly.  Bake at 350 until set and browned, then cool completely.

Once pumpkin is cooled, scoop flesh into a medium bowl and mash or puree (I think an immersion blender works best).  In a larger bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, spices and salt.  Whisk pumpkin into spice mixture.  In the pumpkin bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in the liquids.  Add to pumpkin mixture, whisk to blend well, then pour into cooled crust.  Bake at 350 until almost set in the center (it will be slightly jiggly) and puffed a bit around the edges.  This pie came out much darker than a typical pumpkin pie.  Cool to room temperature and serve.  Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Click for a printable version of  PUMPKIN PIE WITH GINGERSNAP CRUST.