Final Fling: End of Summer Bites

There’s still time to enjoy the best of summer, without resorting to “it’s complicated.” With flavors at their peak, keeping things simple is the best way to go.

For starters, heirloom tomatoes are worth every penny. So splurge one last time! Simply season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Or slice and serve with fresh avocado (a winter crop in summer’s clothing) or goat milk yogurt and basil.

Peaches are best undressed. While I love a good cobbler or pie, the best way to enjoy them for dessert on warm summer nights is au naturel.

For a refreshing hors d’oeuvre that takes no time, slice a cucumber and top with smoked salmon. Party bonus: The colors will pop on a buffet table.

Mixed company? The options above will make it easy for all dietary persuasions to partake!

Goat Milk Yogurt Caprese Salad

Love a good caprese, but mozzarella got you down? Simply layer goat milk yogurt in between each slice of tomato for a creamy (but not overpowering) substitute. Finish with olive oil, fresh basil and salt & pepper to taste.

Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice Crock Pot Pulled Pork

The Sunday crock pot chronicles continued with a pulled pork that was heavy on the cinnamon, but easy on the kitchen.

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Inspired by this pin, I combined 1-1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp cinnamon in a bowl. Meanwhile, I diced the remaining half of an onion from dinner last week. I also coated the bottom of the crock pot with a thin layer of olive oil, which turns out the aforementioned 3 tbsp was for (but you can’t really OD on olive oil, so no worries). Then I placed the two pieces of a pork tenderloin in the crockpot, sprinkled the onions around the sides and poured the mixture over the top. I cooked it on low for 6 hours, then shredded the extremely tender meat, and stirred it around to sit in its gooey goodness on the warm setting until I was ready to serve.

David not only went back for seconds, but definitely thirds and potentially even fourths. If you have a sweet tooth like he does, it’s a winner! For more savory-leaning palates like mine, I recommend serving it with plain rice to cut the sweet.

Lesson learned: beaucoup de olive oil equals ridiculously tender pulled pork.

New Year’s Resolution-Worthy Baked Eggs

This morning I embraced resolutions to eat healthy, make more meals at home, and embrace imperfection. Inspired by a baked eggs recipe from Saveur, I made some tweaks; adding mushrooms and onions, swapping cream for almond milk, and leaving out the bacon. Despite some timing adjustments with the eggs, the result was a delicious brunch that’s deceptively healthy.

First, saute sliced mushrooms and chopped onions with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach at the end and remove from heat. Grease two oven-safe bowls or small gratin dishes with butter.

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Next, divide mushroom mixture between two bowls. Make 2 wells in each bowl, and carefully crack 1 egg into each well. Add 4 tomato wedges and 2 spoonfuls of almond milk to each bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

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Bake uncovered at 425 degrees or higher if your stoneware can handle it. Remove once the egg whites are opaque, and topping is golden brown.

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Note: It took me much longer than the 5 minutes (under a broiler) that the recipe suggested, to cook the eggs through. In fact, I discovered there was still clear liquid on the bottom layer, so I put them back in until I felt safer about the finished result. In total, I probably cooked them for 20 minutes or so, but it will ultimately depend on your risk tolerance, oven and cookware.

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Delicious when served and scooped with sourdough toast!

Ingredient list:

  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Sliced mushrooms (4-6 buttons)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • Butter or nonstick spray
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 spoonfuls of almond milk
  • 2 handfuls of shredded parmesan
  • Nutmeg
  • Toast, optional

Rethinking Pomodoro

I’m a huge fan of Capellini Pomodoro (as witnessed here and here). But tonight I needed to get to the point. So I improvised by cooking angel hair in chicken broth instead of water, and served it with olive oil. It had the same rich quality as a good Pomodoro, in half the time. And it still paired nicely with a glass of Zin!

Salads Inspired by Spring

Farm Fresh to You has delivered an abundance of sweet citrus, colorful fruits and veggies like mangoes and beets, and new challenges like fennel and endive. So I’ve had more than my share of adventurous ingredients to make salads much more interesting (and healthy).

Here are some of the combinations I’ve come up with, but you can use your imagination to create just about anything. Homemade dressing is a nice touch – so the fresh flavors aren’t overpowered. (I purchased a jug of Combs Ranch olive oil made in Orland and bottled in Healdsburg, and the flavor is nice and grassy on its own.)

Mango, endive, and spinach salad served with salt, pepper, olive oil and white wine

Blood orange, broccoli, tomato and spinach salad

Fennel and butter lettuce salad served with olive oil, fresh squeezed orange juice and white wine

Diced, fresh beets with ricotta and spinach salad, served with olive oil and fresh squeezed orange juice

“Case of the Mondays” Dinner

With extra daylight peering through the windows, I was hardly motivated to spend a lot of time in the kitchen tonight. So I grabbed my go-to four cheese tortellini, frozen corn, and chopped pancetta from the market. (Don’t forget to recycle the plastic!)

To cut down on dish duty, I microwaved the frozen corn in a casserole dish filled 1/3 with water, while boiling the tortellini. After I drained and plated the tortellini (which cooks quickly), I use the same pot to warm the pancetta with a little olive oil over low heat (cooks even faster!). Mix all three together, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

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