Pasta with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic Shrimp

We have been in a bit of a shrimp kick this summer. Wild caught gulf shrimp, it may not be local, but it is certainly good.

20140807-185454-68094523.jpg My goal is to combine the shrimp with food from my garden.  Today it is my basil, garlic, and tomatoes.  Oops there is a bruised leaf in my picture – don’t worry, it did not make it into the pesto.  I love the combination of pesto and fresh tomatoes.  The tomatoes brighten up the pesto and the pesto brings out the flavor in the tomato.

20140807-185454-68094040.jpg Instead of just searing the shrimp, I cooked it in a little bit of garlic and olive oil.  That may be the key to this whole dish – the shrimp could have carried the day on their own. But the combination of the shrimp, pesto and fresh tomatoes made for a near perfect topping for the linguine.  All it needed was some freshly grated grana padano (or parmigiano reggiano).


Pasta with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic Shrimp

12 oz linguine or other pasta of your choice

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced (from the garden)

24 – 30 medium-sized shrimp (wild caught)

1/2 cup Pesto

1 large tomato, chopped (from the garden)

Grana padano or parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 second – 1 minute.

Add the shrimp, cook and turn after 2 minutes.  Cook for another 2 minutes or until cooked through.


Put the shrimp and pesto into a large dish.


Add the cooked pasta and tomato.

20140807-185455-68095671.jpg Serve with freshly grated cheese. Enjoy!

20140807-185455-68095980.jpgServes 4.

Categories: Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Tomatoes | Tags: | Leave a comment

Spiced Edamame

Every year I try to grow edamame (edible soybeans).  The first year I tried, they did fine; but every year since, the plants have been eaten by rabbits right after sprouting.  This year, I have 5 very healthy plants loaded with pods. Hurrah!


There are enough pods that we can eat edamame as much as we’d like and still have a whole bunch left for freezing.

The other good news is that 5 year-old Cam has decided that he loves edamame, especially just cooked and salted.  Just give him a bowl of pods and he is quite content.  For us, I like to spice it up a bit with some chili powder and red pepper flakes in addition to the salt.  I don’t make it too ‘spicy hot’ since I am the only one who would like that.  I just use enough to add flavor.


Just toss the cooked pods in the pan of heated spices and snack away….it’s fun, tasty, and good for you!


Spiced Edamame

Adapted from Food Network

1 pound fresh-picked edamame (from the garden)

2 tsp Kosher or sea salt

1 tsp chili powder

1/8 – 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the edamame pods and cook for 5 – 6 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, stir the salt and spices for 2 – 3 minutes.


Drain the edamame and place in ice water or run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Toss the edamame in the salt mixture.


Serve and enjoy!


Serves 4.

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Khoresh Bademjun (Persian Eggplant Stew) – Revisited Without all the Oil

As I have said before, Khoresh Bademjun is pretty much the most popular meal in my household. The only thing that keeps me from making it more often is all the oil used in frying the eggplant. So, when I made the Eggplant and Tomato Stew with Pomegranate Molasses and prepared the eggplant by roasting rather than frying, I was very happy when the eggplant came out tasting just as good as it did fried.  I love fried eggplant, so this was quite a surprise to me.  A pleasant one.

So it was time to try the oven roasted approach to Khoresh Bademjun.

20140801-190421-68661647.jpgThe big test was my husband.  He loves his Khoresh Bademjun. How would he like my new, healthier version?

20140801-190425-68665184.jpgI am quite pleased to report that he said it tasted pretty much the same and that this approach was fine with him.  Now we will get all the yummy goodness of eggplant without the oil. Strike one up for healthy eating!!

Khoresh Bademjun (Persian Eggplant Stew) – Revisited Without All the Oil

 2 medium eggplants, or the equivalent amount of small eggplants Kosher Salt

2 Tbsp Canola Oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb chicken or beef, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 onion chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 can diced tomatoes or, as I used today, the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, about 2 large (from the garden)

1/2 cup hot water


 Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and dice the eggplant.  Place on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

20140801-190419-68659640.jpgBake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

20140801-190421-68661647.jpgMeanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the other 1 Tbsp oil.  Add the chicken or beef and onions. Brown on all sides – do not overcook.  After the meat is browned add turmeric and salt. Mix to combine.

20140801-190419-68659973.jpgAdd a layer of tomatoes.

20140801-190422-68662416.jpgAdd the water then cover with a layer of eggplants, covering the tomatoes and meat as completely as possible.

20140801-190422-68662956.jpgCover and cook over very low heat for about 2 hours, check after 1 hour to see if more water is needed.

20140801-190423-68663432.jpgServe with rice and pickled vegetables.   Enjoy!

20140801-190424-68664199.jpgServes 4.

Categories: Eggplant, Kosher, Main Dish, Persian, Recipe, Tomatoes | Leave a comment

Summer’s Bounty “Shakshouka”

I now have patty pan squash and carrots coming out of my ears! It seems like every dinner starts with a cutting board like the one below.


My first night back to work after the California trip, I returned from Philadelphia and just stared at the produce in my kitchen, trying to come up with something new for dinner.  I started with the thought of a vegetable hash with eggs…that’s not new. Then I remembered that my sister-in-law had made some tomato sauce with my tomatoes while I was gone, and there was some left in the fridge. I decided to make a rift on shakshouka, a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions.  I decided to roast the squash and carrots, along with some yellow beans, then cook that in the tomato sauce and cook the eggs on top.


It turned out so tasty, that even though the portions were huge, we devoured it. I especially liked mine with a little sriracha.


Another thing we learned while making this, was that roasted beans are delicious! We could have eaten them all while waiting for the other veggies to cook.

Summer’s Bounty “Shakshouka”

4 – 5 carrots, sliced (from the garden)

2 medium patty pan squash, chopped (from the garden)

4 – 6 oz yellow (or green) beans, trimmed (from the garden)

2 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 – 3 cups home-made tomato sauce 

4 – 6 eggs


Preheat the oven to 425F.

Prepare the green beans for roasting by placing them on a baking sheet,  tossing with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.


Prepare the carrots and zucchini for roasting by placing them on a second baking sheet and tossing with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper


Roast the green beans by turning every 5 min for about 15 min, or until browned. Roast the carrots and zucchini by turning every 10 minutes for about 30 min, or until browned.

Heat the tomato sauce in a large skillet.  Stir in the vegetables


Make wells and crack the eggs into the wells.


Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 5 – 8 minutes, until eggs are the desired doneness.Enjoy!


Serves 4 with large portions.









Categories: Breakfast, Carrot, Green Beans, Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Cool Cucumber Salad – Kid Friendly

The cucumbers are coming in almost faster than we can eat them, which is shocking since everyone in the house loves cucumbers.


The most frustrating thing for me is that cucumbers like to hide in the garden.  No matter how diligent I think I am in searching for cucumbers, I always end up with a few that are fatter than I like to use in a cucumber/tomato salad.  These cucumbers are great for a light, fresh pickled salad – the Cool Cucumber Salad from Better Than Peanut Butter & Jelly by Marty Mattare.  It is a vegetarian cookbook aimed at foods for kids, and I have to say that when my son tasted this, he immediately asked for more.


So, tonight my son had some with his fish sticks and ever-present grape tomatoes (from the garden).


We had some with our Eggplant and Tomato Stew.


It is about as simple a dish as you can make…

Cool Cucumber Salad

from Better Than Peanut Butter & Jelly by Marty Mattare

for each large, peeled and thinly sliced cucumber:

4 tsp vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

dash of freshly ground black pepper


Mix together all ingredients.


Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.  Enjoy!


Serves 2 per cucumber.



Categories: Cucumber, Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Weekend in Sonoma

Sonoma County, California… wine…food…sunshine…and good company.  A perfect place to spend a long weekend.


The grape vines were heavily laden with beautiful ripening grapes.  The setting was perfect for some wine tasting.  My friend, Debby, joined us as we headed off to Iron Horse Vineyards to taste their Russian Cuvee – which was served at the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit and at the White House since.  As it goes with most wine tastings, different people liked different wines, and we laughed our way through our taste disagreements both here and at Russian River Vineyards. But, yes, we did all like the Russian Cuvee – probably the only one we all agreed on – no wonder it ended the Cold War.

20140727-112138-40898904.jpgThe afternoon of tastings was followed by a delicious dinner of locally grown and produced foods at Backyard in Forestville. Below was our pickle board appetizer with house fermented kimchi, preserved mustard seeds, pickled garlic (hey, I make that too!), pickled broccoli stems and more. The food was excellent!


While my husband was busy, I spent my alone-time at the Sebastopol Farmers Market.  What a selection of organic produce! I was quite content among the tomatoes, pluots, dates, almonds, olives and more!






After I met back  up with my husband, we took our pluots and headed to the ocean for an afternoon of walking along the shore, watching the waves.


As we drove to our dinner destination, we stopped for a snack among the redwoods…


And, lastly, made it to our destination – dinner at a colleague’s parents vineyard and olive groves – Old Chatham Ranch in Mendocino County.


The family made some beautiful wines – the best we had tasted yet.  But, alas, they only make wines for their own enjoyment.  But what they specialize in is super high quality extra virgin olive oil.  So, as you can imagine, dinner was a wonderful experience, as much for the company of this warm family as for the sumptuous food and drink.


So, with that, we watched the sun set at the ranch and our weekend in Sonoma ended.


We brought the wine home with us.  I am anxiously awaiting my shipment of olive oil.  This is not oil I will use for cooking, it is for dipping, special salad dressings, and as a finishing oil.  I can’t wait, and I will fill you in on what I do with it. Tomatoes with a simple balsamic and olive oil dressing, or perhaps with truffle balsamic vinegar, or just making a good rustic bread and simply dipping it in the oil  – oh I can’t wait!!







Categories: General | Leave a comment

Eggplant and Tomato Stew with Pomegranate Molasses

My eggplant are not doing well this year, so I picked up some eggplants from Taproot Organic Farm at the farmers market.  Now, typically, when I have eggplants I make Khoresh Bademjun (Persian Eggplant Stew). And when my husband heard that I was not making that, he was not happy.  But I had seen the recipe for Eggplant  and Tomato Stew with Pomegranate Molasses in Lousia Shafia’s The New Persian Kitchen and really wanted to try it.


The ingredients that intrigued me were the split peas and the pomegranate molasses.  I love the flavor the molasses brings to dishes and I thought pairing it with eggplant would make for a rich dish…and it did. The split peas added some texture to what otherwise would have been an entirely soft stew. But what I really wanted to try was roasting the eggplant instead of frying it.  I was skeptical about that, but to my pleasant surprise, it worked great. I may even try that the next time I make Khoresh Bademjun.  It makes the dish a whole lot healthier.


S0 what was the verdict?  I served it with some vinegary cucumbers (see Cool Cucumber Salad – to be posted soon). My husband was happy with his dinner.  Chalk one up for me!



Eggplant  and Tomato Stew with Pomegranate Molasses 

From The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia

  • pounds Japanese eggplant, peeled and diced
  • Sea salt
  • tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/2cup split peas
  • cups water
  • yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • medium to large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (from the garden) (note:  you can use diced canned tomatoes if you need to)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • cloves garlic, minced (from the garden)
  • cups vegetable or chicken stock, boiling
  • freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the eggplant on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil.20140720-202526-73526801.jpgBake for 40 minutes, stirring gently every 10 minutes to prevent sticking. When the eggplant is completely soft, let it cool to room temperature.20140720-202527-73527100.jpgWhile the eggplant cooks, combine the split peas with the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes, until the peas are tender. Drain and season with 1 teaspoon salt.20140720-202527-73527414.jpgHeat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, until it starts to darken, then cook slowly over low heat for about 30 minutes, until it is dark brown and about half its original volume.20140720-202527-73527818.jpgAdd the eggplant, tomatoes, turmeric, cinnamon, pomegranate molas- ses, garlic, split peas, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the stock.

20140720-202528-73528126.jpgBring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the stew is thick.20140720-202528-73528457.jpgTurn off the heat and let the stew rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Enjoy!20140720-202528-73528788.jpgServes 4.



Categories: Eggplant, Kosher, Main Dish, Persian, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: | 2 Comments

Cousin Zamy’s Romanian-style Grilled Tomato Salad

When I was in Israel this spring, I was treated to a wonderful dinner at my cousin Zamy’s house in Netanya.  There was one dish, in particular, that I could not get enough of, a grilled tomato salad that was an accompaniment to the barbecue.  

Like my father, Zamy is from Romania. They share the trait of being the consummate welcoming host, loving to feed their guests sumptuous foods.


Zamy was gracious enough to send me the recipe.  I have been waiting for the tomatoes in my garden to be just right to make it myself. He told me that not only does it go with barbecue, but it is also a tasty addition to cheese sandwiches or omelets.  So we had a nice light summer dinner of cheese omelets and Zamy’s grilled tomato salad.


Cousin Zamy’s Romanian-style Grilled Tomato Salad

4 big tomatoes (from the garden)

6 big cloves of garlic (from the garden)

1 onion

2-3 hot green pepper (Depends on the sharpness you want) (from the garden – I had jalapenos, so that is what I used)

4 Tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp Salt 

1/2 tsp ground black pepper 


a. Roast the tomatoes and the green peppers on a Grill facility ( at medium heat) until skin is charred or easy to peel.


b. Remove the peel from the tomatoes and the green peppers and chop them on a cutting board.


c. Peel the onion and chop it finely on a cutting board.

d. Peel the garlic and crush it with a garlic press. 


e. Mix all the ingredients and add the olive oil, the Salt and the Ground black pepper.


Bon appetite


Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Carrot Salad Pita

I have been making this lunch dish for years, but this is the first time I have been able to make it with my own carrots; I am very excited!


Stuffed into a pita, it makes a refreshing and healthy lunch.


But is it equally good as a side salad with a meal.  It is perfect for a picnic or cookout.


The key when using it in a pita is to not fill the pita until you are ready to eat.  It is a moist salad and would turn the pita soggy if they were packed together ahead of time.

Carrot Salad Pita

Adapted from Better Than Peanut Butter and Jelly by Marty Mattare

1 small can pineapple chunks packed in juice, drained (you can also use mandarin oranges)

4 – 6 carrots, grated, depending upon size (from the garden)

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped

2 – 3 tsp canola oil

2 – 3 splashes of cider vinegar

6- 8 whole wheat pitas

1/4 tsp Kosher or sea salt, or to taste


In a medium bowl, combine pineapple, carrots, raisins, walnuts, oil, and vinegar.


Mix well.  Add salt to taste.


Divide and stuff into pitas just before serving.


Serves 6 – 8.

Categories: Carrot, Kosher, Recipe, Sandwich, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Carrot Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

I can’t resist using my vegetables in baked goods.  Our freezer is already filled with 3 different versions of zucchini (or pattypan squash) bread, so what is next?  This carrot poppyseed bundt cake.


My carrot harvest has been the best I have ever had.  They look good, they taste good.

20140719-132513-48313674.jpgThis version of carrot cake combines the carrots with poppy seeds rather  than traditional carrot cake with nuts.  This also uses a lemon icing, I have seen versions of this with a honey cream cheese icing; that would also be good.20140719-132339-48219437.jpgI had a partner in making the cake, my “top chef” was back in the kitchen with me.  He told me he is an expert at using the hand mixer. And he is pretty good at it…20140719-132338-48218334.jpgHe is also just a lot of fun to have in the kitchen with me. 20140719-132337-48217928.jpg

Carrot Cake Recipe

from Roots, by Diane Morgan

3 c. all purpose flour

1 t. baking soda

2 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

1/2 t. ground ginger

1/2 t. fine sea salt

2 c. granulated sugar

1 1/2 c. Canola oil

2 t. vanilla

3 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

3 c. peeled and finely shredded carrots (from the garden)

1/4 c. poppy seeds

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

5 Tbsp fresh Meyer lemon juice (I could not get Meyer lemons so I used regular lemons)


To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a bundt pan amply with nonstick cooking spray, preferably one designed for baking (with flour)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through salt.  In another large bowl, beat together the sugar, Canola oil and vanilla for two solid minutes.20140719-132338-48218643.jpgThen add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between each egg.20140719-132338-48218971.jpgAdd half of the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture and combine on low speed and repeat. Add the carrots and poppy seeds and combine on low speed or just stir in until flour has dissolved. Don’t over-mix.

20140719-132339-48219889.jpgGently fold into the prepared bundt pan, smooth the top.\20140719-132340-48220548.jpgBake for 1 – 1.25 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean or cake is firm but slightly springy to the touch. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.20140719-163756-59876642.jpgLet cool for one hour in the bundt pan. Then, use a knife to loosen up all of the sides. Do this carefully and thoroughly if you want it to release cleanly. (This is a lot easier with a silicon cake pan like the one I used). Let the cake cool completely.


Make the glaze:  Whisk together the confectionsers’ sugar and lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved.20140719-163756-59876963.jpgDrizzle the glaze evenly over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Cut into wedges to serve.  Enjoy!20140719-163757-59877377.jpgServes 12

Categories: Cammy's Cooking Adventures, Carrot, Dessert, Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

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