Monthly Archives: May 2013

Travels in Search of Family, Work and Food

I will be out of touch for a couple of weeks while we travel to visit my husband’s family in Iran and I attend a conference in Turkey. It will be a food filled two weeks, so I should come back with some great recipes to share.  My sisters-in-law are wonderful cooks and they have been warned  that I want to spend some quality time cooking with them.  I have never been to Turkey; I will be in Istanbul for almost a week. I am really looking forward to immersing myself in Turkish food and exploring the spice bazaar!

While we are away, Arielle will be taking care of the garden.  Since she has worked on an organic farm in France and on Farmer Kim’s farm, I am leaving it in capable hands.

farmer ari

The only bad part of our travels is that I will be taking 2 weeks out of running training.  I have built that into my training plan, and to be honest, I think my leg could use the time to heal properly, I am still plagued with pain (more when I walk than when I run, go figure).  I will be doing my 9 mile run the morning before we leave – one last big run.

To give you a taste of our travels, here are some pics from my visit to Iran 3 years ago.

Iran 2010 040

Hiking with Cam in the hills outside Tehran

Iran 2010 042

The views on our hike

Iran 2010 048

Waiting for our omelet at an outdoor restaurant on our hike

Iran 2010 060

I have yet to get to the top of the needle

Iran 2010 085

A wonderful park in Tehran

Iran 2010 180

With Aunt Nooshin at another outdoor restaurant – on a rainy day…Kabobs!!!

Iran 2010 219

Playing with the walnuts from his grandfather’s tree. Breakfast is flatbread, walnuts and feta – yum!

Iran 2010 050

I draw people wherever I go – do I really stand out that much? These girls were on a school trip.

Iran 2010 091

And, of course, the reason for our visit – hanging out with my father-in-law at his store.

Categories: General | 1 Comment

Aunt Gussie’s Rugelach – Memorial Repost

My Aunt Gussie passed away this morning.  In honor of her wonderful life, her warmth, love and good food I am reposting her Rugelach recipe.  I could always show up at her house and be welcomed with a meal.  I think she always cooked extra food, just in case.  Aunt Gussie, you will be missed terribly…

I love recipes that come from my mother, aunts or uncles.  It never fails, they all have a list of ingredients with quantities like “enough flour to make the dough stiff” or, in the case of these ruggies, “3 cups flour or enough (up to 5 cups).”  What is “enough”?  Then the directions are “mix and knead and roll flat,”  how flat is flat?  The food is delicious, but only if you make it right.  So today I will try to interpret my aunt’s wonderful rugelach into a recipe with real numbers and directions, while staying true to how I have watched them being made.

One of my favorite thing about my family’s baked goods is that they are all orange juice doughs – baked goods made with orange juice are the BEST!


Aunt Gussie’s Rugelach

3 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup orange juice

2 Tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

3 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup mixture of cinnamon & sugar

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips (I used half golden raisins and half dark chocolate chips)


Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla.


Mix in the salt, baking powder and 3 cups of flour. Knead in an additional 1/2 cup flour until the dough is dry enough to roll.


Roll the dough out to 1/8″ thickness.


Cut it into triangles or diamonds (today I did triangles).


Sprinkle heavily with cinnamon sugar.


Sprinkle with nuts, raisins and/or chocolate chips.


Roll into crescents, pressing in the end point, and place on cookie sheets.


Bake in batches for 12-15 minutes.




makes 30 – 40 rugelach, depending upon the size you make them.

Categories: Dessert, Hanukah, Jewish Holiday, Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Kale Pesto

If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I love pesto.  And, I love trying new types of pesto.  Tonight’s dinner – Pasta with Kale Pesto and Peas.  Cammy suggested adding the peas, good choice!

Kale Pesto 2

The kale in my garden has loved the cool spring weather.  It is the first time I have gotten kale to grow well for me.  I did not plant much since it has always been a bust, but my 4 plants are beautiful and healthy.

Kale Pesto 7

I also have some walnuts in the house, left over from another cooking project, so, kale walnut pesto it is. Cam so loves pine nut based pesto, I was curious to see how he would respond to this twist. I have to say that even I was a little skeptical as to how it would taste, but it was amazing!  Cammy ate all of his plate. You have to try it!

I  do have an admission to make, I have no idea where I got this recipe.  I just found the printed page with no reference on it.  So, to whomever this recipe is from…thank you!

Kale Pesto

from unknown

2 cups packed kale leaves (from the garden)

1/2 cup toasted walnuts*

2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese or grana padano

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil


Place all of the ingredients in a food processor.

Kale Pesto 4

Puree until smooth.

Kale Pesto 3

Serve with pasta and grated parmesan.

Kale Pesto 1

Makes 1 cup of pesto, enough to make 4 – 6 pasta servings.

*Toasted walnuts: Heat oven to 400F.  Place walnuts on a baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes.

Kale Pesto 6

Categories: Kale, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Pesto, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

Time to try another recipe from Yotam Ottalenghi’s Jerusalem.  I thinned the spinach in my garden so I ended up with some nice baby spinach leaves.  When I combined them with spinach Arielle picked at Farmer Kim’s I had enough for a good salad!

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds 2

There are many stars in this salad, but I have to say the spiced almonds and pita chips were amazing!

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds 3

Add to that the marinated dates (instead of medjool dates, I used some wonderful dried dates my husband brought back from Iran last year) and you have heaven in a salad.

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds 4

As I was making the salad, I realized that I did not have all the right ingredients, so I had to adapt.  Although my salad was delicious, I think his original ingredients would work just a bit better, so I have used his in the recipe below and noted what I used differently.

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

from Yotam Ottalenghi’s Jerusalem

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (I used white)

3 1/2 oz Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise (I used dried Iranian dates)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 small pitas, about 3 1/2 oz, torn into 1 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds, coarsely choppped

2 tsp sumac (this was the super-super ingredient!)

1/2 tsp chile flakes

5 oz baby spinach leaves (I used a mix of baby and regular leaves)

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice



Put the vinegar, onions and dates in a small bowl.  Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands.  Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds 1

Meanwhile, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Add the pita and almonds and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown (it may take a little longer if you have very fresh pita).  Remove from heat and mix in the sumac, chile flakes and 1/4 tsp salt.  Set aside to cool.

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds 3

When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large bowl.  Add the dates and onion, the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, and another pinch of salt.  Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds 5

Serves 4.

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Spinach, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Mediterranean Asparagus and Artichoke Pasta

I have a bad habit of pouring through my friends’ cookbooks during the down-times of our visits.  I just can’t help myself, I see new cookbooks and I have to read them.  I used to grab sheets of paper and copy down interesting recipes; now I just pull out the iPhone and click.

Sometimes I hit on some winners; tonight’s dinner was one I found in The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Mindy Toomay.  I saw it and was immediately hooked – it would use Farmer Kim’s asparagus and my sun-dried tomatoes. I would even use the olive oil from my tomatoes as the cooking oil to amp up the sun-dried tomato flavor.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 7

Mediterranean Asparagus and Artichoke Pasta

Slightly adapted from The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes

1 pound penne pasta

1 1/2 pounds asparagus (from Farmer Kim)

12-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided (I used the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

2 tsp dried mint

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, slivered

3/4 cup white wine (I used Riesling)

1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta,cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, drain the artichoke hearts. Break off the woody end of the asparagus and cut on the bias into 1-inch pieces.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 1

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion and garlic with the oregano and mint for 5 minutes, until the onion is golden and limp.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 2

Add the asparagus, salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 3

Add the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, stir and cook 5 minutes longer.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 4

Stir the wine into the vegetables and turn off the heat.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 5

Drain the pasta and place in a large, warmed serving bowl with the remaining 2 Tbsp oil and the cheese.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 6

Mix in the vegetable sauce and top with parsley.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 7

Serve with some additional grated cheese.

Mediterranean Asparagus & Artichoke Pasta 8

Serves 6.

Categories: Asparagus, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The garden is almost set for the summer.  I added the eggplants and the rest of the tomatoes.  All that is left to plant are the sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  Just hoping we do not get a freak frost tonight.

garden update 5-11

Garden Update

The greens have loved the cool weather, they are growing nicely.  In this pic are the spinach, kale, various lettuce, collard greens, and swiss chard. You can also seethe garlic, strawberries, kohlrabi, eggplants and celery.

garden update 5-11a

The Food

On another of our nights alone, I decided that instead of fighting Cam’s grilled cheese obsession, I would join him and make my favorite grilled cheese sandwich – Pesto Grilled Cheese.

Pesto Grilled Cheese 5

I first had a pesto grilled cheese sandwich while wandering around Nova Scotia in 1997.  It was so tasty, unlike any cheese sandwich I ever had before.  They used Asiago along with Mozzarella and some other cheese I can no longer remember.  I remember the Asiago, because it was the first time I ate that as well.

Since I first began making pesto, I have made various versions of this sandwich.  This one uses Balsamic BellaVitano, a truly delicious Wisconsin cheese I recently discovered. I included Mozzarella for texture, and my staple for all good grilled cheese sandwiches, Muenster.

Pesto Grilled Cheese 2

Play with ingredients, vary the cheeses and their amounts, the type of pesto or the bread.  But most of all, enjoy it!

Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices good bread (I used pumpernickel from the Frankfurt Bakery)

1 slice Muenster cheese

2 oz grated Mozzarella

1 oz grated Balsamic BellaVitano, Asiago, or other flavorful, italian-style cheese cheese


Tomato sliced or chopped, depending upon the type of tomato

Unsalted butter


Spread the pesto on both slices of bread.

Pesto Grilled Cheese 1

Layer the cheeses on top of the pesto on one slice.

Pesto Grilled Cheese 3

Top with tomato.

Pesto Grilled Cheese 4

Press the other slice of bread on top, pesto side down. Spread a think layer of butter on top of the sandwich.

Heat a panini press, or if you are like me and do not have one, heat a flat pan over medium or medium-low heat.  Place the sandwich, butter side down, on the pan and, using a second pan, press down on the sandwich and cook until browned (about 2 – 3 minutes).

Spread butter on the top of the sandwich (optional) and flip.  Press down again and cook another 2 – 3 minutes, until the bottom is browned.

Serve and enjoy!

Pesto Grilled Cheese 5

Makes 1 sandwich.

Categories: Kosher, Sandwich, Vegetarian | 4 Comments

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto

Cam and I were home alone for a few days.  Cooking for just the two of us is always a challenge, especially since he is now in a grilled-cheese-for-every-meal phase.  At least he wants to make them with me (he is finally wanting to cook again!)

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto 1

One of the few other foods I can still get him to eat is pesto. He removed the asparagus (he is 4, after all) but devoured the pasta and peas, declaring it delicious!  So, I had a tasty dinner and he ate something other than grilled cheese.

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto 5

My cooking pictures are using quantities for two people, I have included the recipe for 4 servings.  For the leftovers, I added in some sun-dried tomatoes, another fun way to eat this.

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto

12 – 16 ounces pasta

1 lb asparagus (from Farmer Kim)

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup pesto (I used garlic scape pesto with pistachios, any pesto would work well)

Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, for serving


Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.  With 4 minutes left to cooking, add the peas.  Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, steam for 3 minutes.

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto 2

Place the pesto in a large bowl.  Add the asparagus.

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto 3

Drain the pasta and peas and add to the bowl.  Mix well to coat all with the pesto.  Add some of the reserved pasta water if more liquid is needed.

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto 6

Serve with grated cheese.

Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pesto 5

Serves 4.

Categories: Asparagus, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Pesto, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | 8 Comments

Asparagus Quiche in a Spinach Crust

Farmer Kim brought some asparagus with the eggs yesterday, enough for me to make 2 asparagus dishes this week – yay!  So I grabbed a few today to chop up, steam and put in a quiche.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 4

Spinach crust?  Yes, the crust is simply spinach, flour and wheat germ and it is a great crust for quiches such as broccoli and, in this case, asparagus. The crust and my general approach to quiches is based on Mollie Katzen’s quiche formula in the Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 1

We enjoyed our quiche with a salad made with the romaine from the garden.  Things are finally starting to grow, late, but the greens all look very healthy.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 9

Optional tasty additions could be 2 leeks, chopped fine and sauteed, or a non-vegetarian addition would be to cook a couple of slices of turkey bacon and add them in the layer with the asparagus.

Asparagus Quiche in a Spinach Crust


1 – 2 Tbsp Oil – Olive or Canola

10 oz spinach, finely chopped

3/4 tsp Kosher salt

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup wheat germ


4 – 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

8 – 10 stalks asparagus (from Farmer Kim)

3 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

1 cup milk

Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 375F.  Oil a pie dish.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the spinach and salt and saute until the spinach is limp, just a minute or so.  Remove from heat.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 2

Add the flour and wheat germ and mix well. Press the mixture into the pie plate to form the crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  You do not need to let the crust cool to assemble the quiche.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 3

Sprinkle the cheese over the bottom of the pie plate.  Layer the asparagus over the cheese.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 6

Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl.  Add pepper and salt to taste.  Pour over the quiche.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 7

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 8

The quiche can be served at any temperature.  Enjoy!

asparagus quiche with spinach crust 9

Serves 6.

Categories: Asparagus, Breakfast, Recipe, Spinach | Tags: | 2 Comments

Fried Sage Omelet

First, a garden update..things are starting to happen in the garden and it is making me very happy.  As you can see in my header, the romaine lettuce is looking beautiful, and I used the first head to make a Greek salad with dinner the other night.  The rhubarb is getting huge.  I am not sure when to harvest it, but am trying to hold off so I can use it with the strawberries.  A very cheerful sight in the garden are the strawberry blossoms.  We are a few weeks behind because of the cold spring, but here they are, aren’t they beautiful?


The tomato plants are looking healthy as are 2 of the 3 cucumber plantings.  I am not sure what is going on with the third mound.  This weekend I will add a couple more tomatoes, eggplants and plant seed for okra and green beans.  I love my garden!

The sage in my herb garden is looking old and leggy, so I bought a new baby plant to replace it. It is still sitting in my kitchen window, I am getting too much pleasure looking at it each day.  But it will likely move to the garden this weekend as well.

sage omelet 1

But, while it is so close by, I figured I would pick a few leaves to use in an omelet with Farmer Kim’s eggs.  A flavorful omelet with just a few ingredients, the only other things needed are gruyere cheese, some salt and pepper for seasoning, and canola oil and butter for cooking.

sage omelet 2

Typically I try to make a large omelet to feed more than one person; that does not work well for having a pretty omelet.  So tonight I was patient and made each omelet individually and, voila!, they look like real omelets!  And they taste yummy!

sage omelet 5

Fried Sage Omelet

from Food Network Magazine, with my notes

For each omelet:

1 Tbsp canola oil

8 to 10 small fresh sage leaves, to taste (from the garden – or window sill)

Kosher salt

3 large eggs (from Farmer Kim)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (it would also be very good with an aged cheddar)


Fry the sage leaves:  Heat a small non-stick skillet over high heat and add the oil. Have a tray lined with paper towels and a slotted spoon ready.  When the oil begins to look thinner and spreads to the sides of the pan, turnoff the heat and add the sage leaves.  Stir them to caot with oil and cook, stirring, until the sage pales slightly in color and gets slightly crisp, 45 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes.  Use the slotted spoon to transfer the leaves to the paper towels. Season immediately with salt and allow to cool. Reserve the skillet.

sage omelet 3

Blend the eggs:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 tsp water and 1/4 tsp salt.Whisk only enough to integrate the eggs;you don’t want to whip too much air into them or make them frothy.

Cook the omelet: Return the skillet to medium heat.  Remove the excess oil and add the butter, swirling it as it melts so it coats the pan.  When the butter is melted, reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the egg mixture.  Use a fork to stir the eggs slightly, as if you were about to make scrambled eggs. Then allow to cook, undisturbed, until they start setting in the middle.  Sprinkle the cheese and sage leaves over them.  Cook until the eggs look almost fully cooked and only slightly loose, 1 to 2 minutes. (For making additional omelets, you may not need to add more butter, I made two omelets easily with the 1 Tbsp butter).

sage omelet 4

Serve the omelet:  Lift the handle of the pan, tilting the pan away from you and towards the heat.  The omelet should slide down the pan a little.  Using a spatula, fold the edge closest to you toward the center.  Fold the other edge in toward the center and invert the pan over the center of a plate so the omelet lands seam-side down.  Season with pepper.  Serve and enjoy!

sage omelet 5

Makes 1 omelet

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

Chicken Pesto Tart

Just because it is a weeknight doesn’t mean you can’t have tasty food…quick, tasty food.  Sometimes all it takes is a little planning ahead.  In this case, the planning included putting a sheet of puff pastry and a jar of my garlic scape pesto in the fridge to thaw the night before and having some cooked chicken ready to be diced. I adapted this recipe from theKitchn, and because I used my garlic scape pesto, I was able to omit the roasted garlic, salt and pepper.  If you do not have garlic scape pesto – make some!  Otherwise, click on the link to get their original recipe.


I also added chopped grape tomatoes, which added both flavor and color.  I cooked ours more to pizza done-ness, you can cook it on the longer end for a more browned cheese.

chicken pesto tart 2

Chicken Pesto Tart

adapted from theKitchn

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1/4 cup garlic scape pesto

1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced

1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

2 Tbsp Parmesan, grated

6 grape tomatoes, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning, if needed


Preheat the oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the thawed puff pastry on the parchment.  Prick the dough all over to prevent it from puffing (I did not prick the edges because I wanted a bit of a puffy crust).

Brush the pesto over the dough, scatter the chicken over the pesto (if your chicken is bland, toss it with a bit of oilve oil, salt and pepper first), then top with the cheeses.  Finish off by sprinkling the tomatoes over the top.

chicken pesto tart 1

Bake until the cheese is melted and light golden brown, approximately 15 – 25 minutes.  Start checking for doneness after 15 minutes. Remove the tart to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.

chicken pesto tart 3

Cut into squares and serve.  Enjoy!

chicken pesto tart 4

Serves 2 as a dinner, can be cut smaller and used for appetizers.

Categories: Main Dish, Pesto, Recipe | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: