Friday, July 30, 2010

Garden Variety

Last weekend my boyfriend Wendel and I attended an outdoor performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that was produced by a theatre company that tours around the South Bay every year called, "Shakespeare by the Sea."  It was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.  In my opinion, an outdoor performance like this isn't complete without a tasty dinner.  I always wanted to have a picnic under the stars but wanted to make something relatively easy and transportable.  For an appetizer, I chose a homemade edamame pea spread with toasted pita wedges (recipe will follow on the next post).  Our main dish was homemade steak sandwiches on sourdough bread with roasted tomatoes, arugula, muenster cheese and dijon mustard.  I picked a light side dish that I found while perusing through the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  Check out the recipe below.  Super easy to make and super delish!  It's even better with home-grown tomatoes.

Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. coarse kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. dried crushed red pepper
2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Small wedge of Parmesan cheese

Kitchen Notes:  *I added a handful of cherry tomatoes for extra flavor and used a different peeler than the recipe recommended b/c I don't like the large ribbons.

Whisk oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2/ teaspoon black pepper and crushed red pepper in small bowl to blend.  Set dressing aside.  Using vegetable peeler or V-slicer and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into ribbons (about 1/16 inch thick).  Place ribbons in large bowl.  Add basil and nuts, then dressing; toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Using vegetable peeler, shave strips from Parmeson wedge over salad.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crunch N' Munch

One of my favorite types of breakfast food is granola.  What I don't love about granola is all the sugar, fat and processed junk that gets added to it when I buy it from the grocery store.  Hence, homemade granola.  Mind you, this is only one of a zillion granola recipes that can be found online.  I particularly like this version because it includes extras like wheat germ and flax seeds.

Also of note, I thought the amount of molasses and canola oil was a bit excessive so I cut out about 2/3 of it.  And secondly, I ran out of cinnamon so I actually substituted 2 t. of pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon and ginger.

Homemade Granola

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 flax seed
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. ginger
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
5 T. blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
A couple handfuls of your favorite dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots, etc.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a second bowl.

** In this recipe, I only ended up using a little more than 1/3 of the wet ingredient mixture so use your discretion.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix to combine.   Spread mixture over two baking pans and place in middle rack of oven.  Bake, stirring every 20 minutes for even cooking, until dry and lightly browned for about 45 minutes.  Cool in pan and transfer to airtight container.  Can be stored for up to 1 month.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Le Tour

© Brent Humphreys

Now that the hype of the World Cup is over, it's time to focus on the creme de la creme of bike racing, the Tour De France.  Celebrating its 97th year, the Tour tests the world's greatest cyclists for 3 weeks of grueling ascents through the Alps and Pyrenees ending triumphantly in the City of Light.

Scores of photographers have captured the event since its inception and the latest to do so is award-winning photographer Brent Humphreys.  If you're in Los Angeles be sure to stop by the Clark Oshin Gallery to check out a collection of his images from the Tour.  The images will be displayed until August 30.  If you're not a local you can check out his website.

It's a nice change of pace for those of you familiar with other cycling photographers like Graham Watson.  You get a sense of the cycling culture and the fans who line the course and camp out, sometimes a week in advance, to see a glimpse of the racers.

And for those of you placing bets, I'm rooting for Andy Schleck.  Cadel Evans was my top pick but a fractured elbow all but took him out of contention.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Farm City

Last week I was browsing the new non-fiction section in the public library and a book about urban farming caught my eye.  At first glance, I thought it was going to be a how-to book about planting your very own vegetable garden on a roof top or balcony.  Instead, it's a story about writer Novella Carpenter's experience creating a fabulous garden on an abandoned patch of land behind her Oakland, CA apartment.  Not only does she grow heirloom tomatoes and melons, but she's even taking a liking to raising her own chickens, turkeys other fowl as she fondly calls, "meat-birds."

Anyway, it's a really great book - not only about the toils of creating an urban oasis, but an interesting and often humorous account of the neighborhood and its people.