BBQ Steak Marinade

This is a quick marinade using Asian ingredients for beef steaks (like tri tip cut).

Combine following for marinade (will coat around 1 LB of meat):
1 TB Sake
1/4 C Soy Sauce
1 TB brown sugar
1 tea sesame oil
1 tea white miso
1 tea dark "hatcho" miso
1 TB white vinegar or Japanese komezu (rice wine vinegar)
optional: grated ginger

Toss with meat, tenderize with a fork, and let sit in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Grill on hot BBQ and serve with 15 minute rustic mashed potatoes.

Rustic Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Rustic mashed potatoes for 2 people, in about 15 minutes (using the pressure cooker).

Wash and cut 2 large yellow potatoes into chunks (1-2").

In pressure cooker, toss:
potato chunks (see above)
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4 C water
1 TB olive oil

Cover and bring up to pressure, and cook for 7 minutes under pressure. Release pressure. Remove rosemary twigs.

Mash up potatoes, skin and all, with forks. Now add:
1 garlic clove, finely crushed, or grated on a microplane
1/3- 1/2 C chicken or veggie stock
1 TB butter
2 TB half and half
1/4 tea salt

Mix and serve.


Fruited Tea

This is a lovely way to serve and enjoy an afternoon tea. I had never seen this stateside, but instead was introduced in Japan in a cozy little Russian-inspired cafe somewhere in Yokohama.

Prepare a teapot by adding items to the pot while dry:
frozen or fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)
your choice of tea (preferably in a bag, or in a filter), best choices are plain black tea, or red teas
Optional: bourbon or rum soaked grapes, pear slices, or other fruits.

Pour boiling water into your teapot over the tea and berries and let steep for 5 minutes. Serve.

Maple Glazed Salmon (stove top style)

I am a total fan of Japanese cooking methods. I grew up cooking salmon (and most other fish for that matter) in the oven, whole fillets with something drizzled over the top. While this can be tasty, it takes forever (20-30 min) and usually overcooks since you don't want to keep opening the oven door.

My Japanese host family (like most Japanese) didn't own an oven, and cooked everything with a broiler, stovetop or microwave. Also, the Japanese cooking style keeps meat in small pieces, so you can eat it with chopsticks. Combine these two influences, and you get small slices of marinated salmon, cooked quickly in a hot skillet.

Cut 10-14 oz salmon fillets (at refrigerator temperature) into long strips, about 3/4 inch thick. Marinate for at least 10 minutes (or up to 30 minutes) in a dish or bowl with:

1.5 tea soy sauce
1 - 2 tea maple syrup
2-3 sprigs rosemary
2 cloves garlic, crushed and slightly chopped
2-3 TB olive oil
1/8 - 1/4 tea black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tea salt

Preheat a large skillet pan over high heat. Cook all salmon slices in one layer in the dry hot pan (no oil) for 2-3 minutes, until first side is pink. Rotate to skinny sides and let cook another minute. Now flip back onto the other flat side and let cook for 1 minute.

Add the remaining marinade liquid (minus the rosemary sticks) to the hot pan and cover. Let cook, covered, for a few more minutes until just barely red/pink in the middle. The salmon will continue to cook after you take it off the heat so you don't need to cook it all the way before you take it out of the pan.
Dish out and serve with hot rice (or pilaf or risotto), or baked potatoes, along with a salad.


Kale & Shitake saute

In hot skillet, melt:
1 TB bacon fat (or use a vegetarian oil like olive oil)
1 TB chopped garlic
1/4 - 1/2 tea salt

Add 4 C chopped, cleaned lacinato kale ("dinosaur kale"). You may want to remove the woody stems of the kale. Stir fry for 2 minutes.

Add 1/4 C water, 1 TB lemon juice, lemon zest and stir. Steam kale for 10 minutes.

Add 2-4 thinly sliced shitake mushrooms, 1 tea soy sauce, 1 tea sesame oil. Cook covered for 7-10 minutes until kale is tender. Serve with soft polenta.

Soft Polenta

Saute onion and garlic in oil (or bacon fat) until onion is translucent and releasing its smell.

Add and bring to a boil:
1/2 C white wine
1.5 C water
1/2 - 3/4 C cream
1 tea salt

Add 1 C polenta and stir to break up clumps.

Cook 2-5 minutes while stirring until polenta firms up.

Add butter, and parmesan and stir until melted and combined.

Serve as a side dish, or cover with marinara and cheese as a main dish.


Gramma Pat's Cheese Rolls

These are my favorite dinner rolls. I fell in love with them as a child when my gramma brought them for family holidays and dinners. Hidden inside a normal looking dinner roll are caverns of cheese; as a kid I liked to chew little openings to the caves and follow them with my finger through the roll. They are amazing as is, or warmed in the oven. I also like them split open and toasted with butter, or as a mini sandwich bun.

Combine and dissolve:
2 C lukewarm water
1/2 C sugar
1 tea salt

Then add 2 packages yeast (2.25 tea), stir to dissolve. Or alternatively, proof yeast in a small amount of warm water, then add to the rest of the water, sugar and salt.

Add 2-3 eggs and 1/4 C canola oil and mix.

Add 1 C of flour and 2 TB cornstarch and mix. Now add 4-5 more cups of flour one at a time until you reach the right consistency (it will depend on the moisture content of the flour and the humidity level).

Knead dough until it is no longer glossy.

Let rise 12 hours or overnight in the fridge.

Cut off small chunks (golf ball size) and stretch flat. Push several chunks or crumbles of sharp cheddar cheese into the dough. Wrap up dough around cheese, and shape into dinner roll ball shape.

Let rise 15-20 minutes-- they will poof up slightly.

Bake at 350 F for about 17 minutes, or until golden brown on top.


Sparkling Rhubarb Spritzer

Found this in a cookbook- what a great way to enjoy rhubarb!

Combine in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer 3-4 minutes:
10 stalks rhubarb, sliced into chunks
2 cinnamon sticks

Take off heat, strain.

Whisk in honey or agave syrup to desired sweetness.

Pour into glasses with ice and sparkling water. Garnish with mint leaves or sliced strawberries.

Tomato Salad with Baby Mozzerella

This is a great way to eat up all those home grown tomatoes. Some people make this with crutons or bread crumbs, but I like it simple.

Toss chunks or quarters of ripe tomatoes with fresh baby mozzerella balls and some seasonings:
olive oil
rosemary or sliced basil

Serve at room temperature.

Picnic Food

With some spring-y weather just around the corner, I've begun swooning over picnic foods!

Cold Salads:
potato salad
tomato, baby mozerella salad with salt, pepper, rosemary/basil and olive oil
baby spinach salad with bacon, almonds, soy/sesame dressing

Finger Foods:
deviled eggs
cheese & crackers, or goat cheese spread with crackers
salami (Whole Foods and New Seasons sell good quality nitrate free salami)
Chips with salsa & guacamole

Sandwiches & Rolls:
deli meat on rolls with lettuce, tomatoes, avocadoes
eggplant spread with tomato jam & mozerella on multigrain (inspired by Lovejoy Bakery)
asian salad rolls (on rice paper) with herbs, lettuce, tofu, sprouts, carrot shreds

Jasmine tea with lemon and agave syrup
Tazo Passion hibiscus tea with agave
Fruited tea (black tea heated slightly with strawberries, brandy soaked grapes, other fruits)
sparkling rhubarb spritzer
natural cream soda or root beer (Virgil's brand makes good stuff!)
Honeywood Oregon berry wine

No-Cuke Raita

Running out of cucumbers shouldn't stop you from making raita!

Combine and serve chilled:
1 C yogurt
1/8 tea salt
1/4 tea cumin seeds
1/8 tea garam masala
1/4 tea paprika
3 TB chopped red onion
1 tea lemon juice
2 TB chopped cilantro

I love Nancy's Yogurt!

Nancy's is a company that makes delicious yogurt, and they're located in Oregon! I keep a large container of this stuff on hand at all times. Here are a couple ways I sub out not-always-in-the-fridge items or make something healthier:
  • use yogurt instead of sour cream, buttermilk or other milk products in cakes and muffins
  • use yogurt instead of mayo or sour cream in your favorite spreads

Here's a sampling of things I've made with Nancy's plain yogurt:

Raita (Indian dipping sauce) or my No-Cuke Raita version
Tatziki sauce
Quinoa Pumpkin Muffins (use yogurt instead of buttermilk)
Amazing chocolate cupcakes (using yogurt like some recipes use sour cream)
Ambrosia salad

Potato Salad

This is an old-school potato salad: creamy with mayo. I am also dying to try the "french" type version that uses an oil based vinaigrette instead, like this recipe from La Tartine Gourmand, which features radishes, cucumbers, and watercress in a lemon/dijon/tahini dressing.

Cook potatoes (any variety seems to work), either by boiling or my favorite, pressure cooking. This website has a list of pressure cooker times (depends on what kind of potato and how big). I'm using baby red potatoes, so I'll go for 8 minutes with 1/2 C water in the cooker. You can cut the potatoes into mouth sized chunks-- just pressure cook for only 4-5 minutes.

Then combine and let sit for a while (and hour or so is good enough):
2 C cooked potatoes, in chunks
1 tea apple cider vinegar

Later add and mix:
1/2-2/3 C mayo (or substitute plain yogurt or sour cream)
1/4-1/2 tea mustard powder
pinch of salt, to taste
black pepper
2 tea shallot, chopped (or substitute red onion)
2 tea parsley, chopped
1/4-1/2 tea garlic, minced
optional: long green onion, sliced

Serve chilled. Great as a picnic or brown bag lunch (if you have a cooler).


Tammy's Ambrosia Salad


1 C Nancy's plain yogurt
1 banana, cubed
1/2 C coconut (Whole foods sells nice shaved coconut)
3 rings of pineapple, diced
2-3 TB pineapple juice
1/4 tea vanilla extract
1 tea agave syrup