Cold Cucumber Buttermilk Soup

I’m growing these delightful pickling cucumbers, and boy do they grow fast! This is a quick refreshing soup for brunch, lunch, or dinner.

1 lb cucumbers*
2/3 Cup buttermilk
2 springs fresh tarragon
3 springs fresh dill
salt and pepper

*If you are using a thin skinned cucumber like small pickling cukes or fresh english cucumbers, you can leave the skin on. If you’re getting those thick, waxy skinned ones at the grocery store, peel them. Those skins just don’t have the right texture.

Put the cucumbers and herbs in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add buttermilk and salt and pepper to taste. Blend 2 pulses. Chill. Serve the same day.

You can serve this in a martini glass or other fun glass with chilled shrimp or lump crab or lobster on the side. Very fancy cocktail party food!


Rice Noodles in Miso Broth

Hooray! I visited the Asian market today! In the produce section, they sell fresh rice noodles. These are soft and raw and cook in just a few minutes, just like fresh Italian pasta.

2 liters filtered water
3 TB red miso paste
1 lb fresh rice noodles
6 oz mushrooms, sliced thin
6 oz carrot, julienne
1 bunch spring onions, sliced into thin rounds
2 TB ponzu sauce

optional: 1 lb thin sliced beef, shredded cooked chicken or pork, tofu cubes, peeled shrimp

Place water and miso over a high burner to bring to a soft boil. Add in carrots, mushrooms, and meat/tofu. Stir gently to prevent protein from sticking. When broth begins to boil again, add fresh rice noodles. Simmer for 4-6 until rice noodles are cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in ponzu sauce and onion. Serve immediately.

For added nutrition, you can add in additional vegetables. These veggie suggestions are grouped by cooking time.

Add any of these vegetables with the carrots and mushrooms: shredded red or green cabbage, baby corn, thin sliced Thai eggplant, Asian long beans

These vegetables should be added with the spring onions before serving: mung bean sprouts, shredded napa cabbage, shredded bok choy

Sweet and Sour Chicken, Pork, or Tofu

Sweet and Sour is very very easy. Anything can be made with the method- any protein and any veggie. Also, a gluten-free tempura batter is simple and traditional. Gluten-free limits breaded and fried at most restaurants. Here is how to get the ultimate crisped meaty pieces with minimal effort.

Sweet n Sour Chicken over Brown Rice

For the chicken, pork, tofu, or tempura veggies:

Cut 1 lb of chicken, pork, or tofu into equal sized pieces. If using shrimp, medium shrimp are best. Having all the pieces the same size will give you an even cooking time and proper bite sizes. You can also batter and fry broccoli florets, sweet potato cubes, onion rings, zucchini chunks, or other veggies for a soy-free vegan version.

Make a tempura batter from

1/2 Cup corn starch

1/2 Cup rice flour

3/4 Cup filtered water

1/2 tsp salt

cayenne pepper to taste

This should coat at least 1 lb of meat or tofu. Veggies tend to hold batter in their crevasses– see broccoli florets– so you may want to do 50% more batter if you are tempura frying veggies. Also, since this is a very fun meal for guests, try doubling it to feed tons of people!

I fry in sesame oil or peanut oil. Sesame oil has a lower smoking temperature. A blend of the two will give you the best flavor. Sesame is fine to use by itself or with another veggie oil if peanut allergens are a concern. Heat about 1 inch of oil in your wok. Test the oil for readiness by putting a drop of batter into the oil. It should fry up crisp very quickly. Also, you can put the handle of a wooden spoon in your oil. Bubbles will form around it when the oil is hot enough.

Carefully add your battered meat or veg, about 6-8 pieces at a time depending on the size of your wok. Do not crowd the food. Let fry on one side for about 3 minutes until GBD (golden brown delicious). Flip food for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a towel to drain. Repeat until all battered meat and veggies are GBD.

For the sweet and sour:

2 bell peppers (I like red), sliced

1, 14 oz can of fair trade pineapple chunks, liquid drained and reserved

3/4 Cup rice vinegar

3 TB corn starch

soy sauce to taste

Mix rice vinegar, corn starch, and pineapple juice together. Set aside.

Drain off extra oil from wok. Toss in bell peppers and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add pineapple chunks. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add liquid mixture and stir fry for 3 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Toss in cooked tempura meat or veggies. Coat well. Serve over rice.

If the red color you see in restaurants is important to you, you can use a veggie based food coloring or beet juice to color your sauce.

Salmon Cakes with Creamy Dill Sauce

This is a quick budget meal that tastes so good everyone will think you spent the whole day in the kitchen. By using a mixture of butter and olive oil, the cakes crisp up very nicely and have a wonderful salty flavor from the butter.

In your mixing bowl:

15 oz salmon, either left over grilled or canned, drained and bones removed

1 Cup bread crumbs (gluten free or traditional depending on your diet)

1 TB cajun seasoning

3 eggs

Work all ingredients together well. Let mixture rest for a few minutes so bread crumbs absorb moisture from eggs. This is especially important when using gluten-free bread crumbs which are sometimes drier than wheat-based bread crumbs.

Add both evoo and butter to a saute pan or iron skillet. Heat on medium high. Patty out the salmon cake mixture and fry 4 minutes on each side. These cakes are delicate. They only need to be turned once. Don’t push them around in the pan.

Lemon Dill Cream Sauce

Whisk together:

1/3 Cup sour cream

1 TB dill

2-3 TB lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

This sauce can be made in advance. It keeps in the fridge for about 1 week.


Rolling your own sushi is very easy. We make “mega” rolls with all of our favorite ingredients in a single roll. The secret to sushi that holds together is the rice! Steam it, season it, and COOL it.

Whole Platefull!

Whole Platefull!

Step 1: Sushi Rice

Get the short grain sushi rice on your next visit to the Asian market. You can use other types of rice, like standard brown rice, but the starch content may make things a little too sticky for a first time roller. If you have a rice cooker, use it. If not, get your pan with the tightest fitting lid. Put your rice and water in it, put the lid on, and set it to low. Some people weigh down the lid with some cans.

2 Cups sushi rice

3 Cups filtered water


Once the rice is cooked, season it with 1/2 Cup rice vinegar. Stir and cool completely.

For the sushi filling:

Smoked salmon, cream cheese, smelt roe, shredded carrot, avocado, cucumber sticks, pickled Japanese raddish, or other filling that your family likes. Slice vegetables into long thin strips for easiest rolling. Slice cream cheese with a long knife warmed in water for a thin clean cut.


Lay out a sheet of nori sea weed. Press rice down on 1/2 the sheet. Pile the filing on top in the center of the rice. Wet the top 1/4 inch of nori with water. Roll the sushi tightly, squeezing the rice and filing snugly together. The sea weed will seal with water.

Slice roll with a very sharp knife. Serve immediately or chill up to 1 hour. Do not store rolls in fridge unsliced. The nori may become soggy on the bottom. Serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce.


Mahi with Roasted Red Peppers and Tomatoes

Here is an organic twist on one of my mom’s recipes that she sadly hasn’t made for me in … oh … forever. The plight of a foodie: no one ever cooks for you!

Fish served with Risotto

Grab some wild caught mahi or snapper. Both are fabulous with this crispy, savory topping.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.

4 fish fillets, about 3-4 oz each

Toss together in a mixing bowl:

1 medium diced tomato, about 1 Cup
1 small red onion diced, about 1/2 Cup
1 8 oz jar marinated red peppers, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Sprinkle a little evoo onto a baking sheet. Place fish fillets on sheet. Spoon the veggie mixture over the fish and bake 15 minutes until fish flakes.

Served here with Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto. Use my classic risotto recipe and sub steamed asparagus for the spinach!

Fish Stew

I like bouillabaisse, but it’s time consuming. And I don’t do time consuming. I do fish stew.

Get out the big stock pot: 8 qts or more. Get your saute on:

1 Cup WASHED and slivered leeks

1 spanish onion, diced

2 TB olive oil

4 bay leaves

1 TB dry basil

1/2 Cup diced carrot

When the onion carmelizes ADD:                                    

28 oz quality canned diced tomatoes

1/2 an orange rind (keep it in tact so you can remove it later)

4 Cups fish, chicken, or veggie stock

12 oz haddock

Stir and break up haddock. Simmer 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Before serving ADD:

1 lb cleaned scallops (frozen are fine)

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (frozen are fine)

Bring back to a boil for 5 minutes.  Fish out orange peel and bay leaves. Serve with bread, grated parm, lemon wedges, or croutons.

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Spicy Chicken Gumbo

The word “gumbo” is said to be derived from a term for okra. If you have picky eaters (like I do) this recipe can be made okra free. I personally think okra is wonderful. This recipe makes a good base for customized gumbo, including vegan gumbo**, so go ahead and add in sausage, shrimp, or crawfish– whatever your family likes. But careful! This is a never-ending pot of gumbo. Ideal for pot lucks and parties and a great way to serve up all those tomatoes you canned this year.

Gumbo Over Rice

Gumbo Over Rice

1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs or breast meat

2 Cups chopped celery

1 large purple onion

2 Cups chopped carrots

8 oz mushrooms rough chopped

5 cloves garlic

28 oz canned diced tomatoes

14 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen)

28 oz water

2 salt-free herb bouillon cubes

2 TB thyme

3 TB butter (or butter substitute for vegan version)

2 TB red wine vinegar

2 TB creole seasoning

2 TB paprika

1 TB black pepper

hot sauce to taste

Optional stir-ins: 1 cup fresh or frozen corn, 2 cups okra slices, 1 lb shell fish or sausage slices

Place chicken in large stock pot with 10 oz water. Cover and simmer while you chop the veggies. Remove chicken from pot and add everything else: veggies, garlic, dry spices, bouillon cubes, tomatoes, vinegar, and water. Stir well to combine. Cover. Chop cooked chicken and return to pot. Cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or more. Serve over rice.

If adding sausage, add with veggies. If adding fish of any kind, add in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Add optional veggies with veggies.

**This makes a hearty vegan gumbo by omitting the chicken and replacing it with 14 oz of chick peas and another 8 oz of mushrooms. 3-4 TB of nutritional yeast will give depth to the broth.

Buttery Poached Grouper with Capers

This recipe contains no butter!  So if you want healthy fats with the flavor of the not-as-healthy fats, this is your recipe. And it’s REALLY easy. The marsala wine in the sauce adds a buttery-sweet flavor that compliments the capers very well. The result is the crisp flavor of the capers without the too-salty bite. A very balanced sauce.

Flavorful Poached Fish

Flavorful Poached Fish

1/3 Cup olive oil

1/4 C marsala wine

2 TB capers with brine

4 cloves of garlic rough chopped

1/2 bunch of parsley = 1/3 Cup chopped

salt & pepper to taste

12 oz grouper (4 small fillets or 2 large ones)

Heat pan to medium and put everything in but the fish.  Saute for about 6 minutes until all the alcohol is cooked out of the wine. The garlic and parsley will have released their flavors fully.

Place fish fillets over parsley and cover the pan. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer. The fish will poach and steam in the sauce in about 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Remove fish with slotted spoon then ladle sauce over fish to serve.

Wonderful with rice pilaf and a green salad.

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 9:08 am  Comments (2)  
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Parmesan Paprika Fish with Parsley Sauce

I make this with talapia for my parents. The Mediterranean Spanish flavors make a refreshing light meal on a summer night. I us Italian dressing in this recipe because it is a great way to add flavor and not just fat. it has many of the seasonings already incorporated and speeds up the recipe. You can make your own or use a good quality bottled dressing (Newman’s Organic is a good one).


For the fish: 4-6 fillets

Mix 3 TB Parmesan with 1 TB hot paprika

Brush fish with Italian dressing, about 2 TB will suffice

Sprinkle tops with parm and pap mixture

Broil on HIGH for 7 minutes. Turn off broiler and let fish rest in hot oven for up to 6 minutes while the sauce finishes.

For the Sauce:

1 bunch parsley chopped

4 spring onions

2 TB Italian dressing

3 TB citrus champagne vinegar (or 1 TB citrus juice plus 2 TB white wine vinegar)

3 TB water

3 TB Parmesan cheese

Simmer all ingredients in a sauce pan and stir over low heat until sauce bubbles and aroma of onions is released. Ladle over fish and serve.

Special thanks to my brother who had his dinner ripped away so I could photograph it.  I need to photograph BEFORE I serve it.

Published in: on September 12, 2009 at 10:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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