Chive Pesto

With four huge chive plants in my garden right now, I figured a great way to use up a lot of them in one fell swoop would be chive pesto. Pesto is so versatile, there are a myriad of ways to enjoy it.

For the freshest chives, wait until you’re ready to make the pesto and then head out to the garden with scissors and give your chives a hair-cut. If you don’t have a garden, you can obtain already-cut stems from your local farm-stand or supermarket. For this recipe, I sheared off an entire plant that was over a foot tall and nearly as wide. By the time I removed the less desirable stalks and woody ends, I ended up with a large bowl full of chives. It works best to break them into 2 inches pieces before placing into the food processor.

chive pesto

INGREDIENTS

Makes 2+ cups of pesto

4 cups (or more) chopped fresh “common” chives (not garlic)
4 ounces almonds, chopped and toasted
1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

PREPARATION

To rough-chop the almonds: Fill a heavy-duty Ziploc bag with nuts. Place the Ziploc bag on a sturdy cutting board and pound with a rolling bin until nuts are coarsely chopped.

To toast the almonds: Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Use a heavy-bottomed pan for best results. Pour the almonds into the dry pan. When the pan is preheated, spread the almonds across the pan in an even layer. Stir or shake the pan very frequently (about once every 30 seconds) to prevent the nuts from burning.The almond slices will roast a little unevenly, so it’s important to keep the almonds moving. Remove the almonds from the pan when they are done toasting, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the almonds from the heat just before they begin to develop browned edges and a fragrant smell, otherwise they will start to burn. Immediately pour the toasted almond slices onto a plate to cool.

Rinse the chives and gently pat them dry with a tea towel or use a salad spinner. You’ll need at least 4 cups of chives for this recipe, I used even more than that. Roughly chop the herbs and then place them into the work bowl of your food processor. Add the shredded Parmesan cheese and the cooled almonds. Roughly chop two cloves of garlic, and add them to the food processor. Turn the machine one, and give these ingredients a quick pulse just to chop them finely.

With the machine running, add the lemon juice, and then the olive oil, starting with 1/4 cup oil for a thick, spread-able pesto. If you want a thin pesto that you can toss with pasta or cooked veggies, add up to a 1/2 cup of oil. I used slightly more than 1/2 cup, since I had so many chives.

The Parmesan should provide enough salt, but taste and adjust as needed, adding more cheese, almonds or lemon juice, to suit your taste.

Serving suggestions:

Crackers and fresh raw veggies
Fish such as halibut or salmon
Grilled prawns or jumbo shrimp
Tossed with your favorite pasta
Thin slices of French baguette

Note: If you want to freeze the pesto, omit the cheese. Using plastic ice cube trays, fill each pocket with the pesto. Freeze and then remove frozen pesto cubes from the ice tray and store in a freezer bag. When you want to use, defrost and add in grated Parmesan.

freeze chive pesto

Honey, Vanilla Bean & Lavender Panna Cotta with Gooseberry Syrup

My young gooseberry bush produced a scant cup’s worth of berries for the season, so I created a dessert where such a tiny quantity could still be the star. How does honey, vanilla bean and lavender panna cotta with a gooseberry syrup sound? I can tell you now, it tasted outstanding!

I love panna cotta, it’s light and lovely, and can be served with a myriad of toppings. Served in beautiful dishes, it’s the perfect dessert to wow friends or family. Plus, you can make it ahead of time, simply cover and refrigerate for up to two days. I’ve made today’s panna cotta with coconut milk rather than heavy cream. This recipe serves eight.

honey vanilla bean lavener panna cotta

INGREDIENTS

For the panna cotta

3-1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk (two 13.5 oz cans)
1/3 cup raw, local honey (use 1/2 cup if you prefer a sweeter dessert)
1-1/2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender powder
1 packets powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water

For the gooseberry syrup

1-1/4 cups cane sugar
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup gooseberries (can use any fruit, figs, berries, etc)

PREPARATION

Panna Cotta

Heat the coconut milk and honey in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the honey is dissolved, remove from heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk and add the bean pod. Whisk in the lavender. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture over medium-low heat before continuing. Do not let it come to a boil.

Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil. If you plan on using goblets or other serving dishes, skip this step.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 10 minutes.

Pour the very warm panna cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Divide the panna cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, at least four hours.

To unmold, dip each mold in very hot water for a few seconds (don’t let the mold get to hot), quickly run around the sides of the mold with a small knife, and set it upside down on a serving plate.

Alternatively, pour the panna cotta mixture into wine goblets or other pretty dessert dishes, so you can serve them without unmolding.

Serve chilled panna cotta with a drizzle of warm gooseberry syrup, recipe follows.

Gooseberry Syrup

Combine sugar and water in a small pan over medium heat. Whisk and cook until the sugar fully dissolves. (If you are using a sweeter fruit, such as strawberries, reduce sugar to 1 cup).

Meanwhile pull off the little brown or green bits at either end of the gooseberries. Cut gooseberries in half.

Add gooseberries to the sugar/water mixture. Let cook over low heat for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Strain the seeds and pulp from the syrup, and pour into a small glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate syrup until ready to use, then warm for a few seconds in the microwave before serving. The syrup is also delicious over waffles, ice cream, yogurt, etc.

honey vanilla bean lavener panna cotta

Raw Cashew Hummus-Style Dip

This light and creamy hummus-style dip is a raw, dairy-free option. It’s really tasty and provides a nice flexible base for seasoning options. Start by choosing your favorite fresh green herb, such as basil, cilantro or parsley. Depending on which herb you use, you can mix and match whatever other seasoning you want to complement the flavors. Anything from fresh garlic or half of a shallot, to a small piece of fresh ginger or turmeric. Are you getting the idea? You can pretty much add anything you like — in small increments — just keep tasting often until you are satisfied with the result!

raw cashew dip

INGREDIENTS

1 cup organic raw cashews, soaked
Juice from 1 fresh lemon, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh green herb (basil, cilantro or parsley, etc)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp fine Celtic sea salt
4 tablespoons filtered water or olive oil

PREPARATION

Rinse the cashews in a colander and place them in a glass bowl. Cover them with fresh filtered water. Cover the bowl with a clean paper towel and let them soak for at least four hours.

Drain the water from the cashews and transfer into a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except the water (or olive oil) and blend until smooth and creamy.

Gradually add in the filtered water or olive oil, a tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. A thick creamy dip requires only a little liquid. Pulse and open to scrape the mixture off of the sides until everything is mixed thoroughly.

Continually taste as you pulse, to get just the right blend of flavors. Add salt, lemon juice and other seasonings in small increments until it tastes just right.

Store dip in the fridge in a covered glass bowl. The flavors will meld and intensify as it chills, it will also thicken up a bit.

Serve the hummus with fresh, crisp veggies such as carrots and celery sticks, cucumber sticks, zucchini and yellow squash sticks, kohlrabi slices, etc.

Savory Blueberry Basil Sauce

July is National Blueberry Month and blueberries are not only touted as the having highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings, they are incredibly versatile and delicious! You’ve probably enjoyed them in green or fruit salads, smoothies, scones, muffins, pancakes and waffles, or in jams, juice, and sweet or savory sauces, perhaps even over vanilla bean ice cream. Hungry yet? I know I am!

Today I’m making a delicious savory blueberry-basil sauce to serve over Alaskan King salmon. This sauce would also be good with chicken or pork.

blueberry-basil sauce

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces of fresh blueberries
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1-2 tablespoons local raw honey (optional)
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

PREPARATION

1. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two and then add the shallots. Continue to sauté for a few more minutes, until they have softened.

2. Add the balsamic vinegar, basil and salt. Heat everything over medium heat until the liquid begins to thicken and bubble.

3. Stir in the blueberries and continue to heat mixture over medium heat. The berries will pop and release their juice. If your berries are a bit tart, you can add honey to taste. Once the sauce begins to thicken again, it’s ready to go over your salmon.

Notes: Try adding tiny bit of chopped up candied ginger into the cooking preparation for a bit of spice. You could also use blackberries in lieu of the blueberries.

Update: I had about a 1/4-cup of leftover blueberry sauce so I added some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, stirred it all together and then pushed the fruit pulp through a sieve to strain. I used the strained liquid as a salad dressing, it was fantastic.

 

Mushroom Liver Pâté

I love pâté although I tend to only make it during the holidays or as a hostess gift. I have fond memories of Christmas’ past, where, if this was on the hors d’oeuvre table, my brothers and I would crowd around and gobble it all up before other guests arrived.

Why wait for a special occasion to roll around again? Since liver is so good for us, pâté should be enjoyed anytime!

This is a super easy recipe using mushrooms and can easily be modified to tweak the flavors. Think vinegar, pomegranate molasses, bacon, marsala, heavy cream, tart berries and/or fresh herbs. You can see by all the substitutions I made how easy it is to play with this recipe. You really can’t ruin pâté as long as you start with high-quality liver.

I chose to use grass fed beef liver, which is loaded with micronutrients. You can also use high-quality, free-range organic chicken liver, which is high in protein, iron and vitamins.

Note: it is essential to eat meat and organ meats from animals that have been raised on fresh pasture without hormones, antibiotics or commercial feed.

mushroom liver pâté

INGREDIENTS & PREPARATION

Heat 1/4 cup butter (I used duck fat) in large heavy-bottomed skillet. Add:

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, any kind (I used crimini)
1 lb chicken livers (I used grass fed beef liver)
1 tsp garlic salt (I used a fresh garlic stalk from the Farmer’s Market)
1 tsp paprika ( I used 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
1/3 cup chopped onions (I used shallots)

Cook gently for five minutes. Add:

1/3 cup white wine or cognac (I used Finn River Pear Wine with Apple Brandy & Cacao). Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Put cooked mixture in a food processor. Add:

1/2 cup butter
Salt to taste

Optional: pinch of dill

Blend in food processor until creamy. Transfer to a covered bowl or crock. Chill overnight. Makes 3 cups.

Great served with fresh or toasted baguette slices or celery sticks. (I’ve even tossed a couple tablespoons with gluten free pasta and tucked a dollop into scrambled eggs).

Bon appétit!

Chocolate Lavender Banana Bread

Banana bread is a childhood favorite, and nothing smells better than its delectable fragrance wafting through the house during baking. This recipe is grain free and has a dash of culinary lavender for a little extra zing.

banana bread

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing the baking dish
4 eggs from grass-fed/pastured chickens (or 3 duck eggs)
3 tablespoons local, raw honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (omit the lavender and use any flavored extract, orange-anise would be good!)
1/2 teaspoon raw coconut vinegar
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond meal, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup organic full fat coconut milk
3 ripe bananas
5 or 6 dates, pitted and finely chopped
optional: 1/4 teaspoon culinary lavender, finely ground
optional: 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a paper towel to grease the sides and bottom of a loaf pan with coconut oil.

Place the 2 tablespoons coconut oil, eggs, honey, vanilla and vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat on high for 30 seconds.

Add the coconut flour, sifted almond flour, baking soda, sea salt and optional lavender to the wet mixture, then bear on high until combined. Stop mixer and scrape sides once with a spatula, if need be, to ensure all dry ingredients get mixed into the batter.

Place the coconut milk and bananas in a smaller bowl and smash with the back of a fork until bananas are fully mashed.

Ad the banana mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with chocolate chips, if desired. Bake 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Transfer loaf to wire cooling rack to cool completely before storing or serving.

Rhubarb Custard

Last week, I made a wonderful, savory ginger-rhubarb compote, so this week, I’m leaning towards the sweet. I love custard and thought the sweet, creamy egg mixture would pair nicely with tart rhubarb. I was right, it’s delicious!

Technically, rhubarb is a vegetable, even though it’s habitually referred to as “the first fruit of the season.” It’s pretty simple to cook with and contains plenty of vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium. Rhubarb can be used in a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. It’s is easy to grow, so if you have the space, give it a go and cook with it fresh from the garden!

rhubarb custard

INGREDIENTS

Step One:

4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup organic sugar (I used ‘Aunt Patty’s Honey Crystals’)
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Step Two:

3 eggs
1 cup organic full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon Divine Desserts aromatic spice blend

PREPARATION

Step One:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

To prepare the rhubarb, trim and discard any leaves. Wash stalks just before using and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour and lemon juice and place ingredients into buttered baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

Step Two:

Beat eggs in a bowl. Blend in coconut milk, butter and spice blend. Pour over hot rhubarb and bake an additional 20 minutes. Custard should be golden and firm to touch.

Serve warm or room temperature.

Note: if you prefer a sweeter dessert, use an additional 1/4 sugar in step one.

 

Ginger-Rhubarb Compote

The following compote was inspired by Canal House’s Pork Belly with Gingery Rhubarb Compote. Having now paired it numerous ways—with pork belly, duck breasts, steak, chicken and salmon—it has been outstanding every time! Yikes, I cannot stop eating this!!

ginger-rhubarb compote

INGREDIENTS

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins (substitutions okay, try dark-sweet cherries, dried apricots or peaches)
1/4 cup raw coconut vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed, sliced 1/2-inch thick

PREPARATION

Combine brown sugar, raisins, vinegars and ginger in a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Add rhubarb to skillet and stir to coat. Cook, stirring as needed to avoid scorching, until rhubarb is tender and liquid is syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Note: Compote can be made five days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat before using.

Sautéed Chive Buds and Leeks

My chives plant, now in its second year, has gone crazy with buds so I’ve prepared a light stir-fried chive bud dish. My goal, deliciousness and simplicity—and let me tell you, this was right on the mark—super fragrant and flavorful. It would also be good with the addition of ginger. Here, I’ve topped a nice piece of beef, but this would be just as awesome with chicken, white fish, scallops or jumbo shrimp.

sauteed chive buds and leeks

INGREDIENTS

1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon corn starch (mixed)
1/2 cup chive buds
1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon anchovy sauce (okay to substitute fish sauce)
1/2 tablespoon coconut aminos (okay to substitute oyster sauce)

PREPARATION

Mix the corn starch with water, set aside.

To prepare leeks, cut off and discard the dark green parts that are tough. Trim off the little beards at the bottom. Slice as thin as possible.

Heat up a skillet and add in the olive oil and garlic. Add in the leeks and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add in the chive buds and continue to stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Buds should remain crunchy.

Add in the seasoning (rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, anchovy sauce and coconut aminos) and the corn starch water.

Do a quick stir for 30 seconds, dish up and serve hot atop quinoa or a piece of meat or fish.

Meyer Lemon & Blood Orange Roast Chicken

I love Meyer Lemons and look forward all year to their availability. I do not care for oranges and never eat them, but for some reason, I do like blood oranges – at least to cook with – I have yet to eat one raw. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to find both at Sunny Farms.

I decided to roast chicken covered in slices of Meyer lemons – sounds good, right?! At the last second I added blood orange segments and I cannot tell you how amazing this dish turned out. Not to mention, my house smelled divine the entire time it was in the oven. The fruit caramelized and was so delicious with the chicken. This dish turned out better than I anticipated and I will definitely make it again. And again.

Next time I might sprinkle it with something green, maybe a little fresh thyme or parsley…

meyer lemon roast chicken

INGREDIENTS

3-4 chicken thighs (breasts would work too)
2 Meyer lemons, washed and thinly sliced
1 blood orange, peeled and segments separated
Sea salt

For the sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons local raw honey

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Cover the chicken completely with slices of lemon and orange segments, and then pour the sauce over the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for 35-45 minutes. Check in the last 10 minutes and spoon cooking juices over chicken if need be.

Serve the chicken topped with the hot lemon and orange slices.

Meyer lemon and blood orange roast chicken

Have a bigger family or guests for dinner? Simply use a bigger roasting pan and increase ingredient quantities to compensate for additional pieces of chicken.