Sunday, June 27, 2010

This Year's Summer Drink

A hot day, and tall cool glass of MINT water. That's the ticket. Mint Water you ask!?
Try it. Incredible fast. Incredibly easy. Incredibly delicious.
You'll need to find liquid STEVIA. A sweetener from the leaf of the Stevia plant. The only sweetener that doesn't negatively effect the body. You can find it at the health food store, and lately at many grocery stores in the health food section.

Summery Minty Water

Half gallon/1 liter of filtered water
3-4 long sprigs of fresh mint
10+ drops of Stevia liquid, to taste.

Place mint sprigs in bottle, fill with water and a few ice cubes. Add Stevia drops.
Drink. Sit back in your chair and smile.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2 more things money can't buy...
true love and........
home grown tomatoes...

Summer Tomato Pie

Don't you just wait for the taste of a sun-filled, grown-in-the-dirt, summer tomato. We eat so many raw, I am always looking for another way to use them.
Here is an English (as in the country) adapted classic French recipe I adapted again!
Great as a starter or a meal with a huge summer salad tossed with freshly made, mustardy vinaigrette...

Summer Tomato Pie

One pre made pastry shell, or you can make your favorite recipe.

3Tbl (soupspoons) sour cream or creme fraiche
2Tbl (soupspoons) Dion mustard (yes, it is different)
10-12 large tomatoes, cored, peeled and sliced
sea salt
ground black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
olive oil to drizzle on top

Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C.

Line with baking paper a 12inch/30 cm push-up-bottom tart pan. Or use a quiche pan. Place rolled out pastry in pan.

Mix together creme fraiche/sourcream with Dijon mustard. Spread over pastry base.
Arrange in a fold-out-card fashion the tomato slices around the pan to fill. I usually start at the outside edge and work my way INTO the center in a circular fashion.
Season with seasalt and pepper.
Strip thyme leaves off stalks. Scatter leaves on top.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Serve warm or cold. But don't leave overnight or the pastry will get soggy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


A french spring & summer favorite full of zucchini/courgette, eggplant/aubergine, onions and tomatoes...

1 large eggplant/aubergine, chopped large
4 large zucchini or 8 small ones (I prefer the small ones), chopped large
2 onions, chopped large
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 pound/1.5kg tomatoes, chopped large
1 bunch fresh parsely,and/or basil, leaves and sprigs
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot, over medium heat. Fry chopped onions until they begin to get translucent. Stirring, add minced garlic.
Layer on top of this all the chopped eggplant/aubergine, parsley/basil & salt then zucchini/courgette, more parsley/basil (whole) & salt, then tomatoes.
Move to a small burner on LOW heat.
Let simmer slowly until liquidy and all vegetables are soft, about 1-2 hours. This can simmer for hours and hours. Some say, the longer the better. If it simmers for a very long time it will oxidize and get a brownish color. This is more than OK, it is sought after... although we can never wait that long to eat!

When ready to eat, stir well, take out sprigs of parsley and/or basil.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Serve warm. It is great with rice or lentils or meat, and Red Cabbage Salad!

Remember "Sun Tea"?!

Sun Tea
Lipton's answer to Nestea. I remember these ads from my childhood. Then one summer I went home and my Mum was making... Sun Tea! Pitcher of tap water, throw some tea bags in it, cover top with a plastic bag and put in the sun for a few hours.

Recently I brought Sun Tea into today's generation...

Use your favorite Yogi Tea, I used 3 bags of Sweet Chai plus 1 bag of Classic. Put in a glass pitcher, fill with filtered water. Let sit in sun for a few hours.
Sweeten with liquid Stevia.

Stevia is a sweetener that is merely powdered leaves. Or, if in liquid form, made liquid. Unlike Agave syrup, the other natural sweetener, it will not play with your blood sugar, and it is indeed an alkalizing, raw product. I use it everyday in my coffee too. Use it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can really call these "healthy indulgence"... which is another musing for another time. I thank my friend Laura for that beautiful description of my "type" of cooking. Just look at the ingredients and see that they are harmless, harmless, harmless yet again I had kids asking me to give the recipe to their Mums. Love that, and so will you....

1 cup (200ml) coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
2 eggs
1 1/4cups (155 grams) organic cane sugar
1 cup (125 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp/coffee spoon sea salt
2 Tbl/soup spoons vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) flour
1 tsp/coffee spoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips or one large dark chocolate bar broken/cut into small pieces

Pre-heat oven to 325F/160C.
Line 2 baking sheets with baking/parchment paper.

In medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredient - oil, eggs and vanilla.
In another medium bowl mix dry ingredients - flour, baking soda,sea salt, cocoa powder, sugar.
Using a rubber spatula, carefully blend wet ingredients into dry.
Gently fold in chocolate pieces/chips until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

If the batter seems to loose or liquidity to make cookie, keep adding 2 spoons of flour until it gets to a firmer consistency. (I'll adjust this measurement in my future trials).
With a spoon, scoop onto cookie sheets 5 cm/1 inch apart. You can gently press with the heel of your hand to flatten OR round them a bit into little balls with your fingers to make a puff-ier" cookie.

Bake cookies on center rack for 12-14 minutes, rotate pan 180degrees after 9 min., if you can remember.
Let the cookies stand on the sheet for a good 10 min before moving to a wire rack to cool- if they aren't eaten already.....

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

For a egg & gluten free version of this recipe, ask!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fill your self up. Feelin'the Love.

I have a friend who inspires me. Well, actually I have many. The one I am thinking of someone who is so often full of love, and talking about it, it is inspiring. This person is not a soft, wisp of a woman either. He is a "man's man" if one can still use that term.

Recently I was back in Massachusetts for my 25th college reunion (MHC). Where I was with 100 women who inspire me. Just before I was at my parents home, loving up my 77 yr old Dad, after his multiple hip injuries. I saw this friend, and his wife a few times, and each and every time I came away thoughtful about how I put forth myself in the world. What energy do put out there? Is it loving? Understanding? Helpful? Caring? Light or heavy? And how do I receive? With pleasure or pain? As always when I leave him I get the salutation "Feel the love."

So then I end up at my pre-reunion dinner. 25 of the MHC Goodtime Girls. And you know what? ALL of us, each an every one of we 47 yr old women-married or single, with or without kids, partnered with men or women, employed or not, social worker or business exec., were talking about the same thing. Being filled up. And I am not talking about our wine glasses, although they were full too!

We were so filled up with love and understanding, and inspired by one another that it was a powerful force that left that small college campus and went back out into the world. Now the question has arisen- how do we keep ourselves "filled up"?
We can, it is universally, emotionally and spiritually possible.

SO, what fills you up? A smile from someone you love? Giving a smile to some you love or maybe someone you really do NOT love in that moment. Hearing the wind in your newly planted bamboo? Making a new recipe? Helping someone who needs you. Suddenly realizing that you are in this moment with this person for this reason. Discovering, yet again, that YOU are in control of where you want to go and who you want to be.... no one else, no matter how important they are to you. Only from within you do you realize the peace, happiness, and fulfillment that is already there. And the best kind of inspiration, that knowing that comes from deep down that this moment is right.

You only get what you give. At reunion, and with my friend, we all gave and gave and gave... and so, we were filled up. Think about it.

MHC Goodtime Girls, this one is for you. Thank you. You lift me up and remind me how high I soar.

2010's Summer "Salad"

Every summer my family and I seem to choose our favorite "salad' that usually serves as a meal in itself. Last year it was the previously posted Quinoa Salad. Still my, and our friends' kids favorite, but my family is tired of quinoa. As with the Quinoa Salad this salad is also incredibly flexible. Subsitute any cooked meat or any other type of cheese you have on hand. I'll give you my first "invention" of this meal, when I had 3 kids under 4 eating it in huge spoonfuls, and asking me to give thier Mom's the recipe! (Thanks Louise, Lucas and Alexis!)

Ham, Tomato &  Green Bean Salad

4 large handfuls green beans
3-5 thick, large slices of ham, or enough to feed your group based on the size of your slices
3 medium sized tomatoes
A good sized piece of hard sheep (brebis) cheese- You can also try feta, cheddar, emmental/swiss. We try to keep to sheep and goat cheese in our house.

Bring salted water to a boil. Cut off ends of beans and cut inot small pieces (1/4inch/1 cm). Place in boiling water and cook green beans until they are to the consistency you like (we like them soft but holding thier shape well). Drain and leave to cool.
Cut ham, tomatoes and cheese into small pieces and place in big serving bowl.
Add green beans.
Drizzle a generous amouont of olive oil, don't be shy. I use around 1/3 cup.
Sprinkle with seasalt to taste.
Serve. I usually serve with bread or a tortilla or romaine salad leaves to wrap it in... Use your imagination and make sure you give the kids a spoon to shovel in thise greens beans!

Cocktail/Aperitif Meatballs

These aren't the lightest or healthiest things I have ever posted, but they sure are good. They are, once again, served at cocktail hour to my French neighbors & friends in my quest to open the french world to great American cooking! I adapted these, out of necessity of lack of ingredients, from my friend Tani's recipe.

Tani's Meatballs

1 lb (500grams) ground lamb or beef, with a bit of fat on it, not too lean
(You can choose to mix this with sausage/farci meat if you like)
1 cup grated (rape) emmental or swiss cheese
1 package feta cheese, broken or cut into as small pieces as you can cut
Old/hard bread or breakfast biscuits,to make 1 cup ground -you can substitute fine polenta or semolina in a in a pinch
1 tsp (coffee spoon) flax seeds or 2 tsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp seasalt

Pre-heat oven to 350F/175C.
Grind up bread and flax in food processor to make it inot fine crumbs.
Combine all ingredients in large bowl, by HAND. Squeeze into 1 inch/2 cm balls. It is important to squeeze them well so they don't fall apart in the cooking.
Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Artichoke Dip ("Almost fat-free"!!)

I dont know about you, but I stopped eating Artichoke Dip when I was around 18. It was then i started to literally feel all that mayonnaise inside me. For me, it came out as greasy skin! Having now been living in France close to 3 years (OMG!) I have found a new interest in these American favorites. The French are always looked at as a race that appreciates good food - true, good taste - true, and good quality ingredients... not always true. What I have found is that French families, like American families, are looking for good healthy food, and the time to make it. Maybe this interest is a pride of American cooking, taste and innovation, while I add my own quality and time standards.

This is a take on a low fat Martha Stewart recipe. I'll soon post another non-mayo version! Serve this with raw veggies (crudites) and/or small toasts of baguette. Actually serve it whatever you have, it will be eaten!

Artichoke Dip

2 cans of artichoke hearts, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/4 cup + 1 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl (soupspoon) fresh lemon juice(keeps it from oxidizing and turning brown)
1 clove garlic, chopped fine or grated
1 scallion/green onion chopped

Pre-heat oven to 425F/210C.
In blender or food processor, place 1`can of artichokes, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic and puree.
Add 2nd can of artichokes and scallions. Pulse only to combine. Leave in small chunks.
Place in a 1 quart/1 liter baking dish (I used glass), top with another 1 T of Parmesan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.