Valencia Oranges and Thyme

31 Mar


Flank SteakWe are a grill-loving family. Whatever the season, the ingredient, the occasion, we love to torch up the gas and load up the grate. Everything tastes better when it’s cooked outdoors over fire, it’s quick as a snap and clean up is no problem.

My friend Stephanie makes this flank steak, marinated in a plastic bag with tons of garlic, huge sprigs of herbs (how amazing is that? no chopping, just fragrance and flavor) and sliced red onions. If you’re the one to put it on the grill, she shouts, “Don’t shake anything off!” She’s vehement, and will repeat the order incessantly until you understand: Every stick of thyme and hunk of aromatic must stay on the roast while it grills. What happens is that a gorgeous, charred, pungent crust forms on the meat, and burnt little bits of flavor intensify what is already succulent and divine. It’s pretty smart, so I borrowed it, added some orange peel and juice from my farm box to make it my own, and practiced my “no shaking” growl. If you serve this up with chimichurri sauce you’ll double the flavor magic.

Grilled Flank Steak with Oranges, Thyme and Garlic

Serves 4

1 flank steak, trimmed

1 Valencia orange

1 bunch of thyme

1 head of garlic, cloves separated, skin removed, pressed flat with the side of a chef’s knife

Olive oil, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper

Place the flank steak in a gallon bag with a seal. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off of the orange, avoiding going too deep and reaching the bitter pith. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice, adding to the bag along with the orange peel. Add the garlic cloves and a good drizzle of olive oil to the bag. Generously season the steak with salt and pepper.

Seal the bag and refrigerate for 2 hours or as long as 24. Remove the bag from the refrigerator a half hour before preparing the grill. Heat a gas or charcoal grill, or grill pan, to medium high heat (about 400 degrees.) Place the steak on the grill, retaining as much of the herbs and garlic in the marinade on the surface of the steak. Cook until char marks form, about 5 minutes, then turn and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Steak will be cooked to rare to barely medium rare. Move the steak to the cooler side of the grill, pour remaining marinade over the steak, and cover and cook to desired temperature, about 5-7 minutes for medium rare, 10 minutes for medium. Remove from the grill and rest for 10 minutes, then slice into very thin slices across the grain to serve.






Green Beans and Tomatoes

27 Feb

green beans with sundried pesto2Our family was hit hard with the bug. Just like the mighty sequoias we had visited the week before, we went down in a huge way. Standing one moment, felled the next. One after another. It was urgent and devastating and all encompassing, but after we headed into recovery, we all had the same experience: Nothing tasted good. We craved little but water and tea. We checked in with our appetites and reviewed our greatest hits: Lasagna? Meh. Roasted chicken? So complicated. Salad? Forget about it, too much chewing. The one thing we had in common is that everything we tried tasted like cotton candy, cloying and sweet, even without the presence of sugar. The flavor note that finally struck for us was umami.

Umami is that distinct savory, earthy flavor that is found in glutamate-rich foods. We found that miso soup and avocado rolls survived our whacked-out palates, a soup of coconut broth, fish stock, bok choy and packaged potstickers,  and, surprisingly, this dish of roasted green beans, sundried tomato pesto and charred cherry tomatoes.



Green Beans with Sundried Tomato Pesto and Charred Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 4


1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half (about 3 cups)

Olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained of oil

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the green beans on a sheet pan evenly, and season generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, turning occasionally, until the green beans brown slightly and turn bright green, about 20 minutes. Green beans are ready when they are tender, but crisp.

On a separate sheet pan, spread the tomatoes on the pan evenly, and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the tomatoes start to char and pop, and the juices start to caramelize, about 30-40 minutes. Shake pan occasionally to redistribute tomatoes and char evenly.

In a food processor, mini prep processor or blender, combine the sundried tomatoes, garlic, thyme, balsamic vinegar along with a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, gently combine the green beans, charred cherry tomatoes and sundried tomato pesto with a set of tongs. Taste for seasoning, place on a large platter and enjoy.

green beans with sundried pesto

Zucchini and Rainbow Chard

15 May
Cooking the rainbow chard ribs and onions to fill the grilled zucchini boats

Cooking the rainbow chard ribs and onions to fill the grilled zucchini boats

Need some inspiration? When you’re cooking seasonally, it can be challenging to see the same ingredients at the farmer’s market, but sometimes you have to think outside of the (CSA) box. The items in this recipe could have easily been a pasta sauce or chile, but turned into a one-dish meal, easy to prepare in advance and throw in the oven on a busy week night.

I made several of these zucchini boats to share with my friends

I made several of these zucchini boats to share with my friends

Grilled Zucchini Boats with Rainbow Chard and Turkey

Serves 4

2 large zucchini (or 3 small)

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 cup diced onion

1 bunch of rainbow chard, ribs torn from the leaves, well washed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 pound ground turkey

1 teaspoon each of fresh chopped thyme and oregano

1 15-ounce can of organic diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

When you grill the zucchini, just lightly char them.

When you grill the zucchini, just lightly char them

Heat a grill or grill pan. Trim the ends of the zucchini, then split lengthwise into halves. Using a spoon, gently scoop the seeds from the center of the zucchini, being careful not to go too deep or break the “boat.” Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place zucchini on the grill and cook just to mark with grill marks, then turn to mark the other side. Do not allow the zucchini to soften or overcook. Remove from grill and place in a 9 X 9 baking dish and set aside.

Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet and add onions, cooking at a low heat until onions soften. Meanwhile, slice the ribs from the chard into 1/4-inch slices and add to the onion. Stack the leaves of the chard on top of each other, roll into a cylinder, and slice thinly. Add the chard leaves and garlic to the onion mixture, and cook all of the vegetables together until soft. Add the ground turkey, thyme and oregano, stirring to break up the turkey into small pieces. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, then continue to cook until turkey has browned, stirring occasionally.  Add the canned tomatoes, and stir together, then bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes start to taste sweet and thicken. Taste for additional salt and pepper.

Drape the turkey sauce over the grilled zucchini

Drape the turkey sauce over the grilled zucchini

Place the turkey mixture on top of the grilled zucchini and top with Parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake the zucchini boats, or heat oven to 350 degrees and bake with an aluminum foil cover for 20 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake until the cheese melts and browns, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

You can turn this into a vegetarian dish by substituting cooked lentils for the ground turkey. Vegan? Leave off the cheese

You can turn this into a vegetarian dish by substituting cooked lentils for the ground turkey. Vegan? Leave off the cheese

Meyer Lemons & Oregano

13 Apr


I don’t truss my chickens. I know that it breaks cardinal rules of roasting whole birds. Long ago, I learned to truss, and never saw a difference in cooking time, tenderness or flavor, so I stopped. Yes, I prepare my birds with lots of love, massaging them with salt and oil, letting them rest before and after roasting, rubbing them with piquant herbs and ample seasoning. But tying them into straight-laced submission stopped making sense. Now I roast in a whole different, flagrant method: First, I cut out the backbone, and the wings, which I freeze to make stock later. Then I place them spread eagle on a flat roasting rack on top of a baking sheet. The only way I can describe this method is by calling it “slutty.” I mean it in the fondest of ways, like the girl who didn’t always follow the norm in high school, but got everyone’s attention and definitely made us trussed up girls wish we were a bit bolder. I can guarantee that its immodest display exposes the bird’s skin in a way that makes it succulent, crisp and golden, a definite goal of the most popular girl in class.

Slutty Lemon & Oregano Roasted Chicken

I use Meyer lemons in this recipe, but if they aren’t available, any other type of lemon is suitable. If fresh oregano is not available, use a good quality dried oregano and reduce it by half. The chicken cut is similar to a spatchcock method, without being pressed flat, search a YouTube tutorial online if you’d like more information. Chicken cut in this method roast more quickly than whole birds. In addition, taking the chicken out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes brings it closer to room temperature and lessens roasting time. You can use any combination of herbs, such as rosemary, sage, or thyme, and any type of citrus zest, like orange or lime that you wish.

Serves 4


1 whole 4-pound chicken

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Zest of one whole Meyer lemon

2 tablespoons of fresh oregano


Place chicken, breast side up, on a large cutting board (I prefer plastic so I can wash and sanitize it in the dishwasher.) Remove the wings by cutting at the joint, either with a kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife. Turn the chicken breast side down, then cut along the backbone, either with a pair of kitchen shears, starting at the thigh and working up toward the neck, or using a very sharp chef’s knife. Put the backbone and wings into a plastic freezer bag and freeze to make into stock at another time. Turn the chicken and cut the backbone out on the opposite side. Place the chicken breast side up on a flat cooking rack inserted into a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper, over the skin and underneath the chicken.  Allow chicken to come closer to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375. Zest the skin of the Meyer lemon, mince the oregano, and distribute over the skin of the chicken, rubbing in to coat the breast, thighs and underside of chicken. Cut the zested lemon into wedges and distribute in the roasting pan. Once oven is heated and the chicken has warmed up a bit, place the chicken in the oven and roast for 75 minutes, or until the skin is brown, the juices between the thigh and breast run clear when pierced with a knife, and the thigh registers at 160 degrees with a probe thermometer.

Remove the chicken from the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Rest for 10 minutes, then slice to serve.


Valencia Oranges, Arugula and Dried Medjool Dates

7 Apr

date salad

Did I mention that I’m a fruit-as-a-savory-ingredient person? When my farm box is packed with greens, citrus and dried fruit, it only makes sense to put them all together.

Orange, Date, Feta and Arugula Salad


5 oranges

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Olive oil, salt and pepper

¼ sweet Maui onion, cut into slices

1 12-ounce bag of washed arugula leaves

1 cup dates, pits removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (well drained if packed in brine)


Cut four oranges into segments by cutting the top portion (about an inch) of the orange off, then the bottom portion (about an inch) and then cutting the skin away from the sides. Cut the orange into slices crosswise, then cut those slices into quarters, removing any seeds and excess pith.

Squeeze the juice from the fifth orange into a large bowl, then add Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper to the juice. Slowly drizzle in ½ cup of olive oil while rapidly whisking the juice, until dressing is combined and thick. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

In a large bowl, mix half of the dressing with the arugula and onion slices, and gently toss together. Layer the oranges, dates and feta cheese on top, drizzling with more dressing, then serve.

Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, Spring Onions & Basil

6 Apr

DSC00577It’s been exciting to see the signs of spring in Southern California. In our 68 degree beach weather, the changes are far more subtle than in other parts of the country, but the night jasmine blooms, citrus blossoms scent the air, pops of color brighten garden planters. We see early harvest tomatoes and strawberries, asparagus and spring onions in the farmer’s markets. And we move from hearty stews and soups to lighter fare, like this quick and easy frittata.

Asparagus, Cherry Tomato, Spring Onion and Basil Frittata

Serves 4


Olive oil

bunch of asparagus, trimmed

1 pint cherry tomatoes

4 green onions, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper

8 eggs

8 basil leaves, torn into pieces

4 slices of fresh mozzarella, 1/4″ thick

Directions: Heat the broiler on high heat. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil, and add the asparagus, tomatoes and onions. Cook until the vegetables begin to brown, then add the garlic, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Crack the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the vegetables into the skillet and mix together. Allow the eggs to set, then using a spatula, lift the edges of the cooked egg up and away from the sides, allowing the uncooked eggs to run under. Continue to cook until the eggs are almost set, then top the eggs with basil and cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper, then set under a broiler until the cheese is melted and the top of the frittata is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the cheese to set for about 5 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.

Root Vegetables

21 Jan

carrots, red beets, white potatoes and parsley

When winter sets in, the best of the local farms, even those with extended growing seasons, will have a predominance of root vegetables to offer. No late tomatoes from the hoop house, no summer squash. In California, all of those crops have gone south to Mexico for the winter. Now we see these earthy, winter jewels in the farmer’s markets and CSA boxes: mature carrots and potatoes, beets of every color, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery root.  Late winter can be monotonous, after you’ve received box after box of root vegetables, and options for cooking them seem to run out, but truthfully, there is one tried-and-true way to prepare the earth’s tubers: roast them.

Once you get started, the options become endless. The easy part is paring the skin with a vegetable peeler (though that combined with chopping them can be not-so-easy on wrists, power through, they are worth it), then cutting them into chunks of equal size. Douse them in sufficient olive oil and enough salt and pepper to appeal to the eye, then tuck them into a 350 degree oven, turning every 10 minutes or so. For the most part, they will tell you when they are done, with a slight brown edge and a pucker of flesh, but you can also pierce them with a fork or paring knife, or better yet, eat a chunk. Most vegetables take 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the cut.

Then come the options: Chopped herbs? Thick sliced shallots and garlic? A finish of vinaigrette at the end of cooking? A pesto rub before roasting? How about a honey or sugar glaze?

Use your imagination, go without a recipe, take some time to experiment with roasting, and enjoy the cozy comfort of these earthy winter gifts.


chioggia beets, turnips and carrots with thyme