Sesame Cookies

I originally posted this recipe back in October of 2012! They came to mind because I love baking them for the Jewish holidays so my house has been smelling of sesame of late. This time I mixed black and white sesame seeds, which is a lot prettier, especially on a cookie platter.  I also skipped the first refrigeration step and just balled them and rolled them in the seeds, put them on a quarter sheet pan in the fridge for an hour then baked.  Voila! Delicious.

Sensational Sesame Cookies – with black and white sesame seeds.

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Click here to view recipe.

Marilyn at Jaffa with Tel Aviv in the background

Our airplane bound for Israel this past September landed in the beautiful capital of Tel Aviv. I had never really spent much time in this cosmopolitan city so we quickly checked into our little hotel near Dizengoff Square and started on foot to explore the area. Around the corner was Amelia, a wonderful cafe serving delicious, traditional Israeli fare. We walked along the beach to Jaffa, an ancient port city and the place where “Jonah and the Whale” purportedly transpired – although we didn’t see whales. The sun was blistering and hot, and for the two weeks we vacationed in Israel I lived in tank tops, sun dresses and sandals.

The food in Israel? Let’s just say (and I am whispering this) … it is my favorite food of all time and of all places. Yes, I love it even more than Italian food. I mean, oranges being squeezed and sold as juice to passersby, vegetables of every shape and size – prepared in countless ways, fresh chopped salads and cheese for breakfast. Oh yeah, I loved it. And, to my delight, we found sesame seeds everywhere and in many dishes – sesame sauce, humus or just sesame seeds sprinkled about. I love sesame in all its forms: sesame oil, sesame seeds plain or roasted and sprinkled on top of olive oil coated vegetables, Halvah , Tahina (a traditional paste made from sesame seeds – commonly called “Tahini” in the United States )… you name it.

Halvah at a Jerusalem market – a local sesame seed/honey confection (pistachio is my favorite!)

In the upper Galilee (that you will read about in next week’s post), we saw Tahina being made up close and personal – watching toasted sesame seeds transformed before our eyes into the most decadent paste – we even tasted it as it dripped off the machine. All I can say is: wow. Intense. Tahina by itself is a little bitter tasting so it needs added sweet or savory items so that it can be the star.

I happen to also love peanut butter cookies, so I resurrected this recipe that originally came from Gourmet Magazine before it’s premature demise. As usual I have rewritten the directions and tweaked the quantities. I find that these tahina and sesame seed-laden little gems add some interest and beauty to a traditional cookie platter. As I have written before I am not one to make a fuss or take a long time to make or bake a thing. And these happily fit into my parameters: they are easy, different and fun to make. Who says? I says!

Says-a-me Cookies

Says–a–me Cookies

Yield: almost 2 ½ dozen. OK, I ate some of the raw dough … forgive me. After all, it doesn’t contain raw egg.

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Ingredients:
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup well-stirred Tahina – room temperature (I use Joyva brand roasted Tahina)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free double acting)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup or a little more sesame seeds to roll the cookies
Instructions:

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about one minute. Add the sugar and keep mixing for another two minutes until pale yellow. Add vanilla and Tahina and continue beating for another 30 seconds.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in two batches, mixing until combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a disk–cover with plastic wrap. The dough should come together well and feel like soft playdough. Chill the mixture for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Remove the saran wrapped packet from the refrigerator and form smooth, 1-inch balls of the dough and roll each ball in sesame seeds – ensuring each cookie is coated all over. Place the formed, rolled balls onto a waxed paper lined small tray, cover well with foil and refrigerate another hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place dough balls (they will now be firm) onto the cookie sheets, leaving three inches between the balls. I fit 12-15 on each cookie sheet.

Bake, with racks in the middle of the oven and switch the position of the two sheets halfway through baking. The cookies should be puffed and starting to crack, 12 to 15 minutes total.

Remove from the oven and cool on cookie sheets 10 minutes (cookies break easily), then transfer from parchment to a rack to cool completely. Eat and enjoy.

Notes:

These taste like halvah so if you are a halvah lover MAKE THEM!!

If you have a convection mode on your oven, bake the cookies at 330 convection for 14 minutes. You won’t need to switch the position of the cookie sheets with this feature.

The cookies keep for up to five days in a sealed container at room temperature or can be frozen for up to two months.

If the Tahina has separated when you open the jar or can, try to whisk it to emulsify. If you are impatient (like me) you can also dump the contents of the can into the food processor to combine. Scoop back into the can or jar and measure away.

For added depth of flavor, toast the sesame seeds before rolling the cookies.

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Broccoli Cabbage Salad

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Broccoli Cabbage Salad

If you are Jewish, the fall season brings a lot of holidays and family meals.  Here in Seattle, the large meals usually take place at my daughter’s home since she has a large eating area and a lot of chaos on a good day.  She loves hosting the family no matter what the occasion.

This year, though, she was in the middle of a remodel, there were concerns about gathering indoors, and the bottom line is that I ended up hosting one of the family dinners.  We scaled it back to a smaller number and felt pretty good since everyone eligible is fully vaccinated.  

I made the main course, side dishes and cookies but sent the following recipe – a riff on a restaurant salad we once had – to Rachel and asked her to make it.  Because it contains broccoli and both red cabbage and arugula, it checked the boxes for both salad and vegetable!

This turned out to be the perfect salad for our meal.  I will keep it in the queue for winter since all the ingredients are easily available then.  The extra miso dressing is excellent along with any type of green salad or even drizzled over fish.

Broccoli Cabbage Salad

Serves 6

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Salad Ingredients:

5 cups broccoli florets, approximately the same size

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of garlic, grated (use your microplane!)

Big pinch of red pepper flakes or more depending on your heat tolerance

Salt and pepper

¼ of a medium-small head of red cabbage, very thinly sliced so it appears shredded

2-3 big handfuls of baby arugula

½ cup dry roasted roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped (I used dry roasted)

2 large scallions, thinly sliced, just the white part

About 4-5 Tbsp miso dressing below (keep the rest on the side)

Miso Dressing Ingredients:

2 tablespoons white miso

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons tamari sauce 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°F with the oven rack in the middle.

Place the broccoli florets on a parchment-lined rimmed cookie sheet.  Toss together (use your hands) with the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to coat and add about ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp fresh black pepper.

Roast the broccoli etc. for 25 minutes – the broccoli should still have a little “al dente” feel to it even though it has brown edges. Let it sit at room temperature.

In a large salad bowl, combine the cooked broccoli, raw arugula and raw red cabbage.  Add about two tablespoons of the dressing and gently toss to coat. Taste it and add more dressing as needed.  Serve at once sprinkling the top with the roasted peanuts, sliced scallions, and more dressing on the side.

PS: Even though the peanuts get soggy and the salad wilts, it still tasted mighty fine the next day for lunch!

 

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One Bowl Bittersweet Chocolate Bar Cookies

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Wonderful One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Bars!

It is summer and I seem to eat fewer baked goods – choosing instead a lot of fresh local fruit.  However, at times a girl has to have her chocolate.  And this girl doesn’t like to fuss with baking sheets of cookies.  Therefore, I went on a hunt for some chocolate chip bar cookies so everything could be baked in one fell swoop.  Along came this Allrecipes “Kirsten’s Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars”, and I went for it since the entire batter can be made in one bowl.

Kirsten, your basic recipe sounded enticing but I couldn’t help changing things up ever so slightly.  The main difference is that I browned my butter to give the final bars a more interesting flavor.  

I baked these in a 9 x 12 cake pan and ended up with 24 pretty large bars, half to keep and half to gift.  

One Bowl Bittersweet Chocolate Bar Cookies

Makes 24 pieces

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Ingredients
  • 2 sticks melted salted butter, browned 
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 2 cups (1 package) bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees  with the oven rack in the center.  Spray a 9 x 13 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

To make perfect brown butter – here’s a YouTube video that teaches you all the tricks!

Mix melted browned butter with brown sugar and white sugar in a bowl.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Stir until creamy.  Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together well and combine with the creamy butter mixture until well combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and even out the top.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean  Cool well.

Easy Peasy Cutting

I then loosen the edges with a spatula and cover the cake pan with a cutting board, then flip the entire pan upside down so when you lift up the cake pan the bottom side of the bars are facing up.  This is a much easier way to cut bar cookies!  Carefully cut into 24 pieces.  

Bars can be covered well and kept at room temperature for three days or frozen for up to two months in a sealed container. 

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The New Lunch Box

The Perfect (anti-pandemic) Sandwich

I don’t know a single soul whose life has not changed the past year and a half due to the global pandemic. That is intentionally typed out in light grey letters because my husband and I have chosen not to dwell on all the changes and negatives, but instead to just try to live our lives – albeit vaccinated.

Some of the ways our daily routines have been impacted?  I have resorted to a delivery service for many of my heavy grocery items such as milk, eggs, juice…things I don’t feel like hauling up the steps to my front porch.  At first delivery was out of precaution but now it is part of my routine. From time to time, I do go to farmers markets and my neighborhood small grocery store – I just can’t help getting my hands on fresh produce and the like..

Amazon?  I loved it before 2020 and I love it even more now.

Personal beauty needs?  I have never been a person consumed with my looks or with having facials, manicures and the like. I don’t wear pretty nail polish on my hands anyway and I file and paint my own toenails.  Haircuts have become few and far between – and that is OK. I love feeling self-sufficient.

Customer service?  I am talking about help from places such as my bank or from the airlines.  I don’t like it one bit, but I now expect to be called back hours later or not at all, and the representatives who are there to answer phones do not seem motivated to do a good job.  Yesterday my husband called to schedule a cardiology appointment and was told he would get a call back, and that he was the 10th person in line.  Sheesh.

Meals?  I really do not miss restaurants at all in Seattle (shhh).  A few places I used to go closed their doors over two years ago anyway, and now prices have become so high that the few times I have picked up or had food delivered, I couldn’t help but think how I don’t like paying, say, $50 including tip for grilled cheese sandwiches and a tiny cup of soup for two.  Yes, I feel awful for restaurant owners!  I feel horrible for all the small businesses here and elsewhere who have been forced to close as well.  Not buying prepared food from restaurants means that we are making three meals a day, seven days a week for the two of us – not to mention extra food I deliver to family and friends.  For me, it isn’t work.  For me, cooking is a pleasure and I am pretty efficient and creative to boot. 

Which brings me to the lunch box.  For a long time now, when we are in and out of the house, I’ve made a container of lunch food early in the day to grab on the go.  Usually there are sandwich halves, some type of yogurt or cottage cheese, fruit, cut up vegetables, homemade treats…you get the picture.  In all fairness, my husband does most of the clean up and all the household repairs as well so we are equal opportunity.

Last week I was feeling more creative than usual.  I took some sweet, dark, store-bought bread and slathered one half with grainy mustard.  I topped that with three slices of extra thick sliced Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese and covered it with thinly sliced dill pickles and caramelized onions I made earlier in the week.  Topped with another slice of bread, this concoction was grilled on the stovetop until the cheese was melty and the bread was crunchy.

Let me tell you, this is worth repeating.  Plus, it’s nice to know that good things do come out of a challenging year and a half.

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Baked Greek Gigante Beans

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Glorious Greek Gigante Beans

Years ago, I can’t recall exactly when, there was a good Greek restaurant called Plaka near my home. The owner of said restaurant was part of a large Greek family who all worked at the place, making authentic Greek food. One of the items on their menu, Greek Lima Beans, turned out to be one of my favorites and I vowed that someday I would try my hand at recreating this dish.

Fast forward to June of 2021.  For the past year and a half, I have cooked more than ever, more than I would care to admit.  And during one of my cooking sprees, I picked up some Butter Beans, another name for Large or Gigante Lima Beans.  I read the directions for Greek Baked Lima Beans on the back of the package, pulled up a couple of recipes I saved on my computer and started in.  I combined recipes of course, following the package but adding some warming spices and extra tomato and lemon and a dab of honey as suggested on various other sites.  

Such Simple Ingredients!

Version 1.0 ended with beans too soft because I made the beans in my pressure cooker to save time, and they overcooked so the entire dish was mushy but with good flavors. Version 2.0 ?  I followed the cooking instructions but changed the flavor profile a little and added a bit more juice.  Verdict? It is good!  My husband/chief food critic said I hit the mark and not to change a thing.

If you are a bean aficionado like me and like Mediterranean flavors, add this to your repertoire.   It is rich enough to count as a main dish, especially if you serve it with some good crumbled feta cheese and a drizzle of fruity olive oil at the end.  It is more of a thickened bean/vegetable stew! If you do not like beans, forget it.  Move on to something else!

Baked Greek Gigante Beans

Serves 4-6

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Ingredients
  •  8 ounces dried, large lima beans
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ of a large brown skinned onion diced ¼ inch
  • 1 large peeled carrot diced ¼ inch
  • 4 Campari tomatoes diced ½ inch (no need to seed or skin the tomatoes)
  • About 1 ½ tsp sea salt and ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground cloves
  • Crumbled feta
  • High quality olive oil 
Instructions

Soak the beans overnight – covered by about three inches of water – in a large enough pot to hold the final dish, hopefully one that is stovetop and oven safe.  Mine was 3-4 quarts.  The next morning discard any of the papery membrany outsides that float to the top then drain and rinse the beans with cold water.  Cover the drained beans with cold water two inches above the surface of the beans.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat so it is barely simmering, uncovered.  Continue to cook without covering the pot for 30-40 minutes until the beans are soft but not overcooked.  Reserve ¾ of a cup of liquid in which you cooked the beans.  Drain the beans and set aside while you continue in this same pot.  Wash and dry the pot. 

Ready to Eat!

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.  

Heat the same (now clean) 3-quart pot (as long as it’s oven safe) and then add the olive oil.  Add the onion and carrot and slowly sauté for five minutes.  Add the diced tomato and cook slowly for another five minutes.  Add in the drained beans along with the reserved bean liquid.  Add the lemon juice, parsley, oregano, honey, cinnamon and ground cloves.

Stir to mix everything together. Place the pot without a lid into the preheated oven for 75 minutes.  The top will form a “skin” and you will notice some bubbling as it thickens.  Remove from the oven and stir after 15 minutes, correct the salt and pepper if needed.  Serve warm in a sauce dish topped with feta cheese and good olive oil. 

 

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Stovetop Fish Cakes

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Fabulous Fish Cakes

I don’t know about you, but I love fresh fish.  Seattle is the right place for me — it is easy to find seasonal fresh fish in the fish markets here.  When I have my family for dinner, I usually prepare some type of seafood since none of us eat pork, we eat very very little red meat and we are sick of chicken.  

This past week I had my two kids who live here along with their households for Friday night dinner.  There were six adults, four kids who could feed themselves and 10 ½ month old twins who eat but need to have food cut up in tiny pieces.  My daughter came over in the morning and showed me how to sous vide the halibut I bought, then arrived early for dinner to demonstrate the searing of said fish.  Let me tell you, it was really buttery and moist!  I made six pounds of fish and thought I would have a lot left over, yet when all was said and done I had less than a pound of halibut left (the 5-year old girl ate three servings of fish, the babies did pretty well too, and the older kids ate like they had never seen food before). 

For the leftover fish, I pulled out my recipe for crab cakes, substituted shredded halibut chunks and in 10 minutes the patties were resting in the refrigerator, ready to be floured and fried and eaten with either a squeeze of lemon, some homemade aioli or homemade blueberry salsa from the night before.  

This basic recipe can be used with previously cooked salmon, crab meat (it is horribly expensive here so that is a non starter) or any other pre-cooked white fish that is a little firm.  

Stovetop Fish Cakes

Makes 4-6 cakes

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Fish Cake Ingredients
  • 1 lb halibut, shredded a bit with a fork 
  • 1 large leek, chopped into ¼ inch pieces (½ cup). You could use shallots but Jake had leeks growing in his garden!
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced dill, parsley, basil  or cilantro (your choice)
  • 1 ½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 2-4 Tbsp dry bread crumbs – start with 2 Tbsp and add more if you need the mix to stay firmer
  • ¼ cup mayo (mine is homemade)
  • Salt to taste but I didn’t add any
  • fresh ground white pepper
  • 1 whole egg
Frying Ingredients
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions

Mix halibut, leeks, fresh herbs, Old Bay, bread crumbs and mayonnaise in a small bowl – leave the lumps of fish a little intact.  Season with salt if needed and pepper to taste.  Carefully add one beaten egg just until the mix stays together.

Divide the mixture into 4-6 patties, about 3 inches across by 1 inch thick.  Put on a waxed paper lined rimmed tray and place in the refrigerator, covered with plastic, for  30 minutes or as long as 24 hours.

Ready for cooking

Put flour on a dinner plate. Lightly dredge each side of the fish cakes. Heat oil in a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Gently lay the chilled fish cakes in the skillet; pan-fry until the outsides are crisp and browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve hot, with or without salsa or aioli or sauce of your choosing.

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Fantastic Farro Fruit Bowls

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Four Fantastic Farro Fruit Bowls

Seattle’s average summer temperatures hardly ever reach 80 degrees, so in June when it was reported that we expected daytime heat to the tune of 95-110 degrees over a three to four day period, I couldn’t believe it.  But, knowing how crazy the weather is around the world, I finally did believe it and initially panicked that we didn’t have air conditioning in my 110 year old house, that we only had one medium sized fan and that there was no way I was firing up the oven or stovetop.  

I decided to plan ahead and to cook whatever we might need for a four-day period here.  A little grilled chicken, some egg bites, lots of fruits and vegetables that could be eaten at room temperature, grab and go breakfast bowls, beans…and then I had an idea. 

I remembered a recipe from about five years ago written by Ellie Krieger for a Layered Farro salad, aso I searched through my documents and was happily able to find it pretty quickly. Her formula included grapes for the fruit, and I chose to use Rainier cherries since our CSA box had arrived with a lot of this local delicacy.  I switched out the original kale with arugula since my husband is not a kale fan and we happened to have fresh arugula.  I used marinated red onions because I always avoid raw onions.  

Finally, I cooked the farro in my pressure cooker because who wants to spend an hour toiling over a hot stove when this took 12 minutes?  I made one cup of dried farro and set aside half of it when it was cooked; I used the remaining farro to compose four salads to “grab and go”, our new phrase for ready made food in the fridge.  Farro is one of my favorite grains and I will use the other half that I made as a side dish, adding sauteed mushrooms, cubed cooked squash and whatever I have that needs a home.

Fantastic Farro Fruit Bowls

Serves 4 

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup farro  
  • 2 Tbsp Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • About 1 ½ cups arugula, roughly chopped  
  • ¼ cup diced marinated red onion (see link
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice (fresh)
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • A few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 oz chopped feta cheese
  • 1 cup rainier or other fresh cherries – pitted and cut into 4 pieces
  • ¾ cups walnuts, lightly toasted
Instructions

Such Simple Ingredients

To cook the farro – rinse and make this in your Instapot or Pressure Cooker with three cups of water with a teaspoon of salt and a dash of oil for 12 minutes after it reaches pressure.  Release the steam, remove the farro, drain  and refrigerate until cooled off. Or you can make the farro stovetop according to the package directions.

Once the farro is cooled, reserve half for this recipe and save the remaining half for another time.

Meanwhile – roast your walnuts. I bake mine in a 350 degree oven until barely brown and fragrant, about five minutes. Cool to room temperature and chop into ¼ inch pieces. 

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Combine one half of the cooled farro, arugula, chopped onion, parsley and the lemon juice dressing

Find four clean 1 ½ cup wide mouth jars or containers.  First divide the farro mixture into fourths and put ¼ in the bottom of each jar. Next add the feta cheese, ¼ of the total to each jar.

Follow with cherries in each jar, and top each jar with ¼ of the toasted walnuts.

Put lids on these jars and refrigerate for up to three days.  When ready to eat, stir well to combine and enjoy the saltiness, the sweetness, the crunch and the chew.  Add more olive oil or lemon juice to taste.

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Sesame Salmon Pasta Salad (one more time)

I first posted this recipe over three years ago! But with the official start to our summer just a few days away – I thought this would be a great recipe reminder. It’s the perfect cool, colorful and comforting dish for this time of the year!

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Click here to view recipe.

Sumptuous Sesame Salmon Salad

Sumptuous Sesame Salmon Salad

The other morning while drinking my morning latte, I was flipping through old recipes — well, not actually flipping since my recipes are all on my computer.  Surfing.  Surfing through recipes.  And up popped this salad that was on my “list” during the 1990s when my middle son Daniel played high school baseball.  Potluck meals were de rigeur back then since games began late in the afternoon and often ended well after dinner.  Although there was a snack stand with hot dogs, chips and soda, some of us baseball moms brought more tasty, healthful dishes to share amongst ourselves.

This hearty “salad” was always a hit with the other parents – but also the kids!  And this week I resurrected the recipe for friends and family – serving it for a late Sunday lunch/dinner.  I didn’t mention to anyone that I was going to assess their feedback to test if this dish is still popular – but I’m happy to report that everyone raved about it. Just like back in the good old days…

Warning – I am well aware that some of you are mayonnaise averse.  Well, this custom-made mayo barely, barely coats the salad and tastes so different from the store bought stuff.  Give it a try.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present…..drum roll….Sesame Salmon Vegetable Pasta Salad. The nice thing – or I should say one of the nicest things – here is that the recipe makes a pretty large quantity.  Since I often eat lunch at home or pack it to go, nothing could be better.  Pair this with some fruit salad and marinated asparagus or broccolini and you will be happy campers. A couple of days later I was pressed for time and scooped a nice amount of this atop an arugula salad.  Divine!  Oh, and you can use leftover cooked chicken in lieu of salmon if you prefer.

Salmon Pasta Salad with Sesame Dressing

Makes almost 2 quarts, enough for 6-8 people

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Salad Ingredients
  • 1-2 cups poached, grilled, or sauteed salmon (leftovers work great)
  • 2 cups raw rotini pasta, cooked, cooled and drained (spiral tricolor pasta is visually great)
  • 1 ¼ c diced celery
  • 2 average carrots, peeled, matchstick-cut and blanched
  • ½ lb green beans, trimmed and blanched
  • 6 red radishes, cut into 8 wedges each (like you would cut an apple)
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, chopped or slivered
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Sesame Mayo Ingredients
  • 1 raw whole egg, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy (I use GMO free Tamari)
  • 1 ¼  Tbsp Dijon
  • 1 Tbsp + sesame oil
  • 1 cup canola oil
Instructions

Combine all the salad ingredients, leaving out the tomatoes and almonds.  They should be added at the end along with the below recipe for sesame mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Note I only used about half the Sesame Mayo – but you can use more if you like.

For the dressing – I make this exactly like I do homemade mayonnaise – instructions are here. A few extra notes though… Have all the ingredients at room temperature (this is very important).  Combine all the ingredients in a tall, narrow container.  Use an immersion blender and begin at the bottom, slowly bringing the wand to the top of the mix.  You will instantly have mayonnaise!

To serve the salad, if you want to look impressive, line a large platter with purple or curly kale.  Mound the salad in the middle and garnish the platter with hard boiled egg wedges, chopped parsley and extra almonds. I am sorry my picture isn’t what I am describing but by the time I had a chance to snap a photo a huge amount of the salad had been consumed!

The salad stays perfectly well in the refrigerator for up to four days if it lasts that long!

The leftover sesame dressing makes a fantastic dip for blanched or raw veggies too.

 

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Berry Cornmeal Pancakes

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Berry Berry Good Cornmeal Pancakes

I have decided that soft, warm pancakes are the perfect food for babies who are trying to feed themselves.  I tried this Smitten Kitchen recipe the other week to use up some nearly over ripe strawberries, and I loved that the pancakes were barely, barely sweet, that they had a nice texture from the cornmeal and that they were a little different.  They don’t look so pretty – it is hard to make them evenly round because of the chunks of strawberries (or other berries). Nonetheless, I marched up the hill and brought these to my son’s family of three boys, ages 3 , 10 months and 10 months.

I can tell you they were a hit with both the adults and their three sons.  So much so that I repeated this recipe the following weekend and delivered yet another batch of pancakes. 

These stand alone just fine, but can be topped with some plain yogurt, fruit syrup or maple syrup.  And I am thinking when corn season hits I will use the same formula, subbing corn kernels for berries.  Ditto zucchini season when I plan to shred, dry and add this to the pancakes.  Oh, and lots and lots of fresh garden herbs.  We have an abundance of fresh basil, tarragon and Italian parsley for heaven’s sake. Color me inspired!

Berry Cornmeal Pancakes*

Yield: 14 3-inch pancakes

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Pancake Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (105 grams) medium grind yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) salted butter
  • 1 cup (235 ml) plain kefir or buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (about 140 grams or 5 ounces) roughly chopped strawberries (I cut mine pretty tiny so they wouldn’t be a choking hazard)
Frying Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter for the skillet
  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil for frying the pancakes

*From Smitten kitchen with some changes, of course. And I used the weight measurements since that is always easier to clean up for me. 

Instructions

Melt the three tablespoons of butter in a 2-cup glass dish and set aside

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk. 

To the melted butter, whisk in kefir or buttermilk, followed by the eggs. Gently stir in strawberries. Pour strawberry-buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

In a large preheated cast iron skillet over medium low heat, put about two teaspoons of avocado oil and two teaspoons of butter and stir them together to combine.  Pour a scant ¼ cup of batter into the skillet for each pancake. I do three at a time.  

Fry them until the bottoms are golden and bubbles appear on top, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully flip pancakes and cook them until the second side is golden, about another minute. If there is some raw batter drifting out the  sides of the pancake when you first flipped it, flop it over again to the first side for another 30 seconds to ensure the extra batter cooks. Repeat with remaining oil/butter combo and add pancake batter.   If the skillet gets too hot or the butter browns too quickly, reduce the heat to low.

These can be put on a cookie sheet after they are made. To keep warm, cover them and place in a 200 degree oven.

Serve with a sift of powdered sugar, maple syrup or fruit topping.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Cobbler

Click here to view recipe.

Rhubarb Raspberry Cobbler – Ready for the Oven

I go a little crazy when it’s rhubarb season in Seattle!  It’s a limited time when these beautiful, crimson, celery-like shards of deliciousness show up in farmers markets and stores, and during the month or so when I can find young, tender rhubarb I take advantage of this tart fruit.  

Last week we walked to my son Jakey boy’s home to see his three sons before dinner, and Jake made a lovely rhubarb raspberry cobbler, topped with rounds of cornmeal biscuits.  It looked very professional, and I was duly impressed because Jake is an amazing cook but not typically enamored with baking desserts.  He doesn’t crave sweets, yet he tried this Melissa Clark iteration. Fortunately, he served us dessert before his chicken dinner and dished up bowls of this cobbler topped with decadent vanilla bean ice cream.  Between the sweet raspberries, tart rhubarb and textured topping it was sheer perfection.  

Needless to say, I went home and made this exact recipe two days later.  I served it to my two grandsons for dinner and when their parents returned from a date night they helped themselves to dessert as well.  All of us were so happy with the results that it will now have an honored spot in my rhubarb recipe rotation for the future.  

It’s Just THAT Good!

I had a leg up since Jake was the first to make this recipe.  He told me the amount of sugar was just right (I often back off on sugar) and suggested I put a cookie sheet under the baking dish since his cobbler overflowed in the oven.  In addition, I didn’t have finely ground cornmeal and he advised me to just whirl the coarse cornmeal in the food processor for a bit to break it down into finer granules. Genius!

The result was otherworldly.  If you can find fresh rhubarb in your neck of the woods, make this as soon as possible.  I admit that this became my breakfast the following morning as well. And truth be told, this was my main course for dinner … you only live once!

Rhubarb Raspberry Cobbler

Serves 8

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Filling Ingredients
  • 2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 2 ½ cups fresh raspberries (or one 10-ounce package frozen raspberries, defrosted if you’re in a pinch – but I did not try this) 
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
Biscuit Ingredients 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, more as necessary
  •  ⅔ cup fine cornmeal (or process coarser cornmeal for 15 seconds)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • \1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  •  ⅔ cup heavy cream, more for brushing (I forgot to brush the tops)
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

For filling, in a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, raspberries, sugar and cornstarch. Allow the mixture to stand while preparing biscuit dough.

To prepare the biscuits, place flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine (or whisk everything together in a bowl).

Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal (or use two knives to cut butter into flour mixture). Pour in cream and continue pulsing (or stir) until dough starts to come together, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface (I did have to add a little more flour to make it easier to handle) and gently pat it together. Divide it equally into eight balls, then flatten them slightly into thick rounds. Biscuit dough can be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated, covered, until needed.

Scrape filling and accumulated juices into a 2 ½ -quart gratin or baking dish (9 by 12 inches). Arrange biscuits on top of filling and brush with cream. Place a rimmed cookie sheet underneath the pan containing the cobbler, and Bbake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden.

Let it cool for at least 30 minutes or longer, and dish into a bowl.  Top with ice cream or whipped cream or plain yogurt.  This thickens up a lot when left to cool completely.

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