Stew of sausage, basil, potatoes, carrots, & caramelized onions













Fresh basil frames this picture with minty, pungent flavor.  This recipe is oriented towards the simplicity of a one pot meal.  For added flavor, grill the sausages separately and add to the soup with the spaghetti.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time:  30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

INGREDIENTS
Olive oil
1 pound merguez sausage (or your favorite), cut into 1/4 inch slices.
1 cup onion, 1/4 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups carrots in 1/4 inch wide slices
2 cups potatoes, 1/2 inch dice
1 tablespoon fresh Oregano, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
3-4 cups broth, room temperature or warm
1/2 cup dry spaghetti 
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil 

DIRECTIONS
Heat a medium sturdy stock pot over medium heat.  Add enough olive oil to barely coat the bottom of the pot, and cook the sausage slices and onion for 6 minutes, stirring, or until sausage is cooked and onion is soft.  Add the garlic, carrots, potatoes, oregano and rosemary and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.  Add the stock and bring to a gentle boil, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the pasta, and cook for 6-7 minutes or until pasta is al dente and potatoes are just soft.  Stir in the basil, heat for another 30 seconds, and serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Summer Slaw















This cool, crunchy, savory salad makes good use of sturdy summer veggies.

Prep time:  20 minutes
Serves:  4-6

INGREDIENTS
3 scallions
2 small fennel bulbs (about 1 cup when shredded)
1/2 head arrowhead cabbage (about 2 cups when shredded)
1 Hakurei Turnip (about 1/2 cup when shredded), greens separated and coarsely chopped
4 small or 2 large carrots (about 1 cup when shredded)
1 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Freshly-ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Using a food processor equipped with the coarse shredding wheel, process the scallions, fennel, cabbage, turnip, and carrots.  Scrape vegetables into a serving bowl, and stir in the basil, sage, lemon juice and olive oil.   Serve, sprinkling with feta and black pepper.



Photos and recipe by Tod Dimmick

Onion Spread

Remember Onion Dip from an envelope?  Time to replace that memory with something that really tastes like onion!

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  5 minutes
Yield:  about 1 cup spread









 INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
2-3 tablespoons minced chives
1 cup whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a small skillet or saucepan, and saute the onion for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent.  Stir in the chives, cream cheese, Parmesan, and salt to taste.

This spread can be served immediately (it will be warm), or chilled and served later, when your spread is thicker.

Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick

Scrambled Egg & Braised Kale Sliders













Cook's Law #1:  Always make a little extra (such as braised kale)
Cook's Law #2:  Use those leftovers to enable magic the next day.

Prep time (not counting Kale prep):  5 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Serves:  4+

INGREDIENTS
5-6 eggs
1/2 cup milk or water
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or your favorite)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup braised kale, drained
Slider rolls (I use Trader Joe's 100% whole wheat dinner rolls, sliced)
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk and the cheese.  Drop the slider rolls in the toaster.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and heat the kale, stirring, for 2 minutes to heat it.  Turn heat to medium low and pour the egg mixture over the hot kale.  Cook, stirring slowly and constantly, for 2-4 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to the consistency you like.  Turn off heat.

Distribute slider rolls to plates,  carefully load with egg/kale mixture, and serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.


Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick

Hash Browns













These are so simple to make.  The (good) conundrum is that they vanish quickly.  Shred the potatoes with the peels for flavor and nutrition.

Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  20 minutes
Serves:  6+ as a side dish

INGREDIENTS
1 onion, chopped into pieces small enough to fit through the food processor feeder tube.
2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into pieces small enough to fit through the food processor feeder tube.
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage (optional)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
3-4 tablespoons canola oil

DIRECTIONS
Using a food processor with the coarse shredding wheel, shred the potatoes, and scrape them into a colander in the sink.  Shred the onion and scrape into a mixing bowl.  Turn your attention back to the potatoes, and press them with the heel of your hand in the colander to remove some liquid.

Add the potatoes, sage, pepper, and salt to the onion in the mixing bowl and stir to mix.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add half of the potato mixture, spreading the potatoes with your spatula to maximize contact with the skillet. Cook 5 minutes or until browned on one side, then turn the potatoes over (they will cling in chunks).  Cook for another 5 or until evenly browned and crisp on the outside, tender on the inside.

Serve hot, as is, or with ketchup or sour cream.  Or ramp it up with a fried egg on top.

Photos and recipe by Tod Dimmick




Real Greek Salad

 






In Greek mythology, Prometheus deceives Zeus by giving him the choice between two offerings. One offering was skin and bones, covered with snow-white fat. The other was the edible beef, covered with unappetizing entrails. Zeus chose the pile covered with fat, and was angry to find the contents. Today some local restaurants seem to offer a similar choice, where a seductive layer of cheese in a “Greek” salad hides greenish tomatoes, soggy cucumbers, and (sacrilege) Iceberg Lettuce!

For years I thought this was what a Greek salad should be, but then happy chance brought me to the real thing. I remember it like it was yesterday. At the outdoor Greek restaurant, we were served what I thought at first was a simple platter of vegetables, resplendent with chunks of juicy tomato, cucumbers, savory onion, and crisp sweet peppers, all topped with fresh basil and Kalamata olives, and glistening with olive oil and wine vinegar. On this masterpiece reclined a wedge of feta so creamy I wanted to eat it alone. I looked around at other tables: one man carefully assembled a bite that included every ingredient. We attempted the same. It was the best Greek salad I’ve ever tasted, and since then I make them (and eat them) the same way.

Prep time:  15 minutes
Serves:  6-8 (can easily be scaled up or down)

INGREDIENTS
2 fresh tomatoes cut into bite size chunks
2 fresh green bell peppers, seeds removed, cut into bite size chunks
1 fresh cucumber, half peeled into “stripes”, split lengthwise, and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 a large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, cut into 1/4" pieces
Fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
About 25 Kalamata olives
4-5 ounces block Feta cheese, cut into chunks
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Combine tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, and basil, drizzle to taste with vinegar and olive oil, and mix. Top with olives and wedges of Feta, and salt and pepper to taste.

Devour while contemplating the origins of democracy.

Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick

Herb-Infused Olive Oil

The flavors found in herbs and garlic are soluble in oil.  Heat speeds up the process, although this can also be done cold.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  5 minutes
Yield:  2 cups infused oil








INGREDIENTS
2 cups olive oil
1 bunch fresh thyme, washed and dried
5-8 leaves fresh sage, washed and dried
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, washed and dried
3 garlic scapes, chopped (or 2 cloves garlic, chopped)
1 teaspoon peppercorns

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until a pinch of the herbs gently bubble when added.  Add te thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic, and peppercorns and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes or until a taste with a spoon (blow on it to cool it!) achieves the flavor intensity you like.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pour oil into a jar with a lid.  Infused olive oil will keep on your counter for a week or more, longer in the fridge although you'll need to warm it up to pour properly.

Use infused oil for dressing pasta and pizza, and for dipping bread.

Variations:  Try a wide range of your favorite herbs.  Other mild cooking oils can also be used, such as canola or safflower.  Strongly flavored oils (peanut, sesame) present more of a challenge:  your herb flavors might get lost, or conflict with the herbs.

Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick

Penne with Tomatoes, Arugula, & Sour Cream














Another entry in the "Mac and Cheese for Adults" category.  Fast, indulgent, and tasty.  

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Serves: 4-6, depending on how ravenous your guests are

INGREDIENTS
1 pound whole wheat penne
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic scapes, minced, or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
2 cups fresh arugula, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon capers
salt to taste

DIRECTIONS
Cook your pasta per package directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and cook the garlic, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly tanned.  Remove from heat.

Slice the tomatoes, and rinse and dry the arugula.

Drain cooked pasta, return to its cooking pot, and stir in the garlic, tomatoes, arugula, sour cream and black pepper.  Distribute to serving plates, topping with feta cheese and sprinkling with capers and salt.

A dry rosé wine alongside would complete the picture.

Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick

Sauteed Spinach














The key here is brief exposure to heat, so that the leaves are bright green and retain some of their crisp texture.

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  5 minutes

INGREDIENTS
3 TB olive oil
2 cloves garlic, slivered
12-16 oz spinach, washed and dried.
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. Cook the garlic for 15 seconds, then add the spinach.  Cook for a minute, stirring, or until spinach is just beginning to wilt.  Remove to plates, drizzle with lemon juice, sprinklw with pepper and salt, and serve.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick


Fromage Forte (“Strong Cheese”)

What a terrific, flavorful way to use leftover cheese.  Cheerfully inform your guests that they are eating leftovers.  They will pretend to be offended... and then reach for thirds.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
5 pieces of bread, cut into appetizer-size pieces.  Hearty crackers could also work, although they don't need to be toasted.
1 pound leftover cheese pieces (blue, brie, cheddar, Provolone, the more the better)
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the broiler.  Place the bread slices on a baking tray and toast to a light brown, about 1 minute on each side. Meanwhile, using a food processor, puree the cheese, wine, garlic and black pepper.   

Spread a tablespoon or so of the cheese mixture on each toast triangle and broil for an additional minute, then serve to sighs of appreciation.  

Tip:  Fromage Forte freezes well, making this recipe a unque way to 'save' cheese long term.



Adapted from "The Complete Idiot's Guide to 5-Minute Appetizers," by Tod Dimmick

Carbonara with tomatoes, chives, & bacon













A simple, hearty dish that makes good use of fresh veggies.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  20-25 minutes
Serves:   6 at least

INGREDIENTS
1 lb whole grain pasta (your favorite shape)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chives, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt
Pepper


DIRECTIONS
Start water heating for the pasta.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon, and slice the tomatoes and chives.

Cook the pasta.  When it is al dente, reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain the rest in a colander.  Return the pasta to the cooking pot .  Add the eggs and Parmesan and stir (the hot pasta will cook the eggs).  Stir in some of the reserved pasta water and stir.  You will notice that the water will disappear.  Stir in a little at a time until a creamy sauce appears in the bottom of the pot.  Now stir in the tomatoes, chives and bacon. 

Serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve this with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and all is right with the world.  Don't skimp on the freshly ground black pepper.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Shortcake













I adapted this recipe from the recipe for Cream Biscuits in the immortal Marion Cunningham's Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  These are melt in your mouth rich, with the warm nutty taste of whole grain.  I suspect you'll find it a challenge not to eat them right away, but resist the urge.  They are even better in strawberry shortcake.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Yield:  12 biscuits

INGREDIENTS
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used "white" whole wheat)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your oven to 400 on convection, 425 on regular bake.  In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Now take up a mixing spoon or rubber spatula and gradually stir in 1 cup of the heavy cream.  If the dough holds together, you can stop adding cream, but if it's still crumbly, add more until the dough holds together as a soft mass.

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface, fold it over itself several times, then flatten into a rough square about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 12 pieces.  Dip each piece into the melted butter and place on a baking tray, leaving 2 inches between each piece.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until biscuits are crisp and beginning to tan on the outside.

Hearty Vegetable Chowder

This hearty chowder is a meal unto itself.  It warms you from the inside out on a cool day.

Prep time:  15 minutes
Cook time:  30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

INGREDIENTS
6-8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups carrots, 1/4 inch slices
2 cups potatoes, 1/2 inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, 1/4 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups coarsely chopped kale
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped escarole
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped radicchio
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Heat the stock in a stock pot over medium high heat.  When broth comes to a low boil, add the carrots and potatoes.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender enough to easily pierce with a fork.

While carrots are cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium low heat, and sauté the onion, garlic, kale, escarole, and radicchio for 10 minutes, stirring.  When greens are tender, remove from heat.

When carrots and potatoes are just tender, add the greens from the skillet to the stock pot.  Heat for a minute, the turn off the heat, and distribute chowder to serving bowls, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Potatoes with Fresh Garlic and Sage













Succulent. Scrub the potatoes but no need to peel them, those skins have loads of flavor, texture and nutrition.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Serves:  2-4

INGREDIENTS
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 small (pool ball size) organic new potatoes cut into 1/8" slices
1 stalk spring garlic thinly sliced (or 1 clove garlic, crushed)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Pepper
Salt

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the potatoes and the garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, or until potatoes are tender.  Remove potatoes to a serving plate.

Turn heat to med high, and if necessary add a little more oil.  Fry sage for about 30 seconds, or until crisp.  Remove to a paper towel to drain and cool enough to handle (will only take a few seconds), then chop the sage leaves, sprinkle on top of the potatoes, and serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Sausage and Veggie Skillet Meal

This simple dish proves the assertion that comfort food can be fast, delicious, and loaded with veggies.  

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves:  4-6

INGREDIENTS
1 pound ground Italian sausage meat
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or a mixture of oregano, basil, rosemary & thyme)
2 large carrots, 1/4 inch slices (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups fresh green beans cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3-4 scallions, white and light green parts in 1/4 inch dice, dark green parts reserved for another use
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 to 2 cups corn kernels (about two ears) 
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the sausage, Italian seasoning, and carrots.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the scallions, green beans, and garlic.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring, or until the sausage is just done and the carrots and beans are beginning to turn tender.  Add the corn and cook for 3 minutes, stirring.  Season to taste with salt and pepper

Serve as is, or over pasta or rice.  A glass of rosé would also be nice.

Variation: Make it vegetarian by omitting the sausage.  You could also add mushrooms regardless of whether you're using the sausage, add them with the green beans.

Tip:  Add leftovers to chicken or vegetable stock, along with a handful of rice or pasta, for a quick and hearty soup

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Kale and rice













This hearty vegetarian entree will warm you on a cool night.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Serves:  4

INGREDIENTS
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch kale, leaves coarsely chopped, stems cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 onion, 1/4 inch dice (about 2/3 cup)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup corn kernels
2-3 cups cooked whole grain rice
One ripe tomato, 1/2 inch dice, or one can (13 ounces) diced tomatoes.

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat.  Add the kale stems and cook, stirring for 4 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and onion, then top with the kale leaves.  Cover and cook for 4 minutes.  Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 4 minutes.  Stir in the corn, cook for a minute.  Then stir in the rice and the tomato.  Heat for another minute or two and then serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Kale & Caramelized Onion Egg Sandwich













Every egg sandwich should be a candidate for The Perfect Egg Sandwich.  It's a quest, sort of like for the holy grail, except better, because this grail is found again and again. 

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Yield:  one sandwich

INGREDIENTS
olive oil
A few thick slices of onion
A handful (say, 1 1/2 cups) coarsely chopped kale
one large fresh egg
one slice sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
two thick slices whole wheat bread
salt
pepper

DIRECTIONS
Saute the onion in olive oil over medium low heat for 5 minutes, turning once.  Remove to a plate, then saute the kale for 3-4 minutes or until bright green and just softening.  Remove to that plate.  Put your toast in the toaster while you fry your egg over easy (fry for approximately 4 minutes, turning when white is mostly set).  Top with cheese when you flip that egg, if you like cheese on your sandwich.  Cook for another minute, then assemble your sandwich, drizzling olive oil from the skillet over the toast.

Season with salt and pepper.

Devour, washing it down with strong black coffee.


Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

“A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.” 
-J.R.R. Tolkein, from The Hobbit

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Photo and Recipe: Tod Dimmick









This bread is so good I really wonder why I only make it on St. Patrick's Day.  The cabbage leaf wrapping was half humor and half curiosity about the effect of the moisture trapped between the crust and the roasting leaves.  The effect was delicious texture and lots of "oohs and aahs".

INGREDIENTS
4 cups whole wheat flour ("white" whole wheat works well)
1/3 cup oatmeal
3 TB gluten
3 TB sugar or equivalent
1 TB salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp baking soda
About 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 TB plain yogurt (optional)
3/4 cup raisins or currants

DIRECTIONS
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. I use a whisk for this.  Heat the buttermilk to just above room temperature, and stir in the yogurt (if using) and . Slowly mix the milk in to the flour mixture to create a thick, pliable dough. A sturdy spatula is ideal for mixing, and a stand mixer with a bread hook is also great. Turn dough out onto a countertop and, using a bench scraper, stretch and fold the dough over itself a few times. Cover with the bowl and let rest for an hour. Thereafter, at approximate 45 minute intervals, revisit that dough several times to again stretch and fold the dough over itself 3-4 times. If a few intervals stretch into hours rather than 45 minutes, don't worry.

Then, 90 minutes before the time you want the bread to finish baking, shape the dough into the shape you like, and place on a floured baking tray for its final rise. Sprinkle with flour, and cover with a towel.  Alternatively,  roll this dough in flour and place in a loaf pan (or split into two chunks and divide between two smaller loaf pans).  Let rise for 25 minutes, then preheat your oven to 400 and let the dough continue to rise for another 20-30 minutes while the oven preheats.

Remove the towel, slash the dough as you like, and slide the baking tray into the hot oven. If you have a mister, spritz the dough a few times to assist with creation of a chewy crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until rapping on the loaf with your fingertips yields a nice "hollow sounding" thump. Let cool for 10 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Baked Eggs with Potatoes, Mushrooms & Kale

Prep time:  15 minutes
Cook time:  25 minutes
Serves 4

An utterly satisfying, rustic combination of fresh ingredients.  We devoured this for dinner, although it would be great any time of day.







INGREDIENTS
About 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion sliced 1/4" thick
1 teaspoon pimenton, hot smoked paprika (optional)
1 1/2 cups mushrooms sliced 1/4" thick
4 cups kale, coarsely chopped
2 large potatoes sliced 1/4" thick (about 2 - 2 1/2 cups)
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your oven to 300.  Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large cast iron (or oven proof) skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle with the paprika if using.  Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the mushrooms and the kale and cover.  Cook for 3 minutes, remove the cover and stir, and recover for another minute or two or until the kale is beginning to wilt.  Remove mixture to a bowl or plate with a slotted spoon, leaving any remaining oil in the skillet.  If necessary add a little more oil for the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes in the skillet in a single layer for 8 minutes, turning once, until browned on both sides and tender when pierced with a fork.

Spread the onion, mushroom and kale mixture over the potatoes in the skillet.  Crack the eggs evenly spaced over the vegetable mixture.  Slide the skillet in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes or until the yolks are just set.

Bring the skillet out and serve with a spatula, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. 

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Irish Soda Bread













 What makes soda bread so unique?  True Irish soda bread contains no yeast, and is made only with flour, salt, buttermilk, and baking soda (and there are folks with truly passionate views on the subject). But is whole grain soda bread possible?  After several experiments, I arrived at this dense, moist, and satisfying result.  This recipe includes oats, wheat bran, and cream, ingredients that bring its authenticity into question, but I submit that the result pays homage to the soda bread legacy.  For more history and just plain fun, check out the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  35 minutes
Yield:  1 large loaf

INGREDIENTS
4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup buttermilk powder*
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water*
1/4 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, buttermilk powder, oats, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  A whisk is the right tool for the job.  With a sturdy spatula, stir in the water and cream to create a thick dough.  Be sure to incorporate all dry material, then stop mixing.

Scrape the mixture into a greased 8x8 baking pan, and bake on the center rack for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm with butter.

*If you have buttermilk on hand, use that in place of the buttermilk powder and water

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Leek and Potato Chowder













Hearty, chunky leek chowder pairs well with inclement weather.  This recipe takes inspiration from the immortal Marion Cunningham, although I made several changes.

Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  45 minutes
Serves: 8-10

INGREDIENTS
6 tablespoons butter, separated
4 cups thinly sliced (1/8 inch) leeks, white and light green parts
2 cups thinly sliced (1/8 inch) celery (about 2 stocks) including leaves
5-6 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups potatoes, 1/4 inch dice*
1 teaspoon thyme
4 tablespoons whole wheat (or white) flour
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a stock pot over medium heat and saute the leeks and celery for 10 minutes, stirring.  Add 2 cups of stock and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the diced potatoes and 2 more cups stock.  The potatoes should be just about covered. If not, add more stock.  Add the thyme.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, as the roux bubbles and smooths.  A few tablespoons at a time, add hot stock from the soup to the roux, stirring or whisking constantly.  It will bubble and thicken.  Do this several times, then pour this flour mixture into your chowder, along with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for a a minute or two, stirring, as it thickens.

Serve hot, with crusty bread and a glass of Beaujolais, and laugh at the storm.

*If your potatoes are organic, leave the peels on for flavor, nutrition, and texture.  Just scrub 'em and use 'em

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Whole Grain Blueberry-Flax Cornbread














Delicious with dinner, or breakfast.  This version doesn't use much sugar (you could add more).

Prep time: 10 Minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

INGREDIENTS
1 ½ cups cornmeal (I used medium grind)
1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 tablespoons sugar or equivalent (I used stevia extract)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup blueberries

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, flax meal, sweetener, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk and canola oil.
Pour the egg mixture over the corn meal mixture and stir to combine into a thick batter. Stir in blueberries until just mixed. 

Scrape batter into an oiled 9x9 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Frozen blueberries work fine, but the baking will more like 25-30 minutes).

Serve warm with butter.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Grilled Beans!













If real estate on your grill is available, try this tasty method. 

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time: 4-6 minutes
Serves:  2-4 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS
1 pound fresh beans
3 TB Olive Oil
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your grill.  Place your beans in a baking dish, drizzle with the olive oil, and turn to coat.   When you're ready to cook, arrange the beans in a single layer across the grill (as in the photo above). Cook for about 3 minutes, turn with tongs, and cook for another 3 minutes or until tender crisp.   Carefully remove beans to a serving platter and drizzle with remaining oil from the baking dish.  Season to taste with salt.

Tip:  This method works best with larger beans (the smaller ones are more likely to fall in!)

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick










Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Whole wheat pizza dough offers terrific nutty flavor and thin crust crunch.  It's easy to make, and you can increasingly find it in stores (Read the ingredients to make sure it's truly 100% whole wheat.  Trader Joes sells a great 100% whole wheat dough.

Whether you prepare it by hand or with a bread machine, homemade pizza dough is easy and quick - 5 minutes to set it going, and in an hour you've got homemade.

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup medium grind cornmeal (optional - for a nice crunch in the crust)
1 TB wheat gluten (also optional, will help with dough structure)
2 tsp salt
1 TB yeast
2 cups lukewarm water

DIRECTIONS

By Hand:
Place the flour, corn meal if using, gluten if using, salt, yeast, and stir to combine.  I use a whisk for this. Pour in the water and olive oil, and mix a sturdy rubber spatula for a few minutes to create a wet dough.  Let it sit for an hour, go at it with the spatula again, and in another half hour or so it will be ready to use.  This is a good time to preheat your oven.

When ready to make pizza, scrape the dough onto a floured surface, and separate into two pieces (or three, if you like smaller pizzas).  Roll each piece out into pizza shape on your floured surface (or twirl if you're brave).  To transfer to a baking sheet, I like to fold the dough over itself in half, then into quarters, transferring to a floured baking sheet, then unfolding again to full size and dressing as you like.  If you have a pizza peel, you also have the option of preparing your pizza on the peel and placing directly on a heated pizza stone in your hot oven.

Bread Machine:
Put all ingredients in the bread pan and set it on the pizza dough cycle. Watch it for a few minutes - if necessary add more flour to get to the elastic, moist dough consistency good for rolling (or twirling)

Recipe:  Tod Dimmick


100% Whole Wheat Bread

Yes, it is possible to make a loaf of 100% whole grain bread with a light crumb, chewy crust, and real flavor.

Total prep time including kneading: about 20 minutes
Unattended time: about 4 hours
Cook time: 20-25 minutes








INGREDIENTS
3 cups whole wheat flour ("white" whole wheat works well)
1/4 cup fun stuff such as flax meal, bran, oatmeal (optional)
2 1/2 TB gluten
2 1/2 TB dried milk powder
2 tsp salt or to taste
2 1/2 tsp yeast
About 2 cups lukewarm water
2 TB plain yogurt (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. I use a whisk for this. Mix the warm water and yogurt (if using yogurt). Slowly mix the water in to the flour mixture, pausing a few times to incorporate the moisture before continuing (You may not need to use it all). A sturdy spatula is ideal for mixing, and a stand mixer with a bread hook is also great. Stop adding water when you have a thick, pliable dough. Turn dough out onto a countertop and, using a bench scraper, stretch and fold the dough over itself a few times. Cover with the bowl and let rest for an hour. Thereafter, at approximate 45 minute intervals, revisit that dough several times to again stretch and fold the dough over itself a few times. If a few intervals stretch into hours rather than 45 minutes, don't worry.

Then, 90 minutes before the time you want the bread to finish baking, shape the dough into the shape you like, and place on a floured baking tray for its final rise. Cover with a towel. Let rise for 25 minutes, then preheat your oven to 400 and let the dough continue to rise for another 20 minutes while the oven preheats.

Remove the towel, slash the dough as you like, and slide the baking tray into the hot oven. If you have a mister, spritz the dough a few times to assist with creation of a chewy crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until rapping on the loaf yields a nice "hollow sounding" thump. Let cool for 10 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Note: Larger volume shapes, like boules, will require longer in the oven (more like 30-35 minutes)

Another Note:  While the approach is simple, there are many variables that will affect exactly how your loaf will look coming out of the oven:  temperature, water:flour ratio, water at your house vs the barn (hard or soft), humidity, the kind of wheat, the grind of flour, the proportion of other additives, the proportion of yeast ‘food’ like milk powder to flour, the time for each rise, etc etc!  So every loaf has a character of its own.  That is part of the fun - I hope. Remember, it will taste great!

Photo and recipe:  Tod Dimmick

Over the top veggie omelet













These veggies all skew towards the juicy, savory side, and the result is a hearty, satisfying omelet.

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  5 minutes
Yield: 1 omelet

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup onion, 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup green bell pepper, 1/4 inch dice
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño
2 eggs
water
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 tomatillo, 1/4 inch dice (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 inch dice, drained
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet or omelet pan and cook the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While these vegetables are cooking, whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in a tablespoon of water.

When the cooked vegetables are ready, remove to a dish, and keep the skillet over the heat.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, and allow to cook without stirring for two minutes, or until the eggs are just solid, loosening around the edges with your spatula. Arrange the mozzarella in a thin layer across one half of the omelet.  Top the cheese with the diced tomatillo and tomato, followed by the cooked veggies.  Using a spatula, gently fold the opposing side over the filling, and allow to cook for a minute.  Slide or lift your omelet onto a serving plate, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Now engage in the time-honored tradition of assembling a bite with the perfect combination of ingredients.  When you accomplish this feat, close your eyes and enjoy the flavor.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Decadent Veggie Sausage Lasagne













It takes some time to assemble these unctuous layers, but when you see the response of your fans, er, family, you'll see that it's worth the effort.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time:  50 minutes
Serves:  8-10

INGREDIENTS
1 box (16 ounces) whole wheat lasagna noodles
Olive oil
1 large zucchini squash, 1/4 inch dice (about 3 cups)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large onion, 1/4 inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 sweet bell peppers, 1/4 inch dice (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage
1 tub (32 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
3-4 cups marinara sauce
1 large ripe tomato, 1/4 inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
Heat water in a large stock pot for the lasagne noodles.  Bring the ricotta out of the fridge to warm, to make it easier to spread.

While water is heating, cook the sausage and the vegetables.  In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the sausage for 8 minutes, turning, or until done.  Set aside to cool.  Drain excess fat and replace with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute summer squash with garlic for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until squash is tender crisp, then scoop squash out to a plate or bowl.  Add the onion, peppers, rosemary and sage and, if necessary, a little more olive oil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, or until peppers are tender crisp.  Chop sausage into chunks 1/4-1/2 inch in size.

When water reaches a boil, cook the lasagna noodles for 6 minutes or until al dente.  Drain in a colander, place noodles in a mixing bowl, and toss gently with some olive oil to prevent sticking.

While pasta is cooking,  place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and stir in the basil.  Preheat the oven to 350.

Set out a large (10" x 14" or equivalent) baking dish, and spread about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce across the bottom in a thin layer.  Arrange a layer of noodles, in parallel touching rows, across the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle half of the zucchini evenly across the noodles, followed by half of the peppers and onions and half of the sausage.  Carefully spread half of the ricotta and basil across the vegetables. Top with 1 cup of the marinara sauce, half  of the chopped tomato, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Repeat this layer, starting with another layer of noodles.  Top your lasagna with a final layer of noodles.  Spread with the remaining sauce, being sure to fill in along the edges.  Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan.

Tent your lasagna with aluminum foil (do your best to not touch the surface with the foil) and slide in to the oven on the center rack.  Cook for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and the cheese is melted.

Serve with a tossed salad and a good Chianti.

Variation:  Omit the sausage for a vegetarian dish.


Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick





Stuffing Muffins

Photo:
Tod Dimmick











This tasty variation on classic stuffing makes great use of leftover bread. Adapted from my recipe for the Phantom Gourmet television show.


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12-15 muffins

INGREDIENTS
Muffin cups
1 loaf (1 ½ lbs) sliced whole wheat bread
1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
6-8 strips bacon
1 small (pool ball size) onion, ¼ inch dice
3 stalks celery, ¼ inch dice
1 apple, cored, ¼ inch dice
2 eggs, whisked
1-2 cups chicken stock
½ cup chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups, or spray with cooking spray. Cut the loaf of bread into cubes about ½” across. Place bread cubes in a large bowl, sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Now cook the bacon until crisp in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove bacon strips to paper towels, pour off excess fat, and cook the onions and celery in the remaining bacon fat for 4 minutes, stirring. Add the apple and cook for another minute. Turn off heat in skillet, scrape mixture into the bowl of bread cubes, and stir. Add the eggs, 1 cup of chicken stock, the parsley, and the bacon, and stir gently to spread the moisture throughout. The mixture should be moist enough to cling together when squeezed with light pressure between your hands. If necessary, add a little more broth. Using your hands collect a baseball-size sphere of stuffing mixture, squeeze slightly so that it clings together, and place in a muffin cup. Make sure that this is the muffin shape you want, because these muffins won’t rise as they cook. Repeat until mixture is used up and other muffin cups are full (if you have extra stuffing mixture, make a few more muffins or a small loaf).

Slide muffin pan into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until muffins are crisp on the outside.

Serve as a side dish with your favorite oven baked meal. Roast fowl are a natural.

Variations: Add raisins, chopped apricots, toasted nuts, and other fun things to Stuffing Muffins.

Served up by Tod Dimmick

Roasted Roots

Photo:
Tod Dimmick











I've been playing with variations on this Wolfgang Puck recipe for years. It's a terrific destination root vegetables, and a perfect addition to the Thanksgiving table.


Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 10 to 12

INGREDIENTS
2-3 large beets
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
3 small turnips, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
2 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
6 to 8 potatoes, scrubbed and and cut into 1” chunks
1 or 2 large parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
1 or 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
1 celery root, trimmed and cut into 1” chunks
1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS
Heat 4 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat. When the water reaches boiling, boil the beets for 15 minutes.

While the beets are cooking, preheat the oven to 400F. Place the beets in ice water for a minute, and slip off their skins. Slice beets into 1/5 inch slices. Put the beets and the rest of the vegetables and the herb sprigs in a large baking dish. Season well with salt and black pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss them with your hands to coat them evenly. Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Served up by Tod Dimmick

Potato, Corn & Sausage Skillet Meal

Attention parents in a hurry:  this dish results directly from the urgent need to produce a tasty, kid-friendly comfort food meal on short notice and based entirely on ingredients on hand.  Do you ever find yourself in a situation like that?

With organic potatoes, no need to peel 'em, just scrub and dice.  Those peels have loads of flavor and nutrition.



Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  25 minutes
Serves:  4-6

INGREDIENTS
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups potatoes, 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
1 pound ground sausage
1/2 cup onion, 1/4 inch dice (one small onion)
1 cup corn
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or one teaspoon dried
5 fresh sage leaves, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, or one teaspoon dried
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat, and cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until browned outside and just soft inside when poked with a fork. Remove potatoes to a bowl and add the sausage and onion and cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes or until sausage is cooked.  Add the corn, rosemary, sage, and oregano, along with the cooked potatoes and cook, stirring, for more 3 minutes.

Serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick


Oeuf Cocotte and the terroir of a dish

It's not all that often that I come across a cookbook that speaks directly to me, so when my friend Marcia gave us this slim volume, I was a bit skeptical. 

But Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate and Zucchini is just such a book.  It's not just the recipes, based on straightforward combinations of a limited number of fresh local vegetables, nor the methods, which are generally simple (4 or 5 steps).  It's that Dusoulier also brings her passion for the story: What's behind each ingredient, and each recipe, informs her, and our, appreciation of flavors and textures.  If hers was a book about wine, I'd suggest she was describing terroir,  the cherished French concept of the cumulative role that soil, air, and climate plays in the character of each wine (or in this case, each recipe) to give it a unique personality, and makes a Tarte Tatin a la Tomate much more than the sum of its parts (You might think that it's simply pastry, tomatoes, and goat cheese).  This is the soul of a good cookbook.  Many are about the mechanics.  Not so Chocolate and Zucchini.  Here, the back story is just as important as following the directions (and, by the way, just as important to the fun).

It doesn't hurt that the title of the book, which sets forth two ingredients as proxy for Dusoulier's favorite culinary themes (zucchini for fresh, seasonal, local produce, and chocolate for indulgence) just happen to be favorites of mine also.  And yes, she even brings them both together in her own version of Chocolate Zucchini Cake, a delightfully surprising combination (Here's my version).

Here's one dish out of Chocolate and Zucchini (Yes, the book serves up an engaging story that adds to its appreciation, but you'll have to pick up your own copy for that terroir).

Oeuf Cocotte
From Chocolate and Zucchini, by Clotilde Dusoulier

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
1 pat unsalted butter for greasing ramekins
2 tablespoons creme fraiche, or sour cream
1 ounce thinly sliced dry-cured ham, shredded in 1/2 inch strips
2 extra-fresh high-quality large eggs
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

DIRECTIONS
1.  Preheat the oven to 400F and grease two 6 ounce ramekins with butter.  Drop a spoonful of cream in each ramekin and top with the ham.  Break one egg into each ramekin without rupturing the yolks, top with the tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper.

2.  Place the ramekins in a baking dish large enough to accommodate them and pour hot water in the dish halfway up the ramekins.  Place the dish in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs.

3.  Remove the dish from the oven and the ramekins from the dish (the ramekins will be hot). Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, with crusty bread for dipping.

Variations:  Apart from the egg and cream, all the ingredients can be changed based on what you have on hand:  cooked bacon, chicken, or smoked tofu; mushrooms (fresh, or dried and rehydrated, leeks, or zucchini; and any herb or spice you like.  You can add a spoonful of onion confit, a sliver of foie gras, or a bit of cheese (grated Comté, shavings of Parmesan, diced goat cheese).

Photo by Tod Dimmick

#realfoodbookbooks 

Provencale scramble













Creamy eggs, sweet tomato, minty basil, pungent scallions.  This dish is a celebration of flavor. Every ingredient can be found in Provencale Markets.

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Serves:  3-4

INGREDIENTS
6 eggs
4 tablespoons milk or water
1/2 cup shredded Tomme de Savoie cheese (or your favorite, a cheddar would be great)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup scallions, 1/4" dice
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup tomato, 1/4" dice
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk and the cheese.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the scallions, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Turn heat to medium low and pour the egg mixture over the scallions.  Add the basil and tomato.  Cook, stirring slowly and constantly, for 2-4 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to the consistency you like.

Serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Whole wheat toast alongside is a natural

Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick





Salsa with Fresh Tomatoes and Tomatillos













If you enjoy fireworks on your palate, cook no further.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Yield:  About 2 cups

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 - 2 cups ripe tomatoes, 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup tomatillos, 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 teaspoons fresh, minced)
1 tablespoon minced hot pepper flesh (not seeds)*
A few drops of your favorite hot pepper sauce*
Tortilla chips for serving

DIRECTIONS
Mix all ingredients. 

Don't be surprised if this gorgeous stuff disappears in less time than it took you to make it.

*Add half the minced hot pepper and hot pepper sauce, and taste for flavor, and then decide if you want to add the rest.

Tagliatelle with Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Heirloom Tomato












The fresh sweet taste of summer vegetables shine through the creamy tagliatelle.  It's even better with fresh pasta.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Serves:  4-6

INGREDIENTS
1 pound fresh tagliatelle pasta
Olive oil
2 zucchini squash, 1/2 inch dice
1 large sweet red pepper, 1/2 inch dice
1 medium onion, 1/4 inch dice (about 2/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
one large or several small heirloom tomatoes, 1/2 inch dice
1/3 cup diced pancetta
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS
Boil water for pasta.

While water is heating, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat and saute the zucchini, sweet pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, and rosemary, stirring occationally, for 8 minutes or until squash is tender crisp.  Stir in tomatoes, and remove from heat.

When water is boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain cooked pasta in a colander, and pour in to a serving dish.  Top with the cooked vegetables, and sprinkle generously with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Enjoy with a glass of rosé and a view, either real or in your mind's eye.

Variations:  You could easily omit the pancetta for a vegetarian dish.

Zucchini Chocolate Cake


Test the limits of healthy ingredients with this delicious "good carb" cake.  My kids asked for thirds (I did not tell them the secret ingredient until afterwards).













Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  45 minutes
Yield:   1 cake, 12+ servings

INGREDIENTS
2 small or one large zucchini squash (enough to yield about 2 cups when processed)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/2 cup sugar equivalent (I used Truvia)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 stick (8 TB) butter, melted
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup 60% dark chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your oven to 350F.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Using a food processor equipped with the fine shredding disk, shred the zucchni and place in a colander in the sink to drain for a few minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sweetener, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the sour cream, melted butter, agave nectar, and vanilla.  Scrape the egg mixture into the flour, and mix with a rubber spatula.  Stir in the zucchini and the chocolate chips.

Scrape your cake batter into the baking dish, slide into the oven, and bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Zucchini Chocolate Cake is delicious with whipped cream as dessert at the end of the day.  And it's tempting to enjoy with coffee at the beginning of the day.

Tip:  Stevia-based sweeteners vary in sweetness, and most are much sweeter than sugar.  So when using in a recipe you might need to calculate how much is equivalent to 1/2 cup sugar.  Another option, available at Whole Foods, is a sweetener based on hardwoods called Xyla.  Don't ask, I can't explain how it's made.  But it does appear to be a more natural product than conventional artificial sweeteners.

Tip:  A bundt pan also works well with this cake - it will cook faster - check it at 35 minutes.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Homemade Pasta Sauce!




When nature hands you a ton of tomatoes, make sauce to freeze or can for the winter.  The mess you make here will be amply rewarded with summer flavor in February.








Here are two methods , one that requires peeling for a smoother, more traditional sauce, the second faster and a little bit coarser, but the same terrific flavor.

Prep time:  70 minutes
Cook time:  3 hours
Yield:  6-8 cups of sauce

INGREDIENTS
10-15 ripe tomatoes
3-4 TB olive oil
1 onion, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
2 green peppers, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
1 bunch parsley, minced
1 hot pepper, minced (your favorite)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or fresh)
1 TB fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS (Traditional method)
Fill a large stock pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Set a large bowl filled 2/3 with ice water nearby, and another bowl for the cleaned tomatoes.  Place whole tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, lift out and place in the cold water bath for another minute (or more).  Remove the skin, and squeeze out the seeds as best you can.  Place these cleaned tomatoes in the empty bowl.

Dry out your stock pot (or use another).  Heat the olive oil in the bottom over medium-low heat and cook the onion, peppers, carrots, parsley, minced hot pepper, garlic, sage, basil, oregano, and rosemary for 5 minutes, stirring.  Remove from heat.

Use a food processor or blender to process the tomatoes and the vegetables.  Start by adding about 1 1/2 cups of the tomatoes, and puree them to create a liquid.  Then add the vegetables and process again to a consistency you like.  At the risk of overgeneralizing, adults seem to like their sauce with lots of texture, kids tend to like it smooth.  Return this puree to the stock pot.  Process the rest of the tomatoes, and add to the stock pot.  Add the wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper, stir, and turn the heat to medium high.  Heat to bubbling, reduce heat to low, and cook for 2-3 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally.  The sauce will reduce and thicken.  This is a good thing.

Serve fresh over pasta, or freeze/can for later.

DIRECTIONS (Easier method resulting in a more rustic sauce)
Heat the olive oil in the bottom over medium-low heat and cook the onion, peppers, carrots, parsley, minced hot pepper, garlic, sage, basil, oregano, and rosemary for 5 minutes, stirring.  While these vegetables are cooking, cut up your tomatoes into 1" chunks, peels, seeds and all.  Add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables, stir, and bring back to a gentle simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours or until reduced by about half.  Remove from heat, and allow mixture to cool for an hour or more.  Add the wine, salt, and pepper (omit the bay leaf).

Use a food processor to process the vegetables, working in batches to not overwhelm your machine.  Process for a minute to achieve a good, relatively smooth consistency. 

Serve fresh over pasta, or freeze/can for later.

Note:  All types of tomatoes can be used to make sauce.  Paste-type tomatoes have lower water content and yield a thicker sauce.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Sautéed herbed zucchini













Sauteed Zucchini brings a simple yet sublime combination of flavors and juicy texture.  Use bowls for serving to preserve the delicious liquid.

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  10-12 minutes
Serves:  2 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons olive oil
One small onion, about lacrosse ball size
One zucchini, 10 inches long +/-
2-3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon fresh dill (optional)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and saute the onion for 3 minutes, turning once, or until onion is beginning to turn translucent.  Add the zucchini slices and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes, adding the basil and marjoram in the last two minutes.  Serve when squash and onion pieces are tender.  The water from the squash will create a braise that will finish cooking both the onion and the squash.

Distribute squash to serving dishes and sprinkle with dill, if using, along with salt, pepper, and Parmesan.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick


Cherry Tomato Carbonara














Is "exotic comfort food" an oxymoron?

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  20-25 minutes
Serves:   6 at least

INGREDIENTS
1 lb whole grain pasta (your favorite shape)
1/2 lb ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large egg, whisked
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
3 TB shredded Parmesan (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Cook the ground beef, onions and garlic in a saute pan or skillet over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the beef is almost cooked through.  Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute or until beef is done.  Set aside and keep warm.

Cook the pasta, drain , and return to the cooking pot or place in a large bowl.  Quickly add the egg and stir (the hot pasta will cook the egg).  Stir in the ground beef mixture, along with the basil and Parmesan. 

Serve, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Add a glass of dry red wine, or a chilled rose, for a midweek celebration of cherry tomato season.

Notes:  For visual appeal, place the eggy pasta on a serving platter and top with the ground beef, then the basil, then the Parmesan.

For a vegetarian dish, omit the ground beef and cook the onion and garlic in 3 TB olive oil.  Add a little more Parmesan for protein and flavor.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Sautéed Kale with Scallions and Fava Beans













This first cousin of minestra serves up creamy rich fava beans and flavorful scallions nestled in hearty kale.  Yum.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Serves:  4 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS
Olive oil
1 bunch kale, stems separated and cut into 1/4" sections, leaves coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts cut into 1/4" sections (save dark green tops for another use)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 1 1/2 cups prepared fava beans*
Parmesan cheese
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat and cook the kale stems and garlic, stirring, for 4 minutes.  Add the scallions and kale leaves, cover, turn heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the fava beans, and continue to cook until kale leaves and stems reach the degree of tenderness you like.

Serve sprinkled with shredded Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Variation:  Add chick peas just for the fun of it (photo below)

*To prepare fresh fava beans in the amount called for in this recipe, start with about two pounds of fava bean pods.  Remove the beans, and cook them for two minutes in salted boiling water.  Drain in a colander, and then place beans in a bowl of ice water.  Drain, and then carefully slip the outer covering off each bean (discard outer covering).  Place beans in a bowl, and they are ready to use.

Variation - substitute other prepared dry beans for the favas.


Photos and Recipe by Tod Dimmick