Today is the first day of Spring – It’s time to start planting a few things to save on produce.
A good friend brought Tapenade to a party I had last month and left the leftovers, which I LOVED having the next day. It tasted and looked like it was from a restaurant. Her husband made it and I finally got the recipe (kinda). No measurements, but I understand. Prepare it to taste. He simply wrote — Two kinds of Olives, Garlic (not powdered), Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasonings. For the Italian Seasonings, I used Oregano and Basil.
I think mine (pictured) tasted like his, but I’ll have to find out if he adds more “Italian Seasonings” than Basil and Oregano. At first the above Tapenade had too many Green Olives in it and then I overcompensated a bit with the Black Olives. Overall, I learned that good Tapenade can be made in an instance with items always on hand.
After a party, I’m often left with a fair amount of washed and trimmed vegetables — I love it because it’s a convenient, healthy snack to have ready, but after a few days it gets a little boring, thus I hunt for other ways to use ‘em. I TRY to make something different each time.
This time with Iceberg Lettuce and an abundance of Cucumbers on hand, I made a simple Salad with a Cucumber Dressing — I’d link the recipe, if it was good, but it wasn’t. I’ve yet to master the flavor I’m searching for in a Cucumber Dressing.
After the latest party inspiring this batch of ideas, I cooked Eggs over leftover Salsa, which I loved having (over and over again) with a side of Sour Cream. I’ve since made and purchased more Salsa to make the same. I can’t stop eating Eggs Over Salsa for breakfast and dinner. It’s simple and fabulous with or without Tortillas, Chips or Toast.
This time I roasted the Carrots with a little Olive Oil and Spice Blend I found locally. Carrots are always good roasted in the oven, but were better last time with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and S & P – Past ideas are linked here.
A tasty Artichoke Heart, Olive and Tomato Bruschetta Dip that was leftover from the same party was cooked and served over Angel Hair Pasta — Why not?
And then there’s Celery, which always stumps me — The best thing I’ve made thus far is Cream of Celery Soup and this time I made a Braised Celery and don’t see its appeal. I followed a highly ranked recipe, but yawn was the consensus.
If not in a Soup or a mirepoix, I might prefer good old-fashioned Celery with Peanut Butter.
Peppers roasted in the oven with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and S & P.
Asian Cucumber Salad made with Rice Wine Vinegar, Canola and Sesame Oil, Honey, Soy Sauce, fresh grated (or powdered) Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes and S & P.
And with the leftover sliced Oranges, bar garnishes from the night before, I made Candied Orange Slices. I’ve always wanted to make them — What better time?
Here’s the recipe I used from The Repressed Pastry Chef — Candied Orange Slices
Candied Oranges – I’ll use this recipe again. They turned out great and weren’t bitter at all, as some are reported to be. I think one key is to cook them for a fair amount of time.
Until the next leftovers…
These quick appetizers were inspired by BusyMOM at the Easy Appetizers blog — They caught my eye as a “Top 9” on Foodbuzz, because they looked so nice. And since I happened to have all ingredients on hand, I made ‘em the same day. Mine differ in that they aren’t as pretty, Yellow Bell Peppers were added and the Asparagus wasn’t cut lengthwise, since they were too skinny. Aside from their look, the combination of all (Toasted Crostini, Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Yellow Bell Pepper with Olive Oil and S & P) tasted good. We’d make them again to hopefully swap the above photo for a better one. They’re fast, easy and tasty.
The photo certainly doesn’t do this easy Roasted Corn Salad combination any justice (sorry about that). The recipe is simply a mixture of Roasted Corn (cut off the cob), Sun Dried Tomatoes, Avocado, Green Onions and Sea Salt — That’s it. No Oil and no Vinegar, but it works. I was sceptical at first, but this is a tasty Salad that doesn’t seem to lack moisture.
Why did we feel guilty eating these Carrots? It’s probably because they seemed to be in love. We got ‘em during our tour of Tanaka Farms. Carrots are one of the amazing clues left by God — Read more about that here.
Have you been to Tanaka Farms yet? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. It’s in Irvine and is also known as Orange County’s Largest U-Pick Farm. During certain tours you get to pick your own Strawberries, Watermelon and much more. We recently went on the Strawberry Tour, which was more fun than we imagined.
At the end of the Strawberry Tour, you get to pick and take home your own large basket of Strawberries, which happens after you eat as many as you can stuff down. We all said they were the best Strawberries we had in our lives. Not sure why, but they’re amazingly sweet. The tour lasts about an hour.
While on the tractor ride that’s included with the Strawberry Tour, you get to try a few of the seasonal vegetables along the way. After sampling all, you feel like you’ve just had a healthy meal. We joked that we should bring Salt, Pepper and Ranch Dressing next time — And we seriously might.
In addition to the endless Strawberries, we ate Radishes, Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Green Beans, Iceberg and Red Leaf Lettuce directly from the field. What a treat! And when you’re done eating, you just toss the remains (aka Carrot and Radish tops, Strawberry leaves, etc.) over your shoulder off the tractor.
Weekend Strawberry Tours are running now through June 27th (weather permitting) and the Watermelon Tours begin in early July. Tanaka Farms also offers Cookout Tours, whereas you get to pick, wash and cook your own meal directly from and at the farm. The view from the cookout area is beautiful.
We still keep talking about how much fun this was and that we now look forward to enjoying Tanaka Farms all year long. They have a fresh produce stand that’s open daily.
Family run Tanaka Farms is organized, friendly, fun, clean and pesticide free. They do a lot of creative planting to put forth the best produce possible. We’re impressed with ALL.
My Brother-in-Law just told me a funny story. One of his co-workers learned that purchasing a maximum of (5) Green Beans at one time doesn’t weigh anything, thus he’s usually not charged for them at the checkout stand. After fine tuning his discovery, he went to the supermarket daily for a week, until he had enough Green Beans to make a meal. Can you believe it? It’s true. And he’s not poor either — He owns two houses and has a great job. I’m still laughing about this. In some ways it’s moderately inspiring (haha), but I certainly wouldn’t want to go to the supermarket every day. Hope he doesn’t stumble upon this blog or my Brother-in-Law is in trouble.
Note: Photo is of Fava Beans, which are generally more expensive than Green Beans.
As Orange County Food Examiner, I just posted a collection of links to most (if not all) the Farmers’ Markets happening in Orange County. It’s a terrific resource – You can learn where they all are here.
We’ll soon be posting about Orange County Farmers’ Markets on Examiner.com. This weekend we started with a visit to the Corona Del Mar Farmers’ Market. Our visit was also inspired by the new Cookbook we’re trying, Southern Living’s Farmers Market Cookbook.
Right now the Corona Del Mar Certified Farmers’ Market has a lot of beautiful flowers – You can surely tell it’s Spring. It’s one of the smaller Farmers’ Markets in Orange County, but offers plenty of variety. We post a sampling here and will later publish a slide show on Examiner.
The Corona Del Mar Farmers’ Market is at PCH and Marguerite, near the pictured clock tower.
Inspired by the coverage of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, I made Roasted Brussels Sprouts. At the Outstanding in the Field style dinner held at the Greenleaf Warehouse in San Francisco, it seems like everyone loved the Brussels Sprouts. They looked terrific on the various event recap posts, which made me want to make ‘em.
The recipe of the actual dish served at the festival is here, but I made something else. These Brussels Sprouts have a nice roasted char, but different ingredients. I tossed this bunch of hot water washed, halved Brussels Sprouts with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and Salt & Pepper — That’s it. Just roast all in a 425° oven for about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more Olive Oil and Vinegar as necessary or to taste. They turn out sweet and caramelized.
I can’t say these Brussels Sprouts are as good as those served at the Foodbuzz dinner, since I sadly wasn’t there, but they’re darn good and easy to make with what’s on hand. I’ll surely make them again — Super easy and tasty is my favorite combination.
The Vegetable Moussaka Recipe in The Olive and The Caper had such promise – I’m not quite sure why it wasn’t as good as it should have been. An assembly line of baked Eggplant, blanched Potatoes and sliced Tomatoes was prepared, as well as homemade Bechamel Sauce. All was layered as instructed with Bechamel and Cheese poured over top. It looked terrific going in and coming out of the oven, but unfortunately didn’t become the fluffy cloud of Bechamel with goods underneath that I’ve previously enjoyed at a few Greek restaurants. Instead it was dry throughout and curdled in places, not a desirable combination.
I like the cookbook, but will be moving past the Vegetable Moussaka. Until choosing the next tasty Greek recipe to make, I’m sticking with the Greek Fried Egg and heading to Papadakis Taverna for a luscious Moussaka fix. Opa!
I’ve discovered that Dill Pickles and Pine Nuts (Pignolias) go very well together, especially with Bubbies Pickles. I’m not quite sure what to make with them yet, but damn — It’s a good combination. Until a recipe is conjured up, I’ll keep eating a handful of Pine Nuts with each bite of a Pickle. Give it a try.
I’ve always wanted to make my own Dill Pickles, but dread the whole canning sterilization process — It’s a turn off, HA. So I searched for a way around it and came across a good shortcut for a quick, easy homemade Dill Pickle. Its author, Michele of Cooking with Michele used Cucumber spears, but I was in need of chips. And with some leftover Bubbies Pickle Juice and a self sealing mason jar, the result is above. After a week, they were nicely crunchy and absorbed some of the Bubbies flavor and Dill Pickle taste. It’s a great use for leftover Pickle Juice — It’s like getting a second jar of Pickles for free, or for the price of a few Cucumbers.
I’ve only just begun to explore the goods offered by Pascal Epicerie and Wine Shop and I’m already hooked on the Salads. I’ve stopped in 3 of the last 4 days to choose from the Daily Pasta and Vegetable Salads offered by the pound.
So far we can’t get enough of the Bean Salad(s) and Roasted Vegetables – The Green Beans aren’t pictured, but they’re my favorite so far. Pictured with the aforementioned is the Ratatouille and Beet Salad. We look forward to trying ALL their Pasta and Vegetable Salads, to be posted here soon. Pascal Epicerie and Wine Shop is next door to Tradition by Pascal, one of the best restaurants in Newport Beach.
One Red Bell Pepper makes a fair amount of Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. This Sauce is a variation of several recipes I reviewed online. And it turned out to be a simple and tasty combination. I halved and charred a Red Bell Pepper in the toaster oven until completely black, then with the oven off I kept it in there for another 15 minutes to steam/loosen the skin. And it peeled right off like nothing.
To make the Sauce, add the Roasted Red Pepper to a mini food processor with the perfect balance of Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Juice and S&P — It doesn’t take much of each. Puree all, then taste and add more of the above (if necessary) to dial in the flavor. This small batch was so good – I ate the extra Sauce as Gazpacho. Before that, I had it on some Lingcod I poached.
It’s our second visit for lunch at The Veggie Grill at The Irvine Spectrum. This time we tried the Sweet Potato Fries served with Chipotle Ranch and loved both. And the “Bali Bliss” which is Indonesian styled Tempeh that’s sauteed and grilled, then served on a Bun with Chipotle Ranch, a tasty Relish, Lettuce, Tomato and Onion – It’s best with a side of their yummy Pesto. And ”Steamin’ Kale” with a Ginger Miso Dressing and Roasted Sesame Seeds. As previously reported on Nibbles of Tidbits, the service is friendly and the food is fresh. There’s a couple interesting Burgers we’d still like to try. Check back soon.
Last time we had the Baja Fiesta Salad and Bean Me Up Chili. See Review HERE: http://www.ineedtext.com/FoodBlog/?p=4617
The Veggie Grill: http://www.veggiegrill.com/
Coach’s Mediterranean Grill & Bar in Huntington Beach always seems to provide good service and food. This day we only had time for a quick bite, thus had the Hummus and Falafel with Pita Bread — The Falafel is served with Tahini, but we recommend it with Tzatziki. The Hummus looked like a work of art within a wave.
Coach’s Mediterranean Grill & Bar is on Main Street in “Surf City” and a short walk inland from the Pier. It’s an airy indoor/outdoor restaurant with good Mediterranean food and people watching from the patio. And just down the street a New Exhibit at The International Surfing Museum just opened — It’s Part One: The Wooden Years, an Exhibit on Board Shapers. My friend Bonnie, an Interior Designer put the entire Exhibit together. On opening day I popped in right when she had time for a bite, so we walked to Coach’s with our Opening Party Mai Tai’s — Shhh. All was fab! If local or visiting, be sure to check out the Surf Museum. Live Bands occasionally play in the parking lot too. And P.S. There are a lot of good restaurants on HB’s Main Street.
Have you heard of The Veggie Grill? It’s a small chain that I heard was good – So a couple of us tried it today for lunch and liked it. I’m not in love yet, but the food was fresh, the restaurant was clean and the service was extra friendly and helpful.
We visited The Veggie Grill at The Irvine Spectrum. It’s a semi fast food type of place, whereas you order and pay at the counter, then they deliver your food on real plates with silverware. This first visit we both tried the same, a Baja Fiesta Salad and Bean Me Up Chili for the Soup & Salad Combo. They also offer a few interesting Veggie Sandwiches and Burgers we’ll need to try next time.
The Veggie Grill: http://www.veggiegrill.com/
Since I had a bunch of washed, fresh cut/peeled Celery leftover from a Vegetable Platter, I made this impromptu Cream of Celery Soup. Homemade is way better than any canned version. Sorry there’s no measurements here, but YOU CAN DO IT – Be generous with the Onion, Herb and Garlic for optimum taste.
Sauté chopped Onion and Celery with S & P in Olive Oil until almost caramelized, then add minced Garlic, fresh Thyme Leaves and cook a couple minutes longer. Add enough Chicken Stock/Broth to cover all ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and purée in a blender.
Return the puréed mixture to a saucepan, reheat and add a little Cream, not much, none is really needed if that’s preferred. And to nicely combine the flavors, add fresh Lemon Juice and S & P to taste at the end. It’s a quick, easy, much better than canned copycat Cream of Celery Soup if in need, or due to an abundance of Celery.
The First Annual Orange County Restaurant Week officially starts today and continues through February 28th — More details about it are linked below. As previously reported on Nibbles of Tidbits, participating Chefs are giving cooking demonstrations at Bloomingdale’s Home Store at South Coast Plaza.
Here Chef Paul French of The Californian at The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach makes their Wild Mushroom Ravioli with sauteed Jewel Box Mushrooms, Farmer’s Market Vegetables and Brown Truffle Butter Sauce. WOW, it’s the best we’ve sampled (thus far) during these demonstrations. And it’s fortunately one of the dishes being offered during OC Restaurant Week.
I like fresh Cranberry Sauce all year long. It’s easy to make and a great side dish to have on hand. It goes well with Pork, Chicken, Ice Cream, Sandwiches, and much more. Why ever eat Cranberry Sauce out of a can when all you need to do is boil Cranberries in a mixture of half Sugar and Water for about 10 minutes?! One Bag of Cranberries calls for 1 Cup of Sugar & 1 Cup of Water. I also like to add Orange Zest and Juice. It really makes a tasty Cranberry Sauce.
This fabulously easy recipe is shown step-by-step in the links below. It’s been made by several food bloggers/writers/cooks. When I came across it, I had to make it too. The preparation is simple – Just boil Red Potatoes until soft and smash them down onto an Oiled baking sheet. Drizzle the smashed Potatoes with melted Butter, minced Garlic and S&P, then bake in the oven at 450° for 25 minutes without turning. Voila! They’re done and taste great. If you need more information than that, check out The Pioneer Woman and For The Love Of Cooking.