sesame seeds

sesame and onion seed crusted sword fish with buckwheat soba and chard sauté

sesame and onion seed crusted sword fish with buckwheat soba and chard sauté

I know eating swordfish is supposed to be naughty. But per our fish monger, this one was line caught off the coast of California. So that’s good. It looked super fresh with that beautiful seafood aroma and so after listening to his explanation he convinced me. I lost my guilt and purchased 3 steaks for our dinner party. The whole dinner had a Japanese, South East Asian flair to it. It is pretty easy to make and delicious.

sesame and onion seed crusted sword fish with buckwheat soba and chard sauté

for the fish:

3 swordfish steaks or other similar fish steaks of your preference
1 tbsp sesame seeds (or more)
¾ tbsp black onion seeds (or more)
Lime juice
Nori strips (edible seaweed strips)
Olive oil

the noodles:

buckwheat soba noodles for 4 people cooked per package instructions, rinsed and kept warm

for the veggies:

1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves roughly torn
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil

for the sauce:

1 clove garlic grated into paste
1 tsp fresh ginger grated into paste
1 tsp chile garlic paste
3 tbsp soy sauce (or more)
¾ tbsp rice vinegar
¼ tsp sugar
¾ tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 whole scallions, sliced

Prepare the sauce mixing all the ingredients together, except for the scallions. Taste it and adjust flavors. It should be bold a bit salty, tangy, smoky, sweet and spicy. Drop in scallions then set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Put chard in and cook for about three minutes. Drain and squeeze as much water as possible from it. Add olive oil to a skillet, then garlic and cook until garlic is aromatic. Add chard and cook for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with some salt and black pepper. Transfer to a bowl, keeping it warm.

Rinse and pat dry fish steaks with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Mix seeds together and sprinkle on both sides of steaks. Using the same skillet, add a tad of olive oil, bring temperature to medium high, add sword fish steaks and cook for 3 minutes on each side (if your pan is too small do it in batches). Remove from pan and let rest for a couple of minutes, keeping it warm. Cut into bit size strips. Squeeze a few drops of lime juice over the fish.

Place soba noodles on a serving platter. Toss with sauce. Top with sautéed chard, then the fish, nori and serve.

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carob balls

by Jasmine Turner on September 2, 2011

The idea to make carob balls was inspired from an exercise in a culture awareness class I recently took as part of the curriculum in my counseling/psychology program. Yes, I am studying to become a counselor. As you know food has a direct link to culture. The last assignment for the class was to make a recipe from your family of origin, which would be your mom dad and sister etc., and bring it to share with the other classmates.

carob balls

carob balls

So, I searched my memory and thought of tofu stir fries much like timely tasty tofu, and the traditional oatmeal with margarine we would always have for breakfast, because back in the ‘80’s everyone was using margarine on food instead of butter…even though now we find it has “trans-fats,” so all those years we thought we were doing ourselves a favor we probably should have been using real butter! Unfortunately I couldn’t really bring the tofu stir fry in for breakfast as it was a morning class and it would have needed to be heated.

I had an “aha” moment and recalled a dessert we would get when my dad wanted to give us a special treat, carob balls. Our parents made mostly health food items for us to eat and we weren’t really knowledgeable about chocolate goodies, so we always got the alternative, which happened to be carob. This was back in the day when people used to say, “Can you dig it?” so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.

My dad said his recipe actually originated from trying to make frosting for a batch of brownies also made from carob. Carob comes from the ground up seed pod from the carob tree. It is commonly used as a substitute for chocolate (without the side effects)! Carob is very healthy and actually has nutritional value like protein etc. My dad learned about it as a boy because there was a carob tree on his block in N. Hollywood where he grew up. He used to gnaw on the pods and taste sweetness. He relearned about carob later when becoming health food conscience.

carob chips

carob chips

Anyway, the frosting he was trying to make was mixing up too thick and was much too dense to spread evenly on the brownies, so he and my mom just started eating it out of the bowl. Cooling it and rolling into balls was an afterthought to make the mix cleaner and easier to eat. Though now, I think of them as chocolate truffle alternatives. Overall, carob balls bring up recollections of a loving Dad making a treat for his family which kindles good spirits and connections channeled through a yummy family recipe.

carob balls

2 cups carob powder (found in bulk at most health food stores)
¾ cup softened butter or smart butter veggie margarine (now Trans fat free!)
½ cup honey, or as my dad says, a “glob” of honey!
Optional: raisins, carob chips (also available at health food stores), chopped walnuts, sunflower or sesame seeds, maybe even shredded coconut

Blend softened “butter” and carob powder in a mixing bowl. Blend in “glob” of honey. Mix until it’s like a thick frosting. Add optional ingredients(s) if using. Mix it all together and form into balls or cut into squares or lumps: whatever. Then put in refrigerator to cool or freezer to cool faster. These are best served cold, otherwise they might get messy. You can coat the ball with the shredded coconut or sunflower seeds for decoration! Enjoy compliments of my Padre!

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Heavenly Housewife has been singing the praises of Yotam Ottolenghi lately. She’s even taken an Ottolenghi cooking class in London after waiting forever to get in. Yes, that’s how popular this chef has become in the UK. She posted some delicious treats from the class and then, good heavens, she made some of his salads! That’s a sure sign that she truly adores this chef. I wish we were in London taking Yotam’s classes together. Wouldn’t that be fun? London, Heavenly, Steven, Yotam and me: who could ask for anything more?

Yotam Ottolenghi-style roasted eggplant with labneh, za’atar and pomegranate molasses

Yotam Ottolenghi-style roasted eggplant with labneh, za’atar and pomegranate molasses

Last week while browsing in some colorful Mission Neighborhood shops before it was time for our table at Locanda, I spotted a gorgeous cookbook graced by this eggplant dish. It looked like an objet d’art, a jewel! As you might already guess, the book was Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. The American version is published by Chronicle Books LLC, right here in San Francisco, very cool! It is packed with a whole lot of exciting vegetarian dishes. I like it so well, that I’ve already prepared four of them, so more to come. The photography in the book is mind-blowing. Our compliments to the photographer, Jonathan Lovekin, and to Yotam Ottolenghi, of course.

I had to adapt the recipe because I didn’t have all the ingredients. Pomegranates are not in season right now, so I used small drops of pomegranate molasses instead. The sauce calls for buttermilk and Greek yogurt, but I used labneh, since we had some already. I prepared my own za’atar, as we have all the individual ingredients in our pantry. The lemon thyme, I’m thrilled to say, comes from my own community garden plot. This is the first recipe that calls for it that I’ve made since planting that lovely herb.

Lastly, the recipe calls for roasting the eggplant at 200F for 35-40 minutes. I think that must be an error. Surely it was supposed to be 200C. The publisher must have forgotten to convert to Fahrenheit. It should have been at least 400F. I waited about 35 minutes before cranking up the heat and only then did my eggplant really start to brown and cook.

Otherwise, this dish was sublime. Thanks, Heavenly Housewife, for introducing Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking to our table!

Yotam Ottolenghi-style roasted eggplant with labneh, za’atar and pomegranate molasses

For the eggplant:

3 medium to large Italian eggplant, cut in half the long way, stems on
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme, minced; plus several sprigs lemon thyme
½ tsp pomegranate molasses
Black pepper to taste
Pinch Aleppo pepper
Kosher salt
2 tsp za’atar*

For labneh sauce:

2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
3 tbsp extra virgin arbequina olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
1 cup labneh
½ cup water or more

*For the za’atar :

3 tbsp sumac
1 tsp dried Greek oregano
1 tbsp pan dry-roasted sesame seeds, cooled to room temperature and ground
Pinch savory
½ tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Pre heat oven to 400F.

Place eggplant halves, cut side up, on a baking dish. Use a sharp knife to make incisions in eggplant flesh in the shape of diamonds/ lozenges without piecing the skin. Brush halves with equal amounts of olive oil. Repeat until all olive oil is absorbed. Add salt, peppers and minced thyme. Tuck some of the seasonings in the little crevices of the eggplant. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until flesh is soft. Broil eggplant for few minutes towards the end, just to give them some color. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile prepare za’atar by mixing all ingredients together, set aside.

Place labneh in a bowl. Whisk in ½ cup of water, olive oil, salt and mashed garlic. The sauce should be fairly thin. Add more water here if needed. Set aside.

Arrange eggplant halves on a serving platter. Spoon over some labneh sauce, top with a few drops of pomegranate molasses, sprinkle za’atar over that, followed by a few flowers of lemon thyme

Store leftover za’atar in a tight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Sprinkle it liberally on salads, rice, humus, yogurt.

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My sister, Kris, makes wonderful cakes and quick breads. She lives back East so I don’t see her that often. Years ago she would make this zucchini bread around the holidays in large volume and give it as gifts to friends and family. I’ve never made it before now though I’ve had the recipe for a while. I managed to misplace it in our last move and have finally gotten around to having her send it my way again. It reminds me of her warm kitchen filled with aromas of baking bread, cookies and cinnamon. Aaaaa.

my sister’s zucchini walnut raisin bread

my sister’s zucchini walnut raisin bread

Her recipe doesn’t call for sesame seeds but I had some extra (leftover from Hegui’s yummy wakame salad) so threw them into the mix.

This quick bread is easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. I devoured some right out of the oven with butter melting on top. Heavenly! Thanks for this, Kris, and happy holidays!

my sister’s zucchini walnut raisin bread

2 cups Italian zucchini, shredded (about three medium zucchini)
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raisins
¼ cup sesame seeds
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

I used disposable wax paper cake pans. If using a regular baking dish, grease and dust with flour before use.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Fold nuts and raisins into egg mixture. Fold flour mix into wet ingredients in two stages until everything is moist.

Pour batter into baking dishes. I made a ring cake and a smaller loaf from this recipe. My sister says that it can make two regular sized loafs.

Bake about one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. My smaller loaf only needed about 50 minutes. Kris says that muffins might be ready after a mere 20 minutes.

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yummy wakame salad

by Heguiberto on December 31, 2010

yummy wakame salad

yummy wakame salad

I completely agree with the post on girlie girl army about sea veggies. She claims that sea vegetables are overlooked in terms of taste and nutritional value, at our loss. Here’s what she writes:

Sea vegetables contain high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, iodine, chlorophyll, enzymes and fiber and offer more vitamins and minerals per ounce than any other food and are one of nature’s richest sources of proteins, having up to 48% of plant-based protein! Sea vegetables are also high in vitamin b-12, which is usually only found in animal-based sources and is responsible for regulating the central nervous system and blood cell production. Ounce per ounce, they are higher in vitamins and nutritional value that almost any other food!

I didn’t need any convincing because I adore sea veggies. They just have that marvelous oceanic flavor you can’t get anywhere else. When I eat sea vegetables I literally feel I am getting a slice of the ocean. Plus they’re good for you! Eat more sea vegetables! On that note here’s a simple, delicious recipe for a salad made of reconstituted wakame and lettuce:

dried wakame

dried wakame

yummy wakame salad

40g. dried wakame (I get mine at Nijiya Market)
1 small head lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp light shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp pan roasted white sesame seeds
red pepper flakes to taste

Place wakame in a large bowl and cover with about 2 pints of water. Let it re-hydrate for about 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and squeeze as much water out as you can. Transfer to a serving bowl with lettuce.

Meanwhile to make the dressing add mirin, shoyu, rice vinegar, sugar and toasted sesame oil to a jar, cover with a lid and shake to combine. Taste. It should have a pleasant salty, briny, tart, sweet and toasty flavor. Add more of any ingredient if needed. Toss with wakame and lettuce. Sprinkle with pepper flakes and sesame seeds.

I made a similar Japanese sea vegetable inspired salad before check it out here

{ 4 comments }

Szechuan fry bread

by Stevie on July 1, 2010

I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for ages, but was having trouble locating Szechuan peppercorns. Finally, I found some in the bulk section of my least favorite grocery store ever, Rainbow. Everyone in San Francisco raves about that place but I think that it has poor lighting; it’s difficult to find things; it’s very overpriced; and, the worst thing of all, the staff is rude. Ugh! I rarely shop Rainbow but this time I was desperate so put up with the rough conditions.

Szechuan fry bread

This recipe comes from my favorite East-meets-West cookbook, Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. The dish is surprisingly easy to make, particularly considering that it’s a bread. It was delicious: not too spicy but very flavorful. The sauce is sour and a little savory, which matches perfectly. Brilliant work, Najmieh!

Szechuan peppercorn

I served this with Szechuan style green beans with zucchini, essentially using the same recipe as the one with long beans. We loved it.

Szechuan fry bread

3 cups flour, sifted
1¼ cups boiling water

¼ cup sesame oil
1 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 spring onions, shredded

Olive oil for frying

some key ingredients for Szechuan fry bread


½ cup vegetable stock
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 hot red pepper, crushed
1 spring onion, chopped
2 tbsp. soy sauce

Place flour in food processor with bread dough attachment. Pulse in water to mix and make dough. Mix for three to five minutes until a soft dough is formed. Place in bowl and cover with damp cloth. Let rest for thirty minutes.

Place rested dough on floured surface. Roll into a long cylinder about two inches in diameter. Cut into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a flat round about six inches across. Paint each piece with sesame oil on one side. Sprinkle sesame seeds, Szechuan pepper and shredded spring onion over each. Roll each round into a cigar shape. Twist each cigar into a spiral. With a rolling pin, gently flatten each spiral to form a round. When I did this, some of the sesame oil and stuffing came out. That’s o.k.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium high. Pour about two tablespoons into pan then add first bread. Fry for a few minutes until the edges dry out and the bottom becomes a reddish brown. Flip and fry reverse in same way. Repeat with remaining breads.

stuffing the bread


To prepare dipping sauce, mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl. Serve with hot bread.

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Japanese inspired "sea vegetable" salad

I prepared this Japanese inspired salad with home-cured gravlax and white rice. The gravlax had dill and was Swedish inspired. The “sea vegetable” salad was Japanese inspired. Despite being from two far distant culinary traditions, they seemed to match well together. Perhaps because they’re both “ocean foods?”

This salad is easy to make and would be just fine served alone, with rice, miso soup or fish.

Japanese inspired “sea vegetable” salad

½ head lettuce
½ head frisée
A few strands dry wakame sea vegetable
½ English cucumber, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp black toasted sesame seeds
Togarashi(shichimi) dry pepper mix
Kosher salt

Boil 4 cups of water, remove from heat, add wakame and let it re-hydrate for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Cut into strips.

we use this brand of wakame

Slice cucumber thinly. Sprinkle with salt and let it sweat at room temperature for about half hour. Rinse it in plenty of cold water. Set aside.

Tear lettuce and frisée into bite size pieces and place them into a bowl. Add wakame, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar and toss with your hands. Taste and adjust flavors. Top with cucumber slices, black sesame seeds and a sprinkle of togarashi pepper mix. This salad has a delicious sea,sweet, tangy and smoky flavor.

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