vinegar

I found a small bag of wheat berries buried in my pantry during the ongoing kitchen remodel. (Ugh! When will there be running water!!!) It was forgotten there for a couple of months, maybe. I had seen a wheat berry salad at the Whole Foods and Bi-rite in the Mission. My original idea was to try to recreate one of these, but I never got around to it and forgot about the wheat berries.

pink wheat berry salad with kale and beets in tahini dressing

pink wheat berry salad with kale and beets in tahini dressing


After this culinary rediscovery, my mind got working on it again. There are some interesting recipes out there. Here’s one, and another and another.

Mine has a bit of an Asian influence. I saw this exciting recipe while perusing a bookstore in Berkeley, which I adapted to my taste and the ingredients available at home. Of course, I didn’t have a pen and it didn’t occur to me to call home with the name of the author/chef. I am terrible. I’ll try to find out and credit the author later.

Wheat berries are a little hard to cook: it took over an hour, and even after that they remained a bit chewy. I think that’s how they’re supposed to be? I tasted them every few minutes towards the end until it reached a point where they wouldn’t soften anymore.

They ended up chewy, as I’ve said, but also nutty and they sort of burst in your mouth with the first bite. I really enjoy the taste. Turns out they’re supposed to be good for you too.

It is an excellent side dish, but you can easily make it your whole meal.

pink wheat berry salad with kale and beets in tahini dressing

2½ cups cooked wheat berries
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
4 small to medium red beets, thoroughly cleaned
For the dressing:
3 tbsp tahini
2tbsp water (or more)
2 tbsp shoyu
1tbsp ponzu sauce
3 tbsp rice bran molasses
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove crushed
½ tsp vinegar

Preheat oven to 275F.

Wrap beets individually in tin foil. Place them on baking tray and roast for 90 minutes or so. Beets are ready when poked with a fork it offers no resistance. Let cool, peel and cut into small chunks.

Cook wheat berries as above. Once they’ve cooked, just drain, rinse and let cool to room temperature.

Steam kale until soft (steaming will preserve its flavor and natural ingredients), let it cool to room temp.

Add dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk until incorporated. If too thick add a bit more of water. It should be somewhere between thick and runny. Adjust flavors. You are looking for that sweet, sour, smoky, nutty taste imparted by the combination of each of the individual ingredients.

Toss salad ingredients together and then the dressing. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
I had leftovers for lunch a couple of days later and it was still perfect: creamy and much pinker than that first day. Delicious!

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My friend John made this antepasto several times for us. It is so tasty that I requested, no, firmly insisted, on the recipe from him. He spotted it on Epicurious. He did make some minimal changes to the dish, mostly with the amounts of ingredients. This is his version as best as I can make it.

grilled artichokes with mint, caper and anchovy

grilled artichokes with mint, caper and anchovy

I adore artichokes. Do you? If so, then this is a must-make dish.

I bought eight gorgeous artichokes at our local TJ’s the other day. They came from nearby Castroville, the land of artichokes in America. They were cheap: just 59 cents each! It is a pain to prepare them but I don’t mind it at all. I used the steps that I described in pickled artichokes to get these ready.

use your fresh artichokes as a table decoration before making them into a meal

use your fresh artichokes as a table decoration before making them into a meal

grilled artichokes with mint, caper and anchovy

½ to ¾ cup olive oil
8 filets of anchovy, minced
4 tbsp drained capers, minced
½ cup mint leaves chopped fine
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
8 artichokes, cleaned and cut in halves
½ lemon
1 bowl filled with cold water

Prepare the marinade by whisking together olive oil, anchovies, capers, mint, black pepper and vinegar. Set aside.

Clean the artichokes following the recipe for pickled artichokes.

Steam cleaned artichokes until tender, about ten minutes. Then transfer to a bowl filled with ice water to stop cooking process. Drain once cool.

Drizzle some olive oil from marinade over artichokes and grill them for 10 minutes or until slightly charred. My grill was dirty so instead I broiled these in the oven. The charred flavor the grill imparts to the chokes is better but the oven does a great job too. Depending on how hot your grill gets, you may need less time. Transfer grilled artichokes to a serving platter and pour marinade over them. Toss to combine then let sit for 20 minutes to fully blend flavors. Serve at room temperature.

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chili pepper mobile

Steven’s parents have just returned from an Alaskan cruise. They didn’t see Sarah Palin or the Cullen vampire clan, but loved it nonetheless. Their pictures made it look really exciting though quite cold, even in summer.

I want to visit Alaska sometime in the future, but I don’t think I can do it by sea. I just get terribly sick on boats. Last year we went with them on a Caribbean cruise. I can tell you that despite great company and the beauty of the Caribbean, I suffered the entire time on that eight day trip. Everything seemed in motion constantly. I couldn’t take it.

The Alaskan-bound cruise ship left from Seattle. They spent a day or so there on the way back. They always bring us back cute souvenirs from their trips. This time, they got us matching Alaska hats and T-shirts as well as some smoked salmon and this lovely chile pepper mobile.

That was really thoughtful: thank you, Lynda and Stan!

On the way back home, they detoured to San Francisco so we got to spend the afternoon with them. We took them sightseeing to the new Cartoon Museum and to Sausalito where we had a delightful lunch at Scoma’s.

But back to the chile pepper souvenir… the whole thing was made with several types of peppers in different ripening stages with a head of garlic at the base to hold it down. There were Thai bird’s eye, chili de arbol, jalapeño and Serrano chiles, all beautifully arranged and suspend by a fishing line. It was very creative. The mobile toy lasted for a few days in the kitchen but then it started to wilt. Since I don’t like waste, I disassembled the mobile and I’m using all the ingredients in my cooking.

sundried chili peppers

I simply rinsed then cut the stems off the small peppers and left them in the California sun for about a week to dry. They’re excellent in recipes that called for dried hot chiles like Roman style pasta or in Asian style dipping sauces.

I made the large peppers into this Indian inspired pickle:

Indian style chili pickle with mustard oil

Indian style chili pickle

1lb mixed chili peppers (different stages of ripeness is fine)
½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds, roughly ground in a mortar
Juice of 4 limes
1 tbsp wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp cumin seeds partially ground
¼ tsp coriander seeds partially ground
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp kosher salt (or other non-iodized salt. Sea salt works, but use less because it’s saltier)
~2 tbsp mustard oil
1 clove of garlic minced

Wash peppers. Slice in halves then discard seeds and ribs and stems. Lay them on a paper towel and let dry in the sun for a couple of hours.

Mix ginger, turmeric, mustard seeds, lime juice, vinegar, cumin and coriander seeds, sugar, and garlic. Add chili peppers and toss to coat. Pack chilies tightly in glass jar. Top with mustard oil. Leave it at room temperature for four days. Taste it. It should have a mellow flavor with a bit of a kick but none of the rawness of garlic, ginger or pepper. If the flavor is harsh, leave it out for another day or so. Transfer to the fridge and serve as a side for rice and beans or for any other Indian, Middle Eastern, or Morrocan dishes.

It’s the mustard oil that really makes this preserved pepper dish taste “Indian.” You can find mustard oil in Indian grocery stores. It is labeled for external use only as it is not approved by the USDA for consumption because a compound present in the oil, erucid acid, which supposedly may cause cardiac lesions based on tests made with animals. But Indian people eat it all the time and seem very healthy as a people, so I don’t know. But you are warned.

moody Alsakan landscape

Alaskan iceberg

Alaskan glacier

lumberjack contest and show

Alaskan mountain range

another Alaskan glacier

Alaskan sunset

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Indian style chili pickle with mustard oil

Indian style chili pickle

1lb mixed chili peppers (different stages of ripeness is fine)
½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds, roughly ground in a mortar
Juice of 4 limes
1 tbsp wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp cumin seeds partially ground
¼ tsp coriander seeds partially ground
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp kosher salt (or other non-iodized salt. Sea salt works, but use less because it’s saltier)
~2 tbsp mustard oil
1 clove of garlic minced

Wash peppers. Slice in halves then discard seeds and ribs and stems. Lay them on a paper towel and let dry in the sun for a couple of hours.

Mix ginger, turmeric, mustard seeds, lime juice, vinegar, cumin and coriander seeds, sugar, and garlic. Add chili peppers and toss to coat. Pack chilies tightly in glass jar. Top with mustard oil. Leave it at room temperature for four days. Taste it. It should have a mellow flavor with a bit of a kick but none of the rawness of garlic, ginger or pepper. If the flavor is harsh, leave it out for another day or so. Transfer to the fridge and serve as a side for rice and beans or for any other Indian, Middle Eastern, or Morrocan dishes.

It’s the mustard oil that really makes this preserved pepper dish taste “Indian.” You can find mustard oil in Indian grocery stores. It is labeled for external use only as it is not approved by the USDA for consumption because a compound present in the oil, erucid acid, which supposedly may cause cardiac lesions based on tests made with animals. But Indian people eat it all the time and seem very healthy as a people, so I don’t know. But you are warned.

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When I was a kid I remember going to wedding parties with my mom and they always served small potatoes as an appetizer you could spear with small toothpicks. I never cared for the candies and cakes (weird kid!), but I stuffed myself with those potatoes: they were my favorite! I need to find out why tiny potatoes were always being served at weddings. Perhaps it was just a fashion in the Seventies in rural Brazil?

baby fingerling potato lima sprout salad

That appetizer was prepared by boiling the potatoes, letting them cool down and then marinating them overnight in red wine vinegar and olive oil with some onions, salt and pepper: simple, tasty and inexpensive. Perfect for a big party.

We bought a one pound bag of baby fingerling potatoes the other day at our local TJ’s. They were super cute. I made a potato salad that tasted a bit like the potato appetizer from my childhood. I mixed it up a bit with some canned lima beans (habas grandes) for protein and for that delicious buttery bean flavor they impart to salads. For a hint of spice and some extra green color, I added a container of daikon sprouts. I liked the end result. The salad was tasty and pleasing to the eyes.

Baby Fingerling Potato Lima Sprout Salad

1lb baby fingerling potatoes
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can habas grandes (giant lima beans or Greek gigantes) drained and rinsed
2 scallions, chopped
1 container daikon sprouts
2 tomatoes cut in quarters

Boil potatoes for about 8 minutes or till tender. Remove from heat and drain. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely. Add salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic and extra virgin olive oil to potatoes, toss and let rest at room temperature for a couple of hours. Just before serving add beans, scallions, tomato and daikon sprouts. Toss again and serve.

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purple kohlrabi ’slaw

by Heguiberto on March 25, 2010

Kohlrabi is crunchy. It tastes something like broccoli, though sometimes I get that sweet, watery flavor of jicama followed by a mild spicy kick like horseradish when I bite into it. It’s a weird looking thing, which also adds to its appeal.

purple kohlrabi 'slaw

Kohlrabi’s versatile. It’s good for salads, in cooked dishes and for decoration of course. I should eat it more often. This time I made a ‘slaw with this beautiful purple wonder. The idea was to use mayo in the recipe, but as soon as I started preparing it, I realized that I’d run out. Instead I used a light ranch dressing that Debby left over at our house from when she stayed here to take care of the beast while we were soaking up the sun in Brazil recently. Thank you, Deb, so much for taking care of Clarence and for the ranch!

purple kohlrabi

Purple Kohlrabi ‘slaw

1 kohlrabi (mine weighed about a pound)
2 carrots
½ cup light ranch dressing
1 tsp sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
kosher salt to taste

Wash and peel kohlrabi and carrot. Pass them through a mandolin to cut into thin square strips. Be careful with your fingers! Transfer to a bowl. If your kohlrabi comes with leaves, like mine did, cut them thinly and add them to the bowl for added color and texture.

In a separate bowl whisk ranch dressing, sugar, black pepper, olive oil and cider vinegar. Taste and adjust flavors. Fold sauce into shredded kohlrabi. Let rest at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. The kohlrabi will wilt a bit and the flavors will further develop. Yumm! Serve as a side dish or condiment with veggie burgers.

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grilled vegetable tapenade

by Heguiberto on March 23, 2010

Did you know that the word tapenade comes from tapéno, which in Provençal means capers? Tapenade is normally made mostly of black olives and lesser amounts of capers, anchovies, olive oil and spices. It’s strange that this amazing paste derives its name from capers, whereas the major ingredient is actually olives.

grilled vegetable tapenade

I love anything made with olives. My fridge never runs out of them though I use them almost every day. Foods come into and out of fashion, but to me, the olive is a timeless classic.

sky view at Pride Mountain

For this tapenade, I tried to re-create one that I made a couple of years ago for a sensational picnic we had with a couple of friends, Suma and Tom, and, at that time at least, their newborn son, Ajay. It was in early spring at Pride Mountain, a winery located in the Mayacamas Mountains right at the crest. The winery sits in Napa and Sonoma Counties. It was a stunning afternoon. The picnic was delicious. Tom and Suma bought a bottle of delightful Pride cabernet sauvignon which we shared as we admired the grounds and the view.

What a pleasant weekend! The wine at Pride was excellent. We should go back there for another tasting and to write an entry for WC. Last week at a dinner party at the home of a mutual friend, Suma mentioned the “Pride tapenade.” She still recalls it two years later. That is high praise. It also got me thinking, so I decided to give it a go once again. It really is good. Cheers to Suma for reminding me of this dish.

Grilled Vegetable Tapenade

1 grilled red pepper, skin, seeds and ribs removed
1 2inch thick slice of grilled eggplant
1 2inch thick slice of grilled white onion
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
½ cup mixed pitted Spanish and Peruvian black olives (I use Goya)
10 oil packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp oil from sundried tomatoes
5 fresh basil leaves
1 minced fillet of anchovy (optional)
2 garlic cloves, nuked in the microwave for 5 seconds, or fresh
¼ cup walnuts
½ tsp red wine vinegar or olive brine
1 tsp capers
Pinch cayenne pepper
Fresh black pepper
½ tsp Greek oregano
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water

To grill vegetables:

Pre heat your grill to 450F.

Place red pepper, eggplant and onion in a bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and water. Place pepper, eggplant, onion on grill. Grill onion and eggplant for 12 minutes turning half way. Remove from heat to a bowl, let rest, covered, till room temperature.

Continue cooking pepper for another 10 minutes or until charred and collapsing. Transfer to a paper bag and let it cool completely. Remove skin, stem and seeds.

To make tapenade:

Add all ingredients except nuts to food processor and pulse for a couple of minutes. Add walnuts and pulse again briefly. You want a semi coarse paste. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, transfer to a platter and serve. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a jar covered with a thin layer of olive oil.

Use it as a dip for vegetables, bread, crackers or even as a sauce for pasta.

The flavors are exquisite with a lot going on: sweet, sour, pungent, smoky, salty, and fruity; really the perfect combination. Steven and I almost ate the whole tapenade for dinner one night. There was barely any left for the following day, though it tasted even better then.

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I adore palm hearts. I wish they were more widely available here in the US. I used to get them from Trader Joe’s but they’ve stopped selling the Brazilian type, which are the best in my opinion. There’s really no substitute for Brazilian palm heart. Will you TJ people reconsider selling them again? I was able to get some at Mercado Brazil, a Brazilian store in the Mission district. Thank god!

palm heart cherry tomato salad

palm heart cherry tomato salad

Palm Heart Cherry Tomato Salad

1 can chilled palm hearts (Brazilian), rinsed and cut into ¼ inch lengths
1 pint halved cherry tomatoes
½ bunch chopped Italian parsley
1 tbsp minced shallot
Kosher salt
3 tbsp Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss well. Let salad stand at room temperature for a few minutes to allow flavors to marry. Your guests will love it!

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spring greens with cherry tomatoes and roasted red bell pepper dressing

March 17, 2010

Only recently I realized that the ‘bell’ in bell pepper is called that because the shape is reminiscent of a church bell. The same holds true for the ‘navel’ in navel orange. It looks like a belly button. I love English for its flexibility. Just the other day I posted an entry on sow thistle, […]

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fusilli with spicy Thai peanut sauce

December 24, 2009

My friend, Kristen, moved into her new house a few weeks ago with her, now, long-time boyfriend, Y. Last Saturday we finally got the chance to see her new pad at her house warming party. Finally! She disappeared from our radar for several months on her quest to find the ideal home. Naughty girl 😉 […]

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