Name that Salad!

I would rather eat this salad (or whatever you call it) than many, many things.  It’s just that yummy, healthy, faaaaast and keeps me within my new/old eating less is good life.  But I don’t know what to call it. So this post is one just for you.  Read, enjoy the pics, but come up with a name for this dish.  This is the day to comment on this blog! 

Before the fish story, here’s one piece of this week’s weather.  We had winds so high I’m surprised any grass is left (I have little), snow, rain, sleet, hail, and just about anything else.  We also had  a rainbow…

 About the fish salad:  provenance?  I’ve had a similar, but still different, salad at Wahoo Fish Tacos.  I think that’s where the idea came from.  For almost a year, though, I’ve been trying all kinds of fish and vegetable combinations, and am really interested in fish cooked in vegetables.  Great thing is that it’s in keeping with my cutting my caloric intake by 25%.  It’s working! 

Re this recipe:  It sounds labor-intensive, but it’s actually quick like a bunny.  Grill a big bunch of vegetables sometime during the week, and you’ll have them ready for this salad or any other meal.
Then all you need to do is throw out some greens on a plate and cook the fish.  You can be eating in 10 minutes.  I keep individually frozen pieces of tilapia in my freezer and then I’m ready any time.  (One of my favorite lunches is grilled vegetables in a high-fiber, whole wheat tortilla..topped with a little ranch dressing and a sprinkle of grated cheese.)  Grilled vegetables are also a super starter…Just do a neat dip and you’re ready to go.  A little more interesting than the ubiquitous veggie  or cheese tray. Check out my grilled asparagus post.  Ok, here it is.  What shall we call it?

Fish Salad/needs name

Serves 4

3 ea small zucchini and yellow squash, sliced horizontally and grilled*
1 large red bell pepper, sliced and grilled
2 large red onions, sliced thickly and grilled
1 medium eggplant, peeled, sliced thickly and grilled

1# medium button mushrooms
½ c sliced shallots

6 c fresh baby spinach leaves
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and split in half, dipped in lemon juice

8 tilapia filets or similar white, firm-fleshed fish
5T olive oil, divided
1 t (or more to taste) chili powder
½ t kosher salt
¼ t fresh ground pepper

½ c light Ranch dressing, best quality
¼ c salsa

2 large tomatoes, chopped finely, optional

1 lemon, halved. ((You’ll use half to squeeze and slice the other half.)

In a medium skillet, heat 1T of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots. Saute until mushrooms are golden, tossing regularly.

Meantime, divide the fresh spinach among four large plates. Divide the grilled vegetables and mushroom-shallot sauté atop the spinach, leaving room for the fish that you’re about to sauté. In the corner of each plate, place one half avocado. Set plates aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2T olive oil.** Add four tilapia (or other) filets, showering each with chili pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for about two minutes, until golden on one side. Gently turn the fish over and season second side. Cook for another two minutes or until crispy and flakey. Be careful not to overcook; this fish is done quickly. Taste a bite, if necessary, to assure yourself.

Remove fish from skillet and add two cooked filets each of two dinner plates. Repeat procedure with the other four fish filets, first adding the other 2T olive oil to the skillet.

While fish cook, mix the ranch dressing and the salsa in a small bowl or measuring cup to make the salad dressing.

After adding the last of the fish to the other two dinner plates, take the lemon half and squeeze it over each plate, making sure every element gets a bit of juice. Scatter chopped tomatoes over plates, if desired. Slice the other half of lemon and add the slices to salads for garnish. Drizzle salads with a bit of salad dressing each, and bring the rest to the table to pass.

*Another option is to oven-roast these vegetables. To do that, heat the oven to 400 F. Toss all of the vegetables with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on large baking sheet. Salt and pepper liberally. Roast about 30 minutes (to your taste), taking them out and stirring them mid-way through the cooking. If you don’t like these veg, choose others. Asparagus grills nicely. You could add tiny potatoes, too, particularly if you’re roasting the veg.  If you’re really pressed for time, cut the vegetables and cook them briefly in the microwave.

**Grill the fish outdoors if you’d like. Make sure the grill-pan is well-oiled.

Two-Dog Kitchen Continues….

This week’s dog stories include………  (pics below)

    Fun with Gabby and Tucker

Gab ate pectin and part of a 5# bag of sugar out the back of the car while I delivered an article to a restaurant.   Needless to say, I had to shop again to get ready to make blackberry jam.  (Next post, maybe.) I also got to be on puke clean-up patrol all night long.  Thank goodness I have a carpet shampooer.
Tucker learned to snack on the toilet paper hanging off the roll.  He loves it, and I don’t have to buy dog treats anymore.

Gab was on guard one night all night long, and barked, growled, and jumped on the bed so many times to alert me of the skunk/deer/bobcat/coyote/squirrel/robins/doves….about to attack the house that I finally just got up and stayed up.  So much for sleep.

Tucker is finally traveling with us in the car, but discovered he’s not all that fond of motion, and might prefer to stay home and sleep for now on.  He lost and regained his breakfast repeatedly on Saturday.  He also put deep claw marks on the console of my brand-new Subaru Forester.   There are few words.  And all of them are nasty.  After that episode, we did take Tucker back to the house before continuing errands.  Well-behaved Gabby, on the other hand, was allowed to continue the trip.  While Dave went in to Ace to buy Thai basil (and came out with Sweet Basil, Tarragon, and German Thyme), I ran into the ARC to check on some Havilland Limoge plates.  Gabby jumped into the back of the car and ate a whole package of the high-fiber tortillas mentioned above, as well as a French roll I had bought for Dave’s dinner…  We didn’t know about her al fresco meal (she’s so sneaky) until we unpacked the groceries, because she jumped back to the middle seat after her “lunch,” and was sitting there primly when we returned.

Tucker does not like to heel, and almost killed both Gabby and me refusing to comply with commands when cars were coming.  He is now literally on a very short leash and practising more often.  He is interested in chasing leaves in the high winds we’ve been having.  Not much else.

Sing a new song; name a new salad, love your dogs no matter what,

September Staples: Chicken Squash Pasta with White Wine Sauce

We awoke yesterday to 40 degree temps, cold rain on the mesa and snow in the mountains… One day left to “fall,” but winter had given us a draft of the final memo. Herb pots were rapidly ushered into the south dining room window and house plants, happy outdoors since June (well, sometimes), returned to their spots on top of the cabinets and hanging in the mudroom. Pansies, stoic and strong (“I can do this!”) stayed outside on the table and the geraniums in big planters just took their chances.

Dogs nosed around in the wet, then raised their heads to lead a pose with their drifting noses back and forth: “And I came out here, why?” New dog ran right back inside and hit my bed. (He’s still learning; I don’t like dogs in my bed. Next to; in front of, yes. In, emphatically: NO.)

It was also the first day of our daughter’s life in real seminary at Princeton after a preliminary, but exquisitely difficult, summer Greek course. We were anxious to hear about things like “New Testament Exegesis,” which sounds perhaps just as complicated as it is. Interpretation from the original language is how she puts it. Having no Greek or Hebrew, we’ll have to rely on what she tells us. I often read the Bible in multiple translations (all English, with occasional Spanish) at once because it helps me to think about understanding things a bit better; I’ll leave the rest to her! Occasionally, over the years of academia away from home, she will ask, “What’s for dinner?” just as if she were still here. I had no time this call for an explanation of a new pasta dish I had made, but I have it here for you!

It’s almost the end of September Staples around here, but I was just using up the rest of the frozen chicken thighs from Hutson’s Tortellini Soup. Of course, if you buy most meats in huge packages and divvy them up yourself, you’ll save a bit of cash. Same thing with these thighs; I buy them in large quantities and package them in freezer bags of four or six. The day I made this pasta, I had no time to shop at all and simply walked into the kitchen grabbing what vegetables were available that I thought might hit it off with the unthawing thighs. I almost always have squash of several types for risotto or quick omelets, so I grabbed some of those and began to think.

Before I knew it, I had a pot of water boiling for pasta, knowing that if I had the time limit of the water coming to a boil and the pasta cooking, we would eat in a half an hour. As we had a dvd of an old movie to watch, time was of the essence. About once every other week or so, we set up dinner on trays and watch a movie. Too relaxing!

Chicken and pasta or fish and pasta is so light, but also quite filling and, naturally, very good for you. Here’s the recipe from the most recent experiment. We adored the Pecorino Romano on board; what a great flavor at a fraction of the price of parmesan these days. I scraped it with the potato peeler for large gratings and good, pronounced and intense flavor. Here’s how:

First the veg, then the meat… I didn’t want the meat chewy.

Chicken Squash Pasta in White Wine Sauce
Serves 3-4

¾ # spaghetti or linguine
Salt and pepper
1 T + 1t olive oil
¼ t red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
1 ea med zucchini and yellow squash, sliced
1/2 # asparagus, cut into 1 ” pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 sliced boneless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
½ c white wine
½ lemon, juiced
2 t butter, optional

1/2 c cherry tomatoes

4T Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring 8-10 qt pot of water to boil, salted, peppered and oiled with 1 tsp. olive oil. Cook pasta as directed on package ‘til al dente. (Pasta continues to cook in colander.)

In large sauté skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat for 1 minute. Add onion and squashes. Cook until softened and add garlic and salted and peppered sliced chicken thighs. When thighs are whitened around edges, add wine, lemon juice and butter. Cook, stirring gently, until chicken is barely done. Add tomatoes and barely stir. Turn off heat.

Add pasta to bowls and top with chicken, vegetables and sauce. Grate romano on top and serve while quite hot. I also topped the pasta with a teense of leftover marinara and fresh basil I had leftover from Eggplant Parmesan hoagies. Si place (do as you like.) Refrigerate leftovers and reheat at half-power in microwave. Reheats well!

Wine: We used a lovely off-dry Riesling to offset the heat of the red pepper.

Dessert: Oatmeal Raisin cookies

Who do you know that loves pasta?

Sing a new song,


September Staples-3-Pepper Short Ribs

Friday Morning. 43 degrees F Leaves on trees still green; robin in cherry tree…
If you read the last blog, you’ll know I spent a day making a new tortellini soup and tasty it was! In the middle of getting things out of the garage (I have a pantry, huge upright freezer and extra double-wide frig out there) for that soup, I noticed it was time to finish clearing out meat from the freezer before winter came and I needed the space for legions of soup, stews and boo coo Tupperware containers of cookies. To say nothing of the things I make ahead for Thanksgiving, which include stacks of cranberry bread. I digress. ( What else is new? )

September Staples includes using up the frozen meat. It appeared there were two huge briskets, short ribs, a standing beef roast and some boxes of Omaha steak hamburgers, which are my emergency rations for any occasion. Sounded like time for a party to make barbequed brisket (coming to your food blog soon), but, in the meantime, the two small packs of on-sale short ribs caught my eye and out they came.

I love short ribs and they have been sort of a trendy entrée for a while, but I also find them 1. full of fat and 2. pricey, pricey. When they’re on the cheap, I’ll grab some, try and cut out some of the fat (useless—just figure on pot roast calories that day) and fix them braised in beer or wine with onions, served over sticky rice with a plate of garlicky green beans on the side. Great for a winter crock pot when you’re busy all day.

It wasn’t winter, but it had cooled off enough to want something more substantial than fish and salad. (We did eat outdoors in the “cool, cool, cool of the evening.”) And who doesn’t love a reason to raid the wine cellar of some cookable AND drinkable red wine? I also cook for therapy and to keep busy sometimes; cooking is good for that and baking is even better. The day I went to cook the ribs, I had a pretty rough morning personally and it threatened to knock me low; I needed to cook to free my mind and heart to consider new endeavors. (Blessings abound; the next day I saw “Julie and Julia” and saw further possibilities in life.) Cooking is so…..


Let’s do something I don’t usually do with these ribs…. I went over all of the ways I’ve made them. My friend Rick loves them any-old way and I think I’d made them for our wine group a time or two just simmered all day long with lots of broth, wine and garlic. Those were boneless ones, even more expensive and, frankly, while yummy, none of them had a lot of meat for the bang. I used them for starters and kept some behind in case someone at the dinner party didn’t like fish, the main course. What else? I got to thinking about my Dad and his cooking style.

My Dad was from near New Orleans, and, hence, cooked a lot of things with onions, celery and green peppers. In those days, I didn’t see yellow or red peppers; where were they? I grew up with produce grown in my own back 40; those are the vegetables I know best. The red peppers we grew were hot enough to make a child very ill indeed; I stayed well clear of them. Lord, Lord, Lord. Just to think of them makes my mouth burn. But the pepper thing came back to me; I had plenty of peppers in the frig drawer as they had been ten for ten dollars. (My father would have called that highway robbery, but I call it a good deal in a world where fast food hamburgers are usually cheaper than fresh peppers.) At this time of year, my Mom would make pans full of stuffed green peppers, freezing them for wonderful cold winter nights. Why not throw these peppers on top of the ribs and see what happened?

Oh, my; you’ve got to make these. If you don’t have short ribs, cut up some pot roast. Tempting, filling, satisfying and great leftover, reheated. Make a lot. I see no reason why you couldn’t freeze this dish for later if you did a double batch. Here’s how:

3-Pepper Short Ribs
Serves 3- 4

2 T olive oil (use regular, not extra-virgin—not so much olive taste)
Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper
8 bone-in short ribs
2 large onions, cut into eighths
4 cloves of garlic whole
4c beef broth, low-sodium, gluten-free or regular
2c red wine (any full-bodied)
2 large carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
3 large sweet peppers, sliced (I used one ea: red, yellow, orange)
2t dried thyme
¼ t crushed red pepper

Heat oil in Dutch oven to medium high. Salt and pepper well ribs. Brown them well, about 5 minutes on each side. Stir in onions and garlic; cook five minutes. Pour in broth and wine. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add carrots, celery, peppers, thyme and red pepper. Stir well. Cover and cook until short ribs are tender, about 2 ½ hours. Spoon off as much fat as possible or strain the cooking liquid through a gravy de-greasing measure cup. (Get one for Thanksgiving now if you don’t have one.)

You could make this in the crock pot: follow through Stir Well and put in crock pot. Cook on low about 6 hours.

Accompaniments: I served this with the juices over mashed potatoes along side a medley of green beans, carrots and mushrooms seasoned with a little more thyme. French bread for sopping juices.
Green Beans were $1.00 per pound…………Mushrooms were $3.50 per pound………… ????????

Wine: We liked an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon with this dish; an Argentine Malbec would also be fine. (Save the good cab for steak or standing rib roast.)

Dessert: Probably not.

Current Reading: Barbara Brown Taylor’s THE PREACHING LIFE and Dorothy Sayers’ THE NINE TAILORS. I thought I had read everything Dorothy Sayers had written and was heartened and hopeful to find this old mystery involving church bells (one of my favorite subjects) that was written in 1934. My parents weren’t even married until ’36! Excellent, excellent reads.

Bloggin’ dogs…………………………………….
Current Listening: I invested in some “old” Mo-town cds a couple of weeks ago and I’m still listening. Also have on albums from The Rose Ensemble, a vocal arts ensemble out of Minneapolis. I’ve heard some lovely music from my students this week; people making music together. Chopin, Bach, Morgan…It’s all good!

Don’t weigh yourself today.
Sing a new song,

In memoriam: Mary Travers/The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

September Staples-Chicken Tapenade Salad

Something tells me you haven’t recently dreamed about creating a chicken eggplant salad and, I have to tell you, I haven’t either. ‘Til the other day, that is. I had in mind a Greek salad of some sort because I thought I had cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, etc and figured I’d throw in the aging eggplant sitting in my frig. Best laid plans. Also known as Alyce plans; God laughs. There was no cucumber and it was nigh on to dinner time. There were boneless chicken thighs and leftover tapenade. What to do? The idea for a warm salad began to come together and the idea of including spinach and rice moved in.
The bare bones beginning of fall is starting in the Front Range. “The air smells differently,” said my come to lunch piano student (also a professional gardener.) A few trees here and there have some turned leaves and the day doesn’t hold the heat long any more. Plants still growing look tired, “Am I still here; isn’t it time to do something else yet?” Rain, wind. Autumn wreaths are beginning to appear on the doors and fences in the neighborhood. So while salad is still sounding yummy, warm rice and chicken sound just as good. How to combine them?
Grab, cook, figure……….. Eyes narrowing, lips pursing. Nose wrinkling in thought. Right. Who’ll eat this if it’s no good? And, worse, the local pizza delivery we frequent just closed. Not because we didn’t spend plenty of money there, often opting for salmon or a grilled veggie wrap. (Bye bye Rotelli’s; we’ll miss you!)
What else is in the frig? This is, after all, September Staples and time to clean out and prepare for the “year” ahead as summer wanes. Ok, already saw tapenade and, while there’s no basil in the frig, there’s basil in the pot on the deck, still growing despite the cool wind. Onions and garlic on the counter: always good with eggplant.
Start the rice first; it takes longest. You can figure the rest out as you go. Then, out comes a saute pan; out comes another. This will be done more quickly with two. Get the onions and garlic going; add the eggplant.
Chop the thighs, brown them nicely.
The dish is starting to form a picture for eyes and tastebuds. Get out a great big platter… always a good idea for something attractive. Line it with spinach. And so on. Here’s the recipe, written after the dish was not only on the table, but nearly eaten whole by two very hungry people. While it appears complicated, it came together in twenty-five minutes while the rice cooked.
Now the thing that made things interesting was cooking around the big guy below (pic taken another day)

Rocket Man loves the kitchen. Are all dogs like this? He doesn’t mind the mess of a galley.

Chicken Tapenade Salad (aka Cooking with Dogs)
Serves 4
1 c Basmati rice (or any rice you have)
2 c water
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
5 T olive oil, divided
6 chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into 1″ pieces (sub zucchini??)
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 c fresh spinach
1/2 c cherry tomatoes
1/4 c chopped fresh basil, divided
1/2 lemon
1/2 c tapenade* (see below for info or just chop kalamata olives instead)
In 2 qt covered pot, bring 2 cups water and 1 c rice to boil; season well with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook until almost tender. At 6,500 feet, this would be 25 minutes or a tad more. Probably 20 minutes for the rest of you.
When rice is nearly tender, add 2T chopped basil and set aside, covered.
While rice cooks, saute onion in 2T olive oil for five minutes; add eggplant. Cook until both are gently soft, about 10 minutes more. Add 1 clove garlic and salt and pepper well.
After vegetables are cooking up, heat another skillet with 2T olive oil and add chopped chicken thighs. Salt and pepper them well. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, adding another garlic clove after initial browning. When nicely browned and cooked through, remove from heat.
Scatter spinach around edge of large platter (14″ or more). Mound rice in center. On top of rice, spoon first the eggplant mixture and then the chicken thighs. Scatter remaining basil over all and spoon tapenade on a line in the middle of the chicken. Dot the rice with the cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining 1T olive oil and squeeze lemon over all. Dust with salt and pepper. Serve warm, room temperature or cold within a day or two. If extra tapenade, serve with crackers on side.
*You can buy tapenade (chopped olives, garlic, anchovies sometimes and olive oil) at most groceries or you can make your own. Great on crackers or crostini and wonderful as an omelette topping. To make your own:
Throw all these things in the food processor and whirrrrrrrrr:
1 c pitted kalamata olives
2 anchovies
2 minced cloves of garlic
2 T olive oil
3 T minced fresh parsley
optional: splash wine vinegar, teense of red pepper flakes
A tapenade story: Some years we give a Christmas wine and cheese party. One year, not long ago, we did this and I, at the last minute, added a huge bowl of this tapenade, surrounded by whole wheat crackers. It was the first thing to disappear, though a country pate was the most talked-about dish. You know how a lot of people “don’t like olives?” Those people weren’t there, I guess.
Wine: Drink rose while you can. I like all kinds, but Tavel (French) is my current fave.
Dessert: Oh, my friends, the Colorado peaches are still here…. Slice some up with a little Greek yogurt and drizzle with best honey. (Apples on way.)
Enjoy the cool wind coming as you eat this hearty, but healthy salad.
Sing a new song,

September Staples-Leftover Frittata

Leftover Fritatta

Labor Day–wonderful three-day weekend with a myriad of possibilities. Walks, talks, cooking, a few put-off chores (deck painting) and some neighbors in for a meal or two. Also a day to babysit a golden retriever with an injured leg and her new pal, a Great Pyrenees named Rocket.

————————————————————Gab loves Rocket

Now Rocket is a new addition and is only 10 months old; he weighs about 100 pounds and thinks he can sit on your feet and lap. He also thinks our queen-sized bed belongs to him. Try to get one hundred pounds of anything off your bed. (Where else would he sleep? No where else is big enough.) So far, he’s as sweet and calm as the day is long, but he has one big problem. He doesn’t like closed doors. If a door is closed (like the one to the garage), he simply stands and whines and whines and whines… You get the idea. I think he misses his old family and may be contemplating and/or planning his escape; he definitely wants to be wherever Dave is and, right now, Dave is golfing. Can you hear this puppy crying? A newborn baby’s fussing cannot hold a candle to this galoof.

—————-Why did you say this door was closed? No bed for me?

Despite the new family member, or maybe because of him, we had next-door neighbors Mike and Sara Hillman over for dinner last night. It appeared I had four 2″ thick pork chops in the garage frig that needed to be eaten or frozen. Much better fresh, why not share with friends? Tyler Florence has a great brined pork chop recipe that he serves with a sumptuous tapenade and roasted vegetables. We made that; it’s easy and pleasing to everyone. Mike toted over a nice Oregon Pinot Noir and the night began. (Puppy lying at my feet, quiet now…Has he given up?)

The night was so pleasant, in fact, that we were able to spend a little time on the deck before it was too chilly. Lovely meal, but three of us couldn’t eat all of our chops; I sent Sara’s home with her and kept the rest of ours along with the cold roasted vegetables (new potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, onions, yellow peppers, flavored with rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil).
When I woke up this morning (100 pounds of white fluff jumping up–ready or not….) to the smell of Dave brewing coffee–heaven’s smell, I think–Dave had out on the stove a small omelette skillet and asked if I needed it for breakfast. I had not yet thought about breakfast, but gave the idea a whirl while I had my coffee. The little skillet wouldn’t do, because I just knew the leftovers from last night would make a super frittata that would feed us for breakfast, lunch and dinner if we wanted. Not only that, it would make a good addition to the September Staples blog–all about using things that are already in the house for meals.

————————————Out came the cold roasted vegetables

I grabbed the cold vegetables and pork chops out and gave them all bit of a hearty dice and set them aside. Adding a little butter to the pan, I sauteed 1/2 a small chopped onion, a clove or two of garlic and some fresh mushrooms.

On top of that went the cold veg and pork and a slew of beaten eggs, parsley, some cheese (hoop cheddar–what was in the drawer) and a few extra tiny tomatoes for garnish, taste and color. Cooked a couple of minutes on the stove and popped into the oven for another five minutes or so- et voila, breakfast. Out of the oven, Dave showered on some parmesan.

I have done this same thing with leftover sausage, ham and a variety of vegetables and starches; pasta works well and what else do you do with it? One of my favorites is to use the toppings from take-out pizza. Use what you have; have what you use…whatever. A morning of thanksgiving for the beautiful day, beautiful leftovers and, well, maybe for the crying baby dog, who now sleeps peacefully at my feet. He barely fits under the table as I write. Certainly thanksgiving for a morning with enough time for breakfast. Here’s how:

Leftover Frittata
serves 4

2 cups leftover meat and/or vegetables cut up roughly into 1″ pieces or less
1t butter
1/2 c onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c fresh mushrooms, optional
8 eggs beaten
1/4 c parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 c grated cheese of your choice, divided
1/4 c tiny tomatoes
1/4 c parmesan grated

Preheat oven to 400 F. Set aside cold veg and meat. Heat over medium flame an ovenproof 12-14″ skillet with butter; add onion, garlic and mushrooms, sauteing until soft. Add cold veg and meat and warm through. Mix parsley into beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over meat and vegetable mixture and stir in half of the cheese of your choice. Sprinkle with the rest of that cheese and add the tomatoes. Let frittata cook until eggs are about half-way set and then place skillet in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and eggs are set. Remove from oven and shower with parmesan. Cut into quarters and serve hot or cold, today or tomorrow.

———————–Glads at our table————————————

Sing a new song; make a new breakfast………..


September Staples-Pasta with Sage Clam Sauce

Like some of you, I spend some time each month with BON APPETIT, GOURMET, FOOD AND WINE, etc. I actually have a terrible time letting go of old copies, kind of like some folks with their NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC stash. As I straightened out my office yesterday, I found a stack of November and December cooking magazines from the last few years. No, they did not make it to Good Will. Hoarder. When holidays roll, I take them all out and look at them (and the current issues) to dream of menu possibilities and fill a basket in the living room with the bounty of years’ worth of Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes.

Well, this month’s BON APPETIT is jam-packed full of great ideas. Pick it up if you don’t have a subscription. Somewhere in that issue, there is reference to making meals for a week (or two) out of what’s in the pantry and the frig… at least mostly. Giving the grocery and your bank account a rest. Cleaning out the shelves. At this time of year, I am all over that; I’m ready to clear out my garage pantry to make sure last year’s candied fruit doesn’t go in this year’s fruit cake and to pitch last year’s pintos in favor of the fresh ones ready soon at Rocky Ford. It’s also a good time to fill up a bag or two for the local food pantry, whose shelves are full come Thanksgiving and Christmas, but often suffers from shortages as school starts. You won’t use four jars of jelly before the expiration date, but someone else might.

I’ve been home from San Francisco and the Bay Area (also Napa) for a couple of days, but those have been taken up with a sick puppy, who somehow tore a huge gash in her leg playing ball outdoors. (Gab is recovering nicely, thanks.) Anyway, the grocery store and I have not yet met this week and I’m reduced to delivery or something from the pantry. Favorite delivery place did not answer (help!!!), so it definitely was the pantry. Canned pumpkin and Progresso soup aside, the canned clams and Cento tomatoes immediately caught my eye as I poured over the pics from the trip.

Here are a few favorite, dreaming trip pics:

Zin grapes from Tres Sobores (Rutherford)…

Not quite ready for crush…………Two more weeks of Napa sun

Old vine……………mmmmmm

——————-Over 100 degrees…a tad warm for vinyard walking

New Napa friends…

We spent a warm day, even for Napa; the wines were worth it. Visits this trip were to

Tres Sabores
Chase Vinyards
Terra Valentine
Fisher Vinyards

There were soft, rambunctious, outrageous, flamboyant and creative wines everywhere we went, but Fisher was the standout. I may have fallen just a little bit in love with the owner, that might have done it. (Just talk wine, honey!) More on the wine another post; it won’t arrive at home for a while (until the weather cools.) Many loving thanks to friend, Rick, who picked places we visited. What a job he did! What wine is on the way! Some for now; some for later; one special bottle for a friend whose wife is about to have a baby. The idea is to save it for the child’s 21st birthday; it could happen.

Sunday, we had an over the top visit with family and spent a soft, breezy afternoon in their back yard….Bay area..the backyard was the family room!
Cooked, visited, played catch, drank some Napa Chardonnay, did it all again.

World famous Moraga chef, Brad Morgan and son Nicolas

Dinner tonight (back home–boohoo) was a pick-up affair, after that trip. Didn’t stop it from being delicious and perfect for the late summer moment:

——–Veg cooking down in saute pan–the start of the sauce

Pasta with Sage Clam Sauce
serves 4

3/4-1 # spaghetti or linguine
sprig fresh sage (opt)
2T olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek (white only), minced
2 stalks celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
5-8 small, fresh leaves of sage (or 1t dry), shredded or chiffonade
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 28oz can Cento tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1 10 oz can Baby Clams
Kosher Salt/Freshly-ground black pepper

1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
(see below for pantry notes)

Set to boil 6qts water in 8-10qt stock pot. Add 1t Kosher salt, a few grinds of freshly-ground black pepper and a sprig of fresh sage, if you have it. Cook pasta as per directions on package and keep warm.

Meantime, heat to medium heat a 12-14″ saute pan and add 2T olive oil. Stir in onions, garlic, leeks, celery, carrot, sage and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are tender. Add white wine and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes. Cook five to ten minutes, stirring often. Lower heat and add clams. Heat through.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

With tongs, place pasta in each bowl and top with sauce. Garnish with cheese.

Serve at once.
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
Dessert: Skip it
Pantry notes: I happened to have the fresh vegetables in the recipe, but you surely could make this sauce with less of the fresh. For instance, if you had onions only and dried sage, the sauce would still be good. Even just garlic would work…just something to flavor those tomatoes. I buy Cento tomatoes in large quantities and always have dry pasta and arborio rice for risotto as well. My frig pantry is seldom without Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (less expensive, different flavor) because they are such stand-out flavor boosters.
I also keep a small jar of minced garlic in case I’m out of fresh or the fresh has sprouted those tiny green shoots.

Fast and furious; fun and famous………….
Make clam sauce soon. It’s done before the pasta. Light, filling, nutritious..
Did I say YUMMY?
What’s in your pantry?
–In memoriam–Sheila Lukins, co-author, SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK–
Recipe writer, developer, business woman and chef,
Owner of The Silver Palate, New York City, changer of American
women’s lives extraordinaire. Done and gone too soon———

Sing a new song,