eggplant parmesan/lasagne “hybrid”…comfort food!

eggplant parmesan/lasagne "hybrid"

eggplant parmesan/lasagne “hybrid”

hello CMK readers!

yes, it’s been too long since the last blogpost.  i hope to remedy that…starting now!

it seems to be cold/rainy most everywhere in the U.S. right now and sitting down to something warm/saucy/healthy/colorful is just the thing to lift our spirits, satisfy our palates and share with loved ones.    in our little household we LOVE eggplant parmesan and lasagne (be it veggie or traditional).  however, often both dishes are laden with too much cheese and/or meat, which take away from the flavor of the vibrant and health promoting vegetables.  rather than using a lasagne pasta, i layered the “lasagne” using eggplant slices. it was a kitchen “experiment” and we were pleasantly satisfied with the final dish.    i hope you will try it…not many ingredients and loads of juicy flavor. BONUS:  makes great leftovers!


1 large globe eggplant — sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 medium brown onion — coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves — sliced thinly

1 bunch of fresh spinach (or 5 oz. container of fresh baby spinach) rinsed

1 large (28 oz.) can diced “fire roasted” tomatoes (i prefer MUIR GLEN brand)

thinly sliced asiago cheese for layering and 1/2 cup parmesan for sprinkling

misc:  panko breadcrumbs, olive oil, red chili flakes, salt/pepper to taste, fresh rosemary or thyme, chopped  parsley for serving

simply dredge the eggplant slices in a combination of panko breadcrumbs, olive oil, fresh herbs and salt/pepper/chili flakes (to taste); spread a few spoonfuls of diced tomato sauce on bottom of baking dish (13″x9″) and start layering as follows:  eggplant, onions, garlic, handful of spinach spread evenly, thin slices of asiago cheese, sauce — repeat with remaining ingredients, leaving some eggplant and cheese slices for the top layer and cover with diced tomatoes.  bake (covered) at 350 degrees for approx. 1 hour; uncover and bake 10 minutes longer to brown cheese.

that’s it…enjoy with some red wine, green salad and crusty bread to mop up the garlicky sauce!

i hope the year ahead brings you good health and lots of time to spend with those you love…





50 shades of green…

just picked and chopped greens/herbs

just picked and chopped greens and herbs…

hello friends and relatives of colormykitchen…

well, maybe i exaggerated about the 50 shades of green just to get your attention!

seriously, following the recent rainstorm (thank goodness) all the colors of the garden, including the greens, are vibrant, welcoming and calming.  i’ve always been drawn to greens and blues, however since undertaking watercolor/pen/ink classes with the talented, popular and delightful instructor, lori mitchell (ATHENAEUM SCHOOL OF ARTS & MUSIC, la jolla) i am substantially more aware of color, composition, shadow, movement, light, structures of buildings, details of faces and eyes, negative shapes and attempting to capture the third dimension on paper.  all very daunting and challenging, yet exciting to become much more “aware” of everything i view.

i admire lori’s work and methods so much that i will be joining her and ten other artists for a sketching/walking tour of the cote d’azur, france, in a few days.  no doubt this trip will inspire art, food photos and inventive recipes for!

on the home front, the photo above is a combination of herbs and greens just picked and chopped for addition to our sunday morning frittatta.  if you have a small space, or not much time to spend in the garden, i highly recommend planting a few herbs and greens.  these edibles are fast growing and SO flavorful (and expensive at the market).  the above photo consists of:  arugula, tuscan kale, african blue basil, winter savory, flat leafed parsley, greek oregano and spearmint.

to conclude with some EXCITING news…domenica and our front yard “dining room” is featured in the MAY/JUNE 2015 issue of Mother Earth Magazine (page 9) for a piece entitled “healthy home-breathing room”.  please pick up a copy of the magazine which is loaded with ideas  to make our lives and homes healthier and more abundant.  we are proud to be featured once again in this publication.

best news of all…domenica will be home soon for summer vacation from CAL POLY/SLO. just in time for ripe plums, apples, tomatoes (tons), figs, eggplants, cucumbers, pole beans, herbs, dahlia bouquets, lunch in the garden… cooking with her mom and surfing with her dad.

merci beaucoup for reading and please keep in touch,


roasted citrus salad with avocado…

roasted citrus avocado salad

roasted citrus avocado salad

citrus slices read for the oven

citrus slices ready for the oven

hello color my kitchen readers!

it’s been too long since i’ve posted…life gets busy and certain things fall to the wayside unfortunately.  however, i’ve been constantly testing new recipes and this one is excellent and EXTREMELY flavorful, healthy and simple—not to mention colorful!  since we are pretty much nearing the end of the citrus season, time is of the essence if you care to try the salad.


1 cara cara orange, two blood oranges, two lemons (preferably meyer); 1/2 small red onion; 1 cup (plus two tablespoons julienned) fresh mint leaves; 10 oz. fresh mixed greens (i prefer baby lettuces and arugula for this recipe);  olive oil; one or two ripe, but firm, avocados; salt/pepper; 1/3 cup fresh citrus juice for soaking the red onion


preheat oven to 425 degrees.  thinly slice the citrus (attempt to make them the same thickness).  toss with olive oil and salt/pepper and roast for 20-25 minutes (watch closely for possible burning…you want them charred, but not burnt).  this caramelizes the citrus and sweetens it. set roasted citrus aside to cool. meanwhile, combine thinly sliced onion and juice (with a bit of cold water) in a bowl, set aside. cut avocado into wedges.  arrange salad on platter:  greens interspersed with mint leaves, citrus slices layered around perimeter; drained onion slices on top of greens; and the “crowning” element, the wedges of avocado sprinkled with julienned mint leaves.  good olive oil/balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top when serving.

i adapted this recipe from the january 2015 issue of BON APPETIT, one of my favorite foodie magazines.  i also think it would be nice with added raw pistachios and/or toasted walnuts.  if you love citrus, as we do here in the burgeno-berman household, you will enjoy this salad.

happy spring and thank you for reading,



a plethora of pomegranates…

capturing the essence of the pomegranate...

capturing the essence of the pomegranate…

hello dear readers of,

about 15 years ago my parents gifted us with a scrawny twig of a plant.  however, this twig did display beautiful shiny green/yellow leaves and scarlet flowers.  my parents bought it for us as a decorative landscaping plant.  dave planted it within view of our kitchen  window where we can enjoy its seasonal changes and view the birds feasting on the split fruit, their little chins/beaks dripping with crimson juice.  that “plant” is now a 25′ tree laden with pomegranates.  more this year than ever (because of the heat) and since then we’ve planted three more “poms” which are all abundantly producing.  i did a bit of research about the origin of the tree and discovered several facts about this ancient fruit.

the pomegranate is believed to have originated in regions of iran and northern india, specifically the himalayas.  it was introduced to latin america and california by the spanish in 1769.  today it is widely cultivated in the southern mediterranean region of europe.  it is a deciduous tree, typically 12-20′, with bright vermillion/scarlet flowers in the spring.  it is self-pollinated AND cross-pollinated by insects.  this could explain our abundance of fruit, as the burgeno-berman garden seems to be a haven for bees.  very fortunate, indeed.

the fruit is ripe when the tough outer skin has turned a deep pink-maroon hue.  fortunately the healthy and vibrant fruit can endure a long storage and actually becomes juicier and more flavorful with age.

sadly (or so i thought), “consumer demand in THIS country is not great.  more pomegranates wind up as decoration in fruit bowls than are consumed.” WIKIPEDIA

the majestic fruit is crowned at the base by a “calyx” and contains distinctive segments filled with sweet/tart arils.  the fruit is fat free, a good source of fiber, folate and VITAMINS C and K.  some cultures believe the ancient pomegranate boasts medicinal powers, such as: inhibits fevers; treats heart/throat/mouth diseases; improves intellect and strength; is an aphrodisiac; quenches thirst; combats hot flashes; lowers cholesterol; checks cancer growth; and stops aging!  wow…i suggest we stop using them as decorations in the autumn fruit bowl and start enjoying the juicy, ruby red fruits in every which way.  here are a few ways we use them:  atop salads, crowning yogurt/granola bowls, squeezed into juice, brightening up a grain dish or sautéed greens…or, one of our favorites, dropped into a glass of dry champagne or prosecco for an instant (and colorful) celebration of life.

there have been MANY articles written over the years on how to EASILY clean the arils from their membranes…without making a bloody mess of yourself and everything nearby.  i tried various methods and find this the absolute easiest, quickest and cleanest:

trim the crown and base with a very sharp knife; score the tough skin just through with your sharp knife; split into quarters; have a bowl ready for the discarded skin and membranes and another to catch your arils; GENTLY, but firmly, dislodge the arils with your thumb—many will pop off at once; continue until all sections have been cleaned; enjoy!  (perhaps avoid wearing your best white shirt to do this job?)

NOTE:   i’ve been timing my method and can easily clean a large pomegranate in 7 minutes.  (see above-photo for a visual on how to cut/separate the segments)

another interesting bit of information i learned:  in greece, when someone buys a new home, it is conventional for a houseguest to bring a pomegranate as a first gift to be placed under/near the home “altar” as a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck.  little did i know i was blessing domenica’s new home in SLO when i brought up a large bag of pomegranates on move-in day.  let’s hope they bring the new berman-jodar household good luck, abundance, beauty, continued good health (and fertility in about 15 years from now!).

take care and come over to pick some pomegranates!




one year ago today…

morning of the hike on the napali coast

morning of the hike on the NA PALI  coast

hiking the NA PALI coast...

dear friends and family,

they say your life can change in an instant.  let’s imagine one minute you are hiking with your family on a picturesque and somewhat treacherous trail and the next minute you are being flown by rescue helicopter to an ambulance en route to the local hospital… and scheduled for emergency hip fracture surgery.

unfortunately that was the case for me exactly one year ago today.  (see photo above of the lush kauai coastline and domenica and me on the first portion of the hike).   fortunately we had kept the NA PALI coast hike for the last day of our summer vacation in hanalei.  our days had been full of beach activities, healthy eating, mixed with relaxation and incredible sunsets.

surgery was successful and the flight home not too difficult.  it was so good to be back home and see domenica for two days before she left to SLO for her 2nd year at CAL POLY.  recuperation seemed slow at first and i tried my best not to get discouraged.  being confined to the couch ALL DAY was a huge adjustment!  luckily, i had an amazing team of compassionate caregivers and professional healers.  i owe my speedy recovery (back to “normal” in eight months) to my excellent surgeon on kauai, richelle takemoto, MD, the topnotch nursing staff at WILCOX hospital, my SCRIPPS physical therapist, nicole archambault, my friend and acupuncturist alan toyofuku, my friends and neighbors who kindly brought us nourishing lunches and dinners, and my siblings who checked in frequently with encouragement and love.  not to mention,  my dear neighbor julie thomas who visited nightly to make me comfortable, massage my swollen leg/foot, replenish my water jug and share stories and laughs.

though i am a fairly strong-willed person, i’m certain i would not have recovered so quickly had it not been for dave and domenica’s constant support—emotionally and practically.  domenica was at CAL POLY but contacted me multiple times per day and trekked home by train to visit.  her positive spirit kept me optimistic during the most difficult days.  the MOST consistent, patient,  and loving supporter of all, though, was my husband dave.  he adeptly and pleasantly took over all household chores — cooking, shopping, nursing duties, laundry, banking, wheelchair excursions… (even some cleaning!) — all while working full-time and keeping my spirits uplifted.  i was reminded of our marriage vows…
“in sickness and in health” and blessed to have him by my side.

i was thinking about dave and the rest of my caregivers recently when domenica and i hiked MADONNA mountain, a dormant volcano in SLO.  i was contemplating how fortunate i was to be back on the trail (albeit an easy hike compared to the NA PALI coast trail) with my daughter,  taking in the beautiful surrounding hills,  and breathing the invigorating fresh morning air.

all in all, the year flew by and perhaps i am a more appreciative person (of my body, of my family and friends, and of the earth)  due to this “minor setback” as i’d like to call it.  however, for future hikes, trekking poles are the way to go!

thanks for reading and stay tuned for simple, colorful, seasonal and creative food posts to come…




got figs?

MISSION figs from the front yard…local and seasonal!

MISSION figs from the front yard…local and seasonal!

dear friends and family—readers of colormykitchen,

this summer we’ve been blessed with a bounty of “mission” figs and the harvests have been substantial (see photo above).  domenica has created several healthy and simple recipes using the fresh figs:  fig/olive/caper tapenade (excellent with goat cheese); dehydrated fig/almond snack bars; figs roasted with balsamic vinegar; and a fig/rosemary focaccia also using some spent home brewing beer grain.  this is in addition to the fruit compotes and hundreds of figs we ate while picking.  i experimented with various fillings for the tree ripened figs:  manchego, goat gouda, gorgonzola, prosciutto, walnuts, pistachios, sage, thyme… in different configurations, then simply broiled the treats until the cheeses had melted, nuts toasted and prosciutto crisped.  there’s a certain alchemy between the sweet fig, pungent cheese and salty ham that is irresistible.

we also discovered the PERFECT  container (recycled) for transporting the ripe and delicate fruit:  egg cartons!  several friends and neighbors received an egg carton filled with figs this summer.  fresh and free fruit is always a welcome gift, don’t you agree?

sad to say, as with most lovely things and experiences, the figs are coming to the end of their season.  if it’s any consolation, the vibrant dahlias are gracing our front yard, our mango tree is drooping from too much fruit and our pomegranates (on 4 trees!) are turning redder by the day.  time to start thinking about autumn, i suppose.

actually, though, the saddest part of summer coming to an end in five weeks (not that we’re counting) is domenica’s return to CAL POLY, san luis obispo.  we’ve enjoyed a fantastic summer of family outings, coffee dates, seasonally inspired and leisurely dinners, interesting chats and relaxed evenings.  there is nothing like having a younger, adventurous, energetic, creative, hardworking and thoughtful person permeating your household…even if it is temporary.  however, she is off to beautiful SLO and very excited about her new rental cottage…complete with a patio for barbecues/lounging… and a yard for growing herbs and vegetables.

as my dear friend, bruce stephens, recently wrote to me, “be grateful for every day.” we should all heed his sage advice.  i hope this message finds you healthy, happy and enjoying the season.




blackberries, bordeaux (the city), basque country…and blessings

our favorite spring harvest!

our favorite spring harvest!

dear friends and relatives of…

yes, it’s been forever since my last blogpost.  MUCH has happened this spring and i will do my best to synopsize.

first of all, and most exciting:  domenica is returning this week from her escapades in europe.  during and after her semester abroad in pau/pyrenees, she traveled to: barcelona, bayonne, bordeaux, biarritz, toulouse, lourdes, paris (3 times!), budapest, vienna, san sebastian and dublin.  we cannot wait to hear of her many adventures, newfound friends and enjoy her smile and warm demeanor.

in late april dave and i had the pleasure of meeting domenica’s lovely and nurturing french host family, the duranteaus of PAU.  with domenica in tow, we spent a couple of weeks in beautiful pau and the surrounding lush basque countryside.  highlights were the jurancon valley, the grottoes of betharram, bayonne (especially the BASQUE museum), san sebastian and biarritz.  the biarritz “les alles” (farmers’ market) was the most bountiful and vibrant farmers’ market i’ve ever attended.  ALL of the crops/food products were of exceptional quality and the displays were impressive.  we concluded our visit of southwestern france with three nights in bordeaux, a beautiful UNESCO-recognized city.  i was blessed to spend my 60th birthday there with dave and domenica and it was the perfect “celebration of life”.  after a healthy breakfast at our apartment, we ventured to the GALERIE DES BEAUX-ARTS.  after taking in the art, we happened upon a small, yet well-stocked, farmers’ market.  we purchased picnic treats:  local fresh cheeses, salami, breadsticks, pesto, strawberries and a bottle of red wine, bien sur (of course!)!  our picnic in the sunny museum gardens, amidst the many blooms, is something that i will remember forever.  i didn’t think it could get any better, but then domenica pulled out the perfect birthday gift for (her) mom—a brightly colored and lettered tea towel from bordeaux.  she knows me well…

once sated from our flavorful picnic, we enjoyed a coffee and canele at BAILLARDRAN, the famous shop.  we strolled the cobbled streets and found a large bookstore, LIBRAIRIE MOLLAT and spent some time browsing.  little did i know, dave and domenica secretly purchased 3 small cookbooks (in french) to add to my collection. that afternoon we enjoyed an organized wine tasting with erik at WINE CELLAR & CO. erik was very personable and knowledgeable and his shop is well-stocked with wines of the bordeaux region.  after a respite and a walk along LA GARONNE (river) we had an authentic and delicious meal at a local “bordelaise’ bistro.  we started with a champagne toast to the birthday girl (me), to domenica for studying abroad in such a unique and lovely place, and to dave, for working so hard to make it all happen and taking the time off work to be with his “girls”.

may 4th (my 60th) seems ages ago and we’re back to our respective routines at work and home.  however, there is much to be happy about in cardiff as well.  we are blessed with daily baskets of ripe, juicy, antioxidant laden blackberries.  please see my FACEBOOK page for a representative photo of a blackberry, nectarine, walnut “crisp” that dave and i made last week.  the rest of the garden is doing well, too, with dahlias, cherry tomatoes and melons coming shortly.

soon domenica will arrive home for summer (or part thereof) and you can be sure we’ll be “playing in the kitchen”, posting recipes and photos and testing them first on dave, our resident (and happy) taste tester.

hope your spring has been blessed as well and thank you for reading…


p.s.  a spécial merci beaucoup to adam louis troldahl (domenica’s cousin) who was the consummate host during her stay in vienna.

seafood friendly pesto…or what to do with a surplus of english peas?

a spring green pea pesto…

a spring green pea pesto… (photo courtesy of SHANE ALBRENT/

happy spring, dear readers…

here at the burgeno-berman household we have a few yearly garden rituals.  one being that every year at the end of march (today) we harvest what’s left in the winter/spring garden beds and prepare the triangular beds and soil for the planting of dahlia tubers.  this year we were happily blessed with bowls full of tender and colorful lettuces, spicy arugula, chioggia beets (with delicious beet tops) and hearty rainbow swiss chard.   however, this year the most bountiful crop by far were the plump and spring green english peas.

over the past months i’ve added them raw to soups; i’ve created pasta dishes with peas as the edible focal point; i’ve blanched them for salads and grain dishes…and we’ve eaten the raw peas straight from the pods.  today i experimented with creating a “pesto of sorts” with the peas.  since we are having unseasonably warm weather (unlike most of the country) i thought some grilled shrimp tacos might be just the vehicle to deliver the pea/cilantro pesto to my readers…and to our dinner plates tonight!

i kept the consistency rather chunky to show off the texture and color of the raw peas…and because we love texture in our food.  (if you prefer a more “hummus-like” consistency, by all means add a bit of water, olive oil or vegetable broth).

the ingredients are few and the prep and clean-up are VERY easy.    the taste is fresh and evocative of a pesto, but with non-traditional “pesto” ingredients.  though the goat milk feta is optional, i feel it gave the pea pesto just the right amount of saltiness.


1 cup shelled english peas (not frozen); 1 cup packed cilantro w/stems; 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar; 1/4 cup raw pine nuts (or unsalted nut of your choice); 1 large peeled garlic clove; 2 tablespoons goat milk feta (optional); salt to taste.  puree all ingredients in a food processor…voila!  told you it was simple!

yields approximately: 1 1/2 cups pea/cilantro pesto

NOTE:  the pesto would be tasty (and vibrant) on toasted baguettes; wholegrain crackers; tossed with some spinach pasta; dolloped on an egg dish; or as a seafood condiment (see above photo).

i hope you will try it and let me know what you think.  keep checking for blackberry recipes (going to be harvesting in a month) and, of course, for photos of the magnificent dahlias that will gracing our front yard in july/august.





savory muffins with roasted beets and scallion…

you'll love these savory and filling muffins…breakfast or snack!

you’ll love these savory and filling muffins…breakfast or snack!

savory muffins with roasted beets and scallion…
Recipe type: breakfast or snack…
Author: elena (adapted from 101 cookbooks/heidi swanson
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 12
instead of the usual “sweet” breakfast muffin…why not try a savory version?
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (or more pungent asiago)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 scallions (green and white parts) thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (i used dill)
  • 2 medium beets, chopped
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup finely julienned spinach or swiss chard for added fiber and a dash of healthy greens…
  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. line a muffin pan with 12 paper cups (i use the natural brown parchment type)
  3. scrub and peel the beets; finely chop and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt/pepper
  4. roast beets for 20 minutes and cool
  5. while beets are roasting, whisk cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs and water together in a large bowl
  6. add the whole wheat flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and whisk until no lumps remainj
  7. set aside 1 tablespoon of roasted/chopped beets for garnish
  8. gently fold in sliced scallions, remaining chopped beets and finely chopped herb of choice (i used dill because beets & dill work well together)
  9. divide batter evenly and top with a few beet pieces to garnish
  10. bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown
  11. NOTE: the muffins store well in the refrigerator and make a great “on the go” breakfast or snack during the busy week…heat slightly

cauliflower gratin with a citrus twist…

a “lighter” gratin dish with a hint of lemon…
Recipe type: vegetarian side dish
Author: elena
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour 10 mins
Serves: 6
healthy “gratin” dish with a hint of citrus, dill and creamy Greek yogurt
  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (i prefer FAGE nonfat)
  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill (or mixture of thyme/dill)
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs (plain, not seasoned)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (or mixture parmesan/asiago)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (or mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped dill (or mixture of dill/thyme)
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. fill large pan with salted water; bring to rapid boil
  3. thoroughly rinse and trim a large cauliflower; leaving stem intact
  4. carefully drop whole cauliflower into boiling water for parboil…5 minutes
  5. remove cauliflower; drain and cool
  6. while cauliflower is boiling/then cooling, butter or spray a gratin dish (or pie plate)
  7. in a small bowl mix yogurt, lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons chopped dill, diced shallot, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup parmesan (or blend), salt and pepper to taste
  8. when cauliflower is cool enough to handle, chop coarsely (including stem) into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl
  9. add yogurt/lemon/cheese/herb mixture to chopped cauliflower and mix thoroughly
  10. in a small bowl mix all topping ingredients
  11. evenly spread cauliflower mixture in gratin dish and evenly spread topping over gratin
  12. bake for approximately 45-50 minutes until golden and bubbling
  13. BROIL baked gratin for 1-2 minutes (depends on your oven) to thoroughly brown topping
  14. OPTIONAL: sprinkle broiled gratin with a bit of chopped dill or fresh thyme

there is something about the combination of lemon, dill and Greek yogurt with a small bit of parmesan cheese that transforms this humble (yet healthy) cruciferous vegetable into an aromatic and delicious side dish…try it!

a healthy gratin with citrus, greek yogurt and dill...