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.

ingredients:

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

directions:

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,

elena

 


a plethora of pomegranates…

capturing the essence of the pomegranate...

capturing the essence of the pomegranate…

hello dear readers of colormykitchen.com,

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!

elena

 

 


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.

warmly,

elena

 


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/albrent07@gmail.com)

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.

ingredients:

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 colormykitchen.com 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.

enjoy,

elena

 

 


the tomato doesn’t fall far from the bush…

enjoying the flavors (and colors)  of summer!

enjoying the flavors (and colors) of summer!

hello everyone,

when my dad was growing up he lived and worked on a farm in los angeles.  he told us that he couldn’t “play with friends” because he and his siblings had to work on the farm when they weren’t in school.  amongst the many crops his family grew, were acres of cherry tomatoes.  the BURGENO & SONS farm was well-known and sought after for their flavorful cherry tomatoes. (see above photo for their packing label…circa 1940’s)

they say we inherit personality traits, physical resemblances and health issues (good and bad) from our parents and generations past.  well, not only did i inherit the desire to farm (albeit on a very small scale in our frontyard triangular beds), but the absolute need to grow, pick, eat and create summer dishes using a variety of cherry tomatoes.  some people crave sweets, others have shoe fetishes, but i am a self-admitted cherry tomato addict.  i don’t choose to eat them because they are filled with lycopene and healthy phytonutrients, though this is a bonus, i choose to grow and eat them simply because my entire sensory being craves the sweet/tart pop of the freshly picked fruit.

my husband likes to tell the story of a time a few years back i confided that i thought i might need to stop ingesting acidic foods.  tomatoes, being highly acidic would be banished from my diet.  he likes to end the story by relaying to listeners that i started crying at the thought of not eating one of my all time favorite foods.  he is not embellishing the story…i did cry, briefly.  faced with this difficult decision — alkaline v. acidic stomach, the tomatoes won out!  and, i am happy to report that my health seems perfectly fine.

there are SO many ways to use the colorful little orbs of sunshine in your kitchen. of course they are an excellent and lowfat snack, but can also be the focal point of a summer dish.  as mentioned above there are also many health benefits derived from eating fresh and cooked tomatoes.  one such benefit is skin protection and the reversing of wrinkles.  well, heck, who wouldn’t want to do that?!

my adorable papa turns 85 years old on tuesday, 23rd july 2013…coincidentally he has no wrinkles, his hair is thick and full, his mind and body are agile.  most importantly, though, he still enjoys his fruits and vegetables, amongst them the beloved cherry tomato.

happy birthday, papa… and thank you for sharing your life with me, rick, rob, margaret, your grandchildren, and mom (helen).   you are an impressive role model of what it means to be kind, gentle, bright, charismatic, appreciative, hardworking and generous to your fellow humans.

with much love,

elena

p.s.  i just picked this bowl of cherry tomatoes from my frontyard and tonight i will halve them, toss with pieces of ripe nectarine and cubed fresh mozzarella, add slivers of fresh mint and drizzle with a spicy olive oil—seasonal, local, organic and wholesome, not to mention “colorful” and healthy.  when we enjoy the dish, i will thank of my dad…


plum…crazy?!

stonefruit "salsa" is colorful and refreshing!

stonefruit “salsa” is colorful and refreshing!

hello friends and family,

i think you will all agree that summer is the season for simple, healthy recipes and impromptu gatherings.  taking full advantage of the vibrant seasonal fruits and vegetables and the warmer light-filled evenings lend themselves to many memorable meals shared with those we love.

we experienced one such evening last week.  our dear friends and neighbors of over a dozen years, the rick/destiny irons family, invited us over to their “temporary” beach house for a cocktail party and barbecue.  (they are in the final stages of a major remodel of their own home.)  in addition to the ubiquitous cheese, olive and wine offerings, we wanted to share a colorful dish from our garden.  for me, the fun and rewarding aspect of growing a prolific edible garden is “creating” something with the ripest produce we are harvesting that particular day or week.  as we are still blessed with juicy, sweet/tart, ripe santa rosa plums, we decided they would be the focus of our dish.  now the question begged:  plum tart, pickled plums and red onions, plum compote, plum gelato or simply a bowl of fragrant plums as an offering?

my daughter, domenica, and i came up with something using many of our favorite flavors, including the plums and limes from our garden.  here’s another “suggestion”, not so much a recipe of how to enjoy summertime stone fruit.

A SALSA OF SORTS…

ingredients:  2 cups firm/ripe santa rosa plums, seeded and chopped; 1/4 cup finely diced red onion; 1/4 cup finely diced yellow or orange bell pepper; 1 jalapeño or serano chile, tiny dice (membranes and seeds removed for less heat); 1 large firm/ripe avocado, diced; 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice.  mix fruit, onion, peppers and chile together, gently fold in chopped avocado, lime juice and salt/pepper to taste.

not many ingredients!  definitely quick and healthy! immensely flavorful!  try it yourself with:  grilled pork tenderloin, roasted/herbed tofu, over chicken enchiladas with a tomatillo salsa, as a side to seared scallops, a topping for grilled fish tacos, or simply as a salsa with some hearty chips.

that evening we shared many stories, laughs and memories.  over the course of the cocktail hour the plum “salsa” disappeared and was touted as a successful “creation”.

it’s always wonderful to grow, harvest and enjoy fresh produce, but even better than that is sharing the bounty with people whose company you cherish.  enjoy those impromptu summer gatherings and keep the ingredients simple, seasonal and refreshing…

elena

p.s.  next post:  four varieties of cherry tomatoes…my favorite!


summer…in a jar

the essence of summer...

the essence of summer…

hello everyone –

to celebrate the summer solstice, i thought i’d pass along a simple and healthy “suggestion” for just what to do with the plentitude of beautiful, fragrant and mouthwatering stone fruit the season graciously bestows upon us.

this past weekend we picked several pounds of tree-ripened peaches and nectarines from the CAL POLY/SLO campus orchards.  while picking, you can eat as much fruit as you want, so naturally we enjoyed the juiciest of fruits which dribbled down our chins, made our fingers sticky and overfilled our bellies.  (we then went on to pick three pounds of amazing blueberries…again, all you can eat.  let’s save that story for another post, shall we?)

after packing up domenica’s dorm room, filling every inch of our car with college supplies, we headed home.  though we had only been away for a couple of days, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that our own santa rosa plum was in full production.  branches were drooping from so much fruit, many plums so ripe they had fallen to the ground.

what to do with all this amazing stone fruit which we can all easily find NOW at farmers’ markets, supermarkets or neighbors’ trees?  our lovely solution is not so much a jam, but a “compote” (see photo) of amazing color, fresh flavors, texture and healthy ingredients:

4 quarts mixed (or not) pitted/quartered stone fruit (we leave the peel on); 1 lemon zested and juiced; 1 vanilla bean (optional); 1/2 cup sugar…that’s it!

put all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a simmer for 30-45 minutes or until somewhat thickened and bubbly.  stir occasionally and try not to break up the fruit too much.  let cool to room temperature and spoon into clean jars or freezer containers.  at this point you can refrigerate and enjoy for up to two weeks or freeze for wintertime enjoyment!  the compote is versatile…spread onto toasted country bread with sweet butter, spooned atop greek yogurt or vanilla bean ice cream…it is the essence of summer in your mouth.

there are many pleasures to be had during the summer season ahead, but harvesting ripe fruit, creating something simple, healthy and delicious is amongst the best…only made better when your daughter is home for summer vacation and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor together.  this is going to be a fun/memorable summer!

enjoy the solstice and gather up some stone fruit…

elena

p.s.  we’ve found that contrary to most jam/compote recipes, you really don’t need as much sugar as called for.  we prefer the vibrant taste of the fruit itself without all the added sweeteners.  try it and see what you think…