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

 


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

our favorite spring harvest!

our favorite spring harvest!

dear friends and relatives of colormykitchen.com…

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…

elena

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/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

 

 


cauliflower gratin with a citrus twist…

a “lighter” gratin dish with a hint of lemon…
Print
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
Ingredients
  • 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
  • TOPPING:
  • 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)
Instructions
  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
Notes

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...


Twelve weeks ago today…

anini beach…coral collection

anini beach…coral collection

aloha everyone,

it’s been awhile since i’ve written…let me explain.  hard to believe, but just twelve weeks ago today i underwent emergency hip fracture surgery on the island of kauai.  many of you know the story, but for those that have not heard, following is a brief synopsis.

dave, domenica and i decided to hike the kalalau trail, na pali coast, on the last day of our summer vacation in hanalei.  we got an early start, parked at the trailhead, had snacks and gear packed for an afternoon snorkel.  the trail conditions were optimum—dry and clear weather.  we quickly arrived at hanakapi’ai beach (2 mile marker) and decided to climb two more miles to the first waterfall.  we continued at a relatively brisk pace and the surrounding rainforest and bamboo groves were magical.  domenica and i commented on a tiny cleared space for helicopter landings…wondering why it was there?  little did we know, that a few hours later we would await a rescue helicopter at this very site.  we waited for 40 minutes and then continued onto hanakapi’ai beach where the helicopter and rescue crew flew me to princeville airport to transfer by ambulance to wilcox hospital in lihue.

you see, i never made it to the waterfall because i fell on a boulder while crossing a stream.  the fall was of sufficient force to cause multiple fractures in my left upper femur.  with the help of a stranger (and saint?) named art, dave carried me down the trail on his back, my leg dangling.  domenica ran 3 1/2 miles to the trailhead for lifeguard assistance.  i did my best to breathe and think positive thoughts.  after all, the next morning was our flight home and we still had LOTS to do on our last day.  however, the doctors informed me that i would not be going anywhere until i had interotrochanter hip surgery complete with pins, plates and screws that will remain in my leg forever.  a day and a half after surgery we flew home.  i cannot tell you how good it was to see domenica at the airport and return home to cardiff!

though this setback has been a challenge in many ways (think:  no driving, needing shower assistance, not able to get socks on!), it has also reinforced what i already believed in my heart:  family and friends want to help and are truly compassionate.  it has also reinforced my belief that the foods we choose to eat, the thoughts we choose to think, and the company we choose to keep, all influence our bodies, minds and spirits.

so, watch your step; eat healthy foods; keep moving your body and stretching your mind daily.  above all, don’t take ANYTHING or anyone you love for granted. heartfelt thanks to everyone who visited, provided food and comfort.

much love especially to dave and domenica—in times of distress, the love of family is what gets us through each day.

always…elena

p.s.  NEXT (EXCITING!) BLOGPOST:  domenica and i will be featured in a national magazine entitled “mother earth living” jan/feb. 2014 edition.  the magazine is due on newsstands at the end of this month.  i hope you will join us in supporting this beautiful and timely magazine which celebrates “natural homes and healthy life.”

 


time to “spring” the blog!

IMG_0053

hello friends, old and new,

i am pleased to announce the official “launch” of my website…colormykitchen.com which is primarily a recipe blog inspired by the colorful and nutrient-rich produce that is bestowed upon us with each changing season.

please take a few minutes to read my ABOUT ME and FAQ sections so that we may become better acquainted and you will understand my motivations for initiating the project.  i am hopeful you will subscribe to my blog via the easy RSS button which will deliver new posts/recipes to your email address on a weekly basis.  i will post simple, flavorful, vibrant recipes, kitchen tips, food-related trends and nutritional updates.  feel free to contact me with specific questions, ingredient requests or recipe comments.

as an added bonus, i will hold random gift drawings from time-to-time.  the gifts might include a specific food item, kitchen tool or cooking class in your own home.  let’s get started with a subscription and possible prize now!

if you are one of my first 100 subscribers and randomly chosen, you will receive a much coveted baker & olive “zing flavor box” which contains two fresh olive oils and two aged balsamics with fantastic pairing suggestions.

follow me (now!) for a weekly serving of color-infused recipes and creative tips from my kitchen to yours…

buon appetito,

elena