the forgotten cheese of my childhood

when i was young, my dad would make me pasta with brown butter and mizithra cheese... a classic dish. it was probably my favorite pasta dish for years, but somehow i forgot entirely about the lovely mizithra cheese! it's been years since i've had the dish, and my tastes have changed (i can't seem to go a meal without veggies)... so here is my new take to this old childhood favorite:

for the pasta:
spinach spaghetti
unsalted butter
greek mizithra cheese, finely grated
olive oil
1 head of garlic, peeled
cherry tomatoes
fresh basil
sea salt and pepper

to time the cooking right, i first roasted peeled garlic with olive oil, wrapped in foil (450 degrees for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown). while the garlic is roasting, bring a large pot of water to boil with salt. in another small pot, brown a few table spoons of butter, heating slowly and stirring often until color becomes dark caramel-like. once the garlic finishes, mix the garlic cloves and their oil with the brown butter. let cool. then spread your cherry tomatoes out on a foil covered tray, and spray with olive oil to coat. toss your pasta in the boiling water, and then throw the tomatoes under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes until the tomatoes start to pop and blacken. in the mean time, grate the mizithra cheese. once everything is finished, toss your cooked pasta with a bit of the brown butter and olive oil mixture. top with whole garlic cloves, whole roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and of tons of mizithra!
i just love the way the light mizithra clings to my pasta! yumm!

savory green tomato cobbler

last summer i came up with a brilliant idea for using an excessive amount of cherry tomatoes growing from my parents garden. i wanted to stew them, and i knew i wanted some baked good to soak them up with. and then it dawned on me: cobbler. i had never heard of a savory cobbler before, but if one were to make such a thing, tomatoes would be the perfect filler. 

i don't know why i didn't think to remake the cobbler this summer. until this week, when i was gifted with a bag of green tomatoes from my band mate's garden. i could have just substituted them into the previous recipe, but i decided to tailor it to the new flavor. i envisioned some cross between cornmeal-fried green tomatoes and my old recipe. i was a bit skeptical as i was throwing it together... preparing myself for plan b: leftover vegetable soup. i don't know why i lost confidence. the cobbler turned out to be spectacular! the next day, i reheated the leftovers in a small cast iron skillet in the oven and topped it with a fried egg. 

savory green tomato cobbler ~ serves 4-6

3 lbs green tomatoes, or about 5 cups
1 large yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch chili flakes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

biscuit topping: 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoon coarse cornmeal
extra grated cheese

preheat oven to 375. cut onion in half and cut into thin slice. heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. cook onions slowly, stirring every few minutes, until caramelized - about 15 minutes. remove from heat and transfer onions to a large mixing bowl to cool. remove any stems on tomatoes, and cut into large chunks and add to the mixing bowl along with remaining filling ingredients. using your hands or spoon, gently stir the mixture without squishing your tomatoes. pour this mixture into a 9-inch square casserole dish (or pie pan works just as well). 

to prepare the biscuits, mix dry ingredients in a bowl. cut butter into tiny bits, and add to flour. using your hands, work the butter into the mixture until it forms crumbles of dough. add grated cheese & diced jalapenos, stir to distribute evenly into the flour mixture. finally, add milk (starting with one cup) and stir to combine. add more milk if needed - texture should be fairly sticky and not very formable. 

to assemble, drop 1/2 cup dollops of dough on top of the tomato mixture. i fit about nine drop-biscuits on top of my cobbler. allow a little space in between each biscuit for room to spread. top each biscuit with a small sprinkle of grated cheese and a dusting of cornmeal. if you have extra dough, do not cram it onto your cobbler. just make a few drop biscuits on a lined baking sheet (about 25 minutes in the oven) ... you can snack on these while you wait for the cobbler to finish! 

bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the tomatoes are clearly bubbling and biscuits are nicely browned. let cool for 10 minutes before serving. excellent with a fried egg or a green salad! 

coconut macaroons

for the past, oh maybe two or three years, i have been feeding an addiction to coconut macaroons. i've changed dealers a few times. first, there was jodee, that tempress! her shop was just two doors down from the yoga studio i practiced at daily. she made amazing bite-size raw vegan coconut macaroons with chocolate and served amazing cold brew coffee with the best house-made almond milk i have ever tasted. it was impossible not to go to yoga without going next door for my well-deserved treat.

then i discovered macrina bakery made an equally delicious, non-vegan, but still chocolate-infused coconut macaroon. they are lighter in texture and maybe a half-bite larger than jodee's. but when i moved to the central district, i didn't have an easily accessible source. or so i thought! until i realized that the best coffee shop in my neighborhood, broadcast, had jars of macrina macroons in their pastry case!! so while i may be missing out on jodee's fabulous almond milk, my coffee options have expanded and i still get my dose of macaroons. 

this story is all quite ironic considering i used to hate coconut as a child. maybe it was because of those awfully sweet almond joy candies that i dreaded finding in my halloween treat bag. i guess i liked coconut milk on my thai sticky rice. but you couldn't get me to try anything else with coconut as a kid. 

i have no reason (yet) to curb my addiction. instead, my ambition was to recreate these little treats in my home kitchen. i started with a classic coconut macaroon recipe. eventually, i hope to perfect my chocolate infused coconut macaroons. stay tuned...

coconut macaroons ~ makes many! 
2 egg whites
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
10 oz un-sweetened, shredded coconut

preheat oven to 325. line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 

in a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except coconut. continue whisking until foamy and sugar is dissolved. then add coconut, and mix to coat evenly. 

using a deep spoon, or or small ice cream scooper, lightly compress the mixture into a mounded shape and drop onto the baking sheet - about 1 inch apart. *i didn't have an ice cream scooper so i used a looseleaf tea infuser thing that gave my macaroons a cute egg shape. 

bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the bottoms and edges. let cool completely and store in an airtight container. 

autumn chia breakfast bowl

i love the heat of summer, but fall is probably my favorite season. the colors of the trees, the true sense of changing seasons, and the cool breeze and chilly evenings that force you to dig out your sweaters from the bottom of your dresser. autumn in the northwest is gorgeous. i get giddy thinking about winter squash and winter vegetables, but i absolutely love all the jewel tones of autumn fruits. pears, plums, figs, pomegranates... they are almost too beautiful to eat, sitting all together in my fruit basket. almost.

chia seeds have become rather popular in the past couple years. i think it's hard for people to imagine anything past chia pets when they hear the word. anyhow. instead, try to imagine a superfood that tastes like tapioca-like pudding. ish. chia seeds are packed full of antioxidants, omegas and complete proteins. simply soak them for 30 minutes in your choice of water, juice or non-dairy milk, and you have a wonderful porridge. add a touch of sweetness, or sweet spices or fruit and enjoy.

autumn chia breakfast bow:
serves one very happy morning person

3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or even better with a small scrape of vanilla bean seeds!)
2 fresh figs
1 small plum or pluot
1/4 cup raw or toasted nuts - hazelnuts are my favorite
a drizzle of honey
a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds
a dusting of poppy seeds

soak chia and poppy seeds in almond milk with vanilla for 30 minutes. whisk every 10 minutes or so to separate clumps. top with slices of fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and a good drizzle of honey. sit in the autumn sunshine and enjoy.