I haven’t cooked much since Richard died. I’ve always loved to experiment with fresh food and make up new dishes, but the truth is, it’s just not as interesting cooking for one. Furthermore, my neighborhood grocer, Ploughboy Local Market, now carries delicious deli items and soup made fresh in their kitchen from local foods (along with fresh-baked Salida Bread Company bread and rolls). The prices are reasonable, and I can even bring my own to-go container. It’s just too easy to just walk down the block and come home bearing dinner in my stylin’ and sustainable glass container.
I miss cooking though. So I’m starting to invite friends over for dinner to give myself the motivation to cook. I started with Dave and Kerry from Ploughboy. And then I worried that my cooking mojo might be out of shape. Nope! I enjoyed preparing a whole meal, and even invented a citrus, hard-boiled egg and avocado salad that’s simple, healthy, and delicious. It’s great counterpoint to a spicy main dish for dinner, or, mounded on whole leaves of crisp butter lettuce, a yummy lunch in itself. Of course, neither grapefruit nor avocado are local, but I did buy organic, and the eggs were uber-local, from friends’ hens just a few blocks away. (Thanks, Maggie and Tony!)
So here’s what’s cooking:
Winter-bright Citrus salad
1 ruby-red grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 T walnut oil (if you don’t have walnut oil, a very light olive oil would work, but you’d miss the lovely nutty flavor, which adds a savory note to the salad)
¼ tsp salt
fresh-ground pepper to taste
Cut grapefruit in half midway between the poles. Using a serrated spoon or grapefruit knife, cut sections from membranes and put into a medium mixing bowl. Pour in juice. Halve avocado, and cut into chunks; slip chunks off peel and add chunks to bowl. Peel and chunk hard-boiled eggs. Add to bowl along with walnut oil and salt. Stir gently, and add fresh-ground pepper. Chill or serve at room temperature. (Makes four small servings or two larger ones.)
I served this bright and smooth salad with steamed vegetables frozen from last summer’s garden over brown rice, topped by spicy Southeast Asian peanut sauce. I was so busy serving and eating I forgot to take a photo, but here’s the peanut sauce recipe:
Easy Southeast Asian Peanut Sauce
1 T vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
4 cloves garlic minced
1-½ T chopped fresh green chile
1 ½ cups water
⅔ cup peanut butter, preferably fresh-ground and not salted or sweetened
2 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp red chile powder
2 T chopped fresh mint leaves
Saute garlic and green chile just until fragrant, and then add water (turn heat down at first so it doesn’t splatter!), soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar and red chile powder. Stir thoroughly to integrate peanut butter, and simmer for four or five minutes or until it thickens slightly. Serve warm over chicken, fish, shrimp, and/or vegetables and brown rice or quinoa. Top with fresh mint leaves. (Serves 4-6.)
The combination of spicy sauce and pungent fresh mint is just delicious.
For dessert? Double-chocolate gelato (I bought this) topped with my own port-sweetened sour cherries, warmed. Yum!
Port-sweetened Sour Cherries
3/4 cup pitted sour cherries (I pitted and froze these local cherries last summer)
1/2 cup ruby port
1 T honey
Combine cherries (frozen is fine), port, and honey in a small, thick-bottomed saucepan. Simmer on a low flame for at least half an hour to give cherries a chance to thaw and absorb port flavor. (Make sure liquid doesn’t simmer away.) Spoon warm over gelato. Heavenly!
The changes to come? Not that I need another project right now, but I can’t put this one off any longer. So I’m diving into a long-overdue redesign of my website, and also of this blog. I’m still in the sketching-it-on paper stage (I know, so old-school, but I’m a visual thinker). In a month or so, I’ll have something to show you. If you have comments, complaints or requests related to this blog and my website (susanjtweit.com), let me know… As always, thank you for your support and your thoughtfulness.