Fig and Bresaola Salad


The end of the summer always brings us the most delectable fresh figs. They are among the things that I will make a special trip to the farmer’s market to seek out this time of year. My daughter and I both like the green colored Calimyrna figs, but the black mission and brown turkey figs are equally delicious when they are soft and ripe.  The sweet figs, salty bresaola, and peppery bite of wild arugula come together in this beautiful salad. You may also wish to add shaved Parmigiano Reggiano to further round out the flavors. Regardless, it will make a perfect beginning or ending to any meal.

Zesty Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables


Even though it has been a remarkably warm winter here in Southern California, the immanent arrival of summer inspires one to think about grilling more frequently. This flavorful grilled shrimp is super easy to prepare and would be fantastic to serve for a small family dinner or a large crowd.

Polenta Stuffed Chiles Rellenos with Mushroom Hash


I was recently diagnosed with being gluten intolerant. It is a very hard thing to come to terms with since I am a gluten junkie. A few years ago, when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis I gave up gluten for nearly a year and felt great. Even then, I attributed my well being more to the removal of gluten from my diet than following a plant based diet. Being vegan and gluten-free was a challenge that interfered with my lifestyle and that of my family so I started to reintroduce it to my diet. The arthritis seemed to stay under control with the aid of medications, and life went on as I happily indulged in my favorite sourdough breads, durum wheat pastas, and baked goods. It all seemed just fine for quite awhile until last summer when I started to not feel so well and unbeknownst to me, the role gluten was playing in my lackluster health was furthest from my mind.

Creamy Polenta


Polenta is among my favorite sides dishes or components to any main dish. Served soft and creamy when it is freshly prepared or set in a pan and used for a casserole, grilling, or Chiles Rellenos, it is a yummy and satisfying dish to have in your repertoire. Polenta is also a fun and excellent dish to serve with a variety of toppings for a party. You can serve it in a large bowl or pour it out onto a large stone or cutting board for your guests to serve themselves from. Serve with cheeses, tomatoes, sauces or pestos, olives, prepared meats, grilled vegetables, or anything else you can think of.

Pasilla Corn Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche


I learned this recipe this when I worked at Mustard’s Grill in Oakville, California where I was fortunate enough to have one of my first restaurant jobs. My first job in the Mustard’s kitchen was working in the pantry. The pantry cook plates or takes part in the preparation of salads, appetizers, various side dishes, and desserts. It is the basic starter position on the cooking line where there are cooks working the grill, saute, and otherwise. Making the batter for and griddling the  very tasty Pasilla Corncakes was one of the many jobs I undertook while on pantry duty, and the recipe is imprinted on my brain to this day.

Valrhona Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


This recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Shortbread is one the very best that I have hidden away in my arsenal. They are incredibly easy to make and perfect every time. How perfect your end result will depend entirely on the quality of the ingredients you choose to use.  It WILL make a difference. So just trust me and use the pricier Valrhona cocoa powder instead of the standard Dutch processed. I have been making this recipe for almost 20 years and know for a fact from testing it out every which way that using the Valrhona chocolate and high quality butter make a far superior cookie.

Ginger Beer


I know its not very exciting, but my thirst quencher of choice would have to be purified water, served flat and at room temperature. But every now and then I go a little crazy and indulge in fresh lemonade or iced tea, even an occasional root beer. On a recent visit to a Los Angeles restaurant I had a house made ginger beer that was a crisp, cool, and refreshing libation that left me with cravings for more. I set out to perfect a recipe of my own that would be simple to prepare and a little better for me that the one I had. Made with fresh raw ginger root, this formula for homemade spicy ginger beer is just what I was after.

Judy’s Special Exotic Green Salad and Reflections on Inspiration


An Insalata Tre Colori is an Italian salad composed of ingredients that bring three colors to your plate. There are limitless varieties of such salads on restaurant menus, but my favorite version is probably the one most commonly made with radicchio, endive, and arugula. The flavors are spicy and a little bitter while being complimented by their crunchy texture. It is a delicious salad to enjoy at either the beginning or ending of a meal as it is refreshing and palate cleansing. Insalata Tre Colori made with these bitter greens is particularly delicious topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The version of this salad that I am sharing with you today was created by my mother and brings back oodles of memories of growing up in a home filled with good food and culinary curiosity. I would like to share a story which is more of a rambling about how parmesan cheese influenced and inspired my interest in cooking.

Pomegranate and Citrus Salad with Brussels Sprouts


Fresh, clean, and crunchy, this salad is not only pleasing to the palate but is also a powerhouse of vitamins and antioxidants. Pomegranates have reigned the hit list of antioxidant rich foods for a long time now, but have continuously gotten ignored in my kitchen for being such a messy nuisance to tackle. I recently discovered a new gadget that brought the amazing power of pomegranates back into my recipes. Like many of the best things it is a rather simple and ingenious product that makes you wonder why you did not think of it yourself. The best thing about The Pomegranate Tool is that it is fast, easy to use, and takes the mess out of the formerly daunting task.

Banana Almond Ice Cream



We all do our best to start the new year off with better and healthier eating habits. One of the best things you can do for yourself to insure a healthier you is to consider giving up processed sugar. It is a tough habit to break, but once you get yourself on the straight and narrow you will be able to go for months without it. But beware, just a little taste of a piece of candy can send you right back down the rabbit hole of sweet cravings in an instant.

The good news is that if you are ready to cleanse your body of sugar along with the unnecessary calories and inflammation it causes, it only takes a few days to get the taste for it out of your thoughts. If you are a real sugar junkie who is consuming much more than you are actually thought you were, those first couple days can be brutal. This is a great dessert to make for anyone who suffers from a sweet addiction and trying to kick the habit. The natural sweetness will satisfy your cravings and curb your appetite all at the same time.

Minestrone with Fregola


There are times when no recipe will do other than the one you grew up enjoying. This is exactly the feeling I have about recipes for Thanksgiving and and dishes like Minestrone soup. My grandmother, Thelma, made this thick and hearty soup almost as frequently as she made her delicious Mandel Bread. Let’s face it, they were really the only two recipes I remember her preparing. But quantity doesn’t really matter when those that you are left with are really that good.

Baked Black Eyed Peas (vegan)


Even though I have been terribly remiss about posting for the past few months, I could not allow 2013 to end without a special recipe for the new year. As I have mentioned in previous year end posts, eating black eyed peas on the new year is a must. This year I am celebrating the holidays in the snow capped mountains of Utah and wanted to prepare something warm and comforting to compliment the environment. Rich, warm, and flavorful, this recipe for Baked Black Eyed Peas is a winner. This vegan option is also considerably better for your than most traditional recipes that are made with salt pork and added fats.

I am planning to serve the beans with either corn pancakes or polenta and a simple kale salad so I have all of the traditional southern foods of the new year covered on the table; black eyed peas, corn,  and dark leafy greens.