We finally have fall weather here in San Diego and I’m enjoying autumn vegetables. This side dish features butternut squash, chick peas and black rice, and is warm and cozy. The clementine vinaigrette gives it a sweet bite and pine nuts make it extra rich. I love the bright and warm combination of citrus and fennel. To me it tastes sunny and cozy and wintery all at once.
A fellow food blogger invited me to participate in a recipe challenge from Melissa’s. Melissa’s sent us a box of fresh and seasonal produce and we were challenged to come up with a recipe featuring at least 2 or 3 of the items, sort of like “Chopped.” (FCC Disclaimer: I received the box for free, but have not otherwise been compensated. Opinions and recipe development are entirely mine.) I immediately gravitated to a beautiful butternut squash, pine nuts and cranberries. Unfortunately, Little Bird also gravitated to the cranberries… and ate the entire bag in a few minutes.
I decided to add the garbanzo beans for extra protein. I usually cook with dried beans, and start from scratch, but the convenience of the vacuum sealed beans was nice and the taste was a step up from a can. Apart from throwing the rice in the rice cooker, the only “cooking” was chopping and roasting the squash. Little Bird enjoying shaking up the vinaigrette in a jar.
While learning about the Mama’s Kitchen Pie in the Sky fundraiser, I had the opportunity to watch Chef Matt Gordon of Urban Solace and Sea and Smoke demonstrate his recipe for Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. He gave me permission to share the recipe below. Chef Gordon also dropped lots of pie knowledge and tips during the demonstration. Fortunately, I took furious notes and share his best tricks and tips for making pie here.
Don’t forget that you can save yourself the time and trouble of baking by having Chef Gordon and other top San Diego restaurants and bakeries make a pie for you. Purchasing a pie for $25 will provide over 8 healthy meals to neighbors in need. That’s a win-win-win. You can also donate a pie to clients as well.
Chef matt Gordon’s advanced Pie making Tips
A cold kitchen and cold hands are best for pastry. The butter should never melt. The chef said that he sometimes goes into their walk-in refrigerator on hot days. Interestingly, he shared that the best pastry chefs often have naturally cold hands.
Use parchment paper between the dough and your rolling pin to roll out the dough more easily.
Adding egg yolks to the dough (as this recipe does) is called an “enriched” recipe. It is great for wet batters (such as pumpkin pie and pecan pie) when you don’t want to pre bake the crust. Although this recipe calls for brushing the crust with egg white before putting the filling in, he says it isn’t necessary for an enriched crust.
Citrus zest adds great flavor to any baked goods, such as this crust.
Wet finger can band aid together a tear in the crust. As you want to handle the dough as little as possible, never ball it up to roll out a second time.
Many home cooks have spices in the cupboards for ages. Fresh spices make a huge difference. (I love grating fresh nutmeg with a microplane.)
Use raw pecans. (I had always wondered which was better for pie!)
Setting the oven to 325ºF (instead of hotter) can prevent over browning the crust. You can use a bit of foil, too. (I use a pie shield.)
Don’t use the fan if you have a convection oven. A conventional oven is actually better.
My sister Marjorie has been making a fresh cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving since she was a teenager. She shares her recipe for easy cranberry clementine sauce every year, since I never write it down. I’m happy to share it here because now I will be able to look it up next November, too! This is also a fun recipe to make with kids.
Summer in San Diego means the Del Mar Racetrack is open and an abundance of mint in our garden. Both were the inspiration for “mint julep” kale krunchies, our latest variation on kale chips. Using the same technique and creamy cashew base as my Cilantro Lime Kale Chips, these kale crunchies are flavored with the summer drink ingredients. Yes, even a splash of bourbon.
Mint Julep Kale Chips Recipe
1 head of kale
3/4 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for at least one hour, then drained
handful of fresh mint, washed
1-2 tablespoons of agave or coconut nectar
1 teaspoon of bourbon (optional but fun)
1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
a little water, if needed, to process in the blender
1. Wash the kale in cold water. Holding the end of the stem in one hand, firmly and quickly slide your other hand down the center rib. The leaves should tear off of the rib in one move. Dry the kale very well and rip any large pieces into smaller bits.
Or – Purchase a bag of kale pre-washed and cut. Just make sure to remove the thick center ribs as they do not dehydrate well. (Little Bird likes to help rip and sort the kale.)
2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a small food processor, like a Magic Bullet, or blender. If the blender struggles, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until it blends well. Blend at highest speed until smooth, scraping down the sides at least once. Keep in mind the more water you add, the longer the chips will take to dry out in the oven.
3. Preheat oven to 200° F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, massage the “sauce” into the kale. Then spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 45 minutes or so, checking and gently stirring the kale occasionally, until it is dried but not overly toasted.
I was craving an alternative to the corn bread or corn muffins I usually make with chili. I love the creamy corn pudding at Indigo Grill (a popular San Diego restaurant) and searched for a similar recipe. Unfortunately, all the recipes I found were the same one, using processed, packaged and canned foods. If you follow my recipes, then you may have noticed we prefer to eat whole, real foods that have not been processed. I even found the Indigo Grill recipe published and, strangely, it claimed to be the same processed mix. One intrepid blogger made it from scratch, but first she recreated the cornbread mix, the creamed corn concoction, etc. and then followed the same recipe. There had to be a simpler way! So, I whipped up my own version with corn meal, flour, eggs, milk, butter and yogurt. It was very moist and delicious, but slightly more “cake” then “pudding.” Maybe somewhere in between. It was a keeper!
Corn Pudding Cake Recipe
3/4 cup corn meal
3/4 cup flour
(optional) 1/2 cup brown sugar or honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick of butter
1 cup of milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen corn kernels
(optional additions) thyme, green onions, cheese (omit the sweetener)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Use the end of the stick of butter to grease a round soufflé pan or baking dish.
In a small sauce pan, melt the rest of the butter. Take off heat and allow to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, add to the milk, yogurt, eggs and a liquid sweetener, such as honey, if using.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Include sugar if you are using it, but not honey or a wet sweetener.
Combine the dry and wet ingredients until just mixed. Add the corn kernels and any additional ingredients. Have fun and make it your own recipe!
Bake in greased dish for about an hour, just until the middle is set and not liquid.
Serve warm as an appetizer or along chili. (I promise to share my chili recipe, soon.)
Hi! I started Baby Birds Farm after the birth of my first daughter. I started sharing seasonal recipes featuring produce from our garden, eggs from our chicken, and homemade cheeses from our goat milk co-op. Fast forward a few years, another daughter, another business, and now we are just surviving and enjoying our busy life and food as much as we can. Join our journey of good food, farm-to-table restaurants in San Diego and healthy living!
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My Day Job
Abigail Burd, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist, provides women's mental health in San Diego, CA. Specialities include managing anxiety and depression during pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. Learn more about my practice in Clairemont (San Diego) at AbigailBurdLCSW.com.