Roasted Beets, Citrus and Spinach Salad

This recipe, originally from Bon Appétit (February 2011, by Myra Goodman and Sarah LaCasse; their photo is being used) was the salad I chose to use for our Valentine’s Day Dinner this year.  I don’t know why we didn’t go out.  We both seemed to be moving at glacial pace at home, with job and church responsibilites sapping all our energy to look up a restaurant, make the reservation, change our clothes, pay 60 bucks a person for a Valentine’s Day meal of some significance.  We could have paid only 20 bucks a person at Chili’s or something, but just try and have an intimate conversation in THAT place.

Yield: 4 servings   —  Active Time: 20 minutes, with Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes (includes roasting and cooling time) We found that this filled us up quite a bit–if I were to use this as a first course again, I’d eliminate the feta cheese.



3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit peel
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make: whisk vinegar, mustard, citrus peels, and honey in small bowl. gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


4 2 1/2-inch-diameter unpeeled beets, tops trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
2 small pink or ruby grapefruits, all peel and pith cut away, segments cut from between membranes
2 oranges, all peel and pith cut away, segments cut from between membranes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss beets and oil in large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap each beet in foil. place directly on oven rack; roast until tender, 60 to 70 minutes. I ended up roasting mine about 90 minutes; somewhere I read that the more the merrier as it carmelizes the sugars in the beets and makes it incredibly delicious.  Agreed!  Open foil; cool 30 minutes. Rub skins off beets; cut each into 8 wedges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If your beets are big, you may want to cut them in half.

Place spinach in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Divide among plates. Add beets and citrus segments to same bowl. Add 2 tablespoons vinaigrette; toss to coat. Arrange beet mixture atop spinach; sprinkle with cheese and chives. Serve, passing any remaining vinaigrette.

Lemon-Rosemary Shortbread

Every time I teach the women’s Sunday auxiliary class in church, I try to take a treat.  It’s a girl thing, I think, and I really should cease and desist.  But part of it is there’s only the two of us at home now, and if I want to make a sweet and share it, this is a good venue.  Why did the lemon-rosemary combination pop into my head?  Because somewhere, somehow I read about it.  I searched the web and found this recipe, but I know it wasn’t the original thought-prompter.

Rosemary? I have two kinds–the trailing and the shrubby bush.  I somehow like to cook with the trailing rosemary much better, but I can’t really tell you why. Maybe it is the sinuous tendrils that grow out from the plant.

And our Meyer lemons are coming on strong now, all golden and glossy in our backyard.  Can’t resist.  So go and get yourself some fresh rosemary, some fresh lemons, and make these cookies.  Somehow the rosemary “amps” up the taste of the lemon, so all you can identify is mmmmm. . . lemon shortbread.


3 sticks of butter, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest from one lemon, or about 1 Tbs.
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary.  I used a rolling mincer after I’d pulled the leaves off the stem.


In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment) cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Mix until combined.

In a small bowl whisk flour and salt together. Slowly add this to the butter mixture, mixing until completely incorporated.

Add the rosemary and beat until evenly distributed.

Shape the dough into a flat disk and either stow in it a  Ziploc bag, or wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350°F.  (If you forget and leave the dough in overnight, let it warm up a few minutes before you try to roll it out.)

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/8- 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with a small cookie cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, rotating half way through. They will be just golden around the edges. Watch them closely, since they can bake quickly at the end.

Cook’s Notes: If you want to roll them thicker (1/4″), cook them a little longer.  They will be pale in both cases.

If you make the larger sized cookie, let it cool 2-3 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving it to the cooling rack.  These are very tender cookies!

Here they are, all wrapped up and ready to go!


This year for Christmas we gave all our children panini grills.  Why?  Because we like ours so much.  It wasn’t expensive–in the $35 range–and it seems to work fine.

But before we had one, I used two pans and big can of food.  Improvise!

Basics are: buy good bread, creamy-melty cheese (buffalo mozzarella or baby swiss).  Brush one side with real olive oil, load it up, place another oiled piece of bread on top (oil sides out to the grill), then grill, pressing down with the handle to compress the sandwich. We keep a spatula nearby to make sure the oiled bread doesn’t come shooting out the front of the hot grill.

First Favorite Combination: Cheese, Fresh Basil Leaves, Roma Tomato.  This tastes just like summer.  Really.

Before Grilling–all lined up

After grilling

Next Favorite Combination: Cheese, Sauteed Apples, Cranberries, Prosciutto and Sugared Walnuts. I subscribe to a menu from Olive & Gourmando, an eatery in Montreal, Canada which serves lots of panini.  This was one of their combinations.

Chop some walnuts, toss into a pan over medium-low heat with some brown sugar, and stir until the sugar is cooked onto the walnuts.  Set aside.  (Or buy some sugared walnuts from Trader Joe’s.)

If you are lucky enough to know someone with an apple tree in their yard, beg for some of their late-harvest Granny Smith apples. Cut them up into thin slices, saute lightly in about 1 Tablespoon of real butter and some sliced cranberries.  Add a dash of cinnamon.

Bread loaded with apples, prosciutto, walnuts and cheese.

Don’t you love how the apples are pinky on the edges from the cranberries?


Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

We were shopping–the Mr. and I–for Christmas, and beside the register was a brochure pushing anything Martha.  I picked it up because she had a recipe for these cookies.  I’d been thinking about trying to find a recipe like this ever since Dave and I had chewy gingerbread cookies at the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley.  That day we’d driven down across the Delta, got stuck in horrid traffic, our tempers frayed and flared, but we made it to the Collective about 45 minutes before they closed down.  Our pizza was delicious, the salad was crisp, but the cookies–oh my–the cookies!  After we visited the Berkeley Rose Garden we went back for two more, but alas!  They’d sold out.  So they remain in my memory.  These resemble those from the Cheese Board, but I can’t remember now if the Berkeley variety had chocolate chunks in it. Oh well–these are delicious, too.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies—yield: 30

originally from Martha Stewart, amended by me

14 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses (I use the green label molasses)
2 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water

2/3 cup granulated sugar, in bag (for coating)


1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and spices into a medium bowl. Put butter, brown sugar, and grated ginger into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in molasses.

2. Beat in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the baking soda mixture. Mix in chocolate chips. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic (or place in gallon-sized Ziploc bag). Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours (up to overnight).

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Shape dough into 1 and 1/2-inch balls, and drop them into a bag filled with some granulated sugar, tossing to coat. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets, pressing down on each cookie slightly to flatten. (I used the bottom of a glass, dipped in sugar.)

4. Bake until surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets, 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Cook’s Confessions: I left mine in the fridge for 3 days–just couldn’t get the time to bake them up.  They were fine.

Note: you can store fresh ginger in the freezer.  When needed, peel with a paring knife, then grate on the fine section of your cheese grater.

These cookies are best when warm–so set them in the sun for a few minutes to soften.

Beggar’s Linguini

Recently my sister came to visit and while I was more than happy to go out for dinner every night (my husband was gone and I like doing that), there came a time when we were both ready to stay in.  What to cook?  I’d just been reading Dorie Greenspan’s blog, where she gave the recipe for her Beggar’s Linguini, from her new book Around My French Table.

This sounded great to both of us, and I already had most of the ingredients.  Basically it’s a sauce made from browned butter, golden raisins, pistachios and chopped almonds, tossed with some Parmesan and some grated orange rind.  It has a rich, yet not overly heavy, taste.  I made it again the next week for Dave and we were both angling to have the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Cynthia and I served it with fresh broccoli, lightly marinated salmon, grilled on the barbeque.  One last note: even though she says it doesn’t reheat well–I liked it fine the next day for lunch.

1 box (1 lb.) linguine
1 1/2 stick butter (salted or unsalted)
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
8 plump dried Mission figs (or 3 dried Kadota figs), finely chopped (confession: I didn’t have any, so I used dried apricots–about 1/3 cup, chopped)
1/4 cup moist golden raisins
salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
grated zest of 1/2 orange (or more to taste)
Minced fresh chives and/or parsley, for serving (opt.)

Cook the linguine according to the package directions; drain well.

Meanwhile, about 5 minutes before the pasta is ready, melt the butter in a large high-sided skillet or casserole over medium heat, as you’ll be adding the pasta to this (so make sure it is large enough).  Whe the butter is melted and golden, stir in the nuts, figs (or dried apricots) and raisins.  Allow the butter to bubble and boil, as you want it to cook to a lovely light brown, or to turn into a beurre noisette, butter with the color and fragrance of hazelnuts.

When the butter has reached just the color you want, add the pasta and stir it around in the butter to coat it evenly and make sure the fruits and nuts are well incorporated, then season with salt and a generous amount of ground pepper.

Place in serving bowl, and add the grated cheese, tossing to blend, then dust with the orange zest, chives and/or parsley.  Taste, and add more zest/cheese if you like.  Serve immediately, but give it one more toss to blend in the zest and herbs.