Not Your Usual Steak Fajitas

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By Freya Bellin

These fajitas are like the sweet, spicy, crunchy distant cousin of the fajita you know now. The recipe breathes some fresh air into the standard fajita by adding crunchy jicama and carrots, plus the sweetness of pineapple. The flavors are unexpected, but they work together beautifully. Make sure to do your chopping ahead of time as things move pretty fast once you start cooking. I like putting each ingredient in its own separate bowl, ready to be dropped into the pan. You’ll only need one large skillet for cooking everything, which means easy cleanup too. Serve with plenty of cilantro and guacamole or salsa. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Mexican, Recipes

Honey-Melon Soup

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By Freya Bellin

This chilled soup is almost more of an herby fruit juice, incredibly refreshing and simple to make. And gets along well with booze! The lemon and herb (I used rosemary), add a savory element to the dessert, cutting down the sweetness a bit. You may consider making extra syrup in step 1, as it lasts a little while and would be a great addition to homemade iced tea. I skipped the straining step because I liked the texture of the pureed melon—a little bit like a slushie—but taste as you go and decide for yourself. Eat with spoons or straws. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Wheat Berries with Zucchini and Mozz

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By Freya Bellin

If you’re in search of a great picnic dish, look no further. This recipe is summery and herby, while still hearty enough to fill you up. Wheat berries are an unusual grain: dense, chewy, and very nutty. That texture is a great vehicle for pillowy broiled zucchini and rich, creamy pine nuts. Mozzarella adds a nice saltiness (I recommend fresh) and pairs surprisingly well with dill. Just keep in mind that wheat berries can take almost 2 hours to cook, so plan ahead or substitute in another grain in a pinch. This salad tastes great at room temperature—partly what makes it an excellent picnic candidate—but the flavors get a little muddled over time. Just add some fresh dill and cheese to brighten up the dish before serving. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kebabs

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By Freya Bellin

It seems like everyone has his or her own guacamole secret. I can always be counted on to use a lot of garlic, a little jalapeno, cilantro, and lime. But it’s always fun to add something new here and there, and this guacamole is in fact loaded with extras. I was pleasantly surprised by the unusual addition of shredded lettuce. It adds heft, almost like a guacamole salad, and cuts some of the richness of the avocado. Most importantly, it makes an excellent base for these kebabs, which are very easy to prepare. The simple marinade gives the chicken and veggies a nice kick, and the grill adds that signature smokiness. I made a little extra marinade and put some all-veggie kebabs on the grill, too. Mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini are all great for grilling, in addition to the veggies in this recipe; really, anything goes. Try adding pineapple or other fruits for a sweet variation. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Mexican, Recipes

Radishes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

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By Freya Bellin

There are certain vegetables that, when very fresh, require little actual “cooking” to make a great bite.  Radishes, thanks to a natural spiciness, are one of those vegetables.  Rather than relegating these little root veggies to garnishes or salad mix-ins, try this simple recipe.  Radishes are crisp and refreshing on their own, and even more so when deeply chilled.  Dipping them in good olive oil and coarse salt adds just the right amount of richness and seasoning to make a nice appetizer or snack.  Try experimenting with flavored salts for more variety.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Fish Tacos with Wilted Cabbage

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By Freya Bellin

There’s something about fish tacos that just screams summer to me, and, true to form, the flavors in this taco are fresh, simple, and nearly beachy. Tomatillos are a great choice here if you can find them. They taste fruitier than a tomato, and very tart and crisp, almost like a Granny Smith apple. The tomatillo and avocado combo makes a great simple salsa, and serves as a nice contrast to the soft, slightly spicy cabbage. I used purple cabbage for the color, but green cabbage would work also. For the fish, any thick white fillet is fine. I used a combination of halibut and striped bass, but go with whatever looks freshest. A cold beer (and a beachfront view) makes this meal even better. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Mexican, Seafood

Wild Rice with Celery and Steamed Salmon

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By Freya Bellin

Celery truly is underrated. Most people think of it as a mindless addition to salads or soups, but celery actually has its own unique flavor and becomes pleasantly creamy when cooked. This tenderness makes it a great contrast to the grainy, nuttiness of wild rice. You can certainly use water instead of stock for the cooking liquid, but the rice really has a chance to absorb the flavor of the stock, so it goes a long way here.

Steaming the salmon in the same pot as the rice makes this a one-pot meal, and also means that the salmon gets infused with all of the seasonings of the rice, too. I took advantage of a rare opportunity to use a grill and followed the variation for grilled salmon below. Salmon is a great fish for grilling because it stays very moist and cooks super quickly. Just remember that if you’re not steaming the salmon, you can add a little less liquid to the pot of rice. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Minty Green Tea Granita

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By Freya Bellin

If you’re looking for a way to break the heat this summer, a granita just may be the answer. The beauty of a granita is that it’s sort of a shaved ice/slushie hybrid. It crackles into crunchy, icy layers that can be eaten with a spoon, or melted a little and slurped through a straw. It’s incredibly refreshing, easy to make, and will definitely cool you down. The granita melts quickly, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you’ll just end up with some sweet iced tea at the bottom. There are endless combinations of ingredients for flavorings – you could skip the tea and just use lemon and mint, or you could add some berries to the steeping step, or serve it with fresh berries. Regardless, this is sure to be a new summer favorite. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Cocktails

Greens with Fruit and Mustard Vinaigrette

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By Freya Bellin

Fresh leafy greens are among spring’s treasures. Arugula, mustard greens, and spinach all abound at the farmers market these days, and there’s no better way to honor these flavorful greens than with a simple salad.

Summer fruits like raspberries and strawberries are great salad ingredients, but while we’re still waiting for berries and stone fruit to grace us with their presence, you can use apples and pears or dried fruits for this salad. I tossed red mustard greens with thinly sliced apples and chopped dried dates. The combination was sweet, spicy, and quite refreshing. Try the cheese and nut variation if you’re looking for a bit more heft. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Teriyaki Noodles with Asparagus and Edamame

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By Freya Bellin

As the weather finally becomes mild, the word picnic has returned to my vocabulary, and I’ve started mentally collecting good recipes for outdoor eating. Not all tasty dishes make tasty picnic fare, but fortunately, most pasta salads will do the trick—especially if they taste good at room temperature, like this one. I love how filling soba noodles are, and they still match well with light sauces and green veggies, as in this recipe. The sauce is simple but flavorful, and the asparagus and edamame are a beautiful, springy contrast to the dark noodles. Try to get your hands on some of the lovely asparagus that’s out there while it’s still super fresh. And happy picnicking!  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Japanese