Fresh Figs

How Figs Make Your Fall Meals Easy

Figs

One of the joys of fall are figs.  After weeks of corn and tomatoes I’m ready for some new flavors. Nevertheless, it takes little effort to turn figs into a meal.

Figs

Figs

The Uniqueness of Figs

Fresh figs are lusciously sweet. Their texture is unique, with smooth skin, chewy flesh and crunchy seeds. A member of the mulberry family, they grow on ficus trees. Although there are more than 150 varieties, I only know the black mission fig. Delicate and extremely perishable, I try to use them within a day or two. It’s best to keep them covered, refrigerated and on a plate to prevent bruising.

Fresh Figs

Fresh Figs

Health Benefits

Despite their sweetness, figs are a healthy choice. They contain over eighty nutrients. Figs are high in potassium and an excellent source of fiber. They can also help with weight loss, lowering cholesterol and preventing hypertension.

Fig Toast with Cream Cheese

Fig Toast

Figs for Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch

I like figs at any time of day. At breakfast I have then on oatmeal with pistachios and pomegranate syrup. Or on Icelandic yogurt with chopped walnuts and maple syrup  They are also delicious at lunch, on an arugula salad with blue cheese. Or simply as fig toast with cream cheese on multigrain.

Figs and Goat Cheese Appetizer

Figs and Goat Cheese

Figs and Goat Cheese

Figs and goat cheese are a traditional combination. There is no easier way to impress guests than with a figs and goat cheese appetizer. More than the sum of it’s parts, it’s simply a quartered fig stuffed with a nugget of goat cheese. If I’m feeling more ambitious, I make crostini. I layer each toast, with a slice each of prosciutto, fig and a lump of goat cheese.

Carmelized Figs with Vanilla Ice Cream

Caramelized Figs , Balsamic Condiment and Vanilla Ice Cream

Fig Dessert Recipes

Caramelized figs topped with a splash of balsamic vinegar are a perfect dessert when I just want a bite of something sweet. More often, I put the warm drizzled figs on top of vanilla ice cream for a more decadent dessert.

For other dessert ideas try my recipes for Chocolate Apricot Rugelah, Raspberry Milkshakes, Plum and Lemon Thyme Flaugnarde. 

Recipe

Caramelized Figs with Balsamic Vinegar

Figs

Light brown sugar

Balsamic Condiment

Quarter figs and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with light brown sugar. Broil 3-5 minutes until sugar has melted. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of balsamic condiment over each sliced fig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrots and Herbs

How to Prepare a Delicious Healthy Lunch

Carrots and Herbs

Carrots for Ploughman’s Lunch

Healthy Lunch Ideas

As the summer winds down I start looking for new lunch ideas. After many tomato and fresh mozzarella feasts I want something new. Preferably something healthy and easy, with ingredients from the farmer’s market. Since I prefer protein based meals I chose to make a variation on a cheese sandwich.

Cheese Sandwich

Ploughman’s Lunch

A Ploughman’s Lunch is the meal a ploughman took with him to the fields. A British tradition, it contained homemade bread, cheese, chutney and pickles. Leftover cold meats and seasonal fruit would sometimes be included. Today’s modern gastropubs have found this the perfect vehicle to showcase their cheese and charcuterie selections. The dish now often includes artisan breads, pates, game and selections of regional cheeses.

Layered Cheese Sandwich

Layers of Phoughman’s Lunch Sandwich

Lunch

Although I have had several fine adaptations, I wanted to recreate a version of a Ploughman’s Sandwich I once had at the British pub, Pleasant House II. No longer in southwest Michigan, the people at Pleasant House Bakery have brought their pub concept to Chicago.The sandwich is now available at Pleasant House Pub in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Based on the British Ploughman’s Lunch, it layers cheddar cheese with sweet and savory flavors on crusty bread.

Crusty Bread

Whole Grain Bread

Carrots

One of the reasons I find this sandwich so memorable is the carrot chutney. Both sweet and sour, it gives a cheddar cheese sandwich a new dimension. I have to admit a lifetime aversion to cooked carrots, so I am shocked to discover the carrots in chutney are cooked as well as spiced. The recipe for carrot chutney owes a debt to Britain’s Guardian daily newspaper. In search of an authentically British condiment, I found a basic recipe among the reader’s contributions.

Shredded Carrots

Shredded Carrots

Pickles

Pickles are a staple of the Ploughman’s Lunch. While most people think of pickled cucumbers when they hear the word pickles, the Pleasant House sandwich contains pickled onions. Pickled onions are in fact traditional, but I chose to make my sandwich with bread and butter pickles. A popular side for grilled cheese sandwiches, I thought it would add a tangy note to the meal. Although I sometimes I buy condiments at the Farmer’s Market, my sandwich pickles were made by Bubbies.

Crunch

My healthy lunch includes greens. Greens give crunch as well as vitamins to sandwiches. The layer of spinach I added act as abase for the chutney.

Cheddar Cheese

Sliced Cheddar Cheese

Healthy Lunch Recipe

Ploughman’s Lunch Sandwich

2 Slices crusty bread

Cheddar cheese

Spinach

Bread and butter pickles

Carrot chutney

 

Place a layer of cheddar cheese on the bread, top with a layer of pickles. Add a layer of spinach and top with chutney. Cover with the second bread slice. Serve.

Onions

Sliced Onions

Carrot Chutney

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 onion sliced

12 ounces. grated carrots

Salt to tste

Pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/4 cup extra fine sugar (Process regular sugar in a food processor for a few minutes. Stop before it turns to powder.)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

 

Sugar

Sugar Ready for Processing

Warm the oil in a large frying pan. Add the mustard seeds.When the seeds start to pop add the onions. Saute until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, tumeric, cumin and coriander. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar. Simmer for an hour. Cool and refrigerate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Why Beets Make the Most Beautiful Cold Soup

Beets

Beets get a bad rap. Healthy and sweet, roasted beets are delicious on their own, in a salad or a refreshing soup.

Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Cold Beet Soup

Borsht

Growing up, I associated them with borsht. Made by Manischewitz, a leading producer of kosher foods, the tall colorful jar in the refrigerator didn’t look like my vision of soup. My grandmother, a Russian immigrant, loved it, and had it for lunch with a boiled potato. Since it wasn’t served for dinner, I happily gave this strange feast a wide berth. I never even tried it.

Uncooked Beets

Raw Beets

Pickled

Pickled beets occasionally accompanied dinner. However, the tangy flavor of pickled vegetables did not fit with my childhood preference for less piquant flavors.

Roasting

I attribute my epiphany to a beautiful plate of beet ravioli. The fresh roasted filling contained an incomparable sweetness, erasing all previous memories. Although I now know that roasting any vegetable increases its sweetness, the transformation it brings about in the beet is truly remarkable.

Beets Finished Roasting

Roasted Beets

Beets Nutrition

Beets are a nutritional powerhouse. The benefits include anti-inflammatory properties and detoxification support. They are also rich in antioxidants.

Beet Recipes

My go to recipe for the vegetable was roasted beet salad until I discovered cold beet soup. Sweet, tangy and refreshing, it’s perfect for a hot day. Saltibarsciai  is a  specialty of Lithuania. It’s garnished with a combination of cucumber, dill, scallions or hard boiled eggs and often served with a side of boiled potatoes. Attempting to modernize my grandmother’s favorite lunch, I updated the recipe to take full advantage of the fresh roasted flavor. Unlike traditional recipes, my recipe begins with roasting beets rather than boiling. I want to extract every ounce of sweet flavor into the dish.

Beets Coated in Olive Oil

Beets Prepared for Roasting

Lunch

For other lunch ideas try my recipes for authentic poke, twice – baked potatoes or kale salad.

Recipe

Cold Beet Soup

4-6 Servings

4 medium beets, scrubbed

Olive oil

1/4 heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

2 cups kefir

11/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

Sliced cucumber

 

Preheat oven to 400F. Place cleaned beets on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Cool until they are not hot to the touch. Peel off skins. They should come off easily. If  some skin remains take it off with a peeler. Grate peeled beets.

Roasted and Grated Beets

Grated Beets

Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. Fold in the kefir. Mix with grated beets and puree. Taste. Add lemon juice if necessary to balance the sweetness. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced cucumber.

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir for Cold Beet Soup

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir

For a heartier meal add sliced radish, scallions, and hard boiled eggs Serve with a side of boiled potatoes with parsley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How is Avocado Toast a Thing?

How did avocado toast become the subject of magazine articles, a popular feature of Instagram and a selection on cutting-edge restaurant menus?

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Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast at Travelle Chicago 

Avocado is high in nutrients, healthy fats and fiber. Creamy and mild, it’s a perfect canvas. I use it to add healthy richness in place of spreads like cream cheese and mayo. My current favorite toast is layered with smoked salmon, red onion, capers and dill. Nevertheless, beautiful photos have convinced me to have it with eggs, fruit and nuts too.

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Fried Egg Avocado Toast

Perfect when I’m in a hurry, it’s one of the fastest sandwiches I’ve ever made. Try it slathered on toast with salt, mayonnaise or chili pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon. What could be quicker?

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Turkey Enchiladas

What to Do with Leftover Turkey?

I love turkey sandwiches after the holidays, but then the leftovers need to be repurposed into something completely different.

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Cloves and Oregano

Every year I look for articles with new ideas. Stir-frying and fried rice are good solutions if you need a meal for a crowd. Nevertheless, the dryness of turkey makes them lackluster options. I’ve also tried turkey soup, but it pales in comparison to the sweetness and delicacy chicken.

My favorite post-holiday meal is turkey enchiladas. I think the wild game taste of turkey is best paired with bold flavors. Also, no one in my house notices that they’re having turkey again when it’s enveloped in fragrant spices and covered in cheese.

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Turkey Enchiladas

 

Turkey Enchiladas

Serves 4 –5

 

Sauce

1 16 oz. can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

1 14 oz. can tomato sauce

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon oregano

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

A pinch ground cloves

A pinch of fresh ground pepper

 

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 cups turkey

10 corn tortillas

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese

1 avocado, chopped

sour cream

Greased 9 x 13 inch casserole dish

Blend sauce ingredients to make a puree. Heat I tablespoon of canola oil to medium high in a frying pan. Add the sauce all at once and fry, stirring constantly for approximately five minutes. The sauce is done when it has thickened and turned orange.

Preheat oven to 350F. Shred the cheese and grease the casserole dish. Chop the avocado.

Coat the turkey in sauce and warm over medium low heat. Dip the tortillas in the sauce. Heat the other tablespoon of canola oil in a small frying pan. Fry each tortilla for a few minutes on each side, then fold and fill with warmed turkey. Add more oil if necessary. Layer filled tortillas in the casserole dish. Top with grated cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Cheese should be melted and bubbling. Garnish with avocado and sour cream.

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Avocado

How to Take Your Sandwich to the Next Level with Sesame

How to Take Your Sandwich to the Next Level with Sesame

I wanted to share my sandwich idea that was featured on Food52’s new (Not Recipes) app. Inspired by all the matzos in the store I made a variation on a childhood favorite. I added toasted black sesame seeds to chunky peanut butter and berry jam on egg matzo.

Toasted Black Sesame Seeds on Peanut Butter

Toasted Black Sesame Seeds on Peanut Butter

Although not prominently displayed, matzo is available in the ethnic food aisle of the supermarket all year around. It has a pleasantly crunchy texture and is lightly sweetened by the addition of eggs. Any sesame seed can be used on this sandwich, but the black ones are the most decorative.

Please share your sandwich ideas.

Matzo Toasted Sesame Seed PB&J Sandwich

Matzo Toasted Sesame Seed PB&J Sandwich

Sesame PB&J on Matzo

1 sandwich

 

I piece of egg matzo divided in half

Chunky peanut butter

Berry jam

Toasted black sesame seeds (toast by warming the seeds in a dry pan over low heat until you just begin to smell them toasting. Remove from heat and sprinkle on the sandwich.)

 

 

 

Blood Orange Recipes

Learn the Secrets of the Blood Orange

Early spring in Chicago is rarely as warm as I would like it to be. Beautiful afternoons are often followed by cold and rainy days. One of my favorite ways to bring summer colors into my life is with a variety of interesting citrus.

Flowering _Tree

Spring in Chicago

Although I’m sometimes drawn to the knobby ugliness of interesting tangerines, I can’t resist buying blood oranges when they are available. The bright red flesh makes it one of my preferred spring ingredients. Also, since I first tried it on a European train, it remains linked in my mind with the romance of foreign travel.

Oranges

Blood Oranges

Blood oranges are smaller and sweeter tasting than other orange varieties. They are also higher in Vitamin C. Thick skinned and not easy to peel, it is best to cut them into segments.

Blood Orange

Blood Orange

Since the fruit reminds me of summer, I was motivated to use the oranges for a salad. Mixed with avocado and sprinkled with feta cheese and pistachios, it makes a satisfying lunch on a bed of spinach. Add a filet of salmon or some sliced chicken and it’s a healthy dinner.

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Blood Orange and Avocado Salad

Since I bought more oranges than I needed, I used the remaining ones for a Blood Orange Negroni. The sweet juice makes an interesting foil for the bitterness of the Campari. Although garnishes usually remain on the glass rim, I couldn’t resist immersing a bright colored wheel of fruit into my drink as well.

Blood orange Negroni

Blood Orange Negroni

I would love to know what you are eating this spring. Please share your ideas.

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Blood Orange and Avocado Salad Toppings

Blood Orange and Avocado Salad

Serves 2

2 blood oranges chopped

1 avocado, chopped

¼ cup feta cheese

¼ cup pistachios, toasted

2 large handfuls of spinach

2 tablespoons lime juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons maple syrup

Lightly toast pistachios in a dry skillet over medium low for a few minutes stirring constantly to prevent burning. Peel and chop the avocado. Don’t try to peel the oranges. Cut the oranges in half, then use a knife to extract the flesh from the peels. Carefully chop the orange segments. Mix the orange and avocado with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Mix remaining olive oil, lime juice and maple syrup to dress the greens. Place the spinach in a salad bowl and toss with dressing. Mound the avocado and orange mixture on top. Sprinkle with feta cheese and pistachios. Add a salmon filet or sliced chicken for a heartier meal.

Blood Orange Negroni garnish

Blood Orange Negroni Garnish

Blood Orange Negroni

Serves 2

2 ounces gin

2 ounces blood orange juice

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 ounce Campari

2 slices of blood orange

Put all of the ingredients except the orange slices in a metal shaker with ice. Shake until condensation appears on the shaker. Strain the liquid into short tumblers filled with a cube or two of ice. Garnish with blood orange wheels.

Blood Orange Peels

Blood Orange Peels

Copyright Measured 2016