Nantucket bay scallops with almonds and lemon

I have been exploring the seafood of New England, which is so different from that of my native Louisiana, and have recently discovered Nantucket Bay scallops.

scallop

I’m certainly not an expert on these scallops, but what I do know is that they are small, sweet, rare and more expensive than regular scallops. They have a small window of availability, and I lucked out in getting some today at the last Central Square farmer’s market of the year.

I found this great recipe for Nantucket Bay scallops with almonds and orange at Yankee Magazine, but I lacked orange juice and chicken stock. What to do?

I modified the recipe to use about 1/2 cup of sherry, a few tablespoons of lemon juice and honey (plus a little water) to create a different version of the recipe from Yankee Magazine. It came out delicious, and was as easy as any scallop recipe I’ve made.

Nantucket Bay scallops with almonds and sherry

1 lb. of scallops
1/2 cp. almond meal
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small chopped onion or large shallot
1/2 cp parsley
1/2 cp sliced almonds
1/2 cp sherry or white wine
1/3 cp water
3 tbsp lemon juice
1.5-2 tsp honey

1. Wash, dry and salt scallops. Dredge in almond meal.

2. Heat large frying pan and add butter and olive oil. Add scallops to hot oil and spread out in a single layer. Cook for roughly 2-2.5 minutes, trying to turn them once if possible to create a nice seared crust.

3. Remove scallops to a bowl or plate and set aside. If necessary, add a bit more olive oil to the frying pan along with onions,d

4. Add sherry/white wine, water, lemon juice and honey. This will allow you to deglaze the pan. Make sure to scrape up anything that is stuck to the pan–that’s where the flavor is! Cook until liquid is reduced by at least 1/2.

5. Turn off the fire and return scallops to the pan. Toss to coat with the sauce.

Bon Appetit!

Photo from: “Argopecten irradian” from Bermuda at the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano

Purslane

Local farmers’ markets are in full swing here in Boston and I couldn’t be happier. Every year the farmers bring new and interesting produce to the market giving adventurous eaters plenty of great things to try.

Purslane

Purslane

Purslane has turned up in my local markets (Central Square and Davis Square), and I love it. In America we’ve treated purslane (also known as Portulaca) as a weed. Other cultures have recognized it as a remarkably healthy vegetable that just happens to grow like a weed!

Purslane is loaded with all of the nutrients you expect to find in a leafy green vegetable: vitamin A is present in large quantities, as well as vitamin C and multiple B vitamins. It contains a decent amount of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium.

The truly exciting nutrient in purslane is Omega 3 fatty acids. Purslane has a large serving of ALA, which is usually found only in fish, flax, hemp seeds and chia seeds.

So, how do you prepare it? What does it taste like?

Like most foods that contain omega 3s, heat is the enemy. Purslane is delicious raw, either as a stand-alone salad or mixed in with other salad greens. It has a nutty/lemony flavor with a great crunch when you have it raw.

It’s also nice quickly stir-fried. It’s great stirred in to scrambled eggs. Saute an onion first, then briefly saute the purslane before adding your scrambled eggs to the pan. Serve with salsa and maybe corn tortillas.

It must be summer because it’s Farmer’s Market time (plus sauteed Kale)

It’s farmer’s market season in Boston and I couldn’t be happier. I am fortunate enough to shop at the markets in Central Square and Davis Square (which is located directly behind my office!).

I have found that produce from the markets is fresher and tastier than anything in the stores. The prices work out to be more or less the same (or slightly cheaper, depending), but you get bigger bunches of things for the money. The markets have also turned me into a tomato snob–I never buy them from the grocery store because they are mealy and flavorless. I actually have a tomato problem in the summer–once they start appearing in the market I find myself buying so many that we have a hard time eating them all (a happy difficulty to have!).There are markets all over town, all week long. Check out the Federation of Massachusetts Farmer’s Markets to find one near you.

I always visit the Enterprise Farm stand in Davis Square to buy my greens. They’re an organic farm, and I like to try to buy as much organic produce as possible. They grow multiple varieties of my favorite vegetable, Kale, along with delicious salad greens, tomatoes and many other organic green things.

The Kimball Farm is at both of my markets and they have the biggest selection at both markets. They are not organic, but “low spray,” which means they only spray when they have to. They have expanded their “no spray” produce, making them a good alternative if you can’t find what you want at the organic stands.

I’m addicted to the berries from the Bug Hill Farm stand. They overfill their containers, and their berries are consistently sweet and delectable.

In the fall some stands have fresh foraged Maitake, or Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. I try to buy as many of these as possible. Maitake have fantastic health benefits, are extremely tasty and versatile to cook with, and include woody stems that I save in the freezer to add to vegetable stocks. Check out this post from Drweil.com about the health benefits of Maitake and other mushrooms like Shiitake.

Both of my markets have a variety of naturally-raised meat available, and now both have fresh fish vendors! In Davis Square, the Globe Fish Company offers super-fresh, never frozen fish from their family-run business. We have a new fish vendor in Central, C&C Lobsters and fish, which seems to also be a small, family-run business. They have a nice variety of local fish and also lobsters–either live for you to take home to cook, or, if you order ahead, steamed and ready to eat.

Aside from all the beautiful produce, farmer’s markets are a community gathering opportunity. I often run into people that I know and maybe don’t see too often at the markets, and it’s like we’re all giddy with joy–it’s just so delightful to be surrounded by beautiful produce and happy people!

One thing I buy every week is kale. I love Enterprise Farm’s organic tuscan kale (also known as black, lacinato or dinosaur kale), as well as their green and purple kale. Kale is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. I think I tell at least one patient every day that they should include kale in their diet.

The problem is that no one knows how to cook it! We almost always prepare it as a simple saute with some garlic and salt. Easy, fast, delicious–what else do you need in a vegetable dish?

I hesitate to post this as a “recipe” because there’s really nothing to it:

-Chop the Kale (cut the leaves off of the thick, woody stems first)
-chop a clove of garlic
-saute the garlic briefly in a large frying pan with some olive oil (less than a tablespoon should do)
-add the kale and saute. It’s good if there’s a bit of water left on your kale from washing –that water helps steam the kale as it’s cooking.

Add salt (be judicious–kale doesn’t seem to need much salt) and enjoy!

Preventing that next cold

Chinese medicine is powerful stuff, but we can’t say that we have that elusive “cure for the common cold.” We do, however, have some ideas about how to head it off at the pass.

In the Chinese medical model, a cold is an invasion of wind, which often brings either heat or cold and usually some dampness. Wind invasions first hit the body at a superficial level usually felt with a sore throat (a superficial aspect of your lung energy) and the skin, particularly at the nape of the neck (think about how achey you feel when you first start to get sick). Whether you have a wind-cold or a wind-heat seems to mostly depend on your constitution, but in my practice I mostly see wind-heat. Dampness often comes with a wind-cold or a wind-heat and physically manifests as phlegm. With wind cold, this phlegm is often white. Wind-heat phlegm is often yellow or green.

When you first start to feel like you might be coming down with something, the best thing you can do is to make yourself sweat. I prefer a passive sweat like a hot bath or a visit to a sauna. Two things happen when you sweat it out. One is that raising your body temperature helps turn the immune system on. The other is that a sweat expels wind from your body. Since external wind first lodges in your skin, opening the pores and sweating it out can expel that wind from your body.

In addition to having that hot bath/sauna, making a tea with fresh ginger can help make you sweat, too. Boil a few slices of fresh ginger for about 20 minutes to make a potent, spicy brew. Add some honey and sip (best is sipping this while you’re in your hot bath!).

If your cold has progressed beyond the early stages and into a yellow phlegm stage, skip the ginger tea and sip mint tea. Mint is cooling and can help expel wind-heat and mildly relieve some sinus congestion.

Sweating it out is best right at the very beginning of your symptoms. If you don’t catch it early enough, the wind can go deeper and be more difficult to dislodge.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs also can expel wind invasions, but only if you get a treatment in the early stages. If your cold progresses beyond the early stages, acupuncture and herbs will reduce your suffering and shorten the duration of your cold.

Of course, the true first line of defense is a healthy immune system. If you feel like you catch every cold that comes around, having regular acupuncture and certain herbal formulas can strengthen your immune system and help keep you well.

Read more about Chinese medicine here and here.

Blueberry pie with almond crust

Every summer my husband and I seem to need to have at least 1 home-made blueberry pies or we feel like we missed something. The problem is that it’s too hot to want to turn on the oven! I’m also still experimenting with gluten-free crusts, which sometimes feels like a lot of work.

So, because of the heat and the gluten-free challenge, we haven’t had a blueberry pie in 2 years!

I’m taking the week (mostly) off of work to have a mini-vacation while I take the morning intensives in the South Boston Yoga teacher training program. I’m having a great time!

Monday I finally got over the heat/challenge thing and made this superb blueberry pie with almond crust. I found a recipe at Elana’s Pantry for this nice almond-flour crust. Since Elana’s instructions said to pat the crust into the pan rather than roll it out, I knew it would have a crumbly consistency. I decided to double the recipe and use 1/2 of it as a crumble topping, which I added in the last 15 minutes or so of baking.

Make sure you have vanilla ice cream on hand–the first bite makes it clear that you must have it a la mode! I love either Purely Decadent or Cocobliss‘s vanilla coconut milk ice cream for this.

The crust is not as cohesive as a wheat-based crust, but it crumbles charmingly and tastes delicious.

Blueberry pie with almond crust

For the crust and crumble (see Elana’s original posting here):

3 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cp light-flavored healthy oil of your choice (Elana recommends grapeseed)
4 tbsp agave/brown rice syrup/maple syrup/honey
2 tsp vanilla

For the filling:

2 pints fresh blueberries
2 tbsp tapioca flour
1/3-1/2 cp sugar (I used Succanat)
1 tsp cinnamon
butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make crust and crumble:

Combined almond flour, salt and baking soda in large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine oil, agave and vanilla.

Stir oil mixture into almond flour mixture, mixing well to combine. Consistency should be fairly crumbly.

Press 1/2 of the almond mixture into a pie plate, reserve rest for topping.

To make filling:

Combine tapioca flour, sugar and cinnamon. Gently fold into blueberries, making sure everything is evenly distributed. If you’re using butter, put small pieces here and there on top of the blueberries.

Put blueberries into prepared pie crust and cover tightly with foil with a few small holes punched to let some steam out.

Bake covered for about 40 minutes. Uncover and distribute reserved crumble topping over pie (don’t touch! It’s hot and sticky).

Return pie to oven, uncovered, and bake for 15-20 minutes longer, until crumble topping is nicely browned.

Holiday fun and an antioxidant blueberry facial mask

I gave myself last weekend off–with July 4 on Sunday, I knew my practice would be slow, so I decided to take Friday and Sunday off. I love being active in the city, so I planned to do a different fun thing for each day.

I did a few hours of paperwork in my office in Davis Square on Friday, which was O.K. because I spent the afternoon biking the Minute Man Bike trail from Somerville to Lexington.

It was a beautiful day, and I hung out for a spell in Lexington.

Saturday’s activity was a walk from Central Square, up Main Street and over the Longfellow bridge into Boston.

My destination was Boston harbor.

Sunday morning was yoga with David at South Boston Yoga. It was super sweaty! We sweat more and more easily in the summer because our body’s energy (or “qi”) is up at the surface so it can open and close the pores and keep us cool. Which is what sweating is–your body keeping you cool.

Since I had spent so much time outside, I decided to give myself an soothing blueberry antioxidant mask to repair my skin from all the sun exposure. Here’s my recipe. The quantities are approximate–the goal is to have a smooth and creamy mask with a medium-thick consistency. It should be easily spreadable but not runny.


You should always patch test any home made beauty products before you smear them all over your face.

Antioxidant blueberry facial mask

1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp honey
a few drops of Vitamin E (optional)
1-2 tbsp cosmetic clay of your choice (I used Betonite clay).

Combine first three ingredients in a blender and blend well. Pour blueberry/yogurt mixture into a bowl, and stir in clay a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

To use: Spread thin layer of mask onto clean skin. Relax for 5-10 minutes. Rinse.

kabocha squash

My new fav food blog, the beautiful and inspiring JustBento introduces us to kabocha squash.

I’ve been trying to expand my winter squash repertoire, and came across this recipe for a Japanese-style squash. It looks pretty flexible, so I think really any variety of winter squash would do. I’m going to try it with the beautiful Red Kuri Squash I bought at the farmer’s market today.

It looks so much like a pumpkin that that’s what my husband thought it was, until I told him.

Fried Green Tomatoes: Not Just a Movie

You may remember Fried Green Tomatoes as a pro-woman movie from the early ’90s, but the titular fruit is actually a tasty summer treat.

Sure, fried things are in general not so healthy. But for an occasional treat, green tomatoes are certainly better than bacon or french fries.

Martha Rose Shulman at the Gray Lady serves up a recipe with a Mediterranean twist. (She recommends a heavy nonstick skillet, but I always stick with cast iron, to avoid carcinogenic teflon bits getting in the food.)

    1 pound firm green tomatoes

    1/2 cup cornmeal (you will not use all of it)

    Salt and freshly ground pepper

    Extra virgin olive oil or canola oil for frying

    1. Slice the tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick. Season the cornmeal with salt and pepper and dredge the tomatoes in it. You can do this in a large bowl, a flatter baking dish or a brown paper bag — whatever is easiest for you. You won’t use all of the cornmeal.

    2. Heat a heavy skillet, either cast iron or nonstick, over medium-high heat, and add enough oil to coat the bottom by about 1/8 inch. Fry the tomatoes on each side until golden, about two to three minutes per side. Drain on paper towels, on a paper bag or on a rack. Keep warm in a low oven until all of the tomatoes are fried. Serve hot or warm.

Photo and recipe are from the New York Times, natch.

Another Healthy Cool Summer Bev: Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca, a beverage made from melon, water and lime or lemon juice, is a wonderful way to keep cool in the heat of summer. Gourmet foodie blog Smitten Kitchen describes how to make it.

In Chinese medicine, melon has cooling energy. But be careful: while refreshing, it’s best not to have melon with breakfast as it is too cold for a morning stomach just heating up to digest food all day. Save melon for later in the day.

And I agree with Smitten Kitchen: leave out the sugar. Melon is plenty sweet on its own. If you do need more sweetener, I recommend agave nectar, a sweet, honey-like product of the agave cactus (tequila!), which has a low glycemic index so it’s gentler to the system.

Head over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe and more info.

Found this tidbit via StumbleUpon.

EDIT: Before I could get this piece up on the intarwebz, Lifehacker beat me to it. But I still found it first! Ha!

Coconut Water: Nature’s Own (Wicked Expensive!) Sports Drink

I spent most of the week before last on a yoga retreat, which was awesome. But it was also blazing hot. Even with intermittent air conditioning, I was sweating like a hog. So I was in desperate need of healthy fluids, and I needed something more effective than just water, but better than a sports drink. The answer: coconut water.

Coconut water comes from the inside of an unripe, green coconut. It’s what would turn into coconut milk if the coconut were allowed to ripen all the way.

Unlike coconut milk, the water is light, refreshing, fat-free, and replenishes lots of the same things sports drinks replenish (especially potassium), without all the various sugars, colors, and flavors.

It is, however, quite expensive: almost $6 per liter. I recommend mixing it with some regular water. It won’t be quite as lusciously tasty, but it will go farther and still be good for you.

And you absolutely must have it chilled.

You can also make cocktails with it, but that will of course negate its effects as a sports drink. For example, Chuck T. at Flickr has posted a recipe for a Coconut Water and Ginger Caipiroska:

You can find it at Whole Foods, and probably some other places as well, such as Harvest in Cambridge. It comes in individual serving sizes and liters, in aseptic packages. There are several brands available, and each has several flavors.

My fav brand (based mostly on price) is Zico, and my fav flavors are plain and mango.