Cherry tomatoes perk up pasta

Roasted cherry tomato pasta

This was not the greatest tomato season where I live. Until the last couple of weeks, the weather was just too cool for regular size tomatoes to ripen properly.  But the cherry tomatoes have been just fine.

So, more often than not, when I’ve wanted a  quick and easy pasta sauce with the tang of fresh tomatoes this season, I’ve turned to the beautiful little Sweet 100s or orange Sun Golds lined up in baskets at the farmers market.  Not only do they add a bright shot of flavor to every dish, they don’t need chopping or peeling. Continue reading Cherry tomatoes perk up pasta

Rice cooker to the rescue

rice cooker

Meet one of my favorite kitchen helpers.

If I were heading off for college this fall, a rice cooker is the one appliance I would pack for the dorm.  No one-trick gadget, it can cook everything from macaroni and cheese to pot de creme.

Rice, of course, is what it does best.  I made rice in a saucepan for years and most of the time it came out just fine.  Now, however, everyone in my family can make good rice every time.  We also make terrific polenta, which only requires a few stirs while cooking. Continue reading Rice cooker to the rescue

Mangoes are back

mango and black bean salad

California mangoes are back in season at last.  Just in time, too.  I’ve been aching to make this black bean and mango salad but couldn’t bring myself to buy imported fruit.

Not only do imported mangoes travel thousands of miles to get to the local supermarket, they’re picked green and are usually bathed in hot water before they’re allowed into the U.S.  California mangoes, grown in the Coachella Valley, spend more time ripening on the trees. Many are even grown organically. Continue reading Mangoes are back

Figs shine in Viennese cake

fig cake1

2010 is going down in my books as the year of the fig.  Tomatoes may have disappointed, casualties of the unusually cool Northern California summer, but the figs have been magnificent.

Black Mission figs began arriving at the farmers market from the Central Valley a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been eating them out of hand, off the grill, or baked in this cake.  They’ve been exceptionally sweet and juicy.

Then the huge brown Turkey figs and delicate green Adriatic figs showed up and they’ve been wonderful, too. Continue reading Figs shine in Viennese cake