Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Salad Days

Friday, January 18th, 2013

I love salads! Fruit salad, vegetable salad, grain salad – or a combination – the colors, the textures, the flavors….the possibilities are endless. Whether inspired by a display of local, in-season produce in the grocery store or leftover veggies in the refrigerator, tossed with a homemade dressing, topped with a special garnish….salads appeal to my creative side as a chef. The ingredients for this salad can all be combined in a bowl as a tossed salad, of course, but assembling them as a stacked salad makes a stunning first course for a dinner party and sets the stage for an elegant evening of gourmet dining.

Double Mango Stacked Fruit Salad

Double Mango Stacked Fruit Salad

an original recipe created by Chef Barb Crispin, A Gift of Thyme personal chef service

serves 2

1 cup mango, ripe, peeled and cubed

1 pear, chopped

1/2 cup chopped strawberries + 2 whole strawberries for garnish (optional)

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

1/4 teaspoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon salt

agave nectar to taste (honey or other sweetener may be substituted if preferred)

3 cups salad greens, chopped

1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped (I used mint + a sprinkling of fennel fronds)

3″ salad ring or biscuit cutter

Place 3/4 of the mango in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add lime juice, oil, coriander, and salt. Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine remaining mango and chopped strawberries with 1 tablespoon of the pureed mango. Set aside. This will be the middle layer of your salad.

Toss 1/2 cup chopped greens with the fresh chopped herbs. Set aside. This is the top layer of the salad.

Combine the remaining salad greens with the chopped pears and 1/2 – 1 tablespoon pureed mango. This is the base of the salad.

Place the salad ring  in the center of the salad plate. Using the salad ring as a mold, fill it about half-way with the greens/pear mixture. The weight of the mango-strawberry layer will compress it. Add enough of the mango-strawberry mixture so that 2/3  – 3/4 of the ring is filled. Top with the layer of greens and herbs. The top of this  layer can be slightly above the top edge of the ring. Carefully slide the ring upwards. Repeat for the second salad.  Garnish the plates with strawberry fans if desired.

You will have extra pureed mango. It keeps well in the refrigerator (or can be frozen) and can be used on other salads, as a topping for ice cream, as a dip for fresh fruit, mixed with yogurt…


Fresh From the Garden

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Zucchini!  This time of year, those of us with vegetable gardens are blessed with an abundance of fresh vegetables, but anyone who planted zucchini can be facing too much of a good thing.  Stored in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable bin, fresh picked zucchini should keep well for 4-5 days.  Well known for being the star of zucchini bread, it is versatile enough to be used in many other creative ways:

Slice thinly or shredded, it can be added to quiches or frittatas, used in a wrap or as a topping for pizza. Cut into thicker slices or ‘wands’, it can be served with a creamy dip or yogurt sauce.  It makes a delicious baked vegetarian entrée layered with slices of onion, eggplant, tomatoes and feta cheese.  Chop it and toss with spaghetti, a little pesto and toasted pine nuts.  Cut in half lengthwise, the seeds can be scooped out to create a ‘boat’ to hold a variety of meat, vegetable, grain, or cheese fillings.  Cut crosswise into thick slices, a melon baller can be used to create a little bowl to hold 2-bite servings of tabouleh, chicken or tuna salads.  Use a vegetable peeler to create zucchini ribbons and toss with a flavorful vinaigrette for a tasty salad.  And there’s always ratatouille!

The following recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare zucchini. It’s quick enough for a weeknight meal, but elegant enough to serve when entertaining as well!

Almond-Topped Zucchini

3 medium zucchini, sliced thin

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon butter

4 teaspoon thyme

1/3 cup smoked almonds, chopped coarsely

Heat skillet over medium-high heat; add oil and butter and swirl til butter melts and bottom of skillet is coated. Add the sliced zucchini and minced garlic and saute briefly til zucchini is crisp tender. Toss with thyme, season with salt and pepper if desired,  and serve, garnished with chopped almonds.


This Just In… Fresh Pears!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The coming of fall brings fresh pears to our markets.  Highly versatile, I love eating them as a snack or chopping them up for a salad – they add a touch of juicy sweetness and are the perfect accompaniment to stronger flavored cheeses such as gorgonzola or goat cheese (tossing them with a

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bit of orange or lemon juice keeps them from browning).  Pears are delicious roasted, baked in a rustic galette for dessert or tossed with apples, plums and berries for wonderful crisps and compotes.  And poached pears are a treat for breakfast.

Bartletts have smooth, juicy flesh and are excellent for canning, poaching or eating plain.  When ripe, their skin turns bright yellow.  Red Bartletts are similar to the regular Bartlett, but are bright red when ripe and add color to salads and are delicious cooked.  Anjou have a spicy taste and are best eaten fresh.  Red Anjou may be eaten fresh or baked.  Bosc pears have a distinctive long, tapered neck and golden brown skin.  They are perfect for poaching, roasting, broiling or grilling.

Choose pears that are firm, well-shaped, and free of bruises.  Allow a few days for pears to ripen in a brown bag at room temperature.  When ripe, a pear will yield slightly to gentle pressure near the stem.  Store ripe pears in the coldest part of the refrigerator.  Pears bruise easily and should be handled gently.

Poached Pears

Peel, halve and core 1 large pear.  Combine 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, one 3-inch piece cinnamon stick, and one 3-inch piece lemon rind in a large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil; add pear halves and cover.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 8 minutes or til pear halves are tender.  Remove pear halves with a slotted spoon.  Serve as a salad with greens, drizzled with Neufchatel thinned with orange juice and garnished with chopped nuts or as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream sprinkle with cinnamon.  Serves 2

A Tribute to Mom

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Mom - who taught me the joy of cooking

Family recipes…

A treasure trove of memories

A connection to one’s heritage

A tangible reminder of family ties

And with each re-creation

A tribute to the many cooks whose hands prepared it in the past and gave it ‘life’

My grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch, and this recipe comes from a friend of hers.  Although I don’t remember my grandmother making this, my mom made it as a regular treat when we were growing up. After I moved away from home, I always knew whenever I went back for a visit, shoofly pie and Mom would be waiting for me. This is actually a breakfast pie; the bottom layer can range from moist and slightly gooey to cake-like and always with a delicious crumb topping…  I chose this recipe to share with you as a tribute to my mother.

Jennie Bowman’s Shoofly Pie

4 C flour

½ C butter

2 C sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 C molasses

2 C hot water

1 tsp baking soda

2 pie crusts, unbaked

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour, shortening, sugar, baking powder into a fine crumb mixture.  In a separate bowl, mix together molasses, water and baking soda.  Pour into pie shells.  Divide the crumb mixture into equal portions for each pie; add quickly.  Immediately put pies into the oven.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

Berry Delicious

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Fresh berries are a welcome sight in the produce section and a sure sign that summer is here!  All fruits provide healthful vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber while being low in sodium, calories and fat.  To protect your investment in healthy eating here are some tips for selecting the best berries

Choose strawberries that are shiny and fragrant with fresh hulls still attached. Smaller berries tend to be more flavorful than large, and they should have that wonderful strawberry aroma.  Blueberries should be round, plump, and have a slightly dusty appearance.  Blackberries should look plump and shiny, while raspberries will look slightly dusty.  At home, sort through the berries, removing any that are bruised, shriveled or decaying.  Store strawberries, raspberries and blackberries in a single layer loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of the refrigerator and use within 1-3 days.  Blueberries may be stored in their original container. Allow the berries to come to room temperature for the best flavor and wash just before using.

Enjoy these summer treats tossed with salad greens and your favorite cheese, drizzled with a tangy vinaigrette and garnished with toasted nuts, or try this client favorite:

Black- and Blueberry Syrup

1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons blackberry jam

1 cup blueberries

1 ½ cups blackberries

In a small saucepan, dissolve cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water.   Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, blackberry jam and blueberries.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer til slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute.  Remove from heat and gently stir in blackberries.

Leftover Inspiration

Friday, February 11th, 2011

The vegetable bin in my refrigerator is full – leftovers from cooking earlier this week.  Zucchini, cabbage, carrot, peppers…. What else is in there? Let’s see, some mushrooms, a leek, some fennel, a cup of canned diced tomatoes, some kidney beans and garbanzos… Great ingredients for soup!  And with the temperatures outside below zero, it’s the perfect day for it, too.  I put all of these treasures on the counter, pull out my cutting board and chef’s knife and get to work.  A partial container of vegetable stock is in the refrigerator, too.  I’ll use that as my base.

I heat the soup pot on the stove, give it a quick spray with some cooking spray, and toss in the sliced leeks and chopped mushrooms.  Lots of sizzle as they tumble into the pot – that’s good.  Quickly the aroma of the mushroom/leek sauté fills the room and I’m in heaven.  When they are a rich, brown color I add minced garlic and sauté a few minutes more.  The fennel, carrots, green and red bell peppers and the tomatoes go in next.  I let the mixture boil for a few minutes while I search my pantry for the perfect seasoning.  Homestead Seasoning, a blend from the Savory Spice Shop, looks good.  Not exactly what I was thinking of, but it will work.  The liquid from the tomatoes is almost all evaporated, so I stir in the seasoning.  Did I put in enough?  Or was it too much? Won’t know until it’s done…  I add the cabbage and zucchini, give another quick stir and add the vegetable stock.  Not quite enough liquid, so I add some water.  I can always stir in some bouillon or some more seasoning at the end if I need to.  I bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer – it’s looking good… Before the zucchini and cabbage go all mushy, I remove the pan from heat and add the kidney beans and garbanzos.  A taste… hmmm, good, but it needs… yes! a splash of sherry vinegar!  Another taste… I have to admit – that’s pretty darn good soup!

A Gift of Thyme’s Pretty Darn Good Soup

3 cups chopped mushrooms

1 1/3 cups leeks, white part only, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup fennel, thinly sliced

1 cup finely chopped green and red bell peppers

1/3 cup chopped carrots

1 teaspon seasoning blend (Homestead Seasoning recommended)

1 cup each diced tomatoes (canned), diced zucchini, sliced cabbage

3/4 cup vegetable stock plus 1 cup water

1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

Heat soup pot over medium-high heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Add mushrooms and leeks to pan; saute for 5 minutes or til lightly browned, stirring frequently.  Add garlic, fennel and carrots; saute another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add diced tomato with juices; allow to boil until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Stir in cabbage and zucchini, vegetable stock and water; return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer til vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add garbanzo and kidney beans and remove from heat.  Stir in vinegar.  Taste to adjust seasonings as needed and serve garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds.  Enjoy!

Makes 8 cups of soup – 6 servings (1 1/3 cups each)

A Day Off

Monday, January 24th, 2011

A rare ‘day off’ means no clients scheduled for tomorrow, so instead of assembling recipes, making shopping lists, packing tools, and creating a prep plan for when I arrive at a client’s home, I can play! For me, that means testing recipes. Each new recipe has to be evaluated for adaptability to my service: is the prep too involved? can I leave the final cooking for the client to do? can this dish be stored for a day or two in the refrigerator, or can it be frozen? Most importantly – does it look and taste absolutely delicious?!?
A client recently gave me a recipe for Quinoa Taco Salad with a note: “What do you think?” It definitely had possibilities, so I took it home and played around with it. The final version prompted an enthusiastic “This is really good!” at our dinner table… and so I prepared it for my clients last week. Can’t wait to hear what they think!

A Gift of Thyme Quinoa Taco Salad

serves 4

Cook 1 cup quinoa according to package directions.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat with cooking spray, then add l chopped large red onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, until translucent and tender.  Add 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste), 1 dash cayenne, and 1/2 each red, yellow, and green bell pepper, chopped.  Saute another 2 minutes, then remove from heat.  Stir in 1 15-oz. can black beans, 3/4 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned – I used Muir Glen Fire-Roasted), and the juice of 1 lime.  Add cooked quinoa and 1 cup cilantro, chopped.  Toss til well mixed.  Season to taste.

Serve on a bed of shredded spinach or mixed greens and garnish with generous amounts of sharp Cheddar cheese, crumbled tortilla chips, and diced avocado.  Drizzle with salsa for extra zing.  We liked this served as a warm salad, but it does hold well in the refrigerator for several days, and can even be frozen if canned tomatoes are used.  Enjoy!