Monday, June 30, 2008


Gourmet Tuna Noodle Cassarole with Grape Leaves and Olives

There you have it my lovelies. A photo remnant of the last tuna I will be consuming for a long, long time.

(Insert heaving sigh.)

The last vestiges of the meal are heating in the oven now...ready to be consumed. (With a bit of trepidation if you must know.) Savored, savory, satiation.


Tuna is off the menu.

Pity really. It's delicious stuff.

But peaches! It is just about time that we must all face the facts that it's also heinously over fished (and badly fished at that) and way up there on the "for-goodness-sake-people! Really? Please-stop-demanding-this" list. Right?


So as my one-small-person act of the week, I have chosen to avoid it from here on out.

Oh tuna, I will miss you, but I cannot consume you. No, no, not at the cost of the oceans, the earth and my general health.

From now on, I will focus my pesce-energies on mackerel and sardines and all the mid-range sea creatures that aren't a danger to myself and my pretty planet.

I promise to be a good, eco-friendly girl.

So with this dish, (recipe lifted almost entirely from The Hostess, who served it to me last week, and then repeated for your pleasure) I say adieu and close my eyes and hope and hope and hope that others will stop eating tuna too. At least long enough for you to rebound and for fishermen to find a less wasteful/more humane way to ensnare you.

Swim on great tuna.

For you my peaches, try this (not entirely summery, but entirely delicious and fantastically satisfying) dish and taste the (bittersweet) joy.

And thank you for indulging me in my lil' bitty soap-box moment. Sometimes a girl just can't help but say something that weighs heavy...ya know?

2 ounces seared tuna (I brought mine home from a lovely and abundant dinner out), diced
1/2 pound whole wheat noodles, cooked and cooled
1/2 cup whole cream
2 teaspoons capers
2 tablespoons minced scallion
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1 cup assorted wild mushrooms (I reconstituted dried)
1 teaspoon minced fresh savory or thyme
1 tomato, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Enough rinsed grape leaves to line your baking dish
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 325F.

Toss together the noodles, cream, capers, scallions, olives, mushrooms and savory. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, toss together the olive oil, panko and Parmesan.

Lightly oil a medium sized (you'll have to eyeball this) oven-safe baking dish. Line with overlapping grape leaves (gaps are fine). Fill with the noodles. Top with sliced tomato then panko.

Bake until golden brown on top. About 30 minutes.

Slice in to wedges and serve.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright. And generally cheesing me off.

Yes, I did just read Bottomfeeder: How To Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood. I urge you to check it out.

New data released in 2006 by the WWF, the global conservation organization, revealed that bluefin tuna has almost been fished out of some of the Mediterranean’s oldest fishing grounds.Catches around Spain’s Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean, for example, were down to just 15 per cent of what they were just a decade ago. Only 2,270 tonnes have been caught there in 2006, compared with 14,699 tonnes in 1995. - WWF

What's the difference between a fish and a piano? You can't tuna fish!

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Friday, June 20, 2008


Roasted Potato Salad

As a friend to us all The Hostess will have you know that she is not a fan of cucumbers appearing in her green salad.

She is - in fact - against it.

Straight up cucumber salad is fine she says.

But should those tiny gourds come mixed in with her leafy greens? Not at all fine by her.

Some sort of child hood trauma I suspect (and I suspect as much because I believe she said as much...only I forgot the details). But any which way, it deserves to be noted when a menu is being crafted upon which she will dine.

Let's face facts. We all have some sort of thing in our worlds too. That sort of thing that isn't really a big deal, but simply creates a little border in our dining experiences. (As a side note, she also has a serious aversion to/obsession with, that seminal 70's band Cheap Trick, but she won't tell me why. And since she told me she reads this site...well...perhaps she will share in the comments section? Yes? Let's hope!)

When challenged with making a side dish for a picnic luncheon starring her and The Ombudsman (We can't leave him out now can we!) my initial plan was, I admit, a lovely Greek salad with diced cucumbers. (!) But in an effort to be half the hostess she is (and the bar is quite high), that was off the menu. Thinking fast, I made this version of potato salad instead.

(I know. I should have written all of this about the cucumber salad, but that's already been posted!)

And my dears, it was just great.

Happy summer times indeed.

Now try this my peaches and taste the joy.

1 pound assorted creamer potatoes, halved
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, same
3 cloves garlic, rough chop
1 red onion, large dice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 stalks celery, small dice
For the dressing
4 tablepsoons olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup minced dill
2 T. minced chives
1 teaspoon lavender blossoms, crumbled

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Boil the potatoes in heavily salted water until just slightly undercooked.

Drain and toss with the bell pepper, garlic, red onion and olive oil. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast until golden brown.

Whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust as needed.

When the potatoes are done, toss with the dressing. Let cool slightly and serve.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

Casting announcement for A&E’s new show “Rocco to the Rescue!”

If you are planning a big announcement, have a ‘hero’ you wish to thank or are celebrating a major life event, (and more things along those lines) Chef Rocco DiSpirito will teach you what to cook, where to find the ingredients and how to prepare the ideal meal for your extra special occasion. All in your home.

A&E is looking for people in and around Los Angeles who need Rocco DiSpirito’s help. To apply, email with your name, age, phone number, a recent photo and the reason you need to cook with Rocco. Or call: 818-752-5559.

Cucumbers are about 95% water.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008


Drink of the Week: Cherry Kirsch Refresher

When faced with choices, one tends to go with the more appealing, more festive or more intriguing one, right?

Thus, when presented with this past weekends entertainment selection, I choose Sumo Wrestling.

Because, I have never witnessed sumo wrestling and well, it's sumo wrestling for heavens sake.

Have you ever been to an authentic, competitive sumo match? Me either...

Sounds like good clean fun I say.

So how The Ombudsman and I ended up at a (darling but) melancholy play recounting the love story of Louis Prima and Keely Smith - set to music - I really can't say.

Not that it wasn't fab, but it was - for sure - unexpectedly out of our sphere of typical hipster past times. Heck, a musical about a 50's lounge act's heartbreaking romance doesn't even register a blip on our collective radar...

And yet, it (Louis and Keely Live at the Sahara) was really, really good and I really, really recommend it. Lotsa good tunage. Much hep-cat jive talkin' grooviness.

Afterwards, (much like the last six times we decided to attend the theater) we went for a drink.

Actually, that's not exactly true. We snuck a nip in the parking lot before hand. And downed a few cold ones at the show. And then we went for a drinky to celebrate our new found love of musical theater...

Oh wait...

So if you want to follow in our daring footsteps and sample something new (and alcoholic) and a bit off the beaten path, this cocktail is the way to go.

Refreshing and seasonal. What more can you ask for...

Now try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

1.5 ounces Clear Creek Distillery Cherry Kirsch
Pitted cherries for garnish
Slice of lime
Soda water

Pour the kirsch into a tall glass. Add a few cherries and bruise. Top with soda water and garnish with lime slice.

Serves one.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

The cherry is the state fruit of Utah

Sales of super-premium rum - brands priced more than $30 a bottle - grew 43 percent in 2007, generating $29 million in revenue. There were approximately 500 types of rum available in the United States in 2007, and overall rum sales grew almost 9 percent from the previous year. - WSJ

I took a cooking class this weekend at Spork! Check it out if you are in the area...


Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Grilled Asparagus with Pistachio Aillade

All this glorious early summer sunshine is going to my head.

I tell you it's just peachy keen!

Trouble is, it has me forgetting lots of stuff too.

Like, to post recipes.


My shoulders are tanned, the garden is growing and my days are full with good friends and whimsical cocktails. This is just the richest, most soul satisfying business.

And now, for you, my glamorous readers, I am reprinting (with not so many words changed) a recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Why?

Because kids, this little bit of knowledge is just far beyond a recipe, it strikes me as prose.


Read this recipe. Then, if you have a - oh, I don't know - Gordon Ramsay or some other hyper-masculine chef's cookbook at home, compare them.

It's easy to see.

This is so obviously written by a real woman. A woman with a gentle appreciation of her craft and a respect for her product. (Reminds me a lot of the beautiful writing by one of one of my favorite bloggers - Lucy at Nourish Me) It is a simple recipe with elegantly beautiful results.

Such a lovely thing to find in a world full of kitchen-intensity. I had to share.

It has such a wonderful layering of flavors and unexpected delights.

So try it my dears, and please do taste the joy.

1/2 cup pistachios
1 small garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of a tangerine or mandarin
Brandy or grappa (I actually used cognac)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed

Turn the oven to 350F.

Go through the pistachios and discard any that are shrunken or brown.

Spread on a baking sheet and heat the pistachios until warm to the touch, about 3 minutes, long enough to heighten their flavor without burning their fragile oil. Coarsely chop.

Coarsely chop the garlic then pound in a mortar (or pulse in a food processor), scoop out and set aside.

Transfer the pistachios to the mortar (or, again, food processor) and pound to a dry paste. Blend in the pounded garlic to taste. Pound or grind in about half the oil to bind with the nuts, then stir in the remainder.

With a few strokes of a zester, carve a teaspoon of fragrant orange filaments. Chop, then stir them into the paste. Add the brandy or grappa and salt to taste.

The finished aillade will be a dense, heavy paste. Set aside to mellow. As it sits the crushed nuts will settle out of the oil, but a few stirs will reamalgamate the paste.

Prepare your grill.

For the asparagus break off the woody ends, then peel away the toughest skin. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and salt lightly. Blanch the asparagus for about one minute. Drain. Cool in lightly salted ice water, drain and pat dry. (Skip the blanching if your asparagus is pencil thin). Oil and arrange in a single layer on the grill.

Grill until hot through and emblazoned with pretty char marks, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Serve with the aillade.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

MIAMI (AP) -- South Florida schools are having to back away from goals to offer more nutritious meals because of rising food costs. Switching from fresh fruit to canned saves money and maintains the same level of nutrition. Schools have also cut some whole grain breads, replacing it with white bread. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach schools are all looking to increase the price of their school lunches. Besides food costs going up, another problem is that the money school districts get from the federal government for each meal has not changed since last year.

Aillade is the name used in southern France for two different garlic-based condiments. In Provence, it is a garlic-flavored vinaigrette, while in some other areas, it is a form of garlic-flavored mayonnaise. In the latter meaning, it is a synonym for aioli. - Wikipedia

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