Miraculous Minute-Oatmeal Puffs in the Microwave

Start the morning off right with this oatmeal puff made in the microwave.

Start the morning off right with this oatmeal puff made in the microwave.

 

With school back in swing, mornings are even more hectic than usual.

There’s no excuse to skimp on breakfast, though. Not when you can make a whole-grain one loaded with fiber, protein, calcium, and fruit in a microwave in a flash.

That’s the beauty of “Minute-Oatmeal Puffs with Anise and Grapes.”

The recipe is from “Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Maria Speck, a food journalist and cookbook writer who lives in Massachusetts.

As the name implies, this cookbook is all about cooking with grains, many of which are gluten-free, too. Inside you’ll find info on everything from black rice to red quinoa to farro to golden Kamut berries, and delicious ways to enjoy them morning, noon and night. You’ll be inspired to try new grains in dishes such as “Lemon Pancakes with Millet and Amaranth” and “Spelt Spaghetti with Lemony Parsnips and Olives.”

SimplyAncientGrains

This gluten-free oatmeal puff caught my attention not only because oatmeal is a staple in my pantry, but because of the microwave trick similar to making a mug cake.

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Easy Drinking Vinho Verde

Golden with a tinge of green, Vino Verde is made to be enjoyed young.

Golden with a tinge of green, Vino Verde is made to be enjoyed young.

 

I’ve been intrigued by Vinho Verde since taking an illuminating wine class a couple years ago at the International Culinary Center in Campbell.

Among the discussions we got into was the best wine to accompany sushi.

I’d had my share of sake, Sauvignon Blanc and Chablis with my nigiri. But when our instructor, Master Sommelier Jesse Becker, mentioned he loved Vinho Verde with sushi, that was a new one on me.

The Portuguese wine is not a particular varietal per se. Instead, the name refers to “green wine,” meaning a young one, meant to be enjoyed readily, rather than tucked away in a cellar for years.

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April Bloomfield’s “If-It-Ain’t-Broke Eggplant Caponata”

Eggplant, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and a whole lot of love.

Eggplant, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and a whole lot of love.

 

She may be most know for her gutsy nose-to-tail cooking. But celebrated New York Chef April Bloomfield wants you to know she’s equally equipped with root-to-shoot flair.

Her first cookbook, “A Girl and Her Pig” (Ecco, 2012) may have been meat-centric. But her follow-up, “A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden” (Ecco), decidedly puts the emphasis smack dab on a cornucopia of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Bloomfield is the award-winning chef-owner of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The John Dory Oyster Bar, all in New York, as well as Tosca Cafe in San Francisco. She was also the star of season 2 of “The Mind of A Chef.”

In her cookbook, of which I received a review copy, she offers up dishes that home-cooks can actually make. That includes delights such as “Asparagus Quiches with Mint,” “Roasted Young Onions with Sage Pesto,” and “Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Butterscotch.”

a girl and her greens

With stands at my local farmers market piled high with brilliant purple eggplants at this time of year, I was drawn to Bloomfield’s recipe for “If-It-Ain’t-Broke Eggplant Caponata.”

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A Taste of Korean Walnut Pastry

Discover Korean walnut pastries.

Discover Korean walnut pastries.

 

 

I am drawn to bakeries. What can I say?

So even after gorging one evening on fried chicken at Vons in Sunnyvale (a must-try for the “crispy” chicken, by the way), I still felt compelled to stop in at a bakery steps away in the same strip mall on El Camino Real.

What enticed me was Cocohodo’s sign: “Walnut Pastry.”

Walnut pastries? Korean ones? What could those possibly be?

Why, quite delicious, that’s what.

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Get Ready For A Feast Of Greens — And A Food Gal Giveaway

The makings for a tasty vinaigrette from Gift A Feast.

The makings for a tasty vinaigrette from Gift A Feast.

Perk up summer salads with a zesty vinaigrette of California olive oil, late harvest Viognier-honey vinegar and mustard made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

It’s easy to do so with Gift A Feast, a San Francisco company that sources local gourmet products, wraps them up in a pretty package, then ships nationwide with a hand-written note attached.

I had a chance to test out a sample of its “For A Feast of Greens” gift set ($54.95).

The lovely wrapped box holds a trio of goodies: a bottle of Rio Bravo Ranch Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made by a fifth-generation farming family near Bakerfield, using Ascolano, Picual and Coratina estate olives, which has a buttery finish and tomato leaf-aroma; Katz Late Harvest Viognier-Honey Vinegar that is sweet, fruity, tangy and has a hit of vanilla from being aged in wood barrels; and KL Keller Violet Mustard, which is the color of tapenade, has a coarse texture from mustard seeds, and possesses a deep red wine flavor from grape must (concentrated, unfermented juice).

Also enclosed with the gift box is a recipe card for a simple vinaigrette using those three ingredients. You just need to add sea salt to taste to have a fruity, piquant and tangy dressing perfect for any combination of crisp greens. Add a few slivers of fresh plums and some toasted or candied walnuts, and you have a winning salad as easy as that.

The wrapped box.

The wrapped box.

And what it holds inside.

And what it holds inside.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a free “For A Feast of Greens”  gift box. Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Aug. 29. Winner will be announced Aug. 31.

How to win?

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