Archive for the ‘Simple Food’ Category


May 27, 2009

Frutz Blog 033

To ward off the post cheesecake sugar itches, here is a simple, light and delicious summer salad recipe. We received gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, a cucumber, and gypsy peppers with our weekly CSA delivery and I couldn’t resist mixing ’em all together.

2 large hierloom tomatoes

1 cucumber

1-2 gypsy peppers (or any sweet pepper or none at all– optional)

a bunch of fresh herbs, chopped (I used mint and thyme from our garden)

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Chop up the tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper to bite sized portions of your choosing. Chop the herbs. Mix all ingredients together with a couple splashes of oil and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!



May 27, 2009




I’m knee deep into my third book by Ruth Reichl– editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, former New York Times and LA Times food critic, and bestselling author. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading one of her memoirs, run out to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy. Reading a Ruth Reichl book is like indulging in a blissful 7 course meal. Her first book (and my favorite), Tender at the Bone, is the best place to start. It is a quick, engaging, honest, and delicious look back on her childhood and coming of age in the gourmet world. We follow along as Ruth rambles through family dynamics, bungled relationships, travel, and most importantly– fortuitous food adventures. Interspersed throughout each chapter of her books are recipes which relate to specific moments in her life.  Reichl makes reading about food a playground for the senses. Case in point– after a long Ruth Reichl hiatus I recently picked up a copy of Garlic and Sapphires. Only one pleasurable evening of lulling myself to sleep with the initial few chapters and I woke in the morning bound and determined to cook, of all things, a cheese cake! Reichl had captured so well the sounds and smells of New York that I couldn’t get the recipe for “New York Cheesecake” out of my head. It seemed so pure, so simple, so indulgent, (so out-of-character for me to cook) and so New York.

Frutz Blog 029

And so now I give you– New York Cheesecake, courtesy of Ruth Reichl from Garlic and Sapphires published by Penguin Press:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

1 1/2 pounds creamcheese, preferably without gum, at room temperature

4 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the graham crackers with 1/4 cup sugar and the melted butter and press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch ungreased spring-form pan. Chill while preparing filling.

Beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, 2 teaspoons of the vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth. Pour into chilled crust and bake 50 minutes to an hour, or until the cheese is set and starting to turn golden in spots. Remove from the oven (leave oven on) and cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.

Stir together the sour cream, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining teaspoon of vanilla and spread over cooled cake. Return to oven fr 12 minutes until glossy and set.

Cool completely, cover, and chill at least 8 hrs.

Serves 8


May 8, 2009


What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The scope of frutz is expanding. On the heels of my last post’s title, I am inspired to share another facet of my interests and studies: holistic nutrition. I’ve added the category to my Category Cloud to the right and will try to post small snippets of nutrition wisdom upon occasion. Our backyard garden is shaping up quite nicely so I hope the summer can include some herbal and nutrition wisdom straight from my dirt to you.

Back to dandelions: the title of my last post was Spring Medicine. It was not a coincidence that I chose to include a photo of my darling niece Karle-bug holding teeming handfuls of dandelion heads. Dandelions, though regarded as one of the greatest pests to a suburban lawn (yes, they are unrelenting!), are packed with nutritional power and healing abilities. In fact, the dandelion has more nutritional value than most vegetables– it’s a rich source of vitamins, minerals, protein, choline, inulin, and pectin. It even has a higher vitamin A content than the carrot!

Dandelion’s nutrient and other compounds make it a wonderful bitter tonic for the spleen, stomach, kidney, and liver. Dandelions can stimulate liver function, reduce swelling and inflammation, and improve digestion. Dandelions are also antiviral and have been used to treat:

  • AIDS
  • Herpes
  • Jaundice
  • Cirrhosis
  • Edema due to high blood pressure
  • Acne
  • Breast and lung tumors
  • Premenstrual bloating

Dandelion can be foraged wild (beware of pesticides) or store bought. The greens are great in a salad, the flower heads can be used in a tea, and dandelion tinctures can be made at home or found at the store. Dandelion roots and greens can be chopped and sauteed with oil and garlic in any cooking recipe. What’s more, the dandelion makes a fashionable bracelet when tied around your wrist– just ask my nieces!


April 11, 2009


This weekend marked the beginning of this year’s escapades in our garden. We feel so incredibly lucky to have a backyard with limitless potential in the city. The native plants already in existence out there create a seasonal wonderland of surprises. But we always attempt to tame some areas into gardens of edibles for our summer and fall cooking. This year’s game plan includes building a small green house for our ‘starts’, utilizing more container gardening to save some of the natural vegetation (and not spend a fortune on bringing in new soil), and simply being a bit more successful than last year. My goal as always– fresh herbs, flowers, and veggies. Let the games begin!

many hands make light work (thanks Vince and Kevin!)

many hands make light work (thanks Vince and Kevin!)

greenhouse projekt 2.0

greenhouse projekt 2.0

fingers crossed

ducks in a row



fingers crossed

fingers crossed


February 18, 2009

homemade apple-oatmeal-bread

A few of my friends recently did a “juice fast” for 4 days. They raved about it. Their skin glowed and they said they felt like a humming bird. I thought, I want to feel like a humming bird! So they gave me their books, advice, and I was raring to go. But I had to wait a week until my (future) mother-in-law left town b/c food is far too much a wonderful part of out-of-town visits. I read all the books and, having studied holistic nutrition, knew that if conducted well, a veggie juice fast can be an highly effective way to “spring clean” all sorts of junk out of your system. The science behind (veggie/fruit juice) fasting is very fascinating.

So Monday morning I began…I juiced myself all sorts of fresh treats throughout the day– combos of celery, apple, ginger, cucumber, kale, spinach, orange, kiwi, carrot, garlic, etc. They tasted great and I honestly was not hungry at all. Until 10 pm at night. I felt out of my body. Partially drained and weak and partially energized and focused. Both frantic and the feeling of utter clarity.

I awoke Tuesday morning, drank a glass of homemade juice and played a rag-tag game of tennis against the beau on the public courts in a nearby park, and very nearly won. It was one of my best games. I felt so clear and unstoppable. But then I went home…to another glass of juice. And that’s when it ceased to be fun. I opened the fridge and nearly drooled at the sight of a block of cheese. Just thinking about an avocado made me need to sit down. And then, my sweetness started making breakfast. An egg scramble with chicken apple sausage, black beans, garlic, and spinach. I literally started pounding the kitchen table. “I WANT TO EAT! I WANT TO EAT!…WHY AM I DOING THIS!?” And then I realized, it was time to stop. It made little to no sense to continue. I’m not an extremest. I try to never say never. I do believe food to be one of the greatest– probably THE greatest– gifts of this world. I believe one can heal oneself entirely with food in many circumstances. (I’ve been there– I faced cancer at 23 and changing my diet was probably the greatest gift of the entire experience–besides LIVING through it!). But food should not be a science. Nutrition is helpful, but should only be used as a flashlight in a mysterious world. It should not be the sun. I don’t think it is ‘healthy’ to live your life as a slave of nutrition science. I eat well. I eat primarily whole, seasonal, local fruit and vegetables and indulge in chocolate and cheese and meat and fat to my hearts content. Always with moderation, but never with deprivation.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box. The juicing fast was amazing and helped me to feel great this week. I gave in early and easily b/c it made little sense to me not too. My motivations had been served. In life, I think we must remember to check-in with ourselves and evaluate our motivations. As they say, we need to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

And food is too damn good not to eat it. So here is some homemade food porn from the past week:

orange, avocado, carrot, sesame salad

orange, avocado, carrot, sesame, ginger-soy salad

My homemade, spur-of-the-moment, Oatmeal Apple Bread (sweetened with honey):


And today’s homemade Potato, Leek, and Fennel soup (sprinkled with mozzarella cheese):

Fennel, Leek, Potato zoupa!

Fennel, Leek, Potato zoupa!

(Since writing this post I’ve learned that I could have eaten miso soup or broth during my fast…which may have helped me to keep going…something savory would have been like manna from heaven! Oh well, maybe I’ll be inspired another time…in the meantime, the carne asada burrito [the size of my head] I ingested last night seemed to energize me plenty).


January 18, 2009

It’s a sunny, Sunday morning and I’m listening to the inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial on my local NPR station. My little Grundig radio is cranking out the smooth tones of Stevie Wonder when the radio commentor breaks in to let me know the entire Obama family is on their feet doing a boogie. This is a good day.

Meanwhile I’ve smeared homemade Olive and Fig Jam (brought back from our recent trip to New Zealand) across a piece of toast and my taste buds are singing arias. This stuff is ridiculous, deserving (at the very least) a medal of honor for it’s contribution to humanity. This heavenly jam is the creation of Helen at Elaia Gourmet Olives…please check them out and order some of their goodies…they are delicious!:

Elaia Gourmet Olives –

We came across the jam while olive tasting at Juno Olives, a small family farm who recently opened a shop on-site for tastings. Their yummy olives have a very unique, not-too-salty, perfectly complex, rich and even sweet flavor which I can still imagine right now, a month and a couple thousand miles later:

Both farms are located in the food blessed Wairarapa region of New Zealand’s north island. So if you find yourselves in the neighborhood, search them out.

A Gift for the Southern Hemisphere:

In honor of my friends in the Southern Hemisphere enjoying the fruits of summer, I’m going to share a wonderful, summer salad recipe. Annalisa, yes, this one is for you. Like all recipes, this one is open to interpretation. I have no idea how much of an ingredient I use. I make it up and you should to. Warning: you’ll eat at least a serving of the salad in the making of it. This is required.


Quinoa, Corn, Fresh Herbs (any, but I recommend a combo of cilantro (ie coriander), dill, parsley, and mint), Feta Cheese, Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon, Salt


Soak 1 -2 cups of Quinoa for at least an hour (this is optional). Drain and cook quinoa according to cooking specifications (usually the same as rice: ie 2 to 1 water ratio, bring water to a boil, lower heat, add grain, cover). When quinoa is cooked, remove it from stove, place in a bowl, fluff, and place in fridge to cool. (You can make the quinoa a day before so as not to wait for it to cool.)

Meanwhile chop Herbs.

dill, cilantro (i.e. corriander for the Aussies), and parsley

dill, cilantro (i.e. coriander), and parsley

chop chop chop

chop chop chop

If using fresh Corn (which I recommend for taste!), boil water, turn off heat and place de-husked corn cobs in water for 10 minutes. Drain water and slice corn kernels off cob into a bowl (be careful of heat of corn…use a towel or let corn cool a bit). Place cover over corn and put in refrigerator to cool. (If using canned corn, just drain corn and rinse).



When everything has cooled, mix the Quinoa, Corn, Herbs, and Crumbled Feta together in a large bowl. Add Olive Oil to the mix. Add Apple Cider Vinegar and/or Lemon to taste. Salt to taste.

Store in fridge until serving. Enjoy!!



(I used RED quinoa in these pictures. Honestly, I don’t recommend using RED or BLACK quinoa– the taste is a little too earthy/pungent to my tastebuds. Instead, I recommend using the more common beige quinoa.)