I’ve just discovered a brand new veggie at my farmer’s market!

cukamelon, salad

A neat grape-sized discovery!

Meet the deceptively lowly cucamelon!  (And it’s technically a fruit.)

It hails from Mexico and other areas of Central America, and is related to the cucumber (same taxonomic family).  It also goes by the name of Mexican sour gherkin, because it is just a touch sour, almost with a hint of lime.  Probably because of its shape it also goes by sandita (little watermelon).  Scientifically, it is known as Melothria scabra, but fortunately we don’t have to call it that.

Cucamelon, salad

I was hoping to find them red inside, like a watermelon…

I bought a half-pint, and was hard-pressed to avoid treating the entire container of this grape-sized yummy treat like popcorn — definitely I wanted to add some to a salad for this blog.  (Btw, they’re a lot tastier than popcorn — not a hard bar as far as I’m concerned, but anyway.)

There are many ways to make salads, and if I’d had the ingredients to hand, I would have added cucumber and a bit of watermelon, to see how the cucamelon works with them. The tomatoes at this time of year – Northern hemisphere anyway – are required in any salad I make — those who can’t eat nightshades, substitute with oh, maybe small sliced salad turnips?

Prep time:  15 minutes, much of which is rooting around in a too-small fridge.
Cook time:  Zilch.
Rest time:  Add dressing just before serving.
Serves 1 as a main.


* 3 leaves of butter lettuce (2 of iceberg or romaine
* 2 slices of cabbage, red is good for the color
* 1 medium farm fresh tomato, sliced
* 10-12 cucamelons, sliced lengthwise in half.
* your choice of salad dressing – I recommend something light in the way of a vinaigrette.  I used just a drizzle of EVOO and a drizzle of rice vinegar.  You could use my Dijon Vinaigrette if you like.
* fresh-cracked ground pepper to taste.


Layer on the lettuce, top with cabbage, top that with tomato, top that once again with the cucamelons, drizzle on the dressing, and add the ground pepper.  I bet a sprinkle of cilantro would work wonders on this, too.  And maybe half a green onion, chopped.

There’s a second cucamelon-based salad coming up for tomorrow’s lunch!   (Similar enough to this one that I won’t be posting it.)  And, if the farmer’s market still has these next week, I’ll be making salsa or bruscietta out of some of  them.

Cucamelon, salad

Cucamelon in a full-plate salad.

Closing notes:   The cucamelons are poised on my probable future floor “wood look” kitchen tile sample, along with the two quartz counter top samples I want to use.  (Silestone Olive Green and Eco Luna.)  

Cucamelon, salad

Cucamelon posing on elements for my future kitchen.

(The rest of the kitchen – south wall facing outdoors – medium tone hand peeled log, west wall – Sherwin Williams Natural Choice (warm off-white); north wall – Sherwin Williams Meadow Trail (sage); east wall – open to dining room over a peninsula.  Major appliances – black.  Fixtures, pulls, and hinges – aged bronze. Cabinets:  pine, just slightly darker than logs.  Ceiling – log to match the south wall.)

cucamelon, salad

Cucamelon simply posing.

Linked at: Tell ‘Em Tuesday, Hey Momma, & Fiesta Friday

Posted in Salads, South of the Border, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Korean Bok Choy Salad

korean, recipe, bok choy, sesame, vegetarian, vegan

Korean sesame bok choy, ready to serve.

Two of the three most recent cook books to cross my threshold have been:

Maangchi, Real Korean Cooking:  Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook (2015)

Russ Crandall, Paleo Take Out: Restaurant Favorites without the Junk (2015)

(The third was a seafood cook book.)

I’ve put a moratorium on purchasing any more cookbooks until I move.  But I had to order the top two because I love both their blogs (Maangchi, and The Domestic Man, respectively).

I regret none of these purchases!

Crandall’s book is largely focused on Asian cuisine, and he’s got a Korean section.  He’s traveled extensively, and has had some chef training, and a good sense of taste.  While I don’t believe Korean food has been Americanized to the extent that Chinese food here has, he basically creates gluten-free, and more healthily-sweetened recipes from items which are often associated with “take-out”.

Maangchi was born in South Korea, and now lives in New York City, and has an engaging You Tube presence with many videos, which is great for watching techniques.  Her book brings out many ideas for a wide range of food possibilities.

Both Russ Crandall and Maangchi tackle Korean Spinach Salad, with a few minor differences.  Maangchi mentioned in her write-up that the salad prep method is effective with other vegetables, such as bok choy.  The dish is a very common Korean side.

Korean, bok choy, recipe, sesame

bok choy stems, chopped

Bok choy was in my fridge.  So… here we go, basing this on a combinations of ideas from both chefs!

Korean, bok choy, recipe, sesame

Bok choy, greens.

One note before we get started — sesame oil (toasted or otherwise) is a MUST if you want this to taste right.  No other oil brings in the same flavor profile.

Prep Time:  20 minutes.  (I am counting blanching time in here.)
Rest Time:  Eat immediately or serve after refrigeration — it lasts several days in the fridge.
Serves 4 as a side.


* About 1 pound bok choy (this is about two full-sized bok choy plants)
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
* 2 scallions/green onions, peeled and de-rooted
* 1 tablespoon tamari (or coconut aminos)
* 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon (toasted or not toasted), divided.
* 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds (toasting is optional, see below)
* optional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  (Russ uses Korean red pepper powder, or he uses togarashi powder, neither of which I had.  Maangchi leaves out the heat; her mains often have the heat!)


Get everything chopped up ahead of time.  The garlic is as above.

For the bok choy:  pull off any bad bits, chop off the stems, and for the thicker white part, chop in about 1  1/2 inch segments and set aside.  This will cook longer than the leafy greens, which you will quickly blanch.  Chop up the greens separately, and set aside.

For the scallions:  cut the white bulb parts into 2 inch lengths, then cut them lengthwise about 3 times, holding each of these lengths together while cutting.  Then, rotate 90 degrees, and cut them again, leaving you with nice slivers.  For the leafy green tops, cut on a bias of 1   1/2 – 2 inches in length, then slice those in half lengthwise.

Boil water in a large enough pan to cook/blanch the bok choy.

When it is boiling, add the bok choy stems, make sure everything gets submerged.

Wait 40-45 seconds, add the bok choy greens, make sure everything gets submerged.

Wait 30 seconds, drain and run cold water over them in a colander to stop them cooking.  Keep running the water and mix around with your hands.  Then, drain thoroughly.  Set aside.

Traditionally and authentically, now you add the tablespoon of oil, tamari, garlic, scallions and the optional red pepper flakes to a bowl, mix quickly, and then add all that well-drained bok choy.  I opted however to saute the garlic in that other half-teaspoon of sesame oil, over medium high heat for 1.5 minutes before using — I figured this might mitigate a bit of “garlic breath”.  If you do the latter, don’t let it even begin to brown, even if your minute and a half isn’t up.

Mixing is best accomplished with the hands.

At the end, add the sesame seeds over the top.

Korean, sesame, recipe, bok choy, vegetarian, vegan

Mission accomplished!

For toasted sesame seeds:  Heat up a dry skillet to medium heat.  Add in the seeds and watch carefully — they will turn brown fast.  A nice tan is fine, black is not.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside the seeds until use.

For Spinach:  If you do choose to use spinach instead of bok choy, do everything as above, but blanch the leafy greens for 30 seconds total. I’d recommend fresh over frozen in this dish.  

 Linked at Tell ‘Em Tuesday, Hey Momma!Fiesta Friday

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Korean Grilled Scallops (Garibi Gui)

Korean foods are fascinating — from kimchee to japchae to gimbap rolls to spicy seafood soup.   I’ve been wanting to try or to make more foods from Korea.

Korean, Scallops, Grill, Ginger, Orange, recipe

Korean Grilled Scallops

The concept for this recipe came from a website:  Korean Barbecued Scallops.  Sea scallops were on a big whopping sale here, and I bought two pounds, and froze most of them in packets.  I was eager to break out the grill again — and I’d never done scallops on the grill before.

This is yum!

Korean, Grill, recipe, Scallops, Ginger, Orange


Prep time:  A little over an hour
Cook time:  Five to seven minutes
Rest time:  None
Serves:  2.

Korean Grilled Scallops

* 2/3 pounds of sea scallops
* 3 teaspoons low sodium tamari sauce (San-J is recommended, and it’s gluten free – you want a tamari that isn’t heavy)
* 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil — toasted or regular
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded fresh ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon mirin – a Chinese rice wine
* 1/2 teaspoon or so orange juice (I squeezed it fresh since  I don’t normally buy OJ)
* 1 teaspoon cane sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Get your grill going.

Mix all the ingredients together except the scallops in a  bowl.

Add the scallops and mix them in.  Hands are fine.

Let marinate in the fridge for an hour, once or twice going back to mix them.

Grill them — use one of those pans that has the holes on the bottom surface, otherwise you will lose them or if you do them in a regular pan, they will be swimming in a sea of liquid when you are done.  I used direct heat, on a covered grill, then moved the pan for indirect after two  minutes.  Flip them after five minutes from original cooking time, then allow them to cook another two – three minutes.  (Times may vary by how hot your grill is — stay with them!)

Serve hot over a bed of lettuce, or as the protein topping to whatever salad you concoct.

Korean, recipe, scallops, grill, ginger, orange

The seasonings are mild but definitely an asset.

Or serve them with a steamed side of bok choy.

(In this case, I ate a few on the spot, with the other stuff I’d grilled at the time, and reserved the rest to nuke lightly before putting over one of those aforementioned salads at work the next day.)



AND!!!  this is now Posted at Fiesta Friday # 78 July 2015!

Go check out the other recipes and items there, and have fun…

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dining Out: Yokohama Sushi, New Milford, CT

Dining out at Yokohama

I have to say they had a few dodgy moments a few years ago, but everything I’ve had in the past year or two or more has been superb — fish quality is excellent, and they do make the welcome effort to bring in less-typical seafood for their sushi bar.   Which of course, I oftimes feel obligated to try, but that’s on me!

Yokohama, restaurant, review, sushi, Japanese

Okasame, Sashimi from Heaven…  A recent special.  This was 18 pieces of fish — and I really wanted to take that fish head upper left home with me for seafood bone broth!  I’m sure if I’d asked… At any rate, I ate about all the veggies and apple slices on the plate, too.  Some, such as daikon strips, were buried under.  

Other than their sushi/sashimi, the only things I have tried at this restaurant have been the miso soup (standard), the edamame appetizer (extremely large serving – don’t get it just for yourself), seaweed salad (also about standard), and the age dashi tofu (I definitely like it).  Well, if it matters to you, the hot tea comes with a green tea bag.  They serve a variety of chilled saki beverages as well as Japanese beers, but I’m not really a connoisseur.

Heaven appears to be their head sushi chef, and he’s a very engaging fellow, and does his best to source great tasting and FRESH raw fish for the sushi bar, and yes, that’s the name he goes by here in the States.  I do try to avoid the mayo-laden items — and the “spicy” items that have all that mayo aren’t really spicy anyway, so I’m very much less tempted.  A little bit of coloring, but no real heat.  That’s just as well — I don’t need the extra mayo!  The eel sauce is a bit too sweet (much as I otherwise love eel).  But, hey, I could do without that, too, yes?  And them eels can do without me eating them more than once a year…   I’m quite happy with the rest of the menu, and with the specials that crop up, especially on weekends.  And, it is fresh, yes!  Heaven gets very creative with his presentations.  And if they have ama ebi (sweet shrimp) in-house — the head gets rapidly fried in a very light tempura batter, while the body is served shell-less and raw. And both are excellent!

One of my favorite low-carb rolls here is the Naruto Roll.  Wrap is cucumber “paper” garnered by shredding carefully, and center it  around your various fishes, cucumber, avocado, radishes,etc. ..

Rating:  4.75 – 4.8.  The freshness is not an issue these days; it is the sugary eel sauce and the tasteless “spicy” mayo sauces — and I really shouldn’t be eating those anyway!

Posted in Cooking, Dining Out, Seafood | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Grilled Venison Steak; Grilled Beef Ribeye Steak. (Keep Simple)

It’s grilling season!   (At least in North America.)  I purchased my current grill in 2011; it is charcoal and looks like a Weber, but came from some other company, and will be ditched into the trash (or, better yet, sent off to become scrap metal) when I move next year.  Yep, cheesy cheap.  It will be replaced by something more quality, with a smoker attached.

Venison steak, rib eye steak, grill, recipe

Simple grilling.

I light it using a charcoal chimney, kitchen matches, newspaper, and hardwood lump charcoal.  It takes about 20 minutes, sometimes 30, to burn the coals down to where I like them — during which time I prep parts of dinner, so it’s not like I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting on it.

For this particular set of meals, I grilled up a venison steak (gift from my Bro), and a rib eye steak.  Both are quality meats requiring only minimal preparation.   I also grilled sliced golden Yukon gold potatoes, not depicted today.

Each steak was 8 ounces.  Technically this makes four meals, although for me it served as three.  Leftovers became part of lunch salads that week.

For a quality steak (beef, venison, buffalo, etc.), extensive marination hides the quality, and is decidedly not necessary.

The steaks I cooked were about 1/2 to 2/3 inches thick.  You will need to adapt some of this if your steaks are thicker or thinner.


For the ribeye, with its marbelling, no oil is needed.  Simply rub a little salt, a little ground pepper, and maybe a dash or two of garlic powder all over the meat.  Let it sit about an hour — for the last thirty minutes let it sit outside the fridge so it can come to room temperature.

For the venison steak, a meat which extremely non-fatty, start with a little oil, maybe a teaspoon, and rub the steak all over with it.  I used avocado oil, since it has a high smoke point.  Then, rub in a little salt, a little ground pepper, and maybe a dash or two of garlic powder all over.  Again, let it sit about an hour; for the last 30 minutes it should be allowed to come to room temperature, too.

In other words, the use of oil or not should be dependent on the cut of steak (ie, its inherent fat) you are using.

Get your fire good and hot — when you pour your coals put them to one side, so you can have both direct and indirect heating.  Propane grills can usually be set up the same way — a hotter side and a cooler side.

To sear the meat:  drop the steaks on the direct/hottest part of your grill grate.  Let sizzle for a couple of minutes — discourage flames on the meat, however — move the steak up and away if necessary.  After a couple of minutes, flip the steak and sear that side.  For those fancy grill marks, turn the steak 90 degrees and sear again for another minute each side. (I don’t care one way or another about fancy grill marks — at least when dining alone.)

Move the steaks to the indirect side of the grill, and cook (covered) until you are inclined to think they are done — these turned out rare but hot all the way through — but I’m also perfectly happy with medium rare for ribeye or venison — leaving at least some pink for me is important.  Timing will depend on the heat within your grill.  You’ll want at least 2 minutes, maybe 5 minutes for medium rare.  You can use a meat thermometer if you wish, but for quality steaks where I trust the source,  I’m just as happy using visual clues.  Oh, PS, the less charring, the less carcinogens…

beef, ribeye, venison, steaks, grill, recipe

Yes, I like medium rare (hot all the way through). If you want it medium, go for it. “Well”-done is going to be tough.  But, hey.  

Pull off the grill and let the steaks rest for about five minutes.  Longer if thicker, of course.

Slice against the grain, thin or more thickly as you choose.  Yum!

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Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin with Onions and Cabbage

scalloped potatoes, vegetarian, recipe, cabbage, cheese

Scalloped Potatoes, no Fingers

I’ve been wanting to make this for a while – the last time I tried I ended up nearly slicing off a finger tip using the mandoline without the finger guard, and forgot about making the recipe as I’d planned.  (I simply ended up with a thick bandage on my finger, and only cooking up whatever had already been chopped or sliced.)  Note to self:  USE the Finger Guard!!!

This version is vegetarian (no human finger bits, either!) but contains dairy.  I do like the idea of using veggie broth to keep things moist, over the heavy cream that is often used.  There’s still going to be a lot of cheesie goodness, but we can cut back a little doing it this way.

recipe, scalloped potatoes, cabbage, onion, au gratin

Note spiffy new paring knife. When you get new sharp things, they just want to be photographed!
PS, it hasn’t drawn blood yet.

Prep time:  40 minutes, which includes browning the onions, but you can do other prep as that occurs.
Cook time:  1 hour
Rest time: 5 minutes? 
Serves:  Would be great for a pot luck or dinner party!

Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin with Onions and Cabbage

* 1 tablespoon avocado oil or buttter for the onions/cabbage.
* 2 teaspoons avocado oil for the potatoes.
* 3/4 – 1 whole large yellow or white onion, sliced and quartered.
* 1/2 green cabbage, core removed and sliced into thin easily-separatible slivers.
* About 7 Yukon gold potatoes, medium to small-medium sized, buds, green bits and bad parts peeled away.  You can leave the skins on otherwise, but it’s up to you.  I leave them on.  Slice with care to 1/8th inch rounds.  The thinner the better they will cook.
* 1 and 2/3 cups grated meltable cheese, loosely packed.  Divided into 1/2, 1/2 and 2/3rds cup portions.  I am partial to combining Gureyre with Gouda.  They add some weird stuff to those pre-packed shredded cheese packages you find in the supermarket  that I’m not wanting to eat, so I’m quite copasetic with grating my own — it doesn’t really add that much time!
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  You can add more but, well, I ran out…
* 1/2 cup boxed low sodium veggie broth (unless you have home-made handy).
* 1 teaspoon gluten free tamari (optional)
* 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (divided)
* salt and pepper to taste

* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (divided, optional).

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Brown the onions on medium heat in a skillet with about 1.5 teaspoon oil, moving them around ever so often.  Carry on with other prep.  Onions may take about 20-25 minutes to carmelize lightly, but at the very least get them to translucent stage.  Add another 1.5 teaspoon oil, and the cabbage, and the tamari, and wilt for about five or so minutes with the onion.

In a baking dish (this is hard to clean so I used disposable – but I did wipe it down with the rest of the oil before proceeding), add about 1/3 of the onion/cabbage mixture.  Add a little of the seasonings listed above. layer out some of the potato slices, about 1/3 of them, and scatter about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over.

Repeat for a second layer.

For the third layer, repeat but before adding the cheese, gently pour the broth over the entire dish.  Then, add the cheese and top with Parmesan.

Bake in oven for about 35 minutes (check earlier since not all ovens are the same).  Test with a fork to be certain that the potatoes are done.  Crispy but not burnt on top.

recipe, scalloped potatoes, cabbage, onion, au gratin, vegetarian

Onions and Cabbage, Oh My!

I totally feel the urge to make this soon again.  And I’m definitely not a real starch-lover!  I think it’s the Yukons…

recipe, scalloped potatoes, au gratin, vegetarian, cabbage, onion


And now I am almost ready to head over to a 4th of July party, but with a quinoa salad as the above was actually made a few weeks ago.

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Dehydrating Fruit: Strawberries or Grape Tomatoes

I am so not a sweet-tooth!  I can’t stand most dehydrated fruits, because by the very act of dehydration, every single flavor gets concentrated.  Which in the case of fruit, means sugar.   Thankfully, over the years I’ve weaned myself off the majority of sugary things — sugar is a seasoning that needs to be dealt with on a minimal basis these days.   A little is wonderful; but it goes a long way… Also, with certain fruits, there’s a textural issue.  I’m so not fond of gummy, and never have been, even as a child.  (This is a severe Understatement.  You will never see recipes for “leathers” here…)

The only fruits I will dehydrate in my spiffy Excalibur dehydrator are strawberries, cranberries and grape tomatoes.  All of these come with sufficient tartness to mellow out the sugar, and none of these have that “gummy” texture I intensely dislike.

Tomatoes, grape tomatoes, recipe, dehydration

Grape tomatoes ready for dehydration

Cranberries are for autumn, so maybe I’ll discuss those, then.

About a year or so ago I bought the Excalibur dehydrator via Amazon, after doing some research.  It costs a bit more than other dehydrators, but I liked the features.  You can set temperature, and it heats more evenly than most other dehydrators, where food rotation is recommended during the drying process.  They sell a small 4-tray version, a larger surface area 5-tray version, and a 9-tray version where the trays are the same size as the 5-tray version.  They also make models where the time for dehydrating can be set.  I opted for the 5-tray version without the timer — on a humid day, if the timer goes off and you are away, the stuff in the dehydrator is simply going to add back in a bunch of atmospheric water (and get gummy and unpleasant).  And I’ve learned that recipes for dehydrating never add in actual times to run the thing.  A lot depends on your personal weather and humidity.  (I can see the timer feature being useful if you live in a predictably arid climate.)  No, I’m not getting any kickback from the Excalibur people by posting about my appreciation of this equipment!

dehydrate, strawberries, recipe

Strawberries ready for dehydration

Prep time:  Strawberries – about eight-ten minutes per tray. Grape tomatoes: about 5 minutes per tray.
Cook” time:  It depends, but don’t expect immediate gratification.  At least four hours, six or eight may be the way to go.
Rest time:  Huh?
Serves: Reserve in air-tight containers for multi-purpose needs.

Strawberries, Dehydrated

  • About 4-6 ounces of strawberries per tray (Excalibur-sized).  Slice about 1/4 inch thick, or less, make sure the stem/core is gone.  Slice horizontal or vertical.

Grape Tomatoes, Dehydrated

  • About 4 ounces of grape tomatoes per tray (Excalibur-sized).  Slice the larger ones into threes (horizontally), the smaller ones into twos (horizontally).


Layer out the fruits so they don’t touch one another.  For the tomatoes, put skin side down (if this is a section with skin).  For the strawberries, it doesn’t matter what side goes down.

Place the trays into the dehydrator and set the temp to 135 F/57 C.

Let her rip for at least four hours, it may well be overnight.


Those Ball canning jars are great for this. Recycle those used canning lids that you shouldn’t ever put through the water or pressure canning procedure again.


Frankly, I mostly use dehydrated strawberries or grape tomatoes in salads.

Adding a few broken up slices of dehydrated strawberries to vanilla or quality strawberry ice cream is also a tasty option.  I’ll note that most commercial strawberry ice cream tastes extremely faux, but if you have a good local brand, go for it.  You can also put slices of dehydrated strawberry in plain yogurt (choose a good brand with few if any extenders, whether local dairy, goat, or coconut yogurt).  Let the berries soak in the moist yogurt overnight before consuming.

dehydration, strawberries, , Excalibur, fruit, recipe

Dehydrated strawberries

As for the tomatoes: anything you’d use sun-dried tomatoes for — it’s fair game.  (I seriously doubt most commercial “sun-dried” tomatoes are really dried outside in the sun.)  However, since I lack enough usable electrical outlets indoors, I’m relegated to using the Excalibur either in the garage — which I do in the winter, or in the bathrooms — ick, and I already charge my phone there, or outdoors on the back porch.  So I can safely say these fruits were dried outside!

Dehydration, recipe, grape tomatoes

Dehydrated grape tomatoes, preserved


By the way, raw foodists consider 135 F/57 C conditions to be raw, so they can eat dried fruits.  Frankly, if I happened to be walking around in an environment set at that temperature, I’d seriously feel pretty cooked.  I get terribly miserable at 90 F.

Oh, and here’s the dehydrator I use:

Excalibur, recipe. dehydrator, dehydrating, fruit

Don’t run this on the lawn — use a solid surface! My back porch works wonderfully, but the photo op was lame…

Posted in Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments