Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Fresh Peas with Lettuce and Green Garlic, Coconut Chicken with Peach Salsa, Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Apple and Fig Tart
Well, yes, I’m an October girl and, when it was time to celebrate my Birthday, since neither of my kids can cook further than opening a can of soup or making scrambled eggs, I made my own birthday dinner. The good thing about this is that I was able to pick specifically what I love and wanted to eat that night and, believe me, it was yummy!
Many people will feel sorry for you if you tell them that you have such and such dietary restrictions, but, for me, the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet is nothing like that. There is nothing that I miss from the former way I ate, and, if anything, it has let me to discover new flavors, new combinations, to become more creative with the way I cook, to expand my horizons on taste and texture. There is no going back because this not only makes more dietary sense, but it is so far beyond anything I used to cook and enjoy…
We started this celebration meal with one of my favorite salads, an English pea and butter lettuce salad, where the heat of the peas ever so slightly wilts the leaves of the tender butter lettuce, enhancing both its taste and texture. If you can find fresh green garlic, please use it now as the season is extremely limited. It has a more subtle and gentle flavor that contrasts with the crispiness of the stalks. If you cannot find green garlic, use mexican fresh onions, and as a last resort, the regular and common green onions that are found year round. Unlike for other recipes, I would use mainly the green stalk part, so make sure they are sliced really thin.
I am adding as a bonus my favorite recipe for grilled cheese, as it is a perfect accompaniment to this salad. If you want to make it a meal in itself on a rainy night, a bowl of tomato soup would be a great way to savor it as well. This grilled cheese can be cut in four pieces as a side to the salad instead of the Pain Pascal toast.
Back to our menu. I was craving the sweet taste of peaches in a salsa. I love using fruit with either fish or chicken, as it brings an unexpected tang to the flavors of the dish. In this case, the chicken is cooked in a mix of broth and coconut milk and lends itself to the sweet-and-sour taste very well. Note that the peach salsa can easily be spiced-up according to the quantity of jalapeno and ginger that you add. It’s all a matter of taste. The chicken remains extremely moist in texture but has an added kick thanks to the salsa, that pleasantly surprises the taste buds.
We ended the meal with an apple and fig tart. This tart is baked in a ceramic dish but looks as if it had been quickly put together around the farm table. I am a big fan of figs, fresh, in jams, broiled with balsamic syrup, but had not tried them baked with combinations of other fruits. This was so good and the flavors and texture were so different from the regular apple pies that we are used to. It remains moist and juicy and is actually easily served like a crumble with a big dollop of vanilla whipping cream over it, melting into gooey deliciousness from the residual heat of the pie.
Our only problem was that we were not able to put candles into the pie, so I had to promise to make a chocolate cake this weekend just so that we can complete our celebration and dutifully sing Happy Birthday, while I bow out an ridiculous number of candles!!! Just an additional occasion to prove that being on the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet is another hard day in Cooking Paradise!
Have a great month!
Fresh Peas With Lettuce and Green Garlic
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 5 small stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
or stalks of fresh green onions
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
- 2 small heads butter lettuce (about 6 oz.), washed, cored, and torn into large pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 slices country bread like Pain Pascal
Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 12″ skillet over medium heat; add garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add peas and cook until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining butter, along with lettuce and 1 tbsp. water, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Stir until lettuce is just wilted, about 1 minute.
Spread the bread with butter and place under the broil of your oven until golden brown. Serve with the salad.
Coconut Chicken with Peach Salsa
yield: 4 Servings
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
- 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 large green onion, chopped
- 4 teaspoons curry paste (such as Thai Red Curry Base)
- 2/3 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 3/4 cups diced peeled peaches (about 3 large)
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño chile
- 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Make the salsa. Mix the peaches, red bell pepper, green onions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, chopped cilantro, jalapeño, 1 teaspoon ginger, and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Salsa can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Place the chicken between sheets of waxed paper. Using a rolling pin, pound the chicken to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Peel off the paper. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the chicken; sauté until brown and almost cooked through, about two minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the green onion and the curry paste to the skillet. Stir one minute. Add the broth; boil until reduced to a glaze, about one minute. Add the coconut milk; cook until the sauce coats a spoon, stirring constantly, about one minute. Mix in the lime juice. Return the chicken and any collected juices to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about two more minutes. Transfer the chicken to plates. Spoon the sauce over, dividing evenly. Add a mound of salsa on top of the chicken and sprinkle the rest of the cilantro over the chicken then serve.
Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Serves 1 or 4 as a side to a salad
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 2 ounces shredded or thinly sliced Fontina cheese
- unsalted butter, softened
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat a non-stick skillet on medium/medium-low heat. Spread one side of bread with butter. Press two sage leaves on the butter, and swipe the leaves with a little more butter so they adhere. Repeat with second slice of bread.
- Lay one slice of bread in hot pan, butter and sage side down. Place cheese on the bread in the pan. Top with second slice of bread, butter and sage side up. Grill for a few minutes. You’ll hear the butter start to sizzle. Carefully check bottom of sandwich; and cook until golden-brown.
- With a spatula, carefully flip the sandwich, and cook for another few minutes, again until golden-brown. Sprinkle the top of the sandwich with half of the Parmesan, making sure to cover the sage leaves. Flip the sandwich back over and cook for a few seconds to crisp the Parmesan. Don’t leave it too long or the Parmesan will burn.
- Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan on the top slice and flip once more to crisp that side. Remove immediately from pan and place on a plate to cool for a few minutes until ready to serve.
Apple and Fig Tart
One 9- to 10-inch (23 -25 cm) tart
For the dough
- 2-3/4 cups (400 gr)whole-wheat pastry flour
- pinch of salt
- 9 ounces (250 gr) unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons water
For the filling
- 2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled and cored
- 15 figs, halved
- 1/4 cup agave syrup
- a big handful of walnut or pecan halves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 large eggs
- Vanilla Ice cream or vanilla flavored whipped cream
- To make the dough, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and mix together with your hands or using a pastry blender until it’s in small pieces no larger than the size of corn kernels.
- Add one egg and the water, and mix until the dough holds together. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 18-inches round.
- Brush off any excess flour and fit into a 9- or 10-inch high-sided round baking dish or cake pan; the edges will overhang the sides quite a bit. Alternately, roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with flour and invert onto the baking dish.
- Beat the second egg in a small bowl with a fork, then brush the insides of the dough with the egg. Reserve what is left of the egg to brush the top of the crust.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the filling by slicing the apples into eighths. Mix them together with the figs, agave and vanilla extract, then transfer the filling into the tart dough. Strew the nuts over the top of the fruit.
- In a small bowl, mix together the whipping cream with the last egg and pour it over the fruit and nuts. Lift the edges of the dough and cover the fruit. Brush the top of the folds with the beaten egg.
- Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake in a 425Fº oven for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the top of the dough is browned and the fruit is cooked through, which you can verify by poking the center with a paring knife; when done, it should meet no resistance.
- If the top of the tart becomes too dark, drape it loosely with foil and continue baking.
- Remove the tart from the oven and let cool down a bit before serving.
- It might be hard to get a clean slice from this juicy tart, so feel free to serve slabs into bowls. Vanilla Ice Cream or regular whipped cream are other possible accompaniments.