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Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables

As the weather warms, I spend a lot of time outside. My garden is flanked by the trailing tendrils of cantaloupe and watermelon on one side, and a uniform row of ten rhubarb plants on the other. The raised beds in between burst with any number of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, and 200 sets of onions.

After weeks of tending, harvesting, and then cleaning the fruits of my labor, I’m ready to prepare them in the simplest of ways. I don’t want to worry about food; I want to enjoy a meal with the people I’m feeding.

Besides, more often than not, fresh produce needs little more than a vinaigrette and a good toss to turn it into something for the table.

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Singapore Noodles with Shrimp

Singapore Rice Noodles Recipe

Ok, a disclaimer before we get started: The Pu Pu Platter in a Chinese restaurant isn’t something you would find in a restaurant in China. And Singapore noodles are unknown in Singapore.

My Singaporean friend was surprised when he noticed the item on a Chinese restaurant menu here in the United States, and couldn’t imagine where it was from.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins Gluten-Free

There’s a coffee shop by our house in Seattle that makes a great, substantial chocolate chip muffin with a nice crusty top that isn’t at all too sweet. I’m quite smitten with it.

Recently, I decided to recreate them at home, only making them gluten-free and dairy-free so we could share them with our extended family and friends, many of whom have food sensitivities and allergies.

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Lemony Broccoli Rabe with White Beans

Lemon Broccoli Rabe with White Beans

Years ago, I was with a group of friends talking about the dishes that our mothers made all the time and that became our idea of comfort food. One of the women said that her Italian-American mom made broccoli rabe and cooked it with lots of lemon and white beans.

We all quizzed her like crazy: Was this a dish her grandmother had made, too? (Yes!) Was it a weeknight dish? (Yes!) Did her mom make it for holidays? (Yes!)

We were so intrigued that something bitter, tart, and garlicky would be considered comfort food—the rest of us had been thinking about creamy, toasty, cheese-y things!

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Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies

Fudgy Gluten-Free Vegan Brownies

We have a lot of friends on a variety of restrictive diets right now, and as someone who loves to entertain, I wanted to make sure I had a treat that everyone could eat. But first and foremost, it had to be something everyone would actually want to eat.

I began scheming up a super fudgy, no-frills brownie that could be gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free — and still leave us all reaching for more. Mission accomplished.

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Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Do you ever cook with tomatillos? They look like little lanterns, with their green papery husks.

Sometimes people mistake them for green tomatoes (doesn’t help that their Spanish name is “tomate verde”); they are nightshades, like eggplants and peppers, and therefore distant cousins of tomatoes, but the taste is quite different.

The tomatillos I grow in my garden here in Northern California ripen in September and October, but most of the tomatillos we get from the market come all year round from Mexico. When my tomatillos are ripe, I make a large batch of Mexican salsa verde, perfect for tortilla chips, great with eggs, and awesome in these enchiladas!

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Creamy Potatoes with Cheese and Tomatoes

New Potatoes with Cheese and Tomatoes

This recipe for creamy potatoes with cheese and tomatoes is adapted from one we found in Sunset Magazine years ago, and is inspired by a classic dish in Colombian cooking—papas chorreadas.

Potatoes are boiled in salted water, then smothered in a sauce made with fresh tomatoes, onions, cream, and cheese. So good!

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Berry and Banana Terrine

Berry & Banana Terrine

This berry and banana terrine is one of my favorite summer desserts. It’s so pretty!

It’s packed with potpourri of berries, speckled with banana slices, and held together with a grape-juice based gelatin.

Think Jello, but a grown-up, sophisticated version, with all natural ingredients and much less sugar.

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Oven-Roasted Salmon, Asparagus and New Potatoes

Sheet Pan Salmon with Asparagus and New Potatoes

My dad pulled out a favorite recipe from his collection of decades old Food & Wine magazine to make and share with “the people on the website.”

A “discussion” then ensued between the rental units for at least half an hour along the lines of “What do you mean this is a favorite recipe? You always told me you didn’t like salmon.” “What are you talking about? I used to make this all the time.” “You’ve never made it in this house!…” and so on and so on.

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Creamy Asparagus Soup

Creamy Asparagus Soup

When spring arrives and asparagus are in season, they are hard to resist, right? Those green soldiers salute us as we enter the produce section of the market, challenging us to make good use of them while we can!

Here is a fresh and easy asparagus soup that makes delicious use of our seasonal asparagus. The base is just onions, a little garlic, lots of chopped asparagus, broth (either chicken or veg), and chopped fresh parsley.

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Flank Steak Stir Fry with Asparagus and Red Pepper

Flank Steak Stir Fry with Asparagus and Red Bell Pepper

This Flank Steak Stir Fry is perfect for a midweek meal when asparagus are in season. It’s easy enough to make and everyone raves about it!

When it comes to stir-fry, it’s all about the prep. The dish itself cooks up so quickly that you need everything prepped and ready to go before you start adding the elements to the hot pan.

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Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice

Do you ever have leftover rice in the fridge? A great way to use it up is to make fried rice! Fried rice works best with chilled leftover rice actually. Fresh rice can fry up a bit mushy. But leftover rice that had a chance to dry out a bit? Perfect for frying.

Pretty much anything can go into fried rice—usually a combination of veggies, beaten egg, and a protein such as the shrimp we are using in this recipe, or chicken, fish, or tofu.

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Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder

My first job out of college was in Boston, in the financial district downtown. My local friends did their best to initiate this wide-eyed Californian into New England traditions of every sort, especially food.

We feasted on as many menu items as we could afford at the Union Oyster House and the No Name Restaurant, and $5/lb lobsters I would buy from the Italian fish monger across the street from where I lived in the North End.

One dish I could never get enough of was “chowdah”. Clam chowder, fish chowder, seafood chowder, whatever, I loved it.

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Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

Salmon Moqueca

One of the dishes Northern Brazil is known for is their “Moqueca“, a delicious savory fish stew made with a local white fish, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and coconut milk.

Several years ago a Brazilian friend of mine introduced to me a salmon version of this stew she had improvised, given that the typical Brazilian fish used for moqueca isn’t found around here.

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Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese

Arugula Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Winter in California is the season for peppery arugula. Several years ago my parents planted some arugula in their garden and for years the arugula would re-seed itself, taking over the entire garden with a flourish, starting in December.

While mature arugula can be almost too intense to eat raw (best for left for cooking), young baby arugula is perfect for salads, and can easily be found in markets these days.

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