Off The Counter: A Summer Salad

I have this reputation as "the salad queen" that I haven't been living up to lately.  My obsession with kale (which I only like sautéed) may just be the reason.  While visiting family and friends back East, I was reminded of my once salad greatness.  When the first few people we visited asked if we were going to have one of "Debra's salads", I realized I needed to begin preparing them again.

Here's one that combines all my favorite summertime ingredients:  figs, tomatoes, peaches and fresh mozzarella.  Drizzled with honey and chives the salad takes on the fresh, sweet flavor of the season.  Ingredients and instructions below.


Figs, peaches, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, honey, chives, olive oil,  rice vinegar and sea salt.


This salad holds its pretty appearance best if prepared in individual bowls.

Cut the figs, peaches and tomatoes into generous slices.  Lightly salt the tomatoes prior to adding them to the rest of the fruit in the bowls.  Using your hands tear chunks of mozzarella into each bowl.  Drizzle all the ingredients with honey and lightly dress with olive oil and rice vinegar.  Top it off with chopped chives.


Do YOU have a favorite salad?  If so, do share.

Many, many thanks to LB for her Cambridge hives honey!


Off The Counter: Potassium Broth

One would think that the first 'Off The Counter' featured recipe from our [almost] done kitchen would be a bit more exciting than a broth.  However, after several non-welcomed colds during its renovation,  I thought that a meal with some real healing properties would be apropos.  I first tasted Golden Door's Potassium Broth while receiving a massage at The Boulders years ago (in the pre-kids era).   It was SO good that I held onto the recipe card ever since.  I'm preparing it now hoping it will speed up the healing process to rid myself of this tenacious cold.   The broth is meant to replenish minerals lost after a strenuous workout, but I suspect this vegetable packed liquid can also cure what ails me.  With regular sips of the broth and a feeling of normality returning to our house, we'll all be feeling better soon.  Ingredients and instructions below:


46 oz tomato based vegetable juice, 2 cups of water, 3 cups of vegetable trimmings (such as celery tops, mushrooms, zucchinis, onions, bell peppers, parsley stems and carrots), 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (optional), 1 teaspoon dried or (1 tablespoon fresh) basil.


Combine tomato based juice water, vegetable trimmings, chili pepper flakes and basil.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes.  Strain, pressing to extract the liquid and discard the solids.  Serve broth either hot or cold.

Do you have any go-to recipes when you're under the weather?  If so, do share them with us!

Off The Counter: Seasonal Citrus

Before my kitchen was demolished , I experimented with my favorite winter salad ingredients:  blood oranges, avocado and red onion.  Using Instagram to document my culinary exploits, I had  few people ask what type of dressing I used.  So here it comes:

Mind you, I'm not one for measuring ingredients, so depending on the size of the salad and your preference as to just how much dressing is enough, your own judgement should come into play.

Olive Oil, Orange Blossom Champagne Vinegar, Citrus Zest, and Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.  Whisk together and pour.

I'm looking forward to having a kitchen counter again.  I suspect there'll be some serious cooking in the new space.

Off The Counter: Black Bean And Sweet Potato Chili

It's been quite some time since I've featured an Off The Counter post.  It's not that we're not cooking, it's just that we haven't been culinarily creative enough (or so it  has seemed to me).  This black bean and sweet potato chili has definitely turned that notion around.  I found the recipe here a few months back and have experimented with several versions of it since.  Garnished with fresh cilantro, green onions and avocado this hardy dish carries a lighter note than most chilis do.  The last time I took a stab at it, Alex prepared pulled pork as a companion, which took the chili to yet another level of yumminess.

It has become my favorite 'leftover'.  In the morning, I warm it up and top it off with an egg [over-easy]!


  •  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 small), cut into 1/2-in. dice
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexico chile powder, or 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne or ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • For toppings: 1 orange, 1 lime, chopped cilantro leaves, diced avocado, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips
  1.  Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and sweet potatoes and cook, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add New Mexico and chipotle chile powders, cumin, and coriander and cook until spices are fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in beans and broth and partially cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are soft and chili is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2.  Meanwhile, zest orange and lime into a small bowl (you should have about 1 tbsp. orange zest and 2 tsp. lime zest). Add cilantro. Quarter lime. Reserve orange for another use.
  3.  Ladle chili into 4 bowls. Top with cilantro-zest mixture, avocado, sour cream, crushed chips, and lime wedges.

Julia Lee, Sunset 

Do you have an unexpected favorite dish?  If so, please share.

Off The Counter: Almond Berry Smoothie

I've gone from juicing to blending and I finally came up with a concoction that's just right, at least for me.  It's neither too sweet nor too bland, but simply good for you.  Ingredients and instructions below:


Almond milk (vanilla), frozen bananas, fresh or frozen berries, flaxseed meal and protein powder (optional)


Pour 1 cup of almond milk into the blender, add half of a frozen banana, 1/2 cup of berries, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed  meal and 4-6 oz of protein powder or Vega's energizing smoothie mix [see below].  Blend, pour and enjoy!

I alternate between vanilla whey protein and Vega's energizing smoothie mix wich has additional fiber, omega-3's and veggies.

If you've been firing up the blender lately [and not just for margaritas] please share your favorite combination with me.