Chef Dina

Now available for Bay Area full service catering in conjunction with "A Fork Full of Earth" organic catering, intimate dinner parties and weekly meal preparation.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thai Beef Salad

I haven't been able to get on my blog for a while...but I am here now and have a great recipe for Thai Beef Salad. This is adapted (a better word for stolen, with additional notes) from Food and Wine Magazine that I made last night. Super easy, hardly any prep time and hardly any clean up.  Easy for kids, as you can just cut up some pieces of steak and serve the cut up cukes and tomatoes on the side...or whatever other raw vegges they will eat, of course.  Peas is a big one here.

This is a great weeknight meal. Double the recipe and keep the components separate for lunches the following day.   A couple notes- a little dressing goes a long way.  Season the steak heavily with kosher salt and pepper- when you think you've put on enough, put a little more.  A little garlic powder or salt is a good addition as well.  Wish I had a picture, but forgot and ate it too fast....oops. next time around.

Thai Beef Salad


- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 garlic clove, quartered
- 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
- One 1/2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon sugar

- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb. flatiron steak or flank, about 1 inch thick
(right now, in Mill Valley, chateaubriand steak is on sale for $6.99 at Whole foods. It is often a special at all stores and works really well. It is lean and thick, so it needs about 15 minutes each side on med high flame on the grill or in a grill pan)

- 2 heads of baby romaine, leaves separated (and torn if large)
- 3/4 lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium cucumber—peeled, halved, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup basil leaves
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves


1. Light a grill.

2. Brush the steak with vegetable oil and season heavily with kosher salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until the meat is charred outside and medium-rare within, about 5-15 minutes per side. It really depends on the thickness of your steak. Transfer to a work surface and let it rest as long as you can.  at least 10 minutes. slice very thin. Meat thermometer should read 130-140 in thickest part.

3. Combine all dressing ingredients and blend.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss the romaine (or butter, or leaf, or whatever) with the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion, scallions, basil and cilantro leaves. Pour two-thirds of the dressing over the salad and toss. Slice the steak 1/3 inch thick across the grain and serve alongside the salad. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sausalito Herring festival; Dina does caviar!

It's Herring season, and there are a ton of them here in our bay. Now, herring isn't exactly the most fashionable food this side of northern Europe, but maybe it just should be! Okay, okay, I know- some of you might say, "ummm…no thanks. My great aunt Gertie is the only person I know that eats that S#%t at christmas."  I, in fact, am one person that I know who said that.  Well, I am willing to give it another shot and you should, too. This Sunday at the 2nd annual Sausalito Herring festival is the perfect opportunity! We are trying to get herring their groove back.  A bunch of Sausalito restaurants will each be serving up their own herring inspired recipe, so you are destined to find a preparation that you might like!  I will be partnering with the California Caviar Company to serve up a tasty bite involving truffled whitefish roe, handmade rye crackers, and yup, you guessed it, herring.  My dawg, Davey Jones, will be dishing up some herring paella and Fish restaurant is doing whole roasted herring on a stick. You may just learn a thing or two about sustainably harvested caviar, as well. I know I will.  Even if you can't stomach the stuff, come on down for some drink, music, fishing boat tours, awesome people watching, and to feel a bit of a connection with your surrounding waters.  Actually, I think they might even be serving french fries ;)  


Almost 100% of the herring and their roe caught here in California and north America are shipped to Japan!  I could only find smoked herring from France at the local "we buy everything sustainable, local and organic" market. WTF? 

Herring is super high in omega 3-fatty acids (and we all know the positive hype associated with having a big brain) and minerals. It is a very good source of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Selenium, potassium, and phosphorus. Selenium helps form DNA and acts as an antioxidant to prevent cell damage from free radicals. You need potassium to help balance out the effects of sodium on blood pressure, and phosphorus helps form strong bones and keeps you kidneys functioning properly.  

Herring is very low in cholesterol and a great source of protein. 

Because they're relatively small and near the bottom of the food chain, herring and sardines don't accumulate the contaminants that are so common in large, predatory fish.

Herring haven't been endangered by overfishing as some other species of fish have, so you can eat them with a clear environmental conscience. In fact, since predatory species have been vastly overfished, we have twice as many sardines (herring are just large sardines) today as we had 100 years go.

…so I guess what I am saying is, eat some herring and you might just live forever... with a clear conscious. bonus.    

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Granola; cranberry-orange-pecan and fresh almond milk

OK, here it is, my coveted granola recipe. Since I will be going into labor any day now, I thought you all should have it, considering life as I know it may be over for a while (and in the event anyone wants to drop some off at my house).

This recipe is the bomb. Seriously, the best granola-evah.  It's crunchy, sweet, packed with nuts and does not taste like stale cardboard (as store bought granolas commonly do).  It is a little time consuming, considering you have to zest and juice fresh oranges for the best results, but it is worth it. You can also try using dried orange peel or just omitting it all together if you just don't care (I never do).

For ease of zesting, get yourself a microplane for $14.95.  I love my microplane. I use it to grate fresh hard cheeses, and it also makes garlic paste a snap...just rub the whole clove over the grates right into your dish.  You can get one anywhere- Sur la Table, Target, BB&B...they make a host of other products for your grating and zesting pleasures as well, if you are a tool junkie. I just have this one.

This recipe is adapted from Myra Goodman's book Food to Live By; the Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook.  I love that book, stumbled upon it at a Goodwill for like $ purchase.

This recipe makes a lot, which you will be happy you did.  It lasts a long time and you will eat it well before that time is up.  Feel free to cut it in half.  Here goes:

9c Old fashioned oats (NOT quick cooking oats)
1c sliced almonds
1c raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2c coarsely chopped pecans

combine oats and nuts in a very large bowl.

3/4c packed brown sugar
1c canola oil
1c REAL maple syrup
zest of 5 large oranges

In a 4c wet measure, combine all ingredients and stir to break up any lumps in the brown sugar. juice the oranges you just zested and add that juice to the mix.  Stir well into oat and nut mixture.

Line two half-sheet pans (13"x18"x1") with parchment and spread mixture evenly on both sheets. This size sheet pan is a commercial pan, and you may not have that size.  If you only have regular, smaller size,  you may have to bake in multiple batches, or just cut the recipe in half.  This recipe fits perfectly on 2 13"x18" pans, which you can order on line or get at a restaurant supply store. Looks like BB&B might have one too...but I haven't seen the larger size at Sur La Table.  I love having these pans in my home, they fill up the whole (standard) oven rack so you aren't wasting any space. A 1" deep pan also helps, that lip around the edge keeps the granola from going on the floor when you stir it around.

Bake at 375, rotating and stirring often until golden and dryish throughout, about 20-30 min depending on your oven.  Cool completely and stir in 1-2 cups dried cranberries, craisins, or cherries (depending on your preference) before storing.

Almond Milk
I usually make a qt of it to go along with hubby can't drink milk...
This is so easy and so much healthier than the store bought stuff.

1/2 cup raw almonds
4-5 pitted dates
pinch of salt
dash vanilla
4 cups water

Combine almonds, dates, vanilla and salt with 1c water and blend on high for 2 minutes or so, until really broken down (Vitamix blender is the best, fyi...totally worth the $500.00. I have the one that fits under cabinets so I can keep it on my countertop).  Add remaining 3c water and blend on low to combine.  I don't bother straining it. If you let the foam settle, this stores perfectly in a qt size glass Strauss milk bottle (Norcal peeps). Make sure you store it in a something with a cover so you can shake it well before each serving. It will only last the week, as fresh almonds can sour quickly. Just smell it once it has been 4-5 days, you can tell.

OK, enjoy!  And if you don't want to go through all the hassle, can still order it from me for $12/lb!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Peanut butter and chocolate puffed quinoa bars

Hello! It's been a while, I know...
I seem to go in spurts here, but stay with me (and my consistently inconsistent nature). I've got a quick and easy sweet treat for you tonight.  This recipe may not be ideal for everyone seeing as how we here in the Bay Area seem to be quite spoiled with the wide array of offerings at the grocery store.
However, I hope it will introduce you to a new ingredient if you haven't already seen it- puffed quinoa.  You can always order it on line, and I think that may actually be worth doing.  This stuff is great to have around to throw in yogurt or cereal, cookies, etc... You cannot make puffed quinoa at home, to my knowledge.  I get it at Berkeley Bowl, pre packed in the bulk section. I have had it stored for almost a year now in an airtight jar- so I don't think it'll go stale on you too soon either, if you do decide to go through the trouble of ordering it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chai tea at home

Almost everyone loves a good cup of chai. Almost no one likes paying $3.45+tax and standing in line at Starbucks for some syrupy chai out of the box. Sure, it says it's organic...or whatever....
I guess i am just a purist in that there is something more satisfying to both my tastebuds and my soul to just mix the spices and tea myself.  Not only does it save time and money, but it tastes so much more pure. Most importantly, it saves you the irritation of having to say the words "tall" "vente" or "grande".  That doesn't irritate you, you say? Well, good for you, you are a more tolerant person than I!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Savory Bread Pudding

I am sorry to all the gluten-free people out there...but this one, unfortunately, just isn't for you. It may also seem as a bit of an indulgence (for those of us that buy into the low-carb diet, at least)... but certainly a worthwhile one.  Besides, a very wise person once told me to eat all my heaviest foods in the morning to keep me full and use the rest of the day to burn them off!  I'll definitely buy into that.  Luckily, a savory bread pudding is the perfect centerpiece for a hearty brunch buffet.  Easter anyone?
It also makes a great dish for a steak or roast, a roast chicken or turkey...the list goes on. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lamb Vadoum

So you've made all those spice blends, now you need more recipes, right? If you haven't made any of them yet...perhaps this recipe will give you a kick in the panties. This is a very easy to prepare indian style lamb stew. It take a couple hours to cook, but only a few minutes to throw it together, provided you have already made your vadouvan spice blend. Serve it over rice, quinoa or with some naan. In fact, you can probably just throw all these ingredients in a slow cooker and let her go for a few hours. if you try this, let me know how long you let it cook and how it worked out!   This is a great recipe to make extra of and freeze for a rainy day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spice blends- you can do it!

I want to encourage everyone to have a few of their own spice blends on hand, it really is so easy to do. It will also give your quick weeknight meals a sense of self satisfaction knowing you didn't have to pound loose one of Emeril's store bought seasonings from the large clump that has formed in the  shaker. You know how long that has been sitting in the back of that spice cabinet?! There isn't enough sodium silicate in the world...

Take my blackening seasoning for example. Pull that blend out of the cabinet, coat one side of some boneless-skinless chicken thighs and put them face down in a smokin' hot cast iron pan for about 5 minutes. Turn them over and cook for another 5 or so. Lay them on a bed of brown rice and sautee some onions and bell peppers to put on top and Voila! You have the easiest weeknight dinner ever, and can pat yourself on the back knowing you added a certain level of complexity with hardly any work at all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Almond cookies

Gluten Free. Chewy and crunchy at the same time. These cookies are so good they make me laugh. They will speak for themselves. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

French country lentil soup

Soup, soup, and more soup. Ok, so I'm into it.  It's so easy, so inexpensive, so nourishing and so convenient to make large quantities and freeze it in meal size batches.  With that said, I've got another one for ya.  I call it "French" country lentil because I get my mushroom stock from the French guy at the market. I think his stock makes this soup extra delicious.  Stock is really the key here, people, as in most soups. Said frenchman is a very charming guy named Gui (Pronounced Gee in French) that has a business selling brioche savory pies, "Le Fleur de Lyon". Yummy.  Secret- he sells three different kinds of stock: chicken, tomato, or mushroom for $4/qt if you ask.  If you live in Marin, he is at the Civic Center farmers market on Thursdays or for East Bay folks, you can find him at the Grand Lake market. I have found his rich mushroom stock yields the best results of all the stocks I have tried.  You can, of course, always use the organic Better Than Boullion vegetable or chicken base or make your own mushroom stock and the soup will be just as yummy.