Fish Tacos featuring Halibut...In Season Now

These fish tacos are stuffed with chili-crusted halibut chunks, a shredded cabbage, lime and cilantro slaw, chunks of avocado and drizzled with a warming orange juice chipotle sauce. The result is a very fresh and zesty meal.

According to our authorities at the Monterey Fish Market, halibut is in season and ready to enjoy. It is a mild white fish that is my personal favorite.

Health benefits of Halibut, according to WHFoods: "Halibut are truly a nutrient-dense food. A very good source of high quality protein, halibut are rich in significant amounts of a variety of important nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium; the B vitamins B12, niacin, and B6; and perhaps most important, the beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are so named because they are essential for our health but cannot be made by the body; they must therefore be obtained from foods. Cold-water fish like halibut are a rich source of the omega-3 essential fats, a form of essential fatty acids in which the standard American diet is sorely deficient."

Halibut Fish Tacos with Orange-Chipotle Sauce

The Sauce:
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle in adobo (including sauce) more as needed to increase heat
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Bring orange juice, chipotles, and vinegar to a boil in a 1 to 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a generous 1/3 cup, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

The Seasoning for the Fish:
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

Mix together in a plate or pie tin.

The Fish:
Aprox. 3/4 lb (about 1" thick) halibut fillet or steak will feed 4 people. I never think it seems like enough but it really goes a long way.

A fish steak is a cross-section of the fish, containing the backbone and any other bones that were not removed prior, whereas a fish fillet is taken from the side of the fish, cutting (filleting) the meat off of the backbone and usually attempting to leave out any other bones.

About 3 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse and pat dry fillets. Brush fish with olive oil then press each fillet into spices until completely covered.

Heat skillet over medium heat and add remaining olive oil. Place fish into hot skillet and cook undisturbed for approximately 5 minutes. Turn fish carefully and finish cooking. This will only take a few more minutes. It is done when it is turns solid white and flakes apart easily with a fork.

**Note that you have lots of options for cooking methods. You can grill the fish, broil it or bake it, whichever you prefer. I like to use my saute pan because it gives me the most control.

The Wraps:
Good quality corn tortillas

The Slaw:
1/3-1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, rough chopped

Toss cabbage and cilantro together.
Whisk together the juice of 1 lime with olive oil equal to amount of juice.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss dressing and cabbage/cilantro mixture.

The condiments:
Avocado-a must.
Optional: I usually put grated jack cheese on my tacos. Black beans go well with these and also salsa. We've even included Spanish rice. Have fun and enjoy! I have served this for company and let people build their own with whatever toppings they like.

To Serve:
Slice avocado into chunks.
Heat tortillas over flame until warm but not crisp. If you do not have a gas stove or grill, you can place them in a dry pan (cast iron is good) to warm them (but do not get them crispy or they will break apart).

If you tortillas are thin, double up on them. Cut the fish into chunks (remove bones if you used a steak and remove skin) and place in the tortillas. Drizzle a little of the sauce over the fish, then add your slaw, avocado (and anything else you have in mind). Have plenty of napkins available and enjoy!


Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chiles

One of the wonderful things that people do when you have a new baby is to bring over food. You see, in your sleep deprived state, you should not be operating heavy equipment or things in the kitchen like sharp knives and fire. When our daughter was born I did things in the kitchen like poor myself a cup of hot coffee and keep pouring and pouring as it overflowed puddling on the counter top and oozing over the edges until my brain finally kicked in and said "enough!"

Dylan's friend, Ranita, brought us over a wonderful dish: black bean soup, an avocado, salsa, tortilla chips. I can't remember having had black bean soup before but this stuff was delicious. We have tried to get the recipe from her but I think she is busy with her own little one. So, left to my own devices, I began searching out a recipe that would resemble the one she made. Now that I'm allowed in the kitchen again here is the winning recipe. We will be forever grateful to everyone who brought us nourishing food during those first few months as we adjusted to our new family.

Nutritionally, beans are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diets. Beans lower cholesterol and prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, which means they're good for people with diabetes. They contribute to heart health with significant amounts of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6 and magnesium. AND beans are protective against cancer. There was a study done on 90,000 women and the researchers found a significantly reduced rate of breast cancer in the women who had a higher intake of beans and lentils. Two or more servings a week was associated with a 24% reduced risk! (Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Murray, 2005)

Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chiles
adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2004, but pretty much left intact

The best thing about this recipe, other than the taste, is that you can put it in the crock pot and forget about it. AND for those of you who forget to soak your beans the night before, this recipe rocks as there is no presoaking needed. In addition, it's inexpensive, feeds way more than than the 6 people listed in the recipe header, and can be frozen. We even used some as a dip.

Slow cooker (aka Crock Pot)
Immersion blender or regular blender


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium-size red onions, chopped
  • 1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 16-ounce package dried black beans
  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles* (more to taste)
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 4 cups hot vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then hot water/broth mixture. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 6 hours. Here it is important to taste for the amount of spiciness you desire. If you want more heat add some more chipotle. Use your immersion blender (aka stick blender) to puree some of the soup-don't go crazy here, it only takes a minute, you want some of the beans left whole. If you are using a traditional blender, transfer 2 cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth then return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and a few cilantro leaves on top, and a side of avocado slices, tortilla chips or a cheese quesadilla.

*Chipotle chiles canned in a spicy tomato sauce, sometimes called adobo, are available at Latin American markets and many supermarkets.


Bunny Bowl Winter Minestrone

Minestrone is one of those soups that is both comforting and familiar. In this version, adapted from Alice Waters' book The Art of Simple Food, we've matched comfort with an "oh my god" flavor combination that takes the whole thing to a new level. Conveniently, minestrone can be easily be changed to suit the seasonal collection of vegetables available at the farmers market on any given week.

The soup's number one "secret" is this*: cut everything into small pieces so that each spoonful is a complex taste combination; a bean, a piece of potato, a carrot, a little bit of sweet onion and the saltiness of a touch of Parmesan all hit your palate at the same time. You stare at the bunny on the bowl as if intoxicated and say, "Damn, this is the best Bunny Bowl Minestrone I've ever had!" Bunnies all over the world rejoice and you are happy.

Bunny Bowl Winter Minestrone
1 cup of dried cannellini, great northern or navy beans, cooked
OR 1 can of beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 cups of vegetable stock
olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
5 thyme springs
1 bay leaf
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 small leek, white and light green part only, diced
2 yellow potatoes such as Yukon gold or Russian butter, peel if you prefer, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/3 head savoy cabbage, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 cup small noodles of your choice
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped OR 1 small can organic chopped tomatoes, drained
Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
red pepper flakes, couple of shakes

Prepare dried beans in the usual way. That is, soak overnight if possible (but at least a few hours), drain, cover with plenty of fresh water. Toss in a small 2 inch piece of kombu and cook for 1-3 hours until done. They will be soft but not falling apart and mushy. Let cool and drain, reserving some of the liquid. OR if using canned beans, just drain and rinse with fresh water.

In a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and carrots and cook for 10-15 minutes, until tender.

Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf and 2 tsp sea salt and cook for 5 minutes.

Add 3 cups of vegetable stock and bring to boil. When boiling, add the leek, potatoes, and celery. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes. While this is cooking, heat salted water to a boil in a large pot. When boiling, drop in your cabbage for a quick blanch-- about 2 minutes. Remove with tongs, give a quick rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, and allow to drain. Next, return the same pot of water to a boil, add your noodles and cook until al dente (soft but with a little tooth--maybe 8 to 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.

Go back and taste the soup for salt and adjust as necessary.

Add cooked beans. If you have made your own beans you can add some of that cooking liquid here otherwise you may want to add more vegetable stock or water so that there is a nice amount of soup broth in the pot. Add the cabbage and the noodles.

Add a few shakes of pepper flakes and make one last adjustment to taste remembering that Parmesan will bring some salt to the soup. Cook for 5 to 10 more minutes to let all the flavors mingle.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Ladle soup into bunny bowls, top with grated Parmesan and pass with extra virgin olive oil or pesto if desired.

*This is a tip I learned from the Alice Waters' cookbook mentioned above.


Patty's Grilled Vegetables over Soba Noodles

When you become a couple you inherit your partner's friends. In my case, I gained Patty and Todd. Todd is a Professor at the University of San Antonio. He does a lot of research and tried to explain it to me once but it was a hopeless endeavor. It has something to do with birds and the sounds they make.
Patty is a Labor and Delivery nurse, a dog lover, an avid reader, fluent in Spanish and a darn good cook. One year she gave Dylan a small homemade cookbook which, lucky for me, I inherited along with the friendship. The recipe that follows is one that is in her book (albeit with a few of our own modifications) and one that we love and I think you will enjoy too.

The marinade and sauce work wonderfully together. Though January is not grilling season I find that I can fire up the gas grill on days when the weather is sunny or cook the vegetables stove top on a cast iron grill. You know the type of pan where one side is a griddle for pancakes and the other side is grooved for grilling? It does tend to make a mess of the stove, so be prepared to wipe it down after the vegetables cook.

Patty's Grilled Vegetables over Soba Noodles

Step 1-Make the Marinade

1/3 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Step 2-Make the Sauce

1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 1/2 tbsp soy
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

Step 3-Gather and Prepare your Vegetables

These are the vegetables we enjoy but we mix it up, depending on what we have on hand. Feel free to use veggies you enjoy.

1 large or 2 small yams, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/2 slices
2 baby bok choy, bottom trimmed and cut in 1/2 lengthwise
1 large portabello mushroom, or a handful of shitakes, cleaned, cut into thick slices
1 yellow onion, cut into thick rings
olive oil for cooking, about 1/3 cup in a small dish

Now that you have your vegetables ready, put them in the marinade and toss to coat. As Patty says, "Let the vegetables marinate until you feel like cooking."

Step 4- The Noodles

You will need 1 package soba noodles. The ones I use are organic noodles made from buckwheat, they cook fast, in 4-6 minutes, be careful not to overcook or they will be mushy.


Put medium pot of water with a steamer bucket on the stove to boil. Steam the yam slices until almost done. Be careful that they are still firm and not too soft or they will be difficult to grill. 5 minutes should be sufficient. Keep the water as you will use that to cook the soba noodles in later.

Take vegetables out of the marinade and place on indoor or outdoor grill. Brush with oil, turn, brush again with oil and some of the leftover marinade. Continue to cook, turning half way through until they have nice grill marks and are somewhat soft. When cooked, vegetables can be put in a dish and kept in a low oven until the noodles are ready.

Bring water to boil. Add soba noodles. When done add the 1/2 of the sauce to the noodles and toss to coat.

To assemble, place a pile of noodles on a plate or bowl. Top with grilled vegies and drizzle some of the extra sauce over them.


Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

If you haven't tried quinoa (keen wah), here is a great recipe to start you off. This salad is tasty, crunchy, healthy and different from your everyday type of salad. Great thing to take in your lunch or to a work pot luck.

It has the highest protein profile of all the grains, has more calcium than milk and is a good source of iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and vitamin E.


1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups veg stock or water


for dressing:

2 tbsp lime juice (1 lime)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

for the salad:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1 medium to large carrot, diced
3 green onions, white and 3 inches of green part, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup cilantro, rough chop
1 can black beans (preferably Eden brand) rinsed and given a lemon and salt spritz


1. In a medium sized soup pot bring stock and quinoa to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes until all of the liquid is gone. Spread quinoa onto a cookie sheet, rake with a fork and let it cool.

2. Combine lime juice, 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper in jar; shake to mix.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small saute pan, saute yellow onion for 2 minutes, add red pepper and carrot, saute 2 mins, add spices and saute 2 mins.

4. Toss gently to combine quinoa and beans, onion mixture, green onions and celery, then cilantro. Toss in enough dressing to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Serve with avocado if desired.


Quick Delicious Spinach, Avocado, Pumpkin Seed Salad with Lime Dressing

Okay, just a quick entry to inspire you to throw this salad together when you are in a rush but still want something healthy. Dylan and I actually had this as a 3:00pm snack last week...you know the after lunch but not quite dinner but I'm kind of hungry sort of thing. I saw this (or something similar) one night on Food Network while watching Nigella. She served smoked salmon strips with hers.

1 bag of organic spinach-I know it says "pre-washed" but I always wash it again and give it a spin around the salad spinner to dry it. Place in serving bowl.

1 avocado-slice it in half and remove the seed. Holding each half in your hand run the knife top to bottom then across to make little chunks. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado right into your serving bowl.

Pumpkin Seeds-use as many as you want, raw or toasted organic seeds. Throw those in the bowl.

1 Lime-halved. Juice each half into a jar, add an equal amount of olive oil and some sea salt to taste.

Poor the dressing over the greens, toss, and eat away. No, there's no picture, we ate the whole thing so fast there was no time!


Homemade Vegie Broth--Come on, you can do it!

Really I began making my own vegetable broth because I just couldn't stand how much I was paying for a couple of cartons every week, like almost $3 per carton...and the price kept going up. And here I was tossing out all the veggie scraps...carrot tops, onion skins, soft celery from the bottom bin of the fridge. My vegetable bins seem to be more like little square coffins where odds and ends of various produce meet their demise. Sometimes they just lay limp at the bottom which is kind of sad but the ones that are forgotten in the back actually begin to decay and even leak a yellowish brown goo. Do not use these for stock! Remember, garbage in-garbage out.

Back to making your own stock. If you're home for a couple of hours I think you'll be surprised at how easy making broth actually is. I make my broth every other weekend and freeze it so it's on hand when I need it. The only problem I encountered was my canning jars exploding in the freezer. As if cleaning up the vegetable bins was not enough. I tried filling the jars on 3/4 of the way but they still expanded and cracked the glass. One chef I know, Karen Diggs, recommends using plastic wrap or parchment paper as a lid instead of a metal canning lid, still using the ring to seal the wrap in place. What I have found works for me is laying the jars on their sides so there is more room for expansion. We haven't had a problem since.

Now, IF you are going to use store bought broth, which I trust you will do only for an emergency, I recommend using Pacific or Imagine Organic. You can dilute them with water to stretch them a little. However, it's worth noting that in Cook's Illustrated June 2008 issue they blasted all organic cooking broths stating, "All the organic vegetable broths in our lineup tanked." Here are the ones NOT recommended: Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base, Emeril's All Natural Organic Veg Stock, Swanson Certified Organic Vegetarian Veg Broth, Imagine Org Veg Cooking Stock, Kitchen Basics Natural Veg Cooking Stock and Pacific Natural Foods Organic Veg Broth. Imagine Organic Veg Broth was "recommended with reservations" with tasters stating stating it had a "mostly carrot" flavor and being bland. Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable Bouillon Cubes was deemed salty but on the okay list with College Inn Garden Veg Broth. So which one (and only one) unbelievably made it to the recommended list? Swanson Vegetarian Vegetable Broth (not the organic one)...and why are you NOT going to use this one? Because being conscious about what you put into your mouth you know that it doesn't make sense for a vegetable broth to have "flavor enhancers" like those found in Swansons: high fructose corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, MSG, disodium insodinate, disodium guanylate, and more.

All of that should be more than enough reason for you to want to make your own stock; it's going to taste better and it's going to make anything you use it in extra nourishing. There are literally hundreds of recipes for stock out there but the one I use is a modification of Rebecca Katz' Magic Mineral Broth. You know I love everything that comes out of her kitchen and her broth is no exception. If you're making a sipping broth please visit her website and make the exact version, it's a touch sweet which makes it especially soothing. But for my purposes, which mainly means using it as a base for soups and grains, I change a few things, including omitting the salt and using less yams/sweet potatoes. According to James Beard vegetables contain their own natural sodium so it can be added afterward.

There is such a thing as a roasted vegetable stock. It will give you a darker, deeper more earthy flavor. For a Roasted Vegetable Stock to use say as a base for Onion Soup check out this recipe. Anna Thomas in The Vegetarian Epicure (which is a great cookbook and you can pick it up on Amazon for a couple bucks) has a recipe for Dark Vegetable Broth and an Assertive Broth in which she has you saute the vegies first. What we're going for here is a light broth to use as a base for everything from soups to grains to add light flavor and lots of nutrients.

Now, one of the things you're going to see in this recipe is kombu. Kombu is kelp, yep that's seaweed my friends or as we called it in chef school "sea vegetable" because weed is such an ugly word. The Kombu package says it's an "Edible Ocean Plant." Whatever it's called, I don't want you to skip this ingredient. You can find it in most stores (see picture) you've probably just never looked. I promise you that your stock will not taste all fishy.

Kombu or Kelp, is a brown seaweed very rich in iodine. It is high too in potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium and also contains a highly important level of trace elements such as zinc, copper and manganese. According to Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods, kombu greatly increases the nutritional value of all food prepared with it. It has a high mineral content. In beans, the minerals help balance the protein and oil and increase digestibility. Kombu softens masses (anti-tumor), it has an anti-coagulant effect on the blood, is a natural fungicide, relieves hormonal imbalances, cools and soothes lungs and throat, and relieves coughing and asthma to name just a few benefits!

Lastly, if you want to know more about the difference between Broth vs Stock here is a decent explanation.

3 unpeeled carrots with green tops, rinse off any dirt, cut into large chunks
1 medium yellow onion, skins on but cut off dirty root, quarter
1 leek, white and light green parts, cut in half lengthwise, rinsed, then cut into chunks
4 stalks celery, with tops if you've got them, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, tossed in whole, skins and all
1/2 bunch Italian parsley
2 medium red potatoes, unpeeled but scrubbed clean, eyes removed, quartered
1 Garnet yam, skin on, quartered
1 3x2 inch strip of kombu, rinsed
1 bay leaf
8 peppercorns
4 whole juniper berries

Toss all ingredients into an 8 quart stock pot and cover with cold water to about 2 inches from the top of the pot. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Remove lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. Strain the stock and let cool. Refrigerate or freeze.