Socially responsible cooking

Herb and Flower-Crusted Halibut

  • ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped organically grown edible flower petals, such as calendula, nasturtiums, roses, or onion or chive blossoms
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 halibut fillet (1 ½ pounds), cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken, vegetable, or fish broth
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound fresh peas, shelled, or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

In a shallow bowl, combine the parsley, flower petals, chives, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Place the halibut in the flower and herb mixture, pressing the fish to thoroughly coat both sides. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the halibut and cook for 4 minutes on one side. Turn over the halibut and pour in the broth. Add the saffron and garlic. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the halibut is just opaque and the broth is reduced by half. During the last minute or so, add the peas.

Remove the pan from the heat. Place 1 fish fillet in each of 4 shallow soup bowls. Divide the broth and peas evenly among the bowls.

Variation: Substitute salmon or any mild, firm fish fillet for the halibut. Whenever possible, try to buy line-caught wild fish.

Baby Artichoke, Parsley, and Celery Salad

  • 2 ½ pounds baby artichokes
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 medium red onion, or 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup packed whole Italian parsley, stems removed
  • ¼ cup capers
  • 1.3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To clean the artichokes, first pull away and discard the outer leaves until all that remains is the very light, tender inside leaves. Using a sharp knife, cut off and discard the tips of the remaining leaves and all the dark parts.

Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl. Slice the trimmed artichokes thinly and add to the lemon juice, tossing well. Add the celery, onion, parsley, capers, oil, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the salad at room temperature or transfer to a skillet and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes to warm slightly.

Kitchen tip: Unlike mature artichokes, baby artichokes have no chokes to remove.

Pickled Deviled Eggs

  • 7 hard-cooked large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated red onion
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Coarsely grate 1 whole egg and put in a medium bowl. Cut the remaining 6 in half evenly and, using a teaspoon, carefully remove the yolks and put in a small bowl. Grate the yolks into the medium bowl with the grated whole egg. Mash with a fork and add the sugar, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, and red onion.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add a little more mayonnaise if necessary.

Using a spoon, mound the yolk filling into the 12 empty egg halves.

Buy the book on Amazon: Simply Organic

About Jesse Ziff Cool:
The founder of Cooleatz, Inc., Ziff Cool currently owns and operates three restaurants and a catering company in addition to having published seven books and several columns all of which focus on healthy eating, sustainable agriculture and cuisine. From waste management, to organic coffee beans and compostable drinking straws, attention is given to every little detail to ensure she is serving healthy food in the most socially responsible way. Her interest in sustainable agriculture started at a young age, growing up in a Jewish-Italian family where a strong emphasis was placed on honesty, responsibility, and most importantly, food. Ziff Cool's focus was always on good food and she continued to find innovative ways to serve that to her community at a time when terms like "sustainable" and "organic" were met with much skepticism and laughter.

Along the way to finding success, Ziff Cool faced more than her share of business challenges. As a single mother coming off welfare in 1974, Ziff Cool would often barter her healthy organic meals for services such as daycare for her son. Over twenty-five years after opening her first restaurant, she would again face adversity in 2002 when she was down to her last $5,000. Not one to go down without a fight, Ziff Cool used her last $5,000 to hire a consultant and become more business savvy and the rest is history. Through it all, Ziff Cool simply states that she started as a cook, and she remains a cook. "The farmers are the true heroes and my mentors," says a humble Ziff Cool. "They have contributed so much in terms of sustainability and taught me unique ways to prepare healthy organic food." Now with a booming business, numerous awards, and clients like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and the Clintons, Ziff Cool's only wish is to spend more time with her 87-year-old mother - whose morals and teachings were the beginning of it all.

Organic Food Pioneer to Receive NAWBO -SF Trailblazer Award:
On May 2, 2008, Jesse Ziff Cool will enjoy the fruits of her labor for pioneering the way to an increasingly popular organic food market. The San Francisco chapter of the National Association of Woman Business Owners' (NAWBO-SF) will be honoring Ziff Cool with the Trailblazer award at the 24th Annual Leaders & Legends luncheon. The award is given annually to a "seasoned" woman business owner who has been in business for 10+ years and serves as a role model for others.

Friday, May 2, 2008
Westin St. Frances, San Francisco

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