Three fresh and vibrant recipes inspired by California cooking!

Three fresh and vibrant recipes inspired by California cooking!

Alex Galbinski discovers a new cookbook aiming to capture the Californian spirit through fresh and vibrant recipes

Alex Galbinski is a Jewish News journalist

Coconut jumbo oat granola
Coconut jumbo oat granola

While we might not all be able to dine out in California, a new cookbook offers up more than 80 accessible and seasonal recipes to allow us
to create the spirit of its food at home.

California: Living + Eating by London-based food writer
Eleanor Maidment, whose parents are of Jewish and Anglo-Indian
descent, is a glorious celebration of the Golden State, a place she fell
in love with after her first visit in the late 1980s. For her debut recipe
book, Eleanor – formerly food editor of the Waitrose Food magazine – journeyed through the state’s varied landscape to show that anyone
can eat as well as they do.



MAKES: about 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz), PREP: 20 mins; COOK: 45 mins

This is a brilliant granola, not too sweet and perfectly crisp. The joy is adapting the recipe according to whatever leftover seeds, nuts and dried fruit you have in your cupboards, though this combination is particularly good and makes enough for at least 15 portions. Store in airtight container.


  • 100g flame or jumbo raisins
  • 50g whole skin-on almonds, roughly chopped
  • 50g shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 50g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 250g jumbo oats
  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • 25g chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 50g coconut flakes

To serve (per person):

  • 1 nectarine, peach or apricot, halved and stoned
  • 1 teaspoon melted unsalted butter
  • 150g Greek or natural yoghurt
  • A few edible flowers (optional)


  1. Preheat a fan oven to 150˚C and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Soak the raisins in a bowl of just-boiled water while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the chopped nuts, oats and seeds. Put the coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and water in a small saucepan and heat until it comes to a simmer. Drain the raisins and tip them into the saucepan, then pour everything over the nuts, oat and seeds mixture. Sprinkle in the salt and mix together well.

    Eleanor Maidment
  3. Spread out the granola mixture over the parchment, making it a little thinner in the middle and piling it up more at the edges, as that’s where it will brown more quickly. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir well and continue to cook, stirring every 10 minutes until golden and fragrant (35-45 minutes in total, depending on how golden you like it). Stir the coconut flakes into the mixture for the final 5-10 minutes. Once ready, remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
  4. When ready to serve, heat a griddle pan or a barbecue over a medium-high heat. Brush the cut sides of the fruit with melted butter, place them cut-side down on the griddle, and cook for 2 minutes until lightly charred. Spoon the yoghurt into bowls, top with a hefty sprinkling of granola and the fruit. Some edible flowers look rather pretty, too.


Salmon citrus kale and black rice

SERVES: 2 PREP: 20 mins; COOK: 45 mins

This dish is based on my favourite poke bar flavours. You can adapt the toppings according to what you have in the refrigerator: pickled ginger, thinly sliced radish and cucumber, chopped spring onion and steamed broccoli all make regular appearances for me…


  • 100g black rice (or about 200g/7oz cooked black rice)
  • 100g frozen edamame beans
  • 30g kale, thick stems removed
  • Juice of 1 tangerine
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 100g raw, sliced sushi-grade salmon

Crispy shallots:

  • 90ml sunflower oil
  • 2 banana shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • Pinch of sea salt


  1. Put the rice in a large saucepan and cover with triple the volume of water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes (top up with water if necessary) until tender; drain and spread out on a plate to cool.
  2. In a separate pan of boiling water, simmer the edamame for 3-4 minutes, or until they’re all floating on the surface; drain, rinse under the cold tap and set aside. 
  3. Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl, add half the tangerine juice and massage the juice into the leaves to soften them. Set aside. Put the remaining tangerine juice in a jar with the sesame oil and soy sauce.
  4. Seal with a lid and shake to make a dressing. To make the crispy shallots, place the oil and shallots in a cold saucepan, set over a medium-low heat and sprinkle with the salt. The aim is to cook them slowly until they crisp up and turn a medium golden colour, this should take 10-15 minutes. Drain through a sieve, reserving the oil for dressings and marinades, then transfer the shallots to paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
  5.  Toss the cooled rice with the kale and divide between two plates. Spoon a little dressing over each. Scatter over the edamame and avocado, then arrange the salmon on top. Spoon over the rest of the dressing, then scatter with crispy shallots to serve.


Smoked fish tartine

SERVES: 2   PREP: 10 mins   COOK: 5 mins

Red onion, smoked fish and cream cheese is a heavenly combination to me: it’s oily, salty, sharp and creamy. It’s also hard to execute badly, but I do think charring the capers and red onion adds a little extra flourish.


  • 2 tablespoons nonpareille capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large slices of sourdough or rye bread
  • 4 tablespoons labneh or cream cheese
  • 100g smoked salmon, trout or halibut
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1.  If the capers are wet, pat them dry on a piece of paper towel. Heat a small frying pan  or saucepan over a medium-high heat.
  2. Add the capers and onion and dry-fry them, stirring regularly, for about two minutes until charred in places. Tip in the vinegar and sugar and stir together; take off the heat and tip into a bowl.
  3. Toast the bread and spread with the labneh or cream cheese, arrange the smoked fish over the top and spoon over the caper and red onion relish. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top, scatter with parsley, grind over some black pepper and serve immediately.

NOTES ON… RAW FISH: It may seem obvious, but if you plan to serve raw fish then do buy it from a place you know and trust (I go to my local Japanese supermarket), and eat it that day. That’s not always possible, so you can replace the raw salmon here with smoked salmon (try thicker-cut tsar fillets) or seared tuna.

 Recipes extracted from California: Living + Eating by Eleanor Maidment (Hardie Grant, £22). Photography © Nassima Rothacker

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