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Malibu Farm Cookbook: recipes to try at home

Bring a taste of Southern California into your life with Helene Henderson’s 100 delicious recipes, and a few dishes that you can make now.

Swedish-born American chef Helene Henderson started her pier-end café Malibu Farm by accident, really. It all started with backyard cooking classes that grew into farm dinners, attended by friends, students and local producers in the balmy Southern Californian evenings. These then blossomed as word spread, joined by interstate visitors and celebrities. Malibu Farm on Malibu Pier was originally a short-term pop-up, but (as seems to be the case with Helene’s work) this turned into a long-term lease in an iconic destination.

Malibu Farm Cookbook is Helene’s second cookbook after The Swedish Table, drawn from her fondest childhood memories. Unlike most cooking tomes, set out by course, Malibu Farm Cookbook is arranged by location, sourcing eggs from the coop and beef from the pasture. This puts a compelling emphasis on origin, with fresh flavours that use meat only sparingly. Her style is casual, friendly and humorous, revealing sources, suitable occasions and handy tips. The food is simple and delicious with delectable photography by Martin Löf – Malibu Farm Cookbook is the sort of guide you’ll actually use.

Miso is an excellent fish marinade – I think almost everyone likes it. This is a pretty mellow marinade, so it is best to allow the fish plenty of time to marinate, ideally overnight. Because the marinade does contain sugar, be careful not to burn the fish as you cook it. Lightly charring it first and then finishing it in the oven works best. You can also broil it.

Makes 6 to 8 servings
⅛ cup mirin
⅛ cup sake
½ cup miso
⅓ cup sugar
1.4kg (3lb) salmon or black cod
Olive oil spray
Garnish: sushi ginger, sesame seeds and chopped herbs, such as chives, parsley or coriander (cilantro)

Combine mirin, sake, miso and sugar in a small pan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using.

Place fish in marinade for a minimum of 6 hours and preferably overnight. Grill fish over high heat; spray with olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Then transfer to a preheated oven to finish unless your fish is thing enough to finish on the grill without burning.

Garnish with sushi ginger, sesame seeds and chopped herbs.

Beets grow very well in Malibu, so I usually have them in my [garden] beds year round. I love how they are so easy to grow and also do not need immediate picking – they can stay in the soil for weeks or even months before getting too old to use. In this way, beets are unlike some crops, such as green beans, which need picking every day.

Mixing quinoa with marinated beets gives the quinoa a gorgeous colour, and quinoa absorbs the beets in perfect harmony. Although you can mix beets into couscous or rice, the colour of the beets is off-putting in these grains.

Always rinse your quinoa well before cooking, as the grains have a bitter coating on them, which will give your finished dish a bitter taste if not properly rinsed. Some brands are pre-rinsed. I cook my quinoa like pasta. I drop it in a pot of boiling water until it blooms, about 7 minutes, and then drain in a fine colander.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 cups quinoa, cooked
2 marinated red beets

With the skin on, drizzle beets with olive oil and a splash of water. Place in a small ovenproof container. Cover with foil and roast in a 400°F [200°C] oven for 1 hour or until just soft when pierced.

Peel the skin of the beets by rubbing a paper towel over them or by rubbing them under running water.

Chop beets fine, season with salt and a tiny dash of sugar and drizzle with olive oil.

Add ¼ cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup lemon juice and half a finely chopped shallot.

Let beets marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.

Pour marinated beets into the cooked quinoa and stir until well combined.

I prefer dill for this recipe, but you can add any other herb of choice, such as parsley or cilantro [coriander].

Makes 8 servings
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cup sugar
½ cup whole almonds, skin on
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup lemon juice
150ml (5oz) milk
2 eggs
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt

In a food processor, whirl the rosemary with the sugar until just incorporated. Remove the rosemary-infused sugar from the food processor.

Then finely chop the skin-on almonds in the food processor and combine with the whole wheat flour.

Now you are going to combine the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another, and then combine everything together.

So add the rosemary-infused sugar to the oils, lemon juice, milk and eggs. Then combine the almond-whole wheat flour mixture with baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients and place in a buttered and floured 8 inch x 8 inch [20cm x 20cm] baking pan. Bake in a preheated 375°F [190°C] oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes back clean (about 45 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool. The cake freezes well and can be made in advance, wrapped in plastic and frozen.

Serve with whipped cream and berries. Of course!

Malibu Farm Cookbook is available for purchase online via or through Europe-based