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Can zucchini be the star player in your dish?

August 15th, 2013 No Comments

Zucchini

 

In all honesty, this is my first time to cook, and not cook, with zucchini.  It always seems like filler to me: chunky, bland, with nothing really to bring to table.  Then, I ate at M.A.K.E.,  an all raw restaurant on the top of the Santa Monica mall (terrible location but the food blows my mind).  We ordered the raw lasagna (which I now eat almost weekly) where they used ribboned zucchini instead of noodles. I noticed the zuchinni’s mild flavor and sturdy flesh allows it to support food with bigger personalities.

When I saw the squash at the farmer’s market, I decided to try my hand with it.  Below are two recipes using zuchhini ribbons as “noodles” that were very well received amongst my recent guests, one of which was paleo.  She says the zucchini noodles are the answer to her paleo prayers!

The first I totally made up on the fly; the second is from one of my favorite cookbooks/food-bloggers, Smitten Kitchen.

In both I used a mandolin to get the zucchini into thin slices, but you can also try a regular peeler to make your ribbons.  Just note that a peeler will give you more ribbons without the skin, which makes it sturdy.  So if you have to use peeler, you’ll need to cut cooking time or serve the raw ribbons quickly.

Chicken Basil Bolognese Salad

Chicken Basil Bolognese Salad

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 3/4 lb ground chicken
  • Organicville Tomato and Basil Sauce (Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil, leaves sliced
  • 1 zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Cooked quinoa (not for paleo people!)
  • Garlic
  • Grape seed oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 onion, diced fresh tomatoes, grated parmesean cheese

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Preparation:

  1. Chop up 1/4 of an onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic.  Sautee in a heated pan. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, cook until ALMOST done, but not all the way through. Drain out the juice.
  2. Add 1/2 jar of tomato sauce and set to simmer.
  3. Using a mandolin or peeler, thinly slice zucchini.  If using a mandolin, cut your thick ribbons into smaller “noodles” like above.
  4. Mix cooked quinoa (should be at least at room temp or warm), a little of the sliced basil, salt, and pepper.  Put into the bottom of your bowls.
  5. In a skillet with a little grape seed oil, fill with spinach and quickly wilt, adding a little salt and pepper.  Add to one bowl, repeat for the second.
  6. Add some sliced basil and diced tomatoes to your bolognese sauce that’s simmering.  You might also add a little more tomato sauce to thicken.
  7. In the same skillet, sautee zucchini noodles BARELY, adding a little salt.  Just enough for them to soften.  Divide between bowls.
  8. Spoon bolognese sauce on the top of your bowls.  Add cheese if you want!

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Zucchini Ribbons with Almond Pesto

From Smitten Kitchen cookbook

Zucchini Ribbons with Almond Pesto from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients (serves 4, I got 6 small plates out of it):

  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed (about 4 medium, thin and longer if you can find them)

 Preparation:

  1. Grind almonds, Parmesan, garlic and red pepper flakes in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, salt and olive oil and pulse a few times until incorporated. Pour the dressing into a large salad bowl and let it roll up and around the sides. (I only used about 1/4 of what I made and saved the rest in the fridge.)
  2. Peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler or mandolin and place zucchini ribbons in the dressing-coated bowl. Toss the ribbons gently (your hands work best – I massaged the pesto into the zucchini) attempting to coat the zucchini as evenly as possible. Serve at room temperature quickly so the zucchini doesn’t lose it’s pretty shape!

 

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Hearty summer salad

June 6th, 2013 No Comments

Asparagus White Bean Salad Melissa Clark

I can’t make this salad for at least another two weeks, but once I’m in a real kitchen, it will be on the top of my list.  Melissa Clark’s recipes never disappoint!

She states in her NYT article that she had issues with dried beans and that Great Northern canned beans worked just fine. (Yay!)

What I love about this dish is that it’s a departure from most light and citrusy salads that I usually have to eat a mountain of before I feel satisfied.  You can also toss the leftovers in quinoa with fresh basil, tomatoes, and turkey and have a whole new salad.

White Bean Asparagus Salad with Tarragon-Lemon Dressing

By Melissa Clark, New York Times Dining 6/5/2013

Total time: 20 minutes (plus soaking time for dried beans), serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces dried white beans or 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
  • Salt
  • 2 bay leaves, if using dried beans
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1/2 cup tarragon leaves
  • 1 teaspoon packed finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large lemon, juiced, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

PREPARATION

(If using canned beans, drain and rinse. If using dried beans, soak in plenty of water for 6 hours or overnight.)

  1. Drain beans and transfer to a medium pot.  Cover beans by 2 inches with water and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the bay leaves. Simmer until just tender but not at all mushy, about 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending upon what kind of beans you’re using. Drain.
  2. Break off tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl with ice and cold water. Blanch trimmed asparagus for 1 1/2 minutes, or until just cooked through but still firm, then plunge them into the ice bath. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain. Pat dry and slice diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine tarragon, lemon zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper and the lemon juice, and process until garlic is chopped. Pour in olive oil. Process until mixture is well blended and bright green, about 1 minute.4.In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together beans, asparagus and dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed.
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The secret ingrendients of spring

May 2nd, 2013 No Comments

Fresh fish at Market Table NYC

One of my favorite parts (at this point in time, one of the ONLY parts) I like about living in NYC is the fresh and inventive food.  It’s no San Fran just-cut-from-the-garden-to-table fare, but the chefs here keep me satisfied.  Last night, we ate at Market Table, a West Village staple from one of my all-time favorite chefs Joey Companaro (of famed Little Owl) and Mike Price.  As always, the food was amazing.  Adventurous, not so much, but seasonal, sensational, and solid.  (Side Note: Campanara and Price have just opened a new joint a few doors down called Fatty ‘Cue which they say is their “effort to bring a little Southeast Asian fermented funkiness and a whole helluva a lot of smoke.”)

As you may or may not be able to tell from the picture above, we ordered “the usual” for a group of girls: fish and chicken.  (Not pictured: Quinoa Hushpuppies with chipotle mayo that blew my mind.) What I loved about these dishes was the use of the seasonal veg I don’t normally use at home: ramps, fava beans, and snap peas.  All are the rage with NYC chefs right now.  Apparently there’s even a ramp festival….wild I’m sure. Asparagus is also in season.

The question then remains, how shall we use these yummy ingredients at home?  I have some ideas of what I would do if I had a functioning, clean kitchen to whip up something tasty.

RAMPS

RAMPS

I had never even heard of a ramp until it was all over the menu at ABC Kitchen the other night.  As you can see they look like leeks and have a powerful onion and garlic flavor.  So, maybe they are more familiar than we think.  Food blog theKitchn says:

“They pair beautifully with eggs, potatoes, and anything creamy (like a cream-based soup). Treat them gently, use both the green and the white part (everything but the nubby root end) and cook them lightly. Butter or olive oil are both fine fats for ramp-cooking, a tablespoon or so for every cup of chopped ramps.”

The season goes by fast so try out a few recipes while you can still grab a bundle.  To get you started:

ASPARAGUS

My food photography just doesn’t hold up to the pro bloggers, but I can tell you the dishes I post taste good.  That’s all that counts, right?!

I know it seems like we see asparagus all year long, but it’s really not appetizing raw until it’s in seasonClick here for Bon Appetit’s breakdown of the many ways you can prepare it.  This raw salad is “Ribboned Asparagus” from SmittenKitchen.  So simple and always a hit at dinner parties.

More recipes:

Peas

 Herbed Pea Sauce

I can’t get enough of fresh peas.  I could just eat a whole bag of fresh boiled peas.  No seasoning needed.  But, should you want to spice them up, consider this recipe for Herbed Pea Sauce from Bon Appetit that seems to compliment a lot of our “usual” dishes.

The Big Kahuna

Pea Asparagus Fava Bean Salad

Pea, Asparagus, and Fava Bean Salad

From Bon Appetit, April 2012

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups fresh fava beans (from about 2 pounds pods) or frozen fava beans, thawed
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, stalks peeled if thick
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preparation

  • Whisk olive oil, Pecorino, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl to blend. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Set dressing aside.
  • If using fresh fava beans, cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander set in a bowl of ice water (do not cook frozen beans). Drain and peel; place in a large bowl.
  • Return water in saucepan to a boil; add asparagus and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to colander in ice water.
  • If using fresh peas, return water in saucepan to a boil; add peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes (do not cook frozen peas). Drain; transfer to colander in ice water. Drain vegetables. Add to bowl with fava beans.
  • Combine vegetable oil and shallot in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is golden brown and crisp, 10-12 minutes. Transfer shallot to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add dressing to bowl with vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer salad to a serving platter and top with shallot and bacon.
  • DO AHEAD: Dressing and vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

 

 

 

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Cheese block –> grated cup conversion tip

April 4th, 2013 No Comments
Grated cheese
“When a recipe calls for grated cheese, you might not always know how big a block you should buy. The texture of the cheese makes all the difference, but as a general rule

3 to 4 ounces whole yields 1 cup grated.

To measure grated cheese, put it in a dry measuring cup and tap it against the counter; don’t pack it firmly.”  — Food NetworkGood to know…although, sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra left over :)

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DIY Deli meat

February 27th, 2013 No Comments

Roasted Turkey Breast

 

I don’t know if it’s because I’m being silly or not, but I wont’t eat “deli meat” anymore.  Like Boar’s Head, for example.  I just don’t trust it.  First of all, no animal I know comes in a perfect “ball,” and secondly, whatever they use to preserve it in the fridge will preserve it in my body (or that’s my thinking anyway).  Instead I usually buy “in-house” roasted meat at either Whole Foods, Central Market, or anywhere else that does it.

These days since we grill on The Big Green Egg so much, I buy a half turkey breast and cook that up to eat for the rest of week.  It tastes SOOO much better and there is no denying it’s fresh.

Here’s what you do:

  • Buy a half turkey breast with the skin on, bones in.
  • Make a marinade of grape seed oil, oil oil, minced garlic, fresh rosemary, Organics “garlic ‘n herb” seasoning from Whole Foods, salt, black pepper, squeeze of lemon.  You can really marinate it in anything you want: sauce, pesto, bbq, you name your flavor.
  • Rub marinade UNDER the skin and all over.
  • Take fresh thyme springs and insert under skin and under turkey when you lay it in glass baking pan.
  • Grill or roast in oven at 450 until done (every bird varies, just keep an eye on it)

As far as cost goes, a half breast will run me about $9 at Trader Joe’s, which is about 1.15 pounds of fresh grocery store meat.  I can’t say if I get MORE meat, but it tastes better and lasts me all week.

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Mom’s easy bake oven dinner

February 21st, 2013 No Comments

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When I was growing up, my mom was rarely in the kitchen.  The woman hates to cook! So when she did light up the oven, I knew baked chicken would be on the table within the hour.  Her concept was so simple I had forgotten about it until now. I guess I saw it as a cop out while I have been trying to work my way through Bon Appetit recipes and impress my BF.

But sometimes I just don’t have the time (or patience) to go through a lengthy process.  One night last week when I was scrambling to put something on the table, Mom’s old faithful baked chicken came to mind.  I took out two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, covered them marinara sauce and baked those babies for about 3o minutes.  Voila, a delicious dinner.  Two nights later I did the same thing with Goode Company BBQ sauce.  Same dish, different flavor, new dinner :)

You can pull this off with ANY sauce, soup, or spread you want.  Mom loved doing it with Campbell’s mushroom soup. I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t work honestly.

 

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Super Bowl Party Snack List

January 31st, 2013 No Comments

As I’m preparing for my own little get-together, I have to pick a list of dishes to make. Below is a list of everything I’ve been considering. Some are old favorites, others I just found.

The most popular recipe I’ve ever posted is one of them: Baked Avocado Fries. Unfortunately you can’t make these ahead of time, but the rest of them you can.

As for the meat we’ll probably just do a beer can chicken and burgers on The Egg.

Or I could just bring home Goode Company BBQ, the best in Houston, and definitely on my top 10 of all time…That would be so easy…and special…hmmm….

Hope you have a fun Super Bowl sunday. If you make something amazing I hope you’ll come back and share the recipe in the comments so we can use it for summer parties!

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NO MORE LETTUCE! Alternative salads you can munch on all week

January 17th, 2013 No Comments

I’m so bored with salads. Lettuce lettuce lettuce and more lettuce. So in the last fews weeks, we’ve been making alternative salads you can make once and enjoy throughout the week. When there’s no lettuce wilting, you get a lot more mileage out of your veg :) Here are our three favorite recipes thus far, going from least to most ingredients.

Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad

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  • 1 bag shaved Brussels sprouts
  • red quinoa (cooked according to package)
  • toasted walnuts
  • shaved Parmesan cheese
  • pomegranates
  • deli sliced turkey
  • Briana’s blush wine vinaigrette dressing
My boyfriend came up with this delicious concoction so we don’t have exact measurements for you. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

Savory herb quinoa salad with chicken

Inspired by recipe from Sprouted Kitchen, by Sarah Forte

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(more to come from her, Rhelda gave me her cookbook for Christmas!)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/3 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup Chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup light feta cheese
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Grape seed oil
  • Roasted or grilled chicken
Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water, bring to boil, cover with lid and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Heat some grape seed oil and garlic in a pan to sautee zucchini and red pepper until tender and edges are brown. In a large salad bowl, mix quinoa, sauteed veggies, basil, red pepper, feta, and vinegar. Toss and add salt and pepper to taste.

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Btw, it’s much more interesting than it looks!
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  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

 

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