Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

25 May

photo

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  David and I kicked off our weekend today with a little gardening.  Our tomato plants are coming along nicely, so we put up some tomato “cages” to support them as they grow taller.  This year in our petit jardin we have: 4 types of tomatoes, 3 types of basil, serrano chiles, habañero chiles, sage, thyme, some shiso/perilla (stray seeds from last year were in the soil, it seems), mint and rosemary.  Although the temperatures aren’t as summer-like as we’d want this weekend, it’s so nice to look out onto our balcony to see so much (edible) greenery.

Blogging had stalled here for a while, but I will pick it up this weekend with new posts and recipes.  Stay tuned!

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Simple Dishes: Baked Sole w/Fennel+Lemon

17 Mar

fennel sole - plated

Whole Foods had a big sale on wild sole last week, which inspired me to think of an easy way to eat a lot of the delicious fish.  I happened to have a lot of fennel in the fridge, and so I experimented with cooking the sole and fennel together — and discovered our new favorite way to cook sole!  The fennel and lemon pair perfectly with the fish.  Baking the fennel brings out a lot of the vegetable’s flavor and sweetness, and the lemon and garlic add a nice zesty quality to the dish.  The sole is so moist and flavorful!  This dish should typically serve about 4 people, especially when accompanied with another side vegetable, but, truth be told, it was so light and delicious we ate the whole thing when I made it last night!  This recipe will be a nice addition to my work-week dinner roster, as it is so simple to make and healthful, too!

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Gluten-free French-style Anjou Pear Tart

3 Mar

pear tart - slice

This French-style Anjou pear tart is the perfect light and fruity dessert to serve when you have brunch or dinner guests.   Not only is the tart gorgeous and delicious, it is very simple to make.  Before our gluten-free days I made this tart quite often, but once we went off gluten I stopped, for obvious reasons — no more flour in our lives!  I recently started to experiment with gluten-free flour, however, and I discovered that this tart works just was wonderfully gluten-free.  We love that the tart is mostly pear — the crust is thin, buttery and flaky.  Instead of regular sugar I use organic coconut palm sugar, which is low-glycemic, and I try to buy apricot jam or preserve with the least amount of sugar per serving.  If you are looking for a simple and beautiful dessert to serve the next time you have company, do try this tart!  I like to make the dough the night before.

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Brunch in a Bowl: Spicy Bork Mince w/Scrambled Eggs

24 Feb

spicy bork mince - serve with eggs

We have a fantastic butcher here in Park Slope called Fleisher’s.  Fleisher’s carries fabulous quality meats free of hormones or antibiotics, which are locally sourced and raised on a primarily grass-fed diet.  We love everything from them.  Yesterday, we stopped by Fleisher’s and picked up some pork chops, steaks, and some “bork” — ground beef and pork mix.  For late brunch today, I used the bork to make some spicy “bork” mince with onions, capers and parsley, topped with scrambled eggs.  So easy to make and packed full of flavor!  The capers add a nice tangy flavor to the spicy mince meat, and the parsley gives the dish a lovely freshness.  Eat with some scrambled eggs, and you’ve got a great protein-packed brunch in a bowl!

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New ♥: Gefu Spirelli Spiral Slicer (and Super Simple Lamb+Olive “Bolognese” w/Zucchini “Pasta”)

17 Feb

13460-spirelli-spiral-cutter-gefu-detailA high school friend of mine and his girlfriend are on the raw food diet and are also vegetarian.  A while back over drinks, they told me about the wonders of the spiral slicer that can create beautiful spirals of vegetables — a perfect gadget for raw foodists, who, with it, could make raw vegetable “pastas” from carrots, zucchinis and the like.  The idea of the spiral slicer stayed on my mind, and so I finally purchased one recently.  There are a few types of spiral slicers out there, but I went with the Gefu Spirelli — and I LOVE it!

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Mustard-coated Rack of Lamb

17 Feb

mustard lamb - marinade

I recently bought a rack of lamb because it was on sale, without thinking deeply on how I wanted to cook it.  All I thought was that I could cook it on the weekend.  In the past, I’ve made  rosemary/garlic/lemon-crusted rack of lamb, but this time, since I had purchased the rack of lamb as an impulse purchase rather than for a concrete cooking plan, I forgot to buy along with the lamb rosemary, parsley, or any other kind of fresh herb.  When the weekend arrived, all I had on hand in way of a herb was some herbes de provence, and I was too lazy to go out shopping.  And so I just made up a simple mustard marinade with ingredients I had lying around in my kitchen.  The result was a very tangy and flavorful marinade that worked very nicely with the rich, gamey lamb.  The mustard and lemon cut the fattiness of the lamb, while the red onions added some texture as well as a faint sweetness.  I’m not so sure if the herbes de provence made much difference in terms of flavor, but it did add a kind of rustic quality to the appearance of the mustard crust.  David was a fan of this simple marinade, and so I think I might make it again in the future!

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Simple Veg: Guacamole

10 Feb

guacamole - ingredients

I first learned to make guacamole at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, where one of the activities was a cooking demonstration.   Ever since, guacamole has been a regular party staple in our household.  Who doesn’t like guacamole?  Fresh and flavorful, guacamole is excellent all year round.

There’s room to play in making guacamole.  Normally, I use a habañero pepper (about 1/2, deseeded), but you can also use serrano or jalapeño peppers, depending on your preference.  Recently, we like using serrano peppers because they have a good balance of heat and flavor (David calls it “umami”).  A few of my friends don’t like cilantro, in which case I’ll swap out cilantro for basil and make what I call “Mediterranean” guacamole.  Although traditional guacamole uses yellow onions, sometimes I like to use red onions, which are sweeter.  You can use heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes, depending of what looks best at the market.  I like my guacamole crunchy, so you can definitely play with the ingredient ratios.

Here’s the basic mix as a guideline:

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Simple Dishes: Pan-Seared Wild Sockeye Salmon

10 Feb

sockeye salmon - plated

Sometimes, we just feel like eating a nice big piece of fish for dinner.  Wild sockeye salmon is one of our favorite weekday fish, because it is so quick and easy to cook.  It takes less then 10 minutes to pan-sear sockeye salmon filets to crispy-skin perfection.   Sockeye salmon is firmer than your regular salmon, with deep, orange-red color and rich, full, salmon-y flavor.  It is leaner than King Salmon, and less expensive.  I think sockeye salmon is best cooked simply — just make sure to not over cook it, as it will dry out.  Since David and I try to avoid eating farmed salmon as well as salmon with “added color” (usually goes hand in hand), sockeye salmon has become our favorite salmon variety to cook at home (along with coho salmon, which, when in season, is also delicious).  Currently, sockeye salmon found in super markets tend to be “previously frozen” (i.e. not in peak season), but we think they still taste delicious!

Here’s how I pan sear my sockeye salmon filets:

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Crispy + Spicy Oven-baked Chicken Wings

9 Feb

chicken wings - plated

Last weekend for Superbowl Sunday, I made oven-baked chicken wings… and they were DELICIOUS!!  I took an excellent hint from the Preppy Paleo to boil the chicken wings first — boiling the wings before baking them results in the crispiest oven-baked wings you’ve ever tasted.  Seriously.  The wings were so crispy, you would’ve thunk they were fried!  I am a big fan of chicken wings, and these oven-baked ones were the best I’ve made so far.  Boiling the wings first renders off some fat, and then baking them on a rack over a roasting pan helps crisp up the wings even further.  These wings are easy to make and are sure to impress at any kind of chicken-wings appropriate party.

For my version of the chicken wings, I boiled the wings first and then marinated them for about 30 minutes before putting them in the oven to infuse them with a punch of flavor.

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I ♥: (new + improved) Blender Bottle Sportmixer

9 Feb
Mixing up green drinks or protein shakes, it’s important to have a good, BPA-free shaker bottle.  (And now that I drink protein shakes in the morning, I use a shaker bottle on a daily basis.)  We used to have the classic version of the Blender Bottle, which worked fine but had little nooks and crannies around the spout that made it difficult to clean thoroughly.  The bottle always began to smell weird, no matter how you washed it, and I really hated drinking from it.  The new and improved Blender Bottle Sportmixer, however, is great!  The spout is designed in such a way that cleaning is easy; you can just rinse it after most drinks, not put it through the dishwasher.  It also comes in a variety of colors, and, as with the classic style, it is BPA-free.  I still never use the “Blenderball” that comes with the bottle, but I am very happy with my new shaker bottle.  (Bottles come in 20-oz and 28-oz sizes.)  If you are looking to purchase a shaker bottle, and are considering the Blender Bottle brand, definitely go with the Sportmixer style over the classic!