Here’s a delicious & nutritious breakfast that feels at once light and satiating. I like that it happens to be vegan, gluten-free and paleo all at once, while delivering so many benefits in one bowl. Namely, vitamins and minerals (found in the fruits) combined with slow-release energy sources of protein, Omega 3 and medium-chain fatty acids (found in the chia seeds and coconut).
I hope you’ll try it, have fun with the toppings, and agree that it is yummy and very satisfying!
Among other new projects, I’ve been playing with some photo editing software and wanted to share some early results. I have noticed lately a proliferation of inspiring new things, from a refresh on a long standing favorite magazine (welcome Amy Astley, new Editor-in-Chief to Arch Digest) to the replacement on Instagram of #avocadotoast with a blessed bevy of new snacks, to the unglamorous hotspot Sqirl (LA… & soon NY?), home of the best scone I have ever had, to decor stores that soothe my soul the way a museum can, and while a little intimidated ongoing, and possibly a little envious, I would like to push the envelop in terms of my own contributions. I want to join the fray rather than continue to sit in silent contemplation of what I might contribute as the train of all things beautiful, compelling and creative whizzes by. Lessons learned by waiting for perfection, or something closer to it, remind me that I have only been disappointed that I didn’t start a given project or effort sooner. So here’s my first stab at reaching beyond a bit on the creative front, click on any image for a larger carousel of the gallery.
While briefly living in California, I was lucky enough to be invited out to the Clif Family Winery for a bikeride through Napa valley with a few of their team members, including Clif Family’s fantastic Executive Chef John McConnell. Before the ride, John prepared a wonderful breakfast for our small group including this eye opening brown rice porridge. I was out of my seat after one bite to ask him exactly how it’s made, and he generously shared the many details on how this dish comes together, plus why it’s a great choice for a pre-ride breakfast.
Brown rice can easily be ground up, using a strong spice-grinder or powerful blender, and then cooked more or less like polenta. John described his slow-cooking process for the pulverized grains, and then shared how the dish is finished with a bit of olive oil and maple syrup, plus toasted sesame seeds.
This porridge is nutritious and filling yet manages to be both delicious and light and easy on the stomach. (For those maintaining specific diets, it is gluten and refined-sugar free.) Not only is the brown rice loaded with minerals, it has a high fiber content which helps with long term satiation, in part due to better managed blood sugar levels. The olive oil aids with satiation too, thanks to its healthy fats. And the combination of the sweet and savory makes this highly crave-able, hence my attempt this week. I was thrilled to call this a success, even if it is not quite as sublime as John’s out at Clif Family!
These easy muffins are a nice departure from the typical sweeter ones I usually make – on the savorier side of the spectrum, but in this case by savory I mean a bit tangy, thanks to the lemon. The cornmeal adds a sturdy bite and the olive oil just enough richness. Be careful about the yogurt selection, as it can swing these into the too-tangy category! ‘Traditional’ (e.g. not Greek) plain yogurt does the trick.
Enjoy these mid-week treats – delicious with honey!
These homemade Snickers bars will delight one and all who tried them. They happen to be vegan. While the bars have no refined sugar, facing facts one must concede they are still rather indulgent. The bars will last up to two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.
The recipe is originally from the blog Livia’s Kitchen, and is by Livia’s Kitchen founder Olivia Wallenberg. I duplicated the recipe using a kitchen scale to help translate the original recipe, as several ingredients were listed by weight vs volume. I did my best to work out the weight to volume equivalents – aince the bars are not baked, I believe there is more room for interpretation in the measurements. Hopefully the photos, plus a bit of common sense about bar consistency in general, are a helpful guide in terms of texture and consistency.
With artichoke season here and the delicious if at times intimidating vegetable widely available, I wanted to share a highly adaptable (e.g. use what’s on hand) recipe for stuffed artichokes.
The first thing to know is how to trim the leaves. When you first pick up a ‘choke, you’ll notice that each of the leaves comes to a sharp point (a thorn really) and because of their thick and layered nature seem tough to trim. But it’s actually really easy – just use kitchen scissors and it takes about :15 seconds to work all the leaves.
Since in this case we’re making stuffed artichokes, you can trim the leaves way back – you can only eat the bottom part anyway (more on that later). Once you’ve removed all the thorns, continue by pulling out the center leaves, which are much less dense – they will pull out very easily. Trim the outer leaves back even more if necessary to get down to the very center, which you’ll see is covered with short, thistley type fibers.
Once you’ve trimmed the leaves, use the scissors to cut off the stem, so that the bottom of the artichoke is flat. The stem will also cut remarkably easily. Save the stems as they’ll be peeled/trimmed some more and then used in the stuffing.
Next, use an ice cream scooper to removed the fibers, which sit just above the ‘heart’ of the artichoke. The brown part you see in the photo below is the artichoke heart. It turns brown almost instantly once the fibers are removed, nothing to worry about.
Now, 2-3 minutes later, you’re ready to stuff and cook the artichokes! It’s really fun to serve these since they are unlike any other food likely to be in the average repertoire. They are pretty to look at and delicious to eat. And you now know that they’re really easy to prep.
The recipe below is more of an art than a science – if you don’t like a strong garlic presence for example, simply use less that what’s listed here.
Here’s a trick I thought of tangentially, when trying to come up with a good use for Kumquats – using Greek yogurt in place of custard in a tart. I’d been turning Kumquats over and over in my mind, wondering what to do with them. I’ve just learned that you can eat the skin and all of Kumquats, and they give a kick that leaves you satiated from both a sweet and sour perspective. Because they are pretty strong, just a few go a long way. Due to their diminutive size, juicing them is obviously impractical, and due to their flavor a pint-sized portion lasts a long time.
Then I remembered all the times I’ve passed by the tantalizing cases within pretty much any given patisserie. And I realized that kumquats are the perfect citrus for little tartlets, since they are small enough to be used in abundance and would provide plenty of sweetness when candied just a little bit.
So for a few weeks I had kumquat tarts bouncing around my head, but wasn’t over the hump yet since tarts usually involve custard, which I don’t happen to find very satisfying, especially for the calories. Finally, it occurred to me to swap out the custard with plain Greek yogurt, which is versatile enough to work in sweet and savory recipes.
An educated guess told me that the tanginess of the yogurt would be a great balance to the sweet citrus. I took the yogurt a bit more savory, adding a splash of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, you could also use some of the sugar water left from the fruit candying to sweeten it some. (Add any flavoring *after* the yogurt has been strained.) Either way, the tart has a great contrast of flavors from the kumquats and the yogurt, and beyond the taste is satiating due to lots of protein.
These are by far the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. With a desire to pay tribe to their provenance, and to create a quick reference for myself, I am sharing them here.
I first came across this recipe on Food52.com, however it is originally by a woman named Emily, of FiveandSpice.com / @fiveandspice. Emily explains that the inspiration to make these tacos came from the cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzzane Goin. When I looked into it, I learned that Lucques is a restaurant in West Hollywood, Los Angeles and is run by Suzzane Goin & Caroline Styne. Without a doubt the next time I am in LA I will stop by to pay homage to the birthplace of these to-die-for tacos.
I did not make any modifications to @fiveandspice’s original recipe.
Plain Greek Yogurt, Spiked with Drizzle Olive Oil & Sea Salt
Avocado Slices, if you like
For the Lemon-Olive Salsa:
Combine the chopped onions and 2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. (The vinegar will temper the onions so completing this step independently is important.)
Prepare the Meyer lemons by cutting off both ends, then cutting in half vertically. Cut each vertical half in half again and remove the seeds. Remove the white center of the lemon (which is now on the outer edge of each slice), then, dice into small cubes, including the rind.
Once the lemons are prepared, whisk 2 Tsp honey and a pinch of salt into the onions, then, whisk in 1/4 Cup olive oil.
Finally, stir in the lemons and olives and set aside
Salsa may be made up to one day ahead
For the Cabbage-Fennel Slaw:
Clean and trim the fennel bulb and 1/2 head of cabbage and thinly slice.
In the second mixing bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar, 1 Tsp honey, 2 tsp mustard plus approx 1/2 Tsp each salt & pepper.
Add the fennel and cabbage to the bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.
Slaw may be made hours ahead.
For the Fish:
Rub the fillets with the paprika and thyme and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Let rest 5 minutes.
Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan.
Add the fish and fry until just cooked through and flaky.
This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite cookbooks, L’Art de la Table by Gintare Marcel, who points out that these scones lend themselves really well to mix-ins. Her original version is Lavender Rosemary, which also sounds delicious, and is a great reminder that breakfast baked goods do not need to be overly sugary to be satisfying.
I did make a flour substitution to the original recipe, swapping some all purpose flour for almond.
These have a great fluffy texture while still maintaining a lot of moisture, and the intense flavor gives them the aura of a special treat. And they can be made at a moment’s notice!
While briefly living in Northern California, I was lucky enough to visit a private ranch in Sonoma County where about an acres’s worth of grapes grow – enough to make several dozen cases of wine per year, with which among other things grown on-site provide bountiful country picnics with a tasting of several gold and silver winning varietals to life on a regular basis. When I got there for a late lunch on Saturday, a table on the deck was already covered with eight or ten bottles and glasses, and a grill with various local carnivorous treats smoked nearby. An orchard with several types of fruit trees stood across a verdant lawn and beyond that, the hills of Sonoma County. We settled in as our host began explaining his Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and I pinched myself. The idyllic setting aside, I’d never been to a hobby vintner before and it was impressive and naturally quite fun to try so many successful wines just among friends and family.
Weather or not an experience of this kind will ever become customary, I don’t think it will ever loose its magic. And being entirely new to it, I had to find a way to take it with me. Enter the citrus. In the orchards I mentioned, a little bevy of trees sat heavy with the seasonal fruit. I stared, I smelled, I picked. And picked, and we left with about eight to ten pounds of lemons, oranges and kumquats.
Never having had lemons by the bushel before, it was exiting to find additional ways to use up the newfound treasure, and for now share the first take from this unexpected project: a Meyer Lemon Olive Oil cake.
For this recipe I first turned to my ever-more tattered copy of Epicurious’ Italy Eats and went to their Olive Oil and Orange Cake recipe. I updated the recipe by using Meyer lemons and thyme in place of oranges and cardamon, plus I reduced the sugar and honey in the topping by half. In doing so, I think this cake goes from certifiable dessert to a special-treat breakfast.
Special Equipment: Mortar & Pestle, Medium Saucepan, 9″ Round Spring-Form Pan
– For the Meyer Lemon Topping:
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 + 1/8 Cup Honey
4-5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 & 1/2 Cups Water
3-4 Meyer Lemons, cut into thin horizontal slices
– For the Cake:
1/2 Cup Olive Oil plus more for brushing pan
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1 & 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme, ground further to a powder with a mortar & pestle
3 Eggs, Separated
1/2 Cup Sugar, divided into two 1/4 Cup portions
2/3 Cup Plain Lowfat Yogurt (not Greek)
Zest from 1-2 Meyer Lemons, depending on size (separate lemons from those in the Syrup)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp Fresh Thyme leaves, removed from sprig
– For the Meyer Lemon Topping:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside
Bring sugar, honey, thyme and water to a boil, whisking until sugar dissolves
Add lemons and reduce to a simmer
Cook about 40 minutes, stirring lemons/turning them over in the liquid occasionally
Remove lemons with kitchen tongs and set on the baking sheet to cool, discarding thyme springs and any seeds
Strain syrup through a metal strainer or cheese cloth and set aside
– For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
Brush or spray spring-form pan with olive oil and set aside.
Whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, dried thyme and salt together, set aside.
Beat 1/4 Cup Sugar and 1/2 Cup Olive Oil in a large bowl.
Beat in yolks, then flour mixture, then yogurt, zest and vanilla, set aside.
Clean and try the egg beaters, then, beat whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form (about 3-4 minutes on the highest setting).
Add in the remaining 1/4 Cup Sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about another 3-4 minutes.
Working in two batches, gently fold egg whites into batter until just incorporated.
Pour/scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes/until a toothpick comes out clean.
Poke hot cake with a toothpick all over and slowly pour 1/2 the lemon syrup over. Once absorbed, repeat with the remaining half.
Let the cake cool on a wire rack, then, clear the edge of the cake with a knife and remove sides of spring-form pan. Carefully slide a knife or spatula to remove bottom of pan (or simply set bottom of pan on a serving plate).
Arrange lemon slices however you like and top with fresh thyme leaves.
I would never go so far as to say that an all-vegetable dish could actually fool a meat-lover, but there are some that I believe would wholly satisfy the most ardent of carnivores, and this is one of the few and far between.
After searching high and low online, I finally just turned to a favorite Bolognese recipe that I first came across in the Epicurious bookazine Italy, which I reference regularly, and made educated adaptations. Including opting out of using dried mushrooms, and using chicken broth in place of mushroom. Rosemary and red wine in addition to the broth creates a warmth and depth of flavor and the fresh cooked mushrooms combined with finely diced carrots make a hearty texture.
The recipe worked out beautifully – I’m glad I put my trust into the tried and true hand chopping and step by step cooking that goes into our favorite Bolognese. This version is much different of course being meatless and including rosemary, but it is equally as reliable.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and brush caps to remove any loose dirt.
Slice all the mushroom caps into approx 1/4″ slices.
Heat butter over medium heat in the Dutch Oven, then add the chopped rosemary.
Add the carrots, celery and onion and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the mushrooms and gently fold into the vegetable mixture. Cook until volume is reduced by a little more than half, about another 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the tomato paste and stir to throughly incorporate.
Add the wine and bring to a boil, again stirring to mix liquid throughout.
Add the chicken broth, rosemary sprig and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
Season with salt and pepper, partially cover (leave a small steam vent) and simmer for 45 minutes.
Stir once more and add any additional salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately over pappardelle pasta or polenta, with fresh parmesan cheese. (My favorite polenta recipe can be found here. I typically the butter and parmesan measurements way back, and it’s still delicious.)
Here’s something I learned this past December: in Victorian England, the end of Christmas celebrations actually fell on January 5th, or Twelfth Night, aka the last evening of the Christmas season. The celebration included a very specific cake, called everything from Twelfth Night Cake to Plum Cake. I would love to say that I picked up this bit of info due to a revisiting of Whistler’s works, a favorite artist who worked during the Victorian Era. Alas, the info was gleaned last month from my annual (and first digital) advent calendar, which happened to be Victorian themed and included a daily fact about Victorian life during Christmas time.
On Twelfth Night, many Victorians threw one last party to end Christmas celebrations. I went on the prowl for the traditional cake recipe and learned that it has lots of raisins and is topped with copious Marzipan (adding up to a double negative in my book). Rather than try to find an acceptable version the original cake, I opted to simply use Twelfth Night as an excuse for cake in general!
Enter this chocolate number, which hails from the Guittard Chocolate Cookbook. The recipe in the book is a Guittard family original, hailing back to the 1800’s when Mr. Guittard first set up his chocolate shop during the Gold Rush in San Francisco. I made a few updates in the kitchen lab, the key being substituting olive oil for butter. The results are tremendous, with a moist, fluffy cake and helpful olive oil benefits (like reduced inflammation) to boot. I haven’t noticed an actual olive oil flavor, the chocolate remains center stage. There are several other healthy ingredients – whole wheat flour, pumpkin puree and yogurt.
To that end, the other key substitution I made was to use chocolate shavings in place of chocolate chips. My goal was to have the shavings melt into the cake crumb, which they did perfectly. I used a simple cheese tool to make the shavings.
If meatballs with tomato sauce aren’t a fun weeknight dinner, I don’t know what is.
Thanks to fresh herbs and garlic, these turkey meatballs would be delicious as a stand-along anchor of a well rounded meal, accompanied by greens and potatoes – actually a more authentically Italian take than the Americanized version featuring tomato sauce. I’ll take one of each!
These are light, quick to make and great for a crowd.
Here’s a reliable skillet cornbread recipe makeover. It has olive oil instead of shortening, which gives a richness of flavor in addition to moisture. Use this for stuffing, or just eat it right out of the pan once adequately cooled!
On a crisp day this chili is just what the doctor ordered, in so many ways. It’s a great make ahead and pre-portioned servings freeze beautifully. This chili is meatless and can be a welcome respite from heavy cold-weather dishes, yet is still very satisfying.