Monday, August 24, 2009

Recipe: Homemade Energy Bars

I don’t eat energy bars very often, usually only before a really tough workout or a race, but I mistakenly read the label the other day on my *brand-will-remain-nameless bar, and I was shocked at how much sugar and unrecognizable stuff was in there.

So I found a recipe for some ‘primal’ energy bars, and started playing with the recipe. The Paleo Diet is gaining popularity with athletes, and while I don’t subscribe to it completely, I do think there’s a lot of truth to the practice. This recipe uses almonds as a base, and they come out pretty delicious!!! Also, you can save some major $ making this yourself. Having a good food processor helps immensely too.

· In a food processor, pulse ½ cup raw almonds, ½ cup walnuts or pecans, ½ cup almond meal, 3 tbs flax seeds, and ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

· In a pan, melt ¼ cup almond butter and ¼ cup coconut oil on low until liquid (both will be fairly solid when not heated up). Remove from heat and add 2 tsp vanilla extract, pinch of sea salt and 1 tbs honey.

· Mix in almond mixture, and fold in ½ cup dried fruit (I like to use gogi berries and blueberries). Press into a baking dish and put in the fridge.

After chilling, sprinkle with slivered almonds and cut into squares!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recipe: Feta stuffed turkey burgers on grilled rosemary bread with garlic aoli

These open faced turkey burgers have a wow factor without even really trying. It sounds complicated, but broken down it's actually very simple! Check out this gorgeous heirloom's like art!

Step One: Roast Garlic
  • Remove outer layers from garlic, but don't expose cloves
  • Chop the very top off the head of garlic
  • Place in garlic roaster (or foil) with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and bake @ 300 for 2 hours.

Step Two: Make turkey patties
  • Flatten out ground turkey and place 2-3 spoonfuls of feta in the middle.
  • Form the patty around the feta, add salt and pepper

Step Three: The grill
  • Slice baguette (I used rosemary) in thick slices and brush with oilve oil
  • Slice tomatoes (I used a yellow heirloom, but just make sure it's firm or it will fall apart) and onions, brush with olive oil
  • Throw bread, tomatoes, onions, and turkey on the grill
Step Four: Assembly
  • Take roasted garlic and mix with 1 tbs mayo (you can make you own, it's pretty easy), spread over each slice of bread
  • Place 1 slice grilled tomato on each piece of bread
  • Place feta stuffed turkey patty on top of that
  • Drape grilled onions over top of the burger
Step Five: EAT!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recipe: Lamb 'lollipops' with zinfandel vinegar reduction, pine nuts and fresh mint

I love lamb...really, I do. Unfortunately, I have neither the budget nor the workout regiment to eat it regularly, so when I do imbibe, I treat it as a special occasion. I bought a 3 bone rack at a specialty market down the street, and was browsing the aisles looking for inspiration when I saw a bottle of Zinfandel vinegar.

What was the occasion you ask? Answer: it was Sunday, I had just seen Julie & Julia and cooking makes me feel like I've accomplished something. Also, I love watching my boyfriend eat my food. Cheers to simple pleasures...

  • Heat olive oil in a pan, season lamb with salt and pepper and sear (abut 3 mins on each side)
  • Remove lamb, add 1/2 cup Zinfandel vinegar and 1/4 cup chicken or beef broth and reduce, scraping bits. When reduced by 1/2, add 1 tbs butter and stir until melted.
  • Spoon sauce over lamb, garnish with fresh chopped mint and pine nuts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Recipe: Arugula Salad with Plums and Red Cabbage

This is another recipe from the Outstanding in the Field cookbook, and is a quick, colorful, and seriously tasty salad. It originally calls for purslane, but unless you grow that particular green yourself it can be VERY difficult to find. (on that note, if anyone in greater Orange County is growing it or has some, I'm willing to barter). I subbed that delicate sounding purslane for the earthy bitter arugula. Yum

  • For Salad: Slice plums and dice red cabbage, mix with arugula
  • For dressing: Mince 2 cloves garlic, juice 3 lemons, add an equal amount of olive oil. Add 5 tbs of balsamic (or some other sweet vinegar - I used a orange muscat vinegar). Shake until combined
  • Toss and serve :)

Recipe: Foolproof Fish, Two Ways

When I had my recent cooking class, the guest of honor (aka, birthday girl) requested that we cook fish since she was uncomfortable making it at home. Fish, my specialty! Actually, my dad was the one that had a seafood market and cafe for over 25 years, but I watched him cook a lot of fish, that I in turn, ate, so I feel like an authority.

I picked 2 fish recipes that quick and easy. The first being a Mahi Mahi 'packet' with fennel, purple potatoes and pancetta. Foil is the 'quick and dirty, I'm at home cooking for my husband on a Thursday' type of material, so if you really want to impress, use parchment paper. For a super wow factor when a visiting dignitary comes to dinner, use banana leaves.

  • Spread foil out on a baking sheet and grease with butter.
  • Dice fennel bulb (save the green fronds for garnish), dice or medallion purple potaoes (I use purple becuase they add great color to the dish, but you can use red or fingerling) and brown in a pan wth pancetta. You can use olive oil, but I prefer a little butter for this one.
  • Rinse Mahi Mahi (you can also use halibut, swordfish, or any thicker filet of fish).
  • Put pancetta mixture into foil, lay fish on top. Add salt, pepper and a drizzle of oilve oil
  • Fold foil to make a packet, but be sure to leave space for steam to build up
  • Place baking sheet (with foil packet) in the oven at 375 degrees. It will take anywhere from 10-20 mins depending on the fish, so check it regularly.
  • Fish should be flaky but not dry....a good rule of thumb, if you think it's almost done, it is!

The second recipe is actually my comfort food. If we didn't eat at the restaurant and my mom had to cook, we had pan fried tilapia/sole/snapper (with rice a roni and vegetables). With this recipe, I just added an extra step, and the principles can apply to finish any fish with a sauce.

  • Take snapper, rinse and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. A purchasing suggestion, estimate about 6 oz raw fish per person.
  • Heat oil in pan until just about smoking, and lay filet in the pan - you should hear a big sizzle! You'll only need about 3 mins on each side
  • Remove fish from pan and place on a plate
  • In the same pan, add 1/2 cup white wine to deglaze, scraping up all the bits. Let that reduce down to about 1/2 and add the juice of 1-2 lemons. Add 1/2 cup of capers (or more if you're a fan of the briney deliciousness) and let summer for an additional 2 minutes. Add 1 tbs of butter and stir, then remove from heat.
  • Plating: Place filet on plate and spoon sauce over top.

And special thanks to my sous chef, Brody, who actually went out and caught the fish that morning...just kidding

Recipe: Anchovies with Parsley Salad on Crostinis

This is a recipe I took from the Outstanding in the Field cookbook (if you're not familiar with the concept, check them out!!!). I'm pretty much obsessed with Jim Denevan and his mobile kitchen, and hopefully the boyfriend is reading this post and will get tickets to the next dinner that comes even remotely near to our place of residence. But I digress......

We had a 'fish' theme for my recent cooking class, and I thought what better way to start off the night with something that most people think will taste salty and fishy, or would use as bait?

You can buy fresh anchovies from most seafood or specialty markets. I wouldn't recommend using canned, especially if this is for a non-seafood lover as they can be salty and have a less firm texture than fresh.

  • For salad: Chop 1 cup fresh parsley (I used a combo or curly and Italian), mix with 2 tablespoons of capers, juice from 1/2 lemon, drizzle of olive oil
  • For crostinis: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and slice a baguette into even slices and place on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and bake until slightly golden. (keep a close eye...if they go for one second too long only the dogs will eat them)

  • Assembly: Place 1-2 anchovy filets on a crostini and top with salad. You may want to garnish with red tomatoes for color. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Recipe: Cold Summer Rice Salad

Ahh...the pot luck/picnic/night at the Hollywood Bowl. Nothing can induce panic like having to think of a dish, cook it, wrap it, package it, transport it, and then make it taste good and look somewhat presentable when arriving at its destination. This is not your Aunt Linda's ambrosia salad or a bucket of fried chicken...

  • Make basmati rice according to package instructions and set aside - you can also use orzo, brown rice, quinoa...
  • Cut corn off one cob, chop a bunch (5-8) of green onions, and place in a heated pan with olive oil. Saute until fragrant
  • Make dressing: take one heaping tablespoon dijon mustard and 1/2 cup red wine vinegar in a jar. Add olive/grapeseed oil slowly until the dressing thins out and becomes a very pale yellow - shake vigorously.
  • Combine rice, dressing, corn and green onions
  • Chop 1/2 to 1 cup watercress and mix together
Put it all in a tupperware and take it to the beach! (or wherever your culinary fortitude is needed)

Cooking classes and demonstrations

Cooking isn't much fun when you can't share it...and cooking/eating alone really is kind of a bummer. With that in mind, I decided to offer cooking classes and demonstrations! I had my first class last week....we made anchovy and parsley salad on crostinis, mahi mahi 'packets', and pan fried red snapper picatta. (we were going with a fish theme, in case you missed it - I'll be posting the recipes in the coming days!).

It's an interactive culinary experience, great for bachelorette parties, girl's nights in, birthdays, kids, or even couples!

If you're interested in a cooking class at our house or yours, check out the website or email!


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