Showing posts with label easy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label easy. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Everyday Vegan Sandwich with Avocado, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper, and Hummus

This is one of those recipes that compels even non-vegans to say, "If all vegan food tasted this way, I would never eat meat again." The tangy quick-pickled red onions draped over shredded kale and fresh basil are perfectly balanced by creamy avocado, sweet grape tomatoes, smoky roasted red peppers, earthy mushrooms, and a thick layer of roasted garlic hummus. Every bite is a symphony of flavors.

And, this sandwich is easy! From craving to plate, it takes only about five minutes to prepare. I'm not normally very time-sensitive when it comes to cooking (I would spend hours in the kitchen for a worthy recipe), but when I was working on my recent book The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Families, I had to craft recipes that could be prepared in 30 minutes or less. It was such a fun project to work on and gave me tons of new ideas for quick, easy gluten-free lunches.

The recipe came about, as many do, as a refrigerator yard sale -- but it worked beyond my wildest expectations. If you do not have one or more of the ingredients, don't sweat it. If you prefer to swap kale for lettuce or arugula, go for it. A vegan mayonnaise would work just as well as the hummus, but straight tahini has an overwhelming bitterness that did not work here. I used roasted, jarred piquillo peppers because they taste as good or better than homemade roasted red peppers. The one thing I cannot do without here is the pickled red onions. They are tangy, crunchy, briny, perfection.

The most important tip for making this sandwich is to have all of the ingredients ready before you begin assembling the sandwich. The red onions should soak for a couple minutes. Also, the hummus soaks into the bread quickly and it loses its toastiness if you, say, try to photograph it. Just put the phone down and eat! You can post a pic of your empty plate and tag me on Instagram @modernfamilytable

As for a vegan, gluten-free sandwich bread, I went with a brand I found at Sprouts. Whole Foods likely carries it as well, but I cannot find it online. I looked at One Green Planet for recommendations and was sorely disappointed -- most of their suggestions were those gluten-free bricks that dominated the gluten-free section of the grocery store around 2008.

You could also make your own gluten-free, vegan sandwich bread, which I intend to do this afternoon using aquafaba and this recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out! At $5 to $6 a loaf in stores, it is pricey, especially if you're not accustomed to paying the gluten-free markup.

Everyday Vegan Sandwich

Serves 1

2-3 thin slices red onion
Sea salt
Splash red wine vinegar
2 slices vegan, gluten-free bread, toasted
2  tablespoons hummus
2 Cremini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 roasted piquillo peppers, thinly sliced
Handful grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded kale
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
  1. Begin by quick-pickling the onions. Place them in a ramekin and season with sea salt. Pour in a few teaspoons of red wine vinegar and massage gently with your fingers. Set aside. 
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the hummus on one slice of bread and top with the mushroom slices, piquillo peppers, grape tomatoes, basil, avocado, and shredded kale. 
  3. Remove the onions, shaking off any excess vinegar. Set them over the kale. 
  4. Slather the remaining hummus on the second slice of bread and set it on the sandwich. Enjoy immediately.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Gluten-Free, Paleo Fresh Pasta

Since going gluten-free five years ago, I've missed the taste of fresh pasta, its perfect texture readily absorbing the flavors of heirloom tomato sauce, roasted garlic alfredo, or carbonara. After several unsuccessful attempts to make gluten-free pasta at home, I finally admitted defeat and sold my pasta machine. When I went paleo about three years ago, pasta of any sort became a distant memory. 

Recently I tried Cappello's gluten-free, grain-free pasta, and instantly fell in love with the tender, chewy texture. I did not fall in love with the price. At $11 a pop, it was a splurge - certainly not something I could put on our weekly menu. That was a bummer, because with Rich being pescatarian and me paleo, it's tough to find healthy meals that satisfy both of our dietary preferences without resorting to salmon every night.

I am thrilled to say, that is about to change. Pasta is back on the menu!

I created a gluten-free paleo pasta recipe that is easy to work with and tastes amazing. The ingredients are similar to Cappello's, but theirs is made "primarily with almond flour and cage-free eggs" according to their website whereas mine has a more traditional ratio of flours to eggs, with nearly equal parts tapioca starch and almond flour.

It make delicious lasagna noodles, fettucine, and ravioli. I've already made this recipe three times, including a Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with Ghee, Sage, and Toasted Oregon Hazelnuts (recipe to come).

You can make this recipe with a rolling pin and parchment paper. That is what I did to test the recipe before investing in another pasta maker (this is my third). The simple machine makes the task easier and yields a thinner noodle that holds up better to cooking. I bought mine at World Market for less than $40.

Tips for Making Homemade Gluten-Free Pasta:

  • Humidity affects the dough. If you're making it on a rainy day or you live in an environment with high humidity, you may need to add just a touch more tapioca flour. 
  • Unlike pasta dough made with gluten, this dough does not tolerate stretching. It should not be draped over a dowel to dry and should be carefully hand-fed into the pasta maker. Actually, this reality makes working with the dough using a rolling pin easier. 
  • Be patient. The first time you make the dough, you may find it temperamental. Make sure you have enough time and energy to focus. (Definitely don't drag out your SLR camera on the first try!)  

Gluten-Free, Paleo Fresh Pasta Recipe

Yields 2 servings

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tapioca starch (50 grams), plus more for dusting 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour (45 grams)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon guar gum
1 large egg

1. Mix the tapioca starch, almond flour, sea salt, and guar gum in a small mixing bowl.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg. Use a spatula to stir it around, slowly incorporating the flours until the dough comes together into a ball. Place the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and dust lightly with tapioca starch.

 3. Divide the dough into four to six pieces and cover all but one with a towel or plastic so that they do not dry out. Flatten one of the dough pieces with your hand or a rolling pin until it is about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Set the pasta maker to the first setting, #1, which is the widest. Run the dough through the machine twice. If it tears, fold it back onto itself and run it through again. If it sticks, dust lightly with tapioca starch.

5. Set the pasta maker to the next setting, #2, and run the pasta dough through it twice. Reduce the setting again to #3 and run the dough through twice. You can stop at this setting for a slightly thicker noodle, or drop the setting to #4 and run it through twice more. That is the setting I used in the photographs here.

6. Dust the pasta sheet with tapioca starch. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking to one another once they are cut. 

7. Attach the fettucine attachment to the pasta maker and re-attach the hand crank to the attachment. Carefully feed the flattened dough through to cut the sheet into individual noodles.

8. Lay the pasta onto the parchment sheet and allow to rest while you repeat steps 4 through 7 with the remaining dough. Be careful not to incorporate too much tapioca starch into the dough as you process it.

9. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Carefully slide the noodles from the parchment paper into the boiling water and quickly stir with a pasta spoon. Set a timer for 90 seconds. Stir once or twice if the noodles are sticking to one another or to the bottom of the pot.

10. Drain in a colander and transfer the noodles to the sauce or serving dish.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Five-Spice Pork Sirloin Roast with Radicchio and Pear Sauce and Book Giveaway

On January 12, 2016, my new book Sheet Pan Paleo: 200 One-Tray Recipes for Quick Prepping, Easy Roasting, and Hassle-Free Cleanup comes out. Pre-order a copy of Sheet Pan Paleo from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Or, enter to win a free copy of by entering the Goodreads Giveaway sponsored by my publisher. For now, here's one of my favorite recipes from the book.

Five-Spice Pork Sirloin Roast with Radicchio and Pear Sauce 

This recipe has all the warmth, sweetness, and spice you look for in a holiday dinner. If you’re comfortable eating dairy, add a few tablespoons of softened butter or ghee to the pear sauce for an extra layer of decadence.

Serves 4 to 6

Prep time: 15 minutes plus 4 to 6 hours for brining
Cook time: 50 to 60 minutes 
1½ tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder, divided
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 boneless pork sirloin roast, 2 to 3 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 head radicchio, sliced in wedges
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pears, cored and sliced in wedges
2 tablespoons butter or ghee, optional
1.      Combine 1 tablespoon of the Chinese five-spice powder with the vinegar, maple syrup, and salt in a non-reactive deep dish. Add half a cup of hot water and whisk to combine. Add two cups of ice water. Submerge the pork roast in the brine, adding more water as needed to cover. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
2.      Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3.      Remove the pork roast from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Coat with 1 tablespoon of the oil to facilitate browning. Roast uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes per pound of meat. (e.g. For a 2-pound roast, cooking time would be between 50 and 60 minutes.)
4.      During the last 30 minutes of cooking, whisk together the vinegar, remaining oil, and remaining five-spice powder. Dredge the radicchio slices in the vinegar mixture and scatter across the sheet pan along with the pear slices. Return to the oven and roast uncovered until the pork is cooked through to an internal temperature of 145F.
5.      Remove the pork to a cutting board and cover with foil for 10 minutes before slicing.
6.      Place the pears in a blender along with any pan juices and butter or ghee if using and puree until smooth.
7.      Slice the meat on a bias and serve with the sauce and radicchio.

 Excerpted from the book Sheet Pan Paleo: 200 One-Tray Recipes for Quick Prepping, Easy Roasting, and Hassle-Free Cleanup, January 12, 2016, Ulysses Press, Berkley. 

Pre-order a copy of Sheet Pan Paleo from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Or, enter to win a free copy of by entering the Goodreads Giveaway sponsored by my publisher. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Easy Baked Chicken with Fennel and Sausage

This chicken drumstick recipe strikes the perfect balance between ease of preparation and depth of flavor with fewer than five ingredients! As it cooks, the fennel caramelizes and produces a soft,  creamy texture that complements the savory Italian sausage and chicken legs beautifully.

If you're concerned about the nitrites in the sausage, you may want to read Chris Kresser's post on processed meats. I read it while working on a cookbook for a client who challenged my use of sausage in a recipe. Before my research for that book, I believed that purchasing nitrite-free bacon was important. However, I've come to believe it's akin to purchasing a product simply because the label says it's gluten-free. Don't get me started.

Kresser explains the issue well, but in a nutshell, our bodies produce nitrites in far greater amounts than we could obtain from food. Moreover, processed meats contain fewer nitrites than do foods that we'd never think to restrict, green vegetables for example. While processed meats shouldn't form the basis of your diet, they're a delicious complement to an ancestral way of eating.

serves 2
1/4 cup olive oil 
4 chicken drumsticks
1 fennel bulb
2 hot Italian sausages
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt 

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Slice the fennel bulb into quarters and then into 1/2-inch thick pieces. If you wish to leave the base of the bulb intact, it will keep each of the slices held together but is too tough to be palatable.
3. Slice the sausage in 1- to 2-inch-long pieces.
4. Arrange the fennel, chicken, and sausage in a large baking dish.

5. Drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat.
6. Season with pepper.
7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the fennel is soft. If the chicken and sausage cook more quickly, you may remove it to a serving platter and continue cooking the fennel for another 10 minutes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Brunch Tart with Roasted Garlic and Tomato, Kalamata, Orange Salad

Do you remember Christmas morning as a child? I remember my mom making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve and letting them rise all night. When we awoke, she popped them in the oven, so by the time we finished plowing through our loot, we had some real sustenance. They were the highlight of our year.

Unfortunately, after we had nibbled through all of the chocolate, oranges, candy canes and nuts filling our stockings, we needed sugar about as much as an alcoholic needs another drink. That didn't stop us. By 11AM we were all blissfully sick with a stomach ache.

Now that I'm all grown up, I like to think about how food will make me feel before I shove it into my face. So, when I made this tart a few nights ago, I realized immediately its potential for a perfect Christmas morning breakfast. The best part, at least as far as I see it, is that you can stumble through preparation in the morning with about as much effort as it takes to start coffee. Happy Christmas!

serves 4-6 

1 head garlic, roasted
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
sea salt and white pepper, to taste

1 prepared tart shell (I made mine from Annalise Roberts' Gluten Free Baking Classics)

1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
zest from one orange
1 tablespoon olive oil

Blind bake the tart shell for about 7-10 minutes.

Whiz the garlic, eggs, and half and half in a blender until thoroughly combined.

(At this point, you can put the shell and filling in the refrigerator until the morning.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tart pan on a larger cookie sheet. Pour the filling into the shell. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tart is set and top begins to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Toss the salad ingredients together and serve atop the tart.

(adapted from Tyler Florence, who else)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Leeks and Balsamic

This past Monday, I was writing at a cafe near my house and met two women from the 1,000 Days Partnership. They invited me to join them for an evening with Candice Kumai, their first chef ambassador, at Scott Conant's restaurant, Scarpetta in Beverly Hills. I'll pretend I wasn't starstruck. Yeah, no big deal, just sharing a drink with one of the Iron Chef judges at a world-renowned restaurant. Sure. All in a day's work.

 The organization was created three years ago by Hilary Clinton to shine a spotlight on the time from conception to a child's second birthday when the nutrition he or she receives is more pivotal than at any other time in life. According to the project, the right nutrition during the 1,000 day window can:
  • save more than one million lives each year;
  • significantly reduce the human and economic burden of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS;
  • reduce the risk for developing various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and other chronic conditions later in life;
  • improve an individual’s educational achievement and earning potential; and,
  • increase a country’s GDP by at least 2-3 percent annually.
When I realized that both of my boys were past the window, I'll admit, I felt just a tinge of fear. Did I do everything right? Did I breastfeed them for long enough? Did I delay the introduction of solid foods for long enough? Did I invite them to try enough fruits and vegetables? I guess the same questions plague every mother, whether or not she faces food scarcity, like most women in the developing world do.

I walked away from the event with a new found admiration for Candice Kumai and a deep desire to partner with the 1,000 Days program in whatever ways I can to encourage women to nourish themselves and their babies.

To that end, I also walked away with Candice's cookbook Cook Yourself Sexy. I'm working my way through it for a review I'm doing for one of my food writing clients and last night, I tried her grilled mushroom and leek flatbread pizza. It was, hands down the best pizza I have ever eaten. Seriously.

You know why I'm a horrible food writer? All I want to say is, yum, chew, yum, just, chew, try it, yum. nom nom. Oh, that will never do. Must learn to describe food better. For now, let the photography and the recipe inspire you.

serves two 
olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced in rounds
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, rinsed, dried, and very thinly sliced
1 leek, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 pizza crusts
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup basil chiffonade

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions until they begin to pick up some color, about 5-7 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, and cook until soft, another 3-5 minutes. Push the onions to the edges of the pan and melt one tablespoon of the butter in the center of the pan.

Turn the heat up to medium-high. Brown the mushrooms in two or three batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Push the finished 'shrooms to the side as you work your way through them.
Add the leek and salt, and cook for another two minutes.

Top the crust with a light drizzle of olive oil and the topping. Grate a generous helping of parmesan over the top. Bake according to the directions of your pizza crust - more if it's frozen, you know the drill.
Remove from the oven and grate another shower of parmesan over the top and the basil chiffonade. Share only with the people you really, really love.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mofongo and Eggs

The problem with becoming a professional food writer -- and hear me say, I am so not complaining -- is that you spend all your time cooking for a camera and sending your recipes off to an editor. I miss just sharing them with you, getting to tell stories about the food, launching into brief but satisfying political diatribes, and talking about food simply for the sheer pleasure of cooking and eating.

So, after working full time in Santa Monica as a staff writer and editor for the last several months and helping launch a new online magazine, I'm thrilled to be back to my freelance career with a bit of time to spare indulging in this blog. This is my first post since March, so I thought it should be good -- no pressure -- and waited until I had something worth sharing.

A couple weeks ago Rich and I went on a surf date at Venice Beach and then hit up this adorable brunch spot called Sunny Spot. Nothing is more satisfying that a strong cup of coffee and a huge messy platter of savory food after two hours in the ocean. Topping the brunch menu was Muh-F'k'n Mofongo and Eggs. (Yes, that's it's actual name.) Mofongo is native to Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic and typically contains mashed, fried plantains and garlic with pork. Sunny Spot took mofongo to the next level though with caramelized fennel, applewood smoked bacon, fried eggs and Sriracha. Seriously. Really, really, really good.

Plantains look like large, angular bananas, but they're starchier and less sweet, making them a perfect ingredient in savory cooking. So, get your hands on some and whip up mofongo.

For each serving
2 slices applewood smoked bacon
1/4 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced on a bias
1 egg, fried  
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Cilantro, for serving

Cook the bacon over medium-low heat until it renders a significant amount of fat and is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the meat and reserve two tablespoons of grease.

Cook the fennel and ginger for about 5-7 minutes, until fragrant and soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove the mixture to another dish, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible.

Add the reserved bacon grease and turn the heat up to medium-high. Fry the plantains, browning them on each side. Remove them to a large mortar and pestle and mash together with the garlic and fennel mixture. Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to the plantain mash.

 Meanwhile, return the skillet to the stove and cook an egg sunny side up.

To serve, place the mofongo in the center of a serving bowl, top with the egg, garnish with cilantro and drizzle Sriracha around the plate.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vegan Paleo Collision Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do you get if you cross a vegan and a paleo recipe? No eggs or grain. What's left? Pure bliss! 

I have made these cookies half a dozen times since I stumbled upon a similar recipe on Real Sustenance. I have also gained about three pounds since then. Coincidence? Probably not. My husband knows that all of my puritanical abstinence from junk food is no match for chocolate chip cookies. The salty chewiness of the dough married with the hard pieces of dark chocolate is a religious experience. 

Since I went gluten-free about two years ago, I have searched for a suitable chocolate chip cookie recipe. I made this version last year, but they're nutritionally void, especially when compared to this recipe based on almond meal. They're vegan friendly too, if you want to swap the butter and milk for earth balance spread and almond milk. 

makes 1 dozen

1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk 
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the brown sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond meal, salt, and baking powder. Stir together the dry and wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate pieces.

Place rounded tablespoon-fulls of dough onto the cookie sheet. The dough will have a somewhat pasty consistency.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. Cool on a cooling rack and then store in a covered container in the refrigerator. In my opinion, these are at their absolute best after cooling completely, even the next day if you can wait that long.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Savory I'itoi Onion Tart

The i'itoi onion is not native to Arizona, having hitched a ride to the so-called new world with Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century. Nevertheless, we have adopted it as our own, and no one more so than the folks at Crooked Sky Farms, who possess an evangelical zeal about this amazing little onion. It multiplies rapidly, from one small bulb to as many as 140 in just one season. And, it grows about 11 months out of the year here. That's a big deal in a place with an annual rainfall of about eight inches. 

So, when Frank at Crooked Sky sent me home with a huge bunch of these onions, I was eager to see whether their flavor equaled their agricultural chops. They're somewhere between shallots and scallions, however, their green tops are more fibrous than scallions'. They stood up well to a brief saute and baking in this simple supper or brunch tart. 

serves four

olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small bunch i'itoi onions

4 large, cage-free eggs
1 pint organic half and half 
4 ounces grated hard cheese, such as asiago, romano and parmigiano reggiano 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

prepared 10" tart shell, blind baked 

Remove the top half of the onions and split them lengthwise. Saute them for about two to four minutes in olive oil and butter. Remove them to the tart shell.

In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs until smooth, then add the half and half and grated cheese. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Pour the mixture over the onions in the tart shell and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and mostly set. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wilted Collard Greens with Chorizo Cantimpalo

This week I interviewed Frank Martin, owner of Crooked SkyFarms in South Phoenix for a piece I’m writing on sustainable agriculture for Have I mentioned how much I love my job? I walked away from Crooked Sky with a bundle of fresh produce, including kohlrabi, collard greens, kale, chard and a bunch of i’itoi onions.

Every day since has been a culinary adventure, reminiscent of my 2010 Eat Local project. We started with diced kohlrabi, julienned chard and tofu stir fried with peanut sauce on Tuesday night. Today for lunch, I enjoyed a simple salad of wilted collard greens with chorizo cantimpalo and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Simple and delicious!

The trick with this salad is to cut a very thin chiffonade of the collard greens, which yields a lacy texture and helps avoid them clumping together when you cook them momentarily.

Serves 2 as a starter or side

Extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce chorizo cantimpalo, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2-4 leaves collard greens, tough ribs removed, fine chiffonade
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
½ lemon, juiced

Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Typically, the quality of olive oil is lost when cooking, but the cooking time is so brief here, you still enjoy the flavor profile of your particular oil.   

Pan fry the chorizo and garlic for about 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn. Toss in the collard greens and cook for about 1 minute, or until they’re bright green and wilted. Squeeze with lemon juice and season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Be conservative with the salt initially; the chorizo has a wonderful saltiness all its own. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Green Chile Enchiladas

You know I don't normally care about making things easy, unless of course we're talking about all of the screw-top wines out of Britain, in which case--I'm sorry the puns are too easy here--let's toast to another year behind us.

Tonight I made these awesome green chile enchiladas with queso fresco and scallions. Seriously, I don't even need to give you the recipe; that's it. But, I will anyway.

Serves 4

1  package queso fresco
1 package corn tortillas
28 ounces chile verde enchilada sauce
3 green onions, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Ladle about 1 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish.

Crumble the queso fresco and combine with the green onions and cilantro. Fill each tortilla with the cheese mixture and snuggle them down into the casserole dish, with the seam side down.

Top with the remaining sauce and a few tablespoons of queso fresco. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chilaquiles Verdes

I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have ordered the Chilaquiles Verdes at Gallo Blanco around the corner from where I live. Stephen, a server there, knows the truth. Lots. Each time I order it, I casually ask the servers about its preparation. "Sooo, what kinds of peppers do you use in the salsa verde?" I kept asking until I had a good approximation of how they prepared it. After several weeks, I had built it up so much in my mind, I was afraid I would be disappointed. But no. It is absolutely amazing! I know you'll love it.

serves four

12 tostadas*
16 ounces queso fresco
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 scallions, roughly chopped
8 fresh eggs
8 ounces roasted chicken or turkey, roughly chopped (optional)

Salsa Verde
1 Poblano pepper
2 Anaheim peppers
1 Jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon oil
3 cloves garlic
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
sea salt

*You can either buy tostadas in the Mexican foods section of your grocery store or make your own by frying fresh corn tortillas in about 1 inch of 375 degree oil for about 2 minutes, then draining on a cooling rack. 

Halve the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds. Coat the skin side with oil using a paper towel and place them on a pan under your broiler until they are charred and blistered. Remove to a separate container and cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Allow to steam for at least ten minutes.

When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and discard. Place the peppers and all of the remaining salsa ingredients into a blender and pulse until somewhat smooth. Season to taste with sea salt.

Combine the queso fresco with the cilantro and scallions.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place four tostadas on a large cookie sheet. Top each with a spoon full of salsa verde and spread it to the edges. Top with about 2 ounces of queso fresco. Top with another tostada, salsa and queso fresco. Reserve the third tostada. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese softens.

While they're baking, fry the eggs to your liking. I prefer over easy because that tends to yield a nice runny yolk without under cooking the whites. And a runny yolk is key to this dish. I'm supposed to tell you that eating raw or under cooked eggs is dangerous, so I will. But, what can I say, I like to live dangerously.

Remove each stack to a plate and top with the remaining tostada, a generous scoop of salsa verde and two fried eggs. Enjoy immediately.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Purslane Salad with Lemon and Parsley Vinaigrette

On Saturday, we wandered to the downtown Phoenix farmer's market where Brad sampled nearly everything, homemade granola, scones, cookies, even dog treats if I would have let him. We walked past several produce stands, many run by large, established farms. But we were hoping to support an immigrant or refugee farming cooperative. That's when we met Jawn from Golo Family Organic Farms.

Her beauty spilled out like grace all over us as she explained how she ended up in Phoenix as a farmer. 
"I lived in a refugee camp in West Africa for 15 years, until America came and rescued me," she said. "God rescued me."

In the camp, she taught others to support themselves through batik and screen printing using classic African designs. She farmed. And, she waited. Eventually, the United States stepped in. "Nothing happens without America," Jawn says. "Other countries would wait until the US walked into a refugee camp and said, 'Yes, we'll take you, and you, and you'."

She sees farming as her way of giving back. 

I looked through her produce. Although it was still early morning as far as I was concerned, most of her supply had already been purchased.

"What's this?" I asked, holding up what looked like a bunch of weeds. 

Purslane, or Mexican spinach, she informed me. I tasted it. It had a soft, lemony tang, with the texture you would imagine of biting into a succulent. 

I came home and Googled purslane recipes. Most were for salads, though some suggested stir frying it into eggs. However, cooking had the possibility of bringing out a dreaded okra-like slime, so I opted for a raw preparation. If you can get your hands on this ubiquitous weed, I highly recommend it. It's much more interesting than lettuce, with a satisfying crunch and a delicious flavor.  

serves four

1 bunch purslane, rinsed and roughly chopped (rough stems removed)
1 avocado, diced
1 plum tomato, diced

1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon parsley, minced
generous pinch sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the vegetables together in a large salad bowl. Whisk together the vinaigrette and season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Pour over the salad. You can wait to serve this for up to half an hour if you wish; it doesn't wilt as quickly as does lettuce or spinach.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cilantro, Lime and Quinoa Salad

Since I learned that cilantro is the most widely used herb in the world, about ten years ago, I have wanted to write a cookbook devoted to it. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my unabashed addiction to lime, cilantro's constant companion.

If I were to write such a book, this salad would kick it off. It's bursting with flavor and perfect as a side dish or a hearty, vegan entree. Plus -- and this is a feat of nature -- my kids love it, especially the baby. Thank you to my friend Christi who inspired this recipe.

serves four

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 avocados, diced
3 scallions, sliced on a bias
1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained

2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Serrano pepper, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch granulated sugar

Bring the quinoa and vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium sauce pan, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until done.

Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes, cilantro, avocados and scallions.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small jar. Take a small portion of the cilantro and chop very finely and add to the dressing.

When the quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and add half of the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients and dressing to the pan and stir to combine. You really don't want to overwork this or it will become all mashed together, especially the avocado.

Allow the salad to sit in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, longer if you desire a cold salad.
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