Monthly Archives: June 2012

5 Kitchen Gadgets You Need Right Now

If you’ve ever tried to chop anything, then you know prep work can be rough. It’s time consuming, requires 100% focus (or you could make a painful mistake), and can make cooking a drag – to be quite honest.

That being said, prep work is necessary when you cook with fresh ingredients. So, it’s basically here to stay; however, prep work does not have to be terrible, if you have the right tools to make your cooking life easy. Here are 5 Kitchen Gadgets You Need Right Now*:

*you do not need to buy brand new and spend a lot, although the unused quality and guarantee can be appealing. I pick up most of my tools at the flea market or garage sales…at a fraction of the cost.

1. Food Processor/Cuisinart 

This thing will chop anything and everything. You can make salad dressings, sauces or purees, and prepare any kind of vegetable no matter the size. You can use the attachments, which make it double as a mandolin or grater, and make homemade potato chips, slice root vegetables for a roast gratin, and grate massive quantities of cheese. The list goes on and on. I could not cook without this.

2. Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer

The baker’s go-to necessity. You can bake to your heart’s delight with this mixer, and with little effort. Whip up perfect, peaky egg whites and make meringues, or perfect your own chocolate chip cookie recipe. And then there’s the attachments…make your own pasta, ice cream, stuff sausages; the options can are overwhelmingly endless. Sometimes a day of baking is the best cure after a chaotic workweek. Try it, you’ll like it.

3. Lemon/Lime Juicer

Doesn’t need to be fancy, just needs to be functional. Freshly squeezed citrus juice is so multi-purpose — I probably use some kind of citrus in every other dish I make. You can bet this tool provides the most valuable return on investment. Or, kill two birds with one stone and buy a juicer attachment for your stand mixer.

4. Smoothie Machine/Blender

Unlike the food processor, this tool is best for liquids specifically. I use my smoothie machine to create nutritious green breakfast smoothies, and the other attachments are great for grinding coffee beans or whole nuts.

5. Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowls (in various sizes)

These bowls are great for organizing all of your different materials when cooking, and great alongside the stand mixer when baking. When you keep all of your ingredients organized, the clean-up is noticeably more manageable.

There you go! If you are an aspiring chef-to-be, then you must consider acquiring the above five kitchen gadgets as soon as possible.

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Omelet Wraps: A New Take on Lunch

I am always on the hunt for dishes that are both nutritious and outside the box. It’s the perfect combination: your palette experiences new flavors and your body loves you for it. When I stumbled upon Beatrice Peltre’s La Tartine Gourmande cookbook, I was immediately captivated by her recipes’ expressions of joie de vivre. Her style is inspired by France, but the creativity on each page is what brings her food to life.

I recommend trying everything in this cookbook, as you will be addicted to Peltre’s fresh take on otherwise simple recipes. I attempted Omelet Wraps for lunch this weekend — so crunchy and light, they have quickly become my meal of the moment. I love to play favorites!

Omelet Wraps with Nori and Crunchy Vegetables

Makes 2 thin omelets; serves 4

For the omelets:

6 large eggs

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsely

2 tbsp chipped chives

2 nori sheets, thinly sliced (use a pair of scissors)

Sea salt and pepper

About 3 tbsp olive oil

For the vinaigrette:

Sea salt and pepper

1 tsp French Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Banyuls vinegar

2 tbsp hazelnut oil

For the filling: 

2 heaping tbsp walnuts

2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 Belgian endive, heart removed and thinly sliced lengthwise

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced, drizzled with lemon juice to prevent discoloration

1 tbsp finely chopped chives, plus a few more long pieces to tie the omelets

2 oz crumbled French feta cheese

1. To prepare the omelets: In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add the herbs and nori and season with salt and pepper. In a 14-inch non-stick frying pan, heat 1 – 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add half of the egg batter, swirling quickly to coat the bottom of the pan, and cook for a few minutes, until the omelet is set. Carefully transfer the omelet onto a plate or cutting board. Repeat with the rest of the egg batter to prepare the second omelet, adding more oil as needed.

2. To prepare the vinaigrette: Add the ingredients to a bowl in the order listed. Whisk to emulsify the dressing; set aside.

3. To prepare the filling: Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove from the heat, let cool, and coarsely chop; set aside.

4. In a bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, endive, avocado, and chives. Dress with the vinaigrette and add the walnuts and feta. Dress with the vinaigrette and add the walnuts and feta. Place one omelet flat in front of you and add half of the filling at one end. Roll the omelet tight and cut in half. Tie each half with a long piece of chive. Repeat with the second omelet.

Enjoy for lunch…(I wish I could eat this everyday), and don’t forget to brighten your day with a fresh bouquet. 

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Tribute to NYC: Tasty Moroccan Meatballs

While I truly adore the city of San Francisco, I must admit a piece of my heart belongs to New York.

I recently had the pleasure of dining at The Meatball Shop, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The LES is everything you want in a Saturday evening — every bar and restaurant overflows with lively clientele and head-turning street style.

I ordered the special, which was etched messily on the chalkboard above the bar: Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with turkish apricots, ginger, mint, and cilantro (among other goodies). I could not resist, and ordered the special along with one of many available sides: “everything but the kitchen sink”, which included an arugula salad, golden beets, and yogurt dipping sauce. This meal was too memorable not to recreate, so naturally I had to jot down the ingredients and try it out for myself.

Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with Golden Beets, Arugula Salad, and Mint Yogurt Sauce

You will need:

1 lb ground organic Chicken meat (or, you can substitute ground turkey or pork)

2 large leeks; trimmed, cleaned, and sliced into thin half moons

1 cup dried Turkish apricots; diced

1 cup of mint; chopped

1 cup of cilantro; chopped

8 cloves of garlic, diced, and separated in two piles (you will use half in meatballs; half in yogurt sauce)

2 cloves of garlic (for salad dressing specifically)

2 tbsp honey (for salad dressing)

2 lemons; juiced

zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp fresh ginger; peeled and minced

2 eggs

1 to 2 cups of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (start with 1 cup, you can always add depending on desired consistency)

3 medium to large golden beets

1 english cucumber; peeled

1 small carton of plain Greek yogurt

1 package of arugula

1 package of pita bread (optional)

extra virgin olive oil

white wine vinegar

sea salt + freshly ground pepper

1. Prepare mint yogurt sauce: 

  • Chop cucumber in half; set one half aside (you will use it for the arugula salad)
  • Using a large-holed cheese grater, grate the half cucumber and set aside in mesh strainer over a bowl
  • Sprinkle salt on grated cucumber and let rest for 10 minutes; as the salt will extract excess water from cucumber (so your sauce is not watery!)
  • Combine strained cucumber in a small bowl with yogurt, half of the mint, half of the chopped garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, and zest of 1 lemon — stir
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve

2. Prepare the beets:

  • I initially adapted this cooking technique from renowned chef Alice Waters; it’s simple and involves very little labor
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Remove the green stem and leaves from the beets
  • Place beets in a deep baking dish (a pyrex loaf pan works famously), and fill with enough water to cover the bottom of the beets, about 1/8 inch. Keep in mind the dish should be deep enough to fully incase the beets
  • Tightly cover with tin foil, and bake in oven from 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until beets are easily pierced with a fork
  • Remove from oven when beets are fully cooked, and place aside to cool
  • When cool enough to handle, slip skins off of beets, remove the root and bottoms, and slice into half moons. Set aside

3. While beets are baking in oven, prepare the meatballs. This dish is designed to take about an hour in total cooking time, as the meatballs should be cooked once the beets come out of the oven: 

  • Preheat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, using medium-high heat, and drizzle extra virgin olive oil in the pan (enough to cover the pan’s surface)
  • Add leeks and stir. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to stir leeks every few minutes until translucent, about 10 minutes
  • Add diced Turkish apricots to sauteed leeks mixture and stir. Continue to sauté another 10 minutes. Add ginger and remaining half of garlic, stir. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside
  • In a large bowl, combine cooled apricots/leeks mixture with ground chicken, 2 eggs, breadcrumbs, mint, cilantro, sea salt, and pepper. Use your hands to combine the ingredients evenly
  • Roll meatballs about one inch in diameter (you can make them bigger if you wish, cooking time will be longer)
  • Use same heavy-bottomed sauté pan and preheat to medium, drizzle olive oil in pan
  • Cook about 6 meatballs at once; you do not want to overcrowd the pan
  • I like to press the meatballs down with a spatula; to make mini-burgers. I find they cook a lot faster this way
  • Flip meat patties every 5 minutes, until crispy on each side and cooked throughout — about 15 minutes total
  • Cook meatballs in batches, covering the cooked meatballs until ready to serve

4. Make lemon-ginger vinaigrette for Arugula salad (this should be done once the last few meatballs are cooking, and the beats have been removed from the oven):

  •   Combine the following ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth: 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp ginger, 1/2 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp honey, sea salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Place arugula in a large serving bowl, add remaining half of cucumber (slice into half moons) and add dressing (start with half of the mixture and add to your liking). Toss with tongs
  • This is a great go-to dressing for any salad, and goes well with the peppery arugula

5. You are ready to eat! Serve all of the ingredients family style, and assemble the following on your plate: 

  • 3 to 4 meatballs
  • a generous helping of yogurt sauce
  • arugula salad. arrange beets on top
  • warmed pita bread (optional)
  • Enjoy!!!

 

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The Weekend’s Best: 5 Snapshots

Since I’m obsessed with lists, I thought I would share five snapshots from this past weekend. I am definitely a “lives for the weekend” type of person, and can’t get enough of this beautiful city and miraculous sunshine.

1. Afternoon Run by the Bay

Given that my personal hobby is food blogging, one might infer that I like to eat. That being said, I try to maintain an active lifestyle and treat my body just as well as the food it consumes.

2. Homemade Pretzels at BiergartenSF

Don’t get me started on this understated beer garden in Hayes Valley — we arrived 15 minutes prior to their opening and still had to wait in line (which lasted all day), but it was worth it for homemade snacks and german brew.

3. Bittersweet Farewell at Txoko in North Beach 

OK, I admit it: I love foie gras. It’s a right of passage for any serious foodie, but contradicts the whole local sustainable food movement California is so proud of. We say goodbye to this delectable sin in just a few short days, which is why I wouldn’t stop until I tasted some.

4. Coconut Chip Frozen Dessert with Dark Cacao Sauce

I try to stay away from sweets, but this non-dairy dessert from Coconut Bliss is hard to resist – as it’s much lighter than regular ice cream and utterly delicious.

5. Vino + Truffles + Fire Pit

We went to Bin 38 for happy hour and were lucky enough to snatch the fire pit — along with truffle popcorn and flights of wine, you definitely could call it the perfect summer evening.

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Summer Salmon Delish

Roasted Salmon with Corn Succotash and Ginger Carrot Puree

 

If salmon is not your favorite type of seafood, then I invite you to try this recipe. The flavors, so light and delicious, will make you forget it’s even fish. I recently made this dish to kick off my boyfriend’s 30th birthday week (it was a long one) – and he now prefers this dish to anything else I have ever made. I know, it sounds like a really steep promise – but you will not be disappointed. Here’s to warm San Francisco summer nights, and tasty dishes to enjoy on the patio. Don’t forget your white wine!

I used the Summertime Anytime Cookbook to make the salmon and corn succotash, and was inspired to add the carrot puree as a little something extra.

Roasted Salmon with Grain Mustard and Herbs

2 (6 oz) skinless wild salmon fillets

Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tsp whole-grain mustard

2 tsp chopped fresh dill

2 tsp chipped fresh thyme

2 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until ver hot and sear the fish on one side until it is nicely colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully flip the fish over, transfer the skillet to the oven, and roast for about 6 minutes for medium, depending on thickness. The salmon should give slightly to the touch without being firm.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and white wine, and simmer the sauce for a minute or two, until it has reduced slightly. Whisk in the mustard, dill, and thyme and cook for another minute. Finish the sauce by gradually whisking in the butter, one piece at a time, off the seat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. When the salmon is cooked, transfer the fillets to a warmed platter and pour the sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Roasted Pepper and Corn Succotash

2 ears white or yellow corn, husks removed

2 scallions, trimmed

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced small

1 red bell pepper, roasted (see below)

1 green bell pepper, roasted (see below)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a dry, cast-iron skillet over high heat or over a hot grill, char the corn and scallions until they are partially blackened, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut the kernels from the cobs and chop the scallions; reserve them in a medium bowl.

2. In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the red onion until soft and lightly colored, 5 minutes. Add the corn and scallions.

3. Halve the roasted peppers and remove the cores, seeds, and membranes. Dice the peppers and add to the vegetables along with the lemon juice and cilantry.

4. Season the succotash to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to a serving bowl or plates, and serve.

How to roast peppers:

Using tongs, place a whole pepper over an open flame, turning occasionally, until the skins are completely charred and black, about 10 minutes. Put the pepper in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it cool for 10 minutes. Peel off the charred skin, rinsing with  a little water if necessary. The pepper will be soft and blackened in spots. Remove the core and seeds.

Carrot Ginger Puree

2 lb carrots, peeled and diced

1 carton of organic chicken broth

2 tbsp ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large shallot, minced

1 large head of cauliflower, steamed

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Heat a large heave-bottomed sauce pan on medium-high heat, and add oil. When oil starts to ripple, add mined shallot and cook until translucent, 3-4 minutes.

2. Add carrots and chicken broth, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Stir, and add ginger and garlic. Simmer for another 10 minutes, or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat and strain from liquid. Set carrots aside, and make sure to save the liquid (you will add it to the cauliflower).

4. Place cauliflower in a food processor or blender, and add carrots and half of the broth. Blend until combined, and add broth until you achieve desired consistency.

Combine the roasted salmon, corn succotash, and ginger carrot puree. Voila! Salmon obsessed.

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Paella Please!

My parents have had an affinity for Spanish paella for as long as I can remember; they used to host paella parties during the summer and were always excited by its endless possibilities.

This past Father’s day, my dad requested to dine outdoors and cook a lobster paella. The recipe is a family secret, of course (I’ll need it for a business someday)… but had to share the photos. Hopefully you will be inspired enough to try this paella recipe, which is sure to satisfy even the most discerning eaters. The best part about paella is the many different layers: the flavors are so robust and meld together like no other dish.

some serious sizzle

 

the saffron broth cooks the rice like a risotto (but it gets crispy in the paella pan)

add the colorful goodies: roasted pimentos, leeks, fresh clams, and pre-cook the lobster on the grill

add the lobster near the end

now, this is something to get excited about

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Global Inspiration: Mango Salsa in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not necessarily a memorable place for food (as noted here). The culture is simple and on the conservative side, with respect to the Caribbean locations; however, the beautiful country boasts an extensive variety of fresh, local fruits.

I was inspired by the plentiful mangos to create a mango salsa to compliment freshly caught sea bass (typical fish in Costa Rica). The salsa is easy to make and even goes famously alongside tortilla chips and fresh guacamole.

Mango Salsa

1 ripe mango

1 cucumber

1 red pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

4 limes, juiced

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Pepper

1. Peel and chop mango, set aside

2. Peel and chop cucumber in large chunks; place in a colander and drizzle with sea salt. Set aside for 10 minutes (this drains excess water)

3. Combine mango, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, sea salt, and cracked pepper. Set aside and chill for at least 30 minutes prior to serving with sea bass or fish or your choice.

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