Category Archives: Recipes

Yummy + Healthy + Easy Recipes from Foodie Cleanse 2013

I love trying new recipes, but half of them don’t make it into my binder of standbys. They must pass three tests: 1) Be outrageously good; 2) Be very to fairly easy; 3) Not result in me having to clean every dish I own.

This was the second year that I have done Bon Appetit Magazine’s Foodie Cleanse. It’s fun, it resets me after the holidays and it pushes me to try dishes that I wouldn’t otherwise make. Last year, just seven recipes made the cut. Many others were unduly complicated and had ingredients that I struggled to find, even here in Los Angeles!!! Crossroads of the world!

This year, they kept it simpler and I certainly appreciated that. Here are all the recipes and foods that I’ll definitely continue munching on through 2013:

This was the pair of recipes that really knocked my socks off – and they’re vegetarian!

Cod + Greens: It seems that you can season cod any old way and pair it with bok choy or chard or collard greens and you simply can’t go wrong. Plus cod makes the very short list of recommended/approved seafoods on the Seafood Watch list! Download their free app or order the pocket guide.

Smoked paprika: A spice that packs a wallop. I got it for one recipe, then started sprinkling it on my deviled eggs.

Black rice It is exactly what it says it is. It’s easy and a good trick to have up your sleeve for a dinner party. I easily found a bag at Ranch 99.

Clams – Clams are really easy!

Sake steamed clams – Totally different flavors that my typical cooking. Served w/ Bok Choy w/Chili-Black Bean paste – Wow, does that stuff pack a wallop! If you don’t like spicy, don’t use this sauce. Very tasty.

Salmon + Lentils – A classic combo for a reason

Confetti lentils – I did all the veggies in the food processor and made this using Trader Joe’s cooked lentils and it was a snap.

Squash – The tomato and squash soup was pretty good, but ultimately I like both separately so you can fully enjoy the tomato or fully enjoy the squash. However, I did like the cooking method used – putting a few cloves of garlic under the squash half, then baking it. Smelled and tasted delicious!

Salad + Fruit + Nuts + Goat Cheese – You can’t go wrong. So delicious, so fancy looking.

Radicchio and Persimmon Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese – Looks super fancy!

Toss 4 cups radicchio and 1 Fuyu persimmon (the flat variety), peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks, with 1½ Tbsp. Sherry Vinaigrette. Top with ½ oz. crumbled goat cheese and 2 Tbsp. toasted hazelnuts. You can substitute arugula, spinach, or a good dark salad mix for the radicchio, and use walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds in place of the hazelnuts.

Curry – This was already a standby for me, as it should be for every working mom in America. A can of coconut milk, a dollop of curry paste and any mix of veggies or meats. You can’t go wrong!! I often put in potatoes, but had never tried sweet potatoes…not bad.

To take to the office

Smoked salmon on rye crisps with avocado – The avocado actually tastes better than cream cheese…go figure.

Winter Citrus Salad – I eviscerated a grapefruit and mixed the chunks with halves of orange slices. A great mid-morning snack.

And a bonus recipe: Ahi or cod or halibut with Bok Choy (Serves 2)

The back story: I accidentally bought ahi tuna instead of cod. I love seared ahi, but my boyfriend does not, so I had to devise a way to prepare this. I found this recipe, which happened to have a very simple, but very delicious sauce that I plan to use for years to come. I also had a recipe that I had been meaning to try for a while – Miso-glazed halibut. I did the two different meals and this is the best of both:

Ingredients

  • Enough fish for two people – fillets, medium thickness
  • 1 lb. of baby bok choy – the smallest you can find (then you don’t have to cut it up)
  • 1 bunch of green onions (scallions)
  • Fresh ginger – piece the size of your hand
  • Garlic
  • 1 lime
  • White miso (you can get this anywhere, even Safeway, just ask – it’s usually near the refrigerator with the tofu)
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce

Miso Glaze – Whisk together.

  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoon bottled or fresh minced ginger

Spread the glaze over the fish, both sides. Then put the fish on tin foil and broil in the oven for 7-8 minutes. Keep an eye on it and flip it when you think you should – when its just turning brown around the edges.

Bok Choy

Mix together:

  • 2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (or 2 teaspoons of wheat-free tamari for gluten-free option)
  • 1 Tbsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Cut up 5 green onions, split the white part and the green part. Use a pot with a lid. Bring 1/4 c. of water to a boil, toss in the bok choy, turn down the heat to medium, cover and steam for 3 minutes. After that, take the lid off, toss in the white part of the green onions and keep cooking for a few more minutes, until all the water boils off. Add the sauce and serve immediately with the fish on top and rice on the side. Garnish with sesame seeds and the green part of the green onions.

And if you are interested in food and nutrition, I’ll just put in a plug here for all Michael Pollan books, starting with “Food Rules.”

Food Rules: An Eater's ManualFood Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Both elegant and useful in its simplicity. I’ve read reams of books and articles on nutrition over the years and it sometimes feels like the more you know, the more confused you get. This small guide takes us directly to the heart of eating well: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I would absolutely put this in my friend’s X-mas stockings.

View all my reviews

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Veggie Mexican Enchiladas: The Platonic Ideal

I am proud to announce that German and I have perfected our recipe for enchiladas. My contributions are negligible – this recipe is based off German’s mom’s recipe and it is delicious! Essentially, my only contribution is as a guinea pig cook. I was capable of making it multiple times with nothing but verbal directions, which should give all of you a reasonable shot at being able to duplicate this. First, collect a few key ingredients:

2 cans of El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco/Tomato Sauce

2 cans of Trader Joe’s Tomato sauce

6 – 10 cloves of garlic

1 medium yellow onion

Bag of Guerrero corn tortillas

5 large red potatoes

2 medium zucchinis

1/2 lb of Monterey jack cheese

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute in a pan with canola oil. Once the onions are translucent, add the cans of El Pato sauce and Tomato sauce. Simmer for several minutes until the flavors are good and melded. Set aside. Peel and cube the red potatoes. Cube the zucchini as well. Put the potatoes in a pot and put enough water to cover with about an extra two inches of water. Sprinkle in a 1/2 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, drop in the zucchini cubes. Boil for a few minutes – until the veggies are soft, but not mushy. Drain in a colander in the sink. Grate the jack cheese.

Start heating a sauce pan. Give it a few minutes so that it’s piping hot. Proceed to heat up about 25 tortillas – once warmed, put them all in a tortilla warmer or in a tea towel to keep them warm. THIS IS IMPORTANT. If you use cold tortillas, they won’t sop up the enchilada sauce very well, they will not be pliable and will break when you go to roll them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

This is where you need a kitchen buddy. Set up your assembly line, which at my house, goes from stove to table. On the stove, I have the hot pan on the left and the sauce pan on the right. Then I have a glass casserole dish on the table, then the bowl of potato and zucchini. One person is the dipper, the other is on spoon duty. The dipper should grab a warm tortilla, dip it in the sauce, flipping a few times to make sure it is good and sauced up. Put it at the edge of the glass dish. The second person should get a good scoop (2/3 cup) of the potato/zucchini mixture and put it along the length of the sauced tortilla. Tightly roll it and press it against one side – you’ll want all of these tightly packed so that they hold closed. Fill the whole dish. I usually end up putting 4 the opposite direction to fill the space at the top of the pan. Pour the extra sauce over the top. Sprinkle half the shredded cheese over the top, cover with tin foil and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. When you take it out, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and let it melt. Ready to serve in five minutes. I like to serve beans and rice on the side. Garnish with sour cream (or crema), black olives, diced onion and cilantro.

A note on El Pato: It does not take an advanced student of the Spanish language to deduce that “Salsa de Chile Fresco” does not translate to “Tomato Sauce.” I have no idea what inspired this peculiar translation – the thing to focus on is the color yellow. El Pato also has a sauce with jalapenos that it sells in a red can (there’s a green can sauce too). These are not good substitutes. Look for the yellow! People, Las Palmas will NOT cut it. To put it in California parlance, Las Palmas is weak sauce – literally. El Pato has a great kick – too strong to be used alone, but dilute it with tomato sauce and it’s just right. I have no idea if El Pato is widely available at all Mexican markets – based on a Google search, it looks like it is available at Walmart, so keep an eye out. If you find it, load up, because I can guarantee you’ll want to make these ones again.

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Diana Kennedy’s Tortilla Soup

As of today, I have made an executive decision to start featuring recipes on this blog. I haven’t been writing about this much, but I love to cook. My little brother (age 24) recently graduated from college and I compiled our family’s favorite recipes, which got me thinking, “Well, maybe some other folks might like to use these as well.” In general, I will only share the recipes that I’ve been using for quite a while or about which I have particularly strong feelings. With that approach, the recipes readily fit into the California focus of this blog as my “family recipes,” are a combination of favorites from Sunset magazine (the western cook’s Bible), some Oklahoma faves from my mother, a handful of wine country favorites picked up in Sonoma, and recipes from Mexico and Asia, an eminently Californian mix, if you ask me.

To kick this off, I would like to share Diana Kennedy’s recipe for tortilla soup. I credit her, but this recipe is best characterized as Mexican patrimony, not so much a recipe as a Platonic ideal passed down through generations of Mexican mothers. It’s so delicious because it’s so simple – the perfect trifecta of tomatoes, corn and onions with the punch of cilantro. And you get to load on tons of delicious toppings.

For those who aren’t familiar with her, Diana Kennedy is to Mexico what Julia Childs is to France, in a way. The wife of a correspondent for the New York Times, she lived in Mexico for many years, going on to collect a huge compendium of traditional recipes from every nook and cranny of Mexico, an undertaking which vaulted her to the Order of the Aztec Eagle, an honor the Mexican government reserves for foreigners who give great service to the country. Many of the recipes in her books are so authentic, you’d be hard-pressed to readily duplicate them in your American kitchen, but I love trying anyway.

Here is her recipe, with some of my notes:

Tortilla Soup

Diana Kennedy

5 large ripe tomatoes or two 14 1/2 ounce cans of whole tomatoes, drained

1 large white onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

6 springs cilantro

1/4 c. canola oil

2 quarts of chicken broth

2 cups of frozen corn kernels

Broil the tomatoes in the oven – I have done this with both fresh and canned tomatoes. Broil them until there are some burned patches, turning them a couple of times. This does wonders for enhancing the flavor and is a step you should not skip!! Toss the onion, cilantro and garlic in the blend. Drop in the tomatoes and blend until well-mixed but still with some rough texture. Heat the canola oil in your pot. Dump the tomato mixture on top – it will sizzle! Once it has darkened slightly, add the chicken broth and corn. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for about 10 minutes and serve.

The toppings are key! I am a huge fan of the pasilla chiles, which are not terribly spicy and give an incredible rich flavor to the broth. **To make the tortilla strips, take corn tortillas (not flour) and cut them into 1/4 inch strips, laying them out on a flat cookie tin. Stick this in the broiler and keep a close eye on it, toasting for a few minutes until light brown and crispy. Flip the strips and toast for just a minute more. Careful- I’ve burned many batches of these. Alternately, you can crumble tortilla ships in the soup, but the strips are SO much better.

Toppings

Crema (or sour cream)

Avocado, diced

Diced onion

Cilantro

Pork rinds

Queso fresco

Dried pasilla chiles, cut into strips

Limes

Tortilla strips**

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