Wow. I first posted this in August of 2011! I love this recipe and continue to make it regularly, but the images (not the recipe) needed an upgrade. Continue reading
Wow. I first posted this in August of 2011! I love this recipe and continue to make it regularly, but the images (not the recipe) needed an upgrade. Continue reading
I love summer rolls — crunchy, fresh, and flavorful all wrapped in a delicate rice paper wrapper. Summer rolls are one of those things I never thought I could make at home. The wrappers, the rolling, the sauce! Not only are they way easier than I imagined, but they can be quite the nutritious dish to boot. Filled with loads of raw veggies and herbs, a summer roll is like a salad all wrapped up in a neat little package. In the video above, I go a pretty traditional route with avocado, cabbage, carrots and herbs, but also I use less traditional roasted sweet potato sticks and shredded Brussels sprouts. Rice paper is so neutral. Who says you couldn’t put a cobb salad in there or poached chicken, corn, cabbage and barbecue sauce? I say the sky’s the limit and can we talk about perfect these would be for school lunches?! Per-fect!
If you want to make these in advance, cover them with a damp paper towel and refrigerate for ideally up to one day, but I’ve even kept them 2 or 3 days.
I just dropped off my oldest at college this past weekend. Up until this point, nothing has made me feel as old as saying to someone, “I have a child in college.” And it doesn’t help when people respond with, “Wow!” Rub it in. Thank heavens for Mr. Picky who is in elementary school and still asks me to cuddle him at night.
My daughter goes to school in Dallas. So when I visit, I make sure to b-line for some good Tex-Mex food. You all know my weakness is guacamole and chips. Guacamole = healthy food. Chips, not so much. In LA you can find places to give you jicama with your guacamole. In Texas, not so much. So I try not to overdo it when I’m there, but I’m not always successful.
Although I grew up in New York, California cooking has stolen my heart. Lightness, freshness, color. It’s addictive. And the best avocados! Come visit me and we’ll have fun just prancing around the farmers markets. We can make this salad, which is like fancy-pants guacamole.
I taught this salad last year or the year before and it is one of my favorites. First of all, it takes minutes to pull together. Second, it includes two of my favorite foods, tomatoes and avocados, which I will remind you are both insanely delicious right now. Use whatever tomatoes look great and have fun mixing colors and shapes and sizes. Lastly, it’s basically guacamole that I can eat with a fork or on top of a piece of fish or grilled chicken and I don’t feel the need to have 25 tortilla chips along with it.
It also happens to look very pretty on a buffet. But tomatoes are leaving us soon, friends. Enjoy it ALL while you can, because you’re going to blink your eyes and they’ll be gone.
I decided to be more forward-thinking this year and post some new delicious Mexican recipes early in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, which is one of my favorite food holidays. Not that I don’t make Mexican, or Tex-Mex meals all year round, of course. I know a lot of people who are planning celebrations the weekend before Cinco de Mayo and are already asking me what they should make. I really don’t know too many people who don’t love Mexican food and it’s a great meal to make for a crowd, kids included. If you haven’t noticed, DIY parties are all the rage and Mexican menus fit the bill perfectly with their topping bars for tacos, fajitas and soups.
Speaking of soups, have you ever had posole, also spelled pozole? I had never heard of it until about 5 years ago, when my husband came back from a lunch and was raving about the posole. When anyone in my family comes home raving about anything, *BING*, note to self: “learn how to make that from scratch!”
Posole is is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, which once had ritual significance. It is made from hominy, plus meat, usually pork, but also chicken or turkey or pork rinds, chili peppers, and other seasonings and garnish such as cabbage, salsa and limes and/or lemons. I have seen many recipes for posole, red or green, vegetarian or with meat, different seasonings, but there is always hominy. Hominy is an interesting food. It comes from dried field corn, also known as maize, not to be confused with sweet corn which you enjoy off the cob in the summer. The corn is prepared by removing the skins after soaking them in the mineral lime (cal), which changes the flavor (for the better) and releases the niacin, making this slightly processed grain healthier than simple dried corn or cornmeal. (I took this from the Rancho Gordo website.) Not surprisingly, cooked hominy tastes like corn tortillas, but in a form of a chewy little nugget. Quite tasty.
You can buy prepared hominy which I have only seen in cans (probably lined with BPA, sadly) or you can buy dried and cook it yourself, which is what I did when I taught this in my classes a few years ago and what I still do when I want to make posole. It is an extra step for sure, so if you want this to be a really fast recipe and you don’t mind cans, by all means buy it prepared. I have only seen dried hominy sold by Rancho Gordo, which is an exceptional source for dried beans, especially heirloom varieties, grains and spices. Some retail stores sell Rancho Gordo products or you can purchase directly from their website. But I know from some students that you might be able to find other brands of dried hominy in Latino markets or in the “ethnic foods” aisle of some supermarkets.
When I decided to make posole for the first time, I took no timing wondering red or green. I much prefer green (tomatillo-based), especially in the spring and summer, because it’s so much lighter and fresher than red (tomato-based.) We all loved that first batch and I knew it would be great to teach in a class. I especially love setting out a topping bar for posole because all those add-ins give such great texture, color and really turn this soup into a meal. I love adding avocado, cabbage, radishes, cilantro and feta, which I think is a perfectly good, and more healthful sub for the more traditional Cotija cheese. The kids like to add tortilla chips or strips, naturally.
This soup reheats well and freezes well, too. You can serve posole as a meal or with veggie quesadillas and/or Mexican chopped salad on the side. If you want this to be vegetarian, just use veggie stock and drop the chicken. Maybe add in a little quinoa or some sweet peas. Stay tuned for more fantastic, healthful Mexican recipes to come in the next couple weeks!
When I was about 10 years old, I decided I disliked beef and poultry enough that I would give them up for good. I was a pre-teen pescatarian, limiting my “animal” consumption to fish alone which created a bit of anxiety for my parents. The concern was that I wouldn’t get enough protein since I was still growing. Of course I was quite fine since I ate plenty of eggs, cheese, yogurt, legumes and nuts in addition to fish once a week. But I have always preferred seafood to animal protein, even to this day.
Then I met a cute boy in college who asked me out to dinner and I said yes and he took me to a…steak house. Hmmmmm……..A cute boy is a cute boy, so off I went. Ironically, the boy was a meat and poultry-eater, but not a fish eater. Opposites attract, I thought. Or hoped. That night I had my first bite of steak in many years and I actually thought it was delicious. Not delicious enough to turn me into a full-fledged carnivore, but I did continue to eat a little beef and chicken until very recently when I decided, once again, that I just don’t like beef at all and I only like chicken enough to have a bite. After all these years, I’m still a fish girl.
If you’ve hung around this blog long enough, you know that I married “the boy” and I’ve turned him on to almost all fish, except salmon. Once in a while he’ll have a bite to be nice, but he just can’t get into it. We tell the kids he’s “allergic.” But I absolutely love wild salmon and believe it or not, so does Mr. Picky! (“Love” might be a strong word, admittedly, but he always eats it.) We both think it’s delicious and since it’s so rich in important Omega-3 fats and a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin, I like to find new ways to make it. (By the way, this is not the case with farm-raised salmon. Not healthy for you and bad for the environment.)
Slow roasting salmon is practically the only way I have cooked salmon in the last year. I just taught this method in my classes last month and everyone was so excited it. By cooking the salmon at a super low temperature (250 degrees) for a longer period of time, the fat just kind of melts into the fish and you don’t dry it out the way you might at 400 degrees which can cause the proteins to seize up a bit. I find wild fish to be a little tricky to get just right where it’s still moist and succulent, as opposed to tough and dry. Slow roasting is a dream and results in the most velvety salmon! Plus a bonus is that at such a low temp, you don’t damage the delicate Omega-3 fats. My son says he also likes this method because the house never smells like fish afterwards. It’s truly the perfect way to cook wild salmon!
Like I told my classes last month, this recipe is more about trying the technique of slow roasting and it’s not about the mango salsa here. I serve slow roasted salmon with lots of different salsas (try this one with corn and black beans), sauces ( I like this one with dill and cucumbers), dressings, or just a squeeze of citrus. Since it’s wild salmon season right now, I bet you can get your hands on some fantastic fish. I normally buy my wild salmon during the year from vitalchoice.com which ships it frozen on dry ice. It’s the best quality fish I can find. But starting in May, Grow in Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica Seafood have outstanding salmon and I haven’t been disappointed.
Needless to say, I will not be making salmon on Sunday for Father’s Day, but you certainly can. I guarantee, slow roasting is a game-changer!
We had such a lovely getaway in Palm Springs with the kids this weekend. My husband, who designs and builds houses, likes to go to a few days of Modernism Week every year and we decided to make a little family trip of it this time. My kids are exposed to a lot of talk about food because of what I do, but my husband also discusses his business with them, too. I wouldn’t say they could go out and build a house tomorrow, but they have an understanding of architecture and design.
So it was kind of funny to me when my kids would walk into a home on a tour this weekend or a show, and people would be shocked to see them. “Oh my word! We have children here!” The first time I heard this, I figured the kids weren’t welcome. But I was very wrong. “How nice to see children appreciate design!” I was proud of the kids because they were well-behaved and seemingly interested. And it made me think about how the experience was a little analogous to food and eating. I always tell my students that part of the process of creating a healthful eater is simply exposing the kids to a wide variety of nutritious food. Another critical part of the process is modeling good eating habits. One day it will all click with them and they’ll end up surprising you!
I am flexible with Mr. Picky though. Sometimes I will make something like this couscous with dried apricots and herbs for dinner, but leave a little plain couscous and apricots for him on the side. I usually encourage, but often insist, that he at least try the dish with all the herbs and such. Sometimes he will and sometimes he won’t, but this strategy works well for me since I can accommodate him a little without my having to make a second meal. And the message that I am sending is that eventually he will eat like the rest of us.
Mr. Picky happens to like couscous and dried apricots and if he’s really hungry, he’ll eat the herbs and all. He won’t eat it mixed with the Moroccan chicken I posted on Friday. He will eat them separately though. No problem here, although I personally like couscous as an accompaniment to soak up something juicy and saucy. Other than that, my girls will take leftovers in their lunch boxes with some feta and maybe a little extra lemon juice and olive oil. Yum!
Couscous is like a busy person’s dream come true. You pour really hot water or stock on it with a little salt and perhaps some olive oil and presto! Ten minutes later you have a nice fluffy side dish. I know that couscous is processed durum wheat flour and not a whole grain, but there’s still a decent amount of fiber in it and you can also find whole wheat couscous if that’s important to you. Of course you can also make this recipe with quinoa if you want a gluten-free version which I have done many times. In fact, I’ve often said to people who haven’t tried quinoa that you can take your favorite couscous dish and sub quinoa. Only you cook them differently. But you knew that. And there are other ways to mix this recipe up — dried cherries or raisins instead of the apricots, pistachios or chopped almonds instead of the sliced almonds, parsley instead of the cilantro or just use all of one herb. This is an easy recipe to let your personal taste be your guide!
Nothing is as comforting to me as a one-pot, hearty meal in a bowl. I love substantial soups and stews, especially ones with beans or legumes. I very often make soups on the weekend for lunch or for a Meatless Monday dinner. They also make a fantastic school lunch for the kids the next day. This black bean and pumpkin soup is P-E-R-F-E-C-T for a chilly fall day, especially on Halloween if you want to send everyone off with a filling, warm meal. This is almost like a chili because of the beans and the small amount of cumin and oregano, but not quite as thick. My favorite ingredient in here is the pureed pumpkin which gives the soup a little body. So much nutrition in one bowl!
This soup is a really easy one if you use canned pumpkin and canned beans. I’m so glad more manufacturers are responding to our desire for BPA-free products. There are more and more companies who are using cans without BPA. That is particularly relevant to this recipe because I know you can find organic pumpkin puree in BPA-free packaging by a company called Farmer’s Market or by Pacific Foods and organic black beans in BPA-free cans by Eden organic. A gentleman behind the customer service desk at Trader Joe’s told me they don’t use BPA in their cans, except canned tomatoes. I haven’t verified this yet with the company, but I am excited if that’s the case!
Also exciting is the fact that for the first time in a loooong time, I have Mr. Picky’s Halloween costume ready to go. This never happens in our house quite this early, as in a week before Halloween. Poor kid one year made a Batman costume the night before out of grey baseball pants and an cape from an old zombie costume of his sister’s. This year he is going as a punk rocker complete with wig and (temporary) nose ring. All of his costumes must involve eyeliner or face paint and this year will be no exception. My girls are not trick-or-treating this year. I think the novelty has worn off. That and my husband said there will be no teenage children of his trick-or-treating without a costume. I agree — way lame.
Ideally the girls will stay safe at home with a few friends and a pot of black bean and pumpkin soup on the stove and enough in their bellies that they only feel the need to eat a couple pieces of candy and not a basketful. Believe me, I am not the party pooper you might think I am. I know full well that on Halloween night, Mr. Picky will take all of his candy and hoard it behind the extra towels underneath his bathroom sink. I leave them there without letting on that I know his little secret. Until Valentine’s Day when I need to make room for the fresh loot.
Hope you have a fun and safe Halloween! This Thursday is exactly four weeks before Thanksgiving. You know what that means!
I’m a happy mama since I picked up Mr. Picky from sleepaway camp on Saturday. 13 days is just too long for me to be apart from that guy. I have been enjoying all the stories, hanging on every word as if he traveled around the world. Bless his heart, Mr. Picky “snuck” some food from camp to bring to my husband and me. Thankfully, it was from breakfast the morning he left and not from last week. From his backpack he pulled out a paper cup with a few pieces of melon for me and a cup with mini cinnamon buns mixed with tater tots for my husband. What does that tell you?
While Mr. Picky can’t stop talking about his counselors, his bunk mates and all the competitions in which he participated, I had to find out about the food. What was your favorite dinner? Did you eat any vegetables? What did you drink? Blah, blah, blah. I’m so predictable, but I have no self control. I have to give the camp props that soda is not served. I don’t know if I could handle that.
So what I have gathered is that Mr. Picky didn’t eat any protein at breakfast ever since, go figure, the camp doesn’t serve Organic Pastures Raw Organic Milk, and Mr. Picky still doesn’t eat eggs or cheese. And it also sounds like the only vegetable he ate was cucumber. So we have some catching up to do! One thing that my son loves is any type of burger, even veggie burgers. I made these turkey burgers the week before he left and he loved them so they’re going on the dinner menu again this week. It’s another winner recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem” cookbook.
If you’re bored with plain burgers, these are so different and delicious. And a great way to make a (small) dent in your zucchini crop. They are moist, herby and they’ve got a great kick to them. If spicy isn’t your thing, you may want to cut back to a pinch of cayenne. Although if you make the sumac sauce, which is delicious, it really cuts the heat from the burgers. But I’m not really doing dairy these days and Mr. Picky didn’t want any sauce, so I only made half the recipe for the sauce and I thought it was the perfect amount. I also didn’t use traditional buns when I made these. Bread will just detract from the tastiness of these burgers! Instead we ate them on lettuce leaves with some chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, right up my alley. Of course if you want a more traditional burger, you can probably get 6 “standard” size patties and pile them onto buns with all your favorite fixings. Delish!