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’m in the home stretch, friends. Manuscript is due on Monday which means that, although I love hanging out with you, we’re going to have to make this visit quick today because I have a boatload of writing to finish. Although if my editor is reading this post, have no fear, I am totally on schedule! 😉
It’s good to be home. I had the loveliest holiday break, but it’s good to be home. Even though I knew I was coming back to two weeks worth of mail to sift through, groceries to buy, meals to plan, piles of laundry to wash, it’s all good.
As I’ve mentioned several times, I am not much on detox diets or cleanses after the holidays even though they are all the rage. I notice a lot of people overdo it even more between Thanksgiving and New Years knowing they will “cleanse” it all off starting January 1. Eh. If you just try eliminating sugar and flour for a few weeks, your health will improve drastically. You don’t need to give up real food and sip juice for a week. But that’s just my opinion.
However I do want to share an amazing, healing and very digestible soup recipe called Bieler’s Broth. This soup is nothing new. In fact, it has been around for decades, invented by a doctor named Bieler. The soup is vegan and all vegetable-based. It is not a culinary soup in the sense that it is so delicious that you would want to serve it to your friends at your next dinner party, but more of a medicinal soup. It tastes absolutely fine though, just a little bland.
According to Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions, Dr. Bieler felt that this combination of vegetables was ideal for restoring acid-alkaline and sodium-potassium balance to organs and glands, especially the sodium-loving adrenal glands which suffer under stress. The broth is also supportive for liver function — recall that the liver is our detoxifying organ. Bieler’s broth is highly recommended for those under stress or suffering from stress-related conditions. Know anyone stressed out? Yep, I thought so.
When I have had a lot of travel combined with a chaotic schedule and less than desirable eating, I’ll make a big batch of Bieler’s broth every few days and drink a mugful either as a snack during the day or with my breakfast or dinner. I don’t function well without protein and fats, so I can’t use this as a meal replacement.
I always notice a big improvement in my overall wellbeing after supplementing daily for 2 weeks with Bieler’s broth. I made a batch yesterday which should last 3 days and I’ll make another batch on Thursday to get me through the weekend.
I know that the vegetables in Bieler’s broth are not in season in the winter. I am normally opposed to that, but in this case it’s just temporary. Be sure to buy only organic vegetables since this is supposed to be a healing soup and pesticides will just add more toxins to the body. Also, zucchini is now a common GMO crop, so buying organic ensures you will be buying non-GMO.
Here’s hoping 2016 is off to a healthy start for you. If you’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, it’s never to late to start fresh. Do check out the dinner planner I started posting on Sundays! It will change your life to plan out your meals. Promise!
In all my classes since Labor Day, everyone seems to be so motivated to get back into a cooking and dinner routine! Although, now that I think about it, people that come to a cooking class ARE motivated to cook. So maybe the entire universe isn’t looking for new dinner recipes, but I am. And I am doing my best to be really organized about meals again.
I find it a million times easier to make dinners in the summer than during the school year. Sliced tomato, burrata, basil and olive oil counts as a meal in the summer. Not so much now. My family wants “real food!” Of course my days right now are overscheduled and I am still driving around a 16-year-old who could easily have her license by now if she were only motivated to take the test. I was dying to get my driver’s license when I was in high school. Not my daughter. She seems perfectly content to let me and her friends be her personal Uber. Why am I talking about this? Oh right. Because I am driving all over the place in those precious hours before dinner time. So I need to be Uber organized, if you will.
I taught these turkey and brown rice stuffed bell peppers in a class a year or two ago and realized I hadn’t made them in a while. With a salad, green vegetable or some millet-cauliflower mash, this is a great weekday meal for my family. My husband and son feel like they’re getting a substantial “meaty” main dish and I know that there’s more plant-based foods in this recipe than meat, so I’m happy too. My mom and my grandmother used to make stuffed peppers often, but they used ground beef and I don’t think much rice, if any at all. I love adding a hearty grain like brown rice here to stretch the turkey a little further.
I think this recipe has a lot of flavor as it is written, but there’s plenty of room for adaptation here. Add basil or switch to cilantro; add some grated cheese to the mixture or on top; add a little turkey sausage; or use grass-fed beef if you prefer. Once I had a half of a small zucchini and I grated it into the onion mixture. Mushrooms also go really well here. One thing I would advise is to seek out pesticide-free or organic bell peppers since they are on the Dirty Dozen produce list.
For those of you do-aheaders (like me), stuff the peppers earlier in the day and refrigerate. Then bake when you get home. Or, prepare and bake these after school, and transfer cooked peppers to your slow cooker on the warm setting until you are ready to eat. I am doing this more and more since I have a little time after school to do meal prep and then I’m out with the rest of the taxi drivers until dinner time. Until, I pray, someone decides to get herself into gear and let me stick to my day job.
For all of you out there who were like me and just hoping for a good game last night, was that a disappointment or what?! We started counting how many times someone in the room said, “Are you kidding me?!” At least the commercials and the half-time show were entertaining and eats were tasty. We kept everything very simple with a taco bar, Mexican chopped salad and pizzas. For snacking during the game, we had lots of guacamole, salsa and chips, naturally, and a huge raw vegetable platter with hummus, spinach dip and this homemade Ranch dressing. I was very happy to fill up on lots of veggies so that I didn’t overdo it on pizza and tacos later.
I had to come up with a cleaned up homemade Ranch dressing years ago for my husband because it’s his favorite on salads and I just can’t handle buying the bottled version. Just read the ingredients on a label of Hidden Valley Ranch and you’ll understand why. Even though I prefer a lemon juice or apple cider vinegar-based salad dressing, I think Ranch can sometimes really hit the spot and I do like it as a dip for crisp vegetables, too. I taught this dressing in a summer cooking class over big slabs of ripe tomatoes and avocado with some raw corn. So good! And I love the idea of pouring a dressing into little cups with a few raw vegetable sticks for a party appetizer.
Traditional Ranch dressing is herby and contains buttermilk and usually sour cream. But I make mine with Greek yogurt, Vegenaise and kefir (pronounced kee-fer,) a fermented dairy product which is a little like a liquidy yogurt. You can definitely use buttermilk and regular mayonnaise if you want. But my girls really like kefir in the their smoothies and I usually have some in the refrigerator. I also think it’s a bit better than buttermilk from a nutritional perspective. Here’s an excerpt from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions which is very interesting: “Kefir is a cultured and microbial-rich food that helps restore the inner ecology. It contains strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria (in a symbiotic relationship) that give kefir antibiotic properties. A natural antibiotic–and it is made from milk! The finished product is not unlike that of a drink-style yogurt, but kefir has a more tart, refreshing taste and contains completely different organisms…kefir does not feed yeast, and it usually doesn’t even bother people who are lactose intolerant. That’s because the friendly bacteria and the beneficial yeast growing in the kefir consume most of the lactose and provide very efficient enzymes (lactase) for consuming whatever lactose is still left after the culturing process…kefir is mucous forming, but…the slightly mucous-forming quality is exactly what makes kefir work for us. The mucous has a clean quality to it that coats the lining of the digestive tract, creating sort of a nest where beneficial bacteria settle and colonize.”
If you can’t tolerate any dairy, even fermented ones, I do have a great vegan version of this recipe that you can follow below. And if you don’t have fresh chives and parsley for this recipe, even half the amount of dried will do. Like most dressings and vinaigrettes, Ranch can be enjoyed all year long. However, keep in mind that creamy dressings go better with sturdier, more crispy lettuces like romaine. No matter how you enjoy it, I think you’ll agree this is the freshest, best-tasting Ranch you’ve ever had!
I hope you all had a merry Christmas! We’ve had such an amazing few days with my family in New York. Christmas Eve is always such a special night and this year was no exception, with 94 of us at my aunt’s house for dinner. NINETY-FOUR. And four ladies announcing they are expecting so we’ll be 98 next year? My aunt is an absolute genius to be able to orchestrate a sit-down pot-luck for so many. I swear she could run a small country. Heck, she could probably run THIS country! We were in four different rooms eating 7 or 8 different types of fish (and a few veggies for good measure.) Although it’s really not about the food for me, instead my favorite moment of the evening is listening to all the little ones sing around the Christmas tree watching the staircase in hopes that Santa makes an appearance, which he always does. Then everyone screams and the flash bulbs go off as if there were paparazzi in the house. It never gets old for me.
Christmas Day is always the perfect balance to the evening before. It’s quieter, just 17 of us at my parents’ house and my mom is in charge. We always start the meal with tortellini in chicken broth, which my kids love. Then she makes a beef tenderloin with a red wine sauce, stuffed mushrooms, green beans with shallots and a green salad. This year I was hoping to add these amazing potatoes to the menu. I made them for Jenni Kayne’s holiday cooking class a few weeks ago and I knew they would be perfect with my mom’s menu. They would actually be perfect with almost any menu! But I’ll admit, I bailed at the last minute, thinking we had plenty of food already, I was a little tired from having gone to bed at 2:00 in the morning, and no one would care if we had or didn’t have potatoes on Christmas. Really, everyone looks forward to all the cookies after dinner anyway.
Alas, I still would love to share this recipe with you because I know you will love it and I know you will find a place for it in one of your upcoming weeknight dinners or even for something as special as New Year’s Eve. I love crispy, roasted potatoes plain and simple, but these have an extra umph from the gremolata. Gremolata is an Italian garnish traditionally made with finely chopped fresh parsley, raw garlic and grated lemon zest. I’ve had it before on osso buco, roasted vegetables and even pasta. It’s just bursting with flavor and freshness and makes ordinary potatoes out of this world. I love it! For this version of gremolata, I added a little orange zest, crushed red peppers, and fresh mint and thyme, all of which I adore with potatoes. I also made the gremolata once with a little fresh rosemary instead of the thyme and dropped the chili flakes just because — also delicious!
Try and find these teeny fingerling potatoes if you can. They are so creamy and super easy to use since you just just have to wash and dry them, no peeling, no chopping. BUT, if your market only offers Yukon Gold or red skinned potatoes, go for it. They’ll still be delicious.
I am hoping you are finding time to rest and restore your energy this week. Acting like a superhero is totally overrated and people who look like they do it all don’t, and if they do, they’re exhausted. Being a good parent or a good host/hostess or a good cook is good enough. Sounds like a good new year’s resolution for me for 2014!
You can totally do this. The idea of roasting and deboning a whole fish sounded incredibly intimidating to me when one of my students asked me to prepare it in a class for her husband’s birthday. She said, “the only dish I must request is whole roasted branzino — it’s my husband’s absolute favorite and I would love to know how to make it.” “So would I!” I thought to myself. But instead I offered with confidence, “Absolutely! I will show you how to make the best branzino.” My family ate branzino once a week for a month until I had it just right.
I have taught whole roasted branzino in a few classes now, and most recently at Jenni Kayne’s house for her Holiday Class with The Chalkboard. I wanted to post this recipe now, because Christmas Eve is around the corner and whenever I think of Christmas Eve, I think of fish. It is traditional in Italian homes to eat seven or more different types of fish on that night. I don’t know what we’ll have this year, but typically we start off the evening with spaghetti with clam sauce. Then a few people in my family will make the most classic Italian Christmas Eve fish, baccalà, a dried and salted cod. There are also usually eel, mussels, salmon, stuffed clams, shrimp and crab. However, I will most likely never see branzino at our Christmas Eve table because it’s not something you make for a crowd, and we are a CROWD, anywhere from 60-80 people.
Believe me, it’s not that roasting a whole fish is difficult. In fact, it is just as easy, if not easier, than roasting a whole chicken. If you can find really fresh branzino, aka Mediterranean snapper, there is very little you need to do to it for it to taste good. Isn’t that always the way when you start with good ingredients? But I usually make one whole fish per person and that would need to be a ginormous oven to cook 60 of these. Besides that, most people don’t know how to debone a fish and I wouldn’t want to sit there fileting dozens of these beauties. And therein lies the tricky part about roasting a whole fish — getting to the actual meat when there’s still a head and a tail and loads of bones in the way. Of course, I am going to show you right here how to do this so you’ll be able to have your way with a whole fish when you go out to eat or if you have a dinner party, you can do this for your guests.
I found these beauties at my local Whole Foods for $12.49 per pound. Look for clear, shiny eyes and glossy, not slimy skin. It should also smell fresh like the ocean and not “fishy.” You have every right to ask the fishmonger if you can take a sniff of the fish. People do it all the time, and the fishmongers are used to it. I do, however, consider this a special occasion fish, not because of the price, but because it flew first class from Greece to get to my market. Normally I try to limit (not necessarily eliminate) imported fish given the heavier environmental impact versus those locally caught. If you can’t find branzino in your area, walleye or another small whole fish in the 1 to 1 1/2 pound range will do.
A whole roasted fish stays nice and moist because of the bones and the skin, which I think also give it great flavor. All you need is a healthy sprinkling of salt inside the cavity along with lemon slices and some fresh parsley or fennel fronds. After you take the bones out, you can choose to leave the skin or or remove it. A final drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a quick squeeze of lemon is all you need to have an amazing piece of fish.
Everyone this week was asking about my Mother’s Day and I realized I completely forgot to recount the day for my dear readers! After all, it has been tradition the last couple of years that my husband and bother-in-law and sometimes my father-in-law too, plan and execute Mother’s Day lunch for the ladies. They even do the dishes! The whole day feels like such a treat since I can even workout in the morning AND wash AND blow dry my hair. Before noon! Now that doesn’t happen very often. But I also really look forward to trying some new eats, like the bulgur-feta burgers they made last year from Maria Speck’s cookbook. Yummers! Eating food that’s not for a class or my blog is a fun experience for me.
This year, the boys were a little behind on their planning and were deciding the menu on Sunday morning. On their way to the grocery store. I guess they figured the easiest place to go for recipes with which they were familiar was my website. Yep. More of my food. Whatever. It’s all fine. They did a great job even though it took them about 5 hours to make 2 salads and strawberry shortcakes. And my husband put his own (unintentional) spin on my avocado, jicama and mango salad when he substituted curry powder for cumin. The first two letters are the same — easy mistake! Nonetheless, it was a perfect Mother’s Day.
I was working at home the other day with my assistant and normally we throw together leftovers from a class for lunch or make a kale salad with quinoa and whatever is in the vegetable drawer, but yesterday I had a craving for NOT MY FOOD. I was feeling spontaneous and decided to look through my Foodily faves and Pinterest pins. I came upon these tuna patties and nothing could stop me. They reminded me of ones that my mom used to make, except I am fairly certain she used Ritz Crackers as the binder. Gotta love the 70’s.
I had all the ingredients handy and we threw these together in no time. They were so delicious and reminded me a little of crab cakes, but much easier on the wallet. Next time I make them, and there will be a next time, I’m going to make a sauce to go with them. I’m thinking something creamy with lemon and capers. I think these could also be great as a mini version for an hors d’oeuvre. We ate them with a mixed green salad and it was a really satisfying lunch.
By the way, I have a terrific source for very high quality tuna. I buy it from vitalchoice.com and although it might be one of the more expensive tunas, it’s also the absolute best and Vital Choice doesn’t use BPA in their can liners. Thank you, Vital Choice! This tuna has minimal mercury and is the freshest-tasting I’ve come across. If you have a canned tuna that you love, please share!
Let’s think ahead here. If you want to put the patties together before you leave for the day, or before you start driving everyone to sports practices and music lessons, you can do that and then just saute them right before dinner. You can add some oven fries and a salad or grilled vegetables for a very quick, easy and healthful dinner. Or next year’s Mother’s Day lunch. Hint, hint.