If you didn’t notice that Thanksgiving is basically around the corner, I am here to remind you! I am teaching a Thanksgiving bootcamp starting next week (!) which will get you so prepared, you will actually be EXCITED and LOOKING FORWARD to hosting and enjoying the Thanksgiving of your dreams. For my community, I always like to entice you with a good discount. Take $100 off with code TDAY100. You don’t have to watch live. I have payment plans available. You don’t have to use PayPal. You can watch the videos over and over and over again. You can ask me any and all questions. I’m like your personal Thanksgiving consultant until the day of. Menu suggestions, how to deal with different types of eating styles, limited resources in the kitchen, no oven, how to deal with the worst in-laws ever. Just kidding! Sign up today. We are going to have so much fun and you’ll be able to use these tips and systems forever!Continue reading
We made it to Barcelona! Neither my husband, the kids , nor I has ever been to Barcelona before, and hubby and I haven’t been to Spain in 17 years! We are very excited to start our European vacation here. So much to see and do in a short amount of time!
As you would imagine, I am fairly obsessed with what people eat around the world. As much as I love visiting landmarks and museums and churches (I am actually also obsessed with churches), local markets and restaurants are high on my list of places to experience. I am fairly open-minded when it comes to trying new foods, although I am not a huge fan of meat, game and pork. I know, my options will be limited in Barcelona since every other menu item contains some sort of the above mentioned. Moderation is my mantra.
I am for sure on the lookout for excellent paella, which is basically like the national rice dish of Spain. I L-O-V-E rice in any way, shape or form. Paella is particularly delicious because it is typically cooked with lots of seafood, chicken, pork and some other tidbits like olives and roasted peppers all mixed together in the same saffron-infused dish. It’s so tasty. And it’s basically Mr. Picky’s nightmare since he would eat all of those things PLAIN, and “why did they have to mess this up by cooking it all together?!” I already gave Mr. Picky a pep talk before we left about being open-minded about food, otherwise he might ended up starving, or worse, really cranky. I’ll keep you posted, friends. Wish me luck.
Whether I find the perfect paella in Barcelona or not (and if you know where I should go, speak up!), I did teach this Vegetable Paella in my cooking classes this past spring. And I might admit, it was so flavorful and rich even without all the meat. You don’t normally find paella loaded with vegetables, and I find that true about a lot of the dishes in Spain – not very veggie-heavy, unless you count (fried) potatoes as a veg. Asparagus, peppers, artichokes (by all means, use frozen), tomatoes, mushrooms all go in here. I did make this several times for my vegetarian students with veggie stock, and it was very good, but I do prefer using chicken stock.
The one ingredient that is missing from this paella recipe that makes it an imposter and non-authentic is saffron, which gives the rice a beautiful gold color and imparts a unique flavor. Saffron is absurdly expensive and I have always had success substituting a bit of ground turmeric for saffron when I need that great yellow tint. If you have saffron however, by all means use it by crumbling it and dissolving it in some hot stock.
I love eating this paella with a green salad on the side and that’s it (although a pitcher of sangria wouldn’t hurt.) More from Barcleona to come, including my quest for the best paella!
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- ¼ cup drained sliced jarred pimientos, chopped (one 4-ounce jar) or equivalent amount of roasted red pepper, diced
- 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped or ½ an 18-ounce jar of diced tomatoes, drained
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt (or more if your stock is unsalted)
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon paprika or sweet pimenton
- 1 ½ cups rice, preferably medium grain such as bomba or arborio
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 6 ounces artichoke hearts, either frozen and thawed or jarred and drained*
- optional: serve with lemon wedges on the side
- In a large skillet pan (between 12-14 inches,) heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the pimientos, tomato and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the salt, both paprikas, turmeric, and rice. Add the chicken stock and parsley and bring to a boil. Continue cooking over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in the asparagus, peas, and artichokes. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
- *to give the artichokes some extra flavor, pat them dry and sauté them in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
A close second to my obsession with summer tomatoes is my love for fresh locally-grown summer corn. I think I buy it twice a week from the end of June to October. I love corn’s juicy, grassy sweetness. I love how easy it is to make it taste good (if it’s fresh) and how it goes so beautifully with all the other summer produce. A major bonus is that everyone in my family loves corn. Actually, not true. My father grew up on a farm in Italy where they fed the pigs corn and he still associates it with animal feed. Pity.
Given all the above, I have prepared A LOT of corn for summer dinner guests and I have made an unscientific observation. Adults are not fond of eating corn-on-the-cob in front of people they are not related to. Guilty! I have served both boiled and grilled corn on the cob to guests, as well as sauteed corn kernels or corn off the cob in a salad, and corn cut off the cob is always more popular. I think that sometimes eating an ear of corn is awkward or messy. Perhaps it gets stuck in your teeth or stays on your check and no one tells you until dessert is served. So I have a policy of making corn on the cob for my kids and my husband and me, but always cut off the cob for guests.
One very popular way to eat corn in Southern California is Grilled Mexican Corn on the Cob. Typically the ear of corn is grilled in the husk and then the kernels (still on the cob) are slathered with mayonnaise, chili powder and/or cayenne pepper, a squeeze of fresh lime and sprinkled with salty, crumbly Cotija cheese. Utterly delicious, albeit messy and something I would never eat in front of you, especially if I hope to make a good impression and keep my shirt from the dry cleaners. But I figured the same flavors would translate to to cut corn kernels. It worked! The only thing I leave out is the mayonnaise which I think can take over and detract from the corn. But I’m sure many of you would challenge me on that one. I am crazy about grilling corn in the husks, though. Have you ever smelled burning corn husks? It’s fantastic. I really think it adds a delicious smokiness to the final dish.
Definitely try this recipe if you’re looking for something a little different or if you love the taste of grilled street corn, as some people call it, but you’d still like to look like a lady/gentleman while you eat. I served this the other night with grilled fish tacos and I ate it both as a side dish as well as a condiment on my taco. Delicious! If you can’t get enough of corn right now, try my recipe for my favorite salad, Chopped Grilled Vegetable Salad, as well as Southwestern Quinoa Salad, or Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa. Of course there are thousands of recipes you can search on Foodily, where I was just asked to be a Tastemaker. Fun! I get to highlight awesome recipes that I find all over the web. Check it out!
- 4 ears of corn
- 2 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- juice of ½ lime
- fine grain sea salt to taste
- Crumbled feta, Parmesan or Cotija cheese, if desired (it's just as good without)
- Preheat a grill over medium heat. Carefully pull down husks and remove silks. Replace most of the husk and grill for 5-6 minutes per side or until kernels are charred. Don’t worry if the husk burns. Remove husk and cut kernels off of the cob.
- Melt butter in large sauté pan. Add chili powder, paprika and lime juice and stir to combine. Stir in corn and season with salt. Taste it for seasoning. Try not to eat the whole thing. Finish with lime juice and a sprinkling of cheese, if you like.
Do you have a son younger than college age? Did you ever have one? Do you know that he probably doesn’t eat lunch at school? I know you pack him something wonderful and maybe he even helped pick it all out. But here’s the reality: if your school is like mine and permits recess as soon as the kids are “finished” with lunch, most boys are only focused on one thing. Playing ball. I have figured out that my son only eats what he can on the way to the field and leaves everything else in the lunchbox. He eats it all when he comes home, but he does NOT want to miss being picked for the better team or waste time sitting around eating when he can be doing his favorite thing in the world. Playing ball.
Mr. Picky is in second grade and this has been going on since he started elementary school and from what other moms tell me, it doesn’t end. So it was a big day in the Salzman household when Mr. Picky announced that he would like to take a thermos to school. Why? Did the state cut the budget for soccer balls? Not yet. Mr. Picky wanted a thermos so that he could take these lentils to school. For lunch. This is big, people. And the thermos came back empty.
It is not at all important to me why he likes lentils, only that they are an amazing source of low-fat protein and super high in fiber, so they keep him full for a long time and help stabilize his blood sugar. So I thought I would share this recipe with you just before Halloween since it is keeping in line with my strategy for the big night o’candy. I can’t/won’t forbid my kids from eating candy on Halloween. How unrealistic is that? (Rhetorical question. Very.) My strategy is to get them really full with a good dinner before they go out so that they have no room in their bellies for too much candy.
My mom used to make braised lentils which is kind of like making lentil soup, but with less liquid. Only she used to put a piece of pork or a smoked ham hock in the pot and it gave the lentils great flavor. I don’t eat pork, but I started adding smoked paprika to my lentils to give a similar smokiness and it’s delicious. Mr. Picky says it tastes like there’s a hot dog in there. In fact, that wouldn’t be a bad idea to put a (nitrate-free) hot dog in the pot to persuade your kids to try lentils. Just a thought. I very often make them as a vegetarian dish since they have so much protein, but here I served them with my answer to fast food — Applegate Farms (Precooked) Organic Chicken and Turkey Sausages. No matter how busy you are, I am sure you aren’t too busy to warm up these sausages. I bake them, which is so much easier than cooking them in a skillet and having to clean up any splattering on the stovetop. But the best part is that there are no spooky ingredients to worry about!
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2-3 teaspoons smoked paprika (Spice Hunter is a good, easy-to-find brand. Spicely Organic has no flavor.)
- 1 cup organic black or French lentils* (sorted and rinsed)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (+ ½ teaspoon if you don’t cook sausages with lentils)
- 2 ½ cups water
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 packages precooked Applegate Farms Sweet Italian or Chicken Apple sausages (4/package)
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add the carrots, garlic and paprika. Cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the lentils, thyme, salt and water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes** or until lentils are tender. Halfway during the cooking process, preheat the oven to 350.
- Bake sausages on a baking sheet until heated through, about 15-20 minutes. Slice into thirds and serve with the lentils. Or alternatively, cut the sausages in half or thirds and add to lentils halfway through cooking lentils and heat sausages through.
- If lentils seem too liquidy, simmer a little longer uncovered. Taste lentils and season with salt and pepper as needed.