25 September, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Growing up I loved pasta salad. I ate it all the time until I was about 7 or 8 years old. Then, for whatever reason, I stopped eating it. A few years ago I tried it again and was sorely disappointed. The dish I had loved so much as a child tasted horrible. The dressing, with which it was so liberally doused, was processed and gloopy, with an unpleasant saccharine high fructose corn syrup aftertaste, the pasta, soaking in this bath of bile disintegrated to become part of a gelatinous disappointment. My love for pasta salad and the memories of my childhood were ruined.
In an attempt to recapture this fond food memory I have since eaten many more pasta salads ranging from the highly disappointing to the not so bad. None, however, have reached the bar that is my memory of pasta salad, none have made me want to eat them every day straight for weeks on end. None, that is, until I took my childhood memories into my own hands and came up with this dish! This pasta salad recipe, has valiantly redeemed pasta salad and, moreover, has firmly replaced the pasta salad of my youth. In short, it has taught me once more to love the humble pasta salad in all it’s carby, tangy, delicious glory. I make this many different ways, adding vinegar, replacing mozzarella for feta cheese, adding chicken, leaving out the cheese and meat altogether and so on. The possibilities are endless which only makes me love the dish even more. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is the complete omission of store bought salad dressing. That, my friends, has been banned from my kitchen forevermore.
1/2 Lb Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta
30 Cherry tomatoes (approximately)
1 English Cucumber
1 Bunch Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
2 Tbs Capers
2 Green Onions
20 Olives (approximately)
1 Tbs Good Quality Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic Minced
1 Ball of Buffalo Mozzarella (Optional)
Salt to taste
1. Place Pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add pasta to water and cook per packet instructions.
2. Slice Cucumber in half and scrape out the seeds. Dice into a small dice. Place in large serving bowl.
3. Place tomatoes in the food processor and pulse 9-10 times until coarsely chopped. Add to large serving bowl.
4. Cut green onion into a few large pieces, place in food processor and pulse 15-20 times or until diced but not pulp. Add to large serving bowl.
5. Place Parsley into food processor and process until finely chopped. Add to large serving bowl.
6. Place Olives into food processor and pulse 7-8 times or until the olives are coarsely chopped. Add to large serving bowl.
7. Add the garlic and olive oil and toss to combine.
8. If you are using the cheese, dice or tear it into small pieces. Add to the large serving bowl and toss to combine.
9. Add the pasta to the large serving bowl, giving it one last toss.
10. Apply to face.
24 September, 2013 § Leave a Comment
5 years ago when I first started working at Microsoft a coworker and I were discussing the dinners we’d had the night before. She told me she had made a stir fry with something called Mustard Greens. I had never heard of it before and found myself, intrigued. Would they taste like mustard? It looked like lettuce, was I really supposed to cook this? Being curious, I tried it, and right then and there I fell in love with leafy greens. The mustard greens were so delicate yet bold in their flavors and they didn’t have that weird aftertaste you get from cooked spinach, which as much as I love, I can’t stand the squeakiness of.
A short time later I found myself at Whole Foods which had implemented a new points system for foods. It measures the nutrient value per calorie, or something like that. So, while I was grabbing mustard greens I saw that Kale ranked at 1000, a perfect score! Well, I had to give that a try. It looked a lot like my new favorite, Mustard Greens, and if Whole Foods said it was good for me, well, it must be amazing! To my great surprise it was even tastier than Mustard Greens and since then I have come to develop what some might call an unhealthy obsession with Kale. I have even been known to salivate while hiking when coming across wild kale. I guess it could be worse, I could be addicted to chocolate or crack.
There was a time, early in my leafy greens journey, when I thought I had to take the stems off of the kale before cooking them. This is not true, the stems are a delicious and full of fiber. They are not only good for you but add a great contract in texture that is lacking without them. For the love of all things sacred and delicious, don’t waste your time cutting them out.
3 Bunches Kale
8oz Portobello Mushrooms
1 Can Navy beans
1 Chicken Breast
2 Cups Quinoa (rice cooker cups which are actually 3/4 cups each)
1/4 tsp Cumin
10 cloves of garlic minced
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Salt to taste
2 tbs Olive Oil (Optional)
1 Spring Onion (Optional)
1. Place the Quinoa in a rice cooker and cook per packet instructions
2. Place large skillet or wok over high heat
3. Slice Kale into ribbons and rinse in a collander 4. Spray pan with cooking spray and add in kale, reserving 1/4 of it.
5. Once Kale starts to wilt add half the garlic and a pinch of salt
6. Cook until the kale has given up most of it’s water and the stalks are tender
12. While the mushrooms cook, cut up chicken breast into 1/2 centimeter square pieces and toss with 1/2 the remaining garlic and a pinch of salt
13. Once Mushrooms are brown and the garlic has cooked a bit, but before it burns, remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside
14. Add more cooking spray to the pan and add in the chicken
15. In a food processor, add the remaining kale and garlic along with the juice of 1 lemon and about 2 tbs of water, adjusting it until you have a thin paste. If you are opting to use olive oil, use it in place of the water.
16. Don’t forget to keep turning the chicken.
18. Slice the Lemon into quarters and chop the green onion
19. Once this chicken is cooked all the way through add the Kale and Mushrooms back into the pan and cook together mixing to combine. Turn off the heat.
20. Mix the Kale paste into the Quinoa until it turns a bright green color
21. Place the kale quinoa on the bottom of a large platter and spoon the chicken, mushrooms, beans and kale mixture over top. Garnish with lemons and green onions.
22. Apply to face
23 September, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I love pesto pasta, especially the creamy kind. Sadly, it has a ton of fat and calories. What with a half a cup of olive oil in the pesto and at least a 1/4 cup of cream, it’s a miracle I survived as long as I have eating it as much as I did. Now a days I am trying to eat healthier with less saturated fats and more veggies. So I have adapted the original recipe to what you see here. This version is much lighter than the original, with over 10 servings of veggies and only a small fraction of the oil while maintaining the creamy deliciousness of the original. The real trick here is the nonfat yogurt mixed into the pesto and the use of pasta water to bring it all together at the end and create that silky, creamy sauce which makes this dish so delicious.
1/2 lb of Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta
5 Small Zucchini
2 Bunches of Kale
1 Bunch of Basil
3 Cloves of Garlic diced/pressed
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 6oz Container Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Fage)
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 Small Bag of Frozen Peas
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Salt to taste
1. Place a pot of boiling water over high heat with a liberal pinch of salt
2. Place a large nonstick skillet over high heat
3. Dice zucchini
4. Spray large skillet with olive oil cooking spray
5. Add Zucchini, a sprinkle of salt and cook on high heat tossing until brown
6. Add basil, olive oil and 1 clove or garlic to the food processor and process. Then add 3 tbs of hot water from the pot on the stove, or enough to reach a smooth consistency
7. Slice Kale into thin strips
8. Once the zucchini is browned add the kale and remaining garlic to pan
9. Slice the tomatoes in half and add to a large pasta/serving bowl with a pinch of salt
10. Add the pesto to the bottom of the pasta bowl and mix in the greek yogurt
11. Once the kale is wilted and cooked through add to the bowl
12. Add peas to the pan and cook until warmed through
13. Drain pasta once cooked through reserving a cup or so of the pasta water
14. Stir to combine adding a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water or as much as necessary to get a creamy sauce
15. Apply to face
2 July, 2013 § Leave a Comment
There are few things I enjoy in life as much as a simple Spanish tapas meal. Sadly, here in Seattle the only decent Spanish restaurant is Harvest Vine and they charge ridiculous prices for what they offer. So, I usually leave that for a special ocassion and am denied the joy of a good, reasonably priced tapas dinner out. Therefore, when I go to Miami to visit family, I make it a point to stop by my favorite little tapas joint at least once. Delicias de España is where I grew up going to eat tapas and drink a glass of wine with my family and it is where I still go to this day when I am in Miami. It has grown form the little store on Bird Road we used to go to, into a chain of three restaurants and stores spread throughout Miami with an equally good selection of tapas and wine in all three. This review is for the newest location in Kendal near Dadeland.
2 July, 2013 § 2 Comments
You would think that with my history of chicken and rice I can make it in any quantity and for any crowd. That I could make it in a house or make it for a mouse or make it here or there, that I could make it anywhere! Sadly, that is not the case. A few years ago I had a friend’s family over and I tried making 16 servings of it in one pot. It was a disaster!! The pan’s bottom was too thin, the rice stuck to the bottom and burned. It was so bad I had to throw out the pan. Amazingly enough his family still wanted to eat the not burned parts of the dish. It was “ok” but it still had that horrible flavor of having been cooked in a pot where something burned. I was mortified, not least of all because this friend had been going on about my cooking to his family and THIS hideousness is what I served them. It was the first time I ever burned anything for a crowd/group before and it was possibly one of the most embarrassing moments of my culinary life.
Since then, I have oscillated between avoiding and wanting to make this for a crowd again, but I never had the nerve to attempt it. Enter a new job and a team who loves to share food and eat. They flat out asked for me to bring them food!! Well, I am always looking for willing Guinea pigs to feed the recipes I make for this blog and this was my big chance!! I whooped out my big girl panties, screwed my courage to the sticking place, and made chicken and rice for a crowd. I am proud to say that this time I got it right! Not only did it taste as expected, the rice cooked properly and nothing burned to the bottom of the pan. This recipe feeds between 12 and 16 people depending on their appetite.
This recipe differs slightly from my other chicken and rice recipe and is slightly easier to make. I use it because it is a recipe that is very balanced and doubling, halving or quartering it is simple and works well.
2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thigh – Diced into 1 inch pieces
4 cups short grain rice
1 very large yellow onion – diced
10 cloves of garlic – crushed
6 packets of Sazon Goya
3 tbsp of olive oil
8 cups boiling water
Salt to taste
What is Sazon Goya?
Sazon Goya is a seasoning packet used by the Cuban community to flavor mainly chicken and rice. It is comprised of cumin, anatto, food coloring and MSG. If you do not want to use this you can use a pinch of saffron in water along with a tsp of cumin and a tsp of salt for each packet. The flavor will not be identical but it will still be delicious.
1. Heat a large dutch oven, the thicker the bottom the better, over high heat
2. Add the olive oil, chicken and onions
3. Sautee for 5 minutes
4. Add the garlic and Sazon Goya
5. Sautee until the chicken is cooked through and there is little to no liquid left in the bottom of the pan
6. Add the rice and boiling water to the pot
7. Stir well, place the cover over the top and reduce heat to low
8. Let cook for 5 minutes
9. Stir to make sure that no rice is sticking. This is the biggest problem you have when making this dish for a crowd, so while it might seem counter intuitive to lift the lid, it beats the hell out of burning the dish
10. Replace the cover and let cook for another 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure that nothing is sticking
11. Once the rice is tender and the water has evaporated the dish is done
12. Transfer to a serving dish and if you would like you may garnish with roasted bell peppers and peas or lime wedges and chopped parsley
13. Apply to face
3 June, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I have done a bad thing. I have angered the Twinning’s Tea Man. Not only did I photograph the food halls at Harrod’s department store, I continued to do so after I was told by the Twinnings Tea Man that I must not do so. I am likely to serve time for this, surely I won’t be allowed back in the country after this gets out.
In all seriousness though I adore Harrods, not because I dream of doing my shopping in the poshest of places and paying an arm , a leg, and a kidney for them but because all the food is displayed so beautifully and the diversity of ingredients is astounding. Anyway, enough about why I like it, let’s get to the pretty pictures shall we…
3 June, 2013 § 1 Comment
We had a dinner party at our house last night with two dear friends, Omeed and Rachel. Rachel has recently returned from a trip to Europe, in which she ran the Paris marathon and took a cooking class in Barcelona! So proud of her for the former and so jealous of the latter. We have been talking about her cooking class quite a bit and so this weekend we decided to get together and make some Spanish recipes to feast on. The menu consisted of Pan con Tomate with Jamon Serano and queso de cabra, tortilla Española, Paella de Mariscos and Crema Catalana. Rachel and I cooked it all up and she brought an amazing bottle of Spanish white wine all the way from Spain! It was absolutely amazing, delicious and a total blast!! Below is the recipe for the Paella I made.
1.5 Cups of Rice
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs*
6 Bodies of Calamari***
3 Large diver scallops or 6-8 small scallops****
4 Large Scampi or 6 Head on Shrimp^
1 link of Spanish Chorizo (3 oz)
4.5 cups of water
1 medium sized onion, diced (or half a large one)
4 cloves of garlic – minced
1 Tbs Smoked Sweet paprika
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Place a large skillet over med-high heat to get nice and hot
2. Dice the chicken into small centimeter squared pieces and toss with the smoked paprika and salt, set aside.
3. Dice the chorizo into centimeter squared pieces and set aside
4. Add the olive oil, chicken and chorizo to the pan and allow to brown on all sides
5. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until you can smell the garlic
6. Add the rice and stir it so that it gets coated in the oil
7. Add the water and saffron (you can steep the saffron in the water if you want, I don’t find it makes a big enough difference to bother with)
8. Once it begins boiling reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 18 minutes
9. Once 18 minutes are done most of the water should have evaporated and the rice should be cooked or almost cooked.
10. Add the mussels, clams and calamari, cover with aluminum foil and wait for them to open.
11. In a separate skillet heat a little bit of olive oil and cook the scallops and scampi/shrimp until done. Then place on top of the paella.
12. Once the mollusks open turn the heat up to high and cook for another 45-60 seconds or until the bottom is crunchy
13. Optional: Garnish with Italian Parsley and serve with lemon wedges
14. Apply to face
* – Many recipes and in fact many Spaniards use whole chicken parts with skin and all, they cook them in the pan and then remove them before adding the rice. This to me is a waste of time. The chicken thigh adds enough flavor to achieve the desired result without all the mess and time of the full chicken piece. Also, for me, the paella the mariscos is about the mariscos, not the pollo.
** – Clams and Muscles should be cleaned before you start cooking the paella. Muscles and clams at the grocery stores are so clean that all you really need to do most of the time is rinse them and check for dead ones. However, if you are like me and went to Pike Place to get the freshest ones possible, don’t be like me and forget to clean them until the last minute, not good times. Thankfully it came out ok, but it was more stress than I wanted. If you find you have very dirty mollusks the best thing to do is to soak them in a bowl with clod water and flour. They will then let go of the sand and eat the flour, or so I was told and it works for me.
***- Scallops and Scampi or head of shrimp are costly. There is not getting around it. If you buy a nice big diver scallop you are gonna pay a pretty penny. I don’t mind that, especially if I can cook it properly and enjoy it! That said, I don’t think steaming them on top of the paella gives them to best flavor or me the most control over doneness. So I fry these separately in a skillet with a little olive oil and maybe a crushed garlic clove. This allows me to ensure that I not only cook these pricey and delicious ingredients to a perfect doneness, but it also allows me to get a nice brown crust on them.
^ – When you are buying the scampi or shrimp ask the fishmonger to clean them and leave the shell and skin on. This is easy enough for them to do. If your fishmonger is good enough to carry head on shrimp and huge scampi odds are good he can clean them for you. The presentation and flavor are just so much better when the shell is still on them.