All posts in herbs


Woke up Crabby…

At what point do you go from being able to have a few margaritas and still feel like 100 bucks the next morning OR have a few margaritas and wake up absolutely crabby!?
Does this aging happen over night, literally?!


Last night Mindee and I had dinner (and margaritas) at Tacolicious in the Marina- a neighborhood where the pitch of women’s voices reach a frequencey unlike anywhere else in San Francisco and all the men look and dress the same.  Not exactly mine and Mindee’s type of neighborhood… it’s the authentic tacos and margaritas, not the well groomed men, that keep us coming back for more.  By sun down and the time it takes Mindee and me to finish our first margarita, this place has gone from taqueria to swanky, sleazy, sweaty bar!
These aren’t the sugar packed and pre mixed margaritas, but rather made with actual lime juice and good quality tequila! So good, they go down like juice!
Anyway, I woke up feeling, well you know the feeling, not entirely chippery, to say the least.  And the only thing sounding remotely appetizing is something hot, spicy and greasy!
I mixed together what I had on hand, canned crab (is that tacky?) bell peppers and hot sauce and the result were these perfectly little moist crabby cakes! yum!

Enjoyed anytime of day for any occasion, casual or fancy, hung-over or chippery, these little guys are a pleaser for sure!
I topped them with homemade herb aioi to really add to the fat-factor!

Makes 8 small cakes
Ingredients:
3 cans crab
2 eggs
1/2 bell pepper diced
2 T homemade aioli (or mayo)
A handful of mixed fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, chives, dill)
1 garlic minces
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used gluten free)
Sanf and pepper
Extra bread crumbs for rolling
Vegetable oil for frying (I used grape seed)
Mix the eggs
Add the remaining ingredients
Divide into 8 patties
Fill a shallow dish with some bread crumbs, season with salt and pepper
Line a baking sheet with foil, spray
Roll the cakes in the bread crumbs and press the crumbs into the crab
Place the tray in the fridge for about 30 minutes, allowing them to firm up
Preheat the oven to 300
Heat the oil in a frying pan
In batches of four, fry the cakes, about 3 minutes on each side
Transfer back to the baking sheet and continue with the remaining four
Transfer the sheet to the oven.
Heat the crab cakes through, about 10-15 minutes

Enjooooooooy!
 

Packet of Provençal

fish, herbs, main entree 1 Comment
 My favorite way to cook fish is provencal style:
capers, olives, tomatoes, rosemary in white wine is a heavenly combination!

I love cooking fish is in a parchment paper packet for s many reasons.  It is simple with very little hands-on time.  It’s a healthy way of cooking because the fish is steamed in it’s one juices.  They are fun to serve at dinner parties, guests are impressed.  And the possibilities of herbs, vegetables and fish used are endless!
This dish is a perfect example of when I cook and not use a recipe or really pay attention to quantities. It’s really up to you and your preferences.  If you really like capers, add more! Or use thyme in stead of rosemary if that what you have on hand.  So, with that said, I’l list the ingredients but don’t pay too much attention to the quantities- make it how you like!
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes halved
1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved or chopped
2 T capers
1 T rosemary
2 T white wine
4 pieces of cod
2 cups of a cooked grain
Preheat oven to 350
Now the fun part- assembly!
In a bowl combine the fist 5 ingredients
Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper into large oval shapes, as wide as the length of fish
Fold the paper in half
Place 1/2 a cup of rice right beneath the fold
Season the fish with salt and pepper
Top rice with fish
Evenly top the fish with your caper olive combo
Fold over the parchment paper and crumple close the packets
Place them on a baking sheet
Bake for 25 minutes
Careful when opening, steam is hot
This is nice served with roasted asparagus
While the fish is cooking toss asparagus with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper
Spread on a baking sheet
When you take the fish out, turn the oven to broiler, and put in the asparagus
Set the timer for 2 minutes
Meanwhile, open the fish packets and plate them
Toss the asparagus again and return to the broiler for 2 minutes
Divide asparagus evenly among the plates
 

Warm Avocado and Pesto Crostini

I feel so sorry for avocados.  They have such a short life.  Really, only one perfect day to be enjoyed at its best.  And once you cut in, there is no going back.  It’s only downhill for the little lady from there.


My beautiful little Hass Avoacodo had been sitting on my windowsill for a couple days now, just waiting to ripen to perfection under the sun light.  This morning, I reached up to give her a little squeeze and she waaaaaaas perfect!

Now my favorite part of being a chef begins… coming up with something delicious and creative with a few given ingredients.

My culinary wheels did a little spin that went something like this:
Basil on it’s last leg of life, why not pesto (my recipe made with brazil nuts),
Marinated feta I’m currently obsessed obviously must be smothered on top (recipe)
A big hearty slice of bread, because what’s better than crostini?
And all put under the sizzlin broiler to let the flavors really melt together!
Oh, and of course finished with fresh ground black pepper, sea salt and a drizzle of extra aged balsamic!

Please don’t end!

I was not planning on having an entire avocado for lunch today, but honestly, I didn’t feel I had a choice :o)

For those of you who like to eat gluten free when possible, you have got to try this bread.
I keep it in my freezer and cut off pieces as I like
And this is my favorite Balsamic, from Napa Valley

 

Like Pesto- But Not Really

herbs 0 Comments

I loooooooove pesto, and have so much fun experimenting with the herb and nut combos!

This recipes is one of my favorites and in an attempt to make it a little more of a guilt free spread I gave it a few tweaks.
I skimp on the oil, keeping the calories down and making it a thicker, and use Brazil nuts instead of the traditional pinenuts.  Brazil nuts are super healthy for you and I just read that they are considered a complete protein (here)  woooah!
I like to get creative with this type of spread, I think you will have fun experimenting with the combinations too!

A few of my Favorite Combinations:
Mint and Pistachio is great with Lamb
Parsley/Cilantro (3 to 1 ratio), Yogurt and Almonds go well on Fish Tacos
Parsley, Feta and Walnuts on Moroccan Tangine

So I guess really there is nothing “pesto-y” about my version except that it is a combination of herbs, cheese and nuts.  Traditionally pesto genovese (originally from Italy, Liguria) is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmigiano and olive oil.  The best pesto outside of Liguria (and I would know!) is at Farina in San Francisco’s Mission District.  Really, you will be licking your plate!

Base your choice of ingredients off of these ratios:

Ingredients:
2 cups of Basil
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1/3 cups Brazil nuts
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil

Put the garlic in the food processor and pulse a few times
Add the basil in batches, pulsing each time
Add the nuts and continue to mix until well combined
While the blade is running pour in the olive oil
Add the Cheese, mix just a bit
Add the salt and pepper
Adjust the ingredients to your taste

 

Marinated Feta

Spread over warm crostini and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic


Mindee and I were first introduced to marinated feta in Greece this summer.  You know the Greeks…they looooove their feta!

Since then, we always have a bowl of this deliciousness marinading in the fridge.  It has become my new favorite condiment, and I’m sprinkling it on almost everything these days, from my poached egg in the morning to my crostini with grilled asparagus (recipe) at lunch

 

There are only a few ingredients here, so choose good quality cheese and oil! I used sheep feta but goat is just a yummy. I think next time I make this I will use a harder cheese.  This brand happened to be a little too soft, which has great flavor but you want the cheese to keep its shape more than mine did.
Ingredients:
20 oz feta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T garlic infused extra virgin olive oil
1 Heaping T of Herbs de Provence
1 t black pepper corns
1/2 t sea salt, or to taste
Directions:
Cube the cheese and set aside
Whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl
Add the cheese and gently toss
Let sit for 30 minutes before serving
Serve at room temperature
Transfer to a container with a lid so you can keep it in the fridge
Enjoy- I know you will!
 

Almond-Chive Crusted Salmon


Vary the herbs according to your preference; try dill, thyme or basil

I have a TON of almonds left over from an event and I’m enjoying experiment with them in many different dishes. Almonds, and nuts in general are so versitile. They can be use in any course, during meal and with almost all ingredients! Breakfast, lunch, dessert, savory, sweet…
Not to mention, nuts are super good for you
Serves 4
1/4 cup sliced almond
2 T fresh chives, chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 t lemon zest
2 slices of bread
salt
Salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Black pepper
Lemon wedges
Preheat the oven to 400
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a fod processor, along with some salt.
Process until finely chopped
Sprinkle Salmon with salt and pepper
Top the salmon evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and gently press to adhere
Place the salmon on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray (or on parchment paper)
Bake for 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Serve with lemon wedges
 

Egg Salad Sandwich

Here I’ve made a healthy twist to the otherwise not so healthy American staple sandwich.
Instead of Mayonnaise I use fat free plain yogurt (organic). Yogurt adds protein, where as mayo is purly fat- that’s all- with absolutely no beneficial nutritional value.

I’ve recently been making the conscious effort to eat more protein. I am currently teaching 15 classes a week at a gym and realized that some days the only protein I had was fat free plain yogurt and quinoa.
Being a pescatarian who doesn’t eat soy (tofu) or gluten (seitan) and rarely fish, it is quite tricky to be sure I am getting the proper nutrients. Lately I have been feeling a little weak and constantly hungry, so I decided a good first step would be to have hard boiled eggs always on hand.
I boiled a 6-pack carton of local, organic, free-range eggs (haha so ridiculous) and they sat in my fridge un-touched for a week….until today…

Look you can even see the whole grains of millet in my gluten free bread!

Yields 2 open face sandwiches

Ingredients:
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 celery stocks chopped
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 T fresh herbs chopped (dill, parsley and/or chives)
pinch of tumeric
salt and pepper
lettuce (tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, toppings are up to you)
2 slices of bread (I used Gluten Free Millet bread)


Toast 2 slices of bread and top each with a few pieces of lettuce
Meanwhile, Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix well, but gently. I like to keep the eggs in pieces, not mashed.
Top each piece of toast with the egg mixture.
Garnish with herbs, sprouts, avocado, etc.

That’s it – easy peasy
This gets pretty messy. I suggest not eating it in front of a guy you are trying to impress.
 

Butternut Squash with Brown Butter, Crispy Sage, Pecan & Quinoa Pilaf…

…It’s a mouth full- Literally!

’tis the season to eat SQUASH

breakfast, lunch, side dish or dinner…
bake, roast, steam, stuff or mash…
The possibilities are endless


Since August I have eaten squash at least 3 times a week… I know, 5 months later I am just now deciding to write about it.
My favorites are Acorn, Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.

Mindee’s beautiful blue and white China, classy.

This Sunday my cousin and I took a stroll to our lovely neighborhood Farmer’s Market at Fort Mason– and it was here that I came across these adorable little baby size butternut squash.





To help understand the petit-ness of the squash, I served them on 6 inch plates.

Because butternut squash does not have a very large opening in the middle with seeds (see photo below) you will have to scoop out extra to make a larger space, big enough to fill with your yummy pilaf. Leaving about 1 inch of the “meat” around all sides.


Ingredients:

Butternut Squash (or acorn squash)
1/4 cup quinoa
1 T butter
A few fresh sage leaves chopped
A handful of pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375
Cut the Squash lengthwise
Scoop out the seeds and using a knife, make an even larger opening.
Place cut side down on a baking sheet and prick many times with a fork (this allows steam to escape when baking)
Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa.
Rinse the quinoa well before adding to a sauce pan. Add double the amount of water as quinoa, and a pinch of salt to the sauce pan of quinoa, cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, partially covered, cook for 15 minutes- viola!

For the good stuff:
Add the butter to a small skillet, melt and let burn a little, add a pinch of salt sage and pecans.
Cook for a minute until sage and nuts become fragrant.
Add the Quinoa to the pan, coat and mix well with the butter.

Stuff the baked squash with the warm quinoa pilaf and top with a pecan half for a little extra touch.

Notes:
If I were making these for a crowd (or men) I’d probably serve skirt steak and sauteed dark leafy greens too. But for my cousin and me, this was plenty for dinner.

These last a few days in the fridge. Today after the gym I reheated my last half in the oven for about 30 minutes at 300 while I was in the shower- and viola- lunch is served :o)
Not to mention, this is a good source of full protein after a workout.

 

Cornmeal Crust Pizza


I have always loved cornmeal crust pizzas and finally realized it was time I learn to make one. If you have never tried one, it’s time to indulge.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re all aware nothing beats a traditional Italian thin crust pizza, nothing, but, a cornmeal crust does put up a pretty good fight.
Not only are cornmeal crusts hearty and filling, they can also be made gluten free!
Since going gluten free, this has been in the top 5 on my “Gotta Make GF” list!
Not to mention, it has less than 10 ingredients and you don’t have to wait for it to rise like pizza dough, this is a gotta make for sure recipe!
I encourage you to get creative with your toppings. Use whatever vegetable is in season, eggplant, tomatoes, arugula, artichokes butternut squash… have fun with it!
I also decided to throw dried rosemary and thyme into the crust for a little extra flavor.
I made the pesto, I’ll post the recipe one of these days, but store bought can be just as tasty.
I used almond milk and walnut oil in place of milk and vegetable oil. Either works fine.

Yields 2 crusts

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups cornmeal
2 cups GF flour
1 T baking powder
2 t sugar
1 t salt
2 t dried thyme
2 t dried rosemary
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup walnut oil

Toppings:
Goat Cheese
Pesto
1 Summer squash
2 Small zucchini
Fresh Thyme
2 cloves of roasted garlic (optional)

Preheat 325
Whisk the dry ingredients
Add the wet ingredients, stirring well
Divide into 2 equal portions for 2 pizza crusts (even 3 thinner crusts if you want)
Press one portion into a pie pan with a removable bottom
Bake for 15 minutes

Meanwhile, thinly slice your squash and zucchini

Remove your crust from the oven and spread goat cheese over the warm crust, this makes spreading easier.
Add you pesto
Fan the slices of squash and zucchini
Garnish with thyme and garlic
Continue baking for 12 minutes

This recipe was not taking from this book, but it has been out for a couple of days now and must have been what inspired me
 

Going Nuts for Rosemary Cashews

My aunt has been making these nuts every year during the Holidays for as long as I can remember. I seriously need to brush my teeth and chew on gum just to get myself to stop eating them!
They can be served warm out of the oven or at room temp.


Ah the smell of rosemary just makes me smile :)
Not only are these full of the earthy rosemary flavor, but they have sweet, spicy and saltyness to them too! Brown sugar, coarse salt and cayenne pepper come together so well here!

Well, it’s been almost two months since the Holidays, looks like it’s time to make them again!
Ingredients:
1 lb unsalted cashews
2 T minced fresh rosemary
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t brown sugar
1 T corse salt
1 T Melted unsalted butter (I use Earth Balance)
Preheat 350
Spread cashews on a baking sheet. Toast until warm, about 5 minutes
In a bowl combine the seasonings (not the butter)
Mix in the warm nuts
Pour the melted butter over them and stir well, coating all the nuts
Eat at your own risk- your waist line may grow if you neglect to share

For Holiday presents I made these cashews and put them in cute little Anthropologie bowls, with the recipe attached on a little card.
This recipe was adapted from my aunt’s favorite chef, Ina Garten, author of Barefoot Contessa.

 

Simone’s Amazing Rice Medley


My cousin Simone has a big heart and an even bigger appreciation for healthy cooking and living!

Not only does she maintain a healthy lifestyle while living in the states, but also while she travels the world!  She recently spent 3 months traveling in Croatia, Bosnia, Italy, Spain and Portugal, all while continuing to stay fit and eat vegan.  Even I fell off the Vegan Wagon while in Paris- the CHEESE was calling me!  But Simone always stands her ground and isn’t tempted by a country’s cuisine.
Simone staying veg in Spain!
Simone’s Amazing Rice Medley was inspired by Julia Child.  This year for Christmas everyone had to make something from a Julia Child cookbook.  For the many vegetarians and health conscious members in my family this was not an ideal Christmas!  
As many of you probably know, Julia Child’s motto is the more butter, cream and fat the better! 
Really? Ok, if you don’t mind high cholesterol, clogged arteries and high blood pressure, fine.
Simone knew that some changes would definitely have to be made to Julia’s recipe- sorry Julia.
Healthy Change #1: Simone used a mixture of rices like brown, wild and even red.  
Healthy Change #2: Instead of 2 cups of milk, use 2 cups of vegetable stock (no salt added).  
Two simple changes with such big health benefits!
3 types of rice
This recipe makes a ton and lasts a few days in the fridge.  Since Christmas I’ve made a batch ever week!  It goes so well with steamed veggies for a healthy, hearty vegetarian filling dinner!
In French this is called, Puree Freneuse!
(Puree of Rice and Turnips with herbs and garlic)
Ingredients:
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of rice (mix it up! Be creative!)
1 T butter (Earth Balance if making vegan) 
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 t salt
1/4 t Italian seasoning
3-4 white turnips, peeled and roughly chopped
Turnips
In a heavy- bottomed pot bring the vegetable stock to a simmer.
Add the rice, salt, butter, garlic and seasonings.
Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.
Add the turnips and more stock if necessary (vegetable should be covered with liquid)
Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
And there you have it! So simple and so delicious!
BON APPETIT!
 

Erin’s Persimmon Caprese Salad

Erin? How should I start? We’ve been friends since elementary school and we’re now roomies.
She’s witty and sassy and most importantly has a true appreciation for healthy, local, organic food.  Erin is sure to know how the cow in her bun was raised or if the cheese on her cracker came from a happy goat.  When it comes to big farms, little farms, corporate and family farms Erin knows it all.  If you are willing to listen, she’s sure to make any meat eater think twice before ordering a BigMac. The Truth.

While taking our stroll through San Francisco’s beautiful farmer’s market and seeing all the wonderful produce it was hard to decide on just one dish to make.  Erin spotted the persimmons and knew she could whip up something creative with them.
Erin decided to put a twist on the tradition caprese salad (Italian salad of tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella) and added persimmons!
While at the market Erin stopped at Cowgirl Creamery, a store specializing in organic and local cheese, to grab the freshest mozzarella they had.

The sweet flavor of the fruit really mixes well with the tomatoes, 
mozzarella and balsamic vinagar- well done ErBear!

Yields 6 servings
Ingredients
3 persimmons
2 beefsteak tomatoes- I hate the name :)
1 Ball of fresh mozzarella (buffalo if you can find it)
A handful of chopped fresh basil.
3 T olive oil
2 T Balsamic vinegar
2 cups of arugula 
Slice the persimmons and tomatoes- discarding any extra watery seeds you’d like.
slice the mozzarella.
Toss well with the chopped basil, sea salt and fresh pepper.
Line a serving dish with the arugula.
Spoon the persimmons onto the arugula and drizzle with good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
emem good…
 

Cacik

Cacik is a Turkish yogurt dip that can be eaten with any meal in the day.  To Greeks, and most Westerners, this dish is most commonly know as Tzatziki.  Cacik’s mild, refreshing tastes makes it especially nice paired with hot, heavier foods, like a lamb dish.  Cacik is perfect for dipping vegetable or simply eating alone.

Ingredients:
good quality plain yogurt (nice and thick)
one medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
lemon
dill, roughly chopped
olive oil
garlic
S&P
I’m not too worried about measuring for this recipy.  It’d be hard to mess up, it’s so easy.
Chop the Cucumber
Juice the Lemon
Pour in the yogurt
Mix in S&P, dill, 2 T lemon juice and a little olive oil
I enjoy the Cacik on healthy crackers with a salad for lunch