I just made a couple beautiful dinners for a wonderful family who I drop off to every Thursday in Marin. The momma is busy raising 4 kids and running a successful business (aaahhh can you imagine) so I bring them a few healthy home cooked meals to help get ’em through the hectic week. I thought today’s were particularly pretty and wanted to share…
Above is an example of what my Meal Delivery service looks like and what gets delivered to your door! Meals come in containers that can go from fridge/freezer, oven/micro to dishwasher…woohooo. All dinners are customized to your likes/dislikes, allergies, dietary restrictions, portion sizes, you name it! PLUS YOU GET A SIDE OF A HEALTHY FRESH VEGETABLE (not pictured). With the Italian dinner was Roasted Broccoli Rabe tossed with pine nuts, lemon zest and parmesan. Along with the duck was sautéed garlicky spinach with a squeeze of lemon (there’s lemon in the Pomegranate sauce and they accompanied each other quite nicely)
I love duck and I think people should eat it more often, in moderation.. but only when raised organically and humanly. Duck (without the skin) is so tender, delicious and actually quite healthy.
100 g of duck compared to chicken:
Duck: 140 cals, 2.5 fat, 28 protein, 5 iron
Chicken: 165 cals, 4 fat, 31 protein, 1 iron
Personally I do not eat like this a couple bites is good enough… My days look more like this HERE!
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love an excuse to host a party. So when my married friends and I started a monthly dinner group, you can imagine how excited I was when it was my turn to host!
I want to share this dinner party as an example of how simple it can be to host a fabulous supper in style and stilettos ah! The key is to plan ahead and decide on a menu that can be prepped days before and requires little hands on time during your party… for example a cheese, fruit and nut platter for an appetizer and slow cooked meat for your main…
I decided on a Provence theme because, well, I’m obsessed with the south of France! The food, wine, culture, language, men, style, architecture, cobble stones, surf, music, all of it!
Provence Party Menu
Slow Cooked Lemon Chicken in Garlic and Thyme
over Saffron Rice
Rosated Broccoli and Garlic with Basil, Parmesan and Pine Nuts
Ratatouille with Homemade Pesto
Lavender Madeleines with Honey Creme Fraiche
Set the mood
Offer your quests a glass of wine when they come in. Simple say, “I just opened a bottle of wine, can I pour you a glass?”
French music on Pandora
Savorying Provence, cookbook on my coffee table
Olive tree to add a little nature
Little bowls of olives and rosemary marcona almonds
ok, I get it, this is not really cannelloni. The only true similarity between this and cannelloni is that tube shapes are stuffed and baked- plus lots of tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Anyway, my version is healthier, vegetarian and gluten free! wooohooo!
My girlfriends and I try and get together once mid-week for a girls night. This week, we decided to stay in at one of our houses and have a potluck. My girlfriends and I are all healthy foodies, meaning we loooove good/whole food (none of that processed sh*t) lots of seasonal veggies, eating out at new SF restaurants, and we especially enjoy the cuisine of all cultures. With that said, a lot of my girlfriends choose to eat vegetarian for health, animal rights and environmental reasons.
I actually was not a big fan of this eggplant cannelloni, I don’t like mushy food, I like my meals to have a crunch and some texture. Everyone loved it though, so I thought I’d share it anyway. I used Quinoa for the filling instead of ground meat (keeping it a full protein too).
Ingredients: 2 globe eggplants, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices 2 cups cooked quinoa 1 cup ricotta (full fat) pesto and sun dried tomatoes (store bought is fine) Chili flakes 1 Jar of tomato sauce Fresh basil chopped Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil and place the eggplant in a single layer Brush both sides with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt Roast for 10 minutes, flip the slices over and switch the pans in the oven Continue roasting for 6 minutes Let cool Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, ricotta, pesto sauce and chili flakes to taste Pour a little sauce into the bottom of your baking dish On a clean surface, roll th eggplant around 1/4 cup of the filling Arrange neatly in the baking dish Top with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil Cover with foil Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes Let rest for 15 minutes before serving Top with fresh basil and cheese. An arugula and radicchio salad would be perfect served along side.
First, I must explain my recent 3 week disappearance… My best friend from Milan touched down in SF for a great 2 week visit. We were so busy sight seeing and eating, I didn’t get a chance to stay connected. We managed to eat out at some great San Francisco hot spots, play an American game of Sloshball and even party in LA for the weekend. I will soon share some of the great recipes and meals enjoyed along the way, but for now, here is one dish that was inspired by Cecile’s Milanese-ness! Risotto… famous in Italy and it is no wonder why. It is rich, creamy and incredible satisfying. Risotto is always a crowd pleaser and perfect served anytime of the year made with what ever happens to be in season! With that said, when I was asked to cater a small birthday lunch, I knew a Summer Risotto must make its way onto the menu.
I’ll post the recipes soon, but for now here is the Risotto recipe courtesy of my cousin who volunteered her afternoon to help me in the kitchen. Helane was home visiting from New York where she works for in Fashion Media and when feeling inspired writes on her blog
Summer Lunch Menu: To Drink: Mint and Strawberry Lemonade (spiked with vodka if you are feeling up for it!) Light Bites: Melon, Prosciutto and Manchego Appetizer: Summer Squash and Zucchini over Pesto and Feta Puff Pastry First Course Crab Cakes topped with Herb Aioli on a Bed of Lamb’s Lettuce (recipe) Secondly: Summer Risotto (recipe) Something Sweet Lemon Crème brûlée
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!
The funny thing about cooking all day for a living is that by the time you get home, the last thing you want to do is cook for yourself. In an attempt to try and eat more well rounded meals (how long can I live off of Greek yogurt honey and walnuts) I thought a good place to start would be to make something that I can cook in advanced and reheat during the week.
Stuffed veggies are a great option for vegetarians Big, hearty and healthy, plus they reheat well!
The combination of pine nuts, raisins and cinnamon was inspired by a dish I had in Turkey this summer.
Side dish or light lunch for 4 Ingredients: 4 small eggplants 2 T olive oil 3 T pine nuts 1 onion, chopped 1 t coriander 1/4 cup currants 1 T dried dill 1 tomato seeded and shopped 1 1/2 cup of grains (I did a combo of rice and quinoa) salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 Slice the eggplant lengthwise Rub a little olive oil on the cut sides, place face down on a cookie sheet prick with a fork Bake for 25-30 minutes Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and stir in the pine nuts, cook until golden Add the onion, and soften Add coriander and currants Add the sugar, cinnamon, dill and tomato Toss in your grain and mix well to coat Pour in 3 cups of water, add a little salt Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer slightly covered for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked
Scoop out the inside of the eggplants, leaving at least a half inch Chop up the insides and mix into the rice Season with good salt and fresh pepper Stuff back into the eggplants Garnish with chopped parsley, pine nuts and currants
Mindee and I quickly became obsessed with Mastello, a specialty on Sifnos Island. Mastello is lamb cooked in wine for hours and to the point of melt-in-your-mouth tenderness
We ordered Mastello our first night on the island and for the next week never looked back, lunch or dinner, we were lovin it!
We were so impressed with our meal the first night, Mindee has decided to have her wedding reception here next summer (check out the rest our our meal here)
What makes Mastello so special is the way it is cooked for hours in a clay pot. For centuries potters have been making the cooking pots with clay from island. I am assuming you do not have have a clay cooking pot, in which case, you can use an ovenproof pot with a lid.
Generally, I am not a meat eater. On the rare occasion that I do eat meat I like to know where it came from, like a nice small farm on Sifnos and not a cramped, stinky factory farm somewhere in the midwest. Also, I do not like dry, chewy meat that has been thrown on a grill with no love at all. Just not interested. It must be tender, and melt in my mouth. Otherwise, what is the point? You have just slaughtered an animal only to cook it to a point where I don’t know if I’m eating bark or flesh.
This recipe will definitely remind you…
Ingredients: 3 lbs of lamb cup into potion 3-5 cups of red wine, for washing and cooking 1 handful of dill salt and pepper Grape vine twigs for the base of pot
Wash the meat with a cup of red wine Add salt and pepper to the meat Rub very well with dill Put the vine twigs in a cross grid in the bottom of the pot Place the meat and 2 more cups of wine in your pot Cover the pot with foil and prick with a fork Cook for an hour at 390 Turn it down to 200 and continue cooking until melt-in-your-mouth-tender
Savory gorgonzola and sweet apricots make a heavenly combination
My friend Kate from Seattle (we met 3 years ago while living in Thailand) came to visit for a couple of days and on her last night here we had a Sex And The City, Wine and Flat Bread Marathon. Kate is a great cook (enjoying healthy foods like me!) and so fun to be in the kitchen with. We also made a Margarita with Eggplant (a specialty of hers) and a Pesto with Fresh Tomatoes (a specialty of my mom’s). Partially inspired by sipping wine while cooking, we’ll credit our healthy appetites to the 3.5 mile run across Golden Gated Bridge earlier that day :o)
This is an amazing combination worth trying on a panini or served in bowls along side crackers for an appetizer. I don’t eat pork but I just thought of another good idea: apricot glazed pork tenderloin, thinly sliced, caramelized onions spooned over and blue cheese crumbled on top, serve hot and melting. Maybe sprinkle with fresh thyme to add some color. Oh, you could use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for an incredible rich and flavorful dinner entree.
Ingredients: Flat Bread, I used Udi’s Gluten Free Chevre Cheese Apricot Chutney (recipe here) 1 t olive oil 1 Sweet Onion thinly sliced 1 T brown sugar 1-2 garlic cloves chopped Gorgonzola or another stinky blue cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 Make the caramelized onions: Add the oil and onion to a heavy sauce pan (not too big) Cook slowly over medium heat for a couple of minutes Add the brown sugar and garlic Spread a thin layer of chever of the bread Followed by chutney Caramelized onions and crumbles blue cheese Sprinkle with good salt bake for 15 minutes
Margarita Eggplant, with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil and Tomatoes
A favorite of mine while growing up: Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Basil, Feta and Parmigiano
I am currently obsessed with Thai Curry! What’s better than a big bowl of warmth with a bit of a kick!?
I have started making curry daily for lunch AND/or dinner. I have discovered that using almond milk, as oppose to coconut milk, gives the nice creamy texture without all the fat that comes with coconut milk.
The vegetable, grain and protein combinations here are endless. Really, once you get the hang of making it, you can pretty much use a combination of whatever is in your fridge andpantryto make a wonderful curry. I will give the recipe for this combo because I happened to photograph it, but I’ve made many and will list other possible combinations below
Serves 2 Ingredients: 3/4 – 1 cup of a cooked grain (use your Basic Grain recipe that you should always have ready and on hand) 2 T Thai Curry Paste (red or green) Handful of edamame beans Handful of Snap Peas, cut crosswise Handful of Cabbage, coarsely chopped 1 Baby Bok Choy, roughly chopped 2 Cups Almond Milk or one can Coconut milk
In a sauce pan, combine your grain, beans and peas, curry paste and about 2 T milk. Saute for awhile so the vegetables really get a chance to cook in the curry and absorb the flavors Add the remaining milk and bok choy Simmer partial covered for a few minutes or until vegetables have reached desired tenderness
If you are making your grain at the same time, do not add it to the curry. Simply pour your warm curry over your warm garin. I mixed my grain into my curry because it had been in the fridge and needed to be warmed.
If you are using a meat, add it to the pan during the first step with the curry paste.
My Other Favorite Ingredients:
Any type of beans
Can easily be doubles, tripled… You really can not mess up here… So simple and delicious!
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
1/4 cup sliced almond
2 T fresh chives, chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 t lemon zest
2 slices of bread
Salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Just finished salmon with roasted garlic and parsnip purée - brilliant! Everything tasted great and was perfectly filling. Truly, you are the best gift I've ever given myself - thank you! — Karyn Barsa
Thank you so much for the absolutely perfect event last week. Many guests said it was a truly "old-fashioned Christmas party!" The delicious family-style meal made it so! — Ann McNamee
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First, Thank you so much. Recreating the dinner you taught me was surprisingly very enjoyable and easy for me today (which is a huge testament to you) and secondly, every single bite was consumed and thoroughly enjoyed. Salmon dish was a HUGE hit. We all toasted you. — Lauren Irons, Mother of 3