All posts in main entree


dinner with a REAL farmer in Mexico

Does life get much better than this?!

Read about my day on the farm HERE!

Slow Cooked Rabbit Ragout: Logan shot and slaughtered the rabbit on his farm the day before.  I LOVE it. Can you get any closer to hunter and gather days?

Farm Salad: heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and basil with local cheese, balsamic and olive oil

Northern Baja White Wine: Had dinner with the wine makers the night before.

Homemade tequila infused with organic herb

Surfing, Sand and Sun

 

What my Meal Delivery service looks like…

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!

 

 

Provence Party

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
Appetizers:
Cheese Plate

Tomato Tarts

Artichoke Tarts

Dinner:
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 

Dessert
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

 

Eggplant Cannelloni

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.

Buon Appetito!
 

Squeeze In One More Summer Lunch

Photo courtesy of Downtown Romantic

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
LemoCrème brûlée 

 

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
 

Eggplant with Cinnamon, Pine Nut and Currant Pilaf

main entree, vegan 0 Comments

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

These also freeze well.

 

Slow Cooked Lamb, Mastello

lamb, main entree 1 Comment

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

Serve with crusty bread or boiled potatoes

 

Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Apricot Chutney Flat Bread

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 

yum
 

Green Curry

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 and pantry to 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

Note:
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:
Shredded Carrot
Shrimp
Any type of beans
Tofu
Potatoes
Japanese Eggplant
Can easily be doubles, tripled…  You really can not mess up here… So simple and delicious!
 

Braised Chicken Marsala and Sage Polenta

Don’t be intimidated, this is simple to make and
so mouth watering delicious
I first made this for clients, and now I just keep coming back to it when
I’m in a jam and need something fancy to whip up


She does it again, adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home

Yields 4

Chicken Marsala
Ingredients:
4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
4 chicken drumsticks
1 T EVOO
2 red onion, peeled and quartered through the stem
2 Plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 thyme springs
1/2 cup marsala (Italian sweet wine)
1 1/4 cup chicken stock, low sodium
Preheat oven to 400
Rinse chicken, pat dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large oven proof skillet (I love my cast iron skillet)
Working in batches, brown the chicken, about 10-12 minutes, transferring chicken to a plate
Pour out the access fat
Add tomatoes, onions and thyme to the pan, cook 4 minutes
Pour in Marsala and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes
Add the chicken back to the skillet and pour the broth over
Transfer to the oven and cook until tender, about 35 minutes
Transfer chicken to a platter, arranged nicely and garnished with fresh thyme
Skim off access fat from the pan, simmer liquid over medium-high heat
until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes
Spoon sauce over the chicken

Sage Polenta
Ingredients:
5 cups water, plus more as needed
1 cup course Italian polenta
2 T fresh sage, chopped
3 T unsalted butter
Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan
Add 2 t salt
Whisking constantly, add polenta in a slow and steady stream
Return to a boil.
Reduce heat to a very low simmer
Cover partial and continue to cook, stiring occasionally
When creamy and begins pulling away from the side of the pan, about 40 minutes
Add sage during the last 5 minutes
If the polenta is too think to stir, add water (up to 1/2 cup) stirring continually
Remove from the heat, stir in butter, salt and pepper
 

Moroccan Tangine

This is a “winner recipe” for sure
served over quinoa and topped with Cowgirl Creamery Creme Fraiche
I’ve served this for many occasions: private dinner parties over quinoa for the vegetarian, clients I’m a personal chef for and my Kid’s Summer Cooking Camp.

Today we went to North Africa… enjoying pita too.
There are a lot of ingredients, and it is a little time consuming but well worth all the work.
This also lasts for a few days in the fridge and heats up really well.
As I know, kids love making this. Give them the jobs of cutting and chopping all the vegetables.

You can serve this over rice, couscous or quinoa. I serve it over quinoa to make it a complete protein meal.

Adapted from one of my Favorite cookbooks, Vegetarian Food For Friends
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 T olive oil
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ white onion, thinly sliced
1 t tumeric
2 t cumin seeds
2 t coriander seeds
1 t cinnamon
1 red Serrano chili
28 oz canned chopped tomatoes
1 T tomato paste
2 oz dried apricots
¼ cup raisins
½ cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 large baking potato (or, I’ve used fingerling for esthetic purposes)
3 large carrots, thickly sliced at an angle
2 ½ cups chickpeas (about 3 cans)
small cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
Heat half the oil in a large sauce pan
Add the onions, tumeric, coriander and cinnamon and chili and cook until softened, about 10 minutes
Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for 10 min
Add the apricots, raisins and olives and potatoes and carrots
Cook for 45 minutes, until carrots are tender
(Meanwhile make the couscous)
heat the remaining oil in a pan, add the cabbage and stir fry until just softened
add cabbage and chickpeas to the sauc

e pan, bring to a boil

stir in parsley and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper

 

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
 

Acorn Squash Risotto


I just read that It is possible to make risotto in a dutch oven! Wow, talk about much simpler and less hands on time.

Until I experiment with that… here’s a risotto recipe cooked the traditional way… 30 minutes of standing over the pot adding broth a little bit at a time while stirring continuously…
Time consuming, but delicious and worth every minute.

I am O-bsessed with acorn squash, but you can use butternut squash instead. Butternut squash can be found in stores pre-cut.
Serves 6
Ingredients:
6 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
2 T EVOO
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cups acorn squash, peeled and chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano
Simmer the broth in a large stock pot
In a heavy, large saucepan, heat the oil
Cook the onion until translucent
Add the squash and mix well for a few minutes
Add the rice and toss to coat
Add half of the wine and stir until absorbed
Add the stock 1 ladle at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is absorbed
Continue until you have used all the stock
Add the remaining wine and stir until the rice is al dante, a total of about 20 minutes
Stir in butter and Parmigiano cheese
 

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.