11.17.2017

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I hit the library cookbook shelf pretty hard this week. After flipping through a dozen cookbooks, old and new, I brought two home – Christopher Kimball’s new book Milk Street: The New Home Cooking and Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan. I picked Milk Street because, without cable TV at home, Nick and I end up watching public television’s cooking shows often and both feel like we know Christopher Kimball personally. Taste of Persia is our cookbook club’s new book and I was psyched to see an entire chapter dedicated to flatbreads.

I made two recipes from Milk Street this week – this kale salad and a lentil salad. I have the ingredients for a cauliflower-tahini dish from the book in our fridge that I hope to try today. This kale salad is really good – here is what Christopher Kimball has to say about it:

Kale can make a flavorful and seasonal winter salad, but to be eaten raw it needs to be treated right. Otherwise, the greens can be unpleasantly tough. We started with lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale. Its long blue-green leaves are sweeter and more tender than curly kale. Slicing the greens thinly was the first step to making them more salad-friendly. Then, to soften them further, we borrowed a Japanese technique used on raw cabbage – massaging the leaves. In this case, we do it with ground smoked almonds, which help tenderize the kale and add crunch and flavor to the finished salad. An acidic shallot-sherry vinaigrette also helped soften and brighten the kale (look for a sherry vinegar aged at least 3 years). Intensely flavorful paprika breadcrumbs, inspired by the Catalan sauce cicada, tied everything together. 

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Kale Salad with Smoked Almonds and Picada Crumbs

Start to finish: 15 minutes / Servings: 6. From Milk Street: The New Home Cooking

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons honey

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Ground black pepper

1 cup smoked almonds *I used regular roasted and salted almonds, not smoked

4 ounces chewy white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed, washed, spun dry and thinly sliced crosswise (10 cups)

1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, chopped *I left out the mint

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1. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the honey, 5 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

2. In a food processor, process the almonds until coarsely chopped, about 8 pulses; transfer to a large bowl. Add the bread to the processor and process to rough crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add the thyme, the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Process until incorporated, about 10 seconds.

3. Transfer the crumb mixture to a large skillet over medium and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

4. Add the kale and mint to the bowl with the almonds and massage the greens until the kale softens and darkens, 10 to 20 seconds. Add the dressing and crumbs and toss to combine. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.

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02.10.2017

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I know weather talk is really boring most of the time but this has been a wild weather week for us so, forgive me. It was 55 degrees on Wednesday. We stayed late after school playing soccer, football, and sliding down the slide 1,000 times. Nobody had a jacket on. Then came Thursday. A storm blew in and dumped wet, heavy snow all across the island. Most houses lost power, the ferries stopped running, and school was canceled. Today, the island looks pretty and sparkly with its fresh coat of white but it hasn’t gotten warmer than 25 degrees and I do prefer those jacket-less winter days, however abnormal they are.

If you’re looking for an easy cooking project this weekend or simply want a new snack to toss into lunch boxes next week give these Popcorn “Granola” Bars a try. The list of ingredients is completely adaptable to your tastes and your pantry.

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Popcorn “Granola” Bars slightly adapted from Food52

Makes 1 9-inch by 13-inch pan of bars

cup almond or peanut butter

1/3 cup honey, agave, or maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or fruit compote 

Olive oil, as needed

4 to 6 cups popcorn

1 1/2 cups whole walnuts or almonds or a combination

1/3 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds (I used raw sesame seeds) 

1/3 cup ground flax seed

 

1. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with parchment or wax paper so that you have overhang.

2. In a small pot over low heat, warm the nut butter, honey, and applesauce until melted. You want a sauce that is loose enough to cover the popcorn kernels and become evenly distributed amongst them. You may need to whisk in some olive oil (a couple of tablespoons) to achieve this consistency.

3. In a large bowl, mix together popcorn, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flax seed. Pour over the nut butter mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.

4. Dump into the prepared pan, then use plastic wrap to mush the mixture down evenly. Freeze overnight, then slice into bars! Store in the freezer.

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08.01.2016

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We are just hanging out this week – no camp or any big plans so I am going to make this short and sweet (can you hear the eager kids under my feet?!). Today I am sharing a favorite warm weather dinner, Noodles with Baked Tofu & Raw Veggies. I have made a million versions of this dinner (tweaking the sauce, noodle type, variety of veggies, adding a fried egg) but it always hits the spot. The leftovers are great, stored separately, for lunch the next day too. And really, what doesn’t taste good with roasted and salted peanuts sprinkled on top?! I’ve even been known to chop up a handful of salted peanuts to top vanilla ice cream. Try it, you’ll thank me. But, we digress, back to the noodles…

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Noodles with Baked Tofu & Raw Veggies

Baked Tofu:

1 tablespoon canola oil (for greasing the pan)
1 16-oz block extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Noodle Salad:
1 pound fresh Asian noodles (I used ramen noodles)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, grated

1 teaspoon toastes sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
1 1/2 cups thinly peeled carrot
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

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First, make the baked tofu. Place whole block of tofu on baking sheet and press with a heavy pan (I used our big cast iron) for at 30-60 minutes to release excess liquid. When ready, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Slice the pressed tofu into rectangles. Mix the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice vinegar together. Gently toss tofu squares in the marinade and let them sit as long as you can (at least 30 minutes but you can do this ahead and store in the fridge), then lay the tofu on a greased baking sheet, brushing on any leftover marinade. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then flip, baking for another 15 minutes. When slightly cool, slice into strips.

To prepare the salad, mix the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and chili flakes in a bowl until the honey dissolves. Prepare all vegetables and cook noodles according to package instructions. Toss warm noodles with half the dressing. Combine vegetables, cilantro, and tofu with the remaining sauce (dump in any leftover tofu marinade as well). Pile noodles onto individual plates, top with slaw, and finally with chopped peanuts.

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07.29.2016

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If you haven’t cooked and window shopped through Beatrice Peltre’s site La Tartine Gourmande you should do so immediately. The food writer, stylist, photographer, and mother of two creates food that celebrates two of my favorite things – cooking and eating meals with family. Her work is warm, colorful, and balances traditional French tastes with contemporary American ideas. Beatrice’s second book, My French Family Table: Recipes for a life filled with food, love & joie de vivre just hit the shelves and I haven’t stopped ogling over the vibrant photos and the stories behind them.

I am giving away a copy of My French Family Table over on my instagram page. I know you would all love this book so head over there and enter. My French Family Table is published by Roost Books, the beloved team behind my upcoming book Feeding a Family. They are rockstars that Roost team.

Below I am sharing Bea’s recipe for a Tomato Tart with Mustard & Honey. Her gluten-free savory tart crust recipe, using a mix of millet, oat, and rice flours, is easy to follow and comes out perfectly. The filling is incredibly simple (honey mustard, Comtè cheese, sliced tomatoes, and herbs) but super flavorful. We enjoyed the tart warm from the oven and at room-temperature. Toss up a huge green salad and you have yourself a perfect summer dinner.

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Tomato Tart with Mustard & Honey from My French Family Table

Serves 4 (2 slices each)

Savory Crust with Oat (recipe below)

2 tablespoons mortared forte de Dijon au miel (honey-flavored Dijon mustard)

1 tablespoon crème fraîche 

3 oz Comtè cheese, finely grated

1 lb, sun-ripened tomatoes (choose different colors)

1 teaspoon finely copped marjoram

1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme

Olive oil to drizzle

Pepper

Arrange the crust inside the mold and, using a fork, make small holes in the bottom. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, stir the mustard and crème fraîche together. Spread over the pastry. Sprinkle cheese on top. Slice the tomatoes and arrange over the cheese in an even layer. Sprinkle fresh herbs evenly over the tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the tart and season with pepper; salt should be unnecessary as it is present in the mustard. Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy with a green salad on the side.

Savory Crust with Oat

Makes one 11-inch tart of six 4 1/2 inch tartlets.

1 cup millet flour

1/3 cup oat flour

1/3 cup sweet rice flour

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 batch Flax Gel (recipe below)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle blade, combine the millet flour, oat flour, sweet rice flour, cornstarch, and sea salt. Add the flax gel and beat on medium speed. Add the butter and continue to beat until crumbles form. Gradually add the water while beating and work until the dough detaches from the bowl and forms a ball – it will be sticky. Dust the dough with white rice flour, shape into a 6-inch circle, and place on a plate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove from the fridge at least 10 minutes before using if it’s too cold.

Flax Gel 

2 tablespoons golden flax meal

1/3 cup hot water

Put the flax meal in a small bowl and whisk in the hot water. Let rest for 15 minutes; the mixture will become gelatinous; set aside.

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01.14.2016

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I can’t tell you all the odd combinations of things I have thrown in the blender. Parsley, whole lemons, nuts, coconut meat – really anything that will fit has taken a whirl. Now that I am on day 12 of a cleanse, I am starting to feel the common cleanse bloat creep in. This is one of the most annoying and ironic parts of a whole foods cleanse for me. Why the heck do I feel like a balloon when I’m eating close to a perfect diet? Some say cleanse bloat is brought on by fiber and others think it is the increased amount of fruits and vegetables your body is dealing with (hello 4 cups of squash). In any case, a friend recommended eating a beet a day to combat the feeling. So far, so good! Praise the magic of those bloody beets.

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So here is my favorite beet smoothie – so incredibly vibrant in color and packed with goodness. The whole milk yogurt adds some creaminess to the drink while the berries sweeten it up ever so slightly. I love tossing whole citrus into the blender (in this case, a lime) but if you are less impressed with a tart drink then skip the lime or add in some raw honey to lessen the bite.

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Neon Pink Beet & Blackberry Smoothie

makes 1 glass

1 small beet, peeled and finely chopped or grated

1/2 cup blackberries

1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt (substitute with nut or plant milk for dairy free)

1/2 a lime, skin removed

1/2 cup water or ice

1 tablespoon honey (optional)

Toppings: Sprinkle of chia seeds, sprinkle of toasted unsweetened coconut.

 

Simply blend all the ingredients together until smooth. A powerful blender can handle the dense beet but if your blender has trouble with hard vegetables you may want to strain the smoothie through a sieve before serving. This is a tart, lip puckering drink (which I like) but add in a bit of honey if you want a more balanced blend.

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May your technicolor drink bring you through the darkest of days, those that start at 4:30 pm and stretch until the next morning. Cheers friends!

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