05.08.2017

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“Why, it is May!” said Toad as he climbed out of bed. Then he and Frog ran outside to see how the world was looking in spring.

This quote from Frog & Toad runs through my mind all the time these days. We are huge fans of the green and brown dynamic duo and I just love the one-liners in their stories. But yes, spring, asparagus, book events, green grass, flowers – it’s all happening! I am quickly stopping in here to share a super simple spring side dish, one that I made for our cookbook club meeting a couple of weeks ago. Our cookbook club read, cooked, and ate from The Silver Palate and I brought this Crisply Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata and Chicken Dijonnaise (which did not get a pretty picture but was DELICIOUS, you should make it. The main ingredients are mustard and creme fraiche so really, how could it be bad). Oh, and I finally ate the famous Chicken Marbella – two thumbs way up.

The weekend before cookbook club, I was up in Boston strutting my urban stuff at Olives & Grace.  Sofi, the shop’s fearless leader, was so welcoming and knows how to throw a party! I wish I took a break to snap photos of all my pals, new and old, who stopped by to say hello but I was having too much fun. A huge thank you to Sofi and everyone who came out to chow on falafel bites and buy a copy of Feeding a Family. I am so grateful.

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Crisply Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata

from The Silver Palate

Gremolata:

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

Asparagus:

1 pound medium-size asparagus, woody ends removed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 lemons, halved crosswise, for garnish

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1. To prepare the gremolata: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl with a fork. Cover and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400F.

3. Place the asparagus in a roasting pan in a single layer, facing the same direction. Toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake on the center rack for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes longer, Remove to a serving dish and sprinkle with gremolata. Serve with lemon halves.

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03.30.2016

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I love a good book club (in fact I love it so much I just started a cookbook club…more on that below) – the snacks, the drinks, the chatter, and (of course) the push to read a little. But really, it’s about the snacks. All of my fellow book club members are moms of young children so by the time we all plop on someones couch and open a bottle of wine we are feeling equally exhausted and ecstatic to be face to face with friends and eat undisturbed. Our meetings are certainly a time to indulge so I recently prepared these incredibly simple but totally delicious small ice cream sandwiches built from gingersnap cookies, peanut butter, and chocolate ice cream. I ate four while we discussed Fates and Furies (our next book is Not That Kind of Girl which is comforting as I thought I was the last 34 year old fan of Girls).

And this cook book club? Well, after I realized that half the time I bring cookbooks into bed at night it occurred to me that a cookbook club would be SO FUN! especially when we all bring a dish from the chosen cookbook to our meeting – talk about a killer potluck. Our first cookbook club read was Soul, Food, Love (I made Shrimp Stew, recipe below) and now we are reading (and will cook and eat from) A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus.

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^As seen on my instagrm, our kitchen awaiting cookbook club.

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Gingersnap, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Box of your favorite gingersnap cookies

Jar natural peanut butter

Pint of chocolate ice cream

I remember seeing this recipe, or one very similar, in The Forest Feast. It’s really an idea more than a recipe. Essentially, you just spread peanut butter on two cookies, scoop some ice cream on one, and sandwich them together. Place all the assembled sandwiches in the freezer until serving time.

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This shrimp stew was incredibly easy to make and feeds a crowd. I was hesitant to put a full teaspoon of cayenne pepper into the pot but the heat and flavors were perfect. At cookbook club we ate the stew over white rice but I enjoyed leftovers served over farro too.

Shrimp Stew from Soul, Food, Love

serves 6 to 8

2 cups chopped onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large green bell peppers, seeded and chopped

5 green onions, chopped

2 cups chopped celery

4 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 pounds peeled and deveined medium shrimp

4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (reserve some for serving)

Cooked rice, for serving

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In a large pot, cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, green onions, and celery and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, shrimp, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salt, and parsley, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour.

Ladle the stew over hot rice in individual bowls and garnish generously with parsley.

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02.04.2016

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Winter salads are kinda sad. I mean, there is only so much kale slaw a girl can stomach. Last week I set out determined to eat a hearty, satisfying, and bright winter salad and this is what I came up with. The base recipe is from a recent issue of Bon Appetit but I slightly adapted the meal by roasting the broccoli (instead of boiling) and tossing in spiced and roasted chickpeas (something I have been making and eating a lot lately). Together, everything was delicious but the standout was the buttermilk dressing. It is one of those sauces that, after pouring over every vegetable in the house, I wonder why i don’t make weekly or even daily.

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Broccoli-Quinoa Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

adapted from Bon Appetit

Buttermilk Dressing:

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

pinch pepper

Do ahead: Dressing can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

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Salad:

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 heads broccoli, cut into bite-size florets

1 cup white, red, or black quinoa

1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley

1/4 cup coarsely chopped tarragon

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios

1 batch Spiced & Roasted Chickpeas – I use this recipe but cook the chickpeas in a cast iron skillet coated with canola oil over high heat until crisp.

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01.21.2016

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I just recently (like last week) changed my perception of herbs. Typically I have a few baskets of greens in the fridge whether it be arugula, spinach, or kale which all feel like main ingredients to me and things that I turn to when we need a quick side, omelet filling, or smoothie add in. Until recently, herbs were not in this category. Parsley, cilantro, basil, and chives were always toppings, pesto ingredients, or quick afterthoughts to brighten up a dish. These Herbed Chickpeas (along with another salad that I will share soon) reminded me that herbs are just as good as any other green and are quite delicious in large quantities. As suggested in the original recipe, Herbed Chickpeas can be served many ways – tossed with wilted greens, topped with a fried egg, spooned onto Greek yogurt, or piled high on toast.

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Herbed Chickpeas from Bon Appetit Magazine – makes about 3 cups

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 1/2 cups chopped mixed tender herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, chives, and/or basil)

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Rinse the chickpeas and pat dry. Place the chickpeas in a large skillet and add in the crushed garlic cloves and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are crisped and some have split open (these will be the most delicious ones), 10 – 15 minutes.

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Remove from heat; stir in the herbs. You can eat the chickpeas right out of the warm skillet (I found myself standing at the stove digging in again and again for about 10 minutes), tossed with sauteed vegetables, topped with an egg, spooned over Greek yogurt, or piled on garlic toast.

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11.23.2015

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It’s the season of bringing food (and wine) to parties. For me, many social gatherings get put on hold over the busy summer months but come fall book clubs, pre-school meetings, potlucks, and of course, holiday gatherings are in full swing. I always love to see what people bring to these events and on this little food obsessed island of ours the dishes never disappoint. Last week one such meeting called and I toted this salad along. It sat on a long table next to sesame noodles, zucchini scones, root vegetable-chocolate cookies, and cheesy green dip. The plates were mixed matched and the company was delightful. I highly recommend this Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Pesto Vinaigrette as a travel along dish. The sturdy kale and roasted sweet potatoes hold up well while sitting out on a family table.

I’m hoping this recipe may also solve the we need a healthy salad for cousin Alice on Thanksgiving dilemma. And speaking of giving thanks, I heard this story on the radio this morning while rushing down the road. While I listened, one boy was asking about the lost chicken on the side of the road (getting very close to traffic) while the other boy (still in fuzzy footed PJs) wanted only to talk of cows, and baby cows, and utters. I am so grateful for this life of mine.

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Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Pesto Vinaigrette
from Food52 Vegan

serves 4 to 6

Salad:

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups stemmed and finely chopped curly kale

1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds

1/3 cup thing sliced fresh basil

Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pepper

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1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

2. To make the salad, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, then spread them evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, stir well. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until tender and browning. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, put the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

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4. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until mostly smooth but with small pieces of herbs still visible.

5. In a large bowl, gently stir together the sweet potatoes, quinoa, kale, sunflower seeds, and basil. Drizzle with about 1/3 cup of the dressing and gently stir until all of the ingredients are evenly coated. Taste and mix in more dressing if desired.

6. Serve at room temperature. Stored in a covered container in the fridge, any leftovers will keep for 2 days.

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PS. The next morning, heat a big serving of salad in a cast iron skillet and fry an egg in the middle. This was the best breakfast I’ve had all year. So good in fact that I made it again for lunch.

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