Ratatouille with Japanese Tomatoes and Early Zucchini

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

RATATOUILLE WITH SUMMER JAPANESE TOMATOES AND EARLY ZUCCHINI

This is one of my favorite meals to make on a Sunday night.   It’s actually a challenge for me not to make this dish.   Each week when I’m at the farmers market I can’t ignore the sweet onions, beautiful ripe heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and perfect zucchini – what the hell am I supposed to do!   I just know that I they are all coming home with me for the best ratatouille.   It’s a simple dish but reminds me of my childhood and I guess that’s part of the lure.   My Mom, Aunt Linda and Grandmother used to grow all these vegetables in our garden and pick them fresh for dinner and when it was ratatouille night – everything just made sense.

It’s a tradition I guess and I still love how amazing it tastes and how fast it is to make.    For a spin on the dish, you can remove the zucchini and just make a simple sauce or use this recipe as the beginning of a wonderful vegetable soup.    And in the winter months, if you don’t have access to heirloom tomatoes all year around you can use the tomatoes you canned from summer or have friends like me who do that shit.

IMG_2309

  • 8 – 10 Med sized tomatoes
  • 6 small zucchini or 4 large (you can mix it up with yellow summer squash too)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 Med Sweet Onion
  • Bunch of Basil chopped
  • Bunch of Parsley chopped

* Option:  On occasion I saute the onions with anchovies and add capers – gives it a different flavor entirely and serve over brown rice or quinoa or another whole grain or healthy pasta. 

Saute the chopped sweet onion in olive oil.

IMG_2311

Chop the onions and zucchini

IMG_2314

Once the onions are translucent, add the fresh chopped tomatoes.   I leave the skin on, it’s fine.

IMG_2316

Bring to a mild boil, then turn down and let simmer on a low heat for 20 mins.   You’re stewing the tomatoes and bringing out the flavor.

IMG_2320

Add the chopped zucchini.

IMG_2322

IMG_2323

And continue to simmer for another 20 mins.   Serve in a bowl like a soup or over brown rice with a sprinkle of Romano or Parmesan.

IMG_2330

IMG_2375

Enjoy!

Spring Vegetable Salad with Farro and Mint Parsley Dressing

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_2338

I’m sad to say that I haven’t been posting as much since I started a new job around the beginning of Spring this year, so I’m a little a behind with my posts and seasonal recipes but I’m going to add the ones I have in my draft folder!

The foundation of this recipe can be applied to any combination of raw and cooked veggies tossed with a whole or ancient grain.   I like to try as many different combinations to this dish and will continue to post the ones that turn out flavorful, healthy and seasonal.   And you can experiment with different herb dressings or let the natural spring flavors stand center stage with a simple lemon, olive oil and champagne or apple vinegar.

  • Bag of Fresh Fava Beans –  Remove from shell
  • Hand full of radishes
  • Yellow and Orange sweet carrots
  • Bag of Fresh Spring Peas
  • Bunch of Mint
  • Bunch of Parsley
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Bulb of Fennel
  • Farro
  • Feta Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon

First, flash cook the peeled fava beans and spring peas.  Keep an eye on the beans you don’t want to over cook, they should be fresh and slightly under cooked.

IMG_2342

IMG_2346

Then chop the rest of the veggies.

IMG_2344

IMG_2347

IMG_2349

IMG_2352

Cook the Farro based on the serving amount – I prepare enough for 3 servings for this salad.

IMG_2357

IMG_2360

In a food processor I blend the mint, parsley, olive oil, one lemon squeezed and vinegar, salt and pepper.    I’m not sure how much of each – I just eye ball it and taste it as I go until it’s exactly what I want.    You should do the same and start to get a feel for how much of each ingredient to use.  You’ll figure it out.  :)

Mix together the chopped veggies, farro, dressing and crumbled feta and serve immediately.

IMG_2371

Enjoy!

Poached Egg With Cheesy Grits

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I LOVE poached eggs and cheesy grits – it’s super easy to make and so delicious.   I made this breakfast for a few friends in our Coachella fun house in Palm Desert a few weeks ago.   Coachella was epic this year, looking forward to many more with the same group of friends!   Grits have a Native American origin that is common in the south – I’m exploring that side of my heritage and learning more about it all the time in my family lineage, so to keep that energy going I’m learning to prepare some of the food indigenous to the culture.   This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy cheesy grits – I was inspired by my trip to Esalen which is located on sacred native american ground and feel the influence here.

IMG_2244

  • Free-range organic, vegetarian, cage free –  HAPPY EGGS – POSITIVE ENERGY EXCHANGE to you!
  • Cheese of your choice – I used a vintage aged cheddar
  • Grits – organic, gluten free

IMG_2227

IMG_2233

Bring water to a boil, then lower the heat until it is no longer boiling but piping hot.   Add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water depending on the size of your pot.  I would say one teaspoon for every 6 cups of water.  The vinegar will help the egg whites congeal – I use rice vinegar but distilled white vinegar also works beautifully.  Allow the egg to cook up to 3 mins – occasionally stirring the water to prevent the egg from sticking to the bottom.   Lift the egg with a slotted spoon and be sure to get all the vinegar water off the egg before serving.

IMG_2236

I place the egg in a small cup so it’s easier to drop the egg into the hot water.   First, take a spoon and create a swirl in the water, then gently pour the egg into the center.   Let it sit in the swirling water for 20 – 30 secs before you try to move it.  Let the heat from the water start to cook the egg whites to form around the yolk.

CHEESY GRITS

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup, Grits (organic white or yellow ground)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 5 oz, Sharp Cheddar, grated fresh or shredded

Boil the water, add in the grits, season with salt and pepper.   Turn the heat down to a simmer and whisk the grits until the mixture starts to thicken.   Allow to cook for 10 – 15 mins once you have the consistency you want, then add the cheese and stir to combine.

IMG_2240

Serve the poached egg on top of the hot cheesy grits and ENJOY!

IMG_2242

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Mint Pesto and Greek Lemon Potatoes

Tags

, , , , , ,

Every year I prepare a roasted Leg of Lamb and Spinach Lasagne Bolognese al Forno for Easter dinner.   This year, I focused on Lamb as the main course because the lasagne takes over 5 hours to make and serves a large group, the process is tedious but worth the energy and time it takes to move through each step of the process.   The secret is in the details, the spinach needs to be blanched and chilled in a ice bathed, the pasta takes time to make from scratch and roll out each layer, the bolognese needs to simmer and stew in the dry white wine and the bechemel just needs time to discover it’s full richness.

I have memories of making pasta and ravioli’s from scratch every Sunday after church, in between arm wrestling my brother over who ate more and won the ravioli contest.    If you ask him now, he might say during those formative years it sucked having an older brother for a sister.   Tom-girl yo but now I just love my bro and would never pin him down and slowly spit in his face because I could.  Trust me, the summer he grew past me, I was like “need anything, pillow, water, a snip in your sleeves so those biceps can breathe, you good?”  It actually wasn’t funny then but best of friends now and grateful we’re in this life together — spiritually growing all the time.

Next year, I’m planning to invite anyone who is hungry for love food over and celebrate a giant Easter Feast.    I’m so grateful for all the joyful and bright people in my life and those I meet all the time.  My sphere of influence is expanding and filling up with all kinds of inter-dimensional carnies – bring that shit on.

Back to the lamb, I try different recipes every year to continually test new dishes.   The mint pesto makes the dish but next time I’ll follow Mario’s lead and grill the lamb butterfly this baby.   Here it is slow roasted to finger licking good.

IMG_2254

  • 5 – 8 lb Leg of Lamb (deboned, butcher tied)
  • 1/2 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 Springs of fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Lemons
  • Salt and Pepper

MINT PESTO

  • 2 Cups fresh Mint
  • 1 Cup Basil
  • 1/2 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts (toasted)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/3 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

For the Mint Pesto:  Combine all the ingredients in a food processor.  Season to taste and set aside while you prepare the lamb.

IMG_2257

IMG_2260

IMG_2269

For the Greek Lemon Potatoes:

I wing it but looks like a pound of baby Yukon gold potatoes, 3 or 4 lemons and a handful of fresh Jerusalem artichokes.   Cut the potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes in half, add fresh squeezed lemon juice and one cup of chicken stock to the roasting pan with the veggies.   Chop the dill but don’t add til the end when you remove from roasting in the oven.

  • 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes
  • 8 – 10 Jerusalem artichokes
  • 3 – 4 lemons
  • Dill, hand full chopped
  • 1 Cup chicken stock

IMG_2276

IMG_2283

For the Roasted Scallions:   Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper.

IMG_2288

For the Lamb, generously cover with sea salt, pepper and olive oil before you brown each side.   Make sure the potatoes are halfway submerged with lemon juice and chicken stock so the tops can brown and get crispy.

IMG_2285

Brown the lamb on all sides in a dutch oven pan or cast iron skillet.   Then cover the lamb with the mint pesto and place in the oven to roast for 45 mins on 450 degrees.   Lower the heat to 375 degrees and cook for about 30 mins more, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the lamb reads 135 degrees.   Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool and rest for 10 mins before slicing.

For the potatoes, roast for an hour, and remove.    Then roast the scallions for about 20 mins or until brown.

IMG_2286

IMG_2292

IMG_2295

IMG_2297

Enjoy!

IMG_2304

Herb and Mustard Roasted Pork Loin with Asparagus and Mushroom Quinoa

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

HERB & MUSTARD ROASTED PORK LOIN WITH ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM QUINOA

This recipe is from Suzanne Goin’s cookbook Sunday Supper’s At Lucques  and her award-winning restaurant in Los Angeles.    She developed this cookbook to illustrate each season with a variety of 4 course menus ranging from fish to meat to vegetarian meals.  It’s the perfect cookbook to read cover to cover if you want to learn about the techniques, ingredients, seasonal vegetables and how to prepare each course.

My birthday is coming up and Springtime is my natural state of being.  I love to celebrate the rebirth that Spring brings with all kinds of delicious dishes.   If you’re planning a dinner party, this Roasted Pork Tenderloin is an excellent choice.   You can prepare and marinade the pork ahead of time, refrigerate and roast right when your guests arrive filling the house with a beautiful aroma and serve dinner right from the oven.   For the quinoa, I chop all the veggies and quickly saute and mix with the quinoa right before I serve it.  This is a wonderful classic dish made better!

IMG_2215

IMG_2132

  • Pork Loin, 3lbs or more
  • 1/2 Cup Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbs Thyme Leaves, chopped
  • 2 or 3 Tbs Parsley Leaves, chopped
  • 3 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 3 Sprigs Sage
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, mashed or minced
  • 6 Tbs Butter (optional, I did not use it here but it’s extra delicious if you do)
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper

Optional Mustard Breadcrumbs

  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tsp Thyme, chopped
  • 1 Tsp Parsley, chopped

Whisk the mustard, thyme, parsley and 2 tbs of olive oil.   Try to buy and use the highest quality of olive oil you can.   I love California Olive Ranch you can find it online if it’s not readily available in your area.   Stir the garlic, and brush the mixture all over the pork loin.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

IMG_2143

IMG_2153

IMG_2148

Remove the pork from the fridge one hour before cooking, after 30 minutes season it well with salt and pepper.   Reserve the marinade.

IMG_2157

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a large skillet until it’s almost smoking.   Place the pork loin in pan, sear it on all sides until well browned.   Be sure to remove half of the marinade before you sear, so you can reapply before roasting.   The whole process should take about 15 – 20 mins to brown all sides.   Transfer the pork loin to the roasting pan brush the reserved marinade all around the meat.   Reserve the pan that you browned the meat in to make the sauce.

You can add 3 Tbs of butter to the top of the roast before placing it in the oven, but this is optional.   Roast the meat until a thermometer reads 120F – about 1 hour and 15 minutes.   Let the pork rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

The Pan Sauce:
While the pork is roasting make the sauce.   Heat the pan you used to sear the meat on med heat, add 1/2 cup water (or chicken stock) and stir until it boils, scrapping down the bottom of the pan.  Reduce by boiling a few minutes, swirl 3 Tbs of butter and reserve until time to serve.

The Mustard Breadcrumbs:                                                                                   Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl.   Melt the butter in a small saucepan, whisk in the mustard, thyme, and parsley.  Remove fromm the heat, let it cool slightly and add to the breadcrumbs, tossing to coat.  Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 10 mins or until golden brown.

Once you are ready to serve, slice the meat and spoon the sauce over each slice and sprinkle with the mustard breadcrumbs.

IMG_2178

ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM QUINOA

I usually just toss this together and you can use any combination of grain or vegetable you prefer.   With pork, I love the flavor of mushrooms, red onions and asparagus sauteed..   I used two kinds of quinoa because I had them in my pantry.   Prepare the quinoa per the instructions.

IMG_2162

Chop the vegetables you decide to use and include a fresh herb.

IMG_2163

Saute in a very little drizzle of olive oil.   Once it starts to cook down and become translucent – I add a splash of sherry and continue to saute cooking off the vinegar leaving a wonderful light flavor.

IMG_2169

Mix the warm quinoa with the freshly sauteed vegetables, add a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste and a little olive oil.

IMG_2174

Here’s the pork while it was sitting before I sliced it into piece.   Since I was preparing this for my blog, I cut it into big pieces to stop the cooking process.   If I was having a dinner party I would cut thinner pieces and prepare the mustard breadcrumbs.

IMG_2206

IMG_2226

Enjoy!

Green Goddess Juice

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

There’s no particular reason I’m calling this Green Goddess other than it’s exactly what I’m feeling on this beautiful day!   I’m writing this post from Venice Beach huddled in the corner of Intelligentsia where you can find some of the best people watching outside of Brooklyn and my hood – I love the creative vibe.   I’m sipping a delicious cup of Chemex prepared coffee from some remote region of the world that I always seem to forget immediately after I order.   I’m a devote follower of the Chemex filtering process and brew a cup each morning, well, I’m trying to have one cup a day not the entire kettle but working on that.

Yesterday, I made this juice from left over veggies from the Lamb Tagine mixed with what I had in my refrigerator before I hit the farmers market today.    I pressed this juice then drove to Malibu to hike Solstice Canyon and later went to a Kundalini class at Golden Bridge.

IMG_2043

Chop the vegetables and press into the juicer.    It’s super easy, fast and easy to clean up.   I try to press enough juice for two days at a time or make a quick cup with left overs.

IMG_2048

IMG_2045

IMG_2050

Heres’ the hike at Solstice Canyon in Malibu – it’s a beautiful hour and a half hike straight to the top of the mountains over looking the ocean.   Once you start to descend on the back side of the range you cross over a little stream and step foot onto the property of a house that was destroyed in the 50’s from canyon fires.

I clocked over 10k steps on my FitBit.  If you don’t have one, go online right now and do it!   It’s so fun to track your fitness and goals on your iPhone, iPad and computer.

photo copy

photo2

After the hike in Malibu I took a Kundalini and Meditation class at Golden Bridge in Hollywood.

photo

South Moroccan Lamb Whole Wheat Couscous Tagine, Esalen in Big Sur

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SOUTH MOROCCAN LAMB COUSCOUS TAGINE, Inspired by my trip to the ESALEN in BIG SUR

This is the national dish of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia located in the northwestern corner of Africa.  I discovered this recipe in the Esalen cookbook on my recent trip.  Once I got home, I prepared this dish because I wanted to share something special with my girlfriends in celebration of my amazing adventure.   I collect cookbooks and was thrilled to add this one to my collection.   Every recipe in this book is from someone who stayed or worked at Esalen, which makes it incredible special because it’s how most families preserve their family heritage and this corner of the world definitely feels like home to me.

Esalen is one of the most magical and spiritual places I’ve traveled to in a very long time and it’s funny because I’ve been to Big Sur a bunch of times over the years but never thought to stay here until two weeks ago when I decided it was time to explore.   My girlfriend Jen, whose been traveling all over the world for the last 5 years and is currently in Peru, told me about Esalen and I’ve been waiting for the right time in my life to go.

They offer all kinds of workshops, classes and activities – I joined an ecstatic dance class at sunset overlooking the ocean the first day I arrived and found myself lost in the freedom of the moment.   I went alone and it was the best decision giving me the opportunity to explore, write, think, meet new people and rejuvenate.  You can harvest the fruits, vegetable and herbs early each morning with the cooks if you’d like – they prepare three meals a day and have a homemade bread station that is always open stocked with organic nut butters, tahini, jams etc…  Every meal is served in the main lodge and it’s pure, fresh, organic, and filled with health and love.   It was hard for me to leave.

IMG_2037

Here’s a little side salad I made to accompany the tagine.  It’s a mache and power green salad with sunflower seeds, goat cheese and a simple lemon and olive oil dressing.

IMG_2039

ESALEN in Big Sur

This is the view from the farm facing the lodge, cliffs and ocean.   It’s breathtaking and a reminder that I need to spend more time closer to the ocean.  I frolicked in the garden, nibbling on fresh black kale right from the plant and wondered the property soaking in all it’s beauty and sustenance.

photo

The coastline of Big Sur is one of the most incredible scenic drives on Route 1 in California.   And as luck would have it or maybe by design, there is no cell service once you hit Big Sur, you just turn up the music, stay present in the moment and take in all that inspires – and give thanks.

photo copy 4

The natural sulfur hot springs are clothing optional and I highly recommend everyone goes at least once in their lifetime and opt for no clothes – trust me it’s healing and beautiful on every level.

photo copy 3

This is the meditation room that is located over the bridge beyond the first garden.   This is where I took one of the most powerful spiritual chakra mediation classes of my life.   I attribute the amazing experience to the teacher, she guided us on a series of simple visuals from clearing our chakra’s to a higher connection.   I’m so grateful for the experience.   It awakened my Kundalini energy and helped me realize that I need to start a daily mediation practice.

photo copy 5

photo copy

photo copy 2

SOUTH MOROCCAN LAMB WITH WHOLE WHEAT COUSCOUS TAGINE

IMG_1979

  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 2 med carrots, diced
  • 1 small celery root or 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup of diced butternut squash or 1 small yam
  • 1 med zucchini or 6 mini zucchini, cut into small rounds
  • 1 Quart Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tbs Sea Salt
  • 1 Rutabaga, diced
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Turmeric
  • 2 Pounds Lamb, Cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Jar Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Tsp Saffron threads
  • 2 Cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 Handful Cilantro and Parsley, Chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt/Cracked Pepper

IMG_1978

First, season the lamb with salt and pepper and in a heavy dutch oven brown the meat in a teaspoon of olive oil, then set aside.

IMG_1985

IMG_1986

Once you remove the lamb, saute the carrots, onions and celery for about 5 minutes or until translucent.

IMG_1991

IMG_1988

IMG_1995

Continue to saute and add the cubed eggplant, butternut squash and zucchini.

IMG_1996

IMG_2000

Add one jar of fresh tomato sauce, I used a jar from the summer when I canned the heirloom tomatoes.

IMG_2002

IMG_2004

Add the browned lamb and parsley, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.   Add the spices and chickpeas.   Then turn back down to simmer for the next hour and a half.

IMG_2011

IMG_2005

IMG_2016

IMG_2020

Here’s the tagine after it cooked for an hour and a half.

IMG_2027

Prepare the whole wheat couscous and add a handful of parsley and a little lemon and olive oil for a mild flavor.

IMG_2030

Serve the lamb tagine over the couscous and enjoy!

IMG_2031

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.