Tag Archives: garlic

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

L1030066I am one week into my new food regimen.  I like to think of it as a regimen rather than a diet.  I don’t do well with diets.  The minute I am told I can’t have a particular food, I immediately want it.  This regimen was prescribed for me by a naturopathic doctor that I have been seeing for my IBS.  As you know from my last post, peri-menopause has caused quite a bit of havoc in my life over the past 18 months. I can’t believe it took me this long to seek medical treatment. I am a firm believer that much of what ails us has to do with our diets. So when my doctor prescribed this specific diet for my condition, I decided to give it a go. One year ago, I probably would have said, “No thanks”, but I am desperate to feel better. The regimen is  similar to the Paleo diet in that it excludes sugar, dairy, and all cereal grains. However, I am allowed a few types of cheese (thank god) as well as legumes.  I joked to my husband that I might join the CrossFit/Paleo cult that has swept the nation. I saw fear in his eyes.

I had awful headaches during the first few days. I’m assuming this was my body going through sugar withdrawal. But after they passed, it got a lot easier. I’m feeling pretty good and not feeling deprived at all. In fact, the thought of sugar doesn’t even sound good to me, which is strange. I was planning on allowing myself a piece of cake next weekend for my birthday, but I decided that I am going to make a healthy dessert instead.  Black bean brownies, anyone? I will try to post that recipe here in the coming months. It’s one of my favorite things to eat when I need something sweet.

In the meantime, get a load of this salad! It may sound boring, but I can assure you that it’s full of flavor and slightly addictive.  The dressing has a nice bite/tang to it, thanks to mustard and shallots. Give it a whirl!
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Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield: 8-10 servings

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon sea salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 lb. total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated Pecorino

1. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld.
2. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
3. Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 Tbsp. oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.
4. Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

Haricots Verts and Snow Peas with Hazelnut and Orange

DSC_5534Everyone always told my sister and I that we would become good friends when we got older.  I’m not sure if they said this because we fought like cats and dogs, or because they really believed it.  By the time we were teenagers, we barely spoke to each other, and when we did it was usually in a passive aggressive tone.  When I went off to college, I barely saw her, other than a few times when I was home for the summer.  Throughout our 20’s (we are merely 17 months apart) I waited for the intimacy that everyone said would magically happen to us.  It never did.

Heidi, my sister, and I couldn’t be more different.  As a teenager, she ran with the “wild” crowd­–she smoked, drank, and listened to heavy metal.  I, on the other hand, found her world to be a bit scary and intimidating.  I was drawn more towards the funny, smart kids, and listened exclusively to pop music.  I have to believe that our troubled home life informed both of our worlds at the time.  Perhaps she gave in to the hopelessness of it all, or maybe it was just her way of coping.  I desperately wanted to believe that there was a bigger world out there, and tried to find people that had access to a brighter reality.  I remember getting all A’s in the 9th grade, for the first time ever, and understanding that somehow this was key to me transcending whatever it was I was trying to escape.
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One of the characteristics that make us so different is that I really enjoy having thoughtful, in-depth conversations with people in general.  I am fascinated by human behavior and relationships between human beings.  Of course, I realize that not everyone is comfortable with intimacy.  And I have always gotten the sense that this type of conversation makes my sister squirm, that true intimacy in general makes her uncomfortable.  Again, it might have something to do with the way we were raised.  Perhaps she is merely trying to survive out there, but I am often times searching for meaning and connection with other people.  Because of this dissonance, our relationship has always felt stagnant.

My sister recently went through a divorce, and I think her heart has been cracked open a bit.  Leonard Cohen sings, “There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”  I do think that some people’s hearts have to be cracked wide open by life before they can start feeling joy.  My sister and I have grown closer since her divorce, and I think we are both making an effort at our relationship.  We are still polar opposites in so many ways, but I think we are both becoming more accepting of our differences.  Instead of waiting for us to develop this incredibly affectionate relationship, I am trying to appreciate that we are two distinctly different individuals who just happen to be sisters.
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I don’t think I knew what haricots verts were until I was in my late twenties.  I had a friend who was a Francophile and made them for dinner one night.  Simply because of their fancy-sounding name, they seemed so much more appealing than regular ol’ green beans.  And if fact they do have a much more complex flavor than their American counterpart.   They scream spring weather to me, and so I made this recipe a few weeks ago in hopes that it would help Mother Nature induce warmer climes.  It’s a nice, crunchy vegetable side that is packed with flavor from the garlic, hazelnuts, and orange.
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Haricots Verts and Snow Peas with Hazelnut and Orange
Adapted from Ottolenghi:  The Cookbook

14 oz. (about 2 cups) haricots verts
14 oz. (about 2 cups) snow peas
1/2 cup unskinned hazelnuts
1 orange
3/4 oz. chives, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. hazelnut oil (or another nut oil, if unavailable, or simply olive oil)
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Using a small, sharp knife, trim the stalk ends off the beans and the snow peas, keeping the two separate.
2.  Bring plenty of unsalted water to a boil in a large saucepan.  You need lots of space for the beans, as this is crucial for preserving their color.  Blanch the beans in the water for 4 minutes, then drain into a colander and run them under plenty of tap water until cold.  Leave to drain and dry.  Repeat with the snow peas, but blanch for only 1 minute.
3.  While the beans are cooking, scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.  Leave until cool enough to handle, then rub them in a clean kitchen towel to get rid of most of the skin.  Chop the nuts with a large, sharp knife.  They should be quite rough; some can even stay whole.
4.  Using a zester, zest the orange, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.
5.  To assemble the dish, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, toss gently, then taste and adjust the seasoning.  Serve at room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Carrot Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette and Pistachios

DSC_4995I’ve been uncharacteristically happy lately.  I saw my therapist last week for the first time in a month, and didn’t know what to talk about.  I’m so used to spending my sessions focusing on how to improve things in my life—preventing negative behavior patterns, setting personal goals, etc.  Walking in to see my therapist, I was worried that there would be an uncomfortable silence due to my lack of problems to discuss.  On the contrary, my therapist assured me that these are important sessions to have because we can look at what is working in my life, why it is working, and how to create more of it in the future.  Eureka!

I am definitely someone who feels better in the spring and summer months, but even so, I can’t remember feeling this content in many years.  I even have frequent moments of straight up joy and euphoria these days.  It feels so goddamned good and foreign at the same time.  I want to hold onto these moments, but they are fleeting.  And they should be; we wouldn’t want to savor them otherwise.  I go about my day feeling grateful I have a life that I absolutely love.  I’m working on not reacting to people’s words and behaviors as much as I used to.  I am learning to be kinder to myself and not critique every little thing I think or do.
DSC_4983I want to shout my happiness out to the world.  I want to dance in the streets.  And yet I find myself being shy about sharing my jubilation with others.  When friends ask how I’m doing, I have been replying with, “I’m really good.  I’m really happy.”  I want to go on and on about why so I’m happy and how great it feels, but I think that would be strange.  It would feel boastful, and I was raised in the Midwest where excessive pride in one’s achievements or accomplishments—hell, talking about yourself at all—was frowned upon.  I did call my 85-year-old grandma last week and share my happiness with her.  I think it delighted her.

This carrot salad was my obsession for the entire 4 days it was in my refrigerator.  I love cilantro, especially in the summer, and it compliments the sweetness of carrots beautifully.  Cilantro makes everything taste fresh.  I find it hard to believe that there are people out there who despise cilantro.  Those people are crazy.  There, I said it.  The lemon juice adds a nice acidity so the vinaigrette does not taste heavy at all.  Be sure not to add the pistachios to the salad until right before serving, or they will turn soft.  I can’t wait to make this again.
DSC_4992Carrot Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette and Pistachios
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield:  4-6 servings

1/4 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios
3/4 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
sea salt
1 lb. carrots, peeled, julienned or coarsely grated
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6-8 minutes.  Let cool; coarsely chop.
2.  Toast coriander in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Let cool; coarsely chop.
3.  Whisk garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and coriander in a large bowl, then whisk in oil; season with salt.
4.  Add carrots, toss, and let sit at least 30 minutes.  Toss with cilantro and pistachios just before serving.

 

 

Roast Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce

DSC_4941Many moons ago, I had a friend who I met at my first job in New York.  She was lots of fun and we hit it off right away.  We’ve since lost touch, but I still look back on those days fondly.  She showed me the grittier side of New York, when I was still caught up in an image of New York consisting primarily of my Upper West Side neighborhood.  She grew up in a suburb of New York and had endless stories about sneaking into Manhattan as a teenager.   She would go to clubs, drink alcohol, experiment with drugs, and get involved with older men.  Having grown up in a very small town in Minnesota myself, it all sounded to scandalous and exciting to me.  I felt like I missed out on an important teenage rite of passage.

My friend—I’ll call her Sara—was always very encouraging to me on the dating front.  She persuaded me to jump headfirst into dating and gave me the confidence to believe that New York men would find me charming.  One morning Sara came into the office and said she had someone in mind for me; she wanted to set us up on a blind date.  The guy she had in mind worked as a fishmonger in her neighborhood, and apparently he was really nice and very handsome.  She said he looked like Tyson Beckford, the male model (remember him??).  Of course I immediately felt inept and had a million reasons why it would not be a good idea for me to date someone who looked like a MALE MODEL.  But Sara would not hear any of it.  She insisted we meet each other and was sure that we would each enjoy the other’s company.
DSC_4920He and I met up at a bar/restaurant in the Lower East Side that I frequented on the weekends.  I figured even if we didn’t hit it off, I knew the place had good food and excellent live music.  She was right:  he was gorgeous and looked uncannily like Tyson Beckford.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have much else to offer.  He was boring as hell.  At one point, we started discussing movies and I started to perk up a bit since I am an avid movie-goer and love talking about interesting films.  However, I’ll never forget when he said, “I don’t think there’s such a thing as a ‘bad movie’.”  That’s when I knew the date was over.  Done.  Finished.  Check, please!

Dud or not, I guess you could say he was thoughtful, if not somewhat oddball-ish about his thoughtfulness.  Because he worked as a fishmonger, he brought me a COUPLE OF POUNDS of swordfish.  On the date.  He brought it to the restaurant, like it was a box of chocolates.  I think Sara must have told him that I liked to cook.  At the time I remember thinking:  Ok, well this is something.  I’ll learn how to make swordfish!  But when I opened up the package the next day it stunk to the high heavens.  I swear to god that fish was rotten, which means a man brought me a bag of rotten fish on a date.  To this day, I can’t eat swordfish.  In fact, I can’t really eat any steak-like (white) fish that is reminiscent of swordfish.  I’ll eat tuna all the live-long day.
DSC_4930That said, I think it’s curious that I was not able to eat this sea bass that I made the other night.  I’ve had sea bass countless times at restaurants in New York and it’s always delicious.  I’d never attempted making it before, simply because it is a mucho expensive fish.  However, I figured it was worth the splurge since I would be sharing the recipe on my blog.  There is absolutely no chopping of anything for this recipe, but you do have to own a food processor, as many things need to be pureed.  I loved the chickpea puree and the parsley sauce.  I could have eaten 10 bowls of each of these.  But the fish was just too evocative of that horrible swordfish experience and I couldn’t get past the texture.  If you like meaty fish, you will really enjoy this dish.  My husband raved about the fish and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t eat it.  He likened it to me turning down a good burger.  Touché.
DSC_4936Roast Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce
Adapted from Food and Wine

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
Four 6-oz. skinless sea bass fillets (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick)
4 fresh bay leaves
4 small rosemary springs, plus 1/2 tsp. minced rosemary
2 cups lightly packed parsley leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Two 15-oz. cans chickpeas. rinsed and drained
1/2 small garlic glove

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line and rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.  In a medium baking dish, mix 1/4 cup of the olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest and the paprika.  Season the fish with salt and pepper.
3.  Add the fish to the marinade and turn to coat, then nestle the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs between the fillets.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the parsley with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the water and puree until nearly smooth.  With the machine on, gradually add 1/2 cup of the oil until incorporated.  Season the parsley sauce with salt and pepper.
5.  In a food processor, combine the chickpeas with the garlic, minced rosemary, 1 cup of water and the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice; puree until smooth.  Scrape the puree into a medium saucepan and season with salt and pepper.  Stir over moderately low heat until hot, about 5 minutes; keep warm over very low heat.
6.  Remove the fish from the marinade.  Gently roll up the fillets and set them seam side down on the prepared baking sheet.
7.  Roast for about 12 minutes, until just cooked through.  Spoon the chickpea puree onto plates and top with the fish.  Drizzle on the parsley sauce and serve.

Veal Meatballs with Mustard Greens

DSC_4869I was chosen for jury duty this week.  I feel like you can bring up jury duty to almost any New Yorker and they will tell you their story of having to serve on a jury.  I’m kind of surprised that it’s taken 11 years for me to do my time on a jury, although I’ve been called up numerous times over the years.

Since the case is not yet over, I can’t say anything about it other than that it is a criminal trial—one that I have to travel 4 hours round-trip to get to every day.  It’s kind of ironic that I’m complaining about having to travel, when the reason for the traveling is to decide the fate of another human being’s life.  Ohhhhhh, my privileged life.

And that is exactly what I have been trying to focus on this week as I sit in a courtroom day after day listening to stories of how numerous crimes were committed.  I am trying not to focus on the awful things I am hearing each day when I step into that courtroom, but rather on how beautiful my life is:  how fortunate I have been throughout my life, the opportunities that have come my way, the never-ending support from friends and family, and the love.  It really does make a difference in the outcome of one’s life.
DSC_4859As the days progressed this week, I felt the need to connect.  I wanted to call my friends and family on my lunch hour and express how much I value them and how important they are to me.  Our daily reality is just that; it belongs to no one else.  At some point, I stopped complaining about the long commute to the courthouse each day.  Instead, I am choosing to find meaning in this experience.

Meatballs.  Who doesn’t love a good meatball??  Except for, well, maybe vegetarians.  But I bet they eat their fair share of soy and seitan meatballs.  Gross.  Sorry vegetarians.  I have to confess that meatballs are yet another item that I had never made before.   I think it was simply another intimidation situation.   But I love the fact that these meatballs were my first.  They are juicy and full of flavor—exactly the way any good meatball should taste.  And the mustard greens are the perfect bitter complement to the sweetness of the meatballs.  Of course, you can toss them into a plate of pasta if this recipe isn’t hearty enough on its own.  But this dish definitely doesn’t need a starch to accompany it.  My only suggestion is to speak like Tony Soprano when you take your first bite.
DSC_4868Veal Meatballs with Mustard Greens
Adapted from Food and Wine

Yield:  4 servings

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chipotle or other smoked chile powder
1 pound ground veal
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound mustard greens, thick stems discarded and leaves chopped
1/3 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1.  In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering.
2.  Add the minced onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the minced garlic, the fennel seeds, mustard powder crushed red pepper, coriander and chile powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes; let cool.
4.  In a large bowl, mix the cooled onion mixture with the veal, bread crumbs, cream, egg and salt.
5.  Form into 11/2-inch meatballs and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
6.  In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering.  Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat, turning until browned all over, 5 minutes.
7.  Gently push the meatballs to one side of the skillet.  Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan, then add the mustard greens and stock.
8.  Cover and cook over moderate heat until the greens are wilted, 4 minutes.  Spoon the meatballs and greens into bowls and serve.

Warm Green Snap Beans in Bacon Vinaigrette

DSC_4641I was feeling very rushed yesterday.  I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, and by the time I returned home I felt like I was racing against time trying to finish my to-do list before going to work.  I am hosting my monthly book club tonight, so the passion fruit cheesecake(!!) had to be made yesterday.  Even though I love entertaining and hosting, it can easily turn into a nerve-racking situation if I allow it.  It must stem from the part of my ego that needs other people’s approval.  What starts off as excitement about choosing recipes, selecting a playlist, and fantasizing about drinking good wine over stimulating conversation can quickly turn to panic.

The day before hosting, I turn into my own worst enemy creating endless to-do lists and noticing everything that is wrong with our apartment.  We still haven’t hung up that shelf!  Why doesn’t our living room get more light?  I wish we could hire a decorator so I could truly enjoy our home.  However, I caught myself in the midst of these thoughts yesterday.  I allowed myself to sit still (my acupuncturist finds it curious that I usually frame it as, “I forced myself to sit still.”) for a few minutes, took some deep breaths, and tried to quiet the loud voice that was trying to put a negative spin on an experience that brings me a lot of joy.  When I woke up this morning, I told myself I was going to approach the remainder of my to-do list with gratitude:

How fortunate am I that I get to have friends over to discuss a novel that I really enjoyed (we read The Orphan Master’s Son for anyone who is curious)? 

I get to cook and bake delicious food for my friends. 

I am able to drink wine and connect with other women who I respect and appreciate. 

I can buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers to celebrate the arrival of spring.
DSC_4633And I’ll be doing all of the above tonight.  Speaking of spring, I made this salad last week because I needed an easy yet healthy lunch to take to work.  It’s a warm salad, so it’s perfect for this time of year when the days can fluctuate between a balmy 50 degrees during the day and a much chillier evening.  It reminded me of a tangy, rustic French salad with the green beans, tomatoes, and shallots.  I just realized that I’ve been to France twice and both visits were in the spring.  They do seem to compliment each other well.  Isn’t there a classic song called “April in Paris”?  [End of tangent.]  This salad is light yet filling, and very satisfying with the bacon and olive oil so you don’t feel deprived whatsoever. 

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Warm Green Snap Beans in Bacon Vinaigrette
Adapted from Food and Wine 

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 lbs. green snap beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut into lardons (1 cup)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
10 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped basil
salt and freshly ground pepper

1.  Cook the beans in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
2.  Drain the beans and cool them under cold running water.  Drain well and pat dry; transfer the beans to a large bowl.
3.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, 7 to 8 minutes.
4.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the vinegar, tomatoes, shallot, garlic and basil.  Scrape the bacon vinaigrette over the beans, season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat.  Serve warm.