I think you know that I’m infatuated with the raw food concept. And while that may sound like an odd concept, on some level we all like raw. Summer is the ‘raw’ Mecca as home gardens and farmer’s markets bust with succulent fruits waiting to burst with sweet juices, fragrant with a lovely floral scent. But let’s be honest, I am not just talking about eating fruits raw, and while I don’t believe I am a full fledged contingent of the growing raw-food advocates group I am enjoying dabbling in it. Do I believe that raw food has more nutrients? Continue reading ‘Shredded Beet & Toasted Sesame Salad- The RAW deal’
It has been good to have time to roll-up my sleeves and cook. Many times it is those simple creations that are the most enjoyable to make. A few unusual ingredients tossed together create a memorable dish. Cooking is very forgiving, unlike baking. Improvising is the key to flexing your culinary muscles.
I recently had the chance to meet up with Chef Josiah Slone at his restaurant Sent Sovi. He prepared a dish for me that will appear in the next edition of Silicon Valley Edible. It is beautifully simple, fresh and delicious. That dish in some way inspired me to create this very light summer pumpkin quinoa risotto (have I peeked your curiosity yet?).
I’ll be honest, I had been thinking about creating a dish with quinoa, but when it came down to preparing it, the fresh ingredients I used were all things that I had in the refrigerator. I tell you this because I think it is important to improvise. The simplest way to do this is to begin with basic substitutions like swapping ingredients — quinoa replaces Aroborio rice (cooking time is greatly adjusted), you could easily exchange the shallot for fresh garlic or ½ finely chopped medium size onion, pumpkin could be replaced with zucchini, and spinach and kale could be interchangeable as well. The key thing to take into account is how soft you like your vegetables. Pumpkin will cook more quickly than thick slices of zucchini for example. Usually the first time I make a recipe I follow the directions exactly- but once I have insight into the textures and the flavor combinations, I like to experiment from that point forward.
The textures in this dish just work. The nutty flavor of the quinoa blended with the saltiness of the broth and Parmesan cheese combine perfectly with the buttery soft squash texture. The spinach and mushrooms intermingled into this summer ‘risotto’ bring a fresh earthy flavor to the palate. This recipe is perfect as a standalone or side dish.
Summer Quinoa Pumpkin ‘Risotto’
1 cup red quinoa
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
½ ripe kabocha Japanese pumpkin (approx. 3 cups or 1 lb), skin removed (optional)
8 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 cups baby spinach, cleaned with stems removed
Cook quinoa according to package directions, set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat add oil and shallot and cook until softened. Add butter and pumpkin, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Add mushrooms stirring frequently. Then add broth and cook uncovered over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa and combine until most of the broth is absorbed. Add in spinach, stir well to combine then add cheese. Transfer to a serving bowl.
There are times when life throws you curve balls and instead of taking a good cut at it, it hits you in the head. Okay, this is not a literal story but it is pretty darn close- figuratively and literally. But I’ll skip over those details. Let’s suffice to say that was my week in a nutshell and now I can’t seem to find time to cook. And despite how I crave to be creating meals in the kitchen I have had to redefine my efforts to match my ‘snacky’ healthy palate. This week, I returned to my new favorite food area of exploration – the world of raw, vegan. Continue reading ‘Raw Caramel Cookie Bars (vegan, gluten free)’
There are times when you think you find a friend because you believe that they need your help or support. Other times, without you realizing it, that same friend switches places with you and you suddenly realize that despite what you initially thought, they really found you. Audrey was one of those friends. While we became friends without a formal introduction from our common connection, in a most unconventional way, somehow it just worked. A friendship surfaced despite either of us really knowing much about the other. This type of friendship has happened to me a few times over the years and although somewhat unusual, I surrendered knowing that they just felt ‘right’ and I took the leap to let them into my heart. My friendships with Jennifer and Ilina sprung up under similar circumstances and despite our physical distance or our lack of regular conversation, there remains a bond. I know that I can always pick up the phone or send a text and I have no doubt that they would drop whatever they are doing if I was in need.
Friendships really do come in all shapes and sizes but at the core it is the simplicity of the relationship that keeps me engaged. And I feel lucky to have had so many special friends share special moments, look out for me and enjoy spending time together. The long-time girls in my life – Suzie, Stacey, Natalie, Roe, Sue, Burley, Joan, Ingrid, Karen, Maria and Diana – are very special to me. And into this mix grew Ilina and Jennifer and most recently Audrey. These are my Ya-Yas.
This group would be the first to tell you that while I am somehow managing to blog, it is kinda a miracle. I don’t really have time for this, despite how passionate I am about food and writing. So for now, I will keep it simple. Sometimes life doesn’t have a magic formulaic recipe, it just happens and we find it in our hearts to embrace it.
As Audrey said when she shared this recipe with me, “You are going to love this salad- it is simple, fresh and healthy.” Don’t be afraid, there are no exact measurements. Follow your heart and your palate to give this salad your own flair.
Grapefruit & Greens Ya-Yas Salad
1 head Bibb (Butter) lettuce, washed cleaned and cut
2 cups baby spinach, washed and cleaned
1 red bell pepper, washed, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 large grapefruits, peeled, pith removed and sliced into wheels
1 large cucumber, washed, cleaned and chopped
8 oz Feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup walnut pieces, chopped
¼ cup sugar
½ grapefruit, juiced
3 TBS olive oil
1 TBS white wine vinegar
To prepare salad, wash and clean all produce. In a small pan, over medium high heat add nuts and sugar and continue to stir until sugar melts and nuts are caramelized, then remove from heat. In a large bowl combine all ingredients.
To make a simple deconstructed dressing, once salad is assembled pour dressing ingredients over it. Mix and serve.
One year ago I had a kitchen accident, an accident that took me down a wild path of recovery and self-discovery. The outcome at a glance was very fortunate, but there is no denying that it has redefined me in many ways. Continue reading ‘Guacamole Grows Up’
Let’s just keep it simple.
Appreciating the simple things.
My theme this week is …… SIMPLE….when you suddenly come down with a horrible bout of the stomach flu, things need to reset. For me these past five days, regardless of what I thought I should be doing, were about re-setting from zero to simple.
It is not easy to appreciate simplicity at its onset. It is moments like these, when you can’t possibly eat or drink anything of substance that you realize how amazing a cracker can taste. Then you are well again, and Continue reading ‘Vegan Cashew No-gurt’
Sometimes the way to change up a dinner is just by adding a simple side dish. Trying to survive the erratic schedule of two children involved in baseball season and still manage to sit down to a meal is easier said than done. I tend to revert back to those quick fix family favorite dinners that we all know and love. As a restless cook that tends to suck all the fun out of my creative outlet – playing with my food. So to keep engaged I’ve taken the path of adding in a little something new to each meal that can be prepared ahead of time. Sometimes it is a side dish or a dessert. This week it was the addition of biscuits. Not just any ‘ole biscuits, Cream Cheese Biscuits! Slathered with butter and served slightly warm these biscuits were the stand-out new element to my grandmother’s delicious, Continue reading ‘Cream Cheese Biscuits’
I’ve been a bit unplugged. Most days I am hunched over my laptop. Night comes and I wonder if I should squeeze in a little retail therapy and do some online shopping or sign the kids up for camps. After all, multitasking is considered so admirable in our society. >she acknowledges with a hint of sarcasm< Better yet, I could blog and spark up my creative juices. But then there are those times that I think in addition to healthy eating I should embrace the next sequence of my healthfulness with a digital detox. Continue reading ‘Raw Nut Fudge (gluten free, vegan) & How to Digitally Detox’
Whiskey Ketchup and Black & Purple Sweet Potato Burgers
Control. It’s all about control. In a world where so much is out of our control what we put on our plates is a decision over which we have control. I am not talking about being an overbearing control monger, but rather changing the perception of how we perceive food decisions that we regularly make shift from that of a dreaded chore to a radical act of self-care. Supporting one’s health is important whether you are healthy or sick. How we choose to eat directly affects how clearly we think, how quickly we recover from illness or how resilient we feel when undergoing medical treatments. Continue reading ‘Whiskey Ketchup and Black & Purple Sweet Potato Burgers’