Part 1: What to Eat NOW from the Farmers Market


imageMary “MFK” Fisher wrote once about the silly way Americans have been taught to ‘need’ three big, complex meals a day. That in Europe, food consumption is generally more simple. I’m paraphrasing here but her words changed how I ate — and cooked — immediately.

And what is more fun than shopping at your weekly Farmers Market? Buying what is fresh, locally grown, and vastly more delicious than some giant corporate tomato. That, and by supporting our regional farmers, we support vital parts to our communities.

Recently, I polled some of my most fabulous women friends here in Wine Country for “what do you want me to write? What do you want to read?” and friend Ursula Zopp thought quick recipes for “what’s in season NOW” would be good. I agree.  And I LOVE Farmers Markets but don’t always get there…

So dear friends, This is the launch of a new series: What to Eat Now from The Farmers Market.  I pledge to visit my FM every week, buy what’s right there, and cook something up. Then write you a full account and one recipe here.  Your ingredients and volumes may vary based on tastes and what you find at your stalls. Grab a friend, cute date, or a kid and join me! I think this will be a fun Sunmer/Fall of eating together.

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

Roasted Roots

ingredients:

  • 1-3 bunches spring onions
  • 1 bundle spring garlic (usually 3)
  • WILD ASPARAGUS (10-15 stalks)
  • 2 Meyer Lemons
  • Garlic
  • 1 head of something like Cauliflower or Romanesco — I had Cauliflower from the store. (whoops)
  • Optional: 1 yellow onion
  • Optional: great local Cheese. I picked up a small round of Skyhill Farms goat cheese out of Petaluma, California. It is Excellent! Soft notes of nuts mingle perfectly with this light and creamy cheese.

Preheat your Oven to 375’F.

Prep your vegetables:

Remove surplus skin from your garlic clove and cut off tops so garlic can breathe its gorgeousness into your greens.

Clean and remove any sand or dirt from your spring onions. Remove outer layer if needed. Trim off most of the tough green tops. And slice in half longways, keeping their little hairy butts attached.

Hairy Butts keep the onions/garlic together during roasting.

Hairy Butts keep the onions/garlic together during roasting.

Clean spring garlics like the onions but skip removing any outer layer.

Slice Lemons into halves and remove any obvious seeds.

Remove any tough green leaves from Caulifower or Romanesco. Cut off tough stalk underneath. Slice cauliflower into planes about 1/4-1/2″ thick. They will look like broad, flat little flowers.

Throw everything into one or two rimmed baking sheets. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Be sure to coat garlic clove tops so the garlic steams, not burns.

Arrange into a somewhat even layer and slide into Oven. Roast for about 45 minutes tossing them every 15. If you like yours a bit blackened, we crank heat to 475′ for a few minutes at the end.

Serve in wide bowls with that cute cheese on a sweet platter and a glass of bright, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. None of that grassy or cat pee stuff. But a leaner, more elegant coastal Californian SB or one grown here in Sonoma County like ours from Annadel Estate Winery, Beltane Ranch or Benziger! Wine with dinner is a must.

And that gorgeously roasted lemon? Drizzle juice over everything. image

Happy Eating!

Red Curry Chicken Meatballs

I love Curry.  Capitalizing the “C” in Curry. That is how much I revere Curry. As a Grad Student in the late 90s, I ate Curry.  A lot of Curry.  A decade later, I went to India, Thailand, Cambodia, and fell deeply in love with Curry. Something about India — the scents and smells maybe of cooking food everywhere, the sizzling meats, and musky incense — somehow shifted my brain.  As cliche as that sounds.  But instead spiritual awakening, mine was largely a gastro-awakening, if you will.  Shifting my focus to elevate Food to join Wine and Art.  Looking back, I think India is where I first started to think I wanted to Cook. Not just knowing a handful of dishes.  In India, I started browsing spice markets just to smell, started taking pictures of food, and stopped to *discreetly take notes on how street vendors cooked samosas, meats, and sweets.

Spice Markets anywhere in the world make me very, very happy. Calcutta 2008

Spice Markets anywhere in the world make me very, very happy. Calcutta 2008

*Note: one stands out already as 6’1″ American gal . Openly paying attention to any male stranger was/is a big no-no, especially in India. That said, we traveled with Drag Queens mostly in Thailand and Cambodia so no one paid us much attention as women.

Rooftops, Calcutta, India 2008

Rooftops, Calcutta, India 2008

One meal stands out. We were traveling to India for friend Suparna’s cousin’s wedding. On the rooftop of her family’s apartment building, a man cooked a superb meal for 30 people. He had a handful of battered pots and a small flame. He wore sandals and crouched as he cooked. The pots and flame were on the rooftop itself.

Rooftop Kitchen in Calcutta from this very first meal. 2008

Rooftop Kitchen in Calcutta from this very first meal. 2008

The food prepared was marvelous. Simple, clean flavors. Minerally driven fish from the Ganges, flash fried root vegetables, rice, and assorted garnish. I learned to scoop neatly and eat curry by hand at that meal and NOT to ever use my left hand. It is considered “unclean” in that part of the world. That meal and our time in India still brings back memories of warmth and happiness.

Seven years later, I cook curry as much as my perfect husband and two kids can handle. There have been some real misfires is the kitchen. Curry takes timing and precision more than any other culturally based food. But this dish, is pretty much foolproof. Not too spicy for young mouths. Delicious and HEALTHY for those of us adults not wanting to sacrifice flavor for thinner waistlines.

And the best part? You can make in a slow cooker OR in your Dutch Oven.

RED CURRY CHICKEN MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4-2lbs ground chicken
  • 2/3-1 cup good bread crumbs
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3-4 limes.  You will use the skin of one lime for the Cuisinart.  Trick: use a vegetable peeler vs a zester.
  • 3-5″ piece of ginger (peeled and coarse chopped) OR 1 fresh lemongrass stalk (rough parts removed and sliced)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can Coconut milk
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Red Thai Chili Paste
  • Grapeseed oil
  • kosher salt

Preheat Oven to 300’F.

In a small Cuisinart, chop garlic, ginger, lime skins, and half of the cilantro (stalks too).  Hand mix ground chicken, pinch of salt, breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes (to taste), and this garlic/herb mixture in a clean bowl.

Chicken mixture thoroughly hand mixed.

Chicken mixture thoroughly hand mixed.

Next, roll out meatballs the size of large walnuts.  Place on a clean plate and heat 3-4 tablespoons of Grapeseed oil in a wok (nonstick ideally).

Ready for browning.

Ready for browning.

image

I place my Dutch Oven right next to the wok and simply lift the meatballs directly into the Oven. If you want a bit less grease in the dish, place on a paper towel lined plate before the Oven.

Working in batches, generally brown the meatballs.  Each batch will take a few minutes.  Add oil when necessary and use a lid to protect yourself from any hot splatter.

On the last batch of meatballs? Stage your sauce ingredients.  Shake and open the Coconut milk.  Open the tomato paste and have spoon ready.  Same for the Thai paste.

Standing by.

Standing by.

When the last of the chicken meatballs are finished, quickly add the entire can of tomato paste and 2-3 heaping tablespoons of Thai Paste to the hot oil.  Stir Stir Stir Stir to thoroughly mix the pastes together.  Keep stirring for about a minute or so to “brown” the pastes — the paste will start to look darker and smell stronger.

Before browning. MIX MIX MIX quickly with a whisk.

Before browning. MIX MIX MIX quickly with a whisk.

Add Coconut Milk and keep stirring to combine the pastes and milk entirely.

Almost there.

Almost there.

Once Sauce is mixed, pour over all meatballs.  Use a spatula to scrape all sauce from the pan and smooth over meatballs.

Ready for the sauce. Notice meatballs are snugly packed into a single layer.

Ready for the sauce. Notice meatballs are snugly packed into a single layer.

Sauce applied evenly and ready for the oven.

Sauce applied evenly and ready for the oven.

Cover and cook for 3 hours at 300’F.  Sauce will condense around each ball as the chicken cooks.  If you are using a Slow Cooker, cook on Low for 6 hours or High for 3 hours.

Serve immediately garnished with 3-4 wedges of fresh lime per plate and chopped cilantro.  My kids like this with Basmati Rice made with butter and coconut milk.  Dean and I opt for carb-free version of this dish and simply serve the meatballs.  Feeds a family of four or six.

Finished Plate.

Finished Plate.

Happy Eating!

Rustic Lamb, Eggplant, and Mint

Vintage 2014

Vintage 2014

We have 80 sheep coming today! “Ed the Sheep Guy” is bringing 45 babies and their Mommies to mow our vineyard and hillsides. Sheep are fantastic helpers when you grow organic grapes. They eat the weeds down to the nibs, aerate the soil with their hooves, and fertilize with their epic amounts of poop. And at the end of the spring? We get one butchered lamb for the freezer. The ultimate “farm to table” dishes we’ll make over the next year. To help make room in the Barn freezer, I pulled out frozen chops and shoulder to make this Stew for dinner last night. And it was superb!  Takes a bit of effort, yes, but perfect for the weekend or “date nights in.”  This dish will fill your home and bellies with the scents and tastes of Spring.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small eggplants
  • 2 lbs lamb cubed to 1″
  • 1 large yellow onion quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic run thru a garlic press (not chopped)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 large teaspoons of cumin seeds — toasted and crushed up in mortar & pestle
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & cracked pepper
  • dry white or rose wine (optional)

Top your eggplants and slice into quarters. Cube into 1″ sizes, put into a colander, and sprinkle with a lot of salt. Elizabeth David calls for a tablespoon! But I just did 2 pinches to minimize sodium in the finished dish. Put a plate and weights on the top and let rest for a good hour. This step squeezes excess moisture out. Before cooking, rinse and then forcibly squeeze as much water from the eggplant as you can using a clean tea towel.

Cubed eggplant salted and draining in my colander under "weights"

Cubed eggplant salted and draining in my colander under “weights”

In a bowl, toss the lamb with half the chopped mint, basil, pinch of red pepper flakes, cumin seeds (toasted & crushed), a pinch of salt and pepper. Let marinate while eggplant drains.

I bought a second jar of cumin seeds and toasted the whole batch last year for cooking more Mediterranean dishes.

I bought a second jar of cumin seeds and toasted the whole batch last year for cooking more Mediterranean dishes. Big time saver.

Lamb ready to marinate with fresh herbs, pepper, and cumin.

Lamb ready to marinate with fresh herbs, pepper, and cumin.

In a dutch oven or large sautée pan, heat 5 tablespoons of EVOO. Add the onions to the warming oil. Once the onions begin the color, add the meat and marinating herbs. Brown the meat and onions turning the mixture often with a wooden cooking spoon. Scrape up the browning/burning bits from the sides and bottom often. Then remove the meat and onion mixture with a slotted spoon to your bowl.

Lamb and marinating herbs added to the onions.

Lamb and marinating herbs added to the onions.

Be sure to brown lamb, herbs, and onions.

Be sure to brown lamb, herbs, and onions.

Add your eggplant cubes to the hot oil and coat the eggplant. Cover and turn heat down. Gently cook for 10 minutes. I almost burned mine but realized in time the pan was drying out too much and splashed the eggplants with half a glass of my Rosé! And the added flavor was wonderful.

image

Hot house tomatoes got the job done but this summer, I’m sure my garden tomatoes will bring extra flavors!

Return the meat and onions mixture to the pan and mix well with eggplant and juices. Add your chopped tomatoes and mashed garlic and gently cook for 60-90 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes or so. I splashed with white wine occasionally. The meat will not be too tender. This is a rustic dish.

Serve alone or over rice  I garnished with chopped mint and a few basil leaves.

Finished dish served over a small scoop of rice.

Finished dish served over a small scoop of rice.

The kids added katsup and it was still delicious.

Our kids eat what we eat. No exceptions. But I do let them add ketchup.

Our kids eat what we eat. No exceptions. But I do let them add ketchup.

Happy Eating!  Now, what to make with the lamb bones? Thinking Lamb Stock today….image

 

 

Easy. Tasty. Healthy. In 25 Minutes

A lovely start to an easy dish!

A lovely start to an easy dish!

This is the simplest, mostly vegetarian, yummy dish I’ve made in awhile. We enjoyed as an entree but could easily be served as a side to grilled chicken or pork chops! You must make it this weekend.

Brocoli Rabe, Lemons, and Beans

ingredients

  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 lemons
  • 1 bunch Brocoli rabe
  • 2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans
  • 1 bunch italian parsely
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded parmesan reggiano
  • extra virgin olive oil

Thinly slice garlic and lemons (seeded) Sautée quickly in 4 tablespoons of EVOO wt 2-3 #anchovies in a Dutch Oven (Le Creuset) for about 5 mins. Lemons will start to brown a bit.

Next, add coarse chopped broccoli rabe. Cook 5 mins more.

Broccoli Rabe brings the color and green bite.

Broccoli Rabe brings the color and green bite.

Stir two cans drained/rinsed cannellini beans. I added a good splash of white wine here. Cook 5-7 more mins. Be sure beans are cooked through.

Mix in 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley and 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese. Turn out into a pretty bowl and garnish with red pepper flakes, parsely, and more parmesan. Delicious! Took 25-30 mins max. Thanks to Bon Appetite Magazine for the initial ecipe. I paired with our 2012 Annadel Estate Chardonnay. Dean had our 2009 Merlot. Perfect.

Bring out those pretty dishes! Use them daily.

Bring out those pretty dishes! Use them daily.

Happy Eating!

How to Botch Eggplant Parmesan

Saved by blistered Cheese and fresh chopped Basil!

Barely Saved by blistered Cheese and fresh chopped Basil!

“I’m not white. I’m Italian!” Declared my Dean some years ago. I laughed uproariously.  But have since come to know this as one of his core Truths. And now it’s one of our Family Truths here in my Kitchen.

I’ve learned to cook many a rustic Italian dish from Dean and his family over the years and then on my own with my army of Cookbooks. Lydia Bastianich is the only writer I don’t alter a single thing about since her recipes taste “so much like home” to my husband. Everything else? I play with. Tweak spicing. Swap ingredients. Make healthy (sort of). Because I’ve come to discover that I am a Californian — culturally and figuratively.  I favor fresh ingredients, smaller portions, and a lighter touch to my foods with the big exception of garlic. I loooooove too much garlic. And olive oil. Especially if its homemade (like ours) or artisan.  Great quality EVOO tastes like sunlight to me.

But every so often, I want to make a dish “the proper way.” How I’d imagine Dean’s Nonna would’ve made it — or at least directed. Last night was just such a night. Cue Eggplant Parmesan. Now, we’d been playing in San Francisco with LaLa and PapaWil for a few days. It had turned cold and foggy back home in Sonoma and the Farmhouse needed some warming up. Horsehair and Plaster walls get and stay cold! And Eggplant Parmesan was just what we needed to warm up on the inside and out.

Thank heavens for good cheese and great wine!

Thank heavens for good cheese and great Annadel wine last night.

EGGPLANT PARMESAN

ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 4 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh thyme and 1 tspn dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 5-7 cups homemade tomato sauce or 2 jars good store bought
  • 1.5 lbs fresh mozzarella
  • 1 lb fontina cheese
  • 1-2 cups shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh Basil

Step one: Whisk 5 eggs and  milk in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 4 cups plain breadcrumbs, pinch of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon dried oregano.

Slice 2 large eggplants thinly. Working in batches, drench 5 slices at a time in the egg batter and then toss with breadcrumbs mixture. Be sure to lightly press in the crumbs to coat eggplant evenly.

The Assembly Line: a Good Start

The Assembly Line: a Good Start

Heat 1/3-1/2 cup Grapeseed (or vegetable) Oil in a large flat pan. Fry the eggplants evenly on both side turning when browned. Remove from oil and place on paper towel lined plates to drain excess oils. Add more oil to pan when needed.

Now if you’re a perfect Italian cook, the eggplants will look golden and evenly browned. But if you’re like me last night?  Your eggplants will have a charred exterior and the kitchen will be slightly smoking. Turn on hood vents. Keep going.

Didn't quite have the right touch last night in the kitchen. Burning eggplants!

Didn’t quite have the right touch last night in the kitchen. Burning eggplants!

Step 2: Realize you forgot to stir your thawing tomato sauce and there is now a burnt, bitter scum on the bottom of your sauce pan. Shit.

Step 3: Assemble Eggplant Parmesan. In a cast-iron or 9×13″ dish, spoon 1/4 of the Pasta Sauce (we used homemade but 2 jars of good store-bought works too. Just don’t use salt in the eggplant crumbs mixture). I took care not to scrape up the blackened bottom from the burnt bitter part of tomato sauce.

The start of layer 1

The start of layer 1 — using the pretty sides of my 8 good eggplants for the shot…

Layer fried eggplant over the good tomato sauce. They will overlap slightly. Evenly scatter 1/3 of sliced mozzarella, fontina and shaved Parmesan cheese. Hand shred 5-6 basil leaves on top of this. Top with tomato sauce. Repeat layers until you’re *almost* to the top. End with the cheese. Do not overfill. Lightly press the whole mixture with your hands.

Ready to go into Oven... If only I'd remembered to preheat...

Ready to go into Oven.

Realize you forgot to preheat the oven to 350’F. Shit. Again. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Feel irritated until oven preheats and Pings! Slide Eggplant Parmesan (looking slightly soggy now) into the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven. And think “cheese needs to be browner”. Turn heat up to Broil. Forget you’ve done this while your little girl dances around dressed as “Tinkerbell Monarch Butterfly.” When timer buzzes, realize you’ve burnt to hell your beautifully shredded cheese crust.

Disaster.

Disaster. (DAMMIT.)

Dammit. Enter Italian husband who cuts off the worst parts of blackened crust. Pour wine.

Grate what’s left of the fontina over the top and dress with fresh chopped basil. Pour wine. And eat around the crunchy bits.

Believe it or not, it turned out delicious! Then again, I secretly love burnt cheese. And eggplant, sauce, cheese and garlic usually tastes good. Charcoal or not. *Sigh*

If you want to try this at home, check out What’s Gaby Cooking Here is the link to her Stacked Eggplant Parmesan. Love Gaby’s Instagram feed too. Be sure to follow her.

http://whatsgabycooking.com/stacked-eggplant-parmesan/#.VOYd2ChealI

As for last night? You can’t win ’em all!  Happy Eating!

Spinach Hummus

Finished product -- easy peasy!

Finished product — easy peasy!

For years, I’ve heard “just make your own hummus!” But it seemed so much easier just to buy local hummus — being Sonoma County, having at least three local hummus options to choose from is as normal as owning Birkenstocks. So why make fresh? Here’s why — holy amazingness!!! And I’m guessing you have the ingredients in your kitchen. Right Now.

Take your Cuisinart. Plug it in. Take a handful or two of Spinach (about 1.5-2 cups). Take 1 can of chickpeas — open, rinse and drain well. Add to Cuisinart. I pulsed here for space. Then add 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds (I self toasted. It takes about a minute). Drizzle 4-6 tablespoons of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top, three cloves of garlic, half of one lemon worth of juice, pinch of salt and Chop Chop Chop.

Voilá. Magnificent!!!! We dipped roasted asparagus, carrots and sweet potato “fries” in it ourselves. Last night, foodie friend Kelly Dolata made up a quick batch from my Facebook post and served it with steak. @Oldchefguy on Instagram is making his his arugula tomorrow. I bet those are both delicious too! The possibilities are endless.

Happy Eating! And this? I happily ate with a spoon!

Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups

The Finished Product!

YUM. Easy on the waist line too.

"Serve Yourself" from Cute Serving Ware! Break out those dishes!

“Serve Yourself” from Cute Serving Ware! Break out those dishes!

Time Saver: Quick Chop the Aromatics (carrots, garlic and fresh ginger.)

Time Saver: Quick Chop the Aromatics (carrots, garlic and fresh ginger.)

Cooking turkey meat and carrots mixture in about a tablespoon of remaining bacon fat.

Cooking turkey meat and carrots mixture in about a tablespoon of remaining bacon fat.

Ingredients for the Green Garnish Mix

Ingredients for the Green Garnish Mix

We made Spicy Thai Lettuce Wraps last night. This dish is quick and easy. Thanks to Taylor Eason (.com) for the initial recipe. Here, I’ve bumped up the spices and added garlic and hot sauce to kick things up a notch. I’ve spent too much time in Asia not to need that good “burn” at the end of a plate!  This serves three to four adults.  I will be doubling this recipe next time!

In a small processor, finely chop 3-4 medium carrots, 3-4″ of peeled/coarse chopped ginger, and 2 cloves garlic.

In a large sauce pan, cook 3 pieces of platter bacon. Cover to prevent splatters. Remove bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel to let bacon cool and drain. Next, Cook 1 pound ground turkey with the carrots, ginger and garlic in the bacon fat.  I opted for 0.5 lb breast and 0.5 lb turkey thigh meat for flavor. Cook until cooked through.  Stirring often.

While turkey mixture is cooking, in a large bowl mix 4 tablespoons chopped Cilantro (leaves from one bunch), one bunch of sliced green onions (about 1/2-3/4 cup), 3-4 tablespoons chopped mint, juice from one lemon and one lime, three shakes fish sauce, 3 shakes EVOO, 3 shakes sesame oil, and half-3/4 of a Jalapeño pepper (seeded and chopped).  It’s a heady mix of savory green goodness and it’s ok if quantities fluctuate.

Tear and clean 12-18 leaves of Butter Lettuce. Dry and arrange on a pretty plate. Transfer Green Mixture to a serving bowl. Crumble bacon into a small bowl with spoon. Slice 1-2 limes and place in another cute bowl.  Place the still-warm Turkey mixture into a warmed bowl (that’s a nice touch) and feast! We love extra heat and drizzle Sriracha hot sauce over the top of each Wrap.

We paired with our Annadel Estate Winery 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

HEAVEN! Happy Eating!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 slices platter Bacon
  • 1 lb ground Turkey
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 4″ fresh Ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 bunch Cilantro
  • 4 limes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bunch mint
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • Fish sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • Butter Lettuce — if you don’t have the Lettuce, eat this savory mixture in a bowl.
  • Sriracha Hot Sauce

SALADS: A Return to Slim

Baby Kale, Radicchio, Endive and Kalamata Olives Salad

Baby Kale, Radicchio, Endive and Kalamata Olives Salad

Arugula, Radicchio, Celery, Steamed Artichoke Hearts, and Blanched Asparagus Salad with a slice or Cowgirl Creamery "Red Hawk" Cheese

Arugula, Radicchio, Celery, Steamed Artichoke Hearts, and Blanched Asparagus Salad with a slice or Cowgirl Creamery “Red Hawk” Cheese

The Bible to be slim and still eat super well!

This may look like a tax guide but for foodies? It’s the only way to happily lose weight and still eat well.  (I’m down 4 pounds in 5 days.)

There comes a point in every Cook’s life where our pants get just a touch too snug. Where the jovial meals with loved ones catch up to us. And muffin-top and tight zippers crash our happy post-holiday selves. This is when Dean and I know it’s time to “TurboCharge.”  To recover our healthy bodies and clean systems.

I’ve been posting lots of yummy pictures of quick Salads and Proteins on Instagram and Facebook recently. Many of you asked for my salad recipes yesterday but one reader wrote “why all the salads lately?” Before I give you the recipes, I wanted to be honest, it’s because I’ve grown too “curvy”. My influx of “curves” adds strain to my already-torn L5 disc and I’ve been flat at least once a month since October. Then Anni asked me on Monday, “Mommy when we come back to Hawaii, can you not have a herniated disc? I miss piggy back rides.” That sucked. No four year old should know medical lingo. And so dear foodies, I am scheduling my 2nd epidural and committing to losing 15 lbs. maybe 20.  Now, I don’t feel fat. At all. I actually feel more bombshell “va-va-Voom”. But a slimmer frame will help me be a better, more active Mom. I can’t keep icing my back 2x a day… That, and I miss my heels… Candidly.

You will thus be seeing lighter fare here on the Blog in coming months as we stick to “TurboCharging”. We normally eat “clean” most of the time but it’s the mixing in of grains and pastas in our Italian-WASPy household that creeps on the pounds. And my love of fine Cheese…  I’m kind of intense about eating and drinking “Clean” — no processed foods and no processed wines. I’ll skip my rant in favor of Clean Wines but suffice to say anything less than $25 per bottle will generally be a simulated beverage full of sugars, food dyes, wood particles and chemicals. Like eating McDonalds? It’s not Real. Which is why drinking Annadel Estate Wines is so great — our wines are made with just fruit. They are “Clean” not dirty with additives. Healthy! <end rant>

But the recipes will remain delicious and fresh. “TurboCharge” is just a simplified way of eating and grouping foods pioneered by nutritionist friend Tom Greisel and his PhD sister, Dian Greisel.  Hence all the salads and minimalist meals you’ve been seeing from me will continue along with soups and entree proteins (minus the carbs and grains.) I aim to easily lose 2-4 lbs a week with short 2 minutes strength workouts, drinking 10 glasses of water a day and eating either all vegetables, all proteins, or all fruits, zero grains or processed anything, the 90:10 rule (90 veggies/10 meat and vice versa). No sweets, no grains, no flours. For now.

Salad 1: BABY KALE, RADICCHIO, ENDIVE, and KALAMATA OLIVES

Chop 3-4 cloves of garlic. Place in a small bowl and add 3-4 tablespoons EVOO and S/P. Let stand.

In a large, pretty bowl hand shred baby kale into more elegant sized bites. Then thinly shred 1/2 head of radicchio and cut shreds into thirds. Add to bowl. Thinly slice one whole endive and hand separate slices into bowl. Then course chop 15 Kalamata Olives. Toss the salad

Back to the dressing, using a fork whisk in 1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar. Then add to salad and toss. Serve with a medium bodied red wine. Something dry and bright. The acids in the salad greens like a drier, more French style of Cabernet or Merlot. Nothing too fruity!

 

Salad 2: ARUGULA, RADICCHIO, CELERY, ARTICHOKE HEARTS, BLANCHED ASPARAGUS, and CHEESE GARNISH

Chop 3 cloves of garlic. Place in a small bowl and cover with 4 tablespoons of EVOO. Add S/P. Let stand

Clean exterior of two artichokes (remove the outer 1-2 layers of bottom leaves). Slice in half. De-stem. Using a sharp pairing knife, clean out the inner “fur” of the artichokes. Place quickly into a steamer basket (fitted in a medium pot over tepid water). Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-high and steam 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and fork out the artichokes to cool.

Take 4-8 stalks Asparagus. Snap off the coarse ends. Place into empty saucepan and cover with cool water. Place on the stove and bring the water to a boil. The very second the water boils? Remove and DRAIN hot water. Place asparagus on a cool plate immediately. Drizzle with EVOO and a sprinkling of coarse salt. Let stand. Asparagus should retain a crunch.

In a large pretty bowl, hand shred the baby Arugula. Slice and then course chop the remaining half head of Radicchio. Add to the Bowl.

Clean 2-3 stalks of celery. Cut off the coarse tops and bottoms. Slice each stalk into three long strips and finely chop. Add to bowl. Then slice the endive horizontally and hand spread the slices into the bowl. Hand toss all.

Return to the salad dressing: Whisk Garlic/EVOO mixture with a fork. Then add 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard. Whisk. Add 1-2 tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Whisk whisk whisk. And toss into the salad.

Serve Salad in wide, shallow bowls. Place 3-4 stalks of the asparagus over the top of the Salad. Add two wedges of fine Cheese to eat with bites of salad along the way. Tonight, it was Cowgirl Creamery’s “Red Hawk.”

I learned to eat salad from a very fine French Chef. When he came to eat lunch with us and our toddlers! Here is a short story about that dinner and the Cheeses I now still Love to eat with salad! http://abisfarmhousekitchen.com/?p=400

Happy Eating!  And should you want to learn more about TurboCharging, here is the website with more recipes. It may look like a tax guide but for foodies? It’s the only way to happily shred weight and not be hungry:  http://turbocharged.us.com/

 

Connections

Cooking tips for new fruits is but a few letters and a "Send" away

Cooking tips for new fruits is but a few letters and a “Send” away

Finding new takes on old favorites like this PB&J thanks to @theculinistas on Instagram

Finding new takes on old favorites like this PB&J thanks to @theculinistas on Instagram

Yesterday, I heard from a Reader in NORWAY how Much she loves making recipes. Like my Beef Braised Short ribs in Red Wine and aromatic herbs!

Yesterday, I heard from a Reader in NORWAY how Much she loves making recipes. Like my Beef Braised Short ribs in Red Wine and aromatic herbs!

Sharing fantastic Food Interest Stories like Eating on the International Space Station on Splendid Table (NPR) with Commander Chris Hadfield

Sharing fantastic Food Interest Stories like Eating on the International Space Station on Splendid Table (NPR) with Commander Chris Hadfield

Several years back I was eating enchiladas and salsa verde with baby Anni in my favorite throw-down Mexican restaurant. A foursome in the booth behind me elevated their voices for a ridiculous amount of time complaining about Facebook and social media. “How it’s never going to last”… I was all-hands-on-deck with my infant but those sentiments and the strident “know it all” attitude with which they were audibly force-fed to the restaurant has stuck with me these years as I’ve come to learn and LOVE social media.

Social media is simply the modern version of networking. Like going to the library and the book store and University all at once.  Its connecting people of similar interests (mostly positive, some slutty) in a pleasantly displayed and easy to navigate way. Opening doors to interesting new ideas as well as news, fashions, foods, and advice. From my Victorian-era farmhouse in Sonoma, social media connects me with the modern world.  I may live a vintage-inspired life cooking, growing food, raising my kids without TV and with a lot of art… But I still want to connect to all the great recipes and food ideas out there. With just my smart phone, I custom tailor my news feed to include new dishes, seasonal garden news, positive parenting tips, notes to my Mom or from a friend, something about wine, scheduling play dates, and browsing cute dresses. All in 5-10 minutes. And then return to my Day as Mom, Artist, Cook, and Wife.

We enjoyed cocktails last night with some friends here on the Islands. They live “off the grid” electronically and I took some good hearted ribbing about my online life. Because I wouldn’t change a thing about “meeting” fellow foodies and people like me — people who want to continually discover new ideas, explore the beauty and foods in this gloriously diverse world.  THIS is how we connect. A way to better ourselves. And it’s Free and easy.

For example, just yesterday I learned (and shared) the following on Facebook and Instagram ( @Abisfarmhousekitchen )

1.) To shave Kaffir Limes into cilantro rice for a new side dish to fish. And skip the pulp.

2.) A new take on the old Classic of PB&J from @theculinistas

3.) That a wonderful reader is cooking from my recipes in Norway… She made my Red Wine Braised Short Ribs and wrote to thank me! I am beyond grateful. Recipe:  http://abisfarmhousekitchen.com/?p=588

4.) And that astronauts can’t just garnish their rehydrated meals with salt or pepper. Or chili flakes. That astronauts on the International Space Station have to drench spicing in olive oil and then aim and *precision quirt* onto the dish. Isn’t that fascinating? You can listen to Commander Hadfield talk with NPR’s Splendid Table here:  http://www.splendidtable.org/story/col-chris-hadfield-an-astronauts-guide-to-eating-in-space

This is a lumbering post I fear but the short version is that I strongly feel we should all be learning and striving to improve our minds and our plates each and every day. Social media is an excellent tool to that end. Enough said.

Back to being a Mom. Happy eating! And I hope, Happy Reading.

The Best Hot Dog. Ever.

Spicy Island Dog from Gill's Lanai on the Big Island

Spicy Island Dog from Gill’s Lanai on the Big Island

I dream ALL year about Gill’s Spicy Island Dog. The most glorious of treats.  A Hot Dog so divine that you just know your ass is expanding with every bite. And what’s more? You don’t care. In fact, you’re coming back for seconds.

A cooked-to-perfection Louisiana Hot Link topped by tropical fruit relish, Lillikoi mustard, and chopped tangy onions. All snugly tucked into the freshest of fresh sweet Hawaiian bread rolls. I add more heat, mind you, with Hawaiian Hot Sauce from the Condiments Safe.

Just keep circling! They'll be open at some point! :)

Just keep circling! They’ll be open at some point! 🙂

I shouldn’t be surprised Gill knows dogs. He hails from Ventura County in Southern California. A local now in North Kohala, “Gill’s Lanai” is a must-stop for foodies looking for this perfect Hot Dog or some epic fish tacos (Dean’s favorite) served up with made-to-order tortilla chips and salsa.  Amazingly enough, for a restaurant as highly rated, reviewed, and even hailed in the pages of Vogue magazine, Gill’s still feels like a sleepy surfer spot.

Bringing the "A" Game: Gill, Alexis, and Natasha.

Bringing the “A” Game: Gill, Alexis, and Natasha.

 

If you’re not headed to Hawaii any time soon you can friend Gill’s Lanai on Facebook or follow Gill on Instagram @raspujim. I’m doing both.