Recipe: Massaged Kale Salad

One of my friends from grad school made incredible massaged kale salads, and I’ve gotten back in the swing of eating them this summer. This is a very simple versatile recipe, that you can enhance with all your favorite fresh vegetables and farmers’ market goodies. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-1 ripe avocado
  • 1 fried egg (optional)
  • bowlful of kale
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped finely
  • 1-2 radishes, chopped finally
  • approximately 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • approximately 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Take off all your rings or jewelry. Wash your hands extremely well and massage the ripe avocado into the bowlful of kale leaves. Massage until the leaves are soft, and the avocado is evenly distributed. Add the sesame oil and apple cider vinegar, and massage to mix.

To finish, add the chopped carrots and radish into the salad.

Fry an egg, and place on top of the kale salad,

Recipe: Summer Abudance Bowl (From My New Roots)

I’ve recently developed a pretty strong obsession with the My New Roots blog. Sarah B has a collection of absolutely mouth watering whole-food recipes that are mostly vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. I want to make and eat everything on there.

In particular, I’ve gotten hooked on her “Spring Abundance Bowl” and have been having it pretty often for lunch recently. The great thing about this recipe is that although the dill yogurt sauce, quinoa, and pickled radishes are staples, you can pretty much throw in any side vegetables that you want and end up with an incredible meal. It’s great with fresh tomatoes, fresh greens, beets and carrots, lentils or beans etc.

Below, I’ve provided a recipe for two people. It’s a very rough guide – mix and match your favorite summer vegetables into the bowl.

Jon’s One-Line Review: It’s like eating a farmers’ market!

Spring Abundance Bowl

  • 1/2 cup of dry quinoa
  • water
  • Fresh vegetables to be eaten raw or cooked, for example:
  1. chard or beet greens sauteed with fresh spring onions or scallions
  2. carrots sauteed with mint and parsley and black beans
  3. sliced avocado
  4. fresh chopped tomato
  • coconut oil (for cooking)

Pickled Radishes

  • handful of fresh farmer’s market radishes, sliced into half moons
  • cider vinegar (about 1 cup)
  • About 1 tsp honey
  • water (about 2 tablespoons)
  • black peppercorns (about 20)
  • roughly 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 5 whole garlic cloves

Dill Lemon Yogurt Sauce

  • Nonfat unsweetened greek yogurt (about 1/2 cup)
  • fresh dill (finally chopped, about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic (diced)
  • olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
  • water (to thin)
  • pink Himalayan salt and black pepper.

First, make the pickled radishes. Throw the chopped radishes in a pickling container with the whole garlic cloves, vinegar, honey, whole peppercorns, water and salt. Close the lid and shake. Put aside for about 20 minutes. (After you eat up the radishes, the liquid can be reused to re-pickle radishes in the next few days).

Then, make the quinoa. Put 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water into a pan with a dash of coconut oil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking prepare your vegetables – chop fresh tomatoes or avocado up, cook fresh beat greens or chard with fresh onion and coconut oil, cook some carrots with beans, tofu scramble or lentils – the possibilities are endless! I usually make about 2-3 veggie sides to go on the bowl.

After you’ve finished preparing the vegetables, make the lemony yogurt dill dressing- mix the finely chopped dill, yogurt, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. Season with ground salt and pepper. Add water to thin to desired consistency.

To serve, place quinoa in bowls as a base. Load on the fresh or cooked veggies on the side. Garnish with the pickled radishes. Drizzle the yogurt dressing over everything.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Basil Almond Pesto

We had some leftover basil in our fridge from a caprese salad we made for a barbeque, so I decide to whip up some fresh pesto. This is a really simple pesto recipe that can really dress up pasta, gluten-free bread or fresh veggies. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 2 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
  • roughly 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • dash of walnut oil (optional)

Place the almonds in a plastic bag, and pound them with a hammer until crushed (this will save your blender or food processor)

Process the nuts in a food processor with 2 cloves of chopped garlic.

Add the basil, olive oil, and Parmesan, and process until chunky but smooth.

Finish with a dash of walnut oil

Recipe: Gazpacho

I’m on a serious, serious health kick. I’ve recently left my job as a pollster – I feel fortunate to have seen an inside look into the development of competitive political campaigns, but political consulting wasn’t the path that I saw myself on in the long term.

While I’m figuring out the next step – and finally settling the long-term debate I have with myself between pursuing public interest law or academia, I’m taking time to rejuvenate in every possible sense. I’ve really pumped up my fitness routine. I’ve been attending the LA Public Library’s incredible free lectures, and the Colburn School of Music’s free recitals and concerts. I’m finally learning Spanish, spending several hours a day studying intensively.

Foodwise, I’m finally have time to cook nutritious meals again, and it feels amazing. Last weekend, we went to the Hollywood Farmer’s market and got an incredible spread of beautiful fresh California produce – carrots, beets, chard, lettuce, fresh onions, strawberries. I couldn’t wait to get cooking.

One recipe I’ve really been craving is gazpacho. I made some for lunch today and it was amazing. Jon was also a big fan.

Jon’s One Line Review: The soup may be cold but Greer’s on a hot streak with this one.

Ingredients:

  • about 5 juicy fresh tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 small or 1 large shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • about 1/4 cup vinegar (sherry or cider)
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the tomatoes. Add 1/2 the cucumber (quarter before adding), 1/2 the red pepper, the shallots, and the garlic. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add the vinegar, and olive oil. Taste, and adjust proportions as desired.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Chill (gazpacho is best after 1-2 days, but I was very impatient and ate mine immediately)
  5. Serve with a sprinkling of diced red pepper and cucumber, a drizzle of olive oil and cracked grated pepper.

Travel: Paris

IMG_3290This is very, very much a throwback post. I’m writing it in my sunny apartment in LA because I’m feeling a travel itch and am really missing living in England, where a trip to Paris or Rome or Madrid was just a hundred bucks and an hour flight away.

Last year, Jon took me to Paris, for my birthday, and also to ask me to marry him. It was an absolutely incredible couple of days for many, many reasons and we’ll remember it for a lifetime. One amazing part was that Jon scoured restaurant and cocktail bar reviews for weeks before we went, because he knows how much good food means to me. The places he picked were all so, so incredible. The other day we were talking about some of them, and trying to remember where we went, so I thought it’d be a good idea to write them down, while they’re still relatively top of mind.

So here’s the list of our favorite bars and restaurants in Paris.

Restaurants and Cafes

Breizh Cafe

This crepe place in the Marais will ruin all other crepe places for you for the rest of your life. The buckwheat savory crepes have the most delicious fillings – from creme, caviar, and potatoes, to fresh farmers’ market vegetables. I also tried the buckwheat crepes with dessert fillings – pear, caramel and ice-cream. They also serve amazing alcoholic cider with their crepes, which is a totally acceptable thing to drink for breakfast…I think.

The main restaurant is always really crowded, and you’ll have to make a reservation, but they have a tiny cafe right next door where you can pretty much always get a seat. This place was so good, we were in Paris 5 days, and I think we may have gone here three times. Ahhh I wish I could go right now!

One of my favorite crepes at Briezh
One of my favorite crepes at Briezh

109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, France, 01 42 72 13 77

L’Office

Can’t say enough good things about this place. It’s everything you want a restaurant to be – beautiful intimate atmosphere, a small selections of fresh dishes to choose from that are absolutely perfect! I had a burrata and beet risotto appetizer when we went, and a cod with sesame and miso. We split a cheese plate for dessert. The menu changes all the time, so you’ll be in for a treat!

IMG_3234

3, rue Richer, 75009 Paris (Montmartre), 01 47 70 67 31

Graindorge Restaurant

I loved this old-school French restaurant near the Arc de Triomphe. The design of the restaurant is very old school art deco. We splurged and went for their three course menu, which was delicious. I had a herring appetizer and a delicious fish stew for dinner. It’s kind of out of the way, but worth the trek!

IMG_3289

15, rue de l’Arc de Triomphe, 75017 Paris, 01 47 54 00 28

Cocktail Bars

Candelaria

A taco place in Paris? Yep, and you’ll have some of the best cocktails and tacos in the entire world here. Come early because the lines can be astronomical, and you’ll be luck to get a seat, and with tacos these delicious and messy – you’ll want a seat. Be prepared to see lots of hip, well dressed Parisians. Be prepared to want every taco and every cocktail on the menu.

Jon at Candelaria
Jon at Candelaria

52 rue de Saintonge 75003 Paris, 01 42 74 41 28

Curio Parlor

This cocktail place was really fun – incredible cocktails and a great vibe (dark, with lots of taxidermy). It’s located near Notre Dame.

16 rue des Bernardins 75005

A trip to Paris isn't complete without this shot!
A trip to Paris isn’t complete without this shot!

Review: El Coraloense Tacos (and LA Taco Madness Festival)

Today was the annual LA Taco Madness Festival in Grand Park in downtown LA. The free festival brought together some of the best taco trucks and stores from around LA.  I had very high expectations for this event, and boy were they were met!

We tried a bunch of different stalls, but my favorite tacos by far were from El Coraloense, a taco place with locations in Downey and Bell Gardens, CA. They had an incredible ceviche tostada with fresh mango salsa – so refreshing on such a hot day. Their fish “taco revolcado” was my favorite thing on their menu (pictured above). It was a grilled fish with a fantastic seasoning served with salsa, cabbage, and vegetables. After getting one round of tacos, we waited in line for another 20 minutes to get seconds at this stall. I think a trip to Bell Gardens is in my future.

photo-5

We didn’t get a chance to try any tacos from  Marisco Jalisco, which I’ve heard routinely wins the “Best Taco” prize  at this festival, but  they’re located near downtown, so we plan to go sometime in the next few weeks.

Me and Jon at LA Taco Madness
Me and Jon at LA Taco Madness

 

Restaurant Review: Sushi Gen (Downtown, Los Angeles)

Sushi Gen has fast become our favorite restaurant in downtown LA. It’s a  sushi joint in a strip mall in Little Tokyo that has the best, most satisfying  sushi combination box I’ve ever had in my life (and it’ll only set you back $20). The tuna and fatty tuna sushi is particularly noteworthy, and completely melts in your mouth.

On top of the food, going to Sushi Gen is always a special experience – the restaurant looks like a beautiful bento box inside.

The only caveat is that there’s usually around a 30 minute to 1hr wait to get in, but there are plenty of bars nearby to keep you busy. I really like the One Eye’d Gypsy, though it’s a bit of a trek.

If  this short little review didn’t convince you to give it a try- LAist ranked it as one of the best affordable sushi places in LA.

Sushi Gen, 422 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Closed Sundays

Recipe: Gluten-Free Mexican Quiche

I was really in the mood for quiche yesterday morning, and wondered if I could make some with corn tortilla crust, because we had a bunch of leftover corn tortillas in our fridge. The experiment turned out amazingly – Jon and I had to stop ourselves from eating the whole pie pan of quiche on the spot! The corn tortillas made such a delicious delicate crust.

The quiche is really versatile – you can throw whatever vegetables or ingredients you want into the egg mixture.

Jon’s One Line Review: Wow – you really are an exceptional cook!

Ingredients:

  • pat of butter (for greasing the pan)
  • 5-6 small corn tortillas
  • 4 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • half an onion, diced
  • two tomatoes, diced
  • large handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup of salsa verde salsa (my recipe will be following soon!)
  • 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • dollop of Greek yogurt (to serve)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a pie pan with butter (I don’t have a pie pan, so I used a frying pan, and put aluminum foil over the plastic handle).
  2. Layer corn tortillas on the bottom of the pan and around the edges, so that it looks like a pie crust (to place the tortillas around the edges, use a pair of scissors to cut them in half, and put the flat side down on the surface. You want to make sure the whole bottom of the pan, and sides are covered.
  3. In a big bowl, mix the eggs, milk, onion, tomatoes, salsa, cilantro, and cheese.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the tortilla crust “shell”.
  5. Put in the oven, and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the egg is cooked and set.
  6. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt to cut the heat!

Recipe: Classic Creme Brûlée (France)

It was Jon’s birthday a few weeks ago, so we decided to celebrate by eating lots of melted raclette cheese, and topping it off with homemade creme brûlées for dessert. Jon had given me a creme brûlée torch for Christmas, and this was the first time we used it. We ran into a slight hiccup – at 9 p.m. when our creme brulees were all cooked and cooled, we took out the torch to use it, only to discover that the butane fuel for the torch was sold separately. Always one to improvise, I tried taking out a fire lighter, and held it over the creme brûlée, but all that happened was that one little granule of sugar turned into a translucent bubble. Googling around, I found out that I could just put our creme brulees under a broiler in the oven, but Jon was adamant that  we hadn’t bought creme brûlée dishes that could withstand the heat. Plus, that option didn’t sound as cool as setting something on fire.

So, we made mad dash to the late-night drugstores of Downtown. We finally found a butane container at RiteAid for only $5. We filed our torch up, and used it to make the most delightfully crispy burnt sugar top to our creme brulees.

Jon’s One-Line Review: “It’s fun to burn things and to eat them.” 

Ingredients: (makes 6 small creme brulees)

  • 2 cups of heavy (whipping cream)
  • 4-inch piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • a hefty portion of granulated sugar for the topping.

Pour the cream into a saucepan, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream, and add the vanilla pod. Place over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape any remaining seeds into the cream.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the 1/3 cup of sugar until dissolved. Whisk in the cream.

Put six small ramekins in a baking pan. Divide the custard mixture among the dishes. Pour warm water into the baking pan to come halfway up the side of the dishes. Bake in the oven for between 40 minutes to an hour, or until the center of each custard is set, but still jiggles slightly. Remove from oven and take dishes out of the hot water.

Let cool, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours (not an optional step, necessary for the custard to set!)

When ready to serve, make sure your creme brûlée torch is ready to go. Then, evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over each custard. use the torch to caramelize the sugar.

Take out your teaspoon, crack the creme brûlée and enjoy!

Recipe: Salmon Ikura Donburi (Japan)

Hirozen is one of my favorite places to eat in Los Angeles. It’s a little restaurant tucked away in a strip mall in West Hollywood that has the most delectable Japanese small dishes and sushi. One of my favorite things on their menu is their Salmon Ikura Donburi. I recently discovered how to replicate it almost perfectly at home. The secret is Nori Furikake seasoning.

Jon’s Review: “Mmm! The lemon really brings out the flavors”

Ingredients:

  • 1 decent-sized salmon filet
  • olive oil
  • soy sauce
  • 1 cup of white rice
  • fresh ikura
  • nori furikake seasoning (definitely not optional!)
  • lemon (for garnish)

Cook the rice. Add two cups of water and one cup of rice to the pan, with a smidge of olive oil or butter to prevent sticking). Put the lid on the pan, and let it come to a boil. When the pot is boiling, turn down the heat to low and simmer until the water is absorbed.

Add the salmon to a baking pan, and marinade in olive oil and soy sauce. Broil in the oven for about 8 minutes (you want the fish to be all the way cooked through, not rare).

When the rice is done, add a generous heap of nori furikake seasoning, and mix into rice.

When the salmon is done, flake it, and add to the rice. Mix well.

Serve with a generous portion of ikura as garnish. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top, and serve!

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