Garlic Scape and Mustard Green Chimichurri

When I was in San Francisco I participated in a CSA box, which I quite enjoyed. It helped me stay seasonally relevant in my cooking and explore some new and different items that I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up on my own in the grocery store.

I’ve struggled to find similar programs with quality contributions in Colorado (though to be fair, I haven’t searched far and wide), but I finally did come across an organization I enjoy that supplies a weekly food box!

The GrowHaus is located in North Denver and supports the one of the most polluted communities in the city with fresh food options. They grow their own aquaponic and hydroponic lettuces on site, and have a fresh food market where one can shop for needed ingredients. They vary prices based on income and are bringing so much to the community with the access to resources and local events. I even bought most of my starter plants there this year – tomatoes, kale, peppers and herbs!

About 1/3-1/2 of my box ingredients are locally sourced or made including 6 eggs each week, a loaf of bread or bag of corn tortillas, and of course, lettuces grown right at the GrowHaus. A few weeks ago the box included garlic scapes, which I had never cooked with and mustard greens, also a new ingredient. If there are more exotic contents they usually provide a recipe, and this one was for garlic scape and mustard green chimichurri.

It turned out SO good! The garlic scapes pack a garlicy punch, and the mustard greens are just slightly bitter while the herbs brighten the whole thing up. They suggested just using only cilantro, but I hate cilantro and decided to just use an assortment of herbs from my garden, which tasted great too. I ultimately served if over salmon, though it would be great with chicken, steak, or maybe mixed in with some potatoes to make a light potato salad. Definitely a great combo to use as a base for so many things!

Click here for more information on how to get your own GrowHaus food box!

Garlic Scape and Mustard Green Chimichurri Continue reading

Project: Persian New Year

I love a good project. Whether it’s for the house, crafting or making the yard new again, I just can’t seem to get enough. I love the sense of making and creating and with my continual effort to do something new, cooking has long fulfilled all of these desires. I have tried so many things, and yet there is still more to be attempted and more to be perfected.

Enter, Project: Persian New Year Dinner Party.

Back in college a friend hosted a group of us on Spring Break at her parents’ house in Santa Monica and I’ll never forget having Persian rice for the first time. The crispy bottom a delicacy adding texture and extra flavor to the rice, and the rest of the rice steamed to perfection. I don’t remember much about other dishes, but in general I do love middle eastern/Afghan/Indian food, so when I read the extensive article in Food & Wine about the ultimate Persian New Year feast I was intrigued. I happened to mention to a friend about the article to which she replied that she could actually make most of the dishes (having learned from her mom and aunt) and before we knew it a dinner party was born.

I hosted at my house and filled my dining table to the max. Jenny did an AWESOME job with the stews and rice, while I managed desserts recipes straight from the inspirational article and a delightful cocktail inspired by the holiday. I had an absolute blast at the international market she suggested – in Denver these places are not as easily accessible as in San Francisco, but they do exist! I loaded up on rosewater, flat breads, Persian cucumbers and so much more. It was also a blast from the past seeing so many products/brands I was familiar with from Germany, making me oh so nostalgic.

All of the dishes came out just wonderfully and were a smashing success with everyone. All five guests loved the food and lingered late into the evening – you know people are having a good time when there is an empty bottle of wine for each attendee! Jenny explained that Persian New Year is in the Spring, aligning with the fresh start of nature outside. It starts on a specific day, but the celebration lasts for about two weeks as it’s a time to spend with family and friends, popping by each other’s houses to collectively enjoy what life has to offer, and of course, indulging and eating way too much. The dinner party felt just that: a little celebration of the life I’ve started to build here in Denver, appreciating good friends with good food and new endeavors.

leftover wraps for lunch the next few days

The recipes we made are below, which are only a small sampling of the traditional dishes for the holiday. The Food & Wine link below has quite the variety and a Google Search will yield even more! The first three are recipes that have been passed down so they are a little less precise – go with your gut on quantities, stew consistencies and adjustments for flavor. Continue reading

Greek Green Beans

One thing that I didn’t realize about bloging when I first started this one a couple of years ago was that there is an entire blogging community. I didn’t anticipate that by blogging I would become so compelled to read others’ blogs, admire their work, become friends with them and find inspiration in them as well.

Of course, the blogs I read on a regular basis are ones that I look up to and find pleasure in following; however, in the effort to find what I think are great blogs, I’ve also come across some interesting ones… It’s great that people are cooking, creating and putting it out there, but if I’m totally honest, sometimes I do wonder where exactly people are coming from.

A while back, I read the title of a post that was ‘Greek Green Beans’. Instantly I envisioned bright crisp green beans, loads of salty feta and tart Kalamata olives. When I clicked through what I found were sad, dull, overcooked green beans in some sort of tomato sauce! This is why I ask so many questions when I eat out because you say one thing,  and as a person who loves food I have a vision, so I ask questions to know exactly what I’m getting into. Needless to say I was disappointed with what may have been more authentic Greek green beans, but didn’t live up to my vision – do I decided to make my own.

beans 2

It was exactly what I wanted. Crisp and fresh, creamy and salty and tart. I dressed the beans in a lemon vinaigrette with fresh oregano and shallots. The textures and colors are marvelous and every bite is loaded with flavors reminiscent of the Mediterranean. I also roasted a chicken with lemon and olive/oregano butter under the skin to tie it all together. Just delightful. And let me tell you, the fact that whenever you roast a chicken, you get to make GRAVY which is kind of like a little Thanksgiving treat any time of the year.

chicken and beans

plated

Greek Green Beans:

  • 16 oz green beans
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tbsp shallot
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • olive oil, about 1/4 cup

Bring a pot of water to boil. Trim the ends of the beans and blanch until slightly tender but still crispy, no more than 5 min. Meanwhile prepare an ice bath, and then beans are done remove from boiling water and place in ice bath.

While the beans cool, mix lemon juice, vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until thick, emulsified, and as tart as you like it. Mix in shallot and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

When beans are cool, remove from ice bath and blot dry. Toss with dressing in the bowl. Pile bean on the serving plate and top with feta and olives.

Roasted Chicken: same prep as here. Add lots of oregano and finely chopped olives to the butter.

Potato & Artichoke Salad

I have a new man in my life, and he’s been taking up a lot of time. Here are a few things about him: He loves pate and steak. He’s a ginger. He LOVES to play. He also loves to share my bed and couch, and cuddle really close to my face in the middle of the night… Any ideas? Anyhow, I’m hosting a partying in a couple of weeks to introduce him to my friends, so I’ll have some photos for you soon, but until then, photos of this potato and artichoke salad will have to suffice.

I love all sorts of potato salads from creamy, like this one, to vinegary and tart like German Potato Salad. I had intended to make a German style potato salad a while ago, but it never happened and I was re-inspired after having one at Heyday (this new awesome lunch spot by my office) that added artichokes to the mix. I’d picked up some smaller spring artichokes at the farmers market and did a little research about how to make a true German potato salad. I loved the sound of the recipe in Luisa Weiss’s My Berlin Kitchen (great read BTW, I highly recommend it) but it was a little more complicated than I had time for on a week night, so I simply made a salad dressing. I know. Go figure.

The result was GREAT. Nice and vinegary, with a touch of mustard and sweetness coming from every bite of artichoke. Be sure to dress the potatoes and artichokes while they are still warm so they absorb all that goodness. The salad is great both warm and cold.

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Potato & Artichoke Salad:

Those of you who have been reading for a while, probably know I’m not the best recipe developer or direction-hand-holder so I hope you’ll bear with this ‘recipe’ as it’s really just a list of recommendations.

  • Prep your artichokes, I used about 3 medium sides one and quartered them. If yours are smaller buy more and just halve them. Great prep advice from Bon Appetit here
  • Cut and boil a handful of baby red new potatoes, until tender. I love the flavor, texture and color contrast of these.
  • Saute the artichokes until tender – use a medium heat and keep and eye on them, as you don’t want them getting too dark. I would do this while the potatoes are cooking because it’ll take a little while 15 min or so.
  • Make your dressing! You know the drill: Vinegar+Dijon mustard+shallot+herbs+oil – I used champagne vinegar, but white wine, red wine, apple cider, or whatever is your go to would work well! Though I do feel that balsamic would be out of place here. I used oregano too, because it’s what I had on hand.
  • While the potatoes and artichokes are still warm, dress with the salad, salt and pepper and taste for adjustments. YUMMY!

Spring Crostini with Burrata, Snap Peas and Asparagus

Oh Spring! It’s when the farmers’ markets start to get exciting: berries, peas, asparagus, artichokes… the bounty is plentiful and I so enjoyed going this past weekend. I was reminded of what a nice way it is to start my Sundays and how much fun it is to be inspired by seasonal offerings when creating a meal. I had signed up to bring an appetizer to dinner club, and was originally going to make stuffed mushrooms, but when I saw what was at the farmers’ market I knew right away that I would be changing my dish.

A while back I had a similar appetizer to this at The Tipsy Pig and was inspired to try it on my own. I’m pretty sure there was mint and some salad mixed in, which would be a nice twist to this dish as well, and I was further reminded this was a good combination of flavors, when Bon Appetit featured a recipe for Snap Pea Salad with Burrata from April Bloomfield in the May issue. I was pretty sure that I couldn’t go wrong making these Spring crostini with out using a specific recipe.

They were a HUGE success. Everyone at dinner club loved them (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love something with burrata on it?!) and I loved them too. If you don’t know already, burrata is mozzarella with a cream and cheese mixture inside the ball. In this dish it is the perfect creamy texture and rich flavor against the crispness of the toasts and fresh veggies. Next time I would use a little more balsamic reduction and maybe rub a little raw garlic on the toasts when they come out of the oven, but for the most part, the simplicity and freshness of this dish is what makes it amazing.

crostini

Spring Crostini:

  • 2 smallish handfulls snap peas
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 4-6 scallions, thinly sliced or mandolined, white and light green parts
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano (or mint, if that’s your thing)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 12 slices baguette, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 ball of burrata

Snap off the end of the peas, and slice diagonally into 3-4 slices. Cut through the outer shell and peas all in one. Snap of fibrous ends of the asparagus and blanch in boiling water for 1 minute unit bright green and barley tender. Slice into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal.

Mix peas, asparagus, thinly sliced scallions and oregano. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer balsamic vinegar in a shallow pot or pan, until it starts to thicken slightly. I just used a couple of tablespoons because it was all I had, and it only took a couple of minutes. I don’t imagine it would take that long for 1/4 cup, but keep an eye on it!

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Bake or broil until lightly toasted, approx 3-4 min on each side. The dinner club oven was set at 400 and I did 4 minutes on each side, so really you can just pop in with whatever you are already cooking for dinner- if you have garlic, you could cut a clove in half and rub the cut end on the warm toasts when they come out of the oven. This is common practice with most bruschettas and would have been a great added flavor here.

Cut the burrata into 12 wedges. Place one wedge on each crostini. I left the creamy side up so I could press the peas/asparagus on and they would stay. Top with pea/asparagus mixture. Drizzle with balsamic reduction, to taste. Season with more salt if needed.

Valentine’s Day Video: A Simple Steak Dinner

Oh Valentine’s Day – what a funny holiday… I’ve never been a huge fan, but being the lover of a good celebration, I do think it is kind of fun to make or do something special whether or not a special someone is involved. Last year I made these for my girlfriends and two years ago I made this for dinner. This year, for the first time in quite some time, I will be having dinner with my boyfriend, enjoying a night at home, and prepping for a vacation – all the things that I love most: great company, good food, frequent travel.

During my trip to Europe last summer, I had a healthy amount of time with friends and family, but still toured around a lot of the time by myself and had to good fortune to rent an entire apartment in Brussels for a weekend. I took full advantage of having a nice terrace and even a full kitchen as I cooked an impressively simple steak dinner one night. A single piece of filet mignon called my name in the grocery store and I swear I was out the door for under 10 euros with that, a few potatoes, green beans and a bottle of wine in my bag. After a little research, I decided to cook the steak with some red onion, finish it in the oven and reduce some of the wine down for sauce. So so so good.

It may seem that it’s a bit weird to be posting my ‘steak for one video’ for Valentine’s Day, but I think it’s good to remember on this funny little holiday that even if there is no special someone, there can still be pleasure found in doing things alone or treating yourself to something nice. Not to mention that while the video does showcase a meal for one, it is easily adapted for two and would make the perfect simple weeknight Valentines Day meal to show your someone you care.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/59129251 w=700&h=500]

Steak recipe inspiration here ,tips:

  • I used red onions instead of mushrooms, both would be great.
  • My piece of steak was thinner than in the recipe, so it would have actually been cooked after a sear on both sides, gauge if your piece is thick enough to warrant a trip to the oven.
  • I don’t generally have demi glace with me on vacation, so I just used red wine to deglaze the pan and reduced it thicken, use a good amount, not just a splash like in the video
  • Finishing with butter is always the right thing to do.

Potatoes: place in cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Mash into a chunky mixture with cream, butter, salt and pepper.

Beans: boil until tender, finish with garlic, butter and salt in a saute pan.

Roasted Carrot Soup

Pureed soups continue to be one of my favorite things to make at winter time. They are so easy, always loaded with flavor and obviously soup is comforting when it’s rainy and blustery outside. This carrot soup is no exception.

This past week, I found some time to cook on a week night (shocking, I know!) and absolutely loved the way it turned out. You have a creamy slightly sweet hot soup, countered with the tart bite of cold yogurt and the crunch and smokiness of the dukkah spice mixture. You simply roast carrots in the oven, then blend with broth, heat through and you’re done. I have made butternut squash soup many a time before and while I love that, I did love how this was sweet without being overly so, and that you can mix as much or as little of the yogurt and spice into each bite.

It’s just the right way to warm and spice up a cold night.

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Roasted Carrot Soup, adapted from Bon Appétit here

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 larger carrots)
  • 1/2 white onion, largely chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 425. Place the carrots and onion on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until the carrots are tender and just beginning to brown, about 25 minutes. Let the carrots cool slightly.

While carrots are roasting, toast pistachios in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, until golden brown about 6 min. Remove from pan, return to heat. Toast sesame seeds, coriander and cumin 1-2 min until fragrant. Transfer to bowl with pistachios,  add 1 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper. When cool, transfer to mortar and pestle and corsely grind.

Transfer carrots and onions to a blender with broth and blend until very smooth. You may need to do it in 2 batches. When smooth transfer to a medium saucepan and heat through.

Serve soup with a dollop of yogurt in the middle and sprinkle with the dukkah spice mix.