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

Video: Shrimp Tacos + Cardamom Margaritas

Sometimes dreams come true. Craftsy has started an employee appreciation effort where they try to make random dreams come true. Someone had a dream to ride the zamboni at an Avalanche game, someone else a dream to learn to breakdance, and I had a dream to make my own cooking show episode. Obviously Craftsy has the production resources to make this happen, and I’m so grateful that they decided to spend those resources on me!

It was awesome. I got to see all the ins and outs of what goes into doing a cooking lesson on camera. Balancing looking at the camera and cooking, coming up with the right things to say (I winged it!), taking the right pauses before making no go back moves, only to mention a few – it was just so cool to be a part of.

While it’s definitely not perfect, I like to think it’s still pretty good for a first timer and that all these years of watching cooking shows finally came to some good use! So without further ado, my first cooking video… Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa and Cardamom Margaritas!

And some stills of behind the scenes and the set:IMG_0529IMG_0479

Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

Shrimp

  • 1 lb peeled devained shrimp
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Lowrey’s seasoning salt, or salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • ground pepper to taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper, to taste

Salsa

  • 1 large mango
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 taco sized corn tortillas (corn/flour mix with jalapeños, if you can find them)

Directions:

Mix shrimp with garlic and spices, making sure all shrimp are covered. Set aside to marinate while you make the salsa.

Salsa: Peel mango, remove fruit from the pith and chop it into 1/4 in.-1/2 in. pieces. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, score the fruit into 1/4 in.-1/2 in. pieces in the skin, then remove the fruit with a spoon. Mix the mango, avocado, jalapeño, onion and lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside salsa and cook shrimp.

Heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When hot, lay the shrimp in the pan in one layer. Cook on one side for about 2-3 min until opaque half way through, curled and pink. Flip shrimp until just cooked through, about another 2-3 min.

If you have a gas stove, heat the tortillas over a flame, using tongs to continually rotate the tortilla. Heat on both sides. Another option is to head in the bottom of a dry pan until browned and heated through.

Cardamom Margaritas (makes two large margaritas)

  • 3/4 cup tequilla
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cardamom simple syrup, recipe below

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to cool ingredients. Distribute between two glasses with ice.

Cadamom simple syrup

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cardamom pods, lightly crushed

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissove sugar and continue to heat until simmering. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove cardamom pods and seeds.

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.

Monterey Bay & Fresh Crab

I hate to brag, but I think my weekend was better than your weekend. I found myself down in Monterey Bay for a couple of nights; out of the hustle and bustle of SF, enjoying a weekend of relaxation, good eating, and the best company. I loved sleeping in, stopping by the aquarium to see the stunning jellyfish display, and cooking some amazing meals. Since we were stowed away in a condo, I got to try my hand at cooking (and cleaning) a live crab! Picked up fresh from the ocean that day, we went with the recommendation of our crab guy and cooked it in sea water. Literally. Water from the waves outside the condo. The meal was delicious and oh so fun, as was the entire weekend. I’m always amazed at how just a few nights away can make the world of difference.

Tips for your Dungeness season:

  • Cook in ocean water! It helps keep the meat moist and sweet. If you don’t have the good fortune to be staying by the ocean, uncomfortably over salted water will do.
  • Keep your crab on/in ice so it’s sedated for the drop into scalding water.
  • Boil a pot of water first and cook crab for no more than 15 min.
  • When it’s done take off the shell, gills, yellow stuff, brown stuff (there’s a lot of stuff… just get it out)
  • Get cracking! Serve with garlic butter and lemon – the fresher it is, the simpler the preparation.

Tips for Monterey Bay:

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must
  • If you have time, take a trip to Carmel-By-The-Sea
  • Eat seafood! Whether you cook it yourself or not
  • Walk on the beach, look for shells, watch the sunset – you know, all that good stuff

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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.

Gluten/Dairy/Egg Free Thanksgiving?

I know it. You know it. I’ve been a bad blogger…

I missed the past two cook the book posts. I haven’t posted about food in over a month. And if I’m really honest with you, I haven’t even been cooking that much. Life’s been busy and some exciting things have been going on. Namely my birthday, lots of dates – with the same person 🙂 AND Thanksgiving. I must say that while I have been a little lazy with the food, Thanksgiving and the holidays are the seasons that make me want to get back in the kitchen! The days are shorter and colder and gatherings based on food abound, bringing loads of inspiration and the desire to cook up a storm.

I was a little hesitant about Thanksgiving this year. My sister recently went gluten/dairy/egg free – not to be trendy, but because she discovered she actually has massive allergies. Like eat a piece of bread and break out in hives kind of allergies. So it was a must have that the meal be edible by the whole family! I found a couple of enticing recipes in the November issue of Bon Appétit that I thought would be easily adaptable to this years restrictions, and it all came out shockingly well.

Cornbread, sausage, pecan stuffing and mini pommes anna in lieu of mashed potatoes were the two converted hits. I know, a little sacrilegious not to have mashed potatoes, but we did have mashed sweet potatoes so the meal’s combinations of textures and flavors were immensely satisfying. I substituted 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 margarine for wherever butter was called for, and used a gluten free cornbread recipe. Yum yum yum. The breakfast sausage in the stuffing added a sweetness and loaded the cornbread with flavor. And the mini pommes anna were crispy on the outside, imbued with thyme and perfectly tender on the inside. I hope you have a chance to try these out the rest of your holiday season – I highly recommend both, gluten/dairy/egg restrictions or not.

fall colors at my parents house

birthday flowers

this happened at the SF Zoo, and yes, the antlers are backwards…

Cornbread, Sausage, Pecan Stuffing here – Use 1/4cup olive oil and 1/4 cup margarine instead of the 3/4 cups butter, and use 2 loaves of the below gluten free cornbread

Gluten Free Cornbread here – use brown rice flour and almond milk, bake in a 9×9 inch pan.

Mini Herbed Pommes Anna here – sub 1 part olive oil and 1 part margarine for the butter.