Saturday, July 26, 2014

Butter lettuce salad with chicken, pickled currants, feta and croutons

Who doesn't love a big salad for dinner in the summer?  Big salads are one of may favorite thangs - you feel good about eating them and there are endless combinations of deliciousness.

This one is a keeper of a recipe - it's completely dinner-time satisfying with the grilled chicken and homemade croutons (I mean...homemade croutons make everything pretty amazing) and has a nice, tangy zing with the pickled currants & feta.  And I highly recommend the homemade dressing.  It takes literally minutes to make and takes your salads to a whole, new level (this one goes on ANY salad you give it).

Stay cool out there, people!!

Serves 4

pickled currants:
1/2 c. water
1 T. sugar
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/2 c. dried currants

1 medium shallot - minced
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
pinch of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. olive oil

homemade croutons:
1/2 pound firm bread - ripped into 1-1 1/2 in pieces (about 6 cups)
3 T. olive oil
fleur de sel

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T. olive oil
2 t. dried herbs de Provence
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

1 head butter lettuce - torn into bite size pieces
2 handfuls arugula
1/2 c. crumbled sheep’s milk feta
1/2 c. basil leaves, roughly torn

Combine water, sugar, white wine vinegar & dried currants in a small pan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow currants to cool to room temperature in their liquid.  Drain liquid before serving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss bread with olive oil and place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with flour de sel.  Bake about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until crisp & browned.  Remove and let cool.

Combine shallot, Dijon, white wine vinegar and salt & pepper in a small bowl.  Wisk to combine. Add olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly, until combined.

Preheat grill for 10 minutes on medium-high heat.  Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to create two thinner pieces (these cook quicker and more evenly and won’t dry out).  Coat the 4 chicken pieces with olive oil.  Season with salt & pepper and herbs de Provence.  

Grill chicken until just cooked through and an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees - about 3 minutes per side (they cook really fast when they are this thin!).  Remove from grill, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.  Dice chicken.

In a large bowl, combine butter lettuce, arugula, pickled currants, croutons, feta, basil and diced chicken.  Toss with dressing and serve.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Raw veggie wraps with tahini-yogurt sauce

These crunchy & creamy little wraps are incredibly healthy but are so tasty and delicious, you'll never miss the bad stuff. The raw veggies are a rainbow of colors & nutrients, and the sauce...well, the sauce is something special.  You could use it on anything - as a salad dressing, on any sandwich, as a dip, on gotsta try it.

I used whole grain tortillas to wrap up all the goodness, but another option is to use whole collard green leaves.  I learned this from my raw foodist friends at RAWvolution - a raw food restaurant & home food delivery service.  I styled a couple really awesome books for them - check them out... RAWvolution: Gourmet Living Cuisine and The RAWvolution Continues.

If you want to go raw with the sauce as well, just omit the yogurt - it's delicious either way.  Whatever you choose with this recipe, you will feel really great about yourself when you eat :)

serves 4

tahini-yogurt sauce:

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. plain greek yogurt
1/4 c. water
1/2 t. salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. each: cilantro, basil, mint leaves

raw veggies:

2 carrots - peeled and grated on large holes of a grater
1 beet - peeled and grated on the large holes of a grater
2 Persian cucumbers - diced
1 avocado - quartered and sliced
1/2 c. alfalfa or clover sprouts
3 T. sunflowers seeds

4, 8” whole grain tortillas, or whole collard leaves (for wrapping)

In a blender or mini food processor, combine all ingredients for the tahini-yogurt sauce.  Blend until smooth.

To make wraps, divide veggies between 4 tortillas or collard leaves.  Top with 2 tablespoons of tahini-yogurt sauce) and wrap like a burrito.  Serve with additional sauce on the side for dipping.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Southeast Asian swordfish skewers

The summer grilling extravaganza doesn’t necessarily have to equal a ton of burgers and hot is a wonderful thing to throw over the outdoor flames.  However, it can be tricky to perfect, which is why I love to use a hearty, steak-y variety like swordfish (mahi mahi or wahoo work well, too).  It’s much more forgiving than some of the more delicate types and is actually kind of hard to mess up - just resist the temptation to overcook it!  Fish will always continue to cook a couple minutes after you pull it off the grill, so it may feel like you are being premature, but trust me...knowing this will give you nicely cooked, moist fish every time.

I looove this southeast Asian marinade (it would be great on chicken or pork, too).  It’s super flavorful and it blends up in minutes.  This meal is healthy, lean protein, low fat  AND and a beautiful presentation…the perfect meal for your summer evening!

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds swordfish - skin removed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 T. lemongrass - tender inner stalks, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
1 T. ginger - roughly chopped
1/4 c. olive oil
1 t. soy sauce
1 t. fish sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
2 t. sambal oelek (raw Asian chili paste)
1/2 c. cilantro - roughly chopped

kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
2 limes - halved
Aleppo pepper (optional)

In a mini food processor or blender, combine the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, olive oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, sambal oelek, and cilantro.  Blend until smooth.

Place swordfish in a medium glass bowl.  Pour marinade over fish, cover, and place in refrigerator for at least one hour, up to 3 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat your grill on high for at least 10 minutes.  Thread fish onto skewers leaving a little space between pieces of fish.  Season liberally with kosher salt & pepper. (note: if using bamboo skewers, soak them in water at least a half hour before using)

Turn grill heat to medium high and oil grill grates.  Place fish on grill and cook, with lid closed, a total of 6 minutes, rotating every couple of minutes to cook evenly.  While cooking fish, place lime halves, cut side down, on grill and cook 3-4 minutes, without moving, until grill marks appear.

Remove fish and limes from grill. To serve, squeeze limes over fish & sprinkle with Aleppo pepper, if desired.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cookies & sweet cream ice cream

Nothing says summer like ice cream.  And homemade ice cream...well, nothing compares.  Even my beloved Haagen-Dazs pales next to this stuff. It's got waaaaay more love in it.

I had the pleasure of being the food stylist on an amazing ice cream book that has recently been released and is available everywhere this summer.  It's by the very cool-chick duo of  Natasha Case & Freya Estreller - the founders and owners of Coolhaus Ice Cream.  It's a great story...two smart & sassy ladies bring a food truck to Coachella with "architecture-inspired" ice cream sandwiches...and a business is born.  Cut to a few years later...the biz is booming, they have their products in major grocery stores & have shops and trucks in LA, NYC & Austin.  So of course they needed to write a book!

Order on Amazon! - Click HERE
This is one of the recipes from their book - cookies & sweet cream...such a classic flavor (& my son, Brando's favorite).  Check out the recipe and the book - Coolhaus Ice Cream Book.  There are some super funky ideas - Brown butter & candied bacon, Nutella toasted a bunch of fun architecture facts.  And of course it has some amazing pictures :)

Note:  We all highly recommend the Cuisinart home ice cream maker - it's a great price point, is easy to use and works like a charm!

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

2 c. whole milk
2 c. heavy cream
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
8 Oreo cookies - smashed or chopped to desired size

In a medium bowl, whisk yolks and remaining sugar until smooth, heavy & pale yellow - about 30 seconds.

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine milk, cream and half of the sugar.  Set over medium high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil - about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Pour half of cream mixture into the eggs in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly, until blended.  

Return pan to stove top over medium-low heat.  Now pour the egg yolk-cream mixture from bowl back into the the pan is a slow, steady stream, again, whisking constantly.  Stir with a wooden spoon until an instant read thermometer reads 165 - 180 degrees and coats the back of the wooden spoon.  Mixture should be steaming but not boiling.  Don't heat above 180 degrees or your eggs will scramble!

Pour custard into a clean, airtight container and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.  You can also cool the container until well-chilled in an ice bath if you wish to put it in the ice cream maker the same day.

Process custard base in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Transfer into a bowl and fold in smashed cookies.

Scrape into an airtight storage container.  Freeze for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Click HERE or on the screen below to see a funny little promotional video we did called "Better with Instructions" for the book that I styled & "acted" in as well...kinda funny!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Nectarine-raspberry almond fruit crisps

Ahhhh, summer I love you so.  In my very humble opinion, raspberries & nectarines are the creme de la creme of the fruit world.  Peaches are tied for that title as well, but you are supposed to peel them when baking, so of course I opt for the easier, skin-on nectarine (I'm kinda lazy).

And don't even get me started on talking about the fruit crisp as a dessert...I love any version.  It can do no wrong.  It's 100% right.  This one just happens to be the best combo of all.  I love the addition of almond flour and sliced almonds - it's a nice little layer of crunchy nuttiness.

Serves 6

2 1/2 c. raspberries
2 1/2 c. chopped nectarines (from about 2-3)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 t. almond extract
2 T. cornstarch

1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. almond flour
large pinch kosher salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 stick cold butter (4 T.)
1/4 c. sliced almonds

vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine raspberries, chopped peaches, sugar,  and almond extract.  Sprinkle cornstarch over fruit & stir gently to combine.

In another bowl, combine brown sugar, rolled oats, almond flour salt, and cinnamon.  Cut butter into small pieces and add to bowl.  Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut butter, mixing into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in almonds.

Divide berry mixture between six, 6 ounce ramekins.  Top each ramekin with crisp topping.  Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (to catch spills) and bake 25-30 minutes until fruit is bubbling & topping is brown.

Let cool at least a half hour to an hour before serving.  Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream & serve warm!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Grilled caprese bruschetta

I like to think of this as twisted caprese salad meets a fancy French bread pizza.  Grilling the tomatoes for this dish make them super sweet & juicy and it is the perfect combo with the toasty, crunchy bread.   And burrata...what can I say...? I love you so!  It translates as "buttered" in Italian so you know it really makes anything you put it on special.  If you can't find burrata in your area (and I am truly bummed for you if you can't), sub in fresh mozzarella slices.

It's a great main vegetarian main course served with a crisp green salad, or a really impressive appetizer when cut into smaller pieces.  It's all done in minutes on the grill so you don't have to heat up the kitchen & it showcases some of the best of summer flavors.

Serves 8 as a main, 16 as an appetizer

One French baguette
Extra virgin olive oil
1 dry pint small cherry or grape tomatoes
8 oz. ball of burrata
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
more olive oil for drizzling

Preheat grill to medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

Cut baguette in half crosswise.  Slice each half horizontally/lengthwise so you have 4 large, flat pieces.  Brush generously with extra virgin olive oil.

Take 2, 12x18 inch pieces of aluminum foil and stack them on top of each other.  Double fold over each side of the foil creating a rim around all edges - approx. 8x14 inches.  We are creating a little foil “pan” to cook the tomatoes on the grill with an edge so they don't roll off :).

Grill bread, cut side down, about 3-4 minutes, until nicely toasted & slightly charred with definite grill marks.  Remove from grill.

Place foil on grill and add tomatoes.  Drizzle with a 1 T. of olive oil and stir.  Close cover & grill 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until skins just begin to split.  Carefully remove foil from grill (I slide it onto a sheet pan).

Divide burrata between the four pieces of bread.  Pile tomatoes on top of burrata & bread.   Finish with roughly torn basil leaves, sea salt & fresh ground pepper and another generous drizzle of olive oil.  Slice to desired size & enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mango chicken curry lettuce wraps

This is a cool & refreshing warm weather recipe that comes together in minutes. It's crunchy meets creamy meets sweet meets spicy...kinda covering all the bases with this one.

This recipe a great light main course or a cute starter to serve if you are entertaining.  And who doesn't like eating with their hands when given the chance?

serves 6

3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 T. lime juice
1 t. yellow curry powder
1 T. mango chutney
1 chopped green onion - white & green
2 T. chopped mint
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
kosher salt & pepper

1 rotisserie chicken - cooled, shredded & chilled (about 4 cups)
1 mango, peeled & diced - about 1 cup

2 Persian cucumbers - diced
1 head Bibb lettuce
1/4 c. roasted, salted sunflower seeds without shells
Sriracha hot sauce (optional), to taste

In a large bowl, mix together yogurt, lime juice, curry powder, chutney, green onion, mint & cilantro.  Stir to combine & season with salt & pepper to taste.

Fold chilled chicken and diced mango into the dressing and stir until evenly coated.  Spoon chicken-mango mixture into separated lettuce leaves, like a taco.  Top with diced cucumber, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds & a drizzle of Sriracha.