10
Aug
13

Back to Paleo

Remember how several months back, I was all “I’m going Paleo! Who needs grains and dairy? The Agricultural revolution was bollocks! (see me “acclimatizing” to the UK? That’s how they say “acclimate” for those of you stateside. And “bollocks” means “balls”).” And then I abruptly followed that strong sentiment with a pendulum swing back to cheese’s open arms and surrounded myself with my favourite carby companions, polenta and focaccia.

Such a hypocrite.

Well, the pendulum has swung yet again, fair readers, for I am here to announce my return to Paleo. Image

I’ve tried for months (ahem, years) to balance my love of the finer foods with my unwavering dedication to fitness, but it seems as though no amount of continuing to eat whatever the hell I want while spending increasing amounts of time at the gym allows me to reach my fitness goals. Shocking, right?

And so, sadly, the food must be regulated. Turns out the so-called “Caveman Diet” appeals to me, since I’m anti-processing foods (unless it’s chorizo! Heavenly) and refuse to believe that ingredients I can’t pronounce aren’t toxic to ingest and totes cause cancer with prolonged ingestion.

Ok, I’ll descend from my soap box. I really enjoyed it up there – amazing views!

I made this lovely salad with a lean barbecue spice-rubbed beef I found at Waitrose:Image

It’s just chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, capers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar over mixed greens, so a recipe breakdown feels slightly unnecessary. I pan fried the beef in a cast iron skillet for 2-3 min each side on high heat. Delicious.

I cross checked with my trainer to make sure I was doing Paleo correctly, since there’s quite a lot of misinformation being propagated about what foods are acceptable and which will destroy your weight loss efforts with an unwieldy spear. I care not for said spear, and so I fired 10,000 questions at the expert.

I emerged better informed. It turns out fat and protein are preferred sources of satiety, while carbs should really only come from green vegetables that can be eaten raw (ie broccoli, spinach, cucumbers = great! beets, potatoes, root vegetables = spear) and berries. Other fruits like apples, tangerines and bananas? Spears, and I’ve been consuming those in droves. Droves, I tell you.

Moving forward, I’m prioritizing fatty meats.

Enter – the chicken thigh. HOW good is the chicken thigh? I’ve spent years blindly supporting the breast (teehee) and all along the thigh has been waiting in the wings (ha!) just patiently waiting to be noticed. I’ve more than made up for my negligence, since the bulk of my diet is chicken thighs, salmon and eggs now. I roasted some the other day with a sweet onion and some oyster mushroomsImage

I coated the chicken skin with oregano and thyme, salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil, and roasted them on 180 Celsius for about 40-50 minutes.

I roasted four thighs at a time and ate half for dinner, half for the next day’s lunch. I included a photo of the whole family at the bottom, because I thought they looked just lovely tucked into their bed of onions and fungi. So cozy.

Tonight, I made another version of my roasted chicken thighs. This time I tucked them into a bed of broccoli and whole garlic cloves, and patted the skin with paprika, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.Image

I roasted them in a 180 degree Celsius oven for 40-50 minutes. So simple and tasty, although I wish I had lemon because I’d have roasted them right alongside those thighs. Would just have made them spoon in that roasting pan, all in the name of citrusy, fresh flavour. Next time, Gadget.

Week one of Paleo is down, and I’m thinking I’ll keep it up for one month or until I see my hard body goals come to fruition – whichever comes first. Then I’ll gradually add back in all the fruits I could ever want (insert evil laugh here) and probably allow some dairy into my life. Until then, enjoy this sultry view of me and the chicken thigh sauntering into the sunset…

Image

 

09
Jun
13

Peruvian chicken, courgette blossoms, Spring risotto.

Well, this is awkward. I’ve been downright neglectful. It’s one thing to have a month-long hiatus from blog-land and widely accepted to take 2-3 months sans-virtually verbalising so much as a sweaty sesh or spicy feast, but it is rarely lauded as appropriate blog behaviour to take 6 months away. Please accept my sincerest apologies, readers (ie my parents and 5 or so friends who live for this).

I’ll try not to peace for quite so long next time around.

The past 6 months have been eventful, and I can say with full confidence that I’ve rarely been sweatier or spicier in my entire life. In short, I’ve gotten well acclimated with yoga, dance and have started lifting weights with a personal trainer (who am I?!) for the sweaty side, and I’ve eaten such oddities (ahem, rareaties) as pigeon and barnacles to fulfil the spicy side. I’ve been busy.

When I’m not challenging the biological capabilities of digestion, I’ve made a few things tasty enough to share.

I’m pretty in love with this Peruvian Chicken recipe I found on the Whole Foods app. It has lemons and yellow peppers and just the most delicious flavour.

Peruvian chicken

Peruvian chicken

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoon expeller-pressed canola oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 large sweet onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
1 lemon, sliced

I make the recipe with chicken thighs only, though you’re more than welcome to massacre a whole chicken. Just massacre away.

I’m not sure what it is about roasted lemons, but I am having a love affair with them at the moment. I feel as though there can’t possibly be a more delicious and fat free alternative to flavouring in the world. It’s just lovely.

I made these adorable zucchini (aka courgettes, per the Brits) blossoms the other day that were just Georgia O’Keefe-level beautiful. I’ve been gunning to prepare zucchini blossoms since the Food Network started courting them a few years back, but I’d never been able to find them at the farmers markets in New York. Chapel Market near my flat in London proudly displayed a fancy selection the other day, so I snapped up a bag. London – 1, NYC- 0.

zucchini blossoms

zucchini blossoms

 

Ingredients:

4 zucchini blossoms, stems removed
2 tbsp goat cheese
1 egg, beaten
flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Most recipes wanted me to deep-fry the blossoms, but I was determined to find a baked version so as not to un-do my training sessions. I ended up improvising, as such, and created my own.

I began by pre-heating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. I then beat together the egg and cheese, and mixed in the parsley, salt and pepper. I put the cheese mixture into a Ziploc bag and cut the tip to create a pastry bag. I then piped the cheese into the blossoms, and put them on a tray to bake for about 10 minutes.

They were pretty delicious, though I’d drizzle with honey in the near future. Everything’s better with a little honey. I’d also go with ricotta cheese, as the goat cheese was a bit tangy and not as nice with the flowers as I’d have imagined. Live and learn.

As my boyfriend loves his meat (teehee) and I favour the veg, I’m proud to have gotten him to eat my Spring Vegetable Risotto a few week’s back. I’d always found risotto intimidating and had only made one failed recipe a few years’ back, but he’d made some no fewer than five times since we’ve met. I figured it was time to tame the stock-y beast, if you will.

I followed the Epicurious recipe to the tee, and didnt leave my risotto’s side for the full half hour. The end result was creamy, healthy(ish) as risottos go, and such a looker. See below:

Spring Vegetable Risotto with poached eggs

Spring Vegetable Risotto with poached eggs

23
Jan
13

Going Paleo

Hello there, 2013. Aren’t you starting off lovely. I had the most eventful year of my life in 2012 – what with the relocation across the pond to foggy London town, preceded by the whoring out of my passport (if you will) to five different countries in rapid succession – and so I assumed 2013 would be but a pale imitation of the eventful year prior.

I was totes wrong.

This year is but 3 weeks deep, but already I feel as though I’m set to kick 2012′s unwitting arse. I’ve revamped my eating routine by trying a Paleo lifestyle, mostly to see what a life sans-processed foods does to my waistline, but also to see if it will allow me a wee bit o’ freedom when it comes to obsessively tracking food. That would be just all around pleasant.

I made this delicious Sicilian tuna dish that I found on Epicurious a few weeks back:Image

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tuna steaks

1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp capers, soaked in water for 10 min and drained
3 tbsp minced pitted green olives
¼ c raisins
5 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 c water
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/3 c pine nuts, toasted

See here for the recipe. Epicurious says it better than I ever could.

This was So. Damn. Good. Highly recommended recipe, since it had a Moroccan-like combo of raisins and olives but classic Italian ingredients I love like tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and parsley. I served it alongside some kale chips that I made by drizzling them in olive oil, salt and chili flakes and baking in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.

I also made this Giada recipe for Rustic Vegetable Soup and Polenta sans the polenta last week. Apparently our ancestors hadn’t acclimated with the corn or its meal, and so polenta is not allowed on Paleo. Sigh.

ImageIngredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or chopped
3 plum tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

And the recipe is here. Giada nailed this soup. That she did. I brought leftovers into work the next day, and my co-worker ate half and affirmed its deliciousness. I’d definitely make this one again, but maybe with the polenta? I’m not sure I can go an entire lifetime without my cornmeal, y’all.

Tonight may have been the best Paleo meal I’ve had yet – roasted chicken and chorizo – which came from this beautiful cookbook my friend gifted me for my birthday. It’s this Australian lass (what? I can pull that off) who is apparently the Martha Stewart of Australia, and every recipe is exactly one paragraph long and calls for no more than 10 ingredients. I’m into you, Donna Hay. Image

Ingredients:
salt & pepper

1.6 kg chicken, cut into pieces

2 chorizo, cut in half lengthwise

3/4 c large green olives

250g cherry tomatoes

8 sprigs oregano, halves

1 lemon, cut into wedges

6 cloves garlic, skin on

1 tbsp olive oil

I’m still thinking in American measurements despite my best attempts at becoming a full blown redcoat, so I haven’t a clue what 1.6 kg of chicken even is. I took it to mean 2 packs of chopped chicken breasts from Waitrose, and that seemed to work out just grand.

You start by preheating the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with foil. Add chicken, chorizo, olives, tomatoes, oregano, lemon, garlic, oil, salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the chorizo is crisp, and eat.

Donna Hay, you have impressed me. This was easy, flavorful, and quasi-Paleo friendly (chorizo=totally processed but so delicious I’m forced to make an exception). See below for the finished product:

Image

28
Oct
12

Ode to Prosciutto

I’d assumed it would take at least a year of clotted cream and scones to break me in as a local Londoner, but I’ve acclimated with a scarce 6 months of consumption! I’ve yet to go near blood sausage (aka black pudding – misnomer of the century) and Scotch eggs petrify me, but it turns out that neither are a prerequisite. I’m able to call London my home – and enjoy doing so, might I add – despite feeling no attachment to the local cuisine. Color me surprised.

I’ve entered Phase 2 of life in London, which poses a stark contrast to the awkward “getting to know you”-type discomfort of Phase 1. I went back to Florida for a week in September, which was the tail end of Phase 1. I was nervous I wouldn’t want to return to the land that is pre-30 Rock and sans-Skippy, but I was excited to return. That was mostly due to the food orgy I partake in each time I go home – and this time was no different – but nevertheless. Speaking of said food orgy, my family and I made homemade pizzas one night. I re-created an old favorite from a pizza place in NYC. I made a brussels sprouts, pancetta and rock salt pizza. Phenom.

Image

Brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza

Ingredients:
pizza dough
2 cups brussels sprouts,thinly sliced
1/4 lb pancetta, thinly sliced
1 ball mozzarella di bufala, torn into chunks
1/4 c parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp Kosher rock salt
black pepper, to taste
olive oil, to taste

You start by pre-heating the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Dust cornmeal on top of a pizza stone and stretch the dough on top. Cook pancetta in a skillet for a few minutes until slightly crispy, and then drain on paper towels. Add the toppings in no particular order, finishing the pizza with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous handful of the salt. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until it gets slightly browned. SO damn good.

That was the first time I cooked with pancetta, and I vowed not to make it my last. I ran right back to London and made this adorable recipe from Epicurious, Salad of Grilled Asparagus with Taleggio cheese and Seranno ham. Standing in for the ham was pancetta’s saltier and arguably more enjoyable cousin, Prosciutto.

Image

Grilled asparagus with Taleggio alongside mixed greens, Prosciutto and toasted pine nuts

Ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
6 1/4-inch-thick slices Taleggio cheese or Fontina cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens
6 thin slices serrano ham or prosciutto
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

You start by preheating the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, shallot and sugar until sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Arrange asparagus on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill in cast-iron skillet until crisp-tender, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. The recipe actually wanted me to do this on a grill, but since I’ve yet to make that purchase I figured the skillet would suffice. Return asparagus to the baking sheet and drizzle with additional 1/3 cup dressing; top with cheese. Bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Place greens in large bowl. Add 1/4 cup dressing and toss to coat. Serve the asparagus on the plate and arrange greens alongside. Drape ham over greens. Sprinkle pine nuts over salads. Serve with remaining dressing.

This young Jew’s Tour de Ham (if you will) continued a week later when I decided to make Warm Winter Greens that I found on my trusty Whole Foods recipe app. I was feeling detox-y when I found the recipe, but was hopped up on my recent ham discovery. In a moment of detox-betrayal, I added the prosciutto that the recipe allowed.

Ingredients:Image
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 bunch greens, roughly chopped
1 head red cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons oil-packed capers, drained
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons dried currants
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 slices prosciutto, chopped
This is the easiest recipe in the world, but the greens have different names in England, so I had to swap out the “Endive” for generic greens and the “radicchio” for red cabbage. I’m so much fancier in the States. You start by heating oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the greens and cook, stirring constantly, until just wilted, about 5 minutes. In a skillet, cook the prosciutto until crispy, and set aside to drain on paper towels. Add capers, olives, pepper flakes and currants and cook, tossing gently, for another 15 seconds. Add the prosciutto. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle pine nuts and orange zest on top.
Rounding out the Tour de Ham came my prosciutto wrapped lamb burgers, which I made just last week. These are courtesy of my Giada cookbook, but I’d never before made them due to my prior Vegetarian status. The veggie is no more, so I prepared these for dinner last week.
Image
Ingredients:
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground lamb
6 large slices prosciutto, sliced medium-thin (for wrapping the burgers)
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, for topping each burger
The original recipe called for flat-leaf Italian parsley rather than thyme, but I accidentally left the parsley behind at the grocery so I had no choice but to improvise.
Start by combining the bread crumbs, parsley, egg, milk, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the lamb and stir until incorporated. Divide the mixture into 6 (1-inch) thick burgers. Place 1 lamb burger in the center of each slice of prosciutto and wrap the prosciutto around the burger.Place a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat for 2 minutes. Place the lamb burgers, prosciutto-covered side down in the pan and cook over medium heat until the prosciutto is golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the burgers and finish cooking, about 6 to 8 minutes more.

Remove the burgers from the pan and place on a serving platter or individual plates. Top each burger with 2 to 3 basil leaves and a sun-dried tomato. These came out just beautiful and tasted even better. And so concludes my Tour de Ham! What a delightful tour it was..

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02
Sep
12

lamb kebabs, quinoa cakes, chocolate mousse and gnocchi.

So some fairly exciting things have been happening here in the land where the pudding is savory and pants are called “trousers,” lest you intended to compliment the color of a male co-worker’s knickers rather loudly in the workplace. I hadn’t, and it was sobering.

Cultural disparities and mild HR offenses aside, I have been adjusting really well to life in London. The Food Network programming is radically different in the UK, but no matter – I get to watch all the Jamie Oliver I could ever want on the other food and travel channels. I can handle that. He’s dreamy. He has a new show called “Jamie does…” where he travels and basically does a Bourdain-style documentary, sans the eating of goat intestines and the like. I watched the episode where he did Athens, and I was inspired by the Greek salad he made while atop my dream villa:

ImageIngredients:

1 beef tomato
1 medium red onion, peeled
1 cucumber
1 green pepper
fresh dill
fresh mint
sea salt
1 tablespoon red
wine vinegar
3 tablespoons good-quality
Greek extra virgin olive oil
200g block of feta cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Jamie also called for black olives and two other types of tomatoes, but I left those out since multiple types of tomatoes felt excessive and I accidentally neglected to buy olives. Anyways, you start by chopping the tomatoes and green pepper, and slice the red onion really thin. He also taught me to run a fork along the cucumber skin before you slice so it has that fancy flowery look once you do slice. Throw the chopped vegetables atop the mixed greens. Then chop the herbs and toss those in also, and drizzle the whole mix with the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Toss it with your hands to look extra rustic like Jamie, and then top with salt, pepper feta and oregano. It may be simple, but it was so delicious and a solid new member of my go-to repertoire.

Like all reformed vegetarians, I go through mini-phases of rabbit food-like consumption followed by meat craving and subsequent meat binging. Par for the course, I guess. One such example of the rabbit food-like consumption is these adorable quinoa cakes I made a week ago.Image

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

1/2 tsp chopped garlic
2/3 cup grated carrots
2/3 cup butternut squash
1/2 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice

The original recipe called for yellow squash, but the summer squash is as foreign to the Brits as the elusive Summer herself, so I had to sub with butternut squash.

You start by bringing quinoa and the water to a boil in a big pot, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to stand for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa with onion, garlic, carrots, squash, spinach, zest, flour, baking powder, egg, salt and pepper. Form mixture into eight (4- to 5-inch) patties and arrange on an oiled baking sheet. Bake, flipping halfway through, until lightly browned and just crisp, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, I made the yogurt sauce, which you prepare by stirring together dill, yogurt and lemon juice. You serve the sauce atop the cakes. These cakes are seriously tasty, and I actually enjoyed bringing them for lunch even more. Ms. butternut squash did an excellent job, too. You would never have guessed that she was the stand-in.Image

The Whole Foods version look like perfect little patties, but mine came out like quirky little stars. I kinda prefer my way.

Before I describe the meat binging side of the past couple of weeks, let’s switch gears for a minute to discuss the sweaty in my life. Last we spoke, I was anti-gym but pro-badminton and yoga. I may have finally found my happy medium, folks. I’m now pro-everything, but my weeks mostly gym in moderation (3 times/week on average) and yoga or pilates more like 5-7 times a week. I’ve also been really regular with the street jazz dance class that I love slightly more than life itself. And voila – active, happy, but not abusing any one workout. It’s taken a fair 12 years or so to figure it out, but I may have finally done this. I’m all prideful, y’all. Downright spirited. Cocky, really. I’m thisclose to doling out unsolicited gym advice.

Now as far as the meat-binging goes, I found myself craving the lamb yet once again, so I made these lamb kebab skewers with tzatziki sauce.Image

Ingredients:

2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/4 red onions, (1/4 finely chopped, 1 thickly sliced)
1/2 a lemon, Juice of
6 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 pound thick-cut boneless lamb chops, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

You start by making the tzatziki sauce, which happens when you put yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, chopped onions, and lemon juice into a medium bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Assemble kebabs by threading lamb, mushrooms, peppers, and sliced onions onto the skewers, alternating them as you go. Place all kebabs on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper, turning skewers around to season all sides. Drizzle with oil, once again turning the skewers to evenly coat all of the meat and vegetables.

Bake about 13 minutes for medium rare. Serve with tzatziki sauce on the side, and Frank’s Red Hot if you like it spicy like yours truly.

I went to a girl’s night last night, which basically was a thinly-veiled excuse to binge on Italian meats and cheese and dance to 90s hip hop – AKA my most favorite night ever. I made this beautiful chocolate mousse from Bobby Flay:Image

Ingredients:

5 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 ounces cold heavy cream
3 large egg whites
1-ounce sugar
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional

You start by placing the chocolate in a large bowl set over a pot with about an inch of water brought to a low simmer. Stir until melted. Turn off the heat and let stand.

I beat the cream until it formed soft peaks, then set it aside. With a mixer, I whipped the egg whites to soft peaks. I gradually added the sugar and continue whipping until firm.

Remove the chocolate and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once. When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream. Cover the mousse and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour. I served it in little cups topped with more whipped cream. Twas a hit. They looked a little like thisImage:

But, like, way less professional.

And, finally, to complete the meat binge, I made gnocchi with bacon and peas for dinner tonight.

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
1-pound package potato gnocchi
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 lemon, juiced

I followed this recipe to a T, and it came out delicious.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the gnocchi and cook for about 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat add bacon and cook until slightly crisp. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Drain the gnocchi and add it to the pan. Stir in the butter, then add the peas, a pinch of black pepper, and a pinch of salt and mix to combine. Add the lemon juice and allow flavors to blend. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer the gnocchi to a serving bowl and serve. Highly recommended. I just loved this. See below:

Image

21
Jul
12

tagine, badminton, and Bologna.

Greetings from foggy London town, where the Summer is scarce and the condensation oh so prevalent. It’s been just over two months since I relocated from NYC to the Land o’ Scones (official name), and it seems as though I timed my arrival to coincide with sheets of rain and blankets of clouds (going with a bed theme here..just go with it). I can assure you I didn’t. Luckily, the absence of Sun is prolonging my youth! If I can’t find the Sun, then I’m guessing it can’t find my wrinkles. Right?! That’s pure logic.

I’ve been indoors lately far more than my former self dared, so it’s given me ample time to cook and decorate. I’m almost positive I’m turning full-on adult. Proof: today, I bought a small bunch of orange daisies! Who does that?! Adults. That’s who.

While I’ve been getting all domestic, I’ve also been cooking my face off. A few weeks ago, I made a Weight Watchers recipe of Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds:

tagine

Ingredients:

4 halves apricots, dried
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c chicken broth, fat free
1 tbsp flour, white
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c almonds, whole, blanched
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 c whole wheat couscous, cooked

Start by bringing apricots and chicken broth to a simmer in a small saucepan, and then set aside. Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and cook over high heat. Toss chicken in the flour and saute about 5 minutes, and then stir in onion. Reduce to medium low and cook 10 minutes more. Stir in cinnamon and honey. Stir in apricots, broth and almonds, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over couscous.

Weight Watchers recipes sometimes come out a little lacking in flavor, and this turned out to be no exception. I always feel like I need to add something citrus-y (i.e. lemons) or yogurt-y (i.e. Greek) or oily (i.e. extra virgin olive) on top. This time, I added some extra virgin olive oil for flavor. This turned out to be the right call, although I still feel the recipe needed more. Next time I’d maybe add olives or capers to give it some complexity or something.

A few nights later, I made another Weight Watchers recipe of Mushroom Barley Burgers. I know – I’m a glutton for bland punishment. This one was actually the exception, though. It was all kinds of delicious:

Ingredients:

1/2 c uncooked barley
2 sprays cooking spray
1 1/2 lb mushrooms, portabella caps, sliced
1 egg
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c sour cream, fat free
1 tbsp horseradish sauce

The barley takes a lifetime to make, so I actually made it the night before. You bring it to a boil with 2 1/4 cups of water in a saucepan, reduce to low and simmer, covered for 40 minutes. That’s way too long for me post-work, since I’m always thisclose to gnawing a hand off while I cook, so I made the barley the night before.

Coat a skillet with cooking spray and add mushrooms over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender and transfer to a bowl. Mix together with the barley, egg, sage, salt and pepper and mash with a fork. This recipe also gave the option of blending with a food processor, but I’ve yet to buy one since I keep de-prioritizing it. Never-you-mind, though — forking is great for the biceps.

pasta bolognese

Once the mixture was all decently combined, I formed it into about 6 patties. The recipe said I’d find 4, but for some reason I found 2 extras! Win. I put them on a plate, covered them with aluminum foil, and refrigerated for 20 minutes.I then watched some Friends. Brits looove Friends.

I took the patties from the refrigerator and placed them under the broiler for about 5 minutes per side. I then mixed together the sour cream and horseradish in a bowl. You serve the burgers with the horseradish sauce on top. Delicious. I had never before taken an interest in horseradish, but this recipe converted me. I’m, like, dying for Passover 2013.

All this cooking and domesticating has driven me further and further from the gym, and I’ve neglected to even join a proper gym since I’ve moved. Instead, I’ve taken to the iPad workouts for yoga and pilates. I’m pretty into it, since the workouts are as short as 10 minutes yet there are enough to where you can get a full hour-long sesh just by combining a few. I’ve converted to primarily stretch workouts, and when I want to get my cardio on I’ve been going to dance classes. I’m kind of in love with this new philosophy, especially since I can take it with me when I travel and work it around my schedule.

On top of the yoga, pilates and dance, I joined a slightly ghetto gym for its courts and plethora of pilates classes. I was just introduced to badminton on said courts, and I just may have found my sport. I loved every minute of our 45 minute “game,” and even amongst the government-subsidized rafters I felt just like Maid Marion. And that feeling is just beautiful.

I went to Bologna last weekend (hence the Italian-dubbed Robin Hood clip, for those who clicked), which marked my grand return to Italy since I studied abroad in Rome in 2005. During the trip, I ate pappardelle bolognese (pictured left), spinach and mascarpone gnocchi, ricotta flavored gelato (unreal), chocolate flavored gelato (more real, but still bene) nutella crepes, and proscuitto and melon (pictured below). I’m pretty sure there will be more travels and fitting that much rich and delicious food into my belly, so I’m going to continue with the yoga and pilates and weekly dance and badminton. Cheers!

proscuitto e melone

24
Jun
12

Charcuterie, Scotch Eggs, Caprese salad.

Now this may come as a shock to most of you, but I have some news – I’ve gone full on Brit. I didn’t plan on it, but since I landed on this drearier side of the pond I’ve grown quite fond of crumpets and adding unnecessary “u’s” to my favo”u”rite words and “s’s” where I hardly reali”s”e they’ve never been before. I can’t quite take to the Celsius, nor have I mastered the gram, but neither has yet to stand in the way of my Brit conversion.

I’ve found that the thing I fancy most is being so damn close to Paris that I can, like, smell the boulangeries (slight exaggeration for comedic purposes). I booked a trip on Eurostar, the swankiest train there ever was, on my first bank holiday weekend here. Once there, I had a charcuterie platter that damn near changed my life. If I wasn’t a lapsed vegetarian before, then I sure as hell am now. The burrata in the upper left hand corner should not be so modest as to hide under that balsamic. It was the creamiest complement to all those cured meats and veggies, and I dare say it was the star of the show. Unreal.

Since being in London, though, I’ve done my best to sample the traditional cuisine. See? There I am posing with a scotch egg! For those who are unfamiliar, the scotch egg is one that is encased in a thick layer of sausage and then deep fried into submission. I may or may not have had a quick nibble before passing it off to my boy to finish, but that’s neither here nor there.

Scotch Egg

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked soba noodles

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp honey

2 tbsp uncooked scallions

8 c fresh spinach

1 spray cooking spray

1 tsp sesame oil (I used toasted)

1 clove garlic

2 c chopped broccoli (my addition)

I’ve had to make a few healthy meals to balance out the Scotch Eggs and charcuteries, though, and the other night I found such a dish via Weight Watchers – Soba noodles with spinach.

Start by cooking the noodles as the package says, drain and place in a large bowl. Add vinegar, soy sauce, honey and scallions. Toss well to coat.Image

Wash spinach, set aside. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and add oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds and add broccoli. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they start to brown, and then add spinach. Cover to  let spinach wilt, another 3-5 minutes. Toss with the noodle mixture and serve.  This was a really simple recipe, and in the future I’ll spice it up with some ginger or red pepper flakes or something. It definitely could have used a kick.

I also made this haddock a few nights ago that came out kind of beautiful, but I’m almost embarrassed by how simply I prepared it. Almost being the operative word here.

Image

Ingredients:

2 fillets haddock

1 tsp smoke seasoning

1 tsp herbe de provence

½  tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp olive oil

juice of a lemon

I started by heating olive oil in my fancy new cast iron skillet over medium low heat, and then I added the fish. I coated each side with the spices, and then cooked for about 2-4 minutes until the fillets were all flaky and clinging to my skillet. Note to self: this fish could stand to be cooked in aluminum foil so’s I’m not scraping it off the pan next time around. Live and learn, I suppose. I finished it off with the lemon juice, and served alongside some sautéed spinach and onions. It was sooo easy and delicious.

On the sweaty side of things, I’ve been doing this Jillian Michaels workout I just lurve. It’s called the “30 Day Shred,” and it’s like having this inspirational badass right in my own living room. And Jillian is there as well! :) It’s this 20 minute circuit training workout that I’ve been doing for about 25 days, so it’s safe to say I’m into it and consider it a fair replacement for logging hours at the gym.

On the days when this inspirational badass is not feeling her butt kicks and plank jacks, I’ve turned to yoga. I know. I never thought I’d be one of those people. The iPad workout has changed me, though, and I’ve been doing these 10-20 minute yoga sessions that are really helping with my flexibility. Highly recommended.

My computer is on its last leg for the evening, so I’ll have to cut this short. I’ll leave you all with the most beautiful caprese salad that I ever did make. No descriptor is necessary, because it’s merely tomato, basil and mozzarella with some olive oil. It is just one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever had the pleasure of stuffing in my dome. See below:

Image




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