Archive for the 'nature' Category

26
Oct
10

farro salad.

I’ve recently fallen victim to habits similar to the Home Decor Obsessive (HDO. Don’t google; I’m pretty sure I invented this disorder, and if not it’s probably an offensive acronym in French or Dutch or something. Bitenuker). I moved just a week ago, and bare walls are not, and have never been, my forte. They’re the equivalent of an undressed salad – ‘taint happening. I’m going to need some extra virgin olive oil or Annie’s Green Goddess immediately. I feel this compulsive desire to get these nakey walls covered by any means possible, so’s not to terrify the occasional visitor by their state of undress. A coffee table can wait. So I don’t have household scissors, refrigerator magnets, or curtains in my bedroom that prevent all of Tomkins Square Park from seeing my business. So what? That’s all secondary. What’s really important is that I just bought this sweet vintage mirror/window combo that’s going to make my living room look like it’s 700 square feet, which I’m pretty sure is a LOT of feet. Also, I bought a gorge piece of art that has gotten like 12 favorable comments on facebook since yesterday. So, win.

That being said, it’s obvious that I can’t afford cable just yet. No matter, for I’ll turn to cooking and exercising for entertainment. More material for the blog, you say? Someone’s astute.

I’m still mid-gym freeze month, and it’s been a feat. I’ve had to turn to the great outdoors more than once for my endorphins fix. How unnatural. I ran outside like seven times last week, which far exceeds anything I did at the height of track fame. I’ve hardly been using those muscles all month due to my trial gym separation, so it actually made an impact on my physique. It turns out I’m NOT dead inside, which was a total relief. I’d made the mistake of thinking so when my body plateaued last month, but all it took was some variety and a temporary stoppage to start responding. My calves are coming back, and I think I saw a quad this morning. Lower abs are historically next, so it looks like I’ll find a use for my 90s baby tees soon enough.

Nothing compliments baby tees like an arugula salad, so I made just that for lunch yesterday.

arugula salad

Ingredients:

2 cups arugula
1/2 block extra firm tofu
1 plum, sliced
1/2 oz brie, chopped
1 tbsp grey poupon mustard
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I started by sautéing the chopped tofu in one tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. It’s worth noting that my dad sent me some high quality new cookware courtesy of Rachael Ray, so you can infer that I’m mostly using my new toys from here on out. Oh, also, aren’t my new dishes adorbs? This place is my mecca. While the tofu was sautéing, I laid down a bed of arugula and topped it with the sliced plums and chopped brie. I whisked together the mustard, honey, and olive oil for a tangy homemade honey mustard dressing, and added a little salt and pepper to the mix. Tofu – on. Honey mustard dressing – drizzled. Et voila. One of my more attractive lunch companions.

I just think Giada de Laurentiis is the coolest. Wait, have I mentioned that before? Weird. It’s such a discreet admiration. I made her Mediterranean Farro Salad last night, and it was a hit. With me. I totally approved. It calls for:

my girl Giada

Ingredients:

10 ounces farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
8 ounces green beans, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips (totally forgot this ingredient)
3 ounces Parmesan, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
1 small bunch chives, snipped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Start by boiling four cups of water in a saucepan and add the farro. For those just joining, farro is a grain that has the texture of a couscous and the looks of a quinoa. Reduce to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes. Add 1 1/2 tsp of salt and simmer for 10 more minutes, then drain completely. Meanwhile, boil water in another saucepan for the green beans. Add those, cook for two minutes, and then blanch in ice water. Drain and set aside.

Stir the green beans, olives, Parmesan, and chives into the farro. I also would have stirred in the red pepper, had I remembered its place in this recipe. Fail. In a small bowl mix together the sherry vinegar, olive oil, mustard, pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Pour over the farro salad. Combine and consume.

Yeah, Giada wins again. I loved this tangy salad and its good looks too. See below:

Mediterranean Farro Salad

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17
Jul
10

beet and rhubarb salad, blackened salmon.

Shame, meet my face. I was someone who prided myself on proper blog maintenance, and I’d rarely go more than a month without a tail-between-the-legs posting about being neglectful. (ie “It’ll never happen again, baby. I stray because I care”). And yet, here I am, two months deep in blogless shame. I never thought I’d join the ranks of the half assed masses.

In my defense, I’ve been making time with San Francisco and Israel during my self-proclaimed “Year of the Vacay,” so I haven’t had much in the way of content these past two months. If I made time to squeeze out a blog between trips, it would have been something like, “I picked up dumplings for dinner and then forced myself to do twenty minutes of cardio.” Laaame.

I was in Israel for 10 days (birthright, obvs), during which time I had about 10 falafel sandwiches and an obscene amount of hummus. We’re talking morning, noon, and night. I lapped it up like a collie. I still haven’t had my fill, because that’s how much hummus and I vibe. Check out the last meal they served us:

Israeli hummus. love.

Amazeballs. The food was like a dream my palette once had. Luckily, my trip was extra outdoorsy, so my sweaty side was able to shine. We hiked multiple times, went cave crawling, rafted down the Jordan River, and went camel riding, all of which beat the hell out of the elliptical and free weights. I returned with a newly discovered desire to marry a mountain man and start, like, kayaking or something. I haven’t quite worked out the details.

I ended up eating out for almost 3 weeks straight, so I was in need of some home cooking upon my return. My mom always hated beets (arbitrarily, because I recently asked her about it and she admitted to never giving them much of a chance), so my sister and I shared the aversion for our entire childhood.

Beets are like last year’s brussel sprouts (aka newly trendy), so I figured it was time to give them a chance. I found a recipe for a beet and rhubarb salad on my beloved Epicurious app. Seriously, that thing is my favorite grocery shopping accessory. I’m not sure what I did before its inception, but I’m pretty sure it was something like walking around aimlessly and drooling.

Ingredients:

orange, beet and rhubarb salad

8 2- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter red or yellow beets, 4 of each color if available
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse kosher salt
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound trimmed rhubarb stalks, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 large oranges
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon honey
3 cups watercress sprigs
1 1/4 cups coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about one 7-ounce package)

You start by roasting the beets in aluminum foil in a 400 degree oven  for an hour. Bring water, sugar, and a pinch of salt to boil in a saucepan, and then add the chopped rhubarb. Cook for 1-2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.

Then, you finely grate 1/2 teaspoon of orange peel into a small bowl. Cut off peel and white pith from all oranges, and then segment the oranges into a big bowl. Squeeze membranes to release juice into bowl, and then put 2 tablespoons orange juice to bowl with orange peel. Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, honey, and 3 tablespoons olive oil into the bowl with orange peel and orange juice mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay out your bed of watercress, and arrange chopped beets and orange segments on top. Add lots of feta and dressing:

The beets were damn good and earthy tasting. They’re almost potato-like, so I’m starting to get why Eastern Europeans lurve them so. My only gripe was the rhubarb, which I’d never cooked with before. I’m not sure if Whole Foods gave me a bad batch or something, but it was waaayy bitter. Not my fave.

I was feeling like some of my faves a few nights ago, so I decided to make blackened salmon, sweet potato fries and mashed cauliflower. Om nom nom.

salmon, pre-blackened

For the sweet potato fries, I mixed together 1 tsp each of fennel seeds, thyme and cumin along with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I peeled the sweet potato, chopped into fries, and tossed in the seasoning mixture with some salt and pepper. I baked in a 450 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, turning once about midway through. Sweet potatoes, check. Onto the blackened salmon.

To start, I put together a mix of paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, Adobo seasoning, and dried basil. Then, I rubbed the salmon until it looked like this:

It was a variation on this recipe. I then drizzled with melted butter, and seared in a skillet for about 3-5 minutes each side. Black and beautiful.

So, I bought purple cauliflower because I thought it would be fun. Once mashed, the end result was a little cartoonish and strange. I’m actually physically uncomfortable admitting this. It started normal enough, when I chopped the cauliflower into florets and tossed in a pot of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes. I removed with a slotted spoon, and mashed with some salt and about a pat of butter.

Then things got a little weird…the cauliflower looked like it could be creamier, and I had no milk in the house. The closest milk-like thing in the apartment was my roomie’s vanilla soy milk, and I wasn’t about to go that route. Without fully considering the consequences, I added a ladle of salted water to the mash. So, they turned out slightly watery and weird. Not my finest moment, but they still tasted fine.  Anyways, see below for the final results:

blackened salmon, mashed cauliflower and sweet potato fries

15
Aug
09

grilled scallops with avocado puree.

Lately I want to, like, spoon with nature. I’ve been planning to give up my morning workouts in favor of some after-work runs, because two days a week is not fulfilling my nature needs. I’m all adjusted and plateaued, anyways, and I’ve just now realized that I never work as hard first thing in the morning. My body is all anti-sleep and variety, it seems, because I’ve had a hard time transitioning. This past week’s humidity and constant tease of rain has been an awesome enabler. I woke up this morning to this good looking sunrise, though:

sunrise

sunrise

I feel like that’s pretty much a sign that the rain and Florida-esque humidity is on its way out, right? In any event, I’m totally converting to a p.m. runner first thing next week. I’m much too excited about this.

In the name of variety, I made my first ever scallops this week. Actually, I’m pretty sure it also marked the first time I ate scallops. I saw a bag at TJ’s and just decided to go for it, all lady balls to the wall.

I prepared them by first defrosting, then coating each in olive oil, salt and pepper. I grilled them on the Panini Press, which took maybe three minutes for each mini batch. I found this adorable Bobby Flay recipe to work with, so I started by making the avocado puree.

I added an avocado, some chopped red onion, jalapenos, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to the food processor:

avocado puree, pre-puree

avocado puree, pre-puree

I pulsed everything together until it pureed up all pretty. It was basically an extra-spicy guacamole when it all came together, but I loves my spicy so I approved. Meanwhile my scallops were cooking off and smelling incredible in the background. I have proof, too. My roomie said so. So there.

I assembled the little scallop boats just like Bobby did, although mine were complete with these Longboard tortilla chips courtesy of TJ’s. I started with a chip, and then topped it with the spicy guacamole, one scallop, and some sliced jalapeno. They ended up looking like little Mexican-flavored kayakers, so they totally spoke to my nature infatuation. See below for the final  product:

grilled scallops on tortilla chips w/ avocado puree

grilled scallops on tortilla chips w/ avocado puree




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