One of my old college friends is what you would call an Extremist. She’s brilliant in science, the maths, and all other stuff that the right side of my brain atrophied to avoid, and yet she can craft a beautiful essay and color coordinate an outfit like no other. I love/hate her for being so well rounded. She recently enrolled in med school, but she can party harder than, like, Bluto. I once witnessed her spooning with a bottle of Patron because she didn’t want to risk enjoying a next day hair-of-the-dog Bloody Maria with an inferior tequila. That’s only a mild exaggeration.
I’d always enjoyed the sense of superiority I’d gain when calling her an Extremist and telling her I was going to introduce her to my friend, Moderation. It took me years to realize I was projecting and referring to myself, and it was I who needed to befriend Moderation.
And so, Moderation is the name of the game these days. Rather than jump into any workout craze, I am sticking to my midday gymming and going to the occasional dance and yoga class. I just found out that my favorite street jazz teacher will be teaching nighttime classes at the studio near me, so look forward to some West Side Story-friendly moves in the near future. I can finally have that dance fight I’ve always wanted! I’ll say things like, “Take that tour jete, bitch,” and “You don’t even know how high I can arabesque, ho. Now sashay, Shante.”
I turned on the 4 Hour Body nearly as quickly as I started due to its surprisingly restrictive nature characteristic of a diet (subtle sarcasm). I’m staying pescetarian for the time being, but I may move towards meat eventually. I want to be like Giada who eats everything in moderation, and stays just so fit and adorbs. I feel like once I master the long-lost art of moderation I can maybe broaden my horizons? It goes against my binge eating generation’s nature, but I will rise above it.
1 cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small pieces and blanched
2 tbsp butter (he called for 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar
4 cups arugula
2 shallots, thinly sliced (he called for one)
olive oil spray (he called for 2 tbsp)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnuts (he called for pine nuts)
I just love Chuck with his curiously Midwestern accent and overly expressive eyes when he’s detailing his ingredients. He’s like an aggressively tatted-up puppy. His recipes look damn good, too, and I wanted to pay tribute to him by making one tonight. I changed this one quite a bit due to ingredient restrictions, though, and I’m not proud of that. I left out the bacon to keep it veg-friendly, but carnivores should include.
You start by chopping the cauliflower into florets and blanching them to start. For those unfamiliar with this technique, you start by dropping cauliflower into salted, boiling water for about three minutes. Scoop it out and drop in a bowl of ice water and leave for a few minutes until they’ve completely cooled. This is meant to break down the fibers (I assume) and preserve the color and flavor in the meantime.
Chuck then says to saute in a pan with the butter until golden brown. I found this was longer than the 5 minutes he said and closer to 10, and I threw the first sliced shallot in with the cauliflower. I wanted Shallot City, Population: 1, and so I went there. Then I added honey and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, and cooked for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, mix together arugula, the shallot, the remaining red wine vinegar, and olive oil in a bowl. Top with the cauliflower and walnuts, and dinner is served. I really loved this dish, but next time I’m going to add some golden raisins. My sweet tooth is back with a vengeance.
While I’m not crushing fro-yo or enjoying some late-night rugelach, I’ve been countering the excess sugar intake as of late with some beans and greens. One of my go-tos is kale with lemon and cannelini beans, but I’m not sure I’ve ever featured it here. It looks like this:
1 bunch of kale, chopped and de-stemmed
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 vidalia onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c dry white wine
olive oil cooking spray
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp ground cumin
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
At some point in her career, Giada made something vaguely resembling this dish, but I’ve distorted it in my hundred or so iterations, so it’s barely recognizable.
I start by chopping the garlic and onion and sauteeing it over medium heat with the cooking spray. I then add about half the can of beans, and simmer for a few minutes. I season with about 1/2 tsp of cumin, salt and pepper, and let the beans start to brown. I then add the kale in batches, and cook it down until it starts to wilt. In this version I added some leftover white wine, and I’m glad I did because it added all kinds of flavor plus a fun sizzling sound upon its addition. I then cook for a few more minutes until the kale is all wilty, and then top with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and more salt, pepper and cumin. It’s just so damn good, and total Poor Man’s Food so it’s ideal for the early month post-rent deduction scrimping familiar to my fellow New Yorkers.
I made these Lentil Walnut burgers from Whole Foods last week that I was relatively proud of:
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups cooked brown rice, divided
1 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed and drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
You start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, walnuts, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
You’re then supposed to puree the rice lentils and egg in a food processor, but I have nothing of the sort so I merely mashed them together with a potato masher and some elbow grease. Transfer to bowl with vegetables, add remaining 1 cup rice and stir to combine. Form lentil mixture into 10 to 12 patties, using about 1/4 cup of the mixture to make each one.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Arrange half of the patties in skillet and cook, flipping once, until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat until the patties are done. I served with some sauteed spinach and onions, and it was really tasty. The food processor is a must, though, because my patties had a hard time staying together. I know what I’m treating myself to on payday!