Ingredient: olive oil

Old Friends (Cookbooks)

I am in a purging mood! We recently did some remodel work on our house. You know how that goes and how much packing and unpacking I was doing, almost, every day. It was a good opportunity to get rid or donate “stuff” we weren’t really using anymore.

A good friend pointed out to me that I have cookbooks, literally, in every room in my house. Some of you might put the old People Magazine in the bathroom, for light reading, I put cookbooks! So, when this same friend suggested I make a library of cookbooks, in my office, I was all in. Of course, that meant hours of deciding which would stay and which would go. It also meant getting reacquainted with some of my older “friends” and saying goodbye to the friends you didn’t really keep in touch with.

My new library!

So, my task began. The first things that went were the cookbooks, put together by my kids elementary or pre-schools. I asked myself were there any recipes in them that I couldn’t just pick up the phone and ask for if I really wanted them. I did go through those books just to make sure. The next group to go were the “souvenir” books. I bought cookbooks at restaurants as I traveled across the country and some were really good. Others, I bought because I loved the meal and really believed I would recreate it at home. Well, not so much. And so, the purging project went.

I finally had whittled it down to one pile of books that I really wanted to go through and spend some time with. I’m so glad I did. There were some great finds. One of the books I saved is “Raising the Salad Bar”, by  Catherine Walthers. I initially bought this book in 2010, after a friend used it more than once, during my week-long visit to her summer home. I admit I was skeptical when I heard it was a salad cookbook, but each salad was more memorable than the last.

Thumbing through this book was like reminiscing with an old friend.  The pictures were beautiful, and the recipes reminded me of a glorious summer on Cape Cod. I love the way Catherine has organized the recipes so that the reader learns to think about salads more openly. Each salad has a dressing attached that brilliantly balances the fat and acid with your fresh greens and grains. Additionally, she has a whole section on dressings.

It has been so hot here in L.A. that I made the Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken for dinner, last week.  It was perfect! Fresh and lemony with just the right amount of smoky grill flavor. My family loves lemon but with a little sweeter undertone than this recipe originally gave. I added a little brown sugar to the “marinade”. I also added a little bit of chopped mint at the end to add some brightness. And by the way, go for the asiago cheese. It has a similar flavor profile to Parmigiano but with an added smokiness.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and it reminds you to spend some time with old friends and even the new treasures.

Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken
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Adapted from Catherine Walthers Raising the Salad Bar.
Servings
6 main course
Servings
6 main course
Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken
Print Recipe
Adapted from Catherine Walthers Raising the Salad Bar.
Servings
6 main course
Servings
6 main course
Ingredients
Chicken
Couscous
Servings: main course
Instructions
Chicken
  1. In a large bowl (I use Ziploc bags) toss chicken with garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, lemon juice and reserved rinds.
  2. Let marinade for at least 2 hours in refrigerator, When ready to use remove from marinade and discard marinade and rinds.
  3. Preheat grill to high heat. Grill chicken for 7 minutes first side. Remember to not move chicken to get a nice caramelized crust. Turn chicken over and cook for 5 more minutes.
Couscous
  1. Cook couscous in chicken broth according to package instructions. Test a little early. You want the couscous to be al dente. Remove from heat and drain. Leave some of the liquid (broth) in the pan and immediately add onions. Cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spinach to pan and toss, lightly, over heat. Add olive oil and toss together. Occasionally toss couscous to cool.
  2. When couscous is cooler, add garlic, parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add salt if needed.
  3. To serve, plate spinach then couscous and top with chicken. Sprinkle asiago cheese over top and a sprinkling of more fresh parsley. Garnish with sliced lemons or lemon zest.
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Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Super Bowl is almost here. Now that the teams have been chosen (Patriots & Eagles) those of us that plan the parties are working on our menus.  Even I am thinking of recipes, as a guest. This year I am on a roll with healthy eating and my 10K-a-day walking. So, the thought of going to what turns out to be Thanksgiving in February is daunting.

Seriously, cheese dips, huge sub sandwiches, chili and desserts galore. All of this is before we even discuss all the alcohol.

This year I am already planning. I love stuffed mushrooms. The buttery breadcrumbs, the wonderful spices, and cheese! Yep, I’m going down the food rabbit hole again. But I have a great recipe that indulges the quest for flavor and cheese without spoiling your healthy eating plan. The trick is to get lots of flavor in without lots of fat or salt. I admit it is “carb-heavy” but they are good carbs; brown rice, cashews, dried apricots and lots of fresh herbs.

There’s a couple of really great things about this recipe. I made them for demo purposes I used large Portobello mushrooms. For the big game, use the “baby bellos”. That way you have bite-sized options. While the recipe calls for “seeds”, you can use any crunch factor. I actually used cashews. Again, the recipe calls for cranberries, but I used dried apricots. For the herbs, you can use whatever you have on hand or get creative in the store. Remember if it smells good together it will probably taste good together. I love to combine Tarragon, Thyme and a little Mint. It’s such a fresh flavor.

I think of this kind of recipe as a canvas. It’s great for changing ingredients or adding ingredients. The best part is the “stuffing” is so good you can make it as a side dish on its own. Just remember to adjust your seasoning like salt & pepper and especially your herbs.

Make lots because these will go fast. The big he-man may hesitate and look for pizza or chili, but once he’s had one of these he will want the whole tray!

Enjoy and as always, send me back pics of your variations. I love to hear from you.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
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Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
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Ingredients
Main stuffing mix
Tahini Sour Cream Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Lightly brush mushrooms with olive oil. Season, inside and out with salt & pepper. Place open face on baking sheet.
  3. Heat a little of the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add onion and garlic and saute until really fragrant, but not caramelized.
  4. Place cooked rice in a large bowl and mix in onion/garlic mixture, seeds, dried fruit and herbs. Season with more salt and pepper.
  5. In a separate small bowl, mix together tahini, lemon juice and water (if needed). Stir into rice mixture.
  6. Adjust seasonings and mound into each mushroom cap.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.
  8. Take out of oven and srpinkle evenly with shredded cheese and sesame seeds.
  9. Return to oven for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Sauce
  1. Mix together Tahini, lemon juice, sour cream, garlice powder, salt & pepper, until smooth. Use water to thin out, if necessary.
  2. Drizzle sauce over hot mushrooms and serve immediately. Serve extra sauce along side.
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Change it Up Piccata!

I am always looking for ways to change up a standard recipe, that I seem to make over and over. Especially this time of year, I am hearing lots of people that are switching over to a gluten-free lifestyle or trying to cut down on the “bad” carbs.

Chicken Piccata is one recipe I can always count on that my whole family will eat. Even my most picky eater just scrapes the capers off and is happy. So how can I make this a healthier dish to put on my dinner table? I came up with nuts, instead of breadcrumbs. When I use breadcrumbs, in anything, they are homemade and toasted with copious amounts of butter. I also try to infuse as much flavor into the breadcrumbs as possible and that means salt, too. By using the nuts, you get SO much more flavor and less salt with no butter.

In this recipe, I chose to use walnuts, but you can really use any nut.  I also, always, toast the nuts before I use them. It really enhances the flavor. Finally, remember that nuts do have a shelf life.  You should be able to smell when they have turned or are a little too old to use. Or you can just trust the date on the bag.

Sorry for no picture. I thought I had one from testing but didn’t. I promise to post one soon.

Enjoy!

Walnut Crusted Chicken Piccata
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Servings
2-4 people
Servings
2-4 people
Walnut Crusted Chicken Piccata
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4 people
Servings
2-4 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Start by heating your pan on high heat with no oil in it.
  2. Pound chicken so that they are evenly thin (about 1/2"). Season with salt & pepper
  3. Pulse walnuts in processor to a coarse crumble. Place in a shallow bowl.
  4. Coat both sides of chicken with walnuts. Optional: you can brush the chicken with a dab of olive oil.
  5. Add olive oil to the pan and then add chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. It should look golden and crispy. Remove to a plate and keep warm covered with foil.
  6. Remove pan from heat, until ready to make the sauce. Your walnut bits will burn if you aren't careful.
  7. Juice one of the lemons and slice the other for garnish.
  8. Return pan to a low-medium heat and add a little more olive oil. Scrape up the browned bits.
  9. Add the garlic then lemon juice, chicken broth, and capers, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan. Make sure it isn't burning.
  10. The sauce should begin to bubble and thicken within 2-3 minutes.
  11. Pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices. Serve immediately.
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Always Mama’s!

Mama’s Fish house was officially opened in 1973, in Pa’ia, Maui. I went to Maui for the first time in 1974. So we practically grew up together. I was on the Kannapali side of the island and Mama’s was on the Wailea side. I was hitchhiking from our apartment in Napili to Lahaina, while over at Mama’s, fisherman were pulling their boats up onto the beach to sell their fresh fish. If you look on a map of Maui there is a natural divide and back then, and even kind of today, that divide was very real. As a resident of the Westside I very rarely ventured to the North. If I did, it was probably to go to the airport and if we were eating, it was at Chuck’s Steakhouse. Steakhouses were big in the 70’s & 80’s, on the island.

Throughout the 80’s I would go back to Maui again and again, but it was always back to the Kannapali side and it was mostly to “party”, lay in the sun and repeat. In the mid-nineties, I was invited back by my soon to be fiancé and we stayed on the North side, in Wailea. It was 1997 and this would be my first trip to Mama’s.

Even in 1997, 24 years after it opened, Mama’s was still more a hidden treasure for locals than an in demand tourist destination. The restaurant was way bigger than the shack it started out as, but I bet it still only sat maybe 50 people. The, always missed the first time, driveway was now marked by the very boat they used to catch their fish on. The menu had not changed very much. They still told you who caught the fish and where, on the menu. Their signature dish of Macadamia Nut Encrusted Mahi-Mahi, stuffed with crab was still their best seller and you still got sand in your shoes walking to your table.

After that 1997 trip to Maui, going to Mama’s became a tradition every trip. From 1997, when we got engaged, to 1999 the birth of our first child and beyond; we went every year until 2013. Each year as our children got bigger, so did Mama’s. Now you walk in and go down some stairs to get to the hostess stand. They have valet parking and postcards to send back to the mainland. But they have always remained true to their roots.

When Mama’s opened in 1973, they wanted to showcase the fish and foods of Polynesia. Even in 2000, that remained their driving force. That was the year they re-introduced the long neglected, breadfruit, a fruit similar in texture to a potato but sweetens when cooked, and other Polynesian foods. They began working with local Farmers to grow the best organic produce and they continue to put the name of the fisherman, his catch, and where it was caught on the menu.

Today, Mama’s stays true to itself, even in a restaurant big enough for a convention, that might be held at the new Mama’s Inn, on property. The mahi-mahi is still the signature entrée. Through the years they also became famous for their Ceviche and Maui Banana Macadamia Crisp. This was my first trip there in four years, but it was just as fantastic as it has ever been. They keep their recipes pretty close, so I was unable to get the recipe for the mahi-mahi I had this year. This year it was served with a pineapple beurre blanc. However, I think I’ve come pretty close in re-creating it. I hope when you bite into the tender and mild white fish, the salty taste of the crab and the sweetness of the pineapple beurre blanc, you will be transported to a shack on the beach in Maui.

 

Macadamia Nut Encrusted, Crab Stuffed Mahi-Mahi with a Pineapple Beurre Blanc
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Macadamia Nut Encrusted, Crab Stuffed Mahi-Mahi with a Pineapple Beurre Blanc
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Ingredients
Fish
Stuffing
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Make a horizontal cut in one edge of each fillet, creating a pocket, but leaving the other sides in tact.
  2. Lightly dust the fish fillets with the seasoned flour.
  3. Toss together the macadamia nuts and bread crumbs. Saute the nuts and breadcrumbs in 1 T. butter until just toasted and golden brown.
  4. Mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, parsley and old bay. Set aside.
  5. Fill each fillet with about an ounce of stuffing. You can eyeball it. Just make sure it is even among the fillets.
  6. Heat remaining butter and oil in a large sauté pan.
  7. Dip stuffed fillets in egg. I like to do one side at a time and let the excess drip off. Then repeat on other side.
  8. Press the fillet firmly into the topping.
  9. Make sure the sauté pan is hot before placing the fillet and cooking until golden brown, about 1 ½ minutes. Turn and repeat. Be sure to watch closely. Macadamias have a lot of natural oil and can burn quickly.
  10. Remove from pan and keep warm.
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Panisse – My idea of a healthyish snack!

I don’t think there is a perfect snack that teenagers, foodie husbands and moms trying to cook healthy for their families would agree on. I do think I tried one in France that might suffice; Panisse!

You can find many snacks made with chickpea flour, such as Socca chips and Panisse, in Nice and Southern Italy. They are delicious and are most often served with a healthy sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. They have a crispy exterior and a creamy interior almost like a polenta French fry. I tried these when I was in France and have been searching for a way to serve them ever since.

So now my worlds have finally collided. I’ve been spending all my time working on a fundraising cookbook for an organization I am involved in personally. It is a Jewish Holiday Cookbook and honestly the recipes are knockouts! I will let you know as soon as it is available.

The other piece is my wonderful family. I have a 17 year old that is a senior in high school and having so much fun with her senior activities, a sophomore in high school that is starting her second season of club water polo and a sports fanatic husband that is in the throws of March Madness. “Calgon take me away!” remember that commercial of a frantic mom looking for some relaxation? In all the craziness I was feeding everyone snacks that were quick, easy and quite frankly, not very good, or healthy. So I thought I ‘d give you all the chance to benefit from my haste.

These batons (fancy name for steak fries) are fried, yes I said fried, but the fact they are made with chickpea (garbanzo) flour offsets the fry, in my book. Chickpea flour really packs a punch. It is naturally loaded with protein, high in fiber and gluten free. If you or any family members are vegan or vegetarian this is a nearly perfect food. I fry in a cast iron skillet in about ½” of olive oil so you are not deep-frying. Another justification for “its not so bad” and you get the benefits of cast iron, too. When you taste these you have a nice crispy exterior and creamy interior, almost like a polenta french fry. As I said above, a good sprinkle of pepper is good; you can also try Parmesan or some Marinara sauce, for dipping.

Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
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Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
Print Recipe
Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Ingredients
Servings: pieces
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil a square pan.
  2. Heat the broth with oil, garlic and salt in a heavy saucepan. You can use water, I like to use chicken or vegetable broth for building your flavor.
  3. Once the liquid is hot, but not boiling, slowly whisk in the chickpea flour. Whisk over a medium heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
  4. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes until batter becomes very thick and it holds its shape.
  5. Scrape dough/batter into oiled pan and let cool.
  6. To fry panisses, unmold solid mix onto cutting board and slice into batons/fries.
  7. In a heavy or cast iron skillet heat 1/4' to 1/2" of olive oil. When the oil is shiny hot, but NOT smoking, fry the panisses, in batches. Do not overcrowd. once the bottoms are nicely browned and crisp turn, carefully, with tongs, cook until you have a deep golden brown color on both sides.
  8. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels or brown paper bag. Sprinkle with a lot of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Dust with grated Parmesan cheese, too. You can serve with marinara sauce for dipping too.
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Try Something New -Homemade Pasta Edition!

In case you haven’t heard it’s been raining here in California, A LOT! So it was a great weekend to stay home and make all sorts of comfort food. It doesn’t get more comfortable than homemade pasta.

I love that you and I both probably have everything we need to make pasta, already, in our kitchens. Are you ready for the long list; Flour, salt, eggs, water and olive oil. I have a hand cranked pasta roller, but you really don’t need it. Pasta has been made for centuries, certainly long before standing electric mixers were adding attachments and even before my hand-cranked roller. If you have a wooden roller pin and a knife you can make your own pasta.

Keep in mind you can search for basic pasta recipes and find dozens of variations. Start with mine but if it s not a good fit, you can play around. Add more water; use just all-purpose flour, more oil (not too much). I did make mine in a standing mixer, with a dough hook; you can do everything by hand in a large bowl.

I want to say that, even not so great, homemade pasta will taste better than any pasta you will ever buy in a store. Once you get this pasta made, go over to March 1, 2015 and make the Marinara Sauce!

Homemade Pasta Dough
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Homemade Pasta Dough
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine flours and salt. Make a well (indentation) and add eggs. If you are doing this by hand, start to fold your flour over the eggs and mix, adding water and oil, until you have a stiff dough. I used a standing electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. I used a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  2. As you are mixing and adding water & oil, keep pinching the dough. When it starts to stick together easily, its ready. You do not want it too sticky.
  3. I used Durum Semolina, which is traditionally Italian. It has a coarser texture, almost like corn meal, it will need more water and olive oil. The texture smooths out in rolling and cooking. All-purpose flour will NOT need nearly as much liquid.
  4. Once the dough is all mixed. Knead for 3 - 4 minutes on a lightly floured board. Then form a disk and wrap in plastic and let rest, in refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to roll, cut disk into quarters and flatten. If you are using a pasta machine or roller, start on a zero setting and run the dough through once or twice and fold in half and lightly flour each side and run through again. Repeat this process gradually increasing setting to higher numbers and ultimately increasing to desired thinness and length. Or follow the directions provided, with your machine.
  6. If you are hand rolling, lightly flour a board and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to desired thinness and length. I like to roll between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Too much flour can make the pasta too chewy.
  7. At this point you would switch to the cutting shape, you want on the machine. If you are cutting by hand use a knife or pizza cute to cut your dough.
  8. Once your dough is cut, it is IMPORTANT to let it dry/set for a while before storing or cooking. If you don't it might be gummy. If you have something to hang your pasta over, even a towel rack will do, that's ideal. if not just let it lay straight on board or parchment lined pan. Don't let it sit bunched up, like in the picture.
  9. Once it is a little dry you can store it, folded, in an airtight container, with a little semolina or cornmeal, to keep it separated.
  10. To cook, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it, liberally. Add you pasta and cook 5 - 7 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve with your favorite sauce or none at all. It's that good,
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce

Picada is like a pesto. Made with chocolate and almonds it is lovely on the palate!

Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven broiler to high
  2. Toss florets with 2 T. olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil, turning once, half way through, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat garlic and remaining oil in skillet an cook, over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch and stir, so garlic doesn't burn. Transfer oil and garlic to a a medium bowl an let cool.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, chocolate, sherry, salt and pepper into garlic oil. Toss with cauliflower while it is still hot. Garnish and serve immediately.
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I’m Going to Julia’s!

There’s that icebreaker question, “If you could invite any 3 people, dead or alive, for dinner; who would it be?” My answer is simple. Julia Child, Julia Child and Julia Child. I even know what I’d make, my Osso Bucco and Parmesan Ricotta Gnocchi.

You may think that Julia is the obvious choice for a chef but there is more to my choice than just that. Cooking is a lifetime sport, you never stop learning or playing with your food. There is always room for improvement or a new technique. Julia herself was well into her forties before she enrolled in the Cordon bleu. Which is why she is one of my biggest inspirations.

I am often asked how long I’ve been cooking. I can honestly say I’ve been cooking since I was 2 years old. I finally formalized my education when I was 23. The last few years of writing this blog, with your support and feedback has really fueled my desire to continue my education and to educate you.

Recently, I was given an incredible opportunity to travel to La Pitchoune, Julia and Paul Child’s home in the south of France. I will be going with a small group of women writers and an amazing mentor, for a 10-day retreat. I can’t wait! I feel like a kid anticipating Disneyland. I know when I come back I will have so much more to share with you.

I want to share those recipes with you that I would have cooked for Julia, had I been given the chance. I hope I am posting often from France too, but this should keep you day dreaming while I’m away. As Julia would say “Bon Appétit”!

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Osso Buco
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Osso Buco
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Osso Buco
Gnocchi Verde
Servings:
Instructions
Osso Bucco
  1. Rub veal shanks lightly with olive oil , season with salt & pepper and chopped herbs.
  2. Dust each shank shank with seasoned flour and set aside.
  3. Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy skillet and heat. Do not let the oil smoke. Brown shanks on all sides. You may add small amounts of oil if needed, be careful not to overdo it.
  4. Add the wine, tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir to combine.
  5. Cover pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Test for tenderness. Fork should pierce meat easily.
  7. Sauce should be thick. If not , remove meat and hold, let sauce reduce uncovered over low heat.
Gnocchi Verde
  1. Remove stems and veins of spinach and wash thoroughly. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch spinach for 1 minute and then drop in ice water to stop cooking. Squeeze ALL moisture out and let air dry. You want spinach to be bone dry. Chop spinach fine.
  2. Saute onion and pancetta in butter. Add spinach and saute until dry. Cool until cool to touch.
  3. Mix together remaining ingredients and fold all together.
  4. Flour your hands and form 1" - 2" balls. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a damp towel. You can hold here for up to 6 hours.
  5. When you are ready to cook: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil oil and salt the water. Add the gnocchi a few at a time and cook until puffed and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. They should rise to the surface. Use a strainer or slotted spoon to remove, GENTLY, from water.
  6. Place in a buttered dish in a single layer. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan.
  7. Broil for 5 minutes until just browned. They are great served as is or with your favorite tomato sauce.
Recipe Notes
  • You can chop and slice the fresh vegetables by hand. I use a food processor and the chopping and slicing blades. This save a lot of time.
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Israel and Hummus

I went to Israel last year. I was on a fabulous Women’s trip that was a little sight seeing and a lot of spiritual education. How could it not be spiritual with 260 women? The trip is based in Jerusalem and there are lots of day trips throughout the country, to Masada, Tel Aviv and Tsfat, among other places. When I left for Israel, I was armed with my laptop and fork. I was going to blog about my spiritual journey and surely the amazing food that would accompany it. Well the best laid plans as they say. I should have made sure to have comfortable dancing shoes and sweat mopping towels.

Our first stop was Tsfat, in the north. It was amazing and beautiful. There were 260 women dancing together and drinking on the northern coast. We were served Israeli salad and hummus with huge, fresh made pitas. We were served beautiful pickled vegetables that had just the right amount of tart and sweet. The entrée came and it was salmon encased in fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. It was served with simply grilled sweet potatoes and mushrooms. We were tired, hot and hungry and the meal did its job to satiate us. When we were thirsty we had cold water. When we thought we couldn’t stay awake even one more moment, there were fireworks and cold Goldstar beer. And then more dancing and singing, hugging and crying. What an amazing night! And I wrote all about it.

Thanks to chefs like Ottenlenghi, the rest of the world is experiencing Israel’s wonderful food scene. When you walk through the open markets in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem the vibrant colors and aromas are intoxicating. Lunch on our first day was the most amazingly authentic and delicious falafel. I had it loaded with pickles and cabbage and tahini with hummus and French fries. It was exactly what I wanted in an Israeli falafel.

This year my husband will be going on the men’s trip. I’ve done my best to tell him where to go for the best falafel and hummus. To not miss the hidden wine shop in Tsfat. He will find that the shashuka at the hotel is a great way to start each morning and that even Israel has great Chinese food.

Of the 30 different hummus’ I ate while I was in Israel, I came home with this recipe. It is the best one I had and I love the tang of lemon.

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Hummus
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Hummus
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a large pot with shallots, salt and dried pepper (I like to add a whole peeled carrot, sweetness, but its optional). Cover with cold water by one inch. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two.
  2. Drain, but reserve the liquid. Discard all but the chickpeas.
  3. Puree about half the chickpeas in a food processor with 2 Tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the garlic and remaining chickpeas and continue to puree.
  4. While pureeing add lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and spices.You may add additional cooking liquid if needed, but don't let it get runny.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with fresh, warm pita.
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Camp Culinary

Last summer I got to spend many days cooking, teaching and hanging out with one of my favorite kids. The best part is it was all under the guise of cooking school or Camp Culinary, as I called it. Noah is a freckle-faced 11 year old boy that you will usually find in some sort of team t-shirt and matching everything else. Sports are Noah’s thing.   Cooking is his other thing. He asked for a cooking play set for his 3rd birthday and even though it wasn’t with me, this summer he continued his culinary education with more classes.

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Mom gave me carte blanche. Noah gave me challenges that upped my game.  I suggested we decorate cupcakes and make macaroni and cheese and maybe pasta al la checca. He said “What about Mother Sauces?”.

This kid is amazing. We started with mayonnaise, hollandaise and veloute. Did I mention he made me sharpen my skills? It is very hot here in Southern California and my mayonnaise got way too thin, too fast and my hollandaise got overcooked. He loved it, not because I messed up and he could giggle (which he did), but because it gave him another opportunity to learn. We remade both and they were great! Noah found heaven when dipping a piece of broccoli in the hollandaise, complete with eye roll and tummy rub.

Our first field trip took us to Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles. Noah had been to L.A.’s famed Farmer’s Market and his local farmer’s markets but never to Grand Central Market. The child that sat in my backseat peppered me with questions like he was on his way to Disneyland. How long will it take us to get there? What stand would we go to first? Did I think he would be able to hold a butcher’s cleaver? The questions continued the whole way. I don’t even think he noticed the traffic we were in. I told him our first visit would be to Bel Campo Meats.

I was so pleased at the time each of the vendors took to talk to my young charge and teach him. As promised, first stop was Bel Campo Meats. The butcher took the time to show Noah his meat cleaver and talk about the ways you can cut meat. Did you know that Japan has 200 MORE cuts of the same cow than America? We cut our meat much bigger and have a lot more waste. We learned that cuts, such as the Hangar, used to be used in ground meat or hot dogs. This is because there is only ONE Hangar on each cow. Often it can be cut into two portions but because it is not the tenderest cut it didn’t use to be so popular. The American palette has developed and now we demand flavor as much as the tenderness, so cuts like the Hangar, Flap and Skirt are becoming a lot more popular. After learning all about the different cuts, we decided on a Bavette Steak.

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After the butcher, we learned about seven different kinds of mole and the differences between double cream, triple cream and hard cheeses. We ordered noodles for lunch at the Chinese place and learned that meant soup! We went to the candy stand and the juice bar. Each vendor was another ride, without the long lines.

By the time we got back in the car, we were both exhausted but so satisfied. Before we ever left the parking garage, my little Noah was asleep. It really was a day at Disneyland for him. He was excited to get home and share his experiences and couldn’t wait for our next culinary adventure.  It was truly one of my most memorable summer experiences.

Here is a great way to prepare Bavette Steak. If you can’t find Bavette you can use skirt or flap steak too.

Bavette Steak with Romesco sauce
Print Recipe
I love romesco sauce! It's bread and almonds and deliciousness! It also happens to be super easy to make.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Bavette Steak with Romesco sauce
Print Recipe
I love romesco sauce! It's bread and almonds and deliciousness! It also happens to be super easy to make.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Heat a non-stick pan (I like to use a cast iron skillet) over medium high heat and add 1 T. oil then add onion. Cook until browned. Transfer to a food processor, but don't process yet.
  2. Return same pan to heat and add another T. oil to pan. Toast bread and almonds until just golden. Watch carefully. When ready, add to food processor.
  3. Add roasted red peppers, water, vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt and red pepper flakes to processor and pulse until well combined.
  4. With processor running add 1 T. olive oil, through top and blend until smooth.
  5. Season the steaks with t teaspoon salt and some fresh ground pepper. Reheat your pan over a medium high heat and add the last T. of olive oil.
  6. Cook steaks until they are brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip steaks, reduce heat and continue cooking until desired doneness. A thermometer inserted that reads 130°, will be medium rare after resting. This should take about 12 minutes. Let cook an additional 4-8 minutes for medium to medium well.
  7. Let meat rest, covers with foil, on cutting board, for 10 minutes. Slice very thinly against the grain and serve with Romesco sauce drizzled over it or on the side.
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