Category Archives: side dishes

Crispy Artichokes

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I watched David Rocco make a raw artichoke salad on his show months ago and my mouth dropped.   “That is so easy,” I thought.   He removed most of the outer leaves of the artichoke and then thinly sliced the remaining part, added some olive oil and parmesan and ate it raw.    I immediately tried it but his artichoke must have been a lot fresher than mine.   Probably picked that day from an artichoke plant in his yard.     I threw my raw artichoke salad into a skillet with some olive oil and garlic cooked it for about 5-10 minutes.  Viola, a wonderful salad.

It reminded me  of a late night meal I had in New York City a few years ago with my husband and a friend at a restaurant in lower Manhattan.   Our friend, Bryant, was just getting off work and was eating a late dinner.  Eric and I had just come from an earlier dinner with friends and weren’t the least bit hungry but before we knew it, we had ordered a couple appetizers.  We couldn’t resist.  They sounded too good.   And the two things we ordered from the menu both stick in my mind to this day.   Crispy Artichokes was one of them.   Best thing ever.   Fried of course.  And in thin strings.  I couldn’t put my fingers on how they actually made this.  Until now.   And the other item was pasta with onion sauce.   They must have cooked those onions for 2 days.  I have tried to replicate it and will continue to try.  I just never seem to have the patience to wait that long for onions to cook.

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These crispy artichokes are so quick and easy.   Gone are the days that you have to boil an artichoke for 45 minutes to 1 hour.   Although, dipping those leaves in butter is so comforting.   But this is quick and delicious.   Perfecto!

Here is a loose recipe.   A little of this, a little of that.   You need to peel away most of the outer leaves until you get to the softer center.   Eating those tough leaves will not be a pleasant experience.   And of course, the fresher the better.  If your artichoke has been sitting in the fridge for a couple weeks, turning brownish, don’t use it for this recipe.   I love how the parmesan gets crisp when it fries in the pan.   It’s like that part of a grill cheese sandwich where a little piece of the cheese is hanging over the bread and it gets fried in the pan,   That is the best part of the whole sandwich.

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Quinoa Salad with Beets and Cucumbers

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Happy Fathers Day!   I hope you are all celebrating the amazing father’s and men in your life.  After a filling family breakfast and looking at all the cards the kids decorated for Eric, we sent him off for a long hike with some of his good friends.   The kids absolutely adore their dad, as do I.

I think about my father often, but especially today.  This is my fourth father’s day without him.   I picture him playing bridge somewhere and passionately discussing politics while eating chinese food, or maybe a big plate of onion rings.   To this recipe he would say keen-what?  And I would reply, Keen-WAH, Dad – Try it, it’s really good for you.  You’ll like it .  And by the way, you would have loved the hike I went on today.   The Lupine were just incredible.  If only I could tell him about it.   If only he could hike with me again.

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I am not sure if I had even heard of quinoa four years ago.

This is a great summer meal.  It is perfect for lunch, dinner or potlucks.  It keeps well so you could make it on Sunday and take it to work for lunch over the next several days.  Also great to take camping for the weekend.

I had just roasted some beets and hadn’t decided what I was going to do with them yet.  I looked in the index under beets in this fabulous cookbook called La Tartine Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre and came across a beet and quinoa tabouli, as she calls it.   Perfect.

Roasting the beets takes about an hour and the quinoa needs to cool down so this is not a last minute type recipe.   You need about an hour and a half- even though it’s really only 15 minutes of active cooking time.

I changed some of the ingredients, adding basil and cucumbers, and omitted a few others, but otherwise  followed her recipe.   This cookbook is truly one where every time you turn the page another delicious recipe appears after another.  I used red quinoa because it is what I had on hand but I think it would look prettier with white quinoa  (as Beatrice uses) and the beets would turn it a light pink.

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Enjoy!

Summer Quinoa Salad (serves 6)

adapted from La Tartine Gourmande Cookbook

1 Cup Quinoa (red or white)

2 Cups Water or Vegetable Broth

1 Large Beet, Roasted and diced

1 Cup diced Cucumber

1/4 Cup Feta crumbles

2 TBSP Pine Nuts (optional)

Vinaigrette

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP Basil, chopped

1 TBSP Mint, chopped

1TBSP Parsley, chopped

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

Wrap the beet (unpeeled) in tin foil and in a 400 degree oven and roast the beet for 45min.-1hour.   Let cool and then peel off the skin with your fingers and dice it. 

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa well in a fine mesh colander.  Add it to a pot with 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and a pinch of salt.   When it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat, let it stand for 5 minutes and then put it in a bowl to cool. 

In a small bowl, add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and stir well. 

Add the beets and cucumbers to the quinoa and stir well.   Pour the viniagrette over the salad and mix together.   Then add the feta crumbles and pine nuts on top.

 

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Avocado, Grapefruit and Watercress Salad

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As the temperature warms up, we tend to crave more cooling foods.    This salad is a perfect summer salad.

Tomorrow Max graduates from Miss Jenny’s Friendship House Preschool.    Next Fall he is Kindergarten bound.  Luckily he gets to go to summer camp with the same kids and teacher, also a good friend of mine, or there might be lots of tears this week.    He told me the other day that he liked school better than TV.   Enough said.   Miss Jenny is pretty much a rock star in my house.   Jake is his best buddy and if we could just bring him with us to California next year, everything would be peachy in Max’s world.

Next week will officially feel like summer around here as school is out and camps begin, flowers start to bloom and flip flops and tank tops become the daily apparel.

This salad should be on the summer menu.   We have been getting the sweetest grapefruits lately.   If you are find grapefruits are more on the sour side, use can use oranges instead.

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This salad is refreshing and light with bursts of flavor from the sweet juicy grapefruit, the bitter watercress, the crunchy hazelnuts and the creamy goat cheese and avocado.     Watercress is so good for you and just  like parsley, it shouldn’t just be a garnish.   Hippocrates is said to have built his hospital near water so that watercress would be in abundance and he could use it to treat his patients.  It’s naturally anti-aging  and is a vitamin C powerhouse.

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Strawberries with Mint and Balsamic Reduction

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Change. It can be scary. And exciting. Maybe a little bit uncomfortable. But it usually ends up being a good thing. You grow. You learn. You discover. You experience something new and different.

Next year is going to be all these things for my family.

We are going to be spending the school year in

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Cauliflower Rice with Artichokes

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I  was experimenting a little bit with being grain-free just to see how I felt and saw various recipes for cauliflower rice on Paleo websites.  It is one of my new favorite things of 2013- although just to be fair I don’t have many new things in 2013 yet.  But still.  All you do is put your cauliflower in the Cuisinart until it is finely blended and saute for a few minutes.  Genious.

Are any of you grain-free?  It is an adjustment but I do notice a difference in how I feel.   I have been wheat free (again) for the last few weeks and mostly grain free but not totally.   As someone who loves to bake, that poses a bit of a problem- until Almond Flour came into my life.  I was a little obsessed with almond flour this holiday season and cooked probably a dozen things from this cookbook- almond flour pizza crust, almond flour quiche, almond flour biscotti (dynamite!), almond flour pancakes…it’s good stuff and a great alternative to wheat flours and less healthy gluten free flours.

Anyway, now I have an alternative rice to add to the mix.   This is a quick and easy side dish – takes 15 minutes tops- and you can add whatever flavors you like.   Read the rest of this entry

Cranberry Glazed Sweet Potatoes

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It is that time of year again!   Just last week I was putting the finishing touches on my first homemade pinata of Spider-man for Max’s 5th birthday party and now it’s time to get ready for Thanksgiving.   I was looking through recipes trying to find something a little different and a lot yummy and this one from Food & Wine won me over!   I hope you enjoy it too.

Sweet potatoes with a little bourbon, a little cayenne, some cinnamon, cranberries and brown sugar…de-lish.    I decided to keep the sweet potato skin on because you can actually eat the skin and you’ll get more health benefits.  This dish is sweet with a nice balance of tart and just a hint of spice.

Thanksgiving is the time of year when we gather with our loves ones and enjoy good food and good company.  There is no expectation but to spend time with each other.    It’s a time to show gratitude.   Showing gratitude can make a big difference in one’s life.   This is a great article about gratitude I recommend from zen habits about how showing gratitude can make you happy.  Here is a poem at the end of the article.

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~

Here are some things I am grateful for, including my sleepless night because I wouldn’t trade my two amazing children and all the challenges parenting entails for anything. Read the rest of this entry

Tomato, Green Chili and Corn Tart

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Eric and I bought a bunch of Hatch roasted green chilies from a women on the side of the road in Taos, New Mexico thinking we would freeze most of them for later use.    Now we are wondering why we didn’t buy more!   First I made a batch of Green Chili Sauce and used it for a quick meal one night with a package of premade polenta, green chilies, cheddar cheese.  I had to go to a meeting that evening so I prepared the dish and left Eric with instruction to bake it for about 30 minutes.  I got home at the tail end of dinner to an almost finished baking dish.   It tasted somewhere between an enchilada and a tamale and had plenty of heat.

This week I made a tart using cherry tomatoes, roasted green chilies, and fresh sauteed corn.   I did cut a corner and used a frozen pie crust.  I know it’s shocking.   But true.  It was gluten free though which is really neither here nor there, but if you are GF, it is good to know that there are frozen pie crust options at the store.

I brought this to a friends house that night and actually finished baking it there because I was running late.   When I took it out of their oven, my friend starting digging in with a tortilla chip and eating it as an appetizer.  Not quite how I imagined it going down… but it worked.   And it disappeared pretty quickly.   So you could forgo the crust and make this into more of an appetizer/dip kind of dish. Read the rest of this entry