06
Sep 2014

pot de creme
If you read my last post, you know that my diet has changed dramatically of late. I don’t think this is a permanent situation as food sensitivities developed later in life can be very fluid and highly responsive to temporary elimination. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving most aspects of a clean diet, but I’m eager to add a few things back – namely dairy and oats. However, sugar and I need to break up forever. Speaking of which, it’s a very slippery slope, this no sugar thing. You crack the door just enough to invite in new friends like coconut sugar or coconut nectar and you’re off to the races.

When creating a recipe, I aim to include the freshest in-season items available while using the fewest total ingredients needed to produce a satisfying and flavorful dish. Here, my little pots de creme consist of just two main ingredients plus the addition of salt, vanilla and a flaky coconut topper. I wish I could say there was no sugar involved – it comes close – the higher the percentage of chocolate that you choose, such as 70%, the less sugar it will contain.

chocolate // the fromagette

Technically this pot de creme is very much like ganache [substituting light coconut milk for the heavy cream] but texturally it’s more like a pudding. Call it what you like – either way, it delivers a whole lot of luxurious, rich + chocolatey satisfaction in just a few healthful bites.

14 oz can of light coconut milk [I use Trader Joe’s]
12 oz dark chocolate [I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar]
1 T vanilla
1/4 generous tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted in the oven until golden

Options: Top with roasted hazelnuts, chopped pistachios or fresh raspberries instead of flaked coconut. Use chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate but bear in mind they have a higher sugar content.

Heat the coconut milk on medium until it begins to boil and then pull it from the heat. Add the salt and vanilla; give a quick stir. Add the chocolate [broken or cut into chunks] and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Using a whisk, gently stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour into small ramekins or bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about two hours. Sprinkle with the flaked coconut or topping of choice just before serving.

{ 6 comments }

23
Jul 2014

bBar

I’d been down this road before…

And yet, I chose to ignore that which had become increasingly obvious. I never thought I would be one of “those people” but indeed I am. It’s been a few years since the first round of lab work indicated I had a number of food allergies. The papers containing the inauspicious results, the only tangible proof I had went right into the waste basket. Means it’s not true, right?!

Fast forward a few years, and my body made it abundantly clear it was time to revisit the dreaded subject. I mean… I knew there was a problem. In 2011 I spent nearly a year writing a book proposal and developing recipes for a cheese + accoutrement book which ultimately landed me a signed contract with an NYC literary agent. But I knew so instinctively that I couldn’t spend the next 6 months eating foods I was allergic to all day long – one hundred recipes times many many takes of each; my gut told me I had to say no. So I did. And I moved on. But I’m not gonna lie, it was a loss.

IMG_2890-LR

So in April of this year I finally went on the elimination diet, committing myself to a full 3 months. Because this was on the advice of the Integrative docs at Scripps, I was all-in this time and adhered to their most stringent version, no cheating.  It consisted of an all organic + grass fed diet, free of gluten, dairy, oatmeal and other grains, citrus, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers), corn, soy, sugar, eggs, pork, peanuts, pistachios, mushrooms, oils (except olive and coconut), and alcohol. That doesn’t leave much. The first several weeks as I was getting my bearings I opted for simple bites requiring assembly only and relied heavily on Whole Foods organic rotisserie chickens and prepared brown rice. Totally plain Jane. After that, I subsisted mostly on avocados, coconut milk, lamb, wild salmon, fresh fruit and Suja’s Glow blend. I practically lived at Whole Foods spending a crazy amount of time scanning every last label for rogue offenders – thankfully, it’s not a place I mind hanging out. And I learned a lot.

As I have begun adding foods back into my diet there’s a real sense of wanting to be kind and gentle with a body that has seen very few toxins in recent months. Restaurant dining or getting take-out around San Diego, despite myriad options has been a real challenge. First of all, very few restaurants use organic fruits and veggies. Fewer still are serving organic poultry and grass fed beef. Sort of shocking really for a city the size of San Diego. And frankly speaking, after months of clean eating I’m not willing to put that s*it in my body. I must admit, it makes socializing and meeting friends for dinner a bit tricky. But it makes me appreciate the handful of restaurants which I have come to rely on and so just in case you haven’t discovered them yet, I would like to share my faves…

Beaming: It’s just a no-brainer. No scrutinizing of ingredient lists required unless you’re simply curious or looking to spot specific flavors. It’s a hub of  nutrient dense superfoods and all of their products are organic, gluten free, dairy free, preservative free and non GMO. This is an especially valuable resource if you are approaching your diet from an autoimmune standpoint. Their reach-in cooler is chock full of fresh salad selections, juice blends and even a few desserts like their yummy chocolate mousse which gets its creamy texture from pureed avocados and cashews. I always add something new into the rotation but the items I reach for again and again are the Protein Bites, Asian Salad, Chopped Salad, Skinny Cooler, Rock Star Smoothie (with added almond butter) and their house-made Almond Milk. They stay fresh long enough that I generally pick up 3-4 days worth of lunches, juices and fresh almond milk at each visit. And if like me you don’t live in Del Mar, you can take advantage of being in the area by adding in a Chino Farms run.Lounge Burger MSLRBurger Lounge is my close second! There are fewer items to choose from but it’s a treat beyond treats at this point to indulge in a burger. Especially this burger. I order my grass-fed burger with a gluten free bun and they pile it up with organic vegies and secret sauce. I’m skipping the cheese for now, but who would miss it – that burger is loaded with flavor flav – it’s so darn good I could literally cry while eating it. Except I don’t do that. I try to maintain my composure. They have some great salads also (one of them is pictured above) and have recently added 2 new choices to the mix!

Then there’s my perennial fave since its inception: Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken. Its the only time a non-organic exception is made. I am completely bonkers for the Strawberry, Watermelon Chicken Salad and the Neurotransmitter Sparklers – their unique style of sushi is made with creamy rich coconut seasoned rice and smoked salmon that’s been sautéed with lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, white peppercorn, garlic and roasted coconut flakes wrapped with cucumber, pickled carrot, daikon and fresh mint in seaweed nori (both of which are only available on Saturdays and Sundays). Saffron makes being gluten-free really easy and just to be sure, they’ve posted a list of all their gluten-free menu items in the restaurant.

Surprisingly, I have an easier time of it at those 3 spots than at my former fave, True Food Kitchen. Some of my favorite items have disappeared from their menu. And although I’m pretty happy munching on one of their Bison burgers, Burger Lounge is less expensive, has more locations and is ultimately tastier. I worry that True Food Kitchen may be selling out a bit…. oh, and they ding you $2 for their gluten-free bun. That’s just rude, punishing us for already having been punished…

So going forward, I’ve made some changes: Gluten and oats are a thing of the past for me; sugar will be enjoyed very rarely and extremely judiciously – it’s gotta be worth it. As for fruits & veggies: the dirty dozen will always be organic, as will chicken. Beef will be grass fed and my salmon and tuna are always wild (like me in the good old days). So there you have it. You know where to find me. I hope to add new places to my current lineup but for now, I am truly grateful for the choices I do have and am appreciative of the principled folks behind Beaming and Burger Lounge!

 

{ 15 comments }

14
Sep 2013

I wish fig season lasted forever.

No I don’t. Truth is, while I had previously lamented their short window of availability, I’ve concluded that it’s best this way. They get to maintain their mystique and allure while I am assured my palette will never lose its lust for them. The anticipation is an important component.

Gone are the days where I serve my dinner guests a heavy dessert –  I prefer to punctuate a wonderful meal with just a few sweet bites. Bathing these beauties in dark chocolate and giving them a quick sprinkle of flaky maldon salt before they set up; I cant imagine a better ending. Fig season may be over in a flash  – but fret not as they are the gateway to Fall’s cornucopia of flavors.

Speaking of figs…

I have been all about this combo as the perfect sweet, savory + salty, [assembly-only] lunch of le moment. Sometimes it’s my breakfast. You could serve it as dessert. Crucial to optimal flavor here, is the use of a bloomy-rinded goat cheese such as Bucherodin which has a bit more age than a fresh goat cheese.  This results in a fuller flavor and dense, more flinty texture than that of a fresh goat cheese. Though the white rind is completely edible, I actually cut it away in this case and crumble the wedge with a twist of the knife tip or tines of a fork. Add a generous drizzle of honey, a liberal sprinkle of Maldon salt and dig in!

 

Chocolate Figs:

Fresh ripe figs
Dark chocolate [I use Trader Joe’s giant bar]
Maldon salt

Melt the chocolate double boiler style – I use a small pot of boiling water with the smallest glass bowl possible set on top. Using a smaller bowl allows you to use less chocolate and gives you a deeper dip of chocolate. Dip figs one at a time, holding them by their woody stems. Immediately place on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with Maldon salt. After each fig has been dipped and sprinkled, refrigerate for 5-10 minutes until set. Don’t leave them in the fridge any longer or they’ll produce condensation. Store at room temperature and enjoy within a day or two, before they become juicy.

 

{ 16 comments }

09
Jul 2013

It’s our first summer back in San Diego!

I moved back down at the beginning of the year when our new home was finished and had the pleasure of spending the first 3 months private cheffing for a CEO who wanted to lose 40 pounds. But my husband was stuck going back and forth from Washington until his job finished up, and has only recently joined me full time. So this summer is a celebration of sorts – a time to reconnect with old friends… and new restaurants!  So far, this is what my summer 2013 looks like  – these delightful items are helping make my season more delicious and memorable. What are you lovin’ this summer?

 

These genius orbs by Prepara become vessels for all things summer and will enamor your guests [and yourselves]. Fill them with fresh herbs, citrus slices, flowers, berries… the possibilities are limitless. I make them in advance anytime I have a lime about to pass its prime so I’ll have them available to pop right into a gin & tonic. Their generous size is optimal for just one per glass and cools your beverage for… longer than it will take you to enjoy it.

Acme Party Box Company’s classic French market tote is made from woven palm leaf and has both long and short leather straps for easy carrying.  It’s generous size is perfect for the farmer’s market or to pack up a picnic for an outdoor concert or baseball game. I love it and will be dragging it all over town this summer!

 

 

Jane Coxwell’s new cookbook Fresh Happy Tasty does indeed make me happy! It hits on so many important elements and is right in line with the way I’m eating right now. Fresh, bright ingredients + Jane’s global perspective = my perfect summer beach read [novel schnovel]. And after I’ve read it from cover to cover, I’m going to kick things off with her recipe for brie, grape and arugula salad, and then move on to the beef tagliata with chopped arugula and basil salad…

 

I don’t have a problem getting in the daily fruit requirements recommended for optimal health, but veggies – not so much.  For me, the green stuff often comes by way of fresh juice. Suja Juice has freed up my time and simplified my life by keeping my kitchen free of the heaps of veggies and the equipment necessary for home juicing. Suja is raw, organic, and cold pressed using a pressurized method in packaging which allows it to retain all the valuable nutrients – and is made right here in San Diego!  Luckily, they now have national distribution so they can be enjoyed elsewhere – they’ll even deliver right to your door. My personal faves: Fiji + Green Supreme.

There are so many reasons to embrace this smart looking new grill by Fuego – I didn’t want some massive unit taking over my entire patio space, for starters.  This modern take on home grilling comes in a variety of colors and offers both fashion and function. Why not? [This grill has been out for a few years, but they’ve worked out some major bugs with this more recent generation!]

Portable and chic, this wine canteen re-imagined is your new ticket to adult hydration! Everything I love about S’well‘s original water bottle, now comes in a larger size and holds a 750 ml bottle of your favorite wine  – and will keep it chilled to icy goodness for up to 24 hours to withstand a summers day at the beach.

I was thrilled to have this line of Q mixers in my shop and continue to enjoy its light flavor and the fact that it’s sweetened entirely with agave.  Nothing says summer like a refreshing gin & tonic – and I like to keep my cocktails sugar free – it means I can indulge without getting the Sunday morning flu….

Pimm’s Cup aficionados – give their Q-Ginger a taste!

 

SkinCeuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30 Profile Photo

When it comes to sun protection, I don’t mess around. I’ve used SkinCeuticals exclusively now for many years. It’s not that I don’t believe in mixing skincare lines, it’s that nothing out there can rival it’s science and results. I rely on their sunscreen year round and wouldn’t so much as step out to retrieve the mail without it on.

 

 

 

 

 

{ 8 comments }

03
Jul 2013

Summer is undeniably in full bloom – and since cheese is quintessential picnic fare, I thought we should talk cheese buying and the cheese shop experience. For those of you who are longing to explore but have felt intimidated by the sea of wheels or think there might be some secret protocol to buying cheese from a cheesemonger – I am here with my top ten tips to know.

And where summer feasting is concerned, I’m all about keeping things casual. With the bevy of lush seasonal fruit available, pair your favorites with whichever wedge catches your eye, add a rustic baguette and you’re golden.

Pictured here is a display I built for an outdoor country wedding – cheese is the perfect way to round out a dessert table!

1. Find a cheesemonger [CM] in your area who will hand cut to order from the wheel and wrap your cheese in breathable cheese paper. If wrapped in plastic, exchange the suffocating stuff for parchment or wax paper when you get home. Think of the wrapper as protecting your living, breathing delicacy. Eventually, you’ll be able to detect a discernible difference in flavor between cheeses that have been properly cared for and those which have been wrapped in plastic.

Keep in mind that all cheese [even by that same name] might not be created equal. If you buy your cheese from someone who is not knowledgeable, they may not know that the cheese needs more time to mature, and it will therefore lack the taste and character indicative of that cheese. Thus you could end up with a world class cheese that tastes bland.

In San Diego where we live, my friend Gina’s Venissimo shops offer an amazing selection. If you are without a cheese shop as your primary resource, you might look for specialty grocer such as Whole Foods . Via mail order, Artisanal Cheese and Murray’s both boast in-house affineurs who will ensure that the cheese arriving at your door is a point [at its peak ripeness] and presents the most stellar representation of that particular cheese.

2. If you are not able to identify what you like, maybe you can tell your CM what you don’t like. A good CM should be used to playing the role of taste bud detective, finding clues in anything you share with them to help find the perfect fit. If you have a beverage selected for the evening, let them know; they can direct you to the most classic pairings.

3. If you are still discovering what pleases your palate, keep an informal journal or simple notes on each cheese you try. Keep track of your yes’s as well as your not so much’s and soon you will establish a pattern that can be shared with your new BFF, the cheesemonger [who will probably be able to spot your style straight away]. While tasting, try to identify flavors you enjoy or dislike in familiar terms such as buttery, smokey, tangy or caramelly. Is the texture rubbing you the right way? Do you love the crystalline bits [those little bits of crunch] present in many of the more aged cheeses? Sharp is a term that can be over-used when it comes to cheese. Some people use it to describe anything full flavored, others link it to a tart experience, or an extra-aged cheddar, and some just don’t really know any other words to describe cheese. It can work, but the more descriptors you can throw out, the better.

Your CM should be eager to offer up a taste – but if not, do not hesitate to ask for one! There may be certain cheeses [for example: those small format cheeses which are sold as a whole] which cannot be sampled but for the most part, if they are reluctant… find another monger.

4. Don’t bum out the CM by loudly proclaiming “It stinks in here” [unless you mean it as a compliment!] It’s all a matter of personal preference and remember, your CM has carefully hand selected each and every one of their “babies”. Besides, even with the stinkiest of cheeses, the bark is usually a lot worse than the bite!

5. Learn to love goat! Fresh or aged, pure and simple or with all the bells and whistles. Goat cheese enhances so many dishes, is easy for your body to process and just happens to be quite low in fat. For those who think they don’t get the goat, ease yourself in with a goat’s milk gouda like Midnight Moon [it maintained a cult following at my cheese shop, and on the rare occasion we didn’t have it in our cases, we knew we would have some explaining to do]. Moreover, trying new cheeses will ensure that your palate will progress and reach for new flavors.

6. Make selections that will provide contrast: different milk types, varied textures, diversity in color and shape. Just as a chef wouldn’t create an entirely monochromatic meal, the same rules apply for a cheese board.

7. Making your display easy to enjoy doesn’t have to mean cubes – in fact I would say I am decidedly opposed to cubing cheese. This is not only for aesthetic reasons; artisan cheeses are preservative free and will dry out more quickly than those which are mass produced. A wedge from a wheel of hard cheese often slices nicely into triangles or shards into a naturally beautiful cascade of bite size bits. Note the beautiful natural characteristics of the rind and how they make a cheese more identifiable.

8. Don’t forget to check out the accoutrements on the shelves, an inspired pairing can absolutely add up to more than the sum of its parts. Ask for recommendations on a chutney or preserve. Think about what each cheese will be served with: bread, crackers, fruit?

9.  “Accessorize” your display! A brie or triple cream is super with fresh strawberries. Pears or apples are great to slice and fan out by a blue and grapes are a superb standby to pile up for drama. Nuts, dried apricots and cranberries offer great pops of color or texture and are easy to keep on hand. Fig season is ruefully short lived – but if you happen to spot some great looking figs, a few on the plate will elevate your display to royal proportions.

10. There is no need to over-think the process. Keep it simple and keep an open mind. Going to your cheese shop with a set plan might work out but be open to changing your mind once you take a look at their current selections. Ask your CM what he or she is loving at the moment!

When serving, be sure to allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for your cheeses to come to room temperature. This is the equivalent to decanting a wine, and one important step not to skip. Remember to have appropriate serving utensils at the ready.

And most importantly:  remember, it’s just cheese. Historically, cheese was created by peasants simply as a means of preserving their milk for winter months…  Relax and enjoy!

 

{ 12 comments }

11
Nov 2012

Oh how I dream of a sexy Thanksgiving table, a massively disheveled kitchen, and the meticulous planning that ensues while poring over stacks of cooking mags. And finally, greeting guests at our door with the cocktail du jour…

It’s not happening for me this year.

Time has seemingly stood still as my central focus has been watching the clock. It has been quite the process selling our house and now living in a tiny temporary apartment while awaiting our move home to San Diego. December 15th is the day I’ve been living for: the day we board our flight – the last of so many between Southern California and the Northwest – this time bringing us to our brand-spanking-new house and our much loved friends and family.

To the benefit of all involved, I have not been present during the construction of our rowhome. Even I breathe a sigh of relief at having escaped my [inevitable] micromanagement as each square of marble and plank of rustic oak meets its permanent home.

Happy Thanksgiving – I will return shortly, signing in from my much anticipated new home…

 

 

 

{ 8 comments }

19
Jun 2012

Big changes. Our house in Washington [pictured here] is officially on the market, and we are making our way home to San Diego. Please wish us luck in finding someone who loves this house just as much as we do.

 

This is from an article I wrote for a local magazine: It’s that time of year; the summer sun has returned to brighten our spirits, longer hours beckon us to home projects and our love of home entertaining is renewed as al fresco dining is back in full swing!

As I ponder my own summer projects, it brings to mind how many of us purchased homes at a time when market appreciation could be relied upon. We bought our homes knowing that as our families expanded and our needs changed, we could trade up if necessary. Cut to 2012, and it’s no longer quite so easy. So how can we make our small spaces live larger and more comfortably while suiting our current needs? How do we fall back in love with the homes we excitedly chose before the market “corrected” itself?

No matter what your individual taste and style, there are a few general tricks for maximizing visual space and enjoying more spacious living. They may seem counterintuitive, and of course, we each have varying levels of aptitude [and patience] when it comes to DIY projects… but trust me, they work!

If you plan to put your house on the market, the same rules apply to staging and will help you attract buyers.

 

 

Living Spaces

  • Paint all the living areas the same light hue – pale colors expand a space visually by making the walls recede.
  • A carpeted room can feel smaller than it actually is. Replace it with wood floors throughout and you’ll increase the amount of visual space while creating continuity between rooms and your whole house will feel bigger
  • De-clutter your home by eliminating excess tchotchkes; consider setting up a swap with friends
  • Chandeliers don’t have to be formal, they can be inexpensive and playful and come in a variety of sizes
  • Bigger is better: furnish your home with fewer pieces that are good sized rather than lots of small items
  • See-through surfaces such as a glass coffee table will carry less visual weight
  • Don’t go crazy with patterns – keep your upholstery to simple solids and neutrals relying on texture to add interest

Walls & Windows

  • Mirrors reflect light to open up a room. Choose one oversized to make a statement, or several smaller mirrors to create a grouping
  • Plantation style shutters add substance and a more stately feel to a small house while their tidy, un-fussy look keeps a sense of openness and space
  • Creating a large built-in the size of an entire wall adds focus to your room and serves as an extremely functional storage piece while drawing the eye upward
  • Make sure window treatments are unfussy. Rich fabrics like velvet will give a lush luxurious feel to your home; make sure they have simple lines by avoiding swagging and draping
  • Hang your drapes wide to show the full window width, and close to the ceiling allowing them to sweep the floor; the no high-water rule applies to curtains, not just trousers
  • Keep your windows sparkling clean to create less of a barrier between you and the outdoors
  • If you crave rich deep hues of color on your walls, keep things bright by painting the upper portion of your walls while adding crisp white wainscoting to the bottom half

Kitchen

  • Convert your step-up kitchen counter to one level; it opens up the room, looks less fussy more contemporary, and bar stools are now readily available in counter height
  • Short upper kitchen cabinets can be replaced with taller cabinets reaching as high as your ceiling height will allow. This adds extra storage and visual height to the room. No need to replace your lower cabinets – go for a different but complimentary look on upper cabinetry, it’s an opportunity to go more contemporary or add some whimsy
  • Eliminate visual clutter; stow as many kitchen appliances as possible and pull them out only when needed – this also leaves you more work space

Bed & Bath

  • Paint your guest room a color you’d never dare to use elsewhere. The aquatic hue we used in our own guestroom enhances the retreat-like feeling we want for our overnight guests
  • Install your bathtub or shower tile clear to the ceiling to avoid pesky paint peels and mold issues which might creep up over time and also draw the eye upward
  • Rid a small bedroom of its dresser by building one into the closet
  • Customize your bathroom by adding an over-size mirror to extend the length of the vanity and up to the ceiling – this adds drama and opens up the room

Thank you, Ryan for the pics!

 

 

{ 6 comments }

01
May 2012

With a bright pop of citrus and the gentle briny bite of capers, this version of the ubiquitous tuna salad downplays the fishiness of tuna while making it spring-fresh. Of course you can assemble this as a regular sandwich, but it feels more in line with the season to enjoy it open-faced and there’s an opportunity for one last little sprinkle of Maldon Salt to hit your tongue first.

This recipe is no reinvention of the wheel. But what it is, is one of those safe everyday classics which you can double-up to last the week, keeping you on the healthy track without thinking too hard about it. I do seem to habitually nosh on the same lunch item for a week or two at a time. Sometimes it takes a while to return to a particular dish after I’ve take my repetition too far – and I have instructed my husband to stop commenting  “this is so good I could eat it everyday” because, well,  its just too tempting to take him up on it.

If you already have lemon thyme flourishing in your herb garden, finish your tartine with a light dusting of their pretty variegated leaves.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

1/4 cup Best Foods or Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 large shallot, minced
2 large lemons – add all of the zest + 2 T juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup capers [rinse if salt-packed]
2 [7oz] cans white albacore tuna
kosher salt to taste
8 slices fresh baguette cut on a deep diagonal
Maldon salt [optional]
1 tsp fresh lemon thyme [optional]

Serves 4. Calories: 300 per 2 slice serving [allowing 50 calories per slice of bread and 1/4 of the tuna mixture].

In a medium bowl, combine the mayo, shallot, lemon zest,  juice, sugar and capers; stir to blend. Add both cans of tuna [draining without squeezing dry] and stir to combine. Add salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to enjoy. Just before serving, simply pile onto slices of bread, sprinkle with lemon thyme leaves [optional] and Maldon Salt.

{ 6 comments }

27
Mar 2012

I’m just back from a reinvigorating week in San Diego and feeling refreshed. We’d convinced ourselves that we love the Pacific Northwest’s dark moody skies and the cozy indoor life the winter weather insists upon, but the body knows better. The effects of this annual process are insidious, beginning with the rich bounty of fall, moving through the celebratory days of December… and ending with the realization it’s been five months since I’ve seen the sun. I have underestimated its power.

Armed with 50 Spf, I headed down to my hometown to see my Dad, some friends and the sun. I didn’t make it to the beach  – but I was there just in time to rescue my friend Darlene from the grips of paint-chip paralysis. It was touch and go, but we settled on a new color and proceeded with brush + roller. She owes me. And in the short week I was away, spring seems to have sprung! Amazing little buds of life have sprouted from my Katsura trees and I will now watch them with great anticipation…

Back to reality and healthy meals. Let’s be honest – as a cheesemonger, I shudder a bit at the sight of cubed cheese, but for a chopped salad I’ll make an exception. Italian Provolone Piccante is not the rubber Provolone we grew up with and is worth searching out at your local cheese shop or Whole Foods. This super hearty salad captures the intense flavor profile of a classic Muffuletta Sandwich but by losing the bread and scaling back the amount of oil in the dressing, it’s lightened enough to indulge to your hearts content…

 

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

24 small pimento stuffed green olives, halved
1 cup of drained,water packed, roasted red peppers, finely diced
4 oz provolone piccante, finely cubed
1/2 cup drained pepperoncini, sliced into rings
2  heads romaine lettuce, chopped
4 oz dry salami, sliced into matchsticks [I used Cremenelli]
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

dressing:
3 T olive oil
2 inches anchovy paste
2 T  red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 T dijon mustard
several turns of fresh pepper
1 tsp sugar

Serves 4 . 380 calories.

Combine all of the chopped ingredients in a large bowl. In a mason jar or other sealed container, vigorously shake all of the dressing ingredients to combine. Add to salad and toss well.

 

{ 13 comments }

06
Mar 2012

I’ve never been hung up on the “rules” of risotto making… never felt pressured to heat my broth or stir constantly and I’ve never had less than stellar results. What makes this risotto skinny? Well, there’s only so much I’m willing to give up in the name of calorie counting, so my main strategy was a ratio heavily weighted on the virtually noncaloric side of mushrooms and onions. I was also very careful with the butter and oil, using just enough to squeak by…

Any way you spoon it, this risotto is toothsome, satisfying,  guilt-free dining at its best.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

1 T olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
1  1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 T umami paste [optional]
32 oz chicken stock
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 T butter
2 T finely minced fresh thyme
2 T cream sherry [or dry sherry]
2 oz  Parmigiano, finely grated
kosher salt + pepper to taste

 

Serves 4 calories 430

In a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan, saute the finely diced onions in olive oil on medium-low until deep golden and caramelized.

Simultaneously in a separate saute pan, saute mushrooms in butter for up to an hour on medium-low,  until browned and leathery, then add the sherry and a sprinkle of salt, stir, and continue to saute until liquid is absorbed – just a few minutes. Add the thyme, stir to combine, remove from heat and set aside.

Returning to the caramelized onions – add the arborio rice and continue to saute for 3 minutes. Add wine {and umami paste} and approx 1 cup of the chicken broth and allow to simmer gently, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add broth this way {1 cup at a time} until fully cooked and absorbed – should be about 18-20 minutes of cooking time. If a thinner consistency is desired, add 1 cup of water and continue to cook and stir until desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat and stir in Parmigiano until incorporated and creamy. Add salt + pepper to taste. Fold in sauteed mushrooms – reserving some to  use as a garnish. Divide between 4 plates or bowls,  sprinkle with remaining mushrooms, and serve.

{ 11 comments }