Sunday, December 18, 2011

So Nice They Named It...


I have to be honest, this is not my photograph.  I COULD have taken it, I'm CAPABLE of taking it; with the right lighting, camera, and garnish, (what is that, baby arugula?), this gem could be sportin' my photo credit, but I stole it, (thank you, Martha Stewart).  My pictures of this recipe...well, they turned out like this:

Pretty lame, huh?

Not my proudest photographic achievement, but no matter, it was DELISH!  Just to prove something to my alma mater, School of Visual Arts, here is my turkey from Thanksgiving.  I BBQ'd this beast and it was quite nice.  Okay, they're not exactly Henri Cartier-Bresson photographs, but they're better than the ones of my squash!

And here's my first carving endeavor:

A good day for me and my guests, not so good for Mr. Turkey
But I digress...Twice-Baked Butternut Squash:  Easy to make, sweet, rich flavor, filling, and ooooooh so satisfying.

I started with 2 butternut squash, which ends up filling 2 halves, but the recipe calls for 6 squash, so I'll include that recipe and you can cut it down if need be like I did.


6 butternut squash
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)
About 12 turns of your pepper mill, 1/2 teaspoon, (more to taste)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream 
2 teaspoons paprika
6 fresh chives, chopped into small pieces
3 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Directions for the first step:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in the center.
Halve the squash lengthwise and remove seeds.
Sprinkle halves with salt and pepper.
Fill roasting pan with 1/4 inch water.  Place squash in pan.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.  35 to 45 minutes.  Don't overcook, or the shells will fall apart when you try to stuff 'em.
Remove from oven, transfer squash to a cool surface, and let cool enough to handle.
Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Second step:

Scoop out baked flesh with a spoon from each half into a large bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch border around to keep their shape.
To the bowl, add sour cream, paprika, chives, salt and pepper.
Mix with a handheld electric mixer or potato masher until smooth and well combined.
Season with salt and pepper.
Fill 6 squash halves (discard remaining 6 empty halves).
Sprinkle tops with toasted breadcrumbs.
Bake until golden brown and warmed throughout, 20 to 30 minutes.

The boy liked it a little bit,

New haircut, Moe-like bangs, no?

and my neighbor liked it a whole lot.  My hubby doesn't care much for butternut squash, so my vegetarian neighbor WINS!
Enjoy your winter vegetables, friends, 'tis the season.  Speaking of which, happy holidays to one and all, spread peace and love, that would be cool.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Freshly Baked...

I started receiving a weekly box of veggies and fruit from a delicious, organic farm in Capay Valley, CA, Farm Fresh To You.  They deliver once a week, or once every two weeks, and so on; you can choose the size of box you want, if you'd like mostly fruit, mostly veggies, a mix, you name it, they have an array of choices.  It's 100% certified organic, you get news about the farm, recipes, a list of produce you've received, and you can also, of course, "friend" them on Facebook, and get lots of recipe ideas.  Oh, and the best idea in terms of customer satisfaction, you get a free box for every friend you refer.  (Insert "Leslie Burns" as your friend here.)  It's genius.  Please support them.

No big deal, just an amazing box of produce on your doorstep
I've been doing it for about a month now, and first of all, I love that I'm able to be a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), something I've wanted to get involved in for a while; it allows my family to not only eat organically, but ensures that I'm buying local, seasonal food, directly from a farmer.  I like to think I own shares in a farm, and those shares are delivered directly to me every week.  I'm a farmer!  Okay, I'm a farmer's assistant!  ALRIGHT!  I'm an urban-dwelling mom who doesn't often visit a farm, doesn't know how to operate a hoe, but does enjoy practicing being one!!!  (does own a pair of overalls....)

The most enjoyable part for me, though, "hoe-ing" aside, is getting produce I would never buy and figuring out what to make with it.  Turns out persimmons are lovely in a quinoa/spinach salad, (thanks to Sophia for showing me when they're ripe, much tastier), spaghetti squash does indeed replace actual pasta quite well, a delectable substitute, and aaaaaaaaaah, the ultimate tasteless vegetable, zucchini.  I had six of them, and I didn't know what to do with 'em.  Sure, I could fry 'em up, nothing tastes bad fried, but that's not the healthiest option, we don't fry in this house, and sure they're okay in the summer, grilled on the bbq, but to be honest, they're not my favorite veggie.  Until.....

Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread from the gluten-free goddess!

NOT the gluten-free goddess
This was so damn good, I made two back-to-back.  The family couldn't keep their hands off of 'em, they only lasted a day or so.  They're great gifts, in fact, now I understand why bakers are always bringing their stuff over, it's so fun to give this shit away.  People really enjoy it.
Now, I've never baked a thing in my life.  Hell, I just started occupying a kitchen, (no wall street pun intended), 7 years ago, but I've been missing out, this stuff rules, it's fun to make, easy, and there's NO CHOPPING!

The Bread:

You can make this with or without eggs, and it's dairy-free.  Also, I substituted organic agave instead of brown sugar.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (I set mine at 325 degrees because, once again, Sophia saved my ass and informed me that when using agave, you decrease your oven temp by 25 degrees, and increase your baking time by about 10 minutes, because agave can burn.)  Google THAT!
Line the bottom of your 9 or 10" loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil it.  (Didn't do this the first time, DID do it the second.  I recommend it, made life a little easier, I didn't have to shake it and bang it...I'm learning people.)


1 cup peeled, and grated zukes (I used a little more the second time, and it was better)
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca startch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup agave (or 1 cup brown sugar)
1/3 cup light olive oil or coconut oil (I used coconut)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 free-range organic egg whites, beaten, or egg replacer (1/4 cup liquid)
1/4 cup coconut milk

Option: (which I happily took, the walnut route)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I even went with a little more than 1/3 cup, but I'm nutty!  These are the jokes, people.)

Press the zucchini in between paper towel to soak up as much moisture as you can, then fluff with a fork.
In a large mixing bowl, mix up the sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, and cinnamon.  Add in the agave (or brown sugar).

Add the oil, lemon juice, egg whites, and the coconut milk.  Beat on medium-high until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Add in almost all of the zucchini, leaving out some shreds to bake on top for decoration.  Stir by hand to combine.  If you're adding nuts, stir them in now.
Scoop, pour, scrape, get it all into that prepared loaf pan and even out the top.
Add shreds of zucchini on top.


Bake in the center of your preheated oven until the top is golden brown and firm, yet gives a bit when lightly touched.  It should feel springy.  Could take anywhere from 50 to 60 minutes, mine took 65 with the agave.  Test with a thin knife, it should emerge with no crumbs or batter on it.

*A good tip about gluten-free baking:  You want your batter to be room temperature, not cold from the fridge.

And there it is.  Toast that stuff up in the morning, throw a little butter or jam on it, and fuhgeddaboudit!  Do that again in the afternoon, repeat before bed, and you'll see very quickly how fast this zucchini bread disappears.  Scrumptious.

I'm a baker now!

Friday, October 14, 2011

L'Shana Tova, Now Pass The Brisket!

It only took a mere 43 years, but we did it, Mom and I FINALLY cooked together in one kitchen, side by side, and it was a success!

Standing very close to one another in the kitchen
It was touch and go there for a few minutes.  When we first connected in the kitchen, (1 day before Rosh Hashanah), we were starting with the creation of our matzo ball, chicken soup stock.  I had stuff to do first, and Mom wanted to get started right away, yesterday, if possible!  I didn't want to miss a trick, so I was very adamant that she not start ANYTHING without me being present.  "This is how I learn," I tried to impart to her, but once her motor starts going, it's not so easy to hit the kill-switch, which is great if you put a vacuum cleaner in her hands...  But she was ready to go-go-go, and I wanted her to stop-stop-stop!  We're not always moving at the same pace, she and I, or else we're moving at EXACTLY the same pace, but with different modus operandi, and we can't get on the same page to save our lives.  Either way, it can turn out to be the Perfect Storm, or, well...Hurricane Irene.  We butted heads, snapped at one another, and pretty quickly I thought this Rosh Hashanah dinner for 8 was going to be a colossal failure, and Mom and I were going to enter the Jewish New Year as enemies.  Oy vey.  I wanted to be able to cook with my mother, learn from her, a dream I've had for a long time, and I was afraid that dream would be dashed,  sniff, sniff....(enter therapy couch with a thud.)

But WAIT!  Something shifted, something gave way, the seas parted and Marsha and Leslie...stop the presses...WORKED AS A TEAM!!!!  We pulled off not only a beautiful holiday dinner, but emerged closer, more respectful of one another, and I think, an even better mother/daughter duo.  I'm very blessed and grateful to have my mother in my life to the extent that she is, and it was a great experience cooking with her, (plus, she cleans like no one's business!)
The table was set....

and WE ATE!

This brisket goes under the category of Best.  Brisket.  Ever.  A recipe from my dear friend, Amy's Aunt Cackles, who sounds like a gem of a lady.

Auntie Cackles with Henry's dashing friend, Isaac
We got a 4 pound, flat piece of brisket (it shrinks!)
1 envelope of onion soup mix (Liptons)
1 1/2 - 2 cups of red wine
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 cup orange marmalade
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 pound sliced mushrooms

These ingredients are far from exact, and don't need to be really, whatever flavor you like more or less of, feel free to play with it.  It's idiot-proof.

Preheat over at 300
Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan, seriously, all of them.
Heat on medium for a few minutes, until blended.
Pour over brisket, cover tightly with foil.
Cook at least 3 hours, until tender.  Mom says you can't overcook brisket.  Is that possible?
Cool in the fridge for the next day.
Slice across the grain while cold, then reheat at 350 for about 20-30 minutes.

When it came out of the oven, my mom said, "Oy, it really shrunk, I hope we have enough!"  Which of course instantly stressed me out, sent me into a tail spin, and in the end we had leftovers for days!  What's WITH us Jews???

Ok, not the most appetizing picture, but trust, this beast was delish!
The matzo ball soup also turned out really well.  I won't bore you with the specifics of the recipe, because it turns out chicken soup REALLY is that easy, (also done the night before).  Just throw a bunch of veggies in a pot with water,

boil/simmer for a few hours, maybe more, skim the fat and icky floaty things off the top of the soup, drain the chicken, pull it off the bone, make chicken salad the next day, done!  As far as matzo balls went, we just followed the recipe on the back of the matzo meal can.  clever, huh?  

The kids enjoyed!
Can't go wrong with apples and honey
This is Anika, Henry's profound obsession
The other recipe that KILLED was the Potato Kugel.  Very easy and very satisfying, taken directly from a nice, Jewish boy's cookbook:  Arthur Schwartz's "Jewish Home Cooking."

3 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
12 eggs
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into chunks
2/3 cup matzo meal
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons peanut, corn, or canola oil

Preheat the over to 350 degrees
Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks to prepare them for the food processor.
Reserve in a bowl of cold water until ready to process, but don't leave them there longer than 2 hours.
In a very large bowl, beat the eggs until well mixed.  In the bowl of the food processor, with the metal blade, pulse the onions until very finely chopped, careful not to liquify them.  Scrape the onion into the bowl with the eggs and stir them in.  Stir in the matzo meal.
Drain the potatoes, then set a strainer over a bowl.  In the same processor bowl, process the potatoes in three batches, until very finely chopped.  The pieces should be no bigger than a grain of rice and mostly smaller.
As each batch of potatoes is processed, immediately scrape it into the strainer.  With the rubber spatula or back of a spoon, press out the moisture so it drains into the catch bowl.  Immediately stir the potatoes into the egg mixture.  Discard the liquid and potato starch in the bowl.  Season the batter with salt and pepper.
Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, preferably heatproof glass.  Tip the pan so the oil coats the pan bottom and halfway up the sides.  Warm the empty pan in the preheated over for 5 minutes.
With MITS, remove the hot pan from the oven and fill with the kugel mixture.  The oil will rise up the sides of the pan, especially in the corners.  It's a good thing when the oil spills onto the surface of the batter, as it adds crispness to the finished dish.  Press the batter down near the corners lightly to fill them with potato batter.  Drizzle the surface with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.  (Mom actually drizzled some of the chicken soup stock on the top of the kugel, she's a genius.)
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving, preferably somewhat longer.  Serve hot or warm, freshly baked or reheated.
The kugel reheats extremely well in a 350 degree oven, uncovered so the top can re-crisp.  I recommend reheating it beFORE cutting into it, so it doesn't dry out at all.  It can be kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for at least 4 days, and several months in the freezer.  Best to defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.

Brother goes in
This was a big a hit.

And without fail, ya gotta have Challah French Toast the next morning, to make brother Steve the happiest 10 year old ever.

He's the easiest man to make happy...

In the end, I'm certainly not the most observant Jew, not even CLOSE, but I'm realizing more and more that for me, what it's really about is family.  Being together and having the ability to do so is a wonderful luxury.  Stevie brought his gal, Lisa, and her amazing daughter, Anika, to stay with us.  I think 3 year old Henry captured them best here:

What a shot!
In fact, ahem, I must admit, after the family left, the following weekend was the highest holiday, Yom Kippur, and I spent it at the mall, clearly not atoning for my sins in the least.  I wasn't alone, I was with another very bad Jew who shall remain nameless, (her name rhymes with Shulie Fretzin.)

And because we were all together, even THIS didn't bother me:

A bit lip while under Uncle Stevie's watch...
Happy 5772!!!  Now go make some brisket!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Appetizer or Dessert? You Tell Me.

I offer you this:

It smells a little like this:

And tastes a LOT like this:

 and this:
And for sure this:

We had a very special dinner tonight.  Lucas Burns is leaving L.A. tomorrow for graduate school in Georgia!  Hey, wait, I never thought of this, but Georgia peach -> peach -> nectarine, it was a THEME app!

Jere made his amazing, summer pasta dish for the family, with quinoa pasta, today's farmer's market tomatoes, red onion, red and green basil, (oh, the smell!), butter, parmesan cheese, and a dollop of cottage cheese on top.  Delish!
So I got these suckers ready for an appetizer, but as I posed earlier, they could easily be a dessert too, if you can bear waiting to shove them in your mouth.  Plus, they should be warm, so I had no choice tonight, timing-wise.  This dish is kind of, how do I describe it?  Uh, hmmm,  That's the word, SEXY, they send you into another realm of existence, if I do say so myself.  And they are hard to resist, seriously.  They're the perfect dripping, salty/sweet combo, I defy anyone to not moan when you take a bite.

The boys diving in

Here's what you do:

Turn grill onto about 400 - 450 degrees

Halve ripe nectarines, (or peaches, if you like, but personally, I'm a sucker for a ripe nectarine, especially from the farmer's market)

First, put them skin side up, cut side down, you know what I mean, on the grill for 4 minutes

Flip 'em over

Fill them with a little blue cheese, (we used raw blue, easier to digest)

Grill 'em for 4 more minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt

Remove from grill

Drizzle with a little honey over the cheese-side of the nectarine, (again, we use raw honey, aren't we annoying?)

Serve, and try not to eat the entire platter, it's rude.

I think Gillian was happy she arrived when she did.

Good luck, Lukie!  We'll miss you so much. We've enjoyed every minute having you so close, being able to watch Henry grow up has meant the world, hanging with Bode during his "infant" stage, surfing with Daddy, and cleaning every single dish in my kitchen.  You're a good man, Lucas Burns, a top-notch brother, son, step-son, and friend, now go kick some film school ASS!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer's Almost Over: Reunions and Halibut

Yes, I'm still here, and alright, I'll admit it again, I'm not the most consistent blogger, but who says you have to write daily, weekly, or bi-weekly even!?!?  Who made the rules?  Well, I'm making my own, and I only blog when I want to, so there!  (But please keep reading me...)

Truthfully, summer gets a bit laaaaaaaazy for me.  It always has and probably always will.  I'm a camper at heart, spent the majority of my life at summer camp, (you know us Jews), 8 weeks a year, away from home, learning how to do things you can't learn under parental supervision.  That's all I'll share, supposedly my parents read this.

This summer I haven't stopped cooking at all, quite the opposite, (I'm in LOVE with scallops these days!), but we do travel quite a bit, there's lots of family time, and blogging ends up on the back burner.  We go back east to Martha's Vineyard for a couple of weeks:

Right Where We Want To Be.

Henry turned 3, had ourselves a "Cars" theme party, we love going to the beach, we venture to Michigan to visit Grammy and Grandpa, and of course, I HAD to go to my 25th high school reunion.  YIKES!  Thank god for name tags, but even WITH name tags, I ended up having a 15 minute conversation with someone I did not know, and I still don't believe he graduated from Seaholm High School, Class of '86, GO MAPLES!

The 80's For Me
His wife, bless her heart, was right along side him, pretending to care what the hell came out of my mouth.  Sweet people.  (NOT Maples, though, for sure.)  Great to see the 'ole gang.  Ain't it funny how everyone changes but no one changes?  Crazy.  I meant to get up there and do a little karaoke.  "Total Eclipse of the Heart," dedicated to my main man, football player, one year older than me, TOTAL CRUSH, Kevin McClanahan, but the night got away from me and my pipes weren't in the best of shape by showtime.  Probably best.

Turn Around Bright Eyes
My crush on Andrew McCarthy, circa 1980's, was on a different level entirely though.  I remember it vividly.  Driving to see "Pretty in Pink," opening weekend, BY MYSELF, which you just didn't DO at Seaholm if you knew what was good for you; but I wanted, nay needed, to be alone with Andrew.  That's right, ALONE.  I don't know WHO the other people were in the movie theatre, but I didn't invite them, and they were frankly bummin' my herb.  I shut them out.

I'm a much saner woman now, (I hope), and I'm very happy to be getting back to my life in LA.  I'm looking forward to school starting for Henry, my hubby will be getting back to his gig on "Burn Notice," which is hard, having him in Miami for so long, but I'm also undertaking something new in my life which I'm thrilled about.  I've enrolled in a year-long nutrition course at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition,, so I'm about to get SUPER annoying regarding health and nutrition.  (I know, GET?)  It's turned into quite a passion of mine, and I'm really excited to continue this education that I've begun taking very seriously for the past 6 months.

And now, Halibut in Soy Broth:
(I'm not crazy about using soy sauce, here comes the annoying part--because soy beans are genetically modified, or GMO, but it was only 2 tablespoons, so I took one for the team.)

One halibut steak, about one pound
1 tablespoon Olive Oil (recipe called for vegetable oil, which I don't use, or peanut oil, which I didn't have, so...)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth (or beef, vegetable stock, or water)
(You could add scallions to garnish after it's cooked, but I didn't have any.)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil, after 2 minutes, raise to high heat.  Cook the fish for 60 to 90 seconds on each side, just until it begins to brown.
Turn the heat to medium-low.  Sprinkle the garlic and ginger around the fish, then drizzle the sesame oil over it.  Add the soy sauce and stock (or water) to the skillet, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and cover.
Cook for about 5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the halibut).  Remove the cover and, with the fish still in the liquid, raise the heat to high and reduce the liquid by about half, which should take one or two minutes.
Garnish, if you want, and serve!  So tasty and savory.  I put it over some quinoa and sauteed some green beans, it was light and lovely.  I don't have any pictures of my creation tonight, but come on, you know what halibut looks like!  Yum.

I can't believe the summer's almost over, it's never long enough.  Never.

Saying Goodbye to the Ocean

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Time Is It?! IT'S SUMMERTIME!!!

Nothing says summer like a gorgeous, mouth-watering Watermelon and Tomato Salad.  
My hubby drew my attention to Mark Bittman's NY Times column this past week, The Minimalist, and asked sweetly, "Will you make this, please?"  Well, I'm nothing if not the PERFECT partner, always accommodating my dear husband's needs, wishes, desires, 100% of the time, and vise, um, some of the time...okay, occasionally?  Well, we DO TRY!
I found myself at the grocery store, (where I find myself oooooooooh 5 days a week), deciding what to make for dinner, and I remembered Jere's request, pulled it up on the 'ole smart phone, and gave it a whirl.  Thoughtful, right?  I amaze myself.
Well, thank you Jere Burns and Mark Bittman!  This salad is easy, refreshing, and, when the ingredients are in season like they are now, finger-lickin' good.  (Proven to me by the nice Whole Foods employee who cut open the watermelon for me to taste, talk about service!)  Luckily, my 3 year old didn't like it, so Daddy and I fought over Henry's plate, after promptly devouring the whole bowl ourselves.  It says it serves four, I guess that's true if you're not Jere or Leslie Burns, because that bowl was E-M-P-T-Y!
You may question these ingredients together, but as Mark Bittman writes, "It turns out watermelon and tomato make spectacular platefellows, and they're even better with a few assertive accompaniments."  He sure said somethin' there!

Doesn't that cool right down just lookin' at it?!


2 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, in 1 inch cubes or balls (Reserve some of the watermelon juice)
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (but I would add this slowly, as I found I could've done with a little less blue cheese)  You can use a Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag blue cheese
1/2 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 cup parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped  (I went with cilantro)

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of watermelon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and cayenne pepper, then add the salad ingredients to a large bowl, adding salt to taste, and garnishing with parsley or cilantro.  Do NOT refrigerate and serve within 30 minutes.

Trust me, your family, company, bbq neighbors, general passers-by, will tell you, "This salad is right on time!"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pork Again? From the Hungry Jewess?!

This is the perfect duo, a dinner I've made twice in the last two weeks, that's how much my family enjoys it.  The first time was for Father's Day, thanks to my lovely assistant and stepson, Lucas, for a recipe he found via

Lucas with Brother Henry
My hubby had an outstanding Father's Day, and deservedly so, he's the most amazing father I've ever known.  He awoke to a killer surf, where he "dominated," came home to his favorite smoothie blended, some delicious, simple buttermilk pancakes made by moi, followed by a ride down to Santa Monica, family and dog in tow, to see Luke's soccer game.  Then back home where Luke and I prepared the dinner.  (And Luke was sportin' a pretty smart injury to the quad, but even so, he chopped lively, never complaining, just limping and smiling.  None of us could remember--do you apply cold then heat, or heat then cold to an injury???)  Pretty darn good day for Daddy, in my opinion.  You're welcome, my sweet, lil' pork chop.
Speaking of which, we made:

Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce, 
and Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Pork Chop Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 (1/2 inch thick) boneless pork chops*

*(I had the butcher cut the chops in half to make them 1/2 inch thick)

Pat chops dry then season with salt and pepper
Whisk together the lime juice, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking well.  Whisk in cilantro.

This here is the special sauce
Cook directly on your grill, (oh yeah, you really do need a grill for this one**), over medium-high heat.  Oil grill rack, (beFORE turning on the gas if you like your eyebrows), then grill pork chops, covered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total.  Serve drizzled with the special sauce, putting the remainder on the side.

**If you aren't able to grill outdoors, chops can be cooked in a hot, lightly oiled large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.

And now the Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa:

Quinoa Ingredients:

2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon olive oil (epicurious says vegetable oil, but I try to stay away from that stuff.)
1 teaspoon sugar (obviously, I'd like to stay away from this too, but I figure it's only a TEASPOON, live a little!)
1 cup quinoa (wash thoroughly)
1 can (14-15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped (optional, can certainly substitute with your favorite type of onion or no onion at all)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together lime zest, juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Now, epicurious has these very intricate directions for making quinoa, with a sieve, a towel, a table saw!  But I just prefer to keep it simple and make my quinoa with water, 2 to 1, it's quick, easy and delicious.
Once the quinoa's ready, you add it to the dressing in the large bowl and stir until all the dressing is absorbed.  Then add the remaining ingredients, the beans, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.

These two dishes really compliment each other well, it's hearty and tasty, but you can add to it if you like.  As you can see, I sliced up some avocado on the side, but you can steam some broccoli, make a salad, whatevs, you decide.

Try it, you'll like it.  And now I must Jews repent?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Who Couldn't Use a Little More ENERGY?!

Hello all, it's been a while.  Did you miss me?  I've missed blogging, but it's not been because I haven't been cooking, it's just that a whole lotta life's been happening, and, okay, perhaps a little laziness on my part as well.  But it's MY BLOG, and I can post when I wanna!  'Course I can't really figure out WHAT I've been doing exactly with my time, but suffice it to say, I've been concentrating on my family, my home, my friends, and my self.  Can I get a witness!?
Nutrition has become very important to me in the last 5 months, more so than it already had, and I've been doing my homework, educating myself, changing things around the house a bit, and trying to get the whole family on board.  It's a full-time job.
So I must share this recipe with y'all.  Again, it's from none other than Mrs. Jessica Seinfeld, (I know, I'm a broken record, but she's good people!)  For the first time in my life, someone's REQUESTED I repeat a recipe for them, actually dropped an obvious hint so I would prepare a treat for their upcoming, ridiculously long flight.  I was flattered, and got right to work, but shhhhhhhhh, that's the best part, it's BARELY any work!
They're No-Bake Energy Bars.  That's right, you heard me, NO BAKING!  Nada baking, niet, nee, negatory.  Don't bother turning on the oven, because it's pas nĂ©cessaire!  Check 'em out:

Those chia seeds are the gifts that keeps on giving, well after the
bar is gone, you might want to do a mirror/teeth check.


Cooking Spray
3/4 cup Raw Almonds
1 1/4 cups Brown Rice Cereal
1 cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/4 cup Unsweetened Finely Shredded Coconut
1/4 cup Flax Meal
1/4 cup Raw Chia Seeds
1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup
6 Tablespoons Almond Butter
1/2 cup Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips

Here's what you do, and get ready to be done very shortly:

Spray your 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, letting a couple of inches hang over two sides, to lift later.
Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until evenly chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl and combine with the brown rice cereal, the rolled oats, coconut, flax meal, and chia seeds.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the rice syrup and almond butter, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until melted and creamy.  Pour over your dry mixture and stir until it's combined well.  I prefer to use my hands, (yes, clean ones), to mix this evenly.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  (The chips are optional, if you prefer to keep these chocolate-free, they're still delicious without, but it is nice to get a little chocolate treat in a bite here and there.)  Then press evenly into the prepared pan, again with the hands, and let cool for 30 minutes.  I like to put them in the refrigerator so they harden up nicely.  Then grab the ends of the parchment paper, lift out and cut into bars.  

*(I've also made this recipe with 1/4 cup brown rice syrup, cutting it with 1/4 cup honey, combining those with the almond butter in the heated mixture, and it does seem to hold them together a wee bit better.)

I doubled this recipe for my dear, sweet, new/old friend, Sophia, who's off to her homeland New Zealand with Little Henry, for way too long, in my opinion.  Maybe she won't be able to get the ingredients there, and, craving them deeply, will be forced to return to L.A. at an earlier, more REASONABLE date.
I think the two Henry's would agree with me...

Big Henry, who will be 3 this weekend, devours them:

And Little Henry enjoys them too, almost as much as Mummy:
Will the bars make it to New Zealand?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

W.W.J.D.? Have a Frittata Easter!

I AM RESURRECTED!  I am now spending my free time, my "me"  COOKING!  Never in a million years, my friends, would I have thought that in order to relax, to find a little more joy, for a good time! I would have chosen the kitchen in which to do so.  My life is unrecognizable, and I LOVE it!
It was 8pm Saturday night, my lovable hubby took Henry for a boy's night out, and I went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for my first frittata.  Now, I'm a Passover girl by birth, but Easter Sunday was the next day, and Henry's sister, Gillian, likes to paint beautiful eggs and send Henry on an adorable (ie: easy) egg hunt.

So, far be it for this Jewess to get in the way of a precious Easter egg hunt.  No matter how much fried matzo I made this week, I wanted to have a nice (secular) brunch to accompany said "hunt," and thought, "I keep hearing about these delicious frittatas, so why not try one?"  Well, our lord and savior would be soooooooo proud.

I made a Swiss Chard, Feta, Onion Frittata, and I could have eaten the entire pan.


Nonstick vegetable or olive oil spray 
1 12-ounce bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray.  Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add Swiss chard and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Drain.  Finely chop chard, then place in kitchen towel and squeeze dry.  Set chard aside.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion to skillet and saute until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.
Whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend.  Add chard and onions, then feta; stir to blend.  Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.
Bake frittata until set in center, 45 to 55 minutes.  Let frittata cool for 15 to 20 minutes.  Place platter on top of dish with frittata.  Using oven mitts, hold baking dish and platter firmly together and invert frittata onto platter; place another platter on top of the frittata and invert again so the frittata is right side up.  
I cut the frittata into 16 small pieces, but you can cut it any way you like.
As I said, I made this the day before, which is helpful.  Place the pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, cover and chill.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees and rewarm the frittata until heated through, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Transfer frittata pieces to platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Now, full disclosure, Henry didn't touch the frittata.  In fact, he seemed a bit repelled by it, although he may have been swayed by the foot-high chocolate bunny that had just arrived, staring him down, taunting him with his chocolatey-ness.  An egg dish doesn't stand a chance!  But my company did gobble the frittata up, and sometimes it just ain't about da kids, ya know?  Besides, I'm learning that Easter is aaaaaaaall about the candy, so Henry pretty much had a chocolate/jellybean/cake diet today anyway.  Not my proudest motherly moment, but it's just one day, right?  Back to gefilte fish tomorrow!  

"Is there candy in this?"