Categories
Pork Soups Uncategorized

Judiones de la Granja de San Ildefonso (Giant Spanish White Beans and Sausages)

A few years ago, my parents took us on a family vacation to Spain and the cuisine we experienced, both high-brow and low-brow, was unparalleled. The Spanish embrace community cuisine and every town seems to have its signature dish. One of the best signature dishes I tried was in Segovia: judiones de la granja de San Ildefonso. These enormous, creamy white beans are unlike any other beans I have ever tasted. And when they are cooked with Spanish chorizo, ham bones, and paprika, they are indescribably comforting and delicious.

During our travels, we spent some time in a parador in Segovia and what a magical experience that was. Segovia, a World Heritage City, is a magnificent spanish town that is full of history and is crowned at the top of its tallest hill by the Alcazar de Segovia, a royal Spanish castle that dates back to at least the 12th century. Everything about Segovia is extraordinary, and I have such fond memories of this special place. 

While we were in Segovia, we enjoyed a special dinner at the parador and our first course was judiones de la Granja de San Ildefonso. I was blown away by this simple dish rumored to have been first created at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso right outside of Segovia. It is said that these beans were first brought to the palace from the Americas and fed to the royal animals. Apparently, at some point, the royals themselves tried the beans and loved them. This dish has been wildly popular in Segovia ever since, and it’s pretty obvious why these giant beans are so loved once you taste them. 

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried judion beans

3 Spanish chorizo, sliced

1 serrano ham bone (or a regular ham bone will work)

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, mined

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. Spanish paprika

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a large stock pot with the bay leaves, ham bone, and chorizo. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours, or until beans are creamy and tender, but still intact. You will probably need to add water as the beans cook, as it will evaporate. 

At this point, you will need to heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onion until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the paprika and flour and stir until fragrant. Add to the beans and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Categories
Fish/Seafood Sandwiches Uncategorized

Pan Bagnat (Salade Nicoise Sandwich)

I have so many happy memories of spending time in the south of France with my daughters when they were little. Every summer, we would take our annual trip to Provence to visit family. While we were there, we would skip around all of the beach towns in southern France soaking up the sun and sampling the amazing food unique to each village. 

My favorite place to visit was always Nice. It’s not only stunningly beautiful, it’s rich with culture and absolutely full of amazing foods from across many cultures. Its central and ideal location on the Mediterranean and ancient Roman roots made the town a cultural melting pot of people who have, for centuries, immigrated from locations all around the world. As a result, the food in Nice is unique, colorful, and features a mix of culinary delights created in France, Italy, Greece, the Middle East, and beyond.

Many of my most magical memories were made at the beach or playgrounds in Nice with a pan bagnat in one hand and my daughters’ hands in the other. This salade nicoise in a roll is full of flavor and feels like happiness on a warm summer day. Every time I eat one of these sandwiches, it takes me instantly back to a simpler, sunny time in my life. If I close my eyes, I can just imagine being there on that pebbly beach in the warm sun. 

Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches):

2 crusty loaf rolls or baguettes

1 7 oz. can of high-quality tuna

4 anchovy filets

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. shallots, minced

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ c. Nicoise or Kalamata olives, halved

2 roma tomatoes, sliced

½ cucumber, sliced

½ red bell pepper, sliced

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

Handful of basil leaves

Salt and pepper

Cut the rolls or baguettes in half lengthwise. Dig out some of the bread from the center of the bottom so that you can drop your tuna filling in. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

To make the filling, combine 2 Tbsp. olive oil, red wine vinegar, shallots, olives, salt and pepper. Mix together and add tuna. Mix again thoroughly to combine. 

Fill the hollowed out side of the bread with the tuna mixture. Top with anchovies, followed by hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers and basil.

Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Place something heavy on top of the sandwiches (such as a heavy pot) for about 10 minutes. This helps to infuse all of the oil and ingredients together. Unwrap and enjoy! 

Categories
Fish/Seafood Uncategorized

Miso Glazed Salmon with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Sunomono

This miso glazed salmon attains the perfect balance between sweet and savory. The salty, flavorful miso meshes with the sweet sake to create a truly scrumptious salmon with a beautiful caramelized top layer. It tastes as lovely and clean as it looks, and it’s easy to make. 

Serve the miso salmon with my wasabi mashed potatoes and sunomono for an easy and satisfying weeknight meal, or ditch the night out at a Japanese restaurant for a night in with friends. The food will be just as good and made with love.

Ingredients:

4 small wild salmon filets 

2 Tbsp. white miso paste

1 Tbsp. mirin

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sake

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Salt and pepper

Green onions, sliced 

Mix together white miso paste, mirin, soy sauce, sake, and toasted sesame oil in a glass bowl with a lid. Add the salmon, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for one hour. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Gentle wipe of excess marinade from the salmon and place salmon filets skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through. 

Top with green onions and serve.

Categories
Sides Uncategorized Vegetarian

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Most people don’t associate mashed potatoes with a Japanese meal, but let me tell you . . . it works. It really, really works when the potatoes include wasabi. 

The other day I was planning on making some miso salmon and cucumber salad. I wanted some kind of carby yumminess in the meal, but I wasn’t feeling rice. I had some potatoes and I thought, “I could make these, but they don’t feel like they fit the Japanese theme of the meal.” I decided I didn’t care and that I wanted mashed potatoes anyway. Then the lightbulb went off in my head – I could add wasabi to regular ol’ mashed potatoes. 

And guess what? They were some of the best mashed potatoes I have ever eaten. As a result, I now know that Japanese food and mashed potatoes are a match made in heaven. 

Inregidents: 

2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

½ c. milk

½ c. sour cream

3 Tbsp. butter

1-2 Tbsp. wasabi (powdered or from the tube)

3-4 green onions, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water in a large pot. Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. 

Add butter, milk, and sour cream and mash them until smooth with a potato masher or a ricer. Add wasabi, tasting as you go for desired strength of zip. Top with green onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Categories
Sides Uncategorized Vegan Vegetarian

Sunomomo (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

Aren’t the cucumbers served at sushi restaurants magical? Don’t get me wrong, I love sushi. It’s one of my favorite things on earth. But the cucumber salad that is served with sushi is nearly as exciting as the main event. I’ll probably get some backlash for that statement, but I stand by my word. 

I absolutely love the fresh, clean taste of Japanese cucumber salad. The flavor is delicate, but also tangy. Cucumber salad is not overpowering, and it showcases the authentic, unadulterated taste of cucumbers but with a little extra zip. It’s delicious alongside just about anything, easy to make, and healthy as can be. 

Ingredients:

2 cucumbers, very thinly sliced

Pinch of salt (to dry out cucumbers)

3 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. soy sauce

Pinch of salt (for dressing)

2 tsp. sesame seeds

Slice the cucumbers very thin. A mandonline works best if you have one, but hand-cut works too. 

Place the sliced cucumbers in a strainer and mix with a pinch of salt. Let the cucumbers drain for about 10 minutes and then gently squeeze out excess water with clean hands. Place in a large bowl.

Mix together rice vinegar, sugar, pinch of salt, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour on top of the cucumbers and mix together. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

Categories
Uncategorized Vegetarian

Greek Omelette with Feta, Spinach and Olives

Here it is: the ideal super fast, insanely easy, extremely low-cost and ultra healthy meal.  This greek omelette is savory, just the right amount of salty, and super yummy because it includes all of the best things: green veggies, eggs, cheese, and my personal favorite, olives. 

Many people often go to fast food places because they are in a hurry and the food is reasonably cheap. It’s true that cooking takes time and fresh food costs money, but this meal is ready in less than 5 minutes and definitely costs much less than a quick meal out. It will also leave you feeling satisfied, healthy, and a few bucks richer. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil

3 eggs

Handful of fresh spinach leaves

1 Tbsp. chopped kalamata olives

1 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese

1 tsp. oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, for garnish

Crack the eggs in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly with oregano, salt, and pepper. Then, heat a skillet over medium high heat and cook spinach for about 1 minute, or until wilted. Set aside and wipe the skillet clean.

Heat the skillet over medium high heat. Melt the butter, making sure to spread it all over the pan so the omelette won’t stick. Pour in the eggs and tilt the pan so that the eggs start to settle evenly around the pan. When the eggs begin to show small bubbles, add the spinach, olives and feta cheese on top of one side of the omelette. Fold the empty side over so that it is on top of the filled side of the omelette. Cook for about one minute, or until the full side is cooked through. Carefully flip the omelette over and cook for another minute, or until cooked through. Garnish with parsley and serve hot!

Categories
Pasta Uncategorized Vegan Vegetarian

Vegan Kale and Lentil Pasta with Caramelized Onions

Do you have a special meal in your rotation that you love so much that you obsess about it all day when you know you’re going to eat it for dinner? This is my obsession meal. And I’m fairly certain my kids would second that and declare it their obsession meal too. This healthy, vegan pasta meal is off-the-charts good. 

Most of the amazingness can be attributed to the caramelized onions. They are, without a doubt, the star of this show. But when you combine these heavenly onions with garlic, tender kale, and earthy lentils, you’ve got a meal you’ll be obsessing about long after you’ve eaten it. Top it with Parmesan (or vegan Parm), and you may eat multiple servings . .  which is actually ok because this is such a clean meal.

Ingredients:

One bunch of organic kale, curly or lacinato

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ c. uncooked lentils

1 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ c. red wine

½ c. vegetable broth

1 16 oz. package of pasta

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Vegan Parmesan cheese or regular Parmesan cheese, for topping

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat high, drop in onions and then reduce to medium low heat. Cook onions very slowly stirring often until they are light brown and very soft. This will take 30-45 minutes.  You can cook the lentils and pasta while the onions caramelize.

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of salted water and lentils to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are fork tender. Drain and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. 

When the onions are nice and brown, add garlic and cook for one minute. Then, add the kale, broth, and wine and cook until the kale is wilted and soft. Add the lentils and mix together. Finally, add in the drained pasta and toss everything together in the skillet. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. 

Serve immediately and top liberally with vegan Parmesan (or Parmesan)!

Categories
Sandwiches Uncategorized Vegetarian

Warm Baguette Sandwich with Pesto, Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado

Warm avocado is a hotly debated topic. Some people find it repulsive. Recently, I read an opinion piece on how disgusting and unacceptable it is to ever serve an avocado warm. Well, you know something? Those people are wrong. Dead wrong. There’s no denying that a warm pesto, mozzarella, and tomato sandwich is great. It’s a standard favorite. But if you add a warm avocado to the mix, it’s straight up heavenly. Sorry, haters. Warm avocado is here to stay.

Ingredients:

2 demi baguettes

2 Tbsp. pesto (recipe below)

2 roma tomatoes, sliced

1 avocado, sliced

½ c. shredded mozzarella

Salt and pepper

Pesto: 

1 bunch of basil, about 3 cups

2 cloves of garlic

½ c. pine nuts

½ c. Parmesan cheese

⅔ c. olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

To make the pesto, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. 

Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise. Spread pesto evenly onto one side of the baguette and sprinkle mozzarella evenly along the other side. Place the tomato slices on top of the mozzarella and the avocado slices on top of the tomato. Season with salt and pepper. 

Carefully place the pesto side on top of each baguette. Roll the sandwiches tightly in foil. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Categories
Fish/Seafood Uncategorized

Mexican Crab-Stuffed Avocado

Do you ever look around at your co-workers lunches and either 1) gag, or 2) feel very impressed that they are such amazing chefs? Me too. I admit that I am pretty nosy when it comes to food, so I’m always checking out what everyone has brought from home. I think it just so happens that I have worked with some really good cooks because on some days, I just want to walk around the table with a fork and try out everyone’s leftovers from the night before. 

Well, if you are looking for a healthy lunch that is both filling and sure to impress any nosy co-worker (like me), these Mexican crab-stuffed avocados are the perfect choice. They take two minutes to make, but are gorgeous and will make you look like you are an expert in the kitchen. Best of all, they are delectable and won’t leave you hungry. Take these to work, and you’ll be the talk of the break room table.

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados, sliced in half lengthwise and pits removed

8 oz. container of crab meat (sold in the fresh seafood department in most grocery stores)

2 Tbsp. mayo 

2 green onions, sliced

2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

2 tsp. jalapenos, finely chopped

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. paprika

Juice from one lime

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Place avocado halves on a plate. Mix all other ingredients together in a small bowl. Top avocados with crab filling. Season and salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and enjoy!

Categories
Beef Soups Uncategorized

Loaded Taco Chili

I don’t meet very many people who don’t love a warm bowl of chili in the winter. The nice thing about chili is that it can appeal to everyone if the ingredients are changed up a bit. Meat lovers, vegetarians, vegans, those who like spice, and those who don’t can all find a chili to enjoy. My version of loaded taco chili can be adapted to suit any of those tastes. 

This loaded taco chili puts a different spin on traditional chili by adding taco seasoning and refried beans, rather than traditional chili ingredients. The best part is that you get to put all of your favorite taco toppings on it. If you have ever visited my website, you know I am a serious taco fan. Apparently, even my chili has to resemble a taco. And another bonus is that this chili is simple and lightning fast to make. You can go from prep to table in 20 minutes!

Ingredients:

1 lb. organic ground beef (or turkey or meat alternative)

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

15 oz. can diced tomatoes

15 oz. can corn, drained and rinsed 

15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 

15 oz. can refried beans

4 oz. can diced green chiles

8 oz. can tomato sauce

2-3 cups chicken broth

2 Tbsp. taco seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste 

Serve with:

Sour cream

Cheese

Jalapenos

Avocado 

Green onions

Cilantro 

Tortilla chips

Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook through, breaking up the meat as it cooks. If you are using turkey, you will need a little oil to cook the turkey. When the beef is cooked, add the onions and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn, kidney beans, refried beans, chicken broth and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil. Then, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

Top with your favorite taco and/or chili toppings!