Posted by: Hil | May 2, 2013

Eating Through the Work Week

For me, eating well is about 25% creativity and 75% comfortable rhythms.  If I don’t keep things simple during the work week, I’m never going to be able to maintain a regimen of mostly home cooked meals.  If I never play with my food on weekends or in the evening, I get bored.  Knowing what works is one thing and executing it is another.  It takes more discipline than I would like to admit to feed myself well during the week when food is the last thing on my mind.

For me, a successful food week starts with weekend shopping and Sunday afternoon prep.  I pick a lunch that I could stand eating a week straight and make sure I have ingredients.  I do not have the mental energy to concoct an interesting or varied lunch repertoire.  It works the best when I pick one thing, plan ahead for it and stick with it.  Anything fiddly or that requires prep is done in advance so that I can just grab and go.  If I want to eat pistachios and raisins as a mid-afternoon snack, I make enough individual bags to last me through the week.  I always feel ridiculous doing this.  How long does it take put some raisins and nuts in a bag in the morning?  Not long at all.  But I know myself.  I know what I am like in the mornings.  The odds of my snack making it into my lunch bag are exponentially increased if all I have to do it pick up.

CIMG4462

Sunday night also means making a big batch of something that will feed me multiple nights for the next week.  I usually get bored eating the same thing every night, but it is vital to my sanity to have something that only needs heating up for the inevitably multiple nights per week when I’m either (1) at work longer than expected or (2) have just enough time to eat something before running to choir or a workout.  Lentil soup is the obvious no brainer:  vegetables, protein and fiber all in one big comforting pot.  I also try to keep a couple of veggies and proteins on hand such that I can cook myself a different dinner on the couple of nights a week that I get home early or not terribly hungry.

CIMG4441 

I can’t get through my morning at work without a good breakfast.  My breakfasts during the week are boring, but make me happy and keep me full.

CIMG4475

Whole wheat toast with peanut butter has been my default breakfast since I was eleven years old. Lots of nutritious fiber, protein, low GI carbs and fat in one crunchy, creamy piece. Plus I can eat it one handed if I am in a rush. These days, I almost always use Ezekiel bread—I find that it keeps me full longer and I like the crunch when it toasts up. Desafortunadamente, although toast and coffee are all that I really want in the morning, they don’t keep me full until lunch.  I’ve had to add more food to my breakfasts in order to make it through to lunch time.

CIMG4467 

Adding fruit and yogurt or kefir to my breakfast  usually does the trick.  When my mind rebels against the idea of having to sit down and eat anything with a spoon, I go the smoothie route.  I love my bullet blender very much because it is so easy to make single servings of things and is so easy to clean up.  From left to right:  strawberry-kefir smoothie and blueberry-mango kefir smoothie.

CIMG4458CIMG4473

I get very munchy at work when I am just hanging out in the office, so I like to pack things that I can either together or in separate snacks depending on my appetite.  This week’s lunch:  Turkey and arugula with mustard and mayo on whole wheat, apple, string cheese and a small cookie from the Homeboy bakery (parting gift from last weekend’s dinner).

CIMG4451 (2)

I do not like sandwiches that taste mostly of bread.  Piling the protein high is key.  I like to roll my turkey it into loose cylinders before piling it onto my sandwich.  It makes the sandwich neater to eat and I like the effect on the overall sandwich texture—it gives the sandwich more heft when you bite into it.

CIMG4447

Then when I get home at the end of the day, all I have to do for dinner is heat up my soup, sprinkle on a garnish and grab a piece of fruit or bread to complete the meal.  I think lentil soup may be my all time favorite comfort food. 

CIMG4443

Just two more days until the weekend…

Posted by: Hil | April 28, 2013

Homeboy Industries Lo Maximo Dinner

Yesterday, the Lemonator and I had the opportunity to attend a benefit dinner that aided one of our favorite charities:  Homeboy Industries.  Homeboy Industries is a big deal here in Los Angeles.  Los Angeles is the gang capital of the country and Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program in the country.  Homeboy provides a way out of the cycle of self-destruction and violence for many people who see few other options.  Homeboy Industries provides tattoo removal, mental health services, case management and job training to formerly incarcerated and formerly gang-involved young people.  Homebody Industries runs several businesses—including a bakery and a restaurant—that serve as job training sites and help fund Homeboy’s other services.  People deemed “unemployable” by most of society are able to get their first legitimate jobs at Homeboy, earning money to support their families and finding a new sense of confidence and accomplishment.  By offering both work and support services in a single location, Homeboy Industries significantly increases the likelihood that participants will take advantage of the full range of services offered.  In addition, former gang members who work at Homeboy Industries have the opportunity to work side by side with former rivals.  Gang violence is an incredibly difficult and complex problem, and Homeboy Industries truly makes a difference.  Their motto says it all: Nothing stops a bullet like a job.  Los Angeles needs them, and they need all the support that they can get. Oh, and they make really delicious bread, too.

CIMG4436

Dinner was preceded by a mass celebrated by Homeboy Industries founder Father Greg Boyle (also known as Father G).  Father Greg is an amazing speaker—if he ever comes to speak in your neck of the woods, you should go hear him.  It is also a funny life experience to attend a mass in a room full of people in cocktail dresses!  Next came wine and hors d’ouevres prepared by Homegirl Cafe and Homeboy Bakery.  These were delicious and definitely the culinary highlight of the night.

CIMG4386

A Homeboy Industries event would not be complete without lots and lots of freshly baked bread.  You could smell it from across the room. 

CIMG4391

At the end of the night, they gave away bags of it for free. I scored a big loaf of sesame bread and a bunch of little cinnamon raisin rolls.

CIMG4430

Homegirl cafe serves fresh, light modern versions of classic Mexican dishes.  Everything is colorful and seasonal, with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables and beautiful presentation.  Homegirl cafe is famous for their salsas.  From top to bottom:  roasted poblano salsa, mango salsa, and guacamole.  All three were amazing, but the roasted poblano was my favorite.

CIMG4387 

Camarones aguachile.  The Lemonator thinks that the beautiful presentation was a pun—rock shrimp indeed!

CIMG4397a

I had two of the camarones and a skewer of al pastor with red and green chile sauces.  The al pastor was a nice savory-sweet combination and the shrimp were amazing.  The fresh, zesty lime flavor really came through.  I would have happily eaten a plate of those.  I also managed to grab two amazing passed appetizers—a watermelon, queso fresco, green apple and purslane skewer and a spoonful of scallop ceviche.  Both were beautiful and delicious.  Both were going fast enough that I didn’t have a chance to snap a picture!

CIMG4398

The recipes for all of the food we ate are included in the cookbook Hungry for Life by Homegirl Cafe head chef Pati Zarate.  Of course I had to pick up a copy.  I love that kind of fresh, happy colorful food and am working on expanding my repertoire of Mexican recipes.

CIMG4424 

We also had to pay a visit to the cheese table, which featured a variety of fresh fruit, cheese and handmade Mexican candy.

CIMG4406

I had berries (of course!), herbed queso and a piece of sweet potato candy. 

CIMG4410

And some wine to go with.

CIMG4399

Next we headed over to dinner.

CIMG4419

Dinner was catered by the venue. To start we had a white and green asparagus salad with a balsamic reduction.  I am so stealing this idea.  It was simple but looked beautiful on the plate and was very seasonal. 

CIMG4414

The main course was a surf-and-turf affair with forbidden rice, Brussels sprouts and carrots.  Our table got into a minor debate about what the grain was underneath the meat.  It was obvious from the color and texture that it was not normal white rice.  Guesses included wild rice and bulgur wheat.  I said that it was black rice (also known as forbidden rice).  Eventually someone flagged down a waiter to settle the dispute.  I was right—it was forbidden rice!  I need to see if I can find black rice to cook at home sometime—it is both delicious and good for you.

CIMG4415

Since it is Homeboy Industries’ 25th anniversary, we also celebrated with cake from the Homeboy Bakery. 

CIMG4418  

Father Greg made his way around to say hi to everyone.

CIMG4417

During dinner, we got to hear testimonials from a number of the homies who are currently working for Homeboy Industries in various capacities.  Wow.  No two stories were exactly alike, but they shared common themes.  So many of the people who spoke were exposed to neglect, addiction, abuse and violence from very early ages.  They described what Father Greg would refer to as a “lethal absence of hope.”  One young man shared how when he was six years old, he had a teenage neighbor who was a mentor to him.  His neighbor would tell him to stay away from gangs and to cross the street when he saw certain people coming.  He made sure that he got to school on time.  His neighbor would tell him that they were both going to graduate from high school and go to college.  His neighbor was shot to death right in front of him while they were walking together to school.  When he was six years old.  Even more striking than the horrific circumstances the speakers described was their tenacity and courage in choosing the difficult task of rebuilding their lives from the ground up.  Again, the words from Father Greg’s wonderful book, Tattoos on the Heart come to mind:

  • “Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”
  • “If there is a fundamental challenge within these stories, it is simply to change our lurking suspicion that some lives matter less than other lives.”

Speaking of which, if you haven’t read it yet, please find a copy of Tattoos on the Heart:  The Power of Boundless Compassion by Homeboy Industries founder Father Gregory Boyle.  It is a beautiful, hilarious, heartbreaking, hopeful book about the redemptive power of love and the dignity and worth of every human life.  It is a book that has meant a lot to me on a personal level. 

I don’t blog much about my work.  Suffice it to say that what I do for a living gives me the opportunity and the responsibility of witnessing a lot of human suffering.  In particular, I spent some time a job that gave me an up-close-and-personal glimpse of poverty, gangs, urban crime and the prison system.  I will never be the same after doing that work.  I wouldn’t want to be.  Things that used to be abstractions to me are now specific names, faces, families, and stories that would break your heart.  At times, the pain I witnessed was overwhelming.  I strove to do my job to the best of my ability, but I remained keenly aware that our society is deeply fractured and broken in ways that are beyond the scope of my job and beyond my individual ability to fix.  Despite the tremendous success of his programs, Father Greg maintains that “success” and “results” are not really the point.  Father Boyle writes:

I want to lean into the challenge of intractable problems with as tender a heart as I can locate, knowing that there is some divine ingenuity here, “the slow work of God,’” that gets done if we’re faithful.  

Me too. 

Posted by: Hil | April 27, 2013

Free Time

 CIMG4367  

When I have a lazy Saturday or rare free day to myself, there isn’t much I like better than enjoying the beautiful sunshine (there is never enough of that for us office workers!) and visiting some of my favorite local shops.  People say that cities are lonely and impersonal, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case.  The thing about cities is that you have get out and explore a bit.  After awhile, you start to see the same faces at your local yoga class, pet supply store and farmer’s market.  You get to know the flavor of different parts of the city.  After awhile, you have favorite haunts.  Even when you don’t have a friend to spend the afternoon with, you know all the places you can go that will be full of beautiful, unique things and fun people-watching.   

CIMG4361

No free day is complete for me without either a long walk or a workout.  It is such a pleasure to be able to exercise when I’m not either half-asleep or exhausted from a long day of work.  I have lots of energy to burn, and I get to enjoy sunlight streaming in through the windows while I work out.  Incidentally, I’ve figured out that I actually do love exercise—just not running or long workouts at the gym.  I can even do unmodified pushups now!  But that is a subject for another post…

CIMG4328

The used bookstore is always high up on my list of places to visit.  There are few things more beautiful than stacks of books.  Many of my favorite bookstores have closed in the wake of Amazon and the Kindle, but there are still a few great bookstores that I love to stop by when I get the chance.

CIMG4324

CIMG4329

The shop owners like to play classical music in the background.  This time, the sound of the music mixed with the happy squeals of children playing behind the building.

 CIMG4325

I guess the kids like the sunshine, too!

CIMG4326    

To my happiness, I found a copy of an old favorite cookbook: Laurel’s Kitchen.   I love this delightfully old-school, hippie vegetarian cookbook for its simple, frugal recipes that celebrate vegetables and whole foods.  In particular, it has an excellent selection of recipes for 100% whole wheat baked goods.  It’s fairly preachy about its food philosophy and (in the original edition) has some—interesting—things to say about women working outside of the home.  But the authors’ passion for whole foods is obvious and the recipes are tasty.  I have fond memories of attempting to make whole wheat spinach and ricotta canneloni with Blueberry Sis.  It will be a welcome edition to my cookbook collection.

CIMG4353                

I also paid a visit to one of my all-time favorite small businesses:  Soaptopia!  This place is amazing—they make high quality natural soaps and skin products that smell to-die-for delicious and work wonders on sensitive skin.  I have a family full of people with very sensitive skin and allergies to many fragrances, and everyone loves Soaptopia’s products.  The soaps are creamy and gentle and smell amazing.

CIMG4299

The 50/50 balm may be my favorite product—think globs of rich moisturizing cream surrounded by scented oils, which you can swirl together and then apply.  Amazing.

CIMG4297

You can buy the products online (or at Whole Foods, if you live in LA), but walking through the store is like an aromatherapy session.  If you come at the right time, you can watch them cooking up the soaps right in front of you.

CIMG4294

One of my favorite weekend eats is whole wheat pita pizza.  It’s quick, tasty and easy to create with whatever you have on hand.  Last night’s version: marinara sauce, feta, canned tuna and fresh arugula.     

CIMG4356

For brunch today, I made savory whole wheat French toast, which the Lemonator and I both love.  I actually prefer it to traditional sweet French toast.  You simply flavor the egg-milk mixture with salt, pepper, fresh herbs and grated parmesan cheese.  This is especially good if you have any stale rosemary bread, but any whole wheat bread will work.  The end result is hearty and flavorful, but not too heavy.  I like to serve it with a simple green salad with lemon and olive oil.

CIMG4374

Bagheera has been eager to join in anything interesting going on.

CIMG4379

But Kimba prefers to nap.

CIMG4376 

Happy weekend!

CIMG4369

Posted by: Hil | April 25, 2013

Roasted Daikon

 CIMG4289

Gigantic daikon radishes are cheap at my local farmer’s market right now.   My pictures do not do not do justice to the size of these things.  They are enormous.  So naturally I come home with one almost as long as my arm before I have the slightest idea what I was going to do with it.  I have always eaten daikon radishes raw, either cut into plain sticks (like jicama) or in a crunchy, vinegary salad with carrots and bell peppers.  The Lemonator does not like raw radish, and I had doubts about my ability to polish off the entire thing alone.  I began to wonder if it was possible to cook with daikon.  Per the internet, daikon can be cooked—even cut up and roasted.  I had never tasted cooked radish in my life, but I am game to try anything once.

CIMG4291

 CIMG4293

Since there were lots of great root veggies at the farmers market, I decided to roast it with chicken and other vegetables. This way, if the Lemonator did not like it, he would still have other parts of the meal to eat. I cut up the daikon into cubes, tossed it with a bit of olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and roasted it at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  My personal secrets to juicy roast chicken with delicious crispy skin are:

  • Bone in, skin on chicken thighs or leg quarters.  They are cheaper, juicier and more flavorful than white meat chicken.  I find it difficult to keep roasted white meat juicy while still crisping up the skin.
  • Pat the skin dry and season well with Lawry’s seasoned salt before cooking.  I know, I know, but it is delicious!  If you must, you can use regular salt.  Make sure that the skin is adjusted to fully cover the top of the meat—you do not want it sliding off, as this will let your meat dry out.
  • Bake at 400 for 45 minutes to start.  It may take up to an hour depending on your chicken.  Because of the fat in the skin and meat, chicken thighs are very forgiving and shouldn’t dry out if you need to cook them longer.  Your gauge for doneness is the skin:  it should be a beautiful deep golden brown.  Most of the fat should have rendered out, leaving the skin thin, crisp and stiff to the touch.
  • If you have potato lovers in the house, you can put thinly sliced potato under the chicken.  As the chicken cooks, the tasty fat will render out and soak into the potatoes.  This is very festive and tasty.

CIMG4312

Yum. And it is true: you really can cook daikon radishes!  They are much milder and less spicy in their cooked form—almost like a juicy potato with a mild radish flavor.  The Lemonator even happily ate a portion.

CIMG4314

I love raw daikon, but after trying them this way, I think that the cooked version will be making a repeat appearance in my kitchen.

Posted by: Hil | April 24, 2013

Tuna Stuffed Peppers

CIMG4267  

This delicious dinner recipe is slightly adapted from one in my new favorite cookbook:  From a Monastery Kitchen by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette.  The book is a treasure trove of simple, delicious recipes that can be made with fresh vegetables and inexpensive pantry staples.  The cookbook is largely vegetarian, with a few recipes that use fish.  This dish has become a dinner staple at our house.  The creamy tuna filling is really delicious and comforting and pairs really well with the sweet bell pepper.

First, boil four large bell peppers whole for about 5 minutes. You can use any color, but red is my favorite.

CIMG4256

When they have cooled, cut off the tops and scoop out the seeds and membrane.  If your peppers are not regular in shape and will not stand up, then you can cut them in half instead.

CIMG4257

Beat together 1 egg and 1/3 cup of cream.  Next, mix in 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, 1 smallish onion (chopped), 1 tablespoon  mustard, and one six ounce can of tuna, flaked.  If you have parsley or any other  fresh herbs on hand, you can chop that up and add it to the filling as well.  Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.  Stuff the mixture into the peppers and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle the top with grated cheese of your choice, then put it back in the oven for about five minutes, until the cheese melts.

CIMG4261

If you feel like it, you can garnish the tops with more fresh herbs.  I love the way that green herbs look against the red pepper and the melted cheese.

 CIMG4265

Enjoy hot.  If you have leftovers, these are also very good reheated the next day.

 CIMG4266

Bon appetit!

Posted by: Hil | April 20, 2013

Yukon Gold and Leek Gratin

 CIMG4280

I think that leeks are one of the best values at farmers’ markets.  In stores, so often the leeks that are available are mostly dark green with just a couple inches of the edible pale and white goodness.  At my farmers market, I can always find huge, fresh leeks that I only have to discard the very tips of.  And they are almost always cheap.  Normally, I use my leeks in soup or just halve and roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper—simple and delicious.  A couple of days ago, however, I wanted a heartier preparation to go with the chicken tenders I had planned for dinner.  I had a big bag of beautiful Yukon Gold potatoes in the pantry, so a potato-leek gratin seemed like a natural solution.  I wasn’t feeling like something quite as creamy and cheesy and rich as a traditional gratin, which typically calls for pouring straight cream over the leeks and potatoes.  I wanted to make something that tasted recognizably like a gratin, but in which the fresh leeks and potatoes could really be the stars rather than the cream.

First, I thinly sliced two Yukon Gold potatoes, layered them in the bottom of a baking dish, and seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme.  (Whenever reducing fat in a recipe, make sure to double and triple check that you have seasoned everything well at each stage of preparation.)

CIMG4272

Next, I thinly sliced two large leeks and minced a clove of garlic.  I softened them slightly in a pan with some butter, then added a sauce-like amount (about a cup?) of low fat milk.  I spiked the milk with a glug of cream (~3 tbsp) to help with thickening and flavor.  I would not use skim milk for this—you need some fat to make things creamy and cohesive.  Next, I added salt, pepper, thyme and a bay leaf to the mix.  I let the leek-milk mixture cook on medium heat for awhile, stirring occasionally.  This allowed the flavor of the leeks and herbs to seep into the milk and also let the milk reduce down a bit to become thicker and creamier.

 

CIMG4271  

Next, fish out the bay leaf, pour the leek-milk mixture over the potatoes and top with 2 oz. of shredded Rubusto cheese.  You can use another cheese—Gruyere and Parmesan are traditional–but I like Rubusto because it is full-flavored (so you don’t need as much) and browns prettily.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese is browned.  If it looks like your gratin is drying out too much during cooking, you can add a splash of milk at each corner of the gratin.

 CIMG4275 

I was a little bit nervous at first about using milk instead of cream—some dishes really do need a heavy hand with cream in order to come out right. To my delight, this turned out great.  It was lighter and sweeter than a traditional gratin, but I didn’t miss the extra cream or cheese at all.  The leeks and potatoes were tender and savory, and the cheese and herbs added just enough of a punch of flavor.  I was glad that I used Yukon Gold potatoes, which are a naturally creamy potato that bring a lot of flavor to the party.  The Lemonator also gave his stamp of approval, pronouncing it “tasty.”  I will be making this again.

CIMG4278

Posted by: Hil | April 18, 2013

Pan-Fried Turkey and Scrambled Egg Sandwich

 

 CIMG4248

On a day-to-day basis, I rarely have time for new recipes.  For the most part, it is all about pulling the most flavor and fun that I can out of whatever fresh ingredients I happen to have in my fridge.  One trick that The Lemonator has taught me is pan-cooking plain deli turkey before adding it to a toasty sandwich.  Cooking deli turkey really gives it more flavor and texture.  The Lemonator eats his pan-fried turkey on plain buttered whole wheat bread.  I also like to combine my turkey with scrambled eggs—in this case, eggs scrambled with scallions and feta.  The creamy eggs, toasty bread and savory turkey are a very satisfying pairing that work equally well for for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I am finally starting to feel better from the flu.  I find that there tends to be an awkward to-exercise-or-not-to-exercise dilemma when you are recovering from an illness.  On the one hand, I am feeling quite a bit better, I am tired of taking it easy physically, and moving my body would feel really good.  On the other hand, I am still coughing too much to do much in the way of cardiovascular exercise.  I thought of going to a beginning yoga class yesterday as a way to ease back into things, but it occurred to me that I should probably wait on group exercise classes until I am positive that I am not contagious.  I decided that a short home yoga session was my best bet:  I could take things at my own pace, but still loosen up my stiff muscles.  The Lemonator joined me.  I love doing home yoga with friends and family (especially yoga newbies) because being in the role of teacher helps me to remember and focus on some of the important basics of yoga technique.  For the Lemonator, I came up with a short sequence that was geared towards developing proper alignment in down dog:  Lots of hamstring stretches, and lots of poses that involve pushing up and lengthening the body using the support of the arms.  Positioning and supporting through the hands, arms, and shoulders took me a long time to figure out in the basic yoga poses (I’m still a work in progress), and I think it is a common beginner’s struggle.  When you figure out how your body is supposed to be aligned, the poses feel completely different.  Then the real work begins!

Posted by: Hil | April 16, 2013

Returning

blueberry trail 

If an elephant sits in an empty room…does it make a sound?

So.  I’ve recently started posting here again after a roughly two and a half year absence.  And now here I am.

I took a (long) break from posting here for a lot of reasons, most of them not very interesting.  In the interim, I passed the bar and got a Real Grownup Job working 9 to 5 (or 6 or 7 or later).  I’ve lived and learned a lot.  When I catch a moment to breathe, I still love to cook, and write and think about life.

I gather than many people start fresh with a whole new blog after taking a break of this length.  But I love this space.  It is a labor of love that I have poured many hours into. It has been a place to muse and experiment and troubleshoot both food and life. It has been a personal recipe archive that my husband regularly consults when he wants to look up a favorite recipe.  When I am lucky, it has been a place to connect with fun, thoughtful people (both old and new) who have shared their own insights, recipes and ideas.  I have good memories here.  There are still too many of my favorite recipes that have yet to be shared, and this is where I want to share them.

So here I am.  And if anyone would care to join me, then all the better.

Posted by: Hil | April 16, 2013

Cilantro Lime Spaghetti With Shredded Chicken

CIMG4247   

The Lemonator and I have soft tacos and Caldo de Pollo for dinner on a regular basis.  Both are simple, quick, sustaining and flavorful.  The problem with taco night (or Caldo de Pollo night) is those pesky leftover bits of chopped onion, cilantro, lime wedges and cooked meat that are so difficult to incorporate into anything else.  Onion and cooked chicken or steak I can usually find a use for, but all too often my cilantro turns into a slimy mess in the fridge before I can figure out how to use it.  Pasta to the rescue!

CIMG4181

I figured that if lime and cilantro taste good in rice, they should taste good on another carbohydrate, too.  This lunchtime improvisation was surprisingly tasty.  While my whole wheat spaghetti cooked, I sautéed my leftover chopped onion and a clove of minced garlic in some olive oil.  I added my leftover shredded chicken in the pan and let it reheat.  When the pasta was cooked, I added it to the pan and stirred to combine everything.  I added fresh lime juice, a bit more olive oil, and LOTS of chopped cilantro.  This is definitely a cilantro lover’s recipe, but keep in mind that the cilantro will wilt down a lot and take on a much less assertive flavor when heated.  If you like cilantro, don’t be afraid to add plenty. 

CIMG4242

This was very tasty:  the bright lime flavor was the most pronounced, with the cilantro and garlic acting as strong supporting players.  Next time, I would add slivers of carrot along with the onion and garlic—I think the bittersweet crunchiness and bright orange color would have been just the thing to tie everything together.  The Lemonator is not a cilantro person, so I unfortunately cannot make this for dinner, but it can definitely stay in the rotation of post-taco night lunches for one.

Posted by: Hil | April 15, 2013

Asparagus and Feta Frittata

  CIMG4218

I am fickle about frittatas.  I will go for months where omelets and frittatas are staples in my regular lunch and dinner repertoire.  Then a few of them will burn or stick to the pan (this always happens when I am on my last egg) and I will go an on an unspoken egg strike.  After some weeks or months of this, a small voice will pipe up in the back of my head:  “Psst!  Remember frittatas and omelets?  Those things that are savory and delicious and can be made in 10 minutes from whatever you have in your fridge?  Remember how they are also cheap?  And good for you?”

“I’ll burn it.”  I reply to the voice sullenly.

Not if you watch it closely.

“It will stick to the pan and fall apart when I try to take it out.”

That’s why we add butter to the pan!  And if that happens you can just stir it up and call it a veggie scramble.

“Veggie scramble sounds less impressive than frittata.”

Just try!  You’ve done this a hundred times!

Eventually the small voice (of reason?) wins out.  This time, the star ingredients are both farmers market finds:  tender asparagus and fresh feta cheese.  First, I removed the tough ends of the asparagus and cut up the remainder.  Next, I sauté the asparagus in the bottom of my pan on medium heat with butter, thyme and minced garlic.

CIMG4204

Next, in go four eggs (I was sharing with the Lemonator) beaten with a splash of milk.  When the eggs started to set up, I seasoned everything waith salt and pepper and sprinkled fresh feta over the top.  Finally, I stuck the whole pan underneath the broiler until the eggs on top set.  You can cook them until the top is golden brown, but I like my frittatas golden on the bottom and just set on the top.  Next the moment of truth:  will the frittata slide out of the pan in one piece so that I can cut it up and serve?

CIMG4212

  Success!

CIMG4214

That wasn’t so hard after all.  Add some buttered toast, and brunch is served.  And it tasted delicious—fluffy egg, salty cheese and fresh asparagus and herbs make a great combination for a spring meal. 

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories