Monday, October 2, 2017

Salmon with Easy Cilantro Sauce

Holding on to Summer

Last night we bbq-ed with friends at the beach. It was the first day of October and slightly chilly. But with the sand beneath our bare feet, the descending sun throwing pink into the water, the kids catching crabs, and rosé in our hands, it sure felt like it was still summer. In fact it was better than summer, because the kids were going to school the next day, and the beach felt secluded and all our own.

I made this sauce for some frozen salmon filets one night this summer when my mother-in-law was visiting. I de-seeded the jalapenos (even though the original recipe does not say to do so) because my mil does not like hot food... the sauce was still divine. The next time I make it I might be daring and leave all the seeds in, because we love hot food. But I feel it might tamper with the delicate taste of the cilantro. So please, experiment and taste as you go till you get the perfect sauce. The best part of this sauce is that all of the ingredients are supermarket staples year-round, so make this sauce in the dead of winter and conjure up some beach-y vibes. You'll feel like you're still holding on to summer.

Salmon with Cilantro Sauce
adapted from the June 2017 issue of Sunset Magazine

1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 or 2 medium de-seeded jalapenos, chopped (set seeds aside in case you want to make your sauce spicier)
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp french mustard
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup whole-milk greek yogurt (optional if you prefer a vegan sauce)
3 tbsp lime juice
4 wild salmon filets

In a food processor pulse together the first six ingredients until smooth. Add the coconut milk and the lime juice. Taste the sauce and adjust any seasonings. Add back in any jalapeno seeds if you want a spicier sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grill or pan-fry salmon filets until just done, about 3 minutes per side on medium heat for 1 inch thick filets. (If you are unsure, take them off the heat and test a center section - over-cooking salmon is an unjustifiable waste of delicious omega-3s - don't do it!)

Plate the salmon (with or without skin depending on your preference) and some rice, couscous, small potatoes or pasta and vegetables then spoon plentiful amounts of the sauce over everything. Enjoy summer on a plate.

Monday, August 28, 2017

ONE POT! whole wheat spaghetti with tomato and basil

This pasta is just magical. I gather from instagram that this is a new food trend - one-pot, no-drain, one-dish pastas that is - and, although I generally dislike food trends, "love love love" is all I have to sing after making and eating this.

And, fellow moms in my life! This pasta is revolutionary. Not only is it very quick, healthy, easy and delicious, but your kids will actually eat it! I can't think of another dish I make for dinner that is quite like it.

After having spent a full afternoon at Legoland (in a Westchester shopping center it is just a glorified Lego shop with two church-parking-lot type rides) this recipe was a joy to cook. Everything was in the pantry and it took - literally - 15 minutes to make, and my kids ate it. OMG. (Almost) better than ordering Chinese.

Enjoy people.

One-Pot Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Basil
adapted from A beautiful mess blog
One package of whole wheat spaghetti 
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes in tomato juice 
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press, or minced
3 large leaves of basil, chopped (or used dried basil)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (omit or reduce to 1/8 of a teaspoon if serving spice-sensitive kids)
2 tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
grated Parmesan for serving
In a large lidded saucepan combine the tomatoes with juices, garlic, chopped basil, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Break the pasta in half (to ensure it fits in the pot) then add to the boiling mixture and stir to ensure that all pieces of pasta are submerged in liquid. Immediately cover and reduce the heat to low and cook for 9-12 minutes (starting tasting after 9). Once the pasta has taste-tested as al dente, remove the cover and cook for one additional minute to reduce the liquid (if any). Don't worry if the pasta seems to liquidy... don't over-cook the pasta, the sauce will thicken up as you serve it. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with lots of grated parmesan.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring loin lamb chops with artichoke

Unexpected Success

Spring is a time of rebirth. And, since I made an excellent dinner tonight that took less than 20 minutes of active cooking, tasted quite good, was ingested without complaint by one of my two children, and was enough of a detour to be considered my own recipe - well then, that warrants a rebirth of my periphrastic blogging career.

Spring is also a time of cleaning. And here is where I start with the admittedly unappetizing conceit of this dish. I was cleaning out the freezer and found a half-pack of loin lamb chops from Costco, a half-carton of beef stock, and a package of quartered artichoke hearts. Uncharacteristically, I also found a half-bottle of sauvignon blanc, lanquishing forgotten behind a ketchup bottle. With fresh rosemary left over from Easter, I knew I had the makings of culinary sufficiency, sans trip to the grocery store. This in of itself is success. But true triumph was taking 15 minutes to make the dish and setting it to simmer, leaving for the playground for 2 hours, coming home to do the finishing touches, and having it taste.... GREAT! Even little G-man agreed. (Big G-man refuses point-blank to ingest any meat product that is not in sausage form, but that is a post for another day.)

Being a mother has taught me to make use of any available ingredient when preparing dinner. Anyone who has ever been to a grocery store with a toddler can attest to the  desirability necessity of avoiding ever taking a toddler to a grocery store. While you might not have the ingredients on hand to make this dish right this second, I do hope this encourages you to take a cooking technique you know and love (for me - in this instance - braising), raid your freezer and fridge and cook something unexpected! It might just amaze you.

Spring lamb chops with artichoke

Use loin lamb chops (the kind that look like triangles - NOT the kind with stick-like bone, which is a much more expensive cut of lamb and should be cooked rare or medium rare on the grill). My husband and I don't eat a lot of meat and only eat 1 chop each, but I would say a traditional American-size serving would be 2 chops per person, hence the variation in serving size.

2-4 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 lamb loin chops
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups beef or chicken stock
4 loin lamb chops
1 package frozen quartered artichoke hearts (Trader Joes brand preferred)

Take the artichoke hearts out of the freezer and leave on the counter whilst you prepare the lamb. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed medium fry-pan until shimmering. Pat dry the lamb chops and season with salt and pepper. Add the chops to the pan and until browned, about 2 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side, another 2 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Add more olive oil if necessary. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens and sweats, about 7 minutes. Add the rosemary or thyme, then add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits. Turn the heat to high and bring the wine to a boil, then add the stock and bring that to a boil. Add the lamb chops, make sure that the chops are almost completely submerged in the liquid so that they braise properly and turn the heat to low. Cover, and simmer on lowest heat for 2 hours, turning the chops over half-way through. When the meat is fork-tender (about 2 hours), remove the chops and put them on a plate and cover to keep warm. Rinse the frozen artichoke hearts with water in a colander, then add them to the broth. Turn the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 10 more minutes, or until the artichokes are cooked.

To serve place a lamp chop or two on each plate then ladle plenty of broth and artichokes over it. Serve with good bread or buttered noodles; a crisp, unfussy, green salad; and plenty of dry white wine, light-bodied red wine, or pilsner.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Easy Ricotta Pancakes

Tonight when I was putting the boys to sleep, they wouldn't stop making each other laugh hysterically. 

Here's an excerpt:
Gunnar "poo poo Mama" <laughs hysterically, in the way only an adorable 16 month old baby boy can>
Gage <laughs, tee hee hee>
Gunnar "poo poo" <hehehehe>
Gage "goo goo gah gah Mama"
<everyone dissolves in hysterical giggles>
Me "It's sleepy time guys, close your eyes, shhhhhh shhhh shhhh"
<a full minute of silence>
Gunnar "poo poo" <laughs, eyes closed the whole time>

Bathroom humor aside, this exchange was adorable and kinda the best way to wrap up a great day with these two little guys. (Gage earlier in the bath told me "Mom, Gunnar is my best friend", with a clear emphasis on "best.") I am not saying I don't have bad days with these two cuties. There are days when I want to tear my hair out, stomp, yell and throw things. There are days when I shout in anger at them, which no child deserves. I am not a perfect mama and it is not a perfect life. But today was pretty great. And I think that part of the reason that happened is because I woke up, made coffee, then right away made these pancakes with both boys as my special big helpers. 

These are some of the best pancakes AND also some of the easiest. I'm actually astonished I haven't blogged about them before, because I make them at least once every other week. They are delectable enough to serve to guests for a fancy brunch, but so easy you'll want to make them all the time. Five ingredients people! That's almost the same number of ingredients you need for box-mix pancakes! And don't be intimidated by breaking out the hand mixer for the egg whites.... It really only takes one extra minute and it ensures the light-as-air texture which makes them so very, very good. Plus, there's nothing like enticing little ones to help then letting them press buttons on a fancy electronic toy.

Easy Ricotta Pancakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/3 cup whole milk ricotta (preferably Trader Joe's brand)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs, separated 

In a large bowl, mix the first four ingredients, plus the egg yolks until smooth. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form (whites stay in shape when you lift the beaters up.) Mix 1/3 of whipped egg whites gently into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the rest of the egg whites, very gently until just combined. Scoop up the batter using a 1/4 cup measuring cup and pour onto a well-buttered hot griddle or skillet (NOT non-stick) and cook over low heat until bubbles form, then flip over gently and cook till cooked through. Repeat until all pancakes are cooked, making sure to add more butter to the pan before each batch addition.

For company, serve with berries and powdered sugar (really no syrup needed!) 

You can also substitute the vanilla for 1 teaspoon lemon zest, or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.

I've also made these with half full-fat Greek yogurt and half ricotta, and they were also very tasty, although less fluffy.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Whole grain chocolate fudge cake

One of my favorite little kid book authors is Sandra Boynton. One of her books, a book of moods, goes through different ways a child could be feeling. "Angry as a duck" "contented as a frog" and so on, pairing moods with animals you weren't sure could ever have one. But my favorite page is near the end "You might feel that, somehow, you've lost all your fizz. Or you're frazzled like a... frazzled thing. I'm not sure what is is." Well, Mrs Boynton, I'll tell you, that frazzled thing - as I'm sure you know since you've been one yourself - is a mommy of young children. In particular, this mommy, whose 1 year old is cutting four molars at once (why!?) and suffering from a bad head cold and thus up at least five times a night, and whose 4 year old (although sleeping in his own bed on his own in his own room - yay!) wakes up like clockwork at 4:30 or 5. Oh, and whose husband has been working 80-90 hr weeks for months now. I am really just spent. And so, when my kid wants chocolate cake, instead of being like oh, let's cut up some apples in star shapes! I'm like, YES. CHOCOLATE CAKE. NOW. GREAT IDEA.

However, my inner supermama is like, woah, hold on. Yes we can make chocolate cake, but let's try to make it just a little bit healthy. Because, you know, then you can eat half of it and not feel guilty, errr I mean, you can feel just a little better about giving it to your precious progeny.

My previous attempt at whole grain chocolate cake was an utter failure. Way too crumbly. Although I must say that my kids clearly have no culinary standards when it comes to chocolate because they both devoured it. But this time..... this time.... ahhhhhh. It is SOOO good. It is ahhh okay I don't care I was woken up at 4am after only a few hours of broken sleep because if I had slept a full 8 hours I would be eating apples cut into cute shapes instead of this divinity - good.

So, go on, get into the kitchen already. This is so easy to whip up and you will feel so much better after having a piece. Happy as a hippo. I promise.

Whole grain Chocolate Fudge Cake
adapted from King Arthur Flour

I'm a bit anti-egg recently for no real reason, so I used chia seeds as an egg substitute. Do whatever is easiest for you, but trust me that the chia seeds are awesome and make the cake just a tad more crumbly than it would otherwise be. (Just don't try to unmold the egg-less cake onto a plate, this is pure snack cake, not party cake.) Also, I used a cocoa brand which is half dutch-processed, half not. The original recipe called for dutch-processed only, which is why I added a bit of baking powder. If you use pure dutch-processed you can probably omit the baking powder, and if you only have Hershey's (which is not dutch-processed) then I would probably cut the baking soda in half and double the baking powder. As for flour, I used this awesome sprouted spelt flour I got at whole foods. I would go cautiously if using a super heavy whole-grain flour. When you measure it out, if you can see a lot of bran in the flour then I would use half white flour. Lastly, you can swap out the oils mentioned for almost any oil you prefer. Using half coconut or half peanut would work nicely too. 

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons coffee
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups whole grain spelt, ancient wheat, or other sprouted flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk or European style yogurt
2 large eggs, or 2 tablespoons chia seeds soaked in 6 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 10 x 8, or 9 x 13 pan.

Put cocoa in a small mixing bowl and pour boiling hot water over it, whisking until smooth. Add in coffee and oil, whisk together.

In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. Pour the cocoa mixture over and stir until combined. Add the eggs (or chia mixture), the buttermilk and the vanilla and stir until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan and bake just until a toothpick comes out with with moist crumbs. This took about a half hour for me, but as always, bake time will depend on the baking vessel, the weather, the altitude and your oven. Do not overbake!!

Eat with your kids and don't feel guilty.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Zucchini Ginger Bread

When you're pregnant everyone wants to know what things you crave. The pickles and ice cream imagery is ingrained in our collective popular culture. It is also the only one of the more pleasant and conversationable sides of pregnancy. (No one ever asks if you've mapped out every conceivable public restroom within a 20-block walk of your home. Thanks for asking, I have.)

My pregnancy cravings are audience-appeasing odd. Like canned sardines, hot fudge and mayonnaisey lobster rolls. Recently, on a hot, sunny, bright-blue-typical summer day I had an intense craving for.... gingerbread. Dark, intense, wintery gingerbread. Of all things? So having just been gifted a Frankenstein of a zucchini from a recent trip up north, I summer-ized my craving and produced something really worthy of a reincarnation or two before zucchini season departs.

I imagine Olaf the summer snowman particularly enjoying this recipe. My toddler loves this bread too; I think he'd like it even more if I dubbed it Olaf's bread. (And while you're at it, watch Frozen if you haven't already. You can thank me later.)

Zucchini Ginger Bread

As always I used spelt flour, which, in case you needed a reminder, is 100% swappable 1:1 for wheat flour and comes in light (re: all-purpose) or whole grain (re: like "whole wheat") varieties. I used half light spelt and half whole grain spelt and would recommend a 50/50 split for those using wheat too.

This makes a dark, gingery, spicey loaf. Don't worry about missing the "zucchini" taste - does zucchini really taste like anything anyway? - but you can half the ginger if you want a milder bread.

Makes 2 loafs

2 cups spelt flour (see note above)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 and grease two loaf pans. 
In a large bowl whisk together the first 8 ingredients. In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, molasses, eggs and oil until very well combined. Dump the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined. Fold in the zucchini. Spread evenly into the two pans and bake for about 45 mins - 1 hour, depending on oven temperature and type of pan used. A toothpick inserted in the middle should have moist crumbs - don't overbake. This bread freezes very well, just make sure it is completely cool before wrapping in plastic and freezing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blue cornmeal pancakes

I have a thing about pancakes. I am not a great morning person and yet every morning I make a cooked breakfast, and half the time it is pancakes. Many might find it odd that an am grump could muster the energy and enthusiasm to bake. But to me, cold cereal is one of the few things that can make a morning worse than it already de facto is. You will know I am in a deep funk if you ever find me serving my kids Cheerios at 7am.

So I already have at least five different pancake recipes up - more for my own convenience than for hope that anyone else will be crazy enough to follow my morning lead - but I love these blue ones too so I had to copy it down here. The original recipe from joy of cooking calls for yellow cornmeal but I love using blue cornmeal for the fun slightly blue tinge it gives the pancakes. This recipe makes a lot of pancakes, enough for at least four adults. I make the full batch and freeze half. Don't be alarmed by the quantity of butter - use highest quality, you don't have to butter the pan before cooking, and also remember fat is now good for you. (

Blue cornmeal pancakes
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. Serve with berries and syrup for breakfast, or cut out the sugar & vanilla and add in 3/4 cup corn kernels and serve them with sausages for dinner

1 1/4 cup blue cornmeal
3/4 white spelt flour (or all-purpose)
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and combine with just a few quick strokes of the whisk. Preheat a griddle or fry pan over medium or medium-low. Pour pancakes by 1/4 cupfuls, flip when bubbles form on the top then cook through in the other side. This batter is particularly sensitive to temperature changes, it might take a few batches for you to get the griddle temperature just right for the perfect pancake.