Photo Apr 25, 1 55 51 PM (1) Versatile. Fresh. Bright. Super green. Delicious.

One of my favorite things about walking into a kitchen is the smells. Roasted garlic, chiffonade basil, tangy meyer lemon, vibrant california olive oil, roasted almonds. Kale does not arouse the same tantalizing response that these smells do, despite it’s popularity, yet it is the main ingredient in this simple condiment. Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, you won’t even feel guilty about adding parmesan cheese and spreading it on a ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Use this on anything, never buy store bought pesto again, and maybe it will awaken your senses and change your whole day or night.

kale processor

Ingredients:

1 meyer lemon, juiced

1/2 cup raw almonds, lightly toasted

1-2 large garlic clove, smashed

about 3 cups chopped kale (or, a big handful of leaves, torn roughly)

a sprig of basil

1/4 cup grated parm cheese

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
In a food processor, pulse smashed garlic clove until chopped finely (about less than a minute). Add kale, toasted almonds, meyer lemon juice and parm cheese until combined, stopping to push down the kale on the sides a couple times.

With the food processor running on low, add olive oil in a steady stream until you get the consistency you want. I went with about a full cup of olive oil.

Add salt and pepper; taste; adjust as you like.

You may omit the cheese, pick different nuts or even use seeds instead. This turned out pretty garlicky so you may want to only use one clove. Use your blender if you do not have a food processor.

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I first discovered these flavorful leaves last Spring and I was instantly enamored. They are intense without being harsh. Fava leaves are delicate yet hearty, light, smooth and delicious. You can use them similarly like you would a spinach: in omelets, on pizzas in soups or in pastas. I prefer fava leaves lightly dressed in a simple salad with seasonal ingredients. Tonight I made a fava leaf salad, with easter egg radishes thinly sliced and a meyer lemon dressing. The perfect spring meal to say goodbye to winter.

easter egg radish

Meyer Lemon Salad Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon
1 tablespoon agave nectar
 
Whisk together the ingredients and set aside, assemble the salad with your favorites. I choose thinly sliced easter egg radishes, toasted sunflower seeds and fava leaves. Yum!

 

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Cheese + bread and I am happy on my desolate island, maybe let me bring soft bedding, a few good books, and Laura Mercier body cream in Fresh Fig, but most importantly the good cheese and bread. I have always been a super practical girl. Obviously I am a total sucker for pizza and I know I am not alone. Last week I made a grown up version at home, a throw back to when we used to make mini pizzas on english muffins as kids and got so excited to put on our own toppings. There are so many ways to add healthy, fresh, seasonal ingredients to pizza all year long, and it’s fun to get creative. Try to stick to one or two cuisine types for each pizza, like a mexican inspired, or california seafood style pizza when creating

I had some local baby fennel, and yellow cipollini onions on hand and decided to make a sauceless simple pair of pizzas.

2 baby fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
1 medium yellow cipollini onion, sliced thinly
Olive oil
2 prepared pizza dough packs from Trader Joes
1/2 cup Parmesan shavings
1 container of ovoline fresh mozzarella
1 granny smith apple
a few ounces of proscuitto
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium low heat, add the onion and fennel and let them soften. In the meantime, stretch the dough and transfer to a baking sheet or pizza stone, cook each pizza on the same sheet or separately. Brush with olive oil and bake until dry to prevent the toppings from making the dough soggy. Remove from oven and place the onion/fennel, proscuitto, mozzarella and Parmesan on one pizza, and on the other substitute apple for the proscuitto. Bake until bubbly, tender and golden. Enjoy with a light and simple salad.

spicy-pork-and-mustard-green-soup-940x600

One of the biggest challenges of cooking midweek is the prep work involved. I have recently happily moved into a tiny one bedroom with a miniature kitchen and almost no counter space, so I appreciate the simplicity of this recipe. I recommend buying the bagged kale at your local store if you would like to skip the step of washing and destemming. I was inspired by a recipe from the January 2014 issue of bon appétit. The broth was rich, the spice was right on and the noodles were both delicate and added the needed contrast to the hearty greens. You can substitute dandelion greens, chard or another variety of kale if you prefer.

1/2 lb ground pork
2 garlic gloves
2 tsp. finely grated ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
4 cups kale
4 scallions, sliced
2 tbsp brags amino acid
1 tsp fish sauce
8oz rice noodles

Mix pork, garlic, ginger and cumin and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in  a soup pot over medium heat. Add pork and brown, breaking up with your spoon. Once the pork is cooked through add the broth and water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the flavors meld. Add the kale, scallions, soy sauce and fish sauce and cook until the greens are tender. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to directions, drain and set aside. Once the soup is ready, place noodles in each bowl and ladle the soup over them. It was even better the next day after the broth had developed more! Photo Feb 19, 8 04 16 PM

hualalai

I am insanely lucky to have the best family and friends who love me unconditionally. I have no idea how I got so blessed. They are there to support me, inspire me with their many talents, pick me up when I’m down, go on crazy adventures with me, listen, laugh, be stupid with, and make me want to be a better version of myself. To top off my blessings this month I am so very excited to be going on a solo trip to Hawaii tomorrow where I will be meeting my wonderful parents and connecting with old friends. It is always a good idea to get away and take care of yourself, even if it means going for a hike, getting a massage or simply eating a good meal with a friend (or solo). My best friend came over for dinner tonight and we decided we would do a healthy Hawaiian inspired meal. I got most of the ingredients at the Santa Cruz Farmers Market, which I try to make time to visit as often as possible. We were busy chatting and catching up on life, so the measurements and ingredient list are approximations today, but I’m confident that these are simple enough to copy.

rainbow chard

For the Greens (recipe inspiration from my beautiful vegan friend Lindsey):

I picked up Red Russian Kale and the above picture Rainbow Chard at the Santa Cruz Downtown Farmer’s Market. Cut the ends off the chard, take the stems out of kale, or in my case ask your girlfriend to rip the leaves while your prep the seafood. If you use Lacinato (also called Tuscan) make sure you get rid of the stems, they are tough, kitchen scissors are helpful. Baby Kale is a good alternative if you do not want to do the prep work, and we’re lucky to have some great local options. Roughly chop the greens. Blanch the greens by placing them in a colander or strainer and pour boiling water very slowly over the greens. Lindsey recommended using a tea pot and it worked perfectly.

Place greens in a bowl and toss with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, salt, ground red chili flakes and a dash of soy sauce to taste. Use your best judgement depending on how many greens your using. When toasting sesame seeds (you can use black or white) it is easier to use a soup pot because they bounce about and easily burn so keep them moving.

You can make this dish with any greens, such as broccolini, green beans, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, asparagus….

red russian kale

For the Hawaiian inspired fish (sorry Lindsey):

I used tilapia because it was fresh and the right price. You can use any white fish, like halibut, that takes on the flavor of what you are cooking. I added 1 tablespoon of canola oil and a little butter to a frying pan. Add 1-2 shallots and 2 cloves of garlic and let soften. Salt and pepper the tilapia and add to the pan. Flip the fish. You can break it up a little if you like. Add a dash of white wine to deglaze the pan and let simmer on very low.

For a little tropical addition that I usually use on my fish tacos, I made a basic mango salsa with:

1 ripe mango
fresh lime
1/2 diced red onion
cilantro
salt
jalapeño or serrano

I used pretty cilantro sprouts I found at the Farmer’s Market as a garnish on the fish, I love micro greens, especially arugula and sunflower.

The BEST part of this meal was spending time with a dear friend, fresh ingredients, and simplicity. This is what life is about. Aloha!

Photo Jan 15, 7 25 51 PM (1) tropical-dinner-036 Photo Jan 15, 7 27 16 PM (2)

Photo Dec 23, 2 46 59 PM

Growing up my dad chose to put his foot down and take his wife and four daughters to Maui every year for Thanksgiving, thus escaping the craziness of a huge family get together. I was incredibly lucky to spend countless hours in the ocean, playing with my friends I’d made over the years and quality time with my sisters. I cherish that intimate family time and the memories we made.

Christmas has always been the opposite, a big get together with aunties and uncles, cousins, my sisters and their families, friends and little ones. This year we have close to thirty people over for dinner. We are having beef tenderloin and salmon this year, with our guests bringing side dishes. I wanted to try something different, and enjoyed the bites of the sunchoke and pork belly dish my dad had recently ordered at a dinner out at Soif so much. Sunchokes look like ginger, but can be prepared like a potato. Scrub them clean with a stiff vegetable brush. Slice them about 1/4″ thick, I found I liked the texture much more when they weren’t too thin.

Ingredients:
2 to 3 large sunchokes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the sunchokes clean. When picking them out at the store, try to avoid the really knobby ones, because it makes it more difficult to clean. Slice thinly. Add the garlic and sunchokes to a roasting pan, tossing them in olive oil. I like to use a refillable spray like this one because you can evenly and lightly cover your veggies or pastas that way. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary and let roast for approximately 15 minutes. They are a great substitute for potatoes and taste a touch sweet.

 

roasted sunchoke

Photo Dec 10, 7 16 59 PM

 

This writing and culinary adventure is about bettering myself as a cook and a writer, but I quickly have noticed that my photography skills are greatly lacking. I am very unhappy with the appearance of brigitte in the kitchen and hopefully with the help of my dear friend and talented photographer, Lindsey Lutts, the page will be getting an update after the first of the year. I am so lucky to have friends like her to bounce ideas off, and support me in so many ways. I am looking forward to the positive change in the page, as much as I look forward to a day of creativity with one of the best people I know.

I want to stay committed to updating the page, and I promised two healthy recipes so please try out these beet and sweet potato chips, they are easy and fun and pretty!

Photo Dec 10, 4 49 44 PM

 

Photo Dec 10, 4 55 14 PM

Photo Dec 10, 5 38 26 PM

 

5     medium beets, peeled
1     tablespoon olive oil

1     medium sweet potato, peeled
1     tablespoon olive oil

2     teaspoons coarse pink salt
1/4  teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4  teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Slice beets carefully with a mandoline to 1/16-inch thickness. Toss slices in oil. Arrange in a single layer on two large sheet pans. Stack one pan on top of the other and bake pans for 20 minutes. Rotate pans and bake an additional 20 minutes or until chips are dried, being careful not to overcook slices. Remove from pans to cool.

Repeat with sweet potato and olive oil.

Combine pink salt, thyme leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Grind mixture together with mortar and pestle or the handle of a wooden spoon. Toss chips with salt when still slightly warm.

I ate them plain or dipped in my favorite hummus.
Photo Dec 10, 5 37 59 PM

Super Slim down Summer, wait Spring, I mean now, I mean yesterday…

Oh! Is it the holidays? In honor of me not honoring the holidays with a Thanksgiving post, I give you two recipes you cannot live without. First: Salad Dressing for every occasion.

This dressing is versatile and approved by most, if not all preferences. I think every woman in my family has asked for the recipe at least three times. Looking back, it makes more sense that we either wanted my mother to just make the dressing herself, or we lacked the organizational skills to master this simple, ridiculously basic recipe. This is the basic dressing you want to put onto a salad you luck into.. for example, when i was asked if i could use the 2 fresh cracked crab someone wanted to give me…I made a salad out of crab, avocados, cucumbers, a little mango salsa + THIS DRESSING. Yum. This insanely simple recipe is something every man, woman, child, aunt, friend, neighbor should know. It is JUST salad dressing people.

1 small garlic clove, salt and pepper, a little red pepper flake mince those all together (infuse the garlic)

About a half teaspoon Dijon

Add 2-3 Meyer lemons

Whisk in olive oil 3:1 ratio olive oil to lemon

USE FOR EVERYTHING

Photo Nov 25, 4 33 51 PMPhoto Nov 25, 4 04 53 PM

I had my first taste of persimmons about a month ago. To me they have always just been a bright colored fruit for centerpieces. I should have done my research. I bit into an unripe persimmon and instantly was like, “is this a joke?” I think this is a trick fruit. It was so chalky and my mouth felt like I had bit into a handful of Advil. Never again. Of course I was determined to make this beautiful fruit delicious too, so I tried this little recipe from A Cozy Kitchen and fell in love.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon
Salt
Pepper
2 persimmons (1 pound)
1/2 fennel bulb
Small handful Italian parsley
5 slices prosciutto

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar and juice from 1/2 lemon. Season with a dash of salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Using a mandolin (or a very sharp knife), cut the persimmons into 1/4-inch thick slices. Next, shave the fennel bulb so they’re nearly paper thin but not quite. Roughly mince the Italian parsley; set aside.

3. To a medium bowl, add the persimmons and a teaspoon or two (you can eyeball this measurement) of the dressing. Rub the persimmons with the dressing so they’re evenly coated. Arrange the persimmons on a plate in a circular pattern, overlapping them. To make the persimmon “cones,” slice a slit in the persimmons, starting from the center and cutting outward. Take the two cut-ends and overlap them, creating a cone-like shape. Atop the fanned out persimmons, arrange the persimmon cones in a circle. I am not a details person, so this was a little out of my comfort zone. Precision is definitely not my thing, but I did my best to arrange the perfectly ripe persimmons artistically.

4. To the same medium bowl, toss together the shaved fennel, Italian parsley and remaining dressing. Give it a taste and adjust the salt and pepper according to taste. Transfer the shaved fennel to the center of the persimmon “cones.” Place the shaved lardo (or prosciutto, if using) on top of the fanned out persimmons.

Enjoy!

Photo Nov 25, 4 34 10 PM

ps. there is something about walking out of a grocery store with mostly all greens/fruit, with the tall fennel coming out of the top of my Daylight bag that puts a little extra pep in my step

Photo Nov 22, 2 48 58 PM

I am definitely in hibernation mode with the time change and just want to get cozy. I made this dish earlier in the week and despite my general dislike of meals planned around chicken it was tasty and we could have happily had it two nights in a row. I had the itch to get in the kitchen so I came up with this remarkably easy and healthy little dish. I am pretty sure anyone can throw this together, leaving plenty of time to snuggle up and get comfy.

As always this truly was inspired by my mother sneaking veggies to our meals. I added Heirloom Spinach, from the local farm Church Bros in Salinas, as well as mini zucchinis to the traditional Mexican inspired ingredients. The spinach did manage to turn the turkey slightly purple but it was unnoticeable once the casserole was assembled.

Photo Nov 12, 5 31 37 PM

Ingredients
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 diced yellow onion
6 sliced mini zucchinis
1/2 pound spinach or substitute for kale or other greens
1 diced jalapeño (omit if you don’t like it spicy)
1/2 envelope of taco seasoning
2/3 cup frozen corn (the only kind I use is the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s, so much flavor)
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (you can use reduced fat if you prefer)

Garnishes
Avocado
Non-fat sour cream
Scallions
Black olives

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the onions and zucchini and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the greens and cook down. Stir in the taco seasoning, 2/3 cup water, and the corn. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes, then stir in the black beans.

3. Lay 4 tortillas on the bottom of the pan, and spoon half of the meat mixture on top. Cover with 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Top with 4 more tortillas and the remaining meat mixture. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese over the top.

4. Bake the casserole until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Slice and serve, topped with scallions and sour cream.

Photo Nov 12, 5 31 07 PM

(slightly purple, but it turned out yummy)

My attempts at a pretty radish and fennel salad are coming, I’m happily getting my mandolin slicer in the mail on Friday, so we will see what I can create.