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Wednesday
Aug222012

GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH HERBED QUINOA

I'm not even sure where to start with the sentiments on this one, because the past week or two has sort of taken me under. I am not necessarily overwhelmed by way of responsibilities, but by emotion. I feel thrilled that the book is out next week, anxious about the feedback, excited to cheers with family and friends, insecure about my work, incredibly grateful for friends sharing recipes and compliments, timid in self-promotion, scared of speaking in front of people... it just feels like... a lot. That's all I can really say. I'm going to keep it short because honestly I'm not sure how to process all this quite yet. I've always been one to really feel things - to get swept up in emotion and feel like my heart has no callus on it. So maybe you can imagine why this season of cookbook release time feels like "a lot."

I included a number of links on the book page of friends who've so graciously posted recipes from the book. I am truly humbled. So many people who I admire are cooking my foods. I think that's crazy. I will be adding to that list, so you can keep up there if you wish. I updated the dates of events as well and would love to see your faces! Hoping this will be the last book related post out of me, I know I've mentioned it quite a bit :)

There isn't a lot of free time at the moment but I wanted to share a simple dish that seems to fit in with the pace lately. It's not fussy, tastes light while still having enough flavor to remind you that vegetables are just magnificent.

GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH HERBED QUINOA // Serves 6 as a side

I've been a big fan of the eggplant and za'atar combination since this pizza. If you don't have any, some dried thyme or a bit of oregano would be nice as well. The sumac in za'atar gives just a bit of smokiness that compliments the grilled flavor. You could use millet or another whole grain if you have something else on hand. The following gives you more eggplant to quinoa ratio, if you prefer it the other way, simply double the quinoa salad instructions.



  • 3-4 medium eggplants (maybe 2 larger ones, 4 smaller ones)

  • sea salt

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • za'atar seasoning

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

  • half of a small red onion, sliced thin

  • generous handful each of fresh basil, dill and cilantro

  • 2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

  • 2 tsp. honey or agave nectar

  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts


Cut the eggplants into 1 1/2'' rounds. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30 minutes to release water.

Add the quinoa to a pot with a pinch of salt and 3/4 cup water or stock. Bring it to a gentle boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, cover again and leave it to steam another 5 minutes.

Heat up your grill or grill pan (I LOVE this. Obsessed). Press the eggplants between a dishcloth or paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill for about 5 minutes per sides until you get nice dark marks and the texture seems pretty soft throughout. I like the softer texture that comes with covering them. Remove to a plate, drizzle a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with za'atar to taste.

To finish the quinoa, toss in the onions, all of the herbs, oil, vinegar, honey or agave and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to mix. Taste and adjust as you like.

Put the eggplants on a plate, top with the quinoa and garnish with the toasted pinenuts.

Thursday
Aug162012

PANTRY PEANUT SAUCE

This is the peanut sauce that was intended to be easy, quick, every day sauce and then things just kept getting thrown into the blender. Lots of finger dipping, tasting...more ginger! dip. add coconut! dip. more spice! What I have below is a general recipe, but you'll need to taste and adjust as you wish. I may have lost track of a half teaspoon here or there. We didn't want it so peanuty that it resembled more of a spread for toast than an asian sauce, so the coconut milk and bit of toasted sesame oil help rein that in (see note). We like lots of ginger, always citrus, just enough spice to warm your throat and poof, a great sauce that will be used for a number or quick dishes this weekend. The photo here shows it on a simple asian sandwich with seared tofu, cucumber, carrots and scallions but I also plan on using it as a dressing for a quinoa and kale salad or making some spring rolls packed with veggies with this on the side for dipping. However you wish, meals seem to come together quite quickly with a good sauce on hand.

PANTRY PEANUT SAUCE // Makes about 1.5 cups

I imagine this would last a good two weeks in the fridge without comprimising too much on flavor. Don't quote me, I don't see it lasting long enough to tell, but it's an educated guess.

  • 1 cup creamy, unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • zest and juice of one large lime
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2-4 Tbsp. light coconut milk or water, as needed*
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Add all of the ingredients besides cilantro to a powerful blender or food processor and run until smooth. Taste and adjust as preferred. Add the cilantro, give it another few pulses and keep in an airtight jar in the fridge.

* I used coconut milk for thinning because I had some open. It also helped cut the peanut butter flavor and made it a bit more savory. Water will work fine to thin, just expect the peanut flavor to be more forward. It will firm up a bit in the fridge, so keep that in mind while choosing your consistency.

Tuesday
Aug072012

AT LONG LAST

When you're on a swing, without a push start from the ground, you begin pumping your legs to get the thing moving. Leaning far back to move the swing forward, and then bending the knees back trying to generate some momentum. At first it feels like you're going nowhere, that people are watching you laboriously thrust yourself back and forth, barely off the ground. Awkward as it is, you are moving, you are gaining energy. We started this cookbook nearly two years ago, and in just a couple weeks it will be out in the world. It started with lots of work and food and research and mistakes and emails and more food - the pumping of our legs. With a blog, you get a response almost immediately, but you have to sit on a book for awhile before it generates feedback. That time that we've been sitting with it has made me anxious, so I'm thrilled to set it loose. We are no longer flailing our legs to get off the ground, we're moving, really swinging, on this ride of writing a cookbook. I have a big stack in our office for family and friends, copies are in the mail to my recipe testers, and there are a number on the desks of media folks. This is the part where you just allow the momentum to take you. And even if it's been years since you've found yourself on a swing, you know that feeling - once the cadence takes over, the woosh of speed, the moment of weightlessness, arcing back again - and the freedom of giving in.

Below is our homemade promo video. We improvised some material and Hugh did a fabulous job of teaching himself how to shoot and edit, if I do say so myself. It's so "us," incapable of taking ourselves too seriously,  and it makes me happy. 

Ten Speed Press also put together a great sampler of a few of the recipes from the book so you can get a taste of what's inside.

Tuesday
Jul312012

BLUEBERRY-OAT BISCUIT COBBLER

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who's been on a fruit bender as of late. My favorite is strawberries (the best of which have passed in my particular opinion), with cherries, peaches, nectarines and blueberries tied for second place, which means this time of year I am in fruit euphoria. Most of it is getting eaten raw, but in order to get my better half to really get into this goodness, it needs to make it's way into a baked good or dessert of sorts. I found this recipe while flipping through the recent Bon Appetit and the simplicity of it caught my eye. I reduced the sugar, added in some whole grains, and now have a wonderful cobbler that dishes up beautifully as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but can also be excused as a breakfast treat with a dollop of yogurt on top.

BLUEBERRY OAT BISCUIT COBBLER // Serves 6

Adapted from August 2012 Bon Appetit
The magazine also suggests that this can be done in six 6 oz. ramekins which sounds perfect for having people over. I think this would work great with a mix of fruits too - maybe mix in some blackberries or peaches.

 

  • 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour (I imagine spelt or quinoa flour would work)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2'' pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 6 cups blueberries (about 2 lbs.)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest
  • vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt for serving

 

Preheat oven to 375'. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, 3 Tbsp. sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add butter, using your fingers and smush it in to make pea-size clumps. Gently mix in yogurt. Knead until biscuit-like dough forms, being careful not to overmix.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 3 Tbsp. flour, berries, juice and zest in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Pour into 8x8 baking dish (or ramekins). Tear biscuit topping into quarter sized pieces and scatter over berries.

Bake cobbler until juices and thick and bubbling and topping is cooked through and golden brown. 20-25 minutes for ramekins and 40-45 minutes for baking dish. Let is rest at least 45 minutes.

Sunday
Jul222012

A SIMPLE TOMATO + BURRATA SALAD

We don't have cable, and I don't do a whole lot of internet searching that is not food related, so a lot of news passes me by. It may lead me to be a bit out of touch, naive concerning political matters, and over reliant on my twitter feed to update me on breaking headlines, but it has worked for us. I want to believe that we are capable of being good to each other, and too much news convinces me otherwise. From world wide issues over politics, money and religion, to the tragic shooting in Colorado, or something right under your nose like a stranger stealing your stuff, I am completely dismayed that people want to harm other people... people they don't even know. Hugh and I chatted in circles, not understanding this motivation. It can be overwhelming, fear-inducing really, to think of the sadness and hurt, all the "bad things that happen to good people," and how I feel the only way to encourage other's to be good to people, is to be good to them yourself. Ironic how that conversation led me in to the topic of today's post about treatment and wages on our tomato fields in America. Tomato fields in Florida have been quoted as being "ground zero" for modern day slavery. It all starts somewhere doesn't it? Today we are making noise for change and standing up for slave free tomatoes

This summer, International Justice Mission has partnered with The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and The Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC) to create Recipe for Change, a campaign to raise awareness about injustices in U.S. tomato fields. The goal is to create a zero tolerance policy for slavery, child labor and sexual abuse. Through both of these organizations and consumers like us, we want to ask the CEOs of major supermarket chains to endorse the Fair Food Program, ensuring the tomatoes you buy are slave-freeCorporations that join the Fair Food Program agree to pay a small price increase for fairly harvested tomatoes (1.5cents per pound) and promise to shift purchases to the Florida tomato growers who abide by these standards and away from those who don't. The locations that support slave-free tomatoes are Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Farmers Markets and CSA programs. 

Spreading the word is the first step to educating people about this problem. If you feel called to action, you can send a letter using this link to contribute to the voice that is trying to make a change. Support the cause by purchasing tomatoes from the slave-free locations mentioned above. 

A SIMPLE TOMATO + BURRATA SALAD // Serves 4-6

Inspired by Big Sur Bakery Cookbook

Take note of the size of your burrata balls, you may need two. I assume about 4 oz. per person. This salad is very free form, don't pay too close attention to measurements. It's a summertime salad, it's meant to be easy going. 

 

1 cup torn bread (preferably from a baguette or fresh loaf)

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 sea salt

fresh ground pepper

 

1 1/2 lbs/ 4-ish heirloom tomatoes

sea salt + fresh ground pepper

2 cups soft lettuce of choice (arugula, spring greens, butter lettuce)

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1 shallot, finely chopped

8 oz. burrata cheese, room temperature

good quality extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven (ideally toaster oven) to 400'. Spread the torn bread on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are crisp and brown. Set aside. 

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4'' slices and arrange them on your serving tray in concentric circles. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and the chopped shallots. Chop the soft greens and basil together, toss them gently with 1 tsp. each olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then mound it in the center of the tomatoes. Distribute the croutons on top and then place the burrata in the center of the lettuce pile, breaking open the creamy center if you'd like. 

Drizzle the burrata with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste and finish with a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper.