Personal, Appetizer, Gluten Free, Summer, Salad


It's a version of the same conversation we had at our old apartment when I was pregnant with Curran. As a couple, you become so used to the cadence that is just the two of you. There is both quiet and dance parties and nights when you feel like cooking and others when it's refreshing to get dressed up and go out. Before kids, it's hard to imagine how he, she, they, will fit in to a rhythm that is not always easy, but familiar. But somehow, and not without tears and grace in the adjustment, it's as if I don't remember our son not being here. I don't pine for the quieter days or cleaner floors or less expensive grocery bill. I never felt something was missing, but he makes us feel more whole. "What will it be like with another little person around here?" I ask. It's more rhetorical. I don't expect Hugh to have the answer but suppose by asking, I want him to tell me it's going to be alright, that we can do it, that we will adjust just like we did the first time and he does. 

There is a big sliding mirror behind our bathroom sink and not a beautiful one. It is heavy, hard to open and has a yellow gold trim dating it's origin to the 70's when the house was built. I stand profile to it to take in the shape of my belly. My thighs and hips are showing the lack of exercise and bean and cheese burritos that have taken the place of my pre-pregnancy gigantic green salads. Same song, one year later, I feel like I was just doing this? I was. My body has carried a child, now growing another one, and in my own self consciousness' that can often steal all of the joy from those magical feats, I remember the work that that belly, thighs and hips are doing. The growing and the nursing, your body doesn't feel like your own for well over a year and I think it's ok to find that a little crazy making. I am growing a little girl, our daughter, and vanity aside, it's the most magical process. It feels different this time - harder, hungrier, less beautiful, if I may be so honest. They are babies and then they are PEOPLE! Curran has his own language that we can sometimes understand and gives hugs with a little pat and deduces that any toy that does not move or make noise needs a battery ("mommy. daddy. bowerry?"). He waves at airplanes and dislikes the car seat and really likes to throw things "awey". I, we, are completely taken by him. How does one do that twice?!?! So much to process and anticipate but come January, we will be welcoming a baby girl to the family and I may just burst from how completely I love my babies. 

Thank goodness I do recipe development for work because it forces me to cook when I otherwise can easily talk myself out of it lately. Ashley and I have been developing recipes for Electrolux this past year and they have a seriously delicious looking collection going on over there now. Because it has been blazing hot here and the less heating elements I have to turn on, the better, I wanted to point you towards this super simple salad. I realize we're seeing the end of stonefruits and tomatoes now but they are still sweet and juicy so get to it. 


Serves 2-4

The full recipe can be found at Live.Love.Lux. along with a heap of other great tomato recipes this month. Think of this as less of a recipe and more an assembly of produce and creamy cheese at it's best. I like this with a bit of balsamic too or pile the goods on garlic rubbed toast. 


I have a feeling if you follow along here, you are no stranger to the work of Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks and Quitokeeto. If a recipe writing style can mimic one's personality by being gentle, confident and classic, that is Heidi. You can even see it in the glimpses into her kitchen or the products she chooses for her shop. In my otherwise hurried and efficient way of cooking, her photos and the way her recipes are composed make me want to slow down. She can set a mood in a cookbook like no one I've ever seen. All said and fan-girl gushing aside, her cookbook Near and Far is a keeper. She takes you through a few of her favorite places to travel by sharing recipes inspired by each of these places. I am naturally drawn to everything in the "Near" portion, but am anxious to try my hand at some of the recipes influenced by trips to Japan and Morocco. These rolls are just the beginning. We have loved her buttermilk waffle recipe and red lentil hummus with plenty more bookmarked.
Congrats to you, Heidi. The clear time and attention that went into this book made it a complete treasure. 


Recipe from Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson with a few extra wrap additions

This is a recipe composed of a couple recipes in Heidi's book. The tofu and mushrooms could really go anywhere - on rice noodles, over rice, with a heap of greens. I made the ginger onion paste and while that is certainly what gives these rolls a punch of unique flavor, you could make them your own by using whatever sauce you fancy. I still dipped them in a tahini citrus sauce or perhaps you are a peanut sauce person. The beauty of the paste is that the entire roll is self contained, making it ideal for travel and why it lies in her "en route" chapter.

Ginger Onion Paste
2 green onions, finely sliced
3 medium shallots, finely sliced
3 Tbsp. peeled, grated ginger
scant 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
6 Tbsp. sunflower oil

Place the onions, shallots, and ginger in a mortar and sprinkle with the salt (alternatively, a food processor on pulse works fine if that's what you have). Pound with the pestle until the onions are quite bruised, but not pastelike. Heat the oil in a small saucepan until hot enough that you could saute something in it. Add the onion mixture to the oil, remove from the heat and transfer it to cool. Drain off (and save) most of the oil before using it in the spring rolls, leaving just the paste.

12 ounces extra firm tofu
3 medium cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
4 tsp. natural brown sugar
2 Tbsp. sunflower oil, as needed
8 oz. mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced 1/4"
butter lettuce, cilantro, mint, cucumbers, sesame seeds, for assembly
8-10 rice paper wrappers

Pat the tofu dry and cut into 6 equal slabs before arranging in a single layer on a rimmed plate. Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle, sprinkle with salt and sugar and pound into a paste. Work the oil in a bit at a time, continuing to work the ingredients until they come together (I added a splash of tamari here for fun, optional). Scrape the paste onto the tofu slices and slather to coat each piece, be quite thorough. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and place the tofu in a single layer and cook until deeply golden on each side, about 5 minutes. It's likely you won't need additional oil here; if you do, add to the pan a small splash at a time. Remove the tofu from the pan and once cooled, slice into pencil-thick pieces. Sprinkle with salt to taste. 
While the tofu is cooking, toss the mushrooms gently (but well) in the residual marinade left from the tofu. Once the tofu is done, use the same skillet to saute the mushrooms stirring just a couple times along the way, until the mushrooms release and evaporate their water and take on a nice, dark color. Transfer to a bowl. 
Set up your mise en place for the spring rolls - a large bowl of warm water, lettuce, ginger paste, tofu, mushrooms, cucumber, mint and seeds. Dip a rice paper into a bowl of hot water to just soften - resist oversoaking, it will continue to absorb water as you wrap. Place on a flat surface or damp dish towel. You'll want to keep all your ingredients crowded into one third of the available surface of the wrapper. Add a lettuce leaf or two, a swipe of the paste, a little tofu, a few mushrooms, a cucumber spear, mint, cilantro and seeds. Tuck the wrapper over the filling and roll it up (I find the wrapper packaging often gives you a visual). Heidi suggests them open-sided, but you can enclose them as well

Entrée, Gluten Free, Summer


Only because I don't have kids in school, can I say this is my most favorite part of summer. The crowds that fill up the beaches and cause traffic start to taper off. The breeze cools off the extra warm days and the corn, oh that sweet corn that doesn't even need anything on it. Kids return to school, we take liberties to call early work days and spend late afternoons at the beach with enough space on all sides that someone else isn't listening to your conversation. I am a personality that thrives on getting things done - being efficient - but I married a man who lives so well in the present; he sees what is right in front of us when I so often want to put my head down and plow forward. SO glad there have been afternoons of stopping and watching my boys play in the surf. 

Hugh has been asking for a fresh fish sandwich for a while now and I don't know why it took us so long to get around to it (aside from fish having a season... salmon and halibut, get to it!). This came together so quickly that I will for sure make these next time we have company. Perhaps they are too simple to share but these days, cooking with a toddler either trying to touch the hot BBQ or throw gravel into the fire pit, this is what I can muster up. 


This could easily be doubled to make four sams as I know that's a common number to feed. Account for 5-6 ounces of fish per person. I prefer a lot of slaw, likely offering more heft than fish but it needs that fresh crunch. There may be some leftovers based on taste. I know some people are sketchy on mayo but in the slaw, you don't taste it, it merely gives the dressing some viscosity. I have heard good things about this product if you're wanting a super clean version. The recipe works perfectly well with some wild salmon, a marinated tofu steak etc. It's a simple sandwich but just right for summer meals. 

10-12 ounces fresh halibut filet
grapeseed or sesame oil, for cooking
1/2 head small green cabbage
1/2 a small red onion
1 jalapeno, some seeds removed unless you like it really spicy
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

//slaw dressing//
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise (or similar alternative)
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. cane sugar

2 buns of choice (brioche, gluten free etc.)
1 avocado, thinly sliced
sea salt and pepper, as needed

sriracha mayo, optional*

Cut the filet in half so you have two square pieces. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and rub it generously with grapeseed oil. Preheat your grill to medium heat. 

To make the slaw, set the slicer blade in your food processor (alternatively you can use a mandoline or careful knife skills). Slice the cabbage extra thin. Do the same with the onion and jalapeno. Collect them in a mixing bowl and add the cilantro. Into the bowl, add the mayo, grapeseed oil, rice vinegar, sugar and a few pinches each of salt and pepper and toss well to dress. Set aside in the fridge. 

Clean your grill and oil the grates. Grill the fish for 4-5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of your filet. It should feel like the meat of your thumb joint when cooked medium which is perfect here. Brush the buns with oil and grill them just to warm through. 

To assemble the sandwich, cover the bottom bun with avocado slices, then the fish filet and a healthy amount of slaw on top.

*For the sriracha mayo, we do one part sriracha to two+ parts mayo. It's similar to what you get with a roll at an Americanized sushi restaurant? Spicy, but not mouth burning. Adjust to your spice preference.