Going to sushi only feels right when you can sit at the sushi bar. Focused Japanese men slicing and rolling, the occasional yelp and ching ching of their Sapporos. My Dad eats the sweet shrimp with the eyes and crunchy tentacles poking around, so gross. He tries to pick the strangest items and offer wagers to who wants to try them. Uni with quail egg, anyone? I've never left sushi a richer woman than when I walked in. Despite the games he likes to play, we both appreciate a good sashimi salad. We’ve frequented many sushi bars in town, assessing the proportions of lettuce or salty soy sauce dressing. Though I’m not one to digress from critiquing the food, sushi with my Dad is where we have our heart to heart talks. If he can tell my sister or I need a good talk, a little advice or direction, he initiates a sushi date. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like it so much, it has represented a number of great conversations with my pappy.
This is a white girls attempt at a seared ahi salad; all sorts of flavors, lots of crunchy veggies and big chunks of fresh fish. My proportions are nothing like that of a sushi restaurant, as I kind of have a thing for vegetables. Ahi (aka yellowfin) Tuna is the least oily of the family, so it does well with a quick sear to prevent from drying out. Try to seek out a place you trust for fish, especially when eating it on the raw side such as this salad.
ASIAN AHI SALAD // Serves 4
1 Pound Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna
1 Head Napa/Savoy Cabbage (About 5 Cups Sliced)
1 Red Bell Pepper, Thin Slivers
1 Cup Shredded Carrots
¾ Cup Shelled Edamame
½ Cup Green Onion
1 Avocado, medium diced
2 tsp. Tamari
1 Lime, Zest and Juice (approx 3 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. Rice Vinegar
2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
1 tbsp. Agave Nectar (or sugar)
½ tsp. Hot Sauce of Choice
1 tsp. Wasabi (or wasabi powder)
1 tbsp. Toasted Sesame Seeds
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
1. Heat grill to medium high heat. Coat both sides of the ahi with a bit of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Sear on a hot grill pan or grill for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side. You don’t want to cook it all the way through. Remove to cool and place in the fridge while preparing the rest of the salad.
2. For the dressing, add the tamari, rice vinegar, lime zest and juice, agave, hot sauce and wasabi to a bowl. Give it a whisk. Add the sesame oil, sesame seeds, and pepper. Whisk and taste. Add what your tastes prefer, be it heat, salt etc.
3. Chop the cabbage as thin as possible. Add the cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, edamame, and green onion to the large bowl. Toss with about 3 tbsp. of the dressing.
4. Cut the ahi into 1’’ chunks. Add the avocado and ahi to the remaining dressing and toss to coat. Let it sit a minute, and place a generous scoop of the ahi avocado atop the slaw.
Last night, I was struck by how grateful I am to live where I do. Hugh took me swimming. A romantic early evening dip, as I never do this on my own accord. The air was warm and the ocean temp about 70 degrees. Deep blue and crystal clear. It had been FAR too long since I’d been out swimming. It ends up being quite a workout for me, treading water, as I am terrified of sea creatures chomping my feet off. Hugh made a good looking life saving device. The ocean is so vast, that it reminds me how small we are in this wild and precious life. It was calming and reviving at the same time; much needed. Regardless of where you live, I know that you’ve had those moments of being overwhelmed with gratitude. I may sound sappy, but if your heart is any bigger than a pea, thoughts as these have crossed your mind.
Bringing it back to the treats at hand, because you and I can both be grateful for these pucks of oatty goodness. I don’t bake cookies often because my greedy tendencies seem to surface every time I do... I intend to give most away, but once they are warm and sweet smelling out of the oven, I get protective and hoard them. I freeze most, to have them only when I really NEED a cookie. I manage to easily convince myself that I always NEED a cookie. These are so tasty and hearty, that I even NEED them around breakfast time. The good news: these lil pucks have no eggs, sugar or butter, but I assure you, they still taste like a treat.
OAT ‘NANA PUCKS // 3 dozen mini pucks
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks.
Heidi's recipe calls for almond meal, but I like nut crunchies. The almond meal does however, help act as a binder. So I added wheat bran. If you have gluten allergies, omit the wheat bran and use almond meal. Also note that these cookies can be a bit crumbly in texture. If that bothers you, add a beaten egg to the wet mix.
3 Well Ripened Bananas
2 tbsp. Good Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Coconut Oil (olive oil works fine)
2 Cups Rolled Oats
1/3 Cup Wheat Bran
2/3 Cup Finely Chopped Almonds
1/2 Cup Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
¾ Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips or Carob Chips
Oven to 350’
Mush the ripe bananas with a fork. Mix the wet ingredients together: bananas, vanilla, and oil. In another bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently mix. Fold in the chocolate or carob chips. The dough will be loose. Here, my favorite line in her recipe, ‘don’t worry about it’. Ha.
On a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat, make mini balls, then give them a gentle smush to flatten them. I like them in balls, Hugh prefers them in pucks, shape as you wish. They don’t really change shape while baking, so spacing 1’’ between is fine.
Bake for about 14 minutes until puck or nugget is firm. Do not undercook or they will crumble.
I work in the hospitality industry. There are no holidays, and ‘weekends’ typically come in the form of a Tuesday and Thursday. This does make for productive days off, but there is something about the traditional weekend day that makes me feel like I don’t need to set an alarm. I love taquito-ing myself in my soft white comforter, listening to people futz around in the back alley and having tea in a mug that doesn’t have to fit in my car cup holder. I love you, Saturday.
Laguna Beach has their farmers market on Saturday, so that was my first stop this past (real) weekend. You know, once I got out of my fluffy taquito. I can travel to others during the week if need be, but I find it much more charming to walk to my market, canvas bag in hand- it fits the Saturday picture I paint in my head. I joined the people hovering around the testers enjoying the sweet smell of stone fruits on little toothpicks. Hugh lingered in the background twittering about how 'the hippies were looking at him funny.’ Typical.
There is so much produce in season right now; I grabbed a few favorites to fill my mini fridge, along with some incredibly fragrant baby tomatoes that I thought would be great in a big bowl of lentils. As they delicately roast in the oven, the sweet flavor becomes more pronounced.
SUMMER TOMATO LENTILS // Serves 2 as entrée, 4 as a side
1 Cup Lentils
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1/3 Cup Goat Cheese
2 Large Shallots, peeled and sliced thin
3 Cups Baby Tomatoes
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Chives, Finely Chopped
1/3 Cup Basil, Chopped
1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Oven to 325'
Note: I cook my lentils in unsalted water, as salt is said to toughen the beans- they will taste most fresh if the seasoning is added at the end.
1. Cut tomatoes in half. On the baking pan, toss with 1/2 tbsp. of the olive oil and garlic salt. Turn the tomatoes so they are cut side up, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
2. Rinse and drain the lentils, pick out any scrappy pieces. In a medium pot bring 1½ cups water to a boil, add the lentils, turn down the heat to medium and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Test the beans for doneness; the liquid should be absorbed, add more if they are not soft to your taste. Put them in a large bowl and crumble in the goat cheese so it melts in the warmth. Add the lemon zest and juice, and gently fold to coat.
3. While lentils are cooling, make the crispy shallots. In a small saucepan, heat up 1/2 tbsp. olive oil on medium. Add the sliced shallots and cook about 15 minutes, until they are golden brown on both sides.
4. Gently fold the dijon mustard, remaining olive oil and fresh black pepper into the goat cheesey lentils. Add the basil and chives, roasted tomatoes and crispy shallots. Add salt to your preference.
~ Serve in a pita or butter lettuce wraps!
Hugh is trying to take over my hobby. I do food, he does pictures. It works. But last week he bought a special grilling book and now has been experimenting on his own. Seeing that I don’t do meat, he can take ownership of that. I don’t come from a lineage of cooks, so the fact that it’s ‘my thing,’ leaves me flattered with the responsibility. If I had the slighest clue about photography, I would start a battle to retaliate against his hobby burglary.
Hugh made some great grilled peppers the other night, which led to inspiration for a good sauce. That is what makes these tacos different- this tasty sauce. It is a tad spicy, has hints of creaminess from the yogurt, and freshness from the loads of cilantro. I put leftovers on my eggs this morning, and it’s thick enough to spread on a sandwich.
We went to a great fish place down by the harbor to get the freshest fish. I checked here to see what white fish is safe and sustainable for our area. The website is full of information and will definitely make you think twice before you just grab for what you see in restaurants. It does not cost more to get what is sustainable. Organics is a whole different market than sustainable seafood; the challenge is finding a place where you can buy specific fish. Once your fish is covered in this tasty sauce, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference what it is anyways.
SAUCY FISH TACOS // Serves 2
- 12 oz. White Seabass (use what is fresh/local for you)
- 1 Lime, Zest and Juice
- salt and pepper or lemon pepper
- 2 Red Bell Peppers
- 3 Cups Green Cabbage, Finely Sliced
- 1 Firm Peach, Cut into 8 Slices
- corn tortillas
/ poblano cilantro sauce /
- 1 ½ Cups Cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Lime, Zest and Juice (add another if it’s not juicy)
- ½ Cup Whole Greek Yogurt
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- ½ Cup Toasted Pistachios
- 2 Roasted Poblano Chiles, seeds removed
- 1/2 tsp. each Garlic Salt and Pepper, to taste
Heat your grill to medium/high
Salt and pepper both sides of the fish. Rub the zest and juice into the fish, and put in a bowl to marinate.
Lightly oil the bell peppers and poblano chiles, put them on the grill and char on all sides. About 8-10 minutes. Remove peppers and chiles and put them in a plastic bag to steam. Let them sit about 10 minutes in the bag. Remove the stem and seeds, and then peel off the skins when they're cool to the touch. They do not need to be perfect, a little black adds some smokiness. Chop the peppers up and set aside. The poblanos are for your sauce.
Put the cilantro, garlic, lime, yogurt, olive oil, pistachios and poblanos in a blender or food processor. Fully combine. Taste for salt and pepper.
Grill the fish (on extra clean grill grates to keep from sticking). Put the peaches on the grill, cut side down. Close the lid and grill for about 6 minutes. Flip the fish and peaches and grill another 4 minutes (time will vary depending on thickness of the fish). Warm the tortillas on the grill or stovetop.
Assemble your tacos. Tortilla, sauce, fish, roasted peppers, two grilled peach slices and a generous amount of cilantro.
I’m big into snacking. Probably so into it, that it’s more of a shortcoming. People comment, “I saw you driving, you were eating”… yes, thank you, that is typically the case. If managed correctly, small meals throughout the day are better for your metabolism. I’m flabbergasted that my snacks-on-the-hour approach hasn’t made diet headlines yet.
I like when granola has chunks,almost like mini cookies within the granola. I did some research and found a tip from The Traveler's Lunchbox to give some of the oats a grind. To be honest, this didn't exactly work for me, but it likely has to do with my proportion of wet ingredients. The theory of the oat flour acting as a binder, completly makes sense. My goal was to keep the fat and sugar down, so my clumps were few. Exisiting, but few.The recipe below is quite tasty and my quest for 'light' clusters remains.
Granola has an oat base, where you are welcome to change the nut and dried fruit additions as you please. I like to use a tad of butter and brown sugar for crunch, and agave nectar because it is not as sweet as honey. Most homes have honey on hand, and that will certainly work out just fine. We gifted some, made Hugh breakfast with a bit of plain yogurt and will pack the rest as the perfect sustenance for our 4th of July beach day. I will say that after the breakfast ration, dark chocolate chips were added- highly recommended for optimum snacking.
CHERRY NUT GRANOLA // Makes about 6 Cups
3 Cups Quick Oats
3 tbsp. Flax Seeds
3 tbsp. Sesame Seeds
1/2 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 Cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
3/4 Cup Raw Pistachios
3/4 cup Raw Slivered Almonds
2 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or melted butter
2 tbsp. Agave Nectar (or Local Honey)
1 tbsp. Real Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Dried Cherries
**If you double this recipe, make sure to bake it in shifts. If the layer of oats is too thick, it will steam itself. If you put one sheet on the lower rack, it won't crisp up because of it's upstairs neighbor.
Oven to 325’
1. In a saucepan, on low heat, melt the brown sugar, applesauce, agave nectar/honey, olive oil/butter and vanilla. Let it warm through so the sugar breaks down and all flavors incorporate.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, salt, nuts and seeds. Slowly drizzle the wet mixture on the oat mix and stir until all oats are covered. It should look pretty moist but not 'wet'.
3. Spread the granola in an even layer on a baking pan (also known as jelly roll pan; ½’’ sides). Place the rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stir. Granola should take about 45 minutes to cook, continue to stir every 15 minutes for even color.
4. Pull out the granola and fold in the dried cherries. Allow the granola to cool completely before adding chocolate chips or putting it in a container.