As I mentioned, my hubby has a new toy which has dictated the direction our meals have taken over the last several days. Short of grilling pancakes (which, I’m sure is possible and will probably be tried at some point), we have grilled nearly everything else.
Grilled Harissa Chicken with Bok Choy Herb Salad and Ginger Carrots
- 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
- 4 T harissa paste (I used THIS Moroccan harissa which I found at Oasis Market on Telegraph)
- 4 T olive oil
- Salt to taste
Combine chicken, harissa, oil, and salt (if your harissa isn’t salty – mine was quite salty, so I didn’t add any extra salt) in a large bowl and marinate in the fridge 2-24 hours. Bring chicken to room temperature before grilling. Heat grill to medium (450ish) and grill pieces until done 20-25 minutes.
- 5 heads baby bok choy, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
- 2 cups shredded napa cabbage
- 3 persian cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
- 1/2 cup minced herbs (I used 3 parts mint, 1 part basil)
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1 small thai red chili, VERY thinly sliced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 T fish sauce
- 1 T rice wine vinegar
- 1 t maple syrup
- 1 t sesame oil
Toss together all vegetables in salad bowl. Place all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake, shake, shake. Shake, shake, shake. Shake your dressing. Shake your dressing. Just before serving, toss together salad & dressing.
- 1 bag trader joes shredded carrots (close your eyes and pretend they’re organic)
- 1″ piece fresh ginger, minced very finely
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 T black sesame seeds
Heat olive oil in large frying pan. When oil is shimmering, add ginger and saute until fragrant -1 minute or so. Add carrots and stir until just beginning to wilt. Remove from heat and toss in sesame seeds. Can be served hot, cold, or room temperature.
Grilled Local Trout + Brassicas with Heirloom Tomatoes
I’ve recently heard the word “Brassica” thrown around in the foodie scene. Turns out it just seems to be a fun way to describe foods of the cabbage/broccoli family. Common types of brassica used for food include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and some types of seeds. We chose baby bok choy (because we had it left over from last night’s salad) and broccoli rabe (because it looked too good to pass up at Berkeley Bowl.) Just giving them a good seasoning of olive oil, salt & pepper was all we did to prepare the “brassicas” and the trout fillet before my hubby gave them a quick grill and plated them out over a canvas of thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes. Though the broccoli rabe was a slightly stronger flavor than maybe was prudent with the trout, all plates were licked clean.
The Old Gray Mare, she ain’t what she used to be
After nearly a decade our grill faced a slow death and finally kicked the bucket last week. (Oddly, our refrigerator nearly suffered the same fate until a savvy and kind ‘fridge repair guy helped us out – LMK if you need a recommendation!)
So, it was out with the old and in with the new. A new grill means that we’ll be grilling dinner until my husband tires of playing with his new toy.
Up to bat last night? Heritage pork ribs and arugula and stonefruit salad with a shallot/balsamic dressing. My hubby tried 2 ways of making the ribs: dry rub and st. louis style. They both cooked away on the grill for several hours (which we could previously not do because our old grill had only one setting: HOT) no doubt making the neighbors drool. A good friend of ours makes a mean dry rub mix and the Ancho blend was just the ticket for our ribs.
I’m still trying to duplicate the salad Heather and I had on her birthday and while last night’s try was good, I think I can do better. I served it with burrata (as it was at the restaurant), but it didn’t really add anything to the salad and I found the olives too tricky, so I plan to try switching them out for capers. Here’s the riff I plan to try next time:
Kale Salad with Peaches, Capers + Proscuitto with Shallot Balsamic Dressing
- 1 bag Trader Joe’s power greens (baby kale, spinach + chard)
- 2 ripe, but not falling apart peaches, cut into 3/4″ cubes
- 2 T capers
- 6 small chives, minced
- 1 package TJ’s proscuitto, baked and crisped in the oven and crumbled
Dressing: (last night I skipped the rice wine vinegar and added too much syrup for a heavy balsamic/honey mustard kind of dressing. My family loved it, but I prefer brighter flavors. This is what I’ll do next time.)
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 T rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 t maple syrup
- 1/2 t dijon mustard
- 4 T olive oil
- 1 small shallot, very finely minced
- salt & pepper to taste
I really should have taken a photo of the boys after they ate their ribs. Their faces were COVERED in barbeque sauce (we like Daddy Sam’s which is GF, but not Paleo). It was comical.
Duende in Oakland
Last night we went with some friends to Duende in Oakland for a lovely adult night out. Duende is Spanish/Basque and headed by Paul Canales. It’s a great spot and we thoroughly enjoyed the food, wine, & company.
I think, too, that I FINALLY figured out what to say to servers to explain my dining restrictions to them: “I cannot eat any gluten – it is not a diet thing, but a severe medical condition”. This simple sentence avoids the words celiac, gluten-intolerant, and allergy and was very effective and to the point. Try it sometime.
Sorry I forgot to photograph the rabbit/dungeness crab sausage I had. It was served over sliced heirloom tomatoes, steamed romano beans, and a subtle mustard sauce. My husband had goat meatballs that looked amazing, but were not GF.
Anyway, Duende has a great cocktail program. I had a variation on a Pimm’s cup. It was a little sweet for me, but delicious nonetheless:
Ack! I so fell off the blog bandwagon. Sorry.
Let’s test my memory, shall we?
Grilled organic/grass fed onglet steak, grilled asparagus with lemon, sliced heirloom tomatoes, and arugula tossed with olive oil, lemon, and kosher salt.
4th of July:
Dinner at Heather’s with a group of lovely people. She made the best salmon I have ever had. I think preparing it involved a magic wand. Sides were various salads brought by the guests. I brought a salad that consisted of Trader Joe’s power greens (baby kale, arugula, & chard), nicoise olives, cubed organic peaches (both white and yellow), sliced bresaola, and a shallot/balsamic vinaigrette. Here is the salmon. Her kids named him Charlie.
I’d tell you more about the other salads, but Heather’s husband makes very strong margaritas and I don’t remember much.
Some friends came for dinner and I repeated the Gluten Free bahn mi. (One thing you’ll find about me is that I get on a kick and will make something over and over until we are all tired of it. Apologies in advance.) This time, for the side, I made a KILLER recipe out of Gwyneth*’s new cook book (Lee’s Chopped Vietnamese Salad – page 58). It had napa cabbage, chopped baby bok choy, cucumbers, carrots, herbs, peanuts, thai chili, and a lime juice/shallot/honey/garlic dressing. I will probably make this again and again and again. Again, apologies for the repetition.
Heather’s Birthay! (Happy birthday BFF!!) We went to dinner at a new place in downtown Oakland with our dear friends Emma & Michael and Jon & Cathy. The jury is still out on what we thought of the restaurant – it was very meat heavy, but they were SUPER helpful with determining what had gluten in it and what didn’t. We shared many dishes and they were good, if not a little forgettable. Emma, what did you think? The below was NOT gluten-free, but according to everyone at the table quite delicious. Goat cheese toast, grilled sweet corn, cherry tomatoes. I plan to make my own GF version of this dish soon.
Heather & Sam (and the girls) came over so we could have a “board meeting”. I attempted to make my signature dish from my college years. Ceviche. It’s modeled after the ceviche I enjoyed in Ecuador (which is in a ketchup based sauce) with modern California additions. It’s a complete bastardization and was pretty, but not quite as tasty as I wanted it to be. I’ll keep working on it and get back to y’all with the recipe once I’ve figured it out.
This day we took the boys and one of our dogs to the beach to play for the day. It was supposed to be 97 at the beach, but ended up being only 62. We froze our buns off, but had so much fun. Dinner was a stop at Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station. I had a bun-less goat burger (they keep the buns and the meat separate on the grill and don’t use the same spatula – they really knew the drill!) topped with chevre and sauteed shiitake mushrooms. It was outstanding – especially with the Sean Thackery Pleiades wine. Highly recommended.
Phew! I think I’m caught up now. I’ll try to be better about keeping up!
* Dear Gwyneth,
I’m sorry I was ranting about you the other day. I really love your new cookbook and would love to come over and cook/eat with you anytime. Drop me a line……
O-Caramba (aye caramba!)
As latch-key kids, my sister and I had plenty of time to come up with all sorts of ways to occupy our afternoons once the school bus dropped us off. Sometimes it was tuning the rabbit ears just so on the TV so we could pick up NBC and watch Days of Our Lives (we were SUCH rebels, but we were still sure to turn the TV off at least 30 minutes before my folks were due home to give the TV time to cool off). Sometimes, however, we would turn our house into a restaurant for our parents. On occasion, we would even put a sign outside saying, “no dress, no tie, no service” and we would expect our parents to go upstairs and get dressed for dinner before coming down to dine at our restaurant. Our menus and protocols got more and more complicated. Funnily enough, we were usually out of most of the things on the menu and would only have one dish left for them to order (which, coincidentally was typically made by stauffers AND the most expensive thing on the menu). My parents were such good sports and those restaurant nights remain one of my most fond childhood memories.
Anyway, I guess I musst have talked about it once or twice (or a thousand times) to the boys when reminiscing about my childhood because they announced earlier this week that they wanted to do “restaurant night” and wrote up the preliminary menu I shared a few days ago.
With a little luck, I was able to sway the final menu a little more in the direction of what we had on hand that night, but I gave them carte blanche to decide the name of the restaurant (O-Caramba) & the menu format. They decided that the younger would be the chef, the elder the server, and that we would not be allowed in the kitchen at all (once we finished preparing all the dishes for them). The sat us at the table outside, took our orders, served out the food, poured some wine (violating a few Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, I know), and explained the meal to us. It was darling, delicious, and no doubt the first of many, many restaurant nights in my hubby and my futures.
(That’s a gluten free rice & quinoa pasta I found at Berkeley Bowl. It has a very nice mouth feel. Hooray!)
Burmese Tea Leaf Salad and Grilled Shrimp
When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, the news delivered to me bluntly and unexpectedly – “You have celiac disease. You can never again eat most of what you have enjoyed your whole life. Have a nice day!” – I quickly fired off a bunch of foods/drinks that I love(d) and the thought of living without them made my eyes bug out.
Wine? Fine said the doctor. Phew.
Bourbon? Fine, but do your research before deciding if you want to still drink it. (For the record, I did and I do.)
Tea leaf salad? Yup.
I was beginning to feel the world stop spinning violently and that maybe I could survive this celiac thing.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Burmese Tea Leaf Salad, but I’m lucky to live near a restaurant that serves a pretty famous version of this dish. Apparently it was featured on Food Network. Anyway, though many say it’s anything but a traditional version of REAL Burmese tea leaf salad, it is a flavor that once sampled will stay in your mind. So, while it may have seemed a strange thing to throw out there after my earlier loves, it was one of the first thing that popped into my mind because, well, it’s kind of always on my mind. I can’t really explain why it’s so good… it just is.
Basically, it is a salad composed of lettuce, jalapeños, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tomatoes, lemon, fried split lentils (which I couldn’t find and won’t be in my salad… this time), and fermented tea leaves.
Though I searched high and low, I could not find fermented tea leaves available to purchase anywhere, so I turned to the trusty old interwebs to find out how to make my own. Thankfully, someone has figured it out.
I followed her recipe with the exception of using tamari instead of the maggi seasoning and a mix of black & white sesame seeds. Oh, and my jalapeño had molded, so no jalapño either. It was missed. I also did a quick salt & pepper grilled shrimp to make it more of a meal. Here’s my result:
The verdict? Not quite as good as Burma Superstar, but I think with a little tweaking, I can get it there. It needed the jalapeño, more salt, more acid, more garlic and fewer peanuts. I also missed the lentils, but the sunflower seeds gave a nice similar crunch.
The “fermented” tea leaves were pretty good – more acidic and bitter than fermented flavor. I doubled the batch so I could have it on hand for round 2 and I’m going to add some braggs amino acid to the jar to give it that umami earthiness. I think that will do the trick.
All in all, if I can eat like this all the time this celiac disease thing won’t be so bad.
Gluten Free Bánh Mì
Bánh Mì with Caramelized Pork + Pickled Carrots
Since I asked the summer rolls to bring the summer weather with them and they complied, I figured I should honor them by making their brethren, bánh mì. Fully appreciating the gorgeous summer weather, we ate dinner in the back yard with a salad of lettuce, mint & cucumbers ans some of the prettiest heirloom tomatoes we’ve seen so far this year. It was a magical evening full of summer happiness and celebration for, as Obama put it, the “victory for American democracy”.
On to the recipes: don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. It really comes together very quickly (like, say in the time it takes for both of your kids to practice the piano and your husband to change his clothes after work and light the grill). If you pull everything out of your fridge/pantry and have it at your fingertips, this is a 30 minute meal. You could even make life easier on yourself by making the marinade in the morning or the night before if you were a real go getter like that.
Bánh Mì with Caramelized Pork + Pickled Carrots
- 1-1.5 pound pork tenderloin
- 3 tablespoons Fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons tamari (aka: gluten free soy sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled & minced
- 1 green onion, sliced thinly
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used rice bran oil)
- GF hot dog buns (I used THESE – I think that Udi’s GF hot dog buns are grosser than gross)
- red leaf lettuce
- pickled carrot and radishes (see recipe below)
- sliced jalapeno chili peppers
- mayonnaise (I used kewpie which is the mayonnaise that made me like mayonnaise)
- Cut tenderloin across the grain of the meat into ½ inch pieces. Flatten each piece to an even ¼ inch between two pieces of saran wrap using a meat pounder, rolling pin, or large bottle.
- Mix ingredients from fish sauce to red pepper flakes. Add marinade to the meat and use a large spoon to make sure all pieces of meat are coated in marinade. Marinate for 10-30 minutes.
- Slice GF hot dog buns in half and warm in the oven, toaster oven, or toaster. As with most GF breads, these buns only taste good when warmed/toasted, so don’t skip this step.
- Heat grill to high. Add vegetable oil to meat and stir to coat. Sear first side of meat until very dark brown on one side, then flip and sear on the second side. Be careful not to overcook it. The meat is thin so it cooks quickly, one or two minutes on each side.
- To assemble sandwiches, spread mayonnaise on both sides of the buns. Add lettuce, meat, pickled vegetables, cilantro and peppers. Dig in!
- 2 cups shredded carrots (I used TJ’s and tried to ignore the fact that they weren’t organic)
- 2 T kosher salt
- 2 T sugar
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- water to taste
- In a bowl, stir together the carrots, the salt and the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes until the moisture begins to seep out from the vegetables.
- Add vinegar and water to taste. I like my pickles more vinegary, so if it’s too much for you, just add a few tablespoons of water until it’s the right amount of acid for you.
Since it was still drizzly outside yesterday, I was in the mood for something that would simmer away all afternoon and make my house smell warm & exotic. I also REALLY did not want to leave my house and go out in the rain. So, pantry diving I went and Chole Masala emerged.
Served with curry roasted cauliflower, brown basmati rice, raita, + fresh cilantro; my goals were met and my house still smells warm + exotic this morning.
Chole Masala (aka Chana Masala)
- 2 tablespoons ghee (if you don’t have ghee, use 1/2 butter and 1/2 olive oil)
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, diced (I used red yesterday because that’s what I had – yellow would work too
- 4 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 2-inch piece)
- 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, stemmed and finely chopped (I seeded mine so the kids would eat it – leave the seeds in if you want it a little spicier)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced organic tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
Chop onion, ginger, garlic, & jalapeño and put in bowl together with a pinch of kosher salt.
Heat the ghee in a large frying pan over medium heat until fully melted. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and jalapeño and season with kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain and rinse the chickpeas and measure garam masala, coriander, measured salt, & turmeric into a small bowl or ramekin.
When the onions have softened, add the spices to the frying pan and stir to coat the onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, the chickpeas, and the water. Stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. Alternately, reduce heat to simmer, cover pot, and allow to simmer away all afternoon so your house gets happy smelling.
Serve over rice.
Curry Roasted Califlower
- 2 heads organic cauliflower, cut into bit sized florets
- 4 T oil (I used a combination of rice bran oil and olive oil)
- 2 T curry powder (I used trader joes brand)
- 2 T kosher salt
Preheat oven to 450. Prepare 2 large jelly roll pans with parchment paper. In large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with oil, curry and salt. Divide cauliflower onto to jelly roll pans. Roast 20-30 minutes, tossing once, until fully cooked and beginning to brown on all sides. The brown crunchy bits are the best.
Here’s how it looked before going into the oven:
Raita (not traditional, but tasty)
- 1 cup greek yogurt (I used TJs organic 0% fat Greek)
- 1 small persian cucumber
- 1/2 t curry powder
- 1/2 t kosher salt
In bowl, combine yogurt, curry powder and salt. Using the small holes, grate cucumber (and skin) into yogurt. Stir to combine.
A note about Trader Joes’ organic brown basmati rice: it tastes like cardboard. That is all.
And a quick FYI: my boys are planning a restaurant night at our house. Here is the menu they presented. (Phew! No prices. My sister and I used to do this and CHARGE my parents.) Anyway, this will be my dinner one night very soon.
And in case you’re having a hard time deciphering the bottom right (apel siter) it means apple cider.
I’m oh so very happy they didn’t forget to offer wine.
Inspired by the rainy weather and wishing for the sun
Yesterdays’s weather was like the weather of my childhood in the Willamette Valley: dark, drizzly, and windy. It made me want soup and sun. Luckily, I had some chicken stock boiling away on the stove, some cilantro & basil in the fridge, and some star anise in the drawer. Pho night was born!
And while I was rummaging around in the cabinet looking for the rice stick noodles, I came across spring roll skins hiding in the back of the cabinet and summer rolls walked into our dinner. Please summer rolls, bring the summer weather with you!
Recipe for Pho Ga (chicken Pho)
1 lb dried rice noodles
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts chicken stock (store bought or homemade)
1 whole chicken breast
1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
fresh cilantro tops & thai basil leaves
1/2 cup shaved red onions
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
sriracha chili sauce
sliced fresh chili peppers
To make the broth, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately remove from pan to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add spices, chicken stock, chicken breast, onion, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat, discarding the bone (if you used a bone-in breast).
Taste broth and add more fish sauce or sugar if necessary. Strain the broth and discard solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Divide the shredding chicken breast and noodles evenly into each bowl. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, red onion, and other accompaniments as desired and enjoy.
ps- for those following this blog – no angry rash from the nuggets of potato happiness yet… nor from the PF changs experience. Happiness abounding!