Whipped Ricotta Flatbread with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Zan's recipe Flatbread whipped RicottaHere is a fun appetizer I created using some (store bought) pizza dough, ricotta, and some veggies. It’s not too heavy and you can make a little extra whipped ricotta as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients:

For the Whipped Ricotta

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 Tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 8 small cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Flatbread

  • 1 ball of pizza dough
  • flour for dusting surface and pizza spatula
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sliced zucchini (with cheese slicer)
  • 5 Roma tomatoes (sliced same thickness as zucchini)
  • 8 leaves of basil (sliced into strips)

Directions for Whipped Ricotta:

Place ricotta, rosemary, roasted garlic, salt, and goat cheese crumbles into the blender, blend on low speed, and slowly add in the olive oil until you reach a smooth consistency.

Directions for Flatbread:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees or grill. (I normally cook pizza on a pizza stone.) Roll out the pizza dough on a smooth floured surface, stretching on the edge of a counter then tossing in the air, as my husband normally does, (getting flour all over the place) until the pizza dough is evenly thinned out. You can leave the edges thicker (similar to regular pizza), which can be used for dipping into the sauce. Place 1/2 – 1 cup of whipped ricotta onto the center and spread to within one inch of the edges. Sprinkle with salt. Add the tomatoes and zucchini. Place onto the pizza stone and cook until the edges brown, and the center is cooked – approximately 5-10 minutes. Remove flatbread and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve the extra whipped ricotta on the side. Slice into 3″ pieces and serve. Enjoy!!! Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Pork Shoulder

For approximately a year now, I’ve been volunteering for an amazing organization here in Boulder, called There With Care. There With Care’s mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis. They serve families referred by medical agencies, by building a network of services and people who ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations with compassion and care. I have been working on There With Care’s Team Chop, where we prep simple, healthy, and easy to cook CrockPot meals for each of the families. It has been an amazing organization to work for. We have an incredile team of people on our team, dedicating their time once a week to help eleviate some of the burden these families are facing.

So, after a year of working with Team Chop, I finally bought myself a slow-cooker (CrockPot). It has been fun experimenting with some new recipes. One of which was another creation by my foodie-17-year-old. Takes a total of 10 minutes to prep, and has very few ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 8 tomatillos – quartered
  • 2 jalapenos – (remove seeds for less spice – chop into large chunks)
  • 1 onion – large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves – quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pork shoulder into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In an iron skillet on high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add half of the pork, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Braise each piece so they are nice and brown, and crispy. Repeat with the second batch of meat. Set aside. Meanwhile, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic in the oil. Salt, then place onto a baking sheet and roast them, until they start to brown slightly, apprximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and place ingredients into a food processor or blender. Salt to taste. Place the meat into the crockpot and pour the pureed mixture ontop. Cook on low heat for 6 hours. Serve with rice, and black beans with sour cream.

Seared Tuna with Wasabi Crème Fraîche and Ginger Soy reduction

seared Tuna with Creme fraische
I cherish every minute I get to spend with my 17-year-old son, especially in the kitchen. He is so brutally honest when it comes to critiquing my food that it has made me a better cook. (He actually could be an amazing professional food critic). I have to credit him with this creation, I was just the executor! Searing the tuna took about 6 minutes, but the prep for the sauces was a little more labor intensive. Be sure to let the fish sit out at room temperature for about an hour, as you will only be searing the outside of the fish, inside will remain rare, and you don’t want the inside of the fish to be cold.

Ingredients for Soy Reduction:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger

Ingredients for Wasabi Crème Fraîche:

  • 1 cup Crème Fraîche
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tsp wasabi paste (use less if you do not want it too spicy)
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for Tuna:

  • 2 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp of pureed ginger
  • 4 – 6 oz pieces of Tuna
  • salt

Directions for Soy Reduction:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, medium heat, cook down until sauce reduces it becomes thick and syrupy. Prior to pouring, strain through a sieve to remove the chunks of garlic and ginger. Pour over seared tuna.

Directions for Crème Fraîche:

Stir the Crème Fraîche together with the sour cream and salt. Add in the wasabi, one teaspoon at a time, until you’ve reached your desired potency. Spoon onto each plate. Place tuna on top of the wasabi cream.

Directions for Tuna:

Using an iron skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and ginger on medium heat. Saute until garlic is cooked, but not browned. Remove garlic and ginger with a slotted spoon, leaving any remaining oil in the pan. Increase the heat to high and add the tuna, searing each side. Once you all sides are browned, remove the fish and place onto the wasabi cream, then drizzle the soy reduction, and garnish with cooked garlic and ginger. Serves 4 people. Paired nicely with sushi rice.

Haricots Vert (French Green Beans), Almonds and Parmesan

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Haricot Vert are a thinner and smaller version of the standard American green beans. I cooked these last night as a side dish to my fried trout with brown sage butter (I’ll post that recipe tomorrow). The flavor combinations came from the “affinities” listed in my go-to “Flavor Bible“, pretty much my inspiration for a majority of these recipes. For a Paleo version, just omit the Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups of haricot vert
  • salt for water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Boil 5 cups of salted water in a medium sized saucepan. Add in haricot vert and blanch them for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter, add in the garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the haricot vert, stir frequently. After 5 minutes add in the almonds and saute until beans are tender.  Remove from heat, and sprinkle the beans with parmesan cheese. Serves 4

Channa Dal (Dahl)

Channa Dal

It’s finally winter, and I really wanted to something that was hearty, healthy and warm. It’s been years since I’ve made this Ayurvedic dal (Dahl), but it has always been one of my favorite dishes. I learned this recipe over 18 years ago when my husband and I visited the Deepak Chopra Center in La Jolla, Ca. We stayed there for a week and attended spiritual classes, yoga classes, daily massage treatments, and Ayurvedic cooking classes, and even had a chance to meet Deepak in person! A truly “life-changing” experience! The recipe we made at the Center was a mung Dal, but I could only find Chana Dal at my local grocer. Channa Dal is a small relative of the chickpea and has a yellowish color. Its flavor is slightly sweet. If you can’t find channa dal use yellow mung dal, or yellow split peas. In preparing Dal, it is important to soften it well and cook it long enough so that it takes on a creamy consistency. ( I ended up soaking mine for 2 hours, then cooking for 2 more hours).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry Chana Dal
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp pureed ginger
  • 2 tsp of mustard seed
  • 2 tsp of coriander
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • salt to taste
  • a sprinkle of asafoetida (helps with digestion) – get online or Indian Market
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Wash Chana Dal; drain. Soak in water for 2 hours. Cook Chana dal in water in a medium-sized saucepan covered over medium heat until soft, about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the dal! In a small frying pan heat the ghee and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add in the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, making sure not to brown the garlic. Add it all of the spices, and stir so the onions are covered. Then add the spice-onion mixture to the chana dal pot and stir. Add salt and asafoetida. Cook for additional 10 minutes. The texture of the dal should be creamy. Serve with a garnish of cilantro. If not concerned about paleo, you can serve with garlic Naan or basmati rice.

Here are some other great resources for Ayurvedic Meals:

“The Ayurvedic Cookbook” – by Amadea Morningstar

“Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living” – by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda and Johnny Brannigan

“The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: A Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well” – by Kate O’Donnell and Cara Brostrom

Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Stew (Paleo)

paleo moroccan chicken and vegetable stew

After a traditional Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to make some aromatic, and spicy ethnic food. I pulled out a “somewhat Paleo” recipe book, written by Dr. Mark Hyman called “The 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook“, based on his book “The Blood Sugar Solution“. It’s basically a healthy cookbook with a lot of Paleo recipes. This dish called out to me with all of the aromatic spices, like turmeric, cumin, and coriander. I made some slight modifications and spiced it up a bit. Warning: It did take a while to prep, approximately 40 minutes as I like to chop the ingredient a bit smaller than Dr. Hyman recommended, but was well worth it. I did not include the recommended eggplant, as my husband “claims” that he is allergic to it. (What REALLY happened: when he was in college, after a dinner of eggplant parmesan, and bit too much to drink, he threw up, and now claims it was the eggplant he was allergic to). Ha! Anyway, you can always add one chopped eggplant to this dish. Oh, and this dish is also called “Tagine”. Also, if you want to go vegan, substitute the chicken for firm tofu and reduce cooking time by 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp pureed ginger (I use this one)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (powder)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use 1/4 tsp for less heat)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1″ pieces and trimmed of fat (if going vegan use firm Tofu)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch half circles
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth is going vegan)
  • 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

In a dutch oven or heavy stock pot (I used a cast iron dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and saute gently until the onions begin to caramelize, 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat to low, and add 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and all of the dried spices. Saute the spices and onions about 2 minutes. Salt the chicken (or tofu) with the remaining salt, and add to the pot. Turn heat up to medium, and saute for 3 minutes, until all of the chicken (or tofu) is well coated with spices. Add the cauliflower and mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes. Then Add the bell peppers and zucchini, and saute until they soften about 5 minutes. Add the chicken (or vegetable) stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the stew gently, stirring occasionally, until all of the vegetables are tender and the liquid is thickened and reduce approximately 15-20 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in olives. Plate and serve with cilantro garnish. Serves 4

paleo moroccan chicken stew

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Bacon

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are such a great winter treat, as long as they have a little sweetness, and are super easy to prepare. I love them a little crunchy which a touch of garlic. And as we all know, EVERYTHING is better with Bacon!!!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I like to cook the chopped bacon in a small saucepan until crispy, drain them on a paper towel, then reserve the bacon grease. Toss the Brussel sprouts with the bacon grease, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and garlic. Put the mixture onto the baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Add the bacon, toss, and bake for another 2 minutes. Your Brussel sprouts should be tender and should have some crispy leaves.

Pasta Alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams)

Spaghetti and clams - pasta con vongole

Traditional “Pasta Alle Vongole”, spaghetti with clams, is almost impossible to make here is the US, as “vongole” (the small, Mediterranean Wedge Shell, also known as the Tellina or “bean clam”) are hard to come by in Boulder, CO. So, in this dish, I used little neck clams, which are slightly larger and have a thicker shell. My mother-in-law adds ginger to this dish, which makes it a little different than the traditional version. The following recipe serves 4 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti 
  • 40 littleneck clams in the shell (scrubbed)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp pureed ginger
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, soak clams in cold water and make sure they are scrubbed clean.
  2. Add spaghetti to boiling water, and cook until slightly underdone; pasta will finish cooking in sauce. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over medium-low heat, and add olive oil, garlic and ginger. Sauté gently, reducing heat if necessary so garlic does not brown.
  3. Add wine and clams, and cover. Clams should open in about 2 minutes. (If pasta is ready first, drain it and toss with a small amount of olive oil.) Add hot drained pasta, cover, and shake pot gently. Allow to simmer for another 1 or 2 minutes until it is done to taste.
  4. Discard any clams that have not opened. Add half the parsley, and shake pan to distribute evenly. Transfer to bowls, and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
  5. Other versions add peperoncino flakes (1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes for a little kick). Serves 4

Asian Cole Slaw

Asian Cole Slaw with Sesame Oil and Cilantro
Asian Cole Slaw with Sesame Oil and Cilantro

Okay, I’ve honestly had enough of this summer heat! With 90+ degree weather for the past couple of months, I thought I would share a light, refreshing coleslaw recipe, to cool you down. This dressing is a little sweet and pungent. Pairs nicely with a Panko Crusted Tuna.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh pureed ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp Mirin*
  • 2 tbsp Toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup Organic Canola Oil

* Mirin is a rice wine, similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol and higher sugar content.

Directions: In a mixing bowl, place soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and Mirin and whisk until brown sugar dissolves. Slowly whisk in the oil to the mixture in a slow stream, waiting for the oil and mixture to begin thickening before adding a little more oil. This is to ensure emuslification. Add to the slaw and refrigerate, this can be made a few hours before serving.

For the Cole Slaw:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 3/4 cup julienned carrots
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds

Directions: If you don’t have the patients to hand slice/chop all of the ingredients, you can use a food processor with the slicing or julienne blades. Mix the cabbages and carrots into a bowl, slowly add in the dressing, tossing to cover. Add in the cilantro and sesame seeds and toss. This can be served with a nice panic crusted seared tuna and sushi rice. You can also make a bit more of the above dressing and add it to the Tuna and rice.

Crown Roast of Lamb

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I love lamb and especially a crown roast. They are like lamb popsicles. A crown roast can be created by taking two 7-rib racks of lamb and tying them together (or ask your butcher to prepare for you). It’s a great easy meat to serve a small group of people (5-6 adults). It goes nicely with rosemary & garlic or parsley & mint. I like to marinate the lamb for at least 6 hours before cooking. I have made this roast several times, pairing it with Flageolet beans, seared greens and garlic mashed potatoes, as well as with (see below) roasted rosemary new potatoes with Chive Creme Fraiche sauce.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 crown roasts of lamb, consisting of 14 chops
  • ¾ cup Olive oil

PREPARATION

Mix chopped rosemary, minced garlic, salt and black pepper in small bowl. Add in the olive oil to the mix. Place crown roasts of lamb, spaced apart, in a large plastic bag and add half of the mixture. Making sure all section of the lamb are covered. Store in refrigerator to marinate for 6 hours. Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove lamb and brush with remaining era/olive oil mixture. Cover bones loosely with sheet of foil. Roast lamb until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb registers 125°F to 130°F for rare, about 20 minutes (or 130°F to 135°F for medium-rare, about 30 minutes; or 135°F to 140°F for medium, about 35 minutes).

Transfer lamb to platter; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Remove foil and string. Cut lamb between ribs into chops and serve.

This one I served with roasted rosemary new potatoes. I made a chive-Crème fraîche sauce for the potatoes which ended up going pairing really well the lamb.

lamb2 copy