Tuesday, May 31

Buttermilk Waffles

I bought a waffle iron shortly after I moved into my first post-grad apartment and have been making them for weekend breakfasts ever since. I usually use a version of this Emeril Lagasse recipe, but I was gifted with Williams-Sonoma's Buttermilk Pancake Mix and love having it on-hand in my pantry. Of course, the waffles are delicious with butter and maple syrup (or good old Aunt Jemima), but I dressed them up with strawberries and fresh whipped cream. They're great served with maple-glazed bacon.

Buttermilk Belgian Waffles with Strawberries & Cream:
  • Combine 2 c. waffle mix* with 2 c. whole milk and whisk until smooth.
  • Meanwhile, heat your waffle iron to medium-high heat.
  • Coat iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour in 3/4 c. batter.
  • Cook waffles for 4-5 minutes, or until crispy outside and fluffy inside.
  • Repeat until all batter is used.**
  • Meanwhile, whip together 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  • Wash and slice strawberries into bite-size piece. Sweeten with sugar, depending on berries' ripeness.
  • To assemble waffles, divide onto plates and top with berries and whipped cream.

Makes five waffles
*Any pancake mix can be used for waffles.
**Keep cooked waffles warm in a 200°F oven.

Monday, May 30

Weekend Review: Hatfield's

"Croque Madame": Yellowtail, Prosciutto, Quail Egg, Grilled Brioche

I've had Hatfield's on my radar for over a year now, ever since the accolades for "Best New Restaurant" from every esteemed publication came out in 2010. The restaurant is a partnership between head chef, Quinn Hatfield and his wife/head pastry chef, Karen Hatfield. They offer a reasonable four-course prix fixe (which I had) and a small list of entrees and appetizers a la carte (which my boyfriend had). Everything was amazing: their technique, the service, the cocktails, and of course, the food. The decor is great too, featuring a huge open kitchen in the middle of the main dining room. My two favorite dishes were the "Croque Madame" (their signature dish) and the Pan Roasted Duck Breast off the prix fixe.

Charred Octopus Salad, Cannelini Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Watercress Vinaigrette
Pan Roasted Duck Breast, Endive, Cherries, Celery Root Puree
Wagyu Flat Iron Steak & Beef Short Rib, Creamy Chard, Crispy Onions
Sugar & Spice Beignets, Chocolate Fondue, Mexican Chocolate Milkshake

Friday, May 27

Serrano-Lime Squid & Bok Choy

This spicy squid and vegetable stir fry cooks in minutes for a quick weeknight meal

Serrano Lime Squid and Bok Choy Food52

I recently discovered Food52 and instantly fell in love with their site. They hold weekly recipe contests and that's where I discovered this recipe for Asian-style calamari stir-fry. Although the entry came in second place for the contest, it was definitely a winner in my house. The sauce has a heavy spiciness from the serrano pepper but is cut with the salty sweetness of the other ingredients. Bok choy rounds out the stir-fry and makes this a one-wok meal that cooks in just a few minutes and is super inexpensive to make. It's a complex and unique dinner to make for your friends and family.

More Food52 Favorite Recipes:
- Peach Tart
- Chinese Style Ribs
- Chicken Piccata

Serrano-Lime Squid & Bok Choy:
  • Clean 1 lb. squid, separating bodies and tentacles, and slice bodies into rings.*
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet** until very hot.
  • Add 3 heads of sliced bok choy and stir-fry until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove bok choy from the pan and add 1 more tbsp. canola oil.
  • Stir in 1 tbsp. grated ginger, 1 tbsp. minced garlic, 1 minced serrano pepper, and squid.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, making sure garlic doesn't burn.
  • Add bok choy back to the pan, along with a mixture of 2 tbsp. lime juice, 2 tbsp. fish sauce***, and 2 tsp. brown sugar.
  • Stir in 1 c. (loosely-packed) fresh basil leaves and cook until wilted.
  • Serve over rice.

Serves two - three
*Or have your fish monger do this for you.
**Or use a wok.
***Available in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores. 

Thursday, May 26

Grilled Salmon & Potato-Kale Hash

Spiced grilled salmon with a a hearty potato and kale hash

Grilled Salmon with Potato-Kale Hash

My girlfriend works for Williams-Sonoma and urged me to try their Potlach seasoning blend. It's a spicy, bold mix of flavors that holds up really well to a rich fish like salmon and is even more complex after being cooked on the smokey grill. I love the blackened color that the fish got after the spices charred on the grill a bit. I served it with a hearty potato and kale hash to round out the meal. The hash is filling enough to be a meal on its own, so make extra and have the leftovers for breakfast with a poached egg on top.

Potlach Grilled Salmon & Potato-Kale Hash:
 For Salmon
  • Preheat a grill* to high and oil well.
  • Meanwhile, brush two 6 oz. salmon fillets with olive oil and sprinkle each side with 1/4 tsp. Potlach seasoning.**
  • Grill salmon for 4 minutes, skin side down.
  • Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.***
For Hash
  • Dice 3/4 lb. assorted new potatoes (yukon golds, fingerlings, red bliss) into bite size pieces.
  • Toss with 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, and 3 whole garlic cloves.
  • Cook in a 425F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  • Meanwhile, wash and chop 1 large bunch of black kale.
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet; add the kale, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1 pinch red chili flakes, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook kale for 3-4 minutes, until the leaves begin to wilt, then add 1/2 c. white wine.
  • Cook kale for another 7-10 minutes, until all wine evaporates.
  • To assemble hash, combined cooked kale with cooked potatoes and check for seasoning.

Serves two
*Make sure your grill is very clean before cooking fish.
**You can buy the Potlach seasoning here or use any seasoning blend you like.
***Make take more or less time depending on thickness of the fillets.

Wednesday, May 25

Strawberry Festival

A Fresh Flat of Berries from the Festival

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I drove up the coast to go to the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard. After a few strawberry beers and margaritas and a trip into the "make your own strawberry shortcake tent" we decided to buy a flat to take home with us - only to find that all the vendors had sold out! Luckily, my boyfriend managed to charm a few women into selling us their last, secret stash of strawberries. They were so delicious and ripe that I didn't want to compromise the flavor and texture by cooking them, but here are a few tips for storing the berries and enjoying their freshness.

Storing Fresh Strawberries:
  • Place fresh berries in a zip-lock bag lined with a paper towel. Stack berries in an even layer with paper towels in between.
  • Never wash or cut berries before storing them.
  • Keep berry bags in the refrigerator - they should keep up to 5 days if stored properly.
  • Let berries come to room temperature before eating.
  • Older berries that turn a dark red color can be washed, cut, and stored in the freezer.

No-Cook Strawberry Ideas:
  • Slice the tops off the berries, squeeze fresh lime juice on top, and enjoy.
  • Try my recipe for meringue, whipped cream, and strawberry parfaits.
  • Place fresh berries over oven-baked pancakes.

Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake

    Tuesday, May 24

    Grilled Pork Gyros

    My boyfriend introduced me to Baba Foods products at the beginning of our relationship, when I was dying to inhale the entire container of hummus and tzatziki but didn’t want to show my true bottomless-pit-of-a-stomach colors yet. A lot has changed by now, but we’re still going to our local farmer’s market and picking up Baba Foods every week. Of course their salads and dips are great alone or with pita bread (or my homemade pita chips), but I wanted to showcase them in a main dish: pork gyros. If you don't have access to Baba Foods or store-bought tzatziki sauce, try my recipe for it here.

    Grilled Pork Gyros with Tzatziki, Feta, and Sundried Tomato:
    • Thinly slice 1/2 lb. grilled pork tenderloin.*
    • Meanwhile, lightly grill two pocket-less pita breads.**
    • Divide pork slices onto pita, top with a few rings of thinly sliced red onion and a handful of chopped romaine lettuce.
    • Top sandwich with 2 tbsp. of tzatziki,*** 2 tbsp. crumbled feta cheese, and 3 sliced sundried tomatoes.
    • Serve with lots of napkins - these sandwiches can be messy.

    Serves two
    *I used leftovers from this recipe.
    **Or any Greek-style flatbread.
    ***Greek-style yogurt dip.

    Monday, May 23

    Grilled Mustard-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

    Pork tenderloin gets marinated in red wine and glazed with mustard for a flavorful and healthy main course

    Red Wine Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Glaze

    Using different cuts of meat is a great way to add variation to your meal planning. I make a lot of pork chop dishes, so I decided to switch it up and cook a pork tenderloin instead. The red wine marinade and mustard crust added great flavor to the meat, and I was amazed how different the texture of the tenderloin was compared to the chops. My boyfriend is still on a grilling kick (hopefully it will last all summer), and the hot grill helped to seal in the juices and keep the tenderloin extremely moist. Make sure not to overcook the meat, tenderloin is a pretty lean cut and will get tough and dry if cooked too long.

     Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Glaze:
    • For marinade, combine 1/2 c. red wine, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, 2 tbsp. pomegranate vinegar*, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper.
    • Place a 1.5 lb. trimmed pork tenderloin in a large zip-lock bag and cover with the marinade. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
    • Remove from the marinade and brush with 2 tbsp. dijon mustard. Keep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
    • Cook tenderloin on a hot grill for 13-15 minutes, charring it on all sides.
    • Remove the pork from the grill when the internal temperature read 150°F on a meat thermometer.
    • Cover the pork with foil and rest for 10 minutes.
    • Slice pork and divide onto plates.

    Serves four
    *You can substitute red wine vinegar.

    Friday, May 20

    Tagliatelle with Prosciutto & Tangelo

    I saw a version of this recipe in the May issue of Bon Appetit and thought, "this is either going to be really good or really strange". Either way, I've been dying to try it and finally tested it out on my boyfriend and a friend the other night. Instead of using orange, I used the zest of a tangelo I picked up at the farmer's market. The citrus flavor was surprisingly mild in the pasta, but provided a burst of freshness to the rich cream sauce. I also added a little basil for color and added flavor.

    Tagliatelle with Prosciutto & Tangelo:
    • Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 12 oz. tagliatelle* pasta and cook until 2 minutes before al dente.
    • Meanwhile, melt 1/4 stick butter in a large sauce pan.
    • Add 3 oz. prosciutto**, ripped into bite size pieces, and saute until brown and crispy (3-5 minutes).
    • Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 c. pasta cooking liquid.
    • Add pasta liquid, 1/2 c. heavy cream, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, the juice of 1 tangelo***, and the zest of half a tangelo to the pan.
    • Bring sauce to a boil and season with salt and pepper.
    • Add cooked pasta to the pan and toss until almost all the sauce is absorbed and the pasta is al dente (2-3 minutes).
    • During the last minute of cooking, toss in 1 tbsp. of freshly torn basil leaves.
    • Divide pasta onto plates and garnish with more fresh basil.

    Serves three - four
    *A thick, long noodle. You can substitute fettuccine.
    **Italian cured ham. You can substitute bacon or pancetta.
    ***You can use an orange or tangerine if you can't find tangelos.

    Thursday, May 19

    Mushroom Ravioli with Rock Shrimp & Bay Scallops

    Mushroom Ravioli with Rock Shrimp and Bay Scallops

    I had a version of this meal at a seafood restaurant a few months ago and wanted to re-create it at home. Mushrooms and shellfish aren't a common flavor pairing, but the lobster-esque flavor and texture of the rock shrimp, the sweetness of the scallops, and the earthiness of the porcini mushroom ravioli really work well together. The white wine butter sauce lightly coats the seafood and ravioli and ties the whole thing together. Since there's only a few ingredients, it's important to use fresh seafood and a high-quality, fresh ravioli.

    Related Recipes:
    - Butternut Squash Ravioli with Bay Scallops & Shrimp
    - Seafood & Meyer Lemon Fettuccine
    - Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Corn Sauce

    Mushroom Ravioli with Rock Shrimp & Bay Scallops:
    • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook one package of porcini mushroom ravioli* until two minutes before al dente. 
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 2 whole garlic cloves in a skillet.
    • Add 1 c. white wine and let it reduce by half (about 4-5 minutes).
    • Whisk in 1/2 stick cold butter and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
    • Add 1/2 lb. rock shrimp and 1/2 lb. bay scallops. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
    • Add the raviolis and 1/4 c. pasta cooking liquid to the skillet.
    • Toss ravioli in the sauce for 1-2 minutes.
    • Divide onto plates and serve with freshly torn basil leaves.

    Serves two
    *I got mine from the fresh pasta aisle at Whole Foods.

    Wednesday, May 18

    Chicken & Vegetable Fajitas

    My boyfriend and I were recently gifted with a set of spice rubs from Williams-Sonoma, and we’ve been dying to try each of them out on different meals. I combined the Spicy Chipotle and Chili-Lime Rub together to make chicken and vegetable fajitas. They added so much flavor to the meal and gave a real authentic taste to the dish. Make sure you serve something cooling, like guacamole or sour cream, to offset the spice of the fajitas.

    Chicken & Vegetable Fajitas:
    • Thinly slice 1 onion, 1 bell pepper, and 1 boneless skinless chicken breast.
    • Place meat and vegetables into a large zip-lock bag, along with 1 tbsp. canola oil and 1 tbsp. each of the spicy chipotle and chili-lime rub.*
    • Seal the bag and shake it in order to evenly distribute the seasoning.
    • Place the bag in the refrigerator and marinate for 2-4 hours.
    • Heat ½ tbsp. canola oil in a skillet over high heat.
    • Add the fajita mixture and cook for 8-10 minutes,** stirring occasionally.
    • Place skillet on a trivet at the kitchen table. Serve with warm tortillas, guacamole, and shredded cheese.

    Serves two – three
    *Or any other Mexican seasoning blend you like.
    **Depending on the size of the chicken and vegetables.

    Tuesday, May 17

    Garlic & Dill Roasted Trout

    Pan-roasted trout is one of my go-to quick weeknight meals (see another version here) because it's healthy, can be adjusted to whatever fresh herbs or seasoning you have on hand, and takes only minutes to make. For last night's version, I flavored the fish with fresh dill and garlic and finished it with a Parmesan-herb oil I got from Williams-Sonoma. I usually make some microwavable brown rice as a quick side dish for the fish, and it was even more delicious with some of the Parmesan oil stirred in.

    Garlic & Dill Pan-Roasted Trout:
    • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over very high heat.
    • Season both sides of two 6 oz. steelhead trout fillets with salt and pepper.
    • Add the fish to the skillet, skin side down, along with 1 bunch of fresh dill* and 2 whole garlic cloves. 
    • Cook the trout for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the skin is crispy and the fish is just cooked through.
    • Divide the trout onto plates and drizzle with Parmesan oil.

    Serves two
    *Be careful. Fish and herbs may splatter in the hot oil.

    Monday, May 16

    Green Vegetable & Cheese Quiche

    I'm definitely a fan of quiche (you can't tear me away from the bite-size appetizer quiches at dinner parties), but up until yesterday, I had never made one. It's a great way to use up leftovers (more ideas here, here, and here), and I love a dish that can be eaten for dinner one night and breakfast the next morning. I used some vegetables and cheese that I had in the fridge, but crumbled bacon would be a great addition.

    Green Vegetable & Cheese Quiche:
    • De-frost one store-bought pie dough and place into a 9" pie dish.*
    • Use a fork to dock the dough**. Cook in a 400°F oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
    • Let pie crust cool.
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet.
    • Add 1 c. chopped leeks and 2 c. chopped kale to skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Cook vegetables for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Add 1 c. baby spinach to the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.
    • Let vegetable mixture cool.
    • Whisk together 3 eggs, 2 tbsp. heavy cream, and 2 oz. garlic quark cheese.***
    • Season egg mixture with salt and pepper and stir in the cooled vegetables.
    • Sprinkle the bottom of the pie crust with 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese, then pour in the egg mixture, then sprinkle another 1/4 c. mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.
    • Bake quiche in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes, or until eggs are set and cheese is golden brown.
    • Slice quiche into wedges and serve.

    Serves four
    *Or buy the dough that comes in a disposable 9" dish.
    **Prick the dough all over. This stops the dough from forming bubbles and lumps.
    ***Garlic and herb cream cheese. You can substitute another garlic and herb soft cheese, such as Boursin.

    Friday, May 13

    Spaghetti with Tomato-Garlic Cream Sauce

    One of my favorite things about summer is coming home from work and still being able to enjoy a few hours of warm weather and sunlight. My boyfriend and I have been taking advantage of the longer days by going for early evening strolls around our neighborhood, which only seems to make me hungrier. I haven't been wanting to spend much time in the kitchen, so I love making quick meals with just a few fresh ingredients. This tomato pasta is quick and flavorful, and I'm addicted to the garlic quark cheese* I get from the local farmer's market.

    Spaghetti with Tomato-Garlic Cream Sauce:
    • Heat a large pot of water until it comes to a boil. Season with salt and cook 1 lb. whole-wheat pasta until two minutes before al dente (about 8 minutes).
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet and add 1 pt. cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 tsp. chopped garlic, and 1 tsp. fresh oregano leaves.**
    • Cook tomatoes until the skin blisters and they soften. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Continue cooking, breaking up the tomatoes slightly with the back of a wooden spoon.
    • Drain pasta, reserving 1 c. pasta cooking liquid.
    • Add 1/4 c. pasta cooking liquid to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, until a sauce forms.
    • Add pasta, another 1/4 c. liquid, 6 oz. garlic quark cheese, and 1 tsp. fresh oregano.
    • Toss pasta, adding more liquid as needed, until the noodles absorb the sauce and the pasta become al dente (2-3 minutes).
    • Divide pasta into bowls, and serve with a tbsp. quark and more fresh oregano.

    Serves four
    *You can buy the kind I use here or substitute with another creamy garlic cheese, such as Boursin.
    **I happened to have oregano on hand. You can substitute with fresh thyme or basil leaves. 

    Chicken with Roasted Garlic & Oregano Vinaigrette

    I usually find grilled chicken pretty bland, so I'm always looking for new, more exciting recipes. My boyfriend was recently gifted with Bobby Flay's Grill It cookbook (thanks, mom), and we've been having a great time looking at the recipes and planning our next meal. We recently tried a version of his grilled chicken with roasted garlic & oregano vinaigrette and were impressed with how flavorful it was. We decided to pour the sauce over the whole meal, and there wasn't a drop left.

    Grilled Chicken & Roasted Garlic-Oregano Vinaigrette:
    • Remove six cloves from one head of garlic (leave paper on). Drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper, and wrap in tin foil.
    • Roast garlic in a 300°F oven for an hour, let cool, and squeeze garlic cloves out of their paper.*
    • In a blender, combine roasted garlic,1 tbsp. fresh oregano, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1/2 tbsp. honey, one pinch red chili flakes, and salt. 
    • Stream in 1/3 c. olive oil until emulsified.** Set dressing aside.
    • Meanwhile, heat your grill to medium.***
    • Season two bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
    • Grill chicken for 6-7 minutes**** on both sides, until skin is crispy and the juices run clear.
    • During the last 3 minutes of cooking, place par-boiled*****  fingerling potatoes and asparagus on the grill.
    • Place veggies and chicken on a platter and immediately cover with the vinaigrette.
    • Tent with foil and let the whole meal rest for 10 minutes.
    • Divide onto plates and serve.

    Serves two
    *Can be done two days in advance.
    **Or until mixture has thickened.
    ***You can use a gas or charcoal grill, or a grill pan if necessary.
    ****Time varies on size of breasts.
    *****To par-boil the potatoes, cook in boiling, salted water for 8-10 minutes, drain, cool, and slice in half.

      Wednesday, May 11

      Grilled Lobster Tails

      Last Saturday was one of those wonderfully lazy days where my boyfriend and I had no commitments to attend to. We treated ourselves to breakfast at Huckleberry (last mentioned here) and then walked next door to our favorite seafood market, Santa Monica Seafood. They had a great sale on lobster tails (which I last made on Valentine's Day), so we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner in our pajamas. It was so much fun to sit at our breakfast nook, dip the lobster meat in melted butter, and toast each other with some Prosecco.

      Grilled Lobster Tails:
      • Split three* lobster tails in half**, lightly brush the flesh side with canola oil, and season with salt.
      • Pre-heat your grill to medium.
      • Grill the tails, flesh side down, for 4-5 minutes, then flip and grill them shell side down for another 4 minutes.
      • Serve the tails with lemon wedges and melted butter.

      Serves two
      * The tails were on the small side, so we made 1.5 per person.
      **Or have your fish monger do this for you.

        Tuesday, May 10

        Mother's Day Pizza Party

        My mother doesn't eat meat, so it's always a challenge to come up with a meal that works for a special occasion. For Mother's Day, we decided to do something different and have a casual pizza party with three different pizzas, caesar salad, and store-bought desserts. It was so fun to gather the family in the kitchen and have everyone make the pizzas together. We made a whole-wheat vegetable pizza for my mom, a prosciutto and mushroom pizza for the kids, and an everything pizza with the leftover toppings.

        Prosciutto, Mushroom, & Arugula Pizza:
        • Flour a flat surface and roll out one store-bought pizza dough* to 1/8 inch thick.
        • Place the dough on an oiled sheet pan and top with 1/4 c. pizza sauce, 1/2 c. grated mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese.
        • Top the pizza with 1/4 c. sliced mushrooms, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 4 slices of diced prosciutto.
        • Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes in a 500°F oven.**
        • Once pizza is cooked, immediately remove from oven and top with 3 tbsp. baby arugula.

        Serves three - four
        *In the refrigerated section of some supermarkets. I like to use Trader Joe's or Whole Foods dough.
        **Make sure your oven is very clean before heating it to 500°F.