August 28, 2014

Zucchini Hummus

Even if you are on the right track, you will still get run over if you just sit there. 
Will Rogers

Good morning! Zucchini Hummus is on the menu today, with special thanks to Linda, my massage therapist who gave me this great idea. She always tells me, in her lovely South African voice, all the delicious things she's been cooking at home and by the time the session is over, I'm salivating and all I want to do is eat. Anyways, I'm head-over-heels in love with it.  Such a great way to use up all the zucchini you've been growing in your yard.

It's basically the same idea as Baba Ganoush, the smoky Middle Eastern eggplant dip-- but made with zucchini instead. Grilled or roasted, the zucchini is pureed with fresh garlic cloves, lemon juice, herbs and tahini paste. Simple and fast, it can be served warm or cold. Use it to dip soft grilled pita bread, or spread it in a wrap with grilled meat or veggies. It makes for a delicious, gluten free, low carb, vegan side.

August 25, 2014

Picante Tuna Salad

Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. 
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are. 

After pillaging through our empty fridge and bare cupboards the other night,  in a moment of complete desperation, the kind where you know if you don't eat soon, you will have a total hunger tantrum, I found a lowly can of albacore tuna on the back shelf of the pantry. I don't know how long it had been there, and I don't even remember buying it, but as I said, I was desperate. After mixing it with fresh jalapeno, cilantro, capers, celery, radish,  cucumber, and a little cayenne, I was surprised at how good it was. Crisis averted! I kept asking myself, why don't I eat this more often? A few days later,  I remade it just to see if it was purely hunger that made it taste good that night, or if it actually was good? It passed the husband test with flying colors. Served over a bed of greens, stuffed in an avocado, folded into toasted pita bread, in a tortilla, or piled on an english muffin, this makes for a tasty, healthy, protein-filled, satisfying meal, in like 5 minutes flat, if you are a fast chopper.  If I were a make- my- lunch, take-it -to-work person, I would be making this a lot.

On the home front, we are almost done with the wedding season ... just 5 more weddings to go. Whew! What a summer. Thank goodness, Brian had the good sense to insist we take couple weeks off in August. I am learning, albeit slowly, that sometimes it's good to listen to your spouse. I think we would have killed each other, had we not taken a break. You know, I'll just say, it's not easy working with someone you are married to, especially when you both think you are the boss. I'll leave it there.

Last night was one of our more challenging weddings, one that I stewed over for months, because of the difficulty of the menu (in an outdoor setting without a real kitchen).  Today as I sit on the couch, achy and tired, I feel the sweet relief getting through it, feeling good about the job we all did.

One of the hardest things in the restaurant and catering business, for me anyways, has always been managing the anxiety and stress. I find myself daydreaming about working in a flower shop or being a barista in a cafe.

In fact, once, when I had Mizuna Restaurant, in a moment of temporary insanity - overwhelmed, tired and stressed to the max, I walked out and actually applied for a job at a local florist. Never mind that I already had a job, a full blown business, and that I had absolutely no idea how to arrange flowers-- somehow all of this slipped my mind. I saw the "now hiring" sign, walked in, and filled out an application. They asked me to make a sample floral bouquet, which I did.

Well, I thought it looked good.

It was the kind of bouquet you would make if you had a bunch of different colored, different length wild flowers and stuck them in a jar, all willy nilly, messy and wild. Needless to say, I did not get the job! But to this day, every time I think of that moment, placing those flowers in the vase, pretending to be a florist,  I  laugh hysterically.  I still feel embarrassed. Talk about wanting to escape your life!

August 21, 2014

Vegan Stuffed Poblanos with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce

Around me the trees stir in their leaves 
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches. 
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come 
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."
Mary Oliver --from When I am Among the Trees

OK, I'll admit, I'm on a bit of a cleanse. Every once in a while, something inspires me to clean up my act and eat cleanly for a while, giving my body a break. With all the bountiful produce so readily available this time of year, it's been so easy. This recipe for stuffed poblano peppers is vegan and gluten free, filled with uber nutritious sweet potatoes, black beans, fresh corn and cilantro - served over the best thing ever - a flavorful Avocado-Cilantro Sauce which has no other added oils or fat. The recipe can easily be modified for cheese lovers, as you will see below, like I often do for Brian -- but if you are interested in keeping it healthy and lean, the velvety creamy avocado sauce may make you forget all about the existence of cheese, or at the very least, help you use it with a light hand.

August 17, 2014

Sunshine Bowl w/ Sunflower Seed Tahini Sauce

Happiness consists not of having, but of being. It is a warm glow of the heart at peace with itself. 
David O. McKay

Coming home after a two week road trip, exploring Idaho's beautiful nooks and crannies -our fridge is frighteningly bare. I make a quick trip to the farmers market and return home, arms full of fresh produce. While at the market, I have this Sunshine Bowl in mind and make sure to pick out fresh crunchy veggies like golden beets, carrots, kohlrabi, sunchokes, radish, jicama and lemon cucumber - all which can be grated or sliced- and taste good in their raw state. In this recipe, all the veggies are raw, served over a bed of warm, short grain nutty brown rice (or any other whole grain) with kale. 

But it's the Sunflower Seed Tahini Sauce that really makes all this healthiness -palatable and delicious. Earthy and flavorful, it's low in fat and oil, vegan and gluten free. Because most of the ingredients are all raw, this dish is pumped full of antioxidants, vitamins and living nutrients.  I think of this as a "detox" bowl, and whenever I eat this, I feel energized and alive, and my body thanks me for it. It also passes the Brian taste test, meaning - he loves it without knowing how good it is for him.  

The Sunshine Bowl makes shopping at the farmers market fun... giving a good excuse to try different, interesting veggies that you wouldn't normally pick out.

August 12, 2014

Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
John Muir

With the cool, crispy bite of romaine hearts, the vine-ripened summer grown tomatoes, the little baby golden beets,  and the crispy mustard-glazed bacon crumbles, dressed with chilled horseradish-spiked creamy Gorgonzola dressing-- this is our new favorite salad, the one we ate every night, for a whole entire week, before leaving on our camping trip. Talk about getting in a rut!  I kept asking Brian, what do you feel like for dinner tonight honey? And he kept saying, wedge salad please, with this half-crazed look on his face. Delicious, crunchy and refreshing- on its own, it makes for a light dinner. Or for heartier appetites, serve alongside grilled steak or chicken.  If going meat-free, substitute chopped smoked almonds for the bacon. Or if cooking for a delirious, hungry carnivore, make their day by doubling the bacon. 

Those of you who follow us on instagram, may know that we have been off playing in the lakes and forests of  Idaho --taking a little summer break.   We've been camping and hiking and swimming and paddling our way through McCall, the Sawtooth Mountains, Ketchum and Boise --spending most of our days outside. Brian, surrounded by birds and maps, is in heaven. Our dog Maxx hasn't stopped smiling and I am beginning to feel human again, my mind rested and clear. I had no idea, our sleepy neighbor, Idaho, had so much to offer in terms of outdoor fun and staggering beauty. I'm kind of blown away honestly. Wow!

Back at home, we have tiny little yellow pear tomatoes growing in our garden, which I used for this,  along with baby beets and radishes from the farmers market. Crispy lettuce works best, like romaine hearts-- or my favorite, "little gems" if you can get your hands on them. Soft greens, like mesclun, arugula or baby spinach, do not lend themselves well to this- you need a lettuce crisp enough to stand up to this heavier style of dressing. The traditional lettuce used in a classic Wedge Salad is Iceberg, and even with its bad reputation for being somewhat boring, bland and nutrition-less, it totally works. But for the sake of mixing it up, try romaine.

August 7, 2014

Huckleberry Pancakes with Almond Flour

Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields...Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness. 
 Mary Oliver

These little guys are sure to bring a smile to whomever you serve them up to this morning. Huckleberry pancakes, made with almond flour instead of regular flour are not only delicious, they are super healthy and nutritious  - packed full of protein and incredible antioxidants. Considered a "superfood", huckleberries are said to have the highest antioxidants of any fruit, second only to lingonberries, working their healing magic on the body. Not only are they high in vitamins, they are especially good at regulating blood sugar levels and specifically help the pancreas process starch and sugars more efficiently. 

If you are lucky to live in the Northwest, the season for huckleberry picking is now! They are plump, ripe and ready- and can be found growing in forested areas at higher elevations, especially abundant in areas which have had seen wildfires in the recent past. They may also be purchased locally at local farmers markets. If huckleberries are not available in your area, try this same recipe with any fresh berry... blueberries, lingonberries, black currants or blackberries.

This is also an easy camping recipe, fun and simple to make. Gather the huckleberries while hiking and reward yourself the next morning with a scrumptious hearty breakfast. And speaking of camping…by the time this post reaches you, we will be well in the middle of our two week outdoor adventure in Idaho. Camping, kayaking, hiking, cabin-ing ….come along if you wish via  instagram!

The simple batter comes together in minutes. Huckleberries go both inside the batter and over top.

Heat a skillet and either use butter, oil, a combination-- or coconut oil ( my preference).

Cook them up and place in a warm oven until ready to serve. Stack. 

Top with the remaining fresh huckleberries.
Drizzle with real maple syrup.

Dive in.

{ The amazing GIR spatula - my favorite spatula EVER- and the cute white Farmhouse pitchers are available at our store Bowl and Pitcher . Take a peek!}

print recipe

Huckleberry Pancakes Recipe with Almond Flour
Gluten free huckleberry pancakes, made with fresh huckleberries and almond flour.
¼ cup water
2 extra large eggs
2 tablespoons real maple syrup- plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest (optional)
1 ½ cups almond flour
1 Cup fresh Huckleberries - divided
½ tsp baking soda
butter, oil or coconut oil for skillet
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, water, oil, maple syrup, salt and vanilla. Whisk in baking soda, then almond flour. Fold in half the huckleberries and zest ( optional).

Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle, with 1 T butter or coconut on medium heat. Spoon in 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until edges become golden brown, or bubbles form. Flip with a spatula, and turn heat down to med low-- cook until browned on the other side. If insides are still soft, either continue cooking on very low heat, or place in a 350F oven until until cooked through.

Stack pancakes, top with fresh huckleberries and pour a little maple syrup over top.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 small pancakes ( serves 2)

July 29, 2014

Huckleberry Salmon Recipe

The first time I made this dish, Brian wittily called it --a bear's dream.  He's clever that way. Wild salmon, caught in the rivers of Alaska, is grilled until the skin becomes crispy. The whole thing is covered with pickled wild huckleberries.  A feast fit for a bear.  Sometimes when I hear huckleberry "sauce", disturbing images of cloyingly sweet, jelly like substances come to mind. To be clear- this is not that. This is a fresh huckleberry relish, one that is lightly pickled with shallots and coriander seeds, enhancing the huckleberries, while keeping the berries whole, plump, and intact. If you are fortunate to live in the Northwest, fresh huckleberries are in season right now…and can foraged and picked in the wild... or bought at local farmers markets. This salmon recipe is fun way to incorporate fresh huckleberries into a savory dish, and the pickled relish is delicious with chicken or even lamb, if fish is not your thing. If you can't find fresh huckleberries --fresh blackberries or blueberries will work great too. The important word here is fresh.