What is this blog about? I am hoping to engage others who love to eat or cook in a conversation that will inspire and tickle our taste buds as well as nurture our creative spirit.
The whole thing started when my house mate asked me to make what I had made for dinner one night the week before. I had no idea what I had made or what I had put in it, because my cooking process is mostly intuitive. This happened a few more times until he said that I had to start writing down what I do. I reluctantly agreed to do so. Also, being a photographer, I figured it would help trigger my memory if I also took photos of my creations. After posting a few of them on social media, people started asking me for recipes and tips in addition to dinner invitations. Before I knew it, I was working on creating a cookbook!
In order to make sure that the recipes are useful, I’ll be asking people to re-create them and report back on their experience along with photos of their results and tips for improvements. I’m hoping this will then lead to a book of cooking inspiration rather than just a series of recipes. Please comment freely and add your tips and experiences to the recipes!
Sometimes I have some ingredients that just need to be used before they go bad, so I put them together in an experimental recipe. This is what happened to the leftover smoked salmon I had here. I was inspired by reading this recipe, but made my own version of it. It’s a pretty easy recipe, but it takes a little time to make sure you reach the perfect level of doneness.
Ingredients: (2 large servings) 1 cup smoked salmon, cut into smaller pieces 1 cup medium grain rice 1/2 bottle of dry white wine (I used pinot grigio) 1 cup vegan stock (this recipe is coming soon!) 1/2 lemon (organic) 1 tbsp chopped dill 1 tbsp chopped curly parsley 1/4 tsp thyme 1/4 tsp tarragon 1/4 tsp turmeric 4 oz. arugula 1 tsp capers 2 tbsp heavy cream 3 oz. cream cheese 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese 1 shallot 1 garlic clove 2-3 mini bell peppers 2 tbsp olive oil black pepper to taste
Instructions: 1. Sautee the shallot (chopped), bell peppers, and garlic (pressed) in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice after about a minute or two and keep stirring for a few minutes. 2. Add half of the wine and vegan stock and keep stirring fairly frequently. When most of the liquid seems to be absorbed (after about 5-10 minutes), add the rest of the wine and vegan stock. Add the herbs and spices at this point as well. Keep stirring frequently and add half of the arugula, capers, and the zest of the lemon plus the juice from it. 3. After about 20 minutes of cooking, add the cream and cream cheese. Keep stirring. If it starts getting dry, add some water and possibly some more lemon juice. Add most of the remaining arugula as well, but save some for decorating the plate. 4. Start checking for doneness a few minutes later. You want the rice to be a little al dente, but not hard or crunchy. If it feels like it is almost ready, add the salmon and parmesan and keep stirring until you reach the optiomal level of doneness. 5. Scoop it up on a plate and serve with some salmon and arugula on top for decor.
Variation with Shrimp
A simpler version of this recipe can be made with frozen peeled shrimp. Just follow the instructions above replacing the salmon with shrimp, but omit the thyme, arugula, capers, cream, cream cheese, and bell peppers. Make sure you thaw the shrimp beforehand and only add them just before serving.
One of the most delicious things that I have found on my visits to Argentina is the chimichurri that is often served with their steaks. As I was playing around with some herbs from my garden and what happened to be in my fridge, I came up with this variation on the Argentinean classic. It is quick, easy, and tasty! Try it out and play with your own variations on it! Log in and post your results below as well.
Ingredients: 1 cup olive oil 3 garlic cloves ½ sweet onion (vidalia) ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes 3-4 mini bell peppers 1/3 cup kalamata olives 3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves 3 tbsp chopped mint leaves 3 tbsp chopped basil leaves 1 tsp dried oregano 2 tbsp red wine vinegar juice from half a lemon ½ tsp black pepper ½ tsp sea salt
Instructions: Peel and press the garlic. Chop the onion very finely and cut the leaves of the herbs into razor thin short strips. Mix this together with the chili pepper and vinegar. Add two thirds of the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Chop the peppers and olives very finely and add to the mix along with the oregano. Stir well and taste it. Does it need more of something? Go ahead and add it according to your taste. Add remaining olive oil until you reach a desired consistency. Enjoy with a steak or fresh bread!
This delicious easy-to-make sauce pairs very well with many dessert dishes. I like using fresh raspberries that clean and freeze for a day before making this sauce. I don’t know the science behind it, but I get the best flavor and color that way. I like serving it with molten chocolate lava cakes. You can also serve it with ice cream or a sponge cake. Any other ideas? Post your tips below!
Ingredients: 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries. 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup orange juice or water with a teaspoon of lemon juice optional: 1 oz. Chambord and/or Triple Sec
Instructions: Combine sugar and juice or lemon water and heat it gently in a saucepan until it melts and forms a syrup. Add the raspberries to the syrup and heat while stirring. You don’t want to let it boil, but get close to a simmer. After a it heats up, take it off the stove and puree it in a blender or food processor until it becomes smooth. Strain the seeds from the mixture with a fine-mesh strainer. You may need to work the mixture and press it against the strainer to get the juice out. Add the Chambord or Triple Sec to the sauce and it is ready to serve. You can also let it chill in the fridge for a bit before serving it if you want to make it in advance or serve it cold.
You never go wrong with pasta and you never go wrong with cheese. Combining both must then be a surefire win! This recipe was created when I discovered some cheese and mushrooms in the fridge that would have gone bad in a few days so I had to use them somehow. The result was delicious and filling enough to induce a food coma. Try it for yourself and report back with your results!
Ingredients: (4 servings) 1 lb. Pasta – ravioli, penne or fettuccine all work great! 1 cup Cambozola cheese (or blue cheese) 1 tbsp Gorgonzola 8 oz. Cream Cheese 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese 1/2 cup Heavy Cream 2 oz. Brandy 1/2 cup frozen Green Peas 1 pint Mushrooms (portobello, shitake, or chanterelle varieties work great!) Handful of Walnuts 1 small Shallot 3 Garlic Cloves (pressed) 1/3 cup red wine 2 tbsp Butter 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp salt
Instructions: Slice the mushrooms. Chop the shallot finely and press the garlic cloves. Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet or saute pan. Heat it to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Stir after a few minutes and let them continue to cook. When they start to get a darker color after about 4-5 minutes, add the shallot and lower to medium heat. After another minute, add the garlic and let it cook for about a minute before adding the red wine. Let it continue cooking until most of the wine is gone. Take it off the heat and toss in the walnuts. Set aside. Start boiling water with the salt for the pasta in a large pot. Cook the pasta according to instructions. Mix the cheeses with brandy and cream in a saucepan. Heat while stirring until it all melts and then add the green peas. Let it simmer while stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and let it simmer a bit more. Layer the sauce with the pasta on the plate and then add the mushroom-walnut mix on top before drizzling a little bit more sauce on it. Cutting some fresh parsley over it will add some color and freshness of flavor.
This became an instant favorite when I made it the first time. It can be done very simply if you use pre-made ingredients, but require a little more work if you want to do everything from scratch. Nothing about it is difficult, though!
Ingredients: 3-5 Pears (depending on size) 2 tbsp Brown sugar 2 tbsp Butter (unsalted) 2 tbsp Almond paste* ¼ tsp Cardamom seeds (crushed) 1/8 tsp Anise seeds (crushed) 1/8 tsp Cinnamon ¼ cup Sliced almonds 1 ½ oz. Brandy Caramel Sauce*
Instructions: Mix the sugar, butter, almond paste, and a little more than 1 oz. brandy in a bowl. Add the anise and cinnamon after crushing them with pestle and mortar or other method. Cut the pears in half length-wise and scoop out the center with a melon-baller or spoon. Cut a thin slice off the bottom to create a flat surface. Place the pears in a deep dish with the centers facing up. Distribute the mixture to the center holes of the pears and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Last, add the sliced almonds on top of it all. Put a half tbsp of butter at the bottom of the dish. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with almond infused whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
*These items can easily be made at home (recipes below) or purchased pre-made.
Almond Paste Recipe: 4 oz. almonds 2 bitter almonds or 2 drops of bitter almond extract 3 oz. powdered sugar 1/2 egg white (optional)
Instructions: Blanch the almonds by putting them in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Let them dry on a paper towel and then remove the skins. Grind the almonds finely and mix with the other ingredients until you have a smooth paste and then roll it up in some wax paper. Store in the refrigerator.
Caramel Sauce Recipe: 1 cup Brown Sugar 1/2 cup Butter (unsalted, room temperature) 1/2 cup Heavy Cream Splash of Brandy
and heat over medium heat while stirring. When it starts becoming clear and amber-like in color, add the butter and stir until melted. Then add the cream and allow it to boil for 2 minutes. Add a splash of brandy and stir again. Let sit and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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Just thinking about this dessert reminds me of orgasms in my mouth. When it comes out just right, there is simply no other way of describing it. What’s even better is that it is so easy to make and can be prepped in advance. This is another item where you pretty much mix it up and toss it in the oven!
Ingredients: ½ cup unsalted butter 4 oz. dark (unsweetened or semisweet) chocolate 4 eggs ¼ cup sugar 2 tsp flour 1 tbsp cocoa powder
Instructions: 1. Melt the butter in a bowl. Using a microwave works great. 2. Chop up the chocolate and stir into the butter. Microwave for a few extra seconds if needed 3. In a separate bowl, crack 2 eggs and add 2 additional egg yolks (save the extra egg whites for an omelet or scramble!). Add the sugar and beat it until it becomes a light, thick, fluffy foam. 4. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate-butter mix with the flour and beat until smooth. 5. Grease up 4 ramekinsBellemain Porcelain Ramekins, set of 6 (4 oz, White)“> with butter, making sure you cover the surface completely. Dust the cocoa powder on top. (You can mix it with a little flour if needed or substitute flour altogether for the cocoa.) 6. Pour the batter into the ramekins. At this point you can just cover them and place them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them. 7. When you are ready to bake them, heat the over to 450°F. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. (I like to cover them with aluminum foil as I put them in the fridge beforehand and then I use that foil to place underneath the ramekins to catch any potential overflow. Bake for about 8 minutes, making sure you don’t overbake them. It is fine for them to be a bit loose and jiggly! 8. After you take them out of the oven, let them sit for about a minute. Then place the plate that you are going to serve them on upside down on top of the ramekin and flip them over. Wait a few seconds before removing the ramekin so that the cake settles a little bit. Serve immediately!
I like adding some whipped cream with this. A few drops of vanilla extract in the cream makes it even yummier! I also like to serve it with a raspberry coulis, but you may have even more ideas. I would love to hear about them. Enjoy and please post your results below!
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Tonight’s appetizer was born out of the philosophy of creating with what’s at hand. I only had one small heirloom tomato left and was making dinner for three people so after diving into the fridge I came up with this recipe, which ended up being a big hit.
Chop up some hot house cucumber with fresh mint leaves and add some finely chopped leek and shallot. Toss with a little salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Then chop up some kalamata olives and heirloom tomato and add to the mix. Place a bed of the mix on a plate and place some room temperature burrata cheese on top. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve. Let me know how it turned out for you after you try it!
This is one of easiest and most delicious snack items one can make. You just chop it all up and mix it. That’s pretty much all there’s too it. The biggest challenge is making sure to chop it finely enough and to peel the mango. I have some great tools and tips for that, though.
Ingredients: 2-3 Mangoes–peeled and finely chopped 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion 1/3 cup fresh cilantro—chopped with mostly leaves and no coarse stems 1 finely chopped small jalapeno ¼ tsp chili flakes juice from ½ squeezed lime
Instructions: Chop all the ingredients and stir together in a bowl and add the lime juice last. Let it sit for about an hour in the fridge for the flavors to blend, but you can also serve it directly.
Variations & Tips: Use serrano pepper if you want more heat to the salsa. The sweetness of the mangoes will temper some of the heat. If you want a milder salsa, omit the seeds and pith from the pepper. You can also choose a milder pepper, such as poblano. Yellow mangoes tend to be sweeter and juicier than the red/green larger variant. For the salsa, I prefer the smaller mangoes.
How to Peel a Mango: This Mango cutter tool makes it quick and easy to cut and peel the mango. The first cut will separate the pit. After that, you can easily scrape the peel off against the sides of the plastic part. Cut the remaining fruit off the pit, chop it all up, and you are done!
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This simple dish is delicious and can be made very quickly. It has a light and fresh flavor and works well for either lunch or dinner. Made with fresh shrimp that are cooked in garlic butter before being tossed with parsley, lime juice and a splash of dry white wine.
Ingredients: 1 lb Raw shrimp Juice from 2 limes 3 Garlic cloves 2 tbsp Parsley (chopped) 2-3 tbsp Butter ½ cup Dry White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc or similar)
Heat the oven to 400° F. Peel and cut the onion in thick slices or wedges. Mix the marinade together and toss the onion in the marinade before placing on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. You can also use a rack to create more space and even cooking for for the onions. Let the onions bake for about 20-25 minutes.
Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Press the garlic cloves and place with the butter in the bottom of a sauce pan. Turn on to medium heat. Use the juice from one lime and toss the shrimp lightly in the lime juice before placing in the sauce pan on top of the melted garlic butter. Let the shrimp cook a couple of minutes until the bottom side turns pink and then turn them over. When that side is turning pink as well, add the parsley, wine and remaining lime juice to the pan and toss it while continuing to heat for another minute. Toss and serve immediately.
Option: Use fresh cilantro instead of parsley for a different flavor.
This is one of my favorite pasta dishes even though it’s not really low in calories. The enjoyment of eating it makes up for that, though. It’s pretty quick and easy to make and there are many ways that you can add your own spin on it. Personally, I like it with mushrooms and truffle oil, but green peas, spinach, broccoli, cilantro, parsley and many other options work well also.
INGREDIENTS: (4 servings) 1 lb dry fettuccine pasta 4 egg yolks 4 tbsp unsalted butter 1 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese (I like mixing both) 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella 1 large garlic clove (pressed) ½ cup vegetable stock or ½ bouillon cube sea salt black pepper paprika For mushrooms: 8 oz sliced mushrooms 2 tbsp soy sauce 3 tbsp olive oil Optional additions: Fresh cilantro leaves, Spinach leaves, Green Peas, Truffle Oil
DIRECTIONS: 1. Heat the oven to 350. Toss the mushrooms lightly in some olive oil and soy sauce, lay them in a single layers on a baking sheet and put in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. (This can be done in advance)
2. Boil 3-4 quarts of water in a large pot with some vegetable stock or bouillon added to the water along with a tsp of salt. Add fettuccine to the water and stir. Set timer for 7 minutes.
3. While the pasta is boiling, put the butter and one pressed garlic clove in a large saucepan and let the butter melt. Then add the cheese gradually while stirring along with half a cup of the boiling pasta water.
4. After the pasta has boiled for 7 minutes, strain it and add it to the cheese sauce and stir it all well. Add the mushrooms and whatever else you want to add and let it cook for 3 minutes. (If you are using Truffle oil, add it at the end before serving.)
5. Before serving, add the egg yolks and sprinkle paprika and fresh ground pepper on top. The yolks can be served on top of the pasta or mixed in.