Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprout Grain Bowls

IMG_7914After a couple of food and drink-filled trips to Chicago and Louisville this year, I've been trying to get back in the groove of eating healthily (at least for breakfast and lunch.) One big thing that helps me do this is prepping at the beginning of the week—if I can just throw some vegetables, grains and dressing in a bowl when lunchtime rolls around, I'm much more likely to go for that instead of a grilled cheese (though of course, there's a time and place for grilled cheese too.) I prefer a ratio of 3:1 vegetables to grains, but you can adjust according to your preference. I typically make this on Sundays, and then it lasts me the entire week for lunch!

Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprout Grain Bowls (serves 6)

1 cup quinoa

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 teaspoon fish sauce

6 eggs

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

 

Sliced cabbage, quick pickles, or other greens of your choosing

Salted roasted peanuts

Hot sauce

 

  1. Make quinoa: Add quinoa and 2 cups water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°. Spread sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until tender and browned.
  3. Spread Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 25-30 minutes, until very crispy. Toss with fish sauce.
  4. Make dressing: Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Add eggs to a saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off heat and let eggs sit in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, rinse under cold water and carefully peel.
  6. To serve: Add quinoa, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts to each bowl and drizzle with dressing. Carefully cut each egg in half and add to bowl. Add additional vegetables, hot sauce and peanuts as desired.

Rice Pudding Brûlée

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 3.47.32 PMCrème brûlée can feel intimidating: what if the pudding curdles, or doesn't bake quickly enough? How do you use a blowtorch? This version—combining comforting rice pudding with the burned sugar topping of crème brûlée—takes out a lot of the guesswork, and you can use the broiler or a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Just be sure to watch it closely to make sure it doesn't burn too much! (And psst: using a blowtorch is really fun.) Find the video and full recipe on Sunset.

My Kitchen Essentials

I started cooking professionally 10 years ago, and over the past decade there are a few tools that I've come to appreciate that make meal preparation a little easier. The truth is, you don't need a ton of fancy appliances to create delicious food—though there are some that are nice to have around. Here are a few of my essential kitchen tools (and a few things I dream of owning some day): IMG_7436

Wusthof 8-Inch Chef's Knife: Hands down, this is the tool that gets the most use in my kitchen. I never understood how important it is to have a sharp knife until I started working in restaurants, and for me, the 8-inch knife has the perfect heft while not being unwieldily. You really don't need a whole set of 10 knives—the only ones I use are my chef's knife, a serrated knife, and a small paring knife.

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Kitchen Tongs: I think these maybe cost $5 at a kitchen store in New York, but I use them for everything from tossing salads to stir-frying to serving pasta. These were another find from my restaurant days, and show that sometimes, the most utilitarian tool can be the most effective. I prefer 7-inch metal ones because they're easier to control and can be used on very hot pans or grills, but there are lots of silicone and metal options out there as well.

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Pan Rack: This is a new addition to my arsenal and happened to be already installed in our place when we moved in—lucky for me! In my old kitchens where storage was tight, pans were stored on the bottom shelves of cupboards, where they were hard to get at and awkward to remove. This rack ensures that they're always within easy reach, and I plan to have something similar in any future kitchens I have.

Wish List:

KitchenAid Stand Mixer: Classic for a reason, this workhorse of a mixer makes whipping up cakes, bread, and even meringues effortless. My handheld mixer works fine for now, but I'd love to have one of these some day.

BlueStar Range or La Cornue Range: As a renter, I've never gotten much choice when it came to appliances. Luckily our current place has a gas stove, but one day when I have my dream kitchen, it would be amazing to cook on a range like this one. BlueStar and La Cornue both hand-craft professional-grade stoves, and BlueStar in particular is a favorite of chefs and serious home cooks alike—plus you can choose custom colors!

VitamixAs someone who's had smoothie fall out of the bottom of an improperly screwed in blender multiple times, I appreciate a good one. Vitamix is always at the top of its category, and is said to be able to liquify whole vegetables with ease (which, incidentally, makes for healthier juice than a juicer because you get to have all of the vitamins in the pulp.) My friend Ariel swears by her Vitamix, and even pre-packages smoothie ingredients in her freezer to make mornings a little easier.

 

 

 

 

Churro Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches

IMG_6011Hi! Trying to get back into the regular rhythm of posting over here, but in the meantime I wanted to share a bit of what I've been up to. In addition to my full-time job at a small food start-up, I've been doing some video recipe development and styling work at Sunset magazine! I've been a big fan of Sunset for a long time, so it's been amazing to work with them (and see their beautiful new offices and test kitchens in Oakland.) You can find the video and full recipe on their site.  

DIY Eucalyptus Garland

IMG_3811I definitely meant to post this back in December, but clearly, that didn't happen. Between Christmas trips to Minnesota, parents visiting (their first time in Oakland!) and wedding planning, this blog has unfortunately fallen a bit by the wayside–but hopefully I can remedy that over the next few weeks. IMG_3807I've always been kind of into flower arranging, mostly using what I could find in the gardens at my parents' home. So as we were figuring out ways to cut costs on our wedding this summer, I immediately volunteered to do the flowers myself (and am very open to advice if anyone has any!) This garland was my first attempt at making anything like it, and I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was. After picking up several bunches of seeded eucalyptus and some other greens at the wholesale flower market, I followed this DIY to bind them together into an 8-foot garland. I didn't make mine quite as full and skipped adding fresh flowers and air plants, but was still very pleased with the results.IMG_3803

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Garlands are of course classic holiday decor, but when made with eucalyptus or other leafy greens, they also make for a beautiful (and affordable) statement piece. As a bonus, ours still looked lovely when it dried out, so I was able to keep it on our mantlepiece for weeks.

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Olive Oil Plum Cake

IMG_3775In a recent effort to eat healthier (which may or may not have something to do with having to wear a wedding dress in approximately nine months) I've been looking for alternatives to my beloved butter-filled cakes and pastries. I've always had a bit of a sweet tooth, but love the idea of being able to have a piece of cake that's healthy enough for breakfast too.IMG_3778 This cake swaps most of the usual butter for olive oil and has a healthy dose of whole wheat flour to boot. You could also use turbinado or demerara sugar instead of regular sugar--I didn't have any, but it would give the cake a lovely caramelized taste. If you can find decent plums (we're lucky to still have a few in California) then use that--but I would bet that this cake would be just as delicious with sliced pears or apples (though let's not neglect my favorite apple cake--which is pretty much the ideal thing to bring to a holiday party. I promise.)IMG_3786

Olive Oil Plum Cake (Adapted from The New York Times)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 pound firm plums or pluots, sliced (3-4 medium)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan. Line with parchment and lightly butter the parchment. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

Place the butter in a stand mixer and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the olive oil and beat at medium speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the bowl and beater. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and beaters between each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, until the mixture is very light.

Turn the speed to low and slowly add the flour. Beat just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly using an offset spatula. Arrange the plums on top in concentric circles, pressing them down into the batter, then sprinkle with additional 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until the edges of the plums are beginning to color and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Remove from oven and let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a rack before releasing the sides of the springform or cake pan. Then let it cool completely before slicing.

Matcha Lattes

IMG_3639I'm going to be honest with you guys. I really wanted to like matcha, a super refined green tea powder that's supposed to have great health benefits (and has become pretty trendy recently). It has so many anti-oxidants! It's so much less acidic than coffee! It's such a pretty color green! IMG_3632I made these lattes one afternoon looking for a caffeine fix, and I just...didn't like it at all. Maybe I needed to add more sweetener? Maybe I need to try a different brand of tea?

IMG_3634In any case, I still wanted to post this recipe for a couple of reasons: one, to show that even food bloggers fail at recipes. And two, to see if there are any matcha aficionados out there who have suggestions (also, I'm kind of obsessed with those handle-less mugs.) I'll be sticking to cappuccinos to get my caffeine fix for now, but I'm always on the lookout for new things to try.IMG_3636

Matcha Lattes (adapted very slightly from Bon Appetit, serves 2)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

teaspoons matcha powder

2-4 tablespoons agave syrup

Bring almond milk to a simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat. Once milk has been heated, foam with a milk frother if desired.
Place 1 teaspoon matcha powder each in two heatproof cups. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water in each cup, then add 3/4 cup almond milk, tipping cup slightly to help create more foam. Whisk in agave syrup, adding more if desired.