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.