Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mango Jicama Guacamole

Mango jicama guacamole

Let the Sunset fantasy begin.

We’re past Memorial Day, so you can all bust out the linen togs and start working on your guacamole recipes. You know how it rolls from here on out: Casual parties start to happen. You want to bring something that you know will be appreciated and eaten, that is homemade but not terribly taxing and that can probably be pulled off without a recipe. As long as you can lay your hands on ripe avocados you simply can’t go wrong with a good guacamole.

And you can go really right with this guacamole, because it has jicama AND mangoes, both of which (along with avocados) make me fantasize that I am actually in a Sunset magazine photo shoot. You’ve got crisp, sweet and creamy mixed in with spicy, tangy and juicy. And then you add cilantro, which makes everyone but my sister happy. And since it’s almost her birthday we can all just go ahead and substitute fresh mint for the cilantro if we want. Because it’s guacamole…and the first rule of guacamole is to improvise at will! No adobo? No problemo! Just sprinkle in some chile powder. It’ll all work out, even without a drop of tequila.

To show bicoastal reverence of a good guacamole, this recipe comes from Meracadito Cantina in Manhattan via Food and Wine, and with many thanks to our friendly local Hannaford’s where jicama is a totally reasonable $1.99/lb and where they double your refund if it turns out to be no bueno (see note below).

Ingredients

3 Hass avocados, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium plum tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3/4 cup finely diced ripe mango
1/2 cup finely diced peeled jicama
3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 medium chipotle in adobo, minced (1 tablespoon)
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Tortilla chips, for serving

Method

In a large bowl, gently stir the avocados with the tomato, onion, mango, jicama, cilantro, chipotle, jalapeño and lemon juice until well mixed but still slightly chunky. Season with salt and serve with tortilla chips. Olé!

Note: Whereas in California the jicama roots make a quick jaunt from Mexico, they travel much further to get to our stores in New England. You most often find them heavily waxed…Brazilian super model before the SI swimsuit shoot waxed. We’re talking a thick coat that can prevent you from seeing the jicama’s true self.  Look for jicama with no soft spots and no oozing juices (never an excellent sign of health on anything). It should be firm, crisp and mild tasting when peeled. You won’t need it all for this recipe so slice up the rest, add some lime juice and store it in the fridge for snacks… or the next party. 

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Beautiful asparagus ribbons

Beautiful asparagus ribbons

This post is in honor of my dad who taught me everything I know about gardening…

I have been diligently working on growing an asparagus patch for 4 years now. I felt almost self-actualized the other night when I picked enough asparagus from my patch without a supplemental bunch from the grocery store. It was blissful to see all those stalks coming out of the ground in my very own patch. Alas, the ability to pick a whole meal’s worth was short lived, but it was great while it lasted and the asparagus just keeps coming so it’s all good. 

What to do with this treasured vegetable?  I searched websites and cookbooks and talked to friends about their favorite asparagus recipes in order to come up with something interesting. Then I stumbled upon this shaved asparagus salad recipe from a blog called The First Mess.  At first I thought, what a shame to shave all those beautiful asparagus spears. Then I thought, what the heck, let’s give it a try. And oh, was it worth it.  The shaved asparagus spear is such a great way to enjoy this treasured spring vegetable, and it’s always fun to try something new.  As an aside, the shaving technique had a bit of a steep learning curve, but after a few spears-gone-bad, I had it down (NOTE: the key to shaving asparagus is to lay the asparagus flat on the cutting board while you shave, and not try to hold it in the air and peel it like a carrot).

So, here it is, in all it’s spring glory…a modified version of the shaved asparagus salad recipe found at The First Mess.

Ingredients

Dressing
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tsp chili paste
1 Tbsp Agave nectar (or honey)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar (if seasoned skip salt below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp grapeseed or canola oil

Salad
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks peeled to ribbon size
1/2 red pepper, cut into very thin strips (First Mess used cabbage)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (First Mess used mint)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (First Mess used peanuts)

Method

To make the dressing, combine the garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, chili paste, agave nectar, vinegar, salt (if using) and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid.   Stir to mix well, then add the sesame and grapeseed (or canola oil). Put lid on jar and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.

Combine shaved asparagus, red pepper, cilantro, and scallions in a bowl. Pour dressing on salad and combine. Garnish with pine nuts.

Bring It!

When bringing this salad to your favorite party or event, keep nuts and dressing separated until right before serving. The asparagus can start to turn brown and get soggy if you dress too early. 

 

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Here, have a drink on us!

Drink mixing fixings

Ready, set, get mixing!

Huge apologies to those of you who suffered through our rookie moves yesterday and got two posts that were basically about nothing. We were setting up the site for our Ingredient of the Month feature and two rogue posts of asparagus and strawberry nothingness went out. Not only are we apologizing, but we’re making it up to you by posting something super cool just in time for the long weekend.

I heard about this last night from a fellow baseball mom, who like me really wishes it felt a little more like gin and tonic weather and less like red wine weather at this point. What Are You Drinking is an interactive site where bartender Rosie Schaat will mix you up the appropriate cocktail based on your choices in three simple criteria. Rosie writes the Drink column for the NY Times and also wrote a memoir called “Drinking with Men.” Suffice to say she knows her stuff, so when you tell her you are looking for a “crisp” drink with “Tequila” and are hoping for a “lively evening” she will take you right to a Tequila Highball. If you prefer something “fruity” with “rum” for a “sweltering day” she’ll steer you towards a spiked hibiscus iced tea.

Sure, the virtual bartender has some serious limitations (Hellooooo? Where’s the vodka option?!?) but all in all it’s pretty cool, and at the very least it assures you’ll have at least one easy choice after 5 pm.

Have a fun, relaxing, long-on-friends, light-on-work, everything-on-the-grill weekend, and do let us know if you liked what you ordered. Cheers!

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Asparagus Panzanella

Spring fever in Doug and Kelley's asparagus patch.

Spring fever in Doug and Kelley’s asparagus patch. Arm yourself with a sharp knife and a healthy appetite.

As we come up on the one year anniversary of Bring It! we’re shaking it up a little (just a little, I promise) with the Ingredient of the Month. We pick something seasonal and feature it in a few posts that month. It’s not rocket science, but it’s progress. May’s ingredient is asparagus. We’re already getting to the end of the month but the tenacious winter kept those spears in hiding for quite some time. Now they’re out and those lucky enough (and smart enough) to have their own asparagus patch quite literally have their hands full.

Doug and Kelley Lewis are among the lucky/smart ones. Doug affirms that asparagus is indeed hard to start/plant, “but after two years of waiting for the roots to properly build, the harvests every spring are awesome. We got over 100 stalks just today!!!” Their typical spring dinner is grilled asparagus (preferably a bit scorched and black) with rice and cut veggies or grilled sweet potatoes as sides. Preferred cooking method is to lightly oil the spears with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and throw them naked on the grill. “Steaming is easy, fast and inside,” says Doug. “Just sprinkle with a bit of salt and/or a squeeze of lemon. And they are yummy in scrambled eggs.”

Too much asparagus is a good problem to have, especially when you know about Asparagus Panzanella. Panzanella is one of those genius dishes that almost makes you feels like you’re cheating by calling it a meal—like eating cereal for dinner but way better. It’s basically a salad of toasted bread and whatever combination of fresh herbs and vegetables makes you happy. Pharrell Williams dancing-in-the-kitchen happy.

Naked Guns—pure, clean asparagus ready to grill.

Naked Guns—pure, clean asparagus ready to grill.

The Holy Grail of Panzanella’s is Ina Garten’s classic, so I used her method for toasting up the bread. Whereas hers uses cucumbers, tomatoes and basil, this one uses asparagus,  ricotta salata and spicy greens. You can go peas, mint and parm, or cilantro, corn and avocados. You get the picture.  

Taste-wise ricotta salata is sort of a mild feta with good structural integrity. Look at this as a way not only to eat bread for dinner but also to use whatever fresh stuff you have on hand. You can boil, roast or grill the asparagus.

Asparagus Panzanella

Adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

Asparagus Panzanella

The Food and Wine version of this feast. Let’s just double the bread shall we? Now we’re talking!

4 large eggs
2 pounds fat asparagus, peeled (if using thinner asparagus just trim or snap off the tough ends)
3 Tbsp good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups packed young mustard greens or chicory (or arugula)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 lb ricotta salata, thinly sliced or crumbled
1 watermelon radish or 2 large red radishes, very thinly sliced

For the Vinaigrette

1 Garlic clove (minced)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Put the eggs in a saucepan of water and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Simmer for 6 minutes. Drain the saucepan and fill it with cold water. Crack the eggs all over and let stand in the water for 1 minute. Peel and thickly slice the eggs; the yolks will be barely cooked but not runny.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed. (Bread cubes can be toasted earlier in the day and left a room temp, and covered for God’s sake so nobody scarfs them down.)

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil; prepare an ice bath. Cook asparagus until bright green and just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer immediately to ice bath. Drain; place on a clean kitchen towel. (alternatively toss asparagus in olive oil and grill or roast). Cut stalks into fork-friendly pieces.

In a small bowl, whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together.
In a large bowl, toss the asparagus, toasted bread, greens, onion and cheese. Drizzle with the dressing, toss, taste, and adjust to desired dressy-ness. Let sit a few minutes for bread to absorb dressing. Garnish with the eggs and radish and serve.

Bring It!

This is a genius option to bring to a friend’s house, a picnic or a Drive-In. All the elements—toasted bread, veggies, dressing and cheese—can be prepped in advance, packaged separately and assembled on site.

Please do note that this is more method than recipe. Experiment with combinations that you like in other dishes or whatever fresh veggies and cheese you like and have on hand. Again, it’s toasted garlic bread for dinner. Don’t fight this. It’s all good!

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Quinoa Spinach Salad

Happy Spring Greens!

Happy Spring Greens!

It’s that time of year when salad greens are growing fresh everywhere and the excitement of gardening season is here. I love this short window in May where there are NO bugs and NO weeds. It won’t be long before both start to invade, but that’s okay because we live in New England and so we know how to cope. It’s part of the privilege of living in this paradise.

This recipe is for quinoa, spinach, peppers and avocado, tossed in a ginger, lime dressing. It’s got some interesting twists and some deep flavors. You can substitute the spinach for any green and add other vegetables as you like. I think it is the almonds and dressing that give it the real kick.

Enjoy your salads….enjoy your gardens…. and enjoy your spring!

Coming soon to Bring It food blog….INGREDIENT of the MONTH. Watch for it in the next post.

Ingredients

Almonds
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp honey
2 tsp soy sauce 

Dressing
1 Tbsp minced ginger
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper 

Salad
4 cups packed baby spinach
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 ripe avocado, cubed 

Method

1)      Preheat oven to 325. In a bowl, toss together almonds, sesame seeds, honey and soy sauce until almonds are well coated. Spread into a single layer on a parchment covered baking sheet. Roast for 12-14 minutes (check after 10 minutes to make sure they are not getting too toasty!). Once seeds start to brown, remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.

2)      Combine all dressing ingredients in airtight container and shake until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

3)      To assemble the salad, combine spinach, quinoa, red pepper, and cilantro. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss. Then top with almonds and avocado.

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Brussels Sprouts Chips

Mtn Roots Food truck and brussels sprouts chips

Want some taro fries with that? Localvore ski bums rejoice at the Mtn. Roots truck in Squawllywood.

You know you don’t get out much when your culinary discoveries come from a food truck at a ski area. Granted, this was a California ski area, and the truck was a tricked out Mystery Machine called “Mtn Roots.” But still. On a recent visit home to Squaw Valley my sister snagged “us” some crispy Brussels sprouts chips off the truck and a new addiction was born. And no, she did not get anywhere near her fair share.

That was a month ago, so I was beyond psyched when a post for these very delicacies came to me via Bevin Wallace’s Real Life Delicious blog. RLD is a great site for fuss-free healthy eating, and Bevin is in to the paleo thing now, so its all healthy and paleo, which is totally overachieving. But as long as it tastes good I’m good with it. If you live in the Denver area get on over to Bevin’s kitchen classes. If you don’t, hunker in for some Beviliciousness right now.

Brussels Sprouts chips, New England style

Brussels sprouts chips, New England style

There are a few things to love about this recipe, beyond the sheer yum factor. First Bevin tells you exactly what types of tools and containers to use. Less guesswork. More direction. All good. As you are trimming your sprouts you may be thinking, “Boy this is a lot of work for one snack,” until you realize that you are actually doing the prep work you have to do anyway for Brussels sprouts, which brings me to the next stroke of recipe brilliance here—it’s two-fer! You get ready-to-roast Brussels sprouts AND some yummy snacks out of the deal. (Who loves ya baby? I would never ever make you work too hard.)

I’d say the kids loved them but that would be overselling because only one kid was around. But he is a bit of a Russian judge of my food and I had to beg him to leave some for his Dad. (I ate them anyway because when  Dad arrived he wasn’t quick enough.)

And now, here it is— Groovy California ski area food right in your own kitchen. My only suggested tweaks would be to up the temp to 375, expect them to take at least 15 minutes, and make a real effort to get those suckers in only one layer so they really crisp up. Now dig in!

Ingredients

1 bunch Brussels sprouts (about 2 lbs)
1 tbs. olive oil
Pinch of salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start by getting out a cutting board, a bowl, and a lidded storage container. Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and then remove the darker-green outer leaves; some will fall off when you cut the ends, some you might need to pull off. Put the leaves in one bowl; cut the remaining sprouts in half or quarters and put them in the lidded container. When you’re done, put the container of trimmed sprouts in the fridge for later use.

Toss the leaves with the oil and salt (go easy on the salt; it’s easy to get too much) and spread them in a single later on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you might need to do this in two batches). Bake for 10 mins. and check to see if they’re done to your liking. They should be somewhat crispy and brown on the edges. If not, rotate the pan and bake another 3-5 mins., watching closely so they don’t burn. When they’re done, lift the parchment with two hands and use it as a spout to pour the delicate chips into a bowl.

Now, try to eat just one.

Note: When you want to roast your trimmed sprouts, just toss them with some olive oil and salt, spread them on a baking sheet and pop them into a hot (400 or so) oven until they look awesomely roasty.

California-green-dreaming

Who said it ain’t easy being green?

 

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Fiddlehead Season is Here!

I'm not sure if he wants to eat them or throw them!

I’m not sure if he wants to eat them or throw them!

It is fiddlehead season in New England! Fiddleheads are the furled fronds of young ferns (say that 10 times fast!). If you don’t pick them early in their growth cycle, they grow into beautiful ferns. But if you get them before they unravel, you will have delectable vegetable to serve fresh at the start of spring!

Fiddleheads grow wild in wet areas of Northeastern North America. Foraging for fiddlehead is relatively easy. Once you find a patch, you will easily fill up bag fulls. But don’t eat them raw… they are toxic until thoroughly cooked.

To me, fiddleheads are a cross between asparagus, spinach, artichoke and maybe even a hint of mushroom. They are both grassy and nutty. Suffice it to say, there is a lot going on with the fiddlehead in terms of flavor and they are delicious! Get them before the season passes because soon the morels will be popping up and we’ll have to move on.

Below is a simple recipe for cooking fiddleheads.  Happy Spring!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 lb. fiddlehead ferns
2 tsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or 1 small shallot, sliced
1/8 – 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Method

Trim and rinse fiddleheads, removing any brown ends or mushy parts.

In a large pot bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add salt and fiddleheads. Cook 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add fiddleheads. Cook, stirring, until they start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if you like, and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant and just starting to color, about 1 minute. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.

My niece foraging for dinner.

My niece foraging for dinner.

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Ollie’s Trip Salsa

Ollies trip salsa

La Salsa. Prepared and photographed by the chef. #nofilter, #yeah…right!

Happy Ocho de Mayo! I know, I know. You thought I forgot about the annual excuse for midday margaritas. Not on your life! I merely saved it for a day more conducive to celebrating. God knows there are enough margarita recipes floating around so I’m giving you a healthier gift. In fact, I’m not even the one giving it—my son Oliver is.

Two summers ago we sent the lad into the wilderness in a canoe for three weeks, and he came back knowing how to make his own salsa. Better yet, he knew how to make it by a campfire armed with nothing but a cutting board, a can opener and a knife. And the very best part was that he came back loving his homemade salsa. This from a kid, who, though good with roasted vegetables and the occasional carrot, had never previously eaten a raw tomato or pepper. “That was pretty much the beginning of my salsa eating career,” he reflects.

I love this recipe because it is easy and infinitely tweakable for individual tastes. Some of us would add more onion and perhaps jalapeno, or maybe some additional seasonings. Others might get crazy and add mango or even jicama. But this is a great place to start, will be appreciated at any gathering, might just get your kids eating veggies and, if you keep your pantry somewhat stocked, will set you free from store bought salsa forever.

 Ingredients

1 red (or any color) pepper, finely chopped
I large clove garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes (preferable petite diced), lightly drained
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup (+/-) Niblets corn (it’s gotta be Niblets I’m told), drained
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Method

Mix it all in a bowl. Enjoy it on chips, in burritos or by the spoonful, at home or by the closest campfire.

Note: Chop the vegetables as fine as your patience allows. Our early versions were decidedly large format, but a finer texture gives your awesome salsa more versatility.

 

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

Simply Sue’s Energy Bars

You will think you are eating a fudge brownie - swear to god!

You will think you are eating a fudge brownie – swear to god!

The fun and festive highball post is a tough one to follow, but I am very excited about this energy bar post….so here goes… (and the highball post isn’t going anywhere except a little further down on the page).

I’ve been working on creating the perfect energy bar for some time now. I’ve sorted through dozens of recipes and experimented on my own. I’ve made bars that are too chalky, too crumbly, too sticky, and too blah… until this past weekend that is! These bars are decadent tasting, healthy, and (the kicker) I made them in like 5 minutes. 

These bars mimic the infamous Lara Bar that you see in the “bar” aisle of the grocery store.  If you are like me you stand in that aisle, staring at the enormous selection, completely overwhelmed, and walk out with nothing.  That aisle can be daunting. There are so many choices, not to mention the price of some of those puppies (a bar for $2.50 -really?).  This recipe promises to free you of the “bar” aisle all together.  You will smugly walk past that aisle, knowing your homemade bars are far superior and far less expensive than anything they can possible stock at the grocery store.

This recipe is essentially walnuts and dates – that’s it.  The add ins make it fun and you can modify based on what you have on hand. I listed many options below. Bring extra for friends as they will quickly become a hot commodity.

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1 tsp pure vanilla
4 Tbsp Dutch oven cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
Optional: chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut

Method

Blend all ingredients except any optional ingredients, in a food processor. Form into bars (I pressed into 8×8 inch square pan in order to get them to form and then cut into rectangles). If the bars are too crumbly coming out of the food processor, add a few more dates. Okay, how easy is that?

Basic Formula

1 cup nuts
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (dates work best in my opinion)
1 tsp flavoring
Pinch of salt
1 cup optional add ins

Flavor Options

Apple Pie (almonds, walnuts, dates, dried raisins and apples, cinnamon)
Banana Bread (almonds, dates, dried bananas)
Cappuccino (almonds, cashews, dates, coffee beans, scraped vanilla bean)
Coconut Cream (almonds, cashews, dates, shredded coconut, 2 Tbsp coconut oil)
Ginger Snap (almonds, pecans, dates, 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, 1 Tbsp mixed cinnamon and cloves)
Lemon (almonds, cashews, dates, zest and juice of 1 lemon)
Peanut Butter & Jelly (peanuts, dates, dried cherries)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (peanuts, dates, chocolate chips)

Bring It!

Wrap in plastic wrap and throw them in your backpack for any outdoor activity you are planning. Or, throw them in the refrigerator for whenever you need to grab something quick.

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!: