Avocado Toast The Best Way I Know How

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Avocado Toast The Best Way I Know How

This ain't no middle of the mall avocado toast. It's salty, creamy, savory, flavorful, multi-dimensional, and perfect. It's avocado toast the best way I know how, and now I'm ready to share it with the world.

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Whole Foods Grocery Shopping Guide: WFM 101

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Whole Foods Grocery Shopping Guide: WFM 101

A lot of you readers have asked me for a guide on shopping at Whole Foods, so consider this a crash course. Welcome to WFM 101, kids! Between farmers markets, local grocery chains, and big grocers like Whole Foods Market, it’s hard to know where to shop for what.

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Spanish-Inspired Shakshuka

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Spanish-Inspired Shakshuka

When I visited a small shop in Pamplona that had virtually every regional produce in a can or jar, I knew exactly what I was going to do with these beautifully-roasted sweet piquillo peppers. 

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Banh Mi Meal Prep Bowls

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Banh Mi Meal Prep Bowls

Inspired by my favorite banh mi EVER, that which comes from Lee’s Bakery in Atlanta, GA, I’ve made banh mi meal prep bowls that mimic the set-up of the best sammich in the world

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Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

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Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

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Inspired by a recent overpriced and over indulgent lobster Cobb I had during a work lunch, this is a deconstructed grilled shrimp version. Enjoy! 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 romaine lettuce heart 
  • 8-10 large shrimp  
  • 2 strips thick-cut bacon  
  • 1 oz crumbled blue cheese
  •  1 avocado (get the teeny tiny avocados from Trader Joe’s if you can find them)
  • 5-7 grape tomatoes  
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp honey  
  • 1 tsp minced garlic  
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper  

Green Goddess dressing - makes 2 cups 

  • 1 bunch flat parsley  
  • 1 bunch cilnatro
  • 3 stalks green onions
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp white Modena vinegar  
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1.  Throw together the dressing first. This’ll give it time to refrigerate and for all the lovely flavors to marinate. In a high-powered blender or food processor, blend all the ingredients until your desired smoothness. I like my mine kind of chunky, entirely up to you!
  2. Tail, peel, and de-vein your shrimp if necessary. In a large bowl, coat them in the lime juice, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until the end.
  3. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Boil the two eggs for as little as 5 minutes (soft boil) or as long as 12 minutes  (hard boil). Rinse the, under cold water and carefully peel them.
  4. On a grill or in a grill pan set to medium-high, fry up the bacon strips for 5-7 minutes on each side. If you’re using a grill pan, this rendered bacon fat will come in handy.
  5. At the same time, grill the split avocado and the grape tomatoes for 5 minutes tops or until the tomatoes sizzle and burst (it’s OK if they do, just be cafeful)
  6. Slice the heart of romaine in half and grill it for 5 minutes without flipping. 
  7. Last but not least, throw the shrimp on the grill. They will cook fairly quickly so don’t take your eyes off them! 3 minutes each side or until they’ve got some char.
  8. Assemble salad as follows: romaine, bacon, shrimp, avocado, eggs, tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, dressing. Bon appetit!
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Chilled Ramen Noodles with Ginger-Shallot Vinaigrette

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Chilled Ramen Noodles with Ginger-Shallot Vinaigrette

Eat em with steak, eat em with fish, eat em with forks, or chopsticks, or nothing at all. These cold and refreshing ramen noodles are gonna be your go-to side dish all summer. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 packs dried or fresh ramen noodles
  • 1 c chopped scallions  
  • 1/4 c light sesame oil  
  • 1/4 c mirin (rice wine vinegar) 
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 shallot chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar 
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds  
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger  

INSTRUCTIONS 

  1. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and cook the ramen according to the package instructions  
  2. When you strain the noodles, reserve a little water and place them in a bowl to be refrigerated.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, mirin, soy sauce, shallots, garlic, honey, sesame seeds, and the ginger. cover and refrigerate immediately.
  4. After about 30 minutes or when the noodles and vinaigrette are cold, carefully toss the noodles in the dressing. 
  5. Serve with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. 
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Pesto Baked Eggs

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Pesto Baked Eggs

INSTRUCTIONS: 


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  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Spread pesto inside ramikens, getting high up the sides and making a nest for the eggs
  3.  Crack an egg in each ramiken
  4. Sprinke with kosher salt and black pepper or red chili flakes  
  5. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes for runny eggs and 25 minutes for well-done eggs

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pesto (I made walnut pesto from)
  •  Non-stick spray or butter
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Goat Cheese Polenta with Asparagus and Balsamic Glaze

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Goat Cheese Polenta with Asparagus and Balsamic Glaze

You might be looking at this plate and thinking, grits? Well yes and no. Polenta and grits are both popular dishes made of cornmeal, but polenta is always made with coarse ground cornmeal. But if you’re me you als make your grits with coarse ground cornmeal. Ok, so yes, grits. But for the sake of this being Italian-inspired, let’s say polenta. Bon appetit!

INGREDIENTS 

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  • 1 c dry polenta (coarse ground corn meal) 
  • 3-4 c unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 c sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 c crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 c half and half  
  • 1/2 c white sugar or sweetener
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/4 c goat cheese, more for crumbling  
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 6 stalks asparagus  
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp white pepper  
  • 1 tsp sea salt, more to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1. In a stock pot bring 2 cups of the chicken broth and the polenta to a boil
  2. Once it has come to a boil, turn the heat down to low and add one tablespoon of butter and slowly stir in more broth - stir and add more broth every few minutes or so
  3. In a separate skillet, heat up the sliced bacon strips with a splash of olive oil on medium high for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the sliced mushrooms, sliced (in quarters) asparagus, plus 1 tablespoon of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper and toss until everything is well-coated 
  5. Cook for another five minutes until veggies are firm but finished, then set aside
  6. To make the balsamic glaze, heat on high the sugar and balsamic vinegar, stirrring well.
  7. After the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer into a thick glaze
  8. Add another tablespoon of butter, the goat cheese, half and half, and remaining garlic to the polenta and stir well
  9. Take off of heat and add salt to taste.
  10. On a plate, layer the polenta, veggie and bacon mixture, glaze, and crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy. 
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Beer Cheese Grilled Cheese

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Beer Cheese Grilled Cheese

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A classic dish turned into a classic American sandwich. Beer cheese, meet grilled cheese. You might have to put your stretchy pants on for this one, folks. Enjoy! 

Serves: 6 Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 slices of country white bread
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 4 tbsp butter, then more for spreading
  • 1 cup beer (I used Miller High Life)
  • 1/2 c half and half
  • 1 tsp garlic (minced or paste)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp white pepper

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1. In a large stock pot, melt half a stick of unsalted butter on medium high.
  2. Add the half and half, the garlic, paprika, mustard, and white pepper and whisk. Then whisk in the flour, one tablespoon at a time. Finally add the beer and whisk. You should have a thick white sauce by now.
  3. Turn the heat down to simmer and slowly stir in the cheese, one cup at a time. Salt to taste and turn off the heat.
  4. Your mixture should be like a very thick dip, if isn’t, add a tablespoon of flour or more until it is. Salt to taste and set aside.
  5. Heat a cast iron or other skillet on medium high and either spray or coat with butter.
  6. For each slice of bread, lightly butter one side (the outside).
  7. Start by putting one slice of bread, buttered side down into the skillet. Carefully spread the cheese somewhat thinly on this slice (DO NOT BURN YOURSELF).
  8. Spread the cheese mixture on the other slice of bread, now make them kith (LOL)
  9. Immediately flip the sandwich with a large spatula and grill for 2-3 minutes or more if you like charred bread.
  10. Let the sandwich “rest” momentarily before serving. It will be messy, but that’s OK. Repeat steps 1-9 until you’re out of cheese!
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Copper Pitcher Infused Waters

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Copper Pitcher Infused Waters

In addition to being wild about great food, I'm also an extreme hydrator. A gallon a day keeps the doctor away, am I right? For many reasons, I drink a lot of water...OK, maybe it's just so I can "flush" out all the junk food.

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Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad

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Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad

What's in a name? Well, to start, dried chipotles. Some crushed coriander. Many smoky things. Some tender meat. A mean dinner salad.

To give you some background, I like salads because I'm a greedy Taurus, not because I'm a health nut. My salads aren't chock-full of nuts and berries, they're topped with (good) fats and (seared) meats. This salad does not stop short. The star of the show is this amazingly smoky flap steak that might actually surprise you. I recently at ate Lalito NY for the first time and felt really inspired by the West-Mex vibes they were bringing. Everything was fresh and for the most part light but the Mexican flavors were very much present. This past Saturday I was craving those flavors again, and not pico-de-gallo Mexican, but earthy and smoky Mexican. To my slight surprise, this creation did not disappoint.

I always say the key to a good salad is many textures, and that's why there's so much going on in here. Mellow, salty, crumbly queso fresco, crunchy oven-roasted corn and radishes, bitter crisp greens, sweet-like-candy tomatoes, smoky and chewy steak, all drowning in my favorite cilantro lime dressing. You're going to love this salad, and if you don't, well, I wasn't quite prepared for that.

Buen provecho, friends!

Serves: 2 Time: 2.5 hours.

INGREDIENTS:

Steak:

  • 1 lb flap (skirt or hanger works) steak
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup chunked mango
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3 dried chipotle peppers
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, more for searing
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Salad:

  • 1 pound bag leafy greens (I used a mix of arugula, chard, baby kale)
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 3-4 radishes
  • 1 dozen grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 c queso fresco

Dressing:

INSTRUCTIONS:

*Note: if you do not have a sous vide machine you can still make this recipe! For the steak, you're going to want to make a marinade with canned chipotle chilis instead of dried ones. Still incorporate the other ingredients, just make a marinade/wet rub instead of stuffing a sous vide bag with the spices. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours and sear for 4-6 minutes on each side in a screaming hot cast iron skillet.

  1. Preheat your sous vide circulator in a large pot or bucket of water. I like my steak medium rare and I recommend in that way. That can be anywhere for 129-134 degrees.
  2. Crush the star anise, chipotle, and coriander with a mortar and pestle or with a grinder.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the star anise, chipotle, cumin, coriander, paprika, mango, salt, sliced lime, and crushed garlic. You should have a damp mixture of ingredients varying in size.
  4. Carefully layer your steak and flavor mixture in a bag so that most of the meat is touching something that will give it flavor. Although the steak is in a sealed bag with all of the ingredients, you want as much surface area touching them as possible. We're going to Flavortown, remember?
  5. Stick the bag into your pot with the sous vide circulator and set a timer for 2 hours. 
  6. Let an hour pass, then preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. In a large cast iron skillet or a sheet pan, stick the ears of corn and radish in the oven for 30 minutes. Keep the oven on!
  8. While the veggies are roasting, make your dressing! There will be extra and that's OKAY!
  9. Prepare all the fixin's for your salad: crumble the queso fresco, slice the grape tomatoes, cut the corn kernels off the cob, thinly slice the radish, and wash your salad greens.
  10. Once your timer goes off, remove the steak from the bag and pat it dry with paper towels. 
  11. Get a cast iron skillet hot in the oven. 
  12. On a medium-high stove, finish off the steaks with a 30 second sear on each side. *This is for color purposes, you do not want to COOK your steak, that is what the circulator just did!
  13. Allow the flap steak to rest for about 10 minutes while you plate your salads with everything but dressing and meat.
  14. Slice the steak, and carefully place it on your finished salads. Use dressing liberally.
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad
Sous Vide Chipotle-Infused Flap Steak Dinner Salad

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Matcha Ginger Zinger

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Matcha Ginger Zinger

What I'm calling the zinger is an easy-to-make drink that'll satisfy your lingering sweet tooth (guilty) but give you a little kick, too! Think of it as having the foundations of a mojito but a distant cousin of a kombucha drink. Sponsored by Greenboxed!

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Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette

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Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette

Is it weird that I can't eat a salad unless it's crunchy? And I mean really crunchy. Obnoxiously crunchy. Did I just chip a tooth crunchy. My cube mate is getting annoyed at me chewing crunchy. This salad is all of those things, and you can whip it up in a few simple steps, little to no cooking prowess required. The dressing is tangy and yet nutty (thanks tahini), and the avocado makes everything so dang creamy. Enjoy! 

Serves: 2 Time: 45+ minutes

INGREDIENTS

Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 c mirin (rice wine vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tahini (or unsweetened nut butter)
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro + more for garnish
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (black or white) + more for garnish
  • 2 limes
  • 1 large avocado
  • 12-14 large shrimp 
  • 2 cups shredded savoy cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 whole carrot, shaved or julienned
  • 1 tbsp ginger (grated or powdered)
  • 1 tsp garlic (minced or powdered)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

For the dressing

  1. In a small bowl, combine the rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, soy sauce, tahini, 1 tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tbsp cilantro, and the juice of half a lime. 
  2. Whisk the ingredients together well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the salad

  1. In a large bowl, toss the savoy cabbage, red cabbage, and carrot in the vinaigrette and refrigerate immediately. 
  2. Peel and de-vein the shrimp if needed. In a medium bowl, combine the juice of 1 and a half limes, the garlic, ginger, salt, and white pepper. Coat the shrimp in the mixture and let them marinate for about 10 minutes.
  3. In a small skillet, heat a tablespoon of sesame oil on high. 
  4. Drain the shrimp of the marinade and carefully place them in the hot oil, allowing them to cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. (There will be sizzling, toss carefully!)
  5. Salad assembly: layer the cabbage mixture, shrimp, cilantro, sliced avocado, scallions, sesame seeds, cilantro, and lime in two bowls and serve!
Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette
Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette
Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette
Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette
Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette
Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette
Shrimp Salad with Sesame Cilantro Vinaigrette

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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta

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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta

I first started experimenting with risotto about a year ago when I happened upon this famous risotto recipe from New York Times Food. Cooking rice is still a contributor to about 95% of cases of anxiety in America, but the nice thing about risotto is that it doesn't taste bad if it's overcooked. 

Risotto, for a first-timer, requires many attempts, gallons upon gallons of broth, and a little elbow grease in the event that you burn the risotto (you probably will). Once you get the hang of it, you won't even need a recipe (not even mine). For me, risotto is usually a comfort I can make in one pot for the nights that macaroni and cheese is just too much work (but if you're interested, I've got a couple macaroni recipes for ya). This recipe has got sweet, caramelized sprouts, salty and crispy pancetta, and risotto so creamy you'll forget it's just rice.

Before you attempt this recipe you should note 3 things:

  1. Risotto should be constantly stirred, reduced, and then re-liquified.
  2. Ugly food is the best food.
  3. Authenticity is unattainable and kinda BS.

Prep + Cook Time: 45 minutes. Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 8 Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup pancetta cubes   
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese and more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • fine salt 
  • sweet red cooking wine

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a frying pan or skillet, fry the pancetta on medium-high until its crispy and sizzly (about 5 minutes). Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.

  2. In the same pan, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil on medium. Incorporate the sprouts into the pan, and douse them with red wine.  Turn the skillet down to low and keep your eye on the sprouts. Add wine as necessary until the sprouts are cooked down, stir in garlic, then take off the heat. 

  3. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, bring 2 cups of arborio and a splash of olive oil to a boil in 4 cups of chicken broth.
  4. Once the risotto is boiling, begin to stir. This part can be frustrating but stick it out and the end-result will be amazing. Add more salt and broth as the liquid cooks down, stirring, and adding more as needed, for up to 10 minutes until the rice is fork tender. 
  5. Turn the heat down to low and stir in the half and half, white pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Combine everything until melted and take off the heat. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t stick.
  6. Add most of the Brussels sprouts to the risotto (leave some for garnish).
  7. Serve in bowls, garnish with Brussels sprouts, pancetta, and freshly grated or shaved cheese. 
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Pancetta

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