Grapefruit & Lemon Risotto

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Citrus Risotto 3

I’ve had a ton of citrus around the house lately. I got a bag of grapefruits as a holiday gift, impulse purchased a bag of tangerines that I couldn’t possibly finish myself, and my boyfriend has been on a lemon-orange juice kick lately. All this citrus reminded me of a risotto I made a few years back for my mom’s birthday, and I figured I might as well embrace the citrus trend while it lasted!

I understand, you might be skeptical about grapefruit risotto, but this recipe is lovely. The grapefruit and lemon give the risotto a light and fresh quality , and the avocado complements the citrus perfectly. I ate it as a main course, but it would also make a nice side dish.

Peeled Citrus

Citrus Wedges 3

One important note before you get going: taste your grapefruit before you add it to the risotto. I made this risotto twice this week because I failed to taste my grapefruit first. The grapefruits I used in the first batch happened to be extremely bitter, and the resulting  risotto was unsalvagable. A normal amount of bitterness is fine, but if you wouldn’t eat your grapefruit raw, don’t put in the risotto! Just take a tiny taste fruit as you are removing it from the pulp, and hopefully you can avoid this predicament! « Read the rest of this entry »

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Spaghetti Squash Fritters

November 6, 2012 § 5 Comments

I’ve tried being a vegan exactly two times. Well, actually, I tried eating vegan for a one-week time-span on two different occasions. And neither time did I make it the entire week.

When I lived in New York, I made it 5 or 6 days. My roommate and I were both vegetarian, and we decided to take the plunge together. Our main issues were baked goods, candy, and eventually, cheese. We would spend way too much time reading candy and chocolate bar labels, sadly coming to grips with the fact that many dark chocolates still have milk in them. We would pass our favorite scone place, and all we could get was a coffee without cream. We would pack our lunches for work, substituting soy yogurt for “regular” yogurt, tofu for cheese. It took a whole lot of planning and will-power every single one of those 5 days!

And this is what eventually broke us. Well, that, and a few drinks. After 5 (maybe 6?) days of being real-life vegans, we went out out and had a few drinks on a Saturday night, and then of course we got the late night munchies. And what sounds better for a late night snack than Mexican food?! Well, let me tell you, while vegetarian Mexican food can be delicious, vegan Mexican food is another story.

So, two cheese filled, sour-cream dolloped tacos later, that was that.

My second experiment in veganism occurred in L.A. Another veggie roommate and I similarly decided to attempt a week without any dairy. (I know it seems like I’m the common thread here, but I have no recollection of provoking these experiments). Things were going well for all of two days, until Nathan downed a bag of M&M’s, and a friend made me a dinner of spaghetti squash. Even if I had really been committed to my dairy free lifestyle, it would have been difficult to turn down that squash. I was in the midst of a 9am-9pm day of classes, and a friend so thoughtfully took it upon herself to deliver me a home-cooked meal on campus: farmers’ market squash slathered in pasta sauce and cheese. Who could turn down such a mouth-watering and thoughtful gesture in the middle of a long day??

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Leek and Onion Tart

October 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

This tart has been one of my go-to dishes for years. I’m not sure exactly when I first made it. I have a suspicion that it was with my friend Janina, maybe when we shared an apartment in New York. Or possibly for one of our themed dinner parties back in California, which are themed more in terms of attire (or in some cases, costume), than they are themed in menu. We like to cook all of the dishes that are most exciting to us that day, which often leads to an eclectic, but still delicious, combination of items!

Whenever it was that I first came upon this tart in The Art of Simple Food, I have not forgotten it since. I have brought it to many a pot-luck, cooked it as a Thanksgiving appetizer, and made it more than once simply to satisfy personal cravings. I’ve had friends request that I bring it to parties, and countless people ask for the recipe. And I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like it.

Besides the enjoyment of eating this tart, the best thing about it is its simplicity. It requires only eight ingredients, and though there is a bit of waiting in the process (to let the tart dough chill, and later to bake it), the steps are all very straight-forward. I’ve stayed pretty true to the recipe over the years, with only limited alterations. My main adaptation is to use a combination of leeks and onions, instead of onions alone. I’ve also omitted the thyme – I prefer the purity of onions and leeks seasoned only with salt. Besides these alterations, you have Alice Waters to thank for this tart. When something tastes so good, you don’t want to mess around with it too much!

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Thai Inspired Kabocha Squash Soup

October 3, 2012 § 8 Comments

It has been in the mid-eighties in the Bay Area for the past three days. Eighties in October! In sync with this crazy weather, I’ve been particularly inspired to cook and bake. I’ve been trying new recipes, re-working old recipes, and overall spending way too much time in the kitchen considering how hot it is! I’m hoping that with this squash soup I will be ready to take a (brief) rest from my stove-top hovering, at least until the weather cools down slightly.

I began perusing winter squash soup recipes about a week ago, when it was actually feeling like fall. And once I had settled on an idea, I just couldn’t wait for the temperatures to cool down.

I’ve also been impatient to use the beautiful kabocha squash that I harvested from my garden a few weeks ago. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I didn’t actually plant this squash. I added some fresh compost to my garden back in the spring, and a tiny squash plant sprang up a few weeks later. I can take a little credit after that, because I decided not to weed it out, transplanted it, and faithfully watered it for the next several months! But I still feel like it was a little garden surprise.

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Apple Butter

September 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

I never really fully appreciated apples until I lived on the east coast. You can definitely grow good apples in California, but they aren’t our very best fruit offering. When I moved to the east coast after college, my eyes were opened to all that apples could be. There were apple-picking excursions in upstate new york, and new apple varieties that were crisper than anything I’d had on the west coast. I remember when I first discovered what is now my all-time favorite apple, Mutsu. It literally blew my mind. I would sit on my couch marveling that an apple could be so crisp and tart and sweet all at once. I once texted a friend to brag about my apple. And for a while, I literally wanted Mutsus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was out of control.

Even though I’m back in California now, my eyes are open to all that apples can be. And I’ve noticed that over the past few years, local markets and stores have begun to carry a wider range of apples, including  Honey Crisp, Pink Pearl, and (finally!) my beloved Mutsu. As the days begin feeling more like fall, I’ve found myself craving apples once again, so I thought I’d start the season off on the right note with this simple and healthy apple butter. And, I suppose you should know that I actually made this apple butter with a future (considerably less healthy) recipe in mind. So get ready, apple butter will be making another appearance shortly! « Read the rest of this entry »

Watermelon Tomato Salad

September 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m going to brag for just a second. This week, I’ve had in my possession a 25.2 lb watermelon (yes, I weighed it). And it gets better. Not only is the watermelon massive, it is also organic and it cost only $5! For anyone familiar with the Bay Area farmers’ markets, you know what a steal that is! Finally, and most importantly, it is delicious. Like, really, one of the best watermelons I have ever had. Great texture, great sweetness, and perfectly juicy.

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Passion Fruit Dressing

September 5, 2012 § 4 Comments

Don’t hate me… but for the past week I’ve been in Hawaii! For me, the three best things about Hawaii are the beach, the ocean, and the tropical fruits, not necessarily in that order. This week, I really went all out in the fruit department. I ate pineapple, mango, papaya, passion fruit, and – a first for me – dragon fruit. To be honest, I didn’t hate the dragon fruit, but I didn’t love it either. It is certainly visually stunning, but it just didn’t blow me away. I decided to spice it up with this passion fruit dressing, and the dressing ended up being the main attraction for me.

Whatever your feelings about dragon fruit, I think you will love this dressing over fruit salad. « Read the rest of this entry »

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