I’m going to keep this brief, because Jorge and I are on vacation in MEXICO!!! These Chile Lime Pepitas are made with just 4 ingredients, and they can be prepared in a matter of moments. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are toasted in a dry pan, then hit with fresh lime juice, kosher salt, and chile powder. The resulting snack is spicy, salty and incredibly tangy. The type of tang the tickles the sides of your tongue as you chew. I love to eat these spiced seeds by the handful with an ice cold beer in the other hand. So tasty. Just be sure to have some napkins around, because your hands can get a little messy 😉
Growing up in a family that was half Italian and half Eastern European (Polish, Czech and Hungarian), never would I have thought that kimchi, Korean fermented cabbage, would become such a widely-used ingredient in my kitchen. But it is. There’s something about kimchi’s salty, sour and spicy notes that can transform the flavors of a dish into something so unique. For example, when you add it to pizza, the sour notes of the cabbage cut through the richness of the mozzarella cheese while the salt and spice amp up the tomato sauce. I also love mixing chopped kimchi into my morning scramble, adding it to deviled eggs, or stirring it into a hot bowl of broth.
The key to really enjoying kimchi is to find a particular brand that suits your taste. There are many varieties of kimchi available for purchase, and not all of them taste good. Some can be too mushy. Others overly funky or fishy. Don’t give up on your kimchi hunt after your first bite of bad kimchi! Keep searching. Here in San Diego, my boyfriend discovered a suuuuuper tasty kimchi sold at our local farmer’s markets called Happy Pantry Kimchi. It’s got a nice spicy fermented flavor without the fishiness that can be found in traditional varieties. I also enjoy the kimchi available at Trader Joe’s.
The other option is to make a kimchi recipe at home. This will allow you to control each flavor, adding more or less of something to taste. Which brings us to this Quick Fennel and Cabbage Kimchi. Continue reading for the recipe.
Last year, I had mentioned that quince was one of my new seasonal favorites, and this year, I’ve been even more enamored with it. During my 2-Year Anniversary celebration, I served champagne poached quince with Greek yogurt and honey for dessert. And for Thanksgiving, I served Pickled Quince at the appetizer table beside a wedge of creamy brie and an assortment of salty crackers. Quince is so versatile, easy to prepare, and completely unexpected. If you’ve never given it a try, you simply must.
Similar in appearance to a pear or apple, the quince is a pome fruit that is fairly inedible in it’s raw form. Quince must be cooked to reach their full flavor potential. The fruit is hard when it is ripe and unripe, so you must use your nose to gauge ripeness. Bring the tail end (not the stem end) of the quince to your nose. If it smells fresh and floral, it is ripe.
In this recipe for Pickled Quince, slices of peeled quince are simmered in a bath of apple cider vinegar, cane sugar, juniper, black peppercorn and fresh bay leaf. The resulting pickle is incredibly tart and fragrant with a hint of sweet and spice. Pickle Quince would be perfectly at home on any cheese and salumi board, or pair well with any rich, fatty meat (especially pork). Continue reading for the recipe.
Jorge and I hosted game night recently, and one of the many tasty dishes served that evening was this Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole. But first let me tell you a little about the game we played: Cards Against Humanity. This game is awesome. Basically one person reads a question or a fill in the blank statement (the black card), then everyone else tries to answer that question or complete the statement using the cards they have in their hand (the white cards). The person holding the black card then decides which pairing is the funniest. What makes this game awesome, is that the white cards can be pretty darn outrageous. I mean, we played for almost 4 hours, and I couldn’t stop laughing for most of the evening. My face hurt afterwards.
I think Cards Against Humanity has been out for a little bit, and I’m probably late to the party here. But if you’ve never played, and you don’t mind a little over-the-top humor, you need to give this game a try. So much fun.
And if you want to host a game night of your own, I’d definitely recommend making this guacamole. Rick Bayless released this recipe last year, and I’ve had it bookmarked ever since. Sweet, herbaceous fennel is roasted until tender and fragrant, then added to cubes of rich avocado along with crisp, tart apple, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro. This seasonal variation of a Mexican classic is sharp, creamy and wonderfully complex. The licoricey fennel compliments the avocado while tiny pops of green apple offer contrast in flavor and texture. The fennel isn’t really overpowering here. With each bite, you’ll notice just a hint of fennel at the end. Continue reading for the recipe.
Oh man do I have a fun recipe for you today! Tostilocos, a Mexican street food specialty, are typically made by cutting open a bag of flavored corn chips and piling on toppings such as pickled pig skin, tamarind candies, Japanese peanuts, jicama, cucumber, lime juice, chamoy and hot sauce. I first had Tostilocos last year at our San Diego LGBT Pride festival. Jorge and I had been walking around all day, and I was getting huuuungry. We stopped to sit for a moment in the shade, when Jorge hopped up and said, “I’ll be right back.” Several minutes later, he returned with a bag of Tostilocos. After just one bite my taste buds were all like, “Whaaaaaaat???” Such a crazy combination of flavors that just completely work well together. Sweet. Salt. Sour. Crunch. I’ll have to say the one element I’m still not completely sold on is the pickled pig skin. It’s like savory gummy worms. But wet and slippery. Not my fav. So when I was coming up with a homemade version of Tostilocos, I decided to substituted thin strips of smoky bacon for the pickled pig skin. I also included some quick pickled cucumber and red onion to add another note of sweet, sour and salt. You can easily make these pickles at home in just one hour (mainly inactive wait time). Jorge and I will still get Tostilocos each year at the festival, but now I can easily satisfy cravings in between with my bacon version!
If you don’t live in San Diego (or any other City bordering Mexico), some of these ingredients may look very foreign to you. Try to find a Mexican market in town. They should have everything you need. Or you can easily purchase these items online. I purchased everything at Pancho Villa’s Farmer’s Market here in SD. Continue reading for the recipe.
Jorge and I are headed off for Portland and Seattle in several days, and I’m currently in the process of preparing for this 9 day trip. Today will be spent doing laundry, and purchasing any last minute items like my cologne that’s just about to run out (Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit), hiking shoes, new jeans and a gift for a friend’s wedding we’ll be attending on Saturday. Tomorrow, I’ll be organizing my belongings and starting the packing process. I’m one of those people who packs waaaaay too much stuff for vacation. Whatever, I like outfit options! On Thursday, I’ll be baking another batch of this Tamarind Trail Mix. Traveling without substantially delicious snacks is something I rarely do. Airport food is typically the worst. Hi, $11 sandwich that tastes moderate at best. And don’t even get me started on airplane food.
Sweet, salty and wonderfully complex, this Tamarind Trail Mix is flavored with cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, honey, brown sugar, tomato and tamarind. Roasted nuts, seeds and coconut are then tossed with sweet dried mango and citrusy chopped cilantro. The finished mix is incredibly savory and undeniably addictive. I like to pack up my travel trail mixes in mason jars to keep the contents from getting crushed in my bag. I should note that I’ll be making most of the trail mix in advance. On Saturday, right before we leave for the airport, I’ll add the chopped cilantro. Continue reading for the recipe.
Sweet, grassy squash is sauteed with olive oil, lemon and rosemary, then arranged atop a garlic-rubbed, ricotta-slathered slice of baguette. These handheld treats have the most satisfying contrast in both flavor and texture. The crisp, toasted bread against the tender rounds of zucchini and squash. The cool, creamy ricotta against the sharp bite of garlic and soaring brightness of lemon. So. Yum.
Summer Squash Crostini is a simple yet elegant way to use up the bounty of beautiful squash available at the markets right now. Serve these bites as an appetizer at a backyard bash, or pair with a chilled summer soup for a light dinner. Continue reading for the recipe.
During San Diego’s June Gloom, the weather is rarely ideal for going to the beach. Which makes me sad, because it’s around this time of the year that I start yearning for a beach day. The beach is one of the main reasons why I moved from New Jersey to San Diego. Each year while I was growing up, I would spend a week or two at my Aunt’s beach house on Long Beach Island (eating many of these). It was one of my favorite times of the year. So naturally, when it was time for me to move out on my own, I picked a city with easy beach access.
On the rare occasion in June when the sun decides to break through the marine layer, I immediate make plans to go to the beach. I pack my bag with a book, iPad, iPhone, tanning oil (I am a New Jerseyite at heart), water and snacks, like these Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls. Kale is marinated in a dressing of honey, lime, fish sauce, garlic and chile, then wrapped up with a fresh mix of carrot, cucumber, avocado, mint and cilantro. These flavors are bold and bright. Portable gourmet, this summer roll can easily stay in my bag for a few hours without worry of spoilage.
So it ends up that today is actually one of those rare beautiful days in June. I’ve got my bag almost all packed up, so I’m going to finish here. I’ll be on the beach enjoying a few of these tasty rolls. Continue reading for the recipe.
With posts like this and this and this, you may have thought I was off the Paleo Diet. But that’s totally not the case. I’m still going strong 🙂 I did put on several pounds after my trip to NYC though. With dining destinations like Le Bernadin, The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, Eataly, Baked and the Momofuku Noodle Bar, it was close to impossible for me to follow Paleo guidelines. But I don’t go on many vacations throughout the year, so I was totally fine with breaking the rules. I’ve got three recipes below that have helped me get back on track. They’re easy to prepare and packed with flavor. Each recipe also has a richness that makes you forget the fact that you are eating diet food. Citrus Avocado Dip, Coconut Yogurt, and Chorizo Meatloaf recipes below.
This is what happens when you buy bacon in bulk. Freshly popped corn is tossed with marcona almonds, crispy bacon, smoked sea salt and cayenne pepper, then drowned in a rich, deeply-hued caramel. Bacon Caramel Corn is both super tasty and super addicting with the most satisfying crunch. To be honest, I’m usually not the biggest fan of caramel corn. I often find that it is too cloyingly sweet. Luckily, this version of caramel corn isn’t too sweet. It’s quite savory actually with just a hint of sweetness.
Bacon Caramel Corn can be made up to two days in advance. Be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you’ve never made caramel before, I’d recommend doing a practice run. This caramel is simply a mixture of sugar, water and corn syrup, so if you mess it up, throw out the batch and try again! Continue reading for the recipe.