Roasted Carrot, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad

I love it when a salad is as beautiful as it is delicious.  And this salad is a stunner.

Roasted Carrot, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad Ruby red and glistening, slices of blood orange cozy up with spiced carrot and fennel, salty olive bits, and wispy fennel fronds in a tangle of peppery arugula.  Before reaching the salad, the carrots and fennel are dusted with crushed cumin, coriander, fennel seed and cayenne pepper, then roasted until tender and caramelized.  The dressing here is a lemon vinaigrette spiked with garlic and blood orange zest.  My Roasted Carrot, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad is bold, spicy and incredibly satisfying.  This sophisticated salad would be perfect for a special occasion (Mother’s Day or Easter brunch), or any evening you just want to treat yourself.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Zinfandel Short Ribs with Goat Cheese Polenta and Mixed Herb Gremolata

Zinfandel Short Ribs Can you even believe that Christmas is just 3 days away?  Where did the Holiday season go?  Well, I’ve managed to get most of my gift shopping done; however, I have yet to bake a single cookie or prepare any edible gifts for my coworkers.  AND I’m just finishing up all of my cards today.  Luckily they say “Happy Holidays”, so they are still relevant if they show up some time between Christmas and New Years ;).  I know you’re probably thinking: #firstworldproblems, but I have certain traditions I like to do each year, and it makes me a little sad if I don’t get to all of them.

This year, Jorge and I will be going up to LA on Christmas Eve to have dinner with his family, and then we’ll be driving back to SD on Christmas day.  Christmas dinner will be for just the two us.  Even though I’m not hosting a blowout party (like Thanksgiving), I still want to make our Christmas dinner special.

It’s during times like these when I need to prepare a standout meal with minimal effort, that I’m glad I have this Zinfandel Short Ribs recipe in my back pocket.  Zinfandel Short Ribs are fairly easy to prepare, the ingredients aren’t fussy, and the beef can be cooked a day in advance.  Goat Cheese Polenta and Mixed Herb Gremolata, the all-star accompaniments, come together easily an hour before dinner.  And really, who doesn’t love a good braised short rib?  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce

Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce

Sharing a recipe for tomato sauce other than my mother’s is risky business.  Blasphemy really.  But when I saw this Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce in Modernist Cuisine at Home, I was intrigued.  In this recipe, onion, carrot, garlic and tomato are cooked under pressure until the flavors melt together, forming a vibrant marinara sauce.  Finished with a drizzle of rich extra virgin olive oil and a handful of fresh herbs, this sauce is bright, well-balanced and full of flavor.  You can use this pressure cooked sauce in any way you would use a regular tomato sauce: chicken, pizza and pasta to name just a few.  Personally, I love to tear off chunks of crusty bread, and dip into a bowl of hot tomato sauce.  Now you may be wondering, which sauce is better?  This sauce or my other Homemade Tomato Sauce?  My answer:  neither!  Each sauce has a unique, delicious flavor.  I would be more inclined to make this Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce during the week (because of the shorter cooking time), and my Homemade Tomato Sauce on Sunday afternoon.  Well that’s it!  I’m just hoping the Italian side of my family will forgive me ;)  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls

Spring Roll Making 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.

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Chicken Stock Recipe

Celery, Carrots, Dried Shiitakes, Onion and Garlic

Today I’m going to share illustrated step-by-step instructions on how to make the most amazing chicken stock you’ll ever have.  I decided to go into great detail with this recipe because it really is a game-changer.  I made the transition from canned stock to homemade last year and I’ll never turn back.  Use stock as a flavorful base to soups, sauces, risottos and grains (just to name a few).  If you start with a super tasty stock, your end result is almost guaranteed to be delicious.

A few notes about this recipe:  The amount of steps may seem a bit daunting, but really, the process breaks down into four easy techniques – prep, caramelize, simmer, strain.  Simply spend a few hours (mainly unattended) on a Sunday afternoon making this recipe and you’ll have flavorful stock at your fingertips for a month.  I should also mention that I don’t add salt to my stock.  I prefer to salt whatever the stock is going into.  Continue reading for a comprehensive guide to my homemade chicken stock.

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Braised Chickpeas with Spinach Salad [Giveaway]

Braised Chickpeas with Spinach Salad

When one hears the term slow cooker, thoughts of chili, pulled pork, stews and soups usually come to mind.  Major yum.  Not so healthy.  So several weeks ago, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to cook something completely healthy in my slow cooker.  This recipe for Braised Chickpeas with Spinach Salad is what I came up with.  Dried chickpeas are soaked overnight then cooked in a flavorful bath of homemade vegetable stock, carrot, onion, celery and bay.  Finished with fire-roasted tomatoes, salt, and pepper, these slow-cooked chickpeas are tender, buttery and oh so delicious.  The depth of flavor really is craveworthy.  A spinach salad dressed in a red wine vinaigrette is a fresh counter to the rich, bold chickpeas.  I enjoyed this dish several times for dinner.  No meat required.

Before we get to the recipe and giveaway, I want to mention two tips that will help you make this dish as tasty as possible.  First, be sure to use homemade stock or a high-quality store-bought stock.  The chickpeas will be braising for 8 hours in this liquid, so you want to make sure it’s top notch.  Second, do not use canned chickpeas here.  Starting with dried chickpeas allows you to really infuse them mouth-watering flavor.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a slow cooker giveaway.

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Homemade Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock

Spending a Sunday afternoon beside a simmering pot of stock has become a monthly ritual of mine this past year.  Engulfed in an array of comforting aromas, I just love sitting in my kitchen with a warm mug of coffee and my eReader.  Pleasant hits of parsley, bay and thyme briefly interrupt my casual page-turning.  If you are not making stock at home already, I would highly recommend starting now.  The process of making Homemade Vegetable Stock is fairly easy and the results are cheaper and tastier than store-bought versions.  All you have to do is brown some vegetables, add herbs and spices, cover with water and simmer!  It’s really that simple.  The ingredient list is also pretty flexible.  Taste will not be compromised if you only have 4 carrots rather than 5.  And if you have a stray leek or handful of mushrooms leftover from a previous recipe, this pot of Homemade Vegetable Stock would gladly welcome them with open arms.  So I urge you to block out some time this Sunday afternoon, and give this recipe a try.  Continue reading for the recipe, tips on making a perfect batch of flavorful stock and ideas on how you can use this stock.

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Bolognese Sauce

Pappardelle in Bolognese Sauce

Up until this year, my method for making Bolognese Sauce called for adding cooked, seasoned beef to my Homemade Tomato Sauce, simmering for a bit, then finishing with fresh herbs.  It wasn’t until I saw this video that I realized I wasn’t really making Bolognese Sauce at all!  After experimenting a bit with Mario’s recipe, I found a method that I really love.  This slow cooked Bolognese Sauce pairs a number of classic aromatics with ground beef, pork and bacon.  The mixture is then simmered in tomato paste, whole milk and wine.  Thick, rich and luscious, the finished sauce has the most amazing depth of flavor.  The recipe below definitely takes some time to make.  But I urge you to give it a try.  You won’t be sorry.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pickled Carrots with Dill and Serrano

Picked Carrots with Dill and Serrano

Every time I make homemade pickles, I find myself pondering the same question after taking that first spiced, sour bite: “Why don’t I make pickles more often?”  The process is SO darn easy.  All you have to do is warm up a mixture of common pantry ingredients, pour over fresh vegetables and let the flavors marry for a little bit.  Done!  These Pickled Carrots with Dill and Serrano are made with garlic, dill seed, fennel seed, sliced serrano chile and fresh, fragrant dill.  Bold and spicy, these pickles have a wonderfully complex flavor and an oh so satisfying crunch.  You can also easily adapt this recipe to your own taste.  Don’t like heat?  Trade in the serrano chile for a anaheim or poblano.  Can’t find dill seed?  Omit and add some extra fresh dill.  Basic pickling liquid consists of water, vinegar, salt and sugar.  Where you go from there is completely up to you!  Enjoy these pickles as an afternoon snack or as an accompaniment to a piled high burger.  They are also super tasty with Mexican food!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Ginger Glazed Short Ribs

Ginger Glazed Short Ribs

I love ordering braised short ribs at restaurants.  And luckily for me, many of the top restaurants around San Diego have short ribs on the menu:

Cucina Urbana – Short rib pappardelle
Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant – Braised all natural beef short ribs
Burlap – Local beer braised short ribs, crispy sweet onion & jager reduction
Nine-Ten – Port wine braised beef short ribs
Bo-Beau – Braised short ribs with horseradish smashed potatoes and chives

Several weeks ago I found myself wondering why I had not yet tried to make short ribs at home.  The process of braising is easy enough.  Simply put, braising is when you cook food in liquid low and slow (low temperature, slow cooking time).  After seeing this recipe for Ginger Glazed Short Ribs in the Times, I knew I had to make it.  First, I heart ginger (uhhh, obvay).  Second, I thought it would be fun to try to recreate a restaurant experience that I love at home.  Braised in a mixture of red wine, red wine vinegar and chicken stock, these short ribs are flavored with a tantalizing array of ingredients including garlic, shiitakes, ginger, allspice, cinnamon and konbu.  Major depth of flavor.  Umami to the max.  This dish may not come together in a snap, but its preparations and process couldn’t be easier.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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