Napa Cabbage Salad + Pan Seared Wild Salmon

Posted on Apr 16, 2014 | 0 comments

First things first: if you want to continue hearing from me in about a month or so, signing up for my email list (with the black and white box to the right) is the action to take. I’m working behind-the-scenes to transition this space to a new domain, and eventually, my content won’t be shared via RSS feed. So sign up now to be sure you’re staying in the loop. If that’s what you want, of course. 

This week was better by degrees, but only slightly. I pushed to appear lively and upbeat in this video since it was sponsored by Explore-Asian!  It’s very exciting to have a sponsored video to share with you, and I do hope you give these noodles a try (details for how to purchase and find out more are in the video’s description box). I wouldn’t share a recipe or product with you that I myself didn’t love; my promise to you is that I’ll always give you the real scoop. (#KIR)

That said, when these noodles arrived, instead of being long and pasta-length, they were short and broken. Form needed to be considered for their grand finale—so I went with this napa cabbage, carrot, radish, brown jasmine rice pasta salad with pan seared salmon in a lemon ginger “soy” dressing. The recipe has been ever-so-slightly (but barely) adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks called “Raising The Salad Bar” by Catherine Walthers, an ode to salads in their every form. I went there for inspiration, and ended up tweaking one recipe that caught my eye to make it healthier and one hundred percent gluten free. If you’re paleo, omit the noodles altogether. If you’re vegan, (get with the program! Just kidding, kinda) omit the salmon. Whatever you are, enjoy!

Napa Cabbage Brown Rice Salad + Pan Seared Wild Salmon
Napa cabbage, radish, carrot, and brown jasmine rice pasta salad with pan seared salmon in a lemon "soy" ginger dressing; slam dunk dinner and makes excellent leftovers.
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For the Salad
  1. 1 head napa cabbage, sliced thinly
  2. 1/2 bunch scallions, sliced diagonally
  3. 2 carrots, shredded (food processor shred blade makes easy work of this)
  4. 8 radishes, shredded (ditto the above for carrots)
  5. 1 package of Explore-Asian's Brown Jasmine Rice pasta Noodles
  6. 2 large wild salmon fillets, enough to make four fillets the size of your fist (with skin)
  7. salt + pepper (always, right?)
  8. 2 Tbsp ghee
For The Dressing
  1. 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  2. 1/4 cup avocado oil
  3. 3.5 Tbsp coconut aminos* (see note below)
  4. juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil for the noodles.
  2. While the water is boiling, prepare the salad by thinly slicing the cabbage, slicing the scallions on the diagonal, and using the shred blade on your food processor to make easy work of getting the carrots + radishes cut down (takes less than 30 seconds). If you don't have a food processor, cut them into matchsticks. By now, the water should be boiling and your pasta can go into the pool.
  3. Cook the noodles according to their package instructions. They promise to be "always al dente" and they were when I cooked them according to the directions, AND when I overcooked them a second time.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the salmon with salt + pepper. Add the ghee to the pan and wait for the fat to shimmer. Place the salmon skin side down on the skillet and cook until the skin is lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Flip the fillets when they move easily with the slight nudge of the spatula, and transfer to the oven to continue cooking. The fish is finished when it flakes easily, and when the flesh looks like a milky MaiTai instead of a papaya.
  6. While the fish cooks, make the dressing.
  7. In a small fry pan, heat the avocado oil (which handles high heat exceptionally well) and add the fresh ginger. When the ginger begins to brown, remove from heat and add to a small mixing bowl.
  8. Add the coconut aminos, lemon juice, and whisk. Taste. Do you like? What does it need? Maybe more lemon juice. Adjust the flavors until they are just right.
  9. By now, everything should be ready. Toss the salad in a large bowl. Add to individual plates. Remove the salmon from the oven and portion it onto the salads. Spoon heaping amounts of dressing onto the fish and salad and prepare to swoon.
Notes
  1. Coconut aminos are a healthier, gluten free alternative to soy sauce. They can be ordered online, or found at Whole Foods. I love them.
Adapted from Raising The Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers
Adapted from Raising The Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers
In The Kitchen Keepin' It Real http://inthekitchenkeepinitreal.com/
 

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Cooking with Chronic Illness Part III: Spring Parsley Pesto Recipe

Posted on Apr 9, 2014 | 4 comments

Before anything else, I need to tell you that I’ve taken away the “subscribe” option to my blog and added an email list sign-up instead. If you want to continue receiving updates from me, please opt-in to the glaring black and white box to your right (design is a work in prog). I’ll be changing the format of my website, and migrating it to a new domain soon, and if you’re not on the list, you won’t keep hearing from me. This is a great time to clean me out of your inbox if you’ve secretly been wanting to! 

For reasons I do not know, my health is in the gutter. I’ve got full-blown flu symptoms without the flu. I’ve got an inkling of an idea about why (Herxheimer reaction) but cannot be sure. BLECH.

Times like these mean I pull from my “cooking with chronic illness” arsenal of tricks. Make one thing; use it in as many ways as possible. 

Two weeks ago, I told the story of how I completely lost my grip on moderation and went haywire overdosing on carbohydrates during a trip to New York (years ago). I showed everyone how to make this incredible parsley pesto pizza; the main attraction was the crust (obvio) and the story.  Today, I’m showing you the parsley pesto. It’s as easy as breathing, which is crucial, since even that is taking its toll on me these days. 

I’ve omitted the cheese and garlic because the effort to add those two ingredients exceeds my current capacity, and  it’s just as tasty without it. But if you have the energy to peel garlic and grate cheese, and your digestion tolerates it, do it! 

As promised, there is a ten-long list of ways to use this one sauce. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sky is the limit. Tweak it ever so slightly each day to make it feel fresh and brand new. 

 

Spring Parsley Pesto
Spring Parsley Pesto that was featured in the gluten free pizza recipe (so yum) two weeks ago.
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Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
3 min
Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
3 min
For A Big Batch
  1. 4 cups fresh parsley leaves (2 bunches)
  2. 2/3 cup pine nuts (cashews, walnuts, and almonds work too)
  3. 1 cup olive oil
  4. 1 or 2 anchovy fillets (optional, but not really. See notes below)
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Blend until you have the consistency you want. Keep it chunky if that pleases you. Make it smooth if that's what floats your boat.
  3. Notes
Note
  1. The traditional way to make pesto involves banging all the ingredients into a sauce with a mortar and pestle (something I quite enjoy when health allows). The method above (using the food processor) is for when this is out of the question.
  2. Whatever greens you like can be made into pesto. Dandelion greens, spinach, arugula, watercress, basil, parsley, cilantro. There is no limit; no green that can't be sauced.
Use in the following ways
  1. 1. Green eggs + ham! Beat into your eggs for a tasty green scramble. Add spinach (cooks in less than 30 seconds, and feta if you tolerate cheese, or thin slices of ham that's been lightly browned in the pan. Swoon yum).
  2. 2. Make toast, poach eggs, and pour some of this pesto atop both. Swoon!
  3. 3. Make shorty pasta (like penne, casarecce, or rotini) with lots of veggies (green beans, kale, onions) and toss in the sauce. Add toasted nuts, a shower of freshly grated cheese, and a splash of fresh lemon juice to freshen it up for the next day's lunch.
  4. 4. Use as a marinade for chicken cutlets pounded out thinly for fast cooking times. Ditto that for some shrimpies, or fish. Be sure to crush some fresh garlic for added ooomph.
  5. 5. Use as a pizza sauce, as I did in video linked above!
  6. 6. Spread on toasted sandwich bread (instead of mustard or mayo) and use leftover chicken cutlets for an easy sandwich. Have with a side salad or soup for a nourishing meal.
  7. 7. Mix in some lemon juice and red wine vinegar and use as a salad dressing.
  8. 8. Mix into homemade aioli and use as a dip for boiled vegetables. Yum!
  9. 9. Store in ice trays in fridge to defrost for future chronic illness emergency days.
  10. 10. Make croutons with stale gluten free bread. Toss in the sauce, and bake until the bread is dried out and crunchy. Keep in airtight container and add to salads for crunch and vibrancy.
In The Kitchen Keepin' It Real http://inthekitchenkeepinitreal.com/
 

 

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My First Kiss (+ Caesar Dressing from Scratch)

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 | 0 comments

Caesar was the first dressing I loved. It opened the door to what would become a lifelong love of salads. Just as a first kiss opens a door inside us, one that will lead us down a path of further exploring and deciding and identity forming, caesar salad opened my world to the magic of dressed lettuce. It was creamy and crunchy at the same time; it was salty and sweet. It was my go-to. A healthy food that seemed downright sinful. Reliable, ubiquitous, it could be counted on. This recipe is so closely related to aioli, and scratch-made mayo, that if you know how to make it, you know how to make those too. Ingredients differ by degrees (lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar). 
 
 **
 
The sun is low in the sky; a strong breeze, bordering on wind, blows my hair into my face, getting caught in my mouth as I talk, as we walk. iIt’s fall. or at least that’s what the memory says; a memory that drifts like the tide.  School has just begun. Eighth grade in an ocean town. Always a breeze.
 
We’re walking home from school, holding hands. We know what’s going to happen. We haven’t decided it, but we know. It’s time. In eighth grade talk, word travels. notes exchanged, questions asked and answered. “Have you and P kissed yet? circle Y or N.” We’re ready for this.
 
The playground is ghosted, after hours. Empty swings and monkey bars, black tar and rubber ground. this tall boy, his softness. In voice, face, and hair. the color of unripe strawberries. my belly, a bundle of jitters. the imminent act unspoken, but known. We’re about to do this! We’re about to kiss!
 
I think about my lips as i talk, the hair getting caught in the corners of my mouth, the tongue inside. I’ve licked these lips clean after garlicky bread; I’ve used them to spit loogies straight to the curb. I’ve pressed them to the brow of my infant sleeping brother as I’ve inhaled the yum of his baby breath. But never this.
 
I look at his lips. the target is set. Stepping closer, we embrace each other’s waists, before joining faces. The kiss is both a question and an answer. This is your tongue? Because I love you. It’s not a fumble. it’s a flow, a warmth that fills me. It’s opposites at once; like pizza crust, it’s crisp beginning and doughy yield. The taste is minty, and organic. The breath is near, scented slightly like his skin. The blank slate being filled in.
 
I don’t remember how long we tongued in that empty schoolyard, or if we did it more than once. I don’t remember if we spoke afterwards, or how we got home (though of course I know we walked). I don’t remember saying goodbye, or agreeing to our next rendezvous.
 
I do remember that we both obsessively loved pearl jam; Eddie Vedder was our god, b-sides and bootlegs were our lifeblood. I remember that our kiss became my personal secret. something that was mine alone, and this piece of me that was private empowered me. I felt alive in a new way. Somewhere inside I knew that if I could kiss and keep it to myself, I could never be fully conquered.
 
**
 
I ate a caesar salad every friday night for more than two years. If it was on a menu, I ordered it. I probably ate more caesar salads than I gave kisses. Caesar paved the way to further salad exploration. If caesar was this good, what else did the salad world have to offer?
 
I’m not saying that caesar salad was as transcendent as the power of the first kiss, but I kinda am saying that. It’s the moment when something unknown becomes known, and a door swings wide open inside. It’s more than just a dressing, it’s a revelation, a hint at what else might exist. It’s more than just a kiss, it’s the beginning of self-hood, a hint at what else might exist.
 
So eat you some caesar, and revel in its simple glory.
 
Caesar Dressing from Scratch
If you know this ratio, you know how to make not only this dressing, but all creamy dressings (think green goddess!), aioli, and homemade mayo. The variations are affected by a few ingredient tweaks. The recipe below is for the way I make caesar. I'm sure there are other ways. I don't recommend omitting the anchovy. It adds such awesome umami; you won't know it's there.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 egg yolks (from pasture raised hens)
  2. 2 fresh garlic cloves
  3. 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 tsp water
  5. 1 tsp dijon mustard
  6. 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  7. 1 cup good quality olive oil
  8. 1 cup avocado oil (if you can find it)
  9. 1.2 tsp salt
  10. freshly ground pepper to taste
For the chronic-illness friendly way
  1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, small cuisinart, or measuring cup (if using the latter, you'll need a hand blender. AKA immersion blender).
  2. Blend!
  3. NOTE* If using the immersion blender method, only move the immersion blender up through the measuring cup once you see the mixture form a creamy, yellow-ish, thick consistency at the bottom. Then, and only then, move the immersion blender up through the glass to blend everything.
  4. Add cheese either to the dressing itself, or to the salad after you've dressed it, or both!
The old school way
  1. Add all of your ingredients EXCEPT the oils to a big bowl and very slowly add the oil in a steady stream while vigorously whisking. Once the mixture seems to emulsify, add the oil in a faster stream until you have a rich, creamy, thick dressing.
  2. Ditto the cheese direction above.
Notes
  1. Use pasture raised hens for the most nutritious, safest end result. You're eating raw egg here. Let it be the healthiest one you can find.
  2. I've safely eaten mine stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  3. Uses include but are not limited to: a sauce for steamed veggies, a dip for sweet potato fries, regular ol' fries, raw veggies, atop fish and boiled meats.
  4. Swoon!
In The Kitchen Keepin' It Real http://inthekitchenkeepinitreal.com/
 
 
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“The Big Deal” Parsley Pesto Pizza

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 | 4 comments

Before I was gluten free, before my illness changed my life and my health and my diet and my priorities, I LIVED for pizza (and bagels, with lox, and cream cheese). As a native New Yorker fresh to Cali soil,  I had sworn, and crossed my heart, that I would never, ever, not for as long as I lived in the state of California, eat a piece of pizza.

The gods immediately conspired to make me break this vow.  After four hours spent roller skating in a poorly ventilated rink that smelled like hormonal teenagers and their days-on-end-non-showered-bodies, while 80′s and early 90′s music blared from speakers with old and broken wires, the staff decided that for lunch, we’d treat these severely unloved and abandoned children being raised by California’s social service system (us) to pizza.

My stomach drops. I’m thinking:  ”Is that because I’m starving, or because I must keep my promise?”

Crammed into this tiny restaurant in Noe Valley SF, I remain stoic, and refuse. Just the sight of it offends me, and I let everyone know, too. The pies are not uniform in size, and they’re covered with all kinds of random things (what’s UP with the pineapples and chicken people? Pineapples are for fruit salad and smoothies. Chicken? Completely lawless and unequivocably inappropriate on pizza!), and the melted cheese looks uniform and smooth, instead of pock-marked with tomato sauce. No, no, no. It’s just wrong.

My co-workers, accustomed to counseling irrational teens on a daily basis,  swooped in to address my child-like defiance.

“What if we don’t call it pizza?”

“That would be much better because it’s NOT pizza.”

“Okay, so would you eat this thing that’s not pizza if we called it Bob?” I mean, it’s Bob we’re all eating.”

“I could eat Bob. But not pizza.”

Vow: broken. (PS. The pizza was very very very very very very meh).

***

When I look at my feelings for pizza, the passion, the ire, the sheer intensity of what comes up, I can’t help but wonder what else it’s about. Why so fiery?

Pizza, for me, is dinner to celebrate middle school softball victories for games that were like climbing mountains to win; birthday parties in elementary school, the greasy boxes, carried in stacks, wafting their divine smell through the hallways; the lunch alone with my third teacher at the local joint as reward for whoever achieved the most amount of gold stars; the inevitable burn on the underside of your mouth because you can’t wait to take the first bite; the simple command, “gimme a slice,”; the ideal greasy glob to soak up too much friggin’ liquor late night; the perfect snack after a day spent on the beach.

I don’t think I could ever stay gluten free for more than a week if I lived in the same town as my beloved pizza. Five days would be my tops. Celiac disease? I’d save up to afford the hospital bills.

That’s why when it comes to pizza, especially in California, especially when you’re talking about a lady with a gluten sensitivity and an allergy to the very kind of cheese that makes up one third of pizza’s key ingredients (mozzarella), I don’t touch the stuff.

Thus, it’s a really.big.deal for me to have made this pizza for the show. And I gotta say: how good it was surprised me. As a kid, I often felt drawn to what we call “the white slice” which is ricotta based, with broccoli. I always loved it. Inspired by that memory, and the produce that’s freshest right now, I set about to create an allergy friendly, California version of that timeless classic.

When you’re using fresh ingredients like I am here with the farmer’s market fennel and garden-grown broccoli, and combining garlic, and high quality imported olive oil–it’s truly hard to have it NOT be delicious.

I can’t deny that California has shaped and changed me and that I consider the Bay Area a kind of home, but I will never, ever claim that this pizza is anything close to what I know and love, to what feels like a food that thrums in my veins with the memory of my ancestors (who were from Naples and Sicily). I can say that this pizza exceeded my expectations and I am pleased that I was able to overcome by aggressive denial of alternative pizza styles to make this recipe a reality. May its presence at your table grace you with the love with which it was made.

 

 

 

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GF Toasted Coconut Pancakes

Posted on Mar 12, 2014 | 6 comments

I wanted to tell you so many things for this recipes, and instead I ended up singing a terrible parody of the Disney song “Let It Go,” from Frozen. Many folks who follow me on YouTube don’t end up here, so I feel bad for failing them. But they can always check here if they want the deets.

As a rule, I don’t eat processed flour, gluten free or not. I find that where processed flour is involved, sugar is usually not far away. Pancakes are a perfect example. Syrup, whipped cream, chocolate chips, uber sweet fruits—these are the classic sugary toppings that accompany pancakes to the breakfast ball. As I’ve said before, unless you have severe health issues which completely prohibit the eating of any grains, there is the 10 percent time when eating a pancake or two is good for the soul. It never fails to remind me of how terrible I feel after a giant carb bomb explodes into my digestive system. Mitch Hedberg’s joke summarizes this perfectly: “Pancakes are all exciting at first. But by the end you’re f*cking sick of them.”

 

That said, if you’re gonna eat pancakes, you want them to be the bomb. Making gluten free pancakes taste just as fluffy and transcendent as their AP Flour couterpart is essential. I use my homemade flour blend for this recipe. Rigorous testing proved this to yield the best result. If you experiment with store bought mixes, just know that the chance of them coming out too grainy is likely.

Lastly, I want to talk about pancakes from a culinary point of view. Technically, pancakes derive from the quick bread family. A quick bread is a batter that is made by combining a ratio’d mix of wet and dry ingredients. If you know one ratio, you know thousands of recipes. The book that broadened my horizons in this area is called “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking” by Michael Ruhlman. Check it out if you’re looking to amp your recipe-less cooking game.

Without further ado, I give to you: “Let (Your Diet) Go” – my toasted coconut pancake “Frozen” homage.

)

 

 

 

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Free Yourself! (from grainy gf flour blends & harsh inner critics)

Posted on Mar 6, 2014 | 3 comments

I’m not naturally good at being balanced or taking the middle ground with things. It’s not enough to feel incredibly grateful on a daily basis for all that my life has and is. I need to NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED in order to pass the test of life. What’s really true, what I actually need, is a softer approach; a big-bosomed maternalistic voice, one that doesn’t use words like “never” and “anything” or “everything” in the same sentence; one that mellows out the Emperor who’s usually in charge up there in m’brain.

Easy enough to know what’s needed. But life is more complex than a grocery list. I can’t pick up a “Maternalistic Voice to Balance Out The Emperor” from Whole Foods on my way home from acupuncture or therapy. It’s more like something I set an internal radar gun to catch when it speeds through my mind. Except I’m not always sitting by the side of the freeway of my mind waiting. Sometimes the thoughts slip right on by, undetected.

Even though I know that the harsh voice in my head needs a little watering down, I also know that it’s a value of mine to live each day filled with gratitude; that taking things for granted feels like ignoring the overflow of blessings. As is so often the case, the best way to express what I’m getting at is with a song lyric (thanks Joni Mitchell): “Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got/till it’s gone.” Yes. Yes that’s it.  I want to know what I’ve got before it’s gone. Because so many things are already gone.

Like my life before this illness they call CFS tornado’d the roof off, taking what it took! Pizza! Bagels! Burritos! Midnight-dark beer! Straightforward, cheap All Purpose Flour. All. Purpose.

All purpose is just that. And being able to eat it, let alone bake/cook with it, is something I took for granted. That was before the particular tangles of laboring over gluten free flour blends; before bulk orders of every imaginable flour you can dream up (brown rice, white rice, potato, ceci, arrowroot, tapioca, sorghum, millet, the list goes on),  experimenting and failing gloriously at making just about everything that previously called for AP Flour.

Until… enough tinkering lead to my BINGO moment! This particular blend is perfect for quick breads (muffins), pancakes, fritters, popovers, biscuits, and as a thickening agent in custards. I very rarely eat processed foods, and I consider flour as one of them. There is only ONE video recipe that utilizes a jumbo sized amount of flour.  Just because something is gluten free does mean that it’s healthy. It takes five different flours in a specific ratio to get the texture that most closely resembles the AP equivalent, but it’s worth it because I’m gung-ho about loving my gluten free life. Indulging my cravings when they occasionally arise is *key* to maintaining my lifestyle with real, whole foods.

Here’s the kicker: the fact of losing something DOES help you realize what you had (i.e., now we need five flours to make the texture of one). It also helps in heightening appreciation for what’s right here, in the now of this very. While I don’t yet know how to be gentler with myself about taking things for granted, I do know how to sub in this flour to fit my rare cravings to bake.

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GF Rosemary-Thyme Sea Salt Water Crackers

Posted on Feb 26, 2014 | 1 comment

ERRRRBODY in the club wants a cracker? Not steril-ly. Only if they also happen to be standing next to a cheese plate with artisan olives and salumi. Then yes. And if they’re gluten free, no dice. An old fashioned real-deal cracker (made WITHOUT partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) is hard to come by in the gluten free world. Exit night…Enter LIIIIIGHT!

GF (Rosemary-Thyme Sea Salt Olive Oil) Water Crackers!

I use them as a vehicle for nutrient dense pâté ; the man-dude will indulge the cheese & salumi combo (I try not to be jealous). They are thin, crunchy, and exactly like real-deal water crackers. Excellent when paired with chicken soup (duh). The *KEY* is to roll the dough out as thin as you can get it. Which is NOT what happened in this video. Partially because I was filming, and partially because I made a big batch and should have cut the dough into two equal parts and rolled them separately.

In either case, I’m proud to present you with the easiest cracker recipe ever. You’ll feel like such a bad-ass eating your own handmade crackers. BUCKBUCK! (reggae ref. forgive me).

 

 

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