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Monday, January 30, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Sesame Noodles with Edamame

Spaghetti Squash Sesame Noodles with Edamame

I was quite taken with this recipe after seeing it on Marla's blog earlier this month. I'd never worked with spaghetti squash before, but I immediately picked one up at the farmers market. This is such a simple dish to prepare, but it packs a delicious flavor punch. I took Marla's suggestion and instead of trying to cut into the squash before roasting it, I just roasted the heck out of it, cut it and then pulled out the delicious spaghetti-like strands. I'm not a fan of faux meats or tofu noodles, but subbing spaghetti squash for regular noodles in now something that I can fully get on board with. I'm already thinking about the next way I can use spaghetti squash and thankfully there are a ton of ideas out there for inspiration.


Spaghetti Squash Recipes from around the Web:
Spaghetti Squash Pancakes by Citron et Vanille
Spaghetti Squash with Tomato and Mozzarella by A Work in Progress
Spaghetti Squash Paella Marinera by Foodalogue



Spaghetti Squash Sesame Noodles with Edamame
(Adapted from Family Fresh Cooking)

Makes 4-6 servings

3 cups cooked spaghetti squash (from one 2 3/4-pound squash)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1 green onion, diced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the squash on the sheet, and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a paring knife is easily inserted in the center of the squash.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Scrape the sides of the squash using two forks to remove the spaghetti.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, ginger, and garlic until well combined.

Toss the squash noodles with the sauce. Fold in the green onions and edamame. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Carne Adobada (Red Chile and Pork Stew)

Carne Adobada

The weather cooled down long enough for me to try one of the long braises I crave at this time of year. According to my friend Raul, this dish is usually roasted on a spit, but since I lack that equipment in my small apartment kitchen, I went with the old Dutch oven. Do not be scared of the amount of peppers. There is heat, but it is gentle though lingering. The pork becomes incredibly tender and the onion and cilantro relish adds a bit of freshness and bite. Initially, I served this with warm corn tortillas which gave me a chance to show off the tortilla warmer and salsa dish that my sister gave me for Christmas, but this stew also goes really well with rice.

Carne Adobada


One year ago: Lentil Soup with Tomatoes, Kale, and Saffron Yogurt
Two years ago: Chicken Satay
Three years ago: Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables


Carne Adobada 
(Adapted from Saveur)

*Note, the recipe calls for blending the sauce in a blender. My blender met it's unfortunate demise when I made frozen hot chocolate, so I used an immersion blender. If you do the same, make sure to be very careful when blending to avoid red splatters all over your kitchen.

Makes 8-10 servings

5 ounces dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons New Mexico chile powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Warm corn tortillas for serving
Onion and cilantro relish for serving

Heat the chiles in a 6 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook, turning occasionally until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the chiles to a large bowl and cover with 8 cups of boiling water. Let the chiles sit for 20 minutes. Drain the chiles, and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid. Transfer the chiles to a blender. Add the reserved liquid, chile powder, honey, vinegar, cumin, cloves, cayenne, and lime juice. Puree until smooth and set aside.

Return the Dutch oven to medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the pork on all sides, about 12 minutes per batch.

Add all of the pork back to the pot with any accumulated liquids. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot loosely. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and the pork is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add salt as needed. Serve with warm tortillas and onion and cilantro relish.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Brunch at Mohawk Bend

I didn't really get excited when I was invited to a recent comped media brunch at Mohawk Bend. My first experience there was not bad, but didn't really leave me wanting to rush back any time soon. I think it was mostly the memory of the marshmallow-like vegan cheese on the pizzas. However, it's very hard for me to turn down brunch where egg dishes abound and you can drink before noon without judgement, so off I went.

Bloody Mary

Tony Yanow is known for having many vegan dishes in his restaurants so of course we had to try a few at brunch. Traditional scrapple is made by combining various leftover meats into one (supposedly) delicious mound. At Mohawk Bend, they take that concept and make it vegan. Leftover scraps of vegetables are combined with tofu and lightly fried. It's surprisingly delicious.

Vegan Scrapple

The fried eggs and ham ($13) was one of the first dishes to catch my eye so I was glad we ordered it. Two poached eggs are fried and served with arugula, prosciutto, and roasted root vegetables. It's a great mix of decadent and fresh.

Fried Eggs & Ham

Huevos rancheros is one of my favorite brunch dishes. Mohawk's version, the Huevos Divorciados ($11) did not disappoint. The chilaquiles stay crisp for a surprisingly long time and the salsas and queso fresco bring everything together.

Huevos Divorciados

To sweeten our morning, we had the Elvis french toast ($10). It's stuffed with bananas, topped with a slice of bacon and served with a peanut sauce. The sauce makes the dish.

Elvis French Toast

The roast mushrooms ($11) can be made with either a tofu scramble or eggs. We chose eggs. As most readers know, I'm not a mushroom person, but these were tasty.

Roast Mushrooms

For being both vegan and gluten free, Sera's Signature Waffle ($8) is surprisingly light and fluffy. It is made with white beans, baking soda, and some other ingredients that I promptly forgot. We all enjoyed the waffle with the syrup it came with, but agreed that there is a savory component that would make this waffle excellent with a chicken and waffles-type dish.

Sera’s Signature Waffle

My Golden Road Hef ($5.50) made at Yanow's Golden Road Brewery was perfect for washing down all the brunch food.

Golden Road Hef

The last time I visited Mohawk Bend, I wasn't that impressed with the pizzas. This Breakfast All Day pizza ($14) has since changed my mind. The vegan crust is topped with cheese, Canadian bacon, spinach, Parmesan, and two eggs. The crust is nice and thin and the runny yolks meld perfectly with the cheese and bacon.

Breakfast All Day

We all left this brunch surprisingly pleased with how good this meal was. With a new chef and a more streamlined operation, it seems Mohawk Bend has settled in to their surroundings and has found their groove.


Mohawk Bend
2141 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 483-2337
Website

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Namibia Trip - Swakopmund and Namib Desert

After driving through Etosha for a few days, we spent a few relaxing nights in Swakopmund taking in the quaint, German beach scene. We stayed at the charming Hotel Eberwein just a few blocks from the beach. Since it was Christmas, most businesses were closed, but we still got a feel for the place and at times I felt like I was on a beach in Southern California instead of Africa.

Swakopmund

Swakopmund

Ocean - Swakopmund

Sunset - Swakopmund

From Swakopmund, we made the very long trek to the Namib desert. After a point, the road is mostly gravel and there isn't much to see. Then all of a sudden, you come across some interesting granite formations in the Tropic of Capricorn.

Tropic of Capricorn

Eventually we found our way to the Desert Homestead Lodge. Imagine being in Palm Springs in the middle of summer with no air conditioning. The climate was pretty brutal. The next morning (at 5:30), we took a guided tour to Sossuvlei to see the amazing sand dunes.

Entering Sossuvlei
Entering Sossuvlei at sunrise and there are springboks (again)

Oryx - Sossuvlei
Oryx

Ostriches - Sossuvlei
Ostrich

Dune 45 - Sossuvlei
Dune 45 is quite possibly one of the most photographed sites in all of Namibia

We opted out of climbing Dune 45 part way so we could save our energy for the "Big Daddy" dune. At the base of Big Daddy is Deadvlei and at the top of the dune you can see stunning views from all around. Unfortunately, this is also when my camera battery started to die so some of these pictures are from my cell phone.

Big Daddy Dune - Sossuvlei
Big Daddy

About to climb Big Daddy - Sossuvlei
It looks easier than it is

The view from Big Daddy - Sossuvlei
The view

About two-thirds of the way through, my mom and I decided we had had enough of hiking the dune, so we rolled down the hill (no easy feat). We waited for the rest of our group in Deadvlei. This area used to have dunes, but now contains petrified trees from dunes long ago.

Deadvlei

Deadvlei

With all the hiking, we worked up a monster appetite. Luckily, our tour package included a champagne brunch!

Champagne Brunch after hiking Sossuvlei

From the desert, we headed back to Windhoek so I could catch my flight(s) back to LA. My sister and mom spent some time in Twyfelfontein and Windhoek for the remainder of the trip. I took many more pictures than what I have shown you. To view my cell phone pictures, click here. To view my ridiculously large (400+ pictures) photo gallery from my entire trip, click here. Namibia is a vast and beautiful country and I feel extremely lucky to have been able to experience it this way. It's not a place I would have ever thought to visit before, but now I can say that I am very glad that I did.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Sweet Potato and Kale Pizza

Sweet Potato and Kale Pizza

It's been a very long time since I've posted a pizza recipe on this site and I had to remedy that immediately. This pizza has some of my favorite winter ingredients, but used in a fun way instead of another stew or casserole. Since it's chock full of vegetables, you can fool yourself into thinking this is healthy. You'll probably have a lot of kale left over after making this. Make kale chips and try not to devour them all on one sitting. I love the sweet potatoes and onions with the slightly bitter and crispy kale. I added a few red pepper flakes when serving to give it a spicy edge, but a drizzle of balsamic cream would be amazing as well and would tie everything together nicely.

Pizza Ingredients
Pizza ingredients

Add olive oil to the kale
Add olive oil and seasonings to the kale

Season the sweet potatoes
Do the same with the sweet potatoes

Roll the dough out to a circle
Roll out the dough to something that resembles a circle

Brush the dough with oil
Brush the dough with oil

Top with cheese
Top with cheese

Add the sweet potatoes
Add the sweet potatoes

Add the onions
The the onions

Bake for 5 minutes
Bake for 5 minutes

Add the kale
Add the kale

Pizza is ready
It's done!

Pizza close up
Close up

Pizza slice
Slice and eat



Orange and Green Pizzas from Around the Web:
Sweet Potato Kale Pizza by Two Peas & Their Pod
Sweet Potato Kale Pizza by Tri To Cook
Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza by Bev Cooks


Sweet Potato and Kale Pizza
(By Esi)

Makes 2 9-inch pizzas

1 pound curly kale, washed, dried, and torn into pieces
1 small sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cornmeal as needed
1 pound whole wheat pizza dough, at room temperature
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Spread a thin layer of cornmeal on the foil and set aside.

In a large bowl, drizzle the kale with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to lightly coat all of the kale with oil and seasonings.

Drizzle the sweet potato slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to one large circle or two 9-inch circles. Brush any excess flour off the dough.

Brush the dough with a thin layer of olive oil. Top with the mozzarella and then the sweet potato and onion slices.

Bake the pizza for 5 minutes. Take the pizza out of the oven and top with the kale. Bake for an additional five minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling, the sweet potatoes are cooked through, and the kale is crisp. Serve immediately.


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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Namibia Trip - Okonjima and Etosha

My mom has settled in to her life in Namibia and the Peace Corps. A few weeks ago, my sister and I packed up our bags and made the (very) long trip to go see her for the holidays. For those that don't know, Namibia is in southern west coast of Africa. It's neighboring countries are South Africa, Botswana, and Angola. Namibia is roughly twice the size of the state of California and actually has a similar landscape. It's the second least populated country behind Mongolia and you can drive for long stretches without seeing other people. Namibia is not known for it's food (salty meat, millet, ketchup and mayonnaise on everything), but what they lack in culinary prowess, they more than make up for in beautiful landscapes and interesting wild life. Since my mom wasn't allowed to leave the country yet, we spent our time driving all over the country and seeing almost everything Namibia has to offer.

To break up the drive between Windhoek and Rundu, we spent one night at the Okonjima Lodge. Okonjima is the home of the Africat Foundation where injured or mislocated cheetahs and leopards are taken to be rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild. We did a cheetah tracking mission which took us through their vast territory and we managed to get up close and personal with a cheetah that had just made a kill. It was beyond amazing to see.

Cheetah Tracking - Okonjima
The cheetahs and leopards are collared and tracked with devices that look like this.

Warthogs - Okonjima

Impalas - Okonjima
Before you see the cheetah, you see a lot of other wildlife like warthogs (which are everywhere in Namibia), various antelopes, and giraffes.

Cheetah - Okonjima

Cheetah - Okonjima
Score!

After Okonjima, we headed to Rundu a few days. Rundu is where my mom lives and works. There isn't much to do there and I got a cold so those couple of days were spent laying around trying to get better quick (which I did). From Rundu, we made our way to Etosha National Park. We spent one night at the gorgeous Namutoni Lodge and two nights at Okaukeujo. There is a ridiculous amount of wildlife in the park and we spent our days there driving through looking for animals. We saw everything from springboks (which are also all over Namibia) to lions, but sadly, the weather was too warm to see any elephants. We also had a fun (well, not so fun for my mom) moment when our 4x4 got stuck in the mud of the Etosha Pan. Thank goodness for German tourists who got us unstuck!

Zebras - Etosha
Zebras

Wildebeast - Etosha
Wildebeast

Ducks - Etosha
Ducks

Side-Striped Jackal - Etosha
Side-Striped Jackal

Springboks and Lions - Etosha
The ever present springboks. The blurs in the background are lions!

Giraffes - Etosha
Giraffes

White Rhino - Etosha
White Rhino

Sunset over the watering hole - Etosha
Sunset at the waterhole in Okuakuejo

After Etosha, we visited Swakopmund and the Namib Desert. Stay tuned to find out more about what we did in each of those places.

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