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1920s cooking

I’ve started off the new year with a resolution to cook through the past century; 1920s-2010’s. Food history has always fascinated me and looking through old cookbooks is such a thrill to me. 

I also discovered a few fun facts on my own. A few that stand out are about wine and Chinese food. Of course, the 1920s was during prohibition. Despite this, recipes with wine or liquor remained popular with American palates. This is when rum flavor extracts became popular. As for wine, they started to add a significant amount of salt to their wine sold for cooking to keep people from drinking it! And guess what? The cooking wine you can buy in the vinegar section at the grocery store…it still has a large amount of salt! I found this out when I over-salted one of the following recipes because I didn’t realize the cheap cooking wine I used had the second ingredient of salt! Ick.  I wish I could remember the link to the article I read, but here is a different good one to here.

In the 1920s, Chinese food was really gaining popularity. Both as a fine dining experience, or a cheap but filling meal in a small restaurant. In the big cities, hipsters were trying to recreate “authentic Chinese” dishes like Chop Suey and Egg Foo Yung. I’m just kidding about authentic. I learned that these dishes are purely American made by Chinese Americans using available ingredients in the U.S. at the time and catering to American tastes. I also learned why there was an explosion of Chinese restaurants around this time. Laws came into effect that basically stated that people from China were not allowed to immigrate to or stay in the United States UNLESS they were opening a restaurant. So….Chinese restaurants! Read this fascinating article about it. 

The recipes I made this week were cheap, filling, and used many of the same ingredients. Like celery! I think for the first time, I actually used a whole head of celery in a week. Also, ham, onions, jarred pimentos. Funny thing about pimentos. Evidently, they’re not as easy to find in 2019 Denver. At my usual store for grocery, they did not have pimentos. I considered roasted red peppers but thought it was worth a trip somewhere else for the sake of authenticity. I went to the Wal-Mart by my house thinking it was a sure thing. No pimentos. So I bought a jar of roasted red peppers. It was a little annoying. So I’m walking out, and just when I was thinking that my Wal-Mart thinks it’s better than everyone, my bag breaks. My jar of roasted red peppers broke and splattered on the floor. One of the workers comes and reassures me right away and asks if I would like to go get a new jar. Humbled. Thank you, Wal-Mart. $3.75 for a jar of peppers is a lot of money for the 1920s!

So, this week I made:

Ham and Bean soup with homemade biscuits

Chicken a la King

Egg Foo Young

Ham and Bean Soup

This soup is good and cheap. My understanding is that you could find a variation of ham and bean soup in most area of the country in the 1920s. I couldn’t find a ham bone from a company with integrity in how they raise their pigs. I had to use only a ham I found that was Niman Ranch. A ham bone would add a huge depth though if you use it. I also used dried black-eyed peas. Cook dried beans in the crockpot with enough water to cover them. Do 2 hours on high and then 2 hours on low. Then drain them and use like canned beans. Cheaper and better texture. In the recipe below I just put canned beans because I know most likely you all aren’t cooking dried beans in your crockpot. I usually don’t either.

  • 1 ham bone
  • Oil (I used avocado)
  • 1 lb. thick cut ham
  • 2 onions
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas or any kind of white bean like Great Northern
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat a large soup pot on medium-low. Add about 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan.
  2. Add the chopped onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium for about 4 minutes.
  3. If using the ham bone, add that to the pot and pour in the vegetable broth. Turn the heat down to a little above low and simmer for as long as you have time for 30 min? 1 hour?
  4. Add the beans and the ham and bay leaf. Simmer on medium-low for about 30 more minutes.

Serve with homemade biscuits. (recipe below) This soup could definitely be cooked in the crock pot ( but not in the 1920s). If you’re not playing pretend, just do it in there. Add all the ingredients, turn it on low, go to work.

Homemade Easy Biscuits

Ok, so this was the first time I had ever made biscuits. I’ve always been one of those people who say “I cook but I don’t bake”. However, I have to admit, whenever I do bake I feel really happy about it. And there is something about making a homemade bread item to go with soup that makes me much more excited about the meal. So I googled something like “1920s easy homemade biscuits”. I honestly can’t find the recipe I used but since I’m not really a baker, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. And my biscuits were crumbly and not flaky. So I googled “why are my biscuits crumbly” and I learned that my butter wasn’t cold enough. I’ve found this new recipe that stresses the importance of cold butter. It even has you grating frozen butter into the mixture. I also learned in my googling that even distribution of the fat is what gets you those flaky layers too. I posted the recipe below but you can go here to find the original recipe and article on delish.com.

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, very cold, plus more for brushing
  • 1 c. cold buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 425º. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  2. Using a box grater, grate butter over the flour mixture and quickly toss with your hands to incorporate. Then, using a wooden spoon, make a well in the middle of the dough and pour in 1 cup buttermilk. Stir until just beginning to come together, then dump out onto your work surface.
  3. Bring your dough together into a rectangle, about 1” thick. Fold the dough into thirds, like folding a letter to put into an envelope. Using a rolling pin, gently pat back into a 1” thick rectangle, and repeat the folding process two more times. Work fast so the butter does not melt.
  4. Once the dough is folded three times, roll into a 1” thick rectangle again. Using a 2½” round biscuit or cookie cutter, quickly press down (don’t twist!) to cut out the biscuits and place onto baking sheet, about a half inch apart. Bring together dough scraps and cut out more biscuits.
  5. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and bake until flaky and tops are lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Chicken a la King

YUM! This was so good. Even though it was too salty because of the cooking wine and the biscuits crumbly. It was still SO GOOD!

  • Chicken thighs- cut into large chunks
  • Mushrooms- thick sliced
  • 1/2 jar pimentos
  • 3 stalks celery- sliced
  • 1 onion- diced
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth- save the rest for another recipe
  • 2 tablespoons flour (use cornstarch if you don’t have flour)
  • Oil for cooking
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper- a bay leaf if you have one
  • curly or Italian parsley- chopped for garnish
  1. Heat a little oil in a large fry pan. Salt and pepper the chicken, add to the pan once it’s hot.
  2. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat and don’t stir too much. You want it to brown. After about 6 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Your pan will have brown stuff on it called “frond” from the chicken. Over medium heat, add the sherry and scrape up all the brown stuff on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the butter and all the veggies (mushrooms, pimentos, celery, onion, bay leaf if you’re using it). Cook until quite soft.
  5. In the meantime- cook the biscuit according to package instructions.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mix together your chicken broth and flour, mix very well.
  7. Add the chicken broth-flour mixture to the pan with the veggies. Turn heat to medium if necessary. Stir well. You want it to bubble for 1 minute in order to get the flour taste out and to thicken.
  8. Add the heavy cream. And reduce to medium-low. Add the chicken back to the pan. Cook for about another 5 minutes. Taste to see if it needs salt and pepper.
  9. Serve the chicken a la king over biscuits. Like biscuits and gravy. Most recipes will tell you to serve it over rice or potatoes. I used biscuits because it sounded really good and if this was 1929 (or 2019), I wouldn’t let them go to waste.

What the pan looks like after the chicken and before the vegetables. Frond (flavor).

Egg Foo Young

Yummy again. It was a stir-fry omelet with soy sauce gravy. So yum. I imagined the hipsters of the 1920s trying out this “adventurous” dish at home.

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 oz. ham
  • 2 teaspoons high heat cooking oil- (I like avocado)
  • ½ cup bean sprouts- canned or fresh
  • ½ cup water chestnuts- sliced
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots- sliced in half
  • ½ cup green onions- plus more for garnishing
  • 2 tablespoons pimentos- or 1 whole roasted red pepper- chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup white rice- (I like Jasmine)
  • ½ cup oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce + more for stir frying veggies
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic- I often use the jarred kind
  • 1 teaspoon ginger- I used the jarred, you can use 1 inch chopped fresh ginger or just use the powder which is what they probably would have done in the average American kitchen.
  • ½ cup chicken broth- or water will work too
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional, but it makes it WAY good. Use fresh ground if you can)
  1. Cook the rice according to package instructions. What works best for me is add double the water as rice, (2 cups in this case), rice and heat uncovered on high. As soon as it boils, cover and turn off. After about 7 minutes, turn the burner to low and cook another 10-13 minutes. Fluff with a fork and cover again with the heat off until you’re ready to eat.
  2. Heat a large wok or fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the 2 teaspoons high heat cooking oil.
  3. Add the ham, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, green onions, and pimentos. Stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes. Stirring often. Add a few shakes of soy sauce.
  4.  Add the 1 teaspoons of sesame oil to the pan with the ham and veggies. Then add the egg mixture. Let it cook over medium heat, push in the edges from time to time for a few minutes. Cover with a lid for about 5 minutes, then check. The eggs should still look a little wet, but mostly cooked through.
  5. While the egg is cooking, make the brown gravy. Mix together the broth ( or water if using), oyster sauce, soy sauce, sherry, and cornstarch.
  6. Add the above to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently. You want it to boil for one minute to get the corn starch taste out and to thicken to a gravy consistency.  Season with white pepper.
brown gravy ingredients
gravy before bubbling and thickening

finished gravy

Serve your Egg Foo Young with the rice, and brown gravy with green onions to garnish.

What I loved and learned about 1920s recipes is they were delicious and cheap, and many used combos of similar ingredients. So for instance, you would use your whole jar of pimentos, the entire head of celery (head?), or all of the onions from the bag. Here is another article of 1920s recipes. Doesn’t the recipe for the Prosperity Sandwich look delicious?

ps- bonus recipe! It’s not the 1920s without pimento cheese on celery! my grandma always had a jar of Kraft pimento cheese in her fridge. That was really the only snack available besides saltine crackers. This homemade one is barely even homemade but really good in a pinch.

  • 1/2 cup shredded white American cheese- I used Velveeta Shreds “mozzarella style”. LOL. This is more authentic than you think. “American” cheese was gaining popularity in the 1920s.
  • 1/2 container cream cheese- I have no idea if cream cheese was around then. Probably?
  • one small jar pimentos
  • a dash worcestershire
  • celery
  1.  Mix all together.
  2. Spread on celery.

Italy

seared shrimp with fresh pasta #quickandeasy

A friend recently asked me if during my upcoming visit, can I give her a few cooking tips. How flattering! I was trying to think if I actually had any tips. I’ve decided my tip is this: fresh lemon, fresh garlic, fresh herbs. That’s it! That’s really all you need. This recipe is proof as those three ingredients are the stars.

For this easy weeknight pasta (also a good date-night pasta) I buy raw, tail-on, deveined, large shrimp. I actually really love this kind. If you can get fresh, even better.  I use my go-to (everyday) seasoning mix: garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to season the shrimp and then I quick sear it. About a minute each side. So fast. If you really concentrate, this can be a 15-minute dinner! I use plenty of butter, lemon juice, and garlic, along with some pasta water to deglaze the pan after the shrimp have been removed. This creates a quick little sauce to toss the pasta with. Top it with shrimp and fresh parsley. I read somewhere to never add cheese to a seafood type pasta. So I don’t. But you definitely can. I mean, lobster mac and cheese is delicious so it can’t totally be true. However, with a light and simple dish like this, I like to let my favorite trio of lemon, garlic, and herbs shine. And plus, you have all that butter.

seared shrimp with fresh pasta

Servings: 2 people- There should be enough for 1 person to have lunch the next day (if you behave yourself)

  • 12-16 oz fresh pasta (gluten-free if you desire) I like fettucini or linguini. This brand is good if you’re gluten-free
  • 6-8 oz. fresh or frozen shrimp- Or about 5-6 shrimp per person, depending on size, use more or less if you want
  • Everyday seasoning mix (garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic- minced
  • 1 large lemon or 2 small lemons, zested and juiced. Buy this and one of these if you haven’t already.
  • 1/2 a bunch of fresh Italian Parsley
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (I like Kerry Gold or Kalona)
  • 1/2 cup water from the cooked pasta (reserve right before straining the pasta)
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Dry the shrimp off and sprinkle both sides with all the seasonings (see: everyday seasoning mix)
  2. Heat a Large Pot of water to boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, zest and juice and lemon, chop the garlic and parsley, set aside.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add some salt (this will help flavor the sauce later) and add the pasta, cook according to package directions. Some fresh pastas are done in as little as 2 minutes, so pay attention!
  5. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you strain the pasta, set the pasta aside.
  6. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan- or use a little more oil if not a non-stick, heat to medium-high.
  7. Once the pan is hot, add the shrimp. Sear each side for about 1 minute each. Remove the shrimp.
  8. Add about half the pasta water to the pan, and continue to keep over medium-high heat. Scrape up any cooked shrimp and seasoning bits to de-glaze the pan. Save the rest of the pasta water to add to the sauce later in case more liquid is needed.
  9. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 the parsley.
  10. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Toss well.
  11. To serve, divide the pasta and top with the seared shrimp and fresh parsley.

Asia, Thailand

Thai beef salad

I was introduced to Eatzi’s in Denver by my good friend who visited me from South Dakota. I had past it several times and had dismissed it as an Italian restaurant. I was totally wrong! Eatzi’s is like this glorious grown up, gourmet, college food court. If you love food, but hate to cook. You will LOVE Eatzi’s. Another friend recommended that I try their Thai Beef Salad. It looks unassuming but it is absolutely delicious. The ingredient list is long, but it’s completely necessary. All the fresh herbs and umami seasonings make this one of the best salads I’ve had. I could not find a recipe for it online, so I made my own. This makes the perfect lunch or main-dish dinner salad.

Thai Beef Salad

Serves 6

  • 6-8 oz. flank (or sirloin) steak- seared and cooked to rare/medium rare
  • 1 head green cabbage- cored and sliced
  • 4 oz. thin rice sticks (Asian sections)- cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 limes- juiced
  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • ¼ cup tamari, soy sauce, or bragg liquid aminos, or coconut aminos
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (Asian section)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (Asian section)
  • 6 green onions- thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper- thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion- thinly sliced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger- peeled and minced
  • 2 small stalks lemongrass- minced *
  • ½ bunch cilantro- chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint- chopped
  • 1 plastic container or ½ cup fresh basil- chopped- Use Thai basil if you can find it.

*If you can’t find fresh lemongrass (it would be in the fresh herbs sections). Don’t worry. There is lemongrass in the red curry paste, so you’ll still get that flavor. Also, all of these ingredients are easily found in any grocery store. Lemongrass is probably the only one that may be hard to find.

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice through red curry paste. Mix very well.
  2. In a large bowl, add the sliced cabbage
  3. Pour the sauce over the cabbage and mix very well.
  4. Add the veggies and herbs, mix.
  5. Very, very thinly sliced the steak. Add that and the rice noodles to the salad.
  6. Mix together. Let sit for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. If it’s not salty enough, add a little more soy sauce or salt. If it’s too salty, add a little more rice wine.
  7. Serve room-temperature.
  8. Store in the fridge. It’s good for about 2-3 more days.
Mediterranean

Hummus


We have made a temporary move to Dallas, Texas! My husband is working on a show here called Misfit Garage. We will be here until July. Dallas is full of really tasty food, I have a new pant size to prove it:-) I’m still cooking at him when I’m not tempted to eat out. I’m sharing one of my favorite snacks today.

Everybody needs a good hummus recipe they can make. I love making homemade hummus. It’s easy, cheap, and it really is much better than what you can get at the store.  I think that is because store-bought brands skimp on the tahini and olive oil. Perhaps both for cost and so that nutrition facts fat content isn’t so scary.  My favorite hummus to make is the kind without any extra flavors. I want these things to be the stars: garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice.  To make a tasty plain hummus, you really need to be heavy handed with the tahini and lemon juice. And also the olive oil. This is what you’ll need:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup tahini (at least)
  • ½ cup e.v. olive oil (or more)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Small bunch fresh parsley (optional)
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt- I like sheep’s milk yogurt like this brand
  • A little water if it needs to be thinner or use lemon juice if you have some.

The yogurt is totally optional. I add it if I have it.  Keep all these ingredients on hand at all times.  They’re all very versatile.  I think one of the best and easiest ways to make your cooking stand out is to buy a microplane zester and use it to add lemon zest and grated fresh garlic to your dishes. Makes a big difference!

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Except the olive oil!
  2. Whirl around the ingredients. 
  3. Slowly pulse in the olive oil and then pulse steadily until very very smooth.
  4. Add a little more lemon juice or water and adjust the seasonings
I was very happy about the taste, but I think I added a little too much parsley. It had a green hue. I think I’ll add it towards the end next time.

Below you can see my Instagram story that I posted. You can follow me @travellovecook on Instagram.

 

 


Colorado

white chicken chile

IMG_4019

It’s been drizzling rain here Denver for about 6 days now. Our seasons usually casually slide into each other, but this year summer abruptly clicked into fall. This may be the first year that I don’t have post-summer blues.  Perhaps it’s because it’s the first year that I’m not returning to school or teaching, as I have for the past 30 years of my life.  I went from college right into teaching first grade.  No, this year I’m excited for fall, and fall cooking. Nothing could be more fall than chile. How do you spell chile by the way? Is it chilli? White chicken chile is not anything new.  But it is delicious. I typically don’t like the “white” version of things, chocolate, pizza. But this is good. Lick your bowl good.

I’m currently experimenting with not eating dairy for various reasons (yeah, it’s sad). You could easily make this without the cream cheese. Please only do so if you have to! It’s quite the cheater recipe in that gets a lot of its seasoning and flavor from the prepared enchilada sauce (So “semi-homemade” cooking of me, but no I won’t do a “table scape”). This helps to make it a super easy week night meal that should only take about 30 minutes.

white chicken chile

makes about 4 large servings

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 14oz. can pinto or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 block (8 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1 quart chicken broth (my favorite)
  • 1 pouch (8 oz.) Frontera green chile enchilada sauce (you can use any other brand of canned green enchilada sauce)
  • 1 small can of green chiles
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • optional toppings: lime wedges, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips
  1. Heat a large pot with a little oil over medium high heat. Add the ground chicken and let it sear for a bit before you move it. You want it to get brown. Don’t stir it around too much. You can break it up later. Browning makes flavor.
  2. Once the chicken is cooked through and browned, remove it and set it aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the browned bits left in the pot from the chicken. Add a little more oil if you need to. Cook the onion about 4-5 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds-1 minute.
  5. Add the smoked paprika, some salt and pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add in the beans, cream cheese, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, and green chiles. Cook over medium heat until the cheese is melted.
  7. Return the chicken to the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve the chicken chile with cilantro, tortilla chips, sour cream, lime wedges, and avocado.

*My husband loved this chile. I thought it wasn’t creative enough or special enough for a blog but he said “why not?”. So, I hope you feel the same way. Let me know in the comments below what you think and especially if you try this!

 

 

Mexico, North America

simple summer salsa

This recipe is not some new discovery. I’ve been making this since high school when I ordered my “Kitchen Quick” off of t.v. Saying “off of t.v.” feels really weird. But it wasn’t online. I had my mom call to order this kitchen quick for me and it came with a recipe for salsa. This Kitchen Quick really catapulted my cooking love.  It was basically a hand-powered food processor. My friends would tease me that I would never come and hang out on the weekends anymore because I wanted to stay home and make “sals” (right, Min). The salsa recipe called for fresh cilantro, but this was ’98 in Iowa and we only had dried. By about 2000, you could easily find fresh cilantro in the stores.  The first time I used the fresh I about croaked. Disgusting! Now I love it. I can’t get enough.

I realize that this is the most basic salsa, but I think that’s what makes it so good! This is so easy, and there are so many GOOD tomatoes out there right now. So take advantage! You only really need a chef’s knife and a cutting board, but if you like a more blended salsa, use a food processor (I’ve had this one for 11 years) or blender.

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapenõ
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  1. chop the onion
  2. rinse the onion (rick bayless trick)
  3. chop all the veggies OR cut the veggies into large pieces and then put into the food processor or blender- including cilantro so skip step 5
  4. juice the lime and add it to the veggies
  5. chop and add the cilantro
  6. season with salt.

*besides fresh cilantro, I think that having a fresh salsa with enough lime and salt is key. It’s so important that it can make up for the fact that you have bad tomatoes.  Speaking of which, make this salsa even if you DON’T have tomatoes. Still good!

*I searched and searched for the Kitchen Quick infomercial youtube but I couldn’t find it.   I did find this creepy one though.

France

summer squash gratin

If you’re a gardener, right about now you have way too much zucchini or yellow squash. You can say you’re going to make zucchini bread, but will you really? Those zucchinis in your fridge are mocking you, just like the black bananas in your freezer. Use your zucchini tonight as a savory side.  I’ve got Martha’s recipe for you, with a few naughty tweaks. And it was already pretty naughty.  This recipe has butter, heavy cream, and parmesan. So yeah. It’s good. It’s a gratin without potatoes and trust me you won’t even miss them. How can you with so much butter, cream and cheese? But don’t worry, it’s low-carb. Except for the bread crumbs. Never mind. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 large zucchinis or yellow squash. Not the overgrown kind that are as big as your arm. They’re no good. Large is about 8 inches. Really, zucchini tastes best at about 4-6 inches, F.Y.I.
  • 2 shallots or a half a large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (use butter if you want)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, divided (gluten-free breadcrumbs are good)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (thanks for the tip Rachel Ray!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400. In a large skillet or wok, melt ghee over medium heat; add zucchini, yellow squash, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini and squash are crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. I had to work in batches. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Add cream, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in 1/2 cup panko and 1/4 cup Parmesan and use a microplane zester to grate the fresh nutmeg into the mixture.

  3. Spoon mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, uncover and sprinkle with remaining panko and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Bake until top is golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

    * You could totally do this on the grill if you don’t want to heat up your house. Just be sure that your baking dish is grill safe. I have no idea how you’ll know this. But still.

    *Did you know that unless you buy organic, all zucchini squash are gmo? It’s one of the most heavily gmo’d veggies out that. I think papaya is the most. Don’t care? Ignore that fact then. But if you do, buy or grow organic!

 

Colorado

my favorite breakfast: green chile eggs and hash browns

If there is a food that is quintessential “Colorado” it would be green chile. In the fall, you can easily find fresh roasted green chiles on many street corners. Most are New Mexico Hatch variety.  I love making homemade green chile. But if I don’t have the time or the fresh roasted chiles, I like to buy Nanita’s. I get it at Sprouts in Denver but you can buy it online here. Its the sauce variety of green chile and not the stew or soup.  My favorite way to eat Nanita’s is with hash browns and eggs.  I cook the hash browns, pour over the green chile, and then crack the eggs into the hot green chile. I then cover it all and let it cook until the eggs are set, white are cooked but yolks are a thick-runny consistency.  Yum yum yum! Another way to make this is with cheesy grits.  For this, you would cook the grits separately and then serve with the hot green chile and eggs on top.

Ok, it seriously bothers me that I can’t seem to figure out how to flip that so it’s fitting the pan shape.

​​​​


​​green chile eggs with hash brownsserves 2-4

ingredients

2 large russet potatoes- peeled and shredded

1 small onion-chopped

2 tablespoons avocado or other high heat oil + 2 teaspoons more

1/2 teaspoon each: smoked paprika and garlic powder

salt and black pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups Nanita’s green chile sauce or other commercial or homemade green chile sauce

2-4 eggs

optional toppings: chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, crumbled bacon, cheese

method:

Heat a cast-iron or non-stick large skillet to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and let heat for a bit. Add the shredded potatoes, chopped onion, and seasonings. Don’t be shy with the salt and pepper! Let it cook for about 5-7 minutes until golden brown on one side. Drizzle the other 2 teaspoons of oil over the top and then carefully flip over. Let the other side cooked for about 5-7 minutes.  Pour the green chile sauce over top and let it heat for a bit. Carefully crack the eggs into the hot green chile. Cover to cook. Don’t get distracted. This would be a sad dish with cooked through eggs. Serve it up with the optional ingredients. But honestly, it’s amazing without them too. This dish is well-paired with good coffee.


If you want to make it with grits instead you’ll need to cook the grits according to the package directions. For a 2-4 person serving: add a tablespoon of butter and some sharp shredded cheese or good parmesan.

 

Hawaii

macadamia crusted cod

My husband left for 3 weeks of work in Hawaii. He will be working on a home show about luxury swimming pools. (enter Hawaii-ish and jealousy emjois) I wanted to make a nice dinner for him last night with a Hawaiian flair.  Turns out, this week is also Hawaiian Food Week. How perfect! I made macadamia crusted cod with sushi rice and a salad of pineapple, avocado, and cucumber.  The macadamia nuts are finely chopped and then mixed with some panko bread crumbs for the perfect crunch. The sushi rice is mixed at the very end with some lime zest, coconut aminos, and rice vinegar. The avocado, pineapple, cucumber salad adds the perfect fresh contrast and really makes this dish. I have to be honest though, I used nectarines instead of pineapple because that is what I had. It was fantastic! But this is Hawaiian foods week, so pineapple it is.

ingredients:

macadamia crusted cod

8-12 ounce cod fillet

1/4 cup macadamia nuts- finally chopped into crumbs

2 tablespoon panko bread crumbs (I use gluten free)

1 egg + 2 teaspoons water, throughly beaten

salt and pepper

sushi rice

1 cup sushi rice

zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

*a note about sushi rice: This is easy to find now in most grocery stores. I like it for this because it keeps with the Hawaiian theme and I love the sticky texture. You could definitely substitute regular rice in this dish. Quinoa could be a good choice too if you’re trying to behave yourself.

salad

1 small avocado, small chunks

1 cup pineapple (or nectarine or mango), small chunks

1/2 cup English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick and then into fourths

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper

method:

Start the sushi rice. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine with 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle a little salt in there and turn on high.  Once it’s boiling turn it to low for about 10-15 minutes and then turn it off, DON’T PEEK, and let it set for another 15 minutes. My big rice cooking advice is to just not lift the lid. Every time I peek, ruined.

Meanwhile, mix the finely chopped macadamia nuts with the panko breadcrumbs. It should be chopped this fine, or even finer:

season with some salt and pepper and set aside. Mix the egg and water and set aside. Get out the cod and pat it very dry with a towel.

Prep your salad fruits, then mix with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Don’t start making the fish until after the rice has cooked. Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl like this:

Stick it in the fridge while you get the cod going. For this meal, the cod is best nice and hot but the rest of the meal is best at room temp. Cut the cod in to the portion sizes you desire. I cut our 2 servings into four pieces. Season each side of the cod with salt and pepper. Add the 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the non-stick pan and turn on medium high.  Then, take the cod pieces and dunk into the egg and then dredge into the macadamia nut/breadcrumb mixture.  Press each side firmly into the crumbs and then place into the hot pan. Repeat with all cod pieces.  You want to keep the temp on medium high so that the coating gets nice and crunch and brown but the fish doesn’t get too done. overdone cod is pretty gross. Perfectly done cod is, well, perfection. 2-4 minutes each side should do the job. ​

​Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and season with a little more salt and pepper while it’s hot. Stick it in a 180 degree oven while you mix the rice.

Take the rice out of the fridge and mix it with the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Use a microplane to zest a lime over the bowl and then mix it into the rice. Save that lime to serve with the meal.

Time to plate! Use a 2/3 measuring cup to scoop out rice and press it firmly into the cup. Turn it upside down and transfer to a plate to make it look fancy.  Put the cod on the plate and then spoon the salad over everything. Garnish with green onions or chives, lime wedge and some chili pepper powder. I used gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes), but ground ancho pepper would be good, or a little smoked paprika, or even spicy cayenne pepper.

Makes 2 servings with a little extra rice to put in the fridge and to make fried rice with the next day.

 

Anywhere and Everywhere

easter feast part two: spring pea salad

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine.  I’ve adapted it slightly. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon it, probably at my friend Jamie’s house because she always has Food Network Magazine.  I’m surprised I even tried it because I’m not always wild about peas of any variety and my husband certainly is not.  It’s strange, Dirk is a pretty open guy when it comes to food.  He actually prides himself on it.  But he has this strange prejudice when it comes to springtime veggies.  That being said, we both love this recipe.  Can you believe it?  I will definitely admit that these ingredients sound a little suspect but the combination is really beautiful. Cook the peas to just tender. Don’t overcook!  The shallots are salty and sweet, the walnuts roasted and crunchy and the dates add even more sweetness to round the salad out perfectly.  What better addition to your Easter dinner than a recipe that is all about the renewing of the growing season? And dates? That’s totally a biblical food. Right?

One note: Unless you are a die-hard pea fan, only use the English peas if you can find fresh.  If you’re like me and you’re quite suspicious of peas you won’t want to use frozen. And I can’t even talk about canned.  Fresh peas that you shell yourself are an entirely different story.  If you find those at the store, definitely add them. I typically can’t find fresh peas, so I leave the English peas out.  I usually increase the amount of snow peas but 1/2-1 cup.

Kosher or coarse sea salt

2 cups shelled fresh English peas or thawed frozen peas (about 10 ounces)

2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 2-3 pieces 

1 cup snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced 

2 tablespoon walnut oil

1 medium shallot, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped pitted dates

⅛- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

 

snap peas
Thinly sliced snow peas. I used more than a cup because I didn’t use any English Peas.

 

About the walnut oil…you can definitely sub extra virgin olive oil and it will taste great.  But really, it’s worth looking for the walnut oil. It adds amazing flavor and it an oil that can stand up to some heat so you can use the rest of the bottle for cooking or in salads, no problem.  I used this brand:

I found it at Marczyk’s Fine Foods in Denver and I’m sure they would have it at Whole Foods too. Or order it here.

method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water. If using fresh English peas, add to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the snap peas and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes, then add the snow peas and cook 30 seconds. Drain the peas and plunge into the ice water to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the walnut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne and cook until the nuts are slightly toasted, about 1 more minute.

Drain the peas, shaking off the excess water, then add to the skillet (if using frozen peas, add them here). Add some salt and cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the walnut oil and toss. Add more salt and some freshly cracked pepper to taste.