Monthly Archives: January 2013

Marinated Kale and Avocado Salad

Recipe adapted from: The Everything Raw Food Recipe Book (by Mike Snyder with Nancy Faass, MSW, MPH and Lorena Novak Bull, RD)

marinated kale and avocado saladI’m a Trader Joe’s kind of gal but there are two reasons I go to Whole Foods Market for. One is a bunch of organic carrots that still have green top (I discovered carrots greens a while ago and it is utterly, utterly delicious) and the other is dinosaur kale. Strongly flavored and textured kale is my favorite out of all dark leafy greens and I do love common, curly kind. But some recipes like this one call for crinkly dinosaur kale which is a bit softer and milder.

The only problem is that I seem to be able to get them only at Whole Foods. Even my trusted Asian and Middle Eastern markets that usually carry every obscure vegetable don’t seem to have this type of kale regularly. Suppose I could just include Whole Foods in my weekly grocery shopping route to spend every Saturday afternoon driving around the valley to get what I need for the following week. I would, for this salad. But I had the strategy last year. Continue reading

Chickpea and Spinach Stew with Cumin and Harissa

Recipe inspired by: Chickpea Stew at Gjelina (and the lack of Robert Downey, Jr.)

chickpea and spinach stew

Gjelina is a restaurant on trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, which is very popular despite of its unpronounceable name (it’s ja-lee-na).  It is a kind of place that embodies everything great about LA when we get it right; The setting relaxed and casual but sophisticated and stylish, food simple at a glance but masterfully crafted and balanced with well selected ingredients, and wait staff good looking and friendly but not too friendly. You get the idea.

The problem is that EVERYBODY thinks the place is great (including Robert Downey Jr., who apparently makes frequent appearances… at least according to Yelp, although I have never seen him there) so the table is rather hard to book. But when I want to go there, I must go there and have their decadent maitake mushroom toast with truffle oil, super thin-crust pizza with Gruyere and arugula, and most of all, the unforgettable chickpea stew – NOW. Not tomorrow, not the day after. And definitely not in 2 weeks. Continue reading

Indian Mango Dal

Recipe adapted from: http://www.eatingwell.com

Indian mango dal

I’ve always loved eating Indian foods, and I recently realized I love cooking Indian dishes as much as eating them. There is something magical about the process of layering ingredients and the spices – Aroma changes as each element is added and getting increasingly complex, then once everything is mixed and finished cooking, suddenly all the flavors are merged together to form one perfectly balanced taste as if it was meant to be. Truly fascinating.

I think this dish epitomizes such joy, but without having to go through elaborated steps. Red lentils are cooked with cinnamon and turmeric to bring out the nutty sweetness, while onion, garlic and ginger are pan fried with cumin seeds and coriander. Once the ingredients have completely absorbed wonderful flavor of spices respectively, everything is combined then further cooked with diced mango until the fruit becomes soften and jammy, and lentils are broken down. It is a fairly simple and easy dish to make, but has such an unbelievably intoxicating flavor that will make you cook it again and again. I sometimes serve this for guests and always get asked for the recipe. Continue reading

Whoopie Pies (on the Lighter Side)

Recipe inspired by: Elvira the chihuahua

whoopie pie

I am more of a conceptual baker rather than an actual baker. By that I mean I bake maybe twice a year or so out of necessity but I have lots of ideas about baking – Like, REALLY good ideas. It’s just that I am not very great at execution. So when I learned that this Sunday would be Elvira’s birthday, of course I had a good idea about what to bake.

Elvira actually belongs to the shelter I’m volunteering at. She is a grumpy, middle-age, chubby chihuahua, who snaps at anybody and anything that happens to pass by her kennel. It is no wonder that she has been there for such a long time without anybody wanting to adopt her even with her striking and beautiful black and white marking (hence the name), and the staff was looking for somebody to foster her in the hope that more comfortable and personal environment may help her become friendlier and more adoptable. And somehow she ended up with me and my guys. Continue reading

Curried Quinoa Salad

Recipe adapted from: Simple Vegetarian Pleasures (by Jeanne Lemlin)

curried quinoa saladOriginally, this recipe was for a rice salad, but I took liberty to make slight modifications as the recipe is so versatile with many of ingredients interchangeable. The curry-flavored dressing is simple but genius – It is so accommodating that whatever the tweaks you may try, it will most likely tie everything together nicely. I made a few variations depending on what I had in freezer/refrigerator at the time, and this is my favorite combination so far.

Please note that there will be a bit of planning involved, as you are supposed to leave it for 1-8 hours for flavors to be mixed and develop after you have combined all the ingredients.  For this reason, it has become one of my lunch staples when I don’t have any left-over from the night before. Continue reading