Hooked on The Crispy Egg

20 Oct

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen recently posted about The Crispy Egg. The idea originally comes from Frank Prisinzano of NYC restaurants Frank, Lil Frankie’s, Supper, and Sauce.

A crispy egg is essentially an egg fried in olive oil in a very hot cast-iron or stainless steel pan. The whites bubble and squirt everywhere and the result is the most amazing egg, with the yolk still loose and the bottom crispy. Toast (well, in my case toast AND potatoes) is the perfect vehicle for soaking up any remaining olive oil from frying.

Deb has important notes (and a video link) in her post that you need to read (and watch) before attempting The Crispy Egg. Now go, learn, and make yourself a crispy egg or two. I’m totally hooked.

Dietetic Internship Ramblings + Ramen Noodles with Collards and Peanut Sauce

5 Oct

For the next year, I will be rotating around New York City, interning with registered dietitians (RDs) at various organizations, businesses, and clinics. I must complete this internship year and pass an exam in order to obtain my license as an RD.

As a dietetic intern, I have to complete a certain number of hours in a community nutrition setting, a clinical nutrition setting, and a food service nutrition setting. From September through December, I intern at three different community nutrition sites for five weeks at a time. In the spring, I do a 15-week clinical rotation, and next summer, I do a food service rotation.

I am currently four weeks into my first community nutrition rotation, and I love it! I work with clients who have HIV/AIDS. Some of the tasks performed at this five-week rotation include:

  • Observe initial client assessments, reassessments, and counseling sessions
    • Perform nutrition counseling with clients under RD supervision
    • Perform nutrition counseling with clients independently
  • Write up notes after counseling sessions
  • Host a group nutrition education session on cruciferous vegetables
  • Work in the food pantry greeting clients, unpacking food, setting out samples, and preparing emergency food bags. Lead food demonstrations and tastings with ingredients in the pantry, and pass out recipes.
  • Volunteer at meal service, serving food and cleaning up after meals
  • Create and write for the Nutrition Quarterly Newsletter, winter edition
  • Research a journal article on HIV and nutrition and present the study to the nutrition staff

I have two wonderful preceptors at my rotation who are guiding and mentoring me through this experience. This rotation is a good mix of clinical nutrition and community nutrition because I interact with clients who have HIV/AIDS (and sometimes other co-morbidities), and I also get to conduct education and cooking workshops and work in the food pantry.

Last week I presented a workshop on cruciferous vegetables. The purpose of the workshop was to review the family of cruciferous vegetables (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kale, radishes, spinach, turnips, rutabaga, wasabi…) and discuss the nutritional benefits. I reviewed portions sizes and consumption goals (eat ~2 cups of cruciferous vegetables per week), and we had a fun discussion on farting and gas!

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The highlight of the cruciferous workshop was the taste tests. Clients tasted radishes with soft butter and sea salt, chopped cabbage, and tatsoi. I also did a cooking demonstration on Creamy Cauliflower Mash, which was a big hit. The mash recipe involved steaming cauliflower and pureeing it with some of the cooking liquid, a small pat of butter, and salt and pepper.

I had so many leftover vegetables from my workshop that the next day, I went down to the food pantry and prepared a Crunchy Cruciferous Cabbage Slaw and  a quick black bean dip to complement the leftover raw radishes and cauliflower.

The following day, the dietitians and I noticed an overload of collard greens in the pantry. The food pantry is open Wednesday through Friday, and we did not want the collard greens to sit in the pantry from Friday to the following Wednesday. So, I brainstormed a healthy, easy recipe with ingredients from the pantry that combined ramen noodles (discard the “flavor packet”), two big bunches of collard greens, and a quick, homemade peanut sauce.

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Ramen noodles are delicious, but the “flavor packets” that come with the noodles are full of salt and preservatives. Adding greens and a homemade peanut sauce amp up the nutrition without skimping on flavor.

I love seeing the clients’ (and the staff’s) reactions to tasting my recipes. Healthy really does taste good.

Ramen Noodles with Collards and Peanut Sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

optional: 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 bunches collard greens, washed, de-stemmed, and chopped into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, or sesame)

2 packs ramen noodles

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup pasta cooking water

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute. Add the collards, stir, cover, and cook until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Add a dash of soy sauce, then scoop the cooked greens into a serving bowl.

Fill the same pan you used to cook the greens in with water and bring to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, start making the peanut sauce. Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk everything together. It will be very thick. You will add some of the hot pasta cooking water soon.

Once the water boils, add the ramen noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, take out the cooked noodles and add them to the greens. Ladle some of the pasta cooking water into the peanut sauce to thin it out, then add the peanut sauce to the ramen noodles and greens.

Easy, healthy, and delicious!

Finding the Right Ratio: Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

1 Oct

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I publicly announced my dabbling with chia pudding over the summer. Even though I adore chia seeds sprinkled in smoothies and oatmeal and baked goods, for a long time, I could not bring myself to adore chia pudding. Finally, after gleaning through what seemed like a zillion different variations on chia pudding and nixing the few not-so-great combos I tested at home, I found my go-to ratio that I truly do adore:

2 tablespoons chia seeds to 2/3 cup yogurt-water mix (a heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt + a scant 1/3 cup water)

I think the yogurt is really key. The thickness of the Greek yogurt provides a nice consistency, and the water loosens things ever so slightly. Mix everything in a jar the night before. The next morning, spoon the mixture into a bowl (or keep in the jar for an on-the-go breakfast) and add toppings! Coconut chips, granola, fruit, and nut butter are my go-to’s.

The berries in the picture above were frozen and I heated them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Sometimes I toss the berries in when they are still frozen. Different strokes.

Last month, I attended an acai bowl class at Sweetgreen taught by Ksenia of Breakfast Criminals. Her class inspired me to start “decorating” my breakfast, and I definitely feel more excited about eating when my bowl/plate looks colorful and pretty.

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I have been eating variations of my Basic Chia-Yogurt mix for the last month, at least two or three times a week, so I can now say that this ratio has been well-tested and given my seal of approval.

Sometimes I use a mix of chia, buckwheat, and hemp seeds instead of plain chia seeds. Change it up. Use the Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix as your starting ratio, then add in whatever looks good.

Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

serves 1

The night before, mix together in a jar:

2 tablespoons chia seeds

heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 

scant (aka slightly less than) 1/3 cup water

Stir, let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir again and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, either keep the chia-yogurt mix in the jar, or pour it out into a bowl. Sprinkle in your favorite fruity/crunchy/creamy toppings. I like a sprinkle of each of the following:

granola // coconut chips // fruit (fresh, frozen, or dried) // nut butter 

Homemade Miso Ramen

29 Sep

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After spatchcocking a chicken the other night (recipe here), I saved the backbone to make a chicken stock.

To make a light chicken stock: Place the backbone and a few other chicken bones/discards into a pot with a chopped carrot, onion, and celery stalk and cover with water. Let it come to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, partially covered. Drain the solids out and you get a beautiful homemade chicken stock. Salt to taste. Skim some fat off during simmering or after refrigeration.

I was contemplating a recipe to make that would let the homemade chicken stock shine, and my boyfriend suggested/challenged me to make ramen. Genius! Sometimes I need a little outside input to get my creative juices going again.

And guess what? Making ramen at home was not as scary as I thought it would be.

Granted, I made a somewhat simplified version compared to what one might find at a Japanese ramen shop, but I appreciate my less salty, vegetable-topped ramen for it’s purpose as an amped-up dinner at home. Having the chicken stock already prepared from the day before saved me a lot of time, too.

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I cooked all of the components of the ramen dish separately, but I was multitasking the whole time and only used 2 pots in the process. As the miso broth was simmering, I made 7-minute eggs* and set them in an ice bath while I steamed some broccoli and boiled my ramen noodles (eggs, broccoli, and noodles were all cooked in the same pot at different times). I kept everything separate until serving.

To serve the ramen, I placed cooked noodles in the bottom of a serving bowl. Then I ladled in hot broth and placed egg halves and vegetables on top.

*This was also my first time making a medium or 7-minute egg. It was so good, I need to do this more often.

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I had broccoli and greens on-hand at home. Use whatever seasonal vegetables you want. Also, you could add some ground pork or chicken to this recipe after sautéing the shallot/garlic/ginger. Cook until no longer pink and then add the miso/bean/sesame and follow the rest of the recipe.

Homemade Miso Ramen

adapted from Just One Cookbook

makes 2-3 servings

For the broth:

1 shallot or a small onion

2 garlic cloves

1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons white miso paste

1 teaspoon fermented black bean paste (not super spicy) or chili bean paste/La Doubanjiang (spicy)

1 tablespoons crushed sesame seeds

4 cups chicken stock, homemade if you have it (or vegetarian stock or water)

Noodles:

2 servings of packaged ramen noodles (do not use any of the powders or sauces that come with)

Toppings:

7-minute boiled eggs

steamed broccoli

fresh greens

more “authentic” might be: pickled red ginger, nori (seaweed), bean sprouts, corn, scallion, Japanese chili oil, pork or chicken

Directions: 

Finely chop the shallot and garlic. Mince the ginger with a microplane.

Heat the sesame oil in a pot. Add the garlic, shallot, and ginger and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the miso, bean paste, and crushed sesame seeds and stir. Add a little of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and smooth out the miso paste, then add the rest of the chicken stock and stir. Simmer this while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

-Make your eggs. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Set two eggs on a large spoon and gently set them into the boiling water. Set the timer for 6 minutes, then spoon the eggs out of the boiling water and into an ice bath.

-Next, set a steamer over the same water you used to boil the eggs. Steam the broccoli, covered, for about 4 minutes. Set aside.

-Using the same pot you boiled the eggs and steamed the broccoli in, bring water to a boil and cook the ramen noodles for about 3 minutes.

To serve:

Spoon cooked ramen noodles into serving bowls. Ladle the miso broth on top of the noodles. Place your toppings–eggs, steamed broccoli, fresh greens–over the broth and noodles. Enjoy!

Cauliflower “Rice” Sauté: Food For the Summer-Fall Transition

25 Sep

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Making Cauliflower Pesto a few weeks ago turned me on to a whole world of cauliflower possibilities.

My post-pesto experiment? Rice! Or couscous, or whatever you want to call the small, fluffy tufts of pulsed, grated cauliflower.

The below links provided me with some background and technique on making grain-like cauliflower salads:

The Kitchn provides an easy how-to tutorial on cauliflower couscous

Food52 makes an easy spiced couscous with cumin, za’atar, and lemon

Joy the Baker turns colorful cauliflower  into a rice burrito bowl

The First Mess knows how to make a mean “rice and peas” with all of the best crunchy elements

Clearly, I wanted to be among those in the use-cauliflower-like-a-grain club. So, I picked out the biggest head of cauliflower at the farmer’s market and set to work.

An efficient person would likely use a food processor or blender to pulse the cauliflower into tiny pieces. I, on the other hand, used my box grater, justifying the mess I made all over the counter and the floor as a yearning for the old-fashioned and an excuse to exercise my arm and core muscles. To make less of a mess when grating my hand, try setting the box grater in a large bowl to catch fly-away cauliflower bits.

The cauliflower “rice” can be eaten raw, but I prefer it lightly sautéed.

Use the “rice” plain as a bed for a curry, or stir the “rice” into some seasonal vegetables and add-ins to create a full meal.

I cooked up some onion with zucchini, corn, and tomato, and mixed in the cauliflower “rice” with some chili powder, paprika, and my friend Amy’s uncle’s special Maryland spice blend (you can use something like Old Bay). Shave some Parmesan on top if you want. I took this for lunch every day this week, sometimes adding a little avocado or hummus on top to make things interesting.

Cauliflower is hot, hot, hot right now, as it should be. Jump on board.

Cauliflower “Rice” Sauté: Food For the Summer-Fall Transition

1/2 very large or 1 regular size head of cauliflower

1 tablespoon oil, olive or canola

1 small onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped small

1/2 cup small tomatoes, sliced in half or quartered

1 ear corn, sliced off the cob

1 teaspoon each: chili powder, paprika, Old Bay

salt and pepper, to taste

optional: fresh grated Parmesan cheese and/or hot sauce

Wash the cauliflower and take off the stalk and leaves. Cut or tear the cauliflower into large florets. In batches, pulse the cauliflower florets until finely chopped and they look approximately the size of rice or couscous. **You can also use a box grater to grate the florets by hand. You should get about 4 cups, more or less. Set the “rice” aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Slowly toss the cauliflower “rice” into the skillet with the spices. Continue cooking everything for another few minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Finish with Parmesan and/or hot sauce.

Slow Food NYC Benefit Dinner at Kings County Distillery

22 Sep

On Wednesday, September 10, I attended Parker Red’s Farm to Fork Dinner benefiting Slow Food NYC at Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The dinner was supporting Slow Food NYC’s Producer Summit, an event bringing together local farmers, chefs, and distributors to discuss challenges and celebrate successes of the current local food system. The Producer Summit will be held at Hawthorne Valley Farm in early November, and the hope is to create “an actionable strategy to strengthen and expand the supply chain of organic and sustainably-grown food to New York City restaurants.”

FTF Whiskey Dinner Invite - Final

The evening began with live music, radishes with butter and salt, boiled peanuts, charcuterie, and a tasting—moonshine, bourbon, and chocolate whiskey—made from corn and barley grown onsite at the distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (*Kings County Distillery regularly hosts a great little tour for only $8, with the tasting included!)

After a few more drinks and snacks, we all gathered to sit down for dinner, cooked by Chef Ned Baldwin and his team. (*Three years ago when I moved to New York, I worked with Ned for one day when I “trailed” [a restaurant industry term for a trial day working in the kitchen] for him at Prune restaurant. I ended up working somewhere else, but had such a memorable experience and learned some valuable lessons from my day at Prune.)

The menu:

To Start: Whelks and Trotters flamed with King’s County Moonshine served warm with Green Tomatoes, Lemon and Fennel Blossoms; Charred Treviso, Anchovies, Lemon

Moving Forward: Salad of Corn, Watercress and Peaches mixed Liver Mousse, Toasts, King’s County Bourbon

Digging In: Whole Roasted Carrots, Crumbs, Gremolata; Braised Collards with Mushrooms and Tomatoes; Slow Sticky Pork

To Finish: King’s County Chocolate Bourbon Bread Pudding

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Whelks and trotters

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Treviso salad

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Ned preparing the liver mousse toasts

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 Corn salad with watercress and peaches

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My friends Michelle and Matt, looking cute

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The slow sticky pork was amazing, so tender and sweet

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The dessert line-up

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Chocolate bourbon bread pudding. YES

It was such a fun experience to participate in this dinner party. I am lucky to have been so well-fed and well-drunk ;)

Want to feel good about dining out? Check out this directory of the restaurants, bars, food and beverage artisans, and stores and markets that have been awarded the Slow Food NYC Snail of Approval.

Slow Food NYC works to create a food system based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice—in essence, a food system that is good, clean and fair. We seek to move our culture away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and towards the cultural, social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, and the pleasures of the table.

Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

6 Sep

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She’s a beaut, right?

Obviously I could not resist lugging home a head each of orange and purple cauliflower on top of my already heavy farmer’s market haul of melon, tomatoes, summer squash, eggs, and my newest obsession, maple cream!

I am such a sucker for roasted cauliflower. I love how it gets those golden-brown roasted marks, and packs a salty, slightly oily bite. But, it is important to try new things, and there is SO much happening with cauliflower these days.

I thought about making a purple cauliflower soup or a cauliflower gratin, but, desperate to hang on to the summer, I was not yet ready to dive into those cozier, creamier fall foods. After tossing around ideas of the ever-trendy cauliflower rice/couscous, cauliflower pizza crust, and cauliflower pasta sauce, I turned to my trusty food maven, Deb Perelman, who has a recipe in her cookbook for…CAULIFLOWER PESTO.

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Cauliflower pesto is made with raw cauliflower pulsed in a food processor (I took the Italian grandmother way/the hard route and hand-chopped/used my blender) and combined with a separate pulsed mix of brine-y, pesto-y ingredients: capers, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, herbs. Both mixtures get stirred together with some olive oil and acid such as lemon or vinegar, and combined with warm spaghetti (don’t forget to save the cooking water!) for a serious twist on traditional pesto pasta.

Deb uses sun-dried tomatoes in her pesto. I did not have any on-hand, so I threw in a few fresh tomatoes at the end for a little color and flavor.

I really had no idea what to expect with this recipe, but like every Smitten Kitchen recipe, it was a screaming success.

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Pale green plate= big NO for food photography. Ah well.

I served the pasta with sautéed radish greens and my old standby, roasted orange and purple cauliflower.  To drink: Bellwether hard cider in Liberty Spy flavor that I bought on a recent road trip to the Finger Lakes. Drank it out of a mug because who needs wine glasses (?!) and drank it on ice because I did not chill it long enough. Real life.

Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 

serves 6-8

*Note: Deb uses 4 sun-dried tomatoes of the dry variety in her pesto. I didn’t have any so I just added a few fresh tomatoes, chopped and warmed in a skillet. 

1 small head or 1/2 large head cauliflower (about 1 pound or 455 g), trimmed of leaves, cored, and cut into large chunks

1 clove garlic, chopped

small pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 cup (70 g) pine nuts (or almonds), toasted and cooled

2 oz (55 g) chunk Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon drained capers

2 tablespoons fresh basil (or parsley) leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice (or sherry vinegar)

salt and pepper

optional: small handful of fresh tomatoes, chopped

3/4-1 lb of spaghetti (or linguine)

Prepare the pesto: Pulse half the cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like mixed sizes of couscous. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, and repeat with the second batch, adding it to the same bowl. If the cauliflower looks like the perfect texture but one large chunk escapes the blade’s grasp, pick it out and pulse it separately. By the end, you should have about 3 1/2 cups of fluffy cauliflower-couscous crumbs. *I don’t have a food processor, so I began chopping by hand, but then just decided to do multiple small batches in my blender. Works fine, just takes a little longer. 

Pulse the garlic, pepper flakes, nuts, cheese, capers, and herbs in the food processor until the mixture looks like course breadcrumbs. Transfer to the bowl with cauliflower. Stir in the olive oil, the lemon juice, and a few pinches of salt and pepper, and stir until combined (if you do this step in the food processor, it becomes an unseemly paste. Best to do it by hand). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Assemble the dish: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. Reserve a cup of the cooking water, then drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot pasta with the cauliflower pesto (and fresh tomatoes, if using) and half of the reserved cooking water, until everything is nicely dispersed. If the pesto still feels too thick, loosen it with the remaining cooking water. Divide among bowls, garnish with extra chopped herbs, and serve with more Parmesan if you wish!

Cooking notes: Want to skip the pasta? Use the pesto as a tapenade on olive-oil brushed toasts.

Make ahead: the pesto can be prepared a few hours to a day in advance.

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