Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pad See Ew

Lately I have been craving Thai food. Especially, Pad see ew, a favorite noodle dish of mine made with rice noodles and Gai Lan (sometimes called Chinese broccoli or Chinese Kale). I was debating whether to just give in and go for take out or attempt to make it myself. After a seeing a super fresh selection of Gai Lan at the Farmer’s Market in Culver City, I decided to give making it at home a shot. I figured varying up my greens that I buy can’t be a bad thing. I found a pretty simple recipe from Thai table and decided to give it a go. Just a heads up I used tofu instead of the traditional pork and doubled the sauce (light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar) listed below, because it needed more flavor.


1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 package of tofu or ½ cup pork thinly sliced
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb (package) wide fresh flat rice noodles**
1 egg
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 lb Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan)

**note: This recipe works best with fresh rice noodles, they are mainly found in asian super markets ( I got mine at 99 Ranch) and are right next to the “Deli section” adjacent to the refrigerators. These noodles should be refrigerated if you don’t plan on using them on the day purchased. If they are in the refrigerator leaving them out for a half an hour or so (prep time) will make them easier to cook. You could also use dry rice noodles if you are not able to find the fresh ones – but follow cooking instructions on the package.

Slice garlic thinly, and cut Gai Lan in about 2” long pieces. Slice the stems on a diagonal and separate from leaves (for cooking purposes).

Heat a wok on high and add oil. When oil is heated add in garlic and tofu. When tofu begins to brown add rice noodles and break them up using your spatula.

Some will stick to the pan but this adds to the desired texture. Stir in the soy sauce and sugar and mix into the noodles. Open a well in the middle of the wok and scramble in the egg. Until it is almost cooked through, then fold it into the noodles.

Add Gai Lan stems first and mix through, after about 2 minutes add the leaves and let them reduce, while folding them into the noodles.

When the Gai Lan is cooked turn off the wok and cover for a few minutes. This extra steaming will help release any noodles stuck to the bottom of the wok.

You can always finish off this dish by spicing it up with chili and a touch of sugar if you like once it’s on your plate.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ribollita - An Italian Peasant Stew

Ribollita is a hearty Italian peasant soup I fell in love with years ago. It’s thicker than a minestrone and usually gets a lot of it’s tasty goodness from a dark cabbage called cavolo nero. Since we are in LA and not Italy I found kale to be a wonderful substitute for this classic stew. I started this dish with a basic reference from Jamie Oliver’s version of Ribollita and then made some changes (partly due to what was in my refrigerator and by merging some ideas from other recipes. As usual I made my version vegetarian, but many recipes include adding sausage to the soup.

1 can cannellini beans
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, squashed
1 potato
1 lrg brown onion
2 carrots, peeled
2 sticks of celery (including leaves)
3 cloves of garlic
1 lrg bunch of kale (don’t worry it reduces!), finely sliced
1 lrg diced tomato or 1 can of diced tomatoes (if winter)
a pinch of dried red chili flake
a pinch of ground fennel (can be excluded)
2 handfuls of good quality stale bread torn into chunks
salt and pepper to season
good quality olive oil and parmesan to top.

Bring to a boil the drained can of beans with the smashed tomato, half of the potato, and bay leaf and enough water to cover, for 25 minutes. Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid, and drain beans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Finely dice onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and remaining potato. In a large oven safe pot heat olive oil and add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and potato with fennel seed and chili. Sweat on a low heat with the lid ajar for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are soft (stirring occasionally). Add a small amount of the bean cooking liquid, and deglaze the pot, scraping any browned bits from the bottom.

Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked beans, ½ cup of the remaining cooking liquid and stir in sliced kale. Wait for kale to begin to reduce for a few minutes. Add in torn stale bread and remainder of cooking liquid (you can also substitute this for stock), and stir all together. Bake stew covered for 30 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, and top with splash of olive oil and parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Asian Peanut Noodle Salad

For this recipe we used a couple vegetables that looked great at the farmer’s market, but there is a lot of flexibility and you can improvise very easily with this recipe. We also used tofu for a vegan version, but are sure this dish would taste great with grilled chicken or beef.

Barbara Tropp’s Spicy Szechuan Peanut Sauce
(maybe it should be called “totally addictive garlicky peanut sauce”)

10 large peeled cloves of garlic
2/3 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves and upper stems
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup + 1 tbsp regular soy sauce
5 tbsp sugar
½ tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1-2 tbsp hot chili oil (or to taste) – (we used sriracha, because it was on hand)

Mince the garlic and coriander in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process for about one minute.

Go easy on the chili – you can always add more.
Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.

Noodle Salad
1 pkg Barilla Whole Grain Pasta (can use regular pasta or soba noodles as well)
½ of a shredded savoy cabbage
2 julienne cut carrots
1 ½ cup sugar snap
½ pkg tofu
2 sliced green onions to top

Begin boiling water for pasta while preparing the vegetables. Slice carrots and remove the ends of the peas. Halve cabbage and remove core (hard white area). Cut ribbons from remaining cabbage. Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes.

Boil pasta, just before pasta is fully cooked (literally, right before you drain it), drop in peas and carrots into the same pot to blanch. Drain immediately into colander and rinse with cold water. Vegetables should still be crisp but not quite raw. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix in sauce according to your liking. Top with sliced green onion or sesame seeds. Voila!

Some alternative vegetables: Napa Cabbage, Green Cabbage, Red Pepper, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Mushrooms, Asparagus

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ahoy, Popeye - Greens Goodness at the market

Winter is an amazing time to try all different kinds of leafy greens available at the farmer’s market. There are the traditional recognizable vegetables like cabbage, spinach, lettuce, kale and then a whole spectrum of new varieties to try. Leafy greens are nutritionally about as good as things come. They are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, and folic acid. Unfortunately they can be a bit intimidating. So we will try our hand at creating and finding recipes to integrate some of these veggi’s into our diets and trying to step out of the box on what we pick.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Man, that’s a lot of citrus!

Telling the difference between Clementines and Satsumas

The Clementine vs. The Satsuma

In the winter, every week at the Los Angeles Farmer’s Markets, I find myself ooohing and aaahhhing at the abundance of beautiful citrus around. All these fruits make wonderful snacks and are a great little afternoons pick me up. I am determined to get to know my produce better, so this week I decided to answer an age old question for myself what really is the difference between a Satsuma and a Clementine.

Here’s the results:

Turns out both these fruits are types of mandarins and both come in seedless varieties.

Clementines: I am more familiar with because these are what you see in large bags sold at Grocery Stores around Christmas time. They originated in Algeria. The fruit was rounder and easier to peel and a bit less fibery. It was sweet but definitely had more of a tang to it.

Satsumas: The fruit looks a wee bit flattened or squashed on the top and bottom (like the stocky version of the Clemintine), and originated in Satsuma, Japan. I found these a bit more difficult to peel perfectly, but much sweeter/ more flavorful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy New Year! With a calorie count?

My first adventure eating out in 2011 made me very aware of the new California menu labeling law. The law requires that restaurants with more than 20 locations must display the calorie count of each item next on the menu (with some exclusions like farmer’s markets, schools…)

For more details see:

Well this week I made a trip to Islands Restaurant – I am not kidding myself that this is a healthy restaurant, but I always have figured there are good choices and it’s not as bad as fast food. I was shocked looking over the menu that most of their main dishes (including salads) were between 1000-1500 calories. That is a little crazy when you realize an average adult diet is based on approximately 2000 calories.

So lesson learned for me- when other people make your food, you really have no idea what is going in to what you are eating. They often make it delicious by adding super high calorie extras – mayonnaise, dressings, oil, and buttering buns to get them the right color. So in this new year I feel re-energized to make even more healthy meals at home and really start learning more about the foods I’m eating. Thank you new labeling law for giving me a jump-start back to the Farmer’s Market Diet.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chickpea and Leek Soup

I sometimes buy things at the market and by the time I try to cram them in my refrigerator, I’m wondering what I was thinking. Leeks tend to be one of those things- they look so delicious, colorful, and savory and then suddenly they are inside my house and awkward (and usually a bit on the dirty side). This soup has become a regular favorite of mine, it started from a Jamie Oliver recipe- but I admit I think I manage to alter the recipe every time I make it.

First off it is important to clean the leeks- this seems more intimidating than it is (I can tell because they sell pre-cleaned trimmed leeks at Trader Joes). To clean the leeks I slice lengthwise up the center then slice them into very thin rounds and soak them in an enormous bowl of cold water (give them a big swirl every once in a while). I know this sounds a bit crazy but the dirt tends to settle to the bottom of the bowl and the leeks float. You can use a slotted spoon to collect the leeks off the top.

Recipe (not set in stone):

2 cups or cans of chickpeas depending if you make them from dry or buy canned.

2- 3 leeks depending on size (green and white portions thinly sliced)

3 cloves of garlic

1 knob of butter

3- 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

1 small boiled potato (optional)

parmesan cheese

extra virgin olive oil

Add some oil, butter, leeks and garlic to a large pot and a pinch of salt and let the leeks sweat and reduce on low until the leeks are sweet.

Add the chickpeas and stock and bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Using a hand blender or regular blender- puree soup. I like to leave a few chunky parts to it for texture. Season with salt pepper and top off with parmesan. I like to serve it with a crostini and top it off with a drizzle of olive oil.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pasta with Peas and Arugula

Arugula is one my favorite greens lately- I think because it just has a bit more of a spicy bite to it than other greens and it tastes delicious raw or wilted, and there seems to be an awful lot of it around this winter.

For this dish I used rough amounts:

3 bunches of arugula

½ cup of frozen peas (I know I sometimes have to cheat and I like the organic peas that Trader Joes carries)

1 package of rigatoni pasta

4 cloves of garlic

1tbsp. lemon zest

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Prepare pasta and set aside. Meanwhile in a saucepan heat oil and sauté garlic and lemon zest after the garlic starts to smell add frozen peas. Turn the burner to low and mix in arugula until it wilts slightly. Mix together with pasta and serve with parmesan cheese and a dash of fresh olive oil. Looks plain but has a lot of flavor.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What's In Season- January

We are so lucky to have a bounty of fresh in season fruits and vegetables in the peak of winter. I remember living up north and eating potatoes, beets and apples only- for what made winter feel like an eternity. Here is an amazing selection of produce in season this month in Los Angeles.


Onions, Dry
Onions, Green
Green Peas
Winter squash