January, 2012 >>>

Whole wheat pizza with sweet potato sauce, kale, and shallots

01.31.12

Since I’ve tried my hand at a raw kale dish, tonight was part two in this experiment: cooked kale. Not only because I’ll never truly know how much I like kale until I try it with both preparation methods, but mostly because I had half a bunch of kale leftover that I wasn’t going to let go to waste. I went into tonight a little more confident having already made one successfully savory kale plate, but still, I had no idea what it would taste like with a little heat and wilt. Oh,and remember my sweet potato shopping spree? Well, in addition to kale, I have a hefty sweet potato collection that I need to eat my way through. These surplus of vegetables are the exact ingredients needed for a pizza recipe I stumbled upon via Tastespotting this weekend; it gave me inspiration to go the extra leap and sauté up some kale for dinner. And you can’t really go wrong when you toss something on a freshly baked pizza.

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Roasted pears with cinnamon nutmeg whipped cream

01.30.12

If I didn’t have The Monterey Market to guide me, I don’t think I would ever have learned what fruits and vegetables are in season. If I went by Safeway’s produce section, it would seem everything’s in season all the time. Unlike Safeway, our little market down the street lets you know what’s in season by stocking more than five varieties of the seasonal produce and lining the entry way with them. What I learned from my most recent trip, as you can already tell from my previous posts, is that kale, citrus, sweet potatoes, and PEARS are in season right now. Pears make the perfect wintry dessert. And, they’re fruit, so they can’t be THAT bad for you, right? …right? (Did I mention that I packed them with brown sugar and served them with whipped cream?)

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Sweet potato gnocchi with sage brown butter

01.30.12

I don’t usually cook with so many potatoes – honest. In 2011, I could probably use my fingers to count the meals I made that included potatoes. I think I’d gotten in a funk with potatoes, a little sick of their sometimes dry texture. For some reason, I never really felt impelled to cook potatoes when I had brussels sprouts or broccoli as an option (I had a similar somewhat arbitrary phase for about a year of my teens where I hated eggs). Now, I can’t seem to resist the wide variety of potatoes in bins at the produce market, especially the sweet potatoes – it’s like dessert for dinner! And nothing says, “you’re in the middle of winter” like a hearty root vegetable, right?

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Kale, ruby red grapefruit, and pine nut salad

01.28.12

In addition to my citrus kick, I’ve been on a mission to figure out a way to cook kale. Truth be told, it’s always scared me; I once baked kale chips and they were a little bitter. I never ate kale growing up, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been served a dish with kale. What does it taste like? What if I hate it? What if it’s poisonous?! Worse, WHAT IF IT TASTES LIKE CILANTRO?!!! Today, I would face my fear and tackle the leafy green that the produce market is busting at the seams with. Maybe if I pair it with my beloved citrus, I could guarantee a win? To attempt this pursuit, I’ve been scouring the blogs for a foolproof kale recipe for the past week. In this quest, I came across a kale salad with grapefruit idea and decided to make it happen. And, by incorporating grapefruit, this salad was a perfect addition to citrus saturday (spiced orange buttermilk biscuits and seared scallops with blood orange gastrique).

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Seared scallops with blood orange gastrique and fried shallots

01.28.12

I declared this national citrus awareness day. Okay, so I don’t have that power, but when planning today’s meals, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the bins of citrus at the produce market: grapefruit, blood oranges, navel oranges, lemon, etc. Whatever I decided to cook, I would be incorporating these fruit. Whenever I think of citrus, I have fond memories of picking ripe oranges with a basket picker from my (great) Grandpa and Grandma Ramonda’s trees that shaded their patio. Recently, I’ve been enamored with the deep purple color of blood oranges and their potential in savory dishes.

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Spiced orange buttermilk biscuits with “Playhouse” honey

01.28.12

I have a vendetta against breakfast pastries. They are merely pretending to be dessert, but not going all the way. With a breakfast pastry, you get all the calories and fat of a truly scrumptious sweet, but not the flavor, texture, and sugar of a decadent dessert cake. I know many of you will argue to the contrary, but I’d MUCH rather chow down on a white chocolate chunk cookie or a red velvet cupcake at 8am than eat an unexciting muffin or scone for breakfast. Biscuits are my exception – they aren’t masquerading as sweets, though. And, unlike many morning confections, biscuits retain a delicate balance of moisture, flakiness, and crumble to which no other pastry can compare.

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Shabu Shabu (Japanese hot pot)

01.26.12

One of our choice date night meals is Shabu Shabu or, Japanese hot pot. Unfortunately, it also costs an arm and a leg (and you even cook your own food!). Shabu Shabu (named for the “swish swish” sound of the beef being stirred in the water) is a dining experience where you cook your own vegetables, udon noodles, and sliced sirloin in a pot of boiling water. You then dip each piece in ponzu or peanut sauce and enjoy with a bit of white rice.

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Fresh pasta with brussels sprouts and pancetta

01.25.12

I’ve been craving fresh pasta for the past few days, but also wanted to make a new dish beyond my current repertoire, which requires some amount of forethought. Lucas and I spent a majority of this past weekend working on designing the (yet to be shared) blog layout, and as a result, I didn’t do my normal meal planning and sunday grocery shopping, which I always regret. During the week, I am tired and uncreative; I find we typically eat tastier and healthier food when I’ve designed a course of action in advance. When I don’t make this plan, I end up going to the market daily to get ingredients for that day’s meals, and, because I love food, I wind up adding other vegetables that scream out my name to the cart. Brussels sprouts were SHOUTING at me yesterday, “Take me!” And I did…without a plan.

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