Southwestern shrimp salad

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When I was growing up, my mom would make this bean salad called Texas caviar. It had all the usual suspects of Tex-Mex cuisine—corn, bell pepper, onion, tomato, etc. We would eat it with Fritos Scoops by the vat (or so it felt). It was an awesome summertime eat because it didn’t require a heat source to make. Midwest summers don’t mix well with the oven. Or the stove. Or even a toaster. Ninety-degree days with 90% humidity and no air conditioner? No thanks, I’ll eat my Eggo frozen.

Here, I have made a slightly sexier version of my mom’s Texas caviar. I should probably call if California caviar because if living in LA has taught me anything, it’s that adding avocado to something makes it “Californian.”  But, I won’t do that to you guys.  

This salad is hearty, fresh, and light. You can eat it by itself, over greens, or my personal fav—with tortilla chips. The lime and cilantro lend a brightness that really wakes up the shrimp and cuts through the richness of the avocado. The black beans give it some substance, so it’s easy to fill up on. I like to keep my knife cuts rough and rustic and the best part about making this dish is that the measurements don’t need to be precise. Add as many or as little of the ingredients as you like. You can also eliminate anything you don’t jive with or add an all-star ingredient I may have left out.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2-1 can corn, drained (or fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • cilantro, chopped (to taste)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Peel your shrimp (if they haven’t been) and chop into bite size pieces. Prepare all vegetables by dicing into similar sized chunks.

In a small bowl combine lime juice, onion, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow the juices to mellow out the flavor of the onion.

In a large mixing bowl combine corn, beans, avocado, tomato, jalapeño, shrimp, and cilantro. Add onion mixture and stir to coat. Add more oil or lime juice if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For best flavor, refrigerate for at least 30 mins. Serve with tortilla chips, over greens, or just by itself!

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Bruschetta

Bruschetta

If you’ve read my post My adventures with Neapolitan pizza pie, you know I’m a huge fan of Italian cuisine. I love the rustic, simplicity of it, as well as the sense of family it embraces. It’s all about quality ingredients and unbuttoning your pants to make room for more because Nonni’s plating up your fourth serving of lasagna.

Bruschetta is an appetizer you’ll find at a lot of Italian restaurants. It has different variations, but traditionally it’s toasted bread that’s been rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and commonly topped with a medley of tomatoes and basil. Although I do not come from an Italian family, caprese and bruschetta have always been staples on our app menu—especially late summer when my dad’s tomato garden is in full swing.

I’ve tried many a bruschetta, and I will say I think mine is the best I’ve had (thus far). I like to combine elements of caprese with bruschetta to get the ultimate Italian app. The key to getting depth of flavor is rubbing the crostinis (or “little toasts”) with a clove of garlic after they’ve been grilled. It gives the toast a nice garlic aroma to perfume the rest of the toppings. I also like to add balsamic vinegar to the tomato mixture for a tangy kick.The soft, fresh mozzarella counterbalances the crusty bread and cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar.

Honestly, my mouth is watering right now thinking about it—I’ve got to finish this post so I can make some.

Buon appetito!

Ingredients

  • tomatoes (I like using heirlooms because I’m a tomato snob)
  • basil
  • garlic
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • fresh mozzarella
  • ciabatta (or any rustic bread)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Dice tomatoes and put them in a large mixing bowl. Julienne the basil and throw in the bowl. Mince garlic (approx. 1 clove per 4 medium tomatoes) or use a press, add it to tomato mixture, and toss. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to coat—tasting to test for balanced acidity levels. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Rest for at least 30 mins to let flavors meld.

Cut bread into slices and drizzle with olive oil. Toast under the broiler or on a grill, making sure not to let it burn. Once toasted, cut the end off a garlic clove and rub each toast with it (both sides if you’re trying to keep vampires away). Top crostinis with fresh mozzarella and a spoonful of bruschetta.

For best flavor, serve at room temp. 

Matcha green tea chia pudding

Matcha green tea pudding2My parents came to LA in March to visit me and my brother, and they really wanted to explore a variety of ethnic markets while they were here. My dad has a vast range of knowledge about global cuisine and cooking, but doesn’t always have the means of getting specialty ingredients because of where he lives (rural Wisconsin). We took them to Galleria in Koreatown and they had a field day—we were there for hours. H O U R S.

I had a lot of fun too, exploring the isles and trying samples of food I couldn’t pronounce. And while I didn’t take home any of the dried fish parts I tried (just no), I did find a few ingredients that struck my fancy. One of them was matcha—a powder derived from green tea leaves. I’ve always been interested in matcha, having seen it used in different recipes on Pinterest, but had no idea where to get it.

Turns out you can buy it online, but just be wary of the quality. Sometimes places will sell a matcha powder mix containing ingredients such as sugar and powdered milk, similar to hot chocolate. Look for culinary grade matcha. It’s pretty expensive, but that’s usually a sign it’s good quality—so don’t go for the cheap stuff!

Let’s talk health. Matcha has a ton of health benefits! Because it’s derived from whole  tea leaves, it’s a more potent source of nutrients (and caffeine!), than steeped green tea. It has a lot of heart disease and cancer fighting antioxidants that also help with blood pressure reduction, anti-aging, and boosting your metabolism. Did I mention the caffeine?? A teaspoon of match mixed with hot water can have up to 3x the caffeine as a cup of steeped green tea.

But the best part about matcha is how versatile it is. It has a grass-like flavor, which bodes well for savory dishes, but you can sweeten it up with sugar, agave, honey, or different extracts like I did with this pudding.

I absolutely love chia pudding. I think it’s because I was obsessed with tapioca Snack Packs when I was little, and it has a similar texture. It’s a great on-the-go breakfast because it’s super easy to make—just toss your ingredients in a mason jar, shake it up, and leave it overnight in the fridge. I love to top it with fresh berries and nuts, but you could top it with anything from coconut flakes to chocolate chips.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp matcha powder
  • drizzle of honey (to taste)

Toppings

  • mixed berries
  • pistachios

Instructions

Put all ingredients in a mason jar and put the lid on. Shake well until everything is combined. Store in the fridge for 3 hours to overnight.

Top with fruit and nuts or any other toppings you like!

* Recipe makes 1–2 servings. 

Shakshouka

Shakshouka1

S H A K S H O U K A. My new, absolute favorite breakfast dish. I tried it for the first time last weekend at an awesome French restaurant near my place, called Republique. I’ve been wanting to go there since I moved into the area because the line is down the block every weekend. My pal Urmila—gastronomic guru, host of YouTube channel Mila Makes, and co-founder of Carry On Magazine—was in town last weekend, so we met at Republique to brunch it up. I highly recommend eating there if you’re in the LA area—cool vibes, awesome pastries, and really good food. Like, really good.

So what is Shakshouka, anyway (besides really fun to say)? The dish originated in North Africa, and is essentially eggs in a spicy stew of tomatoes and peppers, but has many variations. I based my recipe off some good, authentic ones Urmila recommended, combined with Republique’s version, and my own little twists.

Republique managed to get a great depth of flavor that was really cumin-forward, so I tried to accomplish the same with mine. I also liked the cool contrast the mint leaves gave to the spiciness and warmth of the dish. They laced it with yogurt (which I forgot to do) that really balanced out the acidity of the tomatoes. I threw in some kale to give it a bit more substance and nutrients, and added basil because the more herbs the better in my book!

Shakshouka2Oh, and did I mention the bread!? The bread might be the best part of the whole dish. It’s served with a side of crusty bread you can use to sop up all the delicious, tomatoey sauce and gooey yolk. Mmmmmm. I actually just used the bread as a spoon throughout the whole meal. I mean, what’s better than a spoon you can eat??

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 eggs
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 4 cups (28 oz can) diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • coriander
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • parsley
  • basil
  • mint
  • 1-2 cups kale, chopped
  • feta cheese (optional)
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • Rustic, crusty bread of choice (I used garlic ciabatta)

Instructions

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cut onion and pepper into thin(ish) slices. Add a generous amount of olive oil to the hot pan, along with the peppers and onions. Saute veggies until soft, about 15 minutes. Add garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and seasonings (chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, coriander, salt and pepper) to taste. You can adjust later, so just start small. Add a pinch of sugar and stir well. Simmer on med-low heat for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Roughly chop herbs (parsley, basil, mint) and add to the sauce.

If sauce is looking thick, take a potato masher and crush the tomatoes to create a juicier sauce. Add the chopped kale to the pan, stir, and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings one more time, if needed.

Crack eggs into the sauce, one at a time. I created little divots with the back of a ladle to make a nest for each egg. Let the eggs cook in the sauce until the whites are set and yolks are runny. You can cover with a lid to speed up the process.

While eggs are cooking cut bread into thick slices and grill or toast under the broiler. When eggs are done garnish with more fresh herbs, feta cheese, and yogurt.

Chili lime shrimp and veggie kebabs

Chili lime shrimp and veggie kebabs

The air is getting warmer, the sun is shining brighter, and the shorts are getting shorter—this can only mean one thing—summer is right around the corner! When I think about summer cuisine I think bright, fresh, and light. Herbs, citrus, and seafood are among my favorite summertime foods, and they pair so well together to create light, refreshing meals.

One of my best friends from high school, who’s now living in Vancouver (miss you!!), posted a photo of some grilled skewers she and her fiancé made last week, and it inspired me to make my own. I prefer using an outdoor grill for this to get a nice smoky flavor, but if you are like me and don’t have access to one, don’t fret—you can achieve the same effect using an indoor grill pan.

Chili and lime is a famous flavor combo, especially near the border. It pairs well with proteins such as chicken, seafood, and even nuts. I’ve been craving shrimp lately, so I opted for the seafood route with these kebabs. Another good alternative would be chicken or a nice, meaty fish such as halibut or tuna. I like to cook the meat on separate skewers than the vegetables to ensure a more even cook throughout. I also baked the veggies, rather than grilling them so I could cook them at the same time as the shrimp.

This meal is super light and healthy (and pretty!) making it perfect for summer. For a little more substance, serve kebabs with a side of rice perfumed with herbs like cilantro or parsley. MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm, I should’ve done that! Next time.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • bell peppers (any color)
  • red onion
  • zucchini (yellow/green)
  • cilantro (chopped)
  • chili powder
  • granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
  • Sriracha
  • Lime juice (2-3 limes + extra for garnish)
  • avocado oil (or canola, olive oil, etc)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel shrimp if not already peeled and place in a large bowl. Combine juice of 2 small limes, oil, granulated garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper, cilantro, and Sriracha to coat shrimp. Let marinate in the fridge for half an hour.

Chop veggies (as many as you’d like) into bite-size chunks (keep cherry tomatoes whole) and toss in a bowl with juice of a lime, oil, chili powder, granulated garlic, Sriracha , and salt and pepper to taste.

Skewer the veggies onto a metal skewer (if using wood, make sure to soak in water beforehand) in any order you like. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet lined in foil for easier clean up. Place the skewers on the rack and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Preheat your grill pan to med-high heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Skewer the shrimp. During the last 5-10 minutes of bake time for the vegetables, start grilling the shrimp. They only take a couple minutes on each side, so the shrimp and vegetables should get done at the same time.

Grill shrimp on one side for about 2 minutes, flip, and grill for another 1-2 minutes until shrimp are completely opaque. Make sure not to overcook the shrimp as they will get tough and rubbery.

Serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro to garnish.

*This amount of shrimp makes approximately 3 skewers. 

 

Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks

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Living in California means I’ve been graced with the opportunity to grill outdoors all year long. Living in a studio apartment, however, with no patio and no grill, does not. But, this doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy all the wonderful, smoky flavors of an outdoor grill in my very own kitchen. The secret? A cast iron grill pan.

Cast iron is kind of a b**** to clean, especially the grill pan ones, but the char and flavor you get from it, is so worth it. If you don’t have cast iron, you can use any type of indoor grill you have, or better yet, an actual grill! These would also be great baked, you just won’t have the char marks or smoky flavor that you get from grilling.

As I mentioned in my Neapolitan pizza entry, I got to enjoy a full on Italian feast when I was in Boston visiting my friend, Carissa. In addition to the array of pizzas, her dad also whipped up some wings in his wood-fired oven that Carissa made a quick, Tuscan-style sauce to toss in. The sauce consisted of lemons, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Simple, fresh, and bright—that’s what I love about Italian cooking. They don’t overcomplicate things by using too many ingredients or seasonings.

The combination of lemon, garlic, and herbs has become one of my favorite flavor profiles. The savory notes from the garlic and herbs marry so well with the acidity and brightness of the lemon. It makes a great marinade for seafood and poultry, but it’s also delicious over pasta. Shrimp scampi, anybody??

Alright, now that my mouth is watering, let’s get to the drummies!

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients (except chicken) in a mixing bowl to make the marinade. Set aside a couple tablespoons of marinade to toss chicken in after it’s cooked. Add chicken drumsticks and the rest of the marinade to a large ziplock bag and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a cast iron grill pan (or whatever pan you’re using) to med-high. If you’re using cast iron, you want it to start smoking before you put in your chicken.

Oh yeah.. It can get a little smoky, so you may want to open a window or turn on the vent (or disable the fire alarm). 

Remove chicken from the bag and reserve marinade for basting. Grill the drumsticks for a few minutes until grill marks form. Flip and repeat this process until all four sides have marks. Turn down the heat to med-low and continue flipping every few minutes or so, basting the chicken with the marinade as you go. Cook chicken until internal temp in the thickest part of the chicken (not touching the bone) reaches between 165-175° (about 25-30 minutes).

Take chicken off the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Toss drumsticks with the marinade you saved in the beginning, right before serving.

*To avoid dried out chicken, I suggest taking it off the grill at 165°, as it will rise another 5 degrees or so when it rests. 

Coconut water fruit popsicles

Coconut water popsicles with fruit

Today officially marks the first day of fall, and to some parts of the country this means chilly nights, cute scarves, and pumpkin flavored everything. To Los Angelonians, not the case. We’re currently enduring an extremely obnoxious heat wave. Over the last couple months, I can’t remember a single day it was below 80 degrees, and I remember way too many days nearing 100. So as I sweat my ass off in my air conditioned(less) studio apartment, the mere thought of a pumpkin spice latte makes me nauseous—and not just because they’re actually not very good (sorry).

In lieu of the heat, I present you with a frozen treat to keep cool (for like 5 minutes). I spotted these popsicle molds at the store, and it immediately brought me back to making homemade Kool-Aid pops as a kid during the summer.

My version steps up the homemade popsicle game a bit by using real fruit and the ever trendy coconut water, which is known for its hydration capabilities—crucial for surviving a heat wave. These frozen pops are super easy to make, and surprisingly tasty for how healthy and simple they are. The natural sweetness of the coconut water compliments the bright and tangy flavors of the fruit, perfect for a cool treat that’s not overly sweet.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • coconut water
  • fruit of your choice, such as:
    • kiwi
    • mango
    • pineapple
    • strawberries
    • raspberries
    • blueberries
    • dingleberries

Instructions

Chop up all the fruit into small pieces. Fill the molds halfway with coconut water, and drop the fruit in. Add more water/fruit to the mold until it is evenly filled to the top. Insert the sticks and put in the freezer for 2 hours or until frozen.

You may need to run a little hot water over the mold to loosen the pops.

*Currently taking donations for an AC unit. Cash accepted. Make checks payable to Lauren Regnier. 

My adventures with Neapolitan pizza pie

*Forewarning: this entry is long. If you’re just looking for the dough recipe, skip to the end. But you’re missing out on lots of laughs and fun. Bye. 

Lately I have been obsessed with pizza. But not just any pizza, I’m talking authentic, Neapolitan style pizza cooked in a wood fired oven at extremely high temps with a thin, chewy crust, topped with simple, rustic ingredients. This obsession came to head when I was visiting my best friend, Carissa, in Boston last month.  Her dad (Eddie Spaghetti), being the awesome Italian that he is, has a wood fired pizza oven in his backyard—cue praying hands emoji. So, you better believe I made Spaghetti whip me up a couple pies while I was there. Not only was it the best homemade za I’ve ever had, I also learned a lot about authentic, Italian cooking.

Of course, being on the East Coast also meant I had to try the local pizza, since LA pizza pales in comparison, according to every East Coaster, ever. Verdict? They’re right—kind of. The reason I say kind of is because I’ve come to realize that the east and west coast aren’t going for the same result when it comes to pizza, so it’s not really fair to compare the two. I discovered this when Carissa’s brother, Paula (his name is Paul, but I call him Paula because it’s cute) said that the West Coast tries to be “too fancy” with their pizza. The East Coast is good at keeping it classic with the basic, simple ingredients (think: cheese, pepperoni,  and basil) whereas the West Coast tries to elevate their za with exotic ingredients (think: truffles, goat cheese, and duck bacon).  So, if you ask me which one is better… I’d probably still say the East Coast, who am I kidding? But, I do have an appreciation for California’s creativity.

za collage 2 And so, taking all my newfound knowledge and experience with pizza making, I ventured to the kitchen to create my own (sort of) authentic, Neapolitan style pizzas with a California twist. I dragged my brother along with me cause God knows I couldn’t be trusted with measuring cups alone.

Story Time

My brother (Stephen) travels a lot for work, so when he’s home we take advantage of spending time together. For us, this usually consists of cooking and drinking, usually simultaneously. So last week I proposed the idea of getting together to make some homemade pizza. I told him all about the pizza Spaghetti made on my trip, and suggested we try out the dough recipe. He was all in. Since the dough takes two days to rise he asked if I wanted to make the dough by myself, I repeat by myself, and then bring it over to his place when we were ready to cook. I politely reminded him that I need adult supervision when it comes to measuring, and then politely forced him to help me.

So, cut to, we’re in my kitchen very diligently measuring out the all ingredients (there’s four ingredients in this recipe) when he gets a phone call and leaves the room. I decide to carry on with the measuring and before I know it, I’ve added two tablespoons of salt instead of two teaspoons. Oops. He looked away for five seconds and I’ve already ruined everything. When he comes back to the kitchen he simply picks out most of the salt with his fingers (genius) and we call it good.

Now that we’ve combined all the dry ingredients, it’s time to add the water and form the dough. Stephen pours the water in little by little while I mix it together with my hands. So far, so good. When we near the end of this process, Stephen thinks the dough looks too dry and suggests we add more water. I don’t really think it needs more water, but I enthusiastically agree anyway and we add the water. Oops numero deux. The dough turns into a sticky, hot mess. I’m a little worried at this point, but secretly happy I wasn’t the only one that made a mistake, today. We both decide that adding more flour seems like a legit solution, so we keep adding flour until we feel it looks right.

Next comes the fold and stretch. The recipe does not describe how exactly you’re supposed to “fold and stretch” the dough, so Stephen just decides to stretch the hell out of it at all angles and mangle it into a ball. I think I have a better idea of how to do this, so I try it out and Stephen agrees it’s more civilized, and we press on.

Alas, the dough is done. We wipe the sweat off our brows and high five each other in the form of downing a bottle of wine. We deserve it.

Pizza Time 

The recipe makes about four pizzas, so we both came up with a couple ideas for each pizza, all inspired by noteworthy zas we’ve encountered in the past. We split it up into four courses. I created courses one and two, Stephen did course three, and we both (along with Stephen’s girlfriend, Adriana) created the fourth course.

  • Course one: Margherita
  • Course two: Mushroom, truffle oil, and arugula
  • Course three: Roasted curry carrot with beets and shaved Brussels sprouts
  • Course four: Proscuitto, sage, and fig jam

Unfortunately none of us have a wood fired pizza oven, or a backyard for that matter, so we decided to grill the pizza instead of putting it in an oven (with the exception of course four).

Course one: Margherita

IMG_1166

Ingredients

bufala mozzarella
fresh basil
red sauce*

*whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, kosher salt, and oregano (blended). Do not warm, sauce cooks in the oven. 

Making this pizza was important to me because I wanted to make a truly authentic Neapolitan style pizza, like the one Spaghetti made for me in Boston. So, I called him up and he helped me out with the sauce and all the essentials.

IMG_1193I love this pizza because the ingredients are so simple, but the flavors are so vibrant. What I’ve learned about Italian cooking is that they like to keep things simple, fresh and rustic. They use good quality ingredients, and let them shine on their own.


Course two: Mushroom, truffle oil, and arugula 

IMG_1207

Ingredients

cremini mushrooms
goat cheese
arugula
truffle oil
olive oil

The inspiration for this pizza actually came from the restaurant I work at in Culver City, called the Overland. We recently added flatbread pizzas to our menu and my favorite one has mushrooms, arugula, and burrata cheese. I wanted to recreate that, but put my own spin on it.

IMG_1228I added truffle oil and used goat cheese instead of burrata. I thought that the tanginess of the goat cheese would pair nicely with the peppery arugula and cut through the pungent, rich flavor of the truffle oil.

IMG_1257

Because we didn’t use a sauce for this one, we thought it came out a bit dry. If I were to make it again, I think I’d make a bechamel (white sauce) to put on it as well, which is actually what they do at my work. You win this time, Overland. Luckily, I had plenty of sauce left over from the Margherita, so we used it as a dipping sauce.

Course three: Roasted curry carrot with beets and shaved Brussels sprouts

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Ingredients

beets
shaved Brussels sprouts
toasted hazelnuts
goat cheese
carrot curry sauce*

*I have no idea what’s in this sauce, you’re gonna have to wing it or call my brother.

This pizza was designed by my brother after eating at one of his favorite places in New Orleans called, Domenica, which in Italian means, Sunday. It’s hilarious to me that he chose to make this one because it’s rare that he eats vegetarian pizza. He one time said and I quote, “I need meat. I’m not in the mood for a f***ing farmer’s delight,” when we were deciding which pizza to order. Yikes.

IMG_1261Anyway, I guess one of the locals at this place suggested the Roasted Carrot pizza and he was in the mood for a f***ing farmer’s delight that day. He said it was one of the best pizzas he’s ever had, so here we are. I don’t know what the pizza at Domenica tasted like, but if it was anything like this, I suggest you check it out if you’re ever in New Orleans.

IMG_1280I’m a huge fan of the beets and goat cheese combo, so that made me happy right off the bat.  The nuttiness from the hazelnuts paired well with the curried carrots, and the crunch of the sprouts made it all come together. Not only was it tasty, but it was beautiful as well. I love how rustic and bright this pizza is.

We decided if there was one thing we would change, it would be to add some sort of cream element to the sauce to make it a bit more, well.. saucy. But I think that’s what makes cooking fun. People think they aren’t allowed to make mistakes, but that’s how we learn and become better cooks. Speaking of mistakes.

Course four: Proscuitto, sage, and fig jam

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Ingredients

proscuitto
fresh sage
mushroom brie
fig jam

This was sort of our “we have four pizzas, but only three ideas, what the hell should we put on the last one?” pizza. I decided proscuitto would be a good idea, and then my brother and Adriana came up the rest by running across different items at the grocery store. Now don’t get me wrong, all of these ingredients have the potential to make up a very yummy pie, but the failure came in our execution and maybe one too many glasses of wine.

IMG_1294What I believe our thought process was, was to make it more of a dessert pizza since it was the final course. Smart. What we did to make this a dessert pizza, was simply douse it in copious amounts of fig jam. Not so smart. The end result was a much too sweet, sticky mess, that was kind of similar to eating a spoonful of jelly. We really just should have smeared some PB on it and called it a day.

However, this was the only pizza we made in the oven, and I thought it most resembled the way a Neapolitan style pizza cooks in a wood fired oven. So that was nice

My brother was so determined to not let the pizza go to waste, that he decided to repurpose it and make bread pudding. If you’re baffled as to how/why he did this, join the club. I’m sad to say I never tried the pudding, so I can’t tell you myself how it tasted, but I just talked to my brother and he said it’s still sitting in the fridge, untouched—it’s been a week. I’m making him try it, now. Stay tuned.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Okay, he just called with the verdict. His words, “Dude, this is f***ing bomb.” So there you have it, folks. If at first you don’t succeed, make that shit into bread pudding. #wordsofwisdom

And, finally, here’s the recipe for Neapolitan style pizza dough (2 day method). Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups Italian “00” flour (you can find this at Whole Foods)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 14 oz room temperature water

Instructions

Add all dry ingredients to large mixing bowl and stir. Add water and mix for about 2 minutes. I used my hands, but you could use a Kitchenaid mixer if you have one.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, and then mix for another 2 minutes.

Take the dough out of the bowl and stretch and fold dough into a ball. I’m not 100% sure on the correct way to do this, but I just kind of stretched it apart and then folded it under, tucking it into a ball shape. Cover the dough with a bowl and let rest for 5 minutes.

Perform three more stretch and folds every 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl big enough for it to double in size. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

The recipe says to take the dough out and divide it into 4 sections and form into balls at this point, but I just left it in the fridge for the additional 24 hours and cut it up into balls when I was ready to make the pizzas.

When you are ready to make the pizza, take the balls out of the fridge and bring them up to room temp. Flour a large, flat surface, such as a counter top, and begin forming the pizza. I just gently stretched the dough apart using my hands until I formed a shape/thickness I liked. You want it to be thin, but not so thin that it will fall apart when you put your toppings on. Transfer the dough to a pizza paddle or something that’s easily transferable to your cooking source. Top the pizza with any ingredients you like. Feel free to try out some of mine, above.

To bake the pizza

If you’re using an oven:

Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it will go for 45 minutes with a pizza stone in the oven (you can use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone).  Put the pizza on the stone and bake until edges are charred and the dough and toppings are cooked through.

If you’re using a grill:

Oil the grill (not with spray) to prevent the dough from sticking. Briefly cook the dough on both sides creating grill marks before adding the toppings. Take off the grill to add all the fixings and then transfer the pizza back on the grill until toppings are to your desired doneness.

*These methods were an experiment for us, so you may find a method that is easier or works better for you. Be creative. Best of luck. 

A BIG THANK YOU TO MY BROTHER FOR TAKING ALL THE BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS!!

Asian chicken tacos with kale and broccoli slaw

Chicken tacos

Happy Taco Tuesday!

I absolutely love tacos–ALL tacos. I don’t care if it’s from Taco Bell or an authentic Mexican taco truck, I have no prejudices. Luckily, living in LA grants me infinite taco possibilities and plenty of $1 taco days. When I lived on the Westside, this bar near my place called Busby’s served up $1 tacos every Tuesday. My favorite was their Yukon potato taco with sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and salsa. So weird, but so delicious.

That’s the best part about tacos–they can be so versatile. They don’t have to stick to any standard or have any boundaries. I will say, however, that my favorite tacos contain some sort of citrusy slaw and spicy crema sauce. So, when I was craving tacos the other day, that’s exactly what I went for. I didn’t have any cabbage in the fridge for the slaw, so I improvised with kale and shredded broccoli. I tossed it with soy and rice vinegar to give it an Asian flavor. I also used Sriracha and plain Greek yogurt for the crema (traditionally, a Mexican style sour cream) to keep that same flavor profile throughout. I love the fusion of Asian flavors in what is normally thought of as a Mexican dish.

I encourage you all to get a little more creative on your next taco endeavor! And to all my LA friends, check out LA Magazine’s Tacopedia: A Complete Taco Encyclopedia of LA, to learn about the best tacos Los Angeles has to offer.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • mini corn tortillas

For the slaw

  • shredded broccoli slaw (or cabbage)
  • kale (finely chopped)
  • cilantro
  • olive oil
  • soy sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • lime juice

For the chicken

  • boneless skinless chicken breast
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil

For the crema

  • Sriracha
  • plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)

Instructions

First, make the slaw by combining all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well and season to taste. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to build your tacos.

Next, cut the chicken breast into tiny cubes and season with garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Heat a pan over medium heat and lightly coat with olive oil. Because the chicken is so small it will cook fast, so keep an eye out. When the chicken is done, take off the heat and splash some soy sauce in the pan. Toss to coat.

While the chicken is cooking, make the crema by mixing the Sriracha with the yogurt. Adjust the amount of Sriracha you use, depending on how spicy you want it. Transfer the sauce to a Ziplock bag, squeeze it all to the corner and cut the tip off.

Heat a skillet over medium heat to warm the tortillas. When the tortillas are ready, build your tacos by layering the slaw and then the chicken. Drizzle the crema over the top and squeeze with fresh lime juice.

Smoked salmon and asparagus scramble

Salmon and asparagus scramble

Being a twenty-something and living on my own, I really feel like I have my life together when I manage to make it to the grocery store. For the last three weeks I have ordered delivery about every two to three days, on average–not kidding. Luckily, living in Los Angeles means I have more options than just pizza and MSG ridden, Chinese food. Not saying I completely avoided those (3 a.m. pizza is the best pizza), but LA has plenty of healthier choices for those unwilling to pick up a bag of spinach at the store for three weeks. So basically I didn’t commit gluttony with my delivery binge, I was just being slothful. I really blame Billy Joel for teaching me that the sinners have much more fun.

Anyway, last week I decided it was time to get back into adulthood, so I dragged my ass to the store and checked “productivity” off my to-do list for the week. I can’t explain the joy I felt having a refrigerator full of fresh produce, meats, etc rather than half-eaten take out boxes. Cue praying hands emoji.

The first dish I made is what I am sharing with you, today. I rarely buy smoked salmon from the store, but I needed to yolo after my comestible dry spell. It pairs really nicely with eggs as their richness complements the saltiness of the salmon. And asparagus is a classic accompaniment to salmon, so it seemed fitting, here. My taste buds were super pleased with this dish, and happy to have something homemade again.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • eggs
  • smoked salmon (I used Private Selections wild caught)
  • asparagus
  • red onion
  • olive oil
  • pepper (I didn’t use salt as the salmon is super salty)
  • avocado (for garnish)

Insructions

First you’ll want to prep your mise en place (which will forever be engrained in my head thanks to miss Anne Burrell). Mise en place is just a fancy French word that means to prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking. So in this case you should dice the red onion, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, and pull apart the salmon into bite-size pieces.

Next, heat some olive oil in a pan over med-low heat. Add the red onions and let them soften. Next add the asparagus to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until slightly soft and bright green in color. While the vegetables are cooking, crack your eggs in a bowl and scramble with a whisk or fork. I actually didn’t add any milk or water to my egg mixture, but feel free to do so if that’s how you usually prepare scrambled eggs. Crack some fresh black pepper and salt (if you you want–I found it to be salty enough with just the salmon) into the eggs.

Add the smoked salmon and egg mixture to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. You don’t want the heat to be too high because the protein in the eggs with cause them to become tough. Cook through to your desired doneness and garnish with avocado.

*Not pictured: gallon of Cholula. Highly recommended.