Monthly Archives: June 2013

Brussel Sprout Soup

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As you know I am totally and completely focused on seasonal eating, but for some reason I got a massive craving for brussel sprouts this week and had been wanting to make Brussel Sprout soup ever since I got the inspiration flipping through a cookbook at Le Pain Quotidien where I visit my friend Lauren when I need some solace from office. Okay, I guess it’s really not all that surprising considering I could eat an entire pound of brussel sprouts in one sitting if I didn’t control myself. I didn’t mind the warm hearty Fall and Winter flavors in this delicious creation since we’ve been experiencing some June Gloom here in LA this week. But if you are totally opposed to hot soup in the summer, store this away for later this year and you will not be sorry. It would be a great twist on the classic Brussel Sprouts dish to start off Thanksgiving dinner! In fact, I may add this to my second-annual Fall dinner party menu.

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Brussel Sprout Soup (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 organic scallions, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb. organic brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if they are exceptionally large)
  • 2 large organic parsnips, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs organic thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 c. water, veggie, or chicken broth (I used water but would opt for organic chicken broth next time)
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried mustard
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 c. aged cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

In a large dutch oven, saute the onion and scallions in butter until slightly translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, brussel sprouts, and parsnips and continue cooking until the sprouts have slightly changed color, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, nutmeg, lemon pepper, dried mustard, salt to taste, and water or broth. Simmer until sprouts are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

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Remove half of the soup mixture from the pot, add 1/2 c. cheddar cheese (Do yourself a favor and buy Trader Joe’s aged goat’s milk cheddar–pictured below! It is divine and our bodies actually process goat and sheep’s milk products much better than cow’s milk), and puree remaining veggies in the dutch oven using an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, simply transfer the mixture to a regular blender. Spoon about 1/2 cup of whole veggies into soup bowls and ladle the pureed liquid over the top. Season with salt and pepper and top with grated cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles (if using–I highly recommend Trader Joe’s Applewood Smoked Bacon that comes from a local Woodland Hills butcher). Enjoy!

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The Swami–Steamed Veggies in Miso Curry

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On my recent trip to Boston my Primal cousins also took me to this amazing organic cafe and juice bar in Cambridge, Life Alive, where I had the delicious Flourish smoothie made with berry Kombucha, blueberries, mango, lemon juice, avocado, and maca. Now that is what I call nutrients in a glass! My cousin ordered the Swami to go, which was a delicious blend of veggies in a sweet Miso Curry Sauce, traditionally served over brown rice, which he swapped for quinoa. It was so incredibly flavorful, we spent the rest of the car ride gushing over the sauce and thinking up other veggies we’d add, and soon after we headed to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients to make it. It’s been two weeks since my visit and I still have Swami on the brain so here it is! For added protein, serve with grilled chicken, salmon, or a fried egg.

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Miso Curry and Steamed Veggie Bowl (Adapted from Andrea Isabelle Lucas) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

The bowl:

  • 1 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed and cooked
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 oz. organic broccolini, chopped
  • 3 c. organic kale, chopped
  • 3/4 c. organic raisins
  • 1 c. tamari almonds

The sauce:

  • 3/4 tsp. ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 4 Tbsp. organic miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 c. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 c. cold water
  • 3/4 c. organic canola, grapeseed, or coconut oil

Cook quinoa over the stove. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. The recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups which is plenty for 4 servings of veggies as I like things extra saucy and I still had leftovers.

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Steam the veggies, raisins, and almonds until desired tenderness, about 5 minutes.  Pour the curry miso sauce over the veggies and mix to combine. Serve over the cooked quinoa and enjoy!

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Almond Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad

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You can never have too many summer salad recipes. When the weather is nearing 110°F in good old Topanga Canyon, I will be searching high and low for new salad combinations. While this one does require that you use your stove, the salad is still deliciously refreshing with the juicy seasonal nectarines and full-flavored buttermilk dressing. It feels like something I should be eating on a one of those giant wrap-around decks on an old Southern estate with a tall glass of iced tea. Ahhh…summer!

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Almond Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad (Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup organic unsweetened coconut milk, plus 1/2 tsp. organic distilled white vinegar (non-dairy buttermilk)
  • 1 Tbsp. full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. white  balsamic vinegar (I only had regular balsamic on hand which tastes just as good, it will just make the dressing a different color)
  • 1/2 tsp. raw honey
  • 2 Tbsp. organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced organic parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken:

  • 1 large organic free range egg
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c. almond meal
  • 1 1/2 lb. organic free-range chicken tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp. canola or olive oil

Salad:

  • 8 oz. organic mixed greens
  • 3 ripe organic nectarines halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the dressing: In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the coconut milk, white vinegar, greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Slowly whisk in the oil to blend. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Make the Chicken: Lightly beat the egg in a wide, shallow dish. Pulse the almonds and almond meal together in a food processor until the almonds are chopped; transfer the almond mixture to another wide, shallow dish. Season the chicken on all sides with 1 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Dip one piece of chicken at a time in the eggs. Shake off the excess and dredge in the almond mixture, pressing lightly to help it adhere. Set aside on a wire rack.

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Working in batches, cook the chicken until light golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a foil lined baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven for an additional five minutes.  Between batches, remove any stray almonds from the pan and add more oil if necessary.

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Assemble the Salad: In a large bowl, toss the mixed greens and the nectarines with about half of the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among 4 dinner plates. Divide the chicken among the plates, overlapping the pieces on top of the salad. Drizzle additional dressing over the chicken and serve.

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Mediterranean Lollipops–Turkey Kofte

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Nothing beats a flavor-packed refreshing Mediterranean dish like kofte with greek yogurt and Baba Ghanoush. While flipping through my most recent edition of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I stumbled upon a recipe for kofte and was immediately drawn in. Their original recipe calls for ground lamb, but I opted to substitute this for ground turkey, but it can also be made with ground beef–have your pick! This meal is unbelievably satisfying and flavorful–it’s the perfect balance of a hot home-cooked meal with cool salads for a hot summer day.

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Turkey Kofte with Yogurt Sauce (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated) (Difficulty-Intermediate; Serves 4)

Yogurt-Garlic Sauce:

  • 1 c. greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 c. minced organic parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt

Kofte:

  • 1 lb. all-natural free-range ground turkey (or substitute lamb or beef)
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/3 c. minced organic parsley
  • 1/3 c. minced organic mint
  • 1 1/2 tsp. arrow root powder
  • 8 skewers, soaked in water

The article in Cook’s Illustrated detailed the hard work of testing out several different skewers to find the best ones–the resolution was that simple metal skewers work the best, but since I don’t have any at home and wanted to make this dish ASAP, I just stopped at the store and grabbed some pre-soaked wooden skewers and soaked them again at home for good measure. I also used a grill pan for this recipe instead of a real gas or charcoal grill so I needed to trim the skewers about an inch to fit on my grill pan. That extra step was well worth the convenience of grilling these quickly right on my stove.

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Make the Yogurt Sauce: Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and set in the refrigerator to chill.

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Make the Kofte: Add the pine nuts, garlic, paprika, salt, cumin, pepper, coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon to a food processor and pulse until a coarse paste forms, about 1 minute. Transfer the spice mixture to a large bowl with the ground turkey, onion, parsley, mint, and arrow root powder, which is used to firm up the meat mixture so that it is properly stable on the skewer. I swapped this in for the gelatin used in the original recipe. Knead the mixture with your hands until thoroughly combined and the mixture feels slightly sticky, about 2 minutes. Divide into 8 equal portions and shape each portion into a 5-inch cylinder. Thread each cylinder onto a skewer, pressing gently to adhere. Transfer the skewers to a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour. (I actually froze mine for 30 minutes because I was in that much of a hurry to eat this delicious meal!)

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Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and lightly spray with all-natural cooking oil. Place the skewers on the hot grill pan and sear about 5-7 minutes on each side. While cooking, place a large lid of a pot over the grill pan to seal in the heat. This will ensure that the turkey is cooked all the way through.

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Serve with yogurt sauce, Baba Ghanoush, freshly sliced cucumbers and any other condiment your heart desires.

Baba Ghanoush

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Summer weather always brings cravings for fresh Mediterranean fare with all of the refreshing cold dips and vibrant flavors from seasonal fruits and veggies and powerful spices. I absolutely love hummus, and occasionally still enjoy it with crisp cucumbers or celery for a light snack, though since becoming Primal, I have turned more towards Baba Ghanoush and Tsatsiki. Anything with eggplant involved and I’m immediately sold. It’s one of those foods that people love or hate, but I just could never understand how you could not love it. It is so versatile and highlighted in all of my favorite cuisines–Italian, Thai, Mediterranean…I just don’t think you could ever go wrong with this beautiful purple fruit. I especially like the more vibrantly colored Chinese eggplants, which I throw into a stir-fry any chance I get. I made this amazing easy Baba Ghanoush as a grain-free side to my turkey kofte. It doesn’t get any more flavorful and refreshing than this dish on a beautiful Southern California Summer day (although I suppose it would be might taste even better on a remote Mediterranean island ;)).

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Baba Ghanoush (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4-6)

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. tahini (Trader Joe’s is my favorite!)
  • 1 Tbsp. organic extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 c. fresh organic parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Prick whole eggplant with a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Let the eggplant cool, about 10 minutes. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. IMAG0672

On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add the garlic-salt mixture, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and 1 tsp. salt to the food processor. Pulse a few times until the ingredients are well-incoporated, but be careful not to over process or the mixture will become too mushy. Add the parsley and pulse once more to incorporate. Season with more salt, to taste. This is a perfect condiment for the turkey kofte or a delicious dip for cucumbers, bell peppers and other cold crisp veggies.

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