Peach Jalapeño Grilled Cheese

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Some nights call for comfort food, and nothing says comfort like grilled cheese.

I grew up eating the kind with American cheese, but nowadays, I like to try new combos. This peach/arugula/jalapeño/goat cheese version is at the top of my list.

I had the idea for the sandwich a few weeks ago when I was browsing the jam section at the grocery store. I saw a peach jalapeño variety, and immediately I knew that it belonged on a grilled cheese sandwich.

I almost chose mozzarella for the cheese, but I’m so happy that I didn’t. Goat cheese and this peach jalapeño jam are like Bert and Ernie, croissants and chocolate, Jackie O and JFK, and other famous couples throughout history: they’re made for each other.

The jam is slightly sweet and spicy, the arugula adds a little tang, the peaches are slightly caramelized and the cheese is creamy and soft. I’m tearing up a little just writing about it.

ANYWAY. Make this sandwich immediately. It takes almost no time, and the reward will far exceed any effort you put in.

Here’s a song to get you started.

Peach Jalapeño Grilled Cheese (from me, to you) 

Ingredients

2 slices of bread (I used multigrain)
goat cheese
peach jalapeño preserves
a handful of arugula
1 peach, sliced thin
olive oil for the pan

Directions

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.

Meanwhile, assemble the sandwich. I have a very methodical way when it comes to sandwiches: I always put the cheese on first. Then I added preserves to each slice. Layer the peaches and arugula on one slice, and then top it with the other slice with cheese and preserves. Smush it down a little (for lack of a better word).

Carefully place the sandwich in the skillet and press down on the top with a spatula. Don’t press too hard; you don’t want the toppings to spill out.

Toast both sides of the sandwich until golden brown, flipping once. Enjoy while hot.

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Muesli with Raspberries and Apples

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I realized that I forgot to tell you about this muesli.

I made it the morning after I got back from Portland, and all I can say is, whoa. It’s a game-changer. I got the recipe from the cookbook that I bought there, La Tartine Gourmande.

I’ve always seen recipes for muesli but I never made it. It seemed like something you would make if you lived in the mountains in Switzerland and wore lederhosen. Unfortunately, neither is true for me.

Luckily, I discovered that anyone can make muesli and enjoy it. It’s better than oatmeal during the summer because you don’t have to boil milk or water to make it.

Feel free to get creative with toppings. I followed Beatrice’s directions and went with the raspberry/apple/nut combo, which I highly recommend. But I’m seeing a blackberry/almond version in my future, especially as we near the end of blackberry season in D.C.

I’ve been listening to a lot of country music lately, partly because that’s usually what’s playing at the bakery. I randomly heard this song the other day, and I’ve been listening to The Judds almost nonstop ever since.

Muesli with Raspberries and Apples (slightly tweaked from La Tartine Gourmande)

Ingredients

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2 cups apple juice
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tbsp blond cane sugar
6 tbsp slivered almonds
1 large apple–I used pink lady
lemon juice to taste
plain yogurt to taste–I used nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tbsp shelled unsalted green pistachios, chopped
maple syrup or honey for serving

Directions

Make the oats the night before. In a bowl, pour the apple juice over the oats to cover. Let the oats sit overnight, covered, in the fridge.

The next day, combine the raspberries and sugar in a small pot. Place over medium heat and cook until the raspberries become soft, about 4 minutes; remove from the heat and let cool.

Toast the almonds in a frying pan for 4 to 5 minutes, until lightly brown and fragrant; remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Grate the apple and squeeze the lemon juice on top to prevent discoloration.

Divide the oats among 4 bowls. Add the apple, raspberry puree, yogurt, pistachios, and almonds to each bowl. Top with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Enjoy!

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Summer Salad with Stone Fruit and Blackberries

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Someone asked me what I’ve been cooking lately and I realized that I’ve only been making salads. It’s weird, partly because I used to hate salads and partly because I realized that my diet consists of ice cream and arugula. But I guess there are worse problems to have.

This salad came about because I saw a recipe for a “summer abundance salad” on one of my favorite food blogs. Then, the saleswoman at the farmers’ market talked me into buying two cartons of blackberries (“it’s the end of blackberry season!”) and there were some good looking nectarines yesterday. The peaches didn’t look as good, though, so I ended up using plums.

I think my biggest problem with salads is that sometimes they can be boring, but this one isn’t. You can dig out all the good stuff, i.e. everything that sits on top of the arugula, and somehow there are still plenty of basil chickpeas, toasted almonds and blackberries to be had.

Also, let’s talk about the dressing…whoa. That’s all I can say. I had my doubts about adding fig butter, but trust me, it’s so worth it. The fig flavor in the dressing complements the stone fruit, berries and feta. It’s a win-win situation.

I downloaded a bunch of music in one sitting last night while I was half-awake. Here’s a song I’ve been jamming out to this morning.

Summer Salad with Stone Fruit and Blackberries (slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest)

Ingredients

for the salad:
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained + rinsed
2 tablespoons basil pesto
2 1/2 cups cooked white quinoa
1 plum, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 nectarine, thinly sliced
2 ears corn, kernels removed from the cob and roasted in the oven
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6-9 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, sliced
large handful of microgreens and or arugula
1/2 cup mixed toasted nuts + seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, cashews, almonds, etc)

for the spicy honey balsamic vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 rounded tablespoon fig preserves (optional)
1-2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo, chopped
kosher salt + pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roast the corn kernels until slightly charred. At the end of the roasting time, add a sheet pan to the oven with the seeds and nuts and roast them until they’re slightly brown.

In a medium bowl, stir together the chickpeas and pesto. Let sit at least 15 minutes minutes to marinate.Prepare your grains as directed on the package.

To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake until smooth. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

In a large salad bowl, toss together the quinoa, cherries, berries, nectarine, corn, tomatoes and feta. Stir in the pesto marinated chickpeas and toss the salad with about half the vinaigrette.

To serve, top the salad with sliced avocado, toasted nuts and seeds and fresh greens. Serve with the remaining vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, gluten-free, Lunch, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten-Free Lemon Poppyseed Quinoa Pancakes

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When I was in Portland, I went to one of the biggest bookstores I’ve ever seen: Powell’s. It almost gave me anxiety, because it didn’t look like there was an end. There were shelves upon shelves of books organized into sections and multiple floors. The space stretched across at least one city block (maybe more).

I managed to escape eventually, and when I did, I had two new books: Traveling Mercies by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, and La Tartine Gourmande, the first cookbook by one of my favorite food bloggers, Beatrice Peltre.

I started reading Beatrice’s blog after I moved back from France, and her recipes always reminded me of the food that I ate there. I hadn’t checked her blog in months when I stumbled on this cookbook, but I guess that’s what fate is all about.

I’ve been cooking from Beatrice’s cookbook all week. I made these gluten-free lemon poppyseed quinoa pancakes on Monday, my first day back to work. It’s never a good feeling to have to come back after vacation but these pancakes made it a little easier.

Similar to Beatrice’s blog, I hadn’t listened to Simon & Garfunkel in a while. Then, all of a sudden, I started hearing their songs everywhere this week. Here’s one of my favorites (that guitar…)

Gluten-Free Lemon Poppyseed Quinoa Pancakes (slightly adapted from La Tartine Gourmande)

Ingredients

1/3 cup white rice flour or sweet rice flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons blond cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 pinches sea salt
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more to cook the pancakes

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flours, quinoa flakes, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, a pinch of sea salt, poppy seeds, and the lemon zest.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the buttermilk. Beat in the 1 tbsp of canola oil. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

In a third bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until soft peaks form. Fold the whites into the batter.

In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and repeat for as many pancakes as the pan can hold. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, then flip the pancakes and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, until golden.

Sprinkle the pancakes with remaining lemon zest and serve with warm maple syrup. Enjoy!

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, gluten-free, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seattle and Portland

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My last night in Portland, I decided to go to a restaurant called Coquine. I’d read a lot about it, so even though it was completely out of the way and cost way too much money to get there in a cab, I went.

The minute the cab dropped me off, I felt like I had come home. The restaurant is on a street corner in the middle of a neighborhood. The sun was setting and if you looked up, there were steep hills with pine trees awash in light. Everything was quiet, but not eerily so. It was peaceful.

I clamored in with my wheeling suitcase, expecting the inside of the restaurant to be noisier. But it wasn’t. Everyone was sitting at simple wooden tables, sipping wine, talking and relaxing. A few turned to look at me with my suitcase, but otherwise, no one gave me a second glance.

I let the hostess take my suitcase and she led me to a seat at the bar. The man on one side of me was a well-known baker in the area, who, even more coincidentally, was from D.C. The man on my other side was a native of San Francisco, the city I aspire to live in one day. Both of them hate D.C. and tried to talk me into moving to Portland.

They made a good case. “The quality of life here is so much better,” the baker said to me. “Why do you live in D.C.?” the younger man asked me. It came out that he had a cat named Barbra Streisand, which only made me trust his opinion more.

Seriously though, I don’t know why I don’t live in Portland or Seattle. The Pacific Northwest is a magical place where the food is delicious, the air is crisp and pure, water isn’t too far away and people are happy. Like, really happy. After years of people barely making eye contact with me in D.C., it was slightly jarring to have people stare at me with a wide smile on their face. It felt even weirder for them to accept the things that I say as normal.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but basically, I’m in love. Maybe I will move back someday, I’m not sure. Until then, I’ll be pining after my two weeks there (pun fully intended).

Here are some highlights that you should check out if you’re ever in both cities:

Seattle

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I came to visit my friend Steph and my brother, but I almost stayed (forever) for the food. Seattle is a food-lover’s dream. From Pike Place Market to the farmers’ markets every weekend (and I’m assuming, week), you can find fresh, beautiful ingredients that are almost nonexistent in other cities.

We stopped at Pike Place my first full day in the city, and my jaw dropped at all the fresh produce and fish. We walked through the market at the pace of toddlers because I kept stopping to gape at everything. Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.53.24 PM
The second day, we went to West Seattle to check out the farmers’ market and the shops. I loved every store we went into, but especially this one, Fleurt.
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My last night in Seattle, we went to get pizza at Delancey. I’ve been wanting to go since I read Molly Wizenberg’s blog and books, so getting to finally have dinner there was a dream. The pizza was the best I’ve ever had: tomato sauce, mozzarella and anchovies. Heaven.
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Portland

One of my first stops in Portland was the food trucks on Adler Street, and that should probably be one of your first stops, too. The food is better than some I’ve had in sit-down restaurants, and the wrap I had from Wolf and Bear’s was tear-inducingly good. Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.52.01 PM
While the day was young, I made my way to Salt & Straw. It was another dream come true, because I’d read about them years ago and have wanted to try their ice cream ever since. I got carrot cake batter and caramel corn on the cob. Needless to say, I cried.

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Some other food places you should check out in Portland are SuperBite, Pine State Biscuits and Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry. SuperBite opened recently and has amazing small plates. I got a salmon avocado dish with puffed quinoa. Pine State Biscuits has…well, biscuits. But they’re unlike any you’ve ever tried or will try again. Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry is also new, and it’s adorable. The interiors are beautiful and the pastries and breakfast dishes are works of art. They’re also delicious.
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Tea and an almond cardamom cookie at Vivienne

In terms of things to do, I would recommend going on some hikes. I went on one through Washington Park to see the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden. Both gardens took my breath away.Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.51.17 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.51.31 PM
I also went on a hike to the Pittock Mansion, which promises unparalleled views of the city. They didn’t lie, but I almost lost a lung trying to get there. Two hours uphill isn’t really in my workout repertoire, even though I consider myself in good shape. It didn’t help that I was wearing Vans, which offer little support in rustic terrain. Still, I made it, and I have the pictures to prove it. Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.50.20 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.49.54 PM
My last night in Portland, I rode the Portland Aerial Tram uphill to get a birds-eye view of the city. I saw Mt. Hood in the distance and it took my breath away. Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.54.09 PM
Check out my Instagram for more recommendations and pictures from the trip!

Also, I heard a lot of good music throughout my time in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a song that I listened to in Seattle and a throwback that I heard in Portland. Both are pretty representative of the vibe in each city.

Posted in Restaurant Reviews, Traveling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Roasted Nectarines

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This recipe comes to you courtesy of my friend Carly. She sent it to me the other day via email with the subject line: “think you will love this.”

She was right. I love soba noodle salads, and this one is the perfect amount of sweet and savory. The miso and tahini dressing adds some tang, and the bell peppers give it a little crunch. It’s everything you need in a bowl…minus ice cream.

Let’s talk about the dressing for a second, though. Whoa. That’s all I can say. During my first year in D.C., Carly told me that she could eat the hummus I made for my birthday dinner on an ice cream cone. That’s how I feel about this dressing. I was eating it off the spoon, which feels weird to admit here but also liberating.

I had a moment the other day when I remembered that I have an iTunes library. I haven’t downloaded songs there since 2013, because when I moved to D.C. I became a Spotify convert. It was fun rediscovering songs that I used to listen to all the time. Here’s one of them.

Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Roasted Nectarines (slightly adapted from Citrus Tree Kitchen)

Ingredients

for the noodles:
1 tablespoon mild yellow miso paste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 ½ teaspoons honey
2 nectarines (about 10oz), cut into ¼ in. wedges
2 bundles soba noodles (5 ½ oz, uncooked)
½ cup baby bell peppers, sliced into rounds or if using regular bell peppers sliced thin
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
½ cup cilantro, leaves and tender stems, loosely packed

for the tahini miso dressing:
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon mild yellow miso paste
1 ½ teaspoons honey
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons water

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, whisk miso paste, sesame oil and honey. Add nectarines to bowl and toss to coat well. Transfer nectarines to baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes or until soft (not mushy!) and slightly caramelized.

Cook soba noodles according to package directions and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.

To make the tahini miso dressing, whisk all ingredients except the water until fully incorporated. Slowly add the water and whisk until smooth. Add more water if needed 1 tablespoon at a time to reach desired consistency. Taste and adjust to your liking. You can also add all ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously.

In a large bowl, toss soba noodles with roasted nectarines, peppers, sesame seeds, cilantro, and dressing.

Posted in Dinner, Lunch, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cauliflower Kale Quinoa Cakes with Lemon Crème Fraîche

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I used to make quinoa cakes with poached egg all the time for dinner when I lived at home. Tonight, I decided to bring back an old tradition with a new twist.

I added cauliflower into the mix, and I threw in some kale and cilantro that I had left in the fridge. I also put in a tablespoon of cumin, which seems like a lot, but it really isn’t. You’ll be happy that you did that later once you add the lemon crème fraîche.

The cool cream takes the spicy flavor down a notch and also brings out the kale and cilantro. I’m thinking about making the crème fraîche again, but this time dipping cumin-spiced sweet potato fries into it. As the French would say, mon. dieu.

On a semi-unrelated note, I just started watching the new Netflix series “Stranger Things,” and I’m addicted. I’m almost done and I’m trying to avoid social media in the meantime, because there are spoilers everywhere.

The show has a great soundtrack and this song features heavily. It made me remember The Clash…what a throwback.

Cauliflower Quinoa Kale Cakes (from me, to you)

Ingredients

for cakes:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 leek, sliced thin
1/2 cup kale leaves
handful of cilantro
1 tbsp cumin powder
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
sea salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
sliced avocado for serving

for lemon crème fraîche:
1/4 cup crème fraîche
juice of half a lemon

Directions

Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor on high until they’re in little pieces. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat and add the cauliflower and leeks. Season with salt and pepper and saute until light brown. Add in the kale leaves and saute them with the leek and cauliflower until they’re bright green.

Mix the cooled quinoa, cauliflower/leek/kale mixture, cumin powder, cilantro and lemon zest in a big bowl. Then, mix in the two eggs and season with more salt and pepper.

Heat some more olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Reduce heat and start frying the cakes, about 1/4 cup at a time. I like to make the cakes by taking some of the mixture into the palm of one hand and packing it with the other hand to form small patties.

For the lemon crème fraîche, mix the cream with the juice of half a lemon in a small bowl.

Serve the cakes warm with crème fraîche, more cilantro and sliced avocado. Enjoy!

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