I feel like I’m becoming more and more intentional about healthy eating these days. Having a child will do that to you, at least, that’s my excuse. Don’t get me wrong, I feel I’ve always done a good job with my diet. Of course, there’s the occasional baked good or cocktail (oh heyyy Negroni Week!!) however, you’ll find virtually no processed foods in our house. Still, it’s impossible for me not to obsess over passing along healthy eating habits to Fiona. No more week-long burrito binges. No more pizza for breakfast. The ritual of cooking and eating a family meal has become particularly significant. It’s amazing to see just how excited she gets when helping Audrey and I assemble dinner. She hasn’t quite earned her sous chef status, but she can sure work the line. Recently, we’ve been all about throwing together abundant, seasonal salads – preferably with some grains or proteins in the mix. This particular salad was inspired by a recent trip to sweetgreen here in Berkeley. I have always obsessed over watermelon salads, but I also like the idea that the watermelon doesn’t have to be showcased on its own. Why not add a bit of fresh, juicy watermelon into some fresh greens and such? Yeah, I’m hooked. Fiona is too.
I love brunch more than any other meal of the day. It’s a great reason to have friends over for an over the top meal of eggs, waffles and Bloody Marys. But, sometimes I crave something healthier and more casual and entertaining friends for a lighter brunch can still be just as impressive. Of course, no brunch would be complete without coffee and, for my brunch, I was inspired by Nespresso‘s two new lighter breakfast blends for their VertuoLine range, Giornio and Solelio, and made a lavender iced coffee. This iced coffee is so simple to make: you just make lavender syrup (which can be done the night before) and use the syrup to sweeten iced coffee and add half and half or milk. You can also easily turn this recipe into a hot lavender latte by using espresso capsules in the Nespresso’s Evoluo (the machine brews both coffee and espresso!) and the Aeroccino4, one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. The Aeroccino 4 is a milk frother that makes the thick and velvety foam in seconds and even works with nut milks. Making brunch healthy and easy with these lavender iced Nespresso coffees will make you see mornings in a new light!
I’m sorry, I’ve totally misled you. I claimed to have the perfect albeit time-consuming technique for incredibly smooth hummus. But, this past weekend I came across a different technique which calls for overcooked chickpeas instead of peeling the outer shell off one at a time. Let’s just say this technique not only yielded smoother hummus but was way easier to make. Most recipes for the best hummus will have you start from dried chickpeas, but for me the extra time and energy isn’t really worth it, especially since it’s really texture that I’m after and the flavor of this dish comes from tangy delicious herb salad. I add sumac, a sour spice with floral notes, to the finished hummus which is a spice you can find at Middle Eastern markets. You could serve this on a larger party platter and just add pita on the side and this becomes a great entertaining dish. It’s incredibly addictive– you’re gonna love this one!
Wow, what a weekend!! After watching an incredible Warriors comeback win on Saturday night, I woke up to a text from a friend saying that he had a ticket to game 7 with my name on it 😮. There was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to attend a playoff game, let alone a game 7. I’m a lifelong Warriors fan, so I still remember that for 19 straight years we didn’t even make the playoffs. Fortunes are fickle in the sports world. Best to enjoy the good times while they last. Other than watching sports, the rest of my weekend was filled with birthday celebrations (happy birthday Arthur!!), early mornings at the park with Fiona, and sipping cold drinks in the sun. I first had these pineapple mint coolers a few weeks ago at Erica’s, and they were so refreshing that I knew I had to make them myself for Memorial Day weekend. As with any agua fresca, the sweetness will vary significantly depending on each particular fruit, which is why I highly recommend you sweeten to taste after juicing. The pineapples in the batch I made this weekend were very sweet, and ended up not needing simple syrup at all. Lastly, feel free to add a shot of rum – perfect for these ingredients! Just sayin’. Go Warriors!!
A lightbulb went off in my head a few days ago as the random craving for cornbread harassed me for hours on end. As usual, it started with me standing in front of an open, somewhat empty refrigerator about hmm . . . umpteen times. As if, after opening the door 5 times, piping hot jalapeño cornbread with gooey, melted honey butter would magically appear in the cheese drawer. Nope, no such luck. But as usual, during grilling season, our fridge is stocked with fresh corn. And jalapeños. And that’s when it hit me. Grilled corn. Jalapeños. Honey. Buttah. Cheddar Cheese. YES. Jalapeño cornbread. Just without the bread. Yes, yes, yes. I implore you to try this. And then I dare you not to spread this glorious jalapeño honey butter on everything.
Clay and I recently bought a grill. We had been waiting a long time to purchase one since we wanted our backyard remodel to be complete before buying one. Since we haven’t even started the remodel, we decided it was a pretty lame reason to forgo the summer grilling season. We bought a combined gas and charcoal grill because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted and I just knew I had to have a charcoal grill. My love for charcoal grilling developed in part due to the time I’ve spent in Vietnam. Almost everything is grilled over these small charcoal grills. The smokey flavor of charcoal goes so perfectly with the intense sweet-savory flavors of meats marinated in ingredients like fish sauce, sugar and soy. And my favorite part of Vietnamese food is that it’s all paired with fresh and bright herbs like mint and cilantro. It’s honestly one of the few things I could eat for weeks on end and not be tired of. This dish (nem lui hue) uses stalks of lemongrass to impart a mild lemongrass aroma to the meat. Its fibrous stalks double perfectly as skewers. I’ve made little sandwiches with the skewers here, but they would be perfect on their own. Also, you can easily turn these into lettuce cups by omitting the bread. After the skewers are cooked simply dip them into a little nuoc cham, the ubiquitous Vietnamese sauce made of fish sauce and lime juice, and eat it anyway you like. I can’t wait to make loads of these this summer!