Pepian Fish Tacos

February 27, 2019
Food,Recipes

If you’re not familiar with pepian, it is a thick green Mexican sauce (or mole) that uses pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds as its base. Fish or poultry is often simmered in this sauce making it a rich dish brightened with green herbs. My version is not a classic pepian dish– I’ve taken the sauce that you’d ordinarily cook the protein in for a long time and made it a sauce for fish tacos. The bright green color comes from all the cilantro, green onions and fresh chiles. The ingredient list looks long, but the recipe is simple. It’s just a matter of prepping your ingredients and blitzing them into a smooth puree in the blender. I used salmon as the fish here but you could use any other type of fish or even chicken. I topped the tacos with a bit of crunchy raw cabbage for some texture and added cherry tomatoes for acidity. I prefer to have this with salmon with the skin on since it lends some flavorful fattiness to the taco.

Pepian Fish Tacos

A taco twist on the classic Mexican pepian, a smooth velvety sauce made from pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cilantro and chiles.
Servings: 6 tacos

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. First, make the sauce by toasting the cumin seeds and pumpkin seeds in a pan over medium low heat until the cumin and pumpkin seeds become fragrant. Keep swirling them around in the pan and keep an eye on them to prevent them from burning. Remove the seeds from the chiles by cutting the stem off and slicing the chile down the middle. Using a spoon scrape the seeds out. If you want your sauce really spicy you can also leave the seeds in. Remove the stems from the cilantro and the root ends of the scallions and roughly chop.
  2. Add the cumin, pumpkin seeds, serrano chiles, cilantro, scallions, garlic, tahini, the juice of 2 limes, in a blender. Add about 3/4 cup of water and blend. The sauce should thick, very smooth but pourable. If it is too thick, add more water about a couple tablespoons at a time until you get the right consistency. Add two large pinches of salt. Taste as you go and add more salt if it needs it. Remember this is the sauce for the tacos so it should be flavorful (and sufficiently salted).
  3. Cut your filets in half and pat your filets dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper. In a non-stick skillet, heat a glug of oil over medium high heat and sear the skin side and top side of the salmon for several minutes each until the salmon is cooked through. I press the top of the salmon to determine the doneness but if you can't tell use a paring knife to cut into the thickest center of a piece.
  4. To serve, heat both sides of each tortilla over an open flame until it becomes soft and pliable. Add a piece of salmon to each tortilla. Very thinly slice the cabbage and slice the tomatoes in quarters. Top each tortilla with a piece of salmon, a generous pour of the pepian sauce and top with some cabbage, tomatoes and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve with extra lime wedges.

(images by HonestlyYUM)

Almond butter chocolate covered dates

February 12, 2019
Food,Recipes

One of my New Year resolutions was to cut out refined sugar. Another one of my resolutions was to stick to my resolutions beyond January. So here I am in February with lots of sugar cravings which means I’m making a lot of date-based desserts lately (I do make an exception for minimal quantities of very dark chocolate, which does have some refined sugar). That means a lot of date-cacao balls and these almond butter stuffed chocolate covered dates. These are even easier to make than my date-cacao balls and soo delicious. My husband is not a dessert guy and I have my husband hooked! You can easily substitute the almond butter with any other nut or seed butter. I’ve tried a batch with some black sesame paste and it is TO DIE FOR!

Almond butter chocolate covered dates

Almond butter stuffed chocolate covered dates with flake sea salt.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Slice each date lengthwise on one side and remove the pit. Fill each date with a small scoop of almond butter, using your fingers to mold the date back into its original shape.
  2. Microwave the chocolate in a bowl in 20 second intervals, stirring in between each 20 seconds until the chocolate is melted. Dip each date into the chocolate and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or plate. Sprinkle the tops with flake sea salt. Store in the refrigerator.

Persian Love Cake

February 5, 2019
Uncategorized

For Valentine’s Day this year, I wanted to make something really pretty. Something super girly and pink. But it had to taste as pretty as it looked and I couldn’t think of a better flavor pairing that represented pink than rose and cardamom. I’ve used cardamom plenty of times in desserts and it’s quite possibly my favorite spice. This Persian love cake is a simple fragrant cake made from almond flour, cardamom and rose water. There’s some all purpose flour in here but you could easily substitute with a gluten-free flour like Cup for Cup. I had some freeze dried pitaya and hibiscus powder and have been adding it to everything– pitaya has a bright magenta color and hibiscus a more subtle pink. These are a great substitute for artificial coloring and although they’re a bit pricey, I highly recommend them for natural food coloring– a little goes a long way!

Persian Love Cake

Fragrant cake made from almond flour and scented with cardamom and rose water.

INGREDIENTS

Cake Ingredients

Glaze Ingredients

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch cake pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper. I used a smaller 6.5 inch pan here since I wanted it to fit on this particular cake stand. If you use a smaller pan, you may need to bake for a few minutes longer.
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and eggs together until it becomes light in color, about a couple of minutes. Add the rose water and beat to combine.
  3. Combine the flour, almond flour, cardamom, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. With the mixer running on slow speed, slowly add the dry ingredients in and beat until just combined.
  4. Pour into the pan and smooth the top of the batter flat with a spatula and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cake to cool before glazing.
  5. To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and milk together. Add a few small pinches of freeze dried pitaya powder to the glaze or add a drop of red food dye. The glaze should be thick but pourable. If it is too thick, add more milk. If too thin, add more powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Pour over the center of the cake using an offset spatula to move the glaze over the edges. Break the leaves off the rose buds and scatter on top.

NOTES

A note about rose water. The potency of rose water varies widely from brand to brand. This cake should be light on the rose scent. In my opinion, more than that and it tastes like you're eating perfume-- yuck. The brand I used in this recipe is Nielsen Massey, which I have found to be much stronger than other brands. If you're not sure how much to add, do a little at a time (about 1/2 a teaspoon) and taste the batter as you go.

Mushroom Wild Rice “Meatloaf”

January 24, 2019
Food,Recipes

One of my New Year resolutions is to drastically limit my meat consumption, partly for health reasons but mostly for environmental reasons. Raising livestock is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet and uses a third of the world’s fresh water. For me, that was reason enough. And so far I’ve stuck to it! It actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be (and I am a meat lover!) but that’s largely due to the fact that I’ve been eating healthier and preparing my own meals. Veggies prepared the right way can be just as filling and substantial as meat. One of the dishes that I’ve had on repeat is this mushroom, walnut and wild rice “meatloaf”. You’ll need a food processor but this is otherwise very easy to make and topped with some spicy tomato sauce, this can easily become the star of your dinner! The key is to process the mixture so that you have small chunks of mushroom and walnut and rice so that the loaf has good texture.

Mushroom Wild Rice "Meatloaf"

Mushroom, walnuts and wild rice create a flavorful and moist vegetarian "meatloaf"
Servings: 4 people

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a damp towel. Cut the cremini mushrooms in half and remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. Pour a couple glugs of grapeseed oil over the mushrooms and season with a few pinches of salt and some black pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes until they start to brown around the edges. Remove the mushrooms and lower the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. While the mushrooms are cooking, sautee the onion in a glug of grapeseed oil over medium high heat until they become lightly caramelized. Toast the walnuts in a clean pan over medium heat until they become toasted and fragrant (be careful not to burn them).
  3. Combine the cooked mushrooms, onions, walnuts, rice, tamari, and tomato paste in the food processor and pulse ingredients until the texture is consistent and becomes a paste with small lumps. Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper if needed. It should taste very flavorful and be seasoned well.
  4. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the food processor and pulse until just incorporated. Oil a loaf pan with grapeseed oil and line with parchment paper. Pour the mushroom mixture into the loaf pan, cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
  5. Allow the loaf to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce.

(images by HonestlyYUM)

Vegan Caesar Dressing

January 17, 2019
Food,Recipes

The beginning of a new year means lots of salads in my household. I’ve been making variations of this vegan Caesar dressing for years now. The base of a classic Caesar is made with egg yolk and oil, which I’ve replaced here with heart-healthy nuts and seeds. Ceasar dressing is packed with tons of flavor from all the garlic and anchovies. I’ve tried to do the same here using vegan ingredients like tamari, nutritional yeast and capers. One optional twist to this recipe is to replace the capers with a sheet of toasted salted seaweed. It gives this dressing even more umami flavor! Pour it over shredded kale or brussels sprouts or romaine. I’ve added grains, sprouts, red onion and avocado to mine but this versatile dressing will go great with any veggie!

Vegan Caesar Dressing

A heart-healthy take on the classic Caesar using nuts and seeds.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If you like more garlic or if your garlic is not potent, add more. Or if you like a tangier dressing add more lemon and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Don't be afraid to be aggressive with the seasoning since this is the seasoning for all the vegetables in your salad. The dressing should be thick but pourable. Add more water if necessary.

(images by HonestlyYUM)

Cacao-Date Balls

January 2, 2019
Food,Recipes

I spent the majority of 2018 pregnant. It was a pretty easy pregnancy and loved being pregnant. I had your typical pregnancy symptoms, including the most insane cravings for sweets. There’s a misconception about pregnancy that you can just eat whatever you want and double the amount because you’re growing a baby. That can’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s a time when you should really take care of your body since everything you put in your body impacts your baby. I didn’t go on a crazy strict diet and definitely had the occasional raw seafood and glass of wine. But when it came to sweet treats, I binged. These date balls basically saved me from drowning my pregnant self in ice cream. They are perfectly sweet with no added sugar and totally hit the spot. They’re so good I continued to make batches of them post-pregnancy. So if your New Year resolutions include cutting down or cutting out sugar, I would make these ASAP!

Cacao-Date Balls

These cacao-date balls are indulgent and rich but without any added sugar.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Process the almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add the oats, dates, coconut oil and cacao powder and process until the there are small flecks of nuts and oats and you have a consistent texture.
  2. Roll a heaping tablespoon into the palm of your hand into a ball. Depending on the kind of dates you use you may need more moisture. If the ball does not hold together, put the mixture back and add a tiny splash of water or a little bit more coconut oil. If it is too wet add a little more cacao powder.
  3. Toss the balls into the cacao powder to coat and tap the excess powder off. Store in the refrigerator.

(images by HonestlyYUM)

Mandarin Shiso Cocktail

December 19, 2018
Drinks,Recipes

Every year I make plans to host an epic holiday gathering; a chance to entertain friends and family, and indulge in all the exciting new recipes I’ve created throughout the year. And yet, inevitably every year my plans fall through. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed by the holiday rush, am I right? The days get short, and the to-do list gets looong. But this is the year I get my priorities straight. This is the year I slow down and enjoy the moment. THIS is the year I celebrate! Well, it just so happens that nothing brings my friends together during the holidays quite like one of my seasonal cocktail recipes – especially if it involves Absolut Vodka!

Mandarin Shiso Cocktail by HonestlyYUM

I’ve been wanting to make a mandarin cocktail for ages. The bright, tart flavor from fresh mandarin juice is much more conducive to cocktail mixing than typical orange juice in my opinion. You need two ounces of juice for this cocktail, which is about the yield from one large ripe mandarin. If you’re mixing up a batch of these cocktails for a holiday gathering, do yourself a favor and squeeze those mandarins. Don’t give in to store bought OJ. Quality over quantity . . .

Mandarin Shiso Cocktail by HonestlyYUM

Speaking of quality, this spiced shiso syrup blew my socks off. The hint of cinnamon and star anise brings out the natural spice notes in the shiso. I used the method of blending the whole herb into the simple syrup, and the result is a stunningly vibrant green.

Mandarin Shiso Cocktail by HonestlyYUM

All in all, this cocktail does require a bit of handiwork, but like I mentioned, ’tis the season. A squeeze of fresh citrus, a homemade syrup, a bottle of Absolut Vodka . . . it’s time to celebrate!

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Gift Guide 2018: The Bartender

December 14, 2018
Shopping

Attention cocktail lovers and home bar enthusiasts: it’s that time again . . . the 2018 Bartender Gift Guide is LIVE (also known as Todd’s personal wish list). This is the 6th time that I’ve put this list together, and each year I feel it just keeps getting bigger and better! It’s was definitely hard to squeeze all my favorite cocktail-related finds of the year into one little collage. I hope you take the time to dig through, maybe share it with some friends. There really are some treasures in here. In the meantime, I have some shopping to do . . . happy drinking!! 

  1. Drinking Distilled: A User’s Manual, by Jeffrey Morgenthaler $14 – Anything by Jeffrey Morgenthaler is required reading in my book.
  2. Lightsaber™ Ice Tray $16 – Use the Force for those tall skinny glasses.
  3. Trophy Jigger $20 – This sleek, gunmetal coated jigger would be a sexy addition to any home bar.
  4. Resist & Persist Glasses $44 – It’s hard to escape politics these days. Might as well enjoy some whiskey while you’re at it.
  5. Hauck™ Julep Strainer $30 – Based on an 1890’s design, I absolutely love the way the angled handle hangs snuggly over the edge mixing glass.
  6. Kannoko Barley Shochu $27 – My new favorite shochu! So delicate, so flavorful, and even delicious in a cocktail.
  7. Matcha Whisk $25 – This battery-powered matcha whisk will save you hours of whisking. Love the green color too!
  8. Profile Bottle Opener $60 – This sleek, elegant bottle opener would be a lovely fit in on any kitchen counter.
  9. uKeg Stainless Growler, 64 oz $149 – This little growler is practically a portable keg! Keep your beer cold and keep it fresh for weeks.
  10. Death Star™ Glasses $40 – Honestly, how cool are these? Stair down the Death Star with every sip of your beverage.
  11. Viski Pacific Bamboo Gold Plated Highball Glasses $35 – These gold-plated stainless steal highballs will keep your bar looking hot and your drinks sipping cold.
  12. Acrylic Nick and Nora Glasses (6-pack) $34 – Hard to believe, but these Nick and Nora glasses are acrylic! No more need to worry about shattering those delicate martini glasses at the next backyard gathering.
  13. Morgenthaler Triomphe Atomizer $15 – If you have to get one atomizer for your bar, this is the one. 
  14. Drinking Buddy Charms and Topper Set $10 – The cutest little wine charms + bottle topper. 
  15. Punch Bowl $40 – Everyone needs a punch bowl. You might as well grab one from the David Wondrich collection – Mr. Punch himself.
  16. Del Maguey Copitas (set of 6) $14 – If you’re a regular mezcal drinker, you owe it to yourself to grab a set of copitas . . . now’s the time.
  17. West+Wilder Wine (3-pack of white & rosé) $35 – As they say on their website, “A great bottle of wine that happens to come in cans.”
  18. Gaz Regan Negroni Finger Stirrer $27 – Someone’s bound to put their finger in your negroni – might as well make it proper!
  19. Canyon Acacia Ice Bucket $80 – I’m always on the lookout for handsome ice buckets, as they tend to be left out on display. This Acacia wood ice bucket caught my eye immediately!
  20. The Capper $15 – A bottle opener AND bottle re-capper!! 
  21. Morgenthaler Champagne Sabre $67 – Celebrate the New Year in style with this dashing stainless-steal Champagne saber.
  22. White Pineapple Cocktail Shaker $99 – Almost too pretty to use, this white pineapple shaker is just as much of a show piece as it is a cocktail shaker.
  23. Buswell® Reusable Straw Pack $13 – For those of you that host big parties, this reusable straw pack is a steal! 200 straws that can each be washed up to 200 times each in the dishwasher. Gone are the days of cheap, throw-away plastic straws.  
  24. Mint Julep Cocktail Pin $12 – Pretty much the coolest pin I’ve ever seen, and a must for Derby Day!
  25. Negroni Apron $80 – From the makers of our favorite aprons come this Negroni-themed, herringbone denim design.
  26. Lindley-Pick™ Hawthorne Strainer $33 – This vintage-inspired silver-plated strainer is one of the most intricate designs I’ve seen in a Hawthorne strainer.