Purple Asparagus and Herbs in an Omelette {Recipe}

Ah, asparagus season. There are so many ways to eat them, yet I find the simplest recipes are the most flavorful. Cooking is really about letting the quality of the produce speak for itself, so there isn’t much technique involved. My friends and family think I am a great cook, but I attribute my skills to the high quality ingredients I get at the farmers market. And, I can’t think of much that is easier and tastier than asparagus and good quality eggs together. There are so many ways to combine them- grilled asparagus topped with poached eggs, roasted asparagus frittatasautéed vegetables with a soft-boiled egg.

asparagus eggs

Though, this  recipe is the prettiest. And pretty food is lovely to serve and eat. I make this on a weekday morning for just Satish, and I and over the weekend, when we have friends over. However, instead of making several individual omelettes, I just make one large omelette and put the pan in the middle of the table for friends to serve themselves. The prep and cook time is rather fast, with hardly a minute in between. When making individual omelettes, have two pans going at the same time, to get to the eating part faster. 

herbs

When I do not have spring onions on hand, I use sweet yellow onions. The herbs are arbitrary, as long as they are fresh, you can use whatever you already have or what you where able to find at the farmers market or grocery store. Use one herb or a combination of herbs. Thyme, basil, flat-leafed parsley, and chives work wonderful together and alone. I use chive flowers when I can find them at the market. Flavored salts work well too, but fine grain sea salt is just fine. I was able to find purple asparagus at the farmers market and thought they would make for pretty pictures. They also make for a great wow factor, but taste the same in flavor as green asparagus. Just use the thin ones for this recipe, because they are more tender and sweet. 

Simple Spring Omelette

Serves 2, cook time ~15 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon chives, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup spring onions, minced
12-14 spears of thin asparagus
1 teaspoon lavender salt
4 eggs

The vegetables. Mince the chives and parsley. In a small bowl, mix the herbs and black pepper. Set aside.

Heat up a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan on medium heat with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and a little butter. Mince the white part of the spring onion. Add the minced spring onions in the heated pan and stir. Cook until crispy and light brown, about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, wash asparagus under cool water. Cut off the woody ends and pat off excess water with a towel. Remove the crispy spring onions from pan and set aside. If they feel greasy, you can put them on a paper towel.

cutting board

Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil to the same pan let it heat up for 30 seconds. Add the asparagus to the pan. Make sure they do not overlap.  Stir a couple of times to cook all sides. Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle lavender salt over the spears. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. It really depends on how tender you like the spears. The purple asparagus will turn bright green from the heat. Transfer the asparagus to a cool plate once done cooking.

purple asparagus

The eggs. While asparagus are cooking, beat 2 eggs vigorously with a fork, until they are frothy and whites are incorporated with the yolks. Heat a 6″ nonstick pan with 2 teaspoons butter. Coat the entire pan with the butter by swirling it around the pan. Pour the eggs into pan and cook for 45-60 seconds. With a thin silicone spatula, carefully lift the cooked portions and tilt the pan to let the runny portions reach the bottom of pan. Do this again in 30 seconds, until most of the egg is set. 

Sprinkle 1/2 of the herb mixture over the omelette. You don’t need to add sea salt here, since the asparagus is already salted. Carefully slide onto serving plate. Repeat for the remaining omelette.

herb omelette

Now, carefully arrange asparagus spears on top of each omelette. Sprinkle the browned spring onions and herb flowers on top and serve.

asparagus eggs

What are your favorite ways to eat asparagus? Please share recipes!

Advertisements

Eating Well On A Tight Schedule: Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

Twitter or Facebook with me!

In the last several months, I have had little time do anything else but work on my startup. It’s a really exciting and busy time for Glamour Games, which means I have very little time for Club Dine In. Though, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been eating well. My health is a priority, so I still try to squeeze in 3-4 workouts per week, grocery shop, and cook. I don’t devote my free time for elaborate meals, but stick to the basics. I still cook and eat fresh, unprocessed food that take 30 minutes or less to make. I am also becoming an expert on making large batches of food, so I only have to cook about 3 nights a week. I mostly make Indian curries, sauteed vegetables over soba noodles or quinoa, and hearty salads.

One of my go-to recipes is the One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf I found on the Food 52 website. It has a nice balance of protein (quinoa, pine nuts), healthy fats (walnut oil, pine nuts), carbohydrates (quinoa, pine nuts), vitamins and fiber (kale, chives, quinoa). Good quality walnut oil can be expensive, but it’s worth the investment. Walnut oil is delicious and a little really goes a long way. You can also just use a good quality olive oil, but I really do love the flavor the walnut oil lends to this dish. In this recipe, I substitute chives for scallions often. It really is about what I can find at the farmer’s market. When we are tired of kale, I add in arugula (without steaming it) or spinach. I’ve even added a few sprigs of fresh mint to the mix. It’s easy to make this recipe vegan, by nixing the goat cheese altogether. The texture and taste is lighter without the goat cheese and the walnut flavor really comes thru.

20110523-093802.jpg

I refuse to eat takeout food near our office, so I bring in food for us everyday. With this dish, I introduced one of our engineers to quinoa and kale. After that, I decided to bring this dish in every Monday for the team. The pilaf also costs a lot less per serving than fast food. A little prep and planning does go a long way for your budget, time and health!

Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips!

Grilled Asparagus with Lavender Salt

Twitter or Facebook with me!
One of my favorite things about Spring is asparagus. Actually, I think I have already overdid it with the asparagus. I won 8 bunches of asparagus from a recipe contest on the Fort Mason’s Farmers Market Facebook page and I’ve really tried eating it all. Though, asparagus are relatively low-maintenance. I don’t need to do much with them and they cook rather fast. This is one of my most basic recipes for asparagus, that I probably make once a week. It’s fast. And, sometimes, I eat the whole bunch by myself. They are that good. Fresh asparagus, that haven’t been doused in pesticides or altered by biotech companies (want to have this discussion?), are healthy. I don’t question it.

Lavender is my secret ingredient. I discovered cooking with lavender when one of my college roommates brought home a bottle of Herbs de Provence (a mixture of dried herbs which include lavender). I was amazed that you could cook with lavender as I had always thought of it as a nice smelling flower. It turns out that lavender in food is magical and has many, many healing properties. It really is magical and most people cannot pinpoint what “that” flavor is, making you a culinary star. Like all other herbs, I only get organic lavender.

Often times, I eat the grilled asparagus with a fried egg for complete meal. It’s breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner. It’s also very satiating. Try it with a runny, pasture-raised egg. You will be amazed.

Ingredients
1 bunch thin asparagus
2 tablespoon olive oil or organic butter
lavender salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1-2 pasture-raised eggs (optional)

Method
Heat a cast iron pan on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil or butter and coat the pan well. Add in the asparagus a handful at a time. You do not want to overcrowd the pan. Let the asparagus cook for a couple of minutes before turning them with a wooden spatula. Cook for a couple of minutes more or until they are tender. Sprinkle lavender salt over the asparagus and transfer to a plate. Repeat this procedure until all of the asparagus is cooked.

In the same pan or a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil or butter. Wash the eggs and crack one egg into the pan. Cook until the whites appear solid, about 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately over the bed of cooked asparagus.

You can use a cast-iron grill pan or a regular heavy bottomed pan to cook the asparagus. I like using this pan because it creates beautiful grill marks on the asparagus.

A regular (cast-iron) pan works just as well.

Asparagus are easy yet elegant enough for potlucks. I took this dish to a potluck brunch a couple of weeks ago.

Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events. Be sure to sign-up to receive posts and updates straight into your inbox!

A Whole Garden Soup For Your Soul

Follow me on  Twitter and Facebook.

After having dinner at Ubuntu, I have been thinking a lot about how much food we waste. Take a carrot for instance: we peel, scrub, and remove the tops. That is getting rid of half of a whole carrot. It just ends up in my compost bin. Well, for the first time, I decided to actually taste the carrot top. It tasted almost like parsley with a carrot aroma. Also, I always buy organic or pesticide-free carrots directly from a trusted farmer at the Farmer’s Market, so I can get away with just scrubbing and washing the carrot. Though, I do not know exactly what to do with carrot-tops, I am definitely open to experimenting and new recipes. Also, I stumbled upon this website that has a ton of information about carrots.

I also have been more inclined to test out iPhone recipe apps. I have all of the well-known, free ones downloaded, but never really cared to use them. I like opening up a cookbook, looking at the pictures, making marks and notes, and placing it right next to my chopping board (without fear of liquid spilling all over it). Anyway, Jamie Oliver’s app is very attractive and I decided to make the minestrone soup in the free sampler pack. I loved how easily you can create a shopping list (which I am known to leave at home if written on a notepad) right on your phone. It’s a really well-done app; one of the best I have seen. My only complaint is that it’s not easy to use the recipe on the phone while cooking. I am a bit clumsy so phone + liquids + messy hands = disaster. I actually gathered all of the ingredients, listed in the app minus the pancetta, pasta and, added a few of my own ingredients to what ended up being the best soup I have ever made. The quantity ended up being larger than I anticipated and we had soup for 8 servings! I love one-pot meals that last for several meals and the timing could not have been more perfect. We have been experiencing extremely cold weather and it was even supposed to snow in San Francisco!

Whole Garden Vegetable Soup
This soup is really simple to make and the garbanzo beans and potato makes it hearty enough to be a meal in itself. The baking soda helps to soften the garbanzo beans faster so you don’t need a pressure cooker. Serve with a slice of whole grain toast or a side salad if you would like. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer an airtight container, but remove any remaining kale first.

Ingredients
Serves 4-6
2 cups water, room temperature, divided
pinch of baking soda
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion
2-4 carrots with tops
2 branches of celery
2 garlic cloves
1/2 inch ginger
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 small potato, diced
10 ounces canned tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 cup kale, torn and tough parts removed
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Extra virgin Olive oil for drizzling

Method

1. Rinse the soaked garbanzo beans and add them to 1 cup boiling water with a pinch of baking soda. Let boil while you work on the soup.

Leaves of the carrot-top

2. Chop the garlic, ginger, onion, celery, carrots and potato. Thinly slice the stalks of the carrot tops and reserve the leaves. Heat the oil in a large soup pot on medium heat, then add the chopped garlic, ginger, onion, celery, carrots, potato, and bay leaves. Lower temperature to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften and start to caramelize. Stir occasionally.


3. Drain the garbanzo beans and add them to the soup pot. Next add the canned tomatoes, broth, remaining 1 cup of water, and cumin. Stir the ingredients together, turn the temperature up to medium-high and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning with more cumin, sea salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.


4. Meanwhile, wash the kale in cold running water. Roughly chop it¸ removing the tough stems. Add it to the soup pot, cover with a lid, and cook for about 5 minutes, until kale is tender.

5. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle extra virgin olive oil, garnish with carrot-top leaves, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

What is your favorite soup recipe?

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Eating Healthy On The Road (with recipe)

Follow Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook.
Road trip and airport/airplane food is usually dense in refine carbohydrates, salt, sugar, and fat and seriously lacking in nutrients. It leaves you bloated, fatigued, and uneasy. Though, a little planning can change all of that so you can enjoy your trip  so much more.

On The Road
Satish and I drove down to Los Angeles a couple of months ago to visit friends and family. We always prefer to drive down so we can have the convenience of our own car, but this time I was dreading the road food more so than ever before. Off of I-5 there isn’t much offered than fast food and a few sporadic fruit stands, so we usually end up making one stop at In-N-Out. I always order a grilled cheese (no meat) and fries. It’s basically just white processed bread with “cheese” and onions, blended with their special sauce. I  physically never felt great after indulging in that “food”.  Maybe, the experience is much different for people who eat the beef patties. Well, I just couldn’t do it anymore. The feeling of being bloated and fatigue..especially since I have been doing so good with eating fresh, clean food and working out. I find that once you have cleansed yourself of processed food, it’s really hard to eat food made out of chemicals. So, I made our own food! Homemade, gourmet sandwiches to go! The drive was only 5-6 hours long, so we did not need a whole lot of food. I also had packed unsalted, mixed nuts and tortilla chips (Satish loves them). We always travel with our stainless steel water bottles filled with water.  We did stop by a Starbucks for coffee/tea and a bathroom break.

In The Air
Recently, we went to Kauai for our vacation. I couldn’t have been more excited about the trip, but the airport and airplane food had me a little more than turned off. I have been trying to keep up with my new year’s resolution and I do not think vacations are an excuse to eat highly processed food. Plus, there is nothing pleasurable about it to me. I also didn’t want to leave a trail of plastic behind just for my convenience. (Processed food comes packaged in plastic). Especially, since most places and facilities do not recycle or properly dispose these materials. A couple of days ahead of our trip, I made savory muffins (recipe below) for us to take on the plane. They keep well and are filling. We had also packed our own trail mixes and Lara Bars.

Game Plan
Plan: Make sure to eat a decent meal before heading out to the airport or on a long car ride to avoid eating horrible airport food or going through the drive-thru.

-Pack your own food: fruits, sandwiches, sun-dried tomatoes,  nuts, and carrots are good choices.

-If you are driving, you can pack a cooler so the food options open up, especially if the road trip is during the warmer months. Salads can be a great, light option for the road and should not wilt in the cooler.

-Bring  water in a reusable steel/glass bottle. Fill up several reusable water bottles before heading out on the road trip (major no-no for airplanes) and you can even spruce up your water with a sprig of mint or citrus. Just squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon or sweet orange into your water bottles for a refreshing taste. You will save money and plastic from ending up in the ocean. When you run out of water, buy the largest container of water and refill your reusable bottles.  One large plastic container does less damage than 36 individual, plastic bottles. Also, if safe-drinking water is available, fill up from the sink or fountain. Also, many water-filter made for traveling.

– Do some research and try to find out if there will be better choices while driving or at the airport. This is especially helpful for longer flights and road trips.

– Relax. After all you are on vacation, and as long as you are not making too many exceptions and staying active, don’t worry about it!

Muffins On The Go Savory Muffins
Olives and Sun-Dried Tomato Muffins
I made these muffins for our recent trip to Kauai. I added the pinch of turmeric to act as natural preservative, but it did not change the flavor. I like to use sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil/solution. To soften the sun-dried tomatoes, I cover them in hot water for 10 minutes before using them. These keep well in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. They also freeze well.

Ingredients
Butter, for greasing
1 cup baby spinach, washed, well-drained and chopped
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped *see headnote
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3/4 cup  freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup mild goat cheese, crumbled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup whole milk
2 cups whole grain flour
4 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground
pinch of turmeric (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400F, with rack in the top third. Use the butter to grease a 12-hole muffin pan and set aside.

 

I buy sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in solution or oil and soften them by soaking them in hot water for 10-15 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, two-thirds of the olives, dried basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, and two-thirds of the goat cheese. Gently mix together using a spatula.

 

You can use a variety of olives, but Kalamata works the best in the muffins.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together and add to the sun-dried tomato mix.

4. In another bowl, mix flour, turmeric, salt, black pepper, and baking powder together. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sun-dried tomato  mixture. Fold together with a spatula just until the batter comes together. Be careful not to over mix.

Be careful to not over mix the batter; it should be a bit lumpy.

5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full.  Top each muffin with a bit of the remaining olives and goat cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple of minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

What are your healthy tips and suggestions for road trips and airports?

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Brunch for Lovers or Just You: Blood Orange Pancakes

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

People either love or hate Valentine’s Day, with very few people oblivious to February 14th’s significance. I had a roller coaster of emotions when it came to V-Day. I loved it for what it stood for- hopeless, romantic, I will do anything for you, fairy-tail kind of love. Of course, V-Day never was that easy as a single girl. I’ve been through my fair share of relationships, but my husband was my first real Valentine. For the first 25 years of my existence, I never seemed to be in a relationship circa Feb 14th. Strange. I am a sucker for the commercialization of the whole thing, and I think a girl should be showered with pretty flowers, chocolates, and gifts. Equally, a man should receive the same thought and affection. I am all for fancy romantic dinners, but the prix-fix menus and price mark-ups annoy me. It also does not feel as special when you know you are in a dining room with 50 other couples who are there just because it’s Valentines Day. So it’s nice to cook a romantic, thoughtful meal at home. It’s also just as nice to cook a special meal for yourself!

Valentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day just so happens to fall on a weekday this year, so a pre-brunch is in order. Nothing is more luxe and seductive as blood oranges. Sure, strawberries are the fruit of love and seduction, but that’s only because no one has looked at blood oranges. Their season is fleeting between the months of January and February. Sometimes, they appear as early as December and last until March. They are mysterious, seductive, and one bite makes you want more. In my opinion, strawberries are played out (and not in season)!

Blood Orange Pancakes
serves 2
Ingredients
1 cup Almond meal
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one medium blood orange
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp melted, unsalted butter or 1 tbsp blood orange olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk
butter for coating
blood orange compote

1. Combine buckwheat flour, almond meal, baking soda, and salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix well.  In another bowl, whisk together zest, ginger, melted butter, egg, and milk until well combined.

Zest of one blood orange

2.  Add dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients. Stir the batter gently as you add in the dry ingredient. The batter should be lumpy and slightly thick. Add a teaspoon of whole milk at a time if batter is too thick.

The batter should be lumpy.

3. Heat a  griddle or heavy bottomed pan to medium-hot, and place 1 tablespoon of butter into it. Let the butter melt before spooning the batter into the pan.

3. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot pan. Cook until bubbles break on surface, turn and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until browned. Remove from the pan and smear a tiny bit of butter on top. Keep warm by placing the cooked pancakes in the oven, covered loosely with foil.

4. Serve warm with blood orange compote and blood orange juice.

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Broccoli with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Follow me on Twitter

Broccoli is not traditional in Indian cooking, but I used to love eating broccoli. Every Monday, I cooked my own meal of sauteed vegetables and broccoli was definitely part of the medley of vegetables. A few years ago, I stopped eating broccoli because it simply just didn’t agree with my body constitution. Satish, on the other hand, has almost the exact opposite of my body constitution and can digest most foods easily. His favorite snack is tortilla chips with salsa. In trying to eliminate all processed foods from our diet, I had to come up with fast, easy replacements for the chips. He also loves Chinese food, but we rarely ever eat it since high quality, inexpensive Chinese food is hard to find and I haven’t ventured into cooking it  for ourselves. This is a great recipe that combines salt (soy sauce), spice (red chili flakes), and crunch (sesame seeds).  I would hardly call this dish “Chinese”, but it has the flavor profile. The broccoli is full of vitamins and phytonutrients that will help your body fight free radicals and support your immune system. I sometimes  serve this over a bed of quinoa for a complete meal. Low quality broccoli can forever leave a nasty impression in your mind, so it’s very important to choose a good stalk. Organic, local, or pesticide-free varieties are your best choices. Broccoli are naturally in abundance during the winter and only last a few days in the fridge before it starts to loose color.

Sesame Seed Broccoli
serves 2

Ingredients
2 cups cut Broccoli florets
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2-3 teaspoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes (more or less to your liking)

Method
1. Cut and wash the broccoli under cool running water. Meanwhile bring the water in your steamer to a boil. Place broccoli in your vegetable steamer and cover. Let steam for 3 minutes. Or just add them into the boiling water and drain really well after 3 minutes of boiling.

2. While the broccoli is steaming toast red chili flakes and sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat. Once the sesame seeds start turning brown, remove quickly from heat. Toss in the steamed broccoli and soy sauce. Mix well and serve immediately. Tastes great over a bed of rice or quinoa.

Who wants to take me Asian pantry shopping, because broccoli+sesame seeds+ 365 brand soy sauce is just not cutting it for me?!

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Cookbook Potluck Party Recap

Follow me on Twitter

Club Dine In! and Slow Food SF co-hosted a cookbook potluck party at JAX Vineyard’s beautiful loft on Sunday. We had about 20 people bring a dish from the cookbook Cooking With Italian Grandmothers by Jessica Theroux. Jessica who lives in the Bay Area also came to the party. Gina from California Olives and Olive Oils (COOO) set up an olive oil and olive tasting table for us. We got to taste three of the amazing olive oils and the olive from which the oils are produced.  I was introduced to COOO at the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market, which I have been going to consistently on Sunday mornings for the last six months.  During the summer, they were the only ones selling fresh lemons. JAX Vineyard also poured a glass of their Taureau and Chardonnay.  I loved their Taureau. Overall, the atmosphere was causal, warm, and friendly. Just like a dinner party should be.

JAX Vineyard's loft in SOMA

Old and new friends mingled over olives, olive oil, and wine.

The space was comfortable enough for everyone to enjoy each others' company. Dava, of Slow Food SF, gave an introduction to the cookbook. Jessica talked a little bit about her experience in documenting the grandmothers and her time in Italy.

We watched a delightful short film that Jessica made in Italy.

There was an abundance of food made from the recipes in the chosen cookbook.

Convivial Table

*Club Dine In! hosts events that enriches  the community through sustainable practices. Members can stay connected through a discussion board on Facebook to share ideas, experiences and suggestions with each other.

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Patate Arrosti con Rosmarino- Potluck Party

Join Club Dine In! and Slow Food SF at JAX Vineyard’s Loft for a potluck featuring recipes from the new book, Cooking with Italian Grandmothers by Jessica Theroux.  Choose your favorite recipe from the cookbook and join us for dinner. JAX Vineyard will pour wine and California Olives and Oils will  have olive oil for tasting. Theroux will be at the potluck and  show a screening from her time in Italy. Members can stay connected through an discussion board on Facebook to share ideas, experiences and suggestions with each other.

When: Janaury 16, 2011 5-8PM
Where: JAX Vineyards SF Loft 334 Brannan Street San Francisco, CA 94107
RSVP: Tickets are $15 per person and includes an olive oil tasting and 1 glass of JAX Vineyard wine with dinner.

A Meatless, Unprocessed Christmas (With Pumpkin Soup Recipe)

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Satish and I drove down to LA last Wednesday to spend the Christmas holiday with his sister and family. I had planned to make the Christmas Eve dinner as I really want to create tradition for Satish and I.  This entire  meal was going to be vegetarian, since my sister-in-law is a vegetarian and with all respect doesn’t like meat cooked in her kitchen. Therefore, I had packed up all of my key spices, herbs, oils, and favorite kitchen tools. I almost packed up my most versatile pan, zester, and spatula, but decided I could live without them. (Later, I learned I can’t live without the zester.) It’s tough cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen. I had plans to visit a farmer’s market in LA for the main ingredients.  LA has at least 120 farmer’s markets happening during the week, so there is hardly no excuse to not go.  I curiously went to the Westwood farmer’s market on Thursday, with high hopes of finding all of the ingredients I needed for the Christmas Eve dinner.  I was disappointed to find that it was a sparse market, but I still bought kale and parsley. Later, I met my dear friend for tea and hot soup. She suggested we stroll through the farmer’s market nearby, but time seemed to slip by at the Jewish bakery as we sipped our tea, flirted with the rows of baked goods, laughed, cried, shared, and reminisced. By the time we were ready to leave the bakery, it was dark and I needed to rush back to avoid being stuck in traffic. Of course, I didn’t listen to our GPS, made a couple of wrong turns, and missed the closest 10W onramp. Awhile ago, I stopped getting upset with myself for making wrong turns and getting lost and started enjoying the new route I created. Due to the wrong turns, I happened to drive by the La Cienega Farmers Market. Since, I was crawling in the local traffic, I got to look into the farmers market held at the parking lot of the La Cienega Plaza Shopping Center. It was beautiful. The sun was already gone, Christmas lights were bright, food trucks, fresh flowers, all amidst red break lights. Peering, I saw berries, popcorn, chestnuts, citrus, and greens. I was surprised by the berries…maybe it’s the mild, spring like weather in SoCal. I was tempted to pull into the driveway and finish shopping for the ingredients needed to make the next day’s dinner. Though, I knew that every minute I waited to get onto the highway would be to risk being stuck in major LA traffic. I sighed and kept driving.  The next morning, I woke up early and rushed to the nearest Whole Foods in hopes of avoiding the last minute mad dash for groceries. I had a simple grocery list: pumpkin, Delicata squash, arugula, eggplant, spinach, ricotta, feta, and Parmesan. The Whole Foods in Santa Monica has a very tiny fresh produce section so I drove to the one in Brentwood. Surprisingly, most of the Whole Foods in West LA are much smaller in general. I nearly had a panic attack when I couldn’t find half of the fresh ingredients that I needed. The problem was solved easily by asking the grocers, who went into the back to get what I needed. (I had not made a back-up dinner menu)…

After getting a great latte at Caffe Luxxe (which was recommended to me on twitter), I was ready to start cooking. The menu was simple but I wanted to give myself ample time and not rush to finish during the end. The starter was a rather easy pumpkin soup spiced with cumin and cinnamon. I had an incredible pumpkin soup at Garibaldi’s earlier this week, which was the main inspiration. I had even made it on Tuesday, using my beloved Fairy Tale Pumpkin. Next on the menu was the Squash and Pomegranate Salad, Kale and Quinoa, and Garlic + Bread (inspired by Little Star Pizza). The main course was a variation of my vegetable rich lasagna. My niece helped me make the pistachio cookies that I made for 18 Reasons’ cookie swap, which would be dessert along with rich, hot chocolate.

Cumin Scented Pumpkin Soup

1 medium Sugar or Fairy Tale pumpkin (4-6 lbs)
olive oil for coating pumpkin
4 large garlic cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons cumin, fresh grounded
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1/2 stick of unsalted butter or 1/3 cup olive oil
6 cups water, approximately
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Creme Fraiche (optional)

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut pumpkin in half, discard the stem, seeds and stringy pulp.  Rub oil over the pumpkin, coating well. Place the pumpkin cut side down on the prepared pan. Tuck 2 garlic cloves under the cavity of the pumpkin. Bake pumpkin until it is very tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to touch, remove the peel. Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces so it’s easier to puree.

2. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the cinnamon sticks. Once the cinnamon sticks open up, add in the cumin and ground cinnamon. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove pot from heat.

3. Puree the pumpkin in batches by adding in 1 cup of the pumpkin pieces  with a 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add water to reach a consistency of your liking.

4. Put the pot back on the stove-top and heat on medium. Once the soup is heated thoroughly, add salt and pepper to your liking. Stir in the Creme Fraiche. Taste and adjust seasoning.

 

Pumpkin Soup garnished with Sage

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.