Classic Caesar Salad with Sourdough Croutons

Homemade croutons are the easiest way to elevate a simple recipe to the next level. Compared to the hard, dry texture of store bought croutons, they are full of flavor with a wonderful soft, slightly crunchy texture. Whole Foods sells a killer sourdough boule that is absolutely perfect for homemade croutons!     The other key component of a great classic Caesar salad is the dressing. To save some prep time, the dressing can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. You really can’t afford to skip the raw egg yolk or anchovies. The egg yolk is essential for the creamy richness of the dressing, while the anchovies provide a salty, umami kick.     Prep Time: 30 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients: 2 romaine hearts 1 small sourdough boule 4 anchovy fillets 1 clove garlic, minced 1 large egg yolk 2 tbsp, fresh lemon juice 1/2 tsp, Dijon mustard 1/3 cup, olive oil Parmesan cheese Sea salt and black pepper to taste Preparation: To prepare the dressing, chop and combine the anchovy fillets and garlic clove. Mash into a paste and transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg yolk, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Gradually pour in olive oil and add 2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese. Season with sea salt and black pepper and continue to whisk dressing until fully combined, thick, and glossy. Preheat the oven to 375°. Tear the sourdough boule into small bite-size pieces. Toss well with olive oil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until bread is golden-brown. Finally, tear romaine lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces and place into a large serving...

Superfood Snack: Honey, Banana & Almond Butter Toast

In honor of National Toast Day this is a super simple, delicious breakfast or post-workout snack. Packing a serious nutritional punch, almond butter is high in protein and healthy fat, while bananas are a great high-glycemic carbohydrate source, perfect for quick energy replenishment. Key to keeping this snack healthy are quality ingredients- namely whole-grain bread. I prefer to pick up my bread at the local Santa Monica Farmer’s Market to ensure a fresh, unprocessed loaf, loaded with 100% whole grains!     Prep Time: 5 minutes Ingredients: 1 slice, whole-grain bread 2 tbsp, almond butter 1/2 banana, sliced 1 tsp, honey Preparation: Toast bread then spread almond butter evenly over the slice. Top with sliced bananas and drizzle with...

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Sriracha Aioli

This is one of those recipes that was a result of inspiration from a dozen different places! Disappointed that my food blogging had taken a back seat to the craziness of everyday life, I was looking for the perfect recipe and aesthetic to get me excited about the process again. That inspiration managed to come in the form of a beautiful gift from Japan- a porcelain bowl, ornately adorned with delicate flowers.     In allowing the aesthetic to guide the recipe, I decided on a typical Japanese mainstay- shishito peppers. These mild, green peppers are often served as a simple appetizer or as tempura and have crowded their way onto the menus of local, trendy restaurants. Best of all, these slender, slighty sweet peppers are incredibly simple to prepare and maintain a fresh and delicious crunch after preparation!     This will certainly not be the last time I make this confession, but I LOVE condiments! If they are artisanal and homemade, all the better. Shishito peppers are truly delicious enough to hold their own with just a sprinkle of sea salt and olive oil, but the creamy garlic aioli with an added spicy kick of Sriracha takes these tasty little peppers to a whole new level! This particular recipe is incredibly easy to throw together, involving four basic ingredients that are likely already in your kitchen- mayonnaise, fresh garlic, sea salt, and Sriracha.     My Sriracha aioli revelation came in the form of late-night eats at a wedding I recently attended. While the aioli was served with crisp, thin-cut fries at the event, I much prefer...

Greek Yogurt Granola Bowl with Fresh Berries

This recipe came out of a necessity to recreate. I found myself splurging on the seven dollar granola bowl at Gjelina Takeaway far too often. The sheer simplicity of ingredients, highlighted by their quality is what makes the food at Gjelina spectacular. The fruit is fresh from a local farmer’s market, the honey is of a raw and pure form, and their granola is full of texture and variety.   The recipe for this granolia bowl is incredibly simple but mandates a trip to the farmer’s market for the absolute tastiest berries. Quality granola, honey, and coconut flakes can easily be found at Whole Foods. The choice of fresh berries is a complete variable but I personally love the combination of fresh sliced strawberries, with juicy, in-season blackberries!   The best part of this recipe is that there is a ton of room for improvisation. You can top with chopped walnuts, sprinkle with chia seeds, or even drizzle on flax seed oil for an omega-3 boost and additional protein and fiber.   Prep Time: 5 minutes Ingredients: 1 cup, low-fat plain Greek yogurt 1/3 cup, granola 1 tablespoon, honey 1/4 cup, sliced strawberries 1/4 cup, blackberries 1/4 cup, coconut flakes Preparation Top Greek yogurt with granola. Add fresh berries and drizzle with honey. Top with coconut...

Pineapple Jalapeño Infused Tequila

Infusing alcohol is one of the easiest ways to serve up a killer cocktail! After constantly ordering the Spicy Margarita at Brick + Mortar in Santa Monica, I decided it was time to get to work creating my own. Vodka is one of the most common spirits to infuse since it’s relatively flavorless, but light spirits like silver tequila work just as well. Pick bold flavors when coming up with your infusion of choice! Pineapple and jalepeño are the perfect complement to a smoky tequila. The spiciness of the jalepeño cuts through the alcohol while the pineapple adds a natural sweetness. The best part of the infusion process is that the alcohol is basically cocktail-ready! Freshly squeezed limes, a splash of pineapple juice, and a bit of triple sec are combined with the infused tequila in a cocktail shaker. No muddling necessary! Prep Time: 45 mins  – 3/4 days for infusion Ingredients: Infused Tequila Serves: 750 ml 750 ml bottle of blanco (silver) tequila 1 small pineapple, sliced 3 jalepeños, sliced and seeded Pineapple-Jalepeño Tequila Cocktail Serves: 1 1 1/2 ounces pineapple-jalepeño infused tequila 1 ounce pineapple juice 1/2 ounce triple sec 1 lime, fresh squeezed juice 2 cubes, ice Lime wedge and sea salt to garnish Preparation:  Place the sliced pineapple and jalepeños in a large, quart-sized jar. Pour in the bottle of tequila, mix the contents, then seal the jar. Refrigerate for 2 or 3 days depending on your desired level of spiciness. After 2-3 days, remove the jalepeños from the jar, leaving in the pineapple for another day or two. After the additional day or two, remove the pineapple...

Mixed Greens with Pear, Goat Cheese, and Candied Walnuts

I had an intense craving for a salad with fresh fruit and candied walnuts when I threw together this recipe. With the Bosc pear currently in season, its crisp, woodsy flavor is the perfect contrast among the tangy goat cheese mingled with the sweet walnuts. This recipe is so simple to throw together yet has all the trappings of a gourmet salad! In selecting just the right pear for this recipe, it’s really a matter of personal choice. I went for a firm, slightly less ripe one in order to add a crunchy texture to my salad. Interestingly, Bosc pears do not change color as they ripen. You simply need to feel it out for your desired level of crunchiness! With so many delicious tastes and textures coming together in one bowl, I wanted to ensure that none of the flavor was masked with a heavy dressing or a show stealing balsamic vinegar. I opted for my go-to Red Wine Vinaigrette recipe, comprised of five simple ingredients- lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, garlic, and olive oil. Prep Time: 20 mins Serves: 4-6 Ingredients: 3/4 lb, mixed greens 2 Bosc pears, sliced 4 ounces, goat cheese, crumbled 1/2 cup, candied walnuts 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced Red Wine Vinaigrette 1/4 cup, red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons, fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup, olive oil 1 clove, garlic, minced Sea salt and pepper to taste Preparation: In a large mixing bowl, combine the mixed greens, goat cheese, sliced red onions, pears and candied walnuts. To prepare the vinaigrette, mince one clove of garlic and combine with the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and...

Smoked Salmon Toast

I spent this past holiday season in one of my favorite cities- Portland, Oregon! Among the perks of having a boyfriend from the beautiful Pacific Northwest is the abundance of delicious, fresh-caught salmon. With its heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a nutrient powerhouse. This past trip, we hit the jackpot when my boyfriend’s wonderful parents sent us packing with an armful of smoked salmon! Toast, or a simple open-face presentation, is one of my favorite ways to showcase quality ingredients. I consider this fresh, wild salmon far too much of a delicacy to overdress in a salad and sully the rich flavors. Inspired by the salmon toast served at GTA, Gjelina’s takeaway locale, I set to work creating a recipe of my own liking. One of the major healthy twists to this recipe involved substituting greek yogurt as the base instead of using a cream cheese or crème fraîche. After loading up my sourdough slices with generous hunks of smoked salmon, I set to work layering with my favorite toppings- capers, red onion, dill, and hard-boiled eggs. In my opinion, a breakfast-based smoked salmon dish is utterly incomplete without a side of cornichons– those tiny, delicious, tart pickles! Prep Time: 10 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients 1/2 loaf sourdough bread, 4 slices 1/2 lb, smoked salmon 1/4 red onion, finely sliced 4 tbsp, greek yogurt 2 tbsp, chopped fresh dill 1 tbsp, capers 2 eggs, hard-boiled 1 tbsp, lemon juice 2 tsp, olive oil 1/2 cup, cornichons Preparation Toast the slices of bread in the oven at 375F until golden-brown. Evenly spread 1 tablespoon of greek yogurt over each...

Cooking in Chiang Mai

I could consider this post either a year overdue or the perfect way to reminisce on my Christmas in Chiang Mai last year! Chiang Mai is a major cultural hub, nestled in the hills of Northern Thailand. The city is brimming with history, art, Buddhist sanctuaries, yoga studios, and most importantly, phenomenal food! My days here were spent exploring the city by foot, stumbling upon beautiful temples, bazaars, markets, and some of the best street food of my life! Taking a cooking class was one of the highlights during my time in Chiang Mai. Baan Thai Cookery School is located just past the Thapae gate of the Old City. The Old City is the most gorgeous area of Chiang Mai, overflowing with ancient Buddhist Wats and surrounded by the original walls and moat erected at the end of the thirteenth century. The course began with a tour of a local outdoor market as we stocked up on the fresh ingredients for our menu. The market was brimming with gorgeous greens, fresh fish, and the most wonderful variety of eggplants I’d ever seen. Thai eggplant, typically used in Southeast Asian curries or served raw in green papaya salad, are small, round, and can come in purple, green, yellow, or white varieties. Thai cooking is made most unique by its spices and herbs. Thai ginger (Galangal), Spur chili (Prik Chee Fah), Kaffir lime, lemongrass, and sweet basil are among the most distinct Thai flavors. At Baan Thai, we were given the choice among three different appetizers, soups, stir-fries, curries, and desserts to prepare. I selected Spring Rolls as my appetizer, Tom Kha with Seafood, Pad Thai, Green Curry with Chicken, and...

Brussels Sprouts with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

A recent visit to the upscale vegan restaurant, Crossroads, inspired me to get more creative with my Brussels sprouts just in time for the holidays. The maple dijon vinaigrette is the perfect dressing, as its sweetness pairs with the bite of the dijon mustard to perfectly balance the bitterness of the sprouts. Apart from the incredible vinaigrette at Crossroads, most of the Brussels sprouts in the dish were on the smaller side. It allowed for more crunchiness and flavor in each bite. I found smaller Brussels sprouts on the stalk at Whole Foods and was delighted to discover that they did in fact caramelize much better than the larger variety! Prep Time: 40 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients 2 lbs, Brussels sprouts, halved 4 tbsp, olive oil 1 tbsp, maple syrup 1 tbsp, cider vinegar 1 tsp, dijon mustard 1 tbsp, whole grain mustard 1 clove, garlic, minced 1/4 cup, pine nuts, toasted Sea salt and pepper to taste Preparation Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the Brussels sprouts with half the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the sprouts on a large baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, flipping once in between. To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustards, maple syrup, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toast the pine nuts in the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly golden-brown. Toss the roasted Brussels sprouts with the maple dijon vinaigrette and the toasted pine nuts before...

Heirloom Roasted Carrots with Dill and Greek Yogurt

It finally feels like fall in LA! As the first wave of chilly weather rolled in, I rushed to the farmers market to make the ultimate dish of the season- roasted carrots.   Turns out heirloom carrots not only have distinctly different flavors, they also have quite the variance in nutrients. I love the slighly less sweet, peppery taste of the purple variety.   This yogurt, dill sauce is what really makes the recipe come together. The bright flavor of dill pairs perfectly with the tart, creaminess of greek yogurt.   Prep Time: 35 mins Serves: 3-4 Ingredients 3 bunches, heirloom carrots 3 tbsp, olive oil 1 cup, greek yogurt 1 clove, garlic, minced 1 tbsp, dill, chopped 1/2 tsp, lemon zest 1 tsp, lemon juice Sea salt and pepper to taste Preparation Peel carrots and remove excess green tops. Preheat oven to 425F.  Toss the carrots with olive oil, salt, and pepper before spreading over a large baking sheet. Roast for 30-35 minutes until tender and lightly browned. To prepare the dill sauce, combine the greek yogurt, garlic, fresh dill, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve carrots with a side of the dill...

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Toast

The tangy taste of goat cheese makes it a terrific complement to fruit and honey. Ripe strawberries are one of the best fruit pairings. Drake Family Farms sets up shop every Sunday morning at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. They produce fantastic artisan goat cheeses, and sell a wide variety of flavors. Be sure to try a sample next time you’re at the market! Let me just take a second to rave about this bread. This walnut raisin loaf from the farmer’s market is slightly sweet and nutty, and the absolute perfect texture to pair with strawberries and cheese. Prep Time: 15 mins Serves: 6-10 Ingredients 6 slices, Walnut Raisin Bread, halved 1/2 pound, Strawberries (~8-10) 3/4 cup, Goat Cheese Honey Preparation Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the slices of bread for 4 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the goat cheese on each slice. Return to the oven and toast for another 3 minutes. Remove the goat cheese-coated toast from the oven and top with strawberry slices. Drizzle with honey to...

Sweet Potato Fries with Lemon Aioli

Sweet, salty, and simply delicious! These sweet potato fries with a side of lemon aioli are just about one of the tastiest complements you can add to a meal.     As you will tell from this post, I’m newly obsessed with a photo editing app, Over, which lets me layer on artsy fonts to my images. This app plus my new iPhone have opened up a whole new window to my food photography experimentation!       You’ve been warned- this lemon aioli is seriously addicting. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and will be gone even faster than that. I suggest making a big batch.     Prep Time: 35 mins Serves: 3-4 Ingredients 2 large Sweet Potatoes, sliced 3 tbsp, Olive Oil 1/4 tsp, Cayenne Pepper 1/4 tsp, Paprika Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste Lemon Aioli Ingredients 1/2 cup, Mayonaisse 2 tbsp, Lemon Juice 1 tsp, Dijon Mustard 1 tsp, finely grated Lemon Zest 1 clove Garlic, minced Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste Preparation Preheat oven to 425F. Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet before evenly spacing the sliced potatoes on the sheet. Coat the potatoes with the remaining olive oil and season with the cayenne pepper, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper. Bake for 15 minutes before flipping. Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy. To prepare the lemon aioli, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, and garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and combine well. Serve the sweet potatoes with a small side of lemon...