Monday, February 23, 2009

Tired of the same ol' Turkey Burger?

Well so am I! This past week was a doozey. Work was starting to become more than a drag and my weeknight meals were definitely following suit... an attitude change was far too necessary! In resistance to the patterns that had been developing over these past couple of weeks, inspiration finally emerged in a delicious, homemade, salsa verde turkey burger. Phew! The corporate world has yet to suck the creativity out of me!

This recipe was a surprise, as I had no clue what the results would be like. I had a feeling the salsa would add a zang and the brown rice flour some nice texture. But I had no idea if it'd be the right zang nor the right texture. After the first bite, I was pleasantly surprised and knew this just had to be my next post. The combination worked perfectly. So, for inspiration to all those who think they can't cook or have no time to cook, first go to Trader Joe's then make these turkey burgers! Easy, healthy and delicious... Enjoy!

Salsa Verde Turkey Burgers
3/4 pounds all white, ground turkey meat
3 tablespoons Trader Joe's Salsa Verde (or any salsa you have on hand)
1/4 cup brown rice flour
salt to taste
Burger condiments
Buns of your liking (I'd use Poppy seed Kaiser rolls)

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Warm some canola oil in a fry pan over medium heat. While oil is heating, form turkey burger patties with your hands then place on the hot fry pan (I live in San Francisco and have no grill nor a patio, so the fry pan is the best option, however, a BBQ will work great!). Grill/Fry on your pan until done to your liking. Dress'em up or eat them like Atkin would... you are sure to love Trader Joe afterwards!

Psst ... I made these somewhat on a whim so you may have to alter measurements to your liking. I'm sure to redo this recipe again sometime and promise to take better notes and a better picture.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Easy & Healthy Crab Salad

I stumbled upon this easy crab salad while flipping through Ellie Krieger's cookbook The Food You Crave. If you don't already own this book I suggest you snag one for your cookbook collection. It's full of awesome recipes that are lighter and healthier, yet oh so yummy.

This crab salad is super easy. All you need are fresh ingredients and a fresh approach to presenting the dish. What I love most about this salad is that it is versatile. Ellie serves the salad in baked filo dough cups, however, you could easily serve it in a corn tortilla for crab tacos or wrap it in rice paper for a fun take on spring rolls. I decided to serve mine "spa" style with a lovely leaf of lettuce. I know, I know, this is not really a satiating meal, but after the weekend I was craving a light lunch (I also didn't have the filo dough on hand)... Next time around I'm going to give the crab spring rolls a shot.

Be sure to pick through the crab for any shells or cartilage as this is not a pleasant surprise when chewing. I put together the salad the night before in order to marinade the ingredients. Lastly, the radicchio is my own special ingredient (which, surprisingly I did have on hand, go figure). It adds a bit of a bite and a fun burst of red color.

For the Salad
1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1 stalk celery, finely diced (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup peeled and finely diced ripe mango
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped radicchio

For the Dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium sized bowl, gently toss together the crab with the celery, mango, scallions, cilantro and radicchio. For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Next, slowly whisk in the olive oil until an emulsion begins. Add the dressing to the salad and gently toss to combine.

Served any way you like!

Psst... check out my recipe on!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ugh... It's Valentine's Day

Nothing like a week of 12 hour work days ending on none other than Valentine's Day. Could I be anymore lucky? Now, I'm not bitter, just frustrated. I came across the idea of Strawberry Cupcakes on Tuesday and have been plotting their creation ever since; unfortunately I had to wait until today (Valentine's Day) to make them. The recipe yields 34, so it looks like I'll be playing cupcake cupid all weekend to avoid the possible accident of eating them all myself...

My friend Doro has perfected the fresh fruit cupcakes, and her creations at SweetieCups were definitely part of my inspiration. Martha (Stewart) provided me with the basic cupcake recipe and I added a few twists and turns: lemon juice to enhance the strawberry flavor and a lighter, healthier frosting. Sorry, but Buttercream makes me gag especially when I look at the recipe, "3 sticks of butter and 1 Cup of Sugar". Sorry Martha, but I want to enjoy my cupcake guiltlessly. However, if you do enjoy guilty pleasures, go for the buttercream frosting. Another tip is instead of chopping your berries coarsely puree them in a cuisinart. This will save you a lot of time and help bring out the ever so soft pink flush in the cake. And, of course, the sweeter the berry the better the cupcake!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 1 egg white
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely pureed strawberries (save some for garnishing)

4 cups + powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, very soft.
4 - 6 tablespoons of the pureed strawberries
1 tablespoon red sprinkles (optional)
squeeze of a lemon
Fresh strawberries or chocolate shavings for decoration

Preheat oven to 350F degrees

Line your standard muffin tins with paper liners, I prefer white. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluggy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. I like to crack mine into a liquid measuring cup and pour them in one at a time.

Reduce speed to low. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet (milk & vanilla) and ending with dry. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so ingredients are well combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake cups, and fill each about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick tester comes out clean (mine took about 20 minutes). Let cool in tins on wire racks. Per Martha, cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 2 days.

For the frosting, in a bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar, strawberries, lemon juice and sprinkles in a mixer or with a hand mixer. Beat on very high until ingredients are combined. Continue adding more powdered sugar until frosting reaches your preferred thickness.

Pipe or spoon frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. I topped mine with fresh strawberries and/or chocolate shavings. Although you don't get the typical cupcake look with this frosting, the results taste awesome!

Happy Valentine's Day! Be sure to give your loved ones a hug... or a strawberry cupcake.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

San Francisco Fancy Food Show 2009

This past January I had the opportunity, well, $35 gave me the opportunity, to participate in the San Francisco Fancy Food Show. For those of you who don't know, I work in the commercial real estate industry and blog just for my love of all things food. Going to the Fancy Food Show was a totally new experience from all angles. The food industry is HUGE, electrifying and inspirational. For someone who thought they were obsessed with food, this was an eye opener! Or should I say, a realization that maybe I am not that crazy.

Henry of Henry's Olives, a new foodie friend that is the brother of my dad's good friend Murray, met up with me along with his friend Tom (that was a mouth full). Both were there to network and investigate as I was just there to troll the aisles and observe... and eat. There were famous chefs, major international corporations, new products galore, and Ina Garten. Yes, Ina Garten, my favorite person in the entire world - when put in food context.

A couple of highlights were:
  • My first absolutely amazing cappuccino that was made by the San Diego coffee roasting company Cafe Calabria. Served in a porcelain cup, every sip was satiny and smooth. They are definitely committed to roasting as if it were a "Culinary Art".
  • The peanut butter creations by P.B. Loco. This redefines eating peanut butter out of the jar. They have flavor combinations that range from Sumatra Cinnamon and Raisin to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. P.B. Loco is all natural, so the guilt of eating out of the jar is somewhat removed. I can't wait to find this product in San Francisco!
  • The awesomeness that is developing in the natural foods world: an obvious collaboration of natural and organic products with socially responsible endeavors. Not only are foodie entrepreneurs committed to local and organic food but they are combining these efforts with their commitment to social responsibility. Some of my favorite companies are HonestTea and SweetRiot Chocolates.
Oh and one more thing, I met Ina Garten!!!

ChilaQuiles on a Sunday Morning

Just the name itself makes food sound fun! Jose introduced me to this awesome scrambled egg creation in September, and since then I've been seeing this dish everywhere. First, Bobby Flay attempted to recreate the dish on one of his food network shows - Jose's version was better. Then, I saw them on a menu at a local brunch spot in SF - Jose's was better. THEN, I actually got into an argument about what makes a good chilaquile - Jose's recipe, of course! So, now to prove everyone I'm right, my next post is how to make killer ChilaQuiles the right way.

The key is in the sauce! But of course using Guerrero Tortillas, Queso Fresco and fresh organic eggs will improve the results ten fold. Top it off with a little cilantro, fresh green onion and avocado for the perfect Sunday morning brunch. This recipe is one of my favorites so be sure to check it out!

Que Ricas, ChilaQuiles
2 California chiles
1 large tomato
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch of oregano
1 pinch of sea salt & pepper
about a 1/4 cup of water
Oil for frying
2 tortillas sliced into one-half inch squares
3 eggs
1/2 cup diced green onion
Queso fresco

For the sauce
Boil the two peppers in the water to soften - this should take no less than two minutes. In a blender or your cuisinart, combine the softened peppers, tomato, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and water. You want to create a semi thick red sauce, so add more water if needed. Lastly, strain the sauce to remove any seeds or skin from the peppers. The sauce will be mild, tangy and a vibrant red.

The Eggs
In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the tortilla squares. Fry until crispy. This should take about 4 minutes. Avoid soggy tortillas - crispiness is very important! Once crispy, add the eggs and scramble over medium/low heat. Once the eggs are close to done pour the red sauce and continue to scramble the eggs. Once the eggs, tortillas and red sauce are completely combined top off with the diced onions, crumbled queso fresco and cilantro. Let simmer for another couple minutes so flavors are well absorbed. Do not overheat because the point is to keep the tortillas crispy and eggs perfectly cooked.

Disfruta sus Chilaquiles... ay, que ricas!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Sunday Recipe I can call my own

This weekend started with debauchery and has ended with a productive yet calm Sunday that I decided to make my own. It's one of those days where you unwind, answer emails from friends, browse the net, clean a bit ... Oh! and make flourless macadamia nut coconut cake... a recipe I can also call my own.

Derived from John Ash's cook book From the Earth to the Table, this recipe outlines the basic components of a delicious flourless cake: the division of the egg yolks and whites, a base of finely ground nuts, and the addition of subtle flavors that add depth to a relatively simple recipe. Once you have mastered this recipe it is very easy to improvise and alter the ingredients. A flavor combination that I can't get enough of is macadamia nut and coconut. Both are very rich on their own so I figured it'd be a great combo for a relatively dense flourless cake. Served with fresh berries or chocolate sauce, this cake is sure to be a hit!

Flourless Macadamia Nut & Coconut Cake
4 large eggs separated
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
12 ounces roasted & unsalted macadamia nuts
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit

Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan. If you eat your cake gluten free, use olive oil and pam with a little bit of gluten free flour.

In a food processor combine macadamia nuts and coconut until finely ground. In an electric mixer combine the egg yolks, sugar and lemon zest. In another bowl (or transfer yolks to another bowl and use electric mixer for egg whites as well), whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold in a quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk and sugar mixture, then fold in the chopped nuts and coconut. Once combined fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour batter into the greased pan and cook for about 50 minutes on the middle rack. Keep an eye on this cake as it can brown fast. Baker be warned, it may quickly brown but the center takes a while to bake.

I'm enjoying mine right now with some chocolate sauce and leftover coconut flakes. This would be a great dessert for Valentine's Day if topped with some raspberries and powdered sugar.