I’m strong to the finish cause I eats me spinach

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Appetizer / italian

Mom’s Famous Sausage Spinach Loaf

Who didn’t love “Popeye the Sailor Man” as a kid? I always think of Popeye when I eat spinach. Although I really didn’t like spinach as a child, I wanted the super strength you would get by eating it. This sausage spinach loaf may not make you strong like Popeye, but it will allow you to food flex. It will be all you are ever asked to bring to a party again. My Mom makes this and it’s always the first thing on the table to finish. I’ve learned to make it and now I am sharing this beloved recipe with you.

Time 1 hour

Servings 2 Loaves

Ingredients

3 lbs of bulk Italian sausage, 2 loaf (1 lb each) frozen ready bread dough thawed, 1 1/2 cups of chopped frozen spinach thawed and drained, 2 cups of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 large onion chopped, 3 cloves of garlic chopped, 2 tsp dried basil leaves, 1 TBS crushed red pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 tsp fennel powder and egg wash.

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large skillet on medium-high heat add sausage. When sausage starts to brown add onion. Once onions start to soften add garlic and mix for a couple minutes. Then add spinach and incorporate. At this point you can add dried basil, crushed pepper and garlic powder. Once mixed add chicken stock to get all the brown bits from the skillet removed from the bottom of the pan. Reduce liquid until almost completely evaporated and turn off heat. Finish with sprinkling the fennel pollen. Turn off heat and let cool.

Roll out bread dough on a well floured surface. Check frequently for sticking and add more flour as needed. This dough can be hard to roll out. Be patient and keep rolling out until it submits. Roll out to approximately a 13 x 10 inch rectangle. Add grated 1 cup parmesan cheese for each loaf.

Once sausage mixture is cooled add sausage 1/2 the amount in skillet to rolled out dough. This should make 2 loaves.

Roll jelly-roll style starting with the long side. Pinch and tuck ends and corners.

Place loaf on top of parchment paper on cookie sheet. Mix 1 egg and 1 TBS of water in separate bowl and mix. Brush egg wash over loaf. Place in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooled slice and serve.

Enjoy!

Backyard Corn with Street Cred

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Mexican

Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

Corn in America is a backyard summer staple. In the City of Angeles, the street vendors sell Street Corn like New York City sells hot dogs. It is often boiled and on a stick for easy on the go eating. Frequently, the corn is slathered in mayo and rolled in cotija cheese with various spices. Growing up we didn’t eat corn this way. We always grilled our corn and slather it with butter and Pico Pica. Pico pica a bottled hot sauce every self respecting Mexican will have in their refrigerator. I do love street corn, so in this recipe I mix the two ideas. I use a Pico-Pica butter in place of mayo, and roll it in a herb spiced cotija cheese. This Labor Day, make Street Corn as one of your side dishes. You won’t regret it!

Time 1 hour

Servings 4

Ingredients

4 Whole Corn with husks, 1 stick of salted butter melted, 3 TBS Pico Pica hot sauce, 4 oz of Grated Cotija Cheese, 3 TBS of chopped cilantro, 1 TBS of chopped green onion, 1 TBS of paprika, and lime wedges.

Preparation

One hour before grilling corn I soak the unhusked corn in water. I enjoy eating the corn with the husks pulled back. This will help prevent the husks from burning while on the grill. Then I pull the husks back and place a rubber band around the loose husks to keep everything neat.

Hipster bun corn husk

I place all the corn side by side and grill until I have beautiful grill marks.

Charred Corn

While corn is grilling, mix melted butter and Pico Pica.

Pico Pica Butter

Then mix cotija cheese, cilantro, green onion and paprika in a casserole dish.

Butter the corn then roll corn in cotija mixture.

Alternatively, you can use avocado as your fat base then roll in cotija mixture.

Avocado is a delicious fat alternative to butter or mayonaise

Once corn is coated in cheese place on platter along side lime wedges and enjoy.

Cheers to a great Labor Day Weekend

A Golden Opportunity

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Appetizer
Golden Beets with whipped feta, basil-pistachio oil, pomegranate molasses and mint

Let’s not “beet” around the bush. Beets are very earthy and challenging for most people to enjoy. I have found if the beet is golden and roasted, it’s delicious. This pandemic has really made me consider my nutrition and immunity. I am taking this time to work on self-care and re-think what I put into my body. I know that adding more colorful vegetables into my diet will benefit my health. At some point my immunity maybe challenged with the Corona Virus and I want to give myself the best fighting chance. This is a golden opportunity to create recipes that are delicious and good for you.

Time 90 minutes

Servings 2-6

Ingredients

9 golden beets (1 lb 11oz), 1/2 cup of feta, 1/3 cup cream cheese, 12 basil leaves, 7 mint leaves chiffonade, 1 TBS raw meat pistachios, zest of 1 lemon, 1 TBS olive oil, pinch of salt, pomegranate molasses and sourdough bread.

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Chop Beet greens off leaving the tips on. Place in an oven safe pot with a lid. Fill water level up half way and do not submerge the beets. Drizzle some olive in and cover and let cook for 30 minutes.

They will steam/roast with the lid on

After 30 minutes, rotate the beets so the part that was in water is now facing upward for even cooking. Place back in oven for another 30 minutes.

While the beets are steam-roasting start to grill up some of your favorite bread. In this case I used my homemade sourdough bread. Brush some olive oil and grill.

To make the basil-pistachio oil you will need a mortar and pestle. Add basil, pistachios, lemon zest and oil then a pinch of salt. Mortar and pestle until desired consistency. Be sure to taste and set aside.

To make whipped feta add feta and cream cheese to a separate bowl. Smash feta into cream cheese until somewhat smooth. The feta is tangy and the cream cheese is smooth and set aside. They work well together with fruit and vegetables.

Once the beets have cooked for one hour remove from pot and place on cutting board to cool. While they are still warm peel the skin off and quarter the beets into bite size pieces. If the skin is hard to remove use the back of the spoon to aid in the peeling.

Now it’s time to assemble. Place beets on platter and dress up with whipped feta, basil-pistachio oil, chiffonade of mint and pomegranate molasses.

Enjoy as appetizer or meal

Pandemic Happy Hour

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Mexican / Uncategorized

Hibiscus Margarita with URFA Pepper

We are living in unprecedented times. Our lives are flipped upside down. The reality of what life looks like for the rest of this year is starting to set in. Today, I wanted to feel like I was in my favorite restaurant during happy hour enjoying time with family/friends. I made myself this drink and thought about all the great memories I have with you. I wrote this recipe with hopes it inspires you to do what brings you good memories. My thoughts are with you. We are going to get through this. Cheers!

Time-30 minutes

Servings-2-3 Margaritas

Ingredients

4 cups of water, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers, 1 shot of tequila per margarita, 2 lime wedges freshly squeezed per margarita and rim glass with URFA pepper and sugar

Preparation

The drink starts with making the hibiscus tea. Put 4 cups of water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved remove from heat and stir in dried hibiscus flowers. Let sit for 20 minutes to steep and cool.

Drain spent hibiscus flowers with funnel and sieve. Place hibiscus tea in refrigerator until you are ready to mix margarita.

Rim glass with lime and URFA Pepper and sugar.

In cocktail shaker add one shot of tequila and two squeezes of fresh lime. Fill with ice and 3/4-1 cup of hibiscus tea. Shake for 30 seconds and let the shaker get really cold. Be careful to cover with wash cloth because this could get messy. The more you shake the better foam you will get on top. Pour into glass and place mint leaf on top.

Cheers!

Cook’s Note

URFA pepper is a dried turkish chili pepper. It has a fruity spice flavor that I love. It reminds me of Mexican candy. Some people describe it as having a raisin like flavor with a kick. It pairs perfectly with the warm cranberry taste of hibiscus.

Hibiscus is a dried flower that can be found under the name Jamaica. It’s found in barrels of Mexican markets or in plastic bags. It’s shelf stable so it’s perfect for our current stay at home status. Margarita ready whenever you want!

Oh Snap!

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Appetizer / Uncategorized

Blistered Sugar Snap Peas with black quinoa, whipped feta, sesame date butter and mint

One of my favorite restaurants in the Art District of Los Angeles housed inside an art gallery named Hauser & Wirth is Manuela. The restaurant is where the edible works of art are consumed. One of my favorite dishes is the blistered sugar snap peas. This recipe is my riff of this incredible vegetable dish.

Time 1-hour

Servings 2-3

Ingredients

1 10 ounce bag of sugar snap pea, 1/4 cup black quinoa, 3.5 ounces of feta, 2 TBS cream cheese, 1 TBS sesame butter, 1 TBS Pure date syrup, 8 mint leaves, 1 TBS canola oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 cup of water and pinch of URFA pepper.

Preparation

Place 1/4 cup of black quinoa and 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until quinoa is cooked.

Trim and remove strings from both sides of sugar snap peas.

Stings removed

When quinoa is cooked dry toast in another small skillet. Add quinoa to dry skillet on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You will hear snapping that is your quinoa changing it’s texture to slightly crunchy and that is what you want. Careful not to burn.

Toasted black quinoa

In a food processor add your favorite feta and cream cheese. Whip together until smooth and creamy. A smaller food processor would be easier if you have one. My favorite feta is Valbreso. Once feta is whipped scoop out into bowl and keep in refrigerator until plating.

In a small bowl add the sesame butter and date syrup mix together then set aside.

Found these items on Amazon

Now you are ready to blister the snap peas. In a medium to large skillet add 1 TBS of canola oil and get pan really hot. Wait until the oil is just starting to smoke and then add the snap peas until they are blistered and coated with oil. Season with kosher salt.

Time to plate. Smear sesame date butter onto platter. Then add snap peas, toasted black quinoa, whipped feta, and gently ripped mint leaves. For a little bit of heat I sprinkled a little URFA pepper but crush peppers will work as well. URFA pepper adds a fruity heat.

Finished product
Close up

Enjoy!