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!

A Little Sweet… A Little Heat

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Appetizer / Mexican

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Empanada with Salsa Verde

I recently visited a popular restaurant in Los Angeles’ art district, Guerrilla Taco. They are famous for their sweet potato taco. It doesn’t sound like it would be good, but it came highly recommended by the late Jonathan Gold. I wondered how a mushy centered taco would taste in a soft corn shell. Well, it works because he adds chopped corn nuts for crunch. Genius, I tell you! I realized that I don’t use sweet potato enough in my cooking. I thought about where to place it, and how would I add texture. After some experimenting, I think I came up with an answer. I use puff pastry in this recipe, for crunch and flakiness, with a sweet and spicy filling. Salsa Verde adds a much needed tart counterpoint to the empanadas. Enjoy!

Time-1 hour 30 minutes

Servings-11 Empanadas

Ingredients

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, 9 oz of pork chorizo, 1 large or 11 ounce sweet potato, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper, 1/4 chopped red pepper, 1 garlic clove minced, 2 tsp of honey, 1 TBS of oil, 1 tsp Kosher salt, purchased salsa verde, crema and cilantro for garnish. Egg and water for egg wash.

Preparation

Remove puff pastry from freezer and start to thaw. In a large saucepan fill with water and place sweet potato in and bring to boil. Once brought to boil lower heat to medium-high until potato is cooked and fork tender all the way through. Place on cutting board and once cooled peel skin from potato and set aside. While cooling prep all the ingredients. Chop onion, peppers, garlic and cilantro. In a non-stick skillet on medium heat add onions and peppers. Sauté onions and peppers until softened. Then add the sweet potato and season with salt. Sauté sweet potato for about 5 minutes. The potato is cooked but this allows the natural sweetness and flavors to combine. Add the garlic last so that it does not burn or add bitterness. Add garlic and cook for no more than one minute.

To complete the filling add the chorizo. It will all start to look the same color and it will be hard to know when the chorizo is cooked because it looks mushy. Sauté the chorizo and sweet potato filling on medium heat for at least 10 minutes. Lastly, add 2 tsp of honey. The honey should not add too much sweetness it’s only there to balance the heat and enhance the sweet potato. Set the filling aside. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Dust your work space with flour so pastry does not stick. Place your 9″ x 9″ pastry and roll out to 14″ x 12″. Use a 5 1/2 inch pastry cutter or in my case a bowl and stamp out rounds.

Once rounds are cut out, place 1 tablespoon of filling and pinch ends together and finish with a fork for crimping. If your dough has trouble sticking use egg wash around ends to help seal. You will have to roll out scraps of puff pastry to get 11 empanadas.

Scramble one egg and 1 tsp of water and brush empanadas. The egg wash will make your empanadas look golden and delicious.

Add a slit for venting and place all empanadas on parchment paper and bake in oven for 25 minutes.

Garnish with creama and cilantro. The empanadas are very sweet and savory if you serve with salsa verde for dipping it really adds a much needed tartness. Enjoy!

Cook’s Note

Make this vegetarian by using soyrizo.

Sea Candy

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Appetizer / Fish

Seared Scallops with Corn and Red Pepper Relish and Cilantro Oil

Scallops are delicate, sweet and buttery. I refer to them as sea candy, because of their inherent sweetness. This dish is bright, fresh and delicious. Definitely suitable as an appetizer served with a crisp glass of white wine.

Time-30 minutes

Servings-2

Ingredients for Corn and Red Pepper Relish

16 ounce frozen corn thawed, 1/2 red pepper chopped, 1 small shallot diced, 1 clove of garlic, 2 TBS of olive oil and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt.

Ingredients for Cilantro Oil

1 Bunch of cilantro stems included, juice of 1 lemon, 1 cup of canola oil and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt.

6 Sea Scallops or 3 per person 2 TBS of butter and olive oil for searing.

Preparation

First start with cilantro oil. In blender add cilantro, lemon juice, salt and oil and blend until smooth. With a fine mesh strainer strain the oil into a dressing bottle and set aside.

Cilantro oil

Next start relish by adding olive oil to a sauté pan on medium heat. Sauté thawed corn for 2 minutes to warm through and bring out its sweetness. Add red pepper and sauté for another 2 minutes. Follow with shallots and garlic until softened and lightly browned. Turn of heat and set aside.

Corn and Red pepper relish

When purchasing scallops ask fish monger if the side tendon is removed if not ask him/her to do it for you. Rinse scallops under cold water then throughly pat dry with a paper towel. They can sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before needing to refrigerate them . Add 2 TBS of olive oil and 2 TBS of butter on medium high heat. Sprinkle salt to taste on both sides of scallop while oil heats up. When oil starts to move in pan it’s ready. Add 3 scallops at a time flat side down and cook until brown about 2-3 minutes. Using tongs flip scallop if scallop sticks to pan don’t force just add more butter. Cook on other side for another 2 minutes. Prepare for plating.

Plating

Place relish on platter and create little wells to house cilantro oil and for scallop to sit in. Add chopped cilantro or micro greens to finish dish.

As appetizer
As individual dish

Enjoy!