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Archive for the ‘Healthy Meal’ Category

It’s a little strange to jump right in with a post after over a year of not blogging, but, I’m ripping the band-aid off. Let’s do this!

Thus far, autumn has been chock full of delicious, hearty comfort food. Perhaps it’s the change in season or the change in my own personal scenery, but I’ve felt re-inspired with what I’m creating in the kitchen, and what I’m choosing when I eat out. Here are some of the more delectable and inspired foods I have been cooking, or just straight-up eating, lately:

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While I helped make these cheesy taco cups, the inspiration was all from my boyfriend’s mom, Robin. We made these together for a Mexican themed family party a few weeks ago, and they were a huge hit! To make, layer wonton wrappers, cooked taco beef, crushed tortilla chips, mexican shreeded cheese, and refried beans twice in a cupcake tin. Fill each cup with these layers, then bake until crispy and bubbling. Top with sour cream, cilantro and chives!

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After bookmarking the recipe months ago, I finally made EatLiveRun’s epic babaganoush soup! I’m fairly addicted to babaganoush (the word and the food), so this soup was a no brainer. I definitely did not expect it to be as out-of-this world flavorful and addictive as it was, though – I even went back for thirds! Stir in some grilled chicken for a heartier meal.

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This dish has been a cold-weather staple in our house for over a year now – braised red cabbage with bacon! It’s a bit reminiscent of sauerkraut, which is a fall-winter favorite of mine, but it’s heartier due to the red cabbage and shorter cooking time. The salty – sweet- sour combo of this dish will keep you coming back for more. Inspired by by Kelsey’s Essentials.

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The Apple Crisp pictured above to the right was a throw-together dessert one Friday evening, but it turned out amazingly well. I took three huge honeycrisp apples from the Farmers Market, peeled and sliced them and tossed with some brown sugar and cinnamon. Then, I topped them with a combination of rolled oats, brown and white sugar, butter, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Baked at 350 for about an hour, it was to-die-for! Just don’t skimp on the butter.

Also, the dish on the left is taco-smothered sweet potatoes – also a quick and easy dinner that is so SO satisfying!

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Roasted Sweet Corn! Can anyone get enough of this in the fall? It’s such a seasonal must. I had this corn a few weeks ago during a pumpkin picking expedition to Harbes Family Farm on Long Island’s north fork. They literally DIPPED each ear in a vat of butter. DIPPED! Enough said.

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Inspired by the new location in NYC, last Friday night I attempted to make Umami burgers based off this recipe from the owner. While the burgers tasted great (helped in large part by the heap of caramelized onions), I think the lack of ratios or measurements for the Umami flavorings hurt me. I under-seasoned, and this wound up tasting like a regular, albeit delicious, burger. Thankfully, the oven-roasted rosemary sweet potato fries more than made up for the lack of oooooh-mami!

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Okay. The waffle pictured above probably deserves it’s own post, a trophy, and a holiday named after it. This was consumed at Queens Comfort, an epic hipster brunch spot on 30th ave in Astoria, on Saturday. It’s called a Caramel Apple and Buttermilk Bacon Waffle, which sort of says it all. Basically, a super fluffy, apple laden waffle topped with caramel syrup and huge chunks of crispy bacon. Be still, my heart.

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Not a great photo, but above is the soup I made monday night when Adam and I were both feeling a cold coming on. Inspired by Iowa Girl Eats, this is Spaghetti (squash) and Meatball soup. I loved that it’s a heartier, more marinara-y (it’s a word) version of tomato soup, but full of Italian turkey meatballs and crisp spaghetti squash. This came together in 30 minutes and hit the spot in curing our sniffles.

Reliving these delicious meals and moments from the past month put a smile on my face, and hopefully it will help you feel re-inspired in the kitchen as it has me!

What fall foods have you been cooking lately?

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Clearly I’m in a bit of a sconey state of mind! After last weekend’s vanilla-sage scone success, I wanted to whip up another batch of yummy scones to enjoy during our weekly game night. These scones needed to be decidedly chocolate-laced, given that there’s more than one chocoholic among our game night gang! Then I started wondering what magic could happen if one added chocolate chips to lightly browned butter before whisking into frosting, and just knew I had to find out.
 
But since these scones were supposed to be more of a snack than indulgent holiday breakfast treat, I decided to lighten them up. Starting with one of my favorite “light” recipe resource – Skinny Taste – I searched for scone recipes and stumbled upon this one for chocolate chip buttermilk scones. And while the scones looked delicious and the nutrition facts weren’t bad, deep down I really wanted to make these scones as sugar- and white flour-free as possible!
 
Anyone who attempts this “healthified” strain of baking knows that things can easily go awry. While white flour and sugar may not be great for your health, they do tend to have the alchemic properties necessary to produce light, sweet, fluffy, crumbly confections. Simply replacing white flour with whole wheat or grain flours, and replacing sugar with Stevia will not always yield a good result.
 
There are many tricks out there to replace the sugar in sweets, applesauce being one of the most common routes to go. For this recipe I replaced 1/4 cup of the liquid (buttermilk) in the inspiration recipe with unsweetened apple sauce. Then, I reduced the sugar by more than half, knowing the scones would also be getting some sweetness from the chocolate chips and drizzle.
 
 
In terms of replacing the white flour – this is a bit trickier. If you’re going to completely avoid white flour in baking, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that the texture of your baked goods is just going to be different. All-purpose flour is very light and airy, and with the help of a little yeast or baking powder, it fluffs up quite nicely in the oven. Whole wheat, oat, buckwheat and other whole grain flours are heavier, so you can expect a denser baked good. I personally love this texture – it’s much more hearty and has more complex flavors than just straight up white flour. That being said, it’s most likely not what you’re used to tasting when you bite into a scone or muffin – so I urge you to have an open mind when baking this way.
 
Being the crazy oatmeal lover that I am, I went with a good deal of oat flour in my scones, and ended up using half oat flour, half whole wheat flour. Because I couldn’t find oat flour at Trader Joe’s, I wound up just grinding up some rolled oats in the food processor – a trick my mom used growing up when making us cookies. This works great, and is probably a lot cheaper than buying oat flour! As for the whole wheat, regular whole wheat flour worked out pretty darn well here, but I’d imagine that whole wheat pastry flour might result in an even more fluffy texture, if you have it on hand.
 
With all these hearty, healthy ingredients, you really can’t skimp on the chocolate. Three-quarters of a cup of chocolate chips goes into the batter, and even more gets drizzled on top, which means each bite of scone is loaded with a big mouthful of gooey chocolate. Drizzling the scones with chocolate glaze is preferred to dipping them in this case; it maximizes the chocolate flavor you get in each bite while keeping the amount of glaze on each scone low.
 
In the end, these turned out delicious! I ate mine warm, right out of the oven, while the chocolate was still melted and oozing. It’s really the only way to go. These are perfect as a healthy scone to bring to brunch, to put out for dessert or tea, or even to keep in the freezer for an on-the-go breakfast (yes, they’re healthy enough for breakfast). So go ahead, give baking with whole grain flours a whirl!
 
 
Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Scones – Makes 12 scones
 
Adapted from Skinny Taste
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup cold low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of oat flour (or rolled oats that have been ground in a food processor)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp COLD unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
  • 1 tbsp of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp powdered sugar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
 
2. Combine the buttermilk, apple sauce, sugar, vanilla and egg in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.3. Combine oat flour, wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir with a whisk. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender or using two knives until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fold in the milk mixture, stirring just until moist.4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (I used all-purpose flour for dusting) knead lightly four times with floured hands (the dough will be sticky). Form dough into 3/4″ thick circle. Using a knife,cut dough into 12 wedges all the way through.
 
5. Spray baking sheet(s) with cooking spray and transfer wedges to baking sheet. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until scones are lightly golden brown on the top and bottom.
 
6. While scones are baking, make the chocolate glaze. Start by placing 1/4 cup of chocolate chips in a small bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt and continue to cook until butter begins to brown. Once butter is brown, immediately pour over bowl of chocolate chips. Allow butter and chocolate to sit for 2 minutes, then add 1/2 tsp powdered sugar and stir well until smooth.
 
7. Once scones have finished baking, remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Using a spoon or a pastry bag with a fine tip, drizzle the chocolate sauce over the scones. I recommend using all of the sauce for the 12 scones – it gives a great flavor!
 
8. Enjoy warm!
 
Nutrition Facts: 201 calories, 10.5 grams of fat, 27 carbs, 3.2 grams of fiber, 12.8 grams of sugar, 4.6 grams of protein

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Has it really been a week? Things have been busy around here… For the past week or so, I took a break from coming up with new and delicious recipes to prepare for something that, well, seemed like a good idea at the time! Let’s recap…

I’ve gotten pretty into running since finishing up culinary school earlier this year as a way to fill my newly freed-up weekday evenings (and balance out all the Pistachio-crusted beignets and Cheesy Stuffed Peppers I eat all weekend long). As such, thought it would be a good idea to motivate myself by signing up for an organized race event. After running a 4M in April, a 10K seemed the next logical step, and so I wound up spending most of last week try to run far, and fast, and freaking out that I would trip over my own feet or cramp up and fall over on race day.

Race day was Sunday. Thankfully none of those things happened. The race went relatively well, though I think that’s due in large part to the amazing group of runners that were running 10Ks, half-marathons, and marathons alongside me for the RxR Long Island Marathon. This completely inspirational group of people kept me motivated, excited, and having a blast throughout the entire six-point-two miles – especially the seventy-one year old man who beat me by over a minute! He ran ahead of me for most of the race and every time I looked up to see the back of his tee-shirt, which read, “I’m old and slow – get over it!” I couldn’t help but laugh. It was truly a great experience!

In addition to thousands of other runners and hilarious old men, these cheesy chicken enchiladas are also to thank for fueling Sunday’s success. My parents and I whipped these up, along with a refreshing, limey bowl of guacamole, homemade white flour tortilla chips (these beat out every other chip I’ve ever had!) and a light corn salad. It was a Cinco de Mayo meal to go down in history – so delicious, especially with a cerveza served along side – but then, I learned last summer how amazing these enchiladas are. You’ve gotta try them out!

So, as usual, it takes me a while to get to my point. My point is this – even though I’ve been running instead of recipe developing, I’ve still been doing a heck of a lot of cooking (and not just enchiladas)! Except this time, I’ve been relying on my Google Reader – my link to the food blogosphere – to find the best tasting recipes around. And two of them in particular were just two good NOT to share – so here they are!

First up is this incredibly luscious, slightly spicy, extremely exotic Thai Chicken Curry recipe from Saveur magazine. The recipe comes from the Las Vegas restaurant Lotus of Siam, which many consider to make the very best Thai food in the entire U.S. At home, I make Thai red curry dishes at least once a week (blame it on my coconut milk addiction) because they can be light in fat and calories while still packing huge flavor, and are easy to make with whatever veggies and protein you have on hand.

I was completely surprised, though, that this restaurant-caliber curry recipe was so easy to make! In fact, the simmering-broth method actually proved to be easier than how I have been making curries for weeks now. By simmering the coconut milk and curry paste together, the broth thickens and the flavors meld, giving you a rich, spoon-coating sauce for the chicken and vegetables. Full disclosure: I used Thai Kitchen’s red curry paste instead of Panang curry, as the recipe suggests (I couldn’t find it), and added in some red bell peppers, but the dish still came out beautifully. We served it along with a Spicy Thai Brown Rice Pilaf (recipe to come). Even if the idea of making Thai Curry seems overwhelming to you, I encourage you to give this recipe a shot. It’s straightforward and relatively foolproof – a great way to segue into Thai cooking!

The second fantastic recipe I wanted to share is this Lightened Up Vegan Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto from Angela over at Oh She Glows. Holy freaking yum! This popped up in my GReader yesterday morning, and even though I hadn’t even made it to lunch yet, I immediately started drooling and scribbled down the ingredients on a post-it to pick up after work. Adam and I were planning to have a date-night dinner and this seemed like the perfect dish (the boy loves his pesto)!

Well, this recipe did not disappoint. Not only did the pesto come together in a flash – five minutes! – but the flavors and consistency were dead on. This has all the basil, garlicky goodness of a traditional pesto, but with an excellent added tang and sweetness from the sundried tomatoes. The walnuts are a creative and well-matched spin on pesto’s traditional pine nuts, and with a few sprinkles of nutritional yeast, you definitely won’t miss the parmesan cheese. It also goes quite well with a glass (or two) of Pinot Grigio, I might add.

Pesto is actually one sauce I usually steer clear of since it can often be loaded with extra fat and calories from cheese, nuts and oil – but this pesto was light and super packed with flavor, meaning a little goes a long way! Angela’s recipe made about 3/4 of a cup (as stated on her blog), and I found this to be about six servings – two tablespoons was more than enough per serving of pasta. We tossed the pesto-pasta with some roasted asparagus, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and pan-roasted chicken breast – what a delicious dinner. Thanks Angela for the awesome recipe!

One more thing I wanted to mention. For those in the NYC area, there’s a great food festival coming up weekend after next (May 19th – 20th) called The Great Googamooga (crazy name, I know)! This food / music / art festival is going to be held in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and will feature over 70 food vendors, beer, wine, and music, as well as prominent chefs, artists, and food personalities who will be doing demos, giving talks, and meeting fans. I believe Googamooga is still giving out the occasional free tickets and tickets are also available to buy. I’ll be attending and blogging about Googamooga – hope to see you all there!

Well, that’s all for now! Stay tuned for some more great recipes coming up this weekend…

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Last night, someone pretty special to me needed a little pick-me-up, and this meal did just the trick.

Packed with all the delicious flavor of Chipotle burrito bowls, but with fresh ingredients made in your very own kitchen, these DIY burrito bowls are a great healthy, filling, well-balanced meal – and let’s face it, who doesn’t love Chipotle?

Burrito bowls are always my meal of choice when I grab Chipotle for lunch because I’d much rather dig into their tangy, addicting cilantro-lime rice than get weighed down by a gigantic tortilla. Just my personal preference – but the ingredients in the burrito bowl below would go just as well in a soft tortilla or stuffed into a crunch corn taco shell.

And the best part? You can make this in the time it would take you to go to Chipotle, pick up your food, and come back – the whole thing comes together in just about thirty minutes.

Homemade Chipotle Burrito Bowls – Serves 4

Inspired by Chipotle

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of uncooked white long grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice, plus two whole limes
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced  (I used one red and one green)
  • 4 – 4 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, flesh coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 small jalapeno, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablesp0on of chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt and crushed black pepper.

Method

1. In a rice cooker or saucepan, combine white rice, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, chicken broth (or water), and salt. If using a rice cooker, set it and forget it. If using a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed. Remove rice from heat and allow to sit, covered, for at least 5 minutes (but up to 30) undisturbed. Fluff before serving.

2. While rice is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook, tossing every few minutes, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat. Reserve.

3. If you have thicker chicken breast, slice them horizontally so they make two thinner chicken breasts. Mix the chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder to make a spice blend. Season chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, and sprinkle with spice blend.

4. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When olive oil is hot (shimmering), add chicken breast to pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from pan and allow to rest for five minutes before slicing.

5. Lastly, make the guacamole: combine avocado, jalapeno, garlic, 1 tsp of lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash with a fork or the bottom of a water-glass to desired consistency.

6. To serve, mix rice with cilantro and fluff well. In a bowl, start by layering 3/4 cup of cilantro-lime rice, followed by black beans, the fajita vegetables, and sliced chicken. Top with guacamole and serve with lime wedges. Goes especially well with a cerveza!

For a tropical twist on the traditional burrito bowl, try it with Mango-Cilantro Rice Pilaf

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Hola!

It’s so bittersweet to be back in rainy New York after a gloriously sunny, warm, wonderful week-long vacation. We just got back from a much needed vacation to Puerto Plata on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, and let’s just say, one week wasn’t enough.

The week was spent relaxing to the absolute max. Of the seven days we were there, most hours were spent laying on fluffy white beds on the beach (apparently lounge chairs are a thing of the past?), soaking up the sun, catching up on reading, and slurping down refreshing adult beverages.

We took only a couple of breaks, the first to visit a horse ranch and do a horseback tour of the island, which took us through Dominican farms and under hundreds of fruit bearing trees, past everything from avocados and mangos to coconut and papaya. Dominican farms look very similar to the jungle itself – not a whole lot of rhyme or reason that us foreigners could see, though apparently they’re planted this way to protect the soil and the land. The farms were all interspersed throughout the wild fruit trees, leaving the whole countryside laden with edible delights.

Our second break from laying beach-side was to visit the 27 Charcos de Damajagua – or the 27 Waterfalls of the Damajagua River – an absolute MUST do if you ever visit Puerto Plata. Essentially, we hiked through the jungle to the top of the twelfth in a series of connected waterfalls (the full 27-waterfall trek takes several hours), and then proceeded to jump, slide, and swim our way down twelve waterfalls back to the bottom of the mountain! All I can say is, you haven’t lived until you jump feet first down a cascading waterfall rapid! This trek was a total rush, not to mention a beautiful, fun, adventurous way to enjoy Puerto Plata. It was the highlight of the trip!

It was really, really hard to come back to the States after such a restorative getaway, but return we did. And one thing I have to admit that I was looking forward to getting back to was the food. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort in the DR, and while the food was overall pretty good (and better than I expected), I couldn’t wait for a hot, home cooked meal. And there was one thing in particular I was craving.

Pancakes.

To me, a pancake breakfast is synonymous with vacation. Sadly, though, the pancakes in the DR just did not cut it. To be frank, they were chewy, rubbery, and I’m pretty sure the same batter was used to make everything from pancakes to waffles to danishes. After a distasteful bite on the first day of our trip, I stuck to the much more delicious french toast at our hotel’s breakfast buffet for the whole week, but when I landed in New York, I was suffering from a fierce pancake craving.

But not just for any pancakes. Adam’s mom’s super special, ultra hearty oatmeal walnut blueberry pancakes. First thing Saturday morning I rushed downstairs to whip up a double batch for a family breakfast. Using the food processor, these pancakes come together in a snap, and are ready in minutes. Which means you can eat them even faster!

For an oatmeal lover like myself, these are pretty much the ultimate pancake. They’re hearty and comforting, fluffy, and full of nutty crunch from the walnuts. Blueberries, my berry of choice, add a tart burst of sweetness that balances the hearty oat flavor nicely – but you could add just about any berry, or bananas to the batter. Just don’t forget the butter and syrup – they might be slightly healthier, but they’re still pancakes, after all!

Oatmeal Walnut Blueberry Pancakes – Serves 4 to 5

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1-1/2 cups of whole rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1-1/2 cups of skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries

Method

1. Place flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, vanilla, oil and eggs in a food processor and puree until smooth.

2. Transfer the batter to a bowl. Add the chopped walnuts and blueberries and stir to combine.

3. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until golden brown on both sides and set in the middle. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a full-fledged restaurant review on the blog, namely because cooking and developing recipe is where my head’s been at. But last night I had a meal so insanely great that I literally could not go without mentioning it. In fact, I’ve already bragged about this meal to half the people I know, so it seems pretty appropriate that I document it here.

In a spur of the moment decision, my mom and I decided to grab dinner in the city last night before I head off into the Caribbean for a whole week (yes, I know!!!) on Friday. After each having our own fairly decadent Easter weekend, we wanted to eat out, but on the lighter, healthier side. After a bit of Yelping and Googling, I stumbled upon Candle 79 on the Upper East Side. The neighborhood was right, and I found myself flat-out excited about everything on the menu, something that rarely happens. But with interesting dishes like Avocado-Coconut Tartar, Morel and Ramp Ravioli, and Tofu Vegetable Napoleon, I couldn’t wait to sample a few of the dishes at Candle 79.

Candle 79 is a cozy, two-story restaurant on East 79th street, distinguishable on a mostly apartment-lined street by its deep red facade. Inside the restaurant, the ambiance was very relaxed and calm – almost zen – in the dimly lit main dining room where large framed photographs of fresh produce dotted the walls. A soft-spoken hostess led us to the back of the restaurant, where a frosted  glass wall encasing the kitchen sat at the foot of a winding staircase. Up the stairs we went into a second dining room, right to a table at the front of the room next to a row of windows. Dinner over natural sunlight? Finally, a perk to going out to eat at 6 pm.

Another soft-spoken waitress approached, filled our drinking glasses with filtered water, and delivered our menus. We quickly decided on sharing a few dishes and ordered. Another server brought over an amuse-bouche, which was a crispy, garlicky crostini smeared with a creamy spinach puree. Though I couldn’t identify the other ingredients, I noted that it must be dairy-free given the jurisdiction of the restaurant, and was impressed at the ability to achieve such a rich creamy texture without cheese or cream. But Candle 79’s ability to impress me would only continue.

Our first course was a heap of creamy smokey hummus, drizzled with red pepper oil and served alongside an assortment of fresh olives, a full bulb of roasted garlic, thick slices of carrot and cucumber, and a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth grilled Paratha bread that reminded me of Na’an more than anything else. The dish was an awesome assortment of finger foods and dippable items, all light, fresh, and just enough to inspire a greater appetite. My mom particularly loved this dish and plans to recreate it as an hor d’oeuvre for some upcoming spring parties!

Next up we had the Arugula salad, a fresh bed of greens laden with perfectly grilled spring asparagus, artichoke hearts, baby chickpeas, caramelized shallots, and avocado. The salad was tossed in a highly addictive Ramp Vinaigrette, and as one who loves ramps, and even more so, incorporating seasonal produce into dishes, I loved this touch. The salad was absolutely perfect and I would eat this every day if I could. Note to self: make ramp vinaigrette!

Our third and final course was the Morrocan Spiced Chickpea Cake, and man, did this dish blow us out of the water. The burger itself was a thick, soft patty made of chickpeas and what tasted like sweet potato, with a nice crispy crunch to the outside. It was topped with a thick smear of fig-apricot-ginger jam, and rested on a bed of perfectly poached cauliflower and broccoli florets. All these stacked components rested on in a bath of insane green coconut curry sauce, and the plate was sprinkled with slivered almonds. We almost couldn’t decide if this was more of an entrée or a dessert, so pronounced was the natural sweetness of many of the ingredients. It was all we could do to stop ourselves from licking the plate!

In the end, over matching pots of Vanilla-Cinnamon Rooibus Tea for “dessert,” we both decided that we would gladly go vegan if someone would cook us food like this every day. At Candle 79, not only do you not miss the meat (or dairy), but the flavors are so intoxicating and the food so well prepared, that you feel like you’re being given a treat, instead of being deprived. Best of all, you leave feeling energized and healthy, rather than stomach-achy and weighed down. Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian (god knows I’m not!), I highly suggest checking out this restaurant – you might be surprised how great you feel after a delicious meal of organic, farm-to-table vegetarian goodness!

Candle 79 is located at 154 East 79th Street at Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10021.

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Happy Friday!

Whew, what a week! This week has been quite the awesome whirlwind, if I do say so. It all started first thing Monday morning. I think the food gods must have been smiling down on me on Monday, because three great things happened all at once. First, I was able to secure (through a very helpful hand at my culinary alma mater, ICE) a ticket to this year’s IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) 2012 Conference. This year’s conference theme is The Fashion of Food: Where Food, Fashion and Media Connect. And let’s face it, I’m going for the food and the media, but I’ll stay for the fashion! Tickets run upwards of $300 for day so I feel super lucky to have gotten my hands on one. And there’s a Food Book and Blog Festival the day I’m going. What could be better?

The second great thing to happen is under wraps, but let’s just say I was offered the opportunity to visit a very exciting and mainstream center of food media, and I can’t wait! There may be more to come on that.

And then, as many blog readers know, a long time dream of mine came true when a friend of mine at the Huffington Post contacted me Monday morning to ask if I would like my post “Ten Things I Learned Working in a Restaurant Kitchen” featured on the HuffPost Food page. I think my reaction went something like screaming, sitting in shock in my pajamas staring at my laptop screen, and then calling my mom as fast as I could. Needless to say, I really appreciate the strong and positive response this post has gotten from food and non-food industry folks alike, and it has been a real thrill and honor to have it up on the Huffington Post. Thanks guys!

Photo by Flickr user: pvsbond

Given this blast of good fortune, and the fact that for the first time in over a year, my life is not being micro-managed and planned down to the minute, this week I also made a very spontaneous decision (read: in twenty minutes) and booked a trip to California for, oh, two months from now. I’ll be dragging my roommate and my boyfriend along with me to visit a life-long friend that moved out there a few years ago. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ll be visiting the West Coast in just a few weeks time for the first time in my life, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’m looking forward to eating, photographing, and blogging my way through L.A., wine country, and who knows where else, and sharing it all with readers. Stay tuned for that story in early June!

Photo by JD Eiseman

Even with all this exciting stuff going on, let’s face it – a girl’s gotta eat! I haven’t been out of a restaurant kitchen for a week yet, and already I’m dying to get my hands dirty again with a  few solid hours of cooking. One inspiring recipe I came across this week that just encouraged this further was for Akoori, or Indian Scrambled Eggs.

There’s an adorable, kitchy little Indian take-out place down in the Village by my office called Masala Times (very bollywood, very spicy). I first discovered Masala Times on a food tour of the Central Village last fall, and now I frequent it whenever I have a craving for quick, satisfying Indian food. Their Unda Bhurji Pav is my favorite dish by far –  a thick, chewy wheat wrap (known as a Roti), stuffed with soft, buttery, curried scrambled eggs, sautéed onions and green peppers – sort of like the Akoori in the recipe above.

As soon as I saw the recipe, the craving struck and instead of dashing down the street to Masala Times, I decided to whip this up at home instead. The verdict? As Cara said with a smile, “It tastes professional!” This recipe is a real winner, and will get you a fluffy, flavorful, slightly spicy scrambled egg that tastes just like traditional Indian street food. This is as perfect for breakfast or brunch as it is for dinner, thanks to the savory, rich flavors. Plus, it’s ready in a flash – fifteen minutes!

I made this just for myself, but the recipe can easily be adapted for a family meal (the recipe below is for two). Use two to three eggs per person, or as I did, two whole eggs and three egg whites. This goes great with some warm Roti or even crisped up whole wheat tortillas. Don’t forget the Mango Lassi!’

Unda Bhurji (Spiced Indian Scrambled Eggs) – Serves 2

Adapted from Food Republic

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of Sesame oil or Ghee
  • 1/2 of one large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small Serrano chile, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red curry paste
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Method
1. Heat the sesame oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions until browned, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, Serrano chile, cumin, and red curry paste. Saute for a minute until fragrant, and then add the tomatoes. Cook for another minute until the moisture has cooked off. Reduce heat to low.
3. Add the cilantro and stir to combine. Then, add the beaten eggs and stir slowly to incorporate. Continue to stir eggs over low heat until soft curds have formed and the eggs are set, about five minutes.
4. Garnish with more cilantro and serve immediately with Roti, or a warm wheat tortilla.

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