Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Mediterranean Fish Cakes with Avocado-Tahini Sauce

There has been a lot of hullabaloo about the Whole30 program, a "diet" that for 30 days limits all carbs, dairy, and legumes in order to get rid of cravings and "reset" your body. I have never been one for programs like this, but I have been feeling less energetic recently and with some extra baby weight I still need to shed I thought I would give it a try. So far so good considering the longest I've ever lasted without carbs is about 6 hours. The big challenge for me is to make my protein interesting and so I've been doing a lot of experimenting. These fish cakes were a big hit and a nice change from chicken and beef with tons of herbs, some warmth from cumin and turmeric and lots of lemon zest for zing. These cakes were inspired by a few Ottolenghi (read: amazing) recipes that I've come across as well as some fish kofta I had when I was as the Carmel spa last year that blew me away. I used a mixture of grouper and halibut but any good quality white fish like halibut or bass would work well too. The key is to hand chop the fish, not grind it to a paste, so the texture is flaky once cooked and not spongy.
Now for the sauce: Tahini and avocado might not seem like they go together but they work surprisingly well. When I make fish, I often serve it with an avocado crema, but since dairy is a no no here I used tahini in place of the sour cream I would normally use to make the sauce. The sauce definitely complements the fish but you could also use it as a yummy salad dressing or drizzled over some grains. Did I mention gluten free too? Enjoy!

For the fish: (makes 10 nice size cakes)
1 kilo (about 2 pounds) hand chopped grouper, halibut or any other good quality white fish
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional)
zest of one lemon
1 egg yolk
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 ts granulated garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for pan frying

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix very well, almost kneading the mixture so it holds together well. Refrigerate for half an hour. With wet hands make patties from the fish mixture. Heat enough light oil (light olive or canola) to lightly coat the bottom of a frying pan. Place fish patties down and do not touch them until they are ready to be flipped, about 4-5 minutes on one side (depending on the thickness of the patty) and 2 minutes on the other side.

For the sauce:
1/2 of a large ripe avocado or one small avocado
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini 
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 -1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except the water into a food processor. Process to combine everything and puree the avocado. The mixture will be very thick. Add water a little at a time until you get your desired consistency, for a thicker sauce, more like a "crema" you will need about 1/4 of a cup, for more of a wet sauce you will need closet to 1/2 cup. Check for seasoning after adding water, adding salt and pepper as necessary.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples (take 2)

A long time ago I made a warm braised red cabbage dish and posted it on this blog. It was good, even great, but not nearly as amazing as this version right here. I know the list of ingredients sound weird, and I too was hesitant to eat warm cabbage, but let me tell you, this is divine. A little sweet and a little tangy and the perfect way to eat lots of red cabbage when you are just sick of all those boring cabbage salads. This is a perfect side dish for turkey or chicken, (I actually think it tastes a bit like cranberry sauce) and will be a frequent addition to your winter side dish rotation. Enjoy!

3 Tablespoons oil
1 medium head red cabbage, shredded
3 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced thin
zest of one orange
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg (optional)
1 1/4 cups apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup golden raisins
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large and deep saucepan. Add half of the shredded cabbage to the pan and then add the onions and apples on top of the cabbage. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, orange zest and nutmeg and then add the rest of the cabbage on top, season with salt and pepper and top with the golden raisins. Pour the cider and cider vinegar over the whole mixture and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and let the cabbage braise for about an hour and a half until tender.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Curried Cauliflower and Kale Salad

Winter is notorious for packing on the pounds. Is it just me who feels like eating pasta makes one warm? Either way, this winter I have been trying to make a conscious effort to eat more salads to counteract the pasta that has been keeping me warm and this salad and different versions of it has been my go to. The cauliflower gives the salad bulk so it is super filling and the sweet golden raisins are the perfect compliment to the curry flavor. Toasted almonds (and I put loads in) are essential in most of my salads because to me the taste of deeply toasted almonds is unparalleled but any nut will do and I used kale because I found some magnificent kale but baby spinach or even Romaine lettuce will do. Enjoy!

For the Salad:
8 cups shredded Kale (or baby spinach or lettuce)
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 shallots, sliced

For the cauliflower:
1 large Cauliflower broken into florets or 800 grams frozen cauliflower, defrosted
2 Tablespoons oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1 Tbl curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375. Place the cauliflower on a tray lined with parchment paper and toss with the oil and spices. Roast for 30-35 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and a little browned around the edges.

For the dressing:
Juice of one lemon
3 Tablespoons canola or light olive oil
3 Tbl Agave nectar or Maple Syrup
salt and pepper

To assemble: Place the kale, cauliflower, almonds, shallots and raisins in a large bowl. Dress with the dressing, toss and serve.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Celery and Herb Salad

You must be thinking: She emerges from her blog-coma of months of not posting and the first thing she comes up with is celery salad?! Well, let me tell you, I have decided celery has been way too underrated and it is time for that to end. Relegated to mirepoix's and gluey cream of soup cans, celery's loser status on the vegetable chart has been cemented- I myself have been guilty, refusing to put it in my tuna, letting it wilt for weeks in my vegetable drawer but that ends here and now.This salad is the perfect way to demonstrate how delicious celery can be as the star of the show. Its crisp texture and fresh flavor are perfect to add boatloads of parsley, deeply toasted almonds, sweet and tangy pomegranate seeds and scallions. This salad looks beautiful, tastes amazing and has been added to my Shabbat table rotation where it is fought over down to the last almond. You will not regret this. Enjoy!

8 large stalks of celery including all the leaves, the more leaves the better
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 scallions, sliced thinly
8 pitted dates, thinly sliced (optional, but I love the chewy texture it adds)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (or dried cranberries)
1/4-1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds (I do 1/3 cup because the almonds are my favorite part)
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbl light olive or canola oil
salt and pepper

Slice the celery stalks thinly and chop up the leaves. Add it all to a bowl and mix in the parsley, scallions, dates and pomegranate. Add the lemon juice, oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the almonds just before serving.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Curried Chicken Salad Cups

4 cups chicken, cubed or shredded
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2-3/4 cup mayonaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbl curry
1 Tbl honey
1/4 cup chopped parsley
lettuce cups for serving


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Recipes 2015

The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun! To me that mostly means ordering way too many things online with Black Friday discounts and planning my big Friday night (that's right, no Thursday night Thanksgiving here) Turkey feast. Here are a whole bunch of great Thanksgiving dishes that are sure to enhance your table, some traditional and some that can add a unique twist to your favorite Thanksgiving ingredients. Enjoy!


Mulled Hot Apple Cider

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Roasted Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup

Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup

Red Lentil Pumpkin Soup
Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Salads and Sides:
Wild Rice Stuffed Butternut Squash

Spiced Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Zucchini Corn Muffins
Black Lentil Couscous Salad

Orange Balsamic Beets

DD Kale Salad (omit the cheese)

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

Rainbow Green Bean Salad

Orange Scented Cranberry Sauce

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sukkot Menu

Here is my Sukkot menu inspired by fall (and a little tradition).

Stuffed Cabbage

Pumpkin Soup 
garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and cinnamon

Chicken Marbella
Chicken roasted with olives and dried plums in a sweet and savory garlic wine sauce

24 hour brisket with Roasted Shallots 

Herb and Garlic Roast Baby Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette –(Baby lettuce, cranberries, slivered almonds, roasted squash)

Wild Rice Pilaf