Friday, September 4, 2015

Salmon Cake Benedict

When most people think of Las Vegas, ideas of casinos and luxury hotels probably come to mind. However, Vegas also has an amazing array of fantastic restaurants. Though I haven't been there myself, when the folks at got in touch with me asking for my take on a Vegas restaurant recipe, I was extremely inspired once I visited their website. I gravitated towards Giada de Laurentiis' restaurant Giada because I've been a fan ever since her show Everyday Italian was on Food Network. When I read the description of her restaurant, her Salmon Cake Benedict stood out. I'm not sure what her interpretation of the dish is, but I thought a salmon cake would be the perfect substitute for an English muffin, since I personally avoid wheat. I made an easy blender hollandaise and layered the salmon cake with a poached egg and an herb and spinach salad to add some freshness. This recipe looks complicated, but several parts of the recipe can be made in advance. The recipe is written in the order that I used to prepare the final dish.

Salmon Cake Benedict
Printable Recipe

For the salmon cakes:

1 lb cooked and cooled salmon fillets, flaked with a fork*
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp minced fresh dill
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
4 tbsp minced shallot
8 tbsp blanched almond meal
dash cayenne, optional
salt, black pepper, and white pepper, to taste
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Blend the fish, egg, dill, parsley, shallot, 2 tbsp of the almonds, cayenne, peppers, and salt. Mix together thoroughly. Clean hands work best for this.
2. Pour the remaining almond meal on a plate. Make 4 patties, pressing both sides of each patty into the almond meal. If your salmon had more retained moisture, more almond meal may be necessary.
3. Set on a plate and refrigerate 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, make the salad, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce.
5. To cook the salmon patties, heat the oil over medium in a large skillet. Add the patties, cooking until browned on the first side before flipping. Do not flip excessively or they will fall apart. Remove from skillet and set aside in a warm place.

*Salmon can be left over or prepared according to your favorite method. I poached skin-on salmon fillets in 1 cup each white wine and water with a pinch of salt for about 6 min or until just opaque, then allowed the salmon to cool to room temperature before skinning and flaking with a fork. This can be done a day in advance.

Poached eggs:

6 fresh eggs
2 tsp white vinegar
pinch of salt
Simmering water (amount depends on the size of the skillet)

1. Heat approximately 2 inches of water in a deep skillet over medium heat. The water should not be bubbling, only simmering. Add the vinegar and salt. Crack each egg into a ramekin or small dish and drop them in, one at a time, carefully spacing them out in the skillet. Turn off heat but leave the skillet on the burner. Immediately cover and cook 5 min. Do not stir while they are cooking.
2. Carefully, lift each egg with a slotted spoon to a plate. Gently blot with paper towels to remove excess moisture. To re-shape the eggs, use a paring knife to trim any bits of white away. Eggs can be served immediately or chilled in an ice bath up to 8 hrs and re-heated in warm water before serving. If re-heating, blot with paper towels before serving.

Herb and Spinach Salad:

4 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
4 tbsp coarsely chopped dill
2 cup shredded baby spinach
4 tbsp finely chopped red onion
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Add spinach, herbs, and onion to a small bowl. Drizzle over juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Thoroughly coat the greens with a light coating of the dressing. Divide between four serving plates. The salad can be tossed together while you are waiting for the egg poaching water to come to temperature and while the eggs cook, if you choose not to prepare them ahead of time.

Easy Hollandaise

2 large egg yolks (use fresh eggs)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
salt to taste
dash of cayenne

1. Recipe can be made with a blender or immersion blender. Add the egg yolk, juice, and cayenne to the pitcher of the blender or container for the immersion blender. Blend to combine.
2. Slowly, drizzle in the melted butter to form a smooth sauce. Season with salt. Season to taste and serve immediately.

Final Assembly: Place a salmon cake on top of the salad. Top with the warmed poached egg. Finish with as much hollandaise sauce as you'd like. Serve.

Monday, August 10, 2015

All About Almonds! Three New Recipes

When I learned about the almond project at, it got me thinking about all the ways I include almonds in my meals and snacks, and I realized almonds are on my table all the time!
Since I recently relocated to California, one of the world’s top almond producers, I get to see lovely almond trees all the time. However, almonds have played a role in my meals and snacks long before my move here because they provide fiber and healthy fats, which I find sustain me between meals. Even a handful of almonds as a snack keeps me going for a long time, and because I work in vineyards nearly every day, and quick snack of almonds is the perfect pick-me-up. I also realized how often I include almonds in some form of my meals. From more fancy, thought-out recipes to a quick sprinkle of sliced almonds on top of yogurt and salad, almonds add amazing texture to my recipes.

Here are a few almond recipes I’ve been making over and over again. I find these recipes evolve with seasonal produce, so you can use your imagination to adapt them year round!

The first is a salad recipe that my dear friend Misha introduced me to. Since I’ve moved to California, I’ve experienced new flavors and have incorporated new ingredients, but I’ve kept the basics of the recipe, including the almonds! My favorite part of this version is if you get a nicely ripened avocado and juicy tomatoes, they become part of the dressing when you toss the salad and add an amazing flavor. The almonds make this work because of their fantastic crunch! You can arrange the salad ingredients in color blocks, like I did, or sprinkle everything around. Either way, you will have a bowlful of rainbow on your table!

Misha’s Salad, California Style

For the salad:
6 cups mixed baby greens
1 cup halved or quartered baby heirloom tomatoes
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
½ cup chopped red onion
1 cup peeled, chopped cucumber
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
½ cup sliced almonds

For the dressing:
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/8 tsp Herbes de Provence
Gnerous pinches of salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.  In a bowl, arrange the salad ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, honey, vinegar, herbs, salt, and pepper. While whisking (I use a fork), slowly drizzle in the oil. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.

Peaches are in season, so I’ve had my share from roadside stands! I’ve been chopping up ripe peaches and layering them with yogurt and almonds to make a quick breakfast or snack. The combination of almonds and ground flax seeds reminds me of pie crust, but this is a much healthier recipe than pie! If you are used to sweetened fruit yogurts from the store but want to make a switch to plain yogurt, this is a great recipe to try. Adding a pinch of salt may seem odd, but I think it heightens the flavor of the peaches and gives it a “pie crust” flavor, which has a subtle saltiness.

Peach Pie Yogurt Parfait

1 ripe peach, chopped (roughly 1 cup)
Small pinch of pink Himalayan salt (optional)
Stevia to taste (optional)
¾ cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular are both fine)
Cinnamon, to taste
2 tbsp sliced almonds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds

1. Add the peaches to a parfait bowl or dish. I like to cut the peaches over the bowl so I catch the juices. Sprinkle with salt and stevia, if you are using them.
2. Top the peaches with yogurt, sprinkle on as much cinnamon as you like, then top with the almonds and flax. Serve.

Finally, another breakfast or snack idea involves one of my favorite versions of almonds---almond milk! I haven’t bought regular milk in a long time because I just love unsweetened vanilla almond milk in my smoothies. This smoothie is fiber-, protein-, and healthy fat-packed! I can’t do super fruity smoothies because I get hungry so soon after I drink them. This one sticks with me.

A helpful trick for blending up greens is to freeze them. If you don't have a high speed blender, frozen greens whip up more quickly, and if you have some greens that aren't looking so fresh you can save them!

Almond-Chocolate Greens and Protein Smoothie

1 cup almond milk
1 cup mixed "power greens" such as kale, chard, and spinach (frozen, if desired)
1/4 medium avocado
1 serving chocolate protein powder, such as this one (can add cocoa powder depending how chocolaty your protein powder is)
a few drops pure almond extract
Stevia, to taste (optional)

1. Blend the almond milk and greens until smooth.
2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy these almond-packed recipes. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Savory Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

I didn't realize it had been since February since I last posted. I've made many changes in my life, mainly taking a new job in California and thus finished my cross-country move that was 7 years in the making. I'd set an intention to move to California for at least a year now, and for the move to finally happen felt miraculous. My work started right away, so I hit the ground running, having barely moved into my apartment. The move-in process has been slow simply because I've been working so many hours and have spent much of my weekend hours exploring my new territory and working on writing. Therefore, I have had little time to cook. I've only had my oven on a few times in the 2 months I've been living here, which is pretty ridiculous. I'm on the lookout for new food inspiration and I'm going to set a goal of posting more often. It should be easy to find food inspiration because California has amazing produce...what could be more inspiring? Plus I've met many new people who have given me new meal inspiration, such as this special Guatamalan breakfast with plantains cooked in coconut oil, eggs, crema, homemade refried black beans, and avocado. This meal is the definition of "stick to your ribs."

Even though I regularly take photos of food, they are greatly outnumbered by photos of my travels for work. I'm fortunate to go to Sonoma on a weekly basis (heartbreaking, I know...). The Napa/Sonoma area is so beautiful it's surreal. Even dilapidated barns peeking through the early morning fog are enchanting. Every view is worthy of a photograph.

Most of my breakfasts are something quick while running out the door and finished while I'm driving to work. On a recent less-than-full-tilt weekend I prepared a full-on breakfast with Trader Joe's sweet basil pesto sausages, eggs, avocado sprinkled with a little sea salt, and crispy roasted root vegetable hash. The hash was inspired by the spice rack I recently purchased, which had savory on it. Savory is a pretty obscure herb that kind of smells like pizza to me, so I wanted to try and meld it with other herbs. I think avocado is a requisite accompaniment to go with this herbed mixture of sweet and regular potatoes.

Savory Roasted Root Vegetable Hash
Printable Recipe

1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium white or Japanese sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp dried savory
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Toss all ingredients together and arrange on a baking tray (foil covered, if you wish).
3. Bake for 15 to 20 min, then toss. Continue cooking 15 to 20 min more, or until the outsides of the potatoes are crispy and the insides are tender.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ham and Spinach Crustless Quiche

I'm glad to have another recipe to post, because my appetite has been off this week due to a cold and/or allergies and I just didn't feel like cooking anything until this morning. I don't know what I got a hold of, but I've just not been feeling well. I probably haven't had much of an urge to eat because I'm so stuffed up that I'm afraid of suffocating while chewing because I can barely breathe through my nose. I suspect it's some random Texas allergen, or it's from a dusty day earlier this week. If you don't live in Texas, "dusty day" may seem like no big deal, but it can get pretty bad....and kind of reminiscent of a scary movie plot.

But I digress....thankfully this morning I felt like having a bit more substantial breakfast, which gave me the opportunity to cook the same quiche I made for breakfast on Christmas morning, which happened to be a big hit. This recipe is adapted from the Core Balance Diet book by Marcelle Pick. I was buying Christmas presents from a used/vintage bookstore, and just as I was about to check out I saw Core Balance and Are You Tired and Wired?, both by Pick, sitting on a shelf near the door. If you've been keeping up with me for a while, you'll know that I have just completed my Ph.D. I've never been so naive as to think getting a Ph.D. was going to be a cake walk, but now that I'm through it I definitely have been needing some TLC. The sprint to the end of defense/finishing my dissertation/and graduation were really challenging. However, I'm of the mindset that accomplishments that are the most difficult are frequently the most worthwhile! As part of my TLC regimen, I've been reading Pick's books, along with others. Over the course of last year, my sleeping had become erratic, my meal and exercise schedules were off, and I was working really long hours. So, based on my reading I needed to get my adrenal health and circadian rhythm back in order. Thanks to a variety of books, I've made some lifestyle and diet changes and I can tell I'm getting back on track. I'll put a list of links below. Another thing that has helped me is getting a Jawbone UP activity tracker. I love this thing! I'm really analytically-minded, so having data about my sleep, eating, and exercise/steps tracked is totally up my alley. It's like my little guardian angel...seeing it on my wrist helps me make healthier choices all day long. I was debating on getting a Fit Bit, but I read the Jawbone's sleeping is the most accurate of the activity trackers, which was important to me. I may have been happy with a Fit Bit, but I'm definitely pleased with the style (several people thought it was just a bracelet), the app, and the feedback I get from the Jawbone.

Helpful resources:
The Core Balance Diet
Are You Tired and Wired?
The Seven Principles of Fat Burning
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome
How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy

Again I digressed!...Ok, back on track. The breakfast recipe I made was adapted from the Core Balance Diet book. The original recipe was Spinach Quiche, but I not only edited some of the ingredients but completely changed the cooking method. When I made this for Christmas, I figured my parents wouldn't be too keen on eating the cream in the original recipe, so I subbed cottage cheese, which worked perfectly. I also reduced the Parmesan--even thought I love Parm, my mom tries to watch her salt, so I substituted some of it for mozzarella, which isn't too high in salt. I also added a bit of leftover Christmas eve ham (now I used nitrite-free deli ham), which was a nice addition...and thankfully I didn't suffocate in the course of making or eating this breakfast.

Ham and Spinach Crustless Quiche
Printable Recipe

6 eggs
1 10-oz box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess water
6 tbsp cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced nitrite-free ham
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-10" pie plate.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then stir in spinach, cheeses, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
3. In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add ham and onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Fold into egg mixture and them pour into the pan.
4. Bake 30-35 min, or until solid in the middle and golden brown on the edges. Allow to set 5 min before cutting and serving.

Makes 3-4 servings

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Roasted Beet and Mandarin Salad

Since starting to eat according to a Paleo template July 2011, I have grown an appreciation for several foods that I didn't really care for all that much before. One of those much detested foods was beets! The first time I tasted a beet that didn't totally gross me out was in one of my guilty-ish pleasures, Terra sweets and beets chips. I started to like the sweet earthiness.

On busy nights during the week, I make a salad at the salad bar at the grocery store. They have several ready-made salads, and one I have fallen in love with is a baby beet salad. Sometimes they put orange wedges in it, and other times canned mandarin oranges. Truth be told, though I know they are in sugary syrup, I prefer the version with the mandarin oranges. The regular oranges are a bit pithy and flavorless. I know pre-made salads are sub-optimal because of the veggies oils in the dressing, but it's one of my allowances. I get so excited when I see this salad on the bar that I typically say "ooh beets!" out loud like a weirdo...I don't care I love the stuff! I have come up with my own version that I absolutely adore. It's pretty easy to make and is a perfect substitute for the store version. If you have disliked beets most of your life, like I did, you should give this one a try. The mandarins and balsamic dressing give the beets a lot of character and detract from their earthiness. Plus, roasting veggies takes their flavor to the next level. I really love the shades of red and pink in the salad.

Roasted Beet and Mandarin Salad
Printable Recipe

4 medium beets (about 1.25-1.5 lbs), scrubbed clean and greens removed
a little water
9 seedless mandarin oranges (aka: "Cuties" or "Halos")
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp pure maple syrup (optional)
 salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut into slivers
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Roast the beets. There are lots of methods, and I used this one. I added a little water to the foil to keep the beets from scorching and to build up some steam. They took about 1.25 hrs (a good time for prepping other food for the week!). You could also steam them. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut them into chunks.
2. Meanwhile, juice one of the mandarins. Blend in the mustard, syrup, and some salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil. As an optional step, soak the onion slivers in cold water to remove some of their heat. Peel and section all the mandarins.
3. In a large bowl, toss the beets, mandarin wedges, drained onions, pecans, and dressing. Toss well and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Related Posts with Thumbnails