Last weekend was the Live the Smart Way Expo. I was lucky enough to have worked with holistic nutritionist Kathy Smart, the Expo’s host, during the filming of the first ever North American gluten-free cooking show as one of the food stylists.
I’ve always been interested in healthy cooking.. but healthy is such a relative term. Science has come a long way in healing wounds and diseases but I feel that there is an onus on healing what has been suffered by someone vs what can be prevented. It is preventative medicine that has yet to be regulated or taught in a decisive way. Maybe that’s because our bodies are all so uniquely different, it’s hard for a mass of people to follow any particular lifestyle regiment.
Health and wellness books and conferences are a great way to see what could work for your if you prefer to approach an alternative and conscientious way to live well. What’s even better is to READ! Read many books with scientific data from reliable sources and really keep track if a particular diet or lifestyle is helping you.
We are not little individual human islands (says the blogger who works from home a lot of the time). Share your story, be part of a community, find support.
And, of course, cooking from scratch can’t hurt to make sure you’re eating right! The recipe below is super simple.
Grilled Apple & Chicken Salad
Grilling the apple brings out its sweetness while making it a smokey and delicious accompaniment to the chicken. I developed this recipe in order to use up left over chicken that I trimmed off of enormous chicken breasts. If you don’t have any scrappy bits, use chicken thigh!
3/4 lb raw chicken pieces (thigh is best!)
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 cup vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 gala apple, cored and sliced into 1/2″ wedges
4 tbsp mayo
4 tbsp honey mustard tbsp (alternatively 2 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp mustard)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Toss chicken with olive oil, garlic clove, salt & pepper
Grill chicken on a BBQ or grill pan until cooked through. Set aside to rest.
Cook apple slices on the same grill until definitive grill marks are seen on both sides, flipping once.
Chop chicken and apple into 2cm cubes (or bite sized).
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy with sliced veggies or in your favourite sandwich bread.
Having been there for only a week, it’s hardly appropriate to name this blog ‘Best of’ as the food scene in San Francisco is incredibly diverse! I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface (for example, I didn’t make it to Slanted Door or Greens). Nevertheless, this feels like a city that embraces innovation. You can go out for almost any kind of meal and there will be plenty of vegan and/or gluten-free options. The beauty of this is it’s so subtly accommodating that people who can (luckily) eat anything without repercussion won’t feel like they have to go somewhere that compromises quality, taste, ambiance if they’re trying to find somewhere where their digestion-challenged friends need to eat and vice versa.
1. Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Bi-Rite have so many FRESH gluten free pasta options.. heavenly – a must try if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen available. We all know that gluten free options in restaurants can be at a premium.
2. Many places that aren’t outright advertising gluten free options can usually accommodate as a lot of their food is made from scratch.
3. There are plenty of tacos around. I never came across wheat-based tortillas – soft or hard shells. Be sure to ask anyway just in case.
4. Although I just suggested going to Whole Foods, farmers markets are where it’s at for really affordable local fruit and vegetables.
5. Two words: Happy Hour
6. California rolls at sushi restaurants with REAL CRAB. You may laugh, but crab in most sushi restaurants in Canada use fake crab sticks which contain wheat.
7. Be prepared to wait in line.
Below are my favourite Gluten Free finds in San Fran!
I can’t wait to go back.
1. Pica Pica – 401 Valencia St: 100% gluten free Venezuelan food. Amazing. Impossible to choose.
2. Proposition Chicken – 1750 Market St: Fried chicken anyone?
3. Mariposa – Ferry Market Building: Best commercial sandwich bread I’ve ever tried! I also highly recommend their croissants and baguettes.
6. Palm House – 2032 Union Street: Ceviche with taro root chips & prosecco for happy hour. ‘Nuff said.
1. Pica Pica – 401 Valencia St
2. Proposition Chicken – 1750 Market St
3. Mariposa – Ferry Market Building
4. Dynamo Donut + Coffee – 2760 24th St
5. Katana-ya – 430 Geary St
6. Palm House – 2032 Union Street
7. Kitchen Story – 3499 16th St
What are your favourite San Fran finds? Post below!
Their surprise made me realize that many people might think that cooking good food means elabourate ingredients, exotic hard to find spices, or labourious preparation. But as Michael Pollan goes into extreme detail about in his latest book Cooked, all one really needs are to know the basic skills of making a stew: patience, and time. I mean, really when you’ve browned the meat, quickly (or slowly depending on the type of stew) sauteed some basic vegetables, add a liquid medium of choice and let is simmer with bubbles just barely breaking the surface, the meat becomes meltingly tender and every flavour marries together into something brilliant and comforting.
I hear about this revelation from many people. Once they discover this, they realize they can take two hours out of their weekend and prepare two or three one pot meals that last them the entire week. The rest of the time for the cooking is just looking to see whether the pot is boiling too much or not and, perhaps, the occasional stirring. All of this for a fraction of the price of, say, 30 min meals people try and sell you on. These are usually prepared using cuts of meat and vegetables that are really expensive because of their inherent tenderness vs the ‘cheaper’ cuts of meat and vegetables used for one pot meals. When you look at the recipe for the stew in the link above, you can see that the prep time is only 30min! With a little forethought, you can make amazing, nourishing meals for yourself, friends and family.
On the other side of the coin, I often hear chefs talk about how much they love eggs. They are the perfect ‘fast food’.
I’ve already written about omelettes before, but seriously, they are the perfect affordable yet decadent, quick and delicious breakfast! Sometimes.. simple is best.
Night shade free, dairy free, gluten free
Recipe from the Ballymaloe Cookery School
2 organic eggs
2 teaspoons milk or water
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons Clarified Butter (see recipe) or olive oil
Add 1 teaspoon each of freshly chopped, parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon to the
eggs just before cooking – divine!
Pan 23cm (9 inch) in diameter
Warm a plate in the oven. [optional but nice!]
Meanwhile, heat the omelette pan over a high heat. If using, have your chosen filling ready beside you, along with a spoon.
Whisk the eggs with the milk or water in a bowl, until thoroughly mixed but not too
fluffy. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Put the warm plate beside the cooker because you won’t have time to go looking for it.
Add the clarified butter or oil to the pan. As soon as it sizzles, pour in the egg mixture. It will start to cook immediately so quickly pull the edges of the omelette towards the centre with a metal or plastic spatula, tilting the pan backwards and forwards then up and down for another few seconds so that the uncooked egg runs to
the sides. Continue right around until most of the egg is set and will not run any more. The centre should still be soft and moist – don’t worry, it will be perfectly set by the time it gets to the table.
To fold the omelette: flip the omelette edge nearest the handle of the pan over the filling, towards the centre. Then change your grip of the handle so you are holding it from underneath, this will make it more comfortable for you to hold the pan almost upright so the omelette can roll towards the bottom of the pan. Half-roll and half-slide the omelette onto the plate so that it lands folded into three. [Sounds overwhelming but see video below! And don't be afraid of botching it a couple of times before you get it right]
I love this lady… me in 20 years?
Clearly I should make an omelette video, I love em so much!
What are your favourite add ins? Comment below!
Gluten-free or not! Check out how to incorporate my favourite spring vegetables into this delicious party-friendly Mac n Cheese with songstress Shannon Rose.
Ever wonder how to poach eggs? Coupled with traditional Ukranian potato pancakes is a perfect match!
One of my earliest memories as a child was visiting a farmer’s market where my family lives in Serbia. I remember being asked what I would like for supper. I insisted on having a cucumber salad at the beginning of May and I couldn’t possibly understand that ‘it wasn’t in season’. Clearly, I was used to the luxury of imported foods. This experience was my first taste of what eating seasonally meant.
Farmer’s markets have now become a special outing and a pleasurable shopping experience where you know you’ll go home afterward with the most delicious food. They are also a place of conviviality and certainty that your food is fresh and seasonal. As Alice Waters writes in the introduction of Christopher Hirsheimer’s Book, San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook (co-written by Peggy Knickerbocker),
“It starts with a transaction that’s essential, an exchange of food, but it widens to include the fundamental experience of being alive. And by providing the element of surprise, going to the market frees us from our rigid agendas and teaches us what being alive can mean.”
Hirsheimer is an American author of Canal House Cooking Volumes, a well-known series of amazing, simple and meticulously written recipes. Hirsheimer and Knickerbocker spread their art of cooking authentic cuisine with character and passion.
What I love about the Farmer’s Market Cookbook is that they alphabetize produce respective to the season they’re available in. Of course, seasonality differs from country to country. Check out your local, seasonal produce guide or chat with a farmer at your local market.
Buying food by the season is a great place to start for anyone interested in eating to improve their health. Starting with a recipe that focuses on one fruit or vegetable that is in season can make any novice cook that much more capable of making delicious food. Fresh, locally produced and organic food inherently tastes better than commercially store bought. Once something is picked, it begins degrading in nutrients and flavour. Farmer’s market vendors usually pick their produce the morning it’s sold whereas supermarket foods are usually picked before they are ripe and are altered chemically to ripen when they arrive at the store.
Here are some of my favourite spring vegetables in recipe form using some of Hirsheimer’s Farmer’s Market Cookbook recipes.
Cecilia Chiang’s Asparagus with Soy-Sesame Dressing
as adapted by Saveur
I used sea kale in this recipe. It is a Spring vegetable that looks like celery and tastes slightly of asparagus.
1 ½ lbs. asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise on the diagonal into 2″ pieces
1 tbsp. Japanese reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2 drops red chile oil
½ tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus or sea kale to pot and cook until tender-crisp and bright green, 1½–2 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain, then immediately plunge into a large bowl of ice water; set aside to cool, 2–3 minutes. Drain again, then transfer to paper towels, pat dry, and set aside.
Whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and chile oil in a medium bowl. Add asparagus and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds.
Dandelion Salad Lorraine
4 bacon slices, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
small handful of fresh chives, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ cup walnut oil
4 large handfulls of small, young dandelion
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain.
Put the shallot, chives, vinegar, oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a large salad bowl and mix together with a fork. Add the dandelion leaves and bacon and toss until the leaves are evenly coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.
Rhubarb with Vanilla and Crème de Cassis
transcribed by Andrea At
2 pounds rhubarb, sliced into 1″ pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup crème de cassis
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Oven preheated to 350F. Stir all of the ingredients together in a large baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes. The rhubarb should be tender and should release some of its juices.
Remove from the oven and take out the vanilla bean. Scrape the seeds into the rhubarb mixture with the tip of a knife. You can serve it warm or cold, over yogurt or whipped cream.
What do you look forward to eat most in the spring?
Happy Victoria Day!
There’s nothing like a second brunch day of the week. If you aren’t too hungover, and know you’re neighbour, parents or Nicastro Il Negozio have rhubarb, trim off about 4 stalks and follow this recipe as a topping for your favourite pancake or waffle recipe!
Other pancake tips: After cooking half your plain pancake batter, add about 1/4 cup coco powder + 1 tbsp sugar and make the second batch chocolatey! Coco is full of iron, so don’t feel guilty about this one. Instead of maple syrup, try some molasses for an extra iron boost!
Orange Rhubarb Compote
In a small saucepan, heat up on medium until a rolling boil,
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Meanwhile, cut in 1cm pieces and add to pot,
4 stalks rhubarb
Cook until rhubarb is semi soft and tastes sweet, about 10min.
Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon, place into a bowl and garnish with
2 tbsp currants
It is time.
The happiest time.
The farmers markets have begun.
Asparagus is here. Here’s a tip: to tip them, just snap the ends and where they snap is what you should cook (except the ends, of course).
Here is a recipe:
Grilled Asparagus Salad
Grill asparagus and red peppers on BBQ on Med-HI until tender and blackened (covered and flipped once half way through the cooking time; about 5min – asparagus; 10min – peppers)
Toss asparagus with:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
Plate asparagus and top with:
pinch of sea salt
peeled, sliced roasted red peppers
1/4 cup crumbled feta
Now you might be thinking.. Eva, Easter was LAST week. Why are you posting about Easter NOW?
In Serbia, Orthodox Christianity is the most observed religion and still follows the Julian calendar so Christian holidays occur at different times of year. Anyways, there are some great traditions still observed by some Serbs in town including the ever popular Easter egg dying. Eggs symbolize new life and dying them honours the up coming seasons of abundance.
My aunt makes Easter eggs the traditional way:
Easter Egg Dye
In a large pot for 4 hours, simmer:
a seasons worth of yellow onion skins (about 20-30 onions)
enough water to cover the skins
Meanwhile, follow these easy steps for 1-2 doz eggs:
To dye eggs:
In a wide bottomed dutch oven combine and bring to a boil, then simmer:
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cup strained onion skin juice