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New year, new recipes...

I've always been a big believer in the "everything in moderation" idea, as opposed to strict, limiting diets. My first foray into a "diet" was cutting out all carbs/gluten the month leading up to my wedding. I will say, the results felt pretty fantastic. I didn't feel weighed down or overly full like I tend to feel when I eat carbs (maybe because they're all SO GOOD and I often go overboard). And honestly, after learning to just ignore the stupid bread basket when I'd go out to eat, it wasn't all that difficult. But there was one thing that I really truly missed: PASTA. My first carb-free week, all I dreamt about were noodles. Ramen, spaghetti, mac and cheese (there is NO delicious healthy mac and cheese substitute)...they haunted my dreams on a nightly basis. When I broke my carb-free month (of hell), I filled a huge bowl with buttered noodles and black pepper and didn't look back.

That brings us to now. It is a new year and I have new resolutions, one of which is continuing to learn to cook different cuisines. While it does include various global cuisines, I am also trying to focus more on recipes for diet restrictions. It is becoming more common for friends and clients to request vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free menus, among others. So, I figured today was as good as any to make a delish pasta dish without any gluten. (Plus, I'd just eaten a piece of chocolate cake and thought I was balancing it out).

My heart said, "cacio e pepe," but my head said, "it wouldn't kill you to add some veggies." So this recipe happened. Try it out and see what you think. There are still the familiar friends (butter and cheese) so it's not totally health-conscious and granola. 

Quinoa Pasta with Anchovy Butter and Garlicky Tomatoes

(Serves 2)

 Making anchovy butter

Making anchovy butter

  • One 8 oz. box quinoa linguine pasta (I used Ancient Harvest brand)
  • 4 pearl tomatoes, diced (these are typically sold on the vine)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tbl unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 or 4 oil-packed anchovy filets, chopped 
  • Chopped parsley (optional)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pecorino, for sprinkling on top
  1. Fill pasta pot with water and season with salt. Boil pasta for about 7 minutes. (Quinoa pasta gets mushy very quickly so drain when al dente). Reserve a little pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, blend butter, anchovies, chopped parsley (if using--I used about a teaspoon), pinch of salt and pepper in a small food processor. (Alternatively, you can soften the butter at room temperature, then combine the ingredients in with a fork in a bowl until well-blended). Set aside.
  3. Heat small saucepan to medium-high and add olive oil. Add tomatoes and garlic, then sauté until tomatoes soften most of the liquid is cooked out, about 5 minutes.
  4. Combine hot pasta with a tablespoon or so of anchovy butter (more, if desired), tomato sauce, and about a tablespoon of pasta water. Sprinkle with pecorino and extra black pepper and ENJOY! 

Note: This makes extra anchovy butter so save it for other things, like roasted veggies.

 

 

 

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Return from the Holidays

 View from the top of Mt. Baldy, the best wintery day trip from LA

View from the top of Mt. Baldy, the best wintery day trip from LA

The holiday season is finally over. It was a whirlwind of dinner parties, cooking events, and lots of quality time with family and friends. Most of my recipes for Thanksgiving and December events consisted of warm and comforting dishes that I don't eat a lot of in California, unless it happens to rain. Short ribs and polenta...butternut squash and sage soup...and of course, my mom's famous carrot cake that I've been loading up with extra walnuts and toasted coconut. All delicious and perfect for sharing with family at home during the holidays. But now, I've returned to California after being in the freezing cold for two weeks, and it already feels like spring here. So, in this in-between season, I'm lightening up some of my "heavier" winter recipes and starting to roll out some fresh new flavors for spring. Take a peek at what I've been cooking up all winter long below...

 Coconut carrot cake

Coconut carrot cake

 Butternut squash soup shooter with crispy sage, breadcrumbs and creme fraiche. 

Butternut squash soup shooter with crispy sage, breadcrumbs and creme fraiche. 

 A quick and healthy Thanksgiving side: roasted squash with steamed kale and a sprinkling of pecorino

A quick and healthy Thanksgiving side: roasted squash with steamed kale and a sprinkling of pecorino

 Herbed beef tenderloin with onion jam

Herbed beef tenderloin with onion jam

 Before....

Before....

 And after. Short ribs in the making (with parmesan polenta and caramelized pearl onions)

And after. Short ribs in the making (with parmesan polenta and caramelized pearl onions)

Stay tuned for new recipes and culinary adventures!

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Pork Tenderloin & Parmesan Polenta

 Butter. Parmesan. MEAT JUICES.

Butter. Parmesan. MEAT JUICES.

Yesterday was a wintery-feeling day in LA...meaning it was "cold" enough to rock a SWEATSHIRT on my decorating trip to Michael's craft store. I decided to roll with the weather and make a cozy dinner with this super easy recipe for tenderloin... 

Marinated Pork Tenderloin

(Each batch of marinade is enough for a 2 lb tenderloin, enough for 3-4 servings)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

2 T dijon mustard

1 T horseradish mustard (I used Annie's Organic brand)

1 tsp honey

A few cracks of black pepper 

  1. Add each marinade ingredient to a large Ziploc bag. Shake to combine thoroughly, then add in pork loin and turn to coat. Refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
  2. Let tenderloin sit on the countertop for about 45 min. before roasting. Transfer pork and marinade to a deep baking pan (I line it with foil for easier cleanup). Roast at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, turning pork halfway through cooking and basting with the marinade.
  3. Once it’s finished cooking, remove from the oven and allow the tenderloin to rest 10 minutes in the pan, covered with foil. Slice and serve with pan drippings spooned over the top.

I served the pork tenderloin over some parmesan polenta. I make mine with mostly 2% milk and a little water, then season with S&P and add in as much parmesan and butter at the end as you want. Stir in some chopped chives for color and to make yourself think it's healthy.

This morning we still had quite a bit of polenta left over in the fridge, so I reheated it with some milk for a delish breakfast bowl. I added two soft-boiled eggs and a crispy slice of bacon. YUM!

 Polenta, eggs & bacon with some Earl Grey and clementines

Polenta, eggs & bacon with some Earl Grey and clementines

 Bacon spoon!

Bacon spoon!

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Tea Time

A good friend of mine came to visit over the weekend. In between sight-seeing all over the city, I took her to afternoon tea at Hotel Bel-Air on Halloween. 

Halloween day was cold and grey here, so it finally felt like fall!  It was especially lovely because we were the only ones there (probably due to the weather), so we got to eat too many treats and drink too much tea for a couple hours. It is one of my favorite spots because it's so lush and quiet and private. 

 Clockwise from top left: Crab roll on brioche, smoked salmon toast with salmon roe, chicken salad with edible flowers, truffled grilled cheese, cucumber and caper toast, warm mushroom duxelle 

Clockwise from top left: Crab roll on brioche, smoked salmon toast with salmon roe, chicken salad with edible flowers, truffled grilled cheese, cucumber and caper toast, warm mushroom duxelle 

My tea selection was the Swan Song, one of the two blends made specially for the hotel, and it is delicious. It tastes like strawberry Cream of Wheat, which I ate constantly as a child (with lots of butter). I drank 2.5 pots before deciding it would be wise to just buy the loose tea to take home.

 I had 2.5 pots of that tea. Dangerous stuff.

I had 2.5 pots of that tea. Dangerous stuff.

After the savory bites, we enjoyed some delicious blueberry scones and clotted cream. I still don't really understand clotted cream, but I understand that I am very into it. 

 Buttermilk blueberry scones with clotted cream

Buttermilk blueberry scones with clotted cream

 Dessert selection. The brûléed blueberry cheesecake was AMAZING

Dessert selection. The brûléed blueberry cheesecake was AMAZING

All in all, it was an elegant and delicious experience. I now have a stock of the Swan Song tea in my pantry to satisfy my cravings, but I'll probably need to seek out some clotted cream as well.

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