Category Archives: Food Blogger

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers RecipeThe first thing I noticed, when talking with Oy Vey Vegan Cookbook author Estee Raviv, was her passion for her work. Now in food, you will find passionate people (we all love to eat). Raviv is an artist. Cooking is an outlet for her creativity – and that anyone can relax – and cook – in the kitchen. Cooking is Art!

Cooking is Art. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Raviv’s foray into Vegan cooking and eating came about because of her digestive issues. After being raised in Israel, where cheese and dairy are plentiful and delicious, she experimented with elimination diets – and found that eating vegan changed her life. That change is why she started writing her blog, as well as her new cookbook, Oy Vey Vegan. She was so happy that she felt so good, and wanted to share this with the world.

Raviv noted that, like all of us when faced with changing our way of eating, she found it difficult to change her state of mind, and said, “What am I going to do now?” How could she change her routine – and ways of thinking? Well, we can all learn from her – she created her own menu for every day, and found alternatives that are healthy and not trying to be something else. Raviv avoids processed food – she noted that “you can be vegan and eat junk, so coming to veganism as a healthy aspect of a plant-based diet is helpful. Vegan eating is very healthy for us and, of course, it can prevent all types of cancers and other chronic diseases.” Her own menus sound delicious, starting with oatmeal for breakfast (which she loves), and then whatever healthy snacks she chooses for the day – lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and very creative salads that contain plant-based protein. Eating vegan is a whole new world that is fascinating and creative, and she thrived in it.

cooking segment on TV. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
cooking segment on TV

Appearing on a regular basis with a cooking segment on tv in Oregon and Washington, and teaching cooking classes with From Estee’s Kitchen, Raviv is happy to share the things that she is cooking for her family every day.

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
My book in store

Her cookbook, Oy Vey Vegan, includes recipes that she uses every single day. It’s an excellent tool for people that want to eat vegan and don’t know how, as it includes simple and accessible global recipes using fresh ingredients. Most recipe ingredients are in the fridge or pantry all the time, and there are also traditional Jewish dishes with a vegan spin. Examples include vegan pate, which is a staple in every Jewish holiday meal, and matzo ball soup, which she recreated into a vegan version (without eggs) and says, “it tastes better than the traditional dish.”

My herb garden. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
My herb garden

Raviv was most passionate about the joy of eating, remarking that “most if not all of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan are guilt-free – you can eat and feel good about yourself, and don’t worry about quantities. If you put good things in your body, food is medicine, food is good – as long as you eat the right things, you can eat without guilt.”

As a takeaway from her cookbook, tv segments, cooking classes, and blog (i.e., her life’s work!), Raviv hopes that she can help people with health issues, by teaching about using food as preventive medicine. If you eat right, you can prevent so many diseases. Raviv said, “Act now – don’t wait to be sick, but start now – and change your opinion or stigma about veganism…there’s so much more to eat than seeds and lettuce. If you eat a balanced vegan meal that contains protein, you won’t be hungry, and will be super-satisfied. And if I can change other people’s lives, I’ll be very very happy.”

She loves to eat, is passionate about food, and can eat as much as she wants. Delicious food as preventive medicine? Sounds good to me.

Book signing event at New Seasons Market. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Book signing event at New Seasons Market

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook?
Eggplant, salads, tempeh, quiches. I love to cook mostly everything! I love to cook, period:)

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Fruits, vegetables, tempeh and Almond milk.

What do you cook at home?
Everything vegan, mainly recipes from my book and new recipes that I develop. Today, for example, I made a sprouted lentil salad with orange slices and sunflower seeds, homemade hummus and stuffed eggplants.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
First, I love people that love to eat. People that appreciate good healthy food, and people that are passionate about food in general.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? People that are not open to try new food. People that think that vegan food is not satisfying food or not good food.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex for sure.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Crossroads cookbook author Tal Ronnen

Cooking at my outdoor kitchen. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Cooking at my outdoor kitchen

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Food processor

Your favorite ingredient?
Love avocado, every day! Year round!

Your least favorite ingredient?
Margarine – does not exist in my kitchen

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Clean up

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Hard to choose because I love so many but Probably Mediterranean

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Tofu

Favorite vegetable?
Eggplant

Chef you most admire?
Giada de Laurentis

Teaching a cooking class. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Teaching a cooking class

Food you like the most to eat?
Kale salad with crunchy tempeh on top…and avocado, of course

Food you dislike the most?
Bok choy

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Travel with my family / barre class / hikes with my husband /

Who do you most admire in food?
My mom – she is an amazing and creative cook

Where is your favorite place to eat?
If to be honest, at home but I do like to eat out in an Ethiopian cuisine, or at Jory restaurant at the Allison inn and spa (Oregon wine country)

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not my thing

 

Recipe: Vegan Stuffed Peppers

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Growing up, my mom used to make stuffed peppers all the time. And I loved it! Of course, she used meat and rice in her recipe. I recreated it vegan-style and it turned out so flavorful! No meat is necessary to create an amazing stuffed peppers dish.

Ingredients:

6 colorful bell peppers

Filling:

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cup celery stalks, chopped

4 green onions – chopped

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 cup pearl barley or brown rice

1/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

salt

pepper

Sauce:

1 1/2 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon no chicken base

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon agave

Salt

Pepper

 

Directions:

For the filling:

In a sauce pan on medium heat add olive oil, celery, green onions, salt and pepper. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the spices: turmeric, paprika and onion powder, Saute for a couple more minutes, then add the pearl barley, quinoa, boiling water. Lower the heat and let simmer until all the water have evaporated. Add parsley or cilantro, mix and Set aside.

For the sauce:

Add all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

For the peppers:

Cut the top part of the peppers and keep it to cover the peppers after you fill them. (You can remove the green core.)

Scoop out the seeds.

Place the peppers in a wide pan; try to fit the peppers tightly.

Fill the peppers with the filling mixture and cover them with the top part of the pepper.

Pour the sauce over the peppers and let simmer for an hour, or until the peppers are soft.

Every 10-15 minutes, take a spoon and pour some sauce on the peppers, to keep them moist and flavorful.

Be creative and you can always use the filling in any other veggie you like. This specific filling is super light because it has a large content of the celery, and a lesser amount of carbs.

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and Owner of STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

22i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger RecipeWith a deep breath, I called…a vegan chef. Not knowing what to expect, I was surprised by the endless laughter we shared, and gained a new appreciation for a plant-based diet. But I get ahead of myself….

Rooted deep in the St. Louis food and wellness scene, chef Caryn Dugan is STLVegGirl, a plant-based nutrition and culinary educator with a simple mission, “A Plant on Every Plate™.”

Caryn notes that the A Plant on Every Plate concept is not judgy or difficult, but an easy way to incorporate healthier eating at your own pace. She says, “Eating only plants is not only eating something green – beans, grains, seeds, even cocoa beans (think chocolate!) – plants come in all different forms. However, greens are the most nutrient dense foods. You can be so creative with eating what comes out of the ground. It’s the most healthy way to live, nourish, and thrive.

Caryn adopted a plant based diet in response to tragedy; in 2008, cancer took her father at an early age and ten weeks later, tried to take her. In response to her diagnosis, she searched for an answer and found one in the growing body of literature supporting a whole food, plant-based diet to bolster our natural immune system. Adopting a vegan diet herself and beating cancer, she sought to share her knowledge to help others.

In 2011, Caryn studied in Washington, DC, under the direction of Neal Barnard, MD, at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) Food For Life program, becoming a certified instructor. Bringing this knowledge home, she teaches immune boosting, plant-based cooking classes at the Cancer Support Center of St. Louis for the benefit of others who have, like her, met cancer at the door.

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger RecipeCaryn went on to form STLVegGirl, LLC, St. Louis’ first fully plant based entity providing cooking instruction, personal cheffing, and catering services, regularly appears in cooking segments on local television morning shows, and teaches cooking classes in many locations around the St. Louis area.

What I love most about Caryn’s approach to cooking and teaching healthy eating is that she’s not the Vegan Police. Instead, she inspires us to incorporate nourishing, healthy foods into our lives. And when I asked for her best tip for someone wanting to move toward putting a plant on every plate, she said, “start with whatever you already have in your fridge and pantry, because those are going to be the most familiar foods to you. Don’t make it hard on yourself. Make the food you already like, and veganize it.”

She started slowly herself, moving from a microwave and frozen-meal diet to learning and researching – and teaching – how nourishing, healthy foods can change your meals – and your life. She worked hard on gaining certificates and education because she didn’t want to lead people down the wrong path with her work – she wants them to learn, eat, and say, “WOW! That was totally worth my time and my money.”

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

Perhaps our loudest laughs came from learning about her biggest pet peeve – the phrase “Vegan Food.” Caryn said, “It’s just food!!! It’s just real food. It feeds into that view of vegan as unattainable and hippie. Just because you change what’s on your plate doesn’t mean you have to uproot your entire life. You’re just using real food…not food that is processed, crazy, or something you can’t say or spell. This can be very simple stuff.” Indeed.

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

 

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since 2008.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I enjoy seeking out the new food trends and then making them into plant-based dishes.

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger RecipeWhat do you always have in your fridge at home?
I’m often trying new recipes for a TV segment, cooking class, or to post on my website, so you’ll typically find random ingredients.

What do you cook at home?
If I’m not in work mode – I usually one-pot meal our nights. You might call them kitchen sink nights: open the fridge and freezer and start pulling things out and throwing them in a large pot. You’d be amazed at how many recipes have come out of nights like this.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
The one who wants to learn.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
The one who has no time for “rabbit food.”

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine!

Your favorite cookbook author?
Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My husband bought me a NHB Knifeworks Chef Knife for Christmas and I LOVE it!

Your favorite ingredient?
It varies, right now I’m using a lot of tahini paste and dates are high on the list too. Adding one more: fresh rosemary from the garden – does anything smell nicer?!

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

Your least favorite ingredient?
Eggplant

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Clean the stove

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I love experimenting with making the perfect veg burger

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Tofu

Favorite vegetable?
Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes tie for first place

Chef you most admire?
Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows

Food you like the most to eat?
Veg Burger

Food you dislike the most?
Mushy eggplant

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No ink

Recipe: The New Summertime Burger

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

2 1/2 tablespoons ground flax
5 tablespoons water
1 cup shredded sweet potato (one very small sweet potato)
8 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced pinch of sea salt
1 14 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cooked chickpeas (if from the can, drain and rinse)
1/4 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2-3 green onion stalks (green part only), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt & 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups whole oats

Mix the flax and the water together in a small bowl and allow it to sit for 15 minutes or until it begins to become gelatinous (this will be your “egg” and act as a binder).

Wash, but do not peel the sweet potato. Shred it by using a hand grater or run it though a food processor using the shred blade.

To a large non-stick pan, add the sweet potato, red onion, and mushrooms. Over medium heat and stirring often, allow the vegetables to cook down. Once they begin to soften, add in the garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Transfer to a food processor. Add the black beans, chickpeas, parsley, green onion, sunflower seeds, spices, and flax/water mix.

To a blender, add one cup of the oats and grind down until it is a coarse flour.

Add the flour and 1/4 of the whole oats to the food processor with the rest of the mixture.

Pulse the mixture until well mixed, but not blended or pureed.

Making the burgers

Transfer to a large bowl and add the rest of the oats.

Mix well with your hands and taste. Adjust spices to your liking.

Cover and refrigerate the mixture for an hour up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375-F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Patty up your burgers. I made mine about 3″ in diameter and 1/2″-3/4″ thickness.

Bake for 18 minutes on one side, flip and bake for another 10 minutes.

NOTES:

These can be made into sliders or meatballs; remember,you’ll have to adjust your cooking time down the smaller the patty.
You can either refrigerate the mixture or patty up the burgers and and refrigerate them – either way, be sure to cover them.

 

The End. Go Eat.

I8tonite with Food Person: San Francisco’s FoodGal, Carolyn Jung

Carolyn Jung and Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai
Carolyn Jung and Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai

For more than fifty years San Francisco’s Bay Area is  considered to be North America’s epicurean kingdom – long before the term Silicon Valley entered into our lexicon and made it a technology-based realm.  With American Wine Country, Napa and Sonoma, sitting at the back door along with Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry, Charles Phan’s Slanted Door, Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustard Grill and Fog City Diner leading the culinary pack, it’s also created and ushered some of the country’s best wordsmiths and journalists in the world of food and wine.  Michael Bauer, John Birdsall, Amy Sherman, Marcia Gagliardi, Harvey Steinman all stand at M.F.K Fisher’s door including winning awards from the famed epicurean organization James Beard. However, for almost two decades, James Beard award-winner Carolyn Jung, the former food editor at San Jose Mercury News, and sole proprietor of FoodGal.com, have put on a different face to the Northern Californian dining scene.  Residing outside the kingdom’s walls in the San Jose area, although  born and raised in the City by The Bay –  Jung’s writing’s on the area’s food scene is full of knowledge and has made her one of the pre-eminent voices in the national culinary circle . FoodGal is  read far outside Northern California with readers international in scope. She is also one of the area’s non- Caucasian food media which we discussed at length after she posted an article from First We Feast about the lack of diversity in food writing.

A true San Franciscan, Jung was born at Clay and Polk to Chinese parents. She was then raised in Diamond Heights, near Twin Peaks where the roads are all named after gemstones. Jung has been at the forefront of San Francisco’s cookery explosion reporting first-hand on its continued national influence including visiting my client, at the time, The Restaurant at Meadowood when it received its second star Michelin star under Chef Christopher Kostow.

Jung with Chef Alex Ong, formerly of Michelin Bib Gourmand Betelnut
Jung with Chef Alex Ong, formerly of Michelin Bib Gourmand Betelnut

Before becoming the food editor at San Jose Mercury News, which she refers to as “the Merc”, her beat was on race and demographics. She says about the transition to food writer, “In a great way, my previous beat allowed me to transition seamlessly into the food one. There were so many times on my former beat where I’d start to report on a story, and community leaders would always say, ‘Let’s go eat first.’ Food has always been important around the discussion of community. It may be a cliche, but breaking bread with someone really is the ultimate icebreaker.”

After she was laid off in 2008 from San Jose’s leading newspaper, she craved an avenue to continue communicating with the readers she carefully cultivated, hence FoodGal.com which has nearly a hundred thousand unique visitors per month. It’s where Jung continues to use her journalistic reporting on the area she loves so much and the epicurean people and foodstuff within.  When asked if she ever considered leaving, she responded, “I had several opportunities before I left the newspaper but I wanted to stay. My parents lived here. I’ve also love working the Bay Area and its diversity. We start the food trends – although New Yorkers might disagree.”

Jung is also a gifted emcee hosting many events throughout the Bay Area including many of the Macy’s cooking demos in Santa Clara as well as in San Francisco.

She just completed for the fourth year Chefs’ Holidays at Yosemite’s luxury Ahwanhee Hotel. Upcoming, Jung will be at Macy’s on February 10th with Pastry Chef, Christy Ikezi.

Her cookbook on her hometown San Francisco Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the City by The Bay is available at leading retailers and online. Her stories have also appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, VIA and Eating Well.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

Book Cover: San Francisco Chef's Table
Book Cover: San Francisco Chef’s Table

What is your favorite food to cook at home? Does baking cookies count? It is my favorite thing to make. In fact, there are times when I get so stressed with deadlines that I think, “I must go bake some cookies right now — or else!” It’s my relaxation; and my vice.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Condiments of all kinds — I love them. Cheese; fresh seasonal fruit; good jam; and a jar of preserved Meyer lemons (I make them every winter with lemons from my dwarf tree).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Good conversationalist, great sense of humor, and a willingness to try most anything at least once.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Talking about themselves non-stop, taking no interest in the other people they are dining with, and staring at their cell phone constantly.

Comrades in arms: (L to R) Pastry Chef Rodney Cerdan of Prospect Restaurant, yours truly, Chef Will Pacio of Spice Kit, and photographer Craig Lee

Beer, wine or cocktail? I like all three. But I am partial to a creative and balanced cocktail, followed by wine — if someone else is driving me back home.

Your favorite cookbook author? My friend Andrea Nguyen, because she is so meticulous with her recipes, and we share a love for perfect dumplings. Joanne Chang and Emily Luchetti because their baking recipes never disappoint. Bruce Aidells because he is the authority on meat. Jean-Georges Vongerichten because he is as renowned and sophisticated a chef as there is, yet he can actually write recipes that won’t make your head spin, teach you practical techniques you may not have known before, and create distinctive, flavorful dishes that one can actually make at home.

Your favorite kitchen tool? My Le Creuset Dutch oven. In fall, winter and spring, it gets a real workout, as I use it for all manner of soups, stews and braises. Not to mention, it’s a looker in dazzling blue.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Most anything. That’s the fun part about getting so many cookbooks to try — you get to learn about so many different cuisines and cultures. And of course, the baking books are always the ones I look at first.
Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’m going to have to go with pork because it’s such an important part of my Chinese heritage. Plus, pork is so versatile. And let’s face it, so delicious, too.

AbsintheGermanChocolateCake
Absinthe German Chocolate Cake: Photo by Carolyn Jung. 

Favorite vegetable? I would like to say heirloom tomatoes, but that’s a fruit, despite what most people think. So, I’ll go with asparagus. I look forward to its appearance every spring, then go crazy buying it every week at the farmers market, until its season comes to an end all too quickly. I like it especially grilled or roasted, which brings out its natural sweetness.
Chef you most admire? There are so many. I give them so much credit for how hard they work, the endless hours they put in, cooking on the line, on weekends and holidays, and missing so much family time. I admire Thomas Keller for being a class act, and always pursuing perfection; Jamie Oliver for shining a light on childhood obesity; and Jose Andres for working to get solar ovens in third-world countries, where young women are often accosted, beaten or raped while trying to gather firewood for their families.

 

Ginger Apricot Cookies
Ginger Apricot Cookies from Carolyn Jung’s website. Recipe available. Photo by Carolyn Jung.

Food you like the most to eat? Have I mentioned cookies? OK, well, there’s also my obsession with kouign-amanns. Basically, if I could eat pastries morning, noon and night — without any consequences — I would.
Food you dislike the most? I’ll try anything once. But I must say after having natto once, I probably don’t need to have it again.
What is your favorite non-food thing to do? Exercise (heck, I do have to burn all the calories I consume); read a good book for hours on end (a luxury I rarely have time for, unfortunately, except when I’m on a long plane ride); treat myself to a spa day (yeah, that happens about once every five years); catch up on movies with my husband; hang out with friends and family (though, that most often does involve food in some shape or form); and watch “American Ninja Warrior” (yes, I’ll cop to that).
Who do you most admire in food? Farmers, who are so dedicated, don’t make a whole lot of money in return, and have to put up with the uncertainties of Mother Nature year in and year out. Without the work they do, our lives would be a whole lot less delicious, nutritious, and full of wonderment.
Where is your favorite place to eat? It can be a fancy restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall, or even my own home — as long as the company is delightful, the food prepared with care and love, and the vibe comfortable, relaxing, and stimulating.
What is your favorite restaurant? Depends on my mood, craving, and thickness of my wallet on any given day. I could pick The French Laundry because I’ve had several memorable meals there, and my husband actually proposed to me in the parking lot there. I could choose Yank Sing because I adore its dim sum, and I held my wedding banquet there. I could say Nathan Myhrvold’s “Modernist Cuisine” lab, because I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually dine there. Or I could pick the Honolulu bare-bones, plate-lunch spot, Nico’s Pier 38, where chilly and bleary-eyed after getting up at the crack of dawn to tour the Honolulu Fish Auction, I ate a simple ahi omelet made with fresh fish from that auction, while sitting outside as the sun came up on a glorious Hawaii morning.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None. My Mom never would have approved of that.

Carolyn Jung’s Recipe:

Chicken stir-fry over Hong Kong noodles at M.Y. China restaurant in San Francisco, California, on Friday, May 10, 2013. Photo by Craig Lee
Chicken stir-fry over Hong Kong noodles at M.Y. China restaurant in San Francisco, California, on Friday, May 10, 2013. Photo by Craig Lee

I chose this dish because it’s nearly Chinese New Year’s. It’s also a dish that reminds me of the type of comforting, satisfying food my Mom used to cook when I was growing up. I’d pick the crispy noodles out of the pan with my fingers, as she’d shoo me away. When it was finally ready, my brothers and I would line up at the stove to help ourselves to a tangle of noodles, and sit down to a bowl of joy.

Crispy Noodles with X.O. Chicken & Bok Choy
(Serves 4)

For the marinade:
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1∕8 teaspoon ground white pepper
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons chicken broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon X.O. sauce (available in jars at Asian markets)
1 teaspoon chili bean sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar

For the rest of the dish:
8 ounces fresh, thin Chinese egg noodles
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 fresh hot red chili, thinly sliced
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps only, sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise

To make the marinade: Combine the rice wine, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.

To make the sauce: Combine the broth, soy sauce, rice wine, X.O. sauce, chili bean sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

To cook the noodles: In a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water, and drain again.

Place a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Spread the noodles in the pan and press lightly to make a firm cake. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the noodle pancake over, add 1 more tablespoon oil around the edges of the pan, and cook until second side is golden brown, 3–4 minutes. Remove to a serving plate and keep warm.

Place a stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirling to coat sides. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the marinated chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a small bowl and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan over high heat, swirling to coat the sides. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce and bring it to a boil. Add the bok choy, cover, and cook for 1 minute.

Return the chicken to pan and stir to heat through. Pour on top of the noodle pancake and serve immediately.

Recipe Courtesy of San Francisco Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the City by the Bay by Carolyn Jung. Photo by Craig Lee.

The end. Go eat.

 

 

i8tonite: Gratitude with a Corn Goat Cheese Savory Pudding

A Facebook “friend” asked that ubiquitous question the other day, “What are you grateful for today?” A lot.

Six years ago, I walked away from a car crash involving three big rigs and nine other cars on California Interstate 5. It was caused by a dust-storm that felt whipped up by Hades himself, near Bakersfield. Three people died. Whether it’s the grace of God or the fates intervening, I removed myself from my car before it exploded. Only seconds before, I sat in the driver’s seat…. breathed a sigh of relief I hadn’t hit the truck in front of me. In the passing of another second and almost on the second inhalation,  a 1975 Dodge pickup plowed into my SUV’s backside turning it into an accordion. To the side, there was a fireball that hurled towards me. Produced by a car driven by a young family man as he rear-ended the truck’s trailer, the one I narrowly avoided had jack-knifed across two lanes.  His exploding engine instantly cremated him, destroyed his vehicle and crafted an explosion pointed towards me from the 18-wheeler’s reserves tanks. There were milliseconds between the collision of automobiles and my ability to open my car door and get out. Had I not – I wouldn’t be in the Sonoran desert, hiking to the top of peaks, eating superb food, receiving kisses from my dogs, and love from Nick. I suffered a minor concussion and two cracked ribs.

After experiencing a trauma of that magnitude, it’s not uncommon for an accident victim to discover their life situations not working anymore.  The next six months after the crash, I implemented changes. I left a toxic relationship which should have ended years before.  I moved back to a city where I had support and love. Items that can never be bought.  I even discovered a new relationship I wasn’t planning on having but am grateful that I’m alive to experience it.

Not one day passes I don’t think about the accident.

This past weekend marks the anniversary of that experience  and the beginning of something new. As someone said to me recently, “You moved to Phoenix because you have risen from the ashes.”

At the end of 2013, former San Jose Mercury food editor, Carolyn Jung published her first cookbook, San Francisco Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from The City by The Bay (Lyons Press). I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with Carolyn over the years.  As a journalist and via her website FoodGal.com, she’s been supportive of my clients and their food endeavors. For me, I always think it’s important to recognize the writers who have helped along the way. A journalist’s life can be thankless especially from a public relations perspective.

To support the publishing of her book, I attempted to create a cooking and book-signing experience at a former San Francisco client. Unfortunately, the event never happened because the restaurant closed. I’m doing a little shout out about her book — saying thank you, hoping I can help sell even more cookbooks. I adapted this recipe from one of the many delicious dishes she curated in her cookbook from Bay Area chefs. This particular dish, from the owners/ chefs of Ame, I turned into a one dish casserole.

Goat Cheese Bread PuddingSweet Corn-Goat Cheese Bread Pudding (adapted from Carolyn Jung’s San Francisco Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from The City by the Bay).

 

 

  • 1 whole baguette. Cut into approximately one-inch pieces.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon sage
  • ½ cup of chicken stock
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan-Reggiano
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • Corn cut from 2 ears.

Let’s make this puppy:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees to toast the croutons. Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven but keep the oven on to bake the final product.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and crisp the chopped bacon. Once the bacon has been slightly browned. Add the vegetables and sage. Stir until soft. Stir in the croutons, letting them soak up the fat.

Pour in the chicken stock and allow the bread to become saturated. Season well. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, combine the milk, egg, sour cream, and cheeses. Mix well. Assemble everything – croutons and wet ingredients including the corn.

Pour everything into a small casserole and place into a larger roasting pan creating a water bath. Pour water until halfway up the side of the casserole dish.  Dot with extra goat cheese and grated cheese.Bake for about 30 minutes until golden. Serve warm.

(Recommendation: If there are leftovers, reheat in the morning and top with poached eggs. Awesome!

The End. Go Eat. 

 

I8tonite with Food Person: Sasha Martin, Author of “Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness

“Most people who have had a rough background will admit there’s something unsettling about finding happiness after difficulty – that even after we unwrap this gift, we don’t know how to stop searching, rummaging, pilfering for something else. We walk haltingly through life, ready for the other shoe to drop. The question is not if, but when.” – Sasha Martin, “Life from Scratch” (National Geographic Society, March 2015).

I had never heard of the food blog GlobalTableAdventure.com until I read Sasha Martin’s engaging food memoir “Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness” (ISBN 978 – 1- 5462 – 8, National Geographic Society) published in March of this year.  Martin’s blog is about cooking globally and bringing that experience IMG_0788_Hof culture to the table, but it’s her book and story that’s the winner. “Life from Scratch” begins light-heartedly enough but as Martin’s life progresses from child to teenager, it becomes disquieting and uneasy. Once, Martin moves to Tulsa, Oklahoma as an adult, I breathed a sigh of relief.  To Ms. Martin’s credit, it’s her calm  style of writing that gives the reader emotional balance to understand the truth of what’s transpiring.  Otherwise, one might  get squirmy reading in the Lazy-boy.

Speaking with Martin on the phone is a pleasure. Her voice is like her writing — soft, easy with hints of apprehension. (Apprehension because she’s talking to me. I make people wary.)  She disclosed that
Sasha MaltaLife from Scratch
came about in an unusual manner. Martin was approached by a literary agent who liked GlobalTableAdventure. The agent shopped the proposal around to a variety of publishing houses — they all loved it —  but Martin felt a “kinship” to National Geographic Society (NGS). Interestingly, her NGS editor really liked the story of the blog and global cooking up until the first draft.  But she felt that Martin wasn’t forthcoming with her childhood history…. that she was holding back. Martin admitted she was. She explained to her editor about growing up, the death of her brother and the twelve European countries she visited with her legal guardians. She details the story of her mother letting her and her brother go into foster care. Once, the real story of Sasha Martin was out, it was the truth and book the editor wanted.

Martin said, “I never expected so much of this book to be about my past. It was supposed to be a lighthearted exploration of world cooking but digging deeper made me realize the real story wasn’t how I cooked the world but why. Being forced to face my past was a gift. I have so much more understanding and perspective now.

Punctuated withcake netherlands.food.img_9950 loving memories of home cooking with her mother, a lonely teenager in European and global cuisine from her blog, GlobalTableAdventure.com, such as Hungarian Paprika Chicken, German Cake and Maldivian Fire-Roasted Fish, “Life from Scratch” may turn out to be my favorite book of 2015. It offers hope and fulfillment on a spiritual scale.

“There’s a difference between poverty of resources and poverty of spirit.” – Sasha Martin, Life from Scratch.

(Correction/Revision:  Previously, it was noted that Ms. Martin lived in twelve countries her foster parents. She visited twelve with her legal guardians. A correction and revision to the original post was made. )

Food People Questions: (with a nod to Marcel Proust)

What is your favorite food to cook at home? Argentinian Acorn Squash Salad with baby arugula and aged goat cheese.

marshall.islands.food.img_1992
The Marshall Islands.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?  Spicy mustard.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Warmth.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Treating their cellphone like a guest at the party.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Any cocktail with grapefruit or a Riesling spritzer with a wedge of orange.

japan.img_5845
Japanese Bento Box for kids

Your favorite cookbook author? I’m a huge fan of what Christopher
Kimball does – very methodical, reliable recipes. Every single time.

Your favorite kitchen tool? Microplane.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Cooking a meal from every country in the world taught me to love trying recipes from obscure-to-me parts of the world.

 Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Tofu.

 Favorite vegetable? Brussels Sprouts.

date balls
Date Balls

Chef you most admire? Nigel Slater – he overcame a rough childhood and has the most beautiful way with words. Tender and Ripe are masterpieces

Food you like the most to eat? Hmmm… on most days a hearty salad, like Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad, with a crusty loaf of homemade artisan bread.

Food you dislike the most? I’m not much for eating something just for the shock value. My goal is to share international food that’s easy enough for a weeknight and elegant enough for the weekend.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do? Write or paint.

Who do you most admire in food? The millions of families struggling liberia.food.img_4326to make ends meet. My own mother struggled to make ends meet and yet she scrimped and saved so we could eat foods like 19-layer German Tree Cake.  She taught me that food can help us see beyond our circumstances; there’s a real difference between poverty of resources and poverty of spirit.

Where is your favorite place to eat? Any patio, 75F.

What is your favorite restaurant? I have fond memories of eating at Vietnamese restaurants in Paris. Go figure!

how-to-make-pleteno-srce
Martin and her daughter cooking.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? No. I have a theory that I could never truly be naked if I ever got a tattoo.

 

 

 

Sasha Martin’s Recipe: Mongolian Carrot Salad (Serves 4 hungry people)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb carrots, grated or julienned (on a mandolin is easiest)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water

For the dressing:

  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Toss everything together and refrigerate until needed. Best after about 30 minutes. Check seasonings before serving (be sure to use plenty of salt to bring out the flavors).

– The End. Go Eat. –