We have a wonderful British pie shop in our town in a dangerous location since it’s on the road where I pick up my son from school. In the afternoons when they bake their pies, you can smell them all the way down the street. And they smell so good.
Occasionally on a Friday night when I don’t want to cook, I’ll walk to the shop and order a chicken tikka or chicken pot pie. I just love the way they use great quality chicken and a wonderful blend of spices.
Well here we are at the end of February and there is still a foot of snow in my garden and I don’t think I’ve seen the grass for a whole month! It’s very beautiful but I’m tired of the subzero temperatures and am yearning for warming days.
Every cloud has a silver lining as they say and this winter I’ve really embraced my slow cooking and oven as I make lots of batches of soup and stews for the family. My Spanish friend brought over some wonderful chorizo for me to cook with and so I immediately got to work with this stew. It’s a type of stew that I had many times when I was living in Spain in my early 20s: tomatoes, beans, chicken, chorizo and spices. It’s simple but warms you up on any snowy winter’s day.
My family absolutely loves roast chicken and when I first heard about this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s recipe collection, I was intrigued. Roast chicken, milk and lemon? That seemed to be a curious combination and I wasn’t really sure how it would turn out. Since we don’t consume much dairy and we love coconut milk, I decided to substitute some of my own herbs and spices and add coconut milk instead.
I’m not really a cabbage person. I occasionally buy them to make coleslaw with in the summer but when I see them in the supermarket, I normally walk right past them and move on to something more familiar like kale or squash. Last week however, I got a cabbage in my CSA box. If you’re not familiar with the CSA model it stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a wonderful system of accessing organic fruits and vegetables and supporting local farms. The only slight problem with this model is that you can’t choose what is in your box and sometimes you end up with fruits or vegetables you aren’t quite familiar with or don’t quite know how to cook. Like a cabbage.
Tis the season for holiday parties, feasts and gatherings! We have a lovely tradition with our Brooklyn friends every year of gathering during the holiday season and making some different seasonal dishes to share. We’re all foodies and love to eat, so this year the menu is already looking pretty impressive. I like to think we’re a little competitive too and want to make the best dishes we can to impress everyone. This year, I wanted to bring a hearty winter salad which featured kale (but of course) but also some seasonal ingredients which included the humble Brussels Sprout.
This fall, I’m officially in love with squash of all kinds. I love roasted rainbow slices of delicata squash, butternut squash soup and of course my old favorite acorn squash. Squash is such a versatile and easy fall vegetable and there is no reason to be intimated. In fact, you don’t need to peel squash at all when roasting. Just cut it in half, drizzle over some olive oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper and roast until soft. Roasting squash is kind of a miraculous event – you can’t even imagine that something so hard could turn into something so sweet and caramelized in the oven.
Even though I’m not vegetarian and look forward to my Thanksgiving turkey every year, I have many vegetarian friends and clients and they are always looking for an extra special dish for the holidays rather than being left with all the vegetable side dishes. Personally, I’m moving away from eating meat with every meal to having meat once in a while for a little extra flavor so this roasted acorn squash would be perfect for anyone – vegetarian or carnivore come Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. You can experiment your own spice mixture and add some holiday pizzazz with some cranberries or pomegranates too. Of course, you could add in a little ground pork or turkey into the stuffing mix but I think this is perfect just as it is.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Cranberries and Pomegranates (serves 2 or 1 hungry vegetarian)
1 medium acorn squash halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
8 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 tablespoon thyme
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup mix of cooked wild rice and brown rice – preferably cooked in vegetable or chicken stock instead of water
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper – to taste
1 tablespoon cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
- Heat the oven to 450°F.
- Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side up on a roasting tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just a little soft for about 30 minutes.
- Saute the onion, scallions, mushrooms and celery in the butter. Stir occasionally and cook on low heat until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are soft for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the thyme and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the rice, chopped walnuts and cranberries.
- Remove the squash from the oven and add the rice filling to each half.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
- Place squash back in the oven and roast for a further 25 minutes until the squash is completely tender.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle the fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds over the top. Serve warm.
Do you love Chinese food but are looking for a healthier option? I often include cauliflower rice as a detox recipe in one of my seasonal detox programs but decided recently to make the dish a little extra special by adding lots of extra ingredients and making it a healthier version of Chinese fried rice. This is a low-carb dish and is much more nutritious than fried white rice. It becomes a full meal and you can be as creative as you want by adding in different vegetables that you find in your fridge!
1 medium cauliflower, divided into small florets
1/2 head of broccoli, cut up into small pieces
2 carrots, diced into small pieces
2 medium shallots or 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 egg (preferably free range and organic)
Soy sauce (preferably Tamari or gluten free)
Sea salt and black pepper
Other vegetables that would taste delicious: scallions, kale, mushrooms, red or green peppers.
- Prepare your cauliflower by cutting it up into small florets and one small batch at a time, blending it in a food processor until it resembles rice. You may have to stop in the middle of blending and stir it a bit in order to release any florets that become stuck in the food processor.
- In a large frying pan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil then add the shallots or onion, carrots and broccoli. Cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Add in all of the cauliflower rice. Mix everything together and add a few splashes of water so that the rice doesn’t burn or stick on the pan. At this point, I like to cover the pan so it steams. Let it cook for a further 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Break an egg into the pan and stir quickly until it is cooked.
- Serve the rice with sea salt, black pepper and soy sauce to taste.