Rigatoni with Ricotta-Sage Pesto

The Milk Street cookbooks much like the America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated cookbooks are almost foolproof when it comes to ingredients, flavors and photos. Obviously this is my palates opinion but I think if you read through a few of them, you’d likely agree. After our trip to Greece I got my sister-in-law (SIL) the Milk Street Tuesday Nights Mediterranean cookbook for her birthday. It seems she cooked her way through it with raved reviews. So I went ahead and checked out the Milk Street Tuesday Nights Weeknight Suppers. Flipping through it in the car I quickly realized that I was going to need to own it, that’s how many recipes struck me as delicious. This recipe was the first one that I made from the book and if you like sage, then this will be your your jam.

Rigatoni with Ricotta-Sage Pesto

INGREDIENTS

6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup chopped fresh sage

3 cups lightly packed fresh parsley

2 tsp grated lemon zest

1 ounce finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta

salt and pepper to taste

12 ounces rigatoni

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

DIRECTIONS

In a small microwave safe bowl, stir together the oil and sage, making sure the sage is completely submerged. Microwave on high just until the oil is hot and the sage is fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool to room temperature.

In a food processor, combine the sage oil mixture and the parsley. Process until finely chopped, about 15 seconds. Add the lemon zest and Parmesan and process until well incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in the ricotta, one teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.

Bring your water to a boil and add pasta, cook until pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the ricotta mixture, then stir 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. The mixture should be creamy; if needed, adjust with additional cooking liquid. Serve with walnuts and additional Parmesan.

The One and Only Crab Cake Recipe

Ironically, two days after I post about the only crab cake recipe one needs, I see this on Instagram.

So…. I figured it was a sign from the chef’s to post this. Honestly it’s so easy and delicious, you won’t look back.

*Recipe from Chef Andrew Zimmern

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over

20 saltine crackers, finely crushed

1/4 cup canola oil

Lemon wedges, for serving 

Homemade remoulade/tarter sauce or your favorite store bought brand.Walmart Logo

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce until smooth.

In a medium bowl, lightly toss the crabmeat with the cracker crumbs. Gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Scoop the crab mixture into eight 1/3-cup mounds; lightly pack into 8 patties, about 1 1/2 inches thick. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderately high heat until deeply golden and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the crab cakes to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

  • These can be made ahead, formed or not, for up to a day.

Race You

Last week I found myself at home instead of teaching a cooking class. That lead me to cook in my free time, obviously. Although I don’t have much photo proof to show you, I did indeed make some delicious food.
Pavlovas with lemon curd, scallops with an herb chili oil, esquites (Mexican street corn salad) and crab cakes with a remoulade.

The crab cake recipe that I use (Andrew Zimmern) is the only one I need, ever. Super simple ingredients, not loaded with filler, it lets the crab shine. It’s delish!

Shawna and I hit the Del Mar races. I had some luck on my side… finally.

Winner!

It was a fun day. The weather perfect, the views even better.

Our weather has been a consistent 77-80 degrees with humidity. Leaving us craving water in all forms.

We went to Mission Bay and the Plunge at Mission beach and then back to the bay. Seeking refuge in bodies of water.

I think it’s almost time for an adult poolside day. One where I’m not lugging snacks, chairs, boogie boards, water bottles and everything else that comes along with children. More like a good book and an adult beverage!

Cowboy Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is truly addicting. When I read the ingredients for the dressing, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. Creamy, tangy, sweet and as spicy as you’d like depending on if you’re feeding adults or children…or adult children.

The girls and I made this again at home. I went a bit heavier on the heat by also adding some cayenne pepper. I thought about adding some bacon, but honestly it’s good as vegetarian side dish.

We had it for dinner, it’s just as good as the first time.

The next day, I tore some arugula and added it to the pasta salad. I suggest trying this too!

Cowboy Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 lb. bowtie pasta

Olive Oil

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup your favorite bbq sauce

1 tbs spicy brown mustard

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1-2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce

2 ears of fresh corn

2 cups cherry tomatoes

8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

8 scallions, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Arugula, if you want.

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta per box instructions, drain in colander.

Put cooked pasta in a large bowl and drizzle with evoo, so the pasta doesn’t stick together, set aside.

Husk the corn and cut kernels off the cobs. Add corn to pasta.

Halve the tomatoes, add to pasta.

To make the sauce, whisk the mayo, bbq sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a medium bowl until combined. Add the sauce to the pasta, tomatoes and corn, toss to combine.

Finely chop the green onions, add to pasta. Top with the grated cheddar cheese.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Baking with Kids

The second session of my cooking class was International baking. I had 4 girls, all 8 years old (it can’t get much better than that).

We started off the first week making Venezuelan Alfajores sandwich cookies, Albanian cornbread with feta and green onion. Indian Nankhatai cookies and South African Karringmelkbesuits.

Since they were only 8, they were more about the creating, than the outcome. So I would invite them to use their creativity, after we completed the recipe.

This is one of the girls hand made cookie.

Each of the girls reminded me of our Aves, she would have loved being in this class.

I decided to start each day with a different approach, than I did with my cooking class.

I would find a book on video that had a story about a country that we were going to “visit” or a food that resembled one we would be making. They loved it.

And if you don’t know about StoryLine Online, and you have kids, you have to check it out!

The next week we made Egyptian butter cookies and Lithuanian sour cream pockets.

The sour cream pocket recipe did not work, something was off…

But who cares.

Next, we made mango cupcakes, and stuffed Georgian cheese breads.

I was really excited about this next recipe.

Mongolian sesame flat-bread crackers with a cream cheese spread.

But somewhere along the way, the soy sauce was heavy handed in the spread and it was too salty…inedible

But I will make that again.

We also made a really good cheese pizza.

And a not so good Romanian Easter bread.

The last day of class, I asked them to make something from the ingredients that we had left. Chopped style. They put so much heart into it. But…

You guys, this raised my blood pressure.

I just can’t with chaos.

But, they did so great.

They all used cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

Most of it wasn’t edible.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was to give them the freedom to create, with no boundaries.

I was very lucky to have that group of girls, It was such a great experience .

Dead and Company, Food Company

We get to see Dave Matthews in less than 45 days, I think…. Math is not my strong suit.

With the Dead and Company being on tour and Dave has finally gone out to tour this summer, I can’t help but remember THAT DAY.

May 20, 1995

I went to Vegas to see the Grateful Dead. It was hot, I wasn’t old enough to gamble and I remember being so afraid of being dosed with acid. You laugh, but we heard that squirt bottles had been dosed with acid, sigh. I walked into the outdoor stadium, it was sweltering, people were selling cold fruit, and squirting people with “water”, I put myself into panic mode, ha! But, then….this band came on stage and that was that. I fell in love right there. Soooo, I can NOT wait to see him live again with my favorite person.

Last Saturday I asked the girls what they wanted for breakfast. Being that we didn’t have pancake mix (no I am not making it from scratch, eye roll). They branched out. One asked for avo toast and another, toad in a hole (egg in toast). Extra, or kids who still need to dip everything they eat in a condiment, now insert eye roll.

I made a very good scallop recipe.

You had me at spicy herb oil.

Reality check. We can combine all of the herbs, add in some salt and some spice and we could pair it with anything. Steak, chicken, fish, pasta….seriously you guys, it’s so flavorful, and fresh and perfect for summer.

To give this dish a more Asian influence, add 1 tsp of sesame oil to the herb oil mixture.

This recipe comes from Chef Tory Miller

Pan-Seared Scallops with Heirloom Tomatoes & Spicy Herb Oil

INGREDIENTS

8 Jumbo Scallops

Salt, to taste

fresh ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbs Butter

Herb oil

1 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbs chopped fresh chives

1 Tbs chopped fresh mint

1 Tbs chopped fresh Basil

1 Tbs minced garlic

1 Tbs minced shallot

1 Tbs soy sauce

1 Tbs fish sauce

1/4 cup evoo

1 fresh Thai chili, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes

1 lime, halved

Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook without turning or moving until they start to turn brown around the edges. Add the butter to pan. When melted, use the butter to baste the scallops to complete the cooking. Do not turn the scallops. This whole cooking process should take around 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and set the scallops on a paper towel lined plate.

To make the herb oil, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well.

Arrange the tomatoes on a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked scallops and drizzle with the herb oil. Squeeze the lime juice over the entire dish.

Enjoy!

Cooking with Kids

A few months before our trip to Greece I landed a gig to teach a summer cooking class to kids. The days, times and location worked out brilliantly with our schedules. I was given all of the recipes for the cooking session, then I went shopping for the ingredients on the Sunday before class or that Monday morning. There is a Pavilion’s right near the school, that was so handy! The company dropped off bins full of the cooking utensils and tools I should need beforehand, so all I had to do was unpack the groceries and prep for the class.The plan was to teach two separate sessions, three weeks each. The first session was a cooking class the second was a baking class.

My cooking group consisted of 3 boys and 3 girls, ages 6-11 and they were awesome!

Each day we made two dishes/recipes. I would get to the site early and prep all of the ingredients (mis en place), the cooking equipment we would be using, and presented it on a table for easy accessibility. I wrote on each recipe card who was going to do what. Little Billy (names have been changed) will cut onions, Rose will grate cheese and so on and so forth. That way I knew that everyone was participating throughout the entire class. After a quick demo of what we were going to make and asking them about some of the ingredients, we dove in. I didn’t do any of the cooking, they did it all. I guided them, I handled the hot oven, any boiling water and the washing of knives, but other than that, they did it all. And man, they kicked ass!

The first week we made.

Gumbo, flapjacks, carrot casserole, porridge bites, egg casserole, spinach mac n cheese, Spaghetti with meatballs, and omelettes.

They were pretty good eaters. I will say that by the second week, one girl was begging to stop using onions, HAHAHA! I feel like every recipe called for onions.

When we were done with both dishes of the day, we sat down and ate together. I would bring in juice mix and they would take turns making a pitcher of lemonade or fruit punch, yes, of course it was sugar free, not my first rodeo lunatics. Then, if we had any free time before the class ended, we would play heads up or trivia or maybe just draw Whatever they wanted to do as long as it wasn’t swinging from the rafters or playing chase, boys, I am looking at you.

The second week we made;

Mash and gravy, meatball stroganoff, brussels sprout and parmesan salad, hot dogs with a veggie chili, Naan personal pizzas, macaroni and cheese and a fruit salad.

This pasta recipe, you guys, was soooooo good. I know it doesn’t look great and honestly when I read the recipe I wasn’t sold. But it’s good, guilty pleasure BBQ side dish good.

I will share the recipe.

The final week we made said pasta salad, pizza pockets, veggie sushi rolls and eggs with pico de gallo.

It was a great first round of cooking.

Mostly July

We had a low key 4th of July. The clubhouse had a BBQ and games which were fun for the kids.

Averi won a few things, Limbo and the belly flop…I think, which is so ironic.

We did some local wine tasting.

I took the girls to inflatable world which had water bouncy slides. Kaili was sure we wasn’t going to get wet.

The girls made tomato sauce for pizzas.

We went to the beach.

That about wraps up July. Aside from my summer cooking class, I will tell you all about it next.

Dump to Catch up!

It’s been a hot minute. Busy with school, life and colds going around, it’s been something.

Legit pharmacy.

Finally we are all on the mend, so let’s chat.

The girls had their school’s multicultural fair on campus and it was so nice to be back on site.

Averi and her bestie ran around getting their passports stamped all while chasing the boys.

Kaili and Shayne were doing their own thing, in Shayne’s words, “living her best life”. Which meant hobnobbing with her teacher whom she adores.

It was nice to talk to the teachers we haven’t seen face to face in forever, and get to know the new ones better, even though schools about to end.

I can’t believe the older two are saying farewell to their school. It’s bittersweet.

Here they are in Kindergarten, so cute and innocent.

On another note, one thing that I have been cooking lately is baby bok choy. I have neglected this vegetable. It’s super quick and simple to cook up and is so tasty. I just halve the bok choy, sauté in some sesame oil with garlic. Add soy sauce and chili crisp then cook until tender, around 10-12 minutes.

One night we paired it with a chicken curry and another time with steak. Don’t walk by it the next time you’re at the market.

Now it’s time get back to finalizing a little jaunt that’s in our future. I can’t wait to share all of the sights, food, fun, food, wine and food with y’all.

I leave you with Spring photos.

Pan Seared Salmon with Arugula and Avocado

Simple ingredients come together super quick in this recipe. The flavors of the peppery arugula, the buttery salmon and the acidic dressing, play very well together. Definitely a weeknight dinner to put on repeat.

I used Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar in lieu of Parmesan, just because I wanted to. The addition of mustard to a vinaigrette acts as an emulsifier, and keeps the oil and vinegar together with a creamy consistency. Don’t forget to season your vinaigrette before dressing your greens.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 Salmon filets, preferably wild

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 cups baby arugula

1 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving

1 tsp Dijon mustard

crumbled parmesan cheese (or any sharp cheese that you prefer)

1/2 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 tomato, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

 Pat the salmon filets dry with a paper towel. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon filets skin side-down. Immediately reduce heat to medium, medium low depending on your stove. Cook, pressing gently on back of filets to ensure good contact with skin, until skin is rendered and crisp, about 6 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily.

While the first side of the salmon cooks, whisk lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the mustard in small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Flip salmon and cook on second side for another minute or two, or to your desired doneness. I like my salmon close to medium rare/medium at 125 to 130 degrees.

Plate the arugula and top with avocado and tomatoes, dress with the vinaigrette. Crumble on your chosen cheese, place salmon on bed of salad and serve with lemon wedge.

Enjoy!

*Double recipe for 4 servings