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Monday, May 7, 2012

My Homemade Rotolo with Fresh Pasta, Ricotta, Shitake and Kale

I know I'm completely spoiled by the Santa Monica Farmers Markets. The fresh, seasonal produce makes every dinner so much better. Last Wednesday morning, I picked up these beautiful shitakes, onions, kale and even a purple cauliflower - that's right, PURPLE. You'll have to keep scrolling to see it, but first, here's how I put my special finds into a marvelous dinner for two: 

I sliced the shitakes and sauteed them in a little grapeseed oil and fresh thyme.

These gorgeous onions were diced for marinara sauce.

I ripped the kale from their stalks and added it to the mushrooms until everything was soft.

I chopped the shrooms and kale and mixed it into about a cup of ricotta and an equal amount of parmesan cheese.

Onions and fresh garlic were sauteed too, and then I added two 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes.

Later, I threw in a few leaves of awesome fresh basil I also bought at the market (the rest of the basil leaves became a pesto for last night's roasted salmon).

Here are my super awesome fresh pasta sheets.

I like the 1/4 pound flour per egg ratio. I kneed it! I roll it! I dust it with some semolina! (I never met flour that didn't love me- look at how perfect that is)!

Then, I filled it with my cheese and veg mixture, rolled it into logs (is it redundant to call rotolo rolled? I don't know - I don't speak Italian), and I cut pieces and...
I poured the fresh sauce into a baking pan, topped it with my rotola, and I popped the dish into the oven at 350 for about a half hour until the cheese was baked.

With my left over sheets, I shredded them through the angel hair attachment on my Kitchenaid and froze most of it. The rest I added to the extra sauce.

Roasted Purple Cauliflower!!! 
Fresh Angel Hair and Marinara 

Rotola ala moi!!! 

And for an EXTRA ADDED BONUS today (as if you need to see more things delicious!), a LION's MANE MUSHROOM from Shitake Happens at the Sunday Santa Monica Farmer's Market.

This one went with last night's salmon dinner, not the rotolo, but I couldn't resist giving your eyes the added pleasure of this beautiful creature. It's known for tasting like lobster - and it does!

I sauteed it in some butter, added a little salt and pepper, and each bite tasted like a piece of HEAVEN!! Find one if you can. It's a pricy little bugger, but sooo worth it:

The End.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pistachio Pasta Recipe Obsessed

I love a good recipe. I collect recipes. I share recipes. I find them in books and magazines and online. A few websites are way better than others and I'm on their listservs. I print the pages or cut them out and slide them into clear plastic sleeves and snap them into three-ring binders and label them in an index. I'm obsessed, I'm not gonna lie. 

This was one of the recipes I got online on my favorite site Tasting Table. If you're wondering where the best chefs in the world give and get their own recipes, log on here to receive updates and info on the exclusive foodie info for your town and mine. 

I was dying to try this pasta. It's one I printed off their website from a few months back and being home alone and eating dinner all by myself that night didn't stop me. I'm sharing it with you because I can't resist. It's awesome. Go for it:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spork Food Macrobiotic Cooking Class

Ever since celebrities like Gwyneth and Scarlett claimed to follow a macrobiotic diet, I developed a curious fascination for it, wondering the rules, the point, if it really worked and why it was better than other fads. I took a class last month at Spork Foods that answered all my questions. Here's what the lady sisters Heather and Jenny made and taught me: 

First, a macro diet consists of a lot of brown rice, like 60% of all foods a person following consumes in a day. That's why the chefs developed these absolutely wonderful brown rice fritters. Don't worry, they're frying in a healthy high-heat veg oil (safflower). Note: only 5% of the macro diet is made up of proteins like beans. The rest is fruits and veggies - you do the math (after tax season I'm over all things numbers-related).

Oh, and P.S.: Spork, as you know from following this blog (ahem), is an all-vegan kitchen, so while regular macros eat fish, nothing on this menu has animal products, which we Stay Cools super appreciate.  

Brown Rice Fritters (my new very favorite food). 
Keep scrolling to see them browned and ready. 

The chefs said the point of a macro diet is to: "Eat as close to nature as possible, to close the gap between the world we created in the human world and nature." And "To eat well and prevent disease and unhappiness." Sounds fair enough to me. 

Like any good chef knows, a sweet course is a requirement. I mean, really, isn't the savory just foreplay for dessert? Here's a Spork chef preparing Date "Pudding" dessert cups. Again, this is vegan, so the pudding entails a lot of bizarre-to-most ingredients like kuzu root starch and arrowroot powder, to help this version of the dish gain a similar consistency to the one you grew up tasting. 

Furthermore, the girls explained that a macro concerns herself with the ying and yang of foods. Sugar, fruits and all things lovely (duh) are female or Ying, while the men and salty foods get called Yang. Someone in class made a joke about whale penises that I didn't write down, but go ahead and imagine the fun. 

While we find all these ingredients at the Santa Monica Co-op (LOVE!), we realize you might not have it so easy. We suggest emailing the Spork girls or the CO-OP for product details. Moreover, we've found that it's not only healthier but actually a lot simpler to cook this way - if you're cabinets are stocked properly - than it is to work with animal product since the beat and bake times are usually shortened. No chance at salmonella here people! 

Marinated extra firm Tofu "Breaded" with arrowroot powder and crisped in neutral tasting oil like coconut or safflower. 

The chefs are about to top these slices with shitakes sauteed with tamari, maple syrup, plum vinegar and ginger - yum! Shrooms, according to macros and the Spork girls, take toxins out of your body! 

Ginger Broccoli
We learned that broccoli is healthiest and tastiest in small crowns as opposed to the large stalks, and that it's an anti-inflamitory, an anti-oxident, and a detox food rich in Vitamin K, calcium, and even protein. I used to eat steamed broccoli every single day throughout college. I wonder if my body craved detoxing after all those nights out (ahem).   

Brown Rice Fritters over a Carrot Puree, ready to serve

Fried Tofu with Sauteed Shrooms 

The completed plate

Ariel view of the Sticky Date Carmel Pudding

Because I'm a baker, and an old-schooled one, this dessert was way too bizarre for my liking, but the ingredients supposedly had healing qualities so I finished mine anyway. :)

In this class, I learned that all foods consumed in a macrobiotic diet are to prevent sickness and make the body work to its highest efficiency. Maybe Gwyneth wanted more than just a killer Hollywood bod when she turned herself over to the macros - you can't criticize the woman for that!  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Shojin Vegan Valentine's Dinner

I have very little to say about this post, especially because I've been so late to the punch. We went to Shojin in downtown LA for Valentine's Day. The setting was lovely, the people were super friendly, but I'll allow the menu to speak for itself:

Heart crispy brown rice fritters went with the onion soup. They may have been my favorite part of the dinner. I learned to make my own brown rice fritters at Spork Foods a few weeks ago and you can see that pic in my next post.

Admittedly, I liked this meal way more than Stay Cool Boyfriend did, but at least he was forced to give me a good 'ol fashioned Valentine gift of this teddy bear and mix tape. The owners of the restaurant were very thoughtful. xx 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spork Foods Vegan Class

I started taking vegan cooking classes at Spork Foods in LA. I can't say enough about the sister team of Jenny and Heather Goldberg. These girls are fun, smart and sweet, and I love that their business is a family affair - even Mom was there to refill our water glasses!

I became a vegetarian at about age ten. Meat grossed me out. I wrote a fabulous article (if I do say so myself) when I was sixteen for Conscious Choice Magazine called "Confessions of a Teenage Vegetarian" that got me some early journalistic acclaim. Changing my diet and writing about it forced me to learn a lot about nutrition and food and the environment, which then got me baking and cooking. After college, I grew to appreciate some basic white fish and seafoods, because I felt my nutrition seriously laking. I love eating and sports, and so the all veg thing stopped working for me in my mid-twenties - I got sick of my weight fluctuating too quickly from too skinny to too fat, and at one point my hair actually thinned out from malnutrition. I simply couldn't get it right.

That said, I appreciate and love people who do make it work for them and who could stick with a vegan diet for life. Thus, when I picked up a copy of Spork-Fed, a cookbook by these amazing vegan chefs, I had to sign up for classes. I noticed it on the bookshelf at a funky record store in Claremont, California called Rhino Records. The forward is by Zooey and Emily Deschanel (whose career I became interested in after I took a vegan cooking class with her years ago. She was so nice, and we chatted for hours before I figured out she was that actress on Bones, but that's LA for ya).

Here are pics from the first class I took with Heather and Jenny (again, LOVE them!). The cool thing for you is that they offer classes online, so you don't have to live in LA to learn their recipes. I watched a few on my computer and they're easy to follow and very entertaining - and written out recipes are available on the site to print.

The theme of my class was Superbowl Party (that's how late I am to post about it)! Here you go: 

Roasted Potatoes with Vegan Ranch Sauce

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Seitan French Dip Sliders with a Walnut Dipping Sauce

(The girls made these with their homemade seitan, which I later duplicated at home. The recipe for it in Spork-Fed is super easy and tastes awesome).

Vegan Lemon Bars
(As a baker, I thought these were surprisingly delicious and filling. After a few bites I admit I was able to taste a slight bitterness, but if you're a vegan and have never had my super Tartine Bakery spin-off of a lemon bar, I suppose you won't notice it.)

After I took the class, I made Stay Cool Boyfriend take me to a vegan Valentine's Day dinner at Shojin...I'll post those pics soon!