Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

28 July 2010

Grilled Portobello & Zucchini Tacos

I'm a fan of 'the taco' as a general food group. I greatly enjoy various fried or grilled items sandwiched between bites of tortilla. Yum! I've always thought one day I'd move to France and open a taco stand in Paris. I'd probably make a fortune doing so. For all the wonderful food they have in France, they are seriously missing out on the taco.

These are delicious and substantial due to the portobello mushrooms which give them a smoky, dare I say meaty, quality. This meal comes together in a flash and the recipe is very flexible. Use whatever summer veggies you have on hand that are good on the grill (peppers, eggplant etc...). Last night I topped them with cherry tomatoes from my garden, fresh basil, and creme fraiche. Serve with a nice side salad or my salt & vinegar grilled potatoes and dinner is ready!


Portobello & Zucchini Tacos:
Yields 8 servings

8 corn tortillas, warmed
4 medium Portobello mushrooms
4 medium zucchini
2 spring onions
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 TB fresh basil, finely sliced
1/4 cup creme fraiche (or low-fat sour cream)
2 TB balsamic vinegar
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Heat the grill to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, prepare your mushrooms by scraping out the gills with the back of a teaspoon and peeling off the outside skin. Removing the skin and the gills gives the mushrooms a slightly milder flavor and also prevents them from bleeding all over the other veggies, turning them that unpleasant shade of grey. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. Set aside while prepping the other veggies.

2) Slice the zucchini into 2" long x 1/2 " thick pieces. I generally slice my zucchini on the bias so there is more surface area touching the grill and they cook more evenly. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Set these aside with the mushrooms. Cut the spring onions lengthwise into quarters. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Wrap them tightly in a foil packet so they cook thoroughly on the grill without burning or falling through the grates.

3) When the grill is hot, place the mushrooms and zucchini directly on the hot grill. Set the foil packet with the onions on the grill as well. Cook the veggies on both sides until they're tender, about 6-8 minutes. The onions may take a few minutes longer.

4) Slice the grilled veggies into bite size strips and place a bit of each inside the tortilla. Scatter a few cherry tomatoes over top along with a few slices of basil, and a teaspoon of creme fraiche.

26 July 2010

Salt & Vinegar Grilled Potatoes

My husband loves salt & vinegar potato chips so I came up with this as an homage to that flavor combination. They are delicious and easy!

This makes a lot of potatoes and I typically use the leftovers in a potato salad with an array of other grilled vegetables. Being a trained cook, it has been deeply instilled in me to always reinvent and never throw out food. As such I'm always trying to reimagine how to use what I have left from one night to the next. These potatoes actually get more flavorful overnight and are delicious in a cold salad with grilled artichokes, picholine olives, manchego & basil. That will certainly be making an appearance on my table tomorrow night.


Salt & Vinegar Grilled Potatoes:

2# large fingerling potatoes (preferably gold varieties like 'russian banana' or 'french gold')
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 TB olive oil
coarse salt for finishing

1) Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise. Place the potatoes, vinegar, and water in a 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until barely fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain off the liquid and place the potatoes in a large bowl with the salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss gently to coat well.

2) Heat the grill to 450 degrees. Place the potatoes, cut side down, onto the hot grill. Cook until grill marks are present. Turn the potatoes 90 degrees and cook again, to create cross-hatch grill pattern. Flip potatoes and continue to cook, skin side down, until the skin is golden brown and blistered and the potatoes are fully cooked and tender.

3) Drizzle with finishing oil (truffle oil, lemon oil, garlic oil....) and sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve warm.

09 July 2010

Tuna Nicoise Burgers

Nicoise salad is one of those simple, classic bistro dishes that I always enjoy. There are so many variations on the dish but it always includes tuna as the main protein (I've had it with seared tuna, tuna confit, tuna salad...), tomatoes, nicoise olives, capers, butter lettuce and lemon dressing, It also often includes boiled eggs, potatoes, and green beans.

I thought I'd take many of the elements of the salad and combine them in a burger that could be placed on the grill. I served this with a cucumber and yogurt dressing (in place of mayo) and on an english muffin instead of a bun. I think english muffins make the perfect bread for burgers as they're the exact size and shape and not so thick that your burger gets lost under so much bread.

You could certainly use fresh seared albacore tuna here that is finely chopped for your patties. However, I simply used a good quality canned tuna that was sustainably harvested and line caught. Using line caught fish generally means that the fish was smaller when caught and therefore contains less mercury. It's generally a bit more expensive but also much more flavorful and much more responsible.

*One word of caution about these... If your patties feel on the moister/ more delicate side, you might want to place them on oiled foil while grilling otherwise you risk them falling apart and through the grill grates. If they feel good and sturdy then put them on the grill directly. I had one batch work great right on the grill and one batch fall apart. So, use your best judgement here. You can also sear them off in a saute pan and finish them in the oven.


Tuna Nicoise Burgers:
Yield 4 large patties

2, 4 oz cans line caught albacore tuna, packed in water
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
3 medium radishes, finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup nicoise olives, finely chopped
1 TB capers, drained and rinsed
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB Tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup g-free bread crumbs, plus more for dredging
1/2 cup strained greek yogurt
1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and seeds removed, finely diced
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
8 butter lettuce leaves
1 ripe tomato, sliced
4 g-free english muffins

1) Drain the water from the tuna and place into a medium bowl. Using a fork, gently break up the large pieces of tuna. Add the next 8 ingredients (scallions through 1/4 cup breadcrumbs) and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Form this mixture into 4 large patties. Dredge each of the patties in more of the breadcrumbs and set aside.

2) Heat the grill to 450 degrees and brush with oil. While the grill is heating, combine the greek yogurt and diced cucumber in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt & pepper. Set aside.

3) Brush each of the tuna patties with a bit of olive oil and place onto the hot grill. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, until the burgers have a nice crust and are heated all the way through. Brush the english muffins with olive oil and grill these as well, until just toasted. Alternately, you can sear the tuna burgers in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.

4) Serve each tuna burger on the grilled english muffins with a bit of the cucumber yogurt sauce, 2 slices of tomato, and a couple of butter lettuce leaves. Serve with simple green salad. Enjoy!

06 July 2010

Quinoa Salad with Nectarines & Pistachios

This is such a great main course salad. I eat a lot of grain based salads, like farro, brown rice, and millet, some of which I've shared here with you before. I especially enjoy them in the summer when the weather is warm and I want something light for dinner that can be made ahead and served chilled. Quinoa is the perfect grain for a main course salad as it's a complete protein so it's filling and very healthy. I like mixing red and white quinoa here. It makes the salad prettier and gives it an extra nutty quality. I find the texture slightly different between red and white varieties so it just makes the dish that much more interesting.

This salad is tossed with a light lemon and olive oil dressing and, in addition to the nectarines, has arugula and toasted pistachios. I hope you'll make this for dinner tonight or set it out at your next bbq as a great alternative for your vegetarian guests. I promise that everyone will love it!


Quinoa Salad with Nectarines & Pistachios:
Yields about 10 cups

1 cup white quinoa
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 cups water
2/3 cup pistachios, toasted
3-4 medium nectarines, cut into 1" dice (about 3/4 #)
3 ounces arugula, torn into bite size pieces (about 4 cups)
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TB)
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) In a 4 qt saucepan, add both colors of quinoa, vegetable stock, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 12-15 minutes until quinoa is just cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid. Set aside on the stove to cool, uncovered, for another 15 minutes or so.

2) Meanwhile, in your serving bowl mix the dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice and salt & pepper. While whisking, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify. Toss in the arugula. The lemon juice will break down the greens some so they will blend better with the rest of the salad.

3) When the quinoa has cooled, fluff with a fork (like you would couscous), and then toss into the greens and dressing. The residual heat from the grains will also help to wilt the arugula. After the grains have been coated with dressing, toss in the pistachios (reserving a few for the top) and the nectarines. Serve at room temperature, or chilled. Drizzle top with a bit more olive oil, sprinkle with finishing salt, and the reserved pistachios.

04 July 2010

Spiced Peach Buckle

Stone fruit desserts exemplify summer for me. I've expressed my love of peaches here before, and to my delight they are really starting to come into their own with the first freestone varieties available at the market now. The long, warm days we've been having are making for some fantastic tasting fruit this year.

Today is July 4th and while I'm not big on stars and stripes or marching music, I do love an afternoon of grilling and spending time with family and friends. This is a delicious dessert that is sure to be the perfect ending to a summer meal. It's so simple and homey and really allows the flavor of the fruit to shine through. A 'buckle' is nothing more than a pudding-like cake that when baked, puffs up around the fruit which is nestled all over the top. It's similar to a cobbler but not as biscuity. I happen to be a big fan of 'the buckle'. I think it strikes that perfect balance between cake and custard. I hope you'll agree!


Spiced Peach Buckle:
Yields 8 servings

6 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk ( I used 2%)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
4 large peaches, sliced 1/2" thick

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a 2qt oval baking dish. Set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk to combine. You should have something that looks like cake batter. Pour this over the butter in the bottom of the dish and spread out gently.

3) Nestle the peach slices all over the surface of the batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake is set in the middle and the edges are golden brown. Serve with ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or creme fraiche.