Winter Citrus & Mint Salad

Starting here and now, you have my official blessing to flip your sad desk lunch the bird.

Pretty sure it’s like 99.9% impossible to be somber digging into a bowl THIS sexy:

Since our beloved bright summer produce is in full-bear hibernation, I’m taking total advantage of the colorful winter fruits and vegetables that are scattered throughout the farmers market.

Juicy naval oranges and ruby grapefruits are sliced into rounds and tossed with crunchy pistchios and peppery arugula. The whole plate gets drizzled with a delectably sweet but sensationally tart honey, lemon, and mint vinaigrette. If you’re wanting to toss a protein onto this bad boy to make it a complete meal, may I suggest a firm white fish such as grilled cod, halibut, or barramundi? Can’t lose with those.

I find people to be totally divided when it comes to the consumption of grapefruit. Like, Paris vs Nicole divided. If you find yourself leaning towards the “hell no” camp, let me attempt to sway your opinion. #teamgrapefruit

Tomatoes always hog the spotlight when it comes to lycopene *eye roll* but ruby grapefruits contain considerable levels as well. Research shows this carotenoid phytonutrient may have potent cancer-fighting qualities! Along with lycopene, these fruits are vitamin C and antioxidant powerhouses, helping to boost our immune systems and destroy free radicals.

Dig into this juicy plate of nutritional gems and I can promise you this: you won’t regret a thang.

Winter Citrus & Mint Salad

Makes: 4 servings

  • 2 naval oranges
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 8 handfuls fresh arugula
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • Fresh mint leaves

For the Honey Vinaigrette dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons honey
  • juice from 1/2 small lemon (~1 tablespoon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced mint leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  1. Start by peeling the oranges and grapefruit. But wait! Don’t just use your fingers to do this- do it the profesh way. Slice the bottom and top off each fruit and using a sharp paring knife, slowly work your way from top to bottom to slice off the peel. Go deep enough so that you take all that white pith with you, but not deep enough to turn the orange or grapefruit into shapeless mush. Keep it balanced, yo. When all the peel and pith are gone, turn over each fruit and slice into thin rounds aka “wheels.”
  2. Arrange about 2 handfuls of arugula on each plate. Top with orange and grapefruit wheels, onion, fennel, and pistachios. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients together. Drizzle dressing over the salad and ssssserve.

Vegetarian Ramen Bowl

I…I just melted into a bowl full of noodles. Help? Actually, on second thought,

don’t.


I have eaten many, many a bowl of restaurant ramen in my 28 years of life. Thus far, I have only found one truly fantastic vegetarian ramen bowl and now that I live 341 miles away from it, I was forced into running multiple recipes up a flagpole at home. I lead a dull, miserable, and unsavory life, clearly. Oh, and shout out to Silverlake Ramen in Los Angeles— I miss you dearly.

Well, after much ado we have a winner winner, vegetarian dinner.

I cooked. I conquered. I was full.

And then I made it again. And again. And again.

When the weather is gray, wet, and just plain dismal…all I really need to get be back in the saddle is a bowl of steaming hot vegetables and noodles. I’m a simple gal, tbh.

In this particular bowl of soup, we start with the “dashi,” a deep savory Japanese broth and then mix in a couple different aromatics and fermented pastes. Soy sauce and soy milk are added to round out the flavors and the ramen gets finished off with a generous helping of chewy hot noodles, mushrooms, corn, bean sprouts, kimchi, and of course, that gooey soft boiled egg. —> Everything inside this bowl is 100% vegan besides the egg, so if that’s what you’re going for, simply omit it.

So what’s the big idea when it comes to fermented foods like broad bean paste, miso, and kimchi? I know you all have heard some hype, amiright? Fermented foods, just like probiotics, are incredible superfoods— they contribute to a healthy microbiome in which “good bacteria” break down food in the colon, providing beneficial byproducts for us which are vital components the immune system. Cold and flu, I’m looking at you. Research has demonstrated they may also help control inflammation in the digestive tract and soothe an overactive immune system.

Grab a spoon— soup’s ON.

Vegetarian Ramen Bowl

Makes: 2 servings

For the broth aka “dashi”:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 dried shiitake mushrooms*
  • 2” x 4” piece kombu (dried kelp)*

For the ramen soup bowl:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1” piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced finely
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thinly
  • 4 teaspoons fermented broad bean paste or chili bean sauce*
  • 4 teaspoons miso*
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar*
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds + 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds*, toasted and ground finely into a powder (I toasted mine in a skillet for ~5 minutes, stirring constantly, and then ground them in a clean coffee grinder- you can also use a mortar and pestle or a super high speed blender or food processor)
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 cup of the dashi broth (from recipe above)
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper*
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Ramen noodles (can also use gluten free wide rice noodles)*

Toppings:

  • Steamed corn
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Soft boiled eggs
  • Cilantro
  • Thai basil*
  • Mushrooms (I used shiitake and enoki*)
  • Kimchi
  • Green part of the scallions
  • Black and white sesame seeds
  • = You are sure to find these ingredients at your local Asian grocery

** = To soft boil an egg, bring a pot of water to a boil, gently lower in eggs, let them cook for 6 minutes exactly, then remove from pot and shock them in an ice cold water bowl until you’re ready to use them. They will be easy to peel but handle delicately so the yolk doesn’t break

  1. First you’re going to make your broth (aka dashi). Place the water in a saucepan and add the shiitake mushrooms and kombu. Let them soak for 30 minutes on the counter, then place on the stove. Start to bring the water to a slow boil, then remove the pot from the stove right before I turns into a rapid boil. Discard mushrooms and kombu- if you leave them in the water to soak, the broth will get too slimy. Set broth aside.
  2. Next, heat up that sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add garlic, ginger, and white part of the sliced scallions and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add fermented broad bean paste/chili bean sauce along with miso and cook for another minutes or so, stirring constantly so they don’t burn.
  3. Add the rice vinegar, stirring the bottom of the pot to release any bits that might be stuck to the bottom. The rice vinegar will help you release these flavorful bits more easily. Add in ground sesame seeds along with soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add in soy milk slowly, stirring constantly so the bean paste and miso is dissolved before all of the soy milk is added. Add 1 cup of your dashi broth, ground white pepper, and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Turn down heat to low to let this “ramen soup” stay warm.
  5. Next, make your ramen noodles by boiling the noodles and draining. When done, divide noodles into two bowls and pour the finished warm ramen soup over them. Add suggested toppings and serve.

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Rosemary Shallot Reduction

Homemade gnocchi: looks deluxe, tastes fancy, and comes together faster than you can say “Oprah 2020”.

4 steps: just mix, roll, cut, and boil. Okay fine, 5– pop a bottle of Chianti as you groove.  If you think I’m pulling your leg, rest assured that I am not- it’s that easy peasy. I don’t lie when I speak of pasta and I also don’t really want to touch your leg.

What is gnocchi? These little squishy Italian dumplings make a hearty meal no matter what you toss ’em in. In fact, the reason you see those little ridges on them is because them grooves make it easier for these sweet babies to hold onto that sauce for dear life.

The proof is in the spoon ^

So what makes these gnocchi especially legit? Instead of regular potatoes, vitamin C and fiber rich sweet potatoes are the star of the show creating a bright, naturally dyed pasta dough that is infused with just the right amount of sweetness and tons of nutrients.

This dinner is unquestionably delicious without being overly rich. Crispy caramelized mushrooms take a dip in nutty browned butter and fragrant shallots, and then get swirled with sweet balsamic and infused with zesty rosemary. This bowl of puffy, pillowy sweet potato dumplings is concluded with a generous dusting of salty Parmesan cheese and piquant red pepper flakes.

Just remember: mix, roll, cut, boil, and POP. Because once ya’ pop, well, you know

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Rosemary Shallot Reduction

Makes: 3-4 servings

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (from ~2 medium sweet potatoes)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups gluten-free flour (I like King Arthur GF multi purpose…can also use whole wheat flour) + more if needed

For the Rosemary Shallot Reduction:

  • 1/2 cup butter, dividied
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes, for garnish
  • Fresh finely grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  1. Start by making the gnocchi! Mix ricotta, Parmesan cheese, mashed sweet potato, eggs, and salt in a medium-large bowl. Add in 3 cups of the flour and mix to form a sticky dough. Keep adding in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough begins to form a soft ball that you can roll out. You might need to use your hands for this part…
  2. Once you’ve got yourself a dough ball, turn it out onto a generously floured surface. Divide the ball into 4 smaller balls, and then divide each one of those in half so you have 8. Take each ball and rub in between the palms of your hands to form a 1/2” thick snake. Use your fingers to flatten out the snake and using a very sharp knife, cut into small squares (I sometimes like to dip my knife in hot water in between cuts to minimize dough sticking to the knife). Use a flat fork to gently push down on each piece, creating little ridges so all that sauce can stick to the gnocchi. Repeat this process with all 8 dough balls. When done, place all gnocchi pieces on a floured plate, cover, and let rest.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  4. Now, it’s time to make the reduction sauce! Grab a large skillet and add in 3 tablespoons of the butter, letting it melt and begin to foam a bit. Toss in the mushroom slices and sprinkle some salt and pepper over them but do not stir— let them cook and caramelize for about 5 minutes. Add remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and cook until it begins to “brown” and release a nutty, very fragrant aroma.
  5. Add in shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Sprinkle in the garlic, rosemary, and thyme and cook for 20 seconds. Then pour in balsamic vinegar and simmer until mushrooms are coated in the sauce and the sauce begins to thicken and “reduce.” Remove pan from heat.
  6. When your water is boiling, gently lower all the gnocchi into the pot and boil until the gnocchi floats. When the pieces begin to pop up, they’re done. Using a slotted spoon, remove them and place them into the pan with the brown butter reduction. Stir *very* gently and place the skillet back over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes more, allowing the gnocchi to crisp and become sufficiently coated in the sauce. When done, remove from heat, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, a bit more salt and pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

Big Life Updates + Chocolate Swirl Brioche

Life updates were guaranteed in the title and I just don’t sling out promises I can’t keep, so let’s begin, shall we?

But first, can we just start off with a super fat brioche bun photo bomb? It would put my mind at ease and really smooth over the fact that it is indeed 2018 and completely acceptable—nay, encouraged— for all of us to pour our hearts out to perfect strangers on the internet.

Phew. Now we can get into the nitty gritty, yes? Yes.

In years past, right after a new year dawned, I would find myself standing in front of the mirror brushing my teeth thinking, “[insert year] already? How the f@#! did that happen?”

This time around, there has been so much happening that when 2018 finally did cascade, I just sort of absorbed it and exclaimed, “of course.” With everything that’s been whirling, whizzing, and whooshing around…it felt like the obvious next episode.

On my father: My brother and I had a surreal experience finally spreading my father’s ashes last month. We drove up through winding icy roads into the Marble Mountains on a crisp winter day and found the most beautiful cluster of rocks overlooking what felt like ten million redwood trees smothered in a floury snow quilt. We held the wooden box of ashes, tossed around favorite memories and deep thoughts, sipped a couple brews, shed some much needed cathartic tears, and opened it up as the wind began to pick up and together, let our Dad go. Into the earth, he went— and we felt a sense of warmth, peace, and closure. Dad always said, “kings live on hills” so that’s where we put him.

On getting married: Last weekend my girlfriend and I decided it would be fun to go to a bridal fair in the city…honestly we were just there for the cocktails and appetizers, which totally crashed and burned because we got one measly mimosa drink ticket and a 2-ounce portion cup of mashed potatoes. It was sort of an eye opening experience; I realized how very unorthodox our wedding is and it made me all the more grateful that Burrito Lover and I just decided to say “to hell with it- let’s do what we want to do” instead of running around trying to please all that will attend. Most of the biggest to-do’s on our list have been crossed off and now we’re having a different kind of fun ironing out the details. All my life, I have heard women speak of wedding planning with sunken eyes and an enervated tone, but throughout this entire process I have kept very close to my heart what the purpose of all of this is. Even if it poured rain and the food never showed up and the speakers exploded and nothing really went the way I dreamed it all up in my head, I still get to marry my best friend. And I think that’s pretty cool.

On my growing family: I can say without equivocation that this Christmas was one of the best in my life. Sure I worked and we had to see both sides of the family on two different occasions, but my I am elated that my little fam is continuing to grow. My brother’s son, Colin, is the cutest, squishiest, smiley little baby and just a joy to be around. Lexi, my sister’s daughter, is just shy of 2 and already indulges in spicy Indian food with the rest of us— she is definitely my niece. Gone are the Christmases where the whole house, though full of 10 adults, felt eerily quiet. Now there’s bouncing babies crawling around, knocking things over, babbling to themselves, playing with Pinot…and it’s just the most fantastically fun place to be over the holidays. Not only that, big changes are happening on my fiance’s side of the family. His brother proposed to his girlfriend the day before New Years Eve and we are beyond thrilled. There is so incredibly much to celebrate this year.

On life in Oakland: Burrito Lover and I are still wildly happy with our decision to move from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. Despite a grueling commute, Burrito Lover is thrilled with his new job and his enthusiasm is infectious. We’re working harder than ever and reveling in the time we have together at the end of a long day snuggling with our favorite fur baby on earth, who is doing fabulously, by the way. Grandma sewed her a tutu for Christmas and I have to brag— she looks dazzling. I started Spin class recently and have become absolutely enthralled with cycling all over again. It’s a personal goal of mine to get better (okay, much better) at Spin and rent a road bike to complete my first Century Ride.

After all is said and done, I always measure myself by how my Dad might view my current place in life. Even though he’s not around to examine it (and it’s his own fault for not being so…but I’ll save that for another story) there is nothing that makes me feel more connected and whole than asking myself before I close my eyes to sleep, “would Pops be proud?” and tossing all minuscule missteps from the day aside knowing the answer is inextricably, yes.

These brioche buns are bursting with delectable, salty, chocolate perfection. They’re puffy and crispy on the outside and gooey and tender on the inside- I highly recommend them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Did I mention snacks? I also highly recommend them for snacks. What about brunch, you ask? Why yes, I suggest them including them in your brunch spread, too. They go great with mimosas, but hell, what doesn’t?

Love, Cory

Chocolate Swirl Brioche

Makes: 12 brioche buns

For the dough:

  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (don’t go above 110 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened

For the filling:

  • 6 ounces high quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 egg whites, whisked
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Flaky sea salt (I like Maldon)
  1. First, make the yeasted dough by combining 1/2 cup of the bread flour with the yeast and warm milk in a small bowl until it is just combined. Cover with a dish towel and let it sit, away from any draft or direct sunlight, for 30 to 45 minutes. I like to use my oven with the door closed and the light on…just for the love of Godiva don’t forget about it and crank the oven to 450 to bake off some pizza rolls.
  2. While the yeast is fermenting, mix together the remaining 4 1/2 cups of the bread flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a very strong human who desires a tough arm workout) beat together the first mixture of bread flour/yeast/warm milk together with the eggs and vanilla at medium speed. Turn down to low and add in the second mixture of bread flour/brown sugar/salt, adding in three additions, allowing flour to become totally absorbed in between each addition. Now shut off the mixer (or instruct aforementioned superhuman to put his/her guns away) and cover with a dish towel. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Swap the paddle attachment for a dough hook (or get ready to knead) and turn mixer on to medium speed. Add butter, 1/4 cup at a time, allowing it to become completely absorbed in between each addition. Once this is done, turn this dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Add more flour, if necessary, until a smooth supple texture forms. Once it’s ready, pat it into a fat block shape and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough overnight or for at least four hours.
  5. Next, make the filling by combining dark chocolate, milk, and butter in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat. Stir frequently, until chocolate totally melts and mixture is cohesive. Remove from heat and stir in egg whites and sugar until combined. Add in flour and cocoa powder and again, stir until smooth and melty. Line a rectangle 9×6 baking dish with plastic wrap and empty chocolate mixture into the pan, spreading with a spatula to smooth it out. Refrigerate filling overnight or for at least four hours.
  6. When dough is done chillin’ roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle about 20″ long and 10″ wide. Remove the top sheet of plastic wrap from the chocolate block and flip it over onto the center of the dough rectangle. There should be about 2″ of dough on either side width-wise and about 5″ on either side length-wise. Remove the other layer of plastic wrap so chocolate is totally exposed. Sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt. Fold the two longer ends of the dough over the chocolate so that they meet in the middle, overlapping by about 1″. Press down firmly around the edges of the dough, effectively sealing in the filling. 
  7. Next, roll this dough into a rectangle about 20″ long and 14″ wide. Fold the two ends lengthwise so they meet in the middle, then press down firmly so they seal. Next, roll dough back out into another rectangle (this time, even skinnier!) to be about 26″ long and 12″ wide. Don’t sweat it if the chocolate starts to show through the dough– it’s totes normal. 
  8. Now, roll the dough width-wise into a cylindrical log– cylinder should be ~26″ long when done. Using a very sharp knife (I also dip it in hot water in between cuts to minimize the mess), slice into 2″ pieces, exposing the beautiful spiral swirls of black and white within.  
  9. Place each piece, spiral side up, on two greased muffin pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit, away from any draft or direct sunlight for 30 minutes to 1 hour to “proof” aka rise.  While these are proofing, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  10. When the dough has risen, bake off the buns for 18-20 minutes, until they are just starting to turn golden brown on top. Give another quick dusting of flaky sea salt.