Asparagus & Morel Quiche with Cornmeal Meyer Lemon Crust

Grief and Quiche: A Love Story

My father and I had a tumultuous relationship from the very beginning. My mother chose to wait until the birth of her babies to discover their gender, which made everyone else extremely eager and my father, a giant globule of nerves.
Four years prior to my entrance into the world, my parents had their first tiny human- my brother. They named him after my father as soon as the doctor proclaimed his gender and he felt an instantaneous quietude with the notion of fatherhood, but a girl? She probably won’t ride on the back of his motorcycle and won’t want to crank up his music any louder. She definitely won’t like shooting guns in the hills of Northern California. A girl?
As time transpired, our relationship morphed and then shifted and then morphed again.
It wasn’t until I turned 22 that we discovered we shared a deep affinity for creating really great food together. And after that, we were inseparable.
My father was truly a purposeful cultivator of moments. He would roll down the car windows just enough to let a scant breeze in, turn up the right Led Zeppelin song just loud enough to shake up our bones, and crack open the sun roof to let just enough light ooze onto the bridges of our noses and turn them golden.
I can’t thank him enough for giving me my love for all things culinary. And I can’t ever roll up my sleeves in my kitchen and dive head first into a cookbook without thinking of him first.
In the early years of my nutritional career, I considered food to be healing through purely a medical scope. What I’ve come to realize over the years is food can actually be healing in a very, for lack of a better term, spiritual way. Through memories where food is the centerpiece, we’re free to relive past moments and periods in our lives with an unprecedented clarity and comfort.
So, my father loved his quiche. And thus, I bake quiche. And I do it all with a certain sense of quiet tenderness and innate warmth. This quiche in particular is a beautiful twist on the classic egg dish draped in a floury pastry crust.
Inside that dazzling and delectably crunchy crust is a bit of yellow cornmeal and Meyer lemon zest. What are Meyer lemons and how do they differ from regular ole lemons? Meyers are less acidic and thus sweeter, they have a deep yellow orange color- plus they’re hyper seasonal so ya can’t find ’em all year long.
Just like lemons, Meyers contain high levels of immunity-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants to help protect against cancer and lower heart disease risk. Double win.
The deliciously rich filling of this baby is loaded with nutrient-dense asparagus. This veg contains the amino acid asparagine, a natural diuretic which helps the body naturally flush excess salt and water to prevent urinary tract infections and beat bloat. Morel mushrooms also make an appearance in this quiche, and for very good reason. This fancy fungus not only tastes delectably savory and smooth, but contains high levels of iron, copper, vitamin D, and vitamin B.
Through foods that we have attached memories to comes a new way to grieve peacefully.
Miss you, Dad.
Here’s to grief and quiche.

Asparagus & Morel Quiche with Cornmeal Meyer Lemon Crust

Makes: 6-8 servings

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (can also use whole wheat or all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal (don’t buy the super gritty sh*t)
  • 1 1/1 teaspoons sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, sliced into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice cold water, maybe more (I simply dropped a couple ice cubes into a bowl of cold water and waited a minute or two)

For the filling:

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 lb sliced morel mushrooms (about 7 large mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup sliced asparagus
  • 1 stalk green garlic or 2 scallions, sliced
  • Juice from 1/2 Meyer lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 chopped red jalapeño or if you no likey the spicy, red bell pepper
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk or regular dairy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
  1. First, make that crust! Preheat your oven to 374 degrees F. Grab your food processor and whirl together the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Drop in the small cubes of butter and lemon zest and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.
  2. Pour in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and keep hitting the pulse button until a smooth dough starts to come together. Add more water, if necessary. You know you’re done when all of the flour disappears and the dough no longer feels sticky. Remove from food processor and press into a skillet (I used my trusty cast iron but chu can use whatevs as long as it’s oven-safe). Poke a couple holes in the crust with a knife and bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden brown —> this is called “blind baking”
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Grab a small skillet and heat the olive oil over medium high. Add morel mushrooms and sauté until soft (about 6-7 minutes). When done, place in a large mixing bowl. Add in asparagus, green garlic or scallions, lemon juice, feta, pepper, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Pour over the pre-baked crust. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.
  4. Bake for 27-35 minutes, until center looks *slightly* jiggly. Don’t overbake or you’ll get a filling that has a sponge-like texture. We all know that texture. HARD PASS. So check it after 27-28 minutes as all ovens are unique little snowflakes. Let cool for 10 minutes, slice, and serve it on up.

Ginger Turmeric Eggplant Curry

Yesterday morning, with no alarm clock set anywhere in sight, my eyes fluttered open and I peacefully awakened at 9:00. Okay, not really. Someone from work called me at 8am and but I didn’t actually physically roll out of my bed until about 9:15 in the morning. Burrito Lover and I looked at our calendars and it dawned upon us that on this very, very sacred Sunday, we had absolutely nothing planned. 

Nothing to do for work. Nothing to do for the wedding. No errands to run or appointments to jet off to.

Feeling some sort of bizarre pull to immediately jam-pack the day’s schedule with everything I ever need to do in the next 68 years, I decided to instead just take the day off.

Actually off.

I admit, I did have to make a couple phone calls for work but otherwise the day was spent languidly shopping at the farmers market for flowers and…um…eggplants, looking at apartments in Jack London Square (yes, we are moving again soon…-eek!) and cooking up this amazing pot of golden coconut curry.

Did you know turmeric, which is part of the ginger family, contains a compound called curcumin that has extremely powerful anti-inflammatory effects? AND, didja know that when combined with black pepper, turmeric’s effects are enhanced by up to 2,000%?!

So if ya don’t know…now ya know. And this pot of curry has BOTH.

Eggplant and potatoes go for a swim in a thick, flavorful, earthy broth and get brightened up with fresh tomatoes, coriander, and warming cardamom. The ginger in this dish really dazzles when it simmers with the garlic and spices, contributing to an exotic but comforting dish you won’t be able to leave alone for too long. Bring this over to a dinner party or make it on a chilly weeknight- it all comes together in under 40 minutes from start to finish.

Digging into a bowl of this on a frigid windy night while watching an especially powerful 90th anniversary Oscars was the absolute best way to spend a Sunday off. Cheers to more of these…like, every Sunday from now on, yes?

HA.

YEAH RIGHT.

Ginger Turmeric Eggplant Curry

Makes: 6 servings

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1 large eggplant, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2” piece ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 5 baby dutch yellow potatoes, diced
  • 2, 13 oz cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup chopped lacinato kale
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • Chives, minced (for garnish)
  • Cilantro leaves (for garnish)
  1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees F and toss eggplant in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Roast until semi-tender (about 15 minutes)
  2. While the eggplant is roasting, heat remaining 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pot over medium high. Add garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, curry powder, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, and red pepper chili flakes. Cook until onions are tender and aromatics begin to release their fragrance (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add tomatoes, potatoes, and coconut milk to the pot and stir. Add in roasted eggplant (when done) and cook over medium, covered, for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender.
  4. Uncover the pot and stir in kale and mushrooms. Add salt to taste and if needed, more black pepper. Remove from heat, garnish with chives and cilantro, and serve. This is delish served over coconut rice, quinoa, or egg noodles.

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.