Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Too Darn Hot!

Complaining isn't my forte at MM, but it's been HOTTER THAN HADES in LA! That said, I usually spend time on the weekends in my kitchen, cooking up a storm or trying out a new recipe. But with the recent onset of heat, I've been trying to leave that "big white box" turned off as much as possible. Difficult at times, but not impossible.

A couple weeks ago, I received a lovely link for these fresh spring rolls and was inspired to give them a try!  Use whatever you have in your fridge or follow the recipe to a tee, either way you will not be disappointed. I've made two batches in the last two weeks.  In the first batch (pictured above), I included Persian cucumbers, carrots, scallions, champagne mango, mint, cilantro, mini sweet bell peppers and cellophane noodles. I didn't have any peanut butter in the cupboards so I used almond butter instead. Fantastic dipping sauce (note I added a wee it more sugar to the sauce than called for in the recipe)!

I made another batch this past weekend and swapped the mango for some poached shrimp and instead of making the peanut sauce, I dipped these bad boys into some sweet chili sauce.

Healthy, crisp and refreshing, these rolls will satisfy your snack craving or you can make a mean main out of them!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

MM Interview: Jessica Hilton

I'm jazzed about continuing my interview series and even more jazzed to introduce you to holistic coach and personal chef extraordinaire, Jessica Hilton. I may be slightly biased because I've had the immense pleasure of coaching with her, but I think you will dig her as a person, coach, chef and fellow foodie. In addition to her coaching and personal chef packages, she is teaching at The New School of Cooking in Culver City and updates her blogs with inspirational and delicious recipes!

Tell us a little about yourself.  How did you become a holistic health coach?  I have always been into food and also health and fitness.  I first learned how to cook, then I began to apply those principles and techniques I learned to healthier styles of eating, or what I thought at the time was healthy eating. Then I started to pay attention to all of the contradictions in nutrition.  One week eggs were good, the next they were bad, so I got a couple of nutrition certifications so I could make sense of all the information.  What I have realized is there is not one perfect diet for everyone.   

How would you describe your style of cooking?  Seasonal, farmers market driven, simple, homestyle.

What inspires you in the kitchen?  Seasonal produce.  I think it’s really easy to roast or grill some meat, but what is challenging is making those sides more interesting.  There are many more ways to cook vegetables than steaming (which I loathe) and roasting.  

What are some of your favorite cookbooks or blogs?  101 cookbooks, Food and Wine, Plenty by Ottolenghi which focuses entirely on vegetables, Anything by Donna Hay, an Australian chef who uses seasonal ingredients in very simple yet unusual recipes, I also LOVE Jamie Oliver.   

What are a few of your “can’t-live-without” pantry items?  Red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs (especially marjoram and sage), lemons for zesting, nuts of all sorts (pistachios and walnuts are two of my favorites) , feta cheese, eggs.

If you could travel to one country and eat your way through it, which one would you choose?  Easy, Italy.  I love the approach to fresh, local foods.  

Working with your clients, what do you find are some of the most common struggles?  Mindless eating and snacking.  Most of my clients find themselves grazing all day long, especially when they aren’t hungry. The biggest issue tends to be not eating breakfast, which then causes them to be famished by lunch and they wind up eating for the rest of the day.   So few people sit down to eat a meal and enjoy it.  Rather, they eat in the car, at their desk.  They don’t enjoy their food.

If you could encourage blog readers to make one small change, what would it be?  Try to eat vegetables at every meal, even breakfast.  If you eat an unhealthy meal, don’t give up on the day, start fresh at the very next meal.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hello, Zucchini Bread.

Like many of you, I subscribe to umpteen e-mails/newsletters.  It's a vicious cycle like my former magazine subscription addiction and I find it difficult to stop, but that's another psycho-babble post for another time.  

This past week I received a newsletter from The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories, where I took a macaron class earlier this year. In addition to promoting new classes they are offering, they always include a recipe to entice you. This week it worked and I made this lovely quick bread, Zucchini and Strawberry Jam Bread. Moist, delicately sweet and summery, it's a quick way to whip something up to bring to a winding-down summer cookout or any gathering of friends, family and food. And I think it's a flexible recipe, if you're not crazy about strawberry jam, why not use apricot jam? Also, I opted to not use the sliced strawberries.

Zucchini & Strawberry Jam Bread (courtesy of The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories)

This  recipe makes about 6 muffins or small loaves and one medium loaf, but can easily be doubled.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsps flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a larger bowl, whisk together:
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup strawberry jam 

Set aside:
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

1) Whisk together your flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
2) In another bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, sugar and jam.  Add the zucchini and mix until combined.
3) Fold in flour and mix until just combined.
4) Pour into muffin pans or molds and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes for smaller and 25 minutes for larger loaves.  Before baking, arrange strawberry slices over the batter.