Recently my siblings and I were passing online messages about my father. At one point, my older brother Mike said, "Dad's cooking broke down into two categories: it either tasted good, or it was healthy, but generally not both. Or more that his thinking was, if it's healthy, there's no reason to be concerned with it tasting good or not."
This was the 1970s and "health food" was not what is today. Besides my father's tendency towards "more is more" ("Dad, raw oats in the hamburger? Really?"), his Sunday specialty was, no lie, seaweed-soybean waffles. Good God, that was dreadful. [Ed. note: That sounds worse than disco in bell-bottoms.]
Truth told, he was ahead of his time, very disciplined about exercise and nutrition. During WWII, as a teenage Austrian refugee in Shanghai, he took up boxing and sparred with US Marines stationed there. Growing up with my siblings, we never witnessed him missing a workout, no matter the weather or how late he came home from work. He'd jog a couple miles, hit the punching bag, skip rope double-time while running in place, do countless push-ups. Something. Every single day.
We ate 14-grain bread (which tasted like brick and mortar back then), when all I craved was that soft, white Wonder bread that was popular at the time. Now, this is not to say that we didn't have delicious food and sweets at home, just not on Sundays.
Dad passed away on September 23, 1979. Forty years gone. If he could only see us now. See, Dad, we were listening! I'd like to think that he would have loved these veggie burgers.
These days, the BF and I eat healthy, but it has to taste good. [Ed. note: Oh hecks no, inject those soybean-seaweed waffles directly into my veins. :-/ ] And we both love a healthy veggie burger. Am not trying to make this taste like a beef burger, it's not a beef burger, but I will say that I've made hundreds of variations of veggie burgers and the BF and I absolutely adore this one from the talented women at Pollan Family Table.
PS: A year ago I lamented the scourge of jury dury and the terror of a broken refrigerator, survived both, and made Mom's apple cake (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/moms-apple-cake).
Adapted from: Pollan Family Table
Number of servings: 4
Dad's boxing gloves, 2019.
Dinner guests who visit the house often have some form of dietary restriction: carb-, gluten-, grain-, or sugar-free, vegetarian, vegan, flextarian, only white-meat chicken-eater, allergies (shellfish, nuts, dairy), etc. You know what I'm talking about. I understand. Am a selective eater myself. [Ed. note: Run away run away run away do not comment I want to live...]
However, this summer has been about streamlining, making things as easy as possible. This dinner is the perfect solution. Have to give props to the BF, who suggested that kebabs would be a good accompaniment. [Ed. note: I can't help myself. I like good food, ok?]
This is especially effective for a dinner-party menu. Serve your favorite hummus for appetizers, follow up with two entrees: Roasted Harissa Spiced Ratatouille and Chicken Kebabs. The ratatouille will satiate the vegan guest and be a nice side dish for the carnivores. FYI, this dish is gluten free, grain free, Paleo and vegan.
Have been on a harissa kick lately, adding it to shrimp skewers, lamb patties, and roasted Japanese eggplant. Harissa is a spicy aromatic North African chili paste made out of hot chili peppers (which are often smoked), roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and spices like cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. It comes in sauce form or paste, as you can see in photo below. I used a mild harissa sauce for this dish, but next time might opt for the paste, which is spicier and more concentrated.
Adapted from: Gourmande in the Kitchen
Number of servings: 4-6
All apologies. It's been a while. There's a great excuse, though.
I traveled with my sister Julie to Bangkok, Thailand for two weeks to help my teacher/acting-coach big brother John move back to the States. Arduously busy, yes (this was not your typical move), and somewhat bittersweet for him, as he had lived and worked there for twenty years.
While there, my sister and I lived off the street food along the daily one-mile walk from our hotel to my brother's apartment. Breakfast consisted of a single, perfectly delectable marinated pork-strip skewer. A late lunch or dinner was a shared salad-in-a-bag, or fresh steamed corn, stripped off the cob to eat easily while walking. Such a beautiful country, I will certainly return someday with the BF. [Ed. note: I shall hold you to this.]
Back home, I have been craving any food that reminds me of the Thai street food: fresh, bright, flavorful and healthy. This herby green avocado sauce is super easy to prepare and literally works with anything. To wit, use it as:
Adapted from: Alexandra's Kitchen
Number of servings: ¾ cup
Grilled pork skewers. Breakfast of champions.
Fresh salad in a bag. Lunch...sometimes dinner.
Fresh guava slices on Silom Road (the best Lebanese food I've ever had was from the Silom district).
My Darling restaurant on Khao San Road.
Thai BBQ with my brother John and sisters, Julie, Tai, Pantene and Momay.
Missed these two! Thank you for holding down the fort!
Does Mom like spice? From time to time, we like things spicy in our house [Ed. note: HEY NOW], and this healthy, delicious dish is so easy to make it screams "weeknight dinner." The slightly spicy-tart sauce is a perfect foil to the sweet salmon.
And really, if you're concerned about the spice level, don't be. The original recipe below is sumptuous as is, but since the BF and I sometimes like a little more heat [Ed. note: WHAT KIND OF BLOG IS THIS THEY'RE GONNA ADD A DISCLAIMER], we'll add more Sriracha next time.
This is so easy, you could make this for a Mother's Day brunch for 20, which in fact I am doing.
Happy Mother's Day!
PS: A year ago we gave Mom lots of cavities with these offerings:
Adapted from: SELF, April 2013 (Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen); Epicurious (source containing original article)
Number of servings: 4
Sometimes the single picture is worth the thousand words. Just look at this reddish bronzed skin! The BF often tells me that he loves the simplest roasted chicken dishes, and this one couldn't be easier. Adapted from Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat, this recipe encompasses two whole ingredients. Three, if you count salt. Genius.
The buttermilk and salt work like a brine, tenderizing the meat to yield an unbelievably juicy chicken with crispy, gorgeously intense-colored skin. Be sure to leave 24 hours for marinating. I streamlined the recipe a bit, as well as decreased the amount of salt in the marinade.
One of the best things about roast chicken is that you can serve it with anything. Try it with these side dishes:
Adapted from Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat blog and Netflix special of same name.
Number of servings: 4
Just because Mardi Gras may have passed, doesn't mean it's not too late to serve this light, brothy, hearty and incredibly flavorful gumbo. (In our household, Mardi Gras-month is always a time for celebrating everything New Orleans.) Adapted from a recipe the great Emeril Lagasse published in a dog-eared copy of the September, 1994 issue of Bon Appetit.
New Orleans is, hands down, an all-time favorite city for me and the BF. Incredible food, history, architecture and music [Ed. note: Tipitina's, represent!] everywhere you step. We never, ever tire of that city, and are lucky to have visited at all different times of the year. We also can't leave until we've had a bowl of gumbo...somewhere. A few of my favorite places to enjoy the staple are Dooky Chase Restaurant, Galatoire's and Nola's.
Come to think of it, it's been many years since the BF and I have been. Perhaps we need to head back soon? [Ed. note: Do not tease!]
A small sampling of my vast voodoo doll collection.
Until next year, Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Adapted from: Bon Appetit, September 1994
Number of servings: 8
PS: A year ago chocolate and peanut butter squared off and clashed in a titanic battle for the ages (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/chocolate-peanut-butter-tart), then there was an attempt to make up for that dessert bomb with some roasted shrimp and asparagus with shallot lemon vinaigrette (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/shrimp-asparagus-with-shallot-lemon-vinaigrette).
PPS: "Iko Iko" is one of my favorite songs, takes me right back to New Orleans.
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.