spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish

spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking

I know that I have eluded to the fact that I have been working on something "big and exciting" a few times. I have spoken about a bit on Instagram, but I have yet to make  a big reveal in this space ....the home of where this "big and exciting" project all came to be. For the better part of the past year, I have been working on a cookbook with Roost Books that is set to be released in the Spring of 2018 .... and, I just cannot wait to share it with you!

When coming up with the concept for the book, I thought a lot about the kind of everyday cooking that I like to do at home. The kind of cooking that I like to do for myself, or my family and friends is super simple. I like intuitive cooking, and I like choosing one or two ingredients (such as a vegetables and one powerhouse spice) to stand out. I don't like to spend hours hunting down obscure ingredients, and I don't like to spend hours following a recipe, cooking, and then doing all the dishes. I find that if cooking is easier, simplified, but still creative + exciting .... I am more likely to do it often. I am sure you feel the same way too. 

With this in mind, I came up with 125 recipes with a focus on simply, nourishing, easy-going meals .... all with fewer ingredients and less time spent in the kitchen. And, every recipe with be gluten, dairy, and soy free, with the option to add in extra indulgences if the mood strikes. I have had so much fun coming up with, and testing the recipes for the book, that I actually had a hard time pairing things down. Especially when it came to condiment and sauces, so there is a whole section dedicated to that. As well as how to efficiently stock (and not over-stuff) your pantry. There will also be a section for easy vegetarian mans, as well as seafood.

The past few months has been crunch time (which is why I had to scale back a little here, on the blog). We've been going back and forth with edits, shooting ALL of the photos, making this idea fully come to life. A lot heart, soul, sweat, and tears (yes, there have been tears) goes into a project like this ..... and so when you start to see it come together with photos, a cover, and design, it begins to feel so real, and all of that hard work starts to feel so worthwhile. It's a hard thing, wirting a book and putting yourself out there, but if it at all helps more people get inspired to cook more often, and make health(er - ish) choices too ..... then I know that it was all worth it. 

SO, I don't want to get too excited yet, there's still many months between now and the official pub date, which will be sometime in the spring of 2018. However, I am excited that I get to start giving some more love back to this space. Sharing more of the same simple ingredient highlighting recipes (including several that did not make it into the book) here over the next several months. Starting with this simple spring celebratory soup. 

This soup, with just two main ingredients, highlights the first (and only) spring-like vegetable I could find at the market the other day. Spring onions are sautéed with potato and garlic, simmered with miso, and then pureed for velvety soup which is then finished off with a zesty, crunchy radish relish to give it a punch of brightness. Of course, either the soup or the relish can be made on their own, but I think you will be pleaseantly surprised to find how well these two spring recipes go together. 

**To stay updated on the book... be sure to subscribe to emails from my blog (by entering your email in the sidebar) -------> 

spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking

spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish

SERVES
2-4

INGREDIENTS

3-4 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
about 2 cups of spring onions, white parts (green parts reserved), diced
2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of mellow white miso, dissolved into 1 cup of water
+ 3 additional cups of water

for the radish relish:
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced into matchsticks
the green tops from the spring onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of honey
a pinch of sea salt

to serve: about ½ cup of cooked quinoa

METHOD

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and potato and cook for several minutes until the onion and potato are both soft. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes while stirring. Then add the cup of water that the miso is dissolved in. Then add the additional 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the radish relish.  Place all of the ingredients for the relish into a small bowl and give it a stir to combine. Set aside until you're ready to serve. This can also be done a few days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. 

When the soup is done simmering, puree it  by using an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender and blending until smooth. Distribute the soup amongst individual bowls, and top each with a spoonful of quinoa and a spoonful of relish. Any leftover soup can be kept for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge. 

spring loaded gin + lemon tonic cocktail with pink peppercorns + hibiscus salt

spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
the-botanist-cocktail-WCGL-02.jpg

Just like most people, I look forward to spring .... probably more than most seasons. After months of cold, short, gray days, I cannot wait to have more hours of sunlight and higher degrees of temperature. I look forward to the markets being filled with green vegetables once again, and I look forward to things like spring onions, ramps, and artichokes. Spring comes in slowly here in NYC, so sometimes it can feel like a fleeting moment before summer is here and in full swing, so I like to do all that I can to embrace those spring feelings (and vegetables). 

One of my favorite things about spring is that people start to come out of the woodwork. I start to see more of my friends than I did when I was hiding inside watching netflix every single night while making soup and braising things. All of a sudden my social calendar start to fill up with lunches, dinners, and parties. I feel recharged and ready to take on that fuller schedule after my winter hibernation. I get excited to call up friends for spontaneous get togethers, when we finally have those first few warm days to celebrate by sitting outside and sipping fun cocktails and nibbling on some bits. 

Whenever we do host a get together, I love to start with a specialty cocktail, and in the spring and summer it is often some sort of variation of a gin and tonic. It's one of the most refreshing of the classic cocktails, and it's easy to add things like lemon and cucumber to up that freshness. One of my favorite gins is The Botanist, because of it's smooth, herbal flavor, but also because it is a small batch gin that is made with a combination of 22 botanicals that are hand-foraged, locally, by their distiller’s scientists. How's that for some fun party facts to throw around! Also, the bottle is gorgeous and minimal, and looks really nice when you have a little cocktail station set up. I was so excited when The Botanist asked to partner on this spring cocktail, because it is the perfect way to welcome spring, and it's the perfect excuse to call up your friends and have a cocktail party to celebrate. 

 

*This post is sponsored by The Botanist. All thoughts are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support what's cooking good looking! 

the-botanist-cocktail-WCGL.gif
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking

The Botanist Gin + lemon tonic with pink peppercorns + hibiscus salt 

MAKES
1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS 

2oz of The Botanist Gin
1/2oz of simple syrup
4oz of bitter lemon tonic (or regular tonic, and a squeeze of lime juice and a drop of bitters)

to garnish:
a couple of pink peppercorns
a pinch of hibiscus salt (or himalayan pink sea salt)

GLASSWARE:
a tall collins glass
 

METHOD

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the gin and syrup. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Fill the glass with ice and pour the cocktail over the ice. Top off with the lemon tonic, and garnish with the pink peppercorns and the salt and serve. 

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower

minty pea pesto pasto + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking

When I was growing up, my mom would often take on multiple jobs in order to send my brother and myself to good schools, and eventually to college … and somehow, at the end of every day, she would still manage to throw together a home cooked meal that we would all sit down to dinner at the table and enjoy together. My mom was the best cook I knew (aren’t all our moms) with a big love for vegetables, and would churn out things like escarole and beans, lentil soup, stuffed artichokes …. you know, some of my favorites still to this day.

Although in some ways that sounds idyllic, it wasn’t necessarily. Having a working mother definitely came with some prices and hardships. There were times when I wished my mom would be around more, or when she was around, that she wasn't stressed or worried about work. There were also many times I took those home cooked meals for granted. When you’re young, you just don’t know any better. I never realized how important those things would be in shaping who I am today, until I became a working adult myself. Witnessing my mom’s incredible work ethic, and tenacity to create the best life for her children, taught me so much about the kind of person I strive to be today.

I am forever grateful for the education my mom provided for me, for being able to send me to a university to study art and photography. For putting our schooling over everything else.  But most of all, for instilling in me a love for food, a passion for home cooked meals, and for gathering friends and family around a table.

I was thrilled when SOULPANCAKE and Vitamix asked me to participate in their campaign which is all about gratitude, because I think it is good to be reminded and be able to reflect upon the people and things that have shaped us into who we are now. The things we are most grateful for in our lives, whatever or whoever that may be. To kick off this campaign, they're sharing this video with LA chef Nick Liberato and his surprise story of gratitude for his former boss (you can watch this wonderful story and video below). 

 

Food really is #theotherlovelanguage and is the best way to show gratitude, so to show my gratitude to my mom, as well as to the first days of spring, I am sharing this minty pea pesto pasta with roasted cauliflower. The perfect kind of meal to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring, and also because pesto and pasta were favorites in our house growing up. 

This post was sponsored by SOULPANCAKE and Vitamix . All views are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support WCGL. 

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower

SERVES
4

INGREDIENTS

For the cauliflower:
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets and then thinly sliced
olive oil
salt + pepper

For the minty pea pesto:
1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
5 mint leaves
10 basil leaves
the squeeze of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta:
10-12oz of short pasta (fusilli, penne, cavatelli) – if making this gluten free, I love the Jovial brand brown rice pasta
1 tablespoon of sea salt (for the pasta water)

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 400º. Place the cauliflower onto a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle and toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top.

Meanwhile, make the pea pesto. Place all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil in to the Vitamix or high powered blender. Pulse a few times, and then add in the olive oil in a slow stream while the blender is running. Do this until you have your desired consistency. I like to keep the pesto on the chunky side.

Boil the pasta. Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to it’s instructions. Strain.

Assemble the dish. In a large serving bowl, add the cooked pasta, and then add all of the pesto on top and stir to incorporate. Add the cauliflower on top, and any other toppings you like and then serve.

 

fudgy nut + seed butter brownies ... from The First Mess cookbook!

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I'll never forget the first time I stumbled onto Laura's (The First Mess) blog. I don't quiet remember how I got there, but I do remember spending pretty much that entire afternoon reading through every single post and drooling over every single recipe. I not only fell in love with Laura's charming "real" writing, I also fell in love with her style of cooking. Fresh, healthy, super creative, but (the best part) is that her recipes are really really approachable. It is exactly my kind of cooking. I felt like we were kindred food spirits. 

When Laura first announced that she would be writing a cookbook, I thought two things. There is no doubt this book is going to rock, and it cannot get into my kitchen fast enough. Well ..... it's finally here and it is everything I thought it would be. Beautiful photos, wonderful writing, thoughtful and easy to follow recipes.  There are also lots of tips and tricks (like her recipe to make almond milk when you forgot to soak your almonds) with each page turn, I kept saying to myself .... DANG, this is so smart! Laura also has a wonderful way of making plant-based meals that that would please the masses, beyond the usual plant-based coverts. You know, those people who might need a little convincing that plants and veggies can be indulgent, delicious, comforting, but healthy at the same, she's got that covered.  

As I read through each recipe and headnote, I had already bookmarked about 20 recipes before I even got close to the dessert section, but when I did arrive there and onto to these brownies, that's where I stopped.  I have been looking for a solid gf+df brownie recipe that isn't dry, or doesn't use a lot of unnecessary ingredients. When I read Laura's description in the headnotes, and read about how it was her crowning dessert achievement, I was sold. These would be the first thing I would be making from this book. This recipe is a winner, and it's gotten me even more excited to cook my way through this gorgeous book. Congrats Laura, you are a rockstar, and this book is such a plant-based gem. 

Friends, go out and buy this book!!! -----> HERE

This recipe is reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright

fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking

fudgy nut + seed butter brownies ...from the first mess cookbook! 

As mentioned, this recipe is from The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright. The only thing that I changed from Laura's recipe was that I used one pot (and skipped using a double broiler), in order to melt the chocolate and blend with the other ingredients. The only reason being I was hoping to have one or two less pans to wash (since I've been doing a lot of dishes recently). It came out perfect, and I hope Laura would approve! Enjoy! 

MAKES
9-ish brownies

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup of smooth nut or seed butter (almond, hazelnut, sunflower, or peanut butter) 
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
3/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup ( 1 bar) of 70% dark (dairy-free) chocolate, broken up into chunks
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons of nuts or seeds (I used a mixture of almonds, and added some coconut flakes)

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8x8" square baking pan with parchment, leaving some hanging over the edges. 
  • Place a medium saucepan over very low heat and add the nut butter, maple syrup, apple sauce, and vanilla and stir until the nut butter is melted and the ingredients are combined. Then add the chocolate chunks and cocoa powder and stir continuously until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt until everything is combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the nuts, seeds, and toppings that you like on top. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until the brownies are firm, and lightly cracked on top. Cool the brownies completely in the pan, and then transfer them to a wire rack by gently lifting the sides of the parchment paper to release. Cover and place the brownies in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This is crucial in order for the brownies to set, and hold together while cutting. Laura recommends running a chef's knife until hot water and drying it off before slicing into the brownies. 

olive oil baked chickpeas + egg + spinach with sumac

olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking

Even though I am someone who loves to cook and spend hours and hours in the kitchen, recently I have been working on ways to simplify this area of my life. I have been challenging myself to use less pots and pans, less ingredients, and take less trip to the grocery store. I want to encourage myself to eat most of my meals at home (and not be tempted by takeout) by simplifying my day to day habits revolving food.

Since we are in deep winter, I loath trips to the grocery store where I have to lug back bags of veggies in whipping winds and freezing cold temps. So this winter I have been dedicated to using every single vegetable in my kitchen before making another trip to buy more. Even if that means I am down to only 1 onion, a couple pieces of kale and a half eaten banana. I will find a way to make it work.

I have to admit, I am often guilty of buying more than I need, and restocking before I need to, which means sometimes veggies and other things get thrown away. I hate wasting food, the guilt weighs heavy on me even if I am just throwing away a half-used bunch of wilted parsley. Because of this, I knew that it would be easy for to stick to using up what I have. The best part about this is that it has forced me to get even more creative in the kitchen, and I am loving the challenge of coming up with ways to use ingredients in new ways.

That was kind of how this simple, but extremely satisfying dish came to be. I always have both dried and canned chickpeas on hand, my favorite of the pulses. Pulses are delicious, sustainable, protein packed powerhouses that are ideal for stocking the pantry. I have been known to dump a can of chickpeas into a baking dish with olive oil and herbs and make that my dinner. Chickpeas and olive oil are definitely a winning pair …. so, one morning when I was craving those savory olive oil chickpeas, I decided to add those to a baking dish along with the last of my spinach. I cracked in a couple of eggs to make it more of a hearty breakfast meal, and sprinkled a little sumac (my favorite spice in my pantry) on top, and out came a breakfast that was destined to be a new favorite of mine.  This dish, with just a couple of basic ingredients, ones that can easily be interchanged based on what you have on hand, packs so much flavor …. and, if you happen make a little extra, the leftovers are even better the next day.

This post is by sponsored by USA Pulses + Pulse Canada. VisitPulsePledge.com for more recipes and information. Thanks for supporting the brands that support what’s cooking good looking.

olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking

OLIVE OIL BAKED EGGS WITH CHICKPEAS + SPINACH + SUMAC

You can easily double this recipe by doubling the ingredients and cook it in a larger cast iron pan. Sumac is not necessarily easy to find, you usually have to seek it out in a specialty store or online. If you do not own it already, I will encourage you to find some (maybe on amazon) and add it to your spice rack. Otherwise, feel free to use any other spice that you like. Coriander or cumin would also work well in this dish. 

SERVES
2

INGREDIETNS

14-15oz of canned chickpeas rinsed (or about 1 cup of cooked chickpeas, if using dried)
a handful of spinach, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon of sumac (optional)
½ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
black pepper
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs

optional toppings: some additional sumac, sliced scallions, sliced avocado, a spoonful of harissa or pesto or another sauce if you choice

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.
  • Place the chickpeas and spinach into a small baking dish, add the sumac (if using), paprika, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, and carefully crack the two eggs over the chickpeas and return to the oven. Bake for another 5-8 minutes. I like to check it at 5 minutes, and if they eggs are too jiggly and not cooked, return for another 2-3. You want the whites to be cooked, but the yolk to be a little runny. Serve right away, and top with any additional toppings you like.