Noodle Salad with Roast Chicken & Chili-Scallion Oil

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Peter and I were in the car heading out for a lunch date when Angela called. “Can we go to the Farmers Market?” She asked in a sleepy voice.  Peter began to tell her that we were on our way to lunch when I interrupted him, “Sure, Angela, we are coming back right now. Let’s go to the farmers market.”

I almost felt flattered that Angela wanted to spend time with us.  She is usually too preoccupied with her friends, school work or daydreaming to spend much time with us.  We turned the car around and dropped whatever lunch plans we had to answer her last minute invitation.

We are at this stage of parenthood.

For dinner, I reached back to my Sichuan roots and made this flavorful spicy chicken noodle salad. For the vegetarians in the house, I used baked tofu instead of roast chicken.  If you like spicy food, you must give this a try.  It is simple and delicious.

When I was setting the table, the girls were giggling and running back and forth between their rooms and the dining room.  When they finally settled down to eat, they were both wearing big sweaters, sitting hunchbacked and covering their chests with their hair. They couldn’t stop giggling.  Then I saw that they were both wearing earbuds, covered by their long hair.  It turned out that they were trying to circumvent the rule of no TV and no cell phone at the dinner table.  Are we really so tedious to talk to?

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The vegetables in the salad were from the farmers market. After reading “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” I am more keen on eating locally grown organic food. The industrial food chain, though unavoidable at times, is simply unsustainable.

Soba Noodle Salad With Roast Chicken
And Chile-Scallion Oil

Ingredients for Chile-Scallion Oil:

3 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 to 2 star anise pods (optional)

3 dried red chili peppers, crushed into flakes (you can adjust the amount of peppers according to how spicy you want the dish to be. Mine is relatively mild because Peter doesn’t like it too hot.)

1 tablespoon graded fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (optional, but really add a distinct Sichuan flavor to the dish if you can find them.)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

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Noodles And Assembly:

6 oz. Japanese soba noodles or ramen, or udon (I used soba with buckwheat and yam)

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 cups shredded roast chicken breast (I used Costco roast chicken)

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2/3 large English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced

4 – 5 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced

1 cup or more cilantro leaves or any sprout

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Preparation:

Chile-Scallion Oil

Cook all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until scallions and garlic are just golden brown, about 3 minutes. Let cool; transfer oil to a jar.

Noodles And Assembly

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain. Rinse noodles under cold water, then shake off as much water as possible.

Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and oil in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add noodles, chicken, and scallions; toss to coat.

Toss with cucumber, radishes, and cilantro and drizzle with chile oil just before serving.

For a non-spicy vegetarian noodle salad with scallion oil, try my Shanghainese version.

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Adapted from bon appetit.

Massaged Raw Kale Salad 2.0

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Angela asked me to make her my massaged kale salad today and that made me happy.  She has wanted very little of me — my time, my company, my thoughts or my wisdom, especially my wisdom. Whatever I try to say to her is met with the retort “old man yells at cloud,” which is supposedly a Simpsons reference. “Millennials are so lazy! Go start a war or ruin the economy or something! Wait… how do you send an email?” In my defense, I know how to send an email.

I wait patiently because I know that she is at an age when she needs to explore and evolve into her own identity apart from her parents. But sometimes I can’t help feeling a little sad about the loss of the intimate oneness we used to have.

When I was away, she had been eating out a lot with her friends or ordering take-out from the nearby restaurants.  For quite a few days after I came home, Angela continued to order her meals.  The one thing that I used to be really good at — feeding her nutritious and delicious food — Angela no longer seemed to need from me. 

When she came to me carrying a bunch of kale and said, “Mommy, can you make me your massaged kale salad for lunch?” I leapt into action.  As I washed, cut out the stems, dried and massage the kale, Angela stood there and talked to me and laughed with me like she did when she was little. 

Angela took a photo of the salad as she was eating it and texted it to her friends.  “They all said that it looked so delicious,” she said, “Can you make it again for me to bring to school tomorrow?”  Wow ! it was as if she was still my little girl.

I usually make this salad with feta cheese, but I was out of it today.  I found that Parmesan is also delicious with this salad.  The sweet grapes are a perfect balance to the tinge of bitterness in the kale. 

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Massaged Raw Kale Salad

Ingredients:

2 bunches lacinato kale, ribs removed and discarded (12 oz total without ribs)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

Shaved Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup red seedless grapes

1/2 cup green seedless grapes

1/4 cup chopped dry roasted almonds

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Preparation:

Slice the kale into 1/4-inch thin ribbons. In a large bowl combine the kale with oil and salt. Using your hands, massage the kale for 3 minutes until the kale softens.

Toss kale with the lemon juice, then add grapes.  Sprinkle shaved parmesan cheese and chopped almonds before serving.  The recipe makes 4 meal size servings.

Kale is such a hearty vegetable that the salad doesn’t get soggy if you let it sit in the fridge over night.  I have always liked kale, but eating it raw like this is a great variation in preparing this super food.

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I used the lemons from my dwarf lemon tree. I’ve been feeding my unwanted boiled egg yolks to the soil and the little tree is bearing so many lemons.

“My Cool, Grey City of Love”

I had a break in the shooting schedule and decided to come home for a visit.  I talked to Peter everyday when I was away, but Angela was not one to reveal much over the phone.  I needed to come home.  Angela doesn’t believe in vacations.  She would only travel for a “serious purpose” as she puts it — meeting a mentor in New York, going to school in Andover, taking summer courses at Brown, or attending a cousin’s wedding in Los Angeles.  Since she doesn’t have a serious purpose in Budapest, she will not travel there. 

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With Angela in Pompeii when she was nine

I used to lug Angela around the world with me when she was younger, but slowly she stopped wanting to go anywhere.  I found out that the external and physical world has never held as much power for her as the inner and intangible world that exists only in her head.  The vast, fertile and zigzagging interior terrain is where she prefers to explore.

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In an effort to gain insight into her mind and to stay connected when I am not with her, I resort to reading the books that she has read, and carefully considering all the notes scribbled by her on the pages.  Angela often sells the books back to Green Apple Books, a local bookstore, after she’s finished reading them, but the store doesn’t accept the ones with too much doodling.  Those are the ones I inherit my conduit to her world.  I have also begun to follow Angela on Spotify and listen to the songs on her playlists.  In Budapest, I was reading The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz and listening to Troubled Mind by Marina and the Diamonds, imagining what Angela felt about certain metaphors or symbolism.  The longer I didn’t see Angela, the more consumed I became by the incessant wondering about what’s on her mind.  Only coming home and seeing her could relieve me. Nothing is more reassuring than hugging the healthy body of one’s own child.

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It was a glorious day in San Francisco, sunny, warm and with a pleasant sea breeze, not at all our typical foggy cold summer day.  Peter took off from work to spend time with me.  We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for lunch.  Poggio Trattoria was recommended to us by one of Peter’s patients, who lives in Sausalito.  Everything on the menu looked enticing to me.  Peter ordered grilled octopus for appetizer and seafood fregula pasta as main course.  I ordered burrata to start and grilled salmon with fresh summer corn for the main course. We loved all the dishes.  After a month of rich Hungarian food, the lighter Californian-Italian cooking was a much desired change for me.  A perfect and long overdue date with the man of my life.

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Octopus is one of Peter’s very favorite food

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Burrata is one of my very favorite cheeses

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If you ever visit Sausalito, Poggio is definitely worth your while to dine in.

Coconut Curry Halibut

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Summer is officially here.  The girls are all done with school!  No more early morning rushing, late night cramming or non-stop stressing about grades.  No more “I’m busy!” when we want to talk to them.  Angela went rock climbing for the whole day yesterday, and walked around the city with friends and tried out restaurants today.  How adult!  She found a job at the local psychic’s office, starting tomorrow.  We used to walk by her offices — yes, two offices on two high rent streets — and we used to joke that the psychic’s offices must be a front for some syndicate.  How else could she afford the rent?  Well, apparently, she is super busy according to Angela, who went with her friends to have their palms read as a prank.  Angela called at 5pm to book a reading, but was told that the psychic was busy until after 7:30.  “How could people be this stupid!” Audrey exclaimed, surprising me.  Audrey is always so innocent and gullible.  Tonight, Audrey and I went to a screening of Me and Earl and the Dying Girls Audrey laughed out loud at some parts of the film and sobbed her eyes out at some other parts.  I love taking her to the movies.  She is the best audience anyone could ask for.

For food, I made coconut curry halibut. Someone once said this about curry: “The tingling of the taste buds, the watering of the eyes – it’s almost like being in love.”  There weren’t watering of the eyes today because I made mine mild.  I remember that early in our marriage I made a Thai Green Curry beef with extra spicy Thai chilis and Peter nearly died.  He didn’t want to disappoint me too much by not eating so he rinsed the beef in water before putting it into his mouth.  Since we only knew each very briefly before we got married, we were still learning about each other in those early years.  From the curry beef, I learned that he did not like too much heat in his food, and he was a sweet man.

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Coconut Curry Halibut

Ingredients for the Fish:

1/2 teaspoon of each ground cumin

Cardamon

Coriander

Turmeric

Mustard

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

4 pieces 5 to 6 oz. halibut

2 teaspoon coconut oil

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Ingredients for the Curry:

1 cup each of diced potato

Carrots

Onion

1/2 red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon or more yellow curry paste (I used Mae Ploy)

1 can light coconut milk

2 tablespoon coconut oil

Chive and Cilantro for garnish

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Preparation:

Marinate the fish in cooking wine for 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Mix the first 6 ingredients in a bowl to make the rub for the fish.  Pat dry fish and spoon the rub onto the fish and use fingers to spread and rub the spices in.  Let stand in the fridge for 30 minutes.  If you are pressed for time, you can skip the marinating, but I always find fish or meat taste better after marinating in wine.

Heat a cast iron pan on high with the coconut oil, pan seared the fish, in 2 batches, for 3 minutes on either side or until opaque and just cooked through.  Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a frying pan, sauté onion, garlic and curry paste until aromatic, add potato, carrots and coconut milk.  Bring to boil and lower stove to simmer for 2 minutes or until the carrot and potato are tender.  Add bell pepper and cook for another minute.

Place fish in 4 plates, ladle curried vegetables over the fish.  Garnish and serve.

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Poached Halibut in Shiitake Soy Broth

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Angela left on her own for Boston on a 6 AM flight.  I was surprised by her decision to fly back to Andover to visit her friends, many of whom will be graduating next month.  Angela has always hated to travel.  When we took her on a 3 week trip to Europe two years ago, she said we were “force feeding her caviar.”  When I wanted her to join me in Hungary, Malaysia and New Zealand this summer, she said emphatically, “No.  Why would I want to go there?  I hate traveling.  I will only fly when it’s necessary.”  No matter what I said, she could not be persuaded to go to these wonderfully exotic places to visit me.

Going to Andover to see her friends before they leave for college seems to be very important for Angela.  This is a new side of her that I didn’t know before — that she really cherished her ties with friends.  When she was in elementary school and middle school, I tried to organize playdates for her to develop stronger friendships, but she never wanted that.  I was afraid that she might take after me and be awkward and uncomfortable with people all her life.  In this sense I am happy and relieved that she is not like me.

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Angela (in red coat) with her friends in Andover from her first year there

When I asked her what she was going to do tomorrow with her friends, she said she would shadow them at their classes.  Angela is a true nerd who loves the classroom.  This is her way of bonding and spending time with her friends here at UHS, too.  She goes to their classes with them when she has a free period.  What kind of kid would want to go to classes that she didn’t have to go to?  But that is Angela for you. And I miss her terribly.

For dinner, I made this really delicious poached halibut. 

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Poached Halibut in Shiitake Soy Broth

4 6 ounces halibut

6 to 8 large dried shiitake mushrooms, or 12 to 16 fresh ones, sliced

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup Shaoxing cooking wine, or other Asian cooking wine

1 1/2 cup water

2 tablespoon goji berries (optional)

1 tablespoon xylitol or brown sugar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 stocks green onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon ginger, thinly sliced + 4 thin slices for the broth

1 red jalapeño, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon cooking oil or sesame oil

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Preparation:

If you are planning to use the dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in warm water for an hour and then wash them.  Save the soaking water, but not the sediments in the bottom.  Boil the shiitake in the soaking water to make them soft before slicing them.  Save the broth. 

If you are using fresh shiitake, wash and slice them and set aside.

In a cooking pan, on medium heat, heat up 1 1/2 cup of shiitake water, the sliced shiitake, the soy sauce, xylitol or sugar, goji berries, 4 slices of ginger and wine.  When the broth begins to boil, add the fish in and close the lid to cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the fish turns opaque.  Do not overcook; the fish meat will break apart and toughen if overcooked.

If there is not enough broth, add a little more water.  If the broth gets too deluded add a little more soy sauce.

When the fish is cooking, set a sauce pan on medium high.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil.  Test it with a slice of green onion or ginger to see if it sizzles.  When it does, add the sliced jalapeño, ginger and scallion in the oil and let it sizzle for about 45 seconds to a minute.

Separate the fish into 4 deep plates with equal amount of broth.  Pour the ginger, scallion jalapeño and the oil equally onto the 4 pieces of fish.  Serve immediately.

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Wasabi Rice Bowl

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Angela is going to her first prom this Saturday and she didn’t have time to worry about it until now.  She needs a dress, pronto.  I have many vintage evening gowns that are gorgeous.  Any other girl would die to get her hands on them, but not Angela.  Anything I like is automatically rejected by her.  Audrey, on the other hand, loves all my old clothes.  I have a closet in the basement where I keep my formal dresses.  Many years ago, when she first saw that closet full of glamorous gowns, she exclaimed, “They are so beautiful!  Can I have them when you die?”  She was a toddler and didn’t fully understand what it meant to die.  A couple of months ago, when I was in the mood to “discard what no longer spark joy” as per Marie Kondo, Audrey took in half of what I discarded.

I have never been to a prom and didn’t understand what a big deal prom night was.  Thank goodness we have online shopping for all the last minute procrastinators.  You click a button and your dresses arrive the next day.  Since we were in panic mode, we ordered 8 dresses on Sunday and they all arrived today. There was one beautiful black lacy form fitting dress that I quite loved, but I made the mistake by saying that it looked nice on her.  Angela immediately commented, “ I look like a 90-year-old attending my own funeral.”  The good thing was that in the end, there was one out of the eight that she loved.  What a relief!

For dinner, I made Wasabi Rice Bowls — Salmon for Peter and me, and Tofu for Angela and Audrey.  Peter said that they reminded him of the rice bowls in Pacific Catch, one of his favorite restaurants on Chestnut Street.

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Wasabi Rice Bowl

Ingredients:

For The Salmon or Tofu Bowl:

1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (I used half white and half black seeds)

1 4-ounce avocado, diced

2 cups cooked brown rice

3/4 cup watercress (the original recipe calls for daikon sprouts, but watercress tasted quite delicious too)

2 radishes, thinly sliced

1 strip nori, shredded

8 ounces wild salmon, cut in 2 pieces

1 box silken firm tofu (12.3 oz) sliced

olive oil spray

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

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For the Soy-Wasabi Vinaigrette:

2 tbsp less sodium soy sauce (or GF Tamari)

2 tsp wasabi in tube

2 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp rice vinegar, (the original recipe calls for rice wine vinegar, but the dressing tastes wonderful with rice vinegar, too.)

1 tbsp sesame oil

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Preparation:

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  Heat rice and keep warm.

Spray the salmon with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Broil for 2 – 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the fish).  Or you can pan sear it for 2 – 4 minutes on either side.

Spray a non-stick pan with oil, and brown the tofu on both sides.

Split rice into four bowls equally, 1/2 cup each. Top each bowl with 1 oz avocado, green onions, cucumbers, sesame seeds, and sprouts. Place salmon on top of 2 bowls, and tofu on top of the other 2 bowls, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and sprinkle with shredded nori.

I made 2 salmon bowls and 2 tofu bowls because the girls are vegetarians.  If you want all 4 servings to be salmon bowls, you can double the salmon and skip the tofu.

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Adapted from skinnytaste.com

Living La Dolce Vita, Eat a Frittata

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The world is a good place.

I (Angela) took the SAT last Saturday and accidentally left my beloved TI-84 at Gateway High School, where I took the test. I didn’t realize my calculator was missing until several hours after the test ended, and I figured that by then someone had already taken my lovely away. These calculators are pretty darn expensive. I assumed that if anyone found my TI-84, they would probably take it for themselves or sell it.

My TI-84 has been with me since ninth grade and has absorbed so many tears that I’m surprised it still works. Together, we’ve made it through thick and thin. We’ve graphed limaçons in the dead of night. We’ve taken countless tests and done hours of homework. When I thought I had lost the calculator that is, in the vernacular, “bae,” I was devastated. That night, I went to my very first non-classical music concert but the whole time I was just thinking about my calculator. I threw my right-hand rule in the air to the beat of “Anna Sun” and mourned the loss of my beloved, which I was convinced I would never see again.

Out of all of my friends, I am definitely the most cynical. Last week, we watched the documentary Somewhere in Between on transracial adoption in Chinese class. I was positive that the man claiming to be the biological father of one of the adoptees was just trying to exploit money from an American family, but a DNA test revealed that he really was the father. By the end of the film, everyone in the class, boys and girls, had tears flowing freely down their faces – except for me. I was unamused and unshaken, unfazed by the cruelty of the universe that the film had revealed and skeptical of happy endings.

Later that week, however, I received an email saying that my calculator had been found unscathed and was waiting patiently for me. Elated, I returned to Gateway and reunited with bae. I am incredibly grateful that someone went to the trouble of tracking me down and allowing me to reclaim my darling. Our reunion cracked a hole through my jaded worldview. The world is such a wonderful place. Don’t worry. Be happy. Eat a frittata…

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Kale Potato Frittata

Ingredients:

Cooking spray

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek, sliced

1/2 shallot

1/2 yellow or white onion, sliced

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups boiled diced potatoes

4 whole eggs + 4 egg whites, beaten

3 tablespoons water

3 eggs on top of the frittata (optional)

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons shaved parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Note from Chef Chen:   I basically used up what was left in the fridge to make room for my Costco produce purchase.  I think a frittata is perfect for cleaning out the fridge on a weekend.

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Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, sauté onion, leak, garlic and over medium heat, stirring, 5 minutes. Add kale, garlic and a pinch of salt; stir 5 minutes. Add potatoes.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, 3 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir in kale-potato mixture.

In a large cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray, cook egg mixture over medium-low heat 1 minute. Sprinkle thyme, oregano and parmesan on top. 

Transfer skillet to oven; bake until eggs are set and center is slightly runny, about  8 minutes. Broil until top is golden, 1 minute.

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Sautéed Kale with Whole Wheat Penne + Pastel Mint Boutique Review!

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You’ve already rolled your eyes as I waxed poetic about the beauty and grace incarnate that is pasta. Pasta is love, pasta is life, and I hope to one day marry pasta in a small courthouse ceremony with a ring of rigatoni around my finger. Disclaimer: this post was written while coming off a pasta high, in case you couldn’t notice. Forgive my incoherency.

Today we made some 100% whole wheat penne with kale. My mother called it a little naughty and a little nice. She was wrong. Pasta is nice too. A little pasta never hurt nobody. No food in itself can cause diabetes or obesity. But if you’re a little carbophobic you can alter the ratio of pasta to kale or substitute some or all of the pasta with spiralized vegetables, spaghetti squash or shirataki. Personally I find the latter absolutely disgusting and reminiscent of vulcanized worms. Shirataki is made out of an indigestible Japanese root called konjac, so it has zero grams of net carbohydrates and is essentially non-nutritive, although it is a relatively good source of fiber. Do what you want to do. Eat your rubber noodles and be sad.

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Or join the Cult of Carbs and live your life in joy. Your call.

Anyway, this recipe is vegetarian and full of delicious veggies so it’s perfect for Meatless Mondays. It can also be gluten free if you use the subs listed above or use gluten free pasta.

Ingredients:

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed
4 oz. (about 1 cup) uncooked 100% whole wheat penne
1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 of a 15 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon shaved parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 large lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

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Preparation:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan or wok on medium high. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic. Add the kale and bell pepper and sauté until soft, adding a little water or broth if necessary. Add the beans and give it a few good stir until heated through.

Turn off the stove and add 1/4 cup parmesan, 2 tablespoons pesto sauce, the juice from half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste, mix well.

Dish out and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon parmesan. Serve immediately.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! Don’t pigeonhole it into the internet’s list of nasty kale recipes. Honestly I think a lot of people hate kale but pretend to like it since it’s so trendy and has a superfood rep (although the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease journal rated vegetables by nutrient density and kale was only #15, probably because it’s more than twice as energy-dense as spinach by mass). A lot of the kale available at supermarkets is really tough and disgusting and inedible especially if you try to make your own raw kale salad. We chose to use kale for this recipe since kale doesn’t cook down as much as spinach so it’s a better foil to the penne. If you hate kale then you can sub some other vegetable, perhaps collard greens, but we recommend trying fresh kale to see how you like it. Some farmers market kale is god-awful but if it’s really fresh then it’s 10/10.

It was shaped like a barn but it was actually quite nice inside.

It was shaped like a barn but it was actually quite nice inside.

Since returning to San Francisco from New England I’ve gotten to appreciate the city more. The autumn isn’t as pleasantly pilgrim-y and I no longer live in a quaint little cottage but at least it isn’t freezing or overrun by squirrels. Also, it’s very hipsterish which a lot of people hate but now I don’t have to turn to Netflix to watch Portlandia. A large hipster population makes for bigger and better artisanal-feeling grocery stores that are even more hardcore than Whole Foods. I’m talking Rainbow Grocery level hipster. For me, there’s nothing more fun than wandering the aisles of a grocery store, even if I don’t end up buying anything. In the dead of winter I used to trek three miles through the ice and snow to ogle at everything in Whole Foods and Stop and Shop, often returning to my dorm empty-handed. I’m starting to realize that that’s kind of weird, but whatever.

I really like cauliflower, ok?

Totally content with my weirdness. I really like cauliflower, ok?

I once dedicated an hour of my life to choosing the best aubergines from the grocery store. Yes, aubergines.

I once dedicated an hour of my life to choosing the best aubergines from the grocery store. Yes, aubergines.

In addition to the cool grocery stores, there are a lot of hipster boutiques and it’s 100% socially acceptable to dress like a hipster in any situation. I don’t really dress like a hipster when I’m not trick-or-treating but many of my friends and family members do pull off the Harry Potter glasses and flannel shirts quite well. It’s great that they have so many options when it comes to buying nice clothes. Pastel Mint Boutique, an online clothing store based in San Francisco, recently sent us a few items to try out and they were great! We received a utility jacket, an infinity scarf, a sundress, and a beanie. My sister and my schoolmates very much enjoyed trying these clothes on. We highly recommend this boutique! If anyone asks, we heard of ‘em first.

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Pastel Mint utility jacket and dress

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GLee rocking the infinity scarf, beanie, and utility jacket

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Glower sold separately

Glower sold separately

No Bake Almond Coconut Chocolate Mousse Tart

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Amongst the bills and junk mail I found two packages that made me happy:  One is the Bay Area Consumers’ CHECKBOOK and the other is a certificate of commendation plus a check for Angela. 

This month’s CHECKBOOK is featuring top doctors rated by their peers.  Practicing physicians in the Bay Area were asked which doctors they considered most desirable to care for their loved ones, and Peter received the highest number of votes in the field of cardiology in San Francisco.  I am so glad that my perpetually overworked husband has the respect and trust of his peers.

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Hubby (the one on the right) doing teaching in an animal lab with his friend

Angela won a community service grant to promote healthful eating and exercise in low-income children. When she was in Andover, she volunteered at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club to teach kids karate.  When she came back to San Francisco she started our blog with the intention of promoting healthy home cooking, starting from this household.  This grant will encourage her to continue her efforts.

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It is time to celebrate!  In my younger days, I never allowed myself to enjoy the little victories in life.  I felt that if I became pleased with myself, I would stop improving.  But now I can feel proud and rejoice in every achievement of my loved ones.  Life is worth celebrating.  Period.  Hence this delicious tart.  It is an easy to make grain-free, sugar-free tart that you won’t feel guilty after eating a slice or two. You don’t even need to own an oven to make it.  (For another excellent no bake cake, please check out Healthy Raspberry Cheesecake.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CRUST

1 1/4 cups raw almond meal or almond flour (or you can grind 1 1/2 cup of almonds)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

(You can add a little more coconut oil if the almond mixture feels too crumbly.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

6 tablespoon 100% cocoa powder

2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

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TOPPING:

Unsweetened coconut chips

Sliced almonds

Raspberries

PREPARATION:

In a mixing bowl, mix almond meal and shredded coconut with melted coconut oil and xylitol. Line a tart pan with food safe plastic wrap.  Using a rubber spatula, spread nut mixture into the bottom of the lined tart pan.  (The plastic wrap makes it easier to lift the tart out of the pan.)

In a small saucepan, mix the cocoa powder, xylitol, coconut flour and xanthan gum.  Pour coconut milk and vanilla into the saucepan.  Mix well.  Stir over low heat.  After the mixture thickens, turn off the stove and let rest for 1 minute. Pour chocolate filling into tart (or pie) shell. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 6 hours or overnight. (If you are in a hurry, you can leave the tart in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.)

When ready to serve, toast coconut chips in a small frying pan on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Allow the coconut to cool. Sprinkle coconut chips, sliced almonds on the tart. Decorate with raspberries. Slice and serve immediately.

NOTE:

Coconut oil becomes firm in the refrigerator due to its high melting point, which helps the crust on this tart solidify. It will remain solid below temperatures of 76°F.

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Recipe Inspired by:

siftandwhisk.com

Vegan Creamy Ginger Coconut Kale Zucchini Spaghetti

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I got up early today to try this “zoodle” recipe that Angela emailed me last night.  I packed it for Peter and Angela for lunch and I had a bowl of it before I went to the airport.  It was so delicious and so satisfying that I couldn’t believe it was also extremely healthy!  

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Ingredients:

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 15 ounce can lite coconut milk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

red pepper flakes, to taste

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 cups chopped kale

1/4 cup packed fresh basil

¼ cup raw cashews

6 medium zucchinis, Blade C, noodles trimmed

3/4 cup defrosted green peas (I used fresh peas from Trader Joe’s which take slightly longer to cook.)

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Preparation:

In a large pot over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once heated, add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.

Add in the coconut milk, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then add in the kale. Cover and cook until the greens have wilted, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the kale mixture to a high-speed blender and add in the basil and cashews. Blend until smooth and creamy and set aside.

Wipe down the pot and place back over medium heat. Add in the zucchini noodles and peas and toss for 3-4 minutes or until cooked to al dente or your preference. Once cooked, divide into bowls and top with green sauce. Serve immediately.

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The original recipe came from:

inspiralized.com