Moroccan Chickpea & Turkey Stew

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Tiffanie Hsu is the writer director for Adeline, a film that Audrey will star in.  Tiffanie is a 27-year-old Harvard graduate.  In my girls’ eyes, the Harvard degree instantly gives her credibility and legitimacy.  Tiffanie came up from LA today to see Audrey and she assigned her to read the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Audrey dutifully purchased it on Amazon and began reading it as soon as Tiffanie left the house.  Perhaps I should ask Tiffanie to tell her to practice piano, or to do dishes. 

To give Audrey a crash course in acting, we watched Natalie Portman’s first film, The Professional.  Portman’s fierce raw talent simply incinerated the screen. Audrey loved the film so much that she wanted to watch it again tomorrow.  She seems to take this spring break acting gig quite seriously.

I wonder what life has in store for Audrey.  What will be her passion?  What will give her meaning, and in turn make her happy? 

Seeing how quickly my children grow up right in front of my eyes brings a twinge in my guts.  It’s frightening how time skates by so fast.  I can easily flash forward and see myself like my own mother waiting thousands of miles away for her wayward children to visit home.   

Audrey told me this morning that she was having a free weekend, meaning that she would allow herself to eat some meat.  I instantly began to cook this Moroccan Chickpea and Turkey Stew.  I found that a pot of stew is perfect for the weekend — you cook it on Saturday and it will last you till Monday.

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Moroccan Chickpea & Turkey Stew

Ingredients:

1.3 lb package 99% lean ground turkey

1/4 cup cooking wine

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, light

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tbsp poblano pepper, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

2 1/2 ripe tomatoes, diced

2 (15 oz) cans chick peas, drained

2 cups low sodium, 99% fat free chicken broth*

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp coarse salt

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup Bertolli Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic tomato sauce (optional)

2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley or spearmint, chopped

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Preparation:

Mix ground turkey with cooking wine.  Let sit in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes while you chop the vegetables.

Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil and over medium high heat cook ground turkey for 10-12 minutes.  Break up the ground meat and mix so meat cooks evenly; place in a soup pot.

Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet, add onions, tomatoes, pepper, carrots, and celery and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Transfer to the soup pot with chick peas, spices, broth and gently mix well.  Cover and bring to boil, then simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

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Adapted from: skinnytaste.com

Perfect Lunch with a Friend

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A friend of mine visited me today from the East Bay.  He is an artist and he also loves to cook.  We talked about how we both needed to make things with our hands or we’d go crazy.  When I feel antsy I reupholster my chairs. Or I cook.  When I was living in LA, my brother and I made most of our own furniture — dining table, bar stools, beds… That was how antsy we were.  Or perhaps that was how inspired and creative we felt.  I suppose sometimes feeling antsy is the precursor of creativity.  I remember being happy when we were making the furniture.  We were creating something while learning how to do it.  There was no deadline and no one judging us.  Even mistakes that we made became part of the beauty of our work.  I would get up in the morning with my eyes barely open and stumble to the table or the stool that we were making and begin hand sanding the wood before I was fully awake.  When my arms became tired, I would make my morning tea.  Not at all a bad way to start the day.  It’s a luxury and a therapy to invest wholeheartedly in building something one doesn’t need to sell.

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Chase and I designed and made this dining table together.

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My friend and I chatted as we prepared a very simple but absolutely delicious lunch together. 

Basil Minced Turkey in Lettuce Cup & in Rice Paper

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 green onion

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon cooking wine

1 tablespoon corn starch

10 oz lean ground turkey (you can also use minced chicken breast)

1 red chili pepper, seeded and minced (adjust according to how spicy you want the dish to be)

1/4 red sweet pepper chopped

1 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 big bunch Thai basil leaves, lower stems removed

2 – 4 lettuce cups

2 – 4 Vietnamese spring rolls skin (rice paper)

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Method:

Mix ground turkey with wine, soy sauce and corn starch. Let it marinade for 10 minutes.

Add the oil into a heated wok, follow by the chopped garlic and green onion. Sauté the garlic and green onion until aromatic, then add the ground turkey into the wok.

When the meat turns opaque, add the chili pepper, sweet pepper, hoisin sauce, vinegar and sugar. Stir to combine well. Toss in the basil leaves and do a few quick stirs until the basil leaves wilted and you smell the exotic fragrance of the basil leaves.  Mix in pine nuts before serving in lettuce cups or wrap in the rice paper.

Put a piece of dry rice paper or spring roll skin on a dinner plate or other clean flat surface, pour a small amount of boiling water over it to soften it before wrapping.