Raw Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds, Apples, Avocado and an Orange Vinaigrette

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 4 servings

Salad:

3 large oranges

1 bunch curly kale, de-stemmed, leaves rolled up and sliced into thin strips (chiffonade)

¼ cup toasted, salted almonds, chopped roughly

¼ cup toasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

¼ cup toasted, salted sunflower seeds

½ cup dried cranberries

5 small carrots, peeled and chopped roughly

1 large apple, unpeeled, cored and diced small (preferably Pink Lady, Gala or Honeycrisp)

1 large Haas avocado, pitted and diced medium

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup fresh feta cheese, crumbled

Vinaigrette:

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced finely (3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (from the oranges)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Cut the peel and pith off the oranges, then segment them by cutting between the dividers. Discard any seeds, but reserve the juice for the vinaigrette.

In a medium container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the kale, nuts, seeds, cranberries, carrots, apple, avocado and orange segments to a large serving bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and additional orange juice as needed. Serve in bowls and top with some crumbled feta.

Chocolate Truffles Four Ways

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 40 truffles, 10 of each flavor

1 cup heavy whipping cream

12 ounces dark chocolate (containing 60% to 70% cocoa solids), chopped finely (preferably TCHO Chocolate)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/16 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

¼ teaspoon dark rum, almond oil, peppermint oil, and orange oil

½ cup each finely crushed hard mint candies, unsweetened shredded coconut, and finely chopped almonds, in separate bowls

¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Pour the cream into a medium saucepan and stir slowly over medium-low heat to just a simmer, being careful not to let it to boil.

2. Combine the chopped chocolate, butter, and salt in a large bowl. Remove the cream from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate mixture. Cover with plastic wrap.

3. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for 1 minute, then uncover and slowly stir with a spatula until fully incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.

4. Divide the melted chocolate evenly among 4 small bowls. Add the dark rum to the first bowl, the orange oil to the second, the almond oil to the third, and the peppermint oil to the fourth. Cover each bowl loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, approximately 1½ to 2 hours.

5. Using a melon baller, small ice cream scoop, or teaspoon, scoop the chilled chocolate into one-teaspoon portions. Quickly roll each portion of chocolate between the palms of your hands to achieve a somewhat round ball.

6. Gently roll each chocolate ball in one of the four separate bowls filled with the cocoa powder, mint candies, shredded coconut, and toasted almonds.

7. Transfer the coated truffles to a parchment paper-lined plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, approximately 30 minutes. Remove truffles from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.

Note: Enjoy a little heat with your chocolate? Try stirring in some cayenne with some melted chocolate. Whoa! Spicy.

Loaded Sweet Potato and Black Bean Nachos

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced medium

3 medium poblano peppers, deseeded, destemmed and diced medium*

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced medium

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, do not drain

½ cup water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 bag tortilla chips

Nacho toppings: shredded cheese, diced avocado, salsa, sour cream, chopped cilantro

*Note: I recommend using gloves when deseeding the poblano as it can be spicy

In a large pot, add the olive oil, onion, poblanos, sweet potato, salt and pepper. Place over medium high heat and cook, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, for 10 minutes to 12 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent and even lightly caramelized.

Add the garlic and spices and stir until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.

Add the can of black beans (including its liquid) and the water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. You will see bubbling, but it will be sputtering and sound almost dry!

Remove from heat. Stir in the lime juice.

Place tortilla chips in an even layer on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray.

Set an oven rack to the upper middle position and turn your oven to broil.

Sprinkle shredded cheese over the chips, ensuring each chip has cheese on it!

Place chips under the broiler until cheese is just melted. This will happen very fast! You may need to rotate your sheet tray halfway through. Total time could be around a 30 seconds to a minute depending on your broiler.

Remove sheet tray and dollop sweet potato and black bean mixture atop cheesy chips. Dollop over sour cream, avocado, salsa and cilantro.

Dive in! Repeat process with any leftover chips.

Tip: the sweet potato and black bean mixture also works well over rice, served with eggs, spooned into tacos, etc.

Braised Arctic Char with Sauteed Spinach and Ginger Garlic Caramel Sauce

Watch me make this on my YouTube channel!

Yield: 2 servings

Arctic Char and Ginger Garlic Caramel Sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon white miso

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced small (1/4 cup)

1½ tablespoons minced garlic

1½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

½ to 2/3 pound arctic char, cut into 2 equal sized pieces

1 scallion, thinly sliced on a bias

Optional: 2 portions of cooked rice or grain of choice for serving

Add the sugar to a 3-quart heavy bottom saucepan. Shake pan to distribute the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place over medium-low heat. Let cook until sugar is melted and a light caramel color is achieved. If you notice that one side of your pan is cooking faster than the other, rotate the pan for even cooking. If your caramel starts to smoke, that’s okay, you can pick the pan up off the heat and swirl the caramel around if some of the sugar is still in the process of melting. You can also lower the heat if it’s cooking too quickly in areas.

Carefully add the chicken stock (away from you), it will bubble up and may sputter and steam.

Next, add the white miso, oyster sauce, oil, shallot, garlic, ginger and black pepper.  Stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the caramel has gone into solution/dissolved. (You can also use a whisk, initially, to break up the miso.)

Adjust the heat to achieve a simmer.

Add the arctic char pieces, skin side up. Adjust heat to maintain and slow/lazy simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip char and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Turn off heat and transfer Arctic char to a plate. Remove skin if desired.

Set sauce aside. If the remaining sauce looks too thick (for spooning over final dish) thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

9 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed three times and dried

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 teaspoons), divided

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

While the Arctic Char is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over high heat until hot. Working quickly, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, swirl the pan to distribute the oil, then add ⅓ of the spinach followed by the 1/3 of the garlic, a pinch of salt and some pepper.

Using tongs, flip the spinach in the pan every few seconds to cook evenly, keeping the spinach from clumping together, so that the water can evaporate properly. This entire cooking process should take no more than one minute.

Transfer the spinach to a parchment-lined sheet pan, spread it out, then cook the remaining 2 portions of spinach in the same manner.

To serve, divide rice or grain (if using) among shallow bowls. Top with spinach and spoon over some reserved sauce. Place Arctic Char on the spinach and finish with a few sliced scallions.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 4 servings

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1¼ cups French green Puy lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones

1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed plus 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 medium dried bay leaf

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small

3 medium stalks celery, diced small

1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cored and diced small ­

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup unsweetened ketchup

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

¼ cup water

4 toasted hamburger buns

Add 3 cups of stock, lentils, bay leaf and the 1 crushed garlic clove to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer lentils for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat, drain lentils and discard bay leaf and crushed garlic clove.

In a medium saucepan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, celery, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the last tablespoon of olive oil, chopped garlic, chili powder and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute to cook off the raw flavor of the tomato paste.

Add the Dijon mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, vinegar, fire-roasted tomatoes and water in addition to the drained lentils. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until mixture has thickened to sloppy Joe consistency.

Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on burger buns.

Note: you might want to offer spoons for this recipe – it can get a little sloppy!

Spice Encrusted Chicken Thighs with Roasted Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Pomegranate Relish

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!
Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yields: 4 servings

Chicken:

1 teaspoon ground fennel

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic (grated on a Microplane)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add all the ingredients, except the chicken, to a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add the chicken thighs and mix well. Set aside.

Sweet potatoes:

2 pounds sweet potatoes (preferably garnet or jewel), peeled and diced into 1/3 to ½-inch cubes

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well to combine.

Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray. (Reserve the bowl i.e. do not clean it!)

Place the spiced chicken thighs in a single layer over the sweet potatoes.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the sheet tray after 15 minutes, until the chicken thighs reach 190 degrees internal temperature.

Remove sheet tray from the oven and transfer chicken thighs to a plate and transfer the cooked sweet potatoes to the reserved bowl. Lightly mash the potatoes with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pomegranate Relish:

2/3 cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup finely chopped roasted salted pecans

1/3 cup small diced shallot

1 teaspoon orange zest (zested on a Microplane)

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

While the chicken is cooking, add all ingredients to a small bowl. Mix to combine. Set aside.

To serve, place mashed sweet potatoes on a plate and top with a chicken thigh. Spoon over some pomegranate relish.

Boozy Apple Clafoutis

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

2 cups whole milk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

5 whole large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup Gran Marnier

1/3 cup white miso

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3 medium apples (1¼ pound) (any apple you like eating), peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Add milk and 2 tablespoons butter to a small saucepan set over low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to steam. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the flour and ¾ cup of the sugar to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, Gran Marnier and miso. Whisk until well combined. While whisking continuously, slowly stream in the warm milk mixture into the medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, ¼ cup of sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a large (12-inch) oven safe nonstick pan. Set over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, stir to combine with a rubber spatula. Distribute the apples atop the mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.

Immediately pour the batter from the medium mixing bowl over the apples. Do not stir.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The dish will soufflé and the edges should be lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan, undisturbed, for 10 minutes. It will deflate and the clafoutis will pull away from the edges.

After 10 minutes, place a large cutting board on top of the nonstick pan, then holding both the cutting board and pan, invert the clafoutis.

You can slice and serve while it’s still hot (it may be a bit messy, but it’s still delicious) or you can serve at room temperature. It will firm as it cools.

Serve as is (inverted) or if room temperature or chilled (aka easier to work with), you can flip the clafoutis to be apple side up.

Optional toppings: powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream

Spice Roasted Cauliflower with Coconut Rice and Thai Style Sauce

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 2 servings

Coconut Rice:

1 cup Jasmine Rice, rinsed until the water runs clear

¾ cup full fat coconut milk

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Rice Cooker Version:

Add rice, coconut milk, salt and 1 cup of water to a rice cooker. Cook on regular white rice setting. Fluff with a large fork before serving.

Stovetop Version:

Add rice, coconut milk, salt and ¾ cup water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a large fork before serving.

Thai Style Sauce:

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

7 large garlic cloves, peeled

30 large thai basil leaves

1 medium bunch fresh cilantro

1 thai chili

3 tablespoons minced lemongrass (remove outer layer of lemongrass to access the tender inner layers)

2 scallions, light and dark green parts only

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

5 ounces full fat coconut milk

Combine all ingredients except the coconut milk in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add coconut milk and blend until combined.

Cauliflower:

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into ½ -inch slices, lengthwise

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1½ teaspoon ground cumin

1½ teaspoon ground coriander

1½ kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup toasted, salted cashews

Add cauliflower to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle over the grapseed oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle over spices, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on an aluminum-lined sheet tray. Arrange an oven rack to the upper middle position and set the oven to broil. Wait until the heating element is hot and then place the sheet tray in the oven and broil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly charred. Flip cauliflower and continue broiling for an additional 4 minutes, or until charred.

To serve, add coconut rice to a bowl. Top with cauliflower and then a healthy drizzle of sauce and some cashews.

Level your dish up by adding a fried egg on top and a dash of your favorite hot sauce or chili oil.

Ras al Hanout Spiced Flank Steak Skewers with Couscous and Spicy Orange Citronette

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 4 servings

Flank Steak

1¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons garlic paste, cloves grated on a microplane

2 tablespoons ras al hanout

1½ teaspoon ground coriander

1½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1 pound flank steak, cut into ¼-inch slices against the grain

Neutral oil for cleaning the grill

Mix the salt, pepper, garlic, ras al hanout, coriander, cumin, brown sugar, olive oil and orange juice in a medium bowl until a paste is formed.

Add the steak and mix thoroughly to coat all the steak in the paste.

Thread steak on skewers, fitting approximately 2 pieces per skewer.

Turn your grill burners to high, to preheat your grill, for 15 minutes.

(Tip: while your grill is preheating, continue with the recipe)

After 15 minutes, clean the grill, then, using tongs, lightly dip a cloth in neutral oil and wipe to coat the grill rack.

Transfer skewers to the grill and cook, uncovered, over high heat, for 7  minutes, flipping the skewers once halfway through. Transfer skewers to an aluminum-lined sheet tray (for easy clean up) and tent with foil to keep warm until service.

Alternatively, you can cook skewers on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray under your broiler, for approximately 7 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

Orange Citronette

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon harissa spice paste

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.

Couscous

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large shallot, peeled and diced small

1½ cups couscous

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup roughly chopped dates

½ cup roughly chopped dried apricots

2/3 cup golden raisins

½ teaspoon orange zest

2 cups chicken stock

¼ cup roughly chopped mint leaves

¼ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves

2/3 cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup roughly chopped roasted, salted pistachios

Heat the butter in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter foams up, subsides, and begins to turn a light golden brown.

Add the shallot, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the couscous and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously, until the couscous is warm and thoroughly coated with the butter. Add the cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper, stir and cook for approximately 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the dried fruit and orange zest and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add the stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

To serve, drizzle half of the orange citronette over the couscous and then fluff the couscous with a large serving fork. Transfer couscous to a serving dish and top with the mint, parsley, pomegranate and pistachios. Top with the steak skewers and pass around the remaining citronette for people to drizzle over their serving.

Flank Steak Tacos with Roasted Pineapple and Cilantro Lime Sauce

Flank Steak Taco with Roasted Pineapple and Cilantro Lime Sauce

Yields: 10 tacos

Ingredients

Steak

1½ pound flank steak

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

Cilantro Lime Marinade/Sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 2 limes)

1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped roughly

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons worcestshire sauce

½ teaspoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon fish sauce

¼ cup grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pineapple:

1 3 to 4-pound pineapple, ends, outer rind and eyes removed, sliced lengthwise into 1/2–inch slabs

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Tacos

10 Corn tortillas

2 avocados, halved and pits removed

Handful of fresh cilantro leaves, for finishing

Pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Pierce, in rows, both sides of the steak with a fork.  Cut the steak into four equal-sized pieces, cutting with the grain. Season all pieces/sides with the salt and pepper. Place meat in a zip-top bag.

Combine marinade/sauce ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times during the processing.

Transfer 1/3 of the marinade into the zip-top bag containing the steak. Seal and massage bag so that the steak pieces are coated in the marinade/sauce. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the upper position. Turn the oven to broil.

Combine granulated sugar, cumin and salt in a small bowl and stir. Sprinkle mixture evenly over both sides of pineapple pieces.

Transfer pineapple pieces to aluminum-lined sheet tray and broil for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping once halfway, until lightly caramelized.

Remove steak from bag and wipe off excess marinade with a paper towel. Place a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add grapeseed oil and heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Lay steak in pan and cook on all sides until well caramelized. Use your digital thermometer to achieve the perfect medium-rare, 125 to no more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The total cooking time will be 7-9 minutes.

Remove steak from pan and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.

Cut cooked steak pieces in thin slices against the grain.

Heat corn tortillas directly over medium-low heat on your stove. Flip every 10 to 15 seconds with tongs to achieve a lightly toasted tortilla.

Assemble your tacos! Add steak, roasted pineapple, sliced avocado, cilantro leaves and a drizzle of the remaining cilantro lime sauce to your tortilla and enjoy.