Monthly Archives: June 2018

Europe Day 1 : Geneva & Nyon

My passion for travel is equal to my love for food. I consider myself a traveler, not a tourist and over the years have made friends who live around the world which makes for more interesting travel experiences than simply visiting tourist sites and staying in hotel chains.  I love to spend time with locals and in local supermarkets wherever I go and try to learn any local languages enough to allow for simple conversations.

I have known my friend in Nyon for more than 25 years.  She relocated here post marriage.  Our kids have grown up worlds apart, only seeing each other a few times over the years, yet seem to mesh together as if they’ve been neighbors all their lives; not an easy feat with teenagers.

After arriving in Geneva, we spent our morning walking around downtown and the  lake, stopping for coffee and croissant, before heading to our friends’ home in Nyon.  The remaining meals were home cooked, delicious and shared over wonderful conversations and Swiss wines. We had cheese, cured beef, a salad of beautiful greens, bread and local cherries for lunch, went for a walk along Lake Geneva in the neighboring town of Rolle and then returned to a dinner of Thai spiced salmon, noodles and roasted vegetables.  Somehow, everything tastes better in Europe.  I’m not really sure why, perhaps it’s because I’m on vacation, but I truly believe it is more than just that.

Foodie Adventures – Europe

Come join me in a food adventure through Switzerland, France and Spain as I travel with my 16 year old son exploring the nooks and crannies of these regions focused largely on food and wine adventures with friends and strangers.

I will post a daily adventure starting tomorrow including food, any sites of note and photos to accompany.

Enjoy!!

Kimchi Fried Rice

My obsession with Kimchi Fried Rice began at the Departure Lounge in Portland, Oregon during one of my many business trips to that city.  I sat at the bar for one of my many dinners alone and started a conversation with the bartender around cocktails.  I explained that I don’t like cocktails that are too sweet or have too many different liquors in them and so he suggested the Tasho Macho which is made with chile infused vodka, thai basil, lime juice and a touch of simple syrup.  It was spicy and delicious! He then recommended that I try the kimchi fried rice since I liked spicy foods, and so I ordered it.  All I can say is I was addicted.  So much so that I would find some way to eat it at least once on nearly every trip to Portland, and there were many.

I no longer travel to Portland for work and miss so many things about the city, including this wonderful bowl of spicy goodness.  But while you can’t duplicate the people in your life, a plate of food is certainly something I can work with.  And so, I’ve been on a mission – to learn to make great kimchi fried rice.  My favorite so far is the Francis Lam recipe published in the  NY Times (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018097-kimchi-fried-rice) which has been a hit at several parties.

The below recipe I made up in my head yesterday while walking through Whole Foods trying to figure out what to make for dinner based on what I had at home and could make quickly.  I must say it came out quite delicious and I would definitely make it again.  Traditionally it is made with ham or spam but with tofu substitute, it’s a great option for vegetarians too.

Kimchi Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A great side or weekday dinner


Ingredients

  • 1/2 canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion – chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 2 Thai green chiles – finely chopped
  • 5 stalks fresh asparagus – trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/2 Cup grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 Cups extra firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Cup chopped kimchi
  • 2 Tbsp kimchi juice
  • 2 Cups cooked rice (I used basmati)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • Salt to taste
  • Black sesame seeds for garnich

Directions

Heat a large saute pan or wok on medium heat.  Add the oil.  Once the oil has heated thru (test by adding a small piece of onion – it should sizzle), add the onion, garlic and green chiles.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.  Then add the asparagus and carrots stirring to combine.  Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes stirring occasionally.  Then add the kimchi, kimchi juice and tofu.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes until heated through.  Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 3 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp tender.  Add the rice and turn up the heat to medium high.  Stir to combine and continue stirring for 4 – 5 minutes until rice is hot and has soaked up the flavors.  Add salt as needed (I didn’t add any) and stir.  Turn off heat, add lime juice and cilantro.  Serve in a bowl garnished with a sprig of cilantro and black sesame seeds.

Optionally you may add a fried egg on top and/or drizzle some sesame oil.   

What’s up with all the Quinoa?

Ever since the quinoa craze started several years ago, I’ve tried to learn to like this grain that is supposed to be healthy for me – low carbs, low glycemic index & high protein.  But try as I did, I just could not embrace the taste or the texture.  Believers would coax me into trying it this way or that way and try to convince me to try their own favorite versions, but my palate just wouldn’t budge.

As a general rule I try any food at least three times before I write it off since preparation, location and mood are factors in how one evaluates a dish.  Mostly I tend to eat almost anything and everything (even offal in small quantities) and encourage my son to do the same.  Quinoa I’ve tried many many times and still had issues with until recently.

A friend made a quinoa salad and brought it to my house for a lunch I was hosting.  It was the first time I ate quinoa and found it to be palatable, and I realized it was all about the proportion and balance of other ingredients she added which made the quinoa, not the star but more of a cast member in the salad.  This eliminated my textural issue with the grain.  She made a honey lime dressing for the salad and the acid from the lime had penetrated the quinoa enough to reduce the flavor issue.

So, while I liked and ate that salad, I still didn’t enjoy it enough to make quinoa and eat it regularly.  Until I experimented with this recipe one day and figured out that I had only ever eaten quinoa cold as a salad.  I’ve now discovered that it is so much better served hot and with lots of flavor. Now I make a batch of this nearly every week and eat it for lunch several times throughout the week.  Sometimes topped with a fried egg, or warm grilled chicken. At other times, just the way it is.  I don’t have a photo but the recipe is below.

But the war is not yet won.  The quinoa challenge will be truly won when I can get my son to love it too.  That will take many more battles!!!

Spicy Vegetarian Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Nutritious Weekday Lunch


Ingredients

  • 1 Cup white quinoa
  • 1 Cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 medium onion – chopped (I prefer red onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper – cut into large dice
  • 4 leaves Tuscan kale – chopped roughly
  • 2 carrots – cut into large dice
  • 1 or 2 dry red chiles (chile de arbol)
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Juice of 1 lime

Directions

Prepare the quinoa per package directions.  In a separate pot, boil 2 cups water with 1/2 tsp salt. Add edamame, return to a boil and allow to cook for 5 mins. Drain and set aside. Heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and red chile and cumin seeds.  When the seeds start to start to sizzle and turn darker, add the onion & garlic and stir for about a minute until onion is translucent.  Add the bell pepper, kale and carrots.  Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender.  Season with salt and add the edamame. Stir to combine.  Add the prepared quinoa and stir well.  Then add lime juice and cilantro and stir again to combine.  Enjoy warm.  If storing in fridge, be sure to warm up before serving.  Tastes really great for brunch with a fried or poached egg on top.

Tip: You can substitute almost any vegetables in this including spinach, asparagus, peas, etc.  I almost never make the same one twice.

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