Cooking At Home: Toubouleh with Farro

Like I said, I'm really into farro right now and just to prove it to you I've made yet another dish at home that consists of farro, or to put it more precisely, farro was added to it. The back story to this dish is... for those of you who don't know I've recently had a baby, he is now 5 months old and I have decided to stop breastfeeding which has proven to be a lot harder than I imagined. There are many foods one can eat in order to increase breastmilk and there is also many foods one can eat to decrease breastmilk, parsley and mint just happens to be two herbs that decrease breastmilk, so I figure I'd make a boat load of toubouleh and... eat it all. The dish is refreshing to the palate and simple to make, a perfect side for kabobs or grilled fish.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6):
2 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
1 cup of farro (I used Trader Joe's 10 minute quick cooking farro)
1 bunch of parsley finely chopped
1 bunch of mint finely chopped
3 scallions chopped
1.5 -2 teaspoons of salt
pepper to taste
olive oil
1 cucumber seeded, quartered and then sliced (I used half a hot house cucumber)

Make 1 cup of farro as directed on the package. I used Trader Joe's 10 Minute Quick Cooking Farro. Once the farro is cooked, drain then toss with the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, as much or as little pepper as you'd like and the olive oil.

Add the parsley, mint, scallions and cucumbers and toss to together. Add more olive oil, salt and pepper if needed.

Allowing the dish to sit for a few hours in the refrigerator will allow the flavors to marry, it does make quite a difference.

Cutest Dishtowels EVER at Anthropologie

Found the cutest dishtowels in Anthropologie's home section. So cute you may find it hard to dirty them! Speaking of the perfect gift for the ultimate foodie!

Product Review: Trader Joe's 10 Minute Farro

As of late the Italian grain farro has been my new favorite thing, there's  just something about that chewy texture and nutty flavor that I can't get enough of. And of course  what do you know good 'ol Trader Joe just happens to stock it! And not just any farro but quick cooking 10 Minute farro, of course I haven't a clue how long it actually takes to cook the grain but I know as a new parent that quick anything is awesome in my book, except drive-thrus that is. 

The bag of farro holds roughly 2 cups of farro, that serves roughly 4 people quite well in my home- I think the small portion packaging is great as it means you can buy a couple of bags and just open one when you need it and leave the other for next time when you want it, meaning you get fresh farro everytime, plus the bags are uber cute.

The back of the packaging gives you directions on how to cook the farro three different ways, simmering, boiling and in a soup, and yes, they all roughly take about 10 minutes! I just recently tried preparing my farro by simmering via their directions, it turned out fantastic, although I have to say it has to be really hard to F-up farro.

Curious? And want to try it? My suggestion is go for it, chances are you're going to like the simplicity of the 10 Minute Farro. Try preparing the farro and then tossing it in pesto sauce with some sauteed diced veg as I did: Basil Pesto Farro with Zucchini, it's absolutely delish!

Cooking At Home: Basil Pesto Farro with Zucchini

It's ridiculous how little I've been keeping up with Tummy, lets just say and I'm sure all you new parents will understand, that having a baby can keep you quite busy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So yes, we've been ordering in a lot and cooking hell of a lot less I am sad to say. But, now my little guy is 4 months old and it's been getting easier to do normal things like cooking, not to say I've been doing it a lot, I just said easier. Last night Mr. Borscht came home just a little bit earlier from work than usual so that I could cook for a change- and a welcome change this is after ordering in for 4 months straight.

I decided to make something relatively simple but delicious and healthy, Basil Pesto Farro with Zucchini and steamed white fish < all of which I've never made before, so although it was pretty simple it was still pretty nerve-racking. I wanted my first home-made dinner to be at least good after all, but I will spare you the suspense and let you know now that it all turned out fantastic, had it not I'm not sure I'd waste my precious time posting about a dinner gone wrong.

Farro is one of my new favorite things right now, a chewy, nutty grain I just can't get enough of at the moment. I was able to find quick cooking farro at Trader Joe's, awesome! So let's begin, the dinner starts with white fish, quick cooking farro, basil pesto, and zuchinni.

Farro (roughly two cups) or 1 bag of Quick Cooking Farro (from Trader Joe's)

4 cups of vegetable broth to simmer the farro in (or you can use water as well but it will probably be less flavorable)

2 zucchinis  quartered lengthwise then sliced (I used 1 yellow and 1 green, but you can choose to your liking)

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (and a few smaller leaves for garnish if you'd like)

3 tablespoons of pine nuts

3 cloves of garlic

Olive oil

Salt + Pepper to taste

Pecorino Romano grated

Two filets of white fish

food processor

1. In a pan heat olive oil on med high heat then add the zucchinis. Lightly salt and pepper the zucchinis and stirring occasionally, cook the zucchinis until they are slightly browned and fully cooked. The zucchinis are done when the texture is soft with a bite. Take the zucchinis off the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Bring a pot with the vegetable broth and farro to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the farro and set aside.

3. Line your bamboo steamer (if you are using one) with parchment paper and steam the fish for 10 minutes or when done (the sharp end of a knife should go through the fish with ease). 

4. While you are steaming your fish, make your pesto by chopping the garlic in the food processor. Add the pine nuts, basil and two pinches of salt- process until finely chopped. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as the food processor runs until you have reached the consistency that you desire. I like mine a little runny so that it is easier to mix into the farro. Once you've reached the consistency that you like mix in the grated pecorino a little bit at a time until you have reached the taste and consistency you like. I only used 1 tablespoon.

5. Fold in the zucchini into the farro, then add the pesto to farro and zucchini and mix together carefully but thoroughly.

6. When your fish is done steaming, salt and pepper the fish and drizzle with olive oil. I know this seems plain but trust me, when you steam fish the flavor is fantastic and you really not do much to add flavor. Plus the simple taste of the fish with the pesto farro is a great pair.

Oatmeal & Homemade Fig Jam

Sometimes, well lately, it's the little things that make me happy such as Quick Cooking Rolled Oats topped with homemade fig jam. Yum.

Milkmakers Lactation Cookies

In my on-going hunt for the ultimate galactagogue I came across Milkmakers Lactaction Cookies, the secret ingredient: brewers yeast. I bought a trial pack of 10 yummy oatmeal raisin cookies for a hefty price of $20.00 + and have been eating two cookies a day. The second day I was able to see a significant increase in my milk supply. I am now pumping 5-6 ounces a day while before I was pumping 3 ounces a day at most, I think I've found my lactation muse! You can bet I will be purchasing more cookies from Milkmakers!

Yogi Woman's Nursing Support tea

Two months ago Mr. Borscht and I welcomed our first baby, a little boy we call Sasha. As you already know from the previous post regarding Saag Daal and lactation I am on the lookout to find pretty much anything (within reason, of course) that can help with increasing my milk supply.

While at Wholefoods' tea section today I saw this box of Yogi tea, 'Woman's Nursing Support' which is said to promote healthy milk supply. While I'm not too sure what they mean by "healthy", do they mean nutritious or healthy as in healthy supply? I figure it won't hurt to give it a try.

The ingredients in the tea are fennel, fenugreek, Anise, chamomile and lavender flower. The flavor of the tea is wonderful and relaxing but does it actually work? That is the question. The directions say to drink a cup in the morning upon waking and then 2 or 3 more cups throughout the day- that sure is a lot of tea but if this does work I won't mind at all drinking so much of it.

The box contained 16 packets of tea, I will tested the Yogi Woman's Nursing Support tea to see if there was any increase in my milk production by consuming the tea four times a day as suggested on the box, this is what I found.

On the third day I was able to pump 2 ounces more milk than usual and on the fourth day (the last day of tests) I was able to pump 5 ounces milk more than usual (but I also had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast as well- another breastmilk increasing food). In conclusion my milk supply did not drastically increase by drinking the tea alone but seemed to work best while consuming other breastmilk increasing foods such as oatmeal, dried apricots and Saag Daal. Will I continue to purchase Yogi's Woman's Nursing Support tea again? It's hard to say, for the single purpose of upping my breastmilk? Most likely not, however I do like to have a nightly cup of tea so why shouldn't I choose to drink something beneficial to my baby.

Saag Daal for the Lactating

Almost two months ago I gave birth, two weeks earlier than expected, to a beautiful 7.5LB baby boy. I am exclusively breastfeeding and this being my first experience as a mother I have come to learn many things, naturally, but there is one subject where I assumed would be rather simple but of course, it isn't. The subject is breastfeeding. The list of things one learns about breastfeeding when having a child is an endless list, an endless list I'm definitely not going to go through point by point as this is a food blog, but there is one thing that is food related which I would like to discuss.

For most mothers who opt to breastfeed the question of whether you are producing enough breastmilk for your baby is a question that is forever hanging in the air, well it was for me anyway. I was pretty sure I was producing enough breastmilk for my little baby but there are times when I am not too sure. Because of this question that had me doubting my breasts and whether they were fulfilling their part in my role as a mother I decided to do a little bit of research (via web) on foods to stay away from and foods to eat in abundance to up my milk production just a little bit. Many of these sites make you wonder whether the foods actually work to help increase milk production as 99% of them are unfounded untested.

Brewers yeast is one ingredient that came up very often, I even looked up a recipe for lactation cookies that included brewers yeast, many of the reviews from this site regarding the brewers yeast came out positive. And while I will try to make the lactation cookies sometime soon (and will post on it for sure) this is not the ingredient I am posting about today. Moving on, on a list of GOOD EATS for lactating women was spinach. And the other night Mr. Borscht and I just happened to be sitting down to indian takeout where I decided to order Saag Daal, a spinach puree with yellow lentils, very flavorful and packed with spinach. Needless to say, my breastmilk production has increased, unless by some coincidence it just so happened on its own around the same time. While my baby had recently been sitting down to breastfeed only to be somewhat squirmish and frustrated (which led me to believe I was not producing enough or perhaps my flow was simply to slow) but after having eaten the Saag Daal he was gulping away, not even being able to drain both breasts before falling back full and happy.

Couple of other foods I have been munching on that is said to promote breastmilk production:
Dried apricots
Dried figs

Mommy-mode alert!

On June 25th, 2013 a 7.5 lb healthy baby boy was born.
I shall be back shortly to post regularly, 
but for now I'm in Mommy mode.

Special Juice at Joan's on Third

Ended up brunching it up at Joan's on Third today and decided to try the eight dollar Kale, Spinach, Apple, Cucumber and Parsley juice- I like to call it the Special Juice. Shook it up and drank the whole thing, tasted mostly of cucumber and apple juice, not too much of a delicious drink but still an interesting experience and so not worth the eight dollars though I'm sure it's loaded with vitamins and things, but you can probably make this at home with a juicer for a lot less.

Joan's On 3rd

Stepping into the unknown and taking a risk are two things that I love about trying out a new restaurant. Sure, most of them end up being experiences that have me saying "well, at least I know not to go there again" but that's all part of the experience, the process, isn't it? And it really is all these "well, at least I know not to go there again" moments that make me truly appreciate the times when I do find a restaurant worth going back to, over and over and over again. Jone's On 3rd just happens to be one of those awesome experiences that have me keep going back for more, that have me thinking 'I really should try everything on the menu, I bet it's all fantaaaastic!'  It's a restaurant that makes you want to share it with your friends and family, which is exactly what I have been doing.

Pressed Chicken, Bacon & Brie with caramelized onions on French baguette

Thus far I have two favorites on the menu, the Pressed Chicken, Bacon & Brie Panini (pictured above) and the Southwest Salad (pictured below).

The Pressed Chicken, Bacon & Brie Panini is a sandwich consisting of bread that has a crunchy outer layer and a soft inner layer. Pressed between is grilled chicken, crunchy salty bacon, melted mild brie and sweet caramelized onions. The ingredients are simple, the texture is perfect, the sandwich comes out the same every single time: absolutely delicious. It has my 100% recommendation for those yearning for a hot sandwich.

The Southwest Salad is a flavorful and somewhat exotic salad. It hits a note of comfort because we've all had some version of the Southwestern salad before, but Jone's version of the Southwest salad is by far the best you will probably ever have (that's how I feel anyway). Is it the tangy and slightly spicy cilantro dressing? Maybe. Medium shredded cabbage tossed with all the other vegetables just the right size keeps you from getting aggravated in terms of eating strategy, you can either stab it or scoop it with your fork- it makes for easy eating which means you can concentrate on enjoying the flavors. And all together the ingredients make for a very exciting yet not too over-powering experience, it is... just right. It has my 100% recommendation for salad lovers.

Southwest Salad with jicama, curried chick peas, red peppers, tomatoes, roasted corn, avocado, tortilla strips and spicy cilantro dressing

The Damage:  $31.00 +/-

Southwest Salad
Pressed chicken, bacon & brie sandwich
Black iced tea

8350 W. 3rd Street

Cooking At Home: Buttered Boiled Potatoes with Dill

I've tried to make boiled potatoes a number of times. While potatoes are almost always good, even when completely screwed up, the boiled potatoes I was hoping to make never came out the way I imagined. Why was it that the potatoes weren't buttery delicious? Perhaps because I wasn't using butter! Yes, when endeavoring to make the boiled potatoes that I was so hoping would be buttery delicious with specks of dill that would lend that subtle dilly flavor the potatoes just weren't buttery delicious, and it just so happens.... you need butter for it.

Being 7 1/2 months pregnant means a lot of things and one of that is slacking in your gluten-free, "I'm going to try to eat healthier" diet. And so one night I boiled small yellow-skinned potatoes, the waxy sort and tossed it with butter (instead of the usual olive oil), dill, salt and pepper. And to my surprise it was exactly what I had been trying to make all along! Fancy that.

1 lb. dutch yellow potatoes
2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon of peppercorn
2 dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic halved cross-wise
Dried dill to taste or fresh dill if you have any

1. In a pot add the potatoes, peppercorn, bay leaves, garlic and top with water 1" above the potatoes. Sprinkle in a 3/4 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a boil turn it down to a simmer, and allow the pot to simmer for about 5-8 minutes. Check to see whether the potatoes are done by poking with a knife, the knife should be able to slide into the middle of the potato with ease.

2. Drain the pot in a colander. Bay leaves, garlic and peppercorn can be tossed.

3. Cut the potatoes into quarters or halves depending on how large they are.

4. In a large bowl add the cut potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, dried dill to your liking (my husband loves dill, so I always put alot), and 2 tablespoons of butter. Toss all together until everything is thoroughly tossed, butter is melted and all the potatoes are coated with butter. 

5. Taste test and add whatever ingredients (butter, dill, salt or pepper) needs to be further added in.

East India Grill

When I was living in Santa Barbara there were no less than three great Indian restaurants to dine at, all of them which also had lunch buffets. I would find myself eating out at Indian restaurants quite often, an average of about once every two weeks, Indian cuisine can be quite comforting and full-flavored. So when I came back to live in Los Angeles a couple of years ago I was a bit disappointed in the lack of Indian restaurants, no- to be more specific, I was disappointed not in the lack of Indian restaurants but in the lack of good Indian restaurants. I tried a couple of different places only to find that the Indian food was either too bland, too oily or simply made with less-than-fresh ingredients. In such a city as Los Angeles I am surprised to find that there are virtually no worthy Indian restaurants to dine at!

And then, last Saturday, armed with a gift certificate to East India Grill Mr. Borscht and I made our way to the restaurant. I was of course ever-so excited even knowing how my hopes have been dashed many times before, but I am at the core an optimist and also find trying new restaurants a rather pleasing and exhilarating pass-time.

The restaurant has parking in the rear although we did not know this at the time and parked along the street. The restaurant is small-ish, covered outdoor seating as well as indoor seating is available. Clean with an open kitchen the restaurant is not fancy yet comfortable and casual. There is an Indian man that cooks behind the counter, he stirs a great big vat with a long stirring stick and an Indian man waits on us. We pick a table outside, through the glass window that separates inside from outside I see a young Indian couple eating lunch, there is a spark of hope.

We begin with an order of samosa, one order consists of two samosas. Triangular stuffed breads that contains peas, potatoes and a whole lot of flavor! The samosas are absolutely delicious, I eye all the bits of herbs and spices and realize that not only are the samosas delicious but they are the perfect consistency, slightly crunchy on the outside while the potatoes on the inside have a soft moist texture, not at all clumpy like other samosas I've had. Can this really be the best samosa I've ever had?... I think so. But I stop myself from getting too excited too soon about this new Indian restaurant, afterall, how hard can it be to make samosas.

I opt for the Chicken Vindaloo lunch special. The lunch special comes with not only chicken vindaloo and rice, but also a small side of potato and pea curry and a small side of shredded cabbage salad drizzled with Italian dressing.

Everything was spectacular, my heart beat wildly as I finally come to the realization that this is the Indian restaurant I've been looking for since I've moved back home. The curries are flavorful, delicious, the textures perfect, the portions more than fair, the price? Awesome. 

I was especially pleased with the chicken in the vindaloo which was not dry but perfectly moist, there is possibly nothing that I hate more than dry meat in the world of gastronomy. 

And to sop up all the curry goodness we ordered two orders of garlic naan, although I believe that one order would have sufficed, a single portion of naan is rather large.

And even though by the end of the meal I sat there stuffed I just had to have a taste of there Gulab Jamun dessert. The sweet bread balls sprinkled with shaved almonds in sweet syrup are rather small, but they are sweet and of course, delicious like all else we had.

Thank you East India Grill!

And thus I say after my pleasing PLEASING experience at East India Grill, if you are still on the look out for a favorite Indian cuisine spot try this little spot. For now, this is the only place I'll go for my Indian fill.

Total Damage: $ 40.00 +/-

2 orders of garlic naan
1 order of Gulab Jamun
2 lunch specials
1 Fisher King beer
1 order of samosa

345 N. La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 936.8844

Granola in da house! @ Blu Jam Cafe

This morning I found myself sitting at Blu Jam Cafe on Melrose alone, and in actuality was looking forward and was a little bit too excited about having breakfast out by myself. It is one of those situations that rarely happen and so absolutely love the solitude of it when it does occur, alone time... at breakfast... *sigh.

And on my list of agendas, to have a really great bowl of granola- this has been my craving for the past week and I had yet to fulfill it, so this morning was the day it was going to happen! I hadn't had granola at Blu Jam Cafe before but I have seen it ordered a couple of times by strangers sitting at the next table- it looked... alluring, whole-hardy, satisfying, interesting... and delicious- which actually is saying a lot especially since... when have you ever had granola that was delicious?

I ate the whole thing!

The House Made Vegan Organic Granola consisted of a large bowl of oven baked oats, steel cut oats, bran oats, shaved coconut, shaved almonds, raisins, dried cranberries, flax seeds and maple syrup to sweeten it all up (but it wasn't overly sweet mind you... it was perfectly sweet). Having the choice of milk, soy milk, almond milk or vanilla yogurt I decided upon almond milk which came on the side. The granola was absolutely beautiful, the waiter (who was equally beautifully) set the large bowl of granola down before me and I can feel my eyes continuously widen until I felt like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head, the little white strips of shaved coconut, ruby reds of the dried cranberries and deep purples of the raisins speckled the golden brown oats. The freshness of the milk with the variety of flavors that were perfectly matched for each other resulted in a hardy and delicious granola breakfast that was not too sweet nor too bland with the perfect crunch. Delicious!

Blu Jam Cafe
7371 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 951.9191

Flemish-inspired kitchen

Photo by Architectural Digest

An image of a Flemish-inspired kitchen! This is definitely bordering on the extravagant for me but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the beauty of it. I especially like the checkered countertop and of course, the stove.

Vegan Spelt Bread by Rudi's Organic Bakery

A bread that is soy free, dairy free, organic! Vegan! and Non-GMO! - the first thing that comes to mind are loafs of really dense, dry, bland bread, but even so I'm always up for trying something new- one of my more amiable qualities of life. It just so happens that with this first pregnancy (I am now 6 months into it) I have been eating quite a bit of bread, so much so that my doctor has asked me to forego wheat bread and white bread for better bread such as whole grains, Wasa crackers or even spelt (which is said to be better for digestion). So I came home from Wholefoods one day with a loaf of Spelt bread by Rudi's Organic Bakery (this is the brand). I can't say that the bread itself looked all that appetizing although just by handling the bag I was able to feel that the bread was soft oppose to completely dense like other healthy breads I've picked up in the past (which by the way had turned me off to healthy bread choices).

I put a couple of slices into the toaster oven. Slightly toasted I spread organic vegan butter and took a bite. Boy was I surprised by the moist and deliciousness of the vegan spelt bread! It isn't only absolutely great for a healthy bread choice but also absolutely great amongst all other breads I've had before. The first bag was shared amongst a few guests that I had over for the weekend, they all loved it. Many described the chewy moist texture of the inside and the crunchy toasted outside as perfect, I have to agree with this. Needless to say, after only 3 days I'm going back to Wholefoods for another bag.

Cooking At Home: Sauteed Garlic Thyme Chicken Liver

My first experience with liver was when I was about 7 years old and my Mom thought it would be good for my health to eat raw liver, she fed me raw liver doused in sesame oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The good girl that I was I ate the damn thing and even told her it was delicious, of course it was absolutely horrible. I'm not a picky eater by any means and can eat most things... except liver. This is not to say that I haven't tried a bite of cooked liver which I seem to always decide yet again and again that I do not like. Husband Borscht on the other hand loves chicken liver and if it's on the menu he's more than willing to try it, forever chasing his grandmother's sauteed chicken liver Husband Borscht is quite by accident and unbeknown to even him, on the hunt.

Standing in the meat department of Whole Foods I eye the gross looking chicken liver behind the glass. It would be nice if I could make chicken liver for Husband Borscht at home, I think he would like that very much indeed, and so I buy a pound of chicken liver.

I read through seven different chicken liver recipes and even open up all the cookbooks on my shelf for chicken liver recipes. I've never made chicken liver before and the only thing I know about it is that it cooks rather fast. I find not one recipe that I like, that sounds delicious... But I have gathered the general knowledge of how sauteed chicken livers go, and it goes something like this, butter or olive oil, onions, sometimes balsamic vinegar, sometimes red wine, chopped parsley is in most chicken liver recipes I've read thus far... hmmmmm. I'm beginning to understand how to cook chicken liver. Chicken liver cooks rather fast so browning the onions happens first, sometimes the recipe asks you to add the chicken liver later on and cook the liver with the onions, other times it says to remove the onions and to cook the chicken liver separately, hmmm - slowly I'm getting it.

So here goes! I rinse and pat dry the chicken liver and decide to saute the onions first with a pat of butter until their nicely browned. I opt to remove the onions from the pan and set aside while I saute the chicken liver in a pat of butter on the same pan, in all it takes about 5-6 minutes to cook the livers through so that they are slightly pink on the inside but well done on the outside, in the last couple minutes I throw in minced garlic, salt, pepper, fresh thyme and the sauteed onions- I give all of this a good toss up in the pan, add another pat of butter for a nice glisten and more moisture... and I'm done.
I taste... and.... I actually think I like this chicken liver! The garlic, sauteed onions and thyme are all wonderful flavors, most importantly, flavors that I enjoy. The usual strong iron-like taste of the liver is well-masked although not completely by the wonderful flavors. Unfortunately however, Husband Borscht was less than pleased with my endeavor to try and cook chicken liver, he was looking forward to his grandmother's chicken liver and this just didn't cut it, I ate most of it that night and really did think it was quite delicious.

If you're interested in trying this Sauteed Garlic Thyme Chicken Liver recipe here it is, I hope you enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS (for 3-4 persons):
1 lb. of chicken liver, rinsed, pat-dried and cut into bite size pieces
3 pats of butter
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 small-medium red onion or sweet yellow onion, in medium length slices
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, leaves picked
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet. On med-low heat melt 1 pat of butter, when the butter is completely melted add your onions and slowly saute the onions until they are browned to your liking. I like my onions sauteed until they are practically caramelized.

2. Remove the onions from the pan. Turn up the heat to med-high and melt 1 pat of butter in the same pan, when the butter is completely melted add your chicken liver. Make sure that you're chicken liver is not crowded and is lying in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow the chicken liver to cook for 5-6 minutes (this will result in a slightly pink middle), toss around with a wooden spoon occasionally so that all sides of the chicken liver brown and cook.

3. When you have 2 minutes remaining add your minced garlic, thyme leaves and your sauteed onions back into the pan. Give all the ingredients a good mix. Turn off the heat and add your last pat of butter, give it all a good toss (the last pat of butter will give a nice glisten and moisturizing coat to your chicken liver).

Color-coordinated cookbooks! How about that!

Kitchen of Mark Badgley and James Mischka

Absolutely love the color-coordinated cookbooks on the shelves! Granted not many of us have a large enough kitchen to simple accomodate that many cookbooks in the kitchen, but one can dream... and of course get ideas! Such an inspiring image!

Red Apple Cheese, Pepper Jack V.S. Trader Joe's, Pepper Jack

I've always loved cheese but during this time of pregnancy (6 months along now) I just can't get enough cheese! Digging in my refrigerator drawer to get to that last gouda babybel wrapped in the fun waxy casing is my past time these days. Serving a spread of maytag blue cheese, brie, crackers and fig jam has become a favorite starter for guests, but most of all for me. A slice of havarti cheese in my lunch sandwich has been my choice of sandwich cheese for the past two weeks... And snacking on pepper jack infront of the television is another thing I've been doing a lot of. Like I said, I can't get enough cheese.

When the cheese eating first began I was shopping at Trader Joe's and decided on a pack of Trader Joe's Sliced Pepper Jack Cheese. I went home that night and took a couple bites out of a slice and had to leave it for Husband Borscht to finish. Why was this pepper jack so waxy and thick? Shouldn't cheese be soft, moist and smooth? The next day finding myself at Wholefoods I came across the cheese section and saw a pack of sliced pepper jack cheese by Red Apple Cheese, this pepper jack looked different, tastier somehow, more real- I bought the pack of sliced cheese, took it home, tore it open and ate a slice. Oh my gosh, the Red Apple sliced pepper jack cheese was infinite times better. The cheese was soft, moist, NOT WAXY in the least bit, and tasted the way I would imagine a block of pepper jack cheese would taste like. Needless to say, it has become my new favorite sliced pepper jack cheese. And even better, it's better for you too!

If you find that the pack of Trader Joe's sliced pepper jack or other isn't quite doing it for you, give the Pepper Jack Cheese from Red Apple Farm (available at Wholefoods) a try, you just may find your craving for that pepper jack cheese taste fulfilled.

Did You Know that ripping basil with your fingers will keep the torn edges from turning black?

Who needs nice neat strips anyway, especially when all they do is turn black at the cut ends from being oxidized, which is exactly what happens when that knife cuts into your beautiful basil herb, and when something as beautifully green as basil goes black at the ends it can really ruin the look of a dish. Thus tearing or ripping basil apart with your hands is much better and in my opinion less work than wielding that knife to cut your basil in strips. To keep it green tear it up... with your hands!

Cooking At Home: Savory Roasted Whole Carrots

Carrots never made much of an impression and if it wasn't for the fact that they're loaded with vitamins that are good for your eyes I don't think I would purposely choose to eat them. Their flavor is neither here nor there and overall, seems to me at least, to be a rather boring vegetable.

I came across rainbow carrots for the first time at the Farmer's Market and thought they were awfully beautiful and different to look at compared to the regular orange ones, but still carrots are carrots, the taste of the purple, red and yellow carrots wasn't so very different to strike in me a new-found love of carrots, this only occurred after I tried a splendid recipe by Jamie Oliver which featured roasted carrots. 

The carrots are roasted with crushed whole garlic cloves, a bunch of fresh thyme sprigs, salt, pepper, olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. The whole lot is tossed together, spread out on a sheet pan tightly covered with foil and baked in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. And what you come out with is the most delicious savory carrots you'll ever bite into. The roasting deepens the natural sweet flavor of the carrots while the garlic and thyme lightly infuse them and the red wine vinegar lends an ever-so-slight zing that contrasts perfectly with the salt. This way of cooking carrots is simple and hassle-free, and the only bad thing about it is that you'll probably never go back to eating steamed carrots, ever again.

1 batch of small rainbow carrots, about 8 spears (you can use regular sized rainbow carrots as well but I found that the taste is much more intense and flavorful with the smaller carrots)

1-2 glugs of olive oil

1-2 Splashes of red wine vinegar

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Pinch of salt & pepper, to taste

4 crushed whole garlic cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Scrub the carrots clean and trim the tops off the carrots (I leave an inch or so of stem on them, these turn nice and crispy when cooked but feel more than welcome to trim them all off, it won't make your carrots taste any different in the end). Larger carrots can be halved length-wise as well as cross-wise, while smaller carrots can simply be halved length-wise.

3. Lay the carrots out on the baking sheet pan. Add the crushed whole garlic cloves, sprigs of thyme, olive oil (enough to coat all the carrots), red wine vinegar (I like a couple of splashes because I love the zing), salt and pepper (to taste, a generous pinch of each should do the trick). Toss all the ingredients together with your hands, I find that all the ingredients get mixed together more thoroughly if I use my hands to toss them together.

4. Lay everything out on the sheet pan in a single layer (a single layer is one of the secrets to proper and delicious roasting, if the carrots are laying on top of each other they will not caramelize and brown, instead they will steam). Cover the sheet pan tightly with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes (if using larger carrots bake for 35-40 minutes, smaller carrots will need 30-35 minutes of baking time).

5. Once the baking time is up (30-40 minutes), take off the foil, toss the carrots and stick it back in the oven for another 8-10 minutes to brown further. If you find that your carrots are browned to perfection before the 8-10 minutes are up then of course, feel free to take them out!

The result will be a beautiful batch of caramelized, sweet roasted carrots with essence of garlic and thyme! The carrots will be charred and crispy on outer edges but soft all the way through, savory delicious!

Esalen Cookbook: Healthy and Organic Recipes from Big Sur, by Charlie Cascio

I often go to Big Sur to retreat for a long weekend and I can say from experience, that for me, there is no other place quite like it. Off the winding 1 on the coast, hidden on the top of the hills amongst redwoods is a place where one can get away from the sounds, smells, disturbances of city life. It's a place where one can hear thoughts, hike, be calm, nap, to truly relax. Also located in Big Sur is a place called Esalen and this is where the Esalen Cookbook by Charlie Cascio was made. A cookbook filled with recipes for healthy and organic delicious food.

For me, the Esalen Cookbook is the first cookbook I've come across that featured healthy organic food that was absolutely delicious, enticing, interesting and simple to make! For this reason I'm in love with the Esalen Cookbook. Before the Esalen Cookbook I had the preconception that healthy food was all about plain yogurts, granolas, raw foods and etc (you get my point), it was all boring all very uninteresting. But this cookbook allowed me to accept the fact that there are numerous amounts of delicious, easy-to-make foods that are interesting in flavor and are healthy- it has been a real eye-opener, a real adventure! 

The back cover says

A few recipe favorites from this book are pictured below...

Apricot Nut Bread

Marion's Living Muesli

Greek Quiche


You may look at some of these pictures and think 'that's not healthy at all?!' All the recipes use organic ingredients and some are made in ways that are healthy though they may appear not to be, for example the Panforte (which I've made 5x now) contains no sugar or butter! And, of course, it's absolutely delicious! Another feature of the book that I really appreciate are the now-and-again seen side notes on how to create vegan or vegetarian versions of the dish.

A part of healthy eating, as explained in the book, is cooking the food with love and care, a completely different and unique aspect of cooking we don't often get and see in most places, including cookbooks, cooking shows or even at home.

If you love the idea of healthy food, if you love nurturing your body and your family's with healthy organic food, if you love exotic foods, foods that make you go hmmm... then this is the perfect cookbook.

Still not sure, try one, or better yet both recipes listed below for two of my favorite recipes from the Esalen Cookbook, maybe it will help you to decide.


2 tablespoons veg oil
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 lg yellow onions, cut in 1/2-inch half moons
2 lg red bell peppers, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 large green bell peppers, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 1/3 tablespoons sea salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup water

1. Add the oil and meat to a preheated heavy-bottomed 6-quart saucepan or cast-iron Dutch oven. Brown the meat on all sides over high heat.

2. Add the onions and lower the heat to medium. Cook the meat and onions for 1/2 hour or until the onions have fully caramelized.

3. Add the bell peppers, tomato paste, paprika, salt, bay leaves, pepper, and water. Raise the heat and bring the goulash to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Allow the goulash to simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is soft and tender.

*Goulash is best served over creamy polenta.
*Add 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary just before serving.


1 lg butternut squash
2 tablespoons veg oil
1 med-size onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons curry powder
3 cups coconut milk
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
   sunflower seeds for garnish (optional)

1. Roast butternut squash on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 1 hour. Squash will be done when a knife can be inserted into the squash with no resistance (like butter).

2. Split the squash in half and scoop out the seeds which can be discarded at this point. Scoop out the pulp and set aside.

3. Place oil in a 6-quart soup pot over high heat and saute onion until translucent (about 5 min).

4. Add celery and curry powder and saute until the celery is tender.

5. Turn the heat down to medium and add the butternut pulp, coconut milk, salt and stock or water to the sauted veg. Blend with a hand mixer or whisk by hand until it is smooth in consistency. Heat until soup is hot, and cilantro and sunflower seeds (if you are using them) and serve.

Did you know there's a simple trick to making crunchy outer-layered muffins?

I made my first batch of breakfast muffins this past weekend, unfortunately as you already know I'm not much of a baker and thus it didn't quite make it on to the list of posts to do for The Adventures of Tummy- they all can't be winners, right? However, I did learn one very interesting thing while making a batch of muffins, the trick to creating a slightly crunchy outer layer on the muffins, a very important trick if you're a muffin kind of person and it's soooo easy to do too!

The secret is... Add the sugar in at the last minute. For example, the muffin recipe I tried out this past weekend called for flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, milk, butter and three types of berries. All the dry ingredients ingredients (minus the sugar) are sifted and mixed together. All the wet ingredients are mixed together. The the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients are mixed together. Lastly, the berries and sugar are added to the mix and stirred carefully until just combined.

I'm no baker so don't really have a clue about the science behind all this but adding the sugar into the mix with the solid ingredients (be it bananas, berries or whatever) does make for a slightly crunchy outer-layer on the muffins that is oh-so pleasing texturally.

Cooking At Home: The trick to making a delicious chicken salad customized to your taste

When I came to the realization that all I needed were my taste buds to make any kind of delicious wet salad I literally saw a light bulb go on in my head. I was excited and truly happy as if I had graduated to the next step towards becoming a really good cook, I realized all I needed aside from the chicken to make a great-tasting chicken salad were the basic ingredients: mayo, mustard, salt and pepper, onions (optional). All other ingredients such as carrots, celery and so on were merely add-ins, and these "add-ins" could change depending on what you like in your salad, depending on what you had in your refrigerator to spare or needed to use up.

Thus the greatest chicken salad recipe is your own and it always, ALWAYS, begins with a home roasted chicken. I've tried making chicken salad with the pre-roasted and pre-diced chicken from Trader Joe's and it just isn't the same which is why the best time to make chicken salad is when you have chicken leftovers from a chicken dinner that was cooked at home.

Begin by shredding or dicing the chicken into bite-size pieces, you will need to clean the chicken of any skin. It helps to just give-in to the fact that your hands will be getting dirty and greasy, once you've accepted this fact it'll make things a lot more fun.

I started off with a day old home-cooked over-roasted chicken. I really only enjoying eating dark meat and so I always have the majority of the body leftover whenever I roast chicken, I found that making a chicken salad out of it is the perfect way for me to eat the white meat, nothing goes to waste and you can have delicious chicken salad for a day or two- that's like, three to five meals from one chicken! What a deal!

Once the chicken is shredded or diced up and put into a large mixing bowl the fun part begins. Rummaging through the refrigerator! I always begin by taking out the basics: mayo, whole grain mustard (or other mustard of your choice), salt, pepper. I love a bit of bite from an onion and it just so happens that I have a shallot left over from way back when. Mr. Borscht loves carrot, I love celery and apples, we both loves capers! All these ingredients will be tossed together into the salad. After mixing it up thoroughly take time to do a taste test, very important step, add a bit more mayo, mustard or salt if needed. And always add a little bit at a time, when in doubt add just a little bit, it's easy enough to add more, taking it out on the other hand? Much harder to do.

My secret ingredient to my chicken salad is... DILL. Fresh dill is best but if none is to be had dried dill does the trick too. I always add loads of dill into my salad, it's one of Mr. Borscht's favorite things and I know anything with dill just makes it that much better for him. Mix the herbage in last, especially if it's fresh, this will keep it from getting too smashed and torn during all the mixing.

So get creative with your customized chicken recipe but remember to...
USE home-cooked roasted chicken.
BEGIN with the basic must-have ingredients: mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and onion (optional).
PICK your add-ins based on what you desire: carrots? Celery? Herbage? Cucumber? Capers? Pickles?... etc.
A LITTLE BIT AT A TIME is how you should begin figuring out your ingredient amounts, this especially applies to the mayo, mustard and salt.

My Chicken Salad Recipe

Ingredients (for 4-5 servings):
Body (no legs or wings) of 1 home-cooked oven roasted chicken (a chicken that was about 5lbs to start), in bite-sized bits

1/2 - 1 cup of mayo

1/4 - 1/2 cup of whole grain mustard

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 stick of celery, small diced

1 large carrot, shredded

1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of capers

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 a small green apple, diced

2-3 tablespoons of dried dill

Put the chicken into a large mixing bowl with all other ingredients except the dill. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly with a spatula.

Taste test and add more mayo, mustard, salt or pepper if needed. If adding a little bit more, mix again thoroughly. Do another taste test to make sure you get it right. Keep repeating the taste test process until the chicken salad comes to your desired taste.

Lastly, add in the dill and mix again.

Serve immediately or wrap the chicken salad up tightly with plastic wrap and allow the flavors to meld and marry in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Veggie Grill's All Hail Kale Salad & Cauliflower Mash

Pregnant and craving kale! Who knew the day would come when I would be pregnant and craving kale amongst all things?! All I know is, this baby's already a health nut, I suppose I should be happy about this. Unfortunately, kale is still a pretty new vegetable to me and I haven't really a clue on how to cook these delicious leafy but tough greens. The only thing I've really had that included kale was baked kale chips that my sister made a few times, and a bite of kale salad from a friends plate that one other time long ago. Apparently that one bite of kale salad I had off a friend's plate that one time long ago stuck, because that's all I've been thinking about since a couple of days ago, and so... as all pregnant ladies do, I went to fulfill my craving.

Veggie Grill, the All Hail Kale salad includes not only kale but red cabbage, candied walnuts, shredded carrots, diced onions, diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of corn and bits of quinoa. Dressing? A mango dressing that sweetens it all up quite nicely. "ALL HAIL KALE!" That's really what I wanted to yell out at the top of my lungs while I sat down alone at a table for two scarfing down the deliciously fresh kale salad that would surprise any new-kale eaters, fortunately for me I'm pregnant, not insane.

I ordered the lunch portion of the All Hail Kale salad (opposed to the entree portion which is a larger plate) and also ordered the cauliflower-mash on the side. "Cauliflower-mash?!" You may ask scrunching up your nose making a Pee-Ew face, but really... it's perfect. The texture and taste is probably as close as you can get to real mashed potatoes and not only that it's absolutely delicious. And in all honesty, if one was to never tell you it was made from cauliflower you'd probably never know anyway, but in my opinion the whole cauliflower part just makes it better doesn't it? After all, it's good for you!

If there's one thing to learn from Veggie Grill it's this, healthy food can really taste wonderfully good.


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