Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Indian Spiced Chicken and Asparagus, Sugar Snap Salad, Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake
The air is filled with the scents of spring. It is more than ever a pleasure to go to the Farmer’s market and see what is in store for us this week. When you get accustomed to eating what is “in season” you will never look back. Every bite is as tasteful as nature intended it to be. Furthermore, that is when Nature’s pharmacy is at its best: the sugar levels are at their highest, the vitamins and minerals at their most digestible and easily assimilated by the body.
I acknowledge how convenient it is to buy food in advance and let your printed lists guide you through a week’s worth of meal plans, but the pure joy of biting into a ripe pear or seeing how a crunchy baby kale can fill your plate with delicious tartness is one of the many pleasures of buying fruits and vegetables in season. Even cheese has seasons and one who has not longed for months before the Vacherin cheese was finally on the markets in their oak rims, and for only one week every fall, does not know how much the scarcity of it makes it all worth it.
The flip side of this is that products can disappear as quickly as they show up. I just got used to purchasing a new variety of tangerines called the Sumo tangerine, with an intense sweet orange flavor and unmistakably easy to peel skin, when, all of a sudden, it disappeared from all markets altogether. The same can be said for figs, one day they are here and plentiful and the next gone. So, no blinking there. When it’s good and ripe, that’s when produce is good to enjoy.
Generally speaking, I save a couple of hours for the farmers’ market every weekend. I probably only need half an hour of full shopping time, but each merchant has a special story to share, and the communal feeling that can be experienced at the market is one of many sources of inspiration in the kitchen. Not only do you meet the local chefs who need very little nudging to share their use of the product that you have not yet tasted, but your fellow-shoppers all are prompt to chime in with their personal experience. Many cooking schools feature “Follow the Chef at the market” classes, but you can make up your own without spending a dime when you engage with the locals who share the same interest as you.
The advantage of learning the four or five main techniques of cooking will enable you to let the market decide for you what is ready to make it onto your meal planning list. Sauté, braise, poach, roast, sear… this is all simple and one size fits all. Making yourself more familiar with basic spices and condiments will bring you the diversity that you need to make up your own recipes as you go. Learn the combinations that are the trademark of certain cultures and your kitchen will entice you with new adventures. Be creative in your search for complementary ingredients. Then go to the Farmer’s Market and go crazy with inspiration. Cooking is fun and can be enrichment for both the body and soul.
Click on “Continue Reading” for the Recipes
Indian Spiced Chicken and Asparagus
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small fresh chile, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 bunches asparagus (about 1 1/2 pounds), woody ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup “lite” coconut milk
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Toast cumin and fennel seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Finely grind in a spice grinder (such as a clean coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle.
- Toss chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, garlic, chile and ginger; cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add asparagus, sprinkle with the remaining spice mixture and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer for 2 minutes more. Return the chicken and any accumulated juice to the pan and cook until the chicken is just cooked through and the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 2 minutes more. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.
Sugar Snap Salad
yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds sugar snap peas, trimmed, stringed, cut in half on diagonal
- Kosher salt
- tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac plus more for garnish (find in middle-eastern stores) or replace with lemon zest
- 1 bunch radishes (about 6 ounces), trimmed, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces ricotta or feta, crumbled
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Cook peas in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer to bowl with ice water to cool. Drain peas; transfer to a kitchen towel–lined baking sheet to dry.
Whisk oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon sumac (or lemon zest) in a small bowl. Toss peas, radishes, and cheese in a large bowl.
Add dressing to salad and toss to coat. Season salad with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with mint and sprinkle with sumac or lemon zest.
Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup agave syrup, divided into 1/4 cup and 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon meyer lemon zest
- 3 large eggs at room temperature, yolks separated from whites
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- a 9-inch pie dish, preferably glass or ceramic
- a baking pan big enough to hold the 9-inch pie dish comfortably inside like a 16-inch roasting pan
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together 3 tablespoons butter, and 1 tablespoon lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add in 1/4 cup agave syrup and 3 egg yolks one at a time, beating between each addition.
- Once the egg yolks have been incorporated, turn off the mixer and use a rubber spatula to hand mix in the flour, vanilla and salt. Stir in the lemon juice and milk. The batter will be very runny.
- In a large mixing bowl, use a handheld whisk to beat together 3 egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in the cream of tartar as well as the remaining 1/4 cup agave syrup and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Once stiff peaks have formed, use a rubber spatula to hand mix one third of the egg whites into the cake batter until completely mixed. Carefully fold in the remaining egg whites — the batter should be light and fluffy at this point.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared baking dish (the cake will not rise so it is okay to fill the dish to the top, if necessary). Place the baking dish into a larger baking or roasting dish. Use a kettle to boil enough water to fit into the roasting pan. Once the water is boiling, carefully pour it into the large dish containing the batter-filled pie pan until it reaches halfway up the outside of the pie pan.
- Carefully transfer both pans into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top becomes golden and the middle of the cake barely jiggles when shaken.
- Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour before cutting or serving to allow the cake to set. The cake is best when served warm and fresh out the oven.