Monday, May 31, 2010

Blogger Awards & Guest Post

I know that I am breaking format here by posting on Monday. However, there are so many things going on at once that I cannot ignore and cannot wait until next Saturday. Plus, I am sure enough not going to encroach on Nancy’s ever popular Vegan Voice Tuesday. So, I will get right to it.

Firstly, the Birthday Girl, who actually reads this blog we have come to find out, would like me to thank you for all of your birthday wishes. She was quite touched…and not just by me.

Second, I will be guest posting on the fabulous Tanantha's I Just Love My Apron. If you remember she dazzled us with her guest post on LC last week. She made a wonderful, Tilapia in a Silver Pouch dish. Please visit her blog. Not because of my guest post, but because she does a really great job and you will love her. My guest post will be on Wednesday June 2, 2010.

On behalf of Nancy and me, we would like to thank three of our blogger friends who graced us with awards these last few weeks. I view blogger awards as the ultimate display of appreciation I can receive. I blog because it merges my two strongest talents, cooking and writing, I do not make a penny from this. So to be recognized, to have someone say, “Hey I dig your blog”…That is priceless. I appreciate it more than I can properly express. It never gets old or tired.

On May 14, 2010, Tanantha at I Just Love My Apron, nominated us for the Sunshine Award.



On May 28, 2010, Juliana at Cook Fast, Live Young & On May 29, 2010, Turmeric n Spice nominated us for the Honest Scrap Award.



Please check out Juliana & Turmeric n Spice.  Both blogs are amazing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them both.

Since I have now won both awards before, I will make up my own rules.  As per the Sunshine award, I will list 5 things that make me happy.  And as per the Honest Scrap rules I will list 5 random things about myself.  I wll be bypassing the obvious things that make me happy because as I said I have posted them before.

Happy
1. Audi
2. Fringe on Thursday
3. My supportive blogger friends (You know who you are!)
4. Writing for Blogcritics
5. FIFA 2010 for the PS3
Random
6. I have been known to cook dishes up to 20 times before getting them right
7. All 5 of the cats I've had in my home are all strays
8. I have an odd infatuation for a fictional character - Olivia Dunham from Fringe
9. According to my wife, I agrue with people in my sleep - mostly in Spanish
10. And when I snore, and she tells me to stop, I always apologize and stop

Now I will nominate some of my favorite bloggers for these awards.  Take one, take both.  This is just me passing along my respect and admiration for what you do.  Now...Denise, Silvia, Sam, and Natasha, I could give you every award I get, you know how I feel about your blogs.  But, I want to spread the wealth around a bit.

1. Stella at The Witchy Kitchen - Spellbinding
2. Trix at Tasty Trix - Sophisticated Cook
3. Vanessa at Coffee & Pie - Amazing writer & Photographer
4. Jacqueline at Jacqueline's Cat House - An Angel on Earth for cats
5. Mo at Mo's Kitchen - 16 year old dynamic cook
6. Joanne at Eats Well With Others - Fantastic cook & Witty Writer
8. Ashley at Sweet Southern Prep - Sunshine in a blog, A smile everytime
9. Dennis at More Than A Full Mount - A Professional Chef I Respect
10. LeQuan at Luv to Eat - Super Mom & Blogger

For those of you still with me, I will not leave you without a recipe!  I was recently speaking to Natasha at 5 Star Foodie, who incidentally will be guest posting this coming Thursday, you won’t want to miss her amazing post. Natasha told me about a cooking contest on another blog that is similar to our Quickies Challenge, only their two ingredients are Mango & Tomatoes. Well I love a cooking challenge, so my mind went to work for a few days, and finally I came up with this dish.


It is quick, creative, and super-tasty. My wife ate it yesterday and absolutely loved it. Give it a try, if you feel daring. Serve this to your next dinner party and blow their minds.



Mango Custard with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 large organic egg yolks
3 tbs Mango puree
3 tbs Moscato d’Asti
½ cup whipping cream – (lightly whipped)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
Fresh chopped orange basil leaves


1. In a heat-proof bowl add the sugar & egg yolks

2. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. The bowl must not touch the water.

3. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the egg & sugar till tripled in volume, and thick enough to form ribbons

4. Off the heat, fold in the mango puree & Moscato d’Asti

5. Carefully fold in the whipping cream

6. Add the cherry tomatoes

7. Using a cook’s blowtorch, wave it over the cream to caramelize it and slightly roast the tomatoes.

8. Garnish with the orange basil

Note: In the photo, I used thyme leaves. However on my second attempt I used fresh orange basil from my Brother’s garden and it was even better.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Love

Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday


This past Thursday May 27th, 2010 was my lovely wife’s Birthday. The Lawyer turned 19…again! She seems to turn 19 every year, awesome. We spent a wonderful quiet night at home. Not the norm. For my Lawyer is an extremely busy little bee. Actually, she just got through dominating some courtroom appearances this month. That’s my girl!

All of our children showed their appreciation for their Mommy. Audi, the newest and youngest member of the family, went out of his way to make a splash…literally. In his infinite wisdom, only 1 year old, he thought it would be hilarious to stick his whole head in a vase of charming flowers that I had lovingly arranged for her. Well, down went the vase, and there was a flood in the dining room. Classic!

This photo was taken ten minutes after the incident...Clean up?!  What Clean up?!




I asked her where she would want to go for dinner; South Beach, the Gables, Coconut Grove, perhaps Fort Lauderdale. Nope, she wanted to eat at home. The following three courses were chosen by the birthday girl. We enjoyed them while watching the movie, Whip It…definitely her choice.

Moscato d’Asti with Mango Sorbet



Every great party starts with a good drink. My aperitif was Moscato d’Asti from Duchessa Lia with a dollop of mango sorbet. The combination of the tangy wine with the sweet mango sorbet is divine.

Scallop Bites


The first course is a favorite of the birthday girl, Scallop Bites with fig dipping sauce. U.S. Atlantic wild-caught sea scallops are wonderful sustainable seafood. I purchased a 20-30 ct, no chemical added, product. For more information on sustainable seafood check out my article Help Make a Change Support Sustainable Fish.

The scallops were lightly breaded with cracker meal, or as we say in Spanish, Galleta Molida, and fried in peanut oil.

The dipping sauce is reduced fig juice, mounted with butter, and cut with Vinagre de Jerez, a Spanish Sherry vinegar. Lastly, I added a touch of acidity to the dish with chopped fresh savory and Meyer lemon zest.

Wild Greens & Herbs Salad



This salad is my random cluttered mind trying to find some sense of order. The centerpiece of the dish is Parma ham crisped up on the pan with a touch of butter. Organic greens and herbs that made the plate were frisee, oak leaf, romaine, thyme, cilantro, and arugula. Joined by thinly sliced radishes and zucchini for a bit of crunch, while edible flowers and rose petals add a touch of color.

The combination of the brioche crouton with a piece of amazing brie was fabulous. Two distinct dressings were made; one was mustard & walnut oil vinaigrette and the second was a spicy mayo.

Red Velvet Birthday Cake



Happy Birthday Red Velvet style. Triple cream cheese frosting. Strawberries dipped in chocolate. It was a big hit.

Quickies Challenge Update. The deadline is June 7, 2010. There is still plenty of time to get your avocado & feta dishes in. We have 16 great entries. Join in the fun, while you still can.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Addictive Mushroom Veggie Curry


Vegan Voice Tuesday

I'm not embarrassed to admit that I've had the pleasure of knowing many different curries. Some were extremely hot and spicy and others weren't as satisfying and left me wanting more. The term "curry" is a generic term used to describe many different spiced dishes popular in Southeast Asian and Indian cooking. Although many curries use standard ingredients such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and red pepper, there are as many variations of curry as there are persons who cook it and/or devour it.

Ever heard of "sex addiction?" Yeah ... well try "curry addiction" on for size. Apparently, several studies have claimed that the reaction to the hotter ingredients in curries leads to the body's release of endorphins. These endorphins, combined with a complex sensory reaction to the spices and flavors in curry, gives the eater a natural high that causes subsequent cravings, often followed by "addiction" and a desire to move on to hotter curries. Hmm. There is some controversy over whether such an addiction really exists; however, in my case, I can assure you that I am certifiably addicted ... to curry, that is.

Below is my recipe for Mushroom Veggie Curry. For those of you who are farther along in your curry addiction, you can always add more heat by increasing the amount of chile used. Since this recipe is vegan, the only saturated fat in this dish comes from the coconut milk, which has been shown to be healthier than animal-based saturated fat since it is quickly metabolized and does not clog up your arteries. In fact, cultures around the world that depend on coconut as their main source of fat have been found to be free of heart disease.

Here is the recipe:

1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves
2 small fresh chiles, seeded and deveined
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz. white mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 medium zucchini, 1/2 inch dice
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
Salt to taste

In a blender, combine the coconut milk, ginger, garlic, chiles, coriander, cumin and turmeric and blend until smooth.

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and then the mushrooms until they are softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, the coconut milk mixture and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Serve this mushroom veggie curry with brown rice and some refreshing pickled cabbage (recipe below).


Pickled Cabbage

This sweet and spicy salad goes well with coconut milk curries.

1 small head green cabbage
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, core the cabbage and shred thinly. You will need about 4 cups. Place a colander in the sink.

When the water is boiling, add cabbage and press to submerge all of it. Cook for 20 seconds, then drain into the colander. Let cool to room temperature. When cool enough to handle, squeeze to soften and release some water.

Meanwhile, make the pickling brine: Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl large enough to accommodate the cabbage, and let cool to room temperature.

Add the cabbage to the brine and toss to coat well. Refrigerate until the cabbage is cold and serve with some spicy, yummy curry.

I hope your enjoyed this hot vegan recipe. Till next Tuesday!

Nancy, a.k.a. The Vegan Voice

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chicken & Mash with Moscato d’Asti Leeks

Quickies Challenge update: There are 16 days left we have many wonderful entries.  Please join in the fun with us.  You can win a copy of Denise's great cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night

Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday


The nation’s most fashionable bird’s most unfashionable bit. An overwhelming majority of the people I know do not like the chicken’s dark meat. My lovely, gifted, accomplished wife for one, will not go anywhere near it. I have tried to reason with her. Tried! However, you can lead an exceptional lawyer to the table, but you cannot make her eat. Que Sera, Sera!

Chicken legs are the most flavorful part of the bird. There is no room for debate there. Additionally, they are much more affordable than the white meat. Case in point, today I purchased some free-range organic chicken at my local farmers market. I paid $5.00 lb for chicken breast for the wifey. For myself, I paid $2.00/lb for some wonderful chicken legs. I win…

This dish has two different preparations of chicken. The drumstick is baked in the oven varnished with a tangy Asian glaze. I know I’ve been on an Asian flavor kick. Don’t worry my mind works in cycles. While the thigh, covered in eight secret herbs & spices, is rendered on the pan at medium-high heat, then finished in the oven.



My mashed potatoes are ethereal. I have no problem saying that. Every spoonful is like a silky, luscious, cloud on the palate. I learned this approach from a man who in my opinion is the greatest living chef in the world, Joel Robuchon. It takes some work, however as is the case with most things in life that do; it is well worth it. You will need some kitchen equipment, such as, a potato ricer, a Tamis “drum sieve”, and a whisk. Please never make mashed potato in a food processor; you will be left with a gluey mess.

The last component of the dish is my Moscato d’Asti leeks. Moscato d’Asti from Coppo Moncalvina, an Italian sparkling white, is my favorite wine. You can purchase it online for around $20. These leeks are caramelized on a pan, then I add wine and reduce till dry.  Add the same amount of wine, and cook to a syrupy consistency. This be quite the versatile side dish, so give it a go. PSA – Countless Moscato d’Asti bottles were decimated in the production and consumption of this dish. Hopefully the People for Ethical Treatment of Moscato d’Asti will not come after me?!

Note: You must butcher the chicken legs. Separate the drumstick and thighs. Carefully debone the thigh.

The wifey's Chicken Breast version







Chicken & Mash with Moscato d’Asti Leeks

For the drumsticks:
10 chicken drumsticks
Sea salt & White pepper
Walnut oil

Glaze:
6 tbs organic honey
3 tbs fish sauce
3 tsp Ponzu sauce
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
4 tsp sesame oil

1. Heat the oven to 400 F

2. Season the drumsticks with salt & pepper

3. Arrange on a sheet pan

4. Drizzle with walnut oil

5. Bake for 20 minutes.

6. Mix the glaze ingredients in a glass bowl

7. Take the chicken out of the oven. Pour the glaze over the chicken. Coat well

8. Return the chicken to oven. Bake for 25 minutes.

9. Remove the drumsticks to a RACK to rest



For the Chicken Thighs:
10 chicken thighs
Walnut oil

Spice Rub:
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs ground coriander
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp all spice
1 ½ sea salt
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp chervil

1. Coat the thighs in walnut oil

2. Season generously with the spice rub

3. Lay the chicken on a cold frying pan. No oil.

4. Turn the heat to medium-high.

5. The chicken slowly renders as the pan heats. 11 minutes total

6. Once the skin is nice a brown, (Not Black), transfer the pan to the oven

7. Cook at 400 F for 8 minutes. Coordinate with the cooking of the drumsticks

8. Remove to a RACK to rest.  SKIN SIDE UP.  Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel



For the Mashed Potatoes:
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes – (peeled)
8 oz heavy cream
8 oz crème cheese
1 vanilla bean – (split)
4 oz Gruyere cheese – (finely grated on Microplane)

1. Fill a pot with water. Bring the water to boil.

2. Reduce to simmer. Add potatoes.

3. Simmer potatoes for 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife

4. Rinse a small sauce pot with water. Do not dry.

5. Add the heavy cream & vanilla bean

6. Bring to a simmer

7. In a large bowl, add the crème cheese. Rice the hot potatoes through a potato ricer, onto the crème cheese

8. Mix well to incorporate

9. Push the potatoes through the drum sieve

10. Return the potatoes to the pot. Over medium heat.

11. Discard the vanilla bean. Slowly pour the cream over the potatoes. While whisking vigorously.

12. Remove for the heat. Stir in the gruyere cheese.



For the Moscato d’Asti Leeks:
3 leeks – (white & light green parts only) – (sliced thin on a mandoline)
2 cups Moscato d’Asti wine
2 tbs butter
Cane sugar

1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter.

2. When the butter begins to foam, add the leeks.

3. Sprinkle with cane sugar. Cook till soft.

4. Drain the leeks of the fat.

5. Return to pan.

6. Add 1 cup of wine. Cook till completely reduced

7. Add 1 cup of wine. Cook till syrupy consistent



That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

New article up on BC...Thank you Caitlin!  This article explores whether vegetarian food can be sexy.  I highlighted 3 dishes that proves it can be...One by Nancy, One by the incomparable Silvia at Citron et Vanille, and one by me.  Here's the linkage...

Dirty Sexy Vegetarian


Now time for an awesome guest post spotlight....

I am proud to welcome Tanantha author of the creative blog, I Just Love My Apron. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her witty writing style and fantastic recipes. A resident of the Pacific Northwest, she preaches the importance of supporting sustainable fish. That is reason enough to read her blog.

Thank you Tanantha, for sharing your gifts with us!

Tilapia in a Silver Pouch



Hi Lazaro Cooks’ readers and followers! My name is Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron, nice to meet you all. When I got a request from Lazaro to guest blog on Lazaro Cooks, I thought he was joking! Not that he wasn’t serious, but it was beyond my expectation to be asked from someone like him to guest blog. I had to ask him again if he was serious..hahaha. I was thrilled, honored and super excited to be a part of his creative, informative, and wonderful blog. I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous…I just don’t want to ruin his wonderful blog and I hope I won’t!

I picked this dish (especially the tilapia) because it was way back when that Lazaro wrote about sustainable fish. Because of that post I got a chance to read more on his blog and became one of his readers. Not only are there his wonderful posts he offers, but also his kindness and encouragement. If you’re reading this, you probably couldn’t agree with me more.

Consequently, I somehow have a link map in my mind between tilapia and Lazaro. Funny huh? This dish will remind me of him and I hope you all will like it too.

I came up with this dish idea when Seattle was nice out over a particular weekend and it was perfect for a grill day. Instead of grilling steak, I was craving for savory fish. My old past memory and new experience were put together here. Traditionally, it should be steamed in a steamer but having it in a pouch is just so cute and mysterious. Your guests won’t know what is in there and what it’s going to look like. It’s a fun dish for a party! It also won’t trouble you to prepare ‘coz it’s real simple and rich in flavor—both the sauce and the fish. You’re ready to roll. The pouch also helps for aroma.



Since Asian cuisine is my expertise, I couldn’t miss adding an Asian twist to this dish. This tilapia pouch requires a special sauce. It’s a seafood sauce with South East Asian style. For full ingredients and directions are posted on my blog. Seafood Sauce-Asian Style

I had to post it on my blog because it can be used in multiple dishes—all kinds of seafood. You will probably see some more future posts with this sauce. However, I will put the ingredients and brief directions on here as well.

If you don’t have a grill, you can put this in a broiler on hi heat. It works fine.



Tilapia and Asian Seafood sauce in Silver Pouch

Yield: 1 individual serving - - you can double proportion to the number of guests

Ingredients:

• 1 tablespoon of special seafood sauce**

• 1 tilapia fillet

• 1 teaspoon match stick peeled ginger

• Salt and pepper

• 16-18 inch in length of aluminum foil wrap

Special Seafood Sauce-South East Asian Style

Ingredients:

• 3 tablespoons fish sauce

• 4 tablespoons sugar

• 3 limes, juice

• 4 big garlic cloves

• 1-1 1/2 tablespoons chopped ginger

• 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

• 4 Thai Chilies

Directions for the sauce:

You basically blend everything together to form a liquid sauce

Directions for Tilapia in a Silver Pouch:

• Use paper towel to dry fish fillet

• Place each fillet on foil paper (shiny side down)

• Sprinkle with salt and pepper over the fish

• Pour 1 tablespoon of the seafood sauce over the fillet

• Place match stick gingers on top. This will help with aroma sense which will tie with ginger in the sauce

• Crease the foil first from the top, then roll it down. Then, fold on the sides to seal the pouch

• Grill it on medium high heat (400 F) for 10 mins or your desire of doneness

• The fun part is when you open to see it! The aroma from ginger and sauce will rise before you can take a peek. Enjoy!

• Optional: Pour another 1 teaspoon of the seafood sauce over the fish or steamed rice for more flavors. Serve with steamed rice and vegetable

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Nancy! & New Posting Schedule

With mirth and laughter let the wrinkles come.
William Shakespeare

I love this birthday quote, always have. Although I do not think it applies to Nancy as she turns 21! Actually she turns 21 every year…curious how that works.

I used this graphic because I thought it was cool…




This one is more appropriate me thinks…


Nancy aka “The Vegan Voice” was my first and most enthusiastic supporter when I started this blog. Since the moment she agreed to contribute to LC, she raised the bar. Her amazing, original, and sophisticated recipes show us that Vegan cooking can be exciting. No more bland rabbit food.

Having her share with me the blog is my favorite aspect of the blogging experience, without her it would not be the same. She is a talented cook, writer, and a super Mom. Does she moonlight as a masked vigilante at night and beat criminals to a bloody pulp? Hmm…Maybe!

Excuse me for a moment…

Prima,

Te mando un deseo de cumpleanos tan bella como tu y que cumplas muchos mas. Mucho amor, muchos besos, y muchos abrasos.

I’m back. Now to the posting breakdown…

We are going to change a bit our posting habits here on Lazaro Cooks! Actually streamlining them. From now on we will be posting 3 times a week. Due to our hectic schedules, be it Motherhood, Blogcritics, the job that actually pays the bills, cooking, family, gardening, blogging, etc. The breakdown will be as follows…

Tuesdays – Tune in for the Vegan Voice. Nancy will post her delectable, nutritious vegan fare.

Thursdays – Blogcritics articles/Guest Post Spotlight. My BC articles will be published on Thursdays, so I will introduce them on the blog and supply the linkage. Also, I have thoroughly enjoyed spotlighting incredibly talented foodies. Luckily for us, many have agreed to participate. Please check in this coming Thursday as Tanantha at I Just Love My Apron, has graciously accepted to share her talent on LC.

Saturdays – Lazaro actually cooks!

I love organization and this works for us. We will do everything within our power to adhere to the schedule.

Update:  Right before posting this, I was notified that I am the...Blogcritics Writer of the Day, on the site's homepage.  How cool is that?!  A big thank you to all my friends who have jumped over to BC and supported my articles.  I appreciate it more than you know.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blogcritics Article, Quickies Update, & No More Audi

New Blogcritics article up.  Another Editor's Pick.  A big heartfelt thank you to my editor Caitlin Pike.  I do not want to seem flippant about receiving the honor of being tagged Editor's Pick by her.  I work hard to produce decent articles and to be recognized...truly makes my day every time it happens.

Here's the link.  Check it out if you are really, really, really bored.

Respect Food: Respect Life

This is the dish I highlighted in the article.  It is cod, cod, and more cod.

1. Cod in the broth
2. Cod in the ravioli
3. Pan-roasted Cod on top.
4. Cod in the edible flowers...no just kidding...although wouldn't that be great?!



After 1 week of the Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night Challenge we have 3 fantastic dishes in the clubhouse.  There is plenty of time left, so please join in the merriment with us.  Check out Denise's blog, Quickies on the Dinner Table she is keeping a running talley of who is in and the days left.

On to an issue of paramount importance in the Lazaro Cooks! household.  Due to my inclusion of him in a blog post, Audi's head no longer fits inside the apartment.  His vanity is really annoying.  It's all Audi...all the time!  Don't believe me?  Let's go the evidence shall we.

1. 8 Months ago he was a kitten in a parking lot, today he has a facebook account. Crazy Boy Named Audi.  Please do not friend request him, it will only make things worse.

2. He's trying to cut into my blogging time.  I guess Audi really doesn't like Food Buzz, as you can see in the background...



3. He is convinced the couch belongs to him.  I mean, who sleeps like that?!


Exhibit 1

What do you say to that?!

4. Newbie up top is the smart one, but poor Bailey!  She is just trying to sleep too dude.



5. However, do not feel too badly for Bailey.  The wifey loves her more than she does me.



That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!




Monday, May 10, 2010

Chickpea Salad

I am proud to welcome, Nicole, author of the creative blog, Cooking with Coley. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her witty writing style and fantastic recipes. She lives by two mottos: That any dish can be healthier without sacrificing flavor and that anyone can cook if they try.


Thank you Nicole, for sharing your wonderful talent with us.

With summer right around the corner and lots of barbequing already in action, I have been trying to get creative and healthy with new side dishes. I’ve always been a fan of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, either in their basic form as a salad topping or in hummus and falafel, but lately I’ve been utilizing them in new ways. For example, recently I came across an excellent recipe for roasted chickpeas, and oh my were they tasty! Who knew chickpeas could be a snack?!


Chickpeas are delicious and nutritious; they’re a good source of folate, protein and dietary fiber. They’re also quite filling which is always a plus for me.

When I was walking through Whole Foods last week, I saw a container of a chickpea salad. Instead of adding it to my cart, I exclaimed to my boyfriend “I want to make a chickpea salad!” For some odd reason, the thought had never crossed my mind until that very moment. I Googled “chickpea salads” when I got home and found quite a few variations but decided to make my own using some of fresh produce I had stocked up on that day. Here’s how I went about it, but feel free to add your own flair… just be sure to let me know if you have any other recommendations. ;)



What you’ll need:

• 1 can of chick peas (rinsed and drained)

• ½ of red bell pepper, chopped

• ½ yellow bell pepper, chopped

• ¼ of red onion, chopped

• ¼ cup of shredded purple cabbage

• 1 ear of fresh corn (or a half a can of sweet corn)

• 1 handful of chopped cilantro

• 2 tbsp light Italian dressing

• Salt and pepper to taste



Procedure:

• Toss the ingredients together, chill and serve.


And that’s it! Simplicity is my thing, and if you want more simple, tasty and healthy recipes, please check out my blog, Cooking with Coley.

Before I leave you all, I want to thank Lazaro for inviting me to contribute to his brilliant blog. I’m honored to be a part of such an insightful and creative composition of recipes, food facts and inspiration.

Cheers!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

L’Opera de Mother’s Day

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day thanks to Anna Jarvis. In 1908 she created this holiday to celebrate and honor her mother. She kept promoting this holiday until President Woodrow Wilson made it official nationally in 1914.


Mothers truly are our greatest gift. For without them we would not be here. Words only fail to properly express how much you mean to us. For all the strife, struggle and sacrifice you endured. Thank you for always being there and aiding us in our time of need. For the wisdom you imparted and the tough love administered at just the right time.

To my Mother, who had me at a very young age, thank you. For maturing quickly and making me the man I am today. It is my sincere hope that I honor you with the way I live this life you have given me.

To my Wife, the strongest person I know. You truly are fearless.  Your outward beauty is only rivaled by your most gentile, kind, loving, and giving spirit. If there ever was someone born to be an amazing Mother it is you. One day some child will have the distinct privilege of calling you MOM!

Until then, there are some furry critters that wanted to wish you a Happy Mommies Day…

Tabetha

Bailey

Newbie

And a crazy boy named..Audi



To all the Mother’s in my family, thank you for doing your part in aiding my growth as a person. You keep our family growing strong and proud.

The most gratifying aspect of this blogging experience is the friends I have made. People who are quick with a supportive word and a wonderful comment for motivation. Many of you are Mothers. Amazing how you can find the time to take care of your homes and still provide your fantastic blog posts. Not to mention, the incredible dishes and recipes. Thank you for providing me with daily inspiration.

The L’Opera in the title refers to the famous French dessert, Opera Cake. This is a dessert I have enjoyed for years. However, as you have come to know by now, I have made it my own. No recipe today, this post is long enough.

My version is almond sponge cake, chocolate mascarpone cream, almond sponge cake, coffee and caramel butter cream, almond sponge cake, and chocolate and Maytag blue cheese glaze.

Yes, you read that right. Adding blue cheese to chocolate produces a chemical reaction that turbo boosts the chocolate flavor. Try it someday!

The green element of the dish is a lime gelee, topped with edible flowers.



My L’Opera Gift…Happy Mother’s Day!





That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night Challenge

We are extremely thrilled to announce our first cooking challenge on Lazaro Cooks!, & Quickies on the Dinner Table. Inspired by our brilliant friend Natasha’s, 5 Star Foodie Makeover , we will engage in a similar endeavor. Here we will be highlighting a superb cookbook, Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night. Let’s get this party started with the very first….

Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night Challenge


I love this cookbook. So much so, that I wrote an article about it on Blogcritics, What is Flavor? A Party in the Mouth. Not only does Denise Fletcher offer expedient and inventive recipes, you will be blown away by her fun, humorous, and witty writing style. The book contains 70 succulent recipes, all of which can be done quickly on a hectic weeknight.

However, you will get much more useful information. There are chapters dealing with tips on essential kitchen tools and how to use them, quick and easy measuring of ingredients, and how to make kick-ass coffee at home. Not to mention, something that helps me quite a bit, fabulous information on wines and paring them with food. Click on this link for a sneak peak inside the book Quickies Search Inside

On to the challenge…

Stimulated by two of Denise’s favorite ingredients to work with, COMPOSE a course that contains AVOCADO & FETA CHEESE. The dish can be vegetarian, vegan, carnivore, or pescatore, whatever. It can even be a dessert. How cool would that be? No matter what, it must contain the two challenge ingredients.

A good example is on page 38 of Quickies…Avocado, Green Chili, and Feta Cheese Salad. Here the avocado, tomatoes, and feta are complimented by the heat from the green chili, and finished with a smooth lime-chili dressing. My kind of salad.

Challenge Facts:

1. Neither Denise, Nancy, nor I will be participating.
2. The winner will be chosen by a consensus of the three of us.
3. The challenge is open to everyone, worldwide.

Challenge Guidelines:

1. You must submit a dish containing Avocado & Feta Cheese.
2. Copy & Paste the above photo onto your blog post that includes the dish you wish to submit.
3. If submitting an old blog post, just write a short, new post with the contest photo included.
4. Email me a link to your post at lazarocooks@gmail.com
5. ALL ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY JUNE 7, 2010.
6. On June 8, 2010 we will announce the winner & post a round-up of all the dishes.

The Prizes:

1. Winner gets a copy of Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night
2. A guest blogger spot on Lazaro Cooks!

Okay, that second prize is crappy, but the first one is AWESOME!

I hope you enjoy our first Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night Challenge. Have fun and be creative. Tell your readers that you intend to participate; they may want to join in the merriment.

By the way, please check the blog on Sunday, I will post something for all Moms.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mediterranean Orzo Salad


Here in California, the weather is sunny and beautiful. This type of weather is exactly the kind that makes me want to eat something cold and delicious on a breezy patio somewhere. The dish here is exactly the kind of dish that I love to eat on such a day ... behold the Mediterranean Orzo salad. Not only is this dish tasty, but it is a complete, filling dish that is chock full of protein, something that many cold dishes are not.

The beauty of this dish is that you can substitute your favorite types of ingredients to make a salad that is truly your own.

Here's the recipe:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup faux chicken broth (made with Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken base)
6 oz. orzo
1 1/2 cups cannellini or Great Northern beans (about one 15 oz. can), rinsed and drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Feta cheese for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo, cover, and simmer until the pasta is just tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl, add the cannellini beans and tomatoes, and stir to combine. Let cool slightly.

Stir in the olives, lemon zest and juice, dill, salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until the salad is cold throughout. Serve on a shallow, chilled salad plate and sprinkle crumbled feta cheese (vegan or regular) on top of salad. Finish off with a sprig of fresh dill on top.

Delicious Swaps

Olives: You can swap out the kalamata olives for any olives that you prefer, such as mild black olives, mixed herb French or salty, delicious Spanish olives. I am an olive whore, I admit, I will eat any type of olive any time!

Tomatoes: Ahh, tomatoes. Tomato season is upon us and there are soo many delicious tomatoes from which to choose. You can substitute any kind of tomato into this dish, including some of my favorites: vine-ripened Early girl, Roma, Brandywine and Tigrella.

I hope you enjoyed this yummy cold orzo salad. Enjoy this salad on a sunny afternoon, while sitting on a patio and counting your blessings.

Enjoy!

The Vegan Voice


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

5 Star Pasta Makeover Win & More Giving Bloggers

This month I decided to compete in the 5 Star Makeover: Pasta on one of my favorite blogs 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures.  This blog is run by Natasha an amazing cook and writer.  Her blog sets high standards for culinary acumen.

I was fortunate enough to be selected the winner for my dish Linguini con Bacon.  There was a great turnout for this contest.  I would like to congratulate everyone who participated, you are all winners in my book.  Check it out, if you need ideas for pasta dishes, you will be amazed by all the incredible dishes.  Here's the link 5 Star Makeover: Pasta Roundup.

A big heartfelt thank you to the host of the contest Natasha.  It was hard work putting that thing together and I want you to know that you are very appreciated.

Her dish was my favorite from all the magnificent entries, check out this beauty...Morel Fettuccine with Spinach Ribbons and Crispy Shallots

On behalf of Nancy and I we are proud to be nominated for a gaggle of blogger awards by Kristy at My Little Space and Jenny at Hungry Jenny.  Jenny & Kristy are not only great bloggers, but wonderfully supportive people.  Please have a look at their blogs, I guarantee you will have a smile on your face.  This has truly been my favorite aspect of the blogging process, meeting fantastic positive people.



Here are my deserving nominees for any and all of these Awards....
1. Carla at Recipe Addict
2. Jenn at Defunkt Gourmet
3. Natasha at 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures
4. Jacqueline at Jacqueline's Cat House
5. Angie at Angie's Recipes
6. Mo at Mo's Kitchen
7. Chanel at Greedy Gourmand
8. Deana at LostPastRemembered
9. Jessie at The Happiness in Health
10. Malou at Skip to Malou
11. Roxan at Kitchen Meditation 

P.S....Thank you for all the affection for one crazy boy named Audi...He really appreciates it, as you can see!



That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Guest Post: Quickies on the Dinner Table

My guest post is up on Denise's blog.  I know the dish looks small, but it was part of a six course meal I served for a dinner party on Saturday at my crib.  This particular dish was the third course.

Please if you go over to check it out, send Denise your best wishes.  First, her computer crashed on Friday...The she picked up a stomach flu.

It is a true honor to be on her blog.  By now you all know how I feel about Denise, her blog, and her cookbook Quickies in the morning, Noon, and Night

Here's the link to my post....

Tuna & Tofu

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Green Tea Soba Noodles with Octopus, Olives, Sea Weed & Sun Dried Tomatoes

I am proud to welcome Silvia Gregori, a personal chef from San Francisco, and author of the fantastic blog, Citron et Vanille.  Her cuisine is fused with French and Italian influences, reflecting her distinctive familiar background. Not only is her blog well-written, but her recipes are delicate and sophisticated. Silvia is a true artist as cook, wonderfully plating her balanced and harmonious courses. Get ready for some serious Mediterranean Chic.

When Lazaro wrote an article about, Inspiration: Citron et Vanille, on Blogcritics, I felt more than flattered. Then when he requested I write a guest post for his blog Lazaro Cooks, which is a gold mine of information and creativity, I was very excited. In truth, I was thrilled that he would allow me to express myself on this blog; where he shares his beautifully written posts and mouth watering dishes with its unique creative touch.

Obviously if you are reading this, you know Lazaro and his wonderful personality of encouraging everyone. He always has the right words to make you feel like a star. I humbly accepted because he cooks and writes with style and more so, he has an incredible knowledge of the world’s best chefs and gastronomy. We do share the same culinary "foundations", so it is my great pleasure to share this with you.


I decided to feature a lovely and uncomplicated dish inspired by one of Alain Ducasse's recipes (who is one of my favorite modern chefs) that I changed and twisted around. I nonetheless kept its "true spirit" which is the combination of Asian and Western flavors, and yes it works "à merveille".

What's more Asian than green tea soba noodles and sea weed? Or more Mediterranean than Kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes? Not many things. Well when East meets West, their encounter creates a volcano of new irresistible flavors, that match and complete each other to perfection...and yes there is a lot of chemistry between those two!


I wanted to feature octopus, often used in Mediterranean cuisine, because I noticed many people tend to look at it as an unappealing and fastidious ingredient to prepare. I somehow wanted to show the other "face" of octopus, a really fabulous and light mollusk to consume.


Green tea soba can be purchased in any Asian supermarket, I also used sea weeds that I bought in France, I am certain than any Asian supermarket carries them too in the US. Basically they look like spaghetti strands (called "Spaghetti de Mer" in French and coming from Brittany, or also known under the more proper name of Himantalia Clongata). They have a subtle flavor unlike some other sea weeds. In France they are used to decorate dishes, add some colors and texture with a nice Asian touch.

Ingredients for 2-3

5.29 oz (or 150 g) green tea soba noodles
8 baby octopuses
2 tbs sun dried tomatoes, chopped
8-9 Kalamata olives, chopped
Some sea weed strands, soaked in water
1.5 tbs soy sauce
1.5 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs celery leaves, for garnish
Juice of one lemon

Preparation

Soak sea weed strands in water for 15 minutes, and then cook for 15 minutes in the soaking water.

Clean octopus and cook in boiling water with lemon juice for about 30 minutes. Drain and cut in medium size pieces. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine, oyster sauce, soy sauce and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Pour in a mixing bowl. Add octopus, sun dried tomatoes and olives.

Cook soba noodles in salted boiling water for about 5-7 minutes while still firm. Place in a chilled water and let them cool.

Add noodles to the bowl containing the other ingredients. Toss well and add celery leaves for garnish.