Sparked by our fascination of repurposing (gluten free and no salt added) cereal for other meals (you can read about it @ Foodista) and our love for Italian foods, we ground up Erewhon cereal and added some seasoning to whip up a deliciously simple low sodium Chicken Milanese. You can find our Chicken Milanese recipe over @ Attune Food’s Blog . Happy Eating!
Move over Colonel Sanders and Shake ‘n Bake – there’s a new contender in town! Our gem of a recipe creates a crisp, tasty skin that covers a moist, oh-so-tender, melt-in-your-mouth BBQ chicken.
Initially sparked by our fascination of repurposing (gluten free and no salt added) cereal for other meals (you can read about it @ Foodista ) and our love for Italian foods, we initially ground up Erewhon cereal and added some seasoning to whip up a deliciously simple low sodium Chicken Milanese (find our Chicken Milanese recipe over @ Attune Food’s Blog ).
Armed with a lets’ conquer the world attitude, we wondered what other dazzling dishes we could cook up by milling down Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal and adding a little inspiration…And then it came to us – BBQ. How divine!
As we head into the saucy summer, we wanted to share one of our very favorite, super fun, (and now low sodium) BBQ recipes with y’all – our mouthwatering version of Beer Can Chicken, more commonly known as beer butt chicken. Literally, you just grind up the cereal and spices, spray the beer can and surface with a little oil, pat on the coating, BBQ/bake, and voila!
While the surprisingly complex aroma dances around your yard, you might seriously start to question how you’ll be able to keep your appetite in check until it’s done cooking (waiting for the beer can chicken to finish barbequing was actually the most difficult “step”). We loved the way it turned out so much we nearly ate the entire chicken in one sitting the first time we tested it!
Tip: the beer you use actually does make a difference in the taste. A pale ale tends to make the flavor more sweet, a lager less so (still quite delicious). Using a common beer still tasted pretty good, but would probably be our last choice. Thanks to the guys at our local Whole Foods who helped us “discover” Dale’s Pale Ale — we loved BBQing with this beer so much that we nearly ate a second chicken!
(PS – don’t try drinking the flavored cooked beer left-over; it definitely falls into that I’ll try just about anything once and only once category… and if you’re concerned about the effects of residual alcohol left over in cooking, you can read more about it here).
On a peaceful Sunday morning, we found ourselves pulling up to the curb in a still-sleeping Noe Valley neighborhood. Shopkeepers were just starting to open their doors to let the San Francisco sunlight stream in. A mist of water freshened up the neighborhood, tiny sparkles of light shimmered against the flowers, plants and sidewalks creating mesmerizing fractal patterns. During normal service hours, the Spanish and Catalan restaurant, Contigo, bursts with flavor and activity…but in the early hours of the morning, all was quiet on the western front. A stirring from the dark confines of the back room exposed some life – there he stood, our Rembrandt of food photography, Andrew Scrivani. Andrew is widely known for shooting, styling, and writing about food at the New York Times. Last weekend, the stars aligned and I booked myself into one his wayfaring workshops.
One by one, our small class of eight slowly straggled in; several professional food writers, the rest (of us) were enthusiastic food bloggers juggling day jobs (including one very stealthy, incognito food blogger who remains nameless on the web). Collectively, we were united by a love for food. For hours, Andrew imparted his wisdom – what elements make up a good food photo, equipment he uses, light angles create interesting compositions; throughout the morning he shared his knowledge, his incredible insight, and his life’s lessons learned. Captivated, we soaked up every word. Our questions kept him on his toes. Next, we were set loose on the restaurant and the fun continued with a little one-on-one mentorship. Together, Andrew and Contigo had set the stage; our inspiration shaped our composition and mood.
Like a shotgun that signals the start of a race, lunch was served and shutters began to fly. I navigate the jungle on a daily basis, so rather than heading directly into the race pack, I stood back, asked questions, and practiced. As I focused my efforts on the “step-child” food subject (a gooey, quite delicious, and somewhat awkward to shoot vegetarian curry-type of dish), I was reminded of a particularly applicable life’s lesson: the process of failure eventually leads to success.
Overall, my photography subjects and (as you can see my) outtakes were somewhat random, but the learning opportunity was immense. To me, photography lessons provide a rare opportunity to peer into someone’s soul, to ask questions, and for a brief moment, share the consciousness of a true master artisan. No two people will ever see the world from the same vantage point – so to feel and experience life and art how a Rembrandt does…well, that enlightenment is priceless. Most certainly for days and rare opportunities like these, it is all about the journey and not about the destination.
Inspired? You can follow Andrew’s personal blog, making SundaySauce, or (I highly recommend) catch up with him in person. He’ll be leading a half-day photography workshop at Foodista’s International Food Blogger’s Conference this August (24-26th) in Portland, Oregon.
O Canada! Our home and native land! This week I found myself unexpectedly landing in Vancouver, Canada (my old home). Blessed with good weather, I was able to snap some photos of my favorite places in and around the False Creek/Granville Island area. If you find yourself in Vancouver this summer, I strongly recommend that you consider stopping by Granville Island. It’s one of my favorite markets to source fresh and tasty food. Today’s post is primarily pictorial.
Taking the aquabus is one of the my favorite ways to see and get around the harbor area.
Dragon boat practice
Entering the market area…
(I worked for one of the vendors in the market many years ago, while going to university. This trip is always very nostalgic for me)
Fresh fruit and vegetables.
[Low Sodium] Spices and Herbs
Hands down, the Stock Market is one of my favorite soup kitchens.
(While they don’t claim to be no salt added, the delicious stocks are made with minimal salt).
Bridges – one of the best places to rest your tired soul and recharge (also one of the best water view/drink spots).
There are all sorts of artisan shops, food, bars and eateries.
Waterfront living. Well, at least we can (drool and) dream…
If you happen to find yourself scrambling for a little low-sodium recipe inspiration for Mother’s Day, we have a handful of easy, super tasty ideas for you:
Bellini’s (non-alcoholic) make a brilliant and tasty refreshment for any Mother’s Day brunch.
Pain perdu – French toast is a soul-soothing and simple breakfast to make. Dress it up with fresh fruit to create a colorful platter.
Orange-Vanilla, Cranberry and Pecan Granola (or Granola Bars). Homemade granola is not only great for breakfast, it’s a lasting gift: mom can snack on it all week. And, it’s easier to make than you might think.
Break out the waffle iron for apple-cinnamon waffles. A delicate crunchy exterior leads to a soft, comforting pillow of goodness inside. Our recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and simply scrumptious.
Israeli Couscous with Roasted Vegetables - chewy, light and healthy, make your mom couscous “pearls” for brunch.
What are you making for Mother’s Day? Share below.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Come, join the fun! Enter to win one of 25 fun prizes in our “Birthday Giveaway”!
Come, join the fun! Enter to win one of 25 fun prizes in our “Birthday Giveaway”!
For many of us, early May is an opportune time to plant our summer garden. We headed out to our local gardening center to pick out our seedlings, and while there, we stumbled upon an interesting, and somewhat humorous, family gardening dynamic. Meet the planner and the gardener (the “doer”).
When it comes to gardening in our family, I am the planner. The planner basically tags along throughout the whole gardening process. We “invite” ourselves to be included in the seedling selection. Once at the nursery, we are inspired by all of the choice. The little seedlings call our name and say, “Take me home. I’ll blossom, smell great, create oxygen, help you lighten your carbon footprint, and at the end of the season, I’ll deliver a cornucopia of vegetables that you can eat”. It’s so easy to get tempted and grab twenty or thirty new plants — all the while, envisioning the most local source-to-table meals throughout the summer. You can usually spot the planners from a distance: we grab seedlings off the shelves and can pack the cart full in less than 5 minutes flat. Occasionally throughout the growing season, we might help plant, water, and weed (mostly on fair weather days) – primarily, we are the ones with “the vision”.
In stark contrast, the “gardener” follows a somewhat different approach. At the seedling selection, the gardeners silently stand by. They watch, partly in shock and partly in horror, at how quickly the planners fill the cart. They calculate how much time, effort, and plot size all of the seedlings are going to need throughout the growing season. The calculation process takes up much of their initial focus, as new plants are added to the cart every minute, changing the previously calculated requirements. Typically, the first time that gardeners provide collaborative input is after they’ve realized that the planners have overloaded the plant wagon.
Jeff is the gardener: he plants, waters, weeds, and watches our garden with near hawk-like precision. He makes sure that the timers are always working, and replaces parts on the drip or sprinkler system when things break down. When we get bug infestations, he figures out the least invasive way how to deal with them – solutions like sprinkling ladybugs (they eat aphids) in the garden at late night so that they don’t fly away. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that without the gardener, there would be no actual garden.
The irony about gardening is that it’s supposed to be about getting in touch with our roots and nature; it’s supposed to represent collaboration. In the early pioneering settlement days, farmers and neighbors alike would help each other out during the planting and harvesting seasons. One would think that gardening would be a serene experience, getting back to nature and all, but our recent trip to the gardening center revealed a lot more about families than we had expected. Instead, we witnessed a lot of animated exchanges going on around us: couples, parents, and children, voicing their differences in gardening approaches and plant selections – a philosophical duel between the planners and the gardeners. Its’ a subtle family dynamic, but if you have an opportunity, take a step back and observe for a minute or two. We did. The funniest things in life are when you see yourself in other people – people that you don’t even know. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Pick the plants and be prepared to pitch in. And most importantly, try not to let gardening become a source of contention (apparently, gardening can cause many disagreements, just Google it).
In the spirit of sharing, here’s a list of what’s in our vegetable garden (don’t worry, Jeff didn’t plant them all by himself and we had some left over from prior years) :
- Chile pepper plants (mix of ancho poblano and jalapeno peppers)
- Grapes (Cabernet)
- Grapefruit (still in development)
- Lavender (edible variety)
- Lemon Verbena
- Mint (chocolate, Moroccan, peppermint)
- Rosemary (we have what my mom has nicknamed the $3000 rosemary plant, due to its maturity/size)
- Tomatoes (Roma, heirloom, etc.)
Chinese lanterns or edible fruit?
On our self-guided tour of the Fairview Gardens farm in Goleta California, we hiked past the squash and toward the figs when we encountered tomatillo plants. Seeing the mysterious balloons on the plant inspired the photo, and an explanation.
In the past, I had shied away from these husked morsels because I didn’t quite know what to do with them…I admit it, I feared them. Then I was introduced to tomatillos in a tamale cooking class, and I’ve been using them ever since. Sometimes it just takes an introduction to demystify an ingredient and open up a new avenue of cooking. Hopefully this post does just that.
Meet the Tomatillo (“Little Tomato” in Spanish)
Often referred to as a Mexican green tomato, the tomatillo is actually a cousin of the tomato in the nightshade family. It suits a low-sodium diet, with 0mg of sodium per half-cup serving. The intriguing part of the tomatillo is its paper-like green/brown husk, which gives it the look of a Chinese lantern. When peeled away, the fruit inside is revealed…and go figure, it looks like a light green tomato.
Although the fruit ripens to a yellow or purplish color, it is best used when green and firm. Like many crops these days, they can be available year-round, even though their primary season is from May through October.
Flavor and Uses
Tomatillos are a non-sweet fruit with a tart and earthy flavour. They are typically used in salsas, salads, and sauces. Some familiar dishes include chile verde (a delicious green chile stew) and green enchilada sauce.
Tomatillos can be sliced and eaten raw, or cooked to soften and sweeten the flesh. Simply remove the husks, wash (they are slightly sticky under the husks), then slice, chop or cook according to your recipe.
We prefer roasting tomatillos as a way of adding a smokier flavor to our dishes. On the barbeque over medium heat, roast in a grill basket or directly on the grates, turning gently with tongs until blistered and soft around. They can also be roasted under a broiler, on a stovetop comal or in a fry pan in a similar fashion.
Note: while cooking enhances the flavor and softens its skin, the cooked fruit tends to rupture and cave in. This makes for a not-so-pretty presentation. However, they’re great blended into sauces…try our deliciously low sodium chile verde recipe.
A Southwestern favorite with chicken and pork tenderloin. Great in a bowl or make chile verde burritos.
We’ve searched for the best chile verde in the West. Our search revealed no standard recipe for this bean-free green chili: different chefs, regions and families use different combinations of chiles and tomatillos. The one common thread is that each and every chef (whether it’s an upscale restaurant or a home chef) takes pride in making their own “proprietary” version of chile verde.
In Southern California, mild green chiles are typically used. If you’re drawn towards the hotter realm, try New Mexico green chiles; or put your own stamp on it by using your favorites. We use mild Anaheim and medium Poblano’s, along with tomatillos in this recipe.
Notes and Substitutions:
- Meat option: the most common meat used to make this delicious dish is pork shoulder, but we lower the fat and sodium by using a combination of chicken breast and pork tenderloin. The pork can be substituted with all chicken if desired.
- Vegetarian option: replace meat with eggplant, zucchini, pumpkin, squash, mushrooms, hominy or other firm vegetables.
- Serving suggestions: serve in a bowl with tortillas or bread, or make burritos with low-sodium refried beans.