A Culinary Journal

A Culinary Journal

Classically trained NYC chef...turned California mom + food blogger

Recent Posts

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata Cheese

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata Cheese

I have not been shy about my love of salads. My simple radish salad and my arugula and golden beet salad, are examples that salads don’t need to be overly complicated to be delicious. My mom had me eating salads when I was a kid and I’m incredibly thankful for that.  Because of that early exposure, I’ve never stopped. You can make a great salad with just about anything you have in the refrigerator.  If you work with the season and look for complementary flavors, there are limitless easy combinations, so many that you hopefully won’t get tired of any one thing.  In cooler months, I opt for a heartier salad, using more filling seasonal ingredients such as this lovely salad with roasted butternut squash and one of my favorites soft cheeses of all times, burrata.

roasted butternut squash

Butternut squash intimidates some people. I get that. The shape can make it tricky to work with, and it requires proper cooking to bring out the flavor you want.  For tips on how to safely peel and cut a butternut squash click this link. But if you can handle those hurdles, you’re golden.  Butternut squash is a member of the gourd family, like pumpkins and melons.  Because of its seeds, it is technically a fruit.   Butternut squash is naturally low in fat and loaded with dietary fiber. Butternut squash is also a great source of potassium, Vitamin B6 and is very high in beta-carotene, a powerhouse nutrient that might have cancer prevention properties.  So, if you are not yet a butternut squash fan, it’s worth considering. I pair this healthful gourd with fresh, slightly salty burrata cheese, flavorful microgreens and a sprinkling of whole pecans.  A simple apple cider vinaigrette blends all the wonderful earthy flavors together into an elegant, filling salad that you can enjoy any night of the week, just make a little bit of extra for lunch the next day.

roasted butternut squash

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata

February 22, 2018
: 4
: 20 min
: 15 min
: 35 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • For the Salad:
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted or plain
  • 6 cups mixed microgreens
  • fresh Burrata cheese, cut into 1-inch size pieces
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Step 2 Place the butternut squash on the prepared pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, maple syrup and salt using your hands, lightly toss well to coat. Place in the oven and roast till tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Step 3 For the dressing, in a small bowl and the shallots, honey, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, whisk to blend. Adjust the seasoning as needed and set aside.
  • Step 4 To serve, in a large mixing bowl add the microgreens and roasted butternut squash, drizzle with some of the dressing. Gently toss to mix. Place on a serving platter. Place the burrata on and around the salad.  Garnish with pecans and serve.

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“Changemaker” Series: MPCSD School Superintendent Erik Burmeister And His Peruvian Lomo Saltado

“Changemaker” Series: MPCSD School Superintendent Erik Burmeister And His Peruvian Lomo Saltado

Erik Burmeister is my featured Changemaker this month. Most in my local community already knows this dynamic community leader: Erik is the Menlo Park City School District‘s young and progressive Superintendent.  His vision for our schools is creative and thoughtful.  I had the pleasure of meeting Erik a few years ago when he was still a middle school principal, and I have  been impressed by him since day one.

Erik has degrees from Stanford, Ohio University, and San Jose State. Don’t let his youthful appearance fool you: Erik has been active in the field of education for years.  At the age of 15, Erik knew he was destined to work in education. Before joining the MPCSD, Erik was a Principal in San Jose and in Campbell, both in California.  Before moving into administration, Erik taught high school English and Speech/Debate.

In 2012, Erik became Principal at Hillview Middle School here in Menlo Park, where he quickly received national recognition for his forward thinking. In 2012 Erik was named “Multiplier of the Year in Education,” an award given to leaders who “multiply the capabilities of people around them,” according to the sponsor of the award, The Wiseman Group, which conducts leadership training workshops.  I think that award reveals a lot about Erik, who is an incredible motivator.  The accolades don’t stop there. Among other recognition, the Association of California School Administrators named Erik “Middle Grades Principal of the Year.”  During his tenure at Hillview, Erik lead Hillview to a 2015 prestigious California Gold Ribbon School Award, which honors public schools that demonstrate exemplary achievements in implementing state standards in priority areas.

In his Superintendent role, Erik leads to create a culture of possibility and innovation in MPCSD. Erik is focused on two major priorities. The first is “ensuring that race, family income, and native language are not predictive of school success in Menlo Park–a lofty goal, but one that MPCSD is committed to pursuing.”  The second is “increasing student engagement in meaningful learning experiences.”  Some of his top priorities include the opening of a district-led preschool called the Early Learning Center, scheduled to open Fall 2018. His commitment to raising the achievement of all students includes efforts to “use real-time learning data to inform instruction and to seek to ensure that all students (1) come ready to kindergarten, and (2) graduate from 8th grade (MPCSD’s final year, as it a K-8 district) at or above grade level in reading, writing, and numeracy“.  Erik believes in communication and strives to keep his district informed. To do so, Erik takes time to write a monthly blog at www.mpcsdsupson.com that provides insight into parenting, education, and community.

With his charismatic and outgoing demeanor, Erik is a local Changemaker who makes an impact on thousands of children and families.  Below is a personal message from Erik about his favorite food a wonderful classic Peruvian dish called Peruvian Lomo Saltado and why it (and Peru) are so  meaningful to him.

Peruvian Lomo Saltado
Erik, his wife, Alisa (a high school teacher), their adopted son Juan Gabriel and two young sons, ages 7 and 3.

At 30 years old, I took a leave of absence from my job as a high school vice principal to volunteer in a developing country and learn Spanish. As fate would have it, I ended up spending a year in the beautiful country of Peru. I fell in love with Peruvian cuisine which has quickly become one of the premiere cuisines around the world. I stay quite connected to Peru because during my time volunteering at an orphanage there, I connected with a young kid who later joined our family as our son. Today he is 27, a police officer in Peru, and one year away from graduating with his culinary degree. One of the “staple” dishes that Peruvians are known for is my favorite; it’s called Lomo Saltado or “seasoned steak.” It’s easy, hearty, and delicious. The real secret to a good Lomo Saltado is the yellow chili pepper native to Peru called Ají . I have found it nearly impossible to find fresh Ají in the Bay Area, but it is possible to find them preserved in a jar (whole or pureed, both shown below). If you get a chance to travel to Peru, I highly recommend the Lomo Saltado, as well as the Papa Rellena and/or Ceviche as an appetizer, Picarones as dessert, Chicha Morada as a non-alcoholic beverage, and a Pisco Sour as an adult beverage; there’s just nothing like enjoying this complete meal in its country of origin.”Peruvian Lomo Saltado

This recipe for Peruvian Lomo Saltado is not Erik’s recipe, but one that he says is authentic and I absolutely love it.  I have adapted the recipe only slightly, the original one can be found here.  I myself was unable to locate fresh Ají chili peppers, but after speaking with a chef at a local Peruvian restauranteur me I was told the peppers are available in both a pureed paste and jared form (see above).  The paste is much hotter so be mindful of that is using it.  I prefered the jarred Ají  peppers much more, but both with can work. If you have difficulty locating the jarred Ají  in a store near you, Amazon does carry them.  This is an easy and tasty dish and one my family absolutely loved.

Peruvian Lomo Saltado

February 17, 2018
: 4
: 30 min
: 10 min
: 40 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, cut into thin slices
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 sweet mini peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced lengthwise and cut into 8 eighths
  • 1-2 large jarred Ají Amarillo chili peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Directions
  • Step 1 Season the sliced beef generously with, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with minced garlic.
  • Step 2 Place a large saucepan over very high heat. Add the oil and when hot, but not smoking, working in batches, add the meat in a single layer. Cook for about 2 minutes. Place the cooked meat on a plate and set aside. Cook the rest of the meat and reserve.
  • Step 3 Place the sauté pan back over a medium flame and add the peppers, cook for about 1 minute to soften slightly. Add the onions and cook an additional 1 minute.
  • Step 4 Add the tomatoes, aji chili pepper, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, beef stock and the cooked beef. Mix well to incorporate and cook 1 minute to heat through.
  • Step 5 Remove from the heat and divide among serving plates. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

I would like to thank Erik for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me, share this recipe and for allowing me to feature him in my Changemaker series.  Erik is an inspiration and role model to us all and I am honored to call him a friend.

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A Refreshing Blueberry-Rosemary Lemon Mocktail

A Refreshing Blueberry-Rosemary Lemon Mocktail

Not everyone drinks alcohol.  I know many people who won’t touch the stuff, including because of personal preferences or health reasons (including allergies).  Whatever the reason, there are now an increasing number of flavorful “mocktails,” as cocktails without alcohol have been cleverly named.  Mocktails are one of the hottest food trends from the past few years and I have my husband to thank for introducing me to them. With enticing flavor combinations and beautiful hues that remind you of a summer sunsets, mocktails are quickly becoming a go-to for costumers over their boozy cocktail cousins.blueberry-rosemary lemon mocktail

This recipe is Simmer + Sauce’s first mocktail recipe and this blueberry-rosemary lemon one is a winner.  Loaded with blueberries and fresh lemon juice with just a touch of fresh rosemary, this effervescent mocktail is light and refreshing.  Not a rosemary fan?  Trust me, try it anyway. The flavor is mild and complements the blueberry exceptionally well.  The true beauty of mocktails to me is they offer an easy, tasty, make-ahead option for dinner parties and family gatherings.  A kid-friendly alternative to water, they can be low sugar as well.

So if you are a mocktail lover already or are trying one for the very first time, I want your feedback.  Drop a comment and let me know what are some of your favorite flavor combinations and what kind of mocktails you want to see on my blog.  Cheers.

blueberry-rosemary lemon mocktail

Blueberry-Rosemary Lemon Mocktail

February 13, 2018
: 1
: 5 min
:
: 5 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 10 fresh blueberries, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 rosemary stem, stripped
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 ounces sparkling mineral water
  • rosemary sprig for garnish (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Using a cocktail shaker, add the blueberries, rosemary leaves and agave. Muddle for 30 seconds.
  • Step 2 Add the lemon juice and stir. Strain the syrup into a preferred drinking glass.
  • Step 3 Add a good amount of crushed ice. Add the mineral water and give it a little stir.
  • Step 4 Add fresh blueberries for garnish and a rosemary sprig if desired.

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Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata Cheese

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata Cheese

I have not been shy about my love of salads. My simple radish salad and my arugula and golden beet salad, are examples that salads don’t need to be overly complicated to be delicious. My mom had me eating salads when I was a kid and I’m incredibly thankful for that.  Because of that early exposure, I’ve never stopped. You can make a great salad with just about anything you have in the refrigerator.  If you work with the season and look for complementary flavors, there are limitless easy combinations, so many that you hopefully won’t get tired of any one thing.  In cooler months, I opt for a heartier salad, using more filling seasonal ingredients such as this lovely salad with roasted butternut squash and one of my favorites soft cheeses of all times, burrata.

roasted butternut squash

Butternut squash intimidates some people. I get that. The shape can make it tricky to work with, and it requires proper cooking to bring out the flavor you want.  For tips on how to safely peel and cut a butternut squash click this link. But if you can handle those hurdles, you’re golden.  Butternut squash is a member of the gourd family, like pumpkins and melons.  Because of its seeds, it is technically a fruit.   Butternut squash is naturally low in fat and loaded with dietary fiber. Butternut squash is also a great source of potassium, Vitamin B6 and is very high in beta-carotene, a powerhouse nutrient that might have cancer prevention properties.  So, if you are not yet a butternut squash fan, it’s worth considering. I pair this healthful gourd with fresh, slightly salty burrata cheese, flavorful microgreens and a sprinkling of whole pecans.  A simple apple cider vinaigrette blends all the wonderful earthy flavors together into an elegant, filling salad that you can enjoy any night of the week, just make a little bit of extra for lunch the next day.

roasted butternut squash

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata

February 22, 2018
: 4
: 20 min
: 15 min
: 35 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • For the Salad:
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted or plain
  • 6 cups mixed microgreens
  • fresh Burrata cheese, cut into 1-inch size pieces
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Step 2 Place the butternut squash on the prepared pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, maple syrup and salt using your hands, lightly toss well to coat. Place in the oven and roast till tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Step 3 For the dressing, in a small bowl and the shallots, honey, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, whisk to blend. Adjust the seasoning as needed and set aside.
  • Step 4 To serve, in a large mixing bowl add the microgreens and roasted butternut squash, drizzle with some of the dressing. Gently toss to mix. Place on a serving platter. Place the burrata on and around the salad.  Garnish with pecans and serve.

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