A special post shout out to The Almanac, a local Silicon Valley newspaper, for the awesome piece they just published on me and my blog this week titled “Chef In The House“. I am super excited. In honor of my very first press coverage, I […]
A crudité is a traditional French appetizer and important part of entertaining, if you ask me. If they are made right, they can be a great focal point, adding vibrant colors as well as offer a healthy food choice option for guests of all ages. I am a big vegetable eater generally, but I almost always offer a crudité platter when I entertain, especially if I don’t know the food preferences of my guests. Pair this with the perfect cheese board and some great wine and you have all you need for your next dinner party. Below are the most important factors to me in making an appealing crudité platter:
Seasonal Variety: A diverse selection of vibrant fresh vegetables is critical. For warmer months, watermelon radish and ripe cherry or grape tomatoes are great options. Lightly blanched sugar snap peas and asparagus offer a vibrant green pop of color. In cooler months, try adding radicchio or lightly roasted yellow, red or striped beets to make your platter more interesting and earthy. I think it is very important, as much as possible, not to buy pre-cut vegetables: they are often old, dry and tasteless. Freshly cut vegetables will make all the difference in the world, despite the extra effort they take. I suggest 5-8 types of seasonal vegetables, making sure to include simple options for those picky eaters–carrots and celery may not be “exciting” but they are loved.
Abundance: One of the biggest issues with crudité platters is when there is not enough, or there is not enough balance. Variety is important, but volume is as well. To make the platter welcoming and appealing, the key word is making it bountiful. A full platter is more inviting and makes guests want to dive in and enjoy.
A Great Dip: Most people dip. Some don’t. But honestly, most people prefer vegetables with a rich, creamy dip, I know I do. There is lots of room here for what kind of dip you use, just make it a good one and avoid a vinaigrette, which is not guest-friendly. I have used a Greek yogurt green goddess dip by Melissa Clark, which I have only lightly adapted, it’s a sure crowd pleaser. I love that option because the herb flavors complement the garden vegetables well. Creamy avocado-based dips are great, and a red bell pepper sauce or a spicy Sriracha are interesting choices as well.
Arrangement: There are two important things to remember here: crudité vegetables should be (1) cut to make them easier to eat, and (2) look appealing. Different shapes and sizes allow to better visual balance. A channel knife, for example, can be used with cucumbers to make them look like a flower shape, a vegetable peeler can make them look like ribbons which can be rolled. Split your baby carrots lengthwise to make them bite-size. Vegetable arrangement is just as important: organized but not too neat is ideal. Alternate colors, shapes and sizes. Small piles all around that blend are less intimidating than large isolated piles. A well-arranged vegetable display will be so visually appealing, people will want to dive right in a and enjoy your masterpiece.
Greek Green Goddess Dip
- 1/2 cup packed fresh dill
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint
- 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch kosher salt, more to taste
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise, optional
- Step 1 Place the dill, mint, parsley, basil, garlic, scallions, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
- Step 2 With motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Add feta and process until smooth
- Step 3 Pulse in the yogurt. Taste dip and add more salt, if desired. If you like a creamier, richer dip, add mayonnaise and pulse to combine.
- Step 4 Serve dip immediately or can be stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
A special post shout out to The Almanac, a local Silicon Valley newspaper, for the awesome piece they just published on me and my blog this week titled “Chef In The House“. I am super excited. In honor of my very first press coverage, I developed this delicious, refreshing cucumber-tequila cooler as a “thank you” to The Almanac, Kate Bradshaw who interviewed me and wrote a lovely article, and photographer Michelle Le, who captured my food so beautifully.
This light, refreshing drink is slightly similar to a mojito, but with tequila instead of rum. With just a little bit of sweetness, this cooler is fantastic on a hot summer day. Cucumbers happen to be one of my favorite vegetables and I put them in everything, so why not a drink? With their light melon aroma, they make wonderful additions to a variety of fun cocktails. Originally from South Asia, cucumbers–which are actually a plant in the gourd family–are now grown on most continents, yet most (about 75%) are produced in China. Cucumbers, with their 95.2% water content, are often assumed to be nutritionally useless. But cucumbers have a number of nutrients and can be a source of fiber. They are believed to be a cleanser with great anti-inflammatory properties, which is the main reason you see this popular vegetable used widely in wellness spas. I won’t go so far as to say this cucumber-tequila cooler is good for you. But in the world of specialty drinks, maybe it’s not all that bad for you either.
- 1 two-inch piece of Persian or hothouse cucumber, peeled and rough chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 ounces tequila
- 2 ounces seltzer
- salt, to garnish
- crushed ice
- kosher salt, for garnish
- cucumber ribbons, for garnish
- lime wedge, for garnish
- Step 1 Place a good amount of kosher salt on a small saucer. Wet the rim of a lowball glass with the lime wedge. Dip the glass into the salt to adhere to the rim of the glass. Fill with a good amount of crushed ice. Place the cucumber ribbons inside the glass along the bottom. Set aside.
- Step 2 Place the chopped cucumber into a shaker. Muddle the cucumber until broken and smashed.
- Step 3 Add the lime juice, agave and tequila and a cup of ice. Shake well for 15 seconds. Strain into prepared glass.
- Step 4 Top with seltzer and garnish with a lime wedge.
Cauliflower quinoa vegetable rice is an easy, flavorful and delicious side-dish that you can serve with just about anything. Cauliflower rice, or riced cauliflower as it’s also called, has become incredibly popular in recent years as a low-carb alternative to rice. Don’t get me wrong: I love rice and I always have. But I have been eating less of it over the years. Cauliflower rice is simply cauliflower that has been grated or finely chopped to the size of rice. Cauliflower is a non-starchy cruciferous vegetable (like cabbage and broccoli) and is considered a white food not to be ignored. Cauliflower rice is hearty and filling and if not overcooked, can have a great texture that is very similar to rice. But it is a 100% nutrient rich vegetable, brimming with vitamin C and rich in fiber, something we all need more of. It is also readily available, if you know where to look. Pre-made cauliflower rice can be found at grocery stores such as Safeway and Trader Joe’s making it even easier to whip up this dish or substituting it for rice in your other favorite recipes. Trader Joe’s has seen such a high demand for this gluten-free specialty item that it has started rationing it to its customers. Don’t panic, apparently the two-bag limit is only in effect in certain Trader Joe’s locations, including Millburn, New Jersey and Fairfield, Connecticut. For those that wish to make their own “rice”, don’t be intimidated, check out this link which shows you how, it’s not all that labor intensive. My recipe for cauliflower quinoa vegetable rice is not a complicated recipe at all, and has a nice subtle earthy cauliflower flavor that shines through.
Cauliflower Quinoa Vegetable Rice
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 16-ounce bag of cauliflower rice/crumbles
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, loosely packed, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Step 1 Cook the quinoa and allow to cool on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until needed.
- Step 2 Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When hot, but not smoking, add the cauliflower rice and sauté until you start to see some coloration, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add to the quinoa and cool.
- Step 3 Place the saucepan back over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the carrots and sauté until slightly tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer, until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
- Step 4 Using a large mixing bowl, add the cooled quinoa, sautéed cauliflower rice and carrot-garlic mixture. Add the almonds and cilantro and toss well to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. You may wish to drizzle with a bit more olive oil, but only if desired.
- Step 5 Can be served warm or at room temperature