heathly does not equal boring

as a private chef, i get a lot of clients with specific diets, most of them are low-carb or gluten-free, and most center on eating clean.  but if they wanted to eat boring, bland food — or the same poached chicken with brown rice dinner every night — why would they need me??  so i’m constantly trying to come up with seasonal food that is both delicious and healthy.

the trick is using lots of different herbs and spices, lots of different textures and temperatures, and making sure at the end of the meal, they feel satiated, not deprived.  and for me, that means lots of farmers market shopping to make sure each ingredient tastes its absolute best (case in point – have you ever eaten strawberries or corn or tomatoes from the grocery store in january?  the color is off, the flavor isn’t there, the texture is weird, seriously, what’s the point?)

and with summer just around the corner, and the weather heating up, i’m starting to think about eating lighter.  here’s a few ideas for go-to meals that will leave you feeling light on your feet, and won’t leave you needing to let out a notch on the belt…

 happy eating!

zucchini, thyme & goat cheese tart

if you love that tang of goat cheese, the  subtlely sweet flavor of zucchini and a buttery crispy tart crust, you need to make this tart.   immediately. it’s actually very simple.

the tart shell itself is a basic flaky-butter & buttermilk pie crust recipe.  (I like this recipe and this one too), but use your favorite savory pie dough recipe, and just make sure there is salt for flavor, and not much sugar — unlike sweet pie dough recipes.  this one is gluten-free and you’d never know it!   tips for success: use cold butter when making the dough, don’t over mix, make sure the dough is chilled before rolling it out, and use plenty of flour on your board and rolling pin to get a smooth disk — and you’re set to go!!

for this recipe, i like to roll out a small round, about 1/4″ thick, and freeze it until I need it.  it eliminates the step of rolling it out and then waiting while it chills in the refrigerator.  great time saver.

you can really use any vegetable you like here!  it’s april, and zucchinis are popping up everywhere, so i’m using zucchini and thyme.  but sweet potatoes or any kind of potato would be great, mushrooms in the fall would be amazing, and actually my next version of this will be a spring onion and green garlic version for spring, which i have very high hopes for!  the trick is to slice your vegetables on a mandolin so they are all the same size.  for zucchini, they are full of water, so i like to salt them like you would eggplant, and let them sit for about 10 minutes on a paper towel.  once they release their water, just dry them off and you’re ready to layer them.

mix goat cheese, thyme and salt together, and spread a thin layer onto your dough round.  

then shingle zucchini slices around in any pattern you like until then entire dough is covered, except for a 1/2″ border.  fold the edges around each other, all the way around until you reach the beginning again.  feel free to get creative with your crimping, or not.  it will look amazing either way!

bake at 400, until the crust is as brown as you like it.  it will probably take at least a half hour, or longer if you like it more toasty brown.  when it comes out, sprinkle a bit more fresh thyme on top, and some maldon flake salt.  and slice it however you like…

i like to finish mine with some micro basil or just regular snipped basil if you have it around.

as a private chef, i plate meals into glass containers and place inside the refrigerator for the clients to nibble on at their convenience, along with instructions on how to best reheat.   for this guy, i’d recommend placing the cut tart onto a parchment-lined sheet tray and cooking for 10-minutes at 400 to re-crisp the crust, re-warm the tart and re-soften the goat cheese.

happy eating!

 

cook seasonally! trust me…

for my first blog post ever, i want to talk about cooking seasonally!  and what better time than the beginning of spring!  there are so many benefits to cooking seasonally.  produce in season is at its peak, which means it tastes the best it will taste all year.  it also means because produce grows more naturally and abundantly during its natural growing season, there is more local inventory and farmers need to sell fast since fresh food has a short shelf life.  this means lower prices!  what’s not to love about eating fresher, tastier food that is easier on your wallet!

​here are a few guidelines to help you shop, cook and eat seasonally:

​rule #1: shop your local farmers market.  in southern california, we are so lucky to have such beautiful farmers markets, and if you can make it, you need to visit the wednesday market in santa monica.  when i go, i like to go without a plan, to see what is available, rather than to force a menu.  the first thing you notice about spring is all the green.  let the produce guide your choices.  one look at these photos and I dare you not to be inspired…

rule #2: keep it simple, let the ingredients speak for themselves.  each of these dishes uses 5 or less ingredients, mostly which you can determine just from the pictures.  don’t get hung up on recipes: if you are charring snap peas, put them in a hot pan with a bit of oil and salt, and saute until they’re charred.

rule #3: familiarize yourself with what foods grow in what seasons.  when you are deciding what to make for dinner,  whether its grocery shopping, perusing your favorite cookbooks or flipping through pinterest, you’ll need to know what items will be available, will taste best and will be more affordable – and you won’t waste your time buying ingredients that only vaguely resembles something that was once fresh.

​happy eating!