Gluten-Free is Me: Hot Crab Dip with Jalapenos and Scallions

Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip

I’m all for high-low dishes (after all, Ina Garten turned me onto the magic of potato chips and caviar at a young age). But I’ve always thought that hot crab dip seemed like a foolish use of a $30 a pound protein. It’s the same kind of philosophical problem I have with putting Foie Gras on burgers and lobster in tacos. I’ll admit that I do enjoy these things at restaurants from time to time, otherwise I’d have to figure out a foot-in-mouth emoji and post it on this image.

At restaurants when someone else is doing the work and partially amortizing expensive ingredients across other menu items, that’s one thing. But at home, I’m not going to hide my luxury splurges underneath a dousing of ketchup, cream cheese or sour cream.

scallions and jalapenos Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip lump crab Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip

But a few weeks ago on the vineyard I got a craving for crab. I was having a few friends over for dinner—friends who had wined and dined me on several occasions and I had yet to return the favor. So I wanted to do something special for them. Standing over the stove frying crab cakes while everyone else drinks rose and watches the sunset is my idea of a hosting nightmare. The next thing that popped into my head at the seafood shop was the idea for a spicy warm crab dip. And like the taste of Cape Cod potato chips scooping up caviar, I just couldn’t shake it. Continue reading

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Metro New York: One Switch For a Healthier Dish

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I was so excited to see my mug on page 32 of Metro New York today talking about simple ingredient swaps for healthier cooking. The spread is based on the class I did a few weeks ago for Vitamin Shoppe, and highlights some of the benefits and uses of the products I discussed. If you’re interested in trying out the Aloe Juice, you can grab the recipe for my mango lassi here! For the full issue online, click here.

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On the Job: Mango Lassi with Kefir and Aloe Water

Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free

Earlier this summer, I began working on a project with the Vitamin Shoppe to find easy ways to incorporate some of their healthy pantry products into everyday recipes. It was my first time working with some of these items, including the specialty ingredient in this mango lassi recipe: aloe juice.

I have vague memories of seeing bottles of aloe water in my mom’s fridge growing up, so I was not surprised to find out that it primarily benefits your digestive health. Alone in the glass, it’s pungent and intense. But diluted with some water, you get that great aloe fragrance on the tongue and your every day agua becomes all the more refreshing. It’s probably a good thing that the taste is so concentrated, because a little goes a long way with this stuff and you don’t want to overdue it, especially if your day includes activities that take you far away from the porcelain princess.

Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free

When I was thinking of ways to incorporate aloe juice, this traditional Indian smoothie made with yogurt came to mind. I made a peach version last year on the site, but the most popular fruit combination is straight up mango. I added a few of the other pantry ingredients to the mix—coconut oil and raw honey—along with lactose-free kefir to make the smoothie more enjoyable for those who have dairy sensitivities.

Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free

The aloe gives the mango lassi a very subtle, slightly medicinal background flavor. If I didn’t know better, I might have mistaken the cooling quality for cucumber. Continue reading

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Feeding Friends: Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Lebanese Fresh Tomato Salsa

Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe

While most food items tend to look prettier in food magazines than they ever do when prepared in my kitchen, there are a few dishes that take the cake (expertly styled with self-tanning spray, of course). I’ve intimately come to realize that skewers and kebabs are at the top of this list.

Usually on Martha’s Vineyard, my mother and I cave to my dad’s pescatarian ways and put our cravings for Kobe hot dogs and roast chicken on the back burner…at least until lunch the next day. But since Charlie was coming to visit, I figured it was as good a time as any to indulge in our carne cravings. And thus, a meal of surf and turf kebabs (with a 1:3 ratio of surf to turf) was born.

Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe Zucchini ribbons Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe

I came across this beautiful image of kebabs with zucchini thinly sliced and threaded onto the skewers like an elegant accordion. I thought this would be the perfect compliment to some lamb marinated in lemon, garlic, and Middle Eastern spices like ground cumin and ginger. I soon discovered that without a mandolin to cut the squash paper thin, this idea was much more beautiful in theory (i.e. in a magazine) than in practice.

Not only did 75 percent of my zucchini planks snap in half as I tried to thread them on the skewers, but even after a good soak, the bamboo still managed to catch on fire. The end result, though delicious, looked like a hot charred mess. At least, in comparison to the original inspiration.

Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe

Luckily, the second half of the dish, which was also inspired by a food magazine (for non-aesthetic reasons), turned out to be more of a success. Continue reading

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Meatless Monday: Penne Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Chickpeas and Olives

Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free

Despite having spent every summer on Martha’s Vineyard for as long as I can remember, I’ve never had a whole lobster with my parents. I bring this up because earlier this week on the island, we were invited over to a friend’s house for a classic lobster dinner and asked to bring a pasta salad, something my family is a lot more comfortable preparing. The whole occasion was a treat for me. I love masquerading as a traditional American family, and I especially love doing so when wearing a bib is involved.

So before I tell you more about this Mediterranean penne pasta salad that I whipped up as our contribution, I want to talk a little bit about the magical display of lobster preparation and consumption that I witnessed on Monday. The table setting, complete with lobster themed plates, napkins, salt and pepper shakers, and other miscellaneous tchotchkes, was as close as I could come to the wholesome family lobster massacre of my dreams. But the cooking of the lobster, on the charcoal grill and basted in Cholula butter, was anything but ordinary.

squash zucchini Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free

Grilling the lobsters took a bit longer than the usual boil. But the slow high-heat cooking process allowed for all the excess liquid in the lobsters to evaporate, leaving our plates pleasantly puddle-free when it finally came time to crack them open. The meat also tasted faintly smoky, though I was too busy fisting a bowl of Cholula butter to waste time dissecting the flavor nuance.

The highlight of the meal though was watching my parents squirming in their seats, unsure of how to eat their dinner.

I could have easily ended up this confused had it not been for college. Every year on the Sunday of Spring Weekend my school’s whitest, wealthiest frat would flaunt their dues money for all to see in the form of lobster and rib eyes. Since this happened on one of the main quads, the rest of us mere pedestrians were forced to watch with envy as each brother collected their surf and turf and ate it with glee. Or tried to.

Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free

Freshman year my friend Swathi and I noticed that the majority of the frat boys would be too drunk at this point to want to bother with dissecting small scraps of meat from a mollusk. So we began a casual tag-teamed competition to see how many lobsters we could finagle for ourselves if we batted our eyelashes and asked nicely, or just took them while the unsuspecting brother was up searching for steak sauce. Under her tutelage I became a varsity level scavenger (one year we made it to 5!) and an equally proficient lobster cracker. And I was happy that I could at least pass down the latter skill to my parents this past week at the dinner table.

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Gluten-Free is Me: Creamy Spanish Gazpacho (Salmorejo Cordobes)

Salmorejo Cordobes - Creamy Spanish Gazpacho | Cold Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe | Gluten-Free, Healthy, Easy

The first time I tasted Salmorejo Cordobes was not in Cordoba. It was in a small town in Southwestern Spain, about half an hour up the coast from Cadiz, one of the oldest port cities in Andalusia.

I was traveling by myself after college graduation and had just come off of a rather unfortunate three days in Malaga, where I spent most of my time curled up in the fetal position on my hostel bunk bed, making non-so-discrete trips to and from the communal bathroom every 20 minutes. The one afternoon I was well enough to venture out, 5 blocks from the hostel I was jumped by a group of 13-year-olds with leopard spotted buzz cuts. They didn’t take my wallet, since it became apparent their goal was to reap their profit through humiliation. So they just punched me repeatedly in the arm while pouring my gringa industrial-sized water bottle over my head in broad daylight in the middle of a crowded street. Needless to say, I was excited to head to Cadiz, even if my dignity, along with a few empty boxes of Imodium, stayed behind in Malaga.

After a few more successful nights in Cadiz, I decided to take a day trip to check out one of the nearby beaches. As per usual, I found myself on a public bus unsure of whether or not I was actually going where I thought I was going. I somehow always end up traveling alone in Spanish speaking countries even though I can barely say my name in Spanish. And this being one of the first trips of this sort, I was even more clueless than usual. But my technique was to scope out the crowd for a youngish looking person with a sweet face who might speak decent English and want to take pity on me. And on this particular bus, that person was Rose.

Tomatoes Salmorejo Cordobes - Creamy Spanish Gazpacho | Cold Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe | Gluten-Free, Healthy, Easy Salmorejo Cordobes - Creamy Spanish Gazpacho | Cold Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe | Gluten-Free, Healthy, Easy Salmorejo Cordobes - Creamy Spanish Gazpacho | Cold Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe | Gluten-Free, Healthy, Easy

It turned out that Rose was looking for the same beach and was equally clueless. Fortunately for both of us, Rose was from Madrid and could ask the bus driver using sentences that weren’t 50 percent Italian, 20 percent Spanish, 20 percent English, and 5 percent gibberish. Her English wasn’t great, but she managed to ask me if I’d like to go to the beach with her and have lunch.

We spent the afternoon chatting on our towels, passing my Spanish to English phrase book back and forth and writing out words in the sand. I’m sure our 4 hours of verbal toiling probably amounted to less than my Jewish high school friends say to each other in a 5 minute phone call. But I still managed to learn some key facts: Rose was a journalist living in Madrid, she was engaged and her wedding was in the fall. And apparently I was now invited. Over lunch, Rose also introduced me to the best cold soup I’d ever tasted.

Salmorejo Cordobes - Creamy Spanish Gazpacho | Cold Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe | Gluten-Free, Healthy, Easy Salmorejo Cordobes - Creamy Spanish Gazpacho | Cold Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe | Gluten-Free, Healthy, Easy
Salmorejo is basically the Andalusian version of gazpacho, the cold tomato soup ubiquitous in the North. But theirs is basically the “bisque” version,  smooth and creamy without chunks of vegetrables. Instead of the heavy cream we find in our similarly complexioned warm tomato bisque, this cold soup gets its orange, silky body from lots of olive oil and some stale bread. The soup is served tapas style, like the majority of dishes in the South, in small Terracotta ramekins garnished with crumbled hard boiled egg, strips of Jamon Iberico or Serrano, and even more olive oil. Continue reading

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