Persian Herb Frittata: Kookoo Sabzi

Persian Herb Frittata - Kookoo Sabzi

Happy New Year, everyone!

I know what you’re thinking – I’m a few months too late, right? Well actually, there’s another New Year I like to celebrate: Persian New Year aka “Nowruz” (pronounced No-rooz). I highly recommend observing this holiday, especially if January 1st didn’t treat you too well and you need to hit restart!

What I love about Nowruz is that it always falls on the first day of spring, March 20th. It gives the holiday such great meaning as it’s symbolic of fresh starts and new beginnings. And recently, I discovered ALOHA, a nutrition and wellness startup that has a collection of healthy recipes. With springtime around the corner, I felt inspired to post one of my favorite light recipes too! With Nowruz just last week, I couldn’t help but think of my mother’s Kookoo Sabzi recipe – it’s like a Persian herb frittata. It’s one of the many traditional dishes served during the holiday, and it’s loaded with nutritious vegetables, herbs, nuts and more. It’s the perfect recipe to share with you all as we leave winter behind!

Persian Herb Frittata - Kookoo Sabzi

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Sunday Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce-6“The most important ingredient in cooking is restraint.”

The restaurant was loud and filled with chatter, so I thought I misheard Chef Adam Perry Lang as he explained his views on simple cooking. I asked him to repeat it again, expecting him to name an actual ingredient, perhaps a fancy kosher salt or a fine olive oil. But nope, I heard it right the first time: The most important ingredient in cooking is restraint.  It’s like the culinary version of Coco Chanel’s famous quote – “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” And this is exactly what The Simple Fare is all about. The belief that less is more, and that simple food with few ingredients can be easy to cook and taste delicious.

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to attend a dinner at the classic Tosca Café hosted by George Dickel Whisky with barbecue and grilling expert Chef Lang. I was lucky enough to sit across from Chef Lang, and we chatted about everything from the best way to prepare beets to the pros and cons of sous vide cooking. I also was able to try Dickel whisky for the first time, straight up and in a few different cocktails. If you’re looking for a tasty value-priced whisky, I definitely recommend Dickel No.12. It’s smooth enough to sip on its own, but also works nicely in cocktails. One of my favorite cocktails was the Boulevard #12 which includes Campari, similar to a Negroni. Here’s the recipe:

Boulevard #12 by Joe Cleveland of Tosca Café

  • .5 oz. George Dickel No. 12
  • .5 oz. Campari
  • .5 oz. Grand Classico

Build in a mixing glass. Add all ingredients to the mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Ok, back to the cooking! My conversation with Chef Lang inspired me to share my Sunday Marinara Sauce recipe on the blog. What I love about this sauce is that there are few ingredients but they each serve a purpose to adding specific flavors. I call this my Sunday Marinara Sauce, because I like to make a large batch on Sunday evening which will last me throughout the week. It’s so versatile; the sauce is perfect served with pasta or spaghetti squash, layered into a lasagna, you name it.

Sunday Marinara Sauce Ingredients

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Cheese & Charcuterie

Cheese & Charcuterie

Earlier this week, I invited one of my girlfriends over to my apartment to hang out and catch up. Since she was coming by after her evening workout, I wanted to serve something light that would go well with wine or tea. Yes, we have this weird routine of drinking caffeine-free tea like old ladies – just on the weeknights though ;)

Crostini? Nope, too much bread after a workout. Salad? Meh, refreshing but not that cozy.

Cheese & charcuterie? Perfect!

A cheese and charcuterie platter is my new favorite go-to when I have friends stopping by during those non-meal time hours. It’s easy to set up and you can customize the meats, cheese and other nibbles. Also, I have a great little grocery around the corner that sells a variety of sliced meats as well picnic-sized samples of cheese. If your only option is to buy full size portions, then perhaps pick two kinds (1 hard, 1 soft) to keep it simple and affordable. The key to a great spread is to include a balanced variety of flavors and textures — sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, etc. And be sure to check your fridge and pantry before heading to the grocery store; you probably already have some ingredients on hand!

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Mushroom Crostini with Burrata and Prosciutto

Mushroom Crostini with Burrata and Prosciutto

Imagine this: You have one hour to buy groceries AND make an appetizer for a small dinner party. What would you make?

I love a good challenge, and this situation was my reality last weekend. I got a bit carried away with errands and random window shopping on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and completely lost track of time. I was on the hook for bringing an appetizer to my friend’s house for dinner, and hadn’t bought my ingredients, let alone decide on a recipe. And, the dinner started in roughly an hour…EEK!

One of my trusty go-to appetizers is Ina Garten’s Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola. It’s flavorful, simple to make, and plates gorgeously with the bright colors of the red and yellow peppers. Perfect for my dinner party, right? Unfortunately not this one. There’s significant prep time to julienne the peppers and cook them long enough so they caramelize. Absolutely no way I’d be able to pull this off in time!

However, I did like the idea of bringing a crostini or bruschetta to the party. They’re quick to assemble, simple to pack up, and easy to eat as finger foods. And, they can be topped with a variety of cheeses, meats, vegetables, etc.

So how did I come up with this recipe for Mushroom Crostini with Burrata and Prosciutto?

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Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava Cakes-8

As I write this post, I’m en route to New Orleans, a city I have been *dying* to visit for years now. It’s the one city I’ve booked flights to once twice but had to cancel at the last-minute. I suppose the third time’s a charm!

I’ll be spending the long weekend celebrating Mardi Gras and squeezing in some foodie sightseeing. Thanks to some friends who’ve gone before, I have a nice list of spots to check out: beignets at Cafe du Monde, freshly shucked oysters at Acme, tasty barbecue shrimp at Mr. B’s, and a muffuleta sandwich from Central Grocery. Am I missing anything? Oh, and did I mention how excited I am? :)

And, this weekend is also Valentine’s Day! It’ll definitely be memorable as I’ll be partying it up with my boyfriend and friends (+thousands of randoms) at a formal ball at the…Superdome. Crazy, right? There’s even a strict dress code: men in tuxedos and women in floor length gowns…this should be interesting!

Now if I wasn’t traveling, my absolute favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day would be in the kitchen. Is it just me, or is going out to dinner on V-Day always underwhelming? The food is never as great as a random Tuesday night and sometimes restaurants only offer a Prix Fixe menu. I’d much rather spend the evening cooking up a fun dinner with a special boy or close gal pals (Galentine’s Day anyone?!). Plus, if you’re struggling to come up with a thoughtful gift, why not show your love by cooking a special dinner? Worst case scenario, you botch it in the kitchen and end up ordering your favorite delivery pizza. Your Valentine will still appreciate the effort!

Chocolate Lava Cakes-4

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Baked Buffalo Wings

Baked Buffalo Wings

The big game is just one day away, and that means it’s time to get serious about Super Bowl food. Hosting a party or invited to one? Make these Baked Buffalo Wings, and it’ll keep your friends licking their fingers clean as they watch the Seahawks crush the Pats. Yep, I’m biased. Deal with it, Boston readers!

What’s great about these wings is that you don’t have to mess with frying them. I live in a small apartment, so whenever I fry any foods, my place smells like a fast food joint for the next day or two. Instead, these wings are baked at 500 degrees F for roughly 20 minutes, then finished off in the broiler to give them some extra color and crispness. Baked wings are so much easier to prepare and clean up, and they’re definitely healthier than fried Buffalo wings (although who really cares about that when it comes to the Super Bowl?). Note that I used  a specific kind of parchment paper that’s safe at high temps, but I recommend foil just to be safe.

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash


Help! What does a die-hard pasta lover bring to a Whole30 potluck?

That’s my cooking challenge this weekend, friends. As some of you know, I love to take classes at Barry’s Bootcamp and have made some new friends through the grueling 7am workouts. This weekend, we’re having a potluck to celebrate the end of January’s Whole30 challenge, which consisted of 30 straight days of following the paleo-esque Whole30 program. To be clear, I didn’t participate in the challenge (have you seen what I cook on this blog?!), but I’m still planning to help my Barry’s #fitfam celebrate!

For the potluck, I’m whipping up a Whole30-approved dish. Some of the people who completed the challenge are bringing in food they’ve been craving over the last 30 days – pizza, candy, diet coke, you name it. But since I didn’t participate, I decided to cook a dish within the Whole30 rules. Completely unaware of what that meant (or didn’t mean), I jumped over to Google and quickly discovered that I’m not allowed to cook anything with dairy, sugar, or grains. Argh. That basically rules out my go-to potluck recipes. But then I remembered one of my favorite “pasta cheats” that I discovered a few years ago…spaghetti squash!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

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One Year Later

Plate to PixelAround this time last year, I felt the need to push myself and learn something new. I had fallen into a fairly comfortable routine with my job, social life, etc. and wanted to mix it up with a creative interest. So, exactly one year ago today I bought my first DSLR camera and decided to learn photography, an art I had always found too intimidating to try and written it off as “not my thing”. The truth is that I’ve always been interested in photography, but simply got in my own way through these excuses. Thankfully, I decided to ignore those voices and take the plunge.

Why Food Photography?

My desire to learn food photography was inspired by my return to food blogging. As some of you may know, I used to have a cooking blog back in the day (’08!) called The Midnight Cook. All of my photos were taken with a Konica Minolta point and shoot, which at the time seemed perfectly fine. Fast forward 6 years, and so much has changed with amateur food photography, thanks to the popularity of DSLR cameras. It became obvious that having legit, good pictures of my cooking was a must-have for the blog. So, I’d need to invest some serious time learning how to use my camera before even thinking of writing my first post. After all, people eat with their eyes first.

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