BEET CARPACCIO

This is my new favorite appetizer for when I’m trying to be super-healthy. You can use any kind of beet and actually this dish looks stunning if you use different colored beets, especially a golden and a red. I made this one from the Candy Stripe beets that I can only find in my farmer’s market in the Summer.

You do need a Mandolin. I purchased one of these scary slicing devices a couple of years ago and use it much more than I thought I would. However, every time my husband sees me whipping it out, he gets afraid – I did slice of the tip of my finger not so long ago!!! So, be warned, use one of those prong things to hold the food you are slicing. The great thing about beets is that they have a big thick stalk, which can kind of act as a handle.

Set your mandolin to it’s thinnest setting and slice away at your beet. You need the slices to be paper-thin.

Drizzle with walnut oil, and then top with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon, a pinch of smoked paprika and a flakey sea salt.

I also toasted a handful of walnuts, crushed them and sprinkled on top (optional).

If you can’t find walnut oil, go with a good olive oil

THE PERFECT TOMATO SANDWICH

I went out for lunch yesterday with my husband, and we paid about fifteen bucks apiece for a very mediocre/unsatisfying salad. So, this morning, I took off to the farmer’s market in search of the perfect tomato for a good old-fashioned tomato sandwich.

My husband comes from Georgia, where his father has an amazingly abundant garden – tomatoes being his speciality. As a result, my hubby was raised eating tomatoes every which way, and he believe that when you have a perfect tomato, there is no better way to eat it than in a sandwich, BUT the sandwich has to be simple and unadulterated with fancy ingredients such as Buffalo Mozzarella.

It’s all about the tomato and the bread. I happened to have a loaf of sliced Sourdough Bread (from the farmer’s market last week), so was fine in that department, plus I have a huge planter of basil which is crying out to be picked. However, the tomato?? I wandered through the market looking at all kinds of expensive heirloom varieties that I knew my husband would turn his nose up at, and then I found it – a deep red (almost scarlet) perfectly round, just-soft-to-the-touch, fruit. I knew it was the one. Although not “organic”, the farmer promised me that he never used pesticides, so I took his word. It cost me one buck.

Lunchtime rolled around and I lightly toasted the bread. Then I smeared a generous amount of Spectrum Organic Mayo on both slices (don’t skimp on the mayo). I sliced the still-warm tomato (never put it in the fridge because it will lose its flavor). I laid the slices on the toast, topped with a few large basil leaves, flakey sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

My husband agreed that it was the best lunch we’ve eaten all summer. We bit in, and the sweet juice ran down our chins. He was reminded of sitting at his mom’s kitchen counter after jumping through the sprinkler on a hair-dryer-hot day. The lunch probably cost about 50c each and there wasn’t a restaurant in Los Angeles that could have delivered a more perfect sandwich!

WILDWOOD

I think Wildwood does the best ever meat substitutes. If you are a taco lover, you will LOVE the Wildwood Tofu Taco Crumbles, which are a brilliant ground beef/turkey substitute. I prepared some for “Taco Night” last week, and also prepared some ground turkey for my daughter who said she didn’t want tofu – however who ate all the crumbles?? Aside from being delicious, they’re also fuss-free because all you have to do is warm them up. I tossed the leftovers into a salad the following day with a homemade Ranch dressing – YUM!

CAST IRON PAN

I purchased my beloved cast iron pan for under eight bucks, about six years ago, and I think it deserves a mini blog. It is one of the items in my kitchen that I absolutely cannot live without. It sits on my stovetop 24/7 because it gets used every single day. I adore cast iron because it’s non-toxic and if any actual iron rubs off onto your food, it’s probably a good thing because most of us could do with a little more iron anyway!

I fry everything in this little pan: eggs, scrambled eggs, fried tofu, tofu bacon, banana fritters, onions – to name what I’ve cooked in the last few days. Every now and again, when I can be bothered, I “cure” it. This means that I cover it in some kind of fat or thick oil (bacon fat is good, but because I don’t fry much bacon, I use coconut oil). I smother it in the fat/oil and leave it in a warm oven (that I’ve just turned off) for 12 or so hours. When I remove it, I rub it with a paper towel and that’s that. But I do this very sporadically, and most of the time, after cooking, I just rinse it under hot water with a little eco-friendly dish soap and give it a good scrub.

If you are looking for a more eco-friendly/non-toxic pan choice – I beg you to get yourself a cast iron frying pan. They can be found at any big box store and you’ll love it for life!