Hi, I’m Maria–you might know me from the Bi-Rite grocery team. In my new blog series I’ll be sharing with you my favorite recipes that are so easy they almost makes me feel like I’m cheating! My mom always used to say that to make anyone think you are a great cook, just sauté some onions in a pan. I guess I got my crafty culinary trait from her! So whether you’re hosting a grand dinner party or just having a few friends over, try out these suggestions to impress your guests. Only you have to know how silly-easy they are. I hope you find these helpful and inspiring to create your own twists on some classics. You’ll see that I write my recipes as if I’m hanging out with you in the kitchen and walking you through them–the ingredients are listed throughout the instructions, which is extra reason to read the whole thing through before starting (like the best cooks always tell us we should!)
Holiday Quick Fixes
The holidays are upon us! As a time of gathering, the holidays are about spending time together with friends and family, being grateful, and perhaps most appealing of all, filling our bellies with delicious food. It’s the time we look forward to all year, finally the opportunity to make those tried-and-true recipes we love. But for some of us, it can also be an intimidating time. Cooking for others and attempting traditional recipes can come with high expectations and pressure. Here are a few simple and easy ideas that can make the whole meal surprisingly fantastic.
Who needs maple syrup when you can make your own? Squeeze fresh oranges into a bowl with honey, give it a stir and voila, citrus-honey syrup. I know, almost too easy to be true, let alone write about in this blog. But it’s a delicious, fun alternative to the traditional maple syrup we always tend to turn to. Make your own syrup to your taste – more honey for more thick sweetness, more citrus for a lighter tang. Pour it over French toast, pancakes, even ice cream. And as the winter citrus season gets better and better, play with flavors – try mandarins, meyer lemons, grapefruit. Just keep in mind that the levels of sweet, sour and acidity will change with your fruit, so adjust accordingly.
Brussels, Bacon and Meyer Lemon
Shout-out to my good friend and co-worker Wyatt, who’s helped up the ante on my creations and contributed his own favorite brussels sprout recipe here for me to share!
Can’t go wrong with this recipe, a classic combo of brussel sprouts and bacon that is nicely complimented with sweet meyer lemon. The key here is using the whole lemon – peel, pith, pulp – chopped tiny. Cut bacon into small pieces and render on the stove-top. Strain the bacon out of the pan and throw in your brussels, cut in halves. Although you can also cook them in the oven, the stove-top gives you more control over the heat and a visible marker for when the outsides of the brussels start becoming crispy and brown. Add the chopped meyer lemon, salt and pepper and boom! You have yourself a great dish that will win over anyone.
Avocado Chocolate “Mousse”
This avocado-based chocolate dessert is so easy– it is literally avocado, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Because of avocado’s buttery texture, this dessert mimics real chocolate mousse like an expert. This is a great dessert for those vegan and/or sugar-intolerant friends of ours, or for any chocolate mousse lover who I challenge to a blind taste-test.
Mash the avocado(s) to a smooth texture and add cocoa powder and sweetener to taste. Any cocoa powder will work, although dutch-processed cocoa will blend more smoothly and have a less bitter taste than regular cocoa powder. Whether your sweetener choice is sugar, agave, honey, or maple syrup, make note that what you choose will affect the texture slightly differently. I have used confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) before, which, because of its fine consistency, blends really well and makes this “mousse” even creamier. This dessert is best prepared, served and devoured relatively quickly. See how long you can keep the secret that it is avocado; I like to divulge the secret after the bowls are licked clean.