I’m not sure we have talked about it over the years as much as we should have, but Simran and I have been writing an every other week recipe column for the San Jose Mercury News since 2013!! We write our recipes under the theme of “Fast & Furious” cooking and by now we’re well past 100 recipes and closing in on 200. It’s been a dream of a project and one, when I think of it, that takes us back to where it all began.
When Simran and I first met (Simran’s daughter was only 4 and I had only one kid, and he was just 2!!) we immediately connected over our shared love of cooking but also in the observation we both had that many of our friends didn’t cook much at all. I completely empathize with how onerous the task of cooking can be in the midst of busy lives (especially if you don’t enjoy cooking in the first place) — but the idea of the homecooked meal going extinct is a pretty terrible notion… not to mention the impact on future generations as I think most of us learn to cook by being around cooking as we grow up. So as our friendship took flight, we just decided to see what we could do about making cooking more do-able, tasty and fun — for us, our friends and anyone else out there. Here we are ten years later having taught hundreds of people of all ages to cook and an archive of nearly as many recipes.
I find myself turning to our ever-growing library of quick (and “quick-ish”), healthy (and “healthy-ish) recipes for inspiration these days….so I thought I might make a more regular thing of sharing the recipes we develop for our column, as well as going back into the archives to highlight some of our favorites.
Spicy Chicken Wraps with Cool Minty Yogurt Dipping Sauce
This week my family made this recipe from way back in 2016….a super quick and easy spicy chicken wrap with a minty yogurt dipping sauce. Yum! Starting with rotisserie chicken, this is more of a “just assemble” dinner and works for days when full-on cooking isn’t in the cards. The wrap uses lavash bread which you can find at Trader Joe’s and likely most supermarkets with a simple filling of:
- shredded rotisserie chicken
- chili paste or hot sauce
- veggies of your choice
Warm the lavash to make it more pliable, wrap tightly with fillings and toast the wraps in a pan on the stove if you like. Serve with an herbed yogurt as a dipping sauce. For my dipping sauce I mixed chopped mint and cilantro into plain yogurt and added a pinch of salt to taste and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. You could also do this as a stuffed pita.
If you’re interested, you can find the full recipe details on the San Jose Mercury News website (unfortunately there’s a subscription fee to access the content, but it’s pretty inexpensive at 99 cents for 3 months and you get the full library of our recipes as well as their other recipe contributors).
It’s been a rough couple of months out there in the world. Sometimes the world of cooking classes and food blogging can feel a little frivolous in light of everything happening out there: hurricanes, violence, politics and most recently wildfires in our beloved Napa & Sonoma counties. But then again, when you think about it, there is a special kind of magic when people come together around food — sustenance for the body and the soul. So now’s the time, more than ever it seems, to invite a friend over for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, or to make that big pot of pasta sauce and share it with a neighbor, or invite family around for dinner… or get involved with feeding and nourishing your community.
[Simran and I have found some opportunities to share and help recently and it feels pretty good! If you want to get involved with helping Northbay fire first responders and evacuees, here’s a resource we can recommend: SF Fights Fire. ]
For me, a little personal moment of comfort came recently in the form of Russian honey cake, from the 20th Century Cafe in Hayes Valley in SF. It’s their signature dessert and one that’s been on my list to try for far too long. What’s so cool about 20th Century Cafe is that the dessert menu focuses on sweets from Eastern Europe so there are lots of new things to try. It’s such a lovely little spot for a special after school treat. The honey cake was, as advertised, divine and I managed to get a bite of the deliciously delicate layers of cake and cream before my hungry tablemates made it disappear.
this cake! — surrounded by poppyseeds from one of their housemade bagels which we also sampled.
enthusiastic cake eaters
going going gone!
[Upon returning home and finding myself a little obsessed with this cake, I found this video of chef/owner Michelle Polzine making it.]
We had delightful time of chatting and sharing delicious cake together, then decided to further lift our spirits by taking a short walk and visiting our gorgeous San Francisco City Hall. We often admire the beautiful exterior of the building as we pass by, but I realized the kids had never been inside. It really is stunning and made even more lovely by all the “just married” couples taking photos on the balconies and grand staircase. Being in the presence of so many happy new beginnings has a way of recharging your sense of hope in the world.
We took a minute to sit on the steps, and all found ourselves with big smiles on our faces — tummies happy and happy to be together enjoying something beautiful. And when I thought about it on the way home I realized that those smiles where what we were needing most of all.
(written by Ria)
I could eat Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One weekend morning I was thinking about Mexican food and how much I loved it. I opened the fridge for breakfast and contemplated. . I spied some tortillas and avocados in the fridge and, I had this “light bulb moment” – “Could I make tacos for my breakfast at home?
You definitely should try breakfast tacos at home. This dish is more of an assembling operation than a cooking operation. You can throw anything into this taco. These are the ingredients that I put in my special breakfast taco.
- Pico de gallo/Salsa Verde (store bought or homemade)
- Soft boiled egg
There is no method!! There is just you, your taste buds and your imagination!
Links for other breakfast taco recipes
Happy Sunday! Here’s a food-inspired minimalist lego creation by Luca: “I thought it would be interesting to create items in the least amount of pieces. A whole breakfast in 8 pieces! Enjoy!”
……. and while you’re enjoying this brunch creation, browse these brunch-y links from the archive. [Geez — I’m getting hungry, I think I’m in dire need of some shakshuka! :)]
Kids can make this from start to finish. Check out Matteo’s video review below 🙂
We’re a little bit addicted to this super fast and super easy stovetop “grilled” kale. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack…. we’ll eat this anytime!
It’s similar to oven roasted kale chips (although here you get a pleasing mixture of crispy and softer, sautéed bits), but sooooomuch faster because there’s no need to heat the oven up. Since we first started making kale this way a few months ago, we’ve been making it at least a few times a week and the kids are able to make it from start to finish. 🙂
This recipe was recently published in our “rotisserie chicken magic” series for the San Jose Mercury News’ “Fast and Furious Weeknight Cooking” column. It’s light and fresh and perfect for a summery lunch or supper! Get the recipe here:
Avocados! Love ’em in avocado toast, guacamole, grilled (!)….. but I recently discovered the magic of marinating them which is especially great for salads or sandwiches. I’m learning, the more I cook, about the importance of seasoning each element of a dish — especially for things like tacos, salads and sandwiches. The result is so much more than the sum of its parts…. and avocados while dreamy and creamy, definitely need a boost in the seasoning department.
This avocado marinade/salad dressing is a good quickie because it requires no mincing of shallots or garlic, simply a vigorous shake in a jar (a nice mini cooking project for kids). I love the nutty, toasted sesame flavor of the tahini in this but you could certainly substitute your favorite creamy nut butter. I’m a big fan of the tahini they have in the bulk section at Rainbow Grocery in SF (sometimes jars of tahini can be off in flavor if they’ve been sitting too long). There’s also a DIY tahini how-to over at the Kitchen, if you want to give making it from scratch a try.
Get the recipe for Soy-Tahini Chicken Salad with Marinated Avocados
More avocado & tahini yumminess:
This recipe is the most recent from our “rotisserie chicken magic” series for the San Jose Mercury News’ “Fast and Furious Weeknight Cooking” column. It’s perfect for summer! Get the recipe here:
Here’s a light and flavorful noodle salad that is enthusiastically endorsed by my two young noodle slurpers: chewy udon noodles, crunchy gai lan (or your favorite green veg), and shredded rotisserie chicken all tossed in a tasty soy-mustard-sesame dressing, with just a kick of chili ;).
Slurper 1 (9 years old): “I loved this dish because it has all different flavors and when they come together they taste great. (I like to add fish sauce to this dish.)”
Slurper 2 (6 years old): “I would put this on a kids’ menu at a restaurant.”
Simran and I are both big fans of the one-bowl supper. They’re so great for repurposing leftovers and work well for packed lunches the next day too (leftovers of leftovers, the gift that keeps on giving!). In this version we’ve layered rice (but you could use any leftover cooked grain) with a tasty chorizo-bean saute, and a super quick, semi-homemade avocado salsa. Add shredded carrots, chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes or whatever else you have on hand and your “what’s for dinner?” problem is solved.
(written by Ria)
This recipe was inspired by my cousins Sohum and Vertika. I was sleeping over at their house and they recommended that I put peanut butter and bananas in my oatmeal. I considered this idea and it passed the test. I said, “Okay, let’s try it”.
After I took my first bite I thought, “Wow this is much better than I expected. Oh well, I think that I can make it better.” That is what motivated me to do change it and make my own version with chia seed peanut butter and chocolate chips 🙂 !! Continue reading
We love rice bowls and our dinner often ends up looking like the above photograph. This meatball recipe was recently featured in the San Jose Mercury as part of a Vietnamese meatball sandwich (banh mi) and gets made a bunch around here.
Served with toothpicks, these meatballs would be great for a cocktail party as well. Since we make them in the oven, the mess is minimal. A fried or boiled egg would make this rice bowl even yummier! Continue reading