Tag Archives: spring

Hard-Boiled Tip + Devilish Eggs

creamyherbeggsEaster bonnets. Baby boys in bowties. Hunting for eggs. Spring inspired dishes… and Deviled Eggs! These are a few of my favorite things this bright time of year.

With the bunny eager to hide your eggs, let’s start with a hard-boiled tip!

It is a rare person who hasn’t felt the frustration of peeling eggs and the whites refusal to separate. The typical result being a torn up hard-boiled egg. There are endless claims on the interwebs with ways to skirt this problem –trust me I have tried so many– but, I keep going back to two things that have been consistent for me:

1. Old Eggs = Smooth Peeling.
Of course, how does one find an old egg? My strategy is to buy eggs a week or two before Easter, then I label them “Easter Only!” and keep them in the back of the fridge. If you are purchasing from a grocery most likely your eggs are already a couple weeks old, but honestly older is better. (Feel free to get your google on with the regulations on eggs and sell-by dates, it is a fascinating eye opener.) But, I digress… because how do you really know if the eggs will hard boil and peel properly? Next step… test them!

mangochutneyeggs2. Will you please stand up if you are ready to be hard-boiled?
The best way to know if an egg plans to peel smoothly is with an easy float test. Fill your pot with water and the potential eggs, if your eggs start to stand up, they are a tad old and likely to peel perfectly.
If the eggs float– bye, bye! Ick.
If they drop to the bottom heavy and tired, you have fresh eggs. They can still be cooked hard but they may not be smooth to peel. However, the freshies are ideal for hollandaise. 😉

If you have some magical way to get a fresh egg to peel well regardless of its shelf life please comment below! I have certainly had luck with some of the ‘internet claims to peeling fame’ but too often I can always circle back to it was simply an older egg. wasabideviledeggs

Now… let’s flavor them up! While I am happy with most standard variations of Deviled Eggs, I get rather excited to mix them up. After dipping + dying, hiding + hunting, cracking + peeling, cut open your hard-boiled eggs and get creative. Here are a few of my favorite combinations:
Wasabi-Avocado (in the picture above!) 
Creamy Goat Cheese + Herb
Mango Chutney

How do you creatively make your eggs devilish!?

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

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For Father’s Day this year, Xerxes requested the day to begin with coffee cake. When he made this request, the kids started dancing around cracking up. Cake for breakfast Papa!? Followed by… I don’t drink coffee! I don’t want coffee in my cake!! 

The explanation of “It is just a breakfast dish that you eat at the same time you drink coffee” did not seem to satisfy their hilarious inquiry, but once the cake was in front of them, they were gleefully satisfied that it did not contain coffee and was just sweet enough to feel a bit like dessert.

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Since fruit is not exactly easy to find at this point in our local food year, I chopped up a good pile of rhubarb from our yard and let it soak in a little honey bath over night. The next goal was to find a recipe that uses honey rather than sugar as the sweetener. A recipe from the Honey Board did the trick. We also wanted a simple ode to the crumble you see on top of NY Crumb Cakes and that seem to be the final flourish.

Quick tip: As we have baked with honey much more in the last few weeks, one thing I keep trying to remember is to have the oven temperature a bit lower as the color can get dark faster. IMG_5810

Honey Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Inspired by the Honey Board’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

3 cups minced rhubarb
1 cup honey, divided
1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose gluten-free blend could work, too!)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond

For the crumble:
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter, very soft
1/4 cup minced almonds
1/4 cup flour
pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon

The night before or about an hour prior, toss together the rhubarb and honey. Place in the fridge to soften and sweeten up.

Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Turn on the oven to 350.

Melt the butter. Stir in the honey and milk. Making sure this mixture is not too hot, whisk in the eggs, apple cider vinegar and vanilla. If the honey-butter is hot, place in the fridge until it is closer to room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the crumbs by mixing together the softened butter, honey, nuts, flour and spices. The goal is to be able to clump it together, if it is too moist, add more flour, if it is too dry and not coming together add a drizzle more melted butter. Set aside.

Butter the dish for the coffee cake up on the sides until it is evenly coated. Sprinkle with flour and shake around until it is thinly distributed and dump the remaining flour.

Fold together the dry flour ingredients with the honey-butter-egg ingredients and the honey soaked rhubarb. Pour into the coffee cake pan. Spread it out with a spatula until it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top in clumps.

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So happy his coffee cake contains no coffee!

Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Eat hot, cool or room temperature. It lasts a few days as well.

My Birthday Party featuring Spring’s Chips + Dips!

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I love birthdays. Not just my own, but it is probably my favorite. I especially love the fact that since having children, my birthday marks the start of “birthday season” in my home as my daughter’s follows close behind mine and my son’s is a month later. Their poor father’s birthday is more of a Thanksgiving thing, but he does have Father’s Day to enjoy so no one is feeling too sorry for him.

My birthday week has begun and I am planning a party where as many people as possible are celebrating FOOD! It is easy. On Tuesday the 28th (aka my big bday!), I simply want you to find something delicious, something totally worth celebrating and then take a picture of it and put it up on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest wherever you roam in this wild online realm and tag @lillystable. That’s it! I want to see all of the food you love to celebrate… it may be your morning cup o’ joe, your favorite piece of toast, or something more involved. And honestly, the more the merrier. Take this as an opportunity to get a little silly with the food photos. Let’s celebrate food in all of it’s delicious glory!

Once the food photo dust has settled, I am going to select a few posts (at least one at random and one because I love it) and then I will be gifting the winners with some goodness from Lilly’s Table!

In the meantime, I love taking my food for a dip, especially when they are outside of the box. In the spring for me, whole artichokes with my favorite dippy goodness is the way I like to do chips + dips, but also thinly sliced raw sweet potatoes with my Guacamamae Salad or my favorite Feta-Guacamole.

We make this dip/dressing frequently in our home as a ranch-style addition to the pull-able leaves off of whole artichokes. The best part is that it can be made entirely with whatever fresh herbs you have available in your home or garden.

617_originalYogurt Ranch
1 lemon*, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced fine (optional if you want a more subtle dressing)
1/4 cup fresh minced herbs (including basil, thyme, oregano, sage, sorrel, parsley, dilll, carrot tops, etc.)
1 cup plain yogurt
2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper, to taste

Whisk the garlic and lemon juice together. Allow to mellow for a minute. This is a great time to pick, wash and dry the herbs if you have not already done it. Whisk the yogurt and freshly minced herbs into the garlic & lemon juice. With one hand whisk rapidly, while slowly drip by drip drizzle in the olive oil. Add as much olive oil as you like, to taste. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

*If you have a microplane or zester, zest the lemon into the bowl for an extra lemony boost.

Happy week to you! And don’t forget to celebrate this Tuesday the 28th!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

Miracles… from Surgery to Salad

IMG_9592The past couple of weeks have been full of challenges and in between all of the chaos, it has been a joy to receive the miracles. It all started with my husband heading to a conference, which usually leaves me a bit apprehensive about how my children and I will get through our days solo. Partially, because Xerxes offers additional hands for doing chores and caring for our children, but also because his emotional support and kind nature are critical to my personal sanity.

Of course, maybe to keep my mind off of his absence, my evenings were scheduled full of goodness and busy-ness. Looking at my evenings of to-do’s, without much help to make it all happen, made me very nervous. Fortunately, a few days before the week started my Mom and I found a ticket for her to fly out to be with us during this time to help us: the first miracle.

My baby Zed also had an appointment at the start of the week to determine if he would need surgery for a hernia that kept popping out the last few weeks. Low and behold, he did! And asap! After a phone call to Xerxes, we all agreed Friday would be the day, even though he would still be at his conference. Knowing my Mom would be here to help, I was able to breath relief.

As I wandered in to the hospital cafeteria with my two cuties in tow, feeling an aching sensation of concern for the coming Friday and the low-blood sugar of hunger, I looked up to see the mother of one of Juliette’s preschool classmates. I told my tale, and she brightly suggested Juliette spend Friday afternoon with her and her daughter: the second miracle.

The week went on smoothly. The dance classes I taught were made easier knowing my Mom was watching my children. The next day’s opportunity to share Lilly’s Table with Juliette’s preschool was also easier than expected. Again, all because of the extra hands.

Zed playing in the children’s hospital waiting for surgery

The big day arrived too quickly and I found myself most concerned that my husbands’ family history of hernia operations, (three men had a combination of at least seven hernia surgeries!) would mean Zed would have to go through all of this again for the left side as well. Xerxes and I each swore we felt a second hernia, too, which was seemingly undetected by our medical advisors. It was decided that while he was under, the surgeon would check to see if the left side had anything.

Prepping Zed for Surgery I attempted to stomach another meal at the hospital cafeteria during his surgery, which was briefly interrupted when they called to say that YES in fact Xerxes and I were correct. The left side showed a similarly sized hernia that had managed stay hidden. The surgery was a mere 20 minutes longer and future surgeries suddenly became much less likely: the third miracle.

There are certainly more details to this story, but there was another element that I consider the fourth miracle that kept giving to us all week… our garden! It is overflowing with salad greens that need just a kiss of dressing, some sort of protein and a few slices of my sourdough bread to make a meal. Throughout this trying week, I found myself indebted not just to my Mom, but to this greenery that fed and nourished my family during a time when making another trip to the grocery would have simply pushed me over the edge.

I also have to say that this is the first time I have experienced such lushness in my garden. I have historically lamented about my ‘brown thumb’. Even though I love the process of gardening, luck rarely seemed on my side. Until this year. In honesty, I want to say that not everything planted is abundant… yet (fingers crossed). It certainly helps that Xerxes built a hoop house that has extended our rather short Rocky Mountain growing season, too. Thanks Sweetie! 

We all have weeks that push us a bit more than others. I realize gardening with all of its preparations, patience, and unpredictability seems the last thing that will help when life seems to be testing you, but the rewards bring balance to the challenges. Being outside, moving dirt, watering and harvesting when my mind wanted to be fretful kept my spirit calm. My Mom always talks of gardening’s meditative powers and I am finally starting to believe her. Meanwhile eating the powerhouse of nourishing leaves kept my body and family satisfied.

You and I, we are all still at the start of the growing season this spring. I encourage you to prepare a bit of soil. Tuck seeds down into the cozy bed of dirt. Moisten it and wait…
for the miracles.

I offer you this salad dressing recipe as a mini-miracle. Because you may not have the time or space to garden (although, I would love to argue the contrary! If I can do it, you can, too) the very least you can do is make your own dressing. You will save money. You will save your health. You will save your greens from being abused by the chemical liquid combinations that one calls salad dressing.

Start with your large salad bowl. Place the greens, washed and dried on stand-by.

Dip your whisk into your favorite dijon mustard. Pull out a dollop. Place it in the large bowl. Add about twice the amount of balsamic vinegar. Drizzle in just a slight swirl of honey or maple syrup. Beat the small amount of ingredients together smearing it all over the bowl.

Take a generous pinch of salt. With your hand high above the bowl sprinkle it all over, dusting the tiny base of your dressing.

Grab the olive oil, again high above the bowl, pour it gently in a steady stream that is just a bit more steady than a drip, drip, drip, drip…. As the olive oil trills in slowly, madly beat your whisk to incorporate the fat into the molecules of your dressing. It will start to thicken. The dark balsamic will become lighter in color, or dare I say fluffier in appearance. Stop pouring the olive oil to rest your beating hand and to taste. Does it need more salt?

Sweetness?                    Vinegar?                   Add accordingly.

Too tangy?              More olive oil is needed.

Add olive oil again as you pour with one hand and beat with the other. Taste. Adjust until you are satisfied. Taste. I trust your tastebuds. Just as you should trust your own.

Now, I often pour out about half of my dressing in to a small dish to reserve for later. Next I add the greens and with a spatula fold them lightly into the dressing. I add more dressing to the top as needed. Swirling it above, again high, until each leaf receives a simple kiss of goodness.

Nuts & seeds, shreds of veggies, pieces of fruit, dried, fresh, never frozen, or even bits and pieces of your favorite leftovers can serve to complete your salad, but really…

It is all about the greens and the dressing. May this serve as a simple little miracle for your day.

And for all of you who rather work with measurements, here is the list of ingredients:

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (more or less as desired)
1/4 teaspoon salt & black pepper

Whisk together the mustard, vinegar and sweetener. While beating wildly, drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is slightly thick and tastes delicious. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live blessed,

Chef Lilly

Warm Dandelion & Sweet Potato Salad

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It seems my 9-month old puts everything in his mouth lately. As we wrapped up his appointment recently, the physician assistant handed me a Poison Control magnet for our fridge. She must know him! In response, I told her how my daughter had nibbled on an oleander leaf at a similar age, when we were living in Tucson. After a hysterical run to the ER, we ended up calling Poison Control, which we clearly should have done first. Despite oleander’s deadly reputation the one’s grown in Tucson are apparently more benign.

The physician assistant in turn told me the only time she had to call poison control, for her now grown children, was because of Bill Nye. After watching the Science Guy explain that dandelion greens are in fact edible, her son munched on a few that had been recently sprayed with weed killer by his father. Hmm… delicious. I didn’t ask, but was curious as to whether the consequence was to not use weed killer’s in the future? My hunch is that the child was told to never do it again as Bill Nye was clearly being blamed for the Poison Control call.

At our home, we are not necessarily enthusiastic lawn owners. I certainly love to picnic and watch my children play on the patch of grass that is still recovering from years of neglect from the previous owners. However, watering, weeding and tending that big outdoor carpet is not as joyful as gardening flowers and fresh vegetables for me. Especially, since we live in an area that has drought restrictions, but also bans rain water harvesting. I won’t dive into my frustrations with this paradox today.

Also, in our yard, dandelions have been mostly choked out by the gnarlier, deep rooted thistle weed, which we pulled and yanked out of the ground throughout the whole  summer. A tedious job, that we made more joyful in short bursts of time on cozy blankets with hot cups of coffee on dewy mornings before the sun made the task unbearable. We had piles and piles of thistle, morning glories and other culprits. I would have been so happy to have turned them into dinner! But, my pregnant and subsequently postpartum body was too exhausted to go beyond dumping them in the trash.

Now, I hope that I am not the first to point out the edible nature of dandelions to you. But, if I am… welcome to a beautiful blossoming world of scavenging. I hope I do not need to tell you to make sure no one has sprayed them with weed killer, but please do take care! If you are like me and have less dandelions than other pesky plants, you can also purchase long beautiful leaves of dandelions from green markets, health food stores and farmer’s markets, too.

So preparing the infamous weed is another task that requires a bit of attention. It is a strong, bitter, nutrient packed leaf of goodness. All those bitter leaves are so often, so good for you it seems! Especially for salads, if I am starting with bitterness, the best course of action is to add a serious dose of sweetness.

For me, an earthy orange-glazed sweet potato cooked until warm and tossed with bitter dandelion greens turns a salad into comfort food. A bit of your favorite strong cheese such as a crumble of feta or strips of manchego would be a perfect addition for any cheese lovers. Remember, before you run off and dip your leaves in sugar, the goal is to balance your dish. Start with the recipe below and then share your discoveries of the dandelion possibilities below in the comments!

Warm Dandelion & Sweet Potato Salad

1½ pound sweet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 inch piece ginger, peel and finely mince
½ cup orange juice, divided
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed well
salt and pepper, to taste

Scrub the sweet potatoes and peel if desired.

Cut down the middle and lay flat. Slice on a diagonal in 1/4 inch thick pieces. This will create an angled half moon shape as seen in the photo.

Warm a splash of the olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized skillet. Spread the sweet potatoes out evenly spacing to avoid overlap. Sear on one side for about 4-6 minutes until golden, flip and sear on the other side.

Add the minced garlic and ginger. Pour in half of the orange juice and all of the water & salt. Bring up to a simmer. Once the juice is reduced down the sweet potatoes should be cooked through. If you would like them to be a bit more tender, simply add more water and continue to simmer until they are your desired tenderness.

Remove the sweet potatoes and add the remaining orange juice, dijon mustard, maple syrup if using, and the remaining olive oil to the hot pan. Whisk to combine and bring up to a slight simmer. As soon as it is hot, it is ready.

Tear the clean dandelion leaves in pieces into a large bowl. Add the sliced sweet potatoes and drizzle on the warm dressing. Toss to combine.

Finish with a dash of salt and black pepper, to taste. Crumble on your favorite strong cheese for an extra element of flavor and protein boost.

 

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It is truly a crime that one of the most nutrient dense plants makes most of its appearances adorning slimy fish in grocery stores, fluffing up large chain restaurant salad bars and looking perky and pretty next to the saddest of dishes.

The deep, bitter flavor compliments sweet and creamy, salty and rich so nicely that it is time to let it shine. To start, if you have yet to experience Kale Chips it is time to jump on the bandwagon. They are delightfully crispy as they shatter into tiny morsels of salty goodness in your mouth.

Like most dark winter greens, kale can be roughly chopped and sauteed with any medley of flavors, oils, nuts, and dried fruit for a spectacular main dish, but it is also heavenly raw. The next time you have a bunch of kale, thinly slice it and massage in your favorite salad dressing which will make it even more pleasant to chew. Creamy Ginger Kale Salad and Coconut-Kale Salad are two of my favorites.

Whenever I make smoothies, kale will not stay safe in the vegetable drawer as I prefer it whipped in giving a grassy essence to an otherwise simple fruit smoothie.

Kale Smoothie

It is best to purchase kale in its perky stage, but if you leave it in your fridge until it is wilted just plan to cook it before the edges turn brown. If it is coming from a farm and is a bit dirty, shake it in a bowl full of water until the dirt settles on the bottom. Lift the kale up and repeat until the water is clean. Lay the wet kale on a dish towel and roll it up gently to quickly dry the leaves. These cleaning and drying methods work well for other dark leafy greens too.

To find out more about kale’s nutritious effects check out Dr. Kaycie Rosen’s blog on Kale and Hormone Balance.

Whether you are ready to try this hearty green, previously known as a garnish, or you already are sold on the idea that it is a super food I hope you plan to just eat a lot more kale.

If you loved this post and want to receive emails every week with free recipes, sneak peak’s of Lilly’s Table meal plans and more tips & tricks about in season produce please sign up for the newsletter here!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

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In my experience, people tend to have a love/hate relationship with beets: they are either a favorite or a pariah at the dinner table.  In our house, they happen to be well loved, so with the help of a pressure cooker (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) they can be prepared simply and quickly, usually tossed with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt.  Another easy way we love them is just shredded raw atop a salad.  For those who need some fancying up, we like to use them to sweeten and moisten a delicious chocolate cake (sort of like carrot cake), sneaking in some of their springtime health benefits.  Chef Lilly also has a wonderful recipe for beet pasta she is sharing this week which is sure to make little mouths happy.

So, why are beets one my favorite detoxification foods?  There are three different ways they meet our criteria for springtime health.  As I mentioned in last week’s article Nourishing Ourselves in Springtime, we want to remove any obstacles to health by encouraging elimination and provide optimum nourishment through seasonal foods.  Beets improve the eliminatory function of the liver and large intestines and nourish the body with their high concentration of antioxidants.

Beet roots and greens have been shown to protect the liver.  The deep red pigments act as antioxidants in the body, nourishing the liver by protecting it from damage.  Studies have shown a significant increase in superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase after ingestion of beets.  These three substances take free radicals that damage the DNA and our cells and turn them into harmless substances like oxygen and water.  This has two primary effects: it protects the liver from chemical damage and helps it work faster and more efficiently.

This antioxidant effect is not restricted solely to the liver; For those of us who have eaten beets for dinner and then had bright pink pee a few hours later have proof in living color that beet pigment circulates to the whole body!  Betelains are one of the primary pigments found in red beets and have been shown to have strong antioxidant activity.  These compounds have been associated with decreases in atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular disease.

Finally, beets are one of the best detoxification foods out there because they seem to really improve elimination.  Eating beets tends to bulk and move the stool more efficiently.  If you add in the greens, the insoluble fiber will only add to this effect.  Proper elimination is one of the most important ways that we can support the health of the body during the springtime.  While the liver is crucial to properly process toxins and wastes, we only derive benefit from this if we can them eliminate them properly through the stool and urine. (You don’t have to explain this part to your kids, you can just enjoy their delight at having magenta poops.)

So, get out your grater, your pressure cooker, your juicer, or just a knife and a pot and share some beets with your family!

Sprouted Bean SpreadAt my weekly Farmers Market there is a sweet lady with crystal blue eyes, an infectious laugh and she only sells sprouts. Every week she has a medley of offerings in soil packed trays that she snips off freshly upon your request. It can’t get much faster or fresher… unless, of course you grow them yourself at home.

One week I asked her what she did to enjoy her sprouts at home beyond the obvious sandwich and salad toppings. She said she often whirls up the sprouted beans and sprouts together into a very simple spread. Here is my version. Tuck this spread into pitas, smear it on toast with avocados, or dollop on crackers. I leave the spread incredibly simple to highlight the merging of the individual flavors of the sprouts & sprouted beans, but a little tahini, smoked paprika or your favorite spice du jour can truly make this spread your own. Play around and let us know in the comments what you do at home.

Sprouted Bean Spread

1 clove garlic

1 1/2 cups sprouted beans, such as mung, lentil or azuki

1/2 cup sprouts (such as alfalfa, sunflower, radish) or pea shoots

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Whirl the garlic in the food processor just until minced. Add the beans, olive oil oil, vinegar/lemon juice and salt. Pulse until combined scrapping occasionally to evenly blend. Taste. Adjust the flavors to your preferred taste. You can even pulse in some of the sprouts in for extra flavor and texture.