Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Tomato Bruscetta

Things I've decided in the past two weeks:

Nutella is totally appropriate as a condiment to your breakfast. Law suits, whatevs. Nutella, I got you for breakfast. And dessert.

Breaking out into yoga poses while at work is totally acceptable and professional. Namaste.

If I'm stressed and you ask me "how can I help you" or "how can I make it better," I will probably answer with "You can give me a back massage." No lies. You asked. I speak the truth. Just make sure your hands are warm, please.

When in doubt, wear black and/or put a fried egg on it.

Tomatoes are so delicious and in season right now/Summer is almost over + Sunday night dinners are the best way to end the weekend, so...make tomato bruscetta for your next Sunday night dinner or bbq.

Be grateful. Always.

Summer Tomato Bruscetta

1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick slices
4 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
 Mozzarella di Buffalo (I used a little less than 1/2 a pound)
1 small basket of small cherry tomatoes (any color(s) will do)
handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Mix gently.  Season with salt and pepper, cover with saran wrap, and place in refrigerator. While you prepare your little toasts, the tomato mixture can get all juicy and garlicky in the fridge.

2. Turn the broiler on in your oven. Slice the baguette into 1-inch thick pieces and place on a cookie sheet (doesn't need to be lined).

3. Brush each slice of bread with olive oil on each side. Place back on the cookie sheet and put under the broiler for a few minutes on each side. Depending on your oven, these can begin to brown very quickly, so keep an eye on them (2-3 minutes on each side even...). Once they are golden-toasted on each side, remove from broiler and set aside to cool.

4. Once the little toasts have cooled, place a small spoonful of Mozzarella on each; press down gently. Then, carefully layer on the tomato mixture. It can get slightly messy. Don't worry about it. It's all good and organic and stuff.

5. Right before serving, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then, drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kale, White Bean, & Smoked Sausage Soup [for the soul]

I recently had the chance to spend 3 sunny days in Squaw Valley at the annual Wanderlust Festival. My very favorite weekend of the year.

3 days of yoga, outside. 3 classes, each day. Teachers from all over the world. Yeah, it's a Hippie Fest. But everyone that attends could give a crap about that. There's no judgement at Wanderlust. There are questions, like, where did you get those flame leggings? - but not judgement. It's awesome. Sun salutations outside looking over this view...

I Vinyasa flowed my little Armenian-Irish heart out. I was so sore for a week few days, it hurt to reach for the toilet paper.

But here's the truth. Wanderlust holds a dear place in my heart because it absolutely forces me to recenter my mentality and reflect on what is really important to me in my life. I am a very disciplined person, sometimes, to a fault; this probably stems from growing up dancing ballet. Ballet takes extreme attention to detail and self-control. You're staring at yourself in the mirror for hours at a time. I think this is partially why I am really hard on myself and I am my own biggest competition and critic.

My favorite yoga teacher this year was Jonny Kest. He is perfectly imperfect. He is a walking yogi contradiction. He has never been through formal yoga teacher training or certification. He teaches in Detroit (yoga is not just for San Franciscans!). During his class, we flowed to Kanye West. And then Purple Rain. We held our neighbors hands while in Warrior 3. But it was what he said that really stuck with me: "In this moment, you are where you are supposed to be. And you are perfect. Don't worry about it."

The hardest part of yoga is the breathing. It is a breathing class, after all. The poses are just extra. I have to remind myself of this with my practice. Remembering to breathe - that can sometimes be the hardest part of life too.

When I'm having trouble putting things in perspective (and breathing) I turn to the kitchen. Lucky for you. Lucky for me. This weekend, I made some seriously delicious soup for the soul.

White Bean, Kale, & Smoked Sausage Soup
I know it's Summer, but I live in San Francisco. So, it's foggy and overcast. I wouldn't have it any other way, though. Makes a lot, by the way.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic (yeah, FIVE) chopped finely
1 1/2 - 2 cups white beans, drained
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
45 oz chicken broth (can use vegetable broth too; this is about 1 1/2 cartons)
1 tablespoon rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 large bunch of Lacinato Kale
4 smoked sausage links (I used Aidell's smoked chicken habenero and green chili sausage)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Rind of Parmigiano Reggiano, optional
Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish, optional

1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and saute for 5 minutes.

2. Add the white beans, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, rosemary, and the Parmesan rind (if you are using it, I hope you are). Turn the heat to medium-low and cook with a lid on.

3. In a separate pan, cook your sausage and kale over medium heat. I used Aidell's which were already cooked, but I chose to re-heat them over the stove. Once cooked, add the sausage to the soup pan. Simmer the soup, with a lid on, over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Season your soup generously with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the soup from heat; try to find the Parmigiano rind - if you can't fish it out, no biggie. Serve hot, garnished with fresh ground black pepper and shredded Parmigiano cheese.  You could even add some homemade croutons. Just saying.

This soup will keep for a few days and it will freeze well. It's flavorful and lovely. I hope it warms your soul.