Spring Bliss: Sugar Snap Pea, Avocado, Tomato, Mint

spring bliss soup, sugar snap pea soup, chilled pea and mint soup

Chilled Sugar Snap Pea & Mint Soup
Mashed Avocado with Lime, Tomato Concassé with Shallot
Fresh Mint, Chili Oil & Creme Fraiche Garnish

A vendor at the Farmers’ Market was handing out samples of fresh-from-the-vine sugar snap peas. Telling people just to eat them as is, no cooking necessary. They were sweet & exploding with flavor, crunchy, the color of spring. Few of us could pass up buying a basket or two. Once home, I turned to my favorite vegetable cookbook Charlie Trotter’s Vegetables for inspiration: Sugar Snap Pea Soup. A simple and refreshing chilled soup. With avocado for richness, tomato for sweet acidity, mint for brightness. Spring. Bliss.

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Linguini, Smoky Avocado Sauce, Black Beans, Lime

avocado pasta

Linguini, Grilled Avocado Sauce with Lime & Cilantro
Topped with Black Beans, Red Onion & Serrano

Been seeing the avocado puréed, and used as a sauce or dressing a lot lately? I sure have. With pasta, as a substitute for mayonnaise in tuna salad, as a substitute for hollandaise with fresh fish or vegetables. Great heart-healthy ideas all!

Here, I take flavors that pair well with avocado such as lime, green chile, red onion, cilantro, black beans…and re-mix them into a refreshing green pasta dish. And by adding one more layer of flavor – smoke – the silky sauce takes on another dimension. Lime juice keeps it bright, and serrano kicks up the heat. It’s a healthy pasta fiesta!

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Sweet, Spicy, Savory Kale Salad

kale salad
Organic Kale with Dried Cherries & Shirataki Noodles
Garlicky Chili Lime Dressing

I’m not usually a fan of those free food samples at the supermarket. Seen too many “grazers” with poor manners and questionable hygiene, I suppose. But every once in a while, when there is a conscientious host passing out tastes of a unique offering, I might give it a try, as was the case this past weekend at Whole Foods.

A charming older woman was enthusiastically portioning out little cups of this interesting raw kale salad. It turned out to be an outrageous combination of flavors and textures, so fresh and bright, with an unexpected umami note. I put a bag of her shirataki noodles in my cart, and went home to create a salad inspired by that sample.

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Crispy-Skin Cod, Ginger Braised Bok Choy

sustainable black cod
Crispy-Skin Local Sustainable Black Cod
Ginger Braised Baby Bok Choy
Garlic Chive Blossom Garnish

This simple preparation of Black Cod is a welcome respite between all the rich lavish holiday foods. Wild-caught locally, off the coast of Santa Barbara, this species is relatively abundant and harvested with methods that cause little damage to habitat and other marine life. The cod needs only to be seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked over high heat with olive oil to let the fabulous textures of crisp skin and silky flesh with a buttery flavor shine through.

The bok choy cooking method is equally straightforward. Flavored with ginger, soy, sesame, and  a bit of brown sugar – the braising liquid infuses the vegetable with umami flavors, a hint of sweetness and a note of ginger spiciness. This cod & bok choy make a delightful pair, especially when one is in the mood for a clean and uncomplicated yet satisfying meal.

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♡ olive oil oatmeal cookies ♡

heart-healthy oatmeal cookies

♡ heart-healthy olive oil oatmeal walnut cranberry blueberry raisin cookies ♡

Taste With The Eyes is four-and-a-half years old and it’s time to celebrate! No, not because of the mini-milestone, we’re celebrating the first cookie recipe on this blog, ever. And they’re not colorful, festive, nor particularly sweet…and they are definitely not tied up with ribbons and bows.  I’ll leave those fabulous gussied up holiday cookies to the baking experts. These are brown, irregular, crunchy, a little chewy, heart-healthy, and great with black coffee. My kinda cookie. I know this is a long shot, but perhaps, yours, too?

After all these years without a cookie in sight, what motivated me, a rather savory gal, to bake cookies?

Well, I received a generous gift of fancy holiday cookies from a client at my office the other day. They were shipped from a popular local bakery. And they were very very pretty. With lots of icing, and red and green sprinkles. They were aptly named “Sugar Rush.” The label indicated each serving contained 25 mg of cholesterol. I gave them away to a delighted colleague, then sent a thank you note to that gracious client.

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Spicy Colorful Veggie Tacos, Korean-Style

Third in a Series of Superiores Tacos Vegetarianos

 spicy colorful veggie tacos, korean veggie tacos
Spicy Colorful Veggie Tacos, Korean-Style

Scrambled Tofu with Gochujang and Scallion
Sesame Leaf, Seasoned Bean Sprouts, Pickled Cucumber, Diced Daikon
Carrot Ribbons, Pickled Red Onion, Sliced Omelette
On a Warm Blue Corn & Flaxseed Tortilla, Spicy Gochujang Sauce

korean tacos, veggie korean taocs

Initially I was inspired by a vegetarian taco recipe by Rick Bayless that I saw in the dreamy Harvest to Heat cookbook. It was genius. Fresh ingredients, healthy, and a perfect balance of flavors. Nothing complicated yet completely satisfying. In his shadow I create my Superiores Tacos Vegetarianos series, a compilation of vegetarian tacos highlighting a unique combination of vegetables and herbs where the flavor profile stands on its own. A series where even carnivores won’t wonder, “Where’s the Beef?”

In this latest incarnation, tofu is seasoned with gochujang (red chile paste) paired with colorful vegetables, zesty pickles, and egg, resulting in a spicy, crunchy, vibrant vegetarian taco that might be a cross between Korean Lettuce Wraps and the craze of fusion Korean Tacos?

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All GREEN Grilled Zucchini Tacos

Second in a Series of Superiores Tacos Vegetarianos

green tacos

All GREEN Grilled Zucchini Tacos
Prickly Pear Cactus Tortillas
Butter Lettuce, Avocado, Shredded Green Cabbage, Cilantro, Serrano Chile
Lime Garlic Cilantro Sauce

The inspiration for these tacos came during a trip to the farmers’ market. One booth was featuring something I had never seen before, namely Prickly Pear Cactus Tortillas. Whether it be at the farmers’ market or ethnic local grocery stores, if I see something I haven’t tried before, it usually ends up in my cart. And many of those unique or interesting ingredients find a home here on Taste With The Eyes.

These green tortillas are made with organic nopal mixed with stone ground whole white corn kernels, water, lime, and vegetable plant extract. Two tortillas supply 100 calories, 3 g fiber and no cholesterol. I can’t say that they taste like nopalitos. If I close my eyes I’m not sure I could pinpoint the difference from other good corn tortillas, but I sure do love the color.

So now that I have a package of tortillas de nopal in my shopping bag, what shall I make with them?
The answer was all around me.

 farmers’ market + green tortillas = all GREEN tacos

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In Julia Child’s Kitchen

 julia child caesar and salmon en papillote
Julia Child – Caesar & Salmon Dinner

In Memoriam
Julia Child
August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004

chef, mentor, heroine, author, television icon, inspiration, nonagenarian, friend

“Today we are going to make a delightful dinner, Caesar Salad and Salmon en Papillote. Of course, cooking en papillote does not have to be fancy – it’s a fine method for everyday cooking too.”

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steamed sablefish in bok choy, shiitake, NAVY bean emulsion

steamed sablefish in bok choy, shiitake, navy bean emulsion
steamed sablefish with sautéed shiitake
wrapped in bok choy leaves
over NAVY beans, mung bean sprouts, kizami shoga
NAVY bean emulsion, society garlic blossom garnish

uss abraham lincoln

uss abraham lincoln cvn-72
nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
commissioned november 1989
docked in the port of los angeles

For five days I could see the “island” of the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln from my kitchen window. An aircraft carrier’s “island” is the command center for flight-deck operations, as well as the ship as a whole. The island is about 150 feet tall, but it’s only 20 feet wide at the base, so it won’t take up too much space on the flight deck. The top of the island is outfitted with an array of radar and communications antennas.

She is a jaw-dropping sight – at 1092 ft. (over 3 football fields long), 252 ft. wide, weighing 100,000 tons, she accommodates approximately 70 aircraft. She is powered by two nuclear reactors which enable her to operate continuously 20 years without refueling. Her life span is an estimated 50 years. The USS Abraham Lincoln is the first aircraft carrier to be docked in the Port of Los Angeles in more than 20 years. Her visit here is the inspiration for my dish, featuring NAVY beans…

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