Last weekend, Los Angeles experienced a rare treat: small droplets fell from grey skies, seeping deep into the ground, plumping up our jade plants, and turning them a deep healthy green. There is something so comforting about staying indoors and making a hot meal on a rainy night, and on Friday that is exactly what we did. It was not even seven o’clock, and we were already lighting candles and slipping into our comfy robes and pajamas. Making a curry dish sounded most appropriate on this cold, wet night, and we had bookmarked a recipe from the new Clever Cookbook that our friend Emilie just released at the end of February that we were eager to try. With a candlelit house, and the soothing sounds of rain hitting the roof, we listened to Django Reinhardt, and started to cook this dish that would soon turn out to be a new favorite.
One of the first recipes we posted on Husbands that Cook was Thai carrot burgers: tender, juicy patties filled with fresh grated carrots and aromatic spices mixed in a tangy peanut-lime sauce spiked with sautéed garlic, ginger, and handfuls of chopped cilantro. We have been making these zesty and spicy burgers for years, and it always been one of our favorite recipes to prepare, not only because they are delicious, but because they fill the house with the fragrance of fresh herbs and spices as you cook. That wonderful Thai-inspired creation was adapted from Lukas Volger’s Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, and we were thrilled to learn that he just released a new cookbook last week called Bowl. It is beautifully designed and filled with creative one-dish vegetarian recipes for ramen, pho, bibimbap, and dumplings, as well as gorgeous photography and helpful techniques like how to make ramen noodles and potstickers at home. It was difficult to choose which one to make first, but this kimchi fried rice bowl with quick cucumber pickles immediately caught our attention, since we recently made a batch of kimchi and posted a recipe here just a few weeks ago!
It is a magical time of year in Southern California. The skies are clear and a brilliant blue from the recent rains, the temperatures are comfortable, and in the evenings the sweet scent of jasmine fills the air. Vibrant wildflowers paint the neighborhoods with their beautiful Spring blooms, multi-colored bougainvillea vines illuminate the hills with deep pinks and purples, and the deciduous plum trees that were bare throughout the winter are now covered in white flowers and buzzing with honey bees. We have been taking advantage of this pleasant weather, spending more time outside, and enjoying working in the garden. This weekend, we had a backyard brunch party with ten of our friends; a potluck feast of crisp salads, spring berries, handcrafted cocktails from our mixologist friend Al who introduced us to the light and bubbly Mid-Morning Fizz, and the centerpiece was a double batch of our shakshuka with crusty baguettes for dipping into the hearty sauce. There’s something special about sharing a meal outdoors with friends and family, and this is the time of year to do it before it starts to get too hot. Love is in the air, spring has arrived, and so has asparagus, whose tender shoots are one of the first spring vegetables to appear after the snows of winter. This delicious and comforting soup highlights this seasonal vegetable with simple ingredients that allow the fresh, sweet flavor of just-picked asparagus to truly shine.
On Saturday we hiked Fish Canyon Falls, over five miles of breathtaking trails lined with shady oaks, blue agaves, and multi-colored wildflowers carpeting the hillsides glowing with fragrant white sage, located in the Angeles National Forest just thirty minutes from our home. The winding path follows a clear stream, and because of the recent winter rains, it was rushing through the bottom of the canyon, creating a peaceful soundtrack of flowing water nearly the entire time. At the end of the trail, we were greeted by a majestic 3-tiered, 80-foot waterfall that was cascading in full force. It was a beautiful day and we were so happy to discover yet another hidden area of natural beauty so close to the city. After spending the morning hiking through the woods, stumbling upon abandoned cabins, and adventuring in the hills, we came home to find a package waiting for us on our doorstep that we had been anticipating for several months. Our friend Emilie (theclevercarrot.com) just wrote her first cookbook and we were so excited for its arrival, especially after seeing so many other bloggers making beautiful creations from it and posting photos and rave reviews online. Epicurious named The Clever Cookbook as one of “spring’s best cookbooks” and after browsing through this gem and making one dish so far, we clearly understand why. It is filled with inspiring recipes that we can’t wait to try: cauliflower bolognese, chai pancakes with cinnamon butter, banana cloud cake, and the list goes on! Today we are so excited to share this easy zucchini and brown rice gratin from her book that has graced our kitchen twice this week and has already become one of our new favorite dinners.
Regardless of this uninvited heatwave here in Los Angeles—yes, it is literally 90 degrees today—we want to believe or at least pretend that it is still winter. Trust us, we are not complaining one bit, but 90 in February is a little extreme, and it would be nice to experience all four seasons equally. We have a dream! Speaking of balance, we dedicated the first half of this month to making cookies, caramels, and sweet Valentine’s Day desserts, so today we are honoring the yang to our yin and sharing a delicious risotto recipe, adapted from one of our favorite cookbooks, The Veganomicon. And since it is still technically February, asparagus season has officially begun and it is the perfect time to start making some meals with it! This creamy risotto highlights this healthy winter vegetable in the most flavorful way possible: sautéed asparagus tips are cooked separately until golden and crispy while the remainder is sliced and cooked gently with Thai basil, fresh mint leaves, loads of shallots and seasoned with chopped garlic and a spicy serrano pepper for heat. The risotto is simmered with a fragrant homemade broth filled with fresh lemongrass, ginger, crushed garlic, and soy sauce. Even though Mother Nature has hastily decided to pour a glass of Sangria, start eating ice cream bars, and sport a bikini, we are going to sit here patiently and enjoy one of our favorite dishes as though it was winter.