Having our ten-year old niece stay with us this week was a bonding experience that we will always remember. Beneath clear sunny skies we ventured around the city, admiring the vibrant spring blooms that brighten this grand metropolis. We escaped high into the hills, surrounded by fragrant Eucalyptus trees, stopping by the Griffith Observatory for an evening at the museum as well as a fascinating show on Northern Lights at the Planetarium. We visited the Long Beach aquarium, went swimming at the house where Adam grew up, and spent quality time in our garden preparing the soil and planting tomatoes, basil, kale, and zucchini. We cooked together and swapped kitchen tips: we taught her how to separate eggs for matzo ball soup, and she showed us her recipe for strawberry-ginger lemonade using freshly-picked fruit from our lemon tree. The entire week was filled with memories that we will cherish forever, and since we dropped her off at the airport yesterday afternoon, the house feels quiet without her. But we are jumping right back into the kitchen and are excited to announce our first double post with a fellow blogger! Together with Apartment Bartender, we are sharing two tropical-inspired recipes for all your Spring entertaining needs! Check out the refreshing Mango Cooler cocktail he created at apartmentbartender.com, while we introduce you to a sweet and savory appetizer that is a delicious and colorful companion for his bubbly tonic: Tostones with spicy mango salsa!
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.
Monday was National Margarita Day. We don’t know who comes up with these random food holidays or how they get started, but somehow, we seem to hear about them the day they happen. Our schedules are fairly flexible so it keeps things exciting for us when these culinary affairs unexpectedly appear. A few weeks ago, we were in the kitchen about to make vegetarian matzo ball soup for the blog, when we realized everyone online was posting about National Chocolate Cake Day. You can’t ignore a sweet holiday like that, so we followed our instincts, baked a cake instead, and made the soup the following day. And how can you pass up an opportunity to start off your week making delicious margaritas first thing on a Monday morning?! Sure, it may have been 8am, but it was 5 o’clock somewhere plus it was Washington’s birthday, so we had to raise a glass to honor the father of our country, even if we hadn’t had our breakfast yet. And as appropriate as cherry margaritas would have been to recognize his 282nd, another idea blossomed. One of our favorite local Mexican restaurants, Cacao Mexicatessen, makes the best margaritas, and we thought if there was one recipe we’d like to make, it would be theirs. Even though they are closed on Mondays, we crossed our fingers and sent them a message on Instagram asking if they would be willing to share their recipe with us. Not only did they immediately respond on their day off, but were gracious enough to email us the recipe and said we would be welcome to post it on our website. So in celebration of this momentous holiday, as well as a belated toast to our first president, we thank Cacao, and nobly introduce you to these most-delicious jalapeño-cucumber margaritas.
Cooking with seasonal vegetables is fun and rewarding. In the summertime, we love growing tomatoes and basil in our garden. All year long, we look forward to walking outside and eating sweet juicy tomatoes right off the vine, still warm from the sun. Last summer, we made a burst tomato galette with homegrown sungold tomatoes, and it was so unbelievably sweet, tangy, and delicious that we are still dreaming about it six months later. As temperatures drop in autumn (relatively speaking, this is LA after all!), we begin finding fall fruits like crisp apples and pears at the farmers market, along with cool-weather greens like kale and peppery arugula. In the springtime, southern California is at its most colorful, with plants and trees in full bloom, and we celebrate with fresh, sweet asparagus and artichokes, and ruby-red strawberries for dessert. But here we are, snuggling up in warm blankets, sitting by the fire, in the middle of winter, at the peak of cauliflower season. These cream-colored, delicately-flavored vegetables are at their best in winter, and have always been one of our favorites. In this appetizing soup, fresh seasonal cauliflower is combined with sautéed onions, sweet carrots, and blended with aromatic herbs and spices like coriander, cumin, cilantro, and a few pinches of red pepper flakes, to make a delicious, creamy, and comforting bowl of soup that will keep you warm and cozy until spring arrives.