Endive Salad

The first time I read the word “endive” was out of a fancy cookbook that my mother had bought me as a gift. I was 13, maybe 14. It was Thanksgiving, and I wanted to make all of those fancy dishes. I wanted an elegant dinner filled with bubbly champagne and crystal and fancy food. It took a few trips before I found those little endives, and I proudly assembled my fancy salad. Then… I tasted a leaf and declared it “sour” and “gross” before proceeding to bake the stinkiest gruyere potato gratin (which I also deemed “gross”). My 14 year old self felt that the fancy food was a flop, but it’s been a decade since I cooked my first Thanksgiving, and I think my palate has matured with me too.

This year, I went for some last minute Thanksgiving bits with my mother and I spotted the tightly leafed buds once more. I purchased two of them and fixed a simple but beautiful salad. It was simple and elegant – the kind of pretty salad that my 14 year old self would have loved. This time, I garnished the salad with a bit of homemade pomegranate dressing (easy peasy recipe below)

Endive and Grapefruit Salad 

  • 2 Belgian Endives, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of mint, leaves removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 ruby red grapefruits, peeled and membrane removed (alternatively, you could supreme the citrus)
  1. After thinly slicing the endive and mint, toss gently together with the grapefruit. I chose to peel the fruit out of the membrane and crumble the slices so the grapefruit was distributed. Alternatively, for the presentation conscious, you could supreme the grapefruit and place the slices in an endive leaf with mint garnish.
  2. Keep chilled until ready to serve. Toss gently with dressing just before serving.

Pomegranate Dressing (Kaprise Kitchen)

  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds
  • 2 spray free limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of good olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, crush the pomegranate seeds until the juice is released.
  2. In the same bowl, squeeze the limes until all of the juice is released (you may also zest a little of the limes into the dressing if you want a punchier lime taste)
  3. Strain the liquid (to remove the pomegranate seeds and lime seeds) into a small jar
  4. Add the mustard and oil, and shake until the dressing is well combined. Add more mustard if you like.

Jalapeño Spiced Beef Stew

I have never been one to diet or one to restrict anything I eat or drink. I truly believe that I should enjoy every single thing that I want to, and so I have never curtailed my consumption of food or drink. I scorn diets and I scorn the calorie counters… because it turns the ethereal and wonderful experience of food into a mathematical equation that makes you miserable. However, recently, I have found that the tremendous stress I deal with has negatively impacted my eating habits. I used to eat all I wanted – but I ate fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein – and  because I ate good and clean foods… I felt good and maintained a trim figure. However, I am in law school and I live in a city where fried chicken is an institution and fries accompany every meal. And when you cook for one, it’s easier to snag a pizza and it’s easy to justify ordering in because the 40 minutes it takes for delivery to arrive is a precious 40 minutes you could be reading for school.

Anyway, this semester winds down, and finals scare the living sense out of me – I have made some small dietary changes to take my focus off being scared (I always start projects when I’m stressed out so I can distribute my nervous energy and handle my neurotic insomnia). My sister and mother recently transitioned to a paleo/primal eating pattern and both have felt they are vastly improved. Both have slimmed down and enjoy eating paleo/primal. While I have not made the drastic switch that they have, I have eliminated nearly all processed foods (with the exception of my candy stash for finals studying) and have drastically cut down my wheat intake. I’ve cleaned out my pantry, and just in time for donating to charities for the holiday season.

This December has been unseasonably warm, but with the drippy rain I felt the need for some stew. Instead of dusting the beef in flour, I seared the beef chunks in olive oil and then gently muddled a baked yam into the stew to thicken it up and for some added flavor. And since it is stew, I allowed myself a small handful of egg noodles to round out my dinner.

Jalapeño Spiced Beef Stew (Kaprise Kitchen)

  • 16 oz ribeye steak, cubed (you can use any other cut of beef, but I prefer ribeye in mine)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 small seeded jalapeños, diced (be wary of those teeny ones that pack a punch. Mine were the small ones that positively emanated heat, so I seeded and rinsed mine with great care)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 portabella mushroom, diced
  • 1 cup of red wine (I used a good Malbec, but anything on the drier side will be fine)
  • 1 orange yam, steamed until soft
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt/pepper to taste
  1. Cube meat and dust with black pepper and salt
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil and sear the cubed ribeye, flipping cubes as the sides brown.
  3. Once the meat has browned, stir in the jalapeño and onion, until both have softened slightly.
  4. Stir in wine and allow the wine to reduce by half before adding filtered water
  5. In the broth, muddle the yam until it dissolves into the liquid. I steamed my yam for about 15 minutes until it was soft to touch.
  6. Add the remaining ingredient and simmer for 1 hour.
  7. Serve over noodles or on it’s own.



Freezer Food

Since I am a student, and I am a master procrastinator (try saying that 5 times fast) I often find myself with a lack of palatable food options. There are only so many times you can eat celery and hummus, or granola bars. (Note that while I write this post about making healthful options for your freezer, I am actually consuming a massive and unlady-like quantity of bagel bites. Yup!)

Anyway, I do find that having a couple different options in my freezer is the best way to stay happily fed on those days where I just don’t have time or the foresight to make something yummy. I normally keep pesto, tomato sauce, and some variation of protein stocked in my freezer. Tomato sauce is easily accomplished with some good tomatoes and a slow simmer on the stove. Pesto comes together easily in a food processor and when pine nuts are scarce, I make it with walnuts or almonds. Protein requires a bit more patience, but I like keeping seafood, poultry, and red meat so I have plenty of variety. But this is just how I change up my menu

This week I have stocked my freezer with bison/spinach meatballs and turkey/carrot meatballs. It’s not a recipe, because you just need to figure out what you like in your meatballs. And to taste test, you should just fry a small portion of your meatball mix and adjust from there (you know, so you don’t have a freezer full of bland meatballs). The bison meatballs came together nicely with some chopped spinach, parsley, onion, and a generous sprinkle of spices. I like to saute the meatballs in a little wine and chopped tomatoes for an easy over-pasta meal.



Seeking Serenity

It’s only been a couple weeks since classes started again, but I already feel the need to run away. I feel responsibility to do this league long list of things, but inside I just want to fleetly race away. I was asked when the last time I painted, and I didn’t remember. In fact, it’s been months and months since I last unpacked my oils and painted. What happened to me?

Anyway, as always my serenity comes from long hours of patiently cooking, painting, or running. I haven’t cooked in quite a while, but these ribs are the right answer for any number of ailments. Brushing the ribs with mustard and dry rub, and then patiently waiting as they gently bake in your oven? This is as close to end of summer salve as it gets. And as summer unwinds and turns dramatically into fall, this is the perfect way to kiss summer goodbye. And for those apartment dwellers, like myself who do not have grills, this is perfect.

I eyeball the ingredients and taste before generously patting the ribs with the rub. Feel free to change and add the herbs you want to make your ribs taste the way you like. The only necessities are brushing the bottoms of the ribs with mustard and some salt/pepper and then a generous pat of dry rub.

Dry Rub Ribs (Kaprise Kitchen style)

  • 3 to 5 pounds of baby back pork ribs. (I’ve used spare ribs with good results)
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground red pepper
  • pinch of lavender powder
  • 2 tablespoons of fine mustard
  • salt/pepper
  1. In a bowl mix together all spices and sugar but the mustard and salt and pepper.
  2. Trim ribs as necessary. I normally trim any unsightly bits and overly fatty sections. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.
  3. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper
  4. Brush the bottoms of the ribs with the mustard
  5. Pat the dry rib over the tops of the ribs and sides. (I once patted the entire rack with rub…. it was a bit messy and the flavor was no different, so spare the bottoms of the ribs).
  6. Before pre-heating your oven, scrub the racks and line the lower shelf with foil that is tilted slightly towards the center to prevent any dripping. If you have one of those super-sized cookie sheets that will protect your entire lower shelf… use that.
  7. After preheating the oven, place the ribs directly on the oven shelf
  8. Bake ribs in a 275 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours. I normally let mine cook for 2.5 hours and then raise the temperature to 400 degrees and brush the tops of the ribs with just a thin layer of BBQ sauce (I’m not cool, so I buy mine at the grocery store. This time? The yellow one)
  • I have read a number of recipes on wrapping ribs in foil and blah blah blah but you know… that’s so complicated and this is so much easier
  • I do like my rub on the sweeter side, so feel free to scale back the sugar if it’s just too much for you
  • If you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can use a dry packet of Italian salad dressing with the sugar. You won’t need to salt the ribs or do anything else.
  • If you are from Baltimore? Do what I know you will, use Old Bay!

Hurricane Irene was supposed to flood an animal shelter near my apartment, so I volunteered to take care of one of the dogs. Zeke is a chubby little ball of happiness, but I had to give him back today because he’s supposed to meet someone tomorrow that wants him. When I put him back in that little crappy cage, I nearly lost it. I cried the whole way there and back. I still fee l awful that I left him there. He’s just a little dog and I can’t keep him permanently, but I feel like a terrible person for taking him back to the shelter. I know the shelter is a high-kill shelter because there is just not enough room for all of the dogs. And I can’t keep another dog, I just have too much on my plate and I already have one. but his little face clouded when I closed the door on his face. I’ve never felt so poorly about anything in my life. He’s just a little dog that someone abandoned on the side of a highway and I ditched him too.

I might have to just go get him tomorrow. I think my heart is breaking.


Jon’s Chicken Salad

One more for you guys! I actually wrote this post June 14… but like I said, I’ve been distracted with life!


A couple years back, I celebrated my friend Jon’s birthday with him. I made chicken salad sandwiches and then drove to a nearby beach. Since, I haven’t seen Jon, he has one of those high stress jobs where he’s constantly on the road now, but he came and visited this past weekend. When I was on the phone with him coordinating his arrival, I asked if there was anything in particular he wanted to do and he said, “Make the chicken salad from that time we went to the beach.” And while I do remember our lazy beach trips, the chicken salad isn’t something that really sticks out in my mind. I make chicken salad the same way I have since I can remember – a bunch of vegetables thrown together with some grilled chicken. Honestly, I think the first time I made chicken salad was because we had run out of tuna and no one was home to drive me to the grocery (you know, like a decade ago when I was still driver license-less).

There aren’t any secret ingredients, or any surprises. Instead, I mince the vegetables and taste a long the way to make sure the flavors compliment each other. The measurements aren’t precise, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly. I like mine with less onion, but others like the bite. I like a bit of sweetness – so I slice in teensy cubes of fuji apples. But feel free to tweak and adjust accordingly. The vegetables and chicken are phenomenal wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves or on toasted rolls, and whatever it is about this combination Jon loves it. So. Jon, here is your chicken salad so you don’t have to fly 5 hours to have your favorite sandwich!!

Jon’s Chicken Salad (Kaprise Kitchen, before I was even Kaprise!)

  • 6 chicken tenderloins
  • 3 stalks of celery, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced (or half an onion, minced finely) If the shallot/onion is particularly eye watering that day, I rinse it with a little vinegar and let it drain well. It helps cut the strong flavor.
  • 1 small fuji apple, minced (I’ve used pear before too!)
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced and set on top of a towel (I find that the peppers are a bit juicy, so I let them rest on a towel to drain a little)
  • About 1  cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard, I like the grainy kind
  • a squeeze of lemon (just over the apples, and it adds a nice brightness)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  1. If you have the foresight to plan your lunch, marinate the chicken overnight before grilling. It normally doesn’t occur to me until 30 minutes before I want to eat, so I use a fork to poke holes in my chicken and brush it with salad dressing (Onion Vidalia or Italian are my two favorites) before grilling. So. In a pan, grill your chicken until cooked through. About 4 minutes per side.
  2. Chop the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes and set it on a plate to cool while you prepare the other ingredients. No need to be too precise, the chicken will break up when you combine everything, but I do like cutting the tenderloins to remove any tendons or tough pieces that you get sometimes.
  3. Mince all of the vegetables. I normally start with the sweetest ones (remembering to spray my apple with some lemon to prevent browning) and do the onion last. I keep the vegetables to the size of a pencil eraser – big enough to be tasted, but small.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and vegetables.
  5. This is where we get a bit imprecise. First start by adding 1/4 cup of  mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of mustard. Stir the mixture together, adding a little more mayonnaise as you go to make the mixture cohesive. Taste and add more mayonnaise and mustard as necessary.
  6. Serve on toasted bread or with crisp lettuce as wraps.


I’m Crabby!!!

So after making soft shell crabs, I was hesitant to buy them again because I just didn’t like the feeling of their soft bodies wriggling under my fingers. After talking to the nice gentleman at the farmer’s market, he handed me a wriggling bag of Maryland Blue crabs and told me to throw them in some boiling water for 6 minutes.

Little did I know that wriggling bag was filled with 14 of those snappy little buggers. It took me forever to boil the whole passel of them… mostly because I only had two pots and each only fit 3 of the crabs. And then I sat at my table patiently cracking and piling crabmeat into a bowl.

Ladies and Gentlemen… there was a reason I always hated crab shacks… it’s just such godawful trouble for a teensy bowl of crabmeat! And I smelled like seafood… and my apartment was just a little cloud of crabby smell. Don’t get me wrong, the crab was the best I have ever had… but I don’t think I’ll be doing this again any time soon.

Things That Fade

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that I love most, the things that never fail to delight, amuse and enchant me. The things that always put a smile on my face… what are they?

As a notoriously picky eater as a child, I was completely disinterested in food. I never understood the concept of “hungry” or “crave” because I simply was not interested in eating anything. But, as I got older and out-grew my finickiness, I found that summer corn on the cob always tastes good. My mother’s Korean pancakes are always good. I always love peeling and eating pomegranate. And, every time I taste fresh cilantro, I love it.

Food, unlike anything else, never fails to enchant me. I never tire of the new flavors and the smell of produce. Food isn’t something that fades. The only two things that I will change my schedule for are good meals and running… everything else can wait.

My sister once told me that as a baby my mother would put me in my baby chair and hand me half an avocado. Apparently, I would take handfuls of the avocado and stuff them into my chubby baby cheeks. I’d be covered in creamy green avocado, but I would relish the creamy avocado. I don’t remember smearing myself with avocado, but I do still love avocado. It’s one of those things that never fades, even when I get those disappointing avocados that are brown inside but look just delicious outside!!!

Since it is summer, and I am training for a marathon (trying to keep my spirits high!) I am eating healthier. I was pressed for time this morning, but I didn’t want to buy another (ANOTHER) sandwich for lunch – I quickly sliced some avocado and tossed it with tomatoes and cucumbers. A dash of balsamic vinegar and I was running out the door for work. It’s not complicated, and you could add some peppers or chicken to make this more hearty. I often use avocado instead of mayo in chicken salad, and the result is delicious!

Avocado Lunch (Kaprise Kitchen, summer lunch!)

  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 3 ripe Campari tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon of fruity balsamic vinegar
  1. In a bowl, toss the ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to eat

The end product isn’t attractive, but the flavor of the creamy avocado, tart tomatoes, and cool cucumber is phenomenal on a hot summer day!

Two Wines

A few weeks ago (I know, I’m just feeding you all old news), my next door neighbor and I uncorked a couple bottles of wine. Both were comparable in price, but we both felt that the Malbec was superior. The Malbec was a bit smoother and easier to sip. It was plush. The Phantom, on the other hand, was a bit dryer and a bit less friendly. I think it would be superior with a generous rare steak, but on it’s own it was a bit too dry and a bit too oaky.

Am I the worst or what?

I know, I might be the worst blogger ever. I go on giant hiatuses and then come back and then disappear again!

I meant to post this ONE week ago, but here I am. Two weekends ago I ran the D.C. Half Marathon. I finished strong and felt great. I realized I have come to be a stronger runner, and then decided I needed to be stronger athletically. I went out and bought some weights and started doing some cross training. This weekend, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 mile run. I felt great. Powered through the entire race and finished in 1:32. Averaging a pretty respectable 9:13/mile. Ideally, by this time next year I will average an 8:30/mile in 10+mile runs. I’m also aiming to get my 1 mile time down to about 6:30 and maximize my cardio by adding more short length sprints.

Anyway, when I’m in my running zone, I tend to bake and cook less. I just crave more vegetables and grilled steaks, hence the reason for the lack of posting here. But, when I do run, I love bananas. Unfortunately, because I live in a city, it’s hard to get good fresh produce. So when I do see delicious bananas, I have a tendency to buy boatloads of them. So I make banana bread. I make mine with a healthy dose of flax seed (sometimes some wheat germ) and sprinkle generously with walnuts and sunflower seeds. I bake it in a 9 x 13 pan so I can have a lot of walnuts and sunflower seeds crunching on the tops.  As always, I dialed back the sugar. This banana bread is super easy and moist. I leave it on my counter with a butter knife so I can slice off little squares as I pass by.

Banana Bread (adapted from Food & Wine Annual 2009 best recipes)

  • 1 1/2 cup of mashed banana (about 3 bananas), I’ve used up to 2 cups of banana for very moist bread
  • 3/4  cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil (I have used butter with very good results too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup of flax seeds
  • 1 cup of roasted walnuts
  • 1 cup of roasted sunflower seeds
  1. Mash the bananas
  2. Whisk in sugar, oil and 3 eggs.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, and flax seeds
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit
  5. In an oiled and flour dusted pan, pour the batter
  6. Sprinkle the walnuts and sunflower seeds evenly over the top
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean and the top is golden brown


This banana bread gets very brown, so I bake mine on the lower rack of my oven so it stays a golden hue. Should you like darkly gold breads – feel free to bake it higher up.