Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Salmon Cakes with Siracha Mayo and Ratouille

I've started and stopped writing this post several times over the past couple of weeks, never quite sure how to start or what to say. I want to write something peppy and merry about fall or perhaps talk about all the great and wonderful activities we did over the summer but the truth is, we've suffered a tragedy and it's cast a pall over the Hoverter household. Ben, Teo and I are fine.  Well, mostly fine.  Teo is amazing, a vibrant soul with unimaginable energy.  It's his parents that are feeling a touch beat up.  Recovery has been slow, measured in inches rather than miles, but I know it's going to be OK because I'm cooking again.  Actually, saying I'm cooking again feels like an understatement, I'm spending hours and hours in the kitchen, taking copious amounts of time preparing our meals.  We have soups and stews and casseroles and fresh stir fries and salad and bread.  When I'm feeling particularly anxious or stressed I bake cookies or brownies or muffins. We are eating so well.

This brings me to salmon cakes. These salmon cakes won't take you hours to cook, rather they take minutes. I got the recipe from The Kitchn so I will send you there for the guidance on their actual preperation.  The only thing I would change after making the salmon cakes twice is that I like using two eggs instead of one. I feel like the cakes hold together better.  And the sriracha mayo is a must.  If you don't have srircaha, try mixing smoked paprika or another hot sauce with mayo.  The creamy spice finishes the dish and even Ben, who doesn't care for mayo, loved the dressing.

So, what did I serve with these delicious cakes? What is that indistinct brown blob in the back of the photo? Why, ratatouille of course. I've made Grilled Ratatouille in the past and honestly, that's the only time I've managed to take a decent picture of it.  Whenever I make it in the oven, which is my preferred method, it's a giant brown heap, albeit a delicious giant brown heap. I cribbed off of Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything, though ratatouille is so simple, you can probably make it without even reading my barebones recipe.

I used Japanese eggplant because you don't need to peel and salt it.  You can really add any baking veggies you want, including yellow summer squash and bell peppers but I used what I had in my fridge. If you choose to use large tomatoes, peel and seed them before adding them to the baking dish.

Oven Baked Ratatouille

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Roughly chop two medium zucchini, 4 Japanese eggplant, and one onion. Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper and scatter on the vegetables. Toss in two handfuls of cherry tomatoes, stems removed. Peel 4-5 cloves of garlic and add them to the vegetables. Drizzle on a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and add a few whole oregano leaves or a pinch of dried oregano. Toss the vegetables gently with the oil and then roast for about an hour, stirring about every 15 minutes. The vegetables should be tender and falling apart when the dish is finished. Garnish with fresh basil and serve at room temperature or slightly warm.


Want more awesome recipes? Check out my book, Before Baby, today!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's early in the morning and I'm sitting on the couch working and drinking tea out of my lovely double walled bodum cup that Ben got me for my birthday.  Drinking tea is a habit that I got from my mother, who got it from her mother, who I'm sure got it from her mother because she was from England.  We all drink tea.  Being a nerdy Seattlite who didn't become a parent until her mid-thirties, I've had lots of time to develop my taste for different teas, explore tea shops, and generally build up a huge collection of exotic tea leaves.  Long gone are the days of Lipton tea bags, luke-warm water and a little milk.  Here now, I decide between Assam and Darjeeling with honey and soy creamer.

Sitting quietly drinking tea in the morning is the thing I miss most in my transition to parenthood and now that Teo sleeps through the night I try to get up early just so I can drink tea.  I'm actually supposed to be working in those early hours but it's more enticing to think that I'm awake just so I can sip my Asaam and listen to the birds twitter their early morning song.

The other day I got to visit with a four week old baby, and the early sights, sounds and physical sensations all came back.  The sleeplessness, constant swaying back and forth and the love.  It's a trip to look at Teo now and think back to when he was a tiny, mewling baby, just trying to get control of his body.  Somehow, despite my parenting, he's become a vibrant, talkative toddler who runs as fast as his legs can carry him wherever he goes.

Preparing for my trip to visit my friend, I started thinking about what to bring her.  It would be food because it's always food with me but what?  A casserole?  Fresh fixings for a salad?  What should I make?  Then it occurred to me that I've written a whole book on the topic (seriously, I'd forgotten).  So I whipped up some Coconut Chicken Soup, threw it in a bag and froze it, which turned out to be a good thing because my visit got postponed twice.  So I was able to show up with some food, a little gift for the bebe and lots of love and cuddles.  And I brought my own tea!

Friends, if you've purchased Before Baby and enjoyed it, would you be so kind as to write a review on Amazon?  We need reviews to boost our rankings and get the word out about Before Baby!

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Before Baby is 75% off! And here's a free recipe...

Coconut Chicken Soup

For the next 24 hours only, Before Baby is offered at $1.99.  That's 75% off the cover price!  If you're thinking of getting pregnant (shhhh, we won't tell anyone!) or have friends who are, now is the time to purchase Before Baby.  And if you're in no way expecting or involved with babies but you love freezer meals, then get Before Baby for the awesome recipes and freezing tips and ignore the rest!

I'm excited to share with you a recipe from Before Baby.  This is on of my all-time favorite recipes, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Coconut Chicken Soup

coconut chicken soup

Makes  4 quarts
Prep Time  20 minutes
Cook Times
Stovetop  50-60 minutes
Slow Cooker  6 hours on low

This is, hands down, Ben’s favorite soup.  We make it with 2 teaspoons of green curry paste because I’m a spice wuss, and then Ben adds more curry to his bowl.  I prefer to add toasted sesame oil instead.  Either way, we’ve found that you need a little more green curry when making this soup in the crock pot.  

For extra creamy goodness, replace the second can of coconut milk with coconut cream if you can find it.  It’s how my family prefers the soup!

   1   tablespoon olive oil (Stovetop only)
  ½   onion, diced
   2   large carrots, diced
   4   cloves garlic, minced
  ¼   teaspoon red chile flakes
 3+   teaspoons green curry paste (4+ teaspoons in the slow cooker)
   8   cups chicken broth
   2   chicken breasts (approximately 1 pound)
  ½   cup brown rice
 10   ounces or 1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces
   8   ounces or 1 head broccoli , chopped into bite-size florets
   8   ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch chunks
   2   14.5-ounce cans full fat coconut milk (use coconut cream if you can find it)
   1   lime’s juice

 Optional Garnish
    Ume plum vinegar
    Toasted sesame oil
    More green curry paste

To Make the Soup on the Stovetop
Sauté the Aromatics   Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and carrots, turning down the heat to slightly below medium, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and carrots are soft.  Add the garlic, red chile flakes and green curry paste and cook for 30 seconds, until the spices are fragrant but not burned.

Make the Soup   Add the chicken broth and bring soup to a boil.  Add the chicken breasts and brown rice, cover, bring back to a boil, and then turn down to simmer.  Cook the chicken breasts 15-20 minutes, until cooked through, and then remove to a plate with tongs.  Cook the rice an additional 10 minutes and then add the kale, broccoli and green beans.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes more, until the veggies are tender but not mushy.  While the veggies cook, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces, and then add it back into the soup along with the coconut milk and lime juice.

To Make the Soup in the Slow Cooker
Place the onion, carrots, garlic, red chile flakes, green curry paste, chicken broth, chicken breasts, and brown rice in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 5 hours.  Add the kale, broccoli, green beans and coconut milk (or coconut cream) and cook for another hour.  Turn off the slow cooker and remove the chicken breasts to a plate.  When they are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized chunks and return to the soup.  Stir in the lime juice.

NOTE   This soup will not suffer one bit if you add the vegetables at the beginning of the cook time, they’ll just be softer.  Definitely still add the coconut milk (or coconut cream) and lime juice at the end.
To Make it Vegetarian    This soup is just as tasty when veggie!  Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and use 16 ounces firm tofu in place of the chicken.  Add the tofu when you add the green vegetables.  You could even bump up the brown rice to ⅔ cup for a bit more substance.
To Make it Veggie-licious   Add zucchini and/or cauliflower with the other vegetables.


Monday, May 18, 2015


In December of 2013 Ben and I decided to write a book.  I had outlined the idea a couple of months before but then let it drift as life took over.  I was teaching at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, seeing patients in my private practice and doing contract work, so I was pregnant and busy!  But in December, something shifted.  Both Ben and I love to write, and I was already making and freezing food for when Teo arrived, so we decided to write it all down.  In fact, we got the bulk of the book researched and written before Teo's arrival, and then it took several more months of working with recipe testers, tweaking timelines, reshooting photos, and generally rewriting draft after draft before we could even start the process of self-publishing.  

And oh, what a process!  Ben gets all the credit for getting this book from google doc form into something you can purchase and read.  He's a full-time teacher, so he was only able to troubleshoot the thousand little problems in fits and starts, and I think we spent every day of his winter vacation and spring break thinking we were going to publish, only to discover another issue that needed to be addressed.  This book would not be here without him!

And so, without further ado, I give you Before Baby, available as an ebook through Amazon.  Read it on your honest-to-goodness Kindle or on any of the Kindle apps for your tablet or phone!  You can even give it as a gift through Amazon (click "Give as a Gift" right below where you normally purchase it).

So, who should read this book?  Anyone expecting a child, or supporting someone expecting a child.  Future grandparents could use this book to stock the freezer for their children, or friends could each make a dish for the expectant family.  Before Baby makes a fantastic baby shower gift.  And if you aren't expecting a child but like to cook meals to freeze ahead, just ignore the references to pregnancy and breastfeeding and skip right to enjoying our delicious and nutritious recipes!

We are so excited to share this book with you.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

'Tis the season for fish sauce...

Life is rolling by fast and furious here in the Hoverter household.  We moved into a fixer-upper and somehow the house, the kiddo, the dog, the cats, our jobs, our friends and our family have taken every iota of our time, energy and money.  It's been a fantastic change (yard, anyone?) and a brand new adventure getting to know our new neighborhood in northeast Seattle.  It's a slightly more suburban area with significantly fewer restaurants and amenities, but one lovely surprise has been a superb Thai restaurant just two minutes from home.  Thai One On has gloriously fresh vegetables, high quality meats and some exotic flavor combinations to accompany the usual favorites like pad thai and green curry.  Their curry fried rice is to die for.

One of our family's current favorites is the Neua Naam Tok, or steak salad.  Thin-sliced flank steak, fresh spinach and sticky rice commingle to produce a tangy, spicy, funky experience we apparently can't get enough of.  So, naturally, we had to try to make it at home.

It turns out that the secret is the sauce.  Whatever combination of meat, vegetables and carbs you choose to put in this salad, it's the combination of fish sauce, lime juice and spices that makes it so delectable.  This sauce can go on anything.  Remember when Homer Simpson said "Marge, this is Thai food.  I want it for breakfast, lunch and dinner"?  This is why. 

For this simple meal, we grilled up some chicken thighs and veggies and threw it all over soaked rice noodles.  We added the sauce, then garnished with cilantro and green onions.  For the dish I photographed, we used broccoli, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas, but feel free to mix it up however you like.  And if you don't have a grill basket for your small vegetables, I suggest you get one--it makes life so much easier.

Neua Naam Tok Sauce recipe:
Modified from Pok Pok, by Andy Ricker

3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (I use Squid brand)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons beef broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1 stalk lemon grass, tender parts thinly sliced
pinch of cayenne

Place all the ingredients in a teeny-tiny sauce pan and heat just until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat but serve warm.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ginger Cilantro Sauce

Merry December!  Can you believe it's almost the end of 2014?  This year has been quite a ride, and  I've already started looking back and processing.  I'm looking forward to next year, too, setting goals and contemplating where I want to go.

What I'm most excited about right now is Before Baby.  I know, I know, it's late!  It's a constant source of frustration, but it is going to be out for sale next week (before Christmas!) and I guarantee it will have been worth the wait.  As with any creative endeavor, aspects of it took longer than expected and I wanted it to be done right.  There were a couple of photos I wanted to reshoot and some formatting challenges to work through.  Has anyone out there ever self-published a book?  There was definitely a steep learning curve, but all this knowledge will come in handy when we publish the next one!

November was a blur.  Seriously.  My family was visiting from Michigan for three weeks, which was absolutely amazing, but I was also working a contract for 2/3 of that time.  I worked in the morning while Grandma took care of Teo, and then we went gallivanting off on amazing Seattle adventures.  Has anyone gotten the City Pass before?  It allows you access to several Seattle tourist attractions, many of which I've never been to.  Like the Space Needle.  I've lived in Seattle since 1998 and I'd never been up the Space Needle.

Now our house is empty again and the holidays are nearly upon us.  With all the crazy I haven't been inspired to cook in the least.  I mean, I've been cooking, but it's been basic foods, foods I know by heart and can throw together in a jiff or toss in the crockpot to stew all day.  We'd been making do with these staple foods, but something changed.  I started craving this cilantro ginger sauce that my mother-in-law makes.  It's so simple--cilantro, ginger, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, safflower oil--but the tangy, ginger goodness is so addictive I've renamed it "crack sauce."  After I make it, I sweep my finger along the inside of the Cuisinart trying to get every last drop.

I served this ginger cilantro sauce on chicken breast that I filleted, pounded and seared with just a little salt.  Cooking around here has gotten a bit plainer and more compartmentalized because Teo is eating everything in sight but doesn't care for spice.  So I served him the chicken, cut up, with just a dab of sauce while I drenched my plate in it.  On the side was roasted butternut squash, and cabbage and apple salad from the December 2014 issue of Bon Appetit.

Now that I've whetted my palate I hope I can sustain my enthusiasm for cooking again.  Tonight I'm cooking from Jerusalem, and I know it will be delicious.

 Ginger Cilantro Sauce

1 bunch cilantro, washed, with woody stems removed
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, skin removed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup safflower or other neutral oil

Combine the cilantro, ginger, tamari, seasoned rice vinegar, and sesame oil and pulse until chopped.  With the food processor running, drizzle in the oil until all the ingredients are minced and fully combined.  Eat over meat, tofu or vegetables.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Jovial Gluten Free Traditional Egg Pasta

Do you see this pasta?  Yes, it's a terrible photograph.  Shockingly, snapping a quick pic under the glare of my dining room lamp didn't get the best picture ever.  But, look under the crispy fried salami and the artichoke hearts and the shallots.  You see the noodles?  Those noodles are fantastic!  I've always loved egg noodles, but I had resigned myself to an egg-noodle-free existence because I couldn't find gluten-free ones.  Yet last time I was at Fred Meyer, I turned, and there sat this lovely little box!

Isn't their picture more attractive?  I'm sure they didn't have an 8-month-old fussing at them, and had time to set up their photography lights.  Anyhoo, I cooked up my pasta and tossed it with a white wine shallot sauce, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and crispy genoa salami. 

Absolutely delish! 

Have you had Jovial Gluten Free Traditional Egg Pasta?  What did you think?