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Since I’ve moved from Brooklyn (yes, it’s true), I am happy to have more space, a calmer atmosphere, and a FRONT PORCH! The summer is past us but today was beautiful, sunny, and 82 degrees. (Note: this was written a couple of weeks ago–oops!) Since I had the day off, I spent it jogging, grocery shopping, and guinea grilling on the front porch in my lawn chair with a nice cold Octoberfest beer (hey–it is October).

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Just a guide, no real recipe:

Dice grilled chicken breast and toss with thinly sliced romaine, diced tomatoes, corn, crushed whole-grain tortilla chips, black beans, sliced scallions, diced or sliced avocado, and light ranch dressing (alternately, it would be delicious with a lime vinaigrette).

If you’re planning on having leftovers, don’t mix the dressing or the tortillas in the salad. Instead, garnish each salad with both.

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A while back I posted my favorite guacamole recipe, which calls for little more than the avocados themselves. This is typically my go-to approach for this simple starter, but here I deviated a bit. The avocados I bought were, for some reason, on the bland side, so I added a few more ingredients to the mix.

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2 Hass avocados, medium dice
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tomato, small dice (I only had cherry tomatoes so feel free to use whatever  you have on hand)
1/4 small red onion, minced (or 1 shallot, minced)
kosher salt, to taste

1. Place the avocados into a medium bowl and, using 2 knives, cut the pieces so that the avocados break down. Be sure to leave some chunks (unless you prefer it smooth).
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the avocado and stir.
3. Adjust seasoning as needed.

The night before a big day of travel, my S.S. and I gorged on a big beautiful margarita pizza. We ordered a salad to make up for it, with little intention of enjoying it.

While the pizza was tremendous, the salad stole the show. Big hunks of plum tomatoes were tossed with avocado and hearts of palm. The dressing was simple (lemon, olive oil, and maybe oregano?).

Fast-forward to life after vacation: I am still thinking about that salad. I need that salad. Here we go:

4 vine-ripe tomatoes, large dice
2 avocados, sliced or medium dice
artichoke hearts, halved or quartered (of course, my local grocery store doesn’t stock hearts of palm; this was a good substitute)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: not great the next day (avocado browning isn’t as big of a problem as the avocado breaking down and muddling the flavors). Eat same day.

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Thank you, Il Porto, for making our night–and for the inspiration!

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More of an idea than an actual recipe:
baguette (I used whole wheat)
olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
butter
eggs
tomato
avocado
hot sauce

1. Brush sliced baguette with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast in a 400 degree F oven until lightly browned.
2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a pan over low heat and add the eggs. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until cooked through but still wet.
3. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper and place on top of the baguette.
4. Top tomatoes with scrambled eggs and garnish with avocado slices and hot sauce (optional).

Notes: use sliced tomatoes (not quartered cherry tomatoes), consider different cut of bread. This was ridiculously difficult to eat, but so so delicious.

photo (28)1 romaine heart, rough chop
8 radishes
2 corn cobs
1/2 bunch cilantro, rough chop
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
juice of 2 large limes
1/3 cup olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 avocado, thinly sliced or medium dice

1. Place the chopped romaine in a large bowl.
2. Using a mandoline, julienne the radishes and add to the bowl.
3. Stand the corn upright and cut off the kernels with a knife. Add kernels to the bowl.
4. Add the cilantro, tomatoes and scallions to the bowl.
5. Squeeze lime juice over the salad, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Gently toss and garnish the top of the salad with avocado.

Enjoy this fresh, vegan salad with, well, ribs, of course! It’s the perfect foil to the slow-cooked meat.

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So now that we’ve made homemade vegan refried beans, it’s time to eat.

The first two times I made this healthy condiment, I slathered it between tortillas with shredded cheese and made quesadillas. The first time I even topped it with a fried egg and fresh picked cilantro. These are excellent vegetarian entrees that leave you full but not, ya know, fuuuuuuull.

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The third and most recent time I made the refried black beans, it was for a vegan breakfast. Toast a whole wheat English muffin (or any kind of whole grain bread–there are more wholesome options available, but I was in the mood for the nooks ‘n’ crannies) and top with a healthy smear of refried beans. Garnish with a few slices of avocado and a sprinkle of salt (flaked sea salt is ideal, but I used kosher because it was all I had on hand).

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It’s only during the past few years that I’ve developed an affinity for bitterness. Now it’s a taste that I crave, namely in the form of alcohol–IPAs, Campari and sodas, Negronis–but also in grapefruit. Since winter is the time for citrus, I suppose I’m pushing it by posting this during the first days of spring. But, what the hell:

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Serves 4, as a starter for brunch (serves 2 as a main course for breakfast)

2 grapefruits
2 oranges
1 small jicama
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 lime
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar (a drizzle of agave also works very nicely here)
1 avocado

1. Supreme 1 of the grapefruits and 1 of the oranges: cut off the tops and bottoms of the fruit. Cut off the skin, making sure to remove all of the white. Cut in between the membrane to create “wedges” of fruit.
2. Slice the remaining grapefruit and orange: cut off the tops and bottoms of the fruit. Cut off the skin, making sure to remove all of the white. Cut the fruit into slices.
3. Julienne the jicama: peel, thinly slice, and cut into matchsticks.
4. Gently toss the citrus fruits with the jicama, juice of 1/2 a lime, salt and sugar.
5. Slice the avocado: Cut into quarters, remove the pit, peel away the skin and slice into 1/4-inch pieces. Squeeze juice of the other 1/2 of the lime over the slices to prevent browning.
6. Serve the avocado slices on the side. You can arrange the slices on the top of the salad, which would make for a beautiful presentation, but I like the bit of interaction your guests have by finishing their own plates.