Lancashire Hotpot with Extra Vegetables

The crispy top layer of vegetables, fresh out of the oven.

When Alex and I visited his grandparents in Half Moon Bay, CA, Grandpa Norman Taylor prepared a Lancashire hotpot for dinner.  Grandpa Norman was born in Lancashire in the 1920s, and met Grandma Nelly while strawberry picking in Finland.  Over a dinner of Lancashire Hotpot, we were regaled with stories from when the two met, and where they lived around California and in New England.

The beauty of the Hotpot is that it is a simple, one pot meal.  “My mother, being a true Lancastrian, cooked hotpot every other week, particularly in winter time when we had a fire in the kitchen/ living room, which heated our oven,” wrote Grandpa Norman.  I wanted my adaptation of the traditional recipe to reflect the simplicity of the hotpot preparation, with a couple of my favorite vegetables thrown in.  In the most traditional Lancashire Hotpot, you would have potatoes at the bottom, then mutton, then onion, followed by more potatoes in a crispy top-layer.  When I made the Hotpot, I followed the same guidelines that Grandpa Norman used: a recipe from the bottom of The Guardian article entitled “How to cook the perfect Lancashire hotpot.”  For variety, I used thick carrot slices with my onion layer, and tried celery root, rutabaga and red potatoes instead of just a couple of plain gold potatoes.  Next time, I’ll use just rutabaga and celery root.

I recreated the Lancashire Hotpot recipe one winter weekend at my friend and teammate Rick’s home in Wrigleyville, while his rescue greyhounds, Rudy and Stella, kept us company.  Alex joined us for fresh sourdough bread and a salad of local greens, beets and Rick’s homemade vinaigrette.  Then the three of us dove into the piping hot Lancashire Hotpot.



Lancashire Hotpot – serves 4-6

Rick selected the meat for this dish at Whole Foods, and went with 1 1/2 pounds of lamb cut for stew.  We also used beef stock instead of lamb stock, because of what was available to us at the lovely Plum Market in Old Town.  For my root veggies, I selected potatoes, celery root and rutabaga; I included the potatoes in my recipe just to have a point of comparison for the other root vegetables, and can attest that the celery root and rutabaga cooked just as well in the hotpot.  If you would prefer, you can skip the potatoes entirely and just double up on the rutabaga.  We used Rick’s 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven.

We enjoyed our Lancashire Hotpot with a simple salad and hunks of fresh sourdough bread.  You’ll want bread on hand to soak up the juices!

You will need:


  1. 2 T butter, plus extra to grease Dutch oven
  2. 2 small red potatoes
  3. 1 celery root
  4. 1 rutabaga
  5. 3 thick carrots
  6. 2 large yellow onions
  7. 1 1/2 pounds of meat
  8. a pinch of flour, to dust meat
  9. a pinch of sugar
  10. 1 T black pepper
  11. 1 T salt
  12. 2 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems
  13. bay leaf
  14. 16 oz lamb stock



  1. Preheat your oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel potatoes, rutabaga and carrots. Cut the outside layer of skin from your celery root. Slice potatoes, rutabaga and celery root into thin, circular slices. Chop onion into large, bite-sized pieces and cut carrots into ¼ inch rounds; set aside together.
  3. Grease your Dutch oven generously with butter.
  4. Arrange about one third of the potatoes, rutabaga and celery root around the bottom of your Dutch oven.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.
  6. In a separate bowl, dust lamb pieces with flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Add lamb to Dutch oven, topped with a single bay leaf and a sprinkle of thyme.
  7. Add onion and carrot layer, season with salt, pepper and thyme.
  8. Top with a final layer of potatoes, rutabaga and celery root slices, arranged in an overlapping pattern. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  9. Pour stock over your Dutch oven contents.
  10. Melt butter and spread generously over the top layer of vegetables.
  11. Bake covered for 2 hours, then remove cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes.


Recipe source from Grandpa Norman: Cloake, Felicity. “How to Cook the Perfect Lancashire Hotpot.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2016. <>.

Butternut Squash Vegan “Quesadillas” and Colorful Cauliflower Sides

Mixed greens with frisée, raspberries and raspberry vinaigrette.  Orange cauliflower, mashed.  Green cauliflower, roasted.  Black beans with sautéed onions.  Butternut squash mash.  Purple cauliflower, steamed.



“Eat your colors” – Michael Pollan, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”

Having devoured the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” on my recent travels, I stopped by Read It and Eat, my favorite cookbook bookstore in Chicago, in search of any other books by author Michael Pollan.  In “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Pollan challenged readers by exposing the relationship between the food industry and the foods they consume; “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” turns the truths that Pollan exposes in “Omnivore’s Dilemma” into digestible advice.  Pollan’s notions have become more visible in mainstream culture.  At one San Diego restaurant, True Foods, a Pollan quotation is chalked on the wall above the bar: “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.” (from “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” which I will be reading next).

Last year, I began talking regularly with Georgie Fear, registered dietitian and sports dietetics specialist.  The most fun thing that Georgie has taught me is to include more vegetables in my meals!  I had to get creative to prevent roasted asparagus-induced boredom, and I’ll endeavor to share some of my favorite vegetable recipes with you in the form of “Intimidating Vegetable” posts.

On my last night in San Diego, I cooked dinner in Jess’s mother’s kitchen one last time.  I made a vegan meal for us, including half a dozen produce varietals.  I used a recipe for butternut squash “quesadillas” and black beans that I picked up when I trained in Seattle last March and stayed with Katherine Robinson.  With this final dinner, I made use of the rest of our produce from when Jess took me to the PB Farmers Market.


Butternut Squash “Quesadillas” – serves 4

Butternut squash is so flavorful that you do not even need to add cheese to your tortilla!

You will need: IMG_2218

  1. 1 large butternut squash, chopped (see below)
  2. 1 1/2 T olive oil
  3. salt
  4. pepper
  5. 14.5 oz can black beans
  6. 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  7. 4 tortillas
  8. 1 avocado, sliced
  9. your favorite salsa for serving


  1. Microwave your butternut squash for 2-3 minutes, with the skin on.  This will make it much easier to remove the skin. Allow several minutes for squash to cool before handling. When squash has cooled, chop into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Add butternut squash chunks and ½ cup of water, cover.
  4. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until squash begins to soften.
  5. Meanwhile, add 1/2 T olive oil to a pan over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and sauté for about 2 minutes, just until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Add black beans and stir to heat.
  6. Mash the squash with the back of your spoon, until about half of the chunks are completely smooth. You will want to retain some squash-chunk texture to enjoy in your tortilla.
  7. Remove squash and beans from heat.
  8. Serve with tortillas and avocado slices, with beans and salsa on the side.



Colorful Cauliflower Sides – serves 3-4

The cauliflower at the farmers market was so vibrant that we could not choose just one variety! I had three cauliflower heads, and wanted to retain their original flavors for accurate comparison, so I decided to keep my preparation simple. I roasted the green cauliflower, steamed the purple and mashed the orange. The orange cauliflower claimed to taste cheesy, and is otherwise known as cheddar cauliflower, so I knew I would not need to add much to make a satisfying mashed-potato alternative.

You will need:


  1. 1 head of green cauliflower
  2. 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  3. ½ T olive oil
  4. 3 t black pepper
  5. 1 head of purple cauliflower
  6. 1 t salt
  7. 1 head of orange cauliflower


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop green cauliflower heads. Chop garlic clove into large chunks.
  3. Arrange cauliflower and garlic in a single layer on a baking sheet, coating with olive oil and 1 t black pepper.
  4. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cauliflower pieces have begun to brown.
  5. Meanwhile, chop both the purple and orange cauliflower heads.
  6. Arrange orange and purple cauliflower into two separate pots on the stove, set to steam for 5 to 7 minutes. Check tenderness. When the purple cauliflower is tender, remove from heat and sprinkle with ½ t salt and 1 t black pepper.
  7. Steam orange cauliflower for a few additional minutes, until it is soft enough to mash with a spoon. For a smoother consistency, like mashed potatoes, transfer cauliflower to a food processor and blend for a minute before adding spices and butter, if desired. For this recipe, mash cauliflower with a spoon and then add ½ t salt and 1 t black pepper.


Pollan, Michael. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.

Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

Cashew Chicken with Vegetables

Checking broccoli tenderness

This week I tested out a recipe for cashew chicken with vegetables, which I have been craving since I made the “Asian Chicken with Peanut Sauce” from Racing Weight.  Jess took me to the Pacific Beach Farmers Market before we went to the grocery store, and it was a treat to shop outside! We bought organic broccoli that had been picked earlier that day from JR Organics, and used it for this dinner.  We also bought some fascinating cauliflower heads from Suzie’s Farm (see gallery) that I cannot wait to experiment with.

This recipe satisfies my craving for a spicy weeknight meal that balances protein, veggies, carbs and fats.  I made this dish for Jess and her mom last night, at her mom’s home in PB.  Even without red pepper flakes, this dish had some heat! For those who do not like spicy food, consider leaving out the sriracha from your sauce.



Cashew Chicken with Vegetables – serves 4

The sriracha, fresh ginger and garlic in this recipe provide plenty of heat!  If you like things extra spicy, I would consider adding 1 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes to the sauce.  When I visit my parents, I cook gluten-free recipes for my mother; to make this recipe gluten-free, use equal parts Tamari sauce in place of soy sauce.  If you do not have peanut flour on hand, you can use 2 T peanut butter, or cashew butter for your sauce.

You will need:


  1. 2 T olive oil
  2. 2 broccoli crowns
  3. ½ large red onion, chopped into large pieces
  4. 2 red peppers, chopped
  5. 1 C brown rice
  6. 1 to 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped


For your sauce:

  1. 1.5 C veggie broth
  2. 1/4 C peanut flour – we used PB2
  3. ½ C raw cashews
  4. 1 T fresh ginger, chopped
  5. 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  6. 1 T sriracha sauce
  7. 1 T honey
  8. 1 T soy sauce

Optional: hot red pepper flakes


  1. Chop peppers, broccoli and red onion and set aside. Chop garlic and ginger.
  2. Prepare rice according to package instructions.
  3. Begin cooking by bringing vegetable broth to a simmer, adding liquid ingredients. Add peanut flour, stirring until combined. Add garlic, ginger and cashews. For extra heat, add 1t or more hot red pepper flakes.
  4. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Add red onion and sauté for two minutes. Add broccoli with ½ cup water and cover.
  5. Heat another pan over medium heat and add chicken and half of sauce, stirring to coat. By this point, the sauce should have reduced in volume by about a third.
  6. Add red peppers and remaining sauce to the veggie pan. Stir to coat and sauté for five minutes.  Meanwhile, stir chicken.
  7. Remove veggies from heat and add to large serving dish. Add chicken to serving dish and mix with veggies.
  8. Serve over rice.


Sauce inspiration: Fitzgerald, Matt, and Georgie Fear. “Asian Chicken with Peanut Sauce.” Racing Weight Cookbook: Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes. Boulder: Velopress, 2013. 230-231. Print.


White Fish Poached in Coconut Milk with Mango

Jake at El Pescador helped us choose halibut.

When Alex visited San Diego, we went out to a Mexican restaurant in Ocean Beach for dinner and agreed that our meal was the very best Mexican food we had ever tasted.  Visit Ranchos Cocina if you are ever in OB!  The Acapulco fish special inspired me to create this recipe, which I prepared over and over again with many types of white fish.

Our favorite versions of this dish were made with frozen, local mahi-mahi and fresh halibut.  My sister, Liz, and I ventured to El Pescador in nearby La Jolla to buy the local, line-caught halibut at the fish market.  I cooked the halibut for Liz and her husband, Jay, while their new puppy, Gracie, stood watch for crumbs.


White Fish Poached in Coconut Milk with Mango – serves 3 to 4

When preparing your mango, be sure to remove all of the skin from the chunks.  The skin tastes bitter, and can sometimes irritate your skin.  I prefer using full-fat coconut milk for this dish.  The fat will separate from liquids in the can, and you can decide how much fat to include.  I usually use about half a cup of the fat and dispose of the rest.  You will get a creamier sauce and fuller flavor if you use full-fat rather than lite coconut milk.  I have tried this recipe with bass, cod, mahi-mahi and halibut.  Cod soaks up the coconut milk flavors the most, and cooks more quickly than other white fish because it is so thin.

You will need: IMG_1792.jpg

  1. 2 broccoli crowns, chopped
  2. 1 ripe mango, chopped into chunks
  3. 1 C quinoa
  4. 32 oz vegetable broth
  5. 14.5 oz C coconut milk
  6. 1-1.5 lb white fish
  7. 1 t garlic powder
  8. 1 t black pepper



  1. Wash and chop broccoli.  Chop mango into chunks, being careful to remove the skin from all pieces.  Set broccoli and mango aside, separately.
  2. Rinse quinoa and combine with 1 C veggie broth and 1 C water in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  When quinoa reaches a boil, turn heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
  3. Steam broccoli in a separate pot.
  4. Meanwhile, combine canned coconut milk and about 1.5 C vegetable broth in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Stir until coconut milk fat has melted, and then add mango chunks.  Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer.  Drop in your fish filets and cook for about 5 minutes, adding 1-2 minutes if your filets are thick.
  5. At this point, your quinoa should be about ready.  Stir to check whether the liquids have been completely absorbed.  If they have, remove from heat and let the quinoa sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  6. Check that the broccoli has reached desired tenderness, and season with garlic powder and black pepper.
  7. Fluff quinoa with a fork before serving.  Serve fish over 1 C cooked quinoa, spooning sauce and mango chunks across the fish.  Enjoy with a side of broccoli.