Vegetarian Street Tacos

Vegetarian Street Tacos
  1. 1 ripe peeled avocado
  2. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  3. 1/2 cup mexican cream (crema), greek yogurt or sour cream
  4. 3 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  5. 1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
  6. 1 lime
  7. 1 teaspoon honey
  8. 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotle chiles)
  9. 1 ear of corn
  10. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  11. 1 cup sliced portabella mushrooms
  12. 1 cup black beans
  13. 1 package small “street” style corn tortillas
  14. 6 tablespoons crumbled Cotija or feta cheese
  15. Fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. Place avocados in a blender; add crema, chopped cilantro, lime juice from 1/2 lime, salt and pepper, to taste, blend until smooth and creamy, set aside.
  2. Combine red onion, shredded cabbage, lime juice from 1/2 lime, and honey, salt and pepper, to taste. Toss together and set aside.
  3. Char corn on open flame of the stovetop, turning with tongs. Cool and cut off the cob, set aside.
  4. Heat heavy pan to medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes, or until most of liquid evaporates. Add in corn and black beans; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in adobo sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place warm tortilla on plate. Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons avocado mixture in center of each tortilla. Top with slaw, 1/4 cup mushroom mixture, 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese and cilantro leaves, if desired.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Beet Farro Pistachio Goat Cheese Salad

Beet Farro Pistachio Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 4
  1. 4 beets - sliced into quarters
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1/2 cup farro
  4. 2 cups fresh spinach
  5. 2 tablespoons pistachios
  6. 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  7. Balsamic vinegar
  1. Turn oven on to 400. Prepare beets; coat in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15 minutes or so until done. Let cool.
  2. To prepare farro—combine 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup farro in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Let cool.
  3. To assemble the salad - place the farro and beets on the spinach. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts and crumble goat cheese on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Chef Talk: Something for Everyone at the Holiday Table: What to Serve Guests with Food Allergies and Diet Restrictions by Lynn Dugan

Your family will be together in a few short weeks and you are already stressing about the holiday meal you are hosting.  Aunt Susie is newly gluten free.  You also think your brother’s girlfriend is a vegan.  What should you do to accommodate these dietary restrictions? Most importantly, how can you be a good host while managing the menu and keeping your sanity?

I can help!  As a Registered Dietitian, I know about meal restrictions and accommodations. I also love to entertain and know the challenges in meal planning and food preparation when dealing with different diet demands.  And, my oldest son has a life threatening nut allergy.  Every holiday, I work with the host to understand the menu and determine what I need to make to supplement the meal for his benefit.

So, here is your game plan in three simple steps:

  1. Understand your guest’s dietary restrictions. 2. Work out the base menu. 3. Communicate the menu and recruit help with preparation.
  1. Don’t begin meal planning until you understand the dietary restrictions. After making it clear to your guests that you look forward to being together, ask the questions necessary to best understand the restrictions. Vegan is a diet free of animal products (including meats, fish, dairy, butter, eggs) but does your vegan guest avoid honey, too? How sensitive is the gluten restriction? I have gluten-free friends who eat bread on occasion but none of my celiac friends can tolerate even cross contamination from cutting boards, knives, toasters, measuring cups, frying oil and baking sheets. The conversations you have with step one are a good place to begin as it shows your concern for your guests, that their well-being is your priority. You can also gauge how open they will be to making and bringing a dish to supplement your meal. That takes us to step #2.
  1. Plan the menu. Your guiding principle for menu planning is to have something for everyone at the Holiday table but not everything has to be for everyone. Consider what I call the ‘red light’ foods for each dietary restriction and pick a menu item that suits everyone.  Red lights for gluten free are always anything made with wheat flour: regular bread, stuffing, crackers, pasta, and rolls.  You’ll be able to offer a gluten-free side dish when using rice, wild rice, potatoes, corn or quinoa to replace wheat.

As already mentioned, the red light for vegans are any animal products – meats and poultry, fish, dairy products, honey. Make sure you offer a menu item that contains a significant protein source like adding beans or legumes to a wild rice casserole, or offering a quinoa-based dish or any dish featuring legumes or lentils. A bowl of mixed nuts on the table can also offer an additional source of protein for the vegan diet.

Side dishes that can work for everyone are typically potatoes, vegetables, salads, fruits and nuts when prepared without the red-light ingredients and prepared with dairy substitutes like soymilk and vegetable oil spreads.

  1. Share the menu with your guests and recruit help. Most people like to bring something. And they are best able to adapt to their own dietary restrictions. While sharing the menu, it is important to communicate any diet restrictions that they might not be familiar with (like telling the gluten-free aunt you have a vegan guest coming). Let your guest know you’ll need them to keep track of any ‘red light’ ingredients in their dishes so you can communicate those during the holiday meal. If your party is small, you can easily point out acceptable dishes. If your party is large, it may be helpful to mark foods as GF or Vegan using a tented name card/place card. Remember, your goal is to have something for everyone but not everything has to be for everyone! 

By following these three steps and making some easy adaptations to the traditional Holiday dinner, your guests will feel welcomed, special and included.

I have highlighted my Warm Sweet Potato Lentil and Apple Salad Bowl.  It is vegan and gluten-free.  Each step of the recipe can be made in advance and assembled warm just before mealtime.  Happy Holidays!

Warm Sweet Potato, Lentil and Apple Salad Bowl
Serves 4
  1. 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 2 pounds sweet potatoes peel and dice
  3. 1 small red onion, large dice
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 8 ounces mushrooms (button or cremini), sliced
  7. 2 cloves minced garlic
  8. 2 stalks celery, sliced
  9. 4 small tart apples (Jonathon or Cortland), dice
  10. 1 cup cooked lentils
  11. 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat oven 425 degrees.
  2. Make balsamic glaze: place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the glaze is reduced by half, is thick and coats the back of a spoon (consistency of chocolate syrup). Set aside.
  3. Place potatoes and onions on baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast high in oven for 20 minutes, until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, sauté mushrooms, garlic and celery in 1/2 tablespoon oil until mushrooms and celery are softened. Salt and pepper, to taste. Add apples and cook until just warm.
  5. Pour contents of sauté pan into a large bowl. Add roasted potatoes and lentils; stir to combine. Garnish with balsamic glaze.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl

Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl
Serves 2
  1. Vegetables
  2. 2 tablespoons of olive, melted coconut, or grape seed oil
  3. 1/2 red onion, sliced in wedges
  4. 2 large sweet potatoes, halved
  5. 1 bundle (227 g) broccolini, large stems removed, chopped
  6. 2 big handfuls kale, larger stems removed
  7. 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  8. Chickpeas
  9. 1 15-ounce (425 g) chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  10. 1 teaspoon cumin
  11. 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  12. 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  13. 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  14. optional: 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  15. optional: 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  16. Tahini Sauce (optional)
  17. 1/4 cup (56 g) tahini
  18. 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  19. 1/2 lemon, juiced
  20. 2-4 tablespoons hot water to thin
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and arrange sweet potatoes and onions on a bare baking sheet. Drizzle both with a bit of oil, making sure the flesh of the sweet potatoes are well coated and placed skin side down on the sheet.
  2. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven flip sweet potatoes and add broccolini. Drizzle broccolini with a bit of oil and season with a pinch each salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for another 8-10 minutes, then remove from oven and add kale. Drizzle kale with a touch more oil and season with a pinch each salt and pepper. Bake for another 4-5 minutes then set aside.
  4. While vegetables are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add chickpeas to a mixing bowl and toss with seasonings.
  5. Once hot, add 1 Tbsp oil and chickpeas and sauté, stirring frequently. If they’re browning too quickly, turn down heat. If there isn’t much browning going on, increase heat. I found 10 minutes total at slightly over medium heat was perfect. Once the chickpeas are browned and fragrant, remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Prepare sauce by adding tahini, maple syrup and lemon juice to a mixing bowl and whisking to combine. Add hot water until a pourable sauce is formed. Set aside.
  7. To serve: Slice sweet potatoes into bite size pieces. Divide vegetables between 3 serving bowls and top with chickpeas and tahini sauce.
  8. Best when fresh, though leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge.
  1. Provided by Minimalist Baker
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Pesto Pronto by Brandy Fernow

As a chef instructor, people always ask me “do you cook like this at home every night?” And my answer is a swift “nope!” Yes, I am a chef, but I am also a busy mom of two active 1st and 2nd grade boys. That means I’m running all week from school, to sports, to cub scouts, volunteering, doing homework, playdates, cleaning, cooking, and of course teaching classes at Marcels!

So no, I don’t cook every night and it’s certainly not a gourmet meal every night either. We do eat at home every night and I have learned to cook smart. Cook one night, then turn that into 2 more meals that I can make in 15 minutes or less.

One of my favorite go-to’s for this technique is a simple pesto sauce. What probably comes to mind is the traditional basil, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil. I certainly make this version to toss over pasta or accompany chicken, but I also use the same fundamentals to make a dozen other “pestos” which to me is generally an herb, nut, cheese and oil – whipped together in seconds with the help of my food processor.

Now – to make this a million other ways, you just swap the herb, nut and cheese combos. For example, Mexican night – use cilantro, pepitas, queso or cotija cheese, and a dash of red pepper flake. Or sweeten it up a bit by swapping arugula for basil, pecans for pine nuts, adding 2 tablespoons of honey and ½ cup ricotta. Or try parsley, almonds, and asiago.

This way you can pour over ANYTHING! Pesto variations are great poured over steak pork, chicken or fish, tossed with pasta, quinoa or favorite grain, drizzled over roasted veggies, you name it.

Bonus – you can freeze in portions and re-use. Why haul out that food processor more than once? Make big batches of a few kinds and freeze in portions. Pull out and enjoy on that frenzied night you’re trying to get something fresh, but fast on the table.
I’m featuring this favorite pesto technique in a private event this month at Marcels for a group of moms looking to cook once, eat twice. We are serving the pesto over flank steak, then recycling it to a pasta for the next meal. If you have a group that is looking to learn something specific or want to have a good time with your friends, let Marcels know and they can customize your own private event!

Fresh Basil Pesto
  1. 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  2. ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  3. Zest and juice of a lemon
  4. Handful of fresh parmesan
  1. Add all to a food processor and add olive oil until you have you preferred consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs
  1. ½ cup olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoon Lemaster Family Kitchen TOSA seasoning mix
  3. 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  4. 1 medium onion
  5. 1 zucchini
  6. 1 red pepper
  1. Whisk together oil and seasoning mix. Add chicken cut into chunks. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Heat grill to medium high heat.
  3. Cut vegetables into chunks and toss with some more olive oil and TOSA mix to coat.
  4. Thread chicken and vegetables on skewers. Grill until chicken is cooked and vegetables are crisp tender.
  5. Serve with saffron rice.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

One Pan Farro and Tomatoes

One Pan Farro and Tomatoes
Serves 4
  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1 cup farro
  3. ½ large onion (use white for mildness)
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 9 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes
  6. 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  7. ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less to taste)
  8. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  9. Few basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  10. Grated parmesan, for serving (optional)
  1. Place water and farro in a medium saucepan to presoak (5-10 minutes is enough) while you prepare the other ingredients. Adding each ingredient to the pot as you finish preparing it, cut onion in half again, and very thinly slice it into quarter-moons. Thinly slice garlic cloves as well. Halve or quarter tomatoes. Add salt and pepper and set a timer for 30 min.
  2. Bring uncovered pan up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. When the timer rings, the farro should be perfectly cooked (tender but with a meaty chew), seasoned and the cooking water should be almost completely absorbed. If needed, though, cook for additional 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a wide serving bowl. Drizzle farro lightly with additional olive oil, scatter with parmesan and basil.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Pasta Fresca (Fresh Tomato Sauce)

Pasta Fresca (Fresh Tomato Sauce)
Serves 4
  1. 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  2. 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  3. 1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
  4. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  5. salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  6. 1 lb. fusilli, bow-tie or penne pasta
  7. 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  8. grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Set aside 1 cup of the chopped tomatoes and 2 of the basil leaves. In a blender or food processor, puree the remaining tomatoes and basil with the garlic and olive oil until smooth. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  2. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the pasta, re-cover the pot, and return to a boil. Uncover and cook the pasta until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cut the reserved basil leaves into thin strips.
  3. Drain the cooked pasta and toss it immediately with the mozzarella cubes. Add the sauce and mix well. Top with the reserved tomatoes and basil, and grated cheese if desired.
  4. Serve immediately.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Spiced Chicken and Grape Skewers

Spiced Chicken and Grape Skewers
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  3. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  9. 8 (10-inch) skewers
  10. 1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes
  11. Cooking spray
  12. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  13. 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, coriander, and salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat. Marinate the chicken for 20 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, soak the skewers in water, if wooden.
  2. Thread 4 pieces of the chicken and 4 grapes onto the skewers, alternating them. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over a medium-high heat, or prepare an outdoor grill. Grill the chicken until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Sprinkle with mint and serve with lemon wedges.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

No Oven, No Problem by Julie Busteed

Somehow it seems to happen that whenever we have out of town guests, something breaks, or clogs, or freezes. Think plumbers on Christmas Eve, or a dozen guests enjoying the warmth of the fireplace – because the power has gone out. This visit was no different, the day before company arrived our ovens decided to quit working. Not a total disaster since the stovetop still functioned, but I needed to alter my menus none the less.   

It has been several years since we’ve owned a grill and we’ve been planning to get one. As luck would have it, we were gifted a Kamado Joe! Yes, they were those kind of out of town guests, and yes, they probably figured it was their best shot at eating a home cooked meal. 

To be clear, the Kamado Joe is to “grill” as Ferrari is to a riding mower. This thing is on another level. The heat is enclosed entirely in a thick, ceramic shell, making common recipes that say “Bring the temperature to 700 degrees.” My ovens don’t go to 700 degrees…even when they’re working. The delivery crew shows up to assemble the unit dressed like they were going to a wedding… Which they were.  (Thanks Jill and Bob…)  And, like Ferrari, most of the Kamado Joes are red. Think of Marcel’s as the showroom, with free delivery and setup. 

I’ve had to skip over “grill” recipes for many years, and now here was my chance to dive back in. So far, we’ve seared steaks, grilled shrimp, warmed bread, grilled romaine and even baked banana bread. The surprising one was grilling salmon.  I had adapted this salmon recipe for the oven and it had proven quite tasty, but now I was actually able to grill it and wow, what a difference!


Asian Grilled Salmon
  1. 1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)
  2. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  3. 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
  4. 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  5. 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  1. While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.
  3. Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
  4. Grilling with high heat is a little like learning a new language. There’s a bit of a transition, but once you have the basics, a lot of exciting culinary adventures become available. And the flavors that will appear are astounding. Plus, it’s a great option to have when your appliances go on the fritz.
Marcel's Culinary Experience