Spicy Curry Butternut Squash

I’m not going to do that apology thing that us bloggers usually do. You know what I mean (because I’ve done it a million times before):

 “So sorry I haven’t written/blogged/posted! I’ve been so inundated with work/family/my book/intergalactic atomic particle transportation/etc.” No, I’m not going to say that. I am going to own up to the fact that I haven’t been blogging much and I’m pretty sure this will explain why.


Yea, I’ve been on the road. And there aren’t enough hashtags in the world to explain why. I’m looking forward to being in Los Angeles, happy enough to celebrate the holidays at home. Just as long as my Australian jet lag wears off.

Much more on that later!

Australia, I mean. Not my jetlag.

I came home to Adam testing recipes for one of his favorite clients. When recipes are tested at home, Matt Armendariz gets happy. I get to eat all the things Adam makes and honestly they’re always delicious. Sometimes a bit mixmatchy if he’s testing different things altogether but who’s complaining? Not me. As it turns out, he had leftover butternut squash, a bowl of jalapeños and a few onions. Things got chopped up, tossed with some Spice Islands Curry Powder (the folks at SI are my friends so I’m going to plug them as much as possible!) and salt, then roasted.

And it was such a delightful simple side that I forced asked him to write a recipe for me so we could share it. Because honestly, it’s a very easy simple side that I can imagine will be wonderful with roasted chicken, roasted meat, pork chops, some sausages, just about anything full-flavored enough to pair with the curry sweetness. I think the secret ingredient is roasted jalapeños; they become soft and sweet until the heat kicks in. And it’s delightful.

This is now one of my new favorite things to eat!

 Spicy Curry Butternut Squash with Roasted Jalapeños

2 lbs butternut squash cut into 1-inch cubes
4 jalapeños cut in half and seeded
1 large sweet onion cut into 1/8ths
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Spice Islands Spicy Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 425˚.  Place butternut squash, jalapeños and onion in a large mixing bowl and drizzle them with olive oil,  tossing to coat. Sprinkle curry powder and salt and pepper and toss to coat.

2. Place on baking sheet and roast in oven for 30-45 minutes, until soft and caramelized. stirring halfway through.  Remove from oven and serve hot.

P.S. I posted this on Facebook but wanted to share it here. The perils of photographing at home and not the studio! (by the way, Bindi is our 3 lb dog)



Talkin’ Turkey!

You certainly don’t need me to tell you that the Big Food Holiday is next week. Everywhere you turn you see tips, tricks and ideas for Thanksgiving so you’ll understand me when I say that I’m going to join the chorus! No, I will not be offering a turkey tip exactly, but I want to direct you to Cooking Channel where you’ll find a variety of recipes that I think you’ll like. And why would I do this? Because I photographed these recipes for Cooking Channel a few months ago and may just end up using one of the recipes next week for the big day.

What are your plans? I’m giddy just thinking about our week: my parents fly in Monday, my sister joins us Tuesday, and we’ll all be celebrating a giant Thanksgiving meal here at our home. Adam will do the bird, I’ll be in charge of music, decor and the hosting duties, while we’ll be joined with our friends, neighbors and extended family. We will toast a guest’s birthday, share what we’re thankful for, and wish my parents a 50th wedding anniversary all at the same time! While the exact anniversary isn’t until the end of December, I’d be a fool to not take the time to wish my loving folks the best of celebrations a bit early. When you make it to 50 Years you almost deserve to have those around you toast you many times over!

After the holiday I’ll be packing a small suitcase and heading to Australia to visit Hamilton Island for a few days, stopping off in Sydney before hightailing it back home to shoot a few assignments and work on my 2nd book. It’s a crazy time for all of us, remember to take a few moments for yourself but — MOST IMPORTANTLY — give thanks and lots of love to those in your lives. Tell them what they mean to you, even if they look at you crazy and tell you to stop. Trust me on this one: we all need to know how important we are to each other, it’s what makes this crazy life worth living. So do it. For me at least. And remember this: I am thankful for you and I love you. Each of you. I do. I really do.

Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing

This recipe is from Tyler Florence and hits all the right spots. C’mon, maple AND bacon ON a turkey? Yes please. The recipe is here.

Bay and Lemon Brined Turkey

I get rather obsessed with a lemon+poultry combo. Then again I get rather excited about lemon+anything combo. You cannot go wrong. This recipe from Dave Lieberman can be found here.

Jamie’s Christmas Turkey

Ok, so it needn’t be December to enjoy Jamie Oliver’s Christmas turkey.  We all know Jamie knows what he’s doing. Recipe is here.

Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy

A lighter, smaller holiday meal can come from something as simple as a turkey breast. In fact, 2 years ago we decided to forgo the entire bird and just use the breast. This recipe was delicious and you’ll find it here.

Thank you to Adam C. Pearson for the gorgeous food styling and Dani Fisher for prop styling. Dani is ammaaaaaaazing.

All images © Matt Armendariz for Cooking Channel. Thanks to my friends at Cooking Channel for letting me share!




Zucchini Pasta & the inbetweeness of it all

This is the first time in my life that I won’t be kicking and screaming for summer to stay just a bit longer. Not that I want it to go, mind you, I’m just happy to see the seasons do their thang, the earth to change notches such a tiny bit. The days are already significantly shorter, but when you’re from Southern California you’re generally immune to massive temperature changes anyway.

Besides, this past month I’ve been living in Thanksgiving because of my work, and Christmas is next week. I’m mentally already there.

While my brain may be on all things holiday, my tastebuds will most likely be the last thing to get on the bandwagon. A trip to the market explains why: there are still beautiful tomatoes and other summer fruit waiting to be scooped up and enjoyed one last time before we move on to slower, richer things. Which reminds me of this recipe, something I’ve made 5 or 6 times since it hit the newstands this past July. I’ve been meaning to share it with you but keep forgetting. Now I better do it as one last goodbye to summer, don’t you think?

The flavors in this raw dish, featured in the July/August issue of Whole Living Magazine, is exactly what I crave when I want flavor and lightness. Seriously, it’s one of the best things I’ve enjoyed lately, packed with flavor without being heavy and without turning on the oven or stove. It’s almost hard to believe. As I twirl my fork around this dish one last time and say goodbye to summer, I hope you had a great one and I can’t wait to see what Autumn has in store for all of us.

Zucchini “Pasta” from Whole Living, July/August 2011

Every single ingredient in this dish is raw. It’s also vegan but I have been known to sprinkle the tiniest amount of Pecorino on top before serving as well as 3 or 4 drops of lemon juice. Not a lot, just a teeeensy bit for brightness.

8 ounces of sliced cherry tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, thinly slices (the thinner the better, trust me!)
¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more for drizzling
sea salt (I like a light chunky salt crystal for texture)
1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise, slices cut into ¼-inch long strips

In a bowl, combine the sliced tomatoes, the garlic, walnuts basil and olive oil, Season with salt. Let stand 20 minutes. Toss with the zucchini ribbons and garnish with basil. This is where I add a tiny bit of cheese and a sprinkle of lemon juice but it’s totally not necessary.


To Richard: While I never had the chance to meet you, the laughter and light you brought to those around you had an impact, enough to radiate and shine on from wherever you are. I hope your journey was peaceful. I can tell you’re already missed.

NYC and a Sandwich

Hi folks! Just back from a super quick trip to New York City where we ate way too much food and slept way too little. As always it was a jam-packed few days as we said goodbye to this guy who just recently moved to California. Their loss is our gain! It was fantastic to see Lisa Fain of Homesick Texan and chat about her new book, give Deb of Smitten Kitchen a giant hug, laugh until I cried with Maggy and Pam of Three Many Cooks, enjoy some quality time with Justin Schwartz of Wiley and Just Cook NYC,  get in face time with the woman-I-love-named-Deb-Puchalla and meet new friends (Hi Sara!). Whew! Did I leave anyone out?  We also had a wonderful meeting with someone very very very special over breakfast (more on that later!) and suffice it to say a dream is coming true.

After all this time we finally met Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn. and I am horrified that I initially forgot to include this in this here blog post. This is what happens when I sit on the other side of the table away from her shoving pork buns in my face. It’s a mistake I will never make again. Will you forgive me, Sara Kate?

We also finally – finally! – met Andrew and Carrie Purcell of Pictures and Pancakes. A husband and wife team that consists of a food photographer and food stylist (hey, sounding familiar?), I could have sat at their table for another 6 ½ hours with them. Truly special people and Andrew’s work blows my mind. Carrie’s too. We love them.

And the cherry on top? Linda and Jurek. Linda, thank you so much. You are amazing.

So much of our visit revolved around the discussion of books. I can’t wait to see yours! Have you finished yours yet? When does yours hit the street? What’s your next idea? When are you going to write one? It turns out that so many of our friends are in the book-writing process and that makes me happy. As an author and photographer I must say that working on book projects make me the happiest. There is a special satisfaction that comes from working on books, a pace that is still fast and quick but a bit more loose and playful. It’s a group effort, equally distributed between the photographer, the food stylist, the prop stylist, the writer, the editor and the coffeemaker. And I love every minute of it.

We recently finished shooting two projects back-to-back, one for Jenny Flake of Picky Palate and another for Jess Goldman of Sodium Girl. Next month we’re heading to Belize to photograph another cookbook and I absolutely cannot wait. And the ink is still drying on the contract I signed for my next book, it’s nothing like my first so you can knock it off with the stick jokes. (I’m kidding! I love the stick jokes, it’s just that this next book is technical and is certainly not On-A-Stick Part 2!) There are a few additional book photography projects floating around as well and I do hope to get them on the calendar. It’s some of the most rewarding work!

Working on Jenny's book and the prop room in action!

This past year a few books I shot came out but none gets more use than Susan Russo’s Encyclopedia Of Sandwiches. It’s one thing to photograph a book, it’s another thing to actually keep it handy because you cook from it. And I’m not sure where this quote that appears on Amazon came from, but it makes me laugh:


“Let the record show that Matt is a true sandwich champion for trying every single sandwich in this book at least once—and some more times than he’d care to admit.”


Did I write that? Somebody did and it makes me look like a glutton! But it’s true. And because I actually tried every sandwich it’s why I keep coming back to Susan’s book. Which is what I wanted to write about today but I was too busy talking about NYC and myself. Go figure.

I’ve got a list of my top 5 sandwiches from the book, somewhere in that list is Campanile’s Fresh Burrata Grilled Cheese. It’s not the easiest sandwich to make but it’s one of the tastiest. The salsa verde is what rocks this sandwich. Or maybe it’s the burrata. Or the chick peas? Ok, whatever it is it will be dinner tonight. Again. Because I love this sandwich so much. Thank you, Susan!

Campanile’s Fresh Burrata Grilled Cheese

3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes
olive oil for drizzling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
salsa verde (see below)
1 pound burrata cheese
4 ounces chick peas
4 slices prosciutto
4 slices white sourdough bread

Salsa Verde:
3 or 4 (3-inch-long) salt-packed anchovies, rinsed well, backbone removed, and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. For the salsa verde: Using a mortal and pestle, pulverize the anchovies, capers, garlic, and salt to a smooth paste. (If you don’t have one, thinly chop the ingredients and smash with a knife to puree or chop in a small food processor.) Add the parsley, marjoram, and mint and continue pulverizing to break down the herbs. Slowly add the olive oil stirring well to combine. Season with salt and lemon juice, to taste, just before serving.

3. Boil garlic slices in cold water and cover over medium heat. Drain the garlic and return to the pan; add cold water and cover again. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Drain water and pat garlic dry. In same pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Fry garlic slices 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn them.

4. Spread cherry tomatoes on a small baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

5. Cut the burrata into 1/4-inch thick slices. Grill or toast bread slices. Run one side of each bread slice with garlic and place it garlic side up on a serving palate.

6. To assemble sandwiches: Place 2-3 pieces of cheese on each bread slice. Toss cherry tomatoes and chickpeas in the salsa verde and place 1/4 of the mixture on top of the cheese. Top with one slice of prosciutto and a sprinkle of the fried garlic chips.

Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo, Quirk Publishing. Photo by me.

Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen

I met Sara a few years ago in the Bahamas and quickly discovered she is the kind of person everyone knows. As the owner of Foster’s Market in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Sara is the author of several cookbooks and has numerous appearances on Martha’s show as well as the Today show. I have yet to make it to her market but in the meantime I’m so happy to have this book. Her latest, Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen: Soulful, Traditional, Seasonal, is filled with traditional Southern favorites as seen through Sara’s kitchen. It’s a book that you can’t help but get hungry from just looking at it as it’s packed with Southern favorites that I want to eat this very second. All the classics are there with contemporary twists like Shrimp Jabalaya, fried chicken, brisket and spare ribs. Now can you see why I’m all about this book?

Because I’m anticipating summer mode I wanted to try a few things so I could hit the ground running once it warms up a tiny bit. I’m in love with Sara’s skillet-fried corn and can only imagine how fantastic it will be when I make it with summer’s best corn. Still, even using the corn I used it was still delicious and remarkably simple. Corn, butter, basil, salt, and pepper (plus a few pieces of summer squash and zucchini just like the photo in the book) are so delicious that I really can’t wait to serve this outside with some ribs, a few burgers, I can bet it’s fantastic with just about anything. And the combination of basil and corn is completely new to me and it’s fantastic. Make sure to check out the recipe at the end of this post.

Sara’s familiar tone in writing really makes you feel as if you’re there and have known her for years, which I love. I also love her glossary of Southern pantry essentials, should you need a brush up. But the thing about Sara’s Southern Kitchen that really makes me hungry is the food photography from Peter Frank Edwards. The food is gorgeous, real, and captured in such a way that it truly feels as if you’re just sitting down to enjoy a meal with Sara and the family.

Luckily for us Sara’s husband Peter created this video as they were working on the book. I knew I had to share it!



Skillet Fried Corn from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen: Soulful, Traditional, Seasonal
Shuck 6 ears fresh corn and cut the kernels directly into a bowl. After removing the kernels, hold each stripped cob over the bowl and scrape with the back of the knife to release the juices. Cut 4 fresh basil leaves into thin strips and set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until foamy. Add the kernels and their juices, rinse the bowl with ¼ cup water, and add the rinsing liquid to the skillet. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and cook and stir until the kernels are tender and the liquid thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the basil and serve warm.

Matt says: You can add sliced of summer squash and zucchini to this dish for color. It’s heavenly. Photo by me.

10 Things: The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches

I would like to tell you how much I love my job.

I love it thissssssssssssssssssssssssssssss much. Why? Because not only do I get to work with food almost every day and with people I love, but because once in a while there are projects like Susan Russo’s The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches that just make life so deliciously fun.

Susan, of the lovely blog Foodblogga, asked me at the beginning of last year if I would photograph her upcoming book on sandwiches. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t appreciate a sandwich, including myself, so I immediately said yes.  I was really looking forward to working with her and Quirk and I was also really interested in the challenge of photographing over 125 sandwiches for one single project.

It is an encyclopedia, after all!

Here are the 10 things I learned while photographing this book:

10.  When Food Stylist Extraordinaire Adam Pearson Uses Real Ingredients, The Photographer Can Eat Every Sandwich.

I take what I do seriously and felt it was my duty to taste every single sandwich after photographing it. What did I learn? That I love almost every sandwich. Some more than others.

9. Putting Butter On Bread And Layering French Fries Across It Is God’s Way Of Telling You The World Is Just Right.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Chip Butty. I don’t really need to tell you any more, just look at it. Love it.


8. You Can Never Appreciate Fantastic Teammates Enough. You Just Can’t.

An ambitious shooting schedule takes work but with experts in the kitchen it’s nothing but smooth sailing. I’ll sound like a broken record yet again when I say working with Adam and Jenny is a dream come true. Thank you both!


7. It’s Ok To Eat The Same Sandwich All Day Long.

There was a late addition to the sandwich book in the form of Campanile’s Fresh Burrata Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Chickpeas, burrata and prosciutto on one sandwich? YES PLEASE. Not only did I gobble down the photo sandwich but we went home and made it for dinner. I suggest you try it.

6. I Wish I Didn’t Love This So Much.

It’s ham and swiss with jelly (and/or mustard) on a doughnut.  That’s right, that’s what I said. And I freaking love it. No shame in my game, y’all. For the record I made myself mighty uncomfortable by eating 3 of these in a row and I don’t suggest you do the same.

5. I Laugh Like A 3rd Grader Every Time I Say “Hot Brown”.

I’m gonna leave it at that. **UPDATE** I totally don’t mean to malign a delicious sandwich, please don’t take it that way! I’m just juvenile, that’s all.


4. Working With Quirk Books Is A Dream.

This was my first project with Quirk, the book publisher from Philadelphia. It was a dream. Gracious editors, fun designers, and a working relationship that I valued tremendously. In fact, I even did another project with Quirk Books after The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches. Maybe I’ll tell ya about it sometime :)


3. I Greatly Improved My Sandwich Shooting Skills.

You’d think shooting a single-subject book with very specific design parameters would be limiting. It’s quite the opposite and I enjoy the challenge of trying to see the same things in new ways. It really keeps me on my toes!

2. Bacon Does Make Everything Better. On A Sandwich It Makes It Exponentially Better.

I know, let me tell you something you don’t already know.


1. See Number Two.


Thanks to Susan, Margaret, and Jenny for allowing me to work on such a fun book! And with love and respect for Adam and Jenny, my team for their talent, dedication and culinary chops. Working with you two helps me to be a better photographer and person. I mean that. And I’m not just saying that because I’m married to the stylist!


Piquant Pulled Pork from The Sriracha Cookbook

Photo by Yours Truly. And yes, feel free to add extra sauce!


I would love to take a moment to review The Sriracha Cookbook that arrived last January. I would also like to take a moment to tell you how much I love the book. But I can’t. I won’t. Why? Because I’m too busy stuffing my face with this recipe.

Let’s say this will be the shortest book review in Mattbites’ history. I’m going to be lazy and point you to what others have said about Randy Clemons’ book appropriately titled The Sriracha Cookbook from Ten Speed Press.

(It’s a fantastic cookbook, and if you’re crazy for the flavors of that certain chili sauce then you really need the book. Really. It’s wonderful.)

But about this pork. Oh damn, this pork. Forget calling this  “slow-cooked”: you’ll need an overnight brine plus an additional 12 hours of cooking time. Let’s try “half-a-day-cooked-but-well-worth-the-time-invested”, ok?  But Randy lets us know there are no shortcuts to these types of flavors and he’s right–it’s worth it.

You’ll need pork shoulder, spices, Sriracha and plenty of time. Then you’ll need an appetite, your mouth, some sauce and that’s about it. Marvel at how quickly the pork disappears, drizzle more Sriracha on top if you need it. And that’s it folks. Because there’s really not much more to say about this perfect recipe for Piquant Pulled Pork.

Piquant Pulled Pork from The Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemons

Spice Rub
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

¼ cup kosher salt
4 cups cold water
¼ cup freshly packed light brown sugar
1 medium red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves

6- to 8-pound bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt) roast
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/3 cup Sriracha
½ cup cold water

To make the spice rub, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Reserve.

To make the brine, in a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the cold water. Add 2 tablespoons of the spice rub, the brown sugar, onion, garlic, and bay leaves, stirring to combine. Put the meat in a large bowl or ziplock bag and pour the brine over, making sure that the meat is completely submerged in liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning, drain the brine, reserving the pork and onion. Pat the roast dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard and Sriracha. Using your hands, rub an even coating of the mustard mixture all over the pork. Sprinkle the remaining spice rub evenly over the entire roast, pressing it into the meat, making sure it adheres.

Put the reserved onion in a crock pot. Pour in the cold water. Place the pork on top of the bed of onions, with the fattier side of the roast facing up. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours. At  this point, the meat should simply flake away with the slightest touch. Remove the roast from the crock pot, and let rest for 45 to 60 minutes. This will allow the meat to cool slightly, which will in turn make it easier to shred. Pull the meat apart using two forks, discarding extra fat and other less-than-palatable bites. Serve hot.

Green Chile Biscuits with Chorizo & Chipotle Gravy

Or the Uncondensed Title: Green Chile, Parmesan and Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits with Chorizo & Chipotle Gravy. Whew!

While I can overeat with the best of them, a Hearty Breakfast Boy I am not. It slows me down and makes me feel sluggish which is why I usually stick to a banana and some peanut butter. Sometimes oatmeal, occasionally an omelette.

These rules change if we’re talking brunch, though. My little peckish early morning hunger turns into a full-fledged giant appetite after I’ve been up for a few hours. Or automatically after 10am.

This recipe is something Adam came up with last Sunday, the first lazy day we’ve had together in quite some time. He just returned from 17 days in Wisconsin, working on a project while freezing his ass off. He had an idea for changing up his biscuits and gravy to which I replied “Oh gosh, I’m not sure about that. I think you’ll have to make it so I can try it.”  Of course I was sure about it, you can’t really mess up biscuits and gravy, can you?

The results were fantastic. Adding green chile, parmesan chunks and black pepper to biscuits rocked my socks off, incorporating chorizo and chipotle to gravy made my eyes roll back into my head. And while I would be fine with only these two things, Adam decided to throw caution to the wind and layer scrambled eggs and bacon into the biscuit and then top with a little bit of queso fresco. BREAKFAST SCORE! Thank god it was 11am.

Green Chile, Parmesan and Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits with Chorizo & Chipotle Gravy

For the Chipotle Gravy:
6 oz pork chorizo
2 chipotles in adobo, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups milk, warmed

In a sauce pan over medium high heat cook the chorizo and chipotles together until cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted, add flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk and continue to stir. Bring to a boil so that the gravy will thicken. Serve over biscuits.

These biscuits are so good that you might not even need gravy. Seriously.

Green Chile Parmesan Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup diced green chiles
¼ cup of Parmesan cubes (¼ inch cubes or chunks)
1 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450˚ F.  In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients, whisk or stir to combine. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Make a well in the center, place chopped chilies and cheese in the well and pour buttermilk over. Stir until it comes together and makes dough.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, give it a quick knead, a few times should do it.

Pat the dough into a 1-inch thickness and cut out biscuits with a 2 1/2” cutter. Keep reshaping and cutting the dough until you have 9 biscuits. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat and place in hot oven till puffed up and golden brown, around 15-18 minutes. Serve warm!

Optional: Throw caution to the wind and sandwich scrambled eggs and bacon inside the biscuit. You probably won’t need to eat for 2 days afterwards. And cans of Chipotle in Adobo can be found in Latin markets.

Chipotle Chilaquiles

This is the breakfast I’d eat every day if I could. Oh chilaquiles, how much do I love you?

Apparently quite a bit, as I’ve been on the Chilaquiles Train ever since getting back from Mexico earlier this month. While I’ve always enjoyed them, I’ve renewed my love by eating them a few times a week already and I suppose I’m making up for lost time.

While I won’t go into the variety of regional differences, chilaquiles are basically stale corn tortillas cooked in a sauce and topped with ingredients as a way to use up any leftovers or stale chips. It’s a concept I love even if I can’t quite understand the thought of having left over chips, let alone stale. Aren’t they always eaten until they’re gone? Maybe that’s just me.

Chilaquiles are miraculously adaptable; you can use almost anything you have on hand. I love recipes that are difficult to mess up and these fit the bill. They’ll forgive you if you add too much sauce, they’ll still taste great if you use too much cheese. I’m guilty on both accounts.

I grew up eating chilaquiles’ close relative, the Tex Mex dish called Migas which is comprised of corn chips, eggs, sometimes cheese, sometimes salsa, but always generous scoops of salsa.  I can seriously throw down some migas every day of the week, but for a change I’ve been digging chilaquiles’ use of various sauces to create that moist crunch that lives in that secret place between soggy and crunchy. To me it’s a very happy place.

This chilaquiles recipes is adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless from Food & Wine. It’s a favorite of mine for its use of smoky chipotle flavors and the fact that it’s simply a base from which to personalize. You can add shredded chicken or keep it vegetarian, use almost any cheese imaginable, top it with cilantro or not, and even make your own chile sauce as the base. His recipe uses canned tomatoes which we always have on hand. Like I said, you just can’t go wrong with this recipe.

Chipotle Chilaquiles adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless

1 can of whole tomatoes (28 oz), drained with ½ cup of the liquid reserved
2 whole chipotles in adobo, from a can found in Latin markets
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 ½ cups chicken stock
8 ounces tortilla chips (please I implore you to make your own if you have time, it’s easy!)
¼ cup freshly grated cheese (it can be Parmesan or any Mexican crumbly cheese)
1/3 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped (omit it if you are Cilantro Hater, you know who y’all are and don’t need to tell me about it, jeeeeeeez)
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re making your own tortilla chips, simply fry pieces of corn tortillas in hot oil until golden brown and then drain on paper towel. Don’t crowd them and don’t overcook them. See? I told you it was easy.

In a blender, add the canned tomatoes, half of the liquid and the two chipotle peppers. Blend until smooth.

In a large deep skillet (you’ll need depth as you’ll be adding all the ingredients here), heat the oil and two-thirds of the large onion (not the green!) and cook over high heat until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and chipotle puree and simmer for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the chicken stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat for about 2 minutes. You want the sauce to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Gently stir the tortilla chips into the chile sauce, making sure they’re well coated. You want every inch of the chips to be covered in sauce. Top the chips with the remaining onion, some green onions, a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream or crema, and cilantro. Enjoy immediately.

Power Foods

You’d never know by looking at my chubby exterior, but during the week we focus on a variety of healthy meals at home in an effort to balance the overindulgence, tastings, and big dinners that usually fill our weekends. And even if it weren’t for this health focus, if anything it’s to give my palate a rest from overactivity. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy sacrificing flavor because I do not; I need meals that incorporate great tastes as well as make me feel fantastic.  When I read that the editors of Whole Living Magazine were compiling their best recipes that feature the healthiest ingredients possible I knew I’d be in for a treat. And Power Foods doesn’t fail.

The book contains recipes that incorporate key ingredients that are not only delicious but good for you — things like berries, tomatoes and nuts. These foods have a tremendous impact on our health but none of that means a thing if you can’t find ways to actually prepare them and like them, a key to maintaining a successful diet. Power Foods gives you hundreds of ideas, but a favorite thing for me is the inclusion of the book’s Golden Rules, a collection of best practices for shopping and the kitchen.

The book begins as a guide to these foods, providing a visual glossary as well as information on buying, storing and eating these healthy ingredients. From there the book is packed with recipes and so much valuable information. And it covers almost anything you’d be looking for, from breakfast and soups & stews to main dishes and desserts.

I had a few minutes to chat with Alex Postman, Whole Living Editor-In-Chief, about Power Foods, some of her favorite recipes from the book as well as our mutual love of kale.  Thank you, Alex!

Matt: What are your favorite recipes from the book?

Alex: One recipe I love is for breakfast: the egg, kale, and ricotta on toast (p. 82). It’s a delicious, nutritious way to start off the day with vegetables, especially one that can be a bit challenging to incorporate beyond dinner!

Staple you’re eating this winter:

Lentil, carrot, and lemon soup with fresh dill (p. 152)
It works for me because it’s only five ingredients, it takes just 30 minutes, it gets its fresh flavor from lemon juice and dill—so healthy! And fiber-rich lentils lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. You can make a double batch and freeze it. My kids eat it too.

Winter salad: oranges with olives and parsley (p. 174)
It’s so easy to make and the surprising combination of oranges, olives, and paprika gives citrus a whole new level of taste.

dinner: roasted salmon and parsnips with ginger (p. 208)
I rarely cook fish but this one is so easy and versatile, as are many of our dressing, sauce, and marinade recipes. This one’s tamari-ginger dressing is great to have on hand for fish, vegetables, and tofu.

Any specific power foods you love?

Well, again, I love kale. I didn’t always love it, but now I know how to cook it right. It’s low in calories and super dense in nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C, and K, and fiber, iron, and calcium. It’s also versatile: you can bake it and make chips, eat it raw shredded in a winter salad, blend it in a smoothie, saute it as a side. The options are endless.

I must admit that I wasn’t always a fan of kale. During my early years cashiering at Whole Foods I kept my distance from it, it seemed too tough and leafy. But like you I know how to cook it properly and do love it! What else?

Quinoa is my new favorite. Believe it or not, quinoa is one of the most highly searched terms on Wholeliving.com—I think this seed (it’s not a grain) is having a bit of a moment! It’s the only plant-based complete protein, and it’s high in vitamin B and magnesium, two nutrients that can help reduce the frequency of migraines. Plus, one cup packs more than 5 grams of fiber. And it’s gluten-free since it’s technically not a grain.

Any that you weren’t eating enough of but now incorporate into your diet?

Quinoa (benefits above). I’ve also found that it’s a great food for any time of the day, especially breakfast when you can cook it like oatmeal: Simmer the quinoa with milk and top it whatever fruit you have, and then sprinkle with cinnamon, nuts, and honey.

These power foods are all nutritional superstars, yet the book never once feels like a “health” book. How do the editors create recipes that seem so obviously flavor-driven yet good for you?

Our philosophy lies in creating balanced recipes comprised of whole, nutritious ingredients. Once you stop focusing on low-calorie this and zero-sugar that, and start eating real, unprocessed foods, you can let the recipes speak for themselves. Plus we wanted to make the photography really mouthwatering.

Amen to that! What is the best way to incorporate these key power items into everyone’s daily diet?

The beginning of the book lists “the golden rules” for wholesome eating. (Download, print, and post them on your fridge: http://www.wholeliving.com/photogallery/power-foods-book#slide_20.) These are what the editors see as the ten pillars of maintaining a healthy and conscious diet, including when to insist on organic, buy grains in bulk, and think of fruits and vegetables in terms of the rainbow—and eat them often!

The book is right up my alley, I love to cook and I love every single incredient (there’s nothing Power Foods that I do not want to eat!)  However, what do you say to those who proclaim that they’re too busy to cook, to make the recipes in the book? Any advice to get them into the kitchen?

It all starts with meal planning. If someone gets off work and still has to schlep to the grocery store before she can make dinner, ordering takeout is probably the more appealing option. Find recipes in the book that you’ll actually want to cook (not hard!) and shop for a week’s worth of meals. Once you have everything you need, many of our recipes take 40 minutes or less in the kitchen. And new cooks won’t feel intimidated by lengthy, exotic ingredient lists; our recipes typically call for easy-to-find pantry staples.

We just said goodbye to 2010 and all those crazy holiday meals. Going forward, what is the best way to enjoy Power Foods and make sure we are cooking and eating the right stuff when the holidays want us to overindulge?

All of our healthy recipes emphasize fresh ingredients that are naturally detoxifying—low in sugar and full of fiber and antioxidants—and are therefore a good option to balance the gluttonous holiday months. We need to learn that feeling “full” doesn’t need to feel like being stuffed, and that we don’t always need sugar at the end of the meal. Use the months before the holidays to build a strong habit of cooking and eating healthy ingredients. Your body and mind will feel so good that you won’t even be tempted by that second slice of apple pie at Thanksgiving—or, even better, you won’t feel guilty about it if you’ve been eating well all year.

Thank you Alex!

Papaya, Endive, and Crabmeat Salad from Power Foods. Serves 4

Matt says: I love the combination of sweet and crunchy with seafood, and this salad hits the spot. I also love how the sweet crabmeat tempers the slight bitter note of endive’s flavor. There’s no cooking and it’s simple to prepare, you’ll only need to slice-n-chop a little bit. I probably don’t need to mention the health benefits like vitamin C and beta-carotene, right? This salad uses grapeseed oil for its dressing, known for its vitamin E and flavonoids. Score.

1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
coarse salt
1/2 large papaya (Mexican or Solo, about 1 pound), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large Belgian endive, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into matchsticks (about 3 cups)
1/2 English cucumber, very thinly sliced
3/4 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over and rinsed

Whisk together ginger, lime juice, grapeseed oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add diced papaya, endive, cucumber, and crabmeat; gently toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Reprinted from the book Power Foods from the editors of Whole Living.  Copyright © 2010 by the editors of Whole Living.  Photographs copyright © 2010 by Romulo Yanes.  Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.