avocado

Open Faced Fried Egg Sandwich

3 years ago I started Joylicious with no particular goal in mind. I took pictures of the food I cooked at home and surprisingly, people liked it. Never did I think a simple blog would've led me straight to my true passions and love in life, but here I stand, renewed, happy and found. 

During these years, I explored deeper in to food and listened to what people were really looking for when it came to recipes. How could I convince and teach my readers the importance of wholesome eating and cooking? What are the biggest hurdles that stop many people from trying to cook from home? 

I realized fear was the biggest  challenge: fear of failing, fear of chopping off your fingers and setting your kitchen on fire, fear of not knowing how to really run an efficient home kitchen. The lack of knowledge and practice really kept people out of their kitchens and I knew I had to change that. 

Without further ado, I present to you an improved and simplified interface for Joylicious -- where you'll find a brand new category of cooking tips that teaches you anything from how to shop at the grocery store, pick out produce, how to chop, mince, and slice; you'll even find tips on how to utilize and store leftovers, ways to save money and how to keep your kitchen clean. You'll see more informative posts on the importance of wholesome eating and even the occasional gardening tip. But most importantly, just simple, straight forward recipes that not only nourish our bodies but tastes amazing.

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Let us celebrate this new beginning together and explore the wonders of cooking. With breakfast being one of the most important meals of the day, it's important we take the time to start each day with a meal that leaves us sharp and fulfilled -- ready to take on the World. Put that donut down, throw out those nasty hot pockets, and embrace this easy recipe for a sandwich that might quite possibly change your life. 

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This open faced fried egg sandwich tests true time and time again whenever I've made it at home -- the crispy sourdough bread, paired with rich creamy avocado, sharp peppery arugula topped with the perfect fried egg, it makes you fist pump the air and plus it takes like 5 minutes to make.

A couple things to remember when making this recipe: pick out a nice ripe avocado and use good quality bread and eggs. You can read more about how to shop for eggs here and how to fry an egg here. 
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I also recommend a coarser salt to sprinkle over your avocado as it gives it a surprising crunch that leaves your taste buds happy and excited. Did you know humans have an innate propensity towards crispy food? Hear more about it through NPR

I used pink himalayan sea salt, but any type of sea salt would work. No sea salt? No problem, just use kosher as substitute and call it a day. Also feel free to substitute the arugula for a milder tasting lettuce if you are not a fan of its earthy, peppery, flavor. 

To pick out an avocado look for ones that are completely black (green means unripe) with a dull skin -- also it should give slightly when squeezed. Avoid any ones that are extremely soft and mushy and if there are only unripe avocados at the store, place them in a brown paper bag with a banana and it should ripen within a day or two. You can learn how to cut an avocado here.

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Recipe for Open Faced Fried Egg Sandwich

  • 1 slice sourdough (3/4"-1" thick)
  • small handful of arugula or mixed greens, cleaned
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • sea salt or kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 good quality egg
  • cholua or any type of hotsauce

Toast sourdough in toaster oven. Meanwhile, make fried egg. Remove sourdough from toaster, place lettuce, chopped avocado on top and sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Top with fried egg and serve with Cholua hotsauce if preferred. (It'll wake the tastebuds right on up)


Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

With another year under the belt, life continues to serve unexpected surprises. The Age of Question seems to only deepen with time as I find myself slowly inching towards 30. Does anyone know when it becomes the Age of Answers? Summer has been kind to us here in Texas. With mild temperatures and ample rain, we've had an abundant harvest this year. Especially our tomatoes: Teardrops, Green Zebras, Brandywine and assorted Heirlooms -- Nature has been very kind and giving this season.

There's something intrinsically magical and pure about growing your own food -- though it takes countless hours of work, sweat and patience -- the pay off seems to nourish in more ways than one. You can literally find the beauty of life in a tomato.

To think what once laid as a dormant seed, given water, soil and light, it awakens and sprouts. And with time, care and a little homemade compost -- it grows into a healthy plant that flowers and ultimately produces the lusciously juicy fruit.

We often forget to appreciate these tiny miracles but they are constantly around us: growing, thriving, living as the World intended.

As with all great ingredients, I allow them the spotlight -- to showcase their wonder without all the flare and masking.

 

We'll start with a yellow tomato gazpacho which I adapted from Bon Appetit. Topped with creamy avocado chunks, thinly sliced purple onions, dotted with meaty cubes of heirloom and drizzled with a bright and bold cilantro oil -- this Summer soup celebrates the beauty of the season.

The best part is, this soup can be made ahead and would serve as the perfect starter for any Summer party. Feel free to serve in shot glasses or tiny bowls and always make sure you serve this soup ICE COLD. Your guests will thank you :)

If yellow tomatoes are not available to you, feel free to use red tear drops -- though the color will be different the flavors will still be wonderful. For those who aren't a fan of heat, leave out the chile but being the thrill-seeker that I am, I put a yellow thai chili from our garden and rest assured, it did the job.

As chiles vary in heat, always be sure to taste the spiciness level and adjust accordingly.

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 6
A chilled Summer soup that will leave you wanting more...
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 pounds yellow tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño chili with seeds, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Garnish with cubes of avocado, thinly shaved onion and meaty cubes of heirloom tomato.
  • Cilantro Oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño chili with seeds, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. Squeeze tomato juices and seeds into strainer set over bowl. Press on seeds to extract all juice. Chop tomatoes. Set aside 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup cucumber, and 1/4 cup bell pepper.
  2. Combine remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper in processor. Add tomato juices, onion, orange juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, and jalapeño; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer soup to bowl; add reserved vegetables. Cover and chill overnight.
  3. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Garnish and drizzle with cilantro oil.
  4. Cilantro Oil
  5. Combine all ingredients except water in processor. Puree until almost smooth. Transfer puree to fine strainer set over bowl. Using rubber spatula, press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer. Whisk 1/4 cup water into mixture in bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewhisk before using.

 

 

 

Elotes

There's something wonderful about Elotes -- the refreshing aromas of lime and cilantro, the smokiness from the slight char, the sweetness of the kernels...it's like this happy awesome party in your mouth and everyone is invited! Now traditionally, Elotesare a staple in Mexican street food -- served on the cob, in a cup, topped with various toppings like chili powder, cheese, butter, sour cream, seasoned salt, lemon pepper...

With corn in season and our garden in full bloom, I wanted to utilize seasonal ingredients with whatever was affluent in our garden -- currently it's lots of chard, carrots, onion and KALE. But we'll get to that in a minute...

 

Traditional Elotes is usually smothered in generous amounts of butter and mayo (my favorite) but seeing that Summer is right around the corner, I am trying to keep my thighs in check. With that being said, I simply just brushed the corn with melted butter for a slight buttery flavor and let the other flavors be carried out through the fresh lime and spices.

 

And I got lazy. And didn't want to bug my husband to fire up the grill so I could grill two ears of corn.  So being the good wife that I am, I used the broiler to save him the pain :).

 

Now what do you do if you made a crap ton of Elotes and now you have a bunch left over?? Never you fret my pet. Why not use them for some healthy lettuce wraps? Since I had Tuscan Kale growing in the garden, I made some "vegan" lettuce wraps and topped it with some creamy avocado chunks. I even tossed in a habanero to the left over mixture to give it a nice kick. Feel free to use any type of lettuce in place of kale.

 

Eating healthy aint all bad y'all! You can also use your leftovers and use it as a corn salsa or put it on top of a salad or protein. I actually used it as breakfast -- I simply chopped up some kale, tossed it in lime and honey and salt, topped it with a fried egg, avocado slices and corn and VOILA -- breakfast of champions.

 

This would be a great recipe for Cinco de Mayo this weekend, be sure to share the love! Have a great weekend folks...

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Sandwich Bar

 

It's hard to believe Super Bowl Sunday is almost here. To be honest, I'm not really an avid fan of football but I sure do LOVE the snacks: spicy wings, 7-layer dip, sandwiches and wraps...the commercials aren't half bad either.

One of the biggest challenges I face when I entertain is spending less time in the kitchen and more time with my guests. Give yourself a break and set up stations that allow your guests to prepare their own food, leaving you with the freedom to just sit back, relax, and WAIT, WHAT???  Not have to cook?

I thought this DIY sandwich bar would be perfect for Super Bowl Sunday as all ingredients can be prepped beforehand. I chose kind of a spicy manly sandwich for the occasion but feel free to choose whatever assorted meats, cheeses, veggies you desire. Have fun with it and get those creative juices flowing!  I made things EXTRA interesting by whipping up a SPICY condiment -- Ghost Pepper Mayo.  I found this wonderful Ghost Pepper Salt from a local spice store here in Dallas called Baked Spice they had a crazy selection of spices as well as awesome deals on vanilla beans (if you're a baker you'd go insane).  Be on the lookout if you live in Dallas because Artizone will be delivering their products soon!

DIY Sandwich Bar
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Joy Zhang
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4-6
DIY sandwich bar -- prep the ingredients, sit back and relax!
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf sourdough
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, or 2 cups of fresh greens
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 lemon slice, squeezed
  • pinch of ghost chile salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line large baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup. Line bacon slices on baking sheet and place in oven for 15-17 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon. Taste test is required -- take it out when bacon is golden and mostly crispy. Set on plate lined with paper towels to soak up any remaining oils. Set aside.
  2. Lightly butter sourdough slices and toast. Slice pieces of sourdough in half and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile clean and chop lettuce and slice avocados and place into separate bowls.
  4. In a small bowl mix mayo with ghost chile salt and lemon juice. Taste and add more spice if needed.
  5. You may warm up the bacon before serving if preferred. Arrange all ingredients to your liking and invite your guests to dig in. Don't forget the toothpicks!

 

 

Grilled Red Fish and Shrimp Ceviche

My very first professional cooking job was at one of the top French restaurants in Tucson, Arizona.  It took me over two weeks and hundreds of applications before I was finally able to convince one of the head chefs to consider me for the position of Chef de Partie.  He was weary of taking me under his wing –

“You?  Girl?  You want to work in the kitchen?  This is no joke, it’s very hard work, are you sure you can handle it?”

“Yes Chef, I will not disappoint.”

Mind you, after 95% of the restaurants I applied to turned me down, having a top restaurant to even consider me for a position with absolutely no professional kitchen experience is what I call pure luck. He did not say yes right away however, but I was determined. That day, I went out and purchased the Jacque Pepin’s Complete Techniques and made the best damn Tarte Tartin my little heart could put out, sent him a slice attached with a note.  He finally considered my plea.

“Ok. Be here tomorrow morning at 6 am.”

So begins my journey through a real professional kitchen.

I show up bright and early and stepped foot into the small 10’ x 12’ kitchen, it was literally big (small) enough to fit 4 people snugly.  At the end of the table I see Chef kneading the dough for the fresh baguettes they make for dinner service, without even looking up from the task he points to the walk-in cooler –

“Grab 10 heads of lettuce and start prepping the salad station.”

It took me an hour and half to prep that station that day, Chef later informed me it needs to be done in 30.  Every single morning for 6 months (except Mondays) I met with the Chef and worked closely by his side – chopping, filleting, frying, sautéing.  I learned everything I had ever dreamed of and more: how to make the perfect pastry cream, pate chox, and the most beautifully risen soufflés.  I even learned how to properly fillet, tie and wrap a beef wellington, tips on how to never over cook fish, and how to keep your béarnaise sauce from breaking.

But my favorite recipes I remember to this day weren’t really so much the Classical French recipes I had learned (Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it) but the traditional Mexican salsas and breakfasts Chef would make for me each morning.  Oh, did I forget to mention the head chef wasn’t French?  Yes, about that, everyone that worked in the kitchen was from Spanish speaking origins except me -- Chinita Loca was my nickname: the Crazy Chinese Girl.

By the end of my stint in the restaurant kitchen my Spanish was superb, I was able to work 14 hour shifts without crying afterwards from being so damn tired, and I had enough burns and cuts all over my arms to be considered a “bad ass.”  Okay not really, but it was intense – by far the most vigorous working experience of my life both physically and mentally.  I wouldn’t have made it through those hard days without Chef by my side egging me on, pushing me to achieve my best.

One weekend I had worked two 14-hour shifts in a row, I was near exhaustion to the point where I felt delirious.  The kitchen was a blistering 114F during the summer and I was convinced I was going to die, every single muscle in my body hurt not to mention the idiotic two 2nd degree burns I had on my arms because I dropped the pan of baguettes that morning.  I slumped over the counter and rested my head on my arms, hoping to take a short break before the dinner rush.

“CHINITA LOCA!  WAKE UP!”  Chef shook my arm and popped me across the head with a dish rag – he slid me a heaping plate of freshly fried tortilla chips and some ceviche he had whipped up out of the blue.  “Here, eat.”  I sluggishly scooted towards the plate as he shoved a heaping chipful of ceviche into my mouth.  My eyes widened: it was glorious – the sweetness of the shrimp paired with the tangy brightness of fresh lime and cilantro, instantly I felt my mood elevated.  It was like a punch in the mouth, but in a good way, a happy way, a reenergizing way.  I smiled warmly – “Thanks Chef, this was awesome.” “Of course Chinita! I made it!  Now go prep your salad station.”

I prepped my station in 30 minutes that day, the first time since working there.  I’m convinced it was Chef’s ceviche that made it happen. He taught me speed, accuracy, timing.  He taught me the importance of planning, execution and presentation. He taught me no matter how different we may be from each other, at the end of the day we’re all the same: we cook because we connect, we cook because we love, we cook because we inspire. Thank you Chef for inspiring me and I hope this recipe will inspire you.  You can use just about any combination of seafood for ceviche: shrimp, various fish, scallop, lobster.  For this recipe I chose shrimp and grilled red fish and paired it with an avocado mango salsa– a nice contrast between textures and flavors this would be a great appetizer for a dinner party or bbq that’s quick, healthy, easy and delicious.

 

Ingredients for Grilled Red Fish and Shrimp Ceviche (serves 6-8):

Prep Time: 20 minutes; Total Cooking Time: 60 minutes

 

  • 1 red fish fillet (about 1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons Seasoned Salt
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Tabasco
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • ½ cup red cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Several limes for garnish
  • Tortilla chips

Prep the grill.

 

Pat fillet dry with paper towel and evenly coat with seasoned salt.  Place red fish fillet in a wire fish basket or a buttered foil packet.  Place in the center of grill for 15 minutes then flip and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Set aside and allow to cool.  To make sure fish is fully cooked, the meat will be white and easily pierced with a fork.

 

While fish is cooking on grill bring a quart of water to a boil.  Place shrimp in the hot water, cover and let the water return to boil.  Immediately remove from heat and strain and run under cold water until cooled.  In a large bowl mix ½ the lime juice, honey and Tabasco and mix with shrimp.  Refrigerate for about an hour.

 

Meanwhile prep the salsa.  Mix chopped cilantro, mango, tomatoes, avocado and remainder of the lime juice in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

You can either serve ceviche in small glass cups or martini glasses for an extra touch of elegance.  Layer with salsa, shrimp and grilled red fish and garnish with cilantro, shrimp or lime wedge and immediately serve with tortilla chips.