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A Serene Sunday at East End Market, plus Two Guilt Free Recipes

A Serene Sunday at East End Market, plus Two Guilt Free Recipes

Happy Sunday!  A day for being ridiculously lazy. Take it easy, folks, and enjoy the lovely weather.

Driving back from Clear Lake  after volunteering last Sunday morning, I decided to make a last minute detour and check out the Mariachi (East End) Market. Off of I-45 South near the 3rd Ward (Opposite of the University of Houston). What you initially see are old, rundown buildings and warehouses. As I drove closer to Navigation, the neighborhood begins to bloom with vibrant colors. The old and abandoned warehouses and homes have explosions of graffiti art and murals. I park in front of a particularly large mural – so huge that I cannot even fit it into one shot (I was also too lazy to try). 

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Luckily for me, it was beautiful outside. The wind was blowing gently and the sunshine wasn't overbearing as I made my way down the sidewalk towards the cluster of tents and people. I saw El Tiempo on my right and the famous Ninfa’s on Navigation on my left. Dated, wooden houses, some painted in pastel colors, lined the street. In the middle of the street, was Navigation Esplanade.

 

I could already tell that this would be one of my favorite markets. It wasn’t too crowded as the market was only thirty minutes in, and there were  art/crafts/gift booths on one side of the esplanade, and food vendors on the other. There was also a coffee vendor on each side of the market, so wherever you started, there would be caffeine waiting for you.  The Mariachi band wasn’t there yet, so I took the opportunity to do an initial run through all the booths so that I could decide what I needed to buy. There was such an interesting and diverse mix of vendors. Beautiful handcrafted jewelry, decorative items for the home, art, and clothes are just some of the many things being offered for sale. I purchased a pair of turquoise earrings for a friend, and was tempted to buy some Frida Khalo-esque painted tiles. I resisted. And this may sound silly, but I felt tres chic walking through the market with my Smorgasborg Brooklyn canvas bag in tow. It was like I was a hipster/yuppie/French Girl all rolled into one. But hey, it made me happy, and you should always do what makes you happy.  Except anything illegal, or morally questionable, of course. 

Farmers boasted plentiful baskets full of fresh and colorful produce. Melange Creperie had an outpost, and there were bakers selling fragrant loaves of bread, cookies, muffins, and cakes. There were even treats for your furry four legged friends! I stopped by the Doggiee Snack Bar booth to purchase some treats for my friends’ pets. You can mix and match treats, and they are all organic. Dogs and cats both enjoy them. I know this because I purchased some for the dogs and cats in my life, and I am happy to hear that they have gobbled them up. They even have pupcorn, chicken and beef flavored popcorn- how cute is that?!  I was given an adorable burlap sack upon purchase, and was told to bring the bag back to receive 10% off for each purchase in the future.  

The purchase that had my heart jumping for joy? Eggs. Yes, you read that right, eggs. The chickens are allowed to roam free and are fed a vegetarian diet. The feed is made from vegetables from the owner’s garden, and she makes the food in her tiny little food processor for all the chickens. She had pictures of the farm at her booth and boy, those chickens are plump and look pretty happy.  She has different kinds of chickens, resulting in different kinds of eggs. My precious purchase, pictured below, is an arrangement of eggs in the loveliest of pale colors. The yolks? Rich. Bright orange yellow, and one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I poached an egg for breakfast one morning, and added diced avocado, tomatoes, and pickled red onion. Just a meal suggestion ;)

 

I have never been so excited to drive home and cook in my life that day. Using the radishes that I bought, I pickled them in some red wine vinegar and incorporated them into the poached salmon and kale salad (recipe below). This would make a perfect Sunday meal. As dessert, why not make some Paleo chocolate truffles, paired with ripe berries?  Food  that's as relaxing to make as it is to eat? Perfect Sunday. 

 

Poached Salmon & Kale Salad

Poaching the salmon keeps the fish from overcooking and keeps it tender and moist.  It is also a good way to immerse the fish with different flavors- in this case, green onion, garlic, and ginger.  You don’t have to use kale for this salad, regular mixed greens will do just fine.

  • ½ pound filet of wild sockeye salmon (no bones)
  • 1 spring onion, cut in half
  • Handful of peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp of minced garlic
  • ½ tsp of minced ginger
  • ½ tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of kale
  • ½ cup of spinach
  • 1 radish, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar 
  • Sliced red onion – optional
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves 
  • 1/2 sliced avocado 
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon (to taste) 

1. Place the kale in a saucepan of simmering water for about 30 seconds. Drain and set aside. This will get rid of some of the toughness in the kale. 

2. In a small frying pan, place the salmon, skin down, and pour just enough water to cover the top of the fillet. Add the spring onion, peppercorns, salt, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Turn the stove on medium high heat and when the water starts to bubble slightly, turn off the stove and leave the salmon in the poaching water for about 7 minutes. 

3. While the salmon is poaching, submerge the radish and red onion in red wine vinegar. Set aside. 

4. Combine the kale, spinach, and mint leaves in a large bowl or plate. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil and lemon to taste.  

5. Carefully take the salmon out of the pan and peel off the skin. Flake the salmon over the salad, and arrange the red onion and radishes  on the plate so that you have colorful specks of coral, white, and purple peeking out from the deep green of the kale, spinach, and mint. Top with sliced avocado or poached/fried egg, if it suits your fancy. 

6. Add a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice if desired. 

Paleo Chocolate Truffles

These little morsels are rich and not too sweet. They melt right on the tongue. Even better, they're natural and good for you, and contain no preservatives whatsoever. Just bites of chocolatey goodness. Since the chocolate is so rich, I like to serve these with berries for a sweeter and lighter tang to cut through the dense flavor of the dark chocolate. You can coat them with whatever you have on hand. In my case, I had almonds, cocoa nibs, cacao powder, and toasted coconut. 

  • 1 can of coconut milk 
  • 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate 
  • Assorted berries 
  • Toasted coconut, almonds, cocoa powder, and cacao nibs for coating 

1. Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan until bubbles start to show on the surface. 

2. Make sure the chocolate is in small chunks and place them in a heatproof bowl. Pour the heated coconut milk over the chocolate and let it stand for one minute. 

3. Gently whisk the chocolate and coconut mixture until you get a smooth and glossy bowl of chocolate. 

4. Cover and refrigerate for about 3-4 hours, or until firm. The chocolate should now be scoop-able, and somewhat pliable. 

5. Set up your truffle making station, like below. I recommend wearing gloves for this. It's about to get a tad messy. 

6. Scoop out a teaspoon of chocolate and roll into a ball. Roll the truffle in your desired topping of choice. 

7. Place your truffles on a plate lined with wax/parchment paper and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

9. Serve with assorted berries. 

 

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