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Morning Cup in Vegas

We’ve been in Las Vegas for 16 hours. Haven’t really eaten much, but adoring this morning cup of coffee. I hope you are enjoying yours too! That is a Scotch Egg. A delicious soft boiled egg wrapped in spicy sausage and then deep fried. My kind of breakfast! I will be trying to create this at home!

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The Lowly Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one my favorite vegetables. I like them raw, roasted, steamed, sautéed and boiled. They are good in soups, stews, chili, gratin, on the side, or as a main. They are delicious! They are high in Vitamin C and have a good percentage of Vitamin K too.

My favorite way to eat them is to gently steam them, toss them into a  hot sauté pan with butter and let them caramelize until they are a light golden brown. Served with toasted pine nuts and sprinkled with parsley,salt and pepper, they make a great dish for any reason whatsoever.

If you are a little skeptical and haven’t made friends with the lowly cauliflower yet, try using some of these seasonings: paprika, red pepper flakes, thyme, taco seasoning, sea salt and of course, butter. Everything tastes better with butter.

Enjoy!

The Lure of Good Food

I had this steaming plate of goodness at lunch a couple of weeks ago with my family, and I find myself craving exactly what is pictured here at 5:30am. The lure of good food doesn’t just begin with a craving and end with a satiated stomach, but it beckons us to share it with friends and family.

There’s almost nothing more I like than sitting down with somebody who appreciates good food as much as I do. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good: a soft pear poached in red wine, butter and sugar; parmesan curls floating on slices of apple and drizzled with agave; a rustic potato tart with cream, butter and nutmeg.

I’ve heard the worst news over an apple martini, and shared the best news over cinnamon rolls. I’ve shared a meal with perfect strangers, the meal itself serving as an ice breaker. Food memories are how I mark many of my most meaningful experiences.

The lure of good food for me is about bringing everything into focus: the ambience, the person I’m with, the conversation, the view, the laughter.

What is your most recent food memory?

Le Grand Bistro Americain

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of shopping and dining with a good friend. Another friend of mine took some amazing photos of her lunch at Le Grande Bistro Americain, and because of those mouth-watering photos, I was looking for an excuse to go.

Overlooking Lake Washington, the Bistro is casual but elegant, making you feel welcomed and comforted. The hostess was the sweetest woman who made you feel like you were dining in her country kitchen in a village in France. I even asked her if this was her restaurant, because I could feel her passion for the place and the people. I can’t remember the last restaurant employee who took that kind of responsibility.

And then there was the food. That photo above is of seared Steelhead with sweet peppers and green bean medley, swimming in sweet pepper puree, and a dollop of micro greens. I continue to think about this meal and taste it, sort of, when I’m hungry or find myself near the restaurant, like today.

The salmon was cooked perfectly with a seasoned crust and soft, flakey texture on the inside. The beans were vibrant still encased in bright green and yellow with a crunch, but not too crunchy. The roasted pepper puree coated my mouth with a zesty flavor and a sweet punch.

It took me forever to finish this meal, because I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to lick the plate, but I thought it would be rude and reveal my rustic attitude about cooking, food and dining.

I get to go to the Bistro again with some friends for Dine Around Seattle month, where patrons can get three courses for $15 at lunch, or $30 for dinner. I’m looking so forward to it!

Black Sea Salt

I have not been this excited about an ingredient in a long time: Black Sea Salt.

Yes I know, it’s just a finishing salt, an embellishment, frivolous even, but I grew enamored with it while standing in front of the checkout line at Sur La Table in Kirkland, WA.

This sea salt is made black by the addition of activated charcoal, said to reduce impurities. Charcoal is made when wood is burned in the absence of oxygen. When charcoal is activated, the oxygen is added back to charcoal, opening up a zillion (I exaggerate) pores. These pores, or bonding sites, adsorb (no, I didn’t spell that wrong) certain impurities.

It is similar to the charcoal filter found in water pitchers like Brita. The impurities passing near the activated charcoal accumulate on one of the bonding sites. The word adsorb, means accumulation on a surface, instead of absorb, to be taken into another surface. This is why your Brita filter needs changing. Once all of the bonding sites have impurities accumulating on the surface, there is nothing else to adsorb the impurities. Go change your filter!

The Black Sea Salt isn’t going to significantly reduce impurities inside your body, however, but it will be an interesting addition to certain food. Last week I made Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies, and I think the addition of this black salt will be just… fun.

And fun is sometimes what we need to take the edge off of a long day. Why not have fun in the kitchen, embellish that snickerdoodle, salt those caramels, glitter those meringues, with edible glitter of course.

You get the idea. Have fun!

Salted Caramel Thumbprints

I had the privilege of having lunch with a good friend today. Our friendship runs deep, solidified by our love of food and eating.

Those cookies were made by her and given to me for dessert! I can’t wait to make these sinful yet delicious little cookies from Martha Stewart.

Friends don’t let friends miss out on yummy food!


And then there was just 1…

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Spread the Love

Valentine’s Day has never been a whopping day of love and romance for me. For some reason, maybe a past experience…or two, I always raised the bar on expectation, expecting fireworks (real ones) and lobster, and shoes.

Nowadays, I make a special dinner for my family, decorate the table, light candles, and give them all extra hugs. This is love to me, although I still drool over a new pair of shoes.

This year I’m going to add a new ‘love’ task to my list. Years ago as I was waiting for a Grande Vanilla Latte in the drive thru line at Starbucks, somebody behind me paid for my drink. When I got up to the window, the friendly latte correspondent said that my drink was paid for by the person behind me. It turned out to be a friend of mine, and I thanked her profusely, but I never forgot about it. Later, I would repeat this for random strangers, but I haven’t done it for a long time.

So, if you go to Starbucks in Snohomish on Tuesday, February 14th, and happen to be in line behind me, you are going to get your loving latte or mocha or whatever you order, on me.

Spread the love!

Goat Cheese Purses with Apricot Syrup and Almonds

This was a fun recipe to cook up on a relaxing Friday evening for weekend snacking. The problem you will have, is that these won’t last past that relaxing Friday evening. Be prepared to make a few batches!

This was adapted from a recipe featured on Nadia G’s cooking show Bitchin’ Kitchen. I didn’t have all of the ingredients, so I combined some of my favorite ingredients to make this yummy sweet.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 14 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 3 sheets phyllo dough
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • handful crushed slivered almonds
  • 2 sheets crispy prosciutto

METHOD

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

SYRUP

Bring water and sugar to a boil, then simmer over medium heat. Add dried apricots and reduce to low heat. Add the balsamic vinegar, strawberry jam, vanilla bean (seeds scraped from pod and added to pot, and pod thrown in), and cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes until it has a nice syrup consistency, strain the syrup, setting aside the apricot pieces. Throw vanilla pod away. You will be left with an amber- colored syrup with visible vanilla bean seeds.

CRISPY PROSCIUTTO

Take 2 pieces of prosciutto and place them in a frying pan. You don’t need to add any oil. Fry them on medium heat until they crisp up so you can crumble them over the top of your purses.

PHYLLO PURSES

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stack the 3 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing with melted butter in between. Be sure to get the corners as they will dry out. Once stacked, cut the phyllo sheets into thirds lengthwise using a pastry wheel. Cut the goat cheese into small 1/2″ rounds, and using your hands, form them into balls. Add a few pieces of the reserved apricot pieces. THEN, fold the phyllo dough over the goat cheese and apricots where the bottom right meets the top left of the mixture. This is the first fold of your purse, or triangle. Continue to fold the dough back and forth until you reach the end of the dough and have a nice looking triangle. They don’t have to be perfect. If your purses look like logs, that’s ok. Brush once more with melted butter just to seal it all up, and put them in the oven for 18 minutes or so. Note: I actually cut these into thirds and then I cut those in half, so that I could make 6 total purses. The original recipe calls for only making 3.

ASSEMBLE

When your purses are done, let them cool a bit, then place them on a serving tray. Drizzle with the syrup, and sprinkle with crushed almonds and prosciutto.

OPTIONS

1) There will be more syrup than you need. I used it the next day for a baked salmon. I just poured the syrup onto a large salmon filet and baked it for 30 minutes. It was yummy!

Easy Miso Dressing

I’ve never made homemade miso anything before. Miso, along with green tea ice cream, seem like an elite class of oriental concoctions better left to the experts in restaurants. Besides, where would you find the ingredients, and summon the skills needed to make something amazing out of something so mysterious?

Enter, Gwyneth Paltrow. I have to admit I was skeptical about her cookbook when it came out. I mean she’s an actress, no wait, she’s a singer, no wait, she’s a cookbook author…what? But I really do like it. The photos, the layout, the variations, the guides, and the food is really good too.

This is her miso dressing, and it is very versatile and really yummy. Give it a try, and share. Put it in a mason jar with a pretty bow and give it to a friend.

MISO DRESSING (via My Father’s Daughter cookbook, page 68)

  • 1/3 cup peeled and roughly diced Vidalia onion
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white miso (find this with ricotta at your store)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce (I use Tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Large pinch kosher salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

METHOD

Buzz everything but the oil in a blender until smooth. With the blender running, stream in the oil. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed. Eat, share, repeat.

How to Start Juicing

It was a spontaneous dinner out with friends, and the conversation, as usually happens between farmers and people who love to cook, ended up  on the subject of food…juicing to be exact.

Our friends had watched a documentary: Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (see the sidebar), and were intrigued by the concepts set forth in the documentary. Namely, that one could lose weight, eliminate nearly all medications, and lead a healthy lifestyle by rebooting the body with juice.

Not the kind of juice you buy at the store. The kind that you get from say, extracting juice from carrots, or swiss chard, or turnips.

I was introduced to this concept about 10 years ago by some diehard friends, who juiced carrots everyday. Always excited to try something new, I went and bought a juicer. The phase didn’t last long. I was in my twenties, felt healthy, and climbing the corporate ladder. I didn’t have a lot of extra time ( or patience) to clean all the pieces.

Flash forward a few years, and I can’t sleep. I find myself watching a Jack Lalanne informercial about his new juicer. The opening was wider, and seemed powerful enough to juice anything I decided to throw at it, and looked easy to clean. So, one day at Costco, I bought one.

It has been sitting on our counter ever since, and until recently, only got played with in fits and starts. That is, until about a month ago, when we decided to watch the documentary, and tried the 30-day juicing challenge for ourselves.

We didn’t cut out food completely, like they did in the documentary. I like to cook too much for that. If there’s not something sizzling or roasting, I go into a panic. What we decided to do, was cut out the unhealthy things we were eating, and just add the juice to our daily routine. Our first recipe went like this:

  • 2 turnips
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 kale leaves
  • 2 swiss chard leaves
  • 1/2 beet
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • a squeeze of lemon

That was it. It tasted good because of the naturally sweet fruit, and allowed us to keep going for 3o days. I have to tell you that I was in it for purely superficial reasons: more energy and less wrinkles. There, I said it.

What I found was that I complained a lot about cleaning the darn thing. I decided to time myself, and it ended up being only 4 minutes. Only 4 minutes for a zillion natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals I wasn’t getting otherwise. I lost weight, the kind that sneaks up in places you aren’t expecting, and I felt better. I didn’t have the energy of a 21-year-old, but often it was the only thing I had before going to the gym, and I was able to do as well or better during my workouts.

My recommendation is to start off small. Take 5 days, or 7. Start with a few veggies and some fruit, until you get used to doing almost all veggies (I still need to throw in a pear for good measure).

And, if you want to feel like a rockstar mom…make some juice for your kids and add 1 kale leaf to start. They won’t even know it’s in there, and they might even thank you for it. Keep adding more green things as they’ll tolerate it.

Watch the documentary on Netflix, and take the 30-day challenge at http://jointhereboot.com/ It just might change your habits, and help with your resolutions!

Time to make some juice!

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