On New Year's Day, it is a Japanese tradition to eat Ozoni soup, which is essentially a soup made with clear dashi broth with mochi (pounded glutinous rice) and an assortment of various vegetables (spinach, watercress, mushrooms, daikon, carrots, etc). The mochi can be cooked by boiling it or roasting it in a toaster or oven. When I am using a mochi for soup (instead of a sweet dessert), I look for mochi that has ZERO fat, sodium and sugar (I use Shirakiku brand if you can find it but there are countless brands and types of mochi).
This traditional soup is a symbol of beginning the new year with harmony and balance. Recipes for this New Year's day soup will vary greatly depending on the region of Japan and family traditions, but I highly recommend that you either look for a recipe and try it at home or order it at a Japanese restaurant...
My aunt used to serve Ozoni soup with a side of Abekawa mochi, which is mochi that has been rolled in a Kinako (soybean flour) and sugar mixture (and sometimes a pinch of salt). It's warm and gooey and sweet....mmmmmmm. This year, although I wish I could eat these amazing treats at my sister-in-law's house (she's from Japan), I am going to attempt to try to make some on New Year's Day. (Note: I made my Ozoni soup with spinach, carrots, daikon, and mochi)
Happy New Year!
Monday, December 31, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
I *adore* Japanese food: light. healthy. comforting. flavorful. artful and delicious.
Now, I completely sympathize with those who feel the confusion and bewilderment when going to an asian grocery store for the first time because there are sooooooo many unfamiliar ingredients and even if I could guess what something was by the packaging, I would have no clue on how to use such an ingredient. However, I am lucky that my brother married a woman from Japan so I have someone to help me sort through (read: explain) all the items I cannot read in the grocery store. As we came across about 50 jars of furikake, she explained that Furikake is a common table condiment in any Japanese household much like salt is a common table condiment in an American household. I picked a simple, traditional Furikake with just Nori and sesame seeds...but the possibilities and flavors are endless and I encourage you to explore the options....
* Somen noodles
* Iceberg lettuce, shredded
* Carrots, shredded
* Green onions
* Somen Tsuyu (Noodle soup base that is diluted with water to taste)
* Boil somen noodles for 3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water.
* Roll somen around a fork to shape little balls. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
* Arrange first 4 ingredients to make a beautiful salad!
* Sprinkle with Furikake.
* Put Tsuyu in a separate side dish for dipping or put tsuyu over salad as desired.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do...
Thursday, December 13, 2007
In the food mecca of San Francisco, I almost *never* go to a chain restaurant like California Pizza Kitchen because there are too many other unique options. But, I am a fan of the BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad (chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips and Monterey Jack cheese tossed together in a garden-herb ranch dressing and topped with chopped BBQ chicken breast, diced tomatoes and scallions and then drizzled with BBQ sauce). Recently, I returned to CPK with some friends and discovered this new Miso Salad on the menu...
I am *hooked*. It is so ridiculously satisfying and delicious. I am now determined to make my own version at home (and so can you!).
* Shredded Napa cabbage
* Fresh avocado
* Julienne cucumbers
* Red cabbage
* Green onions
* Crispy rice noodles
* Crispy wontons
* Miso dressing
(and you can order it with or without grilled chicken or blue crab & shrimp, but I like it vegetarian...)
There really isn't a recipe for this salad as far as proportions go--just go by feel and taste. Have some faith--it will be delicious.
Update: I was successful at making the BBQ chopped salad at home. So exciting! Now, you can too!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I wish I could have one of every item in Whole Foods--the ultimate foodie's haven...
If you arent able to cook up a meal yourself, Whole Foods has a delicious food bar (and lots of pre-made meals too!). Sometimes I browse the food bar just to get ideas for things I can make for myself at home (and avoid paying $6.99/lb!). Call it "shopping for a free idea". This warm salad sounded so delicious...
The food bar presents my typical dilemma that I usually face when dealing with food buffets--I shove a whole bunch of things that I dont think "go together" because I cant make up my mind or I get greedy and want to eat more than I should. Always ends in a tummy ache. Always. So I usually try to avoid buffets and, instead, take the ideas back to my kitchen and prepare a more balanced meal that wont give me a stomach ache...
Thank you, Whole Foods...
* butternut squash
* red onion (diced)
* dried cranberries
* maple syrup
* olive oil
* wine vinegar
* salt & pepper
This recipe can also be easily adapted to include any of your favorite root vegetables (parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc). You could also add fresh rosemary sprigs or sage leaves.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I *love* sweet potatoes! Making crisp oven-baked fries can be tricky, especially with sweet potatoes because the sugars tend to make them turn soft/soggy with prolonged heat. Ideally, I like my fries to have a crisp outside with a soft texture on the inside, which requires a long time in the oven (but you have to watch them carefully so they dont burn!).
* 4 or 5 sweet potatoes
* olive oil (for drizzling)
* seasoning (I use a blend of sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and all-spice)
* Peel sweet potatoes and cut them to desired shape.
* Place them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle spices.
* Toss everything together.
* Arrange on a cookie sheet.
* Bake at 450 degrees for 40-55 minutes, depending on how crisp you like them--toss the fries every 20 minutes or so.
Serving Suggestion: I like to serve them with organic ketchup or make a miso-mayonnaise dip.
This year, we decided to host a holiday dinner and winter beer tasting at our place because we dont usually have the opportunity to see our friends during the holidays...Seasonal ales can be fun to collect and some are pretty tasty--but watch out because many seasonal ales are high in ABV!! Have you ever tried a pumpkin ale?! Yum.
Here is a photo and list of about half of the beers we featured at the tasting (from left to right):
Sierra Nevada--Celebration Ale--India Pale Ale--6.8%
Alesmith--Yulesmith--Imperial Double Red Ale--9.5%
St. Bernard--St. Bernardus Christmas Ale--Belgian Strong Ale--10%
Het Anker--Gouden Carolus Noel--Belgian Strong Brown Ale--10.5%
Anchor Steam--Anchor Our Special Christmas Ale--Spiced Beer--5.5%
Huyghe--Delirium Noel--Belgian Strong Ale--10%
Affligem--Noel--Spiced Belgian Strong Ale--9%
Moylan's--White Christmas--Belgian Wit--6.5%
Avery Brewing Co.--Old Jubilation Ale--English Strong Ale--8%
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I have always known that yogurt has "bacteria" in it, but I never understood what that really meant until a year ago when I got really sick from a really evil bacteria, which landed me in the hospital for a week. I will spare you the hospital details and just say that a large part of my post-hospital treatment was reintroducing "good bacteria" into my digestive system and colon by taking probiotics.
In addition to probiotics, I also found Activia yogurt, which contains a probiotic culture called Bifidus Regularis to help regulate the digestive system (its really a "live" culture" that makes its way to the colon and helps with intestinal transit). Supposedly, eating one serving a day for two weeks will introduce enough of the good bacteria into your digestive system to maintain a healthy digestive tract.
If you have IBS, a sensitive stomach or other digestive problems, then it is crucial to learn more and pick foods that are easy on the digestive tract and especially foods that have soluble fiber. I use this helpful Fiber Blog and this amazing Food Chart.
I have found Activia in most grocery stores. It comes in a variety of flavors, but I particularly love the BLUEBERRY flavor. It is one of the best berry yogurts I have ever tasted...
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I love smoothies--a good blender is a smart investment!
frozen banana chunks
1 serving blueberry Activia yogurt (or any berry yogurt)
1/2 or 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
organic vanilla soy milk
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
1 Tbsp. honey (optional)
Note: the quanties of each ingredient will vary, depending on your taste and consistency preferences--I like very thick smoothies that you can eat with a spoon so I use a lot of frozen fruit (this is much better than adding ice because it gives an icy texture without watering it down) and just enough soy milk to process it smooth...
You can also add a Nutiva Hemp Shake Mix, which is a protein superfood drink mix--it has a lot of protein, minerals, antioxidants and fiber!
Dr. Andrew Weil teamed up with Ito En to make this line of brewed teas. Now, I usually make my own tea--hot or iced because tea is generally inexpensive...but I tried one of these teas at the SF Green Festival and looooved it. 0 calories, 0 sugar. YES!
My favorite (complete with amusing description):
Jasmine White: "Creating the taste of balance, this tea perfectly blends the softness of white tea with lush, fragrant jasmine green tea. Both have been treasured in China for centuries for their calming properties."
These teas retail for about $1.99, but I found a sale on Amazon--you can get a case of 30 for just under $20 and FREE SHIPPING if you order it by December 30. yes, a case is on its way to my apartment...
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
A delicious company called The Ginger People makes this amazing ginger spread that has two simple ingredients: ginger and cane sugar syrup. Seemed to me like I could make it myself...until I tried it and realized there was something magical about the proportions, texture and flavor that I could not recreate myself. So I did what any ginger freak would do. I bought 8 jars.
My recommendations for use:
* marinades & sauces
* add to soups
* use on muffins, toast, or carrot bread!
Soup can be a big time saver for me--I like to make soup in big batches and keep several different soup options in my freezer for when I don't have time to cook...This is a very flavorful soup that freezes well.
* 2 Tbsp. butter
* 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped (red or yellow)
* 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
* 2.5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
* 1 cup fat-free half & half
* 1 orange: juice, pulp and zest
* 1/4 tsp. white pepper
* 1/2 tsp. salt (kosher or sea salt)
* dash of nutmeg (optional)
* Melt butter in pot, add onions and white pepper.
* Cook over low heat until tender and almost transluscent, about 25 minutes.
* Add carrots and stock and bring a boil.
* Reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
* Transfer solids and liquid in managable portions to a food processor and puree until smooth.
* Return puree to pot.
* Add the nutmeg, salt, fat-free half & half, orange juice, zest and pulp and stir.
* Add additional stock if needed for desired consistency.
Serve with a small dollop of sour cream and fresh chives. I also like to add a few parsnip chips...
This puree can also be used as a bed for grilled fish or vegetables as it is smooth, flavorful, and delicious...
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
One night, Curiosity led me and 4 others to an Eritrean restaurant called Assab to try some East African cuisine (located in the Sunset district at Geary & Collins Street). It is a family-owned restaurant that had been getting rave reviews...
Eritrean food is very unique--the dishes are similar to stews where things are cooked down to a flavorful mess and then poured over Injera which is a flat, chewy bread made from a fermented wheat or teff dough. Eritrean dishes commonly use a lot of lentils, onion, bell pepper, and spices such as Berbere (a dried chili pepper). The dishes all come out on one big platter and, instead of utensils, you use the Injera to scoop up the food.
I am generally not a big fan of spicy food, but this place was delicious and a unique experience that is well suited for a larger group of people. I really enjoyed the red and brown lentils with a little bit of yogurt...and the okra was really good. I also tried Tej (honey wine), which was very sweet and similar to reisling...
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Bay Area is *such* a trendy spot. One trend that has really grown rapidly is local organic products--supporting local organic farmers and sustainable living. The smaller the "carbon footprint" the better. (See highlights on the Bay Area's hot spots for organic and sustainable living)
Today I discovered the best vegan donuts I have ever had: Peoples Donuts, which are locally made in Berkeley, organic and vegan! Now, I am not vegan (but I do use many vegan products and recipes), and my honest opinion is that these little suckers were so tasty that I am ashamed to admit I shoveled two of them into my mouth and had to restrain myself from gobbling a third one. De-LISH!
So, whats in these little gems?!
* organic Unbleached Pastry Flour
* organic Soya flour
* organic canola oil
* organic palm oil
* baking powder
* baking soda
Friday, November 9, 2007
I like to use this dressing with baby spinach!
* 1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1.5 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
* 1/4 cup ginger ale (yes! secret ingredient!)
* juice and zest from one lemon
* 1 tsp. dijon mustard
* 1 Tbsp. honey
* splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
* whisk all ingredients in a bowl and toss with baby spinach.
Note: this recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the honey.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Organic spring mix, dried wild bluerries, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts and chevre...
Note: Salad dressing is usually what makes a salad "unhealthy" so I recommend low-fat versions or try making your own using olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice as a base...
also, what are your thoughts on salad spinners?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Cranberry beans (the white ones shown above) are popular in Italy and well liked for their creamy, nutty flavor. The pod is usually white with pink/magenta streaks in it...and the beans are similarly colored. Unfortunately, this beautiful coloring fades when you boil them. In Northern Italy, Cranberry beans are called Borlotti and they are usually boiled until soft and served with a simple mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, fresh chopped parsley and salt and pepper. This is a delicious and easy preparation to showcase the flavor of the beans.
Heirloom beans (shown below) have a darker coloring--almost pink beans with dark streaks, but this coloring also fades with boiling...
I discovered cranberry and heirloom beans at my local farmers market. They were so pretty I just had to buy them and find something to do with them--I made them as described above and it was delicious...Beans are really low in fat and high in nutrients so I try to incorporate them into my diet as much as possible..
Serving suggestion: Both types of beans are also great for bean dips, soups and stews, on toasted crostini, or with a tomato-based sauce.
When readingrecipes from around the world, I am sometimes unfamiliar with certain spices and their uses and flavors. Fortunately, I found a good Spice Index, which explains what the spices are, what they look like, where they come from, what they are commonly used in and common substitutes!
I also recommend Urban Spices.
Monday, November 5, 2007
This Soyaki sauce may very well be my favorite product of Trader Joe's...and I am amused that they change their name to reflect an ethnic background (ie: Trader Ming's for Soyaki, Trader Jose for enchiladas, Trader Giotto's for italian items...). If you live in a place where there is no Trader Joe's (gasp!), a company called Soy Vay makes a similar product called Veri Veri Teriyaki (which I would guess TJ's copied but I prefer the Trader Joe's version anyway).
This sauce is a *huge* time saver because it has everything you would want in a stir-fry sauce, ready to use: soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, ginger, sesame oil, onions, and onion powder. It claims to be a great marinade for meat, poultry, fish, tofu and vegetables. Personally, I use it with tofu.
One of my easiest, healthiest and quickest meals: Tofu Steaks with Soyaki glaze over steamed brown rice with steamed green beans or broccoli.
* Press the excess water out of the tofu and cut block into smaller pieces.
* Grill tofu in pan over medium heat until lightly browned.
* Pour Soyaki sauce over tofu.
* Lower heat and let simmer till sauce thickens to a glaze.
* Serve with steamed brown rice and steamed vegetables.
Salad: spring mix, alfalfa sprouts, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, goat cheese and croutons with a lemon tahini dressing (recipe below).
Tahini is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern food and the essential ingredient in hummus. It is made from ground hulled sesame seeds and has a unique flavor that I crave more often than I will admit. I recommend buying tahini from an ethnic grocery as it is likely to be more authentic and better quality, but tahini can be found in almost any grocery store. Make sure that you are buying one with no preservatives, no additives, and no salt because pure tahini is so delicious that any of that stuff would ruin it!
As soon as I found the perfect jar of tahini, i rushed home and created this salad dressing! I hope you like it as much as I do...
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic, minced or crushed
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
juice from one lemon (meyer lemons are the best!)
1/2 tsp salt (I use kosher or sea salt)
* Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
* Store in air-tight jar and refrigerate.
* Best when used within one week.
Serving suggestion: In addition to being a versatile salad dressing, this dressing is also really great drizzled on grilled vegetables, in pita wraps and sandwiches, and as a dip for raw vegetables!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I really like weekend breakfasts...during the week I usually stick with granola or oatmeal, but the weekend is usually my opportunity to make breakfast treats like muffin, waffles, and scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes...I made this waffle recipe because I wanted a healthier version of pancakes...these pancakes do not have the restaurant style fluffiness, but rather they are dense and heavy because of the oats. Yum!
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
1 tsp. milled flax seed (its like a powder)
1 tsp. buttermilk powder (optional)
1 egg and 2 egg whites, whipped till partially stiff
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups soy milk
* mix dry ingredients.
* blend together wet ingredients in separate bowl.
* slowly stir in the dry mix.
* cook about 1/2 cup of batter on hot griddle (I use an organic cooking spray rather than butter to keep it low fat).
Serving suggestion: I like to lay sliced bananas and blackberries or blueberries onto the batter after I have poured it into the pan rather than mixing it into the batter...When the pancakes are done cooking, you can also serve with whipped cream and/or toasted pecans or walnuts.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
This is one of my favorite creations, which I am especially proud of because I stumbled upon it by accident while wanting something to go with my sunday morning pancakes...it is similar to the consistency of jam, easy to make and absolutely delicious...
2 cups figs (dark mission figs are best), diced
2/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tblsp. Muscat
* Heat the water in a small pot
* Bring water to small boil and add sugar and stir on medium heat.
* This will cook down to a simple syrup with a thicker consistency than just sugary water...takes about 10-12 minutes.
* Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
* Stir in the Muscat and let simmer down for another 10 minutes or so.
* Allow to cook down to desired consistency (I prefer it thick like jam).
* Cool before serving.
Store the compote in an air-tight jar and use within one week.
Serving Suggestions: I like to put a small amount of the compote on a crostini with goat cheese...or with thick, greek style yogurt with walnuts. It is also a good on toast or muffins!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
ACME Bread Company is one of my favorites, which is located at the Ferry Building at the Port of San Francisco...This past Saturday, I was delighted to find ACME's version of a traditional Etruscan flatbread with grapes that is made in Tuscany during the grape wine harvest.
It was *exquisite*. The bread had a crisp newly-baked texture on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. juicy green and purple grapes had been cooked down to make little syrupy pools of yumminess (although the green grapes had seeds, which was disappointing). carmelized onions and toasted walnuts.
I'm really sad it was only a seasonal special....
After more than 7 years of living on a student budget (read: living off of loans), I have learned some tricks on how to eat cheaply--and continue to eat well. I compiled a list of some things that have worked for me, but note that they may not work for everyone because it is based on my food preferences and available stores and markets...
1. A quick note on where I shop:
COSTCO: there are some *goooood* deals at Costco if you can avoid all the impulse purchases.
WHOLE FOODS: some items are surprisingly cheap. and some are worth the expense. best selection. best quality.
TRADER JOE'S: words cannot adequately express my love for Trader Joe's and their creative and inexpensive products.
FARMERS MARKETS: I buy all produce fresh and local. its inexpensive and what I buy mirrors what is in season.
SPECIALTY STORES: there are many ethic grocers out there who carry amazing authentic items (often imported).
2. One "food adventure" of mine is that I regularly purchase one unfamiliar ingredient or item that I have no clue what to do with and then I go find out how to use it and what I can make with it by looking online, asking friends, reading books, or even asking someone who works at the grocer where I bought the strange item. try it! (my last purchase was pomegrante molasses, which is common in middle eastern food...more to come on what I did with it later...)
3. Bread goes stale quickly. I freeze sections of bread for when I am unable to get fresh bread.
4. I eat about 90% vegetarian so i dont spend money on meat. you'd be shocked at how much $$$ you save. vegetables are cheap. and delicious.
5. I avoid buying produce in commercial supermarkets because it is usually more expensive with lesser quality. find your local farmers market!!
6. Rice. Especially if you can buy it in bulk at an asian grocery. Everyone in Hawaii uses Calrose rice so the supermarkets carry 20-pound bags that often sell for less than $5.00.
7. Try making your own stock and then freezing it rather than buying canned stock (dont forget to label how many cups you made and leave room in air-tight container for liquid to expand!). Boullion cubes are okay too (but many fancy restaurant chefs would cringe at the thought of that...and if you dont think you can tell the difference, try making risotto...).
8. I do not drink soda. Instead I drink 100% juice or I make iced tea. Tea is ridiculously inexpensive and, because I am a tea fanatic, I usually have about 40 different flavors on hand...
9. I purchase non-refrigerated Organic soymilk from Costco--12 cartons last a long time and it works out to be around 80 cents each box.
10. Lentils and split peas. it is easy to see how many cultures consider lentil a staple food. It is cheap, has a very long shelf life and you can make lots of things with them (even if all you have around is an onion and spices).
11. Oatmeal is the cheapest food I can think of (and healthy)--a big container lasts months...i eat oatmeal with flax, wheat germ, walnuts and a spoonful of 100% raw, organic almond butter.
12. Make sure you have good tupperware to save leftovers...Leftovers are good for lunch, snacks, or another meal!
I hope you find some of these tips helpful...A big part of eating cheaply is being creative--I often have small amounts of little leftovers in my fridge and I think of ways to put things together (example: see recipe for Edamame and Warm Tofu Salad). I constantly take note of what is in my fridge and what will spoil first and go from there!
I am new to this food blog stuff...Until recently, i had no idea about the existing world of food blogs--that there are hundreds and hundreds of them out there--that there are Food Blog Awards!! It's daunting....but when I start to feel like its all been done before, i just remember that this blog is about what happens in my kitchen and the best chefs are ones who learn from others and then add their own personality and twist...and hopefully, that mindset will encourage to cook more too!
...Simply Recipes (see Foodie Website list) is one such award-winning food blog that has a very good link list of Food Blogs Around The World.
my two favorite things: food and travel! yessssssss!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Seven Daughters is my latest favorite wine, which is actually a winemaker's blend made in California:
33 % Chardonnay
20 % Riesling
20 % Symphony (whatever that is...)
18 % Muscat
5 % Gewurtztraminer
4 % Sauvignon Blanc
I am a *huge* fan of Riesling, Muscat, and Gewurtztraminer. So I guess it's obvious that I have a sweet tooth...this blend is perfect for a hot sunny afternoon...
Note: excellent with strawberries or paired with a fruit and cheese plate.
at 3:11 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This is a very healthy and delicious salad that has various textures and flavors...Any dressing of choice can be used--I used Briannas GINGER MANDARIN to complement the flavors of the salad.
* spring mix
* tomatoes, sliced
* sprouts (of any kind)
* edamame, shelled
* firm tofu (stir fry with a marinade of choice--I used Trader Ming's Soyaki, which may be my favorite TJ's product)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My mother is half Chinese and half Portuguese...she advocates cooking anything and everything in a wok. Watching her cook is what lead to me stir-frying all sorts of vegetables with various sauces--each stir-fry comes out differently because I make sauces from scratch and usually without a recipe (and then I subsequently wish I had measured everything out beforehand so that I could replicate it)...but here is an excellent recipe for one of my favorite side dishes!
* 1 pound green beans (wash them and cut the tips on both ends)
* 1 Tbsp. butter
* 2 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 tsp. minced garlic
* 1 tsp. soy sauce
* 1/4 cup slivered almonds
* salt & pepper (to taste)
* Blanch (flash boil) the green beans and drain (blanching vegetables preserves texture, color and flavor).
* In a wok or skillet, heat butter, oil, garlice and soy sauce.
* Stir fry the green beans until tender (but be careful not to overcook!)
* Add salt, pepper and almonds and mix.
Discovering Brummel & Brown's yogurt butter changed everything. The taste is so unique and yummy that I promptly proceeded to get everyone I know hooked on it. I put yogurt butter on everything: breads, muffins, oatmeal, rice, vegetables, sandwiches....
it truly improves the quality of my life.
go get some. the end.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I just had a very interesting grocery store conversation about flour. I never used to pay attention to what my mom purchased, and i eventually started purchasing wheat flour once I was old enough to be more conscious and concerned over what I was putting into my body and started hoarding healthier wheat-whole grain-oat-and-bran items...
That said, flour is a basic ingredient and, as it turns out, there is a difference between bleached and unbleached flour. Flour is bleached to improve shelf life and aesthetics so consumers dont freak out by seeing yellowish/brownish flour when they are expecting snow white powder. um...it's made from WHEAT (ie: there is nothing remotely white about wheat...). Flour is commercially bleached with chemicals such as chlorine dioxide or benzoyl peroxide. Now, i am no chemist, but I do know that chlorine is used in swimming pools and that benzoyl peroxide is used in acne creams. That CANT be good for human consumption...
If I have somehow captivated even a small amount of your attention, here is an interesting blurb:
"Most cylinder and hammer mills are used to transform whole nutritious grains into nutritionally devoid white flour. In the milling process, the bran and germ layers of the grains are stripped away, leaving only the white, pulpy interior kernel, or endosperm. When whole wheat is milled into white flour, 83 percent of the nutrients are removed, with mostly starch remaining. The fiber is gone, and the Vitamin E content is reduced, along with twenty-one other nutrients. The flour that is produced is so useless as a food that it must be fortified with synthetically manufactured thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, as well as iron. Thirty-five of the fifty U.S. states require that white flour must be thus 'enriched' to be sold.
In addition to nutritional abuse and synthetic vitamin fortification, flour often suffers further adulteration with chemicals used to age, bleach, whiten, and preserve the product. Chlorine dioxide, an irritant to both the skin and respiratory tract, is used to bleach flour. Benzoyl peroxide, another bleaching agent, is also a skin irritant. Other additives include methyl bromide, nitrogen trichloride, alum, chalk, nitrogen peroxide, and ammonium carbonate."
--The Littleton Grist Mill
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Puff pastry dough is a kitchen miracle. You could wrap just about anything up in puff pastry and it will undoubtedly be delicious...and impressive!
Note: this dish requires an oven-proof frying pan.
* 3 or 4 ripe pears, peeled
* 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (i like to use sweet cream butter)
* 1/4 cup sugar ( white or brown sugar)
* 1/4 tsp cinnamon
* 1 Tbsp. brandy (optional)
* 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted
* 1 egg, beaten
* Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
* Place the rim of your metal pan over the puff pastry and cut the dough to fit its circular shape.
* Halve the pears lengthwise, remove seeds and slice into wedge shapes.
* Melt butter in frying pan on medium-high heat.
* Stir in the brandy, sugar and cinnamon.
* Arrange pear slices on the bottom (try not to overlap them too much).
* Cook the pears for about 10-15 minutes, or until the pears have carmelized and the sugar becomes dark and syrupy.
* Take pan off the heat and place the puff pastry sheet over the pears, tucking the edges down the sides.
* Make a few small holes in the center using a fork or a knife.
* Brush the surface with the beaten egg.
* Then place the whole pan in oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.
* Allow the pan to cool on a flat surface.
* When cool, put a plate over the pan and then flip the pan upside down so that the pastry is on the bottom.
I like to serve this dish with a good, quality Vanilla Bean ice cream...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Australian sour cream is very different from American sour cream...It is half way between American sour cream and heavy whipping cream, so it is creamier with more liquid rather than the stiff texture of American sour cream...I used to purchase it regularly when I lived in Sydney...and these potatoes were an excellent side dish...
* baby potatoes (red or yellow; leave skin on)
* olive oil
* sea salt (or kosher salt)
* parsley (fresh or dried)
* sour cream (as desired)
* thoroughly wash the potatoes
* coat in olive oil
* sprinkle salt
* place in a baking tray
* roast at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes
* test: you should be able to fork through the potato and skin should be browned and crisp
* garnish with sour cream and parsley (to taste)
Morgan and I made this dish as an appetizer to go with black bean enchiladas. The polenta was floured, dipped in egg, rolled in cornmeal, and fried. The corn was sauteed with homemade cilantro oil and shallots (you can mix in some hominy for some chewy texture as well). The reserved cilantro puree from the oil process was spooned onto the tomato slices. When preparing this dish, be sure to wear a sombrero and a fake mustache. Me gusta.
This is a popular brunch item that all my friends and family seem to love...and I think quiches are really fun to make.
* 3 Tbsp. butter (melted)
* 1 onion, minced
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
* 1-2 thinly sliced mushrooms
* a few marinated artichoke hearts
* 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
* 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 3/4 cups cheddar cheese
* 4 eggs, well beaten
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
* Over medium-low heat melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large saucepan.
* Add onions, garlic and broccoli.
* Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.
* Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese.
* Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
* Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter in microwave.
* Stir melted butter into egg mixture.
* Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.
* Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until center has set.
When I fly home from Maui, my carry-on bags are filled with foods (usually frozen) that I cannot easily get on "the mainland" and then I can indulge in these foods for the next day or so till I have eaten all of my supply...
my "happy meal":
Moloka'i purple sweet potato, poke, manapua, boiled peanuts, and poi.......
I purchased this product at a grocery store in Thailand, but it is made by Nestle so I have been looking for it in the United States...It is individual servings of Thai Iced Tea--you just add water...It is the best brand that I have tried. and i desperately want to find more...
The Waterfront is one of my favorite places to eat when I am home on Maui...I *love* dishes that are prepared "tableside" at a restaurant and this place makes a Caesar salad from scratch right in front of your table: crisp romaine lettuce tossed with virgin olive oil, anchovies, crushed garlic, dijon mustard, worcestershire, fresh lemon juice, grated parmesan cheese and a coddled egg finished with garlic-herbed croutons, prepared table side for two or more.
They give you a list of the fish that was caught that day and then you choose the preparation. I ordered Onaga (red snapper) prepared "En Bastille" style: imprisoned in ribbons of fresh angel hair potato then sautéed and topped with fresh scallions, mushrooms, and tomatoes then served with our meunière sauce (white wine, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, butter). It was one of the best fish dinners I have ever had...cooked to prefection with all the right flavors and textures...
Friday, October 12, 2007
i loooooove tomato season...you can find tomatoes in lots of different colors and for a decent price. I especially love "early girl" tomatoes, which are very red, sweet and juicy. but i am always excited when i can find ripe green tomatoes...
i eat tomatoes plain, with sea salt or drizzled with a quality olive oil...but sometimes i make something a little more fancy...
summer tomatoes topped with homemade pesto, slivered kalamata olive and drizzed with olive oil and basil strands...
Chowder is one of my favorite comfort foods...I like to serve it in a sourdough bread bowl that has been lightly toasted in the oven...garnish with paprika and parsley.
½ c. vegetable or chicken stock
2 T. butter
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion chopped
put butter in pot and add celery, gradually adding stock till reduced and avoid burning. Add onion half way through.
2 cups cream (single)
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
Add to celery/onion mixture
In separate pot, make a roux:
2 T butter
about ¼ c. flour (approx. 4 Tbsp.)
1 cup milk
melt butter, add flour and stir till a paste forms. then add milk slowly and stir till thick and creamy. add mixture to soup to thicken.
2-3 tsp parsley flakes (or fresh parsley, chopped)
1 can corn (i like to use fresh corn cut from the cob)
1 cup chopped potato
Add last ingredients. Keep soup on low heat and let thicken for up to an hour till thick and delicious! Add cooked lobster meat at last minute and stir. Let simmer for at least 10 minutes with lobster in it.
vegan: vegetable stock, plain soymilk and vegan margarine/butter equivalent or canola oil
seafood lovers: add chunks of cooked lobster meat, white fish or salmon
I have two basil plants in my apartment...so i eat a lot of basil and a LOT of caprese salads...
* fresh buffalo mozzarella
* vine ripened tomatoes ("early girl" tomatoes are my favorite if they are in season, usually around September)
* fresh basil leaves
* sea salt (to taste)
* balsamic vinegar (any vinegar made from Modena, Italy is a good bet as they make the most quality balsamics around...)
Basil oil is a perfect compliment to this salad and fairly easy to make. Blend 1 cup of basil leaves (packed tightly) with about 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil with salt and pepper (to taste). Then just strain out the solids using either a cheese cloth or a splatter guard (used for protection when frying). I place a bowl under the splatter guard and pour some of the liquid through the splatter guard and use a spoon to press out the basil solids and collect the green oil into the bowl. Note: flavored oils that you infuse yourself have a fairly short shelf life and it is best when stored in the refrigerator and used within 2-3 days wheras commercial infused oils will last much longer.