Have something mundane or bizarre that you don't know what to do with? Email me about it! firstname.lastname@example.org
March 8th, 2013 §
In my what the heck do I do with this, I typically give people insight and ideas on how to use an odd ingredient or better utilize a normal one. for this month I have a simple message of responsibility. I am surrounded lately by many people who refuse to take responsibility, especially when it comes to making, participating or using power in creating change. I’m not sure where or how we in the modern world lost the ability to be responsible to our greatest potential or why people fight it so much.
But I remember it daily as a religion, I am as I said not prefect but I work hard in trying to take responsibility not only for my actions but whatever I sign up for and who ever that is with. There is a greater purpose to our lives when we live responsibly.
So What the heck do I do with responsibility? Take ownership of it, create change! Give back all that you can to the young, old and angry!
January 27th, 2013 §
Recognize Opportunities & Master Taking Advantage of Them
There is no more current and awesome opportunity for kitchen creativity than that which we find from citrus season. Yes in a world where seasonal eating on the northeast coast can seem a bit lacking, the bright and adventurous flavors and colors of citrus give us the hope we need to get through. And for those who are lucky enough to reside in warmer climates, well they too have cause to celebrate (albeit warmly) with more vibrant and piquant addition to their normal kitchen repertoires. Normally in the What the Heck do I do with This Section we feature and item you don’t use, but this time we try and explain what you aren’t doing with citrus that you should be!
I think that if I were to teach people to incorporate one type of food item to their cooking patterns ( with the exception of fresh herbs which is my number one item) it would be citrus and sure most folks will tell you I eat and cook with loads of citrus? But do you? Do you really. Do you take advantage of the plethora of options December, January, February and even March give to us in the way of citrus? Are you using the peels? The juice, the raw fruit? Are you baking and allowing the citrus to shine in savory dishes? Well there is no shortage of ideas for citrus and here are my 5 best (currently) ideas for how to get the most of the remainder of citrus season.
1. Juice it! Chug it! Drink it! Citrus juice is amazing. We know it flavors salads and desserts but lets focus on some of the ways you can drink it as the highlighted delivery of flavor method. Bright & Warm Teas Add fresh citrus to hot water or tea and add sweeteners and or spices and herbs for fresh tea. Cocktails Of course there are endless possibilities with cocktails but think about showcasing citrus as opposed to just adding the juice to the mix. Think Blood Orange Negronis, Arak Grapefruit & Tarragon, Kumquat Mojitos, Whiskey Citrus Smash, Spanish Orange Cava, or how about Citrus’celllo a citrusy take on Linoncello. Maybe even one of my newest cocktail recipes, El Romero! Get your google on for more ideas, like these from one of my favorite English living in the USA bloggers. Fresh Juice My best memories of fresh juice are from when we lived in Nicaragua as children, I remember drinking such amazing concoctions and there was really nothing better than the citrus medleys. Ive been on a juicing voyage lately and been having loads of fun with juicing citrus. A few of my favorites include Grapefruit and Fresh Fennel, Carrot, Lime and Tangerine, Meyer Lemon, Beets and Ginger, or one of my oddest but most pleasurable, Blood Orange and Celery!
2. Roast it! Explore its Sweet & Savory Side in the Oven! Obviously, the invention of roasting citrus is not new, but I think it is often forgotten and often left only for lemons. Switch it up a bit this winter. Martha Stewart Living had a batch of wonderful ideas for roasting with lemons and there are so many fun and creative ideas on the web, like just simply roasted citrus. Try Meyer Lemon Whole Roasted Fish or Chicken ( place sliced lemons under the fish and chicken, remember to cut your chicken down the breast and split it roasting it flat with the skin up!) Roasted Citrus Salsa and my new favorite recipe this winter, Roasted Citrus Sundaes with Vanilla and Sage, luscious, vibrant, warming and decadent and above all simple and seasonal!
3. Zest & Peel Pride! One of my favorite parts of citrus and perhaps most underutilized, is the peel. There is so much one can do with the peel and there is so much flavor that can be added to your dishes in the peel. I believe it adds a different citrus element unlike the pulp and unlike the juice but still vibrant and sharp. I love to add citrus zest to my sauté oil for extra flavor and I like to shake it up, for instance tonight I added some tangerine zest to garlic, oregano, fennel and cherry tomatoes and sautéed them and tossed it with pasta. One of the most bitchin zest recipes I have ever seen is Martha Stewarts Citrus Zest Lollipops. Citrus peels can be carmelized for additions to sweets or candied, they can be fried and added in salads rice, pastas and soups and you can even make amazing roasted citrus powders by taking thin strips of peel and drying them in the oven and then pulverizing them with a mortar and pestle. Making citrus salts, peppers, and sugars are a given, but again the opportunity to master is as vast as you will allow it to be.
4. Citrus Salad’s Dressings n’all With the new year comes all kinds of talk about eating healthier and lighter and since what we need, nature seems to always provide, and thus citrus season was born. One of my favorites is Fennel, Orange and Mint Salad, but I like to use cara cara, I also do a substiture recipe with all kinds of oranges, and fennel, red onion, mint, parsley and pomegranate seeds ( the idea actually comes from a salad from Al di La by Chef Anna Klinger ) Or try a lovely recipe I made for a Wines of Chile tasting Citrus Shrimp Ceviche Salas with Avocadoes and Lemon Thyme Pesto Drizzle or of course a staple at Ger-Nis, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad (Recipe) , a little citrus mayo never hurt dolloped on a salad either.
5. The Sweet Citrus Happy Ending Everythign needs a happy ending and in winter I tend to crave a sweet ending even more, yet the weather has me less active so I revel in the idea of allowing citrus’ jazzy good falvors to help me keep the fats and sugars down in my desserts. I love desserts that show case oranges like Tarta de Naranja, Upside Down Caramelized Citrus and Sage Cornmeal Cake and how about dessert for brunch, Citrus Herb Buttermil Doughnut Holes with Citrus Brown Sugar Coating! Of course as someone with a savory more than sweet tooth I have been obsesseded citus and black pepper butter cookies ( recipe will be posted soon) I mix and match, the latest being lime, meyer lemon and tangelo! Of course a favorite is also my Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Herbal Citrus Icing
So get in the kitchen and begin to attempt to master citrus!
November 17th, 2012 §
Visionary Thinking in Old School Environments
A Fresh Perspective on Sage
My life with sage is one of the best examples I can make on how visionary thinking in the kitchen led me to a new appreciation of its flavor, usage and pungent complexity. As many of you are aware, my general thought process on herbs is that the “old school” way of thinking keeps us from a true appreciation of their flavors and uses and keep us basically stifled in the kitchen. The way we use fresh herbs in mainstream America is for me the same as if we were still stuck in the days where women couldn’t vote or work……or basically our notions on herbs are outdated. My first cookbook, The Modern Herbal Kitchen (out soon!) demonstrates that by throwing out all our preconceived notions and ideas….recipes etc, we can be liberated and then actually really use fresh herbs as they were intended: creative, vibrant flavor enhancers with no boundaries whatsoever.
I never really enjoyed sage until I started to do exactly what I described above. Once I let the boundaries go with sage I discovered a super complex flavor and overall spirit, the most complex of all the herbs. Sage, which thrives with the heavier meals and earthier flavors of late fall and winter, has remarkable potential if we set it free in our kitchens. Every part of the sage is usable from the stems in soup stocks to the flowers which have a more delicate and mild sage flavor.
Fresh Pineapple & Sage Granita
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter & Shaved Chestnuts
Pomegranate Sage Manhattan
The Pumpkin in the Rye Cocktail
Apple & Sage Pork Burgers with Caramelized Maple Onions
Pumpkin Ice Cream with Maple Sage Pecans
Roasted Pork Loin With Sage Cherry Sauce
Caramelized Citrus & Sage Upside Down Cornmeal Cake
April 19th, 2012 §
herbacious as always…..
Another Year of Coloring Outside the Lines—Successfully
Sorrel, Go Ahead Color with It!
Sorrel is perhaps one of the most overlooked of all the fresh herbs and the one I look forward to most each and every spring. If you travel often to Europe you see this herb often in the springtime, especially in many of the northern European countries like Holland, Sweden, Norway and I think that is where I first discovered sorrel in a new, sweeter light. Part of my “shtick” is taking what we know or think we know about fresh herbs and chucking it to the side so we can get to a place that is not tainted or confined by history or rules about food. Modern cooking and pairing requires a certain creativity that is born from the world getting smaller and smaller before our eyes. So we need to look at sorrel in that same way and forget about sorrel soup, which I don’t believe is really all that exciting not creative. So forget all the nonsense about removing the stems and making life difficult, sorrel is simple to use and I am not saying we shouldn’t cook with it, I do love it in certain dishes, I just think when something is that vibrant and fresh, why cook that freshness out of it!
First lets talk about the tasting notes of sorrel, yes tasting notes of herbs, very important in cooking with herbs to truly understand what they taste like and I discovered the tasting notes through my work with children in our herb classes and we literally taste the raw herbs and a child pallet and how they express flavor is quite magical! (Sorrel is the favorite herb among children to taste raw.) Ok back on track. Tasting notes of sorrel, its lemony above all, but with a zest kind of flavor so it’s somewhat sour but also a tad bitter. It also has a sweet under laying grassy type flavor, somewhat parsley like. It has a fresh and vibrant taste above all. Some say the flavor resembles kiwi a bit. A bitter and sour bite on the tongue at first that leaves a soft sweet grassy flavor on the end. It is a perfectly refreshing herb for spring which is why I find it to be way more practical using it raw and fresh than cooked. It is difficult to maintain its vibrant green color when cooked or heated and therefore can turn and ugly brown color which is uninviting. So what we can do with fresh sorrel that is both fresh and springy and still simple like we like? Here are some of my favorite recipes and creative concoctions as well as a few from my friends that were inspired by my love of sorrel and my pushing it on them this spring.
Sorrel & Lemon Soda Pop
Nissa Pierson, Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center
One of the all time favorite recipes for sorrel at Ger-Nis. Children and adults alike love this refreshing drink that is bright green and exudes springs freshness.
Spring Pea Radish & Sorrel Salad
Nissa Pierson, Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center
This recipes is one of my all time favorites and is like the best of spring in one big bowl. Using sorrel leaves s the greens in this salad gives it an even fresher grassier tastes that pairs perfectly with the zest radishes and sweet peas.
Herbal “Sorrel” Zaquiri
Zachary Sharaga, Louis 649
Zachary had never hear of sorrel before, but when he needed an herb to work with for the cocktail competition for Ger-Nis’ Herbalicious Birthday Bash, I recommended sorrel, one of my favorite herbs. After a few simple pointers on how to use it and keep the color bright green, he came up with this winning (yes this was the herbalicous contest winner!) recipe for an “herbalized” classic daiquiri.
Sorrel & Kiwi Granita
Rafael Hasid, Miriam and Wolf & Deer
In the same cocktail completion my dear friend Rafi was using kiwi, dandelion and mint and because of all the experimentation that was happening during the many testing’s and creative process parties we had a sweet concoction was born. The pairing is exceptional and was born out of a pure creative accident!
A few other ideas for sorrel………..
Fresh Sorrel Cream Sauce-The best way to prepare a fresh sorrel sauce that keeps the sauce green is to make the sauce first and then when cool add the leaves and blend and then reheat before serving. For example I like to sauté shallots in butter and add some salt and pepper and half and half and a little lemon. Then I let that cool and blend in fresh sorrel leaves and get a nice bright green color. Then I warm it and serve it on potatoes or salmon.
Spring Sorrel Oil-Blend fresh sorrel leaves with olive oil and strain for a bright lemony fresh oil perfect for fish or potatoes or spring salads.
Sorrel Pesto-A perfect pesto for grilled fish or vegetables make it the same way you would basil pesto but use sorrel leaves instead.
March 5th, 2012 §
My Fear of Freedom Suffocation Conquered Through Restraint -Go Figure…
On place where creativity and restraint meet is in the use of bitters in the kitchen. We certainly know that the world is in a craze when it comes to bitters in drinks and on the cocktail scene, but don’t underestimate the value of bitters in your food. I have started to experiment with bitters in cooking mainly because we have them around with due to the experimenting we do in the cocktail arena. Of course I have this utter need to try new things and it just seems totally natural to read a little bottle that says Meyer Lemon or Xocotal Mole and want to use it in food. Essentially it makes perfect sense to cook with bitters or use them in food making. Bitters are essentially and alcohol based bittersweet herbs roots and plant botanical flavored tincture with a very low alcohol content. Cocktail bitters have a way of adding complexity and deepness to cocktails with just a few drops, they can provide similar benefits in food. So what I have learned in my beginning stages of “playing” with my food and bitters is that a little goes a long way so restraint is key.
Here are a few ideas on some of our favorite local bitters plus recipes that I created for the Buffalo Trace and Hemispherical Bitters event at Ger-Nis!
Maple & Meyer Lemon Bourbon Sauce
Bourbon Buttermilk Doughnut Bites
Honey Ricotta Bourbon Fritter with Dried Fig & Pear Bourbon Sauce
Spiced Bourbon Apple Fritters with Bourbon Black Pepper Glaze
Rhubarb Bitters- Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlets with a few drops in Blood Orange Thyme Glaze or in Rosemary Rhubarb Sorbet
Meyer Lemon Bitters-we added some to our Meyer Lemon chicken Salad Sandwiches and it was delicious.
Black Mission Fig Bitters- add a few drops to Prosciutto Panini with Caramelized Onions and Fig Compote or try a drop mixed into Meyer Lemon Finishing Salts
Siracha Bitters-a few drops added to a Mushroom and Buckwheat Noodle Ramen, I added some to my own homemade hoisin sauce, and even added a few drops to my Spicy Mayo on my Bahn Mi Sandwiches.
Xocolatl Mole Bitters-A few drops in the tamle dough for Red Chili Mole Tamales
Grapefruit Bitters-Place a few drops on the grapefruit on my Tarragon Grapefruit Brule
‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters-This one is perfect in my Jamaican Jerk Slaw
Boston Bittahs-Perfect dropped in a little ceviche
Burlesque Bitters- Perfect in a new recipe I created using balsamic peppered strawberries
Orange Cream Citrate-Perhaps this one seems obvious but…Orange Creamcicles is calling for it!
Orchard Street Celery Shrub-I used a few drops of this on the garnish of a soup I created (the recipe will be up soon…promise!) Celery Root and Apple Potage with Crispy Shallots and Apple Crème Fraiche
Hellfire Habanero Shrub- A few drops in your eggs before cooking!!!! Yum
January 26th, 2012 §
Big Game, Hunting, Cowboys & Rugged Stuff…………..
My base in Wyoming, the Riverton area was home to the Shoshone Indians. Interestingly enough I had never heard of the Shoshone Indians prior to my trip. I often realize how little I know about the world, my country, my state, my community and I try really hard to make sure that I absorb information as it comes to me in regular life encounters. So upon my return to NYC I got my google on and did a little research on the Shoshone Indians, after all I had just sled down their mountains, bathed in their hot springs and trampled through their grasslands, so I figured I should get to know my hosts a bit. When I did get my google on I found that the Shoshone Indians had a very similar story to most of the Indian tribes in the US, run off their lands by white anglo Saxons years and years ago and still fighting for recognition and barely holding on to their rich culture and history.
The Shoshones it seems were a relatively small tribe compared to others, reaching from Wyoming to Oregon and down into parts of Colorado. The tribe numbers historical data claims there were somewhere between 4-5000 members. All of whom spoke a dialect of language hailing from the Aztecs. They were sometimes referred to as the Snake Indians by settlers although their name translates into the valley people technically. Perhaps the most famous Shoshone Indian, which was surprising for me to read, was Sacagawea, who accompanied Lewis & Clark on their expedition over the western USA. Pinyons were a staple food of the Shoshone Indians along with berries, roots and fish. As the story goes, they were continued to be pushed of their lands. In 1905, about 100 years after their first contact with the white man, the Shoshone began their “Trail of Tears”, being forcibly removed from their ancestral lands to a newly appointed home or reservation. Today the Shoshone are still waiting to become a Federally recognized tribes along with several hundred other tribes in the USA
Pinyons are still a predominant in the are, among Shoshone Indians as well as haute cusine in the area and especially prevalant in the Jackson Hole & Yellowstome fine dining worlds. The pinyon is utlimalte a pine nut but this variety found in the western USA is a tad different. Essentially the seed of the pine (located in the pine cone), there are only about 20 species that produce large anough seeds to be edible. A good portion of the pinyon’s produced in the USA are harvest by Native American trbes because of certain negotiated treaties between the government and tribes giving certain tribes the exclusive rights for harvest and sale, although these negotiations have certainly been difficult.
Pinyons are extremly high in protien about 25% and unlike many things with shells and peels the nutrion of the pinyon is stored in the inner seed not the shell or lining. Once the shell is removed pinyons have an extremly short shelf life and can become rancid within a few weeks. The north American variety are known for their large size and ease of shelling which is why you can often find them for sale with the shells on. Pinyons have a much moe earthy flavor with an intense yet not overly powerful, pine flavor and scent. To use them the same as Italian pine nuts is not recommended because of this powerful pine taste, but they can be amazing with the right ingredients.
**For shelled pinyons, soak them in water for a few hours which eases the peeling process!
Here are few of my best ideas:
Pinyon Dried Cherry Cookies
*add ¼ cup shelled pnyons to this recipe
*place 1 cup shelled pinyons in a liter of high quality vodka and let infuse in a dark cool place for 4 days, remove the pinyons and chill vodka, drink as shots with the pinyon seeds as snacks!
*replace the pumkin seeds with shelled pinyon seeds
Zucchini Carpacio with Toasted Pinyons
December 16th, 2011 §
When Even A Whisk Can’t fix it…………..
Very few spices have problems in my kitchen, but coriander has been one of the trickiest I have dealt with yet with multiple failures! I have to admit many of my beginning days with coriander were shaky at best. I first encountered these weird creatures as a young lass in California, I believe, on a steak. I tried to reenact the recipes (one of my talents) to my family, they spit it out and asked what the hell was this? I kind of agreed as I didn’t see the point of screwing up a good rib eye with this weird tasting and somewhat bitter, clog your teeth critters. So I moved away from hem for a while. Even in my extrme Latin and Mexican cooking I refused to use it. Every time I tried to add them to my repertoire they just didn’t quite cut it, they were always too potent and people could always taste them and so I let them go a few more years and this story went on and on until I recently understood that like all things, coriander seeds have their place and my challenge was to not only learn this but to use them as I use all spices; unassumingly and perfectly.
My journey began with a recent project for The Thomas Collective and the Wines of Chile. I was creating spice mixes and recipes for a live wine tasting and pairing event they were having at the center and the recipes they wanted were Indian, so for sure I knew I had to use coriander seeds and truthfully I was nervous. But interestingly enough I had a really good experience with them and I think partly because I used whole seeds and ground my own as needed and kind of took control over the process of how I wanted them. I found that the coriander flavor was so necessary in the Indian spice mixes I created and I tried it without and it just wasn’t the same. I slowly learned the subtleties and the ratios needed and from that point it became a game changer in my cooking repertoire. From there I became much more aware of what others were doing with coriander seeds and I was able to become a bit better tasting of the spice and understand how it blended well and melded with other flavors
What exactly is coriander you ask?
It’s the seeds of the cilantro plant, round paper balls shaped seeds. The flavor is warm and a bit lemony with a pine-ish sweet and spicy flavor and scent. It’s commonly used in Indian Cuisine as well as Latin American cooking. It is used in the whole form, cracked form and ground form. The seeds are often toasted, which for me made a big difference when I began to toast the seeds, the flavor really changes, and once cracked or ground after toasting the oils are released and the taste and texture much better than raw.
Here are a few of my favorite new and improved coriander seed recipes including one new one inspired by the top chefs masters mention of coriander infused chocolate and our upcoming supper club; Moroccan Spice Dreams!
Tandoori Spice Mix
Makes about 1.5 ounces of mix
Ingredients2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon turmeric
Mix together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months, preferably in a dark and cool location.
*toast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper corns and cracked cinnamon and grind for an even more potent tastier version!
Check out some of my recipes to use the mix on!
Madras Curry Mix
Makes about 1.5 ounces of mix
½ teaspoon coriander, ground
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds, ground
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon cloves, ground
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, ground
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
½ teaspoon salt
1 dried red chili, ground
DirectionsMix together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl, making sure that the dried chili pepper is ground up well. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months, preferably in a dark and cool location.
*Toasting the whole spices first and then grinding gives a deeper richer flavor to the spice mix and dish!
Check out some of my recipes to use the mix on!
Coriander-Chocolate Halva Liquor
Makes 1 liter
The toffee, praline, vanilla and dried fruit tones in the initial rush of tasting bourbon elixir and charred oak barrels give the Bourbon and spicy firmness that blends in well with this Middle Eastern inspired elixir!
1 tablespoon, coriander seeds, cracked fine
1 teaspoon black pepper, cracked fine
1 ½ cups bourbon, Makers Mark 46 preferred
½ cup dark chocolate, semi sweet, chopped fine
½ cup honey
2 cups sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup tahini
½ vanilla bean, seeds scrapings
½ teaspoon almond extract
Place the coriander and the black pepper in a small mason jar of bourbon (about ½ cup) and let infuse for about 4 days in a dark cool place. In a double broiler place the chocolate, honey, coriander & black pepper bourbon infusion and slowly melt the chocolate, storing until smooth. Set aside to cool. In a blender place the remainder of the bourbon, condensed milk, heavy cream, milk, tahini, vanilla bean and the almond extract and blend until smooth. (The blending part may need to be done in two batches)Bottle and refrigerate!
November 15th, 2011 §
My new Favorite Tool in the Kitchen & In Life!
The Parsnip! Something Interesting and worth waiting to find!
Parsnips are not in every kitchen, although they should be. The parsnip, which is essentially a root vegetable related to the carrot, but far sweeter. They have a buttery sweet taste, somewhat like honey flavor with a zing of spice which some describe as a cardamom flavor which is both sweet and spicy so that make sense! Their history is pretty much the same as carrots, native to Eurasia and predominantly in Greek and Roman culture. The parsnip unlike the carrot is rarely served raw, although it can be its typically severed in soups, stews, and roasted. The parsnip is extremely starchy and makes and excellent mash. When roasted the sweet and spicy flavor is extracted so perfectly that many believe that roasting is the perfect cooking method for these guys.
Unlike the carrot the parsnip should be peeled as the peel is thicker and defiantly more bitter. They also have a reaction to air like a lot of vegetables and turn dark so its best to chop them just before cooking. Parsnips are common in the late fall and are one of those items we typically moved past because of fear or confusion. The parsnip should not be avoided, these sweet carrot like critters make excellent dishes and are an excellent item to add to your cooking repertoire!
Here are some of my favorite parsnip ideas and recipes!
CURRIED APPLE CHICKEN AND PARSNIP STEW
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped medium
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
4 large apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped large
½ cup fresh curry leaves
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ cup red lentils
1½ cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
½ cup raisins
1 apple, quartered, cored and cut in wedges, for garnish
In a large stew pan with heavy bottom, over medium high heat, add olive oil. Sauté onions, carrots, and garlic, cook, stirring, 7 minutes. Add chicken thighs, and brown on all sides. Add apples and parsnips, and continue to sauté. Add curry leaves, curry powder, and lentils. Stir well. Add broth, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes. Add raisins, and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Garnish with a curry dusted apple wedge.
HERBED PARSNIP OVEN FRIES
Serves 4 -6
5 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin strips (French fries)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped fine
Maldon or flake salt
Pre heat oven to 425° F. Place the parsnips in a large mixing bowl and combine all other ingredients in the same bowl. Mix and toss well until all the parsnips are well coated with oil, adding extra oil if needed. Place on a line baking sheet, making sure the parsnips have enough space to cook evenly. Place in the oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until browned evenly. Make sure to turn and flip the parsnips at least once during the roasting process for even browning. Sprinkle a little flak salt on them as they come out of the oven if desired.
Parsnip & Apple Thyme Mash
6 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped large
2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped large
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
Place the parsnips and apples in a pot of water (just covering the parsnips and apples), cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low boil and allow the parsnips and apples to cook until tender for about 15 minutes. Strain the parsnips and apples and reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Place the parsnips and apples in the food processor, add the ¼ cup of the cooking liquid, the thyme leaves, the milk and the butter and process until smooth. Place in a bowl and season with salt, and pepper to taste and then a little freshly grated nutmeg, making sure to stir it into the mash.
Parsnip & Pear Latkes with Ginger Spiced Crème Fresh
Makes 20 medium latkes
Try this sweet spin on a traditional dish, showcasing parsnips sweet spirit!
5-6 medium parsnips, peeled and grated
1 medium pear, peeled, cored and grated
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
2 eggs beaten
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Ginger Spiced Crème Fresh (recipe follows)
In a large mixing bowl, combine grated parsnips, pear, thyme, ginger, flour, salt and pepper, and mix well. Heat a large heavy bottom skillet to high heat making sure there is enough oil to cover the bottom generously. Form 2 inch pancakes type spheres, not to thick or thin, drop into pan and brown on both sides until deep golden brown, usually about 2-3 minutes on each side. Take off heat and place on paper towels so excess oil can be drained. Serve with Ginger Spiced Crème Fresh!
Ginger Spiced Crème Fresh
Makes ¾ cup
½ cup crème fresh
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Mix together all the ingredients until smooth and serve dolloped onto the latkes!
October 9th, 2011 §
Discovery of the Unexpected & It’s Growth
Mejool Dates, Who Knew How Incredible These Little Suckers Are!!
Before my travels to Israel honestly I didn’t give dates much thought. I basically thought they were some disgusting dried fruit that was tough and not that sweet and for the most part useless. Now when I first arrived in Israel about 8-9 years ago, I didn’t care much for even trying dates because well, my opnion was carried through. But over the years the date industry in Israel has grown a substantial amount and I have watched many of the herb growers, peppers growers etc, begin to plant dates and I have witnessed these trees grow from young things to bog ones and suddenly dates were a bigger part of my life. I think like everything that comes unexpectedly timing is everything. About three years back I began to travel to Israel in September which is typically the date harvest season. I will never forget tasting my first date fresh off the tree. It was hot from the sun beating down on it, soft and luscious and sweet but sweet like honey and not like sugar, with some savory taste to it. The texture was like velvet in my mouth and I couldn’t get enough! I began to notice all the things that they did with dates, in cooking; sweets and savory and began to grow an interest in what to do with these guys. On this recent trip to Israel is was also the date harvest season but also Ramadan which is a huge date time as the Muslims eat a huge amount of dates during Ramadan. There is often a lot of theft in the field during date season and I even got to go date protecting in the middle of the night in the Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea on a full moon! No theft occurred but it was exhilarating. We toured a huge date operation on this trip as well and I really secured my love for these guys and decided that its time that my world of readers discover the unexpected in dates and learn, “What the heck do I do with this?” We are talking about Medjool dates a variety of dates originating from the Middle East and coveted by all as the only real date worth eating.
Free from saturated fats, high in antioxidants, high source of fiber, naturally sweet, and with a healthy dosage of beneficial minerals ; calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium and potassium, dates are a healthy option in our diets regardless of where you live. The Medjool is considered the diamond of dates, they are prized for their large size, extraordinary sweetness and chewy texture.
Medjool dates are deep amber-brown and have a slightly crinkly skin that shimmers from natural sugar crystals. Bite into one, and your teeth sink into satisfyingly sticky flesh that tastes of rich caramel, hints of wild honey and a touch of cinnamon. Melt-in-your-mouth Medjools are so luscious they taste as if they have been warmed in an oven.
Dates are considered the oldest cultivated fruit in the world: Fossils show date palm trees thrived 50 million years ago. The fruit of the date palm was eaten as far back as 5,000-6,000 B.C.E., and they’ve been cultivated for about 6,000 years in the Middle East.
Ancient cultures called the date palm “the tree of life,” and used all parts of the tree, from the trunk to the leaves. Dates are still a staple source of nutrition for nomadic peoples because of their high carbohydrate content, high potassium levels and easy portability.
Hundreds of varieties of dates are grown throughout the world, about 12 of which can be found in the United States. They are classified as soft, semidry or dry. Soft dates such as the Medjool, Khadrawy, Halawy and Barhi have a sweet, creamy flesh because of their high moisture content. Semidry dates such as Deglet Noor and Zahidi have less moisture, sweetness and chewiness. Dry dates such as the Thoory, which is called the “bread” date, have rather hard, dry skin and very little moisture
Most U.S. dates — 95 percent — are grown in California’s Coachella Valley, a two-hour drive northeast of San Diego. Dates grow well there and in parts of southwestern Arizona because they like hot heads and wet feet. That is, they grow best in areas with high heat, low humidity and an abundant supply of groundwater.
Most folks rarely consider using these in their kitchens, they simply eat them, which have to admit is my favorite way of enjoying these guys, but I am a little spoiled and if I cannot eat them fresh of the tree the taste is simply not the same so I do enjoy and have learned how to use them in my kitchen and I think they are worth experimenting with for sure.
how to choose:
Choose plump, soft dates with shiny skin. Avoid very shriveled dates or those with mold or large sugar crystals on the skin.
how to prep:
Given Medjool’s pleasantly sticky sweetness, they’re often used in baking. But they also make a great addition to your morning yogurt or cereal, and work well in savory preparations like braises and in side dishes or salads. And of course, they’re fantastic just eaten out of hand.
how to store:
Dates can stay on your counter, covered, for about a week. They can also be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for up to six months.
Here are a few ideas and recipes to get you on your way to discovery!
High Fiber-Deliciously Sweet Date Muffins & Cakes
Tray adding chopped dates to a high fiber muffin recipe, top with a streusel topping with chopped dates as well! Also these guys are amazing in cakes and tarts!
Breakfast Date Smoothie
A high fiber start of the morning! Mix1 cup yogurt, 1 cup milk, 1 cup pitted, chopped Medjool dates 2 cups of ice cubes and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add a banana if desired. Blend until smooth!
Chutney’s & Compotes
Dates are excellent for chutney’s and compotes and in the middle east this is one of the main recipes I see most often. Sweet, savory, soft chunky, the possibilities are endless. Here are my two favorite recipes, one sweet, one savory!
Medjool Chutney (Savory)
Makes 2 ½ cups
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
1 -2 red chilies, chopped fine
2 cups Medjool dates, pitted and chopped fine
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked chili powder
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup hot water
In a sauté pan heat olive oil and sauté onions, garlic and ginger. Add chilies and sauté another minute. Add dates, raisins, sugar, curry, cumin, chili powder and honey and sauté and stir well. Add the hot water and cook, allowing to boil for about 4 minutes. Place in a food processer and pulse until desired chutney consistency.
Medjool Compote (Sweet)
Makes 2 ½ cups
2 cups Medjool dates, chopped fine
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 tablespoon orange zest
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup hot water
2 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and place temperature on a low simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture is a soft compote. Serve with cheeses, cakes, or on warm sweet breads.
Caramelized Onions & Date Flat Bread Pizza
Take some premade flat bread and brush it with olive oil. Place a bunch or caramelized red onions on top and Medjool dates (chopped fine). Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and a little fresh rosemary and salt and bake until golden brown and crispy!
Stuffed & Wrapped Dates
Try dates stuffed with cheese and herbs and also one of the great luxuries are bacon wrapped cheese stuffed dates! Play around with different stuffing’s and wraps!
Moroccan Style Date Dishes
Probably my favorite way to cook with dates outside of chutney. Use Medjool dates in your Moroccan cooking. Chicken stewed with onions, apricots, dates, chickpeas and Moroccan spices, Roasted Moroccan vegetables with spicy date glaze, Orange and date couscous.
Orange Date Champagne Cocktail
Don’t worry I would never leave you without options for drinking your dates! This one is not the prettiest drink but is quite deliciously sweet and special! First make some date & honey puree, chopped dates boiled with some honey and pureed into a puree. Place about 1 ounce of date puree in a high ball glass filled with ice, and 2 ounces of high end orange liquor, add about 2 ounces of gin stir and fill the glass with champagne. Garnish with a zest of an orange!
Moroccan Old Fashioned
For the deep dark and stormy with a Middle Eastern twist. First infuse some good quality rye with dates. (place 1 cup of chopped dates in about a quart of rye and let infuse for 4 days.) Next make some Moroccan Spiced Syrup ( 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 2 star anise, 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 cardamom pods, seeds, 4 cloves, 5 all spice berries, in a sauce pan and allow to boil and then reduce to simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off and allow to sit for five more minutes, Strain.) Next in a low ball glass muddle an orange peel, 2 ½ ounces of the infused rye and 2 tablespoons of the syrup. Fill the glass with ice and stir and garnish with a new orange peel slice.
August 31st, 2011 §
Pondering the Meaning of Family, Earthquakes, Hurricanes & Gratitude with Lots of Red Cabbage
When the hurricane hit, I had lots of red cabbage in our culinary fridge, some from the canceled class that was supposed to happen on the day the hurricane hit (Clam Bake Cape Cod Style-It was for Garden Cole Slaw) and I had also overestimated my needs for my Surviving Survival Fiesta I had a few days prior to the storm. So while I was pondering the meaning of family, I was also pondering what to do with all that red cabbage and I got to looking around on the internet for ideas and it dawned on me that most people are a bit intimated to use red cabbage outside the obvious. I was also thinking about my own family and how red cabbage was like a staple, both because my father loved cabbage, California was full of it and Central America had its fair share as well, so in my family red cabbage is pretty prevalent and I wanted to share with my community of family out there, “my readers, the beauty of red cabbage!
First let’s talk a bit about cabbage. The flavor of red cabbage is pretty much equal to that of the green cabbage, I differ with this statement slightly but I also assume it could be my mind playing tricks on me and I honestly have never done a blind taste test, for our purposes here, it’s the same basic flavor. I prefer red because of its vibrant color and that makes it much more fun to deal with. Many do not like dealing with the red cabbage because it bleeds its red color onto whatever else is in the mix.
Par cooked cabbage is an extremely healthy vegetable providing special cholesterol lowering benefits and an extreme amount of fiber. They are study cabbage profusely these days as its increasing benefits to slowing cancer. Red cabbage also container a fair amount of protiend plus its loaded with minerals and vitamins.
But what to do with it? Well for one lets decide to get creative with it, its cheap and easy to use so that guives us an easy muse right there. I even challenged myself this time around as my old cabbage repertoire needed a revamp. I typically shred it and season it with lime and salt and eat it on tacos and in bean salads or in variations of coleslaw. I never cook with it and I decide that for this edition I would do just that. Come up with creative recipes for red cabbage that can enhance our health and our lives. So whip some of these recipe sup for your “family” tonight! All of these are simple and easy just the way we like it!
Chipotle Bourbon Braised Pork Chops, Red Onions & Doughnut Peaches
This was our hurricane meal, my extended Brooklyn Family and I! We paired it with Cheddar Jalapeno Smashed Potatoes and some Chinon wine!
6 boneless pork loin chops, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 medium red onions, halved and sliced
10 doughnut peaches, pitted and sliced thick
2 cups shredded red cabbage
¼ cup chipotle sauce
½ cup water
½ cup applejack bourbon
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
Cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 ° F and place the pork chops in a Dutch oven with a cover. Next lay down the red onions, the doughnut peaches and the red cabbage. Whisk together the chipotle, bourbon, salt and pepper and pour over pork mixture. Place in the oven covered for about 15 minutes. Take out and stir and place back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes until all items are soft and pork is cooked through. Serve with cheddar jalapeño smashed potatoes!
Cabbage & Bean Salad with Spicy Pesto Vinaigrette
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
½ cup carrots, grated
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 orange pepper, sliced thin
1 cup sliced radishes
1 cup baby greens
1 red chili pepper (fresh) and chopped
2 cups cannellini beans
¼ cup champagne vinegar
Juice and zest of one lemon
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon basil sauce or pesto
1 teaspoon salt
Place all vegetable sin a big salad bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients (dressing) until smooth and toss over salad.
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
3 medium beets, shredded
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon lime zest
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
Toss together in a large bowl, cabbage, beets, carrots and mint. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together cumin seeds, lime zest, lime juice, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, salt and pepper. Toss over cabbage mixture and mix well.