Friday, February 26, 2010

The Perfect Day for Baking & Hot Cocoa

Snow day! Well, maybe for some. I might be at home, but I've been slaving away in front of my trusty MacBook much of the day watching the snow continue to fall and collect on my patio. Snowy days always conjure up visions of baking up some delicious cozy treat and pairing it with a steamy cup of hot cocoa. I made these tasty scones last weekend for a brunch with my girlfriends, but today's chilly weather had me wishing I had a few leftover to nibble on. A good book, a warm scone with a dab of raspberry butter and a cup of cocoa and I'm all set.
*scones are sitting in my grandmother's super-chic, vintage white serving dish. the black fruit bowl is from Apartment 48.

Whole Wheat Lemon-Raspberry Scones with
Raspberry Butter

makes about 18-20 scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (total oxymoron right? it's true buttermilk is LOW in fat and calories!!)
1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries (or blueberries or 1 cup fresh cranberries)

Raspberry Butter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted sweet cream butter, bring to room temperature
1/2 pint raspberries
2 tsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in lemon zest.
3. Add butter and mix together with fingers until you get a coarse meal. Add in buttermilk and mix together, the dough will be moist and semi-clumpy. Add in the raspberries last, they break a little as you're kneading the dough and may turn the dough a tad pink (hey, at least it's pretty!).
4. On a lightly floured surface or counter top, knead the dough a few times and then form a wide circle or oval about 1 inch thick. Use a round or square glass to cut-out sections of the dough (think cookie cutter action) and place them on
the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake about 25-30 minutes. Brush tops of scones with a dab of buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with demura sugar.

Raspberry Butter
Heat raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan at medium-high heat and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Mix raspberries and butter in small dish until well-blended.

Spiked Hot Cocoa

serves 2
*note: yes, cocoa can be calorie-heavy, but keep portions small and go for low-fat milk and you're good to go...and you'll get a nice dose of calcium to boot!

2 1/2 cups low-fat or skim milk
4 Tbsp hot cocoa mix (or drinking chocolate) *I personally LOVE Guittard's drinking chocolate, it's totally worth the caloric-indulgence
1 1/2 Tbsp bourbon
1 1/2 Tbsp Bailey's Irish cream

Heat milk over medium heat and stir in cocoa mix. Whisk continuously and bring to a simmer/low-boil. Remove from heat and add in bourbon and Bailey's. Serve...with a tiny dollop of whipped cream if you're seeking serious indulgence on a wintry day!

Monday, February 15, 2010

What You NEED to Watch Now - Jamie Oliver's TED Speech

My fave British superstar chef and anti-obesity campaigner, Jamie Oliver is at it again, snagging the 2010 TED award (TED is a non-profit devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading") for his work in Huntington, WV around obesity and his fight to getting better food into schools, lowering rates of childhood and adult obesity, changing the way our food system works and getting both kids and adults back into the kitchen--cooking real, fresh food easily and accessibly. FYI, we spend $150 billion a year on obesity-related illnesses...that's insane when you consider that changing how we eat is something so tangible, we've got all the right tools, but aren't putting them into play!
His acceptance speech at the TED awards is an absolute must-watch. His take-away wish from the event is a poignant one:

"I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight against obesity."

Watch it, yes - listen and watch the entire 21 minute speech. Consider 3 small things you can do to progress Jamie's wish. Maybe it's cooking more at home, ditching the frozen dinners you rely on too frequently or the artificial sweeteners you use for your morning coffee. Maybe it's finding a way to help further Michelle Obama's efforts to combat childhood obesity from the White House or simply taking your child (or yourself) on a field trip to your local farmers market or getting them involved in the cooking and grocery shopping process at home.
And if you're looking for more ideas on healthier eating and how to turn the tables on obesity in the U.S., check out Jamie's upcoming series on ABC (debuting March 26 9-10pm EST) which highlights his work done in WVa.
As TED writes, "he makes an all-out assault on our ignorance around food". And I'm a huge supporter. Thanks Jamie and a big congrats. Cheers to better eating!
You can sign Jamie's Food Revolution Petition for healthier food here and can check out his TED speech below.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Runway-to-Plate Recipe

With spring fashion week in full swing right, I've been doing my part and flipping through the massive March issues of my fave fashion mags (Elle, Vogue, Bazaar and Lucky among them) to get some colorful inspiration for spring. Can you tell I'm on a serious warm weather kick this week? The shows in Bryant Park may be strutting the chicest stuff for next fall, but I'm immersing myself in what's to come for spring and I'm seeing some additional trends aside from the staples and basics mentioned last month. Color and some femininity -- from Ikat and tribal prints, florals and vibrant colors, to coquettish lingerie tops and bottoms. Taking inspiration into the kitchen, I prepped a fashionista/nutritionista, colorful salad for a light lunch while making the most of one of my favorite fiber- and antioxidant-rich root vegetables, the beet (always chic and always colorful from dark purple to bright yellow).
*And p.s., if you're looking to get a head start on shaping-up for spring, beets have phenomenal detoxifying properties. Kiss those toxins from too many cold-weather, wine-soaked evenings goodbye! Here you go, bring some color and thoughts of spring from the runway to your plate.
Baby Beet Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts
Serves 2

5-6 baby beets, trimmed and washed
1/2 head butter lettuce, washed and torn (or about 5 cups mixed greens)
2 Tbsp toasted walnuts
2 oz goat cheese

balsamic vinaigrette
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced fresh shallot
salt and pepper to taste

For salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and roast for 60-75 minutes. The skin should rub right off leaving you a perfectly shaped baby beet. (I usually use a paper towel to avoid purple fingers!). Cut beets in half or quarters if larger. Arrange lettuce on plates and top with beets, walnuts and goat cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

For vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk the mustard with the vinegar, shallot, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly pour in the olive oil while continuing to whisk until blended.

A Valentine Worthy Meal

I tend not to think too much about Valentine's day, whether I actually have a valentine or don't (this year I'm going solo). I think I have something against forced Hallmark holidays - shouldn't every day be Valentine's Day, showing those you love that you care about them?! Either way, the holiday and the long weekend got me thinking about happiness and gratitude...and of course food. And last night I found myself craving a dinner with a touch of love, comfort and sweetness. Feeding yourself and others can really be one of the most expressive ways to show how much you care. So with all that in mind, I decided to turn out something I normally wouldn't be attracted to. I'm usually a straight-up savory girl when it comes to meals, saving the sweet strictly for dessert. But the warm, cozy combo of freshly made ravioli from the greenmarket (I went for the spinach-ricotta filled to give more bite and a bit more veg), fresh sage, browned butter and butternut squash had me intrigued from the get-go. The merging of sweet-savory, healthy (butternut squash is jammed with antioxidants and vitamin A and is only 80 cals a cup) and a touch of indulgence with the butter seemed perfect for Valentine's. And it definitely was, freaking delish. I snuck a few walnuts in there for some additional antioxidants and healthy omega-3 fats. For your cooking and tasting pleasure, the recipe's below. Balance the buttery dish out and start your meal with this light winter salad to keep calories right on track and your V-day figure kicking.

Winter Salad with Walnuts & Piave
Serves 4
1 small head radicchio, 1 small head butter (or bibb), and 1 small endive
1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated Piave cheese

Toss all ingredients but Piave together in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle Piave atop and serve. Done and done!

Ravioli with Sage, Brown Butter & Butternut Squash Puree
Serves 2
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
8 to 10 fresh-made ravioli – regular or spinach (I used the spinach ravioli from
Hudson Valley Farmhouse/Knoll Crest Farm, sold at the Union Square farmer’s market)
1 small garlic clove, minced
1.5 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp walnuts, chopped
Piave or Parmesan cheese for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Drizzle butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl, mash squash until creamy.
Bring a pot of water to boil for ravioli.
Heat a medium saute pan over medium-low heat and add butter. Allow butter to brown slightly, add garlic and sage and cook 3 to 4 minutes.
Add butternut squash, milk, salt, pepper and walnuts to pan and stir until well-blended. Keep warm on low heat.
Cook ravioli for 3 to 5 minutes until done.
Arrange a thin circle of squash mixture on plates and top with 5 ravioli. Garnish with shaved Piave or Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dreaming of somewhere warm...a Mediterranean-inspired meal

As much as I love pretty white blankets of snow, I am O-V-E-R this cold weather (and so is my pale, sun-deprived skin). While the snow steadily fell yesterday, I sat on my couch planning out a long-awaited vacation (too bad it's not until May!) tossing ideas around of Greece, Italy or Turkey and dreaming of warmer weather and anything that involves me on a beach. To further the fantasy, I decided to create some sort of Mediterranean dinner with whatever I had lying around in the fridge, clearly I wasn't about to trek out to the grocery store. So here's what I came up--light, easy, warm and flavorful for a cold evening at home...and all dressed up on a graphic Turkish serving dish. *Disclaimer: I realize that there are tomatoes and red bell peppers in the dish, and that they're not in season...I attempt to buy just about everything seasonally and as much from the farmers market as I can, but deviating from the norm on occasion won't kill anyone.

Roast Chicken with Tomatoes, Red Peppers & Onions
serves 2 to 4

1 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
3 small tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
Turkish spice blend (like baharat) or hot pepper/red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Arrange chicken, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic in roasting pan or glass dish.
Add in chicken broth and wine. Season with thyme, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Roast for 40-45 minutes, basting halfway through.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love + decadent dessert for Valentine's Day

If you're looking to impress (or entice, seduce, tempt, woo...insert your word of choice here) your valentine this Sunday, look no further than the ridiculously decadent, indulgent dessert below. Talk about a great way to finish off a meal, this is one dessert that will work its way into anyone's heart -- and I write from experience here. True, it's not the lightest of desserts, but we all need a little indulgence every so often and I can't think of a better day to do it up. The balancing point with this tart however, is that it's so rich it's nearly impossible to down a hefty piece. A small slice will do just fine and you get some bonus points and disease-fighting antioxidants with the dark chocolate and raspberries. Since raspberries aren't in season right now, I'd go with the frozen organic ones to make the coulis. They're cheaper and will be just as good. Here's to a little lovin' and decadence this Valentine's!

Bourbon Chocolate Tart with Fleur de Sel and Raspberry Coulis

Makes 12 servings

Tart Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tart Filling

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I usually use an equal mixture of a hunk of 54% cacao and one that’s 65% or above)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons bourbon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Tart Glaze

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 3/4 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped (I use a chocolate that’s above 65% cacoa)

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1 tablespoon warm water

1 tablespoon bourbon

¼ teaspoon fleur de sel (flaky French sea salt that’s great for baking and pretty presentation)

Raspberry Coulis

2 cups fresh raspberries, plus more for serving

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a food processor, blend the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, egg yolk, and vanilla and pulse until the mixture forms a large moist clump.

3. Press the dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough up the sides, press the bottom of the dough four or five times with the tines or a fork, and bake for 10 minutes, then cool.

4. For the filling: Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir until melted.

5. Whisk the eggs, vanilla, bourbon, and salt in a small bowl and add to the chocolate. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for about an hour.

6. For the glaze: Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Add the corn syrup, warm water, and bourbon. Gently pour evenly over the tart. Sprinkle the fleur de sel over the tart and allow to stand for about an hour.

7. For the raspberry coulis: Heat the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain the seeds out through a small sieve if desired.

Carefully remove the tart from the outer part of the pan. Serve with 2 to 3 teaspoons of raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Best Wings Ever - An Easy Score for the Superbowl

My infamous Superbowl wings are in effect...the irresistible Asian aroma of garlic, soy sauce, scallions, hoisin and more is currently wafting throughout my apartment as those suckers bake up in the oven. It's a last minute post for tonight's showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts, but it's never too late for some seriously good wings. Whether your allegiance is with Peyton or Drew, these wings are addictive and I promise, they're guaranteed to score you major points tonight...or really any occasion. Me personally, I'm a Giants gal, but am pulling for a win for NO (gotta route for the underdog as much as I like Peyton). Either way, I'll be routing for a good game with a few wings in hand.

Makes about 12 servings, 4 to 5 wings each

The Goods

4 to 5 pounds free-range/organic chicken wings

1 1/2 cups low-sodium soy sauce

1 1/8 cups hoisin sauce

1/4 cup plum sauce

3 scallions, minced

6 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup honey

The Breakdown

1. Rinse the wings and pat dry.

2. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

3. Place the wings in a storage container, pour the marinade over, and marinate for at least 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil or use 2 roasting pans.

5. Distribute the wings on both pans, saving the excess marinade for basting. Bake, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, basting every 20 minutes with the remaining marinade and turning the wings about halfway through to brown evenly. I personally like mine cold, but warm or cool, you can’t really go wrong.

The Facts: 180 calories; 2g fat; 0.5g saturated fat; 15g protein

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Healthy breakfast at the White House with Sam Kass

Alright, I'm fessing up as it's nearing Valentine's Day next week. I have a slight crush on White House chef and 'food initiative coordinator' Sam Kass (must be his shaved-head, focus on fresh, seasonal food and his work with kids to get them eating and cooking better). As a series of NBC Today Show interviews highlighted last week, First Lady, Michelle Obama and McSteamy-in-the-kitchen Sam Kass will soon be launching a campaign to lower childhood obesity and improve nutrition...getting kids involved in the kitchen and promoting "healthy eating, healthy families". Check out the Today Show clip and cutie-chef Sam Kass cooking up a healthy breakfast with some local DC kids. Sam, you can cook me breakfast any day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Food Rules to Eat By

Straight from the pages of fresh food guru Michael Pollan's new book, Food are a handful of simple guidelines to help you stick to your healthy eating resolutions more easily and hopefully make you laugh a little at the same time.

  • Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.
  • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
  • Don't ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.
  • If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
  • It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
  • It's not food if it's called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles).
  • Buy smaller plates and glasses.
  • Sweeten and salt your food yourself.
  • Don't eat breakfast foods that change the color of the milk.
  • Stop eating before you're full.
  • Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
  • Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.
  • Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.