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Delicious recipes, simple tips for good health and nutrition, and stylish tableware and kitchenware picks. Bon appetit!
What a better way to spend part of a sunny weekend than with a couple of good books. After a couple of hectic weeks of work and travel, I'm looking forward to sitting down and flipping through the gorgeous, inspiring pages of two new cookbooks...blogger and food photographer Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day and farm-to-plate chef Andrea Reusing'sCooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. An interesting mix of healthful ingredients pop on the pages of Swanson's second book, it's a great pick if you're looking to expand your pantry's repertoire of grains and produce and wholesome alternatives for bake goods. Reusing's book is set up by season and is full of approachable, excitable recipes. Both are great additions to any bookshelf, particularly if you're looking to up the health ante of your meals given that beach season's just around the corner. Here's to relaxing weekend of delectable reading!
You know spring's in full swing when ramps hit the greenmarket and grocery stores. A type of wild garlic/spring onion, ramps are some of the first spring produce to poke their way through the ground as the weather warms. Get them while you can as they're only around for about 4 to 6 weeks. Grilled or sateed they'll add a distinct garlic/scallion/onion flavor to pastas, eggs, pizzas (Mario Batali's king for this one) and more. I had them simply raw last week at Northern Spy paired with beef tartare, seriously unbelievable.
Earlier this week, I chose a less traditional path for these little leafy onions and did up a warm ramp vinaigrette for simple spring lettuces. A lovely and light starter for my family's Passover meal, but it'll make any meal a bit more intriguing.
In a small skillet over moderate-low heat, add in 1 small bunch of ramps minced, 1/2 shallot minced, 1 to 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey, 4 to 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Bring the vinaigrette to a simmer and lower the heat to stay warm and reduce slightly. Serve over fresh, crisp greens like red and green baby romaine.
Sometimes a pop of color makes the day just a little brighter. After spotting one of these images on Bright Bazaar and Miss Moss earlier this week, I was hooked. Well-known production designer, Ford Wheeler, takes cooking and dining to a whole new eclectic, vibrant level -- very fitting for the season's major color-blocking trend. Cheers to a bright, bubbly spring weekend!
primary colors bring a mod twist to this vintage kitchen
a tiny shock of bluebird blue livens up an entire dining room
bright reds and greens and funky patterns all over...Wheeler's Mexican hideaway
green freshens up simple kitchen cabinets
spunky chairs that just make you want to sit down and feast
These beauties are dangerously addictive and are perfect for when you're time-crunched and need to whip up something fast for your next dinner party, brunch or springtime soiree. Coconut macaroons hold a special place in my heart--they're simple, oh-so-delicious and these shown above come straight from my Grandma Bebe's vintage recipe box. What better to finally welcome spring weather with a tiny, tasty treat. Thanks grandma!
makes about 24
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups of sweetened, flaked coconut
1 14 ounce can of condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (as with most baked goodies, I opt for extra-vanilla - I run strong with 1 tablespoon extract and make sure it's good quality vanilla, I promise it makes a huge difference)
dark chocolate chunks for melting (if you wish to take the extra-decadent step of coating the bottom with chocolate or doing a light chocolate drizzle over top)
Preheat the oven to 350. Mix coconut, condensed milk and vanilla together in a large bowl. Lightly grease two baking sheets or cover them with parchment paper. Spoon coconut mixture into little compact balls and place on baking sheets about an inch or two apart. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes and flip baking sheets. Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
*For chocolate dipped or drizzled macaroons, melt about 1 cup dark chocolate chunks/pieces in a double boiler (I usually fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place a metal or glass mixing bowl on top with the chocolate). Dip macaroons in chocolate or take a spoon and lightly drizzle chocolate over top. Place macaroons back on the baking sheet and in the freezer or fridge for 15-20 minutes to set the chocolate.
Set your DVR's, celebrity UK chef Jamie Oliver is taking on LA with season 2 of Food Revolution starting tomorrow night, Tuesday April 12th, on ABC at 8pm EST. Jamie's set on tackling childhood obesity and bringing positive change to the school lunches served within LA's Unified School District. Rumor has it that he encounters quite a few stumbling blocks, but you'll just have to watch for yourself. Season 2 is another step towards growing the conversation around our country's eating habits and vying for healthier change. You can support change by signing his Food Revolution petition to revise school lunch standards across the nation.
And on the big screen, a new documentary just premiered in the past few weeks highlighting one man's cross-country 3,000 mile quest to change his health and weight for good. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead is unbelievably inspiring. Joe Cross was 100 pounds overweight and fighting a debilitating auto-immune disease with steriods and countless, and costly, medications. His mission to reclaim his health brought first to NYC and then on a cross-country trip, consuming nothing but fruit and vegetable juice for two months (we're talking serious determination and a battery-powered Breville juicer in the trunk of his car). While clearly not sustainable long-term, Joe's habits helped him achieve a healthy weight and put his disease well into remission. Three years later, he's medication-free and eats a well-balanced diet (which in his own words, most definitely includes the occasional pizza and beer). Whether you're fan of heavy juicing or not, the takeaway message of the film reminds viewers that most of us are eating no where nearly enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Make that the majority of your diet (50% or more) and you'll reap the benefits, more energy and acuity, better digestion and of course, weight loss if you're seeking to shed a few extra lbs.
For screenings and showtimes near you, check the movie's website here.
Scooting out quickly this afternoon to do a grocery shop for tonight's dinner, I spotted two ingredients that I'd never used before and to be quite honest, wasn't really sure what to do with. Sorrel, a lemony leaf herb that's actually poisonous in extreme doses, and black garlic, a fermented version of white garlic with a rich molasses-tone often used in Asian dishes. So what's a girl to do? Always up for a bit of culinary experimentation, I snapped them right up. First on deck, sorrel. I was already planning on making a simple frittata for dinner and thought the lemony, sharp flavor would be perfect to toss in with sauteed red bell peppers and mushrooms. The final result: pretty fantastic and finished in under 20 minutes.
A good drizzle of olive oil + chopped red bell pepper & asparagus + 2 stalks of spring garlic & a bit of diced hot pepper + chopped cremini mushrooms & 1 small bunch of sorrel torn into pieces. Saute up the red bell pepper and asparagus, add in the spring garlic, hot pepper, sorrel and mushrooms. Saute on medium-high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes or so. Whisk 6 eggs and season with cracked pepper and salt. Pour into the skillet, evenly covering the vegetable mixture. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the eggs about 5 minutes. Finish the frittata under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.
(sorry no pic taken tonight, but here's a lovely poached egg and sorrel dish from NY Times contributor Melissa Clark)
I've expressed my love of 18 Rabbits granola and granola bars many times over--great ingredients (organic, sustainably-sourced and delicious), great packaging and design (come on, we all know it helps) and great minds behind the brand (my close friend Alison and her savvy team of granola ). The San Fran-based team has now introduced Bunny Bars, petite 120 calorie versions of their bars made with kiddies in mind--no nuts included. The bars are just as tasty and energizing as the full-size version and are quite satisfying for the adult who's hit the wall around 4pm and needs an afternoon pick-me-up. The bars come in 4 flavors, or rather 4 rabbit-eared friends (Mimi Merry Mango Strawberry, Rocco Choco Banana, Squeaky Cheeky Choco Cherry and Deedee Dot Cherry Apricot) to make them that much more kid-friendly, healthy and fun at the same time. Given their commitment to encouraging healthy eating in kids and to nutrition education, the brand has partnered with the San Francisco Food Bank to give back more than 1% of sales from bars to local SF urban schools.
You'll find 18 Rabbits's big bars at various Whole Foods locations nationwide, Wegmans, Fairway, Cibo (in a number of airports) as well as online. For a full list of stockists or to snag them online, click here.
If you're looking for something to do to buck tomorrow's rainy afternoon forecast, pop into the "Food for Thought" food photography exhibit at the Robert Mann gallery (11th Ave & 24th St). The exhibit highlights artists including Iriving Penn and Ansel Adams, food signs, photos from French markets and more, all spanning the past 80 years. A nice dose of culinary imagery to spark up your senses. The exhibit runs through May 14th.
I'm willing warm temperatures to come on strong...any day now. If nothing else, sunshine and a bit of spring cleaning is a decent place to start. If you're looking for a nice 'jumpstart' towards beach season, give a thought to a nice bowl of roasted beets, or a simple beet salad, or some more creative uses for the colorful root veg. Beets are like your personal springtime cleanup crew. Jammed with antioxidants and nutrients to detox the liver along with a good dose of fiber, they'll flush out toxins and kick up digestion super fast. Just beware, they'll stain virtually anything they come in contact with, nothing a good washing can't take care of. Check out these brilliant photos and easy beet recipes from my latest column in Rue Magazine's fourth issue. Click here for Bright Beet & Feta Dip with Grilled Toasts; Golden & Ruby Beet Salad with Oranges, Hazelnuts & Fiore Sardo Cheese; Dark Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Goat Cheese-Hazelnut Frosting (oh yeah, they're crazy good!).
A little undercover, the type of vibe that makes you want to stay all night, warm and rustic design, killer music...and a whole lot of incredible food. Located in the West Village, Hudson Clearwater is the restaurant scene's newest, best kept secret. I've waited far too long to post something about this place, but figured we could all use a bit of food-driven excitement on such a dreary day.
HCW is keen on keeping a low-profile, making your experience that much more personal. No distinct storefront awning and a clandestine garden entrance help make the space the cool, hidden gem that it is. Step inside and you'll immediately be welcomed by an open kitchen where you'll watch first-hand the energy, excitement and authenticity that goes into executive chef Wes Long's menu. He's the type of guy who'll take time to greet you and chat about anything and everything for a few minutes (or longer), as will any of HCW's four owners, Mark and John Barboni, Christopher Brandon and Matthew Hechter.
Long's genuine appreciation of food and his attention to good health, flavor and sustainably-sourced ingredients is clear. Not too shocking, it's one of the reasons I keep on coming back. HCW's vision of fusing health and seasonality into knockout restaurant fare runs deep and it shows. Given my frequent visits, I've been lucky enough to experience just about all of the menu (and a few chef tasting meals as well). A few dishes to daydream about this afternoon...arugula with spiced pecans, St. Andre & apple ribbons; the aged white cheddar shortcake, roasted root vegetables and horseradish creme fraiche; crispy duck breast with grilled onion and swiss chard ragout; the cured pork belly (yes, I'm suggesting you order pork belly) with grilled beets, creamy polenta and cherry-dickel caramel. Be sure to get a side of Brussels sprouts and the potato-cauliflower gratin with radish salad, they're pretty amazing. I won't call out a specific dessert because that'd be discriminatory and they're all stellar, but twist my arm and I'd shoot for the lemon bar with fig compote or the chocolate-cherry ganache with fresh fruit...so light and balanced, you'll comfortably leave the table without feeling like someone needs to roll you out the door. And an fyi, or word of warning, definitely glance over the cocktail list.
Good guys doing up genuine food. You can't really go wrong with that. Looking forward to Long's spring menu, due out very soon. And ps., you'll definitely want to keep this little secret to yourself (and a few very lucky friends).
I'm coming off a gorgeous sun-filled weekend that was fairly calm and relaxing...and gave me some time to think about the tragedy in Japan (or maybe it was a wee bit too much CNN and Meet the Press). Either way, after a little internet scouting, I found some interesting food-related ways to help support relief efforts. Check 'em all out on my post today over at Rue - including a fundraising event at EN Brasserie this week. And stay tuned for the much-anticipated premiere of Rue's Issue 4 tomorrow!
heart-shaped ceramic bowl from Kolde Studio on Etsy - 50% of proceeds go to relief efforts
Bright, bold emerald green is the hot hue of the season and it's coming on strong at your table.
I'm gushing over these tabletop items featured in this month's Elle Decor. And just in time for a lucky St. Patty's Day!
...Pasta and porchetta princess, Sara Jenkins' green bean salad at her new East Village restaurant Porsena (if you haven't been yet, it's cozy and wonderful - like you're eating at home with your Italian grandmother). Jenkins may have gained acclaim for her heftier dishes and love of all things pork, but the green bean salad is a total star on the menu. Fresh, simple, gorgeously green and crunchy--a perfect healthy pick for the first weeks of spring. I recreated her dish at home based on memory and taste. Darn close to the original...
green beans with fennel & toasted almonds serves 2
blanch a small bunch of haricot verts (French beans) in boiling water for about 2 minutes, plunge into an ice bath.
remove beans and place in a mixing bowl.
toss in thinly shaved fennel (a mandolin makes it super easy), toasted chopped almonds, finely sliced red onion (Jenkins actually pickles hers first, which I adore, but I didn't have the time).
add juice from 1/2 lemon, 2-3 teaspoons of good red wine vinegar, a nice dose of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, mix well and you're done.
Sometimes things and people strike you in a way that you're urged immediately to act. The tragedy in Japan that unfolded over the weekend had me glued to CNN much of yesterday afternoon. And this poster I just stumbled upon minutes ago--thanks to the wonderful world of social media and a network of international bloggers--reminds us that we can help. Please donate to the charity of your choice and help relief efforts.
You can almost smell spring coming on strong! I'm not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep with daylight savings this weekend, but I'll surely take the sunshine and brilliant hues that are well on their way this month. I'm loving the bright pops of color in these kitchens -- clean whites, baby blues, peeks of hot pink, grassy green and pastel seafoam! Just a little springy inspiration to start your weekend off with. Cheers!
There's many a reason I'm a fan of New York Times writer Mark Bittman, but the latest results from his op-ed article earlier this week on something I hope more of us starting thinking about: "agro-ecology." Huh? The term sits right in the same bucket as "sustainable" and "organic" and it's hinged on the notion that smaller, sustainable farming practices can actually feed the world. Shocking as it sounds...and much needed rift from our industrial food industry.
Just this week, the United Nation's representative, Olivier de Schutter, presented a report entitled "Agro-ecology and the Right to Food." He urged that "Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are more environmentally sustainable and socially just." He went on to say that agro-ecology supports "small farmers who must be able to farm in ways that are less expensive and more productive. But it benefits all of us, because it decelerates global warming and ecological destruction."
Reconstructing our food system in such a manner is indeed doable and groundbreaking farmers across the country and the globe are making a serious case. Joel Salatin of the Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virigina is one of the most notable examples of this. The documentary film Food Inc. featured his innovative grass-based farming methods to provide animals and the land the best possible treatment (I love the roving "egg-mobile" pictured above). Check out more on the farm here. I'm hoping to take my first trip down there in April when I'm next home visiting my family...so stay tuned for a full report!
Agro-ecology's an interesting notion ponder - and to start taking part in by supporting your local farmers market or joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). Small steps will add up over time and start making a more significant dent in moving away from big agriculture, industrial farming and food that's not as nutritious or ethically-produced as it should be.
Thanks Mark for shedding a little more light on this. Hope you all get to hit the farmers market on this sunny weekend!
After a very hectic week, I'm back and blogging. Yesterday's unsightly rain had me dreaming of spring and a whole lot of sunshine. And of course a bit of bright nibblings to go along with it. These rosemary-lemon shortbread are the perfect transition from winter heartiness (the rosemary) to spring liveliness (the lemon). Not to mention they're somewhat addictive if you're not careful. Get the recipe over at my post today on Rue Magazine's blog...and start baking!
...because every so often pancakes are absolutely worth the indulgence, particularly when they're from Clinton Street Baking Co. (in my opinion, the hands-down best brunch spot in the city). And because they've made February "pancake month," featuring various delectable pancake combos for 28 days straight. With just 4 days of Feb. remaining, go ahead and order up the special - chocolate chunk pancakes with fresh raspberries and raspberry-caramel sauce. You could almost mistake them for dessert, so maybe consider sharing the order 3 or 4 ways and dive into one of their omelets...which not surprisingly, are also amazing.