Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mouth-Watering Weekend Reading

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's Cooking 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!

warm mozzarella with grits, grilled radicchio, & balsamic

images & recipe courtesy of: 101Cookbooks | Scribd 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Season :: Ramps & A Warm Ramp Vinaigrette

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.

image :: pinterest via Laurel Messina

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quirky, Color-Popping Kitchens

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

images via: 1, 2, 3 - NY Times | 4, 5 - Pinterest

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Lovelies :: Grandma's Macaroons

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!

Coconut Macaroons
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.

What to Watch :: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Takes on LA

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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ingredient Intrigue :: Sorrel & Black Garlic

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)

We'll see what black garlic brings...

 images: Vegetable Matter, New York Times, House of Brinson

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Finds :: The Cutest Darn Granola Bar

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.
Happy weekend!

Weekend Radar :: Food for Thought Exhibit

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.