Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Scooping Ice-cream

August 12, 2014

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It’s so annoying when you are ready to serve ice-cream, but it’s hard as a rock. Microwaving it is a slippery slope: it often over melts around the edges, staying hard in the center.
No worries though…here is the scoop on scooping ice-cream that is frozen solid:

Dip a sharp knife in hot water and slice across the ice-cream container in both directions, forming a grid about the size of your ice-cream scoop.

Dip the scoop in hot water, and use to scoop out a section of the grid.

The ice-cream should be the perfect consistency.

To avoid over freezing in the first place, some suggest placing the container in a sealed, ziplock bag.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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What’s On My Mind This Week

August 7, 2014

After almost 10 months of traveling endlessly for work, I am back in New York for awhile and settling into my new, OLD routine again!

I am finding joy in the mundane things that I haven’t been able to do lately. Here are just a few of them:

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Cooking and eating greenmarket fresh vegetables : I love vegetables and finding a variety of fresh, simply prepared produce isn’t so easy to come by on the road.

Many hotel restaurants don’t offer a lot of vegetable choices, and slathering them in butter, a creamy sauce or frying them doesn’t help matters. My current fixation is zucchini. It has become my main course when the family is having meat ( which I don’t like,) or pasta, ( which doesn’t especially like me!) In addition to spiraling it into noodles and eating it with my other current fascination, tomatoes, I am playing with it in zucchini bread, and instead of lettuce in a salad, among other things. I’ll keep you posted with unrecipes soon!

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Nesting: I am reveling in being home, and taking time to do some improvements. I shampooed the bedroom carpet, and am slowly reorganizing.  My sofa needs recovering, and the whole loft could use a coat of paint. I have been discussing this for months, but the current downtime is allowing me to look at fabrics and paint chips, and actually make it happen. I didn’t plan to do anything else, but yesterday I swatted a mosquito that had flown in through the kitchen window, and both the insect and the glass backsplash in my kitchen did not survive. I’m thinking of replacing it with mosaic glass tiles in neutral tones. Any ideas?

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Training…hard! I have been a gym rat for many years, but it’s not easy to keep up with a fitness routine on the road. Yes, there are hotel gyms, and I do run outside a little, but those workouts tend to be maintenance, not real training. Travel days and early morning meetings wrecked havoc on my schedule, and I have been finding my fitness level has slipped. I was lifting lighter weights, running shorter distances, and biking at lower wattages. I am back on a serious regimen, and feeling great about it!(Okay, a little sore, but energized!)

Slow foods: I got a slow cooker a long time ago, but lately, I am actually using it! I can prep everything early in the day and leave it cook while I do whatever else I need to do. It means that I am not scrambling to get dinner ready at 7, or slaving over the hot stove when it’s hot outside. So far, BBQ pulled pork and Bolognese sauce were a hit, and I popped my favorite coconut miso chicken with shiitake mushrooms in there a few hours ago. It smells great!

Rebooting: It feels so good to relax, reconnect with friends, and think about what’s next. I love what I do, and the busier I am, the happier I am. Yet, I have missed a lot of social events, kid’s milestones, and just sitting back and relaxing! It’s also giving me enough breathing space to think about what I really want to do next, instead of just taking on the next project blindly. I usually panic at this stage, but this time I am enjoying it. Before the craziness began, I was working on a new concept for Indigo Jones. Perhaps now, I can take it to the next level. I’m pretty sure that will be what I will obsess over next week! I can’t wait to be able to share it with you.

Finding balance: These days it seems like it’s all or nothing with me. I’m not retired and I do still have work to do. I need to find the balance between committing myself to it fully, and living a normal life. And that is what I intend to do.

photos: Glasshouse Images

 

Eat To Win

August 6, 2014

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I am always intrigued by how nutrition plays such a strong role in athletic performance. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is  usually the norm for good health. But when you are racing a bike through the mountains of France for 6 hours a day, for 3 weeks straight, it seems one needs a bit more than that to power through.

Esquire magazine tracked Tour de France champion Thor Hushovd’s food consumption  for the day, and the amount he eats is truly staggering!

Breakfast consists of oatmeal, toast, ham, eggs, cereal and rice. Once on the bike, he snacks on 4-6 Clif bars, 2 packs of shot blocks and 2-3 gels, some rice cakes, and a small sandwich,washed down with 6-8 bottles of a special energy drink made for his team.

Post race, there is more rice, curried chicken or a tortilla of some kind, and 2 bottles of a recovery drink,consumed on the bus ride home.

Once back at the hotel, dinner consists of stuffed tomatoes, zucchini and more rice, beet salad, avocados, spaghetti, turkey and prunes, and sorbet for dessert. It all adds up to about 9,000 calories a day, or almost a week’s worth of food for me.

Although Hushovd burns about 6,000 calories on the bike, the most the body is capable of absorbing during exercise is about 250-300 calories per hour. Fueling up is more than just loading up. He is careful to go light on gluten and fiber, to avoid bloating and intestinal issues during the ride. Rice is his carb of choice.

So far, it’s all paying off, with Hushovd holding a top spot in the race so far.

I rode about 16 miles in 45 minutes in my indoor cycling class today, and burnt about 650 calories. While that may be child’s play for these athletes, surely it qualifies me for a little treat, doesn’t it?

photo: glasshouse images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Clean As You Go

August 5, 2014

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I used to make a colossal mess when I cooked. The kitchen would be covered with food, dishes and who knows what, every time I made a significant meal. As I have honed my skills over the years, that has changed. While I won’t say I don’t make a mess, I will say that it is more contained. They say that the best cooks are neat cooks, and I am starting to agree with that. S can use the entire kitchen, just making a smoothie, and I end up chiseling the remains of it off the counters for the rest of the day.
Here are a few tips to keep the kitchen clutter at bay while whipping up meals:

Plan ahead. Think about the ingredients and the tools you need before you start. Dripping things across the kitchen and measuring things all over the kitchen, instead of where they are going is a recipe for disaster. Searching frantically for a tool when you have your latest creation all over your hands just spreads the mess to cupboard handles and countertops. Assemble things in one central location, for maximum efficiency.

Clean as you go. Placing used dishes and utensils into the sink keeps them contained and off the counters. Wash the dishes and especially wipe the counters immediately before you move on to the next dish. Always start with a clean slate, even if that just means the countertops are food and clutter free.

If you are making multiple dishes, don’t put the utensils you need again into the dishwasher. Hand wash them so they are immediately accessible for the next round.

Wipe spills off the floor, the cupboards and refrigerator door as soon as possible. Once they dry, they are harder to clean off. Everybody spills and splatters, but not everybody wipes them up. Get my drift?

Catch the overflow . Place a cookie sheet under cakes, pies and casseroles  before putting them in the oven. That way, if they boil over, or spatter, you can clean the cookie sheet, instead of the entire oven. Even better, cover them in aluminum foil to avoid having to scrub the drip pan.

Use a garbage bowl.  TV cooks often use a garbage bowl to collect the food scraps as they appear, Toss vegetable peels, and other food refuse into the bowl as you go, and simply empty it and rinse the bowl when you are done.

Cooking can be great fun. Cleaning up: not so much. Cleaning as you go can make the task less daunting and give you more time to enjoy your delicious meal!

 

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Zucchini Pasta with Shrimp

July 30, 2014

On a summer evening, we’re looking for a meal that has it all: bountiful seasonal produce, great flavors and textures, and one that won’t leave us feeling overly full. When it doesn’t involve too much slaving over a hot stove, or heating up the house with the oven, it’s an added bonus.

Saturday night’s dinner fit the bill. Using zucchini as a base, with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil blanketing fresh Florida shrimp, it was as tasty as it was easy to prepare.

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Zucchini Pasta and Shrimp with Tomato Sauce and Basil Oil

For the “pasta”:

Using a spiralizer, cut 2 zucchini into noodles and set aside.

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Saute 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Add fresh tomatoes ( I prefer them peeled, but it isn’t necessary) cut into chunks, and a few fresh basil leaves. Season with salt and black pepper, and cook on a low heat until the tomatoes start to melt. Stir often until it is the consistency of a thick, chunky sauce. Add the zucchini noodles, and cook, tossing, for just a couple of minutes until the zucchini is cooked, but still crisp, and completely covered in the tomato sauce.

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For the shrimp:

Peel and devein the shrimp. Spread out on towels after rinsing to eliminate any extra moisture.

In the meantime, place a clove or two of garlic and a large handful of basil leaves into the work bowl of a food processor or blender and process until it is finely minced. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil until the mixture emulsifies.

Place the shrimp on a cookie sheet, and brush them with the basil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil or grill them for a couple of minutes until pink and opaque. Conversely, they can be sautéed in olive oil, adding the basil mixture at the end and coating the shrimp thoroughly.
Add them to the zucchini noodle mixture and toss. Serve in shallow bowls and enjoy!

photos: Indigo Jones

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Fixing Charred Baked Goods

July 29, 2014

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We’ve all been there: the bottom of the cookies or cake have burnt while the rest of it is perfectly fine.

No worries! Use a box grater, or a microplane zester to gently shave off the charred part.

The baked goods will be good to eat, and nobody will ever know about your little mishap!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Peeling Tomatoes

July 15, 2014

 

1635400438This time of year, I can’t get enough tomatoes. The current bounty is a far cry from the mealy, styrofoam-like tomatoes we have around here most of the time. These ripe, juicy, deep red beauties are full of flavor and vitamin C.

I love them raw, baked, sliced, diced and sautéed.  Sometimes, it’s nice to take the skin off, and cook them down to a thick, rich sauce, to pour over pasta, chicken or spiralized zucchini ribbons.

The easiest way to skin a tomato, or other fruits and vegetables with a thin skin and fleshy interior, is to drop them into a pot of boiling water. You only need to leave them in the water for a brief time; less than a minute, before the skin cracks.
Remove them with tongs, and place them in a bowl. The skin should come off easily, leaving you with a naked, but still very much intact tomato. Be careful not to leave them in the pot too long, as they will begin to cook, and eventually fall apart.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Tasting portions

July 8, 2014

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You probably know you should taste as you go when cooking. In fact, most of our unrecipes suggest tasting to correct seasonings before serving. But sometimes, it’s not possible to taste foods before they are cooked without risking serious health consequences. Raw meat and poultry, for example, need to be fully cooked to ensure that they are safe to consume.
So how do you know your meatballs, meatloaves or chicken dishes are seasoned properly? Make one tiny portion , and cook it in a pan so you can safely taste it and adjust your seasonings as necessary.

Problem solved!

photo: glasshouse images

Frankenfoods

July 3, 2014

A while back I was contacted by a production company, who asked me to audition for a new cooking show. It showcased weird food combinations, that sound disgusting, but actually taste good. I declined, because as you all know, I am not that kind of cook.  I specialize in simple, healthy, fresh foods, with nothing strange about them.

mac and cheese hot dog sushi on a stick, with spicy marinara dipping sauce!

mac and cheese hot dog sushi on a stick, with spicy marinara dipping sauce!

Time went by, and they kept calling. In January, they asked to me to come in for an open call, and make an interview tape.  I didn’t intend to go, but the night before, I had a fortuitous conversation with someone who came up with the idea of hotdog sushi. I laughed it off, but at some point on the day of the audition, I decided to give it a try. I rolled a hotdog (organic and nitrate free of course!) and some baby gerkins in sushi rice and nori, sliced it, and garnished it with a srirachia based sauce and a mustard based sauce, and went for it.
Since I didn’t take it seriously, my tape was fun and lighthearted. Who would have guessed that a couple of weeks later, they would call me back?

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They wanted the food to be a little more “Frankenfood-y”( like hotdog sushi isn’t weird enough?) and suggested dipping it in chocolate, using pineapple in the rice and all kinds of other things that made it sound disgusting. I am all for a little fun needling, but I don’t really need to go on TV to be berated about serving food I would NEVER, ever, think of serving under normal circumstances.

With all of the traveling I do, I didn’t have much time. I came back from a business trip and immediately went on location in a snowstorm, arriving home with just enough time to whip up something else. This time, I tried a coconut, pineapple rice, and a peanut butter, (think satay) dipping sauce. They really wanted it dipped in chocolate. I tried that, and rolled it in coconut. Then I had an epiphany: what if I used mac and cheese instead of rice? And what if I breaded and fried it? And served it on a stick? And dipped it in spicy marinara sauce? It might just be edible!

I submitted the latest version, and was cast on the show. I signed a non-disclosure and was sworn to secrecy about the outcome, but since the show actually aired last week,  I think it’s okay to tell you about it.

On a freezing cold winter’s day, all of the contestants and their friends and family (I spared mine from the ordeal!) gathered outside of a studio in Harlem to introduce “Frankenfood.”  We then prepared our delicacies, and presented them to a panel of judges. The prize was $10,000 and the chance to feature your dish at a restaurant in Times Square.

I suddenly became a nervous wreck. The contract basically stated that they could use any footage of me, and manipulate it however they wished to make the show more interesting. My last minute test of frying the mac and cheese sushi left me a little skeptical as to whether or not they would dissolve in the hot oil.  Would my “Tokyo Corndogs” become the next big thing in food, or would they be a “hot mess” on a stick? It was too late to back out, so I went forward with the same “who cares” attitude that I started out with.

I made the mac and cheese the night before, and rolled and cut the sushi so that I could refrigerate it, to the point that the mac and cheese became firm.  The producers loved the idea, and suddenly I felt as though I had a good chance. I dipped the sushi pieces in egg, rolled it in a combination of panko and breadcrumbs, and gingerly placed them in the hot oil. And they held together beautifully!!!!

The judges loved the presentation, the idea and execution. They liked the fact that it was like a multi-cultural carnival food on a stick, and had a little Asian influence (the sushi part and the Japanese panko), a little Italian (the breadcrumbs and the spicy marinara) and a lot of American comfort food influences, ( hot dogs and mac and cheese.) What fell flat was the taste of seaweed, with the cheese, noodles, hotdogs and tomato sauce.

So, as you can tell from watching the show: I didn’t win. In fact, I was almost completely edited out. I didn’t sing, I didn’t dance, I didn’t wear a weird outfit, and my food wasn’t so terrible that they had to spit it out. I fell through the crazy cracks, and that was fine with me! Just when I thought the coast was clear, I discovered that I  was featured in a clip on the show’s website, as a “Frankenfail.”

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It was fun to step out, try something completely out of my comfort zone, and throw caution to the wind about my image.  It took 2 judges votes to keep you in, and I only got one on my side, who hated the seaweed taste, but loved my personal style. At the end of the day, for a fashion designer and blogger, that was the best outcome I could have hoped for!

Feel free to watch the show. If you blink, you will miss me, but my food is featured at the beginning and the end,and actually looks pretty good, if I have to say so myself! (and appartently I do!) Unfortunately, it didn’t taste as good as it looked.

If Andy Warhol is correct in his estimation that we all have 15 minutes of fame, I am pretty sure I still have about 14 minutes and 45 seconds left for another opportunity!

photos and video: courtesy of Spike TV / Frankenfood

Unrecipe of the Week: Roasted Chickpeas

June 26, 2014

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These roasted chickpeas are a high protein, satisfying snack that are also a great toss in for salads and vegetable dishes.

They are simple to make and a healthy alternative to munching on chips to fulfill that salty and crunchy craving.

Roasted Chickpeas:

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Drain canned chickpeas and rinse under cold water to remove the excess starch. Pat dry with paper towels.
Toss the chickpeas in olive oil, seasalt and a little cumin, and spread on a cookie sheet.

Bake in the hot oven for 15- 20 minutes, shaking the pan intermittently to avoid burning.

The chickpeas are done when they are crispy and starting to brown, but not burnt.

Cool, and enjoy!

Photo: Glasshouse Images


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