Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Spiralize Me!

July 14, 2014

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I am not a big fan of random kitchen gadgets, especially the plastic miracle machines that are the fodder of late night infomercials.  Yet, this little guy has me smitten!

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It’s called a spiralizer,and with a quick turn of a handle, it converts vegetables into long, noodle-like strands that give pasta a run for it’s money.

Tonight, we enjoyed zucchini noodles, quick sautéed and bathed in a sauce of garlic, basil, oil and fresh tomatoes, sprinkled with a little freshly ground Parmesan cheese. For a fraction of the calories, and far more nutritional value than it’s flour based counterpart, this was a fast and delicious meal that was whipped up in no time flat.

Try it! You’ll love it!

 

 

 

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.”

http://www.spike.com/video-clips/9vhxtc/frankenfail-flourishing-onion-tokyo-corn-dogs-and-matzilla

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: Miso Butter

April 28, 2014

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Just as there are finishing salts, there are also finishing butters. These items are meant to provide a flavor blast at the end of the preparation, after the food is nearly cooked. This delicious miso butter, is not for sautéing. Try brushing it on seafood, vegetables or even chicken at the end of the cooking process, and watch how it ramps up the simplest of dishes.

I used this on shrimp and scallops, but I also sautéed them with some shallots, garlic and ginger in a little neutral oil before adding the miso butter. Since this is an unrecipe, feel free to toss some of these into the mix to suit your taste.

Miso Butter:

Take 1 stick of unsalted sweet butter and a couple of generous tablespoons of miso paste, and mix it together in the food processor. Add a bit of  soy sauce, and a splash of sake if you have it on hand, and blend until smooth. If you like, toss in a clove of garlic, and a little peeled ginger and blend until minced. Brush the miso butter on fish, seafood, vegetables or chicken during the last minutes of broiling, sautéing, or roasting and enjoy!

This keeps well when placed in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least a week.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Marbled Matzoh Brittle

April 14, 2014

Here is a simple, yet delicious version  of the matzoh brittle we have posted previously. It has all the properties of the perfect confection. It’s a little bit salty, a little bit crunchy and a little bit sweet. And did I mention it has chocolate? What’s not to love?

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Adapted from Salt and Serenity.

Marbled Matzoh Brittle:

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and cover it with parchment paper. If you skip this step, you will be scrubbing for a long, long time. Trust us on this!

Line the pan with sheets of matzoh. If you have room, break pieces to fit the extra space.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 sticks of butter, and 1 cup of brown sugar. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it comes to a boil and blends together. If it looks separated, keep stirring. Stir for couple of  minutes or so until it forms caramel. Pour the caramel over the matzoh, and smooth it with a spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until the caramel is golden in color, and bubbling. Don’t let it burn!

In the meantime, melt 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips. Place the melted white chocolate into a pastry bag. (see our tip for doing this here.)

Remove the matzoh from the oven. Sprinkle it with semi-sweet chocolate chips and allow them to soften. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly across the matzoh.

Cut the end off of the piping bag, and pipe the white chocolate in a zig zag pattern across the matzoh in both directions. Don’t be too worried about precision. Use a skewer, or the tip of a paring knife to smear the white chocolate, forming a marble effect.

Sprinkle the matzoh lightly with sea salt.

Pop the pan into the refrigerator, and chill until the chocolate is firm.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the chilled matzoh into squares, and enjoy! (Don’t forget to share!)

photo: Salt and Serenity

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Giving Thanks, Eating Well

November 28, 2013

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Today is the big day. It’s like the Superbowl of Eating. If you are health conscious, t’s not a bad idea to have a strategy in place. Here are a few tips and facts to guide you through the feast:

Don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation of the extra calories. Chances are, you will be miserable, and then over binge later.Have small, light meals during the day to keep your strength up, and calories down.

Load up your plate with the healthiest stuff: turkey, salad, vegetables, etc. Pre-game nibbles, like shrimp, hummus and vegetables with dip are better choices than starchy, cheesy appetizers.

We are having a non- creamy soup to begin, followed by a seasonal salad with a dried cranberry vinaigrette. Those types of foods should take the edge off, leaving you less ravenous for the main meal.

Decide what your very favorite dishes are, and take a portion of those first. Skip the others, or just take a little taste of them. Fill the rest of your plate with turkey and clean vegetable side dishes if possible. Creamy casseroles are not healthy diet choices regardless of what the main component of them is, but if you love gratineed squash, go ahead and indulge. It’ s Thanksgiving for goodness sake!

Sweet potatoes, are better choices than white potatoes.

Pumpkin pie is higher in vitamins and lower in calories than pecan pie. I can’t imagine how many calories are in the chocolate pecan tart with salted caramel and whipped cream, but I hope my guests will enjoy it regardless! If that’s your thing, have a small slice and enjoy it.

Move a little after your meal. Go for a walk, help with the dishes, or dance if the mood strikes. Moving around will aid in digestion, leaving you less bloated and sluggish the next day.

Remember that it takes 3500 extra calories to make a pound. Chances are, one meal, however outrageous it may be,  will not make a significant difference in your weight. To relieve the bloat, workout the next day, eat healthfully, and drink lots of water.

Thanksgiving is a time to be reflective about all of the blessings in your life. Don’t beat yourself up over indulging. Instead be grateful for the wonderful food, and the friends and family you shared it with. Tomorrow is a new day!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our supportive readers!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Stay the Course

November 18, 2013

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Recently, I have been commuting to Boston for a project that I am working on. My hotel, while very comfortable, is isolated. Set on a cliff above a highway, there isn’t an opportunity to go out, without calling a cab. There isn’t anywhere near the office to walk to either, so I need to impose on someone everyday to take to me get something for lunch.

At home, I am very rigid about keeping to a routine. I eat very healthfully, bring my lunch to the office wherever possible, and exercise everyday. I walk everywhere, and easily log the suggested 10,000 steps before getting to the office many days.

Being away from home poses a challenge to an uber healthy lifestyle, but it is surmountable. Last week taught me a few lessons in sustaining my diet and workout while away from home.

If you are a morning exerciser, get up and workout, whereever you are. It’s harder when you are away, but I have found that sticking to my familiar routine helps my body adjust to jet lag, and keeps me from feeling out of control. My hotel has a small but serviceable gym, which helps, but going for a run outside, or even a brisk walk, is better than dropping the ball completely. That a.m. workout habit didn’t come easily…disrupting it for long periods of time can make it harder to get back on track when you are home again.

Don’t be afraid to be one of those people who ask for sauce on the side or specially prepared food. There were days I thought I was making wise food decisions, only to discover that my vegetables were slathered in butter, and my simply grilled chicken breast was sitting atop a big bowl of creamed corn, the advertised spinach being a mere garnish, rather than a side dish. The bread basket posed an unusual temptation; one that doesn’t generally phase me. From now on, I will ask them to leave it off my tray. Now that I know that they liberally butter the steamed vegetables, I will request them plain. I will ask for a simply grilled chicken breast or salmon filet, without the sauce and trimmings, and order a side salad, or unbuttered vegetables on the side. I will ask for olive oil and lemon, instead of creamy salad dressings, and grilled vs. fried chicken on my salad. I am not asking them to make me things that they don’t offer; I am merely requesting that they leave something off. I will ask kindly, and thank them profusely, and I am certain they will be happy to oblige.

I noticed a Trader Joe’s and a gourmet market near the office. I asked my taxi driver to pull up, and I ran in and stocked up on Greek  yogurt, nuts, green tea, and fruit to keep in the office. I now have healthy food on hand when I am hungry, and I am no longer at the mercy of others to get me lunch.

The occasional business trip is not enough to completely derail your routine, but those of who are traveling regularly to the same location, consistency is key. I hope to employ these tactics this coming week, to get me back on track.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Cultural Differences: Delicacy or Disgusting?

September 18, 2013

There are some regional delicacies that are enjoyed across the globe, but are banned in the United States. When looking at this list, we can’t say we are disappointed!

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The Scottish classic, Haggis is unavailable in the States due its prime ingredient: sheep’s lung. We guess the sheep’s heart and liver used in the pudding, or the sheep’s stomach it is served in is not a problem. Yuck!

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In Sardinia, maggot cheese is considered a special treat. The cheese is made by allowing flies to lay eggs in Pecorino cheese to speed the fermentation process.  Once the larvae hatch and begin to eat away at the cheese, is becomes soft, mushy, and ready to eat. No thanks!

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In Taiwan, pig’s blood cakes on a stick are a specialty. The mix of rice and blood is banned here, as the process of making these “grossicles “is considered unsanitary. Try them? We think not!

Caribbean Reef Sharks

We have eaten shark’s fin soup in China, where it is considered a special dish to offer at a banquet. We didn’t know how cruel the process of acquiring the  fins is. It seems the shark is “de-finned “and then released back into the water to die. While it is illegal to produce shark’s fin in the US, the use of imported fins is legal except in the state of California. Frankly, we find the soup a bit slimy, and certainly not worth the high price, both to the fish, or the purchaser. We think we’ll pass on this one in the future.

While food safety in our country is substandard at best, at least they draw the line somewhere!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Choosing the Right Onion

September 13, 2013

Isn’t it funny to see a post here about onions, written by someone who absolutely detests them? What’s next, a post about sprouts?( I think I would rather eat an onion than a sprout but I digress…) Onions are a necessity in cooking, and love ‘em or not, I use them frequently.  While many people think an onion is an onion, I beg to differ. There are fine nuances in different types of onions, and using the right one will greatly enhance your dishes.

Onions

Yellow onions are the most common. They are also the most versatile, and work well in soups and stews, roasted meats and poultry. Although these onions are astringent, they also have a high sugar content which is released during cooking. Brown them up and they get a sweet. caramelized quality that even I enjoy.

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Personally, I like to use shallots when appropriate. They are small and clove-like, and have a milder taste than some onions. They work well in sautes, vinaigrettes, and with lighter dishes such as eggs (think quiche for example) or vegetables. The flavor is more subtle, and their diminutive size prevents onion overload.

White onions are often used in Mexican cooking. They have a strong, sharp flavor and very little sweetness. Due to their high water content, they remain crisp in salsas and stir-fries.

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Sweet onions, such as Vidalia, have very thick layers making them chief contenders for great onion rings. Try them in French Onion Soup, or gratins. Bonus: the high sugar content and low sulphur content makes them more palatable and cuts down on the stinky after effects of onion eating.

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Last but not least, my nemesis, the red onion. Long touted as the ultimate garnish for a burger, these are best for eating raw. They are sharp and pack a punch, but are a little less strong than a white onion. I have been known to surgically remove each spec of them hiding in my food before consuming it. Since I have to say something nice, I will admit that these stinkers are awfully pretty when added to salads and sandwiches. Soaking them in ice water before serving takes a bit of the edge off, by reducing the sulphur content.

Next time a recipe calls for an onion, use these guidelines to choose the type of onion that best suits your dish and your palate.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Parmesan Cups

September 4, 2013

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These tasty little parmesan cups are real show-stoppers. Sometimes referred to as frico, these savory, yet delicate crisps are the perfect edible bowl for all kinds of mini salads. We filled ours with diced heirloom tomatoes tossed in a little olive oil and lemon, and arugula and cherry tomato salad another night,but the possibilities are endless. Chunks of avocado? How about artichokes in truffle oil? Chicken salad? Prosciutto and melon? Isn’t it fig season? All this food talk is making me so hungry, I might just run downstairs and whip up some more, because, they are that easy to make.They contain exactly one ingredient: Grated Parmesan cheese. Really, that’s all. It is all in the technique, and once you get the hang of it, it’s quite simple.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees. Make a circle of parmesan cheese on a flat cookie sheet. It only takes a spoonful or two. Use a biscuit cutter, a bowl or a measuring cup to make them consistent.  I used a 2 cup metal measuring cup as my guide. They do not spread much so you can get 4 on one sheet.

Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow them to cool for a few seconds. Use a long thin spatula to gently loosen the rounds from the pan. Quickly, (and without burning your fingers!!!) place each round into a muffin tin to create the freeform bowl shape. For a broader, shallower cup, use the back of the muffin tin. For a tighter, deeper cup, use the inside. Make sure you get a flat bottom so they will stand on the plate. The trick is to work quickly. If they cool too long, they will not be malleable and will break. You can always put them back in the oven for 20 or 30 seconds to soften again. If a few break, no worries. They are delicious sprinkled in soups and salads. Allow them to cool before removing and filling with whatever suits your fancy.

Enjoy!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Fish Tacos

August 21, 2013

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Here is a light, summery variation on tacos. They are simple and healthy, and rely on fresh, zesty flavors, rather than the heavy beans, sour cream and cheese often found in the meat variety. The fish is marinated, and they are served with a simple slaw and diced vegetables. A typical “unrecipe”, they are easily customizable to suit your tastes.

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For the fish:

Marinate any white fish (Cod, flounder or tilapia for example. I used tilapia ) in the juice of 2-3 limes, a tablespoon or two of oil, a clove of garlic finely chopped, and cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.  Coat the fish and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour or two. If you try to marinate it too long, the citrus may cause it fall apart.

Grill or broil the fish until cooked through. Set aside.

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For the slaw:

Finely shred 1 napa cabbage and chop a big handful of cilantro. Toss with a little lime juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

You can add a bit of chopped red onion to the slaw, but I chose to serve them on the side, since I dislike raw onions so much!

Dice avocado, and fresh tomatoes for additional fillings, or use guacamole and salsa if you prefer.

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To serve:
Heat flour or soft corn tortillas and cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.
Place a piece of the fish on the taco, add some slaw, and avocado, and tomatoes, sprinkle it with a little hot sauce, roll it up, and enjoy!!
If you are feeling ambitious, try our recipe for fresh flour tortillas here:

The highlight of our meal was someone seeing these shots on instagram, and running over to join us for dinner!

photos: indigo jones instagram

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