Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Just Tarting Around

July 20, 2016

Last Saturday, I hosted a tart making class, through a wonderful new site called Keenobby. Keenobby offers an array of classes and experiences with their elite group of “expertainers.”

My class, held in my own kitchen, focused on the tips, tricks and techniques for making delicous, and visually stunning tarts. The five students, none of whom had ever made tarts before, embarked on an afternoon of rolling, cutting, filling and baking their creations. The outcome was impressive, with my students giving me a run for my money! Check out some of the photos from the day, and see their masterpieces for yourself…

To view available classes, visit Keenobby. To request a class in tart making, or any other type of cooking and baking, leave a comment below.

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Preparing the apples for apple filling

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The dough making demo

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This is how we roll

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Tart artists braiding and cutting shapes for upper crusts

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dough scraps

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Apple tart, headed to the oven. Impressive braid work for a first timer!

 

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Rectangles and minis with leaves and lattice

Pie art ready for the oven

Tart- art… ready for the oven

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Fully baked ideas!

A proud baker presenting his tart

A proud baker presenting his tart

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My bluberry demo tart

 

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My apple mini tart ready to bake

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: The Chill Factor

July 19, 2016

 

7091300904_compWhen making dough for pies, biscuits, or scones, it is important to use cold ingredients to get a rich, laminated outcome. Those little chunks of butter that haven’t fully mixed into the dough melt during baking, helping to create those layers that are the cornerstone of flakey, melt-in-your mouth baked goods. While many recipes suggest letting butter and eggs come to room temperature before using them, these baked goods are the exception.

Some people go to great lengths to keep those ingredients icy cold. They do everything from freezing the bowls and the blade of the food processor, as well as the ingredients. One friend, whose kitchen cred is very high, swears by grating frozen butter into the flour mixture to get the tiniest, coldest and most evenly distributed fat into the laminated dough. For pie crusts, I use ice water to ensure that the liquid doesn’t bring the temperature of the ingredients down.

 

7091300899_compWorking with metal bowls and a stone counter top also enables you to keep the dough chilly while forming it. Remember to handle this type of dough as little and as delicately as possible to avoid gluten formation. Gently patting it together, and only re-rolling the scraps once, keeps the dough open and craggy, which equates to layers of flakey goodness once baked.

Photos: Indigo Jones Eat’s biscuits shot by Glasshouse Images

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A Cut Above: Food Cuts

July 13, 2016

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There are lots of ways to cut food; julienne, dice, and chiffonade. You can grate it, shave it, mince it, cube it or brunoise it. Anyway you slice it, food is food, right?
Wrong! The cut of the food plays a role far greater than aesthetics. Cook time, texture, and how the seasoning is absorbed and distributed is effected by the size and shape of it.

A recent article on NPR’s The Salt takes the issue to the experts. Chef Brendan Walsh of the Culinary Institute of America states,”If you put a vegetable that is more rounded in your mouth, your mind is generally going to be thinking about something that has more of a succulence to it. Something cut in squares is going to be a little bit more toothsome, with a jagged edge, and will give the impression of something rugged or tough. Your mind will think something is flavorful if it is smoother.”

Bill Fuller, of the big Burrito Restaurant Group contends that texture and aroma are different depending on how the food is cut.  “Flavor is the taste of what is in your mouth, but it is also partly textural,” he says. “If you slice a radish really thin, you just get the flavor without the snap, pop, crunch, which is really an important part of the radish.” He also states that shape can effect the aroma of the food, which contributes to the flavor. Fuller says, “With a tomato, if you slice it and spread the slices out on a plate, you’re going to get a lot more of the tomato smell than if it’s quartered and piled up,” he says. “So you’re getting a lot of tomato aroma when you eat. I think a wedge of tomato doesn’t taste nearly as good as a slice of tomato.”

Food science plays a big role in aroma. When you cut into a fruit or vegetable, cells are broken open which release an enzyme that produces a chemical reaction. The more you cut the item, the more enzymes you release. For example, the more finely one cuts onions or garlic, the more flavor is released. The size and exposed surface of the food deterimine the cook time, and how much searing, browning or charring will occur.

Whether it is about texture, aroma or how quickly it cooks, the experts clearly agree…it’s time to sharpen up those knife skills to make your meals a cut above the rest!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Rusty Pans

July 12, 2016

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I noticed that some of my older metal tart pans were getting a layer of rust spots on them. The pans are perfectly good, but nobody wants to eat rusty crusts.
The solution: baking soda to the rescue!

Dampen the pan, and shake baking soda on the rusty areas. The soda should stick and act like a paste on the pan. Make sure the rusty areas are fully covered, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Use steel wool or a brush to remove the rust, and rinse well to make sure the baking soda is also removed, and fully dry it with a towel. Lightly oil the pan to prevent the rust from returning.

Some swear by using a raw potato to scour away the rust. Cut a potato in half, and use the cut end and either dish soap or baking soda to scrub away at the rust. If the potato starts to get a bit slimy, simply slice off a little add more soap |soda.

To keep pans from rusting, do not put them in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand, and towel dry them thouroughly before storing.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Asian Cucumber Noodles

July 11, 2016
via the garlic diaries

via the garlic diaries

We love our vegetable noodles around here. In fact, if it weren’t for zucchini noodles, I would be lost. But sometimes, even the novelty of zoodles wears off.

Tonight, I spiralized some fresh cucumber to act as the layer beneath my sauteed shrimp with garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger.  The cool cucumber “noodles” (cuddles?) were a refreshing change on a very hot summer night. Tossed with a bit of sesame oil, salt, rice wine vinegar and a dash of soy sauce, they brought another flavor profile to my sometimes meager repetoire of foods.

Cold Cucumber “Noodles” With Sesame Oil:

Spiralize a cucumber into long thin ribbons. Salt liberally, and place in a strainer to drain for 20-30 minutes. This allows the cucumber to give off the excess water that might otherwise dilute the subtle sauce.

When ready to serve, toss with a little sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar and a dash of soy sauce. Adjust the seasonings, using a little srirachia or hot red pepper flakes to add a little heat if desired. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and enjoy!

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Meat-sicles

July 7, 2016

 

via New York Post

via New York Post

Last winter, health conscious foodies bestowed the virtues of bone broth, thought to be a magic elixir that makes skin glow, eliminates inflammation,and helps joints move more freely. With temperatures soaring into the 90’s this week, a steaming mug of soup is not on most people’s radar screen. That’s why these savvy chefs took their collagen rich brew and turned it into popsicles.

Springbone Kitchen, touted as a purveyor of artisanal bone broths and wholesome fare, (can you be anymore hipster?), got the idea to create a carnivore’s popsicle. The meaty flavors are balanced by a blend of pomegranate juice, coconut milk, raspberry puree, and a touch of maple syrup.

Would you give it a try?

The pops are $4 each and are available at Springbone’s Kitchen | 90 West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village, NYC.

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Toasts With The Most

July 5, 2016

Avocado toast has been a phenomenon that has taken over brunch. Can anything surpass the thick slices of multigrain bread, slathered with lemony mashed avocado? Maybe!
It’s time to take back the toast, with new combinations of toppings and spreads.

We’ve recently served breakfast crostinis, consisting of smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill. Tangy ricotta topped with strawberries and drizzled with honey. Even open faced BLT’s with spicy srirachia mayo.  But some of these beauties we’ve found web surfing for inspiration take the cake; or the toast, if you will. Level up your next brunch with some of these beauties, and let your imagination soar to create your own “toasts with the most”!

Dark chocolate almond butter, with toasted almonds and shredded coconut? Oh yeah!

We aren’t sure where to look first with this one! Strawberries and cocoa spread with almonds and cacao nibs? Or the cherry tomatoes with basil and greens? How about the hummus and radish, or the avocado toast upgrade? We’re torn between the peanut butter and cinnamon bananas, and mandarins with passion fruit and pistachios!

delicious martha

delicious martha via the feed feed

This takes toast to an art form when bread is substituted with biscuits, covered with fruit and vegan chocolate cream made from almond milk and cacao powder.

Avocado, smoked salmon, pomegranite seeds, fennel slices and dill sprigs are a spectacularly beautiful and healthy variation on the theme.

These often grain-free beauties use beet and purple sweet potatoes to get their naturally vibrant coloring.Blood oranges and hazelnut pesto aare among the interesting flavors used to create these delectable, and healthy toasts.

What are your favorite toast toppers? Share how you take your toast in the comments!

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Things I Wish I Didn’t Know: Birthday Edition

June 30, 2016

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I am a self professed germaphobe. I wipe down all of my equipment at the gym, cover my bike’s handlebars with towels, and disinfect my kitchen regularly while cooking. If I have to grab the subway pole, I run to wash my hands before touching anything else. Drinking fountains? I’d rather not. Just the talk of a stomach bug sends my insides reeling. Keeping all that in mind,  I wish I had never read this article on Bustle today, about the extreme spread of germs on a birthday cake, after the candles are blown out.

That time honored ritual of making a wish and blowing out the candles is appartently an episode of Outbreak waiting to happen. When the birthday girl or boy gathers their breath to blow out the candles in one fell swoop, they turn into virtual crop dusters,  spraying the cake with germs. Don’t even ask me think about those who need more than one try. The article goes on to claim that kids in particular harbor more germs, so it is very likely they are contaminating the whole cake in with one, big blow. For those celebrating a flu season birthday, all bets are off.

Perhaps it is time to start a trend, of using a chic fan, or a dramatic waving of (clean please) hands over the cake to extinguish the candles.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Food Trend: On The Side

June 28, 2016

Food, like fashion, follows trends. It seems as though suddenly, there is a food or dish on everyone’s radar, showing up on menus and instagram feeds galore. Sometimes it is an ingredient, like avocado, or sundried tomatoes. Often, it is a preparation or an ethnic specialty that catches on, like poké. One trend that keeps catching our eye, is related to the presentation, rather than the food itself.

Asymmetry seems to be the trick of the moment, making for a very modern, artsy approach to plating. From pristine placements to a more rustic feel, the one-sided look is popping up on cakes, pies, acai bowls and nouvelle cuisine plates, giving new meaning to the phrase,” I’ll have mine on the side.”

This healthy pistachio smoothie uses fresh fruit and edible flowers to create a delicate rim along the side of the bowl.

littleplantion.co,uk

little plantation. co

This vegan tart has a beet filling and a row of fresh blackberries and blueberries adorning one side.

Bake street

Bake Street

This beauty from Modest Marce, uses piped flowers in shades of grey for their tea-infused cake.

modest marce

modest marce

These tarts are pretty in pink, and casually topped with red fruits on the side.

Sugaretal.com

Sugaretal.com

Just a partial ring around this rosy hued cake adds a modern and delicate touch.

majachocolat

majachocolat

White food is highlighted on black plate, for a modernist effect.

feasting at home

feasting at home

This acai bowl makes a healthy breakfast a work of art.

Choosing Chia

Choosing Chia

Fresh berries are piled to the side of this lovely cheesecake.

apt 2b baking co

apt 2b baking co

Just a dollop of cream lets the lemon shine through.

Food52

Food52

This spare and minimal raw coconut cheesecake has an architectural treatment in chocolate, nuts and berries.

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loving earth

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Unrecipe of the Week: Fig Jam

June 27, 2016

 

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For a recent cocktail party I catered, I wanted to create a charcuterie selection that appealed to all of the senses. Rich and creamy, juxtaposed with savory and salty, and just the right amount of something sweet to offset it all.
This quick fig jam proved to be the perfect accompanyment to the assortment. It cooks up fast with little preparation and few ingredients, but yields something more complex. I served it with cheese, meats and paté, but it works just as well on a slab of toasted bread, or as upgrade to your next PBJ sandwich.

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Fig Jam ( adapted from Food & Wine)

Slice 2 pounds of fresh figs into quarters, and place them in a pot with about 1 1/4 -1 1/2 cups of sugar. Toss, and let it sit off the heatnuntil the sugar dissolves naturally and the figs begin to give off juice.
Add 1/2 cup of water, and the juice of a couple of lemons, and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir until all the sugar is fully dissovled.Reduce the heat to and simmer, stirring often, until the fruit begins to soften, and the juices naturally thicken. This will take about 20-30 minutes. Taste, and add more sugar and|or lemon as needed.
Cool, spoon into a large jar and enjoy!

Photos: top: indigo jones | bottom: Spencer Jones @Glasshouse Assignment

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