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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Kaled Eggs

Funny how we're ruled by our schedules.  Selling caviar is a hyper-seasonal business.  I work pretty steadily all year and do a lot of traveling, but during peak times, I tend to move around the least.  I spend entire days sitting at my desk taking and making calls for fear of missing an order while on the subway.  This time of year, it gets so intense I barely have time to get in a meal.
I keep a bottle of water at my desk and drink lots of tea - especially since it's been so cold here in NY - but taking time to prepare an actual meal and consume the entire thing is sometimes a difficult task.
To avoid unhealthy snacks, I have a few super-fast go-to deals that are filling and nutritious.
This one is loaded with nutrients courtesy of my friend kale and protein from eggs.
I've also created similar meals with the addition of canned beans or whatever leftovers I had in the fridge.
It is wonderfully warming right out of the microwave in the morning and, luckily, tastes great cold at the end of the day if I haven't gotten to it.

Kaled Eggs
Serves 1

1 Small Bunch    Kale, Washed, dried, chopped 
4 Cherry              Tomatoes, washed and cut in half or 1 Plum Tomato, diced
1/4                        Onion, peeled and thinly sliced.
3                            Crimini Mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced
1 clove                  Garlic, minced
2 Large                Eggs 
Splash                  Lemon Juice
Drizzle                 Vegetable Oil
Glug                     Milk or Milk-like substance of your choosing (optional)
                              Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper 
In a large bowl, toss together kale, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms
Add the garlic.
Drizzle with lemon juice and oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Massage vegetables into kale.
Cover bowl tightly and microwave for 3 minutes or until softened.
Remove cover, massage again and transfer to small serving bowl.
In a separate small bowl, beat the 2 eggs with a splash of milk (optional).
Pour over the kale mixture, cover, and microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes or until eggs are cooked.
Taste to adjust seasonings.
This is nice with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, greek yogurt, mustard, salsa, or soy sauce, depending on your mood.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Delicata Squash Pie

Holidays will always mean friends and family and celebratory get-togethers.
While I love spending an entire day cooking and preparing special dishes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are no long so much about the food for me as taking time to spend with the ones I love and a break from everyday life.
They're certainly not about gorging myself like when I was younger or needing to have a little bit of  everything like the spreads my family used to put out - especially when it's sometimes just me & my husband.
Although things like turkey and ham are no longer the focal point, I do try to have at least one standout item on the table.  This Christmas, I went with a Delicata Squash Pie.
The presentation was festive and it was hearty enough to be our main course.

Delicata Squash Pie


1 Large                     Delicata Squash, washed and dried but not peeled
1/2 Large                 White Onion, peeled and sliced against the grain
6  Baby or 1 Large  Bell Pepper, washed, dried, & cored
1/2 lb                        Crimini Mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel, sliced 

1/2 Bunch                Kale, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
~2 Tbsp                    Vegetable Oil
2 Cloves                    Garlic, smashed, peeled, smashed again,& diced finely 
1 tsp                           Rosemary; fresh, finely chopped or dried 
1 tsp                           Sage; fresh, finely chopped or dried 
1 tsp                           Thyme; fresh, finely chopped or dried 
Dash                          Red Wine
                                   Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper to taste

Place a large sheet tray in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.
Cut the stem off the squash and slice it thinly cross-wise with a serrated knife.
Remove seeds from each slice with a spoon and set aside (you can rinse and  roast those).
Place the slices in a large bowl, drizzle with oil, and toss well to coat.
Carefully remove sheet pan from oven and place the slices on it.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, flip and repeat on the other side.
Return tray to oven and roast about 15 minuted until browned and softened.
Remove tray from oven and set aside to cool slightly. 

Place a large saute pan over medium heat (I use cast iron).
Drizzle in enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pot.
Stir in the onion and toss in the oil to coat.
Cover with tight-fitting lid and cook until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. 
Stir, reduce heat, and cook other 5 more minutes to lightly carmelize.
Remove onions to bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, repeat one at a time with the peppers and mushrooms, adding a little more oil if necessary and placing them in separate bowls to cool.
Finish with the kale in the same manner, adding the garlic at the end.
Season with Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.
Stir in enough red wine to moisten the bottom of the pan.
Replace lid and cook on low until most of liquid is gone.

Oil a pie plate and arrange half the squash slices on the bottom and up the sides, overlapping, as the crust.
Layer the other vegetables atop the squash one at a time.
Cover the pie with the remaining squash slices.
Cover with foil and back for 30 minutes.
To Serve:  Cut into wedges and remove from pan with spatula.
Allow leftovers to cool before refrigerating, coverd up to 3 days.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Me On A Plate

As many of you may know, I have been working toward hosting a cooking show.
I also dream of one day having a mobile cooking school.  
I'd love to travel to parts of the world with high incidences of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, and Heat Disease to teach folks how to cook healthy meals for themselves on a limited budget.
In the meantime, I teach, blog and go on auditions when I'm not hawking gourmet food for The Man.

I don't live to be on reality TV, but it is a popular and accessible platform where I may get some exposure and have my message heard.  Reality TV Cooking shows offer prize money to the winner, which could potentially kickstart my goals. 
So yes, I have applied for many.  I prefer to apply online and have a one-on-one audition, but the more popular shows tend to host open calls.  The process can be fun and entertaining and I have met several really amazing like-minded people.  The regular series show ask applicants to to bring a dish to the call to show their talents and cooking style  - essentially "[the person] on a plate".
Because I am multifaceted there are quite a range of dishes to choose from.  I rely on the climate of the show, the season, and my mood to determine a dish or an outfit.  Although the type of cuisine, ingredients, and cooking methods may change, the end result is always colorful, healthy, and unseemingly complicated - just like me.
This is a perfect example:  Skillet Eggs.
The dish has many components - each made from scratch; prepared and seasoned separately but with a common theme.  It is also healthy, colorful, and at once rustic as well as sophisticated.
With this one, it's "me" in a pan.
Because, really, does it have to be a plate?    

Here is a link to the recipe for the pictured dish:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Huevos Rancheros

Breakfast is my favorite meal and I love Mexican food, so Huevos Ranceros is always a special treat for me.  It's always an easy choice when I travel since it's easy to find and very filling as a complete meal.  In my version, I often skip the tortilla.  This time, I made my own with teff flour, which is low carb and gluten free.  I used seasoned beans and made everything from scratch, so it is super fresh.

Huevos Rancheros
Serves 2

2                   6" Tortillas (I made my own from teff flour; link below)
4 Large        Eggs 
1 Cup           Seasoned Beans (link to recipe below) 
1 Large        Tomato, washed, cored, and diced
1/2 Large    Avocado, pitted and sliced
2 Tbsp         Fresh cilantro, washed, dried, and finely chopped
1/2                Lime, washed and cut into wedges, pith removed
2 oz              Crumbled cotija cheese ( I made that, too.  Link below)
                      Vegetable Oil
                      Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper 
                      Hot Sauce, Sour Cream, Salsa if desired

Preheat to 400 degrees.
Place 2 small or 1 large cast iron skillet(s) in the oven to warm for about 10 minutes.
Carefully remove hot pan(s) from oven to stovetop and brush entire inside(s) with oil.
Lay tortillas down in pan(s) and brush with oil.
Using a spoon, spread about 1/2 cup beans onto each tortilla, making an indentation in the center for each for the eggs.
Crack two eggs into the indentations ofthe beans in  each tortilla.
Return pan(s) to oven and bake 10-12 minutes, or unitl eggs are cooked to desired doneness.
Plate and season with salt and pepper.
Top with crumbled cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro.
Serve with avocado and lime. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Savory Sprouted Black Beans

make giant pots of beans on a regular basis.  Usually, I season them only with salt and pepper so they may be used in different dishes.  This batch, however, was intended for a specific Mexican dish, so I seasoned the whole batch.  I was extremely happy with the depth of the flavor.  They weren't firey hot, but did have a pleasant and familiar kick.  Because I wanted this dish to be impressive and am a glutton for punishment, I also sprouted the beans, which is something I had been meaning to do more often.  Black beans don't sprout as successfully as other varieties, but I liked the look of the tails that did show.  
The process took about 2 weeks, which was probably not worth the wait, but I had planned it into my schedule.  Sprouting beans is definitely not something I'll be doing during travel season.  A run-down of the process is included after the recipe.

Savory Black Beans

2 Cups          Black Beans, cooked and rinsed (follow link below for directions)
1/2                 Onion, peeled and diced
2 Cloves       Garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced
1                     Tomato, washed, cored, and diced
1 tsp              Ground Cumin
1 tsp              Ground Coriander
½ tsp           Chipotle  Chili Powder
½ tsp           Smoked Paprika
                      Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp          Water, at room temperature
                      Kosher Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper to taste

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
Add the onion, stir to coat and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender.
Stir in garlic and saute for a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes, beans, spices and water.  
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer a few minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve hot.
Allow leftovers to cool before refrigerating for up to 5 days.

Black Bean Sprouting Process
Rinse beans and measure 1/2 cup into each sprouting jar or bag.
Add 2-3 cups water to each jar or bag, filling it three-quarters full.
Cover jars with a sprouting screen or lid.
Soak 8 hours to overnight.
Drain and rinse thoroughly. 
Invert each jar over a bowl at an angle so the beans drain but air still circulates.
Repeat rinsing and draining 3-4 times per day until sprout tails appear.
Taste sprouts daily but do not eat uncooked beans.
Stop rinse and drain process when sprouts have reached desired length and flavor.
Drain for several hours before cooking or transferring to a covered container. Store sprouts in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Here is a link to basic bean cooking directions:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Teff Tortilla

I had wanted to experiment with teff flour and thought tortillas would be a great way to start.
These came out super moist and fluffy, but with nice chewy edges.  They made a perfect vehicle for my Huevos Rancheros. The flavor was so wheaty my next project may be English muffins.

Teff TortillasPrep time: 10 minutesCook Time: 15 minutesServes: 4

1/3 Cup     Water
3/4 Cup      Egg Whites
1/4 Cup      Teff Flour
1/2 tsp        Salt

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
Process until smooth.
Transfer to a measuring cup, cover, and rest about 10 minutes.
Place a piece of parchment on 2 sheet trays and set aside.
Preheat a lightly-oiled 8" nonstick pan over medium heat.
When the pain is just hot, pour about 1/4 cup batter into the center.
Tilt the pan to spread the batter to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
When the top is no longer shiny and sticky, flip the tortilla and cook briefly.
Remove from pan with tongs.
Place cooked tortillas on parchment in a single layer to cool.  
Wipe off any surface oil.
Repeat for remaining batter, adding oil as necessary.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cotija Cheese

Here's one from the "Go Big or Stay Home" files:  I wanted to make "authentic" Huevos Rancheros from scratch.  I made the tortillas, sprouted and cooked the beans from dried.  I even made the Cotija cheese, which I read was the best one for the job.  I'd never made it before - heck, I'd never eaten it before.  But I had some preliminary cheese-making experience, so I thought I was up to the task.
The expert I had sample it said it came pretty close to what he was used to.  I even used fresh, unpasteurized milk from the farmer down the road.  Major props to my husband for going out in the rain for that.

Finished Product

Cotija Cheese

1 Gallon                Milk
1/2 ml                   Calcium Chloride
1 Tablet                Thermophilic Bacteria Culture
<1 cup="" nbsp="" o:p="" salt="">
1 Tbsp                   Rennet dissolved in 1 Quart Cool Water

Brine Solution (next day)
1 Cup                     Salt dissolved in 1 Quart Warm Water

In a large stock pot, warm the milk to 100ºF.
Stir the bacteria culture tablet and calcium chloride into the milk.
Keep the milk at a constant temperature of 100 degrees until milk has thickened.
Using a hand mixture or immersion blender, stir on low for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with salt.
Slowly stir in rennet water and blend for another 5-10 minutes.
Remove from heat and rest at room temperature for about 45-90 minutes.
During that time, the batter will transform into small curds.
Remove the curds from the liquid and cut them into 1-inch cubes.
Return the cheese to the liquid (whey) and rest for another 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth.
 Discard the whey.
Place the drained cheese into a cheese press, and press for 30 minutes.
Flip the cheese in the press, and press for another 12 hours.
Prepare the brine solution and allow to cool to room temperature.
Carefully remove the cheese from the press and place in a large container with a lid.
The cheese will still be quite soft.
Pour the brine over top of the cheese.
Sprinkle the top with salt as the cheese will float and the top will not be saturated.
Soak the cheese in the brine for 30 hours, flipping the cheese every 10 hours to encourage rind development.
Remove the cheese from the brine.
Drain and air dry 1 day, turning occasionally.
Ripen, uncovered, in refrigerator 2 weeks.
Check regularly for mold. If mold grows on the rind simply wipe it away with a paper towel or cloth.
Once ripe, store cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator.