Sunday, September 30, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Bento Box revolution has begun. This is one culinary art form that I knew nothing about before doing research for the blog. I thought bento boxes were just sushi to go. Flickr is filled with so many great examples of these imaginative packed lunches. Here are some groups to be inspired by...click on the names to visit these fun galleries.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
These dense nuggets of banana goodness are the perfect snack. They were handing out samples at Whole Foods and both Lillie and Sadie couldn't get enough of them. The entire produce section smelled like a monkey's pocket.
Unlike a crispy banana chip, these moist and chewy pieces have a powerful and intensely concentrated banana flavor. They almost tasted caramelized and reminded my taste buds of banana bread. We wolfed down the whole bag - I think next time we should try cooking with them. Maybe some chocolate chip banana cookies or a new twist on bananas foster.
Here is the quote from the website: "Made from 100% organic dried bananas grown on living soil free of harmful chemicals, under the shade of fruit and rainforest trees. By enjoying this healthy and delicious snack, you support indigenous and Afro-Caribbean organic farmers and help them care for the ecosystems that support all life on our planet."
They have a banana vinegar that sounds too odd not to try. It is described as "exotic, sweet and tangy." More on that later...
Bill Cosby wants his sweater back...
Me: What do monkeys like to eat?
Me: What does Martin the monkey eat for breakfast?
Lillie: Yellow banana food!
Me: On a plate?
Lillie: Nooooooo. In his hand!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Brunch is served!
The best meal of the week is, without question, Brunch! Its a required start to any lazy day set aside to relax and decompress. A fritatta, some fresh fruit and a spicy bloody mary - what else is there in life? I'll tell you what else.....a good benedict.
This recipe was inspired by the "country benedict" found on the menu at Stephen Anthony's Restaurant and Sausage Co. in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Victoria and I spent many a brunch there sampling the homemade maple sausage and benedicts. Unlike a traditional benedict that uses English muffins and Canadian Bacon as a base, this southern-fried variation relies on a hearty biscuit and a sweet and smokey slab of REAL ham.
After trying to eat "right" all week, it is time to throw caution to the wind and indulge a little, for crying out loud.
Grab the washboard and fetch me my fiddle - its time to "rustle up" some Country Bears Benedict.
Country Bears Benedict
8 poached eggs
sliced maple ham
1 tablespoon white or white wine vinegar
I cheated a little - generally I make my own but these herbed biscuits from Whole Foods caught my eye and begged to come home with me. Just a little crispy on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle. The fresh herbs baked throughout complimented the flavors of the benedict perfectly.
Here is an easy biscuit recipe to get you to the next step: www.recipezaar.com/135930
Hollandaise sauce is a decadent but integral part of the Benedict. Use sparingly.
Key Lime Hollandaise
1/2 cup butter
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon key lime juice
1/2 tablespoon key lime zest
pinch of salt
splash of hot sauce (Tapatio or Tabasco Chipotle)
2 tablespoons hot water
Heat butter in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with lime juice, salt, and hot sauce. Very slowly mix in butter, then water. Return mixture to saucepan and whisk over very low heat until hollandaise is slightly thickened. Sprinkle zest over the top. Serve immediately or let stand over warm water for up to 30 minutes.
Before poaching the eggs, prep each plate with a sliced biscuit. I popped these in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm them up a little.
The next layer is the maple ham. Warm in a skillet or microwave and place a generous portion on each slice of the biscuit.
Step 3 is to poach the eggs. I have a few tricks. The first is to add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the boiling water. This helps the eggs keep their shape. The next trick is to use teacups to transfer the eggs to the large skillet of boiling water - 2 eggs per cup, up to 8 eggs cooking at the same time. Slowly tilt the eggs onto the surface of the water, gently guiding all the eggs into the pan and the same time. Be careful! That steam is hot!
Cover and turn the heat off. Let them sit for 3 minutes for medium-firm yolks. 2 minutes longer if you want them cooked all the way through. Remove each perfectly poached egg with a slotted spoon and gently place one on top of each side of the sliced biscuit.
All that is left is a little drizzle of hollandaise. Give it a good whisk before spooning onto the poached eggs.
Eat them quick before they get cold! You do the dishes, I'll be in the hammock.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Here is an easy way to get your fry fix without the guilt. These delicious sweet potato fries are jam-packed with the "good carbs" and a ridiculous amount of beta-carotene. Check back soon for a recipe for Gordon Biersch inspired Garlic Oven Fries.
2-3 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into fry-shaped wedges. In large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and garlic powder. Roast in the oven for about 40-50 minutes, turning once or twice. I usually use a spatula to flip and move them around - you want to expose all the sides of the fry to maximize crispness. Keep in mind, the fries towards the outside will cook faster. The last 10 minutes are crucial - keep an eye on them. Taste a few to see if they are ready - go ahead, its ok. There is a fine line between crispy and burnt. Once you make them a few times, you will get into a rhythm. When they are done, throw them in a bowl and toss with an additional pinch of Kosher salt. Eat them immediately. Serve with your favorite colored mayo, ketchup or a ramekin of blackberry balsamic vinegar to dip in.
Click here for the Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar recipe
2 cups aged balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
Bring vinegar and berries to a boil, reduce to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool. Strain into small bowl, using the back of a serving spoon to push all the berry goodness and vinegar out of the fruit pulp. The vinegar should reduce a little, giving it more of a syrupy consistency.
Cover and chill until ready to use. Put it on everything. Will keep for at least a month in the fridge.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Lunchtime during the week must include at least one visit to the best sub shop this side of the Mississippi - Jersey Mike's. I mean, come on, they slice the meat right in front of you as your order your sandwich! Does it get any better than that?! Its true, their delectable "fresh" subs are amazing but the same can not be said about their sanitary-gloved employees. During the latest visit, our attentive "sandwich artist" asked Drew if he wanted some "white mayonnaise" on his giant bacon and pepperoni sandwich. It caught us off guard.
White mayonnaise, you say? What other colors of mayonnaise do you have behind that counter? Yellow mustard maybe. Red ketchup? Now you are pushing it. White mayonnaise? You're just talking crazy talk.
The truth is, like most people, I love mayonnaise.
Maybe not as much as this guy...
or these guys...
...but its fair to say its a very important part of my life. Although we generally reach for the Hellman's Canola Mayo for sandwiches and salads (potato, chicken, k-rab), occasionally there is a need for something a little fresher. The truth is that mayonnaise is relatively easy to make - its simply a cold emulsion of vegetable oil, egg yolks and your choice of an acid. Once you have a mayonnaise base you can literally flavor it with any ingredient - from chipotle to garlic and fresh herbs. Remind me to have a mayo contest - that would be fun.
Here is a simple mayonnaise base to get you started:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
pinch of Kosher Salt (to taste)
1/3 cup of olive or avocado oil
2 egg yolks
Add the Dijon mustard to the egg yolks and beat with a whisk until slightly thickened, then slowly drizzle the oil into the egg mix. If it gets too thick, add a little vinegar or lemon juice to thin out the mix. Once all the oil is added, whisk in the remaining acid. The consistency should be that of, well, mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in the fridge up to one week.
Spice up your mayo! Use your imagination, for crying out loud...
Yellow Mayonnaise (Lemon)
increase lemon juice to 2 tbsp and add 1 teaspoon freshly microplaned lemon peel
Green Mayonnaise (Garlic and Herb)
1/4 cup chopped fresh soft herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon, etc.) and three cloves of roasted garlic
Orange Mayonnaise (Chipotle)
1 finely chopped chipotle chile in adobo, 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Brown Mayonnaise (Ginger-Sesame)
add one finely chopped scallion, 1 tsp minced fresh ginger, 1/4 tsp toasted sesame or peanut oil and a splash of low sodium soy sauce
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Alex has been a source of inspiration to our family and a huge influence in helping us better understand and challenge our own grey and bestest friend, Percy.
For more information on Alex and the incredible research Dr. Pepperberg has been working on since 1976, please click here.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
The girls and I wolfed down some breakfast (Clifford the Big Red Dog-o's, Bananas and Oatmeal) and got out of the house early (10:45!) so
Visions of blogdom filled my head all night so I was a little groggy and in need of some inspiration. I figured a farmers market and the ever popular Whole Foods would do the trick and get this blog off on the right foot.
We headed out from Clermont and the 45 minute drive took no time at all thanks to I Spy...
Lillie: I spy with my little eye.....something white!
Me: Is it the clouds?
Me: What about the lines on the road?
Lillie: Noooooo. Try again.
Me: I don't see anything else white.
Lillie: Keep looking!
We parked by Hot Olives and burned umbrella stroller rubber towards the market. Halfway there, Lillie found the LOWEST Lowrider ever, so we had to stop for a photo opp.
more cowbell, please!
The farmer's market was filled with exotic plants, gourmet foods and organic offerings. "Aromas and laughter filled the air."
organic vegetables are hilarious!
We crunched on some fresh kettlecorn and invested in some spicy Tupelo honey from Winter Park Honey. Van Morrison would be proud. The samples came on little popsicle sticks and Lillie couldn't get enough of them. She probably tasted 15 out of the 20 local honey varietals. Her favorite was Key Lime.
"Shes as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee" - Van Morrisson
Next stop was Pappardelle's Homemade Pasta stand. Their handmade pasta selection was too fun to pass up. After careful deliberation, we selected the Pacific Rim blend, Harvest orzo and the Yellow Bell Pepper pappardelle - check the website for all their imaginative flavor combinations.
Tiffany was kind enough to let Lillie and I try the Dark Chocolate linguini and she was totally fine with me taking a million pictures of the pasta for the new blog including this one of their fruit medley. It smelled remarkably like Fruity Pebbles.
Silly Rabbit! Pasta's for kids!
By now we were melting in the sun, so we grabbed as many fruits and veggies we could carry and scampered back to the air conditioned haven in the Highlander. Sadie's little hat was stuck to her head by the time she hit the carseat.
Now it was time to head over to Whole Foods for some climate controlled food appreciation. On our way in, Lillie pointed out the birds nest in the letter A. Nice catch!
Today's Blog is brought to you by the letter A
It seemed like a good time to get the camera out and take some blogworthy food photos. After we secured a mini-shopping cart for Lillie, it was time to camp out in the produce section.
20 pictures later...
Apparently, you can't take pictures in Whole Foods. Not even of pomegranates! Here is how the confrontation went down...
Me: (trying to squeeze out one more picture of stacked fruit for the blog)
Manager: Excuse me, sir.
Me: (stupid Sony Handycam crappy autofocus taking forever, hurry!)
Me: (flash!snap!) Hi!
Manager: You can't take any pictures in the store, sir.
Me: Not even of the fruit?
Manager: Unfortunately, if we let one person take a picture in the store, we would have to let everyone. Its a slippery slope. Sorry.
Me: Slippery slope?
This is the last known picture ever taken inside a Whole Foods. It was worth it.
We filled up Lillie's "shopper in training" minicart with two stunner tomatoes (7 bucks!), some butternut squash bisque for Sadie, golden beets, samplings from the olive bar, strawberry lemon seltzer water and the biggest sprinkle cookie Lillie had ever seen.
I even picked out a nice fruity beer for Victoria. Peach German fancyWeiss something or other. She will love it.