Winter Newsletter

Winter is already starting to feel long, but thankfully it’s citrus season! Those bright and fresh fruits are at their prime right now, and you can’t help but think of the sunshine when you bite into them. Scroll down to read some fun facts about citrus. Two big indulgent “holidays” are coming soon, Superbowl and Valentine’s day. I’ve included some potluck party tips and some Valentine’s Day dessert recipes


Citrus Season

Winter is the time when citrus fruits are in their prime; oranges are the juiciest, grapefruit is the sweetest, and lemons are the most aromatic. So get your fill now! Here are a few fun facts about citrus fruits…

Sumo oranges were introduced to the US about 2 years ago on the west coast and have slowly been moving east. If you haven’t tried one yet, make a point of finding one. They are the largest of the Mandarin oranges, extremely sweet and juicy.

Sumo Oranges

-When choosing kumquats, look for firm bright orange fruit. Before popping the whole thing in your mouth, gently rub the fruit between your fingers to release some of the oils. The fruit is sweet and tart all at the same time.

-Oranges are one of the few fruits that will not overripen if left on the tree

-Pummelos, the largest citrus fruit, are also called Chinese grapefruit, and are very popular around Chinese lunar new year because they resemble a full moon.


Super Bowl Party Tips (or any Potluck tips)

-Prepare a dish that is easy to transport. A tiered cake, or dishes that need to be served immediately aren’t good ideas.

-You don’t need to feed everyone there, plan on making enough food for 75% of the people.

-Don’t assume you can use the oven or stove once you get to the party. Either talk to the host/hostess about warming something up, or plan on a room temperature dish.

-If you want to serve something cold, bring an ice bath with you. No one wants to get sick after eating your room temperature shrimp cocktail.

-Bring all serving utensils with you. Again don’t assume that the host will have some.

-Make a small sign to put in front of you dish explaining what it is (if it’s not obvious), and include any allergens

-And lastly, stop using the word guac. The full word guacamole isn’t that hard. :)


Valentine’s Day Dessert Ideas

Here are some tasty and festive desserts to make for your loved ones, I’ve divided them into categories based on your skill and/or the amount of time you have

Advanced
Raspberry Chocolate Mousse

Basic
Chocolate Fondue
Chocolate and Whiskey Liqueur

Easy
-Make or buy brownies or rice krispie bars and cut into the shape of a heart

Fall Newsletter

Fall, my favorite season, is officially here! I love seeing all the new seasonal vegetables and fruits, the cooler days and nights, and the changing leaves. In this newsletter I’ve included a handy winter squash guide to help you navigate the grocery stores. Also with this season starts meals that are generally a little more complex, flavor wise, so a mise en place primer seemed in order. And very last, I’ve included one of my favorite apple recipes, the Silver Palate’s Chunky Apple and Walnut cake; a recipe you need to make right now!


Squash

This time of year we start to see so many beautiful and weird looking squashes. Here is a great short visual post that can help you determine which type of squash you are seeing and how to cook it.

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visual-guide-winter-squash


Mise En Place

Mise en place is the French term for everything in it’s place. In the kitchen that means having everything ready to go before you actually start cooking. Think TV cooking show. Everything is pre-measured and chopped, so the chef can focus on talking and teaching. But for the home cook this means you can focus on actually cooking instead of stopping all the time to measure, or chop something. This also prevents you from mis-measuring because you are distracted by say a kid, a dog or a spouse. This may sound like a waste of time, but I highly encourage you to try it.

First read thru the recipe once. Then chop all the vegetables/meat and have them in piles on your cutting board or in bowls, measure all your ingredients out ahead of time, and have a pan warming over very low heat or the stove on. Then begin cooking!

Please let me know what you think of this method once you’ve tried it a few times!


Chunky Apple Walnut Cake
(Silver Palate Cookbook recipe)

2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 1/4 cups coarse chunks of peeled baking apples (I like granny smith)
3T Calvados, brandy or whiskey

Preheat oven to 325.

Grease a bundt pan or a 10in springform pan.

Use a fork to stir together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In large bowl beat vegetable oil and sugar until thicker, about 2-3 minutes*. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each edition.

Stir in the dry ingredients.

Toss apples and walnuts in 1 tablespoon flour to lightly coat. Then stir fruit and nuts into batter along with Calvados until pieces are evenly distributed.

Pour batter into the greased pan. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

Let cake rest in pan 10 minutes, then unmold and pour glaze over warm cake.

*I have also just whisked this together by hand so I didn’t have to pull out the mixer. The oil sugar mixture never really thickened but the cake still turned out fantastic!

Apple Cider Glaze

4T sweet butter
2T brown sugar
6T sugar
3T Calvados, brandy or whiskey
4T sweet cider
2T fresh orange juice
2T heavy cream

Melt butter in small saucepan and stir in both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook for 4 minutes.

Side note: In the original recipe they have you pour the glaze over the warm cake. I prefer to serve the glaze on the side and I usually double it-it’s so good!

Thai Iced Tea

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Love this drink on a hot afternoon, or served with some spicy food. Cool and refreshing, and the color always surprises people. It’s made with black tea, and sweet spices like vanilla and cardamom. There are recipes to make it from scratch but for ease I buy a Thai tea mix from an Asian grocery store, or you can also find it on line*. I like mine just slightly sweet; feel free to play around with the sweetness level or also make it dairy free by using coconut milk.

 

2C boiling water

1/4C Thai tea mix

1 generous Tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk (or sugar)

1/2C half-and-half (or coconut milk)

 

Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and add the tea leaves. Let it steep for 5-7 minutes, and strain out the leaves. Add the sweetened condensed milk (or sugar) and the half-and-half (or coconut milk). Chill and serve over ice.

 

 

 

* http://www.amazon.com/Thai-Iced-Traditional-Restaurant-Style/dp/B000UPNK9S

April Newsletter

Finally spring is here,….well sorta-depending on where you live! This newsletter contains important knife information, my most memorable meal, plus a recipe that always reminds me of spring.

Enjoy!


A Sharp Knife is a Safe Knife
This old adage is very true. A sharp knife will easily and reliably cut thru whatever you are slicing. Whereas a dull knife is unpredictable and more accident prone. Plus with a sharp knife, if you do cut yourself at least it will be a nice clean cut (think the opposite of a serrated knife cut) and it will heal easily and quickly.

3 Easy steps to keep your knives sharp

1. Get them professionally sharpened once a year. Many grocery stores will sharpen 1-2 knives for free, you may just need to leave them overnight. Many culinary store will also sharpen them for about $1.00 an inch.

2. Use a honing steel. Get into the habit of using this tool before you use the knife or before you put it away. A honing steel doesn’t sharpen, it just maintains the edge of your knife. (Make sure you do step 1 before doing step 2)

3. Have a storage solution for your knives. It can be a knife block, a drawer organizer, or even just a knife sleeve to protect the blade. Do not just throw them in a drawer!

 


Tagliatelle with a Prosciutto and Orange Cream Sauce

 I’ve made this recipe for the past 3 Easters and the flavors remind me of Spring. This recipe is very fast, but maybe not the most “healthy”. I like to add a clove or two of minced garlic, a pinch of crushed red chili flakes and a sprinkle of thyme. I usually serve this pasta with roasted or grilled asparagus.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Tagliatelle-with-Prosciutto-and-Orange-365161

 


Memorable Meal

When people first find out that I am a chef they always ask what my favorite dish is. Which for most chefs I know is an impossible question to answer; my favorite dish changes with the seasons and with my mood. So I prefer to answer, what is your most memorable meal. I’ve had so many memorable meals, my first dinner with my future husband, an amazing pizza in Cannes, mind blowing mezes in Istanbul…but my first memorable meal was from a family camping trip in MT. It was my mom, her best friend and all 6 kids piled in a van for a road trip. On the second night it rained and the kids tent leaked, the sleeping bags and clothes were soaked. My mom and I went to the laundromat to dry everything out. When we got back, a memorable dinner was waiting. It was just spaghetti with marinara sauce cooked over a fire, and a glass of grape juice but it was probably the best I’ve ever had. It was probably a combination of having someone else cook, the smokiness imparted by the fire, the great company, and the beautiful scenery. I can still taste it.

I would love to hear about your most memorable meal. Please share your story.

Meal Planning

What’s for dinner?

That is the worst question of most days; especially when you are strapped for time and energy, lacking creativity, and quite possibly hungry. I’ve decided that I would like to help. Let me plan your meals, find the appropriate recipes and create a grocery list for you. I’ll do the brain work, you do the fun cooking and eating part!

Check out all the details under the meal planning tab at the top of the page.

Savory French Toast with Tomato-Avocado-Basil Maple Syrup

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Last night I made my savory french toast with roasted red pepper-tomato maple syrup recipe, but with a slight modification. I omitted the red pepper and added diced avocados and fresh basil. Fantastic summer dinner!

Here’s the original recipe

http://cheflorelei.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/savory-french-toast-with-red-pepper-tomato-maple-syrup/