Monday, December 29, 2008

Cauliflower, it's your time to shine!

I probably shouldn't post this recipe as it hardly qualifies for a "recipe"; however, it proves how easy one can prepare a delicious side dish. Roasting vegetables is the best way to bring out great flavor and aroma from a boring, blah vegetable (check out these Brussel Sprouts!). Make sure to use vegetables that are in season. This dish is very adaptable to any vegetables you may have on hand. My trick is to top it off with some fresh herbs. This time around, I used parsley from my mom's herb garden, but you could also use thyme, cilantro, or perhaps basil. Give your cauliflower florets a roast next time you have the chance! You're sure to become a proud, roasted veggie addict like myself...

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 large Maui onion
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
Chopped herb of choice

Preheat oven to 400F

Slice Cauliflower and onion into 1/4 inch pieces. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on to a parchment lined roasting sheet and roast on the top oven rack for about 25 minutes, or until tender and golden brown (You could even sneak some Parmesan cheese on these after about 15 minutes of roasting). Plate on a colorful platter and sprinkle with your herb of choice.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Arroz del Jose'

This rice is my ultimate favorite. Jose has definitely perfected it, I'm still trying...
1 cup Rice
3 tbsp oil of choice
1 large tomato
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Oregano
2 cups Water
1 tsp Chicken Bouillon
1/2 cup Fresh Carrots
1/2 cup Peas

In a large fry pan, begin browning the rice in the oil. Using a blender, combine the tomato, garlic and oregano. Slowly pour in the 2 cups of water. Blend for about 4 minutes, until well combined.

Once the rice is nice and brown, pour in the tomato, water mixture and stir in the chicken bouillon. Add the fresh veggies and turn heat down to low. Cover with foil and let simmer. Total cooking time is about 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Banana Bread, Take 1

Last week was definitely an adventure. My knee surgery was scheduled to take place Tuesday morning at 7AM, but due to a minor cold that hadn't subsided, the anesthesiologist decided to call it off. What a day. My parent's drove up the night before from Ventura and had planned to take me back home for recovery. One good thing from that day was that my mom always comes prepared. The false alarm left me with homemade chili, free cereal, apples and lettuce for salad from Ventura's farmer's market, I couldn't complain... until, I realized they left their bananas. Now, I have nothing against plain bananas. It's just that my like for them is seasonal, unpredictable, and inconsistent. Lets just say, I needed to get rid of them, fast.

Plain bananas make me cringe, but I do love banana bread. There are many approaches to take with banana bread: tropical, rustic, nutritional, just to name a few. I like my banana bread dense and not too sweet. I also love a defined banana flavor that rides the palette with each bite. Below is a quick recipe I threw together that came out of the oven just perfect. The flax seed and whole wheat pastry flour help create the density that I was looking for while contributing some healthy fiber. Also, using both a dark brown sugar and a white sugar brings out a richness to the bread, while the plain yogurt and almond milk help maintain its moisture. You could easily use regular milk, white sugar and regular flour for a lighter version.

Breakfast Banana Bread
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Butter Unsalted
3-4 large ripe bananas, smashed together in a bowl
1/4 cup Almond Milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I prefer low fat - adds to the richness vs. a non fat yogurt)
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/4 cup Ground Flax Seed
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/4 cup Raw Turbinado Sugar
1 Reserve Banana, just in case

Preheat oven to 350F
Grease 2 Loaf Pans, and sprinkle with whole wheat pastry flour. In a mixer, combine the sugars and butter on high. Slowly add the mashed bananas, almond milk, plain yogurt and eggs. Turn off mixer once combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, ground flax seed, baking soda and salt. Next, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Once combined, pour into your loaf pans.

Bake for about 45 minutes at 350F. To test if loaves are done, stick a knife or toothpick in the middle of a loaf. If it comes out clean the loaves should be done.

TIP: I like to slice the banana lengthwise in fourths, and place on top of the batter. Next, I sprinkle a couple tablespoons of raw turbinado sugar over the raw banana and batter. Both the banana and sugar add gourmet touch to the loaf, and a nice sweetness to the crust.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Just a Post

Since emerging from Stanford undergrad and shoved into the real world, I always found great release from my day job while cooking in my kitchen. This included prepping lunches for the weekdays as well as cooking dinner on weeknights. Going out to eat was fun but also a chore during the work week. If I had a choice, I chose to cook. Not until moving to San Francisco did I realized that I always cooked. Get home late from work? Cooking was easier than trying to find a place to order out. Brunch on the weekend? I’d rather make my own pancakes and eggs, they always tasted better.

The kitchen is where I experiment with flavors, aromas and colors. It’s an opportunity to unwind and be myself. However, the ups have their downs. This little hobby of mine at times gets expensive. Shopping at Whole Foods doesn’t work anymore when you are paying out of your you know what for rent, on top of silly bills. Oh those silly bills… My solution has become my motto - simplicity. Simple ingredients & simple steps with a twist thrown in here and there never seems to fail.

Through this blog I hope to pass along some helpful tips from my kitchen to yours. Because supporting yourself when you have good taste gets tough, especially for the working girl ;-)
**This is Miss Kitty, my fav Bun

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gluten Free Can be Delicious & Easy

My list of gluten free friends is growing but my savings account has been shrinking... it's the holidays of course! This quick peanut butter cookie recipe just had to be my next post. For those of you that cringe at just the thought of anything "insert here" - free, I have to tell you, Delicious can sit next to Gluten Free. It does so quite elegantly next to these gluten free peanut butter cookies. For anyone with not much time on their hands, with not much experience in cooking or with an empty fridge and one jar of peanut butter laying around (me), this is the recipe for you. Lets get cooking!

Quick & Easy, Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter ( I used Organic, creamy PB )
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350F
In a bowl, combine all ingredients with a spoon. Make sure PB is near room temperature, otherwise you are in for a good workout. Once combined, with your hands roll dough into small balls. Place on a greased baking sheet and press down with a fork to create the chic peanut butter four square logo. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes and let cool for another 10-15 minutes. Grab a glass of milk and dig in!

Side Note: At around 7 minutes, I sprinkled some turbinado cane sugar on top of my baking cookies to give them a little sparkle and crunch

Thanks for this awesome recipe Carrie!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Julia's Biscottis, My Way.

Every holiday season I bake something for my friends. This year I was blessed with a biscotti recipe from the book Baking with Julia, Julia Childs that is. Of course I can never follow the exact directions, but her recipe for biscotti dough makes an amazing foundation for my Macadamia Nut Biscottis... dipped in chocolate.

A biscotti is a twice baked cookie. Always remember, the crunchier the better coffee dipper. Once you have a good dough on your hands, it's fun to experiment with flavor combinations. Nuts and dried fruit are always great contenders. This time around I used macadamia nuts and coconut milk. Since it is beyond freezing in San Francisco, I was hoping these cookies would take my friends to a tropical island... right? Maybe not. If you don't like coconut, you can always substitute it with vanilla and/or a liqueur. Either way, give these a shot, they're sure to please the masses.

Macadamia Nut Biscottis
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 large organic eggs
3 tsp coconut milk (canned is best)
{Julia's recipe calls for 2 tsp liqueur and 1 tsp vanilla extract}
3/4 cup sugar

2 cups roughly chopped roasted macadamia nuts
2 1/3 cups semi sweet Chocolate Chips (I actually prefer dark chocolate)
1/3 cup coconut milk
(shredded coconut or macadamia nuts for topping)

Preheat oven 350F
In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, and sugar. Don't let the eggs sit too long in the sugar as it can "burn" the yolk. Quickly combine dry and wet ingredients. Add the nuts and continue to mix until very well incorporated. You may have to flour your hands and really get in there, don't be afraid! The dough should get stiff, sticky and hard to stir. If dough is too sticky add some more flour, and vice versa. It should be easy to handle.

Form the dough into a thick log, about 5'' wide, 12'' long, 3'' thick. Place on a baking sheet about and bake for 35 minutes, keep an eye on it as it may cook faster depending on the size of biscotti log you created. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes!

Using a serrated knife, cut into 1/2'' thick slices, cutting diagonally. Lay the biscottis on their side on the baking sheet and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. I stored mine in the fridge for a day before I dipped them in chocolate. The biscottis themselves will last about a month in an airtight container in the fridge.

For the chocolate dip, create a double boiler by placing a glass bowl over a pan with boiling water - unless you own a double boiler. Stir together the chocolate chips and coconut milk in this bowl until completely melted. The consistency of the chocolate dip should be thick enough that it will completely coat the biscottis. Once melted, have fun dipping your biscottis! You can top them off with shredded coconut or more macadamia nuts. I chose to leave mine plain.

Source: Baking with Julia

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

The problem with cooking for one is when you buy for five. I'm up to my ears in dill. Dill in my salads, brussel sprouts, and now, chicken! Chicken really bores me, and I know I've hit a low when I've eaten plain chicken for the past 3 days... canned tuna is the lowest. This recipe came to existence as I started cutting up my boneless, skinless chicken breast out of boredom. There had to be a way to make this better!

Chicken Nuggets are so easy to make. Why hadn't I thought of this before? All you need is an egg wash, some flour and herbs for flavoring. You are only limited by your imagination. I chose brown rice flour because it has a crunch; I chose dill, because I had no choice! A little drizzle of olive oil makes the chicken more moist and a tad, deliciously greasy. This dish is also great for my gluten free friends!

Chicken Nuggets with Dill

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 3/4 cups brown rice flour
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp cracked pepper
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 2 tbsp dry dill)
1 egg
3 tbsp water
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut your boneless, skinless chicken breast in good sized chunks. Place to the side. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients and dill. In a smaller bowl, beat together the egg and water. This is your egg wash. Get your baking sheet out, coat in non stick spray and place next to the two bowls. You are going to create an assembly line. First dip a couple chicken pieces into the egg wash. Let them soak for a couple minutes. Then place the pieces into the Dill and Flour mixture. Pat in the flour mixture so the pieces are fully coated. Lastly, place onto the baking sheet. Continue with all of the chicken pieces. Next, drizzle just a little bit of olive oil over the top of each battered chicken piece.

Bake for 12 minutes on the middle oven rack. With a spatula, flip chicken nuggets over and bake for another 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them. When done, they should be a golden brown. Garnish with some chopped dill and olive oil.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brussel Sprouts, meet Dill

One of my favorite herbs is Dill. With its delicate leaves, distinct taste and aroma, dill can give any roasted, blanched, or stir fried veggie some excitement. One vegetable in particular could really use this boost in confidence ... that veg is the infamous Brussel Sprout. I've come across several roasted brussel sprout recipes but I've decided to add a few of my own twists.

This recipe is very easy. Simply toss ingredients in a bowl, throw onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast! With so few steps and ingredients, you should really focus on finding the highest quality produce. I recently returned to San Francisco with organic brussel sprouts from the Ventura Farmer's Market, a couple of lemons from the Engel's backyard, and not to mention, a giant stuffed suitcase. Today I picked up some dill along with some motivation to cook in my messy apartment. What better way to procrastinate from unpacking than cooking! I hope this dish will sway the brussel sprout avoider in your life...

Some quick tips... When selecting brussel sprouts, look for the young, small, vibrant green sprouts. Brussel Sprouts already have a peculiar cabbage stink because they contain a lot of sulfur. This stink gets stronger when they're too old or overcooked. Also, if you picked yours from the farmers market, a great way to get rid of any bugs is by soaking the sprouts in salted water and a small amount of vinegar.

Dill Roasted Brussel Sprouts
About 2 1/2 Cups Brussel Sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Water
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
1/2 tsp Juice of a Lemon
1/2 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
Crack of Black Pepper
2 Tbsp chopped Dill

Preheat oven to 400F
In a bowl combine all ingredients.  Spread onto a lined baking sheet and bake on the lower/middle oven rack for about 25 minutes.  Depending on your brussel sprout size and amount, the cooking time will vary.  

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nuts for the Party!

The past couple of months I have been experimenting with flavoring & roasting walnuts, pecans and almonds. This is the first of a few recipes that I've been satisfied with; however, there can always be improvements. My initial motivation was finger food for a martini party, but since my apartment is so tiny, the party has been put on hold. Guess I'm stuck with my experiments...

I tend to stay away from white sugar mostly because I enjoy the subtlety of natural sweeteners like Maple Syrup and Agave Nectar versus the stronger punch of white sugar. Orange zest can give anything a bit of complexity in flavor and aroma. In this quick recipe, the zest lightens up the richness of the lone pecan. Also, the white pepper addition is up to you, but I think it's a perfect compliment to the sweetness... especially when served with a cocktail!

Roasted Pecans with Orange Essence
2 Cups Whole Raw Pecans
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup Dark Amber Maple Syrup
3 tbsp orange zest
3 pinches of coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Toss all of the ingredients in a large bowl; never hurts to sample a pecan before placing in the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread pecans out on the lined baking sheet and place in oven for about 12 minutes. To test that the nuts are fully toasted, break or bite on in half - the center should have some color. Remove from oven and drizzle with a little bit of agave nectar or maple syrup and a couple pinches of salt to your desire. Serve immediately once cooled.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stay Classy

Sweet Potatoes, the classiest of all potatoes, are one of my favorite root vegetables. Sweet Potatoes make the list of super foods for their delicious flavor and health benefits. When cooking them, I enjoy keeping the recipe simple using ingredients that enhance their natural sweetness. In the below recipe they are peeled and sliced into 3/4'' medallions. Almost like a fine steak, I only season them with salt, pepper and, my little kicker, Almond Oil. The salt brings out the sweetness and the almond oil is a nice compliment to the roasted flavor once they emerge from the oven. This dish is not only great for your health, providing omega 3's and loads of beta carotene, but also warms the soul!

Sweet Potatoes with Almond Oil
6 medium sweet potatoes - ends trimmed, peeled, rinsed and cut into 3/4'' rounds
3 tbsp Almond Oil
1 tbsp Coarse Sea Salt
1 tsp White Pepper
1/4 cup chopped Roasted Almonds (walnuts or pecans) to top it off

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato rounds in the Almond Oil, Sea Salt and White Pepper. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange sweet potatoes in a single layer and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place on the middle oven rack in a cold oven. Turn oven on to 425F and cook potatoes for 30 minutes.

Remove top layer of foil and return sweet potatoes to oven. Cook until the bottom edges brown up nicely, this will take around 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the slices over. Continue to roast until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to your favorite platter and serve those hungry people!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cranberry Sauce 1, 2, 3

I'm so happy to be done with work for the week (I hope) and back in the kitchen with my mom. She always whips me back into kitchen shape - do this, do that! Clean up your mess! Then all of a sudden, voila! A delicious Thanksgiving meal is on the table. She is a stud in the kitchen and always impresses the best.

One of my favorite dishes on Thanksgiving is Cranberry Sauce. My secret ingredient is red wine or port as it adds some depth to a pretty basic recipe of simple syrup and cranberries. I will try to post some more recipes as time permits over the next couple of days. I love this time of the year!

Cranberry Sauce 1, 2, 3
2 Cups Cranberries
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Agave Nectar
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Red Wine (I used Macleod Merlot - from an awesome family vineyard in Sonoma. A port would be great too, but I would consider using 1/4 Cup sugar if using port)
3 tbsp Orange Zest
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1 Cinnamon Stick

In a saucepan bring the Simple Syrup to a boil (1 Cup Sugar & 1 Cup Water). Add the Cranberries, wine, orange zest and cinnamon stick. Let them harmonize until sauce thickens. Remove Cinnamon stick.

There you have it! So simple and quick yet deliciously gourmet.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Summer Salad in November

The recent heat wave in San Francisco was brutally lovely. All I wanted to do was pour some sparkling white wine and work on my summer tan. Unfortunately, I have been under some of the most insane pressure at work: constantly re-evaluating properties and scrutinizing cash flows. So, Chinese Chicken Salad would have to do for my November, Summer-time fling.

A couple weeks ago I bought some cilantro, and the bunch has surprisingly held out this long for inspiration to hit. This recipe has come together through research in my cookbook collection and personal Chinese Chicken Salad experience. I'm a firm believer that to be a true chef you always have to be thinking: "Anything you can do I can do better." So stands true for this busy girl's take on the classic Chinese Chicken Salad!

This salad is somewhat fussy, but well worth the gathering of ingredients and follow-through of each step. Make sure you have some time on your hands, or an itch to cook for a couple of hours after work. First and foremost, think color! When I chose my ingredients I tried to vary the colors. At Tuesday's Farmer's Market I came across a pomegranate, green onions, daikon sprouts & carrots. Consider this a summer salad with a fall produce flare. Secondly, chicken with the bone in and skin on gives the best flavor, although I used quick chicken breast from Mr. Trader Joe. Don't forget the orange juice and ginger, as those are two key ingredients that will set this salad above the rest!

Chinese Chicken Salad
3 Cups Shredded Chicken
1/4 C Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Agave Nectar

For the Salad:
Couple hand fulls of Daikon Sprouts
2 Cups shredded Cabbage (Napa Cabbage works as well)
1 Bunch of chopped Green Onions
1/2 Cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 Cup Carrot sliced in thin matchsticks
Pomegranate Seeds
1 Cup Roasted Unsalted Peanuts

1/2 C Sesame Oil
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
3 tsp Orange Juice
1 tsp Agave Nectar (or honey)
1/2 tsp Red Chili Flakes
3 pinches sea salt
1 tbsp chopped Ginger
1 Clove Garlic chopped up

Poach the chicken and shred. In a bowl combine chicken, soy sauce, vinegar and agave. Marinate for a couple minutes, drain and throw chicken back in a pan. Cook over medium heat for a couple minutes. Put to the side.

Slice the pomegranate in half and let soak in a bowl of water. This makes it easier to release the pomegranate seeds from the pulp.

In a large bowl, place the chopped green onions, cilantro, cabbage, daikon sprouts and carrot. In another smaller bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Combine chicken in the bowl with the greens. Add peanuts and pomegranate seeds. Toss in dressing when you are ready to serve the salad. Top off with some chopped peanuts and pomegranate seeds.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Lets face it, I'm obsessed with Kale. Kale is an odd leafy vegetable that probably makes most people want to cringe at just the thought of eating it. But! Did you know, these leafy greens are packed with two-thirds of your daily Vitamin C, all of your Vitamin A, calcium, iron, antioxidants and flavor. Yes, flavor! But, coming from LA, I can't help but use enhancers. Kale loves garlic, lemon juice and salt. The salt and lemon juice tame the bitter nuance of the kale while the garlic simply adds to the rustic vibe of the dish.

Kale & Roasted Walnut Pasta has become my go-to dinner for any work-week night. It's healthy, satisfying, delicious and easy to make. Not to mention, it includes several super foods that do a body good. There are quite a few varieties of Kale, but I tend to use a variety of black kale, Laciniato, every time. When buying Organic Kale, look for a rich green color with no wilting, brown spots or yellow leaves.  Make sure to wash it well and slice into 1/4'' ribbons. I find if it isn't sliced thin the Kale is tough to chew and doesn't look very appetizing. The type of pasta you use can also make a difference. I like to use the Sprouted Wheat pasta from Trader Joe's. Quinoa or Brown Rice are also solid substitutions if you don't eat pasta or live life gluten free. You could also substitute the Kale with Broccollini or Rabini. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Rustic Kale & Roasted Walnut Pasta
About 8 oz Whole Wheat Pasta (I love Trader Joe's Sprouted Wheat Pasta as it adds to the rustic feel of the dish, but really any pasta of your choice will work)
3 Tbsp. Walnut Oil (Olive Oil is great as well)
4 cloves garlic
2 Cups of Ribbon Sliced Kale
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Sea Salt to taste
1 C Roasted Walnuts
1/4 C Parmesan Cheese ( I prefer to grate my own )

Boil the pasta in a large pot until Al Dente.

While the pasta is cooking, chop the garlic and Kale.  In a braising pan, on medium heat, heat the Walnut Oil and Garlic for about a minute then add the Kale, 1 tbsp Lemon Juice & salt to taste (about 2 pinches). Let them cook together for about 5 minutes until the kale becomes a vibrant green (lemon juice also helps create this color). Turn off the heat.

Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a 1/4 Cup of pasta water, and toss pasta with the kale and garlic in the braising pan. Transfer this 1/4 Cup of pasta water to the Kale and pasta mixture, let them harmonize for a couple of minutes. Next, pour in the Cup of Roasted Walnuts. Put Kale dish in a large serving bowl and toss in the 1/4 Cup of Parmesan Cheese.  If you have any leftover roasted walnuts, you can chop these up and top off the dish.  Depending on my mood I may add more or less cheese; it's up to you and your preferences.

Serves about 4... or in my situation, covers lunch & dinner for the next day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Conversation Starters - Wine 101

A couple weeks ago I attended one of the fabulous and always engaging wine tasting events at Bion Divino Wine Boutique just off Polk Street. The wines were from the Italian region La Sibilla and were presented by quite the Italian, Vinicenzo Di Meo. Although I am far from a wine critic, this tasting was one of the more fascinating I had been to in a while. I left with a wealth of information and, of course, a slight buzz.

A lot of the wines I drink are from California vineyards or are your typical Malbecs and Merlots. I never took Italian wines too seriously, probably because they aren't as approachable as California wines. Little did I know, this was sure to change! We all know wines have a wonderful history in Italy, and I wasn't to shocked to learn the Falanghina grapes of La Sibilla were cultivated from 60 - 80 year old vines. More fascinating was that my palate was challenged by a new earthy, more mineral flavor of wine. The Campi Flegrei engulfed my palate with a mineral tartness reminiscent of their terroir - with each sip I could envision the red clay hills and rocky slopes where the vines grew. It was fascinating tasting terroir in wines as California wines always tend to be so fruity and bold.

Vinicenzo was passionate about not using oak in his wine making process. He made a great point that Oak overwhelms a palate making it difficult to pair such wines with food. Rather, a wine made without Oak cleanses and refreshes the palate, resulting in a wine that is much more suitable to pair with food... Something to think about for my next dinner party! But what really struck me was I had never consciously realized this dilemma of drinking Oak barrelled wines with food. This theory seemed so obvious, but struck me as I snacked on the available cheese and crackers. One of those "Aha" moments I guess (not to quote Oprah or anything).
I highly recommend purchasing these 3 wines yourself. Maybe try the reds next to a Merlot or a Pinot Oak Barreled wine and the Piedirosso next to a Chardonnay, would love to hear your opinion!
2007 Sibilla Falanghina, Campi Flegrei - younger version of the Campi Flegrei below, lots of terroir and minerality, as well as a subtle flavor of raspberries. Great with the manchego cheese they had at the tasting.
2006 Sibilla Falanghina, Campi Flegrei 'Cruna del Lago' - I'm saving this one for a special occasion. A delicious, smooth red. The terroir and minerality was there, but it was subtle. This was the one that did it for me, now I've almost become a little skeptical of CA reds... almost.
2007 Sibilla Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei - delicious white wine, high minerality yet nuances of Chardonnay sneak their way onto the palate. Very good with Brie or white fish.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Although cookies are not the theme of this website, for my second post I've created a semi-healthy version of sugar cookies that are great for any holiday! Not to mention, GE's Stock has been lingering below $20 / share for several weeks now, so what better way to boost office morale than with Cookies & Candy Corn? I brought these to work Tuesday and because of popular demand brought more on Wednesday. Can't say it helped GE's stock, but the candy corns did put some nostalgic smiles on people's faces.

This recipe is fairly simple and really only requires patience while the dough chills in the fridge for a couple of hours. The Almond Milk and Coconut flavoring give the boring sugar cookie depth and content. You can also substitute the coconut flavoring with vanilla. I also prefer to use "semi-soft" butter vs. completely "soft" butter because I feel this preserves the flakiness of the cookie when bitten into. For the topping, you really can use any type of candy or even frosting. I tried to tone down the sugar content of the cookie, so when adding a topping like the Corn Syrup laden Candy Corn, my cookie didn't get overbearingly sweet.

Lisa's Everyday Sugar Cookies - For Halloween!
1 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 C White Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
1 C unsalted butter - semi soft
3/4 C Sugar
1/4 C Dark Amber Maple Syrup
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Almond Milk
1 Tsp Coconut flavoring/syrup (if available)
Powdered Sugar for rolling out dough
Candy Corns (by personal preference)

Sift or Stir, whichever you have time for, all of the dry ingredients. Set Aside. In a mixer, combine Sugar, Maple Syrup, and Butter until fully combined. Add Egg, coconut flavoring and Almond Milk. Once all ingredients are combined slowly add the flour mixture, 1-2 Cups at a time. Beat on low/medium speed until mixture pulls away from sides of the bowl. Divide the dough up in halves or quarters, all dependant upon how many cookies you want to make. Chill in the fridge for around 2 hours, this will help the cut outs hold their shape when baking.

Pre-heat oven to 375*F

Roll out dough using the powdered sugar as its anti-sticking agent. Cut out dough in shapes (I had to improvise and use the top of a water glass for my cut outs!) and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for around 6-7 minutes - should be almost done, pull tray out and place the Candy Corns on top. Bake for another 1-2 minutes. When done, cookies should be golden brown on the bottom. Total cooking time is between 7-9 minutes.  Quickly move onto the cooling rack! Bet you can't eat just one ...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How to network... through Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mom sent me this recipe when I first moved to San Francisco. She insists cookies (& lasagna) are the key to anyone's heart... unfortunately in my case it was: cookies are the key to credibility in any office, especially when that office consists of 10 employees, all but myself being male.

Cookies are easy to throw together, but you can really enhance the recipe by choosing the best ingredients: organic eggs vs. non organic, dark chocolate chunks vs. basic chips, dark amber maple syrup vs. Aunt Jemima, roasted oats vs. quick cook oats... you get the picture.

Thanks Mom, now I've earned more credibility than I was expecting. Every month they're asking when the next batch is coming! Men, I swear...

Delicious Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
1 Cup Flour ( I prefer King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour or White Flour)
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
2 Cups Organic Oats
1/2 Cup Pecans (pre roasted)
1 Stick (8 tbsp) Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 egg
1/4 C Dark Amber Maple Syrup (US Grade A)
1/2 tsp Vanilla (only the best!)
2 tbsp Cocoa Powder (love Green & Blacks Cocoa)
3/4 Cups Dark Chocolate Chunks (Whole foods carries a good brand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Roast pecans in the oven for about 6 minutes - I tend to "over roast" on purpose, the flavor is always a little more rich and nutty. Once cooled, chop them up into chunks.  Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats and roasted pecans (make sure the pecans have cooled) together.  In a separate bowl beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar for about 40 seconds.  Add egg and beat until you have a smooth and light texture.  Turn the mixer on high and slowly add the maple syrup then vanilla.  Now turn the mixture to the lowest setting and gradually add the flour mixture.  In a separate bowl, toss the chocolate chunks in the cocoa powder until completely coated.  Lastly, hand stir the chocolate chunks in the batter.  Drop walnut sized balls on parchment lined cooking sheet.  Bake for about 9 minutes at 350*F.  Cool on the pan until you are able to spatula them onto a cookie rack.  I find the cooling part the most important as it helps the cookie develop the chewy outside while maintaining the ooey gooey inside.

With bonus season around the bend, these should be a hit!

Welcome to my blog!

My passion for food and a delicious lifestyle can no longer be contained.  This blog is to document my creations in the kitchen as well as the gastronomical experiences that ignite this creativity.  Although my experiments tend to be on the healthy side (to some people's dismay), I will show you that quality ingredients are the key to any delicious recipe.  What's a corporate girl to do when she's feeling dull?  Why, cook of course!