Friday, April 29, 2011

Make the Everyday Royal

I applaud the ability of anyone to capitalize on today's Royal events. However, I do believe it needs to be done simply, with a little taste and most of all represent who you are. I know many places are serving tea and crumpets and the traditional London fare, but I really want to see more of how simple food can be turned exceptional - way to go Dunkin!

The Dunkin’ Donuts Royal Wedding Donut
Created in honor of the Royal couple, the Royal Wedding Donut will be available in participating U.S. Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants from April 24 through the wedding day, April 29. When developing the Royal Wedding Donut, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Executive Chef, Stan Frankenthaler and his culinary team kept both wedding traditions and the couple’s favorite flavors in mind. 

For that reason, the team couldn’t resist making a heart-shaped glazed donut that’s filled with jelly. The heart signifies the love between Prince William and Catherine, and the donut is filled with jelly to represent how their lives are to be ever-filled with happiness. In honor of the traditional white wedding gown, the donut is topped with white frosting, but adds a modern twist with the chocolate drizzle, in celebration of William’s love for chocolate. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Salads Don't Need Lettuce

Things have been busy these past couple of weeks so I took a little (and by little I mean minuscule) break to create one of my stand-by lunch favorites passed on from a friend - thanks Mara! - and updated to work with what's in my fridge. More importantly, it's healthy, light and leaves the lettuce for another day.

Meet your new friend, Eggplant & Chickpea Salad
  • Cut up 1-2 eggplants into squares and roast on a baking sheet at 350 for 30-40 minutes (don't forget the salt and pepper!)
  • Place into a bowl (while still warm) with 1-2 cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • Here's where you consult your fridge - today I added some scallions and parsley. Many times I add fresh lemon juice and feta or roast green peppers and onions and add those as well.
  • Add a little more salt (little is less than you really think, about a pinch) 
  • Mix with 1 tablespoon GOOD olive olive
Let the salad set, relax and enjoy!
I think lunchtime will be a happy break this week.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Xristos Anesti (Happy Easter) - What's Cooking

Today is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. It's normally filled with driveway antics of my large Greek family in NY cooking, creating and designing more food than even a whole city could consume. However, this year we've stayed home and I'm bringing some of that tasty joy to our small get together this afternoon.

So here's what's on the palette

An easy yet satisfying roasted garlic hummus, one of my go-to celebration appetizers.  This is a great way to use up kitchen staples, especially those heads of garlic that tend to accumulate.
  • 2-15oz cans of chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 lemons squeezed of juice
  • 1 whole head of roasted garlic
  • GOOD olive oil
  • salt & papper
Cut off the top 1/3 of the head of garlic (don't peel it), put it on a sheet of tinfoil, pour a tablespoon of olive oil and then wrap the garlic up in the tinfoil. Roast the garlic just like this in your oven at 375 for 30 minutes. then unwrap the tap so it can breathe and roast for another 30-40 minutes. Once you've let the garlic cool, squeeze out each piece of garlic and it will give the most amazing and appetizing aroma! And don't worry when you roast garlic it turns sweet not strong and pungent like in its raw state.

Place all ingredients in a food processor - this is one of my most favorite kitchen essentials, it will do everything for you - pulse until combined. This is where you want to learn....taste along the way and determine how much salt and pepper you need. As for the olive oil you want to add enough so the consistency looks like hummus - not too watery but not too thick either.
I normally serve with toasted pita bread (350 for 5-7  minutes) or cut up carrots and celery. And trust me it's a crowd pleaser - whether that crowd is 2 or 12!

Happy Easter to all

Friday, April 22, 2011

What the heck is a leek?

I interrupt our regularly scheduled food obsessed conversation to bring in some explanation and education. While conversing with my future sister-in-law (whom I love dearly) about our grocery needs for a dinner full of brothy mussels I asked her to pick up some leeks. To which she asked "What the heck is a leek?" I gasped...

One of my favorite kitchen staples, I find leeks to be underutilized as they stand somewhere between yellow onions and scallions and need a good cleaning before they can be enjoyed. I can give you the text book definition and explain their oniony flavor and their root vegetable heritage, but that's not going to get your taste buds to understand this green and white heaven.

So here's what you do
  • Purchase some strong (not flimsy) leeks from the store or farmers market
  • Cut of the real fibrous green ends, let's say an inch or many people say to only use the white part, but they're missing out
  • Chop each leek into circles like you would a cucmber.
  • Now take these little heaven halos and place them in a bowl of water (since leeks grow in the dirt that's what resides in between the layers, by soaking, the dirt goes to the bottom and the leeks float to the top). Remove the floating leeks with a slotted spoon or collander - don't drain or else the dirt will surround your leeks again
  • Heat some GOOD olive oil in a pan
  • Saute leeks like onions
  • Try them...this is where you'll understand their texture is much smoother than a regular onion and the flavor is so mild it's just a sweet taste on your tongue. 
Thank you Jenn Dot Com

 And that my friends is a leek!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Marathon Monday!

Whether you're running the marathon or enjoying beverages from the sidelines the goal of today is to recharge and refuel consistently. So for those of you who are at work like me on this Boston holiday how about a yogurt parfait to make breakfast a little more special!

Using a class cup or mug pour layers of your favorite yogurt (I'm in to Chobani's greek vanilla this week) alternating with some fresh fruit (strawberries and bananas today) and top with some yummy, crunchy and satisfying granola.

Good luck to all you runners!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pasta Can Be Easy & Special

Pasta's easy to make, right? Just boil the water, throw in the pasta cook and enjoy. I beg to differ as my friend pasta deserves a little more love and you'll come out with a more satisfying, yet still easy dish.

After a beautiful day in the sun I was craving something fresh, quick but a little more gourmet for a Sunday night. So I turned to my jar of pasta - spinach linguine. And here's how it went:
  1. Boil a LARGE pot of COLD water - you need room for the pasta to move around and cook evenly and you need the water to all come up to a boil at the same time. If not, you wind up with those weird uncooked parts that we often just disregard.
  2. Once your water is boiling add some sea salt - trust me the difference is something you'll enjoy. Add your pasta and wait patiently. If it's a long pasta like linguine wait for it to all melt into the pot and return to a boil. I find many times people poke the pasta and this is just unneccessary!
  3. Cook the pasta until al dente - I recommend everyone taste the pasta every minute between 5-10 minutes that way you learn the difference and can really identify what you want.
  4. Pick your toppings! Don't put your entire fridge in there but choose 2-3 "add-ons" and see what works. Tonight I used chopped scallions, salt, pepper, kaseri (a wonderful greek cheese you must try) and a drizzle of olive oil. If you're using olive oil make it the good kind (more to come on this later in the week)
And the result

Monday, April 11, 2011

Edamame - the New Green Pea

I've been obsessed with edamame the past couple of weeks - but not in the sushi side dish kind of way. These little suckers are just starting to gain their ground as an every day ingredient. And with three times the amount of protein than their little green pea friends I happily oblige.

Try edamame on top of salads - buy a frozen bag and defrost in your fridge while you pack a little punch to your lunch (nice rhyme, huh?!).

Or throw them into pasta, soups or even brighten up your sauteed spinach and zucchini. These little edamame are silkier yet heartier and make green a little more fun.

And now for the best - I'm creating a new edamame dip with my trusty friend, the food processor A little edamame, some ricotta, garlic and parmesan cheese all mixed together with some fruity earthly olive oil - sound good? I think over some grilled baguette it could provide the perfect match to my glass of wine.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Something Sweet?

Lately I've been on a hunt for not just good but great desserts - and shockingly none have hit that amazingly memorable mark yet. They are either too sweet, too buttery, too sugary or not enough of all three. I'm not looking for anything over the top but more stunningly simple. I find that my favorite restaurants either don't make their own desserts or really rely on the popular dessert staples that really don't tempt my tastebuds. So I'm now determined to 1) create a really amazing dessert and 2) find one to cure a craving when I don't feel like baking.

And so it begins where should I tell me and I'll report back