I recently hosted a super fun Dine in the Dark Event at CitizenM hotel in Times Square NYC. They invited me to host the event by presenting some delicious nibbles and foodie creations to serve to a great group of food bloggers to do a blind tasting.
The idea was to pair flavors and tastes that the bloggers had to experience and guess, which were all revealed at the end of the dining experience by me.
I made 7 different small bites for the bloggers to do the tasting of: Blue Cheese, Apple and Walnut Salad in Endive, Manchego & Fig Jam Tarts, Sesame Sriracha Chicken Bites, Prosciutto, Melon & Feta Mini Skewers, Strawberry-Watermelon Coconut Rum Shooters, Smoked Salmon with Chive Sour Cream & Dill on Cucumber Rounds, and Tart Cherry Pistachio Honey Energy Balls.
CitizenM is a lovely modern hotel in the heart of Times Square, who let us have the space to do my event. They provided us afterwards with cocktails and more nibbles up on their rooftop CloudBar, where I gave a food styling and photography discussion and Q&A with the bloggers.
Everyone had a fantastic time and got the opportunity to learn some of my tips and tricks on food styling and food photography and how to break into the business. The group got to sample some tasty food, sip some delicious cocktails and meet new blogger friends from the city. All and all we had amazing views and it was a fun, lively evening for all.
Thanks to CitizenM for being such a lovely and accommodating venue! And thanks to all the bloggers* that came and made the event a smashing success! *see list at end of post
Happy Summer and Cheers to all! Enjoy some photos from the event below and I’ll post my recipes soon – stay tuned!
All the Food Bloggers — thanks for coming and making the #DineintheDarkNYC event at #CitizenMnyc a fun time for all
I was asked to create three veggie portraits of Jennette and The Couch hosts Carolina Bermudez and John Elliot using Birds Eye Vegetables to feature on the show. I picked up a few packages of frozen carrots, peas, green beans and corn and had a fun evening drawing faces and glueing veggies on white plates to create the portraits. Not as easy at it looks! Here’s a few photos of them along with some photos and videos from the TV Segment. Read on to find out Jennette’s Dinnertime Rules for eating healthier by incorporating fresh veggies into your kids meals!
McCurdy and Birds Eye have some suggestions for getting started ‘Rewriting the Dinnertime Rules.’
Rule #1: Role Reversal. Kids pick the menu and the veggies, help shop for the groceries and are in charge (with a little help from mom and dad) in the kitchen. Plus, they get to pick the theme and dress and decorate accordingly, whether it’s hitting the “beach,” bringing out your family’s wild side in the “jungle” or cheering on your favorite sports team.
Rule #2: Play with Your Birds Eye Veggies! You can use your veggies to make smiley faces or create colorful rainbows on your plate. You can even give your broccoli a mohawk haircut (really!) – just have fun!
Rule #3: Celebrate Every Bite. It can take up to 12 times for a kid to try a new type of veggie, or any new food before he or she begins liking it (http://www.choosemyplate.gov). So, keep it up! And while you’re at it, give yourself a high five for every bite your kid takes.
Rule #4: Be a Veggie Explorer. There are all sorts of cool and surprising ways to serve veggies. Like smoothies (mixed veggies with yogurt, OJ and honey), popsicles (carrots and OJ) and salad dressings (carrot ginger). You AND your kids will be amazed at all the cool ways you can eat your veggies.
For easy advice on getting kids to eat their veggies, more dinner “rules” and recipe ideas created for and tested by kids, visit www.BirdsEye.com.
Enter to win a trip to Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play on September 21st in New York City!
CLICK HERE to watch the video from the TV Segment on CBS The Couch
Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to cook and do food styling for a special healthy food segment on the “Joy Behar: Say Anything!” TV Show featuring Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Dr. Barnard sits down with guest host Marilu Henner to discuss how saturated fat makes you sluggish and which colored foods are good for your brain and improve memory. Barnard says, “Greens, foliage — that contributes folate, which is a B vitamin which protects the brain.” He adds, “So when you see the greens, you know that’s good for the brain.” He also goes into discussing what foods to avoid such as heavy carb and fat-laden foods that make us tired and lack energy.
I was asked to cook and style four of Dr. Barnard’s recipes from his new book “Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory” to display during the TV interview food segment. The recipes were all colorful and healthy and made with Power Foods and all-natural ingredients: Summer Salad made with Rainbow Chard, tomatoes, corn, onions and garlic and pecans, Minted Fruit Kebabs made with a Citrus Lime and Mint light dressing, Marinated Grilled Veggie Kabobs marinated in a balsamic and herb dressing, and Super Raspberry Protein Brownies made with black beans, raspberry jam, cocoa powder and figs.
Could that glass of milk affect your memory? Is that aluminum can increasing your risk for Alzheimer’s disease? Can a banana be a brain booster? Everyone knows that good nutrition supports your overall health, but did you know that certain foods can protect your brain and optimize its function?
In POWER FOODS FOR THE BRAIN, Dr. Neal Barnard has gathered the most important research and studies to deliver a program that can boost brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other less serious malfunctions, including low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability, and lack of focus. The plan includes information on:
The best foods to increase cognitive function and boost folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12
The dangers dairy products and meats may have on memory
The role alcohol plays in Alzheimer’s risk
The latest research on certain toxic metals, like aluminums found in cookware, soda cans, and common antacids
Plus, 50-75 recipes and timesaving kitchen tips.
Here are the recipes I made and styled for the show. Enjoy!
Summer Salad – The more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of immune-boosting antioxidants and phytochemicals. The same foods that are good for your heart are good for your brain.
Chard’s slight bitterness is beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the corn and grapes, resulting in a surprising depth of flavor.
½ small white onion
3 cloves garlic
Leaves from 1 bunch chard
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
¼ cup pecan halves
1 cup seedless black grapes
Pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mince the onion and garlic, then smash them together a couple times with the back of a knife or with a mortar and pestle.
Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly, as it tends to be gritty, then slice it into ribbons by tightly bunching the leaves together and slicing them with a sharp, heavy knife. Place the chard in a salad bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and toss.
Marinated Grilled Veggie Kebabs – these are super easy to make and super colorful, and healthy. Marinated in a dressing made with balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey, mustard and maple syrup with Italian season before grilling, they are super tasty too.
Serve these savory kebabs over a brown rice pilaf for a satisfying and easy meal.
16 cherry tomatoes
2 red onions, each cut into 8 bite-size chunks
2 green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 8 pieces each
16 button mushrooms
1 small yellow summer squash, cut into 8 pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into 8 pieces
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 metal skewers, or bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
Place the cherry tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, squash, and zucchini in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and whisk well. Pour the marinade over the vegetables and stir to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes.
Heat a charcoal or gas grill or your oven’s broiler. Onto one skewer, thread the ingredients in the following manner: 1 tomato, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper piece, 1 mushroom, 1 yellow summer squash slice, 1 tomato, 1 zucchini slice, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper, and 1 mushroom. Repeat with remaining ingredients and skewers. Place the kebabs on the hot grill or a broiler pan and brush with the marinade. Grill for 7 minutes, or until desired tenderness, turning the kebabs a few times. Serve immediately.
Minted Fruit Kebabs – Power up with blueberries and grapes. These “brain berries” get their deep colors from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants shown to improve learning and recall in studies at the University of Cincinnati.
Fresh fruit makes a striking appearance in these antioxidant-rich kebabs. Enjoy them for a refreshing, light dessert!
8 red or green grapes
4 large strawberries
4 1-inch-square cantaloupe chunks
4 1-inch-square honeydew chunks
4 1/2-inch-thick slices peeled kiwi
4 1-inch-square watermelon chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 10-inch bamboo skewers
Thread 1 grape, 1 strawberry, 1 cantaloupe chunk, 1 honeydew chunk, 1 slice kiwi, 1 watermelon chunk, and 1 more grape onto a skewer. Repeat with the remaining fruit and skewers. Place the finished skewers in a shallow container.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, mint, and vanilla. Pour the marinade over the fruit kebabs, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours) in the refrigerator before serving.
Super Raspberry Protein Brownies – A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse. Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse.
Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
1/4 teaspoon safflower oil
2 15-ounce cans low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup all-fruit raspberry jam
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with the oil.
Combine the black beans, dates, jam, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and process again.
Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top looks set. Remove from the oven and cool completely, then cut into 16 squares. The brownies will keep, refrigerated in a covered container, for up to 1 week.
I had the recent opportunity to have an intimate conversation with Trevor Kunk, Chef de Cuisine of Blue Hill New York about their history, philosophy, cuisine and thoughts on their recent James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant 2013.
We sat in the charming back patio garden room as he told me the story of the Barber Family, Blue Hill Farm, his Southern Florida upbringing and Culinary Institute of America training, and how he found his culinary calling at of one of New York’s most premiere farm-to-table restaurants. When I asked him what he thought made Blue Hill win this most distinguished and notable award, he simply stated, “we consistently produce delicious, fresh food.” After our conversation, it’s clear to see why.
With over 138 acres in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Blue Hill Farm has been in the Barber family for three generations and served as the inspiration behind both Blue Hill restaurants. Blue Hill Farm was originally a dairy, and was converted into a cattle farm by the Barber’s grandmother Ann Marlowe Straus, in the 1960s. She believed strongly in preserving land and connecting great farming and delicious food, which she passed on to them. Dan began farming and cooking for family and friends at the farm, and it is there that grew passionate about locally grown and seasonal produce.
In 2006 the brothers decided to redesign Blue Hill Farm back to its original form, and brought in local farmer Sean Stanton to manage the land. The farm is home to chickens, pigs, dairy cows, and laying hens, supplies the restaurants with vegetables and grass-fed meats.
BLUE HILL NEW YORK
In 2000, Blue Hill New York opened in Greenwich Village, New York City. A small intimate space, the restaurant occupies a historical “speakeasy” near Washington Square Park. It is both elegant and casual, serving seasonal American cuisine that celebrates the delicious offerings from the Hudson Valley.
Blue Hill’s menu highlights local food, cocktails, beer and wines from regional Tri-State artisanal producers. The majority of the ingredients come from nearby farms, as well as Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, located in Pocantico Hills, NY.
In addition to Blue Hill’s a la carte menu, they also offer a 5-course Farmer’s Feast and a 7-course extended Farmer’s Feast, bothinspired by the week’s harvest, and have a regular seasonal menu that changes depending on what produce, poultry, meats and seafood are in season to offer the freshest foods possible. Asparagus, Rhubarb, Radishes and Fiddlehead Ferns are abundant on the current Spring menu, which will change as soon as the weather warms up to Summer months, bringing in a flux of new seasonal fruits and vegetables to feature.
They offer a variety of fresh and locally sourced Farm Snacks such as Blue Hill Farm Yogurt, Parsnips, Beets and Oats or the “Farm Bar” served with Goat Cheese and Strawberries. There are plenty of gorgeous, creative appetizers to start the meal too: Chilled Asparagus Soup with Pickled Green Garlic, Walnut Bread and Sorrel; Emu Egg Pasta; or Stone Barns Butterhead Lettuce Salad with Fiddlehead Ferns, Pickled Cauliflower and Hazelnuts.
They serve Raven and Boar’s Pig year around, but their Hudson Valley Chickens are only served from May through November when their pasture raised chickens are in their prime and able to run around and feed outside. They serve local shellfish such as Shrimp and Squid with Spring Vegetables and fresh Tarragon; Grass-Fed Lamb with Asparagus, Knotweed and Alliums; and Rotation Risotto with 12 local grains and seeds made with Brassica Puree and Chocolate Wheat. Desserts are also made with fresh fruits and ingredients from surrounding farms –Olive Oil Cake with fresh pears, brown butter and toasted almond ice cream and a Chocolate Bread Pudding made with salted caramel, pine nuts and cocoa nib ice cream are a few house specialties.
Their cocktails and bar menu mimic the culinary program and support local farms by using NY State and domestic distilleries, wineries and ingredients from Blue Hill Farm and local Hudson Valley farms. They make their own bitters and sweet vermouth in-house, and have a ‘bartender garden’ where they grow their own herbs and plants, including wormwood used to infuse vodka, which is then muddled with fennel and chartreuse to create their own absinthe.
BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS CENTER AND BLUE HILL CAFE
Sourcing from the surrounding fields and pasture, as well as other local farms in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is an elegant restaurant that highlights the abundant resources of the Hudson Valley. There are no menus there, instead guests choose from a variety of fresh daily ingredients from the field and market.
Blue Hill Café offers light snacks, farm-fresh lattes and other locally grown and baked goodies, available to eat in the courtyard or take on a walk around the farm.
Shop for seasonal jams and pickles, rhubarb jam and pickled sunchokes in the Spring or apple butter and pickled cucumbers in the Fall. You can also shop for Blue Hill Farm Market items online.
The non-profit Stone Barns Center offers plenty of cooking classes and demos using local seasonal ingredients taught by well-known chefs and food artisans. You can also try your hand at some of their fun farm activities such as hands-on egg collecting, ice cream making, foraging for wild plants, making natural herbal remedies or maple tapping on the farm.
Visitors can also get a behind-the-scenes insider’s tour of Stone Barns, or attend one of their special events centered on farming and agriculture, such as the Sheep Shearing Festival in April or the Young Farmers Conference held in 2012. Check out this great video about Stone Barns Center’s mission to support a healthy and sustainable food system.
Blue Hill New York is open for dinner 7 days a week, and also hosts elegant events and private parties at its two restaurant locations and off-site venues. Whether it’s a trip to the farm or an elegant dinner in the city, Blue Hill certainly has earned its James Beard title for Outstanding Restaurant without a shadow of a doubt.
Blue Hill is a longstanding member of the NYS Restaurant Association (since joining in 2000), and is grateful for all the positive work NYSRA does to support their restaurants and businesses.
Blue Hill New York
75 Washington Place
New York, New York 10011
T 212 539 1776 (reservations and general information)
F 212 539 0959
Good Food Ireland, the first-ever, all industry network driving food tourism in Ireland, kicks off its international debut in the U.S.. Seeking to promote innovations in contemporary Irish cuisine and the country’s commitment to sustainable, authentic products, the organization also hopes to inspire Americans to travel to Ireland to experience and engage with its citizens and culture.
Good Food Ireland was established by Margaret Jeffares to link the agri/food sector with the hospitality industry. It was her philosophy that by supporting Irish farmers and producers, she could establish a healthy business environment where commercial opportunities for agriculture could be promoted through tourism and visa-versa.
“It is my mission to grow Ireland as a food tourism destination and to establish the ‘Good Food Ireland’ brand as the brand of choice for good food lovers everywhere,” says Jeffares. “One of Ireland’s greatest secrets is its locally produced ingredients and Good Food Ireland aims to set the standard for quality across a variety of industries – agriculture, food, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality.”
The premise is that by creating trusted and authentic Irish food experiences, Good Food Ireland will drive business to the hospitality sector and that, in turn,
inspires consumer purchase of more Irish food from farmers and purveyors,
contributing greatly to the local Irish economy.
Good Food Ireland’s U.S. launch includes:
They have kicked off the debut of Good Food Ireland Approved Provider foods at Dean and DeLuca’s flagship store in NYC, featuring the highest quality food the island has to offer. The foods available for sale in the Dean and DeLuca Store include:
In addition, there’s the opportunity to meet the people behind the products. Special offers and recipes are also available online, and I’ve included a few below.
2 shallots finely chopped
1 lb salmon, filleted and skinned
1 Tablespoon Kerrygold butter
5 fl oz dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Mashed Potatoes – no cream no butter
For the Coating:
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 oz soft white breadcrumbs
Pre-heat oven to 200c/400fgas 6
Butter and season a tray. Sprinkle with the shallots and sit the salmon on top. Drizzle with white wine and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 8- 10 minutes – the salmon should be firm to touch but still pink in the middle .
Sit the salmon in a colander over a pan to collect all the juices.
When all the juices have drained, place in a small pot and reduce on a stove to a nice syrup consistency.
Break up the salmon into flakes, add the syrup and chopped parsley, then fold in the potato until you have a binding texture. Check for seasoning and roll into 12 to 18 ball shaped cakes.
To Breadcrumb – Lightly pass through the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, repeat the process again.
To Cook – Deep fry at 180c/ 350f for 4-5 minutes drain well.
Serving suggestion: Serve 3 per portion on a bed of steamed baby spinach and lemon butter sauce.
2 oz Porridge Oats
7 fl oz Milk
Heat the milk, add porridge oats and cook for 1 min serve with honey or salt.
Bircher Muesli made with Irish Porridge Oats
5 oz porridge oats
1 oz Irish honey
20 fl oz milk
14 oz natural yogurt
4 oz sultanas (raisins)
1 whole Banana, chopped
1 apple, grated
4 oz blueberries
Combine ingredients and devour!!
Good Food Ireland sets strict criteria for Approved Provider status based on a core commitment to using local Irish ingredients and operating at a standard that is “best in class” and its branding on packaging of authentic Irish products is already recognized as the standard bearer of the industry. Beyond food products, the Good Food Ireland brand can also be used by hotels, restaurants & cafes, cookery schools and markets that meet Good Food Ireland standards. To date there are 450 Approved Providers that ensure consumers that all products and services bearing the brand meet the strictest “best in class” standards. All products and service standards are independently assessed.
Since Good Food Ireland was founded approximately five years ago, almost 70% of its Approved Providers have increased their business profile or heightened their awareness of local food. As a result, 92% have increased their purchasing of Irish food over the last 3 years, directly contributing close to 50 million euro to the local economy. (Source: Grant Thornton Survey – April 2012).
The Good Food Ireland Food Experience Awards celebrates excellence in food experience, the Food Lovers’ Choice Award lets you have your say. Simply vote for your favourite shortlisted GFI Approved Provider from the list below. The provider that gets the most votes will be announced on November 20th in the Shelbourne Hotel and presented with an award from An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D.
About Good Food Ireland:
Good Food Ireland is a grassroots industry network aimed at promoting innovations in Irish food, the country’s commitment to sustainable, authentic products across food, hospitality and travel industries – incorporating farmers, chefs, hoteliers and outposts of cultural interest. The organization seeks to promote its authentic products in the U.S. and to inspire Americans to travel to Ireland to experience the contemporary cuisine and engage with its citizens and culture. The cross section of agriculture, food & culinary, production/manufacturing and tourism industries seek to grow and sustain the Irish economy.
As the go-to expert for all things reality and lifestyle, Bethenny wants her fans to get the insiders truth on all-things healthy. She is on a mission to democratize healthy living, making information available to everyone she can reach.
On Monday, July 2, Bethenny just launched her healthy living shop on OpenSky.She is featuring her favorite products for living a healthy and happy life along with tips, videos, advice and ideas for living a healthier lifestyle.
Read the Q&A with Bethenny about her new OpenSky shop and philosophy on healthy living:
You’re a new TV host, Founder of Skinnygirl, 4-time NY Times best-selling author and chef, but if you had to describe yourself beyond that to someone, what would you say?
Well, I’m most definitely a businessperson, but I’m most proud of being a mother. Ever since I had Bryn, I make all my decisions based on what’s best for her so that’s how I define myself first now.
It seems like everybody’s biggest challenge for living a healthy lifestyle is time. What’s one simple thing time-starved women can fit into their day to live a healthier lifestyle?
What I tell women is there’s no way you can be the best mother, the best wife and the best businessperson if you’re running yourself ragged!
The best thing you can do to keep healthy is to keep hydrated. Even if you have one hand on your Blackberry, your baby bouncing on your lap and your ear on a conference call, you can still manage a few quick swigs of water. I even struggle with it personally because I don’t love water, but your body needs it to detox and to keep things moving if you know what I mean. So my alternative is knocking back club soda.
Summer’s here so we’re all thinking about baring more skin. Can you share one of your best secrets for getting a more toned body?
There’s honestly no secret. I believe in watching what you eat and exercise in moderation. Otherwise you go on one of these crash weight-loss regimens and you give up by Day 4. You can’t keep it up! And then you end up beating yourself up. If I eat a burger for lunch, I’ll have a salad for dinner. If I don’t have time to do 40 minutes of yoga, I’ll take the stairs instead of the elevator or park a little further away and walk a little extra. Moderation is key.
I’m a New Yorker so I’m used to walking a ton every day. That’s just what we do.
With your incredibly busy schedule, how do you find the time to cook at home?
My schedule is crazy but I always make it a point to make Bryn a home-cooked meal every day. I started out in catering so cooking is what I enjoy. And I swear, it’s easy…as long as you make it easy. Don’t say you’re going to make Beef Wellington and a Baked Alaska for a weekday dinner with the hubby—make turkey burgers and 30-minute brownies instead.
What are a few easy tips for gradually moving toward a healthier lifestyle?
The easiest way to start is to get rid of all those processed foods in your kitchen. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. Fill your fridge with real food instead. If you really need those potato chips, buy chips that are the most natural. (Hint: Check the ingredient list and it’ll be the one with the least ingredients.) If you really need that booze, make a Skinnygirl cocktail so you’re not downing all those calories.
With all of these extraordinary experiences on your resume, what made you decide to work with OpenSky as your next move?
I love giving women practical solutions that can make their lives a bit easier. It’s like having boozy brunch with my girlfriends and talking out our problems. But OpenSky is a way to bridge that gap between recommending something great and giving my fans a way to actually buy it.
What kinds of products and advice can your fans expect to see you offer on OpenSky?
Well, you definitely won’t get recipes for cardboard chicken. I mean I want you to actually like healthy living. I’m planning on showing you practical products and awesome tips that you can actually use in your day-to-day routine… And some of my Skinnygirl favorites, naturally.
I recently attended an amazing food styling and photography workshop with Beatrice Peltre, of La Tartine Gourmande at Haven’s Kitchen in NYC. Bea is an amazing Chef, food stylist and photographer and author of the cookbook La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life and one of my favorite food bloggers on the planet! If you don’t know Bea, she is very talented and creative – not only in her cooking and recipes but in her unique, fresh, colorful food styling and photography that has given her fame in the food community.
The workshop was at Haven’s Kitchen, a great cooking school and event space in Chelsea, NYC. If you haven’t visited this place you must next time you visit New York! The front area is stocked full of gourmet food items, cooking tools and utensils, kitchenware, and housewares; and they also serve coffee and tea, wine and great gourmet snacks. They offer small group cooking classes in their great location too, which you can check out online. The kitchen was set up with all of the fresh, beautiful food that we cooked and prepared together with Bea before we went upstairs to the private event space to prop, style and shoot the gourmet dishes we prepared.
After the shoot, we all sat down for a healthy gorgeous lunch of smoked salmon, veggie and dill cream tartines, fresh fruit and salads, cheese, gourmet pizzas and more. We laughed and ate, and had great conversation among the group and learned valuable lessons in the art of cooking, food styling and photography with Bea.
Check out my photos from the workshop and event below (there’s a slideshow on Flickr and a mini-gallery below for viewing pleasure). And if you have the opportunity to ever take a class from Bea or Haven’s Kitchen, I highly recommend! Enjoy.
Memorial Day is just a week away and marks the unofficial start of the grilling season. If you’re looking to host the ultimate barbecue, making sure you have all the right grilling ingredients is essential.
Tom Colicchio, James Beard Award Winner, Top Chef Judge and restaurateur, is known for his top-quality food served in his restaurants across the country. After 30 years in the business, and cooking at prominent New York restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill, Rakel, and Mondrian, Tom is an expert when it comes to grilling.
From the most flavorful meats to the sharpest knives, Tom’s been able to get his hands on the best ingredients and products from around the country. Some of his favorites include using the Konro Charcoal BBQ Grill, the perfect tool for cooking skewered foods, and grilling with D’Artagnan Wagyu Striploin, the best and most flavorful cut of meat when cooked at just the right temperature.
On Wednesday, May 16 Tom brought together all of his grilling essentials, including ingredients you’ll see on the menus in his restaurants, to OpenSky. With warmer weather on the way, now you have the chance to grill like a pro this Memorial Day.
Fuego Portable Gas Grill ($149) – it’s a high-quality tool and only 15 pounds – very portable. It’s equipped with a stainless steel burner that heats up to 650 degrees and it offers 159 square inches of grill space — enough to fit four burgers and as many hot dogs on the grill all at once. The steel frame construction means super durability, and an enameled cast iron grill grate allows your cooking surface to get and stay hot enough to guarantee a good sear.
Rufus Teague BBQ Sauce & Rub Bundle ($27) These sauces and rubs are the real-deal – with rich, spot-on flavors that complement meat rather trying to outshine it – and will get your summer grilling off on the right foot. Here’s what’s included: (1) 16 oz flask of Touch O’ Heat BBQ Sauce - (1) 16 oz flask of Honey Sweet BBQ Sauce - (1) 7 oz flask of Meat Sauce – (1) 6.8 oz jar of Fish Rub - (1) 6.8 oz jar of Meat Rub
Baxter’s Original Premium Smoker Wood ($20) — Essential tools for basic grilling include: a limitless supply of charcoal, a good set of tongs, and a big pile of wood chunks. Since the quality of the wood you grill with really does affect the flavor of your food, Tom is particular about what he uses. Baxter’s Original sources all their wood in Georgia, where they’re based, and they’re careful to make sure that it’s free of bark and debris.
Tip from Tom: If you’ve never used smoker wood on your grill, it’s easy. Soak the chunks in water and then add them to smoldering briquettes in a charcoal grill, or into the smoke tray of a gas grill, and they’ll flavor whatever you’re cooking with a nice, wood fired taste. A couple of chunks on a hot grill will mean a steak with just a hint of smoke, whereas a few cups of the stuff over low heat allows you to transform your grill into a smoker, capable even of turning out amazing, authentic barbecue ribs.
Konro Charcoal BBQ Grill with Bag of Charcoal ($77-$151) Konros are small Japanese tabletop grills – a cousin to the hibachi. The compact ceramic units use as their heat source binchotan charcoal, a slow-burning hardwood charcoal that’s traditional to Japan. They’re the perfect tool for cooking skewered foods like yakitori, or any other small items that you could otherwise cook on a big, free-standing grill. They’re fun to use – especially in a dinner party setting where everyone can participate in the cooking – easy to set up and clean up, and totally portable for picnicking and tailgating.
Sweet Deliverance Chutney Duo ($24) – Try Kelly’s Spicy Green Tomato Chutney and Raisin Haters Apple Chili Chutney as spreads to accompany a cheese and charcuterie platter, or better yet, as a condiment to serve alongside a rich meat like lamb. It transforms a hunk of cheddar, a slice of pate, or a simple ham sandwich.
-Two 12-ounce American Wagyu (a.k.a. “Kobe beef”) strip steaks, the richest and most decadent steak on the market, sourced from Imperial Wagyu cattle raised in Nebraska. A little of this stuff goes a long way.
-Four 12-ounce boneless ribeye steaks, sourced from naturally raised Angus cattle. These cattle are never fed any antibiotics, hormones, or animal-based protein supplements, and the meat is amazingly well marbled and tender.
-Four 14-ounce pork chops from naturally raised Duroc and Berkshires hogs, free-ranging in Iowa. The meat is nothing like the pork chops you’re used to from your local supermarket. It’s beautifully marbled, succulent, and sweet.
Check out more cool food items,cooking and grilling essentials on OpenSky.com (sponsor of this post) and have an amazing Memorial Day weekend grilling your hearts out!
I love Italian food. I mean reallyloooove Italian food.. And who doesn’t? But especially authentic, homemade Italian – cooked with fresh ingredients and simple, healthy recipes that are downright divine. I recently took a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City with Chef and Culinary Instructor Pia Vallone, who teaches the Techniques of Italian Cooking course. It was a 5-week intensive class 6 hours long. Lots to learn in a short amount of time. Chef Pia, a native of Italy and graduate of ICE, taught us a a variety of recipes from different regions of Italy spanning the basic recipes and techniques.
We made fresh pasta and risottos, hearty ragus and fresh and creamy sauces, roasted and braised meats, seafood dishes, soups and stews,
roasted and braised vegetables (my favorites were the Roasted Tomatoes and Stuffed Wine-braised Artichokes), desserts such as Classic Tiramisu, Mascarpone Mousse and Rustic Italian Apple Crostata,
and healthy, fresh Italian salads and small plates.
We always had red and white Italian wine and fresh Italian bread to accompany, and learned the customs of eating the way the Italians do – start with an “antipasti” (appetizer), next order a “primo” (first course usually consisting of pasta, risotto, minestrone or other soups), then pick your main “secondi” (second course usually a meat or fish dish), have a small bit of “formaggi” (cheese) after your main, then on to “dolci” (sweets/desserts such as cheese, fruit, sweet wine, and coffee/cappucino).
We made some of the most amazing Italian food during this class and learned classic authentic cooking techniques that I was able to bring home with me to prepare my own delicious Italian food. In fact, I was so impressed with Pia’s class that I had to interview her to share her culinary background and story along with a recipe with all of you! Enjoy.
Can you tell me a little bit about your culinary training and professional background? What was your first job as a Chef and what was that like?
My first and only hands-on restaurant experience was in an Italian restaurant in London (cannot remember the name of the restaurant), near Victoria Station, in the summer of 1978. A friend of mine who worked as an executive chef there, offered me a job as a sous chef. After a month of hard work, I had to leave the restaurant, because my visa was about to expire and soon after, I returned to Italy. The second experience related to food, was working for several years as a bookkeeper for a restaurant and corporate catering. There I learned so much about food and was exposed to new ingredients and flavor profiles, although I worked in the establishment’s office. As for training, I graduated from The Institute of Culinary Education in NYC and hold a Culinary Arts diploma and a Pastry and Baking Arts diploma. I currently work at ICE as a Manager of Kitchen Assistants and as a Recreational Chef Instructor, though I have worked in different areas in the company, within the past 10 years.
When did you realize you wanted to be a Chef? Who inspired you most as a young cook and what did you learn from them?
I always loved cooking and eating, but I began to spend time experimenting with recipes from various kinds of cuisines in my home kitchen, cooking for friends when I arrived to New York in 1980. Wanting to get involved with food and becoming a chef was a second career change for me, which began in 2001.
My greatest inspiration was my father, who was a gourmand and a terrific cook. I spent many hours in the kitchen with him during my childhood, helping out, observing him and absorbing all the knowledge I could. From my father, I learned passion, love and appreciation of good food and the importance of using fresh ingredients.
Can you tell us a little bit about your culinary style and what makes your menus and recipes unique?
My style is mainly rustic. I like rustic food for its simplicity and because it is nourishes the body and soul. My menus and recipes are unique, because the ingredients I use are accessible and inexpensive.
Is there a difference in the recipes you create/the food you eat in Italy versus the Italian food here in the United States and what are the main differences?
The difference between food in Italy and food here…? Food in Italy is extremely fresh, mostly organic and seasonal. Its flavor(s) cannot be replicated in dishes cooked outside of the Country. Food in Italy is also quite simple. In fact, most of the best food I have ever eaten there was prepared with just a few ingredients. On the contrary, Italian American food is the result of ‘imported’ traditions and transformations, mostly due the immigrant’s longing for the ‘Old Country’. Immigrants, who arrived here tried to capture flavors and freeze memories, by utilizing similar ingredients grown in a different terroir. Nowadays though, great Italian chefs live here in the States, so the differences between Italian food in Italy and the US is narrowing down.
In your opinion, what are the most important elements when creating a recipe from scratch?
The most important elements are: fresh ingredients, simplicity and focus, Make sure to tastes the food while cooking it.
What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?
My favorite dish is ‘Roman Style Tripe’, a dish that brings back childhood memories.
What is your favorite spice or ingredient to cook with and why?
I love black pepper, which I use in all savory recipes. Besides liking its pungent flavor, I add it to dishes because it helps improve digestion.
What is your favorite cooking gadget or kitchen item you can’t live without and why?
I own many gadgets and often buy the new ones that are the latest invention in the market, but always tend to use the familiar ones over and over. A gadget I cannot live without is a hand held grater, because it is efficient and does not use too much space in the kitchen.
Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs and home cooks?
Start by cooking a simple recipe, one with 4 or 5 ingredients. Learn basic skills and techniques at first and then move on to a larger repertoire. Patience, practice and repetition are important to achieve success with cooking, as with other things in life.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
Yes. I am always looking to inspire others to cook. It is a pleasure to see that people are interested in cooking and familiarizing themselves with ingredients. Sharing passion for food and cooking with people is an all-around relaxing experience for me.
Spring Vegetable Soup
Yield: serves 6
2 small carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, diced
1 small butternut squash, diced
1 bunch escarole, chopped
½ cup peas, frozen
1 tablespoon basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bread and for drizzling on soup
4 quarts chicken stock
1 small ciabatta bread
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sauté carrots, celery and onions in a large stock pot over medium heat, for approximately 5 minutes, making sure that you stir the vegetables while they cook.
Add chicken stock to the pan. Increase the heat to high, cover the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
Slice bread into 1” thick slices. Brush slices with the additional olive oil on both sides and place in a sauté pan over low heat. Turn bread slices once and cook until they are golden brown. Place bread in a tray and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.
Add butternut squash to the stockpot and cook for 3 minutes.
Add zucchini and peas to the stockpot and cook for 3 more minutes.
Add escarole, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for 4 additional minutes.
Remove two ladles of soup from the stockpot and puree in a blender, then return the pureed soup to the pot (the puree will thicken the soup). Stir and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
Add some grated cheese into the soup and stir. Ladle soup in individual bowls, drizzle oil and sprinkle additional cheese.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED FOR ENTRIES. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER,
***(Check back for our next awesome cookbook giveaway in the next week!)***
Enter now for a chance to win a copy of La Tartine Gourmande Cookbook! Starting today (5/3/2012), I am running a giveaway for one (1) La Tartine Gourmande Cookbook, courtesy of Roost Books. The giveaway runs until 5/13/2012 at 12:00 AM EST.
To enter the giveaway (open to US/Canadian residents only):
Comment on this post: Tell me what is your favorite Spring dish or ingredient to cook with, and why you would like to win the cookbook to receive one (1) entry;
Share this post on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest with your followers and get an additional entry for each post;
*** VERY IMPORTANT! ***Leave a separate comment for EACH of your entries or only one entry will be counted.For example, leave your first comment about your Spring dish or ingredient and why you want to win the cookbook, then add another comment to say “I follow you on Twitter”, another to say “I follow you on Pinterest”, etc. If you already follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and/or Facebook let me know as well, since this counts as an entry.
*NOTE:Please make sure to provide your current email address (which won’t be visible on the blog) so I can reach you if you win.
I will randomly draw one lucky winner on Sunday, May 13 at 12AM EST. Good Luck and enjoy the recipes and video from La Tartine Gourmande below!
If you haven’t seen the food blog LaTartineGourmande.com or heard about the author Beatrice Peltre – Chef, Writer, Recipe Developer and Photographer, then you absolutely need to continue reading on! I recently purchased a copy of her new cookbook La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life, which is a delicious, full-color cookbook filled with beautiful, fresh, simple recipes and gorgeous food photography. She has been such an inspiration to me as a Chef, food writer and photographer, and I’ve been following her site for a few years now — I was so excited when her new cookbook came out that I wanted to do a review and giveaway to share her fabulous recipes and photos with my readers.
The cookbook is full of amazing recipes made with whole, fresh ingredients based on French-based techniques. The recipes are beautifully simple and easy enough to make at home or for entertaining friends and family. The book is written in an honest and down-to-earth voice, with stories and recipes based on Bea’s French background and other places she has lived or traveled to such as Denmark, New Zealand and Boston. Bea brings a creative twist to everyday recipes and uses only the freshest ingredients and gluten-free whole grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat, and nut flours. She shares stories of cooking with her daughter (Lulu) and takes you inside her kitchen with tales of culinary delight.
Her inspiring recipes are full of bright flavors and colorful fruits and vegetables and tantalizing baked goods. Organized by Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner and Desserts, she offers menus within each category for different occasions: The Picnic, Casual Lunch with Friends, The Party with Small Bites, Sophisticated and Elegant Dinners, etc. You’ll find mouthwatering recipes such as Cherry Tomato Tartlets Tatin, Saffron-flavored Crab and Watercress Souffle, and Tagliatelle with Zucchini, Lime and Parmesan. Her gorgeous desserts include Chocolate and Plum Almond Cake with Cinnamon and Apple and Pear Verrines with Millet Crumble and Vanilla Custard and many more luscious creations. Bea has been generous enough to share two of her recipes from the new cookbook below: her lovely Summer Vegetable Tian, and tantalizing dessert Cardamom Chocolate Creme Caramel. Enjoy!
Summer Vegetable Tian
Oh the joy of a melt-in-the-mouth vegetable tian! I have a true weakness for this dish. Originally from the South of France, a tian is a dish in which summer vegetables —similar to those used in a ratatouille — are layered and baked slowly in a low-heated oven. The result is melting layers of flavors and scents that transport you to the Mediterranean. During the summer, when I can get wonderfully aromatic vegetables at the farmers’ market, this is a meal we enjoy weekly. Also, to simplify dinner when you’re busy, prepare the dish ahead of time, or even the day before.
1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme or regular thyme
¼ cup chopped basil
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 Italian eggplants (280 g; 10 oz), sliced into thin rounds
2 zucchini (400 g; 14 oz), thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
3 to 4 ripe tomatoes (550 g; 19 ½ oz), thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbs (280 g; 10 oz), thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
In a small bowl, combine the chopped herbs and garlic. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle them with sea salt. Let them rest for 30 minutes so the moisture releases. Pat dry with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 320 degrees F (160 degrees C).
Brush a large oven dish with oil and layer your vegetables into it in this order: 1 layer of tomatoes, 2 layers of zucchini, 1 of eggplant, 1 of fennel; repeat this pattern until you run out of vegetables, adding some of the chopped herbs and garlic each time between layers. Season with sea salt and pepper and drizzle generously with oil.
Place the tian in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Check regularly to make sure that they do not brown too quickly, covering the dish with a piece of foil paper if that’s the case. Serve warm with a green salad and grilled meat or fish.
Cardamom Chocolate Crème Caramel
This attractive dessert is made for people like me and Philip who cannot resist anything described with words like “dark chocolate” and “custard.” Maybe you are one of these people too? It offers a rich silky aromatic chocolate flan-like cream balanced by a light caramel sauce that you’ll want to dip your fingers into.
You will need:
Six 6-ounce ramekins
Canola oil, for the ramekins
For the caramel:
½ cup (100 g: 3 ½ oz) fine granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon hot water
For the chocolate custard:
2 ¼ cups (530 ml) whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
5 green cardamom pods, crushed
3 oz (90 g) dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons blond cane sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder, to dust
Oil six 6-ounce ramekins; set aside.
To prepare the caramel: Heat the sugar and cold water in a small pot. Swirl the pot in a circular movement so that the sugar absorbs the water. Bring to a boil, then simmer at a medium heat — do not stir the sugar at this point, although you can swirl the pot occasionally — and watch the caramel develop. It will be ready when it’s golden in color, which takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the hot water, and stir quickly. Pour the caramel into the oiled ramekins, making sure to coat the bottom and sides; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 300ºF (150ºC).
To prepare the custard: In a pot, combine the milk with the vanilla bean and seeds and cardamom pods and bring to a boil, making sure that it doesn’t overflow. When it boils, remove from the heat and add the chocolate, whisking quickly so that the chocolate melts evenly. Cover and let infuse for 20 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean and cardamom, and using a fine sieve or chinois, strain the chocolate milk.
In the meantime, using a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar for 1 minute. Pour the chocolate milk in and stir quickly. With a spoon, remove any foam that might have formed at the surface. Divide the chocolate custard among the 6 caramel- filled ramekins and place them in a water bath (see Basic Cooking Techniques, page 27, for instructions). Place the custards in the oven and cook for about 50 minutes. To check if they are ready, jiggle the ramekins a little —the center of the cream should be almost set but not fully (they’ll finish setting once they cool down). Remove the ramekins from the oven and let cool completely. Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight, until the custard is completely set.
To unmold the crème caramel easily, dip the ramekins in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, taking care to not let the water spill in. Run the blade of a knife between the custard and the edge of the ramekins. Turn onto a plate and serve with dusted cocoa on top.
Watch the premiere book trailer for the new La Tartine Gourmande cookbook.Music: “The Winter Song” by the band Au Revoir Simone: www.aurevoirsimone.comVideo: Margaret Singer & Max Freeman of Unusually Fine: www.unusuallyfine.com