Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Aromatic Noodles with Asian inspired peanut sauce

I am on a Cilantro kick at the moment and I can't decide if that is because of Cinco De Mayo or what. So until my fascination with this great fresh tasting herb passes you may just have to learn a new appreciation for its versatility. This recipe was inspired by one from Gourmet magazine I wrote down ages ago and have been making my own variations ever since. It is quick and surprisingly simple despite what might look like a lot of ingredients. This is a perfect recipe if you are craving Thai food.

Aromatic Noodles
with an Asian inspired peanut sauce

12 oz. Soba noodles (whole wheat angel hair would work too)
2 c. broccoli florets
2 c. snow peas
2 c. sugar peas
2 whole green onions
2-4 garlic cloves finely chopped
½ c. bean sprouts
½ c. all natural creamy peanut butter
½ c. unsalted peanuts
¼ c. low sodium soy sauce
2 tbl rice wine vinegar
2 tbl fresh lime juice (about two small limes)
2 tbl organic raw sugar (brown sugar or agave syrup would also work)
Fresh ginger peeled and finely grated
Small bunch of fresh cilantro roughly chopped
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil (you could also use extra virgin olive oil)

1. Cook the noodles in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cool water.
2. While the noodles are cooking steam the broccoli florets until vivid green about 3 min. Then add the peas and continue to steam all the veggies for about 2 more min until peas are bright green and tender.
3. Toast the peanuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until they become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pour them into a bowl and let cool.
4. The make the base for the sauce drizzle the pan with a small amount of toasted sesame oil and gently sauté the garlic, green onion, and ginger for just a few minutes until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, and peanut butter. Heat through stirring continuously; if it is too thick add a few tablespoons of hot water.
5. Right before serving toss the noodles with about ½ the peanut sauce and a small amount of the chopped cilantro. Top with steamed veggies, raw bean sprouts, and roasted peanuts (they can be whole or slightly chopped). Drizzle with remaining sauce and garnish with the remaining cilantro (to taste).

This is a really great dish as is but you can also add chilies to it for a little kick. Just add a seeded, chopped chili of whatever heat you like to the pan while sautéing the garlic in step 4. You could also used red pepper flakes for a quick addition. You could also make more sauce (or save any you have left over) for a few days in the fridge if you wanted to try it with chicken sate or on more noodles later in the week for a quick lunch.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

These are a quick but deeply satisfying snack. A great way to use all the zucchini from the garden. Or a perfect baked vegetable alternative to popcorn or potato chips.

2 medium Zucchini sliced thinly
¼ c. finely grated parmesan
¼ c. garlic and herb bread crumbs
2 tbl olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450°
1. Slice the zucchini and blot the extra moisture with paper towels
2. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat
3. Sprinkle with cheese, breadcrumbs, and any seasoning to taste
4. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and place slices in a single layer
5. Bake 25-30 min or until golden brown and crispy

Serve warm from the oven and experiment with different flavors of breadcrumbs and herbs. Cajun spices are very yummy if you like a little spice.

To make your own breadcrumbs:
1. Lightly butter or drizzle bread with olive oil and season to taste
2. Turn oven to broil and move rack to highest position
3. Place bread in single layer on backing sheet and toast in oven for 3-5 min
4. Remove and flip continue to toast under the oven broiler until golden brown
5. When cool place toast in a blender or food processor and pulse until ground to your desired coarseness
* Some flavors to try: garlic and onion, Cajun, Italian herb, lime, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Three great ways to use Cilantro

These recipes are for my best friend Carson. The flavors in these simple recipes remind me of her, with their bright clean flavors, beautiful colors and endless possibilities. All three recipes are perfect for spring and summer and can be made in advance, in large quantities for parties. Or just for you paired with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on a Sunday afternoon.

Cilantro is a great herb and can be used to kick up a lot of classic recipes. Since I buy cilantro in large bunches I often have enough for several recipes. Here are a few I have played with lately, including my hand hacked guacamole.

Hand Hacked Guacamole

3 medium ripe avocadoes
1 medium onion chopped
1 small tomato (I like to use romanos)
Juice of one lime
1-2 serrano chiles
3 tbl chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic chopped
sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

1. Cut the avocados in half, and remove the pits with a spoon, scoop out the green flesh into a medium bowl.
2. Using two forks and a cross “hacking” motion mash the avocadoes into large chunks.
3. Mix in the chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, and chilies. Do not include the seeds from the chilies and remember that chili peppers can vary greatly in their hotness. Add a little at a time until you reach the desired level of heat and then thoroughly wash your hands and the cutting surfaces. Do not touch your face or other sensitive areas for a few hours. 4. Add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes just before serving.

Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation and browning of the avocado. Guacamole is all about what you like so feel free to get creative; I like to throw in a little fat free cottage cheese on occasion. I am also a fan of serving guac with celery and grilled pita points.

Cilantro Pesto Pasta

12 oz whole wheat pasta
2 c. fresh cilantro
½ c. pine nuts
½ half head of garlic
2 tbl white wine vinegar
drizzle olive oil *you could also use avocado oil
sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
*optional crushed red pepper

1. In a blender or food processor pulse the cilantro, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil and white wine vinegar until it forms a smooth paste.
2. Boil Pasta until firm and drain, toss with herb paste.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste, you can also season with crushed red pepper for a little spicy kick.

The flavors in this pasta sauce are strong and bright and pair best with fresh lightly steamed veggies. Serve this pasta with fresh tomatoes, a little steamed asparagus or rapini, grilled chicken or shrimp. This dish can also be served chilled as a pasta salad.

Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

1 1/2c. Greek style yogurt
1 lemon zest and juice
½ small onion finely chopped
¾ c. chopped cilantro
3-4 chopped cloves garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate. Let the flavors blend for a few hours or over night. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

This can also be made with sour cream in place of the yogurt and lime instead of the lemon for a slightly more Latino taste. I have also used Cajun seasoning in place of the cayenne or just simple salt and pepper, all are great. I usually serve this alongside grilled shrimp or chicken. It is especially good in a pita pocket stuffed with chicken, tomatoes, and baby spinach.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wine Words

I am struggling with one of my goals this year and that is to incorporate more wine reviews in my writing and culinary adventures. I would really like to be one of those foodies who can hold their own with the wine crowd. That is not to say that I don't know what I like, I do, which I have been told is half the battle. Now I am working on communicating why I like a certain wine and why I would suggest pairing it with a specific dish. I am going to be going through a little exercise in the next few weeks, since my new kitchen is tiny and still somewhat disorganized from the move. I am going to be writing some short posts about the wines that have recently caught my attention. I will tell you now that I like to keep the price point under $20 and if you have any questions I will be happy to try and answer them! I hope you enjoy this little foray into the wine world and will have pictures of the bottles so you can go looking at your local vino supplier.

Best Wishes,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pecan Pie made by Girls from California

My Dad's family is from the Deep South, Louisiana and Mississippi mostly. My Mom's family is from Out West, California and Utah mostly. Of course growing up my family moved all over the world so we are not really from any one place in particular. This diverse background made for some very interesting dinner table and holiday "staples" at my house. My Dad who is a great cook in his own rite can make some mean Gumbo and Red Beans and Rice. However, over the years it seems my Mom did most of the cooking even when it came to the Southern favorites. She would use the River Roads cookbooks and put her own twist (often a lot less butter and bacon fat) on the cuisine of the south my family loved so much.

Pecan Pie is one such favorite. Holidays at my house are not complete without pecan pie. Now my mother is of the opinion that "traditional" pecan pie is often sickeningly sweet and the ratio of goop to nuts is simply unacceptable. Therefore she often doubled the nuts used and split the goop between two pie shells. What she ended up with was more of a pecan tart with just enough goop to hold everything together which was a little less cloyingly sweet. Now this may enrage some of the traditionalists out there who love their pecan pie with lost of sweet smooth filling and just a crust of pecans caramelized on top. This recipe, call it an interpretation of a classic, is simply not for you.

I of course make even more changes to the family recipe by serving it with a whole wheat crust, not using any Karo Syrup, and mixing in two other types of nuts. I of course love this version of a classic any time day or night, warm or cold, alamode or solo, especially with a cup of coffee or tea. (Yogi Tea's Tahitian Vanilla Hazelnut is especially good at night before bed because it does not have any caffeine).

Whole Wheat Pastry Crust

1 ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 stick chilled unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk *reserve the white for filling
3 tbl ice water
1 tbl honey *You could also use agave or maple syrup
½ tsp salt
*optional dash of cinnamon

1. Mix Dry ingredients in a food processor. Cut the chilled butter into small cubes or slices and add to the processor hit pulse a few times until the dough resembles small pebbles and sand.
2. Whisk the egg yolk, honey and ice water in small bow.
3. Add wet mix to the processor and combine until moist clumps form, if it looks to dry or add a little more ice water a few spoonfuls at a time.
3. Roll the dough into ball and then flatten into disk, wrap in plastic and chill for about 1 hour. This crust can be made up to 2 days in advance just keep it refrigerated and when you want to use it let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before you roll it out.
4. Roll out crust dough on lightly floured surface until it is about 13-inches around, if the dough is sticky or hard to work with rub with flour and chill a little longer.
5. Fold the circle of dough in half, and half again to transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish (unfold). Trim dough and crimp using fingers or a fork to form a high-standing rim.
6. Freeze crust until firm (about 20 minutes)

You can also prebake this pastry crust if you like, and it works with so many recipes not just pie (think quiche). If prebaking :
Prick bottom of crust with fork a few times to prevent bubbling.Bake at 450º for eight minutes or until edges are golden, remove, cool, fill, and bake according to filling recipe.

My Personalized Pecan Pie Filling

1 1/2 c. pecan halves
1 c. finely chopped almonds and walnuts
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. agave syrup
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 eggs *plus I use the one white from above
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
*Optional sometimes I like a darker flavor and I add 1 tbl of black molasses.
* I have also been known to throw a little bourbon in the syrup mixture when it's on the stove, just let it bubble a minute and it should lose any alcoholic bite.

Preheat oven to 350º.
1. Over medium heat combine syrups, sugar and butter in a saucepan stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture bubbles. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.
2. If using whole almond and walnuts (you could also use more pecans or another nut combination of your choice) combine nuts in food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles.
3. Whisk eggs, vanilla and salt in a bowl to combine and gradually add the cooled syrup mixture.
4. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and fill with finely chopped nut mixture, layering the pecan half's on top. Pour filling over nuts; don't be afraid to use it all!
5. Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed around edges and center is set, about 40-60 minutes. Ovens can vary a lot so check on the pie every now and again to make sure your crust is not burning or the nuts are not getting to dark, if you think your are getting to much color you can tent the pie with a little foil. Allow pie to cool before you cut it, if you like yours warm (I know I do) you can throw it in the microwave for 15 seconds before serving.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Spinach Salad

This recipe is my way of honoring one of my favorite establishments in Salt Lake City. Located on the corner of 13th S. and 17th E. Eggs in the City is one of the best kept local places in the valley. It only serves breakfast and lunch and is actually an old auto garage. In the summer the old bay doors are thrown wide open and locals and their furry friends will spill out and onto the patio to enjoy their deliciously fresh foods. The wait staff has been the same since I discovered this gem four years ago and they are a wonderful eclectic group of people who really want to deliver the best food they can any way you want it. I am going to give you my version (serves two) of their spinach salad which I had to recreate after my move to Michigan.

Bunch of baby spinach
10-12 strawberries
Small block of blue cheese
1 cup almonds *I like to use toasted almonds but you can also use candied nuts of any kind
1 large crisp apple or pear

¼ c. lemon juice¼ c. almond oil *You could also use hazelnut or any other light tasting oil
¼ red onion
4 tbl sugar
1 tbl white wine vinegar1 tbl poppy seed
1 tbl sesame seed
¼ tsp salt

1. You can use a blender or a food processor, combine the, juice, vinegar, onions, sugar and salt and blend well.
2. With machine running, slowly add oil, blending until smooth. Add poppy and sesame seeds and blend a few more seconds to mix (any extra can be kept in the fridge for bit).
3. Assemble the salad by slicing the fruit and crumbling the cheese over the washed and dried spinach, lightly drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.

This salad is delicious with candied nuts and is a beautiful presentation with lots of color and texture. I am very, very light on the dressing because the salad has so much flavor on its own, but you could also use any number of dressings including fruit vinaigrettes or a basic balsamic.

Warm Rapini Salad

Rapini is a lot like broccoli and you may know it as one of its many other names (Broccoli Rabe, Broccoletti, Broccoli di Rape, Cime di Rapa, Rappi, Friarielli (in Naples) just to name a few. It is found in lots of Mediterranean and some Chinese dishes. Rapini could be described as a love child between kale and broccoli, you have stems and leaves similar in texture to a kale, though slightly more delicate, and then you have little flower heads like broccoli florets. Simple to say it is packed with nutrients and not a whole lot of calories so it is an instant winner in most circles. I like it simply prepared but it is a very versatile green and can be a great addition to a lot of more complex dishes.

1 bunch Rapini
3-4 cloves garlic
Handful of roughly shredded aged gruyere
Dried red pepper flakes
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon

1. In a large skillet or wok sauté (on high heat) sliced garlic cloves and chili flakes in olive oil until garlic looks toasted.
2. Trim ends of Rapini and wash in cold water drain and add to the skillet allow to "wilt". Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes; you don’t want to over cook the tender leaves and you want the stems to be tender but still have a little crunch (use a fork to check them.)
3. Remove from heat sprinkle with cheese, lemon juice and maybe a little salt and pepper to taste; serve warm.

This is a simple warm salad that is open to so many variations I like to serve it alongside a crostini with a grilled chicken breast and a glass of dry white wine for a complete meal. Throw in some toasted pin nuts or substitute a creamy goat cheese and play with the acid by using a little balsamic vinegar instead of the lemon juice. You can also use this recipe for other greens like kale or swiss chard. Just remember to watch the greens, you want to bring out their color and just slightly soften their texture.

Garnet Yams, the first, of three ways…

I have an ongoing love affair with the slightly sweet, dark orange, delicate, flesh of the garnet yam. Now I know that garnet yams can sometimes be a seasonal tuber and will hit markets around the fall and winter holiday season. However, I seem to have a knack for finding them so I am always playing around with their potential which in my opinion is endless. You could use sweet potatoes in any of these recipes with very similar results. These are three of my favorite ways to use this vitamin packed staple.

Garnet Yam and Balsamic Pasta Glaze

2 medium yams
1/4 c. crème fresh
12 oz. can tomato sauce
4-5 slices thick cut bacon
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Bunch of fresh basil
Dash of white balsamic vinegar *You could use the dark variety
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400º
1. Wash the yams and cut of the ends, puncture with a knife or fork a few times. Line a baking sheet with foil and bake in the hot oven for about 50 min. The sugars of the yams may bubble and caramelize so don’t be alarmed. If you are using large yams they may take a little longer, test the potatoes with a fork the same way you would white baked potatoes.
2. While the yams are baking fry the bacon and let it drain on some paper towels.
3. Remove the Yams a let cool, after slice them in half and scoop out the flesh into a food processor.
4. Chop the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat in a drizzle of olive oil (or the tiniest bit of bacon fat) when the onion is beginning to caramelize add a dash of balsamic vinegar (I like to use the white variety because it does not interfere with the color of the yams) and give the bottom of the pan a good scrape down with a spoon to lift all the golden bits and flavor up.
5. Add tomato sauce and the crème fresh turn down heat to gently heat through season with salt and pepper.
6. Add the sauce to the yams in the food processor (you could also use a hand blender in a pot directly on the stove if you have one) and puree all the ingredients until thick and smooth.
7. Return to stove and heat on low heat continue to taste and season with salt and pepper (it should still be slightly sweet so don’t over do it on the salt)
8. Add roughly chopped basil and bits of bacon, you could also throw a little crumbled goat cheese on top.

Serve with fresh cheese ravioli, or a multigrain penne.

You could add a little chicken or other meat (I have used sweet Italian sausage) if you don't eat pork, you can also opt for the vegetarian option by using olive oil and lots of fresh feta or goat cheese. The sauce should be thick and really stick to your pasta enjoy!

More to come…

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Whole Wheat Matzo Cookies

I have been seeing a lot of variations of this recipe flying around the Internet and I have to say it is my favorite use of the whole wheat Matzo crackers I get at Whole Foods. I love to celebrate the beauty of culture and diversity through food and these Matzo cookies are simple and fantastic. They would be a welcome addition to any Passover party or a great addition to a bowl of ice cream any time of year! Please share your favorite versions in the comments section!

Matzo Cookies
Whole Wheat Matzo Crackers
1 stick of butter
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. chopped nuts *I like almonds and walnuts but any mix works well
3 tbl peanut butter *I also like to use almond butter
6-8 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips *You can also use dark bar chocolate
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
sea salt for sprinkling

1. Lay a single layer of Matzo crackers on a paper lined baking sheet
2. Preheat oven to 350°
3. Melt the butter over low heat and slowly add the sugar until it dissolves and the mixture bubbles, stir regularly, and let bubble for 3 minutes.
4. Remove mixture from heat and add the vanilla
5. Quickly before the mixture sets spread the caramel over the matzo crackers
6. Melt chocolate in a double boiler with nut butter
7. Place crackers in the oven for 5-10 min or until the caramel is mostly smooth but be sure to watch the edges of the crackers for burning, you can always turn the oven down a little.
8. Remove the crackers and drizzle with the chocolate and nut butter mixture; sprinkle with chopped nuts and a little sea salt
9. Let cool completely and break into chucks.

These would be amazing with toffee bits or several types of chocolate drizzles. Serve them stacked on a plate with fresh fruit or alongside some amazing ice cream. (The pictures are with the home made rocky road ice cream I made a week ago.)

Honey Whole Grain Memories

Growing up my mother would grind her own wheat, I remember the sound of the grinder in the pantry as she made a rich whole wheat flour that she would use to bake bread. I remember watching the dough bubble and expand; I never knew how lucky I was to grow up in a house where my mom baked bread. Those memories are really something special and the smell of the house and the sight of the seven kids in the kitchen; that is what family was really all about for me growing up. My mom made big batches of whole wheat bread slightly sweetened with honey, she would make pizza, cinnamon rolls, beignets, and sandwich loafs. I am almost sure there was never an occasion where the first loaf out of the oven was not gone before the other loafs were finished baking. This recipe is based on the one she used just scaled down a bit and tweaked to include some of my favorite flours. It produces a lovely golden loaf that has the perfect balance of sweet and salty. It really is perfection.

Bread bakers have a language all their own. Their recipes usually read more like a chemistry assignment and even I have to use a well-referenced cookbook to keep all the language straight. Trust me when I say that the serious bread bakers mean business and the results can’t be beaten. However, this recipe is written for every skill level and it is a great foundation for several yeast bread variations.

10 Grain Honey Whole Wheat Bread
4 c. whole wheat flour (I have also used whole wheat pastry flour with good results)
3 c. warm water (if you have a thermometer it should be 110°)
3 c. ten grain flour
2 c. spelt flour
2/3 c. honey (divided in two)
2 packages active dry yeast (.25 ounces each)
4 tbl butter melted
1 tbl salt

1. In a large bowl, mix warm water and 1/3 c. honey until dissolved, then add yeast, the ten grain and spelt flours, stir to combine. Let set covered for 30 minutes in a warm spot, or until big and bubbly.
2. Mix in the 3 melted butter, other 1/3 c. honey, salt, and 2 c. of the whole wheat flour.
3. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until the dough pulls away from the counter. It should still be a little sticky to the touch you do not want to over work the dough or add to much flour or it will stiffen up. (This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of flour.)
3. Run a little butter or light tasting oil around a very large bowl to coat the bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn once to coat the dough to prevent sticking. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about 2 hours).
4. Lightly punch the dough down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow the dough to rise again until the dough has topped the pans by one inch.
5. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes the bread should be a very light golden brown. Do not overbake or the bread will dry out! Remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops of loaves with a little softened butter and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Wait 10 minutes and remove from pans to cool completely.

You can substitute bread flour or white flour for any of the above flour, I like the multigrain flavors but the recipe should work with other flours just fine. You could also add dried fruit and nuts to the dough during step 2 if you like (I have used a little cinnamon with raisins and walnuts before with great results.) You could also substitute the butter with olive oil and reduce the honey by half. Then throw in a little chopped herbs (rosemary and basil work well) for a more savory loaf. I have not experimented with cheeses in the dough though I think it would work well. You could either add shredded cheese to the dough in step 2 or incorporate chunks during step 4.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Dessert

It's always time for Popovers

Popovers are super versatile and while they can be a little tricky (my first batch were a little dense and flat) they can go so many places once you figure it out. I have used a basic recipe from David Lebovitz author of “Room for Dessert” and “The Great Book of Chocolate,” (his latest book, “The Sweet Life in Paris,” will be published in May) to make several variations including delectable savory popovers. You will definitely have the best result if you can get ahold of a popover pan (I found mine at target for $10) one pan makes 9 popovers and that was plenty for what I am doing if you plan to serve them for a larger group or a dinner party you may want two pans because they really are best fresh from the oven served quickly.

I will give you two versions of the recipe one sweet and one savory to give you an idea of how I use the popover base. Then I hope you will run amuck with this great quick bread discovery!

Sweet Popovers
Great for breakfast or dessert
1 ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour *you could use all purpose flour or half whole wheat half all purpose if you can't find the whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. milk
½ c. almond milk *optional you could use all cows milk
¼ c. maple syrup *you could use brown sugar, honey, or agave syrup
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tbl butter, melted
2 tbl cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 425° and grease popover pan with cooking spray or a little butter.
2. Mix milk, eggs, syrup, butter and salt until light a foamy; you can use a hand mixer or a blender.
3. Add the flour a little at a time and mix until smooth and bubbly.
4. Quickly pour the mix into the pan filling the cups 2/3 of the way full. They are going to bake up above the rim like puffy golden brown balloons so don't worry about how much goes in each cup.
5. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°, until the puffs are well above the rim of the pan then reduce heat to 350º and continue to bake for 20-25 min. The popovers should be a dark brown, if you take them out to early the centers will not be finished and they will fall inwards. Give them the full amount of time and resist the urge to remove to soon.
6. Remove from the oven, give them a quick minute to cool and remove them from the pan. Serve immediately!

Serving suggestions:
Brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
Brush with butter drizzle with honey and serve with fresh fruit
Brush with butter and drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with toasted candied nuts
Top with whipped cream and serve with fresh fruit or your favorite berry coulisse or syrup

Or you can serve them how I did in the pictures with a cream cheese lemon glaze and strawberries.
Cream cheese lemon glaze:
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
2-3 large lemons juiced
4 tbl cream cheese
½ tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a hand mixer until a smooth glaze forms. You can adjust the thickness to suite your preferences by slightly altering the ratio of the cheese/ juice/sugar ratio.

Savory Popovers
Great for serving alongside dinner or lunch, I suspect they can replace many starches or grain side dishes.
1 ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour *you could use all purpose flour or half whole wheat half all purpose if you can't find the whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ c. milk
4 large cloves of garlic
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 small onion
¼ c. finely shredded hard cheese *I used an aged parmesan with black truffles
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh chopped herbs and fresh ground black pepper:
I used rosemary and thyme but you could use basil and oregano or any favorite savory combo.

1. Preheat the oven to 425° and grease popover pan with cooking spray or a little olive oil.
2. Smash the garlic cloves and roughly shop the onion, then gently heat them along with the olive oil in a skillet until fragrant. (Do not heat on too high of heat you just want to infuse the oil with lots of flavor.) Remove the oil from heat and let return to room temperature; remove the chucks of garlic and onion. If you are using dried herbs you might get a better result if you add them to the warm oil to help release their flavor.
2. Mix milk, eggs, infused oil and salt until light a foamy; you can use a hand mixer or a blender. If you are using a blender you could even through in a clove or two of the garlic and a few chunks of the onion.
3. Add the flour and cheese a little at a time and mix until smooth and bubbly.
4. Quickly pour the mix into the pan filling the cups 2/3 of the way full. They are going to bake up above the rim like puffy golden brown balloons so don't worry about how much goes in each cup.
5. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°, until the puffs are well above the rim of the pan then reduce heat to 350º and continue to bake for 20-25 min. The popovers should be a dark brown, if you take them out to early the centers will not be finished and they will fall inwards. Give them the full amount of time and resist the urge to remove to soon.
6. Remove from the oven, give them a quick minute to cool and remove them from the pan. Serve immediately!

Notes and Serving Suggestions:
You could use pan drippings from bacon instead of the oil and substitute some sharp cheddar for a breakfast version to serve alongside eggs.
You could use these in place of rolls at any meal.
I recently served mine under beef tips with a mushroom and red wine reduction alongside some grilled asparagus.
I could also see them as an accompaniment to soup or served with a few slices of cheese along with a salad.

Monday, April 6, 2009

April Events at Vinology

Vinology in Ann Arbor Michigan is celebrating local wine this month.

Vinology has committed to sourcing as much of their food locally as possible, of course this means that they are also going to be featuring Michigan wine pairings to really showcase the best of what local producers have to offer. They have two major events this month both are sure to be amazing evenings filled with fine food and wine.

Wine Tasting Wednesday April 15th 7-9 pm
A blind tasting of wines from around the world. The challenge is to pick out the local selections. A relaxed, enlightening atmosphere will be the canvas for discussion with a focus on the textures, aromas, and flavors of what you will be tasting.
Cheeses and charcuterie served along with 6-8 wines.
$35 per person (plus tax and gratuity)
Reservations requested 734-222-9841

Wine Dinner Wednesday April 29th 7 p.m.
A four course meal from Chef Brandon's Michigan inspired hyper-local cuisine will be served along side delicious award winning local sparkling varietals. If this were not enough, Larry Mawby, of Mawby Vineyards and M. Lawrence Sparkling Wines will be joining you for a seminar on local wine making.
$60 per person (plus tax and gratuity)
Reservations required 734-222-9841

I hope you will take the opportunity to enjoy all of the amazing events Vinology has to offer and if you do attend an event please tell me about it.

Best wishes,

110 S. Main St.
Ann Arbor, MI

Traditional Herb Rubbed Hens

Accompanied by the most amazing pan toast!

Those of you who have never given the pan drippings of roasted foul a second thought this post may change your universe. I for one, had never been a huge fan of gravy from chicken but I usually used the pan drippings for stock bases and other recipes. Now I am a total convert to "pan" toast. The first time I tried this method of roasting I shamelessly burnt two of the toasts and yet I ate them regardless of the blackened appearance. I couldn't help myself one piece was just not enough; I had to have more. This is coming from the girl who has here toaster permanently set to light; but there I was eating the most glorious toast burnt and all. Since then I have made a few cooking adjustments and now my "pan" toast in the perfect incarnation of savory, golden, crispy, heaven. I can not tell you in any amount of words how easy and how amazing this method is, you will just have to take my word for it and try it yourselves.

I like to use Cornish Game Hens but any whole bird would be fine.

2 cornish game hens
4 slices of hearty bread *I use ½ inch thick slices of rustic bread that may be a little stale
1 small lemon
1 small onion
½ head of garlic about 6 cloves total
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh thyme
Fresh rosemary
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425°
Pat your birds dry with a paper towel
Rub inside and out with olive oil
Peel and smash garlic cloves (you could roughly chop them if you prefer)
Slice lemon in halve and onion in quarters
Stuff birds with one half the lemon in each along with the garlic, onion and some bunches of fresh thyme and rosemary.
Rub the outside of the birds with fresh pepper and sea salt, along with some pieces of thyme and rosemary.
Place the sliced bread in a roasting pan in a single layer drizzle with a little olive oil and with as little or as much of the spice/herb mixture as you like. *I usually just go with a little salt and pepper.
Place birds directly on top of the bread, you want to completely cover the bread.
Place in oven uncovered for about 1 hour and 10 minutes until birds are deeply golden brown.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 min before carving.

The toast will not be soggy I promise! You will have to worry about burning them to a crisp before you worry about mushy toast. I have no idea why this works only that it does and the flavor of the toast is unbeatable. Serve these little hens with the pan toast and some fresh steamed greens and you will get people begging on their knees for your secret to the most amazing toast ever. (The secret of which is to cover the toast with the birds to avoid the burning if I haven't made that totally clear.) I also save all of the stuff from the inside of the birds for use in stock later in the week.

With Love

Ollie's Dearborn MI

A Dearborn Lunch Review

For the Ford workforce Ollie's is a lunchtime staple. Located on the corner of Mercury and Ford rd. it is super convenient for a huge portion of the Ford landscape including world headquarters. I usually bring my lunch and eat in my office (a hazard of always having delicious healthy leftovers). Today was one of the few days I escaped my desk for an hour to enjoy some food with friends from work. Now for those of you who don't know the desk I am always refereeing to is actually a Ford desk where I work as a financial analyst.

Ollie's is a Lebanese restaurant run by a family and it is delicious! I have spend some significant time in Middle East and the Caucuses and the food is something I miss terribly. It is funny to think some of my favorite comfort foods are chicken shawarma, humus, and donor kebab. Ollie's serves a great lunch specials that are tasty and traditional as well as affordable. I always get the same thing every time I go. I know that is just so unlike me but hey I am not going to monkey with my favorite. I always get their chicken shawarma sandwich with the crushed lentil soup.

The sandwich is roasted chicken with garlic sauce (toum) wrapped in a flat bread (similar to pita) along with onions, lettuce and tomatoes. There are a million different ways these sandwiches are served (some are made with lamb, or beef, or a combination of meats.) The salad components can vary widely as well including humus and yogurt sauce. I like the Ollie's version of the sandwich it is never to dry or sopping with sauce and the balance of spices is not overpowering. It makes a perfect light lunch and keeps me full all afternoon. The crushed lentil soup may be the real secret to Ollie's it is a buttery yellow color served with sesame bread and a lemon wedge. I like mine with a dash of black pepper and good squeeze of lemon. I dip the bread in the soup and it is instant warmth and satisfaction. It is a smooth soup though I do not think they use a cream of any kind. It is light and very balanced. A simple food at its best it showcases the lentils and the little lemon acid gives it the perfect high note.

Ollie's is a great place for people of all preferences; their menu has a lot of diversity and offers many Middle Eastern classics. The staff is friendly and attentive; you can really get that family run feel. They are also very good with special requests, if you want something spicy or mild just ask and they are always happy to supply me with extra toum! I would recommend Ollie's to anyone in the Dearborn area.


Updates Coming Soon

Dear Readers,

I know there may only be a few of you at this point. I am new on the blogging scene and I love you for bearing with me as I learn the ins and outs. Hopefully one day we will look back together and reminisce about the first few months. I am not thrilled with current layout of BeFelicitas and will be working in the coming weeks to edit the HTML to better suit all of our needs. The biggest issue I am facing at the moment is how to effectively incorporate the photography into the blog layout. I am deeply unsatisfied with the current options and so have only been posting a small portion of the photographs I have. Any feedback you could give me as far as functionality and what you would like to see in a new view would be really helpful. You can leave a comment under this post or shoot me an e-mail at befelicitas@gmail.com.
Thanks to all of you!

A Little Bite of Everything Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Heidi at 101 cookbooks
I liked the idea of a healthier cookie, because I love cookies, and I am a fan of alternative bases for batter (bananas are genius). These cookies are addictive and you can make them even healthier by using your own intuition and substitutions (I couldn't help myself with the little bit of butter and sugar), but see my note about Chris's desire to use apples and apple sauce.

Ingredient Notes:
Use Bananas that are a little past their prime, on the soft side and thoroughly brown on the outside. If you have bananas that fit this description but you don't have the time or patience to bake with them this very second don't hesitate to throw them in the freezer. However, when you pull them out of the freezer and they thaw be prepared; they will be super mushy, perfect for baking but a little weird and slimy in general just to give you a little heads up (Chris found the banana mush a little unappetizing at this point but happily ate the cookie dough raw and cooked by the mouthful). Because you let the bananas hit the very ripe stage they have begun to break down into a simple sugar, this gives the cookies a lot of sweet without the addition of a refined sugar source, if your bananas are less ripe they won't be as sweet. I mentioned above additional sweetener is optional. It just depends on your preference and your bananas, I wanted a little maple flavor so in went the syrup; you could even use a tiny drizzle of molasses.

4 large very ripe bananas
1 ½ c. rolled oats
1 c. plain raw almond
1 c. plain raw walnuts * you could mix any kind of nuts this just struck my fancy at the moment
¾ c. shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ c. flax seeds
3 tbl butter softened *you could use coconut oil softened
2 tbl maple syrup * Optional see note above
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
8-10 oz dark chocolate chips or a bar chopped into small bits

1. Process the nut mix in a food processor until finely ground. If you are using walnuts you will not get "flour" or almond meal texture because the walnuts have so much oil it is more like a soft fluffy grainy texture. I confess I love it and scoop it out by hand and eat it just plain, it is the most heavenly texture.
2. Mix your dry ingredients (nuts, oats, coconut, flax, salt and baking powder) together in your favorite mixing bowl just to evenly distribute everything.
3. Mix in the bananas, vanilla, butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Taste it! The beauty of this recipe like so many of my recent posts is there are no raw eggs! This means you can taste and lick until your heart is content with no worries. Adjust the seasoning to fit your flavor craving.
6. Place small spoonfuls on baking paper lined cookie sheets and bake at 350° for about 10-15 min or until golden brown and toasted.

Baking Notes:
Makes about 3 dozen normal sized cookies and heaps of itsy bitsy bite sized ones.
I know at the taste it stage both Chris and I were blown away but he did have a great suggestion; he wanted to try a version without the coconut and instead us some apples. *This could be easily done just substitute shredded apples for the coconut and use applesauce instead of butter (or a little butter and a little apple sauce). Like the name says they are a little bite of everything so whatever you feel like or have on had is totally encouraged. I liked these best when I made very small cookies and I smushed them a little with my hand, they turned a toasted golden brown with a little crunch (I put them on the top rack of my oven) but were still a little chewy in the center. You can also make them like little haystacks because they have very little fat and no flour they do not spread out when they cook so the haystacks will keep their puffy shape but the centers will be soft (not an issue because there are no eggs). You can also make them just like a traditional cookie just be sure to flatten them out a little so they dry out and toast a little better.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Update and Ice Cream

This Sunday Chris returned from the Photoshop World conference in Boston. He brought back some amazing photos and lots of new tricks for photographing food! I am super excited to learn all there is about the photography in order to better share my food with all of you. As the old saying goes you eat with your eyes first! Plus with Chris back at home I have someone to taste all of my creations and get some real feedback. That being said he was very happy to be home. We were sitting over dinner last night (Jamaican Jerk Chicken with, refried black beans and sautéed kale, more on this later) and he was lamenting the state of food and eating out in general. Now to give you a little background Chris did not grow up in a culinary household or a particularly health conscious kitchen. Think baloney, cheese, and ketchup sandwiches. When we started dating Chris was looking to get into better shape and lower his cholesterol (his family has a genetic disposition to be on the high side) through diet and lifestyle.

I can be a challenging person to date. I come from a very unusual background with very divergent experiences than most Americans. This can make me seem a little crazy at times and it is only compounded by my aversion to what is becoming the average American lifestyle. Then you put me in a kitchen and well healthy, strange, beautiful things happen. Chris is an amazing sport and though he tries everything I make I know there are times he misses Oreos and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. He will often say what I make is different or outside the box, and that it may take some getting used too. That being said since we started dating he has totally transformed his diet and lifestyle. He is much more active and he is eating 100% better than before. He has also recently noticed his pallet has really changed. Soggy, overcooked veggies drowning in butter or sauce are no longer acceptable. He appreciates the time and importance of being connected with your food, where it comes from, how it is sourced, how it is prepared and honoring the quality of the raw ingredients. He is a new foodie and doesn’t even know it.

This weekend I busted out my new toy, an ice cream machine. I made two very different batches of frozen goodness this weekend. One was inspired yet again by 101 cookbooks author Heidi and the other came straight out of the booklet from my little ice cream machine. Both turned out amazing but as I said very different.

The first batch was a health conscious frozen yogurt recipe.
Cinnamon Maple Flax Frozen Yogurt
3 c. Vanilla yogurt * I used low fat organic
¼ c. Pure maple syrup or to taste * I like B grade
¼ c. Flax seeds
2 tbl Cinnamon
1 tbl Pure vanilla extract (optional)

Use well chilled yogurt, drain off any excess liquid (you could strain through cheesecloth in the refrigerator for a few hours if you wanted a thicker texture) then combine all ingredients in a bowl stir well and follow the instructions for your ice-cream machine.

I just dump mine in for 30 min and then at the end I had a very light tangy golden frozen yogurt with flax seed specs. Chris and I love it with fresh sliced strawberries.

Makes about 1.2 liters
The big thing with this recipe is to taste it (no raw eggs so go ahead and taste it till you're happy) and adjust the sweetness/cinnamon to your ideal. I really liked the tang of the yogurt so I only used a little bit of maple syrup. I like the little flecks of the Flax in this and you could also add some chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds would be especially good) or a little almond extract instead of the vanilla.

The second batch was a more traditional chocolate ice cream recipe.
Almond Rocky Road Ice Cream
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. Almond Milk *I used low fat vanilla
10 oz Dark chocolate finely chopped
¾ c. fine sugar or agave syrup
½ c. mini marshmallows
½ c. chopped nuts *I used toasted almonds
2 tbl fine coca powder
1 tbl vanilla extract (1 vanilla bean if available)

1. If using raw nuts toast over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan until fragrant, let cool and coarsely chop.
2. Bring almond milk to a bubble just around the edges and split vanilla pod and scrape in seeds, you can also simmer the pod in the milk for a few min just remove before combining with the chocolate.
3. Melt the chopped dark chocolate and sugar together in a double boiler (or bowl set over boiling water the bowl should not touch the water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is thick and smooth.
4. Remove milk from heat and stir in coca powder, whisk to combine be sure there are no chocolate lumps. Mix together chocolate milk and melted chocolate. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
5. Wisk together cold cream and well chilled chocolate mixture. Follow directions for your ice cream machine.
6. You can add the chopped nuts and marshmallows in the last few min, of freezing in the ice cream machine or mix them in by hand before you put it in the freezer.

Makes 1.5 liters
This turned out creamy without being over the top. It is also fairly simple since we omit eggs and making a custard which can sometimes be tricky. Again you can taste test this before it goes in the machine at any point and fine tune it to your own ideal. I like my Rocky Road on the dark side, the more cocoa the better!
The marshmallows do freeze so they area little chewy, I liked it just fine but if you wanted you could use a little marshmallow crème instead for a softer ribbon effect. Chocolate covered nuts instead of toasted ones could save you a little time and add more chocolate, never a bad idea. You could also substitute whole milk for the almond milk.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nutty Breakfast Scones

Chris is off in Boston attending Photoshop World this week, which means I am left to my own devices for seven whole days. Usually this would mean some wild experimentation in the kitchen with no witnesses. However, without an extra set of hands, and his trusted photographic genius I feel less than compelled to cook. Sad, I know. But before he left this Saturday I did whip up some pretty little breakfast scones. I was able to use some of the miscellaneous stuff in my fridge from recipes earlier in the week and they were delicious, if I do say so myself. I used a basic Maple Scone recipe from Heidi at 101 cookbooks and just went nuts, literally. I will try and pull myself together and post some great content this week despite the absence of my better half. Give me a break, sometimes we all need a little down time.

Chris and I decided that these were best with some local blackberry jam and a glass of soymilk, but we also liked a drizzle of honey and fresh strawberries. Enjoy!

2 ¼ c. whole wheat flour
¾ c. mixed nuts * I used almonds, pecans, and walnuts
½ c. rolled oats
¼ flax seeds
½ c. Real maple syrup *I like the darker grade B
6 tbl Buttermilk *You could use regular milk, soy, or even almond/oat milk
6 tbl butter chilled
5 tbl unsweetened apple sauce * You could use low-fat plain, or vanilla yogurt
1 ½ tbl baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg slightly beaten
Pinch of salt
* For toasting nut mixture, 1 tbl butter, , 1 tbl brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

1. Toast your nuts in a large non stick pan with a little bit of butter and a dash of cinnamon and brown sugar until they are fragrant. (I used a nut mixture left over from an earlier recipe). In food processor chop your nut mix until there is a good mix of large and small pieces including some very fine flour, about 5-8 quick pulses. Set aside in another bowl.
2. In food processor combine flour, baking powder, salt, and flax seeds with butter pulse until it forms small pearls
3. Wisk together maple syrup, buttermilk, applesauce, and vanilla extract slowly add wet ingredients to the flour and butter pearls. Mix by hand until a dough forms, do not over mix! Knead it one or twice, you want the batter to hold shape without crumbling or sticking add a little flour/buttermilk until dough holds together and handles easily.
4. You can either hand shape the individual scones or manipulate dough into a slab of consistent thickness and cut a desired size and shape for the scones.
5. Arrange scones on the lined baking sheet and brush with 1 egg lightly beaten to give them that beautiful golden brown hue. You can sprinkle a little bit of oats, nuts, or large grain sugar on top for a nice presentation.
6. Bake for 20 min. or until golden brown on top and around the edges.

Makes 12 petite scones
Serve with honey and fresh berries, jam with butter, or a little nut butter!
This recipe is really basic with a lot of things you can add in or substitute; which is exactly why I chose it! I had leftover nuts, a little buttermilk and a limited supply of butter and eggs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

French Almond Financier Cake

With Lemon Infused Créme Pâtissiére & Fresh Berries

So if I haven't mentioned it I love Chris. He is such an amazing man; he touches my soul and inspires me to be the best version of me possible. Needless to say I had to make him an incredible birthday cake. I asked him if he wanted something deeply chocolaty and rich with a warm gooey center think chocolate soufflé or something bright and fresh with spring fruit. Much to my surprise he went for the fruit option. Of course I had to pull out all the stops; I hit the cookbooks and the internet until I remembered I had a really basic recipe for these beautiful, petite, golden, French almond finger cakes that I had never used and well inspiration hit and before I knew it I was elbow deep in french pastry pefection.

The original recipe was for 12 small finger cakes which were not going to fly for a birthday cake, so I doubled it. (I also do not own the special molds to make these in the traditional shape, I think you could probably use Madeline molds or any other small cake pans.) I know there are some of you out there shaking your head that I would make a new recipe along with changes the first time for something as important as a birthday.

Perfect example of haw amazing Chris is; he reassured me that even if it didn't turn out perfect there was enough butter in it no matter what, it would taste amazing. He is always my champion supporting me when I am playing mad chef in the kitchen making an incredible mess. Have I mentioned I love him yet?

I baked the cake in a large shallow Maryann cake pan; it is a bit like a tart pan only with a depression in the center so when you unmold the cake it is perfect for filling with cream or frosting. I hoped this would be a good choice because the original recipe only cooked the little cakes for 12 min and I feared a deeper larger pan might cause problems, so I went big but shallow. It worked marvelously; it turned out a perfect base cake, golden and delicious, with the most amazing texture, light but still substantial and a little spongy.

I filled the depression with this amazing lemon infused pastry crème. I just tweaked a basic recipe to include the lemon because I love a little lemon with my fresh berries, it just sets them off. You could also throw some zest into the cake to give you the same effect. I decorated the top with fresh raspberries and strawberries, and a little sifted confectioners sugar to top it all off.

1 c. ground almonds
1 ½ c. confectioner's sugar, sifted
6 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus a little for dusting the pan
12 tbsp unsalted butter, plus a little for the pan
6 large egg whites * reserve the yolks for pastry crème
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter and flour your choice of pan.
2. Mix the almonds, sugar, and salt together. Heat the butter over low heat, just until melted. Whisk the egg whites until they are frothy but barely thickened. Add the butter, egg whites, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and fold together.
3. Divide the batter among the molds, filling halfway. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until they spring back when pressed lightly. Cool briefly, remove from the molds onto a wire rack, and cool completely.

Makes 24 small cakes or one full size cake
Special Equipment:12 financier or barquette molds, or a 14 inch shallow Maryann pan
You can freeze the finished cake for up to 3 months

Lemon Infused Créme Pâtissiére
This sweet pastry cream is the perfect rich and creamy filling for any type of desert but is really scrumptious on fruit tarts or in cream puffs.
*You could really do this with orange as well, with a little orange liquor to give it an extra pop.

1¼ c. whole milk * I actually used vanilla soy milk
¾ c. sugar * I use light brown because it gives a little more depth and a beautiful color
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch *more if you want a thicker crème
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract *or use the inside of one vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
Zest of one large lemon

1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. If using a vanilla bean scrape into the milk now.
2. Whisk the yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk.
3. Return the mixture to the saucepan, add the lemon zest. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a full boil and is smooth.
* I like the little pieces of zest in the crème but if you want perfectly smooth crème add the zest in the fist step and then strain it out after 5 min. before adding it to the other ingredients.
4. Let cool slightly, add lemon juice and if using vanilla extract add it now and give it a good whisk. If not using immediately, cover with a piece of buttered wax paper pressed directly onto the surface of the pastry cream.

Makes about 1 ½ c.

The crème can be refrigerated, with wax paper pressed on its surface, for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Citrus Spiked Salmon

I made this last night after a long day at work and it is such a simple, beautiful, presentation for salmon that I though I would share it with all of you. Nothing much to it, which is exactly what I needed after a miserable failure with some phylo pastry earlier in the evening.

1.5 lb Wild salmon fillet
1 Lemon
3 tbsp Honey
3 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
1/3 c. Natural Shoyu
* You could also through a little miso into the sauce

Season to taste with
Grey sea salt
Ground black pepper
Ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350°

Rub salmon with ginger, pepper and salt. Thinly slice the lemon to create almost transparent round slices cover and set aside. Combine honey, vinegar and shoyu in large sauce pan and simmer until fragrant and thickened pour off into bowl. Place salmon on baking sheet or in glass baking dish glaze with honey mixture and cover with the lemon slices. Bake on the middle rack for 25 min, then turn on broiler and watch carefully, remove salmon when lemons are golden brown about another 6 min.*

Serve hot out of the oven with fragrant sticky rice and a garlic spiked stir fry of veggies.

* Ovens and broilers vary and cook time will vary with the size and thickness of the salmon. If you are worried about undercooking use a meat thermometer or pull it out and cut it open. I often do both especially when working with a new recipe, make sure to take good notes and then next time you will be spot on with your cook time!

Savory Bread Pudding

This past Friday I took Chris out for his 25th birthday. We went to a wine concept restaurant, Vinology. Chris ordered the braised short ribs for his main course, which was served with a delicious savory bread pudding. However, we both felt that the parsley pistou over the top was a bit overpowering for the light creamy texture of the bread pudding. I did a little research and stitched together a couple of different recipes to come up with my own version. I had never tried my hand at a savory bread pudding but I quickly realized it is almost foolproof. This is a great alternative to other more starchy sides or can be a vegetarian main dish loaded up with veggies. I am a big fan of making it your own and encourage you to experiment with all kinds of things thrown in.

Loaf of Challah (I had some left over from a great Jewish bakery)
6-8 Large Eggs
¼ c. Milk
½ c. Stock (chicken, beef, or veggie)
½ c. Cheese (parmesan or other firm salty cheese)
1 Red onion diced
3 Cloves of garlic minced
Olive oil

Season to taste with:
Fresh thyme
Fresh basil
Fresh parsley
Cracked black pepper
Coarse sea salt

1 bunch of greens (kale, spinach or swiss chard)

Turn on broiler

1. Roughly cut the bread into cubes for toasting, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper toss and spread on baking sheet. Broil until toasted and golden brown.
2. Beat eggs, milk, and savory spices together to make the custard, (about 1 min.) until it is light and fluffy.
3. Sauté onions and garlic in couple of tablespoons of the olive oil until just golden brown.
Preheat oven to 400
4. Lightly oil baking dish (I used a medium caserol dish, make sure dish is deep enough to accomodate all of the bread with room for a bit of puff from the egg mixture) with olive oil and toss toast, spinach, and cheese together. Mix custard and cooled savory sauté, pour over other ingredients in baking dish. Bake for 30 min. or until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve with hearty meats with gravy as an alternative to mashed potatoes, or smothered with bacon and sautéed green onions for a light savory breakfast the next day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A to Zingerman's, an intro....

Zingerman's Deli
Ann Arbor Michigan
Zingerman's is a treasure to be sure. The founders Ari and Paul along with their incredible partners and staff live and share many of my own beliefs about food. They are heavy hitters when it comes to sources or simply producing the highest quality foods possible. They do everything the old fashioned way, the way it was done 100 years ago when everything was natural and slow and full flavored. Ari was explaining the secret of their success and it went something like this, "it's not really a secret we just do things the traditional way, we didn't have to invent it we just had to rediscover it. We do what everyone knows they should but no one else takes the time or energy." They have been recognized time and again for their incredible efforts in the both the food and business world for bringing unsurpassed quality to their customers.

I must admit every time I walk through those doors I instantly feel a little better about everything and when it is time to leave I always think about giving my two weeks notice to my desk job and applying for anything at Zingerman's (even dishwasher if they would have me). Chris and I frequent a Zing property (there are several) at least once a month for a full blown fix and I stop in whenever I need some truly amazing ingredients. Recently I purchased a fantastic black truffle oil, some Humboldt Fog cheese, and some amazing cocoa powder just to name a few. You will be seeing a lot of these guys on my blog.

I am excited to become more involved with the traditions surrounding this incredible group of people. They offer regular tastings and classes covering a wide variety of foods and topics. They can be a little pricy but well worth every dollar. Right now I am in a total crisis trying to plan out which events to attend. There is just no way to communicate through words the magic of the Zingerman's experience.

If you live in the area, or within 100 miles, take a trip and go indulge!

With love,

More From Ann Arbor

Grizzly Peak
Ann Arbor Michigan
Grizzly Peak is a small Local MicroBrewing Company in Ann Arbor. It features a classically casual atmosphere along side its' traditional gastro pub food and delicious beers. Their signature pale ale is my personal favorite. The food is hearty with bold flavors and the wait staff is attentive. It's a great place to meet up with friends and have a cold one no matter the day or time.


This is where Chris and I had our first date!
Find time to enjoy!


Ann Arbor, Michigan
Vinology is a great restaurant in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor and it is the place to find a glass of wine perfectly paired with the beautiful food from a well balanced menu. The menu is printed on a regular basis to ensure the use of the freshest seasonal ingredients and thus the experience is ever changing. They serve over 50 wines by the glass and their menu is complete with a suggested pairing for every item. The wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the wine selection and is happy to make suggestions for alternative pairings. The food was delicate in nature with layers of subtle flavor.

Chris and I went here on Friday for a beautiful meal and to celebrate life a little bit. We each indulged in a different appetizer and main along with some fantastic wines. We then shared a little desert, which was the perfect ending. I will give you all the food details later, suffice to say I will be recreating their cous cous and bread pudding at home in the near future.


Best wishes,

SLC Places to be

Salt Lake City, Utah

Eggs in the City
The most amazing secret tucked into the neighborhoods above 13th East. It is actually an old auto garage that has been renovated to serve as a small breakfast and lunch café. The food is fresh and the kitchen is open for visitors at the bar to watch the cooks. The staff is amazing and the owner is often there working on the weekends. They welcome special orders and want you to have everything your way.


Desert Edge Brewery " At The Pub"
Desert Edge is home to Happy Valley Hefiweisen the beer that defined my college days. It is also home to some amazing French onion soup, the best black bean veggie burger, and other fresh takes on traditional pub food. Everything is made from scratch including the beer (brewed downstairs under the pub). The service is great and they have a student discount on beer just show your university ID to your sever when you sit down. This is where I had my going away dinner if that says anything. It is hands down the best place to get a seat on the deck and just enjoy food and sun with friends. I can honestly say I have been disappointed there and it is one of the simple places I miss most in SLC. There are many memories with friends that fill that place and there are days my heart aches to pick up the phone and say meet me "At The Pub."

I will always grab a bite when I am in town and if you are in the SLC area Desert Edge is one of the best kept secrets right in Trolley Square. It far surpasses many of the more expensive eateries in the downtown area.
Be sure to have a pint for me!

The Porcupine Bar & Grille
Amazing little chalet at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. They have 24 beers on tap most of which are locally brewed and amazing gastro pub food. My favorite is their grilled flat bread with roasted red pepper sauce and goat cheese along side the Wasatch brewery's raspberry wheat beer.


The Bayou akaBeervana
As the name suggests this is a Creole restaurant and bar that has amazing food and a beer list that is unsurpassed in my experience. Beers imported from all over the country and the world, lots of microbrews and familiar offshore names. The Bayou Burger is must along with their sweetpotato french fries served with an amazing aioli. It only gets better
when a local jazz band or great solo artist start to play on a weekend night.


I will keep adding to the list as time goes on, until then, take a night off of cooking and the dirty dishes it creates and go eat some amazing food from the great chefs of Salt Lake City .

Hope you Enjoy!

Restless Feet

As many of you know I am nomadic by nature. In the past six months I have spent a significant amount of time in four very different parts of the world. In May of last year I graduated from the University of Utah with of all things a degree in Finance. My parents had been living abroad in Jakarta, Indonesia and were planning on moving home to the states for the first time in nearly ten years, more on all of that later. My best friend Carson and I decided to visit them in Asia as a graduation trip before they moved back stateside. It was amazing as always but even more so because I had my family and Carson with me. After a few months back home I made the long flight back to the states and spent some time in northern California. A little town called Arcata in Humboldt County. It is surrounded by the Redwood forests and is inhabited by lots of organic, all natural, food producers and consumers. My friend Collin has been a chef out there for several years now, and it is home of some of my favorite specialty food products (I now have friends sending me shipments of things I can't seem to live without.) After a few months in California it was time to take myself home to Salt Lake City for a last hurrah. Again in the great company of Carson, Ryan, Sarah, and the rest of the good old gang we savored the beautiful weather and colors of a Salt Lake Fall. As a last stop before my journey north to the great lakes I stopped by my Family's new house in Katy, Texas. It was the perfect ending to a crazy year; surrounded by my family and that feeling of the home and warmth you remember from childhood. Then as the New Year arrived I finally made my way to Michigan.

Needless to say after this whirlwind year I get a little home sick. The interesting thing is at any point in time I can get home sick for all of the places I mentioned. Home for me often falls outside the traditional concept for me because of my family's world travels and constant moving and my own restless feet. Home is where my heat is, with family and friends, with memories, and dreams. I miss little things about all the places I have been. When asked where my favorite place was is or where I would go back given the chance my answer is always the same. I am happy and I treasure what I have had and where I have been but I am not sad that I have left it. It's never the same place when you go back because places and people are organic and ever changing. I am always excited for the new places I go and what the future holds. This blog is still young and it was inspired by my move to Michigan in many ways, however I am going to share with you a few of my favorite places "back home" in case you ever have a chance to visit!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Hearty Irish Soda Bread

Hearty Irish Soda Bread
This weekend I set about making some of my favorite comfort foods. It had been a long week at work and I felt the need to bake. With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner I ended up with an old favorite Irish Soda Bread. There to seal the deal was my boyfriend, Chris, who had never had this wonderful brown bread before. I had thought to serve it with some delicious soup and sandwiches; however it was quick to disappear. We ended up enjoying it with butter hot out of the pan and then the next morning toasted along with jam and eggs.

Irish Soda Bread is what is known as a quick bread. Quick breads usually use baking soda or baking powder as leavener instead of yeast (which usually takes a couple hours to rise). This ingredient distinction is what gives this bread its name. It is a quick and easy option for beginners and will turn out warm, hearty, whole wheat bread. This bread is amazing for corned beef sandwiches, served alongside soups and stews, or on its own hot out of the oven with a slather of butter. The following recipe is based on one from a favorite foodie of mine Heidi, from 101 cookbooks. I have made several changes making this bread a full flavored twist on her original basic version.

4 cups coarse whole wheat flour
*2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ cups buttermilk
2 tbs. salted butter
2 eggs
¼ cup flax seed (optional)
Oatmeal, seeds, nuts, coarse sea salt (optional)
*Spelt flour is nice and it adds a little to the texture and nutritional value of the bread but you can use all whole wheat flour or a combination of your favorite flours to achieve the texture/color you want.

Use a medium sized bowl and beat the eggs buttermilk and butter (softened) until light and golden in color, it should take about 30 seconds, do not over mix.
In another bowl combine dry ingredients, including flax if using, and be sure to break up any clumps.
Mix in the beaten buttermilk until a batter is formed.

If cooking in traditional loaf pans you will want to stop when the batter is thick but still very wet so you can pour it into the pan. Pour batter into one standard 9x5 in. loaf pan or two mini loaf pans. Dust with oatmeal, seeds, or maybe coarse sea salt! Bake on center rack at 400° for about 50 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick in center comes out clean.

* If cooking as a free standing round reduce buttermilk by ½ cup and stir in wet ingredients until a sticky dough forms. Dust with additional flower and other ingredients if desired and shape into a round. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheet on center rack at 350° for about 60 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick in center comes out clean.

Makes 1 loaf

The Natural Way

Another choice we make about what goes into our bodies is whether or not to buy organic or all natural products. Personally I will more often that not choose a local, organic or all natural product over a conventionally produced item. I love going to farmers markets where I can talk to the people who produce my food. During the winter months I like to frequent locally owned stores where the staff is knowledgeable and always willing to help. The owners will even special order lots of stuff upon request. Another great source I use is a local all natural deli who carries a dizzying array of local and international artisan products. If you feel like you can't find the products you want in the grocery store try a farmers market or local co-op, often they will have more of a selection in this category and you will be more connected with the local sources of food in your community. If you are really hard pressed there are some online services that allow you to order food for delivery. If you feel that this type of food may be too expensive consider buying only a few organic or natural products. The produce that benefits the most from these pesticide free farming practices are those with thin skins that you eat e.g. berries, tomatoes, lettuces. Things you peel like bananas and oranges have slightly less chemical contamination due to the fact most people do not eat the outside. Animal products also benefit significantly from more conscientious farming practices for example they will often times have less bad cholesterol and fats and more of the good heart healthy stuff. Even small things like peanuts and soybeans can be heavily treated with chemicals and pesticides. If you are trying to go more natural then take the time and do some research on foods you eat a lot. This is a personal choice that everyone must consider for themselves.

Best wishes,

P.S. I will do my best to name my favorite local sources for amazing products, or any specialty products I use in my posts. The picture is of three artisan chocolate products that can be found at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor or on-line at www.zingermans.com

Grocery Shopping

It is hard to believe the shear numbers of products on grocery shelves. It is estimated that and average of 10,000 new products have been hitting our shelves for the past few years. The sad thing is most of it is junk. I am a firm believer that no matter where you shop whether it is Whole Foods or Kroger 70% of groceries should be from the fresh produce section, 20% should be from the dry goods bins, and the last 10% should be the dairy and meat. If you approach the process of buying food and ingredients like this you will find it hard to fail as far as good choices. This is not to say that frozen meat and vegetables are not a great resource, they are a great way to save a little money and preserve food. Canned vegetables are also an option; though remember that many of them are stored in salt solutions and need to be rinsed before use. Still the same percentages above apply. Americans tend to eat a lot of simple, refined, carbohydrates (white breads) and meat. If you are looking to make a few small changes to your diet to help with attaining a healthy weight or just to feel better and have more energy start every trip to the store with fresh produce.

When I buy produce I try to buy what is in season as it is usually fresh and priced to move. As a shop I look for produce that has dark rich colures and I try to buy at least three different colors. For example I might buy a bunch of beautiful dark green kale, some orange bell peppers, a few tomatoes, and some blueberries. The dark colors let me know I am choosing foods with high nutrient content and the rainbow lets me know that I am getting a variety of nutrients. Remember that nuts, beans, and roots all fall into produce and if you are a vegetarian they can be an important source of protein.

Often I won't find the nuts or beans with the produce and will seek them out in the next stop which is the dry goods bins. These bins may be intimidating but they have a lot of nutrition to offer for a great price if you are unsure about something don't hesitate to ask for help. I try and buy my grain staples here, different types of rice, and flour. Then I stalk up on beans, lentils, and nuts. I look for lots of color again and the same idea of variety applies here. Depending on the store you may also find things like spices, honey, fresh ground nut butter, dried fruit and other treasures in this isle.

Next stop on the list is dairy. I am an avid milk drinker; I drink low fat or skim cow's milk as well as plain soymilk and the occasional almond or oatmeal milk thrown in for variety. I also find that I like to use different milks for different recipes. If you are a straight from the cow milk drink with no substitutions that is just fine; but if you haven't tried the others recently you may be pleasantly surprised. This is not you crazy Aunt Luna's soy milk from 20 years ago. Be adventurous and pick up a small container and give it a go. Eggs are also on the list, another great way to get some protein in the diet. Cheese, yogurt, and sour cream are on list as well but in very small portions. I will also buy low fat options here depending on what I will be using it for. Only one caveat, read the labels. Some products will remove fat and substitute large quantities of sugar, salt or unrecognizable fillers.*

On to the meat! I am not a vegetarian but I can respect and honor people's personal choices about what they put into their bodies. Nutritionally meat is an important part of most people's diets. However, in our American culture we often over do it and without the beneficial variety found in other cultures. I eat red meat occasionally maybe three times a month and I usually will opt for an organic grass fed, beef or bison when and where available (I only eat pork on the rarest of occasions). Other than that I eat lots of chicken and fish. I am specifically a big fan of chicken sausage and boneless skinless breasts. The two types of fish on my plate most often are fresh wild varieties like salmon and tuna. It's typical for me to have meat in small portions once a day (usually lunch) though I will often have a vegetarian day or two in any given week.

When I follow these guidelines I find I spend less time shopping and I leave the store with better choices. By focusing on fresh whole foods and not walking down the isles with candy, soda, chips, prepared meals, or processed foods I bypass a lot of temptation and lots of empty calories.

*A helpful checklist I use to read labels:
Can I pronounce all of the ingredients?
Do I know what they are?
Are the first three ingredients what I would expect?
Is a type of sugar in the first 3 things listed?
Could I explain to a 5th grader how it's made?

Welcome Note

Welcome to Be Felicitas,

Be Felicitas is a space where I hope people will come for inspiration. Some days when we are trampled by our ever hectic lives or our overly complex relationships we need a place to go, to just enjoy the simple things. This blog will be my escape and my heaven for all of you in those moments. I will share my passion for nourishing homemade, natural food. I will share knowledge about healthy lifestyles. I will discuss choices that can help make the world become the kind of place we can all live in balance and coexist. I am young, an ever changing work in progress, and this blog is just my latest development. I hope you enjoy this space as much as I have enjoyed its inception.

Best wishes,