Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Red White and New Jersey Blue 4th of July Treats

Jersey Fresh Blueberry Smoothie Dreams

With a side kick that is… One of the benefits of running a health food cafĂ© in the past was the orders for smoothies. I would whip up two or three in a row sometimes and if there was any left in the blender from cup overflow, I helped myself; it was a great way to keep yourself from going too long in between meals on a busy day without some nutrients.

Make one, freeze it- and take in a thermos to work- shoot, this weekend make a big batch for lactose free ice cream!

I was reminded of how abundant blueberries are from now until August by the woman in front of me at the market with six containers in her basket last week. They are easy to freeze, and make great little frozen goodies in place of ice in drinks.

Jersey Fresh Blueberry Dream Smoothie

4 oz Hemp Dream Milk, or Almond Plain Milk (I have allergies, so I stay away from Soy and milk, rice milk is too thin, but works great for sorbet)
-Freeze 2 oz in ice cube trays
2 oz frozen blueberries
1 oz frozen organic cherries
-(you can put fresh ones in freezer bags, push out the air, or flatten them, freeze over night)
1 teaspoon raw agave nectar, or honey (to me the cherries take care of the sweetness, I have gotten used to not using sugar)

No ice needed since you are using frozen fruit, add everything a little at a time into blender and voila!

I drink these in the summer as my mid afternoon snack, no dinner time because fruit turns to sugar if you eat it too late or after a heavy meal, and then sits over night. Best consumed morning, before or around 3 or 4 PM.

Full of Antioxidants, not to mention the wonderful properties in hemp and almond milk, try combining the two.

Hubby loves Mango, or if we share this one the weekend, I add some dark cacao pieces for a Blizzard!

I think I may even see blue berry popsicle's in our future...

More smoothie ideas from the New York Times-

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beach Inspiration BBQ Food

While walking the beach off the Jersey Shore, Adrienne and I had left our guys fishing in the boat off a lake nearby, and we began to discuss feeding our boys dinner-

Her hubby had requested I make some Madeira barbecue sauce- flank steaks on the grill.

I said poe-tay-toe, she said pah-tah-toe, we said red onion, whole grain mustard, and then she said dill!

Baked then grilled focaccia with tomato and fennel bulb slices, and watermelon to subside their appetites- Oh! and dirty martinis for all, sit by the way side...

All inspired by our walk on the beach. Summer just screams for good ole barbecue!

Since the guys cleaned us out on the 'Potato Salad' recipe, saying it was just as good as my Madeira barbecue sauce, here it is-

Red Bliss Mustard Salad

7 large Red bliss potatoes, quarter and boil till fork tender
4 tablespoons whole grain mustard, spicy
1 small red onion, half and thinly slice
1/4 cup chopped dill
3 tablespoons EVO
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Toss together while warm and place in fridge to cool (1 hour- not too cold- like wine you lose the flavor if it is too cold!)

I made the barbecue sauce with some Bual Madeira Adrienne had sitting from last years AWS tasting, and I repeated it again with some lamb last night, and it again was successful recipe, but used a Blandy's 5 year old 'Dry' but sweet Verdelho Madeira- a great bargain for cooking and after dinner drink with ice cream desserts for $21!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

St. Augustine Minorcan Clam Chowder

Long overdue post from April, since the oil spill and all, but we are still seeing clams in our NJ market as of this moment- the devastation in the Gulf however is horrible. When visiting St. Augustine, Florida a few months ago we enjoyed a good seafood meal at a small sea side shack. While looking at the menu I noticed this bottle of hot sauce sitting on the table.

Are you a hot sauce head like me? Do you put it on most foods you eat?

The Minorcan hot sauce had a unique flavor, so I stuck the bottle in my I resisted! They had bottles for sale, so I purchased one to take home- AFTER I ordered a bowl of their clam chowder, Minorcan Clam Chowder. Hooked and reeled in was I.

Normally I do not order clam chowder, not even Manhattan versions. Just not a favorite of mine, but this was good, unique flavor, and full of clams.

I found a local Florida blog who has a recipe on her site. She says adjustments were made, so I made my own pot, making adjustments as well.

I sliced a baguette and we sopped up the juice as we ate...

Minorcan Clam Chowder 

1/8 pound salt pork or smoked bacon chopped fine (I used thick cut bacon from whole foods)
2 large onions chopped

1 pound fresh clams (local NJ coast)
1-2 datil peppers, minced
3 cups canned plum tomatoes drained, seeded, and chopped
1/2 tablespoon thyme, crumbled
1/2 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons Minorcan Datil Pepper Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 bay leaves crushed
2- 8 ounce bottles clam juice
3 cups fish stock
2 cups red bliss potatoes, diced

Saute pork in large pot over medium heat until fat is rendered. Remove pork and set aside. Add onions, bell pepper, and cook until softened. Add datil pepper sauce, tomatoes, seasonings, clam juice, fish stock, and reserved pork. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to meld flavors. Add potatoes and cook 30-45 minutes more. Add clams and once they all open, the chowder is ready. Discard any un-open clam shells (I separated the ingredients from the soupy part, and put the clams in to cook, let them open up and left them for presentation once I re-assembled the soup together in bowls, then saved a few for stuffed clams in the future).

Her recipe called for simmering one hour, I cut the time back- took off 20 minutes. There is room to play here. When chowders, soups, and chili sits it begins to meld, and plus I left out her original tomato puree addition to make it a bit more soupy; it thickens over night.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Jersey Iron Cup Cake Challenge

I was asked to post this event below, and it reminded me of how I once entered the blogsphere Iron Cup Cake Challenge with my Devilish Blueberry Chutney Chocolate Sideways creation spinning on your palate, but I did not win. I had fun though! Seems befitting since I live in the Blueberry capital of the world and they have hit the market all over here in New Jersey- my cupcake is filled with a blueberry chutney, powder sugar butter icing, with white chocolate shavings and a blueberry swish on the plate for an added artistic touch. Also this was taken before my photography skills improved, somewhat.

Iron Cupcake Challenge for Charity hosted by Kati's Kupcakes of Moorestown, NJ is gearing up for the next cupcake throw down!!! This time, the recipient of our challenge will be the Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation. In fact, we will have a special judge, Miss Kelly Rouba who is a JRA spokesperson/advocate, a journalist, public speaker and young woman with a strong passion to help others who, like herself, have lived with the disease.

We look forward to having a fun challenge at a great restaurant!! That restaurant is, THE ONE AND ONLY--POP SHOP, Collingswood, NJ.

The July theme for the contest is CANDY!! Go Candy Crazy and have a ball creating some unique, delicious and unbeatable candy cupcake creations to bring before our panel of judges and you just may be our newest Iron Cupcake Champ!! Can our current champ hold on to the crown, or do you have an amazing recipe to take over the reigns? We have NEVER HAD A REPEAT IRON CUPCAKE CHAMP in the history of our contests!! With so many members in our group now, well over one hundred, we are constantly being sought out by the media to see what all the fuss is about!

This event will be in the print edition of NJ Monthly mag and the last event will be in the Burlington County Times!! I bet we can have a great summer charity event at the PopShop-fun for the whole family and supporting a very worthy cause. Hope you can all make the next Iron Cupcake Challenge for Charity!!

We need your support to make it all work! Last month we had an incredibly successful event and raised funds and awareness for the Animal Welfare Association of NJ--they were so excited and I know we can do it again!! First prize is $100!!

July 7th, 2010
6 PM
The Pop Shop
729 Haddon Ave
Collingswood, NJ 08108

Want the recipe for my Blueberry Chutney

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lifes A Beach

I spent my birthday at the Jersey Shore yesterday. Ahhh, what a wonderful time I am having in life at 49. Friends took me out for my birthday Tuesday- see, they just inspire me to be the real me!

Alisandra came to the party- She is the Art Curator for The Straube Center, where Wine Art Music Poetry Project is being held August 21st, in Pennington, NJ. She is a sweetie, so young, but in many ways we have a lot in common. The WAMPP website is up, so come take a look! Have a few kinks to work out...

Would have helped if I thought of taking a photo before people started leaving, and Yes! I am being silly with our cardboard friend (Flora, my guitar teacher and friend joined in with me). Many of these are my poet and musician friends from my open mic. All wonderful friends indeed!

This is very hard for me to do this, but I wanted to let the world know that I am serious about losing weight. I did not grow up with a weight problem, I began the journey into self destructiveness after Anelisa died, and honestly, after all I have been through in my own family life growing up, being attacked in college, and her death, its a wonder anyone survives. I know there is so many others out there who maybe have gone through a lot worse, but we all have our battles. My life had changed so much this past year after my cafe closed, and the economy, even now I am starting more consulting jobs, and going with the flow in cooking classes- I am a survivor.

So this is the 'Before' photo- just wait till the 'After'! Brian my trainer is funny and loves to talk about cooking, so we make a great team-

This is my dear friend Pasqualle Varalo- he is a poet, a vet, and has been like a father to me the past two years. We spent my birthday at the Jersey shore reading poetry, walking; it was raining some, so I did not get great photos. Was a wonderful day; it all starts again tonight with Adrienne, and then with hubby this weekend. A week of birthday time.

Hubby is on software engineer 'military' duty out of town, so we will spend time together when he returns. He will get some good news besides a big hug and kiss- I was published, a new poem, 'Food Passion' in Referential Magazine-

A great gift, and lots of hard work over the past year honing my writing voice- Thanks everyone for keeping up with me, I adore you all!

Food post will resume Monday...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Orange Soy Ginger Chicken

This is one of my favorite recipes for chicken and salmon, and its very easy to make the night before and let flavors meld, then spoon on sauce.

Saute on medium heat with a little sesame oil-

2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Once garlic and ginger begin to brown, add-

1 cup low-sodium tamari/soy sauce,
1/2 cup rice-wine vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice, fresh or not
3 tablespoons sesame oil
a pinch of crushed red pepper

Bring to a boil, reducing by half, and then let cool overnight in the refrigerator-

Clean four pieces of chicken, pat dry (skin optional), spoon sauce onto pieces, and bake in 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes (brown or 165 degrees internal temperature depending upon if it is skinless or boneless).

To mix up the usual dish, I have added apple-carrot slaw over chicken while baking, and stir fried some sugar snap peas and baby corn.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spanish Tapas- Sherried Scallops

My son asked if we were going to run with the bulls in Spain- I said you and your step-dad can, while I sit along the road at a Tapas bar, sipping on some good Rioja while munching on Jamon Iberico de bellota and olives.

I decided to get a head start on feeding hubby my own version of Tapas, just in case he does not recover from the bull run. My son, well he can out run his step-dad.

There are so many versions of the 'Tapas' definition- what is commonly known in our countries restaurant circles, 'small plates'. Spanish history is in dispute about how it started and the 'tapas' meaning; it is said bread was put on 'top of'' glasses or meats to keep swarming flies away (I know, appetizing right?)- as clever bartenders discovered that salty ham spurred beverage sales, the delicious tradition of hot, warm, and cold tapas was born. (Tapas literally means 'on top' or 'lid')

Another theory is the Spanish will not drink without a small nibble along side their wine throughout the day brought on this trend. I have experienced the French, Spanish, and Italians have a late afternoon snack and wine before they have a late dinner, so this also makes sense.

Seafood is the favorite food of Spainards. When it is brought in fresh off the boats; it is immediately rushed out to all parts of the country: markets and restaurants (Discovering Spain, 2008)-

Sherried Scallops (day boat- Barnegat near Cape May- Viking Village, NJ), served with Wild Garlic Broad Leaf Spinach (Asian Spinach you can pick up at the Indian or Asian Store), and pickled button mushrooms and red peppers.

Scallops picked up in the morning were put in a brine of dry sherry (Lustau- Solera Reserva, Dry Amontillado, Los Arcos), sugar, and its own sea water. Left in fridge all day- then seared in butter. Deglaze pan with scallop brine, reduce and spoon over scallops and spinach (Pickled button mushrooms another post).

Well, totally off the subject of Tapas- Asian Spinach is offered if you ask the waitress, which I do at Lotus Garden along with my favorite, Hot and Sour Soup. She turned me onto it a year ago. There it was in the Indian market, I was excited to make it myself. Lotus Garden flash frie it in the wok whole.

Spinach Information:

There are four types of spinach often available which include the common spinach, New Zealand spinach, Chinese or Asian Spinach, and Water Spinach. Common spinach has flat thin leaves, thin stalks and a medium green color.

New Zealand spinach is a coarser, thicker leaf with a crinkled-texture. The leaf has an arrowhead shape with a fine fuzz covering the leaf, while the stalk is thicker than common spinach. The New Zealand spinach is best served as a cooked vegetable or ingredient to a food dish, providing a mellow grassy flavor.

Chinese spinach is also referred to as Asian, Bayam, Ceylon, Malabar, Tampala, or Vietnamese spinach, as well as alogvati, mong toi, saan choy, or yin tsoi. This type of spinach provides a crinkle-textured, thicker leaf grown on a denser stalk than common spinach; it is a variety that is commonly grown in Asia and India for both the stalks and the leaf.

When you cook spinach as other vegetables their nutrients will leach out into liquids, so it is best to place them right into the liquid, and then consume. Could this be the reason why the restaurant I enjoy visiting cooks it whole and serves it, wok to table?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Strawberry Salad & Grenache

What says summer better than the fruit of the farmers hard work in the fields? Make sure you have at least one Garden Party, sharing some good food and wine with friends.

Strawberries season here only has a few weeks left. Seeing so many rhubarb posts and no chance to do something myself, I thought posting this would get me in on the strawberry wagon.

Simple Summer Salad- Spinach, sliced strawberries with a vanilla, sugar and water dressing (simple syrup, but a tad thicker with vanilla). Sprinkle on some poppy seeds and pecans, then you have yourself a great entertaining piece. Butter poached Lobster would even be good on this dish.

I had to opportunity to help with a wine tasting, the host does the main course and some of us can volunteer to help with other dishes. The theme tonight on these elegant plates was Pulled Pork, beer 'butt' chicken (Yuengling- well liked beer in Jersey), homemade BBQ sauce made with host canned tomatoes, roasted fingerling and Peruvian potatoes and squash, along with strawberry salad and my dessert (no photos it was melting too fast in the heat) of maple brown sugar glazed bacon, dipped in chocolate- frozen and broken up into home made ice cream. Second time I have made it for a wine tasting, and it is a big hit with the salty, maple flavor, and sweetness of the ice cream.

Was a great night, along with a Grenache Around The World Pairing and Education. Served here with the salad was Chateau D'esclans, 'Whispering Angel Rose', France 08. Perfect description in the name 'Whispering' hints of strawberries, subtle tones of red from stems and seeds added for the typical Rose blush coloring, and it paired with the salad perfectly.

The winemaker really knows his Rose, Patrick Leon, was the winemaker at Mouton-Rothchilds. This wine is a blend of the Grenache and Rolle grapes.

Price tag? Under $20 per bottle and chilled, it will be great for your next Garden Party!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wild Garlic-Tindi Curry

I love discovery. Especially in the market place. Although I was in the local Indian store, not a regular market. I saw a few things they have not carried before.

Has anyone tried this melon-squash before? I was not sure what it was. No one in the store really could tell me. So helpful, but I discovered the sign was in Pakastani, no sign said 'Tindi', or this would have been an easy meal.

Searching the internet I found what appeared to be the squash, but it described it 'the size of a granny smith apple, with a thinner melon flesh- you could roast the seeds, pickle or cook the meat only'. So I assumed it was not good raw. Up against this chayote you can tell it had to be what I found, The site also mentioned the color varied from light green to dark green, and over night it was beginning to ripen and turn yellow.

I cut it open and this beautiful cucumber smell came to my nose. I dug the seeds out, and peeled the fruit/squash. Cutting one into pieces for my curry, and the other one for pickling. There were already okra sitting in pickling pan, what was a few more pieces of this lovely fruit?

Wild Garlic is very pungent, and looks somewhat like green onions 'Scallion's. There is no picture of the bunch of wild garlic, but you can see it in the pan above. You can chop it up either in a food processor or by hand, then freeze bags of it, and use it as needed. I added fresh chopped plum tomatoes, 1 mango I had left over, chopped red onion. First however I toasted mustard seed, coriander seeds, and some chilies in oil; then added the rest along with 2 cups of chicken stock and cooked it down. Just add veggie broth to make it vegetarian. Serve with rice.

We also got into my rice wine vinegar seasoned pickled okra and 'Tindi' squash (tasted like a beefed up pickle with a crunch). This was like eating chutney with my fresh Dosa/Dosai (in a former post) south Indian bread/crepes I made with the meal.

I am not sure why I wait so long to cook like this, since I love the flavors, and cooking it myself- low salt, low carb, low fat, portion control.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Deep Dark Brownie Cake Commitment

Not to jinx myself- I am now working with a trainer, Brian, a great guy, and its been two weeks. He and I have a lot in common, and he sees my enthusiasm to get my life as a whole balance. Lots of vegetarian eating, meat on weekend, walking on the Jersey Shore twice, swimming three times a week, water aerobics twice a week, weights, and my bike will be ready Wednesday. Sore is an understatement.

I feel good and have a goal- I turn 50 next year, and there is a Harley and a Cruise with my name on them! No, do not call me crazy, I love to live life! Last year I did complete an eating makeover for our household, but when it came down to it, I was not exercising on a regular basis, eventually I quite any kind of routine.

Having WAMPP- Wine Art Music Poetry Projects booked around New Jersey, freelance writing for local and on-line food and wine publications (on my rear), open mics, now in guitar and music lessons, cooking classes, a trip to Spain (El Bulli) in September, and lots of new friends asking me to get out and about the area- I realized I was extremely out of shape and needed to do something about it. Standing on your feet in one place in a kitchen just never was 'real' exercise.

Staying busy keeps me out of trouble, and out of the sweets. I do not buy them at all, only high cocao (75-95%) bars and break off a piece now and then. No way am I giving up my wine or martini habit, so its exercise do or do, no choice! Foodies like us have to balance things, right?

I made this sugar and gluten free brownie cake above. All of you out there that are going 'YUCK', well when you get your taste buds in check, you would be glad to have a piece of that cake! Chocolate Goodness is what it felt like to me. I did whip up some cream one night (with no sugar), it did fall after a few minutes, but it felt like a decadent indulgence.

Many of you who have met me in person, well you know I am a big girl- NOT FOR LONG!