September 29, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower and Pasta - A 30 Minute Dinner




This dinner started when I picked (what I think) a gorgeous head of purple cauliflower from my garden!  I started a few of these from seed in May and they are just now ready to pick.  I'm not sure if I'll grow them again just because of how long it takes and how much room they took up.  My garden is only 4' x 12' so space is a hot commodity!  

I chopped it up and threw it in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper at 375 for about 30 minutes and tossed it with pasta.
I started with red onions and garlic, and cooked them until toasty brown
Lots of parsley (also freshly picked)
A can of white beans and that's it.  I tossed in the roasted cauliflower and added some parmesean and that was it!
If you enjoyed this post please don't forget to vote for me in the Food Buzz Challenge to find the next food blog star!!

September 28, 2010

Yummy Banana Bread - Perfect for breakfast in the fall

In the fall when the mornings start to cool down, I crave a piece of banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread toasted with a bit of butter.
I've made several recipes for banana bread and by far Martha Stewart's recipe is the best.  The key to the moist cake is sour cream.  In this case I used a low fat greek yogurt and it worked just as well.  I also made it with half whole wheat and half white flour.  A little cinnimon & freshly ground nutmeg are also super additions.  Hope you enjoy!



1 Stick butter (they say unsalted, but I use salted it brings out the flavor)
1 C. sugar (I like the all natural organic 365 at whole foods)
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
3/4 C. whole wheat flour
3/4 C. white flour (THIS CAN BE ALL ONE TYPE OR THE OTHER)
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamin
a couple grates of fresh nutmeg (has to be fresh)
2-3 ripe bananas
1/2 C. lite sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1/2 C. handful chopped walnuts
1/2 C. raisins hydrated with boiling water

- cream butter and sugar
- add eggs and vanilla beating untill fuffy
- SIFT flour(s) and baking soda the whole wheat makes it a little more filling.
- combine slowly with  butter mixture along with cinnamin and nutmeg
- fold in bananas, sour cream and nuts DON'T OVER MIX

Pour into a loaf pan that is buttered on bottom and lined with parchment then put into a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hourish... All ovens are different.
 
Enjoy! I love this toasted with butter or cream cheese...
 
If you enjoyed this post please don't forget to vote for me in the Food Buzz Challenge to find the next food blog star!!
 

September 26, 2010

I LOVE dessert!  I ALWAYS have room for dessert!  This seems to be a mystery to my fellow diners.  For the Food Buzz second challenge I was asked to create a classic dish from another culture.  When thinking about what to make, the first cultures that came to mind were Indian and Japanese.  Once I got to thinking about the dishes that I could make I realized that it's pretty close to food I already make and love.  Then I turned my focus to Mexican and Latin cuisine.  Rick Bayless & Daisy Martinez are two of my favorite chefs to watch on TV.  EVERYTHING they make - I want to eat.  They also have so much fun when they cook.
When browsing through Daisy's recipes I found this cake called 'Gypsy's Arm' (Jelly Roll with Guava Cream Filling)
Brazo de Gitano and thought it sounded absolutely amazing and nothing like I would normally make!  Plus the name 'Gypsy's Arm' just sounds fanciful!




 I do bake muffins and things that don't really involved precise measuring or construction.  I also don't really like to bake desserts at home.  I try to leave the sweets to restaurants (that way I'm not eating cake as much as I would like).  So I think this cake was the perfect thing for me to make for this challenge because it got me out of my rut of just making dinners.
I guess most cultures have some version of a jelly roll.  The combination of flavors in this one I find particularly yummy!  I don't like overly sweet desserts and the creamy filling in this cuts the sweetness of the jelly.
Here's the recipe (courtesy of Daisy!!):

  • For the cake
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • ¾ cup sifted cake flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • For the filling
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese at room temperature
  • One 17-ounce jar guava jelly or two cups strawberry jelly
  • Confectioners' sugar 
  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven 350° F. Grease a 13 x 18-inch jelly roll pan with vegetable cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or waxed paper. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a bowl with a handheld mixer) at medium-high speed until foamy. Add the sugar gradually in three batches and continue beating until very fluffy and pale yellow.
  2.  Add the sifted dry ingredients to the eggs in three batches, folding each one into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until just a few streaks of white remain. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer, making sure to poke it into the corners. Bake until the cake is golden brown and it feels spongy not tacky to the touch, 14 to 16 minutes.
  3.  Make the filling: Beat the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a bowl with a handheld mixer) until it is fluffy. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks when the beater is lifted from it. Add the cream cheese half at a time and beat just until blended into the cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4.  Line your work surface with a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Invert the cake onto the paper and lift off the pan. Peel the paper off the top of the cake. Spread the jelly in an even layer over the cake, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges. Do the same with the cream cheese mixture. Starting at one of the short sides, roll the cake up into a compact roll, working gently to avoid tearing the cake or squeezing the filling out. Set the cake seam side down on a serving platter. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day before serving.
  5.  To serve, sprinkle a dense coating of confectioners' sugar over the cake. Cut into 1-inch slices.
  6. The batter came out so light and fluffy.  When I saw all of the bubble I knew I was on the right track.
  7.  **NOTE** I searched high and low for guava jelly and of course I didn't find it until after having made the cake...  In the end I used a mango jelly that I found at Whole Foods.   When I was just browsing through the Goya shelf at Stop & Shop I ended up finding the guava jelly next to a mango jelly.  I think both of these flavors would work very well.

I should mention today's my Dad's birthday!! I wish I could pack this up and ship it down to Charleston where my parents live... Lots of love from CT, Happy Birthday Dad!! 
So with all of this said, I hope you are as inspired as I was to make this cake.  It's not often that I make something more than once but this turned out so well I will definitely make it again.  I even got over my fear of making the roll!  I thought for sure I was going to crack the cake in the process.  
If you enjoyed this post please don't forget to vote for me in the Food Buzz Challenge to find the next food blog star!!
     

September 22, 2010

Fall Baking - Simple Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is here let the pumpkin muffins begin!!
These muffins are so easy to make and are light and fluffy yet hearty!  They are great toasted with butter or cream cheese on one of these cool mornings!

1 C white flour
1 C wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
zest of one orange (remember organic) and juice reserved seperate
3/4 C raisins or craisins 

3/4 C packed brown sugar
3 T molasses
1/4 C melted butter
2 eggs
1 small can packed pumpkin
1 t vanilla extract

3/4 C lowfat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 butter 12-cup muffin pan

Bring juice of one orange to a boil and add raisins - set aside

Sift or wisk together flours, baking soda, salt and spices

Beat sugar, molasses, butter and egg until well mixed then add pumpkin zest and vanilla  
Add flour and milk to sugar mixture until just combined (Don't over beat), pour juice off of raisins & add
Scoop batter into tins.  You could even top with a crumb topping and that would be great!
Bake for 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool 10 minutes and remove from tin and let cool completely on rack.

These are great toasted with butter or I sometimes mix together cream cheese & agave but you could do whatever and I'm SURE it will taste great!  The consistency of these muffins is dreamy - fluffy & moist NOT heavy.


September 21, 2010

Outstanding Vegan Chili

So I'm trying more and more vegan dishes.  Both Chris and I are trying to make a greater part of our diets totally vegan without any animal proteins.  Not to say that I wouldn't have a hamburger and indulge in scrambled eggs and pancakes on Sunday mornings.  It's more of a conscious effort to eat less animal - again something you'll be hearing about over time.
Last night I made this chili and I have to say it was totally outstanding and I can't wait to have it for lunch today because the flavors will be even more vibrant!  This also has a whole package of baby spinach hidden - you'll never taste it!
It's super easy and I'd recommend it to anyone - even you carnivores! 

1 onion roughly chopped
LOTS of garlic roughly chopped - I think I used 8 cloves?
chili powder -LOTS I used about 4 or 5 tablespoons, be liberal
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 block tempeh - I used the veggie kind roughly pulled apart
herbs - you can pull whatever you have in your garden - basil, cilantro use what you like
1/2 small can tomato paste (you can freeze the rest for later in a zip lock baggie)
1 large can diced marzano tomatoes
1 package baby spinach
1 cup water
Avocado sliced for the top

Brown rice cooked to package directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat
Saute onion untill golden brown add garlic and saute untill brown
Add tempeh and salt and pepper to taste
Push onions aside and add tomato paste to center of skillet or pot, let the paste caramelize for a minute or two.
Stir in can of diced tomatoes, herbs and water
Add chili and red pepper flakes
Stir together and bring to a slow boil
1 can beans - your preference red or black
Stir in spinach, cover and simmer for and hour or so.

I served this over brown rice with avocado on top.  The avocado gave a lush creaminess and I didn't even miss the cheese!  By the way I totally forgot to add my beans into this and didn't even notice :)

If you like this and my other posts please support me in Food Buzz's competition to be the next food blogger, it would mean the world!!

I actually had this with a Gavi di Gavi and it was a really nice pairing.

September 19, 2010

FoodBuzz - Project Food Blog First Challenge



This is it, a little backwards but that’s OK – my fist blog post (keep reading).  It's been a desire of mine to blog since 2003.  For one reason or another I have never had time to put one together until I decided to make time.  So right before Christmas last year I put myself out there and registered chatNchow.com!  Shortly after beginning my blog I signed up to be part of the food blogger community at FoodBuzz.com. 

A few months ago FoodBuzz announced a competition to be the “next food blog star”.  I didn’t start blogging to become a star, I started blogging to have a creative outlet.  Now that I've gotten into regularly (4-5 times a week) writing and posting about food, I love it!  So why not give this competition a shot?

With that said, I’m very excited to enter this contest.  (drum roll) I’m announcing this post as my first official entry.  Here is the challenge:  This is it! Your very first entry and we're giving you a chance to tell the world: what defines you as a food blogger and why should you be the next food blog star?  I would love all of your support to help keep me in this competition as long as I am welcome!  Please don’t forget to vote - Details at the end!!

 The topics that define my blog are Cooking, Growing, Dining Out and Lifestyle 

Cooking
chatNchow isn’t strictly a blog about one aspect of food like cooking, baking or eating out.  It’s more like the ongoing dialog that happens around food.  At the root of it all, I do love to cook, drink and be around food.  I got the cooking bug early and it hasn’t gone away.  I like most people have a busy lifestyle – my blog is my fun it’s not a “day job”.  Most evenings during the week I try to cook a healthy dinner that will be satisfying to me and my fiancĂ©.  Dinner is always an adventure and it’s not too often that I make the same thing twice.  As much as I LOVE looking at cookbooks I don’t like to follow strict recipes so there is always something that I do to make a recipe my own.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't – I share it all.

(Images of my food top to bottom: A summery gin and cucumber fizz, my take on a BLT, homey quick pasta with shrimp, poached grey sole please click on links to view full stories)





 
  
Growing
This is the first year I have been able to grow a substantial amount of my own food organically!  A big part of my cooking focuses on organic, local and sustainably grown or farmed food.  I have a 4’x12’ plot in a community garden where I can grow whatever I want!  This year has been thrilling to pull veggies on almost a daily basis and cook them within minutes!  

Another thrill I get from growing my own veggies are the COLORS that come from the tiny seeds I plant.  It’s like tasting the rainbow.  Since I’m a designer at heart I find the colors thrilling!

 (Here are some of my photos of veggies I've grown)











Dining Out
What girl doesn’t like to go out to eat?  I LOVE going out for breakfast, lunch and dinner (please don’t forget about cocktails and dessert)!  Living in CT close to NYC there is a fantastic food scene.  We also have a lot of farms that many of the restaurants pull from.  When a chef is passionate about what he’s cooking no matter if he’s in a food cart or in a 4 star restaurant it shows and makes the food taste that much better knowing it was made with heart.  I always have some sort of camera with me – My cameras range from a cell phone to a digital SLR.











Lifestyle
This is the chat part of chatNchow.  Style and Design take up most of my time.  At my core I’m an artist and designer, I always have been.  During the day I design gorgeous kitchens that are quite contemporary (I have yet to design my own).  I also design and style parties and jewelry – you can say I have my hands in a little of everything.  My creative juices are forever flowing.  I like mixing in a bit of this lifestyle chat into my blog because it’s who I am and it’s important to me.  These little chats can range from talking about a project I’m working on or an amazing piece of art I just discovered (and covet) to a party I just styled.  

The majority of the photography on the site is also mine.  It’s been a huge learning curve as I’m not a “photographer” by trade!  Food can be challenging to shoot so it’s always interesting to see the images loaded on my computer!  I always strive for a beautiful photo that best represents my subject.

(Images of lifestyle top to bottom: Woodland Wedding I recently styled, one of my contemporary kitchen designs, amazing chandelier I want for my dining room by Bodo Sperlein, glimpse of a baker on the Amalfi Coast please click on links to view full stories)



 


So I hope this helps give a clear picture of me and chatNchow.com – good food and good chat.  Here’s the link to vote!  Check back often to see more posts & to keep me in the competition!



Bon Appetite!!

September 17, 2010

Great Dining Art

I love artwork in a home.  Everything from vivid photography to stark black
and white photography and everything in between.  This is a collection of
paintings photos and prints that I fell in love with.  They could work on their
own or mixed all together.  I'm sorry that I don't have artists names I'll have
to work on that.
I would love to see the first 4 works hung all together.
Don't the colors go together beautifully?


I feel like I could stare at this one all day...



The girl in me totally comes out for this one.  I think they are moths rather than butterflies.



This would be great in a bedroom as well.



I don't think dining room art has to be food centric, but I do think this one is quite pretty with the vessels. 



She is just having fun!  I love how she's abandoned her shoes

Don't you want to know where she's going?

OK, wouldn't these be great printed huge placed across the room from each other?

September 16, 2010

Fall Gardening - A Third Growing Season!!

Purple Cauliflower grown from seed!
Fall is here and it's a great time to plant cool weather crops!  My rainbow cauliflower is almost ready for picking. I have 3 more plants that are just getting ready to produce heads hopefully they will be different colors!
These are all new plantings from my plot in the Fodor Farm Community Garden in Norwalk, CT.  The plot sizes are 4'x12' which seems small but has been giving me a bounty since May!
Salad Greens
These are some salad greens that I'm going to have to thin once they get a bit bigger.  I planted these 2 weeks ago.  Nice to see how they are coming along!
Ruby Chard
Beautiful little Ruby Chard seedlings just coming up.  These were also planted 2 weeks ago.  Of everything I've planted I've gotten the most bang from the chard and the spinach.  I can't wait!

Radishes
Some radishes.  I'm going to pickle some of these for salads later in the season!  I'm also going to scatter radish seeds over the garden when everything comes out to add nutrients for next growing season.

September 15, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

So my picture today isn't the most stunning or appetizing...  I decided to go ahead with my post and the picture because it was a total experiment and I'd like to hear some suggestions!  Chris has a notion that he'd like to become partially vegan - like 75%.  I'm not really for or against this just kind of going with the flow for now.  There will be more to come about this desire to go vegan.  The long story short of it is that he's been reading The China Study and works with a Dr. that really believes in not eating animal derived foods.  Even down to honey because it's a by product of an animal and can contain animal proteins...
So last night when he said he wanted spaghetti I tried to make a vegan version that is also healthy.  Even though the picture looks very unappetizing it was actually tasty.  The big problem is that it's just not filling.  We had a side of steamed broccoli and that didn't top either of us off.
I would have loved to have made the squash and tossed with with an angel hair pasta with a sage butter sauce and a touch of nutmeg - but that's not vegan...
So if any of you have ideas about how to make vegetables more filling I am all ears as there are going to be many more vegi / vegan dinners to come.

Here's how I prepared my squash - it would make a great side with out the sauce!

Cut a spaghetti squash in half (VERY CAREFULLY!)
remove all of the seeds
Rub with olive oil, salt and pepper
Place skin side down in a pyrex casserole dish with 1 cup of water
Bake at 375 for 40 - 50 minutes.  Begin to prick with a fork at 30 minutes to see how tender the flesh is
When tender, remove from oven, scrape flesh with fork until it resembles spaghetti!

I tossed mine with some garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper over medium heat for a few minutes before topping with sauce!!!  My sauce consisted of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.  So it was really very simple.

Let me know your thought!!

September 14, 2010

Fall Peaches and Cream

Even though the mornings are cooling off fruit is still pouring off of the trees!  Last week I found gorgeous local peaches at my Whole Food's.  They were the perfect ripeness for peaches and cream on a biscuit!  I am almost to the point where I don't want to see another strawberry for a while so the peaches were a happy compliment!!


PEACHES:
I started with about 6
Drop them in boiling water for 2 minutes
Remove and allow to cool to the touch.
Peel peaches over a bowl to catch any juice
Slice into bite size slices 
Drizzle with a little agave nectar 
Set aside


BISCUITS (Too easy not to make these!!)
I got this recipe from Cooks Illustrated (one of my go to recipe places)

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (I LOVE BROWN SUGAR IN THIS)
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits
  • A bit of brown sugar to sprinkle on top
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475°F. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.

Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using a large spoon, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.

Split biscuits and layer with fresh whipped cream (not from a can) & peaches.

Totally divine!!



September 13, 2010

Beautiful Woodland Wedding!

Last Friday I left CT for Norwell, a small town south of Boston.  One of my dear college friends got married on Saturday.  One of the great things about having gone to art school was being surrounded by talent!  When Tessa asked me to style her reception couldn't wait to get started.  For the past 5 months I've been putting together the style for the wedding that took place in an open air pavilion in the middle of the woods.  These are just a few photos that I took, once I receive the professional photos I'll do a followup post.  I was thrilled for them & at how the whole party turned out I had to share!!! 
One of my passions is styling parties, photo shoots, events - you name it.  The best part about doing parties is that no party is exactly the same.  I loved how each element seemed like it could have been pulled from the fields around the property!
For more photos click here to view my photostream!
Since we were in the middle of the woods, I tried to keep everything organic and natural to the surroundings
Tessa is a talented graphic designer.  She letter pressed all of the paper goods herself!
The food was also quite complimentary to the rest of the wedding.  The farm salad was tossed with flowers!

I used different types of flowers & foliage on each table mixed in with bleached and stained peacock feathers.
I think the bride and groom were thrilled with how the pavilion turned out!  I loved how they pulled up in her grandfather's beautiful Thunderbird!