Friday, October 24, 2014

Blue and Purple Foods for #foodday2014




Today is Food Day 2014. You can read my piece for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day on his website (there) or on my own blog, but my lesson plans for my six week Eat a Rainbow cooking class dovetailed nicely with today's focus on food awareness and eating real foods.

There were a lot of memorable moments from today's class, but one of my favorites. R grabbed half of the purple cabbage; we weren't using that part. "Do you have to cook it?" he complained. "Can't I just eat it like that?" Go for it. 


We made a Crimson Coleslaw and Ube Mochi Cake [recipes to come]. 


I also brought in raisins, a graffiti eggplant, purple cauliflower, a lavender infused chocolate bar, blue corn chips, and blueberries and blackberries.


And they had some great answers to the question: "Why is healthy food important?" So very proud of these kiddos.


We have a break next Friday for Halloween, but we'll wrap up our six week the following Friday. Can't wait to cook some white, brown, and black foods. Yep, that includes chocolate!!

Meatloaf-Stuffed Mini Pumpkins for #PumpkinWeek



Hi and welcome to day 5 of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


For this fifth day of #PumpkinWeek, I have a funny story.

Last year, my then 9-year-old had a pet pumpkin. He had gotten it at a market at the beginning of the month and it slept on his pillow and watched him do his homework. One day I jokingly threatened to cook his pumpkin. I was joking, but D was not amused. So, needless to say...when I served this dish, the first thing he did was run to his room to make sure that his pumpkin hadn't been a casualty of my pumpkin massacre. Then he announced, "Pumpkin is not coming to the dinner table tonight because I don't want him to see me eating his friends." He added, "You're a mean mommy." Tell me something I don't know.


Somewhere along my pumpkin travels, I saw meatloaf-stuffed mini pumpkins. After last year's experiment, I've been making them whenever I see mini-pumpkins. D refused to get a pet pumpkin this year. So, I happily purchased a handful and called them dinner.

Ingredients
Serves 6

  • 6 mini pumpkins
  • 1 lb ground meat (I used a combination of ground turkey and ground beef)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C ground nut (I used hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 C shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries
  • 1/2 t curry powder
  • dash of ground cardamom
  • dash of ground coriander
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil

Procedure
Cut open and clean out your pumpkins. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the meat, egg, leek, ground hazelnuts, and spices. Mix well. Add in the cranberries and cheese. And mix again.

Stuff the pumpkins with the meat mixture, taking care to press the meat all the way into the pumpkin so that there are no air pockets. 

Place the pumpkins back on the baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. 

Bake for 50-55 minutes. Your pumpkins should be soft to the touch, i.e., squeezable, and the meat nicely browned on the top.

Hope you're enjoying pumpkin season and this week full of pumpkin goodness!


Check out all the Day 5 #PumpkinWeek recipes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spiced Pumpkin Butter for #PumpkinWeek



Hi and welcome to day 4 #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


Day four of #PumpkinWeek is upon us and I wanted to share an eternal favorite: spiced pumpkin butter.

Are you asking "Why the Danish flag? Is pumpkin butter Danish?" One of my favorite memories surrounding making pumpkin butter was with my best friend from Denmark when she was here visiting for a few months during the holidays and we thought they would make nice, shippable presents to her friends and family back home. We made batches and batches of pumpkin butter. Good, delicious times.

I love that this is light on the sugar, heavy on the spices, and so, so easy to make. Pleae note that this does not yield a smooth butter; I like mine rustic, with small chunks of pumpkin. If you want it store-bought smooth, press the pumpkin through a sieve before you start.

Ingredients

  • 6 C pumpkin puree (here's how to make your own puree)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground cloves
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cardamom
  • ground ginger
  • 2 T ginger syrup

Procedure
Place the pumpkin puree, water, and sugar in a large, flat-bottom pan. Bring to a simmer. As you cook, mash the pumpkin with a potato masher. Add in the spices - to your tastes.

Cook and mash until it's to the consistency that you like. Stir in the ginger syrup. And spoon into sterilized jars. Process in a water bath to seal. Or refrigerate and use within three weeks without processing.

Check out all the Day 4 #PumpkinWeek recipes

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin-Vanilla Bean Madeleines for #PumpkinWeek



Hi and welcome to day 3 of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


On this, the third day, of #PumpkinWeek I decided to whip up a pumpkinized (yes, I'm coining that phrase this week) version of a madeleine.

I had never had a madeleine, much less baked one, before I did a cookbook review for  Quirk Books of Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share by Barbara Feldman Morse. Click to read those thoughts: here. But now that they are solidly in my baking repertoire, I had to make a pumpkinized (there's that word again) version. Enjoy.

Ingredients
  • 3/4 C organic butter plus some for greasing pan
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • caviar from 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 2 T pumpkin puree (here's how to make your own)
  • 1 C flour (I used a bread flour)
  • 1/2 C roasted, unsalted hazelnuts, chopped

Procedure
Before you start, chop your hazelnuts. While you might be tempted to use pre-chopped nuts - I have done it many times myself - the aroma of the freshly chopped nuts is extraordinary and well worth the effort. I promise!


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease, or butter, your madeleine pan and set aside.

Place your butter, sugar, vanilla caviar, and vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat, over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the sugar is blended into the butter.


Remove the vanilla pod and let the mixture cool for a few minutes, then spoon it into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs, extract, and pumpkin puree. Beat for a full three minutes to incorporate lots of air bubbles into your batter.


Fold in the flour and 1/2 C hazelnuts with a spatula, taking care not to deflate the batter too much. Using a truffle scoop, or teaspoon, fill the shell molds with batter until almost full.


Bake till the madeleines puff up and the edges are golden, mine took approximately 17 to 18 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 3 to 5 minutes. Unmold. You may be able to tap them out; I used a small spatula to ease them out of the molds onto the cooling racks.


Check out all the Day 3 #PumpkinWeek recipes


If you are interested in purchasing a madeleine pan for yourself, I have included an affiliate link on amazon for your convenience (below). If you are uncomfortable using the affiliate link, feel free to visit amazon on your own and search for "madeleine pan."

  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pairing Soup with Wine




It's almost soup season! We're still having warm days, but it has me thinking about how to pair soup with wine. Soon...I love to end my autumn and winter days with a steaming bowl of deliciousness.


Are soup and wine considered difficult to pair?
I've read that some people consider it difficult to pair soup with wine since both are liquids. People, for some reason, don't consider that appealing. Maybe it's my love of both wine and soup, but I don't think it's difficult at all. Here are a few tips for you...

Tips 
Take into consideration the weight of the soup. for instance, heavier chowders and hearty stews pair well with robust wines while more delicate broths are better suited for lighter wines. 


Tomatoes and tannins are not good bedfellows. If your soup is tomato-based, avoid tannic reds. I lean more towards fruity reds to complement the flavors of tomatoes.


Remember that cream soups like acidity. My favorite is a homemade cream of mushroom with an unoaked chardonnay. 


My favorite tip of all: Experiment. Be creative. Be fearless. Just like all food+wine pairings, there is no 'one' perfect wine for any 'one' dish. So your pairing will rely on your personal preferences, the occasion and - naturally - your budget.

Lastly: try not to panic. If your choice doesn't fit well, try again. And serve lots of bread and crackers! It's not the end of the world.

Spiced Kabocha Pie with a Frangelico-Scented Crust for Nonna



Today is my mom's birthday. Happy birthday, Nonna! So, last night I asked the boys if we should bake her a cake. They both shook their heads. Pie, they decided. Okay. Pumpkin pie. Okay. And you have to roast some pumpkins while we do our homework. Oh, okay.



The boys delivered her pie this morning on their way to school.


I didn't have any pumpkins, but I had two kabocha squash from our High Ground Organics CSA. So, while they boys finished up homework, I made some kabocha puree. I've always called it a Japanese pumpkin. Close enough.

Ingredients for one 11" pie
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour
  • 1 C butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 T ice water
  • 3 to 4 T Frangelico
  • 4 C kabocha puree (make a puree like this: click here)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • spices to taste (D used some ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and ground cardamom. When I asked him how much, he answered "10 pinches")

Procedure
I don't have a food processor, so I use a pastry blender and do it all by hand. Place the flour, ground almonds, ground cinnamon, and cold butter in a large bowl. Use the pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter.


Alternate ice water and Frangelico 1 T at a time, until mixture just begins to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and cut again. Note that too much water will make the crust tough. Once the dough comes together into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Roll out the Pâte Brisée between two pieces of parchment paper and place the crust in your baking dish. Place the crust in the freezer while the oven heats and you make the filling. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.


To make the filling whisk together the puree, cream, sugar, eggs, and spices together until well combined. Spoon the filling into the crust and bake till the filling is set. Mine took about an hour. Let cool before serving.

They did joke - yes, it's funny to see their senses of humor develop - that I should cover it in whipped cream and, then, top it with pumpkin madeleines and marzipan pumpkins. "Wait...you are joking, right?!?" Yes, Mom, we're joking. Phew.

How to: Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree for #PumpkinWeek




Hi and welcome to day 2 of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

On this, the second day, of #PumpkinWeek I'm sharing how to make your own pumpkin puree. Almost all of my pumpkin creations begin with pumpkin puree. Don’t buy it in a can, please. If you can wield a knife and turn on your oven, you can make your own pumpkin puree.

Here's what you have to do..,

Get a pumpkin. Any pumpkin. I've done this with thick-fleshed Cinderella pumpkins and, the most typical, sugar pie pumpkins. Whatever you use, it's the same process.

Ingredients
  • pumpkin
  • water

Procedure
Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds – just like you would start a jack o’lantern. 


Fill the pumpkin half-way with water; you can add in lemon wedges or orange wedge, if you like. 


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. It’s finished when you can easily press your thumb into the pumpkin flesh; it might take longer – or shorter – depending on the size and variety of pumpkin. 

Let cool. Drain the liquid out of the pumpkin. Now the fun begins. Scrape the flesh out and make a puree, using a potato masher. Now you’re ready for creating some pumpkin goodness.

Check out all #PumpkinWeek recipes for Day 2

Here are today's #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes:



Monday, October 20, 2014

The Dining Room Table as a Nexus for Change #foodday2014



October 20, 2014 – this piece went live on the Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution website. Read it there...or here.

The Dining Room Table as a Nexus for Change
Story by Camilla M. Mann
One of my 'Eat a Rainbow' students making pumpkin-potato gnocchi

“Raise kids with fearless palates.” That is scribbled into a journal from before I was a mom.

Idealistic? Sure.

Achievable? Definitely.

At first, I just focused on my family. Then I expanded my goal to our small circle of friends. I put zucchini into chocolate cakes at birthday parties. I created a menu dedicated to the enigmatic and oft-hated eggplant. I pushed my friends’ palates and they still returned to my dining room table for more.

A good friend once asserted that he did not eat – and I quote – purple dirt circles. He meant beets. I accepted the challenge and cooked an entire dinner around those purple dirt circles, inviting him, his family, and a few other friends to my table. We ate roasted beet soup; I baked beetroot dinner rolls; we slathered beet-apple chutney on roasted leg of lamb; and ended with a spiced beet mousse for dessert.

Can you guess what happened next? He grudgingly admitted that he liked beets. He finally called them beets, too. And now, several years later, I have witnessed him spooning beets willingly onto his own salad on more than one occasion.

“More people would like vegetables if they ate them at your dining room table,” my husband Jake says. I realized that I could use the dining room table as a nexus for change: if you introduce kids to real foods and you invite them to cook it with you, they will eat it. And if you make the learning fun, they will love it.

October 24th is this year’s designated Food Day. Food Day and the FoodDay.org organization is all about inspiring both healthier diets for eaters and healthier food policies for our planet. It’s the culmination of a movement that aims to help people eat foods that are healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced. It’s also a time to focus on cutting back on processed, packaged foods every day of the year. It’s about awareness. It can be a celebration of accomplishments and a reassessment of what you can do to eat better.

This year Food Day falls in the middle of a six-week Friday afternoon elective class that I teach to a dozen 5th through 7th graders at a school on the Monterey Peninsula on California’s central coast. This session’s theme is ‘Eat a Rainbow.’ We have talked about the benefits of eating foods in every color of the rainbow. We’ve covered red, orange, yellow, and green so far. And we’ve made everything from pumpkin gnocchi to saffron-vanilla bean lemonade and from green beans with gremolata to roasted beets salad.

On Food Day, my students and I will be preparing two to three dishes that involve blue and purple foods. Think eggplant, blueberries, and purple yams!

My goal is not only to cook with my students, getting them to – perhaps – try foods that they haven’t eaten before, but to inspire them take our recipes home and cook for their own families. At the end of the session, they take home a book with all of the recipes we cooked during the six weeks. When I went to one of my student’s houses for dinner, he excitedly showed me the two recipe books from the two classes he’s taken with me. They had a prominent place in his mom’s kitchen along with her other cookbooks. I was surprised. She explained, “When he wants to share something from them, I know where they are.”

I was excited to be selected as a volunteer ambassador for Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day. That extended the scope of my goal from simply raising my own kids to have fearless palates to helping push the palates of other people’s kids. While revamping the standard American diet is laudable, raising the next generation to make healthier food choices is a necessity – for their health and the health of our planet. It starts at the dining room table.