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Showing posts from January, 2014

Food'N'Flix: Babette's Feast {Invitation}

from We've come full-circle and it's my turn to host  Food'N'Flix   where we watch movies and head  into the kitchen and cook or bake or make something based on a recipe they actually make in it or just something we were driven to make after watching it. This month was my pick. And I selected Babette's Feast . I watched the movie years ago...back in my Isak Dinesen-obsessed days. A Danish friend had introduced me to her books when we were both living in Italy, so I read these Danish-penned novels in Italian translation. Then, when I moved home, I bought the books and read them again in English! If you’ve never seen “Babette’s Feast,” you must. Really. It's based on the short story by Isak Dinesen and illustrates the transformational power of food. It is also a foodie's dream movie, a magnificent celebration of haute cuisine.  In 1987  Babette’s Feast  won an Oscar  - the first Danish film to win one. Director Gabriel Axel’s screenplay

Real Cinnamon {Spice It Up!}

One of the reasons I teach Friday enrichment classes: I learn things as I research for the kids. This class, I learned that what we typically call 'cinnamon' isn't real cinnamon. Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees and used in both sweet and savory dishes. While Cinnamomum verum is true cinnamon, most cinnamon sold is actually derived from a related species: cassia... Cassia burmannii is known as Korintje, Padang cassia, or Indonesian cinnamon; Cassia loureiroi is known as Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia, or Vietnamese cinnamon; and  Cassia cassia  is often sold as Chinese cinnamon. I can say, from grating it today with the kiddos, there is a difference. Wow. I will be tracking down real cinnamon from now on. I bought mine from The Savory Spice Shop .

Chinese Five Spice Grilled Chicken and Long Life Noodles {Spice It Up!}

Since today kicks off the Chinese Lunar Year of the Horse, we blended our own Chinese Five Spice. I cheated...and I had Jake grill the chicken for me ahead of time. Double cheating! But my Spice It Up! class is five minutes shorter today due to an earthquake drill, so I can use all the help I can get. In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles, signifying longevity, on New Year’s Day. Since the noodles are never to be broken or shortened during the cooking process, I decided to go with a stir-fried “Long-Life Noodles” dish. CHINESE FIVE-SPICE CHICKEN 2 lb chicken thighs 1/3 C soy sauce 1/4 C olive oil 1 T crushed garlic 2 t Chinese five spice powder 1 t grated fresh ginger Combine all ingredients except chicken, and use as marinade. Then, marinate chicken at least an hour, but can marinate overnight. Bake in a 375 F. oven, basting once or twice, for about 45 minutes or grill until done. I made this ahead of time and tossed

Blending Chinese Five Spice {Spice it up!}

While I took a shortcut , the kids ground and blended their own Chinese Five Spice today in our Spice it Up! class. First I had them smell the blend and see what scents they could discern. Then we let the spices fly! The usual 5-spice blend… cinnamon cloves fennel seeds star anise Szechuan peppercorns The extras… anise seed ginger nutmeg turmeric cardamom

Chinese Five Spice {Spice It Up!}

I swapped lesson plans for this week's Spice it Up! class. I had originally planned a tabletop jaunt to Provençe, but realized that Chinese Five Spice was much more appropriate. I can't believe I almost missed that it's Chinese New Year. The year of the horse begins today. Perfect. We're grinding and mixing our own Chinese Five-Spice in class and making noodles!  Truth be told: the kiddos are grinding and mixing their own today. Me? I cheated. Teachers get to use shortcuts, right? I picked this up at Whole Foods and used it on the chicken for the Long Life Noodles. Recipe to come. Do you grind and blend your own spices? I love it...when I'm not pressed for time. Gong xi fa cai.

Matcha MOffins

Back when I was looking for a cookie to send for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 201 3, I ended up making Matcha-Black Sesame Shortbreads ...after a little inspirational gift - the matcha - from a friend whose family owns a sushi deli. I've been slowly working my way through the canister and used the last bit of it this morning. I love the delicate color and the subtle flavor. Gotta get my hands on more matcha soon. MOffin = mochiko (sweet rice flour) + muffin. This makes for a quick and portable breakfast. I served these with some yogurt and blueberries. Fast and tasty! 4  eggs 1/2 C olive oil 1 C organic heavy cream 1 C organic 2% milk 1/2 C organic granulated sugar 1 T baking powder 2 T matcha powder 1 box of rice flour Mix the eggs and oil. Then mix in everything else until just moistened. Spoon the batter into greased muffin hollow. Bake for about 30 minutes at 375˚F till the top of the MOffin is slightly browned and slightly cracked. Let cool for 5

Sweet Treats for Your Sweethearts {Call for Recipes}

Do you love Valentines' Day? I don't...I am not one to celebrate Valentines' Day, typically, for myself. I firmly believe that love and romance belong front and center all the time. Why is February 14th designated as a day for people to show their sweethearts that they are adored? What about the other 364 days?!? I would rather get a bunch of handpicked wildflowers on a random day in January than a dozen red roses on a day when florists mark up beyond the usual 300% markup on flowers anyway. Okay, I know that I sound unapologetically unromantic. Is there a Valentines' equivalent of a Grinch? That would be me. But one of my boys loves Valentines' Day and spends weeks planning his cards for his classmates; the other could take it or leave it, but definitely likes the treats. These were some heart-shaped treats we made last year:  Beet Sugar Cookies . So, with that in mind, I decided that my February linky theme would be sweet treats...for your spouse, f

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I don't know why a pulled pork sandwich popped into my head last night. But I had a 3 lb pork loin roast in the fridge and decided to give it a shot. Never having made pulled pork, I did some reading; unfortunately, almost all of the recipes said to do it in a crock pot...and I do not own a crock pot. I thought about braising it as I've had fantastic success with melt-in-your-mouth-tender lamb and beef. Then I remembered when I made Wild Boar Rillettes and opted for that process: slow-roasted in the oven. For the Pork 1 3lb pork loin roast 1/2 C organic brown sugar 1 t ground cumin 1 t ground paprika freshly ground sea salt freshly ground pepper 1/2 C apple cider vinegar splash of olive oil Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Rub the pork with the brown sugar and spices, taking care to coat as much of the surface as possible. I didn't measure the salt or pepper, but it was, probably, about 5-6 grinds of each. Place the meat in a baking dish and pour the vi

A Cookbook Swap and New-to-Me Bloggers

Throughout the year I participate in events that span the blogosphere. It might be for a cause, such as the Cookies for Kids Cookie Swap I do around the holidays; it might just be for fun, such as a Pepper Party. But I stumbled on this event - the Food Blogger Cookbook Swap   cohosted by Alyssa of Everyday Maven and Faith of An Edible Mosaic   - and signed up immediately. Geniuses both, I tell you.I can not wait to participate! If you are anything like I am, you probably have enough cookbooks to build the Great Wall of China. Okay, maybe not quite that many. But I used to pick up cookbooks anytime I went to a bookstore. Sadly, almost all of our local bookstores have disappeared; but there's always amazon. I have purchased cookbooks for single dinner parties. I have cookbooks that I have reviewed for publishers. I have received cookbooks as gifts. Some I use once; some I - blush, blush - have never used and probably will never use. So, I am tickled that I get to package up

Rosemary and Thyme Lemonade {Spice it Up!}

I made this for my Spice It Up! kiddos on the first week. I guess I forgot to post it. I just remembered when I made another version this weekend. The secret to homemade lemonade is to make a simple syrup first. That way the sugar is dissolved and not grainy in your drink. The ratio for the syrup is 1: 1. For this version I added  sprigs of rosemary and thyme to the syrup as it cooled. 1 C organic coconut sugar* 1 C water 1 C freshly squeezed lemon juice for the base 1 sprigs of fresh rosemary + some for garnish, if desired 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme + some for garnish, if desired lemon slices for garnish, if desired Place herbs in a jar or bottle that can hold up to 2 cups. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat till the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the syrup over the herbs and let cool. Reserve the syrup till you’re ready to make the lemonade. Pour syrup into a mixing pitcher. Add 1 C freshly squeezed lemon juice. Then

D's Saffron Rice

Every so often, the boys ask if I can teach them how to make something. D recently requested saffron rice. Sure thing! This may not be a traditional recipe, but it's tasty. He also whipped up a curried veggie soup to go with it. 2 C uncooked medium grain brown rice 3/4 t crushed saffron threads 3 T butter splash of olive oil 6 whole cardamom seed pods 4 whole cloves 3 cinnamon sticks 1 onion, peeled and diced 3 C organic chicken stock, boiling 1 teaspoon salt Soak the rice in cold water for half an hour or so. Soak your saffron threads in 2 T of boiling water. In a large flat-bottom pan, melt the butter in a splash of olive oil. Add the spices - cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon - and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. They'll begin to let off an amazing aroma! Add in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Stir in the rice, coating them completely with the butter and oil. Cook over low heat for about

Riley's Homemade Tapioca

With my Mushroom-Honningkage Tart in the garbage, Riley said he wanted to make dessert last night. His pick: homemade tapioca. I can't say that I've ever made tapioca, but Riley has - at my parents' house - and was confident. And because he is the Precise Kitchen Elf , I just left the kitchen and let him go at it. Here's what he did... 1/3 C small pearl tapioca (we had Bob's Red Mill) 3/4 C cool water 2-1/4 C organic whole milk pinch of fleur de sel 1/2 C organic granulated sugar, divided in half 2 eggs, separated 1/2 t pure vanilla extract Soak tapioca pearls in cool water for at least 30 minutes in medium saucepan. We ended up soaking for abot 45 minutes because I had to run to the store for eggs. Do not drain. Add milk, fleur de sel, 1/4 C sugar and beaten egg yolks to the tapioca pearls and stir over medium heat until it boils. Simmer over very low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. You'll see the pearls turn clear and the

Mushroom Honningkage Tart {Flop}

Let me preface this by admitting that Jake - my husband and self-professed sugar pig - did not eat this. Well, he tasted it, but he didn't finish his slice. He couldn't. That says something. Remember, I said 'sugar pig.' He'd eat dessert everyday if I made it. His conclusion: mushrooms should only be savory. Okay, that's it. If you're still with me, it is an interesting story. This month, I hosted a round-up of mushroom-based recipes from some of my favorite bloggers: Fun with Fungi . Lots and lots of savory mushroom goodness. I had intended to make a mushroom dessert, but didn't get the chance before posting the round-up. So, today I gave it a shot. Mushrooms in a dessert?!? Well, I was determined to create one. I found inspiration in this Sweet Forest Namenko Custard Tart from the Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc.   So I used the leftover Honningkagehjerter dough as the crust. I rolled it out, pressed it into a tart pan, and baked it in a 370 deg

Cullen Skink and Salt Bread

I originally found a recipe for Cullen Skink when I was researching nutmeg recipes for my Spice It Up! class. But, looking at timing - only an 85 minute class - was not enough to do it justice. So, I skipped it for the dozen kiddos and made it for my family for dinner with Salt Bread. 'Red book worthy!' it was declared by two of Mann boys, after the first taste. It was the big one and the middle one, in case you were wondering; the little one reserved judgment. And I have say, it was tasty. the recipe...because this soup is amazingly delicious! The name of this rich soup comes from the fishing village of Cullen, in Northern Scotland. "Skink" is a soup made originally from a shin of beef; it is sometimes called Smoked Haddock Chowder.  1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely diced 1 onion, diced 2 shallots, diced pat of butter splash of olive oil 4 potatoes, washed and diced 2 pieces of smoked trout (I

Piernik, a Polish Gingerbread Cake {Spice It Up!}

Today my Spice It Up! kiddos and I traveled, via tabletop, to the Moluccas. We looked at nutmeg, mace, cloves, and pepper...and we baked Piernik , a gingerbread cake from Poland. I employed a new strategy: I put all of the steps - measurements required, mixing, etc. - on pieces of paper and had each student pick one. That was their task. If they finished, and there were still more tasks to complete, they could pick another. This alleviated the constant barage of 'What can I do?!'s that I had last week. Anything that reduces my stress level in directing a dozen kids to make a single dish is a good thing. Some kids ground mace. Other ground nutmeg. Some measured sugar. And others whipped the cream to finish the cake. Good teamwork! For the Cake spray vegetable oil (I used canola) 1 -1/2 C white whole wheat flour 1 t ground ginger 1 t ground nutmeg 1 t ground mace 12 grinds of fresh black pepper 1 t ground cinnamon 1 t fleur de sel 1/2 t

St. George-Seafood Lasagna {Pass the Cookbook}

This month the  Pass the Cookbook  crew - under the leadership of Kita, the culinary force behind  Pass the Sushi  - is cooking from Christiane's pick. Christiane blogs at  The Mom Chef: Taking on Magazines   and chose Sheila Lukins, Julee Rosso, and Sarah Leah Chase's   Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook   for this month. As always, we had the choice of three recipes. Our choices this round: Seafood Lasagna, White Chocolate Mousse with Frangelico, and Vegetable Pot Pie. I thought about making combining two of our choices into seafood pot pies, but went with the lasagna. Even though I just made Lasagna alla Puttanesca for our last Pass the Cookbook reveal, in November, I decided to venture down the lasagna path again because this one: (1) involves seafood and (2) includes an anise-flavored liqueur. Ummm...yum. I'm always in when ouzo, sambuca, or their cousins are involved. The original recipe calls for Pernod. I had St. George absinthe; so, I went with that and add

Home-Roasted Coffee for 'The Breakfast Club' {Food'N'Flix}

Debra from  Eliot's Eats  is hosting this month's  Food'N'Flix . And we are going back to the mid-80s with The Breakfast Club. Click to see her invitation. When it comes to 80s movies, there are two prevailing genres: slasher films and coming-of-age comedies. Think  Sixteen Candles ,  Pretty in Pink ,  Some Kind of Wonderful,   Ferris Bueller's Day Off,  and  The Breakfast Club... all of which were creations of the late John Hughes. I was coming of age in the mid-80s - learning to drive, first kisses, etc. - so I probably watched all of the movies in the latter genre; I wasn't much for horror flicks. The premise is pretty formulaic: put a bunch of people in a room and see what happens.  Even the characters are ridiculously stereotypical. There's "a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal." But the movie is genius in leveling the field. No matter how different they all appear at the onset, they all suffer from the same