Tag Archives: picky eaters

A Cheese Wiz

2 Nov
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Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

melt-cover500-241x300I can’t totally recall but I think I met Stepahanie Stiavetti at an IACP conference (not the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference) it’s the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Stephanie is a food writer and recipe developer and I am excited to announce that she has just written her first cookbook.

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Humboldt Fog Cheese

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of her book, Melt the Art of Macaroni and Cheese.  I get a lot of books to review and most of the time I don’t love every book I get and rarely review them. I wanted to review Stephanie’s because it’s her first and because we both like to dye various strands of our hair bright red. (Not really, but that is true about the hair, her hair always looks great!)

I’ll start by telling you that unfortunately cheese is not my friend, I love cheese but it really hates me. UNLESS of course…..it’s very expensive, made and by hand from Pygmy goats in an obscure smallish town somewhere. Are you still with me? When I looked through Melt I instantly knew what recipe I would make, one that was kid friendly and made with a cheese I was very familiar with.

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Humboldt Fog Cheese

About 8 years ago my husband and I did all the photography for Cypress Grove Cheve Cheese Company. No joke, we had about 100 pounds of cheese to shoot! In that in that excessive amount of cheese were three wheels of Humboldt Fog deliciousness. We ended up having a party and inviting strangers in to take cheese home! That’s when the love affair started with a beautiful creamy wheel of snowy white goat cheese. Humboldt Fog could be mistaken at first glance for Blue cheese, but it’s so not a blue cheese. Cheese maker Mary Keehn of Humboldt County, California invented this cheese named for our famous coastal fog. We have toured Mary’s cheese making facility in Arcadia and it is fascinating, they make some of our favorite cheese. The story goes that in the morning the cream would be set into the molds and then a layer of charred vegetable ash laid atop the cream to separate the cream from the afternoon milking, creating a distinct dark green blue line of ash in the center of each wedge.

Now that you know the back story about my slight obsession with this cheese, I can tell you about the yummy recipe I made from Stephanie’s book.

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She even spelled her name in Orzo and alphabet pasta!

Yes, Yes I know it’s not peach season but the weather is warm and the grill is right out front and begging to be used. I was lucky enough to find peaches, really beautiful ones locally and I was also trying to pick a kid friendly recipe to share from Melt. I knew my family liked grilled peaches, we usually make them for a sweet dessert with whipped cream, we haven’t eaten them in a savory dish.  Another way I thought I could to add a kid zip to this dish was to use alphabet pasta mixed with the orzo, this was a hit!

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Juicy Grilled Peaches

We left out the mint but could have added it just as easily, ours was sad and brown and better left alone in the garden to wither. We all loved the dish, with sweet hints of peach, tart vinegar and creamy sharp cheese flavors mingling together. I loved the addition of pistachios, the kid could have done with out them but I think the added saltiness and crunch was needed. I highly recommend this dish for a summer party, I repeat summer, don’t be a seasonal rule breaker like I am! I like Melt it’s good for a twist on Mac and Cheese and is full of other great ideas.

There is a great MELT giveaway here be sure to go over to The Culinary Life and enter win a set of Le Crueset cookware

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

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What could be nicer than a blushing peach? The sun-kissed color, the ticklish feel of the fuzz, the sweet-as-sugar-cane flavor. This simple orzo salad lets these traits shine—and without the nuisance of peach juice dribbling down your arm. Summer in a bowl, this is.

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Peaches awaiting the grill

Serves 4

3 freestone yellow peaches

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

S ea salt

10 ounces orzo (or 5 oz orzo and 5 oz alphabet pasta can be cooked together)

¼ cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

¼ cup chopped spearmint

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces Humboldt Fog, rind removed and crumbled into large chunks

1. Using a barely damp paper towel, lightly scrub the peaches of any extraneous fuzz. Don’t wash the peaches, as they will soak up excess water. Using a sharp knife, cut each peach in half lengthwise around the pit, using the peach’s crevices as a guide. Discard the pits.

2. Set the peach halves in a zip-top bag and toss with honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Allow the peaches to marinate for 10 minutes.

3. While the peaches marinate, cook the orzo in some salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.

4. Once the peaches are done marinating, reserve the marinade and place the peach halves on a hot, oiled grill, cut-side down. Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the peaches are soft and have developed some charming dark grill marks. Roughly chop into bite-size pieces and set aside.

5. Combine the peaches, marinade, orzo, parsley, spearmint, and pistachios in a bowl and toss. Add a bit more sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Plonk in the Humboldt Fog and toss once or twice, just enough to bring everything together.

Overmixing will melt the cheese, and our goal here is to maintain its chunky texture.

Alternative cheeses: Though Humboldt Fog is widely available, a good stand-in would be Goat’s Leap Eclipse, Bermuda Triangle, or any stellar chèvre.

Wine pairings: rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer

Additional pairings for the cheese: plums, cherries, balsamic vinegar reduction

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Pumpkins Aren’t Just for Carving

24 Oct

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Long before Halloween, people used to eat pumpkin! I know, call me crazy but it’s a squash, it’s for eating…ya ya it makes a fantastic Jack-o-lantern too. I’m just saying that in days of old the native people actually grew them for eating. They were also used as a defense, a kind of barbed wire. It’s a growing technique coined as the Three Sisters, corn, squash and beans. The corn was planted in the center, the beans grew up the corn and the spiky squash plant was placed at  base of both plants to protect them from critters.

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One way I love to use pumpkin is with lots of spices, it is a wonderful way to get the kids used to highly flavored foods without being spicy “hot”. Pumpkin and curry is classic in Thai food and we just love coconut at our house, so it’s a perfect match. The problem with pumpkins is that they can be tough little buggers to cut into. I have a drawer full of knives, big ones so I’m covered, If you don’t here is a trick.

Carefully stab a few slits in your pumpkin, place in microwave for 5 minutes. Remove it, hold it with a towel and cut in to peices. It should be softer but depending on the  size it may need more time.

No Fuss Coconut Curry Pumpkin

One of the spices I use in my cooking is methi,  the leaves of the Fennegreek plant. They are distinct and subtle and add that Eastern flavor. Crush the Methi in your fingers to release the fragrance before using. It is always easier to cut produce wityh the flat side down so it stays put.

1 small sugar pumpkin

1 Tsp Methi

1/2 tsp Tumeric

1/2 tsp dried ginger

1 tsp curry powder

salt

1 can coconut milk

3 Tbs coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 425

Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out all the seeds and set them aside for roasting. Cut the pumpkin in half and then into wedges or chunks. Try to make them similar sizes so they will cook evenly. Place wedges peel side down into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. using a pastry brush, coat the pumpkin flesh with the coconut oil. Pour the coconut milk drizzling it all over the pieces. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the pieces. Bake for about 45 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.

Serve with Jasmine rice, sautéed spinach and chickpeas.

Hot tip:

Trader Joe’s has a new product called Roasted Coconut Chips, this is my version of heaven. They are really good sprinkled on this dish after cooking!

Classic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is perfect for after your family has carved pumpkins, you should have lots of seeds.

1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons melted butter
salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Clean off any major pumpkin chunks. (I like the left over pumpkin strings when cooked so we leave them on)

Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with melted butter or oil and salt.

Spread pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet in one layer.

Bake for about 45-1 hour  minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Cool on sheet, put in a pretty container.

Keep at room temperature sealed for up to a week.

Chicken Little Hand Pies

22 Sep

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Chicken pot pie is not nearly as daunting a project as you may think. I know it sounds fussy with all that dough, sauce making, chicken cooking, chopping and so on. It is really just a matter of tossing everything in a pan and adding some kind of doughy top.  I got all excited one night while I was cooking some chicken and though these would be a prefect thing to make the next night for dinner.  Because I’d already cooked the chicken and would use the leftovers for the pies, it would be so easy. Then I remembered I don’t have those cute little pots that are  special for making individual chicken pot pie in. I have a million small dishes, but like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, none were just right, some were too small and some were too large. Then I thought who needs those stinkin’ mini pots anyway, I’ll make hand pies and then I won’t even have to wash forks after dinner because you eat these with your hands! Brilliant.

Then I realized that I had scheduled a very busy day the next day so… home-made pie dough wasn’t going to happen. Ok, I cheated, call me Semi Homemade (it’s ok I don’t mind, I know I can make pie dough if I really needed to) 

So I made the filling that evening after dinner and snuggled it right in the fridge for the next day. I was lucky enough to have some homemade chicken stock on hand. I was unlucky because I had a house of sick people, precisely why I had chicken stock.  The next day I had to grab some stuff at the store anyway so I tossed in a pre made pie dough, you can get fairly healthy ones at a natural market. You could use puff dough If you can’t find pie dough. I enlisted the help of my daughter in making these, she picked the size and shapes for the pies. We cut out the dough with cookie cutters, brushed them with egg, filled them and sealed them. Chilling the mixture makes easy work of filling the little pies when it’s time. We assembled them around 3 o’clock and put them back in the refrigerator until it was time to bake them before dinner. You could also freeze them raw for another day.  They baked up really pretty and were equally as tasty. You can try adding anything, make them vegetarian even, just use your creative genius. Serve alongside a colorful salad.

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Chicken Little Hand Pies

These little suckers stay very hot inside for a long time, be careful when serving little kids.

If using raw chicken, cut it up very small and add it after the broth, simmer until it is cooked through.

Tip: Slicing semi frozen chicken is easier than trying to slice raw chicken. Place your raw chicken in the freezer for 10 minutes and then slice away.

Adapted from Epicurious

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, quartered lengthwise and diced
1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 celery rib, halved lengthwise and diced

1/4 cup thawed corn kernels

1/2 cup ounces cooked shredded chicken

Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

Squeeze of lemon juice about a 1/2 tsp

2 unbaked pie crusts, either store-bought or homemade (not pie shells)
1 egg, beaten

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrot,potato and celery and season with salt and pepper to taste, raise the heat to medium-high. Cook until the vegetables are softened , add the corn and pre-cooked chicken.

Sprinkle the flour over everything in the pan, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth,  thyme and lemon juice,  and simmer for 5 minutes more or until thickened.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cool and refrigerate until cold, about to 30 minutes. Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator so they can soften slightly.

When the filling is cool, preheat oven to 4oo°F  Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment.

Lay the crust out on a cutting board.   Use cookie cutter to cut as many shapes as you can. Re-roll the dough and cut more until you have no more crust left.

Place about 1 Tbs.  of filling in the center of dough, brush beaten egg around the outside of the crust,  then place another matching shape in top. Crimp the edges together with a fork, and prick the top a few times for steam to escape. Carefully transfer pie to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pie crust and filling. Just before baking brush all the pies with egg wash.

Bake until golden brown, 20 30 minutes.

Pink and Green Ravioli Made Easy

3 Feb

With Valentine’s Day approaching I thought you could use just one more pink recipe *wink, wink*  yes, I know your thinking  “Pink pasta again??” My answer is’ “Yes people, more pink pasta…can you really have too much pink?” My last post on Pink Pasta was a bit more complicated, this one is easy!

This is a really easy way to wow your family.  Are the kids asking for pasta AGAIN? OK, so give it to them but shock them this time. These are very easy ravioli made from Wonton skins and filling of your choice.We love spinach and what could be easier than frozen spinach and tofu try this on for size. If your kids are not very adventurous then just use a pinch of the lemon zest instead of a whole teaspoon.

Pink and Green Ravioli 

We like to add a little soy sauce or just some good olive oil and grated Parmesan on top.  If you have extra filling save it and add it to your scramble in the morning or drop it in some chicken broth for a good healthy egg drop spinach soup.

Filling:

1/2 pound soft silken tofu
10 oz  frozen organic spinach, thawed and drained
1 large egg
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper
1 package Wonton skins
1 beet, peeled and diced into one inch cubes
Method
In a large pot bring about 6 cups of water and chopped beet to a boil, let simmer for 15 minutes. The water will be nice and pink.
Assemble wontons following directions below.
  • In a bowl mash all ingredients except wonton skins and beets with a fork.
  • Put about 1 tablespoon of the filling near the corner of the wonton wrapper.
  • Wet the edges of the wonton wrapper with water or beaten egg.  Pull the other corner over the filling, creating a triangle press and seal the edges together.
  • Set finished wontons on an oiled baking sheet or plate.
  • Assemble the rest until you run out of filling or wontons.  You can either cook them immediately or put them in the fridge until later in the day. Make sure that they are well covered so that they don’t dry out.
    To Cook
  • Bring water back up to a boil, add  1-2 teaspoons kosher salt . Add about 10 wontons, stir very gently and let the water come to a boil again. Cook about 4 minutes until the ravioli look droopy.
  • Lift the cooked ravioli from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add another batch.
    Place them on a plate or shallow bowl and drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Keep cooking until you have cooked all the wontons. Serve at once with desired sauce.

Egg Pasta Ribbons Minus The Pasta

9 Nov
(it is very important to make sure you have color coordinated flowers on the table at all times (not really, just coincidence)
This morning my daughter asked if we could have “egg pasta” again soon, how ironic I told her because I was already writing this post! “Great minds think alike” I said!
I think the summer has officially gone, it is starting to get cool and rain here in the San Francisco Bay. I thought I’d share a very easy sunny recipe with you.  As I write this it is very sunny and warm but it wont last.
Nothing annoys me more than when my daughter asks for plain pasta for dinner. I may as well give her the sugar bowl and a spoon! Kids need a little more than plain pasta but sometimes we are in a hurry or just out of ingredients. 
We almost always have eggs in the house, it is our go to meal. We love eggs the good kind, the deep orange yolks from chickens that roam free and have personal groomers (no really I just couldn’t resist!) Just get yourself some great eggs, when you make a one ingredient dish that ingredient should be the best it can be.   Eggs are great way to get some nutrition into a kid, but if they are picky or discerning then eggs may turn them off.  Pasta will turn them right back on again, I can guarantee it. If making homemade pasta is not your thing this is the next easiest way to fake it and get them to eat eggs! If they like this recipe it try tossing this with real fettuccine noodles upping the nutrition factor. Add peas and Parmesan for a little more flavor.  Add cooked chicken or shrimp, or roasted carrots and ricotta cheese.



Egg Pasta Ribbons Recipe
The way you get the ribbons is to treat he eggs like a crepe, cooking it as thin as you can. Use a very large pan so the egg spreads very thinly or else you will just end up with an omelet.
Serves one

2 eggs
Pinch salt
1 Tbs olive oil or butter

Crack the eggs into a bowl scramble very well.
Heat a large 8 or 10 inch non-stick pan on medium add oil or butter coating pan thoroughly.
Add egg and swirl immediately coating the whole pan. Cook on medium for about 30 seconds to one minute until cooked through. Pour out into a plate or cutting board. Roll the egg into a tight roll and cut 1/4 inch slices with a knife. They will be rolled up like little spirals, put on a plate, toss to unravel and serve!


Protein-a-luscious: A Fancy Pants Breakfast

25 May
Finished nests just out of the oven

If you know me you know I am a breakfast junkie, I am a believer in high protein breakfasts for kids. I think they act better, think better and grow better. With good for you foods in the early hours of the day their brains function much better than with sugary or even no breakfast. Some kids just don’t like eggs so this is for kids who don’t like eggs.  Call them nests! I saw this recipe on Simply Recipes and I instantly loved the concept. The original recipe called for Gruyere cheese but I happened to have a cheddar and jack blend so I went with that. I have changed this recipe, I upped the servings and added a few tips of my own, enjoy!

I like making a few extra smaller puffs (as we call them) ones without egg just to snack on! So snack on and on….
My daughter said it was the best breakfast EVER!
I can’t wait to start experimenting with some other ideas using this technique stay tuned.

The Bird is in the Nest (wink wink, That’s code) Egg Nests originally from 

La cuisine est unjeud’enfants


Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Cheddar / Jack Pepper or Paprika (optional)
Serves 4
Preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or non stick silicone mat. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Keep each individual yolk in half of a shell on a rimmed plate or small bowl. (this way you don’t have to dirty four little bowls, making for an easier clean up.)
Yolks awaiting to be deposited in the white nests

Place the egg whites and salt in a very clean mixer bowl. Beat the egg whites with a whisk attachment in a mixer (or using a hand mixer), start on low speed working your way up to high speed, until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat the eggs here, you’ll want them silky not chunky.

With a rubber spatula gently fold in the grated cheese, doing your best not to deflate the egg whites.
Create four equal mounds (or more) of the egg white mixture on the lined baking sheet. Form the mounds so they look like nests, using the back of a spoon make indentations in the centers.
Place nests in the oven for 3- 4  minutes until firm but not browned. After 3 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and gently add an egg yolk to the center of each nest. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for 4 more minutes. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.
Serve immediately.

Tip* Make sure your egg whites are yolk free, free of any fat, the yolk will cause the whites to misbehave. 

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