Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fun with Food (or what happens when culinary students get bored...)

What happens when culinary students have too much downtime on their hands? They have "fun with food." In Japanese class, as we waited for rice to cook we occupied ourselves taking silly photos. Click on the "Fun with Food" photo album to see them all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Recipe: Black Bean Brownies

This weekend, in anticipation of a dinner party, I stayed up Saturday night until 2:30am baking black bean brownies. Bizarre, right? You don't taste the black beans when they're done though, and when you think about Asian desserts, beans aren't that weird.

The benefits of these brownies (other than hidden iron and fiber) are:
  • They are flourless (hello gluten intolerant folks)
  • Have no refined sugar (hello diabetics, hypoglycemics, etc.)
  • And it's just pure fun freaking people out when you tell them what's in them.
Originally from the baking book Baking with Agave Nectar, I grabbed the recipe from the food blog, where they seem to be all the rage judging from the comments section. A few things I did... I was short on agave syrup, so I used 1 cup agave, and a half cup of wildflower honey. The honey had delicious flavor, which I think enhanced the brownies. I also used espresso powder instead of instant coffee.

The "brownie" that results tastes more like fudge than a brownie really. Since it's crumbly at first, it helps to refrigerate it before cutting pieces, ideally overnight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sweet and Savory

Baking class photos, both sweet baking (galettes, cake, etc.) and savory (pizzas, bread, biscuits) will be up shortly. I'm way behind on photos but hope to catch-up on Mediterranean and Thai Class photos as well this week. We're already three classes into our Ethnic Cuisine unit, and approaching "Iron Chef" style midterms next week.

Have You Seen These Vitamixes?

We all showed up post-holiday weekend feeling a little off. It was the first time since starting classes we had a weekend away! Everyone was happy and ready to dive in to Thai Class when we discovered the laptop (normally attached to our lecture projector) missing. Maybe someone locked it away over the break? But then we started noticing other little things missing-- a juicer gone, a Kitchenaid stand mixer, and two Vitamixes. If you haven't seen a Vitamix, they look like an industrial-sized blender from the 70s. But these powerful machines are the Rolls Royce of food appliances, and carry an appropriately royal price tag as well. Could we have been robbed? The office desktop computer and mammoth-sized copy machine were also gone (these were no lazy burglars), and then a window bar was discovered broken. That pretty much confirmed it.

As we started cooking our Pad Thai, Red Curry Vegetables, Thai Iced Tea, green papaya salad, and other goodies, the cops were called. One lone officer showed up. He checked the place out, confirmed our suspicions (the window ledge had been wiped clean of footprints even), and left too early for dinner (poor him).

What I really want to know is what robbers are aware of the value of Vitamixes? After all, they left the food processors which had been right next to them behind! All really odd if you ask me. Somewhere in Oakland right now thugs may be pawning a juicer, Kitchenaid or those Vitamixes. Either that, or they're having a huge cake baking and margarita mixing party.

ps-- In other weird news I made "black bean brownies" this weekend. They were actually fudgy and incredible, as weird as that sounds (you'd never know what was in them). Posting with the full recipe and baking tips soon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Drink Your Kale (Recipe) + Externship Update

Writing my galette baking posting got me in trouble... I started craving sweets immediately after and went for my chocolate stash. The next morning the craving was still there and, since I didn't have any galettes in the house, I resorted to ice cream (malted peanut toffee fudge). What says you're living life to its fullest better than pulling a pint out at 7am? Since my brain doesn't work before about 10am, I had the added bonus of not thinking enough to feel guilty until later.

That was yesterday. Today, fired by a deep sense of regret I pulled out the blender and made a smoothie. But not any old smoothie. This was the mother of all healthy "I'm going to wash all the scum out of your system and replace it with easily absorbable liquid nutrients" frosty breakfast beverages. I've heard more and more talk lately of blending kale into smoothies -- which set off my "weird ingredient" alarms (I still have some healthy eating hang ups. Drinking vegetables is one of them). But my friend Courtney said she does it, and I stumbled on a recipe (which I can no longer find...oops!) with it while looking at my classmate's blog recently. What better way to balance out having ice cream for breakfast one morning than with a kale-spiked smoothie the next? And it was pretty good! I'll drink my kale again, except without berries next time because those little tooth coating seed buggers made it an embarrassing commute to work today. By the way, this alarmingly green smoothie in the photo is not mine (mine was not green, it only had little green flecks). Just as I don't think before 10am I certainly can't function well enough to garnish or remember to snap a shot.

Now for the externship update... I had a meeting with the catering company, Back to Earth, where I'm "externing" yesterday. They were one of the first catering companies in the Bay Area to pioneer seasonal organic catering and have a stellar reputation, so I'm thrilled to learn from them and excited to put in my first hours next Saturday (at a wedding in San Francisco).

Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup almond or "real" milk
1 tbsp nut butter (For extra protein. I used almond)
1 tsp ground flax seeds (for their omega-3s and fiber)
1/3 cup frozen fruit, optional (I used berries but would recommend mango instead)
1/2 frozen sliced banana (Or use non-frozen, but it won't be as thick)
1 tbsp agave syrup, honey or one pitted chopped date (Add more liquid sweetener or date to taste if you'd like it sweeter)
4 kale leaves, rinsed, stem removed and chopped
Cinnamon to taste (optional, the recipe that inspired me used it but I forgot it completely)


Blend all at top speed, stopping to push ingredients down if needed to get everything combined.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dueling Dates

It's always nice to have options, especially when it comes to dates. I can't help you with your love life if that's what you were hoping for (and I'm not going to reveal any juicy scoop on mine, sorry). But I can share two very good dueling stuffed date (as in the medjool kind) recipes.

Tonight was Western Mediterranean Class. We made Moroccan cous cous, harissa spiced carrots and homemade pita, among other phenomenal recipes. It was my favorite class so far. If I could only cook one cuisine, this would be it. For dessert, there was mint tea and a sweet version of stuffed dates with yogurt, mint and orange zest. When I entertain a signature appetizer of mine is a savory version of a similar recipe -- I call them "Date Bon Bons." Here are the recipes for both!

Date Recipe #1: Savory Date Bon Bons

This appetizer is an easy single bite that artfully combines the intense sweetness of the date and saltiness of the prosciutto. The goat cheese adds a creaminess and the basil heightens all the flavors. Using basil struck me as weird before I tried it, but believe me it's a key ingredient. And if you want to make them vegetarian, use the basil without the prosciutto as the wrap. These are extremely simple and can be prepped ahead, then broiled at the last minute.


1/3 cup soft herbed goat cheese
16 Medjool dates, pitted
16 large basil leaves
4 wide, thin slices prosciutto di Parma, each cut into 4 long strips
16 toothpicks, soaked in water 10 minutes


1 Heat broiler to low.
2 Spoon 1 teaspoon cheese into each date; wrap with a basil leaf, then a prosciutto strip. Secure with a toothpick.
3 Broil until cheese bubbles, about 3 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 187 calories per 2 dates, 3 g fat (1.9 g saturated), 36 g carbs, 3.3 g fiber, 6 g protein

Source: Self Magazine, December 2007

Date Recipe #2: Sweet Lebneh Stuffed Dates


24 medjool dates, split on the top and pit removed
1 cup yogurt cheese (Lebneh), make the night before (or skip this step and buy at TJs)
1 orange, zested
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
½ cup almonds, toasted and chopped


1 To make the yogurt cheese (make the night before), line a fine mesh strainer with a thin linen towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Set over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the prepared strainer and then gather the edges of the towel together so that the yogurt is covered. Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight to drain, or for a few days for an even thicker cheese. Or as a short cut, Trader Joes also sells Lebneh.
2 Place the pitted dates on a flat surface. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt cheese, orange zest, vanilla, and mint. Fill each date with some of the mixture. It is easiest to pipe the yogurt mixture into the dates with a pastry bag. Sprinkle the dates with the almonds and serve.

Servings: 12
Author: Jennifer Miller, Natural Chef Instructor/Culinary Administrator

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Galette Recipe #2: Apple-Marzipan Galette with Caramel

Our blueberry mini galettes in class also made me think of this incredible apple marzipan galette I've made for years, topped with caramelized sugar and vanilla bean ice cream. This recipe is doable for even non-bakers like me. Sharing it as another option, and to show how versatile galettes are.

And my apologies, I am behind on class photos. You can see some baking class photos in my previous post, and I've just added pictures from chicken class. I have the full baking class and first ethnic cuisine album to upload... more soon!

Apple Marzipan Gallete with Caramel and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

The original recipe calls for sugar, but you can reduce or substitute it. I've always made it as a normal pie size, however it would work just fine to create single-size servings just like the blueberry galettes.


1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough, or make your own if you've got time
Butter (for greasing baking sheet)
1/2 cup marzipan, softened
4 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 pounds)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Dash of salt


1 Preheat oven to 425°.
2 Line a jelly roll pan with greased parchment paper. If you want to be extra cautious, sprinkle sugar on as well.
3 Roll dough to a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on prepared pan. Roll marzipan to a 9-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place marzipan on top of dough. If it's too difficult to roll, I've also just "sliced" it into coins and laid these on top of the dough, which works fine.
4 Combine apple, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, juice, and salt in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon apple mixture over marzipan. Fold 2-inch dough border over the apple mixture, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover apple mixture). I "crimp" the sides with my fingers for presentation.
5 Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned (apple filling may leak slightly during cooking). Depending on your oven, you may want to slightly reduce the temp to 375 the last 10 minutes.

Topping options

Solidified caramel drizzle - Place 1/4 cup sugar in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring as needed to dissolve the sugar evenly (about 4 minutes). Cook 1 minute or until golden. Remove from heat; carefully stir in 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Drizzle over galette.

Caramel sauce - Start as above, but after cooking until golden, remove from the heat, whisk in the almond extract, and also add 1 ounce of butter and 6 tablespoons of heavy cream. Drizzle over the galette.

And of course ice cream!

Galette Recipe #1: Blueberry Mini Galettes with Lemon Curd

Last week’s classes were baking – both sweet and savory. By far my favorite treat of both was a blueberry galette (a pie, only more “rustic"), which I'm sharing the recipe for below. Our version macerated (marinating in acid and spices until the fruit breaks down) blueberries, tucked them into free form crusts to form individual mini pies, and baked until bubbly. As a counter to the sweet berries, we dolloped lemon curd on top. My mom, who loves all things tart and curdy (and once embarrassed me thoroughly during a nice mother's day brunch at the Ritz by asking for more "lemon turd please"), would have loved the full combination. The end result was an extremely flavorful interplay of sweet gooey filling, crispy crust and tangy citrus. And it was reasonably healthy for a dessert, since there was no refined sugar. So yes, you can have your pie and eat it too. Just don't have my mom order it for you at a restaurant.

Blueberry Mini Galettes with Lemon Curd

Galettes can be filled with seasonal fruit and served for dessert, or they can also be made savory and stuffed with vegetables. This recipe uses spelt flour instead refined white flour for the pastry crust. The combination of blueberry and lemon is perfect for early Spring, when both are in season. It would still be very good by itself if you don't want to go to the trouble of making the curd, or topped with ice cream instead.


4 cups spelt flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs unrefined cane sugar, sucanat (1:1 substitution for regular sugar)
2 ½ sticks butter, cold, cut into pieces
⅔ to 1 cup ice water, as needed

4 ½ cups fresh blueberries
3 Tbs arrowroot
1 ½ Tbs lemon zest
1 ½ Tbs fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

5 large egg yolks
1 large egg
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs lemon zest
⅓ cup honey
4 Tbs butter, cut into pieces


1 Preheat the oven to 400.
2 DOUGH: Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl. Cut in the butter by hand, leaving some pea-sized chunks. Sprinkle the ice water over the top by the tablespoon and toss it with the flour mixture until you can bring the dough together into a ball. Press it into a disk and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3 FILLING: While the dough is in the refrigerator, prepare the filling. Mix together the blueberries, arrowroot, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon, salt, honey, and vanilla. Taste and adjust sweetness and lemon flavor as desired.
4 ASSEMBLY: remove the dough from the refrigerator and break into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a circle about ⅛ inch thick. Transfer onto large parchment lined sheet pans. Add some fruit mixture to the center of the circle and spread, leaving a border 2 to 4 inches wide. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit, overlapping as you go. Depending on how much of an edge you have left, the galette will be partially or completely covered.
5 Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
6 LEMON CURD: In a stainless steel bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg, lemon juice, and honey.
7 Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until pale and thickened, 7 to 10 minutes.
8 Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon zest. Let cool to room temperature.
9 TO SERVE: Put a dollop of the lemon curd on top of each galette.

Servings: 12 - 14 mini pies, or 1 large one
Source: Bauman College

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Create An Ice Cream Flavor!

Three Twins Organic Ice Cream sells certified organic (and delicious) ice cream in Bay Area stores, as well as wholesale to restaurants and markets. I met founder Neal Gottlieb this weekend. It's a busy time as he opens his third ice cream shop (the only organic shop one in San Francisco). When I mentioned my blog poll on how Shannon should use her cauliflower, Neal offered to have my next poll help select a new ice cream flavor. But first we need flavor ideas! Please send in your ideas. The main criteria is that it has to be something which can be organic, and be different than flavors already being sold.

Three Twins Organic Ice Cream Flavors:

Madagascar Vanilla, Bittersweet Chocolate, Milk Coffee, Strawberry Fields, Vanilla Chocolate Chip, Milk & Cookies, Mint Confetti, Cookie Jar, Strawberry Je Ne Sais Quio, PBC3, The Chocolate Project and Mocha Difference

If you have an ice cream flavor to suggest, please add it in the comments section below. We'll select from those submitted for the new poll. If voters agree, you may get to sample your flavor at the new store, which will be at 254 Fillmore St. (at Haight).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is it better to take the easy road?

My friend Vivian asked me recently whether I thought food that takes longer to cook is usually better. The Slow Food movement certainly thinks so. And everyone likes to believe that hard work pays off. Last night I tested two Moroccan chicken recipes -- an easy one made in class, the other challenging made at home. Both turned out delicious and if you weren't the one putting in the effort, you'd never know the first took half an hour, and the second hours (spread over a multi-day process). Though the recipes have similar spices, the finished dishes taste different. I recommend both, so take your pick depending on how ambitious (or not) you're feeling!

And I'm happy to report that chicken class went without incident. Evidently I have no poultry issues like I do with seafood... I even made an improv chicken liver pate from the less desirable parts most of the class didn't want to touch. Photos coming soon.

Recipe #1 (Easy): Braised Moroccan Chicken with Lemon Charmoula Sauce and Olives

This recipe takes approximately 30 minutes. Preserved lemons can be purchased at Middle Eastern markets, or can also be made at home (though they take a month to "preserve").


1 yellow onion, diced
¾ cup chopped parsley, and a little more for garnish
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp mild paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
⅛ tsp cayenne
½ tsp salt, more to taste
1 tsp agave nectar
3 Tbs olive oil
8 chicken pieces, bone-in, with skin
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable), or water
1 tsp lemon zest
½ preserved lemon, skin only, finely chopped
½ lemon juiced
½ cup kalamata olives, pits in


1 Mix the onion, parsley, spices, salt and agave nectar in a medium bowl.

2 Heat 2 T of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until slightly browned.

3 Add the stock and onion mixture. Bring the stock to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and cook gently for 20 minutes, until the chicken is tender and no pink flesh remains.

4 Remove the chicken pieces to a platter. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the preserved lemon and let the sauce simmer for 2-3 minutes until reduced slightly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and olives.

5 Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Author: Alison Anton, Natural Chef Instructor

Recipe #2 (Challenging): Chicken in parchment with Moroccan Aromatics and Lentils

Though this takes hours, it is nice for a dinner-party because you prepare the stew the night before, cook before serving, and then present dramatic looking parchment parcels (yes, revisiting the "en papillote" method).


½ cup French Puy lentils
½ medium onion
1 cinnamon stick
4 sprigs thyme
3 lbs chicken pieces on the bone
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1/2 lb carrots, scraped and cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 tbsp chermoula (see separate recipe below)
1 can crushed tomatoes (14 ounces)
½ preserved lemon, skin only, finely chopped
1 qt chicken stock (I used less)
3/4 lb squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
salt and pepper
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finaly chopped (optional)
parchment paper
kitchen string


1 Place the lentils in three times their volume of cold water with the onoin half, cinnamon stick and thyme. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer uncovered 20 minutes, or until just tender. Straing.

2 Mix flour and paprika. Dust the chicken in the mixture. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan, add chicken pieces and saute until golden all over. Add onion, potatoes and carrots, mix well. Add the chermoula, coating all ingredients, then the tomatoes and preserved lemon, and the stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 8 minutes.

3 Add the lentils and squash and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes, by which time the vegetables should all be just tender and the chicken just cooked. Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight.

4 To serve, preheat oven to 350F. Using baking parchment, cut four large circles. Adjust stew seasonings with salt, pepper, honey and additional charmoula if needed. Place each circle, one by one, into a deep bowl and heap in the chicken stew, ensuring even amounts of chicken, veggies and sauce. Sprinkle with lots of chopped herbs. Be careful not to overfill otherwise you will not be able to close. Gather the edges of the paper together above the mixture and tie with the kitchen string so you have a little bag. Place the parcels on a baking sheet and cover with foil (this stops the tops from getting crispy and the strong from burning).

5 Cook for half an hour and serve individual parcels for each person to open up and release the braise within. Serve with a grain such as couscous, quinoa or brown rice.

Note: You could simpify by cooking longer on the stove and not using the parchment bundles.


In addition to the stew above, chermoula is often used with fish dishes. Its chili-heat content can be varied to taste. This keeps for a month in the refrigerator; top with a little oil each time you use it.

3 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
2tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 - 4 whole serrano chilis, deseeded, scraped, and roughly chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until garlic and chilis have been ground to a paste.

Source: "Artichoke to Za'atar (Modern Middle Eastern Food)"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recipe: Molten Chocolate Cakes

Because sometimes you just need a sinfully good dessert, I'm throwing this one in here. It's the best taste/effort ratio ever for baking, and people love it. I mean, chocolate molten cakes... What's not to love?! The original recipe appeared in Bon Appetit Magazine, but I've adapted it considerably over time. This recipe makes exactly two little cakes. A lot of the recipes for some reason make too many servings, but this one can be doubled if needed. These are also perfect for relaxed entertaining because the batter can be made ahead, and bakes fairly quickly at the end of your meal.

My next revision will be to try a healthier version using a sugar alternative like succanat. If you attempt it please let me know how it goes!


2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 ounces (4 tbsp) bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate (chopped bulk chocolate or use chocolate chips)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
Spices (optional -- cinnamon, ginger, cayanne, mace all work)

Powdered sugar
Mint (optional)
Real vanilla bean ice cream (optional)

Note: It is crucial to use good quality chocolate. I'm loyal to Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips.


Butter and dust with sugar two 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups.

Whisk cocoa and sugar in small bowl to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in cocoa mixture. Whisk in egg yolks, then whole egg and flour. At this point, you can add spices if you'd like to get creative. I use about a 1/2 tsp cinnamon along with a pinch of cayanne usually.

Divide batter between prepared ramekins. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cakes uncovered until edges are set but center is still shiny, about 18 minutes.

Cut around cakes to loosen; turn out onto plates. Sift powdered sugar over; garnish with mint and serve with ice cream if you'd like.

Fillet o' Fish...

In my first post I mentioned how "butchery" (or basically working with anything that resembles a live creature) doesn't appeal to me. Saturday's seafood class reconfirmed that when we had to learn how to fillet a whole fish. Lets just say I will not be eating fish for a while... and it's not the first time.

Years ago, under the delusion that I'd like to see my next meal from it's living breathing days through to my plate, I went to a live seafood market. After I chose a fish, they hacked its head off (I probably should have done that myself, but I at least watched) and handed it to me in a bag (the fish, not its head). I got my fish in a bag home. Its nerve endings were still so fresh that, as I rinsed it under cold water, it "flinched" and jumped onto the kitchen floor. Though I forced myself to eat that fish (it'd already given up its life), I couldn't eat fish after for months. The market also had poultry so I didn't have an appetite for chicken either. I was a vegetarian, except I'd eat beef. Makes complete sense, right? ;-)

Eventually I went back to eating seafood. A good thing, because when you eat the right seafood (more on this later), it's very healthy. According to my Bauman class materials, seafood's high-quality protein is easily digestible. Cold water fish are composed primarily of omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects and are important to heart health. Seafood can also be a good source of calcium (in fish with bones like canned salmon or sardines), zinc, iron, copper, potassium, iodine, phosphorus and selenium. Plus, most fish is naturally low in cholesterol.

Unfortunately, there are also negatives to seafood consumption today, due to sustainability concerns (fish farming pollutes coastal waters and harms eco-systems) and contaminants (mmmm, nothing like a good serving of mercury). The larger the fish (for example, shark and tuna), the more likely it contains contaminants. A helpful resource, as we try to muddle through what is best to consume, is this pocket guide from the Environmental Defense Fund. They even have a mobile app you can check while you're in front of the seafood counter.

My favorite part of seafood class was cooking "en papillote," which means "in paper." It's easy but looks impressive -- the best type of recipe! We placed individual servings of fish in the center of parchment paper (cut into a large circle or heart shape), seasoned them (salt, pepper, a bit of liquid or oil and whatever else you like), tightly crimped the packets shut and baked for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees. The parchment seals in steam so everything is nice and moist. I found this recipe using the en papillote method for dilled salmon. It calls for higher heat but a shorter cooking time than we used. I'm also going to use the method when I test a chicken and lentil stew recipe this week from the cookbook "Artichoke to Za'atar" (Modern Middle Eastern cooking). If it's any good I'll share!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Feeling Saucey?

My favorites from sauce class. These recipes provide a nice "classic" and "healthy alternative" foil to each other. Both work well on seafood, poultry or vegetables.

Herb-Butter and Olive Oil Sauce
A classic butter sauce that's a great way to make a simple sauce with any variety of herbs, just follow the approx. amounts below. Use good quality organic butter for healthy fats.

¼ cup parsley
½ bunch chives
1 Tbs tarragon
1 clove garlic
2 Tbs capers, rinsed
1 tsp lemon zest
1 shallot, minced
5 Tbs butter, at room temperature
3 Tbs olive oil
fresh lemon juice

1 Blanch the herbs for 1 minute in a cup or so of boiling water, then drain in a fine strainer and blot dry. Finely chop the herbs.

2 Pound the garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt in a mortar to a paste. In a bowl, beat together the herbs, garlic paste, capers, lemon zest, shallot, and butter with a wooden spoon, then gradually mix in the olive oil. Taste and season with a pinch of salt and lemon juice to taste.

Yield: 0.5 cup
Author: From "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison

Nut and Seed Cream Sauce
This contemporary cream sauce is made with nuts and seeds instead of dairy. Add more nutritional yeast to make an alternative to cheese sauce. I couldn't stop going back for this, as odd as it may seem at first glance.

½ cup cashews
½ cup macadamia nuts
¼ cup lemon juice
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
2 Tbs sesame seeds
1 Tbs onion powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
⅛ tsp celery seed
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup sunflower oil
white pepper, to taste

1 Add all the ingredients, except for the oil, to a blender and puree until smooth. With the motor still on, drizzle in the oil.

2 Transfer to a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Season with white pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Author: Adapted from Bianca Hastings, Natural Chef Graduate

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

As promised, sharing pictures of Shannon with the world's biggest cauliflower (this is her on the streets of SF meeting up for our commute). In class last night we all got a viewing of this beast (since Shannon was kind enough to bring it in rather than let it stink up my car). When everyone heard about Shannon's blog fame we decided to take a poll to see what she should do with her new beauty. Please cast your votes. Polls close on the 15th at 1:29pm. If you have other ideas or good cauliflower recipes please use the comments section below!

And here's the recipe Shannon's been using for her favorite cruciferous fix... She mentioned you don't have to use all the spices if you don't have them, so this is a general guide. You can also substitute different kinds of nuts or red onion for the scallions. Enjoy!


1 medium head cauliflower, cut in small florets with sliced stems (if desired)
2-3 Tbl coconut oil, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Preheat oven to 450F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with coconut oil. Add spices, salt and pepper and toss to evenly distribute spices.

Spread cauliflower on baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until florets are tender and charred to your liking.

Put cauliflower in a shallow dish or on a platter and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil to taste.

Garnish with pine nuts, cilantro, an extra sprinkling of sea salt and pepper, and serve.

True Foodie Dorks

A real exchange between Shannon (of "Commuting with Cauliflower" fame) and I:

Shannon: i hope you brought your camera, because i just scored the biggest cauliflower to date ($3 - STILL a great deal!)

me: you are the best. and yes, definitely have the camera!

Shannon: i finished my other one last night, so the timing is perfect

me: can't wait to get the shannon sporting worlds biggest cauliflower pic

Shannon: me neither

Picture, along with Shannon's cauliflower recipe, will be posted shortly... I'm sure you all can't wait ;-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Externship Update: First hours completed!

For Natural Chef certification, in addition to classes each of us has to "extern." My official externship is in the works (more on that once I have details...). But the excitement of this weekend was that my friend Brooks Nguyen, owner of Dragonfly Cakes, invited me to help at her bakery for my first official extern hours.

Brooks attended the baking program up at the Greystone (Napa) location of the Culinary Institute of America. Her bakery opened five years ago and is clearly a labor of love. They specialize in gorgeous hand decorated petit fours. Brooks created the seven flavors (my favorite was lemon), and has built the business to the point where she was featured on the cover of Harry & David's Mother's Day catalog! If you taste these things, you'll understand why they were featured.

I got to decorate about a thousand of the lemon petit fours with their little pink flowers using white chocolate as my "glue." Baking is a whole different realm for me, so it was quite the experience. Dragonfly's petit fours are carried by Mollie Stones, Whole Foods and Costco I believe, in addition to Harry & David. Highly recommend them, just please for the sake of their sanity wait to order until after the Mother's Day rush ;-)

I've added photos from my Dragonfly adventure under the class photos archive, along with the new sea vegetables, breakfast and alternative ingredients class pictures. Enjoy!

Recipe: Kale with sesame and ginger

I was assigned this recipe by default after spacing out and not raising my hand for the recipes I actually wanted (there goes that overachiever reputation). To my surprise, it ended up being my favorite from our "sea vegetables" class.

It calls for arame seaweed... they're little dark threads of relatively mild seaweed that almost look like mushrooms to me. You should be able to find arame at most natural foods markets or Whole Foods. If not, the flavor comes from the sesame and ginger, and this would still be nutritious with just kale (though there are a ton of additional minerals in seaweed). The recipes I'm posting are meant to serve our class of 12, so you likely want to cut this in half.

Before I dive in, a warning... We had a little seaweed tasting. I've really only had seaweed on sushi before, so I'm at the "open-minded novice" level. Most were fine. Dulse, however, I'm convinced is coated in fish guts and left to dry over mud flats, then sprinkled with fermented cow dung for good measure. I tried not to gag in front of everyone. It's the only thing I haven't finished in class so far. Not recommended.

¾ cup dried arame
3 Tbs toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs minced ginger
2 bunches dinosaur kale, chiffonade
2 Tbs minced garlic
3 Tbs tamari
2 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted

1 Rinse the seaweed in water and let soak, covered in water, for 5-7 minutes. Drain seaweed and place in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of dark sesame oil and the minced ginger.

2 In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of dark sesame oil on medium heat. Add garlic and gently sauté for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the seaweed mixture and gently cook for 1 minute. Remove from pan back to the bowl and set aside.

3 Heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil in the skillet. Add the chopped kale. Add 2 Tbsp of tamari. Gently mix in the pan to coat the kale with the oil and tamari. Cover; lower heat to low; let cook for 5-10 minutes or until kale is wilted - soft enough to eat easily, but not so soft as to be mushy. Remove cover and let cook a minute more to evaporate any excess moisture. Remove from heat. Mix in the kale with the seaweed ginger mixture. Add more sesame oil and tamari to taste. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Servings: 12

Author: Bauman College Staff

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seaweed, it's What's For Dinner

I just posted photos from our "Sea Vegetables" class. Coming soon... my favorite recipe from the class (kale with ginger, garlic and arame seaweed), and which seaweed made me gag.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Eat Your Broccoli

Amazingly flavorful recipe for one of the most nutritious veggies out there, this was a huge favorite of mine from school so far. You can use any mix of nuts you'd like rather than sticking with pecans only.


2 Tbs orange zest
¼ tsp sea salt
1 ½ Tbs maple syrup
2 tsp grapeseed oil
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp grated ginger
2 cups pecans

2 heads broccoli
½ tsp sea salt
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs mirin
½ tsp sesame oil, toasted
1 tsp maple syrup
1 Tbs sesame oil, untoasted
1 pinch red pepper flakes
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs minced ginger
2 medium scallions, minced

1 TO MAKE PECANS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the zest, salt, maple syrup, oil, red pepper flakes and ginger in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.

2 Put the nuts in a bowl and pour in the coating mixture. Mix well until the pecans are well coated. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan. Bake about 12 minutes until fragrant. Remove and cool to room temperature, they will crisp as they cool. Almonds or walnuts may be substituted for pecans.

3 Remove the florets from the broccoli. Peel the stems until smooth and slice into bite sized pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the salt. Blanch the broccoli for 1 minute. Transfer broccoli into a bath of ice water to stop cooking. Strain and reserve. Pat dry with paper towels.

4 Mix vinegar, tamari, mirin, toasted sesame oil and maple syrup together and reserve.

5 Heat a wok over high heat. Add sesame oil, red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic, and scallions. Stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

6 Add the sauce mixture and simmer until thickened, another 30 seconds or so. Add broccoli and heat through, about 15 seconds. Toss with some zesty pecans and serve right away.

Servings: 12
Author: From "One Bite at a Time" by Rebecca Katz