Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rum Balls

The other day I had a chocolate craving and made these little things, and not only are these little suckers delicious but they are no bake. These are very similar to Swedish Chocolate balls but with no coconut and instead filled with rum and covered in chocolate. There are many versions to this type of ball. My version is based on oatmeal. But I have seen them based on finely crushed vanilla wafers or other cookies. Also some folks add syrup but I like the butter version. Delicious treat any time of the year and they are very easy and quick to make – once you cool these and then dip them in chocolate, the chocolate cools instantly and they are ready to get eaten.

Rum Balls

Yields: 12 | Prep: 20 minutes | Cooling: 1 hour

1 ¼ cup (3 dl) oatmeal
6 tbsp (1 dl) confection sugar
3 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp cacao powder
3 1/2 tbsp (50 g) butter melted
1.7 oz (50g) dark chocolate
Sprinkles for decor

Using a food processor grind the oatmeal to a fine grain. Then add the confection sugar, cocoa power, butter, and rum. Mix well. Then roll into small balls, about 1/2 tbsp size, and put them into the freezer for about 1 hour. After one hour remove the balls from the freezer and melt the chocolate in the microwave by heating it for 15 seconds at a time and stirring in between. Once it starts melting just keep stirring until it is all melted. Then dip each ball into the chocolate and put on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with sprinkles. Sprinkle right away as the chocolate hardens quickly since the balls are frozen.

Once you have done all of them they are ready to eat – they will keep well in the freezer.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Top 10 Restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Ft. Lauderdale Intercoastal

I was on vacation for two week and not only did I go on my first cruise (and last which I will write about) but I also spent one week in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  My parents currently live in Ft. Lauderdale and I have been there a few times.  This time I decided to make my top 10 restaurant list for those that have not been there before.

Ft. Lauderdale has a lot to offer for everyone.  You have the beach with lots of bars and restaurants.  But then there is Las Olas Bouevard with cute little stores and great restaurants that you can sit outside and do some great people watching.  I also learned that just because a state is sourrounded by water it does not mean they know how to prepare fish.  I have no idea why but fish seems to be a hit or miss in Ft. Lauderdale.  At Yolo it was always prepared perfectly  but at other place you have to tell them not to over cook your fish or 50% of the time they will.  So if you are a fish person this is just a reminder to tell your waiter how you want your fish prepared.

Would love to hear where you like to eat in Ft. Lauderdale but here are my top 10 places to eat:

Yolo (You Only Live Once) – I ate here for lunch and dinner and it was always delicious.  You have the options of decadent or healthy food but all just perfectly prepared.  Their fish is not overdone and their salads are very tasty.  The California Spinach Salad is delicious served with Rotisserie Chicken, Green Apples, Cranberries,  Cashews, Bacon and Chopped Egg . The Prime Rib is out of this world.  Served with Garlic Toasted Ciabatta, Melted Swiss, Caramelized Onions and French Fries. And my favorite dessert is the Ice Cream sandwich with Espresso and Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream and covered in Nuts and served with a warm cinnamon sauce.  Do not miss this place.

333 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-2259
(954) 523-1000
Yolo on Urbanspoon

The LeTub Saloon – This place is not in Ft. Lauderdale but in Hollywood, FL which is about 20 minutes outside of Ft. Lauderdale  but you still can’t miss this place. This place serves one of the best burgers in the US.  I am not kidding you.  This is not a fancy place but the burgers are amazing.  A formerly Gas Station but closed in the seventies, the owner personally hand built LeTub totally of Flotsam, Jetsam and ocean borne treasures all gathered daily over 4 years of day break jogging on Hollywood Beach.  Don’t miss this.

The LeTub Saloon
1100 North Ocean Drive
Hollywood, FL 33019-3309
(954) 921-9425
Le Tub Saloon on Urbanspoon

Pelican Landing (Hyatt Regency Pier 66) – Considered “Fort Lauderdale’s Best Kept Secret,” A casual place with simple and good food.  Great people and boat watching at this place.  Go during happy hour and this place is even better since drinks and appetizers are discounted.

Pelican Landing (Hyatt Regency Pier 66)
2301 Southeast 17th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 525-6666
PelicanLanding  (Hyatt Regency Pier 66) on Urbanspoon

Greek Island Tavern – I have been to Greece and this place has good authentic Greek food.  If you like Greek food you can not miss this place. The Greek salads and the feta here is amazing.  The lamb is out of this world.  Their soups are delicious.  The menu is large and everything I have had here was always just prepared great. On top of that the staff is really nice and the service is great. Don’t miss this place.

Greek Island Tavern
3300 North Ocean Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308-7119
(954) 568-0008
Greek Islands Taverna on Urbanspoon

Casa D’Angelo Ristorante – Excellent Italian place.  You have three locations to choose from , Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Atlantis Resort in Bahamas.  I have only tried the Ft. Lauderdale one but the food was excellent. Veal in a ragu sauce, homemade sausage, veal scaloppini, sautéed shrimp, so many choices and everything excellent.

Casa D’Angelo Ristorante
1201 North Federal Highway # 5B
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304-1458
(954) 564-1234
Casa D'Angelo Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Café Martorano – This is another Italian place that has 3 locations one in Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood and Las Vegas, NV.  I have only been to the Ft. Lauderdale  one but a great little place.  They are famous for their meatballs so you have to try those.  But they also have great thin crust pizza, lots of pasta and the South Philly favorites.  I didn’t stay this long but I hear at 11pm it turn into a club.

Café Martorano
3343 E Oakland Park Blvd,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
(954) 561-2554
Cafe Martorano on Urbanspoon

Sage Café – A french restaurant that has two locations one in Ft. Lauderdale and one in Hollywood, Fl.  Great place for brunch, lunch or dinner and order the crepes.

Sage Café
2378 North Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305-2562
(954) 565-2299
Sage French-American Cafe on Urbanspoon

Coco Asian Bistro & Bar – This place is in a strip mall, so I would have never gone here if I didn’t know about it and it’s a great little surprise.  Very chic and stylish little place. The Chef is from Thailand and the food is excellent.  The spring rolls, dumplings, and curry is excellent.  The menu is large and something for everyone.

Coco Asian Bistro & Bar
1841 Cordova Road
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 525-3541
Coco Asian Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon

Vienna Café & Wine Bar – Great Food, Great Atmosphere, Great Wine!  Do not miss the Danish meatballs.

Vienna Café & Wine Bar
9100 W State Road 84
Davie, FL 33324-4416
(954) 423-1961
Vienna Cafe & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Wild East Bistro – Another great Asian Bistro with lots of choices here. Dumplings, Shrimp, scallion pancakes, Shrimp in Grand Marnier and they have kimchi. Something for everyone here. Sit outside but don’t fall into the river.

Wild East Bistro
1200 E Las Olas Blvd # 101
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-2367
(954) 828-1888
Wild East Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Foodies 2011

This is just a little reminder that Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday May 8, 2011.  I always do Gift Ideas for this occasion and the gifts are always for foodies.  This year all my gift ideas are coming from which is the world’s handmade market and I love it.  I always find fabulous things there.

Here are my top 10 gifts for Mother’s day from, something for each foodie mother in every price range.

  1. Recycled bottle canisters with natural corks, leaf emblem – $56 – Magnum wine bottles upcycled into eco-friendly hand painted glass canisters w/ bark-top corks. Set of 3. Each upcycled hand painted glass canister with a leaf emblem is one-of-a-kind. Bottle tops are cropped off, edges are smoothed and polished, canisters are hand painted and baked and topped with natural bark-top corks.
  2. Hand printed linen table runner & napkins – $45 – New Spring collection of hand printed linen featuring poppy print will brighten up your dinner table.
  3. Your State Plyboo Cutting Board – $40 – State series in Plyboo, a butcher block architectural plywood made from 100% rapidly renewable bamboo.
  4. Dottie’s Quadruplets-Set of 4 Caribbean Blue Curvy Mugs – $35 – Perfect for a cup of hot chocolate tea or coffee. These Dottie inspired cups are wonderful to hold and gorgeous to behold.
  5. The Baker’s Necklace – 18 inch ball chain – $20 – For the baker, chef, or cute necklace lover! A mini muffin pan and a set of labeled measuring spoons hang from an 18 inch ball chain necklace.
  6. Scrumptulicious Cookie Box – $18 – The Scrumptulicious Cookie Box includes 4 each of 6 flavors for a total of 24 cookies.  Always freshly baked in a Cookie Box. It’s a scrumptulicious way to taste some of the best sellers! And it makes the perfect gift for any occasion.
  7. Flying Doves Silhouette vinyl wall decal, removable matte finish graphics art – $16 – A beautiful silhouette of flying doves perfect for your kitchen.
  8. KEEP CALM AND DRINK A MARGARITA, 13×19 Poster- $15.95 – This vintage inspired 13×19 poster is a whimsical play off of the original. The Whimsical Collection of Keep Calm is meant to bring a sense of humor and inspiration to continue doing the things we love.
  9. Julie’s Fudge – DRUMSTICK with Sugar Cone Crust, Chocolate Lining, & Peanut Topping – 6 Pieces (OVER 1/2 Pound) – $11 – This fudgy awesomeness is just like the ice cream treat! A crunchy sugar cone crust is layered with a chocolate lining, then creamy smooth vanilla fudge. Chocolate covers the top, and a layer of honey roasted and regular peanut mix generously finishes off this fantastic treat! Pure decadence!
  10. Chocolate Caramel Truffles-1/2 Lb. Box – $10.50 – Handmade caramel meets Belgian Milk chocolate: Handmade caramel is chilled and rolled into balls, then dipped in Belgian Milk chocolate. Once these little bites of love have chilled and drizzle with more caramel.

What are you doing for Mother’s Day?

Other Similar Items:

2010 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas
2010 Father’s Days Gift Ideas
Kitchen Fasion – what to wear in the kitchen
2010 Perfect Gifts for Him & Her

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tomato and Green Bean Salad

I am back from a long needed two week vacation and ready to start cooking again.  I hope you enjoyed my fabulous guest posts from The English Organizer about organizing your kitchen and other fabulous scheduled recipes while i was gone.  I will tell you all about my vacation soon since i have lots to talk about.

But first i needed to share one of my favorite salads of all times.  I never get tired of this salad.  Plus it was featured in the new amazing magazine by House of Fifty.  If you missed it you have to go and check it out, Janell of Isabella and Max did a fabulous job and all the recipes have step by step instructions.


Raspberry & Chocolate Tort

But this simple and classic salad is perfect during a summer night.   Every time I make this I always get asked for the recipe and it could not be simpler to make.  The bottom line is that the real secret of super-fresh food is that you don’t need to do a lot to it to make it delicious. This salad belongs into that category.

My perfect combination with this salad is a great lamb burger or a great steak – really any protein right of the gill goes perfect with this salad during a nice summer night.

Tomato and Green Bean Salad

Yields: 4-6 servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes

10 oz green beans
14 oz red and yellow cherry tomatoes
2 green onions

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper

Prepare the vegetables by topping the tail head of the green beans by hand of by knife and then cut them into 3 pieces (1 ½ inch pieces).  Then blanch the green beans.  To do this you put the green beans into boiling water for about 3 minutes and then throw them into a bowl filled with ice water, remove and let them dry.

Then cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and chop the green onions and set aside.

Make the dressing by combining Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Toss the cherry tomatoes and green onions in with the dressing; this can sit for a while.

Do not add the green beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maple Mousse in Waffle Cup

It is that time of the month again; here is the next Daring Bakers challenge.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at Daring Bakers!

I had a blast making these.  I knew i wanted to make a “waffle type” container since i am a huge fan of them.  The dilemma was the batter.  I first tried a waffle batter that did not work since it  was too thick, and had to find a waffle/crepe batter to it was shapable.  Then i just decided to place a bunch of drinking glasses up side down so i could put the waffle cups on top of the glasses so they could be shaped.  I had to fold down the sides but otherwise they cooled and stayed in shape just like a waffle cup.  And the combination of the mousse and waffle cup was delicious.


Waffle Cup

Yields 8 cups | Prep Time: 30 minutes

Adapted from: Joy of Baking

2 large eggs
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
4 tbsp (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 – 3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (50 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
Vegetable oil and pastry brush

In a medium sized bowl whisk together (or use a hand mixer) the eggs and sugar until frothy. Whisk in the melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and whisk until the batter is smooth. The batter should be quite thin (like a crepe batter) so add more milk if the consistency is too thick.

Heat a 8-9 inch (20-23 cm) saute pan over medium heat until it is hot. Reduce the heat to medium low and brush the pan lightly with vegetable oil. Pour or ladle about 3-4 tablespoons of batter into the pan and immediately tilt or rotate the pan so the batter forms a thin 5-6 inch (13-15 cm) circle. Place pan back on the heat and cook until the batter is set and you can see the underside is golden brown (3-4 minutes). Slip a metal spatula under the crepe and gently flip it over. Cook until golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and slide the crepe from the pan onto your work surface. While the crepe is still hot, put it over a glass and fold the sides down to make a cup. Wait to cool completely.

Continue making the rest of the cups, lightly brushing the pan with vegetable oil each time. These cups are best the day they are made. However, you can store leftover cones in a covered container. To re-crisp the cups preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Working with one cone at a time, put them into the oven and the and bake for about 3-5 minutes or until the cup is hot and soft. Remove from oven and place the hot crepe on your glass again so and fold down the corners to it reshapes to a cup.

Maple Mousse

Yields: 8 servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Refrigeration: 1 hour

1 cup (240 ml) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatin
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whipping cream

Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.

Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your waffle cups. Decorate with pecans if desired.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Raspberry Chocolate Tort

Calling all chocolate lovers, this one is for you!  Chocolaty, dense, and creamy with a touch of whipped cream and some raspberries – a perfect dessert for a summer night!

But there is more. . .

Today is the launch of House of Fifty magazine that we have all been waiting for and a few of my recipes are featured there, including this Raspberry Chocolate Tort.  House of Fifty magazine was greated by Janell of Isabella and Max design blog. This quarterly e-zine will cover a range of topics from interior design to fashion, organization tips to favorite finds and tasty dishes. There is something for everyone.

This awesome chocolate cake is baked the night before and then kept in the refrigerator to stiffen.  You will not be disappointed!

Raspberry Chocolate Tort

Yields: 10 slices | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 15 minutes

14 tbsp of butter
7 oz bittersweet chocolate (70 %)
4 eggs
¾ cups + 1tbsp sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

For Severing:
1 tsp powdered sugar
3/4 cups heavy cream
8 0z raspberries

Turn oven to 335F.

Melt the butter in the microwave and put the chocolate into the butter to melt.  Stir until all combined and let it cool.

In a separate bowl mix the eggs, and sugar until well combined.  In another bowl mix flour and baking powder and set aside.  Add the chocolate/butter mixture into the egg and sugar mixture and combine well.  Then add the flour and baking powder mixture.

Pour into a buttered 9” cake form with removable bottom.

Bake at the bottom of the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the cake after 15 minutes, it will still be soft in the middle but that will stiffen after it is refrigerated, that is why you have to make this cake the day before serving.

Once you are ready to serve make the whipping cream.  Then powder the cake with powdered sugar, add whipping cream and decorate with raspberries.

Now go to House of Fifty magazine and check it out!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guest Post from The English Organizer – 10 Tips for a More Organized Kitchen

Allow me to introduce today’s guest blogger Pauline Wiles from The English Organizer.  Pauline is a Professional Organizer and runs her own company out of San Francisco.  She helps cliens conquer clutter and chaos to create an organized home. I am honored to have her here today to give us 10 tips for a more organized kitchen.

Few rooms in your home have the capacity to delight all five senses like your kitchen.  But your culinary enjoyment and efficiency will be greatly reduced if you haven’t organized the space effectively.  Here are some tips to create a functional everyday environment, in which you can slice, simmer, and stir with ease:

1. Sort through your cabinets and pantry and make categories of similar items (canned goods, dry foods, pots, plates, storage containers, gadgets, and so on).

2. Get rid of anything that is past its date, broken, dirty, or that you never use. For any seasonal items used only once a year, you can make space by storing them in another part of your home. If you find you have multiples of some items, figure out how many you realistically need, and donate the rest.

3. Clear off your counters and find a home for non-kitchen clutter.  A small appliance you use daily should live on the counter, otherwise, try keeping it somewhere else to maximize  workspace.  If you have the luxury of ample counters, you can allow yourself some decorative items, otherwise, you’d better look out for gadgets which are both functional and attractive!

4. Arrange your cupboards so that you’re keeping like with like and aim to store things where you need them.  For example, plates are best kept near the dishwasher or the stove.   Your spices, on the other hand, should not be too near the heat.

5. Consider making ‘stations’ for repeated daily activities.  Some families create a breakfast station, a beverage station, or a low-level, kid-friendly supply of healthy snacks. If you love to bake, you’ll benefit from a baking station, so that everything you need is in easy reach.

6. Create space for recycling – unless your kitchen was designed in the last five years, you probably lack adequate containers for cans, plastic and paper.

7. Don’t buy more than you have room to store – bulk warehouse shopping may be great value, but if you have nowhere to put them, your mass purchases will become a headache.

8. Decide on your favorite staple items and aim to stock these in your pantry at all times for store cupboard meals like a basic soup.

9. Hang up a shopping list and insist everyone adds items when they finish them.

10.  As you replenish food supplies, practice stock rotation so that older items are placed near the front to be used first. For healthier eating, make sure fruits and nutritious snacks are the easiest things to reach. Chips, candy and cookies should be a little harder to access!

Thanks  Pauline for such a lovely post. If you haven’t already, hop over to visit Pauline at The English Organizer!

Image Credits: 1. Stephen Saint 2. Williams Sonoma 3. Free Stock Photo 4. Free Stock Photo

Monday, April 18, 2011

Raspberry Orange Muffins

This is my first month’s Secret Recipe Club “assignment!”  Every month you get a name of a blog and you need to choose ANY recipe from that blog and then blog about that recipe by the deadline.  It’s a secret because the blog owner does not know you are doing this until the reveal date.  My secret blog  this month was Phe.MOM.enom which is written by Holly.  Holly has an adorable blog and there were many recipes that i wanted to try but i had lots of raspberries in my house and wanted to make some muffins.  As you can tell lately i have been making tons of muffins since they are easy for my “on the run” breakfasts.  For these muffins I decided not to do whole wheat flour but keep the white flour as is.  However i did remove all the sugar and use apple sauce and honey instead. These muffins are delicious with the perfect tart flavor and sweetness from the raspberries and hint of zest from the orange.

Raspberry Orange Muffins

Adapted from Phe.MOM.enom

Yields: 12 muffins | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 25 minutes

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp honey
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup raspberries – fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed)
Additional – 1/3 cup sliced almonds, for topping (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups (optional). Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the raspberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle muffins with almonds.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Other Similar Recipes:

Apple and Carrot Bran Muffins
Blueberry Quinoa Pecan Muffins
Maple Spice Muffins
Swedish Rye Limpa

One Year Ago: Strawberry Scones

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What’s Cooking in your Kitchen – Gourmande in the Kitchen?

Today I will be going into the kitchen of Sylvie from the Gourmande in the Kitchen blog. I discovered Sylvie’s blog a while ago while blog hopping and was instantly hooked, how can you not be?  Just look at her photography, she is not only a great photographer but a very engaging writer.  Sylvie’s motto is: cook simply and her recipes are always uncomplicated, flavorful, comforting to eat, with a focus on quality ingredients and minimal preparation that let the natural flavors of the food shine.  And you can see this right through her pictures, gorgeous! I am so excited to be in her kitchen today.

How long have you been cooking and who was the person who encouraged you to come into the kitchen and learn about food?

I’ve been drawn to food and cooking from a very young age.  As a child, I spent every summer in France with my maternal grandparents.  Those summers were filled with some of my most cherished memories: picking fragrant wild blackberries and raspberries in the woods with which we prepared large batches of jam, and helping to thinly slice apples for my grandmother’s perfectly arranged apple tart.  Each meal was lovingly prepared with fresh ingredients we bought almost daily from the local merchants.  A favorite treat was biting into the crusty end (le crouton) of a still warm baguette on the way home from the bakery.  Food was the center of daily life; when one meal was finished, we immediately planned and anticipated the next.  When I think of my childhood summers, I think of these experiences and the great food I shared with the people I love.  That is what drives me to the kitchen, then and now.

Where would you like to travel that you haven’t been before and why?

If I had it my way, I would travel to every country and experience the food and the culture firsthand.  I think that the food of each country tells the story of its history and its people.  My dream would be to take off for a year to travel and taste the world.

Have you lived your full life in LA? If not where else?

Although I wasn’t born in Los Angeles, I grew up here and have lived here for a good part of my life so I consider it my home.

Do you have a signature dish? What is it and how did you come up with it?

I don’t know that I have one signature dish, perhaps a signature type of dish; I like to combine fresh vegetables, legumes, cheeses, and whole grains to create endless combinations of hearty and healthy salads.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget? [picture]

I think my most loved kitchen gadget is my electronic scale.  I like to measure things in metrics because I think it is more precise so this is a must for me, especially when I am baking.

Pictures from Salter Electonic Scale

What eatables do you have in your backyard?

Living in Los Angeles, space is at a premium so there isn’t room in my backyard to grow much.  I do have a tangerine and a Meyer lemon tree.  I also like to grow my own herbs to cook with and make herbal infusions.  I’ve grown peppermint, lavender, parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives, and spring onions.

I would love to have room to grow more fruits and vegetables; I think there is something very satisfying about growing your own food.  My great-grandparents grew all their own vegetables, and it was such a pleasure to eat meals prepared with that fresh produce.  When I was little we had a plum and a white peach tree in the backyard at my house, and every summer we would gorge ourselves on the ripe fruit straight from the tree.  What we couldn’t eat we would make into jam.  I have a jam-making obsession so it would be a dream to have a backyard full of fruit trees and berry bushes.

What is the one cookbook you can’t live without?

Picture from Walmart

Although not technically a cookbook, Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking is one of the most used books in my kitchen.  It’s a great resource on kitchen science; it explains the where, what and how of food and cooking.  As someone who always wants to know the reason behind the method, this book is indispensible.

Do you have a cooking trick or technique you use all the time and would like to tell us about it?

Flash freezing.  When fruit is in season I like to freeze as much as I can to last me until the next season.  I wash and dry the fruit, then peel, pit and cut it into small pieces depending on the type of fruit and how I anticipate using it in the future.  I then spread the fruit out on a small sheetpan and place the sheetpan in the freezer until the fruit is firm and frozen.  I can then put the frozen fruit into freezer-safe containers and store them until I need them for a recipe.  Spreading the fruit out during the initial freezing period ensures that the fruit doesn’t clump together.  You can also flash freeze vegetables.  During the spring I stock up on rhubarb and in the summer it’s berries and peaches.

Name 3 thing you always have in your refrigerator.

Yogurt, fruit and vegetables.  Those are staples in my house and in my diet.  In fact when I travel the first thing I do when I get to where I’m going is go to the store to get those three things!

What are three things people don’t know about you?

Although I was born in the United States my first language was French.  French was spoken at home, so it wasn’t until I went to school that I was really immersed in the English language.  I then stubbornly decided that I would only speak English, so my mother would speak to me in French and I would respond in English!  It wasn’t until many years later that I realized how important preserving my French heritage was to me and I started speaking to her in French once again.  I am so thankful that she never gave up speaking French to me, today we have our own mixed up way of talking to each other in “Franglais” (part French, part English).

I like to go for an hour walk every day; it clears my head, refocuses and rejuvenates me.

I have a huge sweet-tooth and a crazy obsession with chocolate, although I’m fairly certain most people know that about me at this point!

Describe your death menu. (Last meal before you die)?

Good bread, raw milk cheese, olives, cornichons and wine.  That pretty much sums up the perfect meal for me.  I would then follow that up with an unreasonable amount of chocolate and every flavor of macaron from Pierre Hermé.

What advice would you give to other food bloggers about food photography?

First, get comfortable with your camera’s settings; make sure you know how everything works.  Next, practice taking shots in different lighting conditions to learn what to expect and how different lighting can create different moods.  Also, don’t be afraid to look at things from a different perspective or try unusual compositions.  And of course, read as much as you can on the subject.

I want to thank Sylvie for letting me in her kitchen! Thank you!

** All images from this post are taken and copyrighted by Sylvie from Gourmande in the Kitchen. **

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lasagna Bolognese

There are times when you need to prepare a dish the day before a party or need a dish that will last the whole week for the family and is delicious every night and easy to warm up.  This is my go to dish.

Lasanga Bolognese is always a huge hit.  You can prepare it the night before and all you need to do when the party arrives is heat it up.  Or you can prepare this during the weekend and depending on the size of your family it will last all week for dinner.  And the great thing about this dish, it gets better each night.

I know it takes a while to prepare due to the cooking of the Bolognese sauce but at the end of the day it is worth it, and you will not regret it.

Lasagna Bolognese

Yields: 8-10 people | Prep Time: 60 minutes | Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

One Set of Bolognese Sauce
15 oz Ricotta cheese
6 oz of fresh spinach
1 egg
1 lbs fresh mozzarella Cheese sliced
8 oz parmesan Cheese grated

Prepare a batch of Bolognese Sauce.

Set oven to 350 Degrees.

Bring a large, wide pot of water to boil with salt and a splash of oil, that will help keep the noodles from sticking together as they drain. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Then using a separate bowl make the ricotta mixture but using all the ricotta, adding the egg and then salt and pepper.  Stir well and set aside.

Then prepare the fresh spinach but adding some olive oil and spinach to a pot and sauté for a few minutes.

Assembling the lasagna – Start by putting some sauce at the bottom of an 9×13” pan so the past will not burn to the bottom and then layer with pasta.  Then add a layer of ricotta/egg mixture and add the all the spinach on top of that.  Then add a layer of the meat sauce and all the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with parmesan on top of that.

Then another layer of pasta, ricotta and meat and end with the remainder of the parmesan cheese at the top.

I do not overlap my lasagna, but I will cut them so they fit perfectly in the pan.

Cook for about 45 hour min with cover and 15 minutes without cover.

Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Other Similar Recipes:

Chicken Piccata
Spaghetti Bolognese
Swedish Meatballs
Bulgogi Korean BBQ

One Year Ago: Raising and Pine nut Chicken Salad



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