The Hands That Feed Us

I first began taking photos when I started this blog. I figured the only way to make someone want to eat something was to grab their attention with a photo that literally made their mouth water. After getting the hang of that process – plating food, adding cute napkins, and snapping some shots – I became more and more interested in documenting the process, of capturing the hands that build the food. I’ve had the pleasure of watching and working with a number of inspiring chefs, farmers and even shuckers through my travels and I’ve made an effort to document them in their happy place as they create. To photograph the people that work with their hands to plant, harvest, cook, cut, plate, and feed us.


I just shared a gallery of working hands over at LETumEAT, here's a few photos from the stash but be sure to click this link to head over to the site and check out the whole gallery! - Once you're over there I recommend clicking  an individual photo and scrolling through - trust me, it's better that way.

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On The Road Again

This is now my second year on "tour" - my second year traveling across the country in a big pick up truck, my second year stopping at state signs, eating regional fare, falling in love with farms, baby goats, and awfully impressive farmers, my second summer of very little sleep, long drives, truck-bed-organizing, and table shimming. In this two year period, half will have been spent attached at the hip to seven other people with whom I constantly pee outside, bicker, and laugh.

In that time I have neglected this space. Time on the road with a gaggle of eccentric people tends to absorb your alone time, your blog time, your listening to your own music time, your reading a book time. I'm stopping by to drop off some photos of my adventure and I plan to be back soon.

This is my Job







This is my job. There are lots of tables and chairs involved, there are many winemakers and chefs, plates, produce, and farmers.  We're just about nine weeks into the summer tour and I already have more table pictures than I can count. We leave California in two weeks and there's no looking back. We'll be off to the Northwest and beyond, only to return in November.

If you're into little square pictures on your phone then you might want to check out the Outstanding in the Field Instagram. I've recently taken charge on the picture front so you should probably follow along  and keep up on the journey @out_inthefield.

Grilled Shrimp and the Next Six Months of my Life



Hi! I've been seriously slacking on this blog. I just haven't been posting nearly as often as I'd like to and well, that just happens sometimes. I can't say it's ideal but it happens and that's just the way it is, I get caught up in the little tasks and excitement of life and somehow forget to photograph tasty recipes for y'all. Hey! I'm an imperfect human being and I never claimed to be anything else.

All the little stuff has included a short stint working pastry at this restaurant, interviewing for jobs (can we talk about how hard it is to convey a personality on a phone interview?), and the most exciting bit of all...getting a job with these amazing folks for the summer! I'm thrilled to announce I'll be spending the next six months on the road with Outstanding in the Field.  I intend to continue blogging here, though it's clearly going to be a bit different as I won't so much have access to a kitchen and will mostly be living out of a suitcase for the next half of a year. That being said, my handy camera will be by my side for the whole journey and I'm looking forward to sharing photos, information, and stories up here.

If you are going to be attending one of the dinners (here is the schedule) please say hi, I'd love to chat!

I leave in two weeks and I'm having trouble accurately documenting how damn pleased I am to be working for this company. Perhaps if you check out some past pictures of their events you'll understand how thrilled I am. Yes, there will be a lot of hard work, but nothing incredible was ever without that. 



Enough about me, let's talk shrimp. Let's talk grilling. Let's talk about how this post is actually all about this recipe and only slightly about my life. Let's talk about how Seattle has been so marvelously sunny lately that all I want to eat is grilled anything and fresh fruit. This recipe nails both of those cravings on the head.  Even if it's rainy and overcast where you are (as it will be here soon enough) this simple recipe will at least taste a bit like summer and sunshine and you know, sometimes that's just the best we can do.


Ingredients
1 pound Medium Sized Prawns
2 Small Lemons
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
2 Avocados
2 Mangos (I prefer the smaller variety)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Flaked Salt (Like Maldon)


Method
1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high.
2. Clean prawns by removing the shell (I like to leave the tail on to keep the ends from getting rubbery) and cutting a shallow slit down the curved side to devein them, this shows the process).
3. Place the prawns in a large bowl and add the juice of the lemons, and a good deal of olive oil. I just drizzle it in until they are coated but not swimming in oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt (don't be shy, salt makes it flavorful!) and toss them gently.
4. Place the prawns on the grill and flip them after a minute or two. They should have nice grilled marks and become pink/opaque. Grill on the other side for another minute or so but not much more, until they are opaque throughout. Be careful, shrimp get rubbery and overcooked quickly.
5. Remove the shrimp to a plate and let rest.
6. Meanwhile, peel the mangos and cut the side off from the pit and any remaining bits of fruit. Cut the mango into small chunks.
7. Cut the avocados in half and separate. Then, cut them in quarters along the skin side and separate the pieces.  The pit should be easy to remove from one of the slices. Then peel the quarters and cut the avocado in half or into thirds to form long, thick slices as shown above.(Check this out if you're more of a visual learner.)
8. Remove the tails from the prawns, and cut in half down the length of the prawn. This is easier to do if it lays flat on its side.
9. Plate the dish by scattering the mango pieces, topped by the shrimp, and finished with the avocado slices. I did this by randomly laying the ingredients out on a large dish but you could really do this any which way (keep them in separate rows, or tossed together).
10. Finish it off with a small drizzle of olive oil, a grind of fresh black pepper, and a sprinkle of flaked salt.

Note: This would also be GREAT served over mixed greens with a lemony vinaigrette. Just a thought. 

EAT UP!

Kale Caesar


I'm stuck right in the middle of a super transitional, bizarre, yet mostly enjoyable phase of my life. I'm not freaking out, I'm choosing to mostly not do that. But in the midst of transition, I am periodically  anxious. Time should remedy that though. I haven't got much to say but I think kale should say enough to cover up that void. Kale says a lot, because damn! It's really great. Clearly a nutritional power house with that rich green color, Kale is tasty is so many forms. While I'm a huge fan of the chip variety today I'm going with caesar.  Caesar salad is comforting in the only way a salad can be comforting, familiarity. You can always count on a good Caesar and kale is a nice way to stir things up.

I snagged this simply stellar dressing recipe from none other than Bon Appetit and changed it up a tiny bit. I'm sure it's perfect the way it is but this just worked for me with what I had on hand. 



                                   
Classic Caesar Dressing
*adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

1/2 small garlic clove
Kosher Salt
1/2 Tbl anchovy paste
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbl vegetable oil
1 Tbl grated parmesan
fresh ground black pepper

Method

Chop the garlic up very finely, then sprinkle with kosher salt and mash with the side of a large knife until it forms a paste. Add it to a small bowl with the anchovy paste, dijon, egg yolk, and lemon juice. Mix to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking, making sure it stays emulsified and thick. After that, add the vegetable oil in the same fashion. Add the parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper. Taste and add extra lemon juice or salt as needed.

For the kale salad, simply remove 1 or 2 bunches of kale from the stalks and chop into smaller pieces. Drizzle the kale with a tiny bit of olive oil (1-2 tsp) and massage (yes, massage) into the leaves. Let it sit. Shave 4 or five stalks of asparagus with a peeler and add to the kale.  Add dressing 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and toss until coated but not weighed down. Finish with shaved parmesan. 

Simple Breakfasts



I can't believe it's been over a month. I'm slacking. I recently graduated from college (just under two months ago), set off on an unbelievable three week trip to Southeast Asia and now I'm back. Or rather, I'm once again a Washington State resident.  I planned on posting some stellar Asia pictures right when I got back but life got in the way, as life is wont to do.

Eventually there will be Asia pictures, after I climb out of the boxes and pile of belongings that I have recently moved back from New York,  For now, there are avocado toast pictures, because Passover is almost over (aka time for some bread tonight!) and this is what I'm currently craving.  Also because I've been messing around with these photos for far too long and they're just ready to live somewhere other than my computer.


Ingredients (for 1 toast)

1/2 ripe avocado
1 slice whole grain toast
2 eggs
olive oil for cooking
kosher salt
black pepper

Optional Toppings

parmesan cheese
honey (weird but good)

Method

1. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and scramble together with a fork until totally mixed, add a pinch of salt. 
2. Toast bread
3. Cut avocado in half, and remove skin 
4. Get out a small non-stick pan, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and pour in the eggs
5. Heat over medium-low heat, and stir the eggs constantly. I use chopsticks to keep 'em moving. 
6. Continue scrambling the eggs until you reach desired doneness, keep them a bit creamy unless you totally hate that
7.Spread avocado on the toast, sprinkle with salt & black pepper
8.Top with scramble eggs and black pepper
9. Optional: top with parmesan cheese, a thin drizzle of honey or both

(For two people, use three eggs and double everything else)

Sorry, We're Open





There's some advice that you hear all the time. But no one really seems to listen to it. Like in every beauty article I read, I mean those ones written by 70 year old women who look like they're 45, giving their best beauty advice, they always say that wearing sunscreen everyday is their number one secret. I've read it atleast six times. It seems totally valid, and fairly simple and yet not everyone is wearing sunscreen every day. Recently I bought a super natural, good-for-your-skin-sunscreen...I think it's time I start using this kind of advice to my advantage. And let's be honest, I'm the farthest thing from tan...might as well embrace the pale and work towards a gorgeous middle aged face.

The other one people without a doubt always say they regret is not traveling when they were young. They find a great job, get tied down, one thing leads to another, get married, and boom...there's suddenly no time for whimsical month long adventures and no chance to drop everything and just move somewhere crazy.  This one is always in the back of my head.

After five years of any number of roommates, dorms, and rented rooms...I simply cannot wait to have a place of my own. I think about decorating an apartment and having dinner parties at least once a day. I'm so ready.  And yet there it is, the fact that I'm only 23 and while the daunting 25 makes me feel as if I'm quickly getting older by the second, I'm really a child in the scheme of things.  A child who has some skills that could really be put to use in just about any part of the world. You can cook, photograph, or farm anywhere. So, what's the rush? I have to remind myself quite often that this is my time. It's all about me. It's my time to explore, to make spur of the moment decisions (mostly because when you're 23 and tied to very little, why not?), to move to a big city, to work my butt off for a really minimal salary or apprentice for people simply so I can learn and soak up all their skills and knowledge.  Twenty three is the perfect time for this, and forty three usually isn't. This is what I need to remember. Because in twenty years I want to say I took the risks and landed on my feet (because let's be honest, it's not always glamorous...but we usually do land on our feet), I learned from the best and made a name for myself.  Maybe I wasn't rolling in the big bucks, but that comes with time and hard work, from learning from as many people as possible and turning it into my own skill, and feeling damn lucky that I am able to take these chances at this point in the game.




** All pictures from a pre-graduation trip to the city; Unbeatable baked goods (get the Kabocha Canotto!!) at Sullivan Street Bakery, Mexican Street Corn at Cafe Habana, and Greek yoghurt treats at Chobani Soho- the perfect spot for a healthy snack**

Pistachio Scones




I've been living in New York for a good three years now and I've yet to get a grasp on the seasons. The summers here kill me, the mosquitos and the humidity...it's simply not glamorous.  It's nothing like my perfectly sunny 70 degree weather Pacific Northwest summer, the ones that make the depressingly endless grey days somewhat doable.  And the winters, I'm just really lousy at being cold. I swear I'm always ten degrees colder than anyone around me, like are you guys really not freezing for the entire span of november to march? Because that coat stays on my body 24/7 my friends. Recently I thought I was starting to get a handle on the cold, but it was nine degrees today and it just wasn't really comfy for me. That being said, I love fall and spring. I simple can't get enough.  Everything is lovely in the spring, and the fall, especially over here on the East coast. When it comes down to it, I can handle the afro that I develop in those summer months because I get that great sun all day long, breathtaking produce, and endless days. I patiently await the frigid short winter days each year just so I can enjoy my cozy hat selection and get comfortable with massive amounts of herbal tea, these things make the seasons great, they make the ongoing changes really rather exciting.

Along with my beanies and the sweetness of a snow covered street, there's also the joy of baking.  Because when I cozy up with a big cup of tea in my hand, I'm going to need a nice baked treat in my other hand. It's a winter thing, it's an "it's-so-cold-my-fingers-are-in-pain-thing." 


INGREDIENTS
1 can coconut milk, refrigerated 
(1/4 cup coconut cream reserved)
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup shelled salted pistachios
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbl baking powder
½ cup coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
1/2 cup + 3 tbl cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz white chocolate

METHOD

Oven at 400 F

1. Begin by opening the can of coconut milk and separating the cream from the liquid. Measure out 1/4 cup of coconut cream and set aside for later.
2. Pour the watery part of the coconut milk into a small bowl, add the chopped dates, and soak for 20 minutes.  After they have soaked, drain them in a sieve and rinse with cold water. Let them sit and dry off a bit while you make the dough.
3. Meanwhile, quickly pulse the pistachios in a food processor a few times until they are roughly chopped and coarse. 
4. Pour the pistachios in a large bowl with the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Mix to combine. Add the cold butter and cut it into the dough with your hands until it resembles a crumbly dough with pea sized butter chunks. Keep the butter chunky! Do not make a paste
5. Chop the white chocolate bar into small pieces (or use chips) and add to the mixture with the dates. Toss to coat in the flour mixture.
6. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg. Add the coconut cream and heavy cream in, and whisk to combine. Drizzle the liquid mix over the flour mixture and slowly work the dough together until it resembles a shaggy mess. Do not over mix. The dough should just barely come together. If it is too dry, feel free to add more cream or a bit of coconut liquid.
7. With floured hands, roughly shape the dough into a flat disk and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
8. Remove from the fridge and cut the dough into triangles. 
9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 400 F oven. If cut into 12 sections bake for about 15 minutes, If cut into 8 sections, bake for about 20 minutes.  
10. Let scones rest for 10-20 minutes before serving

Notes: These scones are nutty and slightly earthy. Great for dessert or breakfast! Also, if you don't like coconut, feel free to use milk for soaking the dates and use extra heavy cream in place of the coconut cream. Though, the coconut flavor is not really noticeable it mostly just adds moisture.

The Not Summer Salad




Guys, it's really not summer anymore. It's just not. You know, I wasn't totally sure about the seasons slowly and inevitably moving forward but the other day when I was scraping/shoveling/digging my car out of icy snow for two and half hours, I came to terms with the situation. It's winter. I'm sure of it. And while cute, refreshing dishes like watermelon salad cut it back in those scorching summer months, we're just not at that place in our lives anymore.

We're at a place of squash. Stored away for times like this, when hearty dishes are all you crave. So I'm calling this salad hearty, not because it's fatty and has tons of meat but because it's mostly cous cous dotted with some tasty veggies and other treats and I think that counts for something.




Israeli Cous Cous Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

1 Medium Butternut or Hubbard Squash (or 2 cubes cubed)
1 Small Onion, chopped
5 Tbl Olive Oil
2 Cups Israeli/Pearl Cous Cous
2 1/2 Cups Water
2 Handfuls of Arugula
1/4 cup Chopped Unsalted Roasted Hazelnuts
1/2 Cup Shaved Parmesan 
Kosher Salt

Dressing
1 Tbl + 1 tsp Olive Oil
1 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar (plus extra to drizzle on top)
1/4 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp honey
Kosher Salt + Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Pinch of Chili Flakes (optional)


-Preheat oven to 400 F-

1. First, peel and cut the squash into small cubes. In a bowl, toss the pieces with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a very generous sprinkle of kosher salt.
2. Spread out spaciously on one or two baking sheets, and place in the oven for 15-25 minutes. Toss them around half way through and rotate the pan. Remove when cooked through and golden brown on the outside, and turn the oven off because that's all we needed it for.
3. Let the squash cool. Meanwhile, Bring the water (2 1/2 cups) to a boil in medium sized pot with a teaspoon of salt, when it has come to a boil add the cous cous (2 cups).  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 12 minutes or until the water is absorbed (or cook according to the package, I trust that). Be careful not to overcook or the cous cous will become one big glob. If it is done before the water is gone simply drain the cous cous.
4. Toss the cous cous in a large bowl with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let it cool in the fridge.
5. In a small sauté pan, combine the onion and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, then turn the pan to medium low heat and cook the onions until golden in color. This may take about 10 minutes, so just keep an eye on them and stir frequently.
6. While the onions are cooking, chop the hazelnuts in large pieces and set aside. 
7. Make the dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking together or shaking in a jar. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
8. Finish off by tossing the onions and the squash in with the cous cous. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Next, add the arugula (save a little to garnish on top), parmesan, and hazelnuts and mix it all together. Top with a few arugula leaves, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a bit of parmesan cheese.

Blueberry Quinoa Salad


At this point, I might as well admit that I have recently been working on all these blueberry recipes for a cool blueberry contest I found online. It's been fun coming up with new dishes and I mean it wouldn't totally suck to win some prize money.  So here's the last of it, a great little salad. Perfect for lunch or served with some grilled chicken perhaps.

It all starts with some roasted blueberries, which I've got to admit are pretty damn great. If I had more time I think I would make a good six more recipes with roasted blueberries. I will most definitely be roasting more fruit in the near future. And let's also address the fact that I now fully appreciate the combination of blueberries and basil. I'm hooked.

Blueberry Quinoa Salad
*makes 2-4 servings

2/3 cups fresh blueberries
olive oil, to drizzle
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chevre, fresh goat cheese, crumbled
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt

2 tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp very finely chopped shallot
salt & black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper, spread the blueberries on it. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in the oven for three minutes or just until the juices start to burst out.
2. Meanwhile, if you haven't done so, cook the quinoa according to instructions on the bag or box.(Boil 1 1/4 cup of water, add quinoa, simmer covered over medium low for about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and let it sit covered for 5 minutes.) Let cool.
3. Make the dressing, mix the bottom 5 ingredients: olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, shallot, salt, and pepper to taste
4. Gently mix the quinoa with the goat cheese, basil, and blueberries. And toss with the dressing.


Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries... http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/

Blueberry Bars


Another blueberry recipe as promised (as requested Jonathan, sorry for the delay).  I've been really into bars latey, and by that I mean blueberry, lemon, brownies...okay brownies don't fit that criteria but I'm also on the lookout for a low sugar brownie recipe. I think I've found a few good ones.  I suppose if you break it down, I've mostly just been interested in rectangularish food lately. Let's not judge, okay?

Well, back to the blueberries.












Blueberry & Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

Cookie Base

1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups all purpose flour

For the Blueberries

2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tbl fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white sugar
zest of one lemon
1 tbl cornstarch

Toppings

1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tbl white sugar
2 graham crackers 

1. Preheat oven to 350 and start the cookie dough by creaming the softened butter and sugars together in a mixer until light in color, about 3 to 5 minutes
2. Add the egg, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt and mix together
3. Add the flour 1 cup at a time and mix until just combined
4. Line an 8x8 square pan with parchment, two sheets perpendicular to each other, crossing on top of one another
5. Spread cookie dough into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden 

MEANWHILE....

1. Start the blueberry topping, Put the blueberries over medium low heat until defrosted
2. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and zest to the pot
3. Stir and cook together for about 5 minutes, the mixture should be simmering and start to thicken slightly
4. Sprinkle the cornstarch in and mix thoroughly. Leave on a heat for an additional minute or two and make sure there are no cornstarch chunks
5. Remove from heat

FINALLY...

1. Pule the graham cracker in a food processor to make crumbs, set aside
2. In a mixer whip up the cream cheese and the 2 tbl sugar until creamy
3. Take the dough and make small drops of the cream cheese on the top
4. fill the rest of the area with the blueberries, making sure to use it all
5. Sprinkle the graham crackers in small sections as pictured below
6. Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes 
7. Remove and let cool, remove from pan by lifting the parchment paper. If the edges are stuck cut around them with a small knife
8. Cut in small strips of squares and eat up. Good warm or cooled


The above picture shows how I dropped the blueberries and cream cheese on but any way will work.


A lot of photos, I know. But I have more pictures that words for this one so I hope you enjoy either way. And as I slowly work my way into Photoshop, bountiful photo posts like this just seem to happen. Also I will be bombarding you with just one more blueberry recipe tomorrow, and then we'll move on to a new ingredient.  

For more blueberry fun.... http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/

Blueberry & Brie Grilled Cheese



Blueberries, they're pretty great. Usually my favorite way to eat them is in some sort of compote on top of waffles or pancakes.  But I saw some on sale recently and thought it would be a nice challenge to come up with some new recipes.  Spending my mondays off thinking up recipes, testing them out, and setting them up for photographs is really my idea of a great day so it was really more of a perfect excuse. Again, is there anyway I can make this my career?


This one's really basic, I have a few more blueberry recipes coming soon though.



The key to the grilled cheese is to really butter up the outside of the bread, that way it gets nice and crisp on the outside. It's completely necessary and it takes any and all grilled cheeses over the top.


Blueberry & Brie Grilled Cheese
*makes 2 sandwiches

1 cup of fresh blueberries
4 thick slices of whole wheat French bread
10 thin slices of brie
3 basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
Butter, to spread on bread
Honey, to drizzle
salt & pepper

1. Spread one side of each bread generously with butter
2. Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the bread, butter side down
3. Top two of the slices with three slices of brie, and the others with two
4. Sprinkle the basil on the three slice bread, layer the blueberries on the slice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with honey
5. Carefully place the two slice pieces of bread on the other bread and smoosh together
6. Place a plate on top of the closed sandwiches and lightly press down to smash the ingredients together
7. Carefully flip the sandwiches once the first side is crispy and browned
8. Repeat with other side until crisp. Cut in half and eat it up!

For more blueberry recipes: http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/


Pumpkin Yoghurt


It's that time of year folks. I'm officially no longer in Italy, I graduate in two months, and it's getting colder by the day. The downside is, like I mentioned, I am no longer in Italy making pasta with nice gentlemen in beautiful wineries. Okay, I'll get over it.


The good news is I'm in full on job search mode, and it's mostly fun at this point. I'm enjoying finding lots of exciting options, and crossing my fingers that I land a certain job that will let me travel around a bit. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Another good thing is that it's December so everything suddenly smells like apple cider, and people are stressing out about gifts for their loved ones, and those people that invited you to a party and you now feel obligated to get them something pleasantly mediocre.

In the spirit of gifts, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites, Ilana approved if you will (I want to get an "ilana approved" stamp made but I can't imagine anything more obnoxious, yet also incredible).

I love my Opinel knife, it's awfully handy.

This cool fella , just came out with a cookbook. I can't wait to check it out!

More amazing new cookbooks, that I would love to own: What Katie Ate, The Sprouted Kitchen, and Jerusalem.

If you're going to use measuring spoons, they might as well be adorable. Chelsea got these for me, and they 100% make baking more fun.

The sleekest bottle opener I've ever seen.

If I felt inclined to spend $58.00 on a super cozy sweatshirt, then I would be inclined to buy this one.

This beautiful watch would make a very lovely gift.

Sphere ice cube molds. This is what makes a house a home.

Cognac glass or alcohol dreidel?

I think this wallet is awesome.

And my final stamp of approval lands on this pumpkin yoghurt I started whipping up for breakfast this fall and I'm still enjoying it well into winter.



Also, I'd like to point out the neato antique nut grinder below. I found it at my Grandma's house and thought it was pretty rad. Who needs a food processor or a knife and cutting board? This baby makes sundaes possible in seconds. I think it's grrrrreat.



Stay warm out there!

Quinoa Chicken Salad


Ahh, yes. Finally a recipe. Though I must admit it's incredibly simple, it's more of a throw everything in bowl and eat it up kind of deal but a recipe nonetheless. It started with a craving for chicken salad that I had no choice but to quench and so, I made chicken salad and I hope you find it as deliciously simple as I did. 




QUINOA CHICKEN SALAD

1 chicken breast, grilled or pan cooked and chilled
1/4 cup cooked quinoa, chilled
4 basil leaves
1 celery stalk
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbl mayonaise
salt + pepper

1. Chop or shred chicken with a fork, set aside in a bowl
2. Stack basil leaves and roll up, then thinly slice (chiffonade
3. Slice celery lengthwise into thirds and chop into small pieces
4. Add celery, basil, olive oil, quinoa, and mayonaise to the boil and mix together
5. Taste and add salt + pepper until desired flavor is achieved
6. Eat as is or in a sandwich


And that's it. It was quick and totally did the trick. I'm also thinking this simple salad would work perfectly with all that leftover turkey you know you're going to have at the end of this week. 

A Little More From Italy


While I'm back stateside, I've still got tons of pictures and stories to share from Italy. And yes, I really do wish I was still there. Being back in the Hudson Valley isn't so rough but getting back into the swing of classes and work is surely far from thrilling.

I thought I would share a few more pictures from my trip before finally sharing a new (super easy) recipe with you guys this weekend.

That first picture is from the truly incredible lunch and cooking demo we had at Vissani(my first 2 Michelin star experience).  Those would be Chef Vissani's hands plating one of many tasting plates he made for us before lunch.  My favorite was the lobster marinated in coffee with red pepper balls, Bartlett pears, and pecans. It was balanced out so nicely.


I still can't put in to words just how much wine we drank, and how many wineries we got to visit.



The table above wasn't even part of a meal. It was merely an incredible spread of meats, cheeses, and bruschetta to enjoy while we tasted four different wines and we somehow managed to head over to a multi course dinner following. Our eating habits were nothing short of impressive.


Here are a few favorites from a lovely lunch enjoyed outside among a vineyard. The potato torte was smooth and lovely. The sauces really took it to the next level though. Then there was the duck ragu with garganelli...one of my favorite pasta shapes, I even hand rolled my own last year.




And then there was the day we visited a Chianina cow farm and then enjoyed lunch in an ancient village positioned amongst rolling hills of olive groves and vineyards. I'm telling you, it was magical. Only thirty people lived in this tiny neighborhood and we got to eat at the farmer's small bed and breakfast.


The meal started with crostinis with chickpea puree (they grew the chickpeas), and muchroom paté (not pictured).  Then we had a massive serving of heartwarming lasagne followed by spaghetti with basil pesto and fresh ricotta. Mind you, this wasn't even dinner. Key lesson of this trip: Pacing yourself.


For the main course we had Chianina beef which was so incredibly tender you could cut it with your fork, with chickpeas and chard on the side. I loved how earthy the sides were but not everyone was a fan.  And for dessert a simple yet perfect panna cotta with fresh picked local berries. This dessert was a winner.

I promise I'll have a recipe posted very soon! In the meantime, I hope this Italy post can at least make you wish you were in Italy as much as I do.

A Snapshot of Italy pt. 2


There's so much to share about Italy so it's hard to figure out where to begin. I can't get enough of the olive oil and antipasti, and I mean...eating pasta everyday has been nothing less than dreamy.  Some of my favorite days have been spent walking through olive groves, learning about the history of each place and the family legacy that always comes with that.

My days have been jam packed, and I'm definitely not complaining though my body is starting to go into overload mode, I'm sad to admit that there is such a thing as too much wine. That being said, I would happily stay here forever. I really do love this country.  It seems there just isn't enough time in the day and I'd sort of rather get some rest that type up a play by play, so instead I'll share some of my favorite pictures from week one.

I hope you enjoy! And let me know if you have any questions or are looking for details.


Gelato in Firenze (Florence). My friend Angela got the Baci flavor and it dripped all over the place, considering how large the small was it wasn't totally devastating, but it was amusing to watch the dripping take over here arm. I got Baci (hazelnut and chocolate with hazelnuts in it)and pistachio, the pistachio was outstanding.  We enjoyed it with a nice dose of espresso which was so incredibly smooth and not the slightest bit bitter. I could definitely get used to that.





The view from the highest point in Perugia. It went on for days...


Yet another winery with a view that could just about make you want to move here.



I've decided I would like prosciutto everyday for breakfast. 


And then there was the one time we ate at Vissani, a two Michelin star restaurant, got a three course cooking demo by the eccentric Chef Vissani who "loved my personality," I even have a cheek kiss to prove it. Well, the meal was over the top and the service was impeccable, and yes I was totally impressed with the plethora of Hermés plates at the table.

I swear I could write a novel about what we've done in the past two weeks but who's got the time? I'm off to bed, we're heading to Rome tomorrow and I hear we're also stopping by a Prosciutto producer and learning how to find truffles before we settle down for a truffle tasting dinner. I feel so spoiled and have I mentioned that I don't want to leave this gorgeous country?

Italy: Firenze


As you may have guessed by the picture...I'm in Italy! Above is a picture at one of the numerous wineries we've toured and tasted in the week I've already been here.

Here's the background on the trip: As part of the bachelor's degree program at school, I get to take a three week food, wine, and agriculture trip and so here I am in Italy, literally eating my heart out and washing it all down with copious amounts of local wine and olive oil. I've quickly decided this trip would more aptly be named "Italy: A Lesson in Gluttony."




Our first night was in Firenze (aka Florence) and we ate at Ristorance Da Omero which was conveniently located in an itty bitty town right across from Galileo's house. The meal started with prosecco, as every meal should and then we had assorted bruschetta, penne with ragout, and malfatti (pasta) with mushroom and sausage.  After that we had the most amazing Florentine steak, perfectly rare and nicely grilled. We devoured it with several bottles of Chianti. The lovely man above fixed our desserts up for us, I went for the chocolate cake but the ricotta cheesecake with orange marmalade, I stole several bites off my friend Rachel.


The next day we went to Avignonese and toured the vineyard and property before sitting down for a lunch/wine tasting.  The property was stunning, and their circular vineyard (above) was really something special.  When they first started growing the grapes they tested out different areas, different lengths of sun exposure, and spacing before finding out which worked best and applied it to their other vineyards.


We also got to tour the huge room where they dry out the grapes for their famous Vin Santo (above).



The location for lunch was nothing short of breath taking.  The meal was delicious and they were constantly refilling our wine glasses, I think around the middle of this meal we realized just how much wine we would be consuming on our trip.




The meal: Goat cheese flan served over cream of spinach (Wine: Vignola Sauvignon Cortona 2011)
Paccheri pasta with lamb and eggplant ragout (Wine: Rosso di Montepulciano DOC 2011)
Baked Chianina veal with roasted potatoes and Gradoli’s beans with olive oil (Wine: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2008 and Desiderio Corona Merlot DOC 2008)
and for dessert Mascarpone cheese and wild berries on a crispy crepe (Wine: Endidae Gewurztraminer Passito Castelfeder)

The meal was clearly outstanding. And actually the mascarpone has been one of my favorite desserts so far. But picture this: three to four course meals every day, and sometimes twice...one word: Gluttony. The trip has been absolutely wonderful so far, I'll update on Perugia soon!


p.s. After the meal we wandered around and found these beautiful quince growing next to the sweetest little garden, with a pretty handsome farmer too might I add. Oh and that's me snapping pictures of some gorgeous kale in the middle.

Ciao!

Maple Pumpkin Biscuits


Remember when I told you about that job that slowly taught me how to wake up in the dark hours of morning and how it also lead me to become a self acclaimed pancake master? Well, that job also left me with another dose of knowledge: The only thing better than bacon...is candied bacon. I speak the truth. So that explains the maple candied bacon segment of this biscuit operation, and the pumpkin...well the pumpkin is because, in case you may have missed it, it's fall!

I really do have a little thing for fall. Mostly because of the boots and the gorgeous foliage but I mean, also for the pumpkin and the squashes.  The pumpkin bit really seals the deal, I mean fall-wise.


I got a little funky with the above photo because I finally managed to get my hands on the adobe suite, CS5 that is (thanks endlessly, Andy!) and while I quickly realized I know absolutely nothing about photoshop and even less about illustrator, I've still been messing around with it in my free time. If you have any tips or great information resources, I'm all ears. I could definitely use some help with this.

But back to the biscuits...


Things to consider:

This recipe totally works without the bacon, you could even add chocolate chips, or candied nuts if you want to go the vegetarian and less savory route.

You can top these babes with absolutely anything, but here are some ideas:
Butter & honey
Butter & maple syrup
Just butter and a little salt
Pumpkin puree mixed with a bit of maple or honey
Bacon and honey/maple
or the deadly pumpkin puree + bacon combo
or even pumpkin puree mixed with maple and cream cheese. woah.


After you make the candied bacon, I recommend you eat one or two slices and then chop the rest up. Also, because there is sugar caramelizing all over that lovely bacon make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.


Maple Pumpkin Bacon Biscuits

makes about 10 large biscuits, and some extra scraps

3 1/3 cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tbl Baking Powder
1.5 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/4 cups Pumpkin Puree
2 sticks (1 cup) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup + 2 Tbl Buttermilk
1 Recipe Maple Sugar (above)
1 Recipe Candied Maple Bacon (above)

To start off, chop the bacon into small pieces and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin, buttermilk, and maple sugar and keep cold.  Also, chop the butter into small chunks and keep in the fridge.

Combine the 3 cups of the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry knife or your hands so the butter remains in small pieces no larger than a pea and the flour starts to look coarse.  Do not overwork, the mix should look like cornmeal with some small chunks.

Quickly add in the pumpkin mix in.  Fold it in and do not overwork, the butter should stay somewhat chunky but a wet dough should start to form.  I did this with my hands in order to insure the dough was not over worked. Coat the dough with the remaining 1/3 cup flour and turn onto a floured surface.  Gently fold the dough until it is shaped like a disk and no longer wet.  Add more flour if needed, again work as minimally as possible.

Sprinkle with flour and wrap up.  Let dough rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Remove the dough and roll out with a floured rolling pin or press down with hands until the dough is about 1-1 1/2 inch think.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 25-35 minutes until they have risen up and are no longer doughy.

*If you happen to have rendered bacon fat around you can drizzle some on the top of the biscuits half way through baking.  It definitely doesn't make them worse... I suppose you could also brush some butter on top too, that'd be appropriately sinful too.

Peaches & Blueberries


The truth is, I haven't cooked or baked anything exciting in weeks. Hell, I've barely cooked at all, save for oatmeal, weekly batches of hard boiled eggs, and a couple of sweet potatoes here and there. It sucks when you get wrapped up in your busy schedule. Some of the craziness has been due to the Jewish holidays which meant lots of family time! A couple weekends ago my favorite 16 year old/cousin Liza and I made this nice little crumble for the whole gang so here ya go.




INGREDIENTS

4.5 cups peaches, cut into large chunks
1 cup blueberries
1/2 lemon, juice only
3 tbl brown sugar (add more if peaches are tart)
3 tbl butter
1 tbl all purpose flour

----------------------

1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 lemon, zest only
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cubed


METHOD

preheat over to 350 F
  1. First, zest the lemon before you cut it in half and juice it
  2. Combine the first section of ingredients together in a large bowl, tossing gently to coat the fruit
  3. In a separate bowl combine the second group of ingredients. Rub the butter into the mixture so it makes small pea sized pieces 
  4. Pour the fruit mixture into a pie pan or square dish
  5. Top with the crumble mixture
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden and the inside is bubbling out a little
  7. Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream or eat as is

Graham Crackers and a Big Thanks!


Just one year (and three days) ago  I finished the culinary program at my school. I can't believe it! What a fast year, I've got to say it hasn't totally been the best year but not all years can be, now can they?

That being said, things have been going pretty smoothly lately and I'm overjoyed with all the new views my blog is getting. So please, allow me to say THANK YOU.

Thank you a million times more than I could ever say.  Putting energy into this blog- slowly learning more and more about photography, trying out recipes, reading all your incredible comments- well, it's really been awfully rewarding.  I love hearing from you all, whether you tried out a recipe or you just want to say hi, it makes me love this little space I've created.  Between work and school, and being so very eager to get on to the next adventure in my life, having this place has been a lifesaver, and I just think you should know how much I appreciate you reading/pinning/viewing/scrolling through the pictures here. And I didn't forget about those of you who follow me on instagram! Thanks for making it so fun...(@ilanfreddye if you're wondering).


What better way to say thank you than with graham crackers? And buttercream laced with bourbon barrel aged maple syrup (drool)...



1 cup All Purpose Flour
1.5 cups Graham Flour
3/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed-cold
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt and baking soda
2. In a different bowl/the bowl a stand mixer, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, vanilla extract and butter. Beat until everything is combined and fluffy, you can also do this with a hand mixer.
3. Add the flours/salt/baking soda combination to the bowl. Do this by adding about 1/3 at a time.  Continue to mix until the flour is fully incorporated, repeat until it's all combined.
4. Remove the dough to a floured piece of wax paper, shape into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
6. Cut the dough in half, and transfer half to a floured surface. Return the other half to the fridge.
7. Make sure to flour the rolling pin and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch and cut into rectangles or use a cookie cutter to cut them however you'd like and poke with a fork to make cute little holes.
8. Bake with a bit of space between the graham crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you are using a dark pan, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
9. Let cool


1/2 cup Butter
2/3 cup Powdered Sugar
5 tbl Maple Syrup


1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl
2. Beat on low speed, increasing as the mixture comes together
3. Continue to beat on medium/high speed until light and fluffy

Then, assemble the cooled graham crackers with the buttercream in between and share with your friends!


What made these extra special was the phenomenal maple syrup I used. A couple weeks back my dad and I did a whiskey tasting over at Tuthilltown Spirits. It was a really great experience...mostly because hello! drinking bourbon in the middle of the day is never something to complain about.  But we also ended up leaving with a bottle of maple syrup that was aged in the bourbon barrels...the stuff is incredible! There's a subtle bourbon flavor that sort of makes me want to drink the maple syrup, or at least pour it over everything I eat. 

As for the graham crackers...I think they came out pretty good. I was really looking forward to trying out the graham flour but found that it had a slightly sandy texture. Some really enjoyed this, I didn't mind it but I'd like to mess around with a graham cracker recipe using whole wheat flour too.