Even though breast cancer awareness month is coming to a close, we can all continue to make conscious choices to stay healthy. Adding superfoods to one’s diet can be beneficial in the fight against cancer. Superfoods are those real, non-processed foods that are nutrient rich. They contain high amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants. Vibrant colored fruits and vegetables are considered to have superfood status. Superfoods include, but are not limited to, broccoli, spinach, kale, blueberries, tomatoes, pumpkin, beets, oranges, walnuts, yogurt, tea (black or green), oats, soy, beans and salmon. Check out Johnson's Backyard Garden to see what is available locally or just stop by the local market and stock up on all these nutrient rich foods. Staying healthy is something to strive for year round. (Gina)
Sometimes you just want a simple lunch or dinner that isn't terribly complicated, yet still delicious and satisfying. This gruyere grilled cheese fills the bill. The recipe comes from Lucques in L.A. published in the September 2012 Bon Appetit. Now, being the lazy girl that I am, I adapted it to my purpose and avoided broiling it in the oven as per the instructions and simply grilled the sandwich in a buttered skillet. The recipe below includes the original instructions just in case you want to go the extra mile. The apple salad is a wonderful accompaniment with the right amount of pepperiness from the arugula and sweet-tartness from the apple. I served it with the Soupe des Ardennes, but it would be perfect on it's own. (Cathy)
Gruyere Grilled Cheese with Apple Salad
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup 1/4-inch-thick sliced shallots
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-1/2-inch thick slices country-style white bread
8 oumces Gruyère, sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 cups arugula
1/2 apple (such as Pink Lady or Fuji), cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over high heat. When butter begins to foam, add shallots and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until shallots begin to soften and caramelize, 4–5 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, add 1 Tbsp. butter and swirl in pan to melt butter and coat bottom of pan. Add 2 slices of bread to pan and cook until golden brown and crisp on the bottom, 2–3 minutes. Transfer bread, toasted side down, to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining butter and bread slices. Divide cheese evenly among bread slices; top cheese with reserved shallots. Place baking sheet in oven and bake until cheese is melted, 7–8 minutes. Combine arugula, apple slices, lemon juice, and oil in a large bowl; toss to coat and evenly distribute. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Press 2 pieces of bread together, melted cheese sides in; halve sandwich on a diagonal and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining bread slices. Divide salad between plates. (Serves 2)
The Day of the Dead is a Mexican custom that celebrates the memory of loved ones who have died. It is believed that the departed will travel home to visit their families. Families prepare for the return of their loved ones by making an alter with offerings, mementos, special food and pictures of the deceased; attending festivals where people dress up in skeleton costumes; cleaning up and decorating the gravesides, and eating treats such as sugared skulls and a special bread called Pan De Los Muertos. The Day of the Dead begins on the same day as All Saints Day, November 1st, and goes thru All Souls Day, November 2nd.
Austin has many Mexican bakeries where you can purchase the Pan de los Muertos (bread for the dead) and also colorful sugar skulls. The bread is in the shape of a round loaf and decorated with dough shaped into bones. Panaderia Chuy (known as just Chuy's to the locals and not to be confused with the other Chuy's restaurants), located on Research Blvd. at Ohlen Road has an extensive and impressive assortment of Mexican pastries and a full restaurant. The establishment is clean and the employees are very nice and helpful. But most importantly the pastries are grande, authentically Mexican, freshly baked and oh so good. Above is a picture of the Pan De Los Muertos that I purchased for my kids' Spanish class. The sugar skulls are pretty cool too. (Gina)
Halloween is next Wednesday, but all of the serious parties take place this weekend. The Corpse Reviver #2 is said to actually revive you after a night of having one drink too many (a case of being too spirited). Best served late morning or early afternoon. See Jeffery Morthgenthaler of Clyde Common (a great restaurant I actually visited last year while in Portland, OR) demonstrate how to make this drink in an Imbibe Magazine video. Guaranteed to wake the dead. (Cathy)
Corpse Reviver #2 (Adapted from The Savoy Cocktail Book)
Rightfully considered by many to be the best-tasting of the Corpse Reviver cocktails.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 dash absinthe
Orange peel for garnish
Shake all ingredients in a shaker, strain into a chilled glass and garnish. (Serves 1)
Don't let October end without having a classic caramel apple. This treat is perfect for an after school snack or to bring to a fall party. Make your treat extra special by using cajeta sauce. Cajeta is a Mexican caramel made by slowly cooking goats milk with sugar. The finished sauce is dark amber and creamy rich. I purchased this jar of Blue Heron Farm cajeta from Antonelli's. Blue Heron Farm, located in Field Store Community, Texas pride themselves in spoiled dairy goats producing quality sustainable goat dairy products. This cajeta will make your ordinary caramel apples extraordinary. (Gina)
3 apples (I used Organic HoneyCrisp and Granny Smith)
1 jar caramel sauce( Blue Heron Cajeta)
toppings optional (sprinkles, nuts, mini chocolate chips)
Using apple corer, slice apples. Arrange on platter. Heat caramel sauce. Dip apple slices in sauce and toppings of choice.
The nutritional benefits of pumpkin seeds are many and include high amounts of Zinc. Zinc aids in maintaining optimal immune function and healthy skin, preserving healthy vision, the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins, and is an important nutrient in fetal development. Below is a recipe (adapted from several different recipes) that makes a fun seasonal treat or a great hostess gift for a Halloween party or Thanksgiving dinner. (Gina)
Pepita Chocolate Bark
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1-12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips (Guittard)
Melt butter in saucepan with cayenne pepper and salt. Mix in the raw pumpkin seeds. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish 30 seconds at a time until melted. Spread melted chocolate evenly on a parchment line baking pan (9x13). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes until firm. Break the bark into pieces.
Tomorrow is Food Day, a celebration across the nation focusing on more healthy, affordable and sustainable food. Created by the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), Food Day highlights issues like hunger, conditions of agricultural workers, animal welfare, nutrition and agricultural policy, The aim is to find ways to strengthen the food movement so that food policies in the U.S. can be improved. In Austin there are several events going on to celebrate Food Day. Take a look at the link to find more details.
In honor of Food Day, we decided to highlight the list that everyone should have at their fingertips--the top 12 produce items that you should buy organic and 15 that can be purchased conventionally. I was surprised by some of the items on each list. This information comes from Prevention Magazine which includes specifics about why some foods are naturally "clean" and why others are not.
Buy Organic: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes and imported grapes.
Buy Conventional: onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes and honeydew melon. (Cathy)
The Texas Book Festival takes place this weekend, Oct. 27-28, at the State Capitol Building. If I am able to make some of the demonstrations under the Central Market sponsored cooking tent, these are a few I would like to see:
Hugo Ortiz doing a demo on street food of Mexico (Sat., 10-11:00 a.m.)
Jesse Griffiths (one of the few local chefs at the fest) sharing his unique take on hunting, dressing and cooking wild game (Sat., 4-5:00 p.m.)
Robb Walsh cooking up some Texas heritage recipes (Sun., 12:30-1:30 p.m.)
Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy (also of Austin) sharing secrets from Salt Lick BBQ (Sun., 3:30-4:30 p.m.)
Those are just a few of the many authors who will be appearing at the festival this weekend. I also wanted to check out Adam Roberts (from New York, now living in Los Angeles) who is speaking on Sunday 3:15-4:00 p.m. in the Capitol Extension. His book, Secrets of the Best Chefs: Recipes, Techniques, and Tricks from America's Greatest Cooks, sounds fascinating and his blog is also very entertaining. If you are interested in getting autographs from the authors, be aware that you will need to purchase their books at the festival. Arrive early to each session to ensure seating. (Cathy)
“Got tight on absinthe last night. Did knife tricks.”― Ernest Hemingway
Travis Tober of 11 Plates (formerly of the Four Seasons) won the national semi-finals in the Tales of the Cocktail competition for this hand-shaken daiquiri called Ode to Hemingway. He won the People’s Choice award for this drink and we decided to try it out in person at 11 Plates. In case you want to try your hand at making it at home, the recipe is listed below and a video of Travis making the drink is here. Avoid the knife tricks. (Cathy)
Ode to Hemingway
2 ounces Bacardi Silver (or other white rum)
3/4 ounce St. Germain
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Tenneyson absinthe spritz
Four slices cucumber, and a fifth for garnish
Muddle a cucumber slice in the bottom of a mixing glass with the Peychaud’s bitters. Rinse a martini glass with Tenneyson absinthe to prep. Add the lime juice, St. Germain and Bacardi to the mixing glass and add ice. Shake until chilled. Double strain into the prepped martini glass, to ensure no cucumber pulp makes it into the glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.
This is a quick, easy one dish meal that seems to appeal to most. The recipe comes from Real Simple Magazine and is a nice transition from summer to fall. If the majority of the palates in your home prefer spicy, try medium or hot Italian sausage, otherwise stay with mild. You can substitute a short pasta such as penne for the gnocchi. Add some crusty bread and a glass of pinot noir and dinner is served. (Cathy)
Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach
2 9-ounce packages refrigerated gnocchi or one 17.5-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 5-ounce bag baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling it with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Add the gnocchi, the reserved cooking liquid, and the Parmesan and toss. Divide among individual bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan. (Serves 4)
The love of food and how it can bring people together led to the creation of this blog. As a mother of two grown boys, who have left the nest and occasionally return, I noticed a common occurrence-- there is usually someone at home who is hungry.
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