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Wednesday
Jun132007

Mastering The Art Of Cocktails With Tony Abou-Ganim

Perfect for a Father's Day gift, nationally acclaimed mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim has recently launched an informative DVD, "Modern Mixology: Making Great Cocktails at Home" that demonstrates what every drink enthusiast needs to stock a home bar. From recommending the proper bar tools (and showing viewers how to use them) to dishing out expert tips and secrets on executing the perfect cocktail, Tony's DVD also has a special feature on demonstrating the most popular cocktail recipes. Easy to follow and fun to watch, you can view each cocktail recipe at your own pace. Soon you will be confident at whipping out cocktails, becoming the star host of your parties.

Tonypour

Available at www.Themodernmixologist.com or Modernmixologydvd.com; you can also purchase Tony's bar tools (TAG BAR) at www.ultimatebarchef.com

See you at the bar,

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Thursday
Jun072007

Summer Baking Fun With Williams-Sonoma's New Gadgets

Super fun for both kids and adults, the new baking gadgets from Williams-Sonoma are just some of the latest baking innovations for amateurs and experts alike. Not only are these great for summer entertaining, kids will have a blast navigating the kitchen with their summer baking projects:

The Backyard Bugs Cakelet Pan is the most adorable thing I've laid eyes on this season - it's quickly becoming the reigning favorite cake pan in my kitchen. This cute baking pan features four pairs of your favorite garden critters (bees, butterflies, ladybugs and dragonflies), all perched on a leaf-shaped mold. Remember to use the attached vanilla cake recipe, as it will churn out 16 delicious cakes for decorating. The sturdy cast aluminum construction allows even heat distribution, ensuring perfectly browned cakes each time. Another big plus is the superior nonstick coating, which guarantees an easy release between each batch.

Cakebugs

Bugpan
Say goodbye to messy pastry bags! Easy to handle and control, the new Mechanical Pastry Bag is a much-needed decorating tool for the home baker. This awesome pastry decorating kit comes with ten professional stainless-steel decorating tips to embellish birthday cakes, cookies and cupcakes galore. Fun to use and easy to clean (dishwasher-safe), the kit also comes with an instruction booklet to ensure perfectly executed swirls of icing.

Mechpastry_bag

Check them out at: www.williams-sonoma.com

-See you in the kitchen!

The Sweet Life

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Thursday
Jun072007

XUXU - The Heavenly Bavarian Kiss

Get a splash of summer fun with the new Bavarian import, XUXU. A 'heavenly kiss,' it's a refreshing vodka drink made with farm-fresh strawberries. Containing 66% fruit puree, this versatile German favorite is great on the rocks, or drizzled over ice cream and cakes. It's also ideal to mix it with sparkling wines and in other fruity cocktails (see recipe below).

Xuxu_royale_2

XUXU Royale

Ingredients:

6 cl Sparkling Wine (e.g. Blanc Foussy)
2 - 4 cl XUXU

Preparation:

Pour chilled XUXU in a sparkling wine glass and fill it up with sparkling wine.

For more recipes, check out www.xuxu.de

See you at the bar,

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Thursday
May312007

Super Natural Cooking - Kiss Your Processed Foods Goodbye

With the slow food movement and numerous farmers' markets dotting the American culinary map, still there are folks out there that think healthy eating equates to tasteless, bland food with dense textures. Thanks to Heidi Swanson's new book, Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways To Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients Into Your Cooking, she helps demystify this unfounded assumption.

It's not as hard as you think to swap out the processed foods lurking in your pantry. Utilizing five ways to encourage a whole foods diet, Swanson explains in great detail on how to buy the right flours, fats and spices, baking with 'alternative' grains like teff and quinoa, choosing color-rich vegetables, working with antioxidant-laden superfoods, and using natural sugars for desserts.

With eighty easy recipes to experiment with, you can try everyday dishes like the Clemenquat Salad, Black Tea Spring Rolls with Mushrooms and Mango Chutney Dipping Sauce, Sprouted Garbanzo Burgers, and Ginger-Amaranth Shortbread. Accompanied by Swanson's absolutely gorgeous photography, one might be immediately compelled to run to the kitchen and try their hand at re-creating her dishes. With such delicious flavors, you will soon kiss the refined grains and sugars goodbye.

Spring_minestrone_soup_7

Spring Minestrone with Brown Rice

Serves 4.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup medium-grain brown basmati rice, rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup sugar snap or snow peas, trimmed and cut in half diagonally
8 spears asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 1-inch pieces
¬Ω cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, then add the shallots and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the rice and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the rice is just tender, 35 to 45 minutes.


Add the sugar snap peas, asparagus, and green peas, and season with a few healthy pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes and serve immediately; this way the vegetables stay crisp and bright.

Reprinted with permission from Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients Into Your Cooking by Heidi Swanson. Photographs by Heidi Swanson. Copyright 2007. Published by Celestial Arts.

See you in the kitchen!

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Friday
May252007

The Wheat-Free Cookbook: Tasty Gluten-Free Alternatives

Foodies with wheat allergies can finally rejoice in discovering delicious alternatives for their restricted diets. From everyday recipes to more elegant fare, veteran food writer Jacqueline Mallorca has transformed 100 recipes into delectable options for those who can't tolerate gluten.

From breakfast to dinner, you will be amazed at the comprehensive variety of these carefully tested recipes. Introducing ingredients such as flax, almond flour, quinoa, teff and brown rice flour, readers are now privy to dishes that were forbidden before: Nut-Crusted Salmon with Mustard Cream Sauce, Goat Cheese Pizza with Rice Flour Crust, Onion-Gruyere Tart, Hazelnut-Raspberry Cookies, and Amaretto Cake. Instead of heavy breads and dense cakes found in health stores, Mallorca has also discovered a way to create lovely artisan-style breads and desserts.

For those not familiar with the alternative grains mentioned in the recipes, there is a handy shopping index listing mail order companies and resources specializing in such ingredients. Mallorca also explains the usage of each grain in great detail, informing the readers of the wonderful choices we have in supplementing our diets with healthier options.

Wheatfreecook_hc_c

Try the following recipes from the cookbook. It will inspire you to modify your wheat-based recipes into healthier, tastier ones:

Almond-Lemon Cake

An extra-light cake in which high-protein ground almonds replace the anonymous white fat and white flour found in most bakery items. The simple lemon glaze makes a tangy texture contrast, but if you prefer, you can simply dust the top with confectioners’ sugar.

Serves 8

2 cups almond meal, or 1 1/3 cups (6 1/2 ounces) whole almonds
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan and line the base with a circle of parchment paper.

Combine the almond meal, rice flour, and baking powder and set aside. (If using whole almonds, grind in batches in an electric coffee mill for a floury texture.)

Beat the eggs lightly to combine; then beat in the sugar little by little. Beat at medium-high speed until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the lemon zest on top, and fold in the almond mixture one-third at a time. Transfer the batter to the pan and smooth the top.

Bake until the cake is golden and shrinks away slightly from the sides of the pan, and an inserted toothpick emerges clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife blade around the edge of the cake to loosen it, then turn it out onto a wire rack. Peel off the paper and let cool upside down, smoothest side uppermost.

Place the cake on a sheet of foil. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and beat until smooth, 1 minute or less. Pour over the cake and smooth into a thin layer with a long knife blade, letting the excess drip over the sides. Let the cake stand until the glaze has set, about 1 hour. Transfer to a flat serving plate.

Zucchini Fritters

A tasty appetizer or side dish that cooks in five minutes. Long, slender purple or lavender Japanese eggplants can be substituted; like zucchini, their skins are so tender that they don’t need peeling. Either one makes first rate finger food with a glass of wine.

Serves 4

1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, optional
2 to 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cheese and rice flour. Break the egg into a wide, shallow dish and beat lightly. Add the herbs, if using. Add the zucchini slices to the beaten egg, turning to coat well.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Meanwhile, place all the zucchini slices on the cheese-flour mixture, then turn to coat the second side. Fry until tender and golden-brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. (If cooking in batches, place on a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm in a low oven.) Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.

(Recipes used with permission from THE WHEAT-FREE COOK, Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone, by Jacqueline Mallorca ; Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved)

See you in the kitchen!

The Sweet Life

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Wednesday
May232007

The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook: Making Perfect Matches of Sweets & Wines

Wine pairing with desserts? It’s possible to carry this off easily and gracefully, with the help of award-winning pastry chef Mary Cech and culinary expert Jennie Schacht. Food and wine connoisseurs of the highest form, their collaborative effort resulted in The Wine Lover’s Dessert Cookbook. Teaching us how to make merry matches of dessert wines with each dessert genre, the recipes are prefaced with suggestions on choosing the correct dessert wine to bring out the dessert’s flavors. There is also a user-friendly reference chart, so you can make a quick note before heading confidently to the wine shop. Experimenting is the key to a successful and fun pairing.

Winedessertcover_2

(Photo credit: Frankie Frankeny)

Fashiontribes was very fortunate to have the chance to chat with these talented ladies:

Tips on dessert wine pairing with desserts?

Mary Cech: Don’t make over-the-top sweet desserts that will hide the flavors of the dessert wine intended to feature or highlight and that can dull the wines’ flavor and beauty, leaving it possibly flat or sour.

Favorite recipes to share from the new book?

Mary Cech: Blackberry Topped Chocolate Silk Tart, Hint of Mint Orange Chiffon Cake, Jeweled Apricot Soup with Couscous Timbales, and Coffee Cream Tart in a Cocoa-Espresso Crust.

Jennie Schacht: Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches is silky-smooth, easy to prepare, and always stylish. Apricot Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake is sweet, spicy and versatile—when apricots aren’t in season it’s perfect with pears. Chocolate Soufflé Roulade is the perfect answer to a chocolate craving.

Strawberryconsommeweb_1

Chilled Strawberry Consomme

What is your favorite dessert wine?

Mary Cech: I have acquired quite a dessert wine sweet tooth. Moscato d’Asti for its light, fun, fizzy all-around fresh taste which pairs so well with such a wide variety of desserts. Malmsey Madeira for its thick, lush nutty toffee elegance.

Jennie Schacht: I have to pick one? Moscato d’Asti is a lovely light, fizzy, gently sweet wine from Italy’s Piedmont region. It’s low in alcohol and easy to enjoy. I love some of the less well known sweet red wines with chocolate, like Banyuls and Dulce Monastrell, though Port can also be a wonderful match. Malmsey Madeira is made from the Malvasia grape and develops flavors of pleasantly bitter caramel and toasted nuts.

Raspparfaitweb_2

White Chocolate Raspberry Parfait

(Recipe used with permission from Chronicle Books)

In the United States, we generally think of a parfait as a layered dessert made with ice cream, fruits or syrups, and whipped cream. The French have something else in mind. Though also served in a tall, narrow sundae glass, the classic parfait (French for “perfect”) is a frozen custard made using the technique for sabayon. The resulting treat freezes creamy smooth without needing an ice cream maker. Use white chocolate made with cocoa butter for the best flavor.

Making the Match
This blond dessert with chocolate flavor notes matches well with a young, fruity, lower-alcohol zinfandel port. The wine brings out the chocolatey flavors in the dessert and pairs well with the raspberries. It is also nice with Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise or other muscats. We enjoy it with Montevina Aleatico (Amador County, California), a light-bodied muscat with a brilliant ruby hue.

Makes 6 servings

2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
3 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to medium peaks
1 pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries
Raspberry liqueur for drizzling (optional)

Combine the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in the top of a double boiler and place over, but not touching, about an inch of simmering water. While whisking briskly and constantly, heat the mixture until it is hot and has turned from liquid to all foam, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the melted chocolate.

Beat the egg and chocolate mixture with an electric mixer at high speed until it is room temperature, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in the whipped cream. Transfer to a covered 1-quart container and freeze until firm enough to scoop, 2 to 3 hours or up to 1 month.

Alternate layers of the white chocolate parfait and berries in tall sundae glasses. Drizzle the tops with raspberry liqueur, if desired.

See you in the kitchen!

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Thursday
May172007

Big Island Bees - Pure Artisanal Honey At Its Best

If you want to see pure organic honey produced as an art form, Big Island Bees is the real deal. Believing each jar to be a beautiful masterpiece, the husband and wife team (Garnett Puett and Whendi Grad) behind the label channel their passion into each carefully crafted jar. Unlike the commercial, watery bland stuff you see in the supermarkets,these have a thicker and creamier consistency, with a full-bodied flavor. The best part is that the honey is totally unheated and unfiltered to preserve the natural sugars and enzymes needed for complete nutrition.

Bibjar_ohialg_2

Specializing in three unique single varietals, the bees collect nectar year-round from the Wilelaiki trees (Christmasberry), Macadamia Nut trees, and Ohi’a Lehua trees. Each honey retains the distinct flavor of the nectar the bees feast on. Whichever flavor you choose, it is really wonderful for your breakfast toast, tea, waffles, or marinades. It goes well with baking, so try it with the following recipe below.

Whendi’s Honey Cake

¬Ω cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 generous cup Macadamia Nut Honey
3 eggs
1 cup dark, strong, warm coffee (Whendi uses Kona)
3 cup flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon dried ginger
¬Ω teaspoon nutmeg
¬Ω teaspoon cloves
¬Ω teaspoon allspice
¬Ω cup Macadamia nuts, chopped
¬Ω cup candied ginger, diced

Cream butter and sugar together. Add honey and eggs, and mix well. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter/sugar mixture alternately with coffee. Fold in candied ginger and nuts, and pour into greased 10-inch bundt pan or two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

To purchase, go to www.bigislandbees.com

The Sweet Life

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Wednesday
May162007

Baja! Cooking On The Edge Brings Magical Cuisine to the Home Kitchen

Summer's officially here, and there's no better way to celebrate the warm summer evenings than throwing a Latin-themed dinner party. At a loss with planning a menu? Let the Baja! Cooking on the Edge cookbook be your secret weapon.

While Deborah M. Schneider's tantalizing homage to Baja cuisine might bring out the wanderlust in you, you can easily prepare the fabulous and authentic recipes in your own kitchen. Written in a vividly delicious prose, Schneider presents over 150 mouth-watering recipes culled from years of exploring the untamed region. The detailed instructions and notes within each recipe help educate the reader on the rich culinary heritage of Baja. It's hard not to feel as if you're at the local market with the author selecting fresh produce for your salsas and tacos.

Salsas

(Photo credit: Maren Caruso)

From street food to more elegant entrees, the cookbook is chock-filled with amazingly authentic recipes. It might take some practice to make your own tortillas and chorizo, but the magical flavors will be worth it when you and your guests taste the amazing results. The gorgeous photography from award-winning Maren Caruso will also tempt you to try one recipe after another. Check out the Agua Fresca recipe below - it should help tame the fiery chiles from feasting on such a colorful meal...

Agua_frescas_4

(Photo credit: Maren Caruso)

Watermelon Agua Fresca

This agua fresca recipe is a basic template for any soft fruit: watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberry, guava . . . the list is endless. Start by mashing the fruit and add water to make 1 gallon—but resist the urge to throw it into the blender, since good agua fresca usually has little pieces of fruit floating in it.

Make all aguas frescas a little stronger than you think you would like, as chilling dulls the flavor and ice will dilute it. Homemade aguas frescas are as healthy as they are delicious, since you can control the amount of sweetener or leave it out altogether.

Extra agua fresca can be used as a base for paletas.

Makes about 1 gallon.

3 cups water
1⁄2–1 cup sugar
1 ripe medium watermelon
Juice of 1 lime, preferably a Mexican limón
Ice

1. Combine the water and sugar to taste in a saucepan and boil until the sugar dissolves. Cool.

2. Peel the watermelon, remove as many seeds as possible, and mash with a potato masher (or pulse in a food processor) until the fruit is fairly smooth. Add the water and lime juice. Taste and adjust with more sugar, lime, or water as desired. Serve over ice.

(Recipe used with permission from Baja! Cooking on the Edge, by Deborah M. Schneider, Rodale Books, 2006)

See you in the kitchen!

The Sweet Life

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Wednesday
May092007

Jersey Tomatoes Unveils New Lunch Adventure: Split Pea Seduction

For all you lucky San Francisco/Bay Area foodies looking for a fresh, yummy and healthy lunch, your slow food choices just got sweeter with Split Pea Seduction. A spin-off from the local catering company Jersey Tomatoes, the new breakfast/lunch eatery just opened on 6th Street and Minna.

Clam

A true labor of love from founders Sarah Ellison-Pinkin and Christian Noto, they prepare everything on-site, from scratch. Using only seasonal ingredients, their delectable menus (changes daily!) feature sustainable produce sourced directly from small local farms.

Breakfast features freshly baked muffins, scones, and open-faced crostatas with home-made fruit preserves, while lunch offers hearty gourmet soups and salads (fresh house-marinated sardines, shaved fennel and watercress, yum!). This is not your generic garden salad with ranch, folks. Be prepared to be dazzled. Your office lunch will never be the same.

Crostata

The signature savory crostatas (open faced pastry) are made with mouth-watering ingredients like Wilgenburg tomato, fontina and grilled chicken. For an afternoon coffee break, try the strawberry shortcake cupcakes, cookies and other daily dessert specials. You might return to the office smiling (and productive, gasp) after munching on some of these sweeties.

For menus and info, check out www.splitpeaseduction.com OR www.jtomatoes.com

Split Pea Seduction
138 6th Street @ Minna
San Francisco, California 94103

Open: Monday – Friday 7am - 4pm
Saturday 8am - 3pm, Closed on Sunday
415.551.2223

-See you at the lunch counter,

The Sweet Life

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Tuesday
May082007

Only the Best for Mum: Coco-luxe Dragees and Choco Bars

Perfect for Spring and Mother's Day (or Father's Day, graduation presents), Bay Area chocolatier Coco-luxe Confections is introducing their new '07 chocolate bars and dragées line. Founder Stephanie Marcon wanted to share her vision of summer celebrations, with a playful twist on her flavor profile. Without losing her sophisticated touch, the smooth chocolate bars bring forth more reasons to indulge with loved ones. With flavors like Good Fortune (dark chocolate with candied ginger and fortune cookie pieces), it's a unique yet whimsical combo to experience. I liked the way the sea salt added a nice contrast to the pumpkin seeds and goji berries in the Happy Trails bar. Monkey’in Around is another fave, with milk chocolate mixed in with banana chips and cocoa nibs.

Coco_luxe_monkeyin_around_bar

The other new product, the nut Dragées, are amazingly addictive. I love the County Fair Peanuts - roasted cayenne candied peanuts enrobed in a nice layer of milk chocolate, then dusted with cocoa powder. It's not too spicy, leaving a nice lingering warmth on your tongue as you think about savoring the next bite. It was hard not to reach for another piece. These dragees also come in another yummy flavor, Block Party Almonds (cinnamon candied almonds rolled in dark chocolate).

Coco_luxe_almonds_2

Available online at www.Coco-luxe.com

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