Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Nor’easter blows, blows
Wrapped in a shawl trapped indoors
A mug filled, steaming

Hot Chocolate – yields approx. 3-1/2 cups
3-cups Coconut, soy or rice milk
2-tablespoons raw cashew butter
3-ounces dark chocolate

In a 1-1/2 quart saucepan add all the ingredients hot the mixture over a low flame. Once the chocolate has melted, and coconut is hot blend with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth.

Monday, January 24, 2011

For Monday...or any other day

I can totally embrace meatless Monday as well as vegan Thursday for I am an omnivore who derives pleasure from a smoky slab of baby back ribs to finding excitement in a block of tofu.

Flavor is the key to any dish from steak to casserole to grilled vegetables and we need to always remember to embrace herbs, spices, garlic, onions to make Monday or any day tasty. So, as you forage to help shape the beginning of the workweeks spend some time on Sunday finding a new item to introduce into your repertoire. With that in mind, I also believe that any new find should be given a minimum of three ideas to go along with it. Nothing is really that precious that I must hang on to it for in reality that means it will most likely go-off before I get to it again. I came to this conclusion after returning home from a fantastic trip to Sicily that left my taste buds raising hallelujahs. One of the farms I visited had just harvested their tomatoes, and they were making tomato paste – by hand, al fresco during their arid, searing summer. It was the most intense tomato I have ever tasted. I used it so sparingly not wanting to let it go – the mold that established in the jar so did not care.

I truly think the best thing we can do for your bodies, the environment and an over-grown food system is learn to say yes to a greater variety of foods.

Vegetable and Barely Stew – yields 6 servings
1/2-cup un-hulled barley
2 medium onions – chopped
15 button mushrooms
1-1/2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
1 medium carrot – peeled and chopped
approx.1/2 pound celery root – peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves – chopped
2 (13.5 ounces) canned tomatoes
1/2-cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the barley in 3-cups of water for 7 to 8 hours.

In a 4-1/2 quart saucepan add the oil and onion and over a medium heat cook the onions until they start to brown. Then stir in the button mushrooms and a 1/2-teaspoon of salt. Cook the mixture until the mushrooms start to wilt, and release some of it’s liquid.

Drain the barley and mix it in the saucepan along with the dried porcini mushrooms, carrot, celery root and garlic. Pour in the canned tomatoes and 1-cup of water. Season the mixture with pepper. Bring the barley mixture to a boil, and reduce the flame to low.

Cook the pot, and cook for an hour. Stir in the parsley and correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And now for a moment

You know every once in a while you just succumb to naughty. And the other day as I was working on some recipe development I had an urge. I usually can munch on some extra-dark hand knotted pretzels or simply a salad to quell that calling to nosh. I was not feeling my typical venues for satisfaction, rather it was sweet that was calling me.

I started thumbing through books on my shelves and recipes I had written to get some direction on this gnarring request, but I was also feeling lazy, not really wanting to get into the kitchen and bake. Now, completely distracted by a craving that wasn’t ebbing I started to cruise websites. I stumbled across a recipe for Magic Bars something I had heard, though whose name was never known to me. You all know them they are those gooey bars layered with crumbled cookies, nuts, chocolate butterscotch chips, sweetened coconut that is set by sweetened condensed milk. Considering them there was very little in the original formula I would put in my body – but the concept was intriguing to that sugary spot in my mouth. It is the dead of winter and no wonder I stopped on a recipe that was free of any fruit or herb. If it were a warmer time of year a spectacular pint of strawberries or a succulent peach would have nipped my internal hankering in the bud. Without a seasonal moment to hang my desire on I went to winter’s staple of nuts and dried fruit. So, I went to work to whip up a layered nut bar with enough edge to make these naughty bits perfectly bad.

As a note of warning: I have calculated each piece to be approx. 170 calories, so find your satisfaction quickly and freeze the rest!

Naughty Nut Squares – yields 30 pieces
4-ounces unsalted butter – melted
1-1/4 cup ground almonds
1-tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
6-ounces white chocolate – roughly chopped
1/2-cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/2-cup chopped pistachio nuts
1-can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees.

Pour the butter into an 8-1/2 inch by 8-1/2 inch pan.

Mix the ground almond and flour together, and then sprinkle over the butter.

Then distribute the coconut over the almond mixture. Then scatter the nuts over the coconut. Next sprinkle a layer of white chocolate. Finally, drizzle the sweetened condensed over the nuts. Do not mix the concoction.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack, and cool completely. Cut into approx 1/2-inch squares.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


We are being bombarded this the end of the New Year’s first full week with declarations of fitness and health. Speaking your resolution is great in an effort to garner support and a give it a life outside oneself. Is not the real objective though to make a commitment? All you have to do is look at Washington to realize proclamations do not necessarily translate into action.

Get started now.

I totally believe foods that we put in our bodies should be as minimally processed as possible and I am always looking to purchased foods that still have remnants of its earthy beginnings crusted in it. If you are stepping into a complete change a cleanse of certain foods should be part of an initial three month period. For me, that means sugar takes a hiatus. This includes not just corn syrup and artificial sweeteners both which should be exorcized in perpetuity for many reasons but from a tasting point of view they are so super sweet I think they condition us to have difficulty finding satisfaction at the more moderate end of the glycemic index. Also included on my list are honey, white flour, sodas and dairy products, and fruit juice. In place I say gorge on fresh fruit, vegetables and beans and whole grains. If you are shopping in traditional grocery stores make sure you cruise the outer perimeters, and make an effort to make the farmer’s market part of your stops.

Make your body work a bit to breakdown the foods that are going into our bodies. The more whole, higher in dietary fiber the better for we cause a metabolic process to kick in just order to digest our foods. Get yourself to a spice market, and spike every meal with fragrance – calorie free, but emotionally exciting. Or, when in doubt throw more herbs into a dish. Be where of salad dressings bought from the grocer’s aisle, as they tend to have plenty of sugar added to them and to that end, I don’t see a reason to ever by a bottle dressing. Vinegar, mustard and oil and you got a dressing, and the cost savings is ridiculous.

None of this truly works without movement – join a gym don’t join a gym I don’ care. Take the dogs for a 45-minute walk, daily; vacuum lunging with every sweeping motion and don’t forget my favorites: sit-ups and push-ups.

Now, resolve to commit and enjoy, and come Easter let me know if a Peep actually tastes good.

Beet Soup - yields 8 to 10 servings
4 pounds beets – peeled
2 pounds celery root – peeled
1 large onion – peeled
5 garlic cloves – crushed to a pasted
1-teaspoon caraway seeds – bruised
1-teaspoon celery seed
4 quarts vegetable stock
1/4-cup cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor fitted with the grater attachment or with a hand held box grater, shred the beets, celery root and onion.

Place all the ingredients in a 10-quart soup pot, and bring to a boil over a high flame. Reduce the flame to simmer, and cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve hot or cold.