Thursday, April 29, 2010

Luna's Chocolate Spelt Cake

Chocolate Spelt Cake

1 stick butter

pinch salt

¼ tsp ginger

¼ c mascarpone

1 c spelt flour

1 c muscavado

4 eggs

¼ c cream

1 c cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a processer to meld. Pour into buttered cake pan. bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream & brandy cherries.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How To Read Food Labels

Reading food labels is important. They tell you everything you need to know about what you are about to eat. You need to know a lot more than just calorie count and sodium content.

Does the label say sugar, fructose, sucrose and honey? Guess what, that means there are four types of sweetener and that could just be in your bread!

You know what should be in bread? Flour, water, yeast, salt and just enough sugar for the yeast to work. So....what does that plastic wrapped loaf of bread you're eating say?

How to read labels is easy:

*The shorter the ingrediant list, the better off you are. Example: your jam should be fruit, sugar, pectin. Why? Because that really IS all you need to make jam!

*The best plan is to avoid anything with partially hydrogenated oil, food dyes or anything you cannot pronounce. Bleached flour, is well, bleached, which can't be good.

Don't worry too much about how to do this, just do it. Paying close attention to what we feed our families & ourselves has never been more important. With genetic foods gaining ground, organic vs non organic, nitrate free et al, food has taken on new significance beyond that of just being fuel.

'Fake Food' is unhealthy, even if it is convient. What price are you really willing to pay to have something fast, cheap and easy?

I hear constantly how expensive it is to eat naturally. It IS more expensive than your regular grocery if you don't know how to shop for a bargain.

Know what's even more expensive? Doctors'. Bills and hosptial visits caused by heart disease, obesity and a host of other food related issues that are currently rampant in several countries.

Here's a recap on what to look for in a label:
*Short list of ingrediants
*Ingrediants you can pronounce
*No food dyes
*Sugar should not be the first ingrediant OR listed more than once
*Avoid fake sweeteners and bleached flour
*Skip the beet sugar for cane sugar

Remember not to stress! Learning anything new can be fun and challenging. Teach your kids to read labels and create a fun game that sets them on a healthy path.

Or if you need help, just give a shout!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What makes a restaurant great? Ask Traca Savadago!

What makes a restaurant great? Lighting, location, service, food? YES!

Think of why you love your favorite restaurant, what keeps you as a regular or what makes you stop going to a beloved spot.

The delightful Traca Savadogo is my guest for a two part show on what makes a restaurant great and so much more! It was a fun and exciting conversation, so make sure to listen to the show!

Luna's Kitchen Magic airs at 4 pm PST and 7 pm EST!


side note: it was mentioned that @humphryslocombe has 300,000 followers, it was mistakenly quoted as a million+.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Easy Blueberry Cheesecake

When you have ready made graham cracker crust, frozen blueberries and cream cheese its easy to whip up a simple, delicious cheesecake!

1 package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
2 c blueberries

Put cream cheese in bowl of mixer with cream cheese and turn on low until well blended. Add egg, and make sure its fully mixed in. Fold in 2 cups of blueberries, pour into prepared grham cracker crust and bake at 325 F for 30 minutes, turn off oven and let cool in the oven.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Include Your Kids in Meal Planning: Guest Post by What's Cooking!

I think What's Cooking is amazing! Started by a mom, Michelle, who wanted to incorporate her kids into the whole conversation, I was inspired to ask if she could shed some light on how to make it easier to do just that! One reason I approached her is, my brother is a single dad of four, so every little bit of guidance helps.

Big thanks to Michelle for this incredible share. Please make sure you check out the blog for more awesome ideas on cooking your kids!

From What's Cooking: Cooking with Kids for a better body, planet and community

It’s almost impossible to find a parent who doesn’t eagerly share his or her woes about his or her child’s food “issues.” Some kids refuse to eat anything green. Others only want to eat food that is white. Some love crunchy while others will abstain. Taking each person’s preferences and aversions into account can certainly put a crimp on planning family meals. Don’t despair. By getting your kids involved, they will be more likely to participate peacefully in the family meal (even if they still don’t taste everything on the table).

Just Ask

By simply asking your kids what they would like to eat later in the week, you are acknowledging that their opinion counts. You have veto power, of course, but you can incorporate their idea into your own so that it works for both of you.
Watch TV

I can’t believe that I am suggesting that you watch TV! We aren’t really a TV family, but we find huge value in cooking programs, such as those on our local Public Television station and the Food Network. Nothing can compare to Alton Brown when it comes to inspiring my kids to try something new. And one of my daughter’s favorite recipes was inspired by one we saw nutritionist Ellie Krieger making.

Read Books

Cookbooks, that is…especially ones with lots and lots of pretty pictures. For kids that can’t yet read, like my son, photos are the key ingredient at inspiring his palette.

Surf the Web

The internet is an excellent resource for recipes. Here are a few of our favorite recipe websites:

Meal Makeover Moms
Foodie Tots
The Toddler Cafe
Cooking Light
Food Network

Make a Recipe Box or Binder

Have your kids help you tear favorite recipes out of magazines and newspapers and slide them into sheet protectors, and store them in a binder. If you want to be really organized, you can even use dividers to separate recipes into categories, such as Salads, Sides, Main Dishes and Desserts. Or, if you want to get really fancy, you can even divide the Main Dishes section even further: Poultry, Fish, Vegetarian etc. If you try a recipe and it doesn’t pass the family test, toss the recipe into the recycling bin.

Make a Menu

My kids can get pretty creative, so they love the opportunity to plan a menu, like what they might find in a restaurant (minus the fish sticks and chicken nuggets – not that there is anything wrong with that…). The menu can contain the names of each dish they love at the time. When it is time for you to grocery shop, have them place their order with you!

Travel the World

Not literally (unless you have some extra time and money). Encourage your kids to select a country and research some of the ingredients and recipes that are used there. See if you can eat your way around the globe.

Monday, April 12, 2010 like breathing

Cooking is, for me, like breathing.

Need a soup? All I need is tomatoes, rosemary, rice and some beans to make you a really nice homey soup. I know because I made one recently that had my co-workers each consuming two bowls.

When I am unhappy, frustrated, joyful or can’t think straight, I can always find solace in my kitchen.

I see all this fancy cooking on TV, yet I myself have always subscribed to a more simplistic style. Rustic, if you will. I feel that you can take very simple, earthy ingredients and make magic.

Do you know why your muffins fall? You over mixed them! As my friend Dara says ‘muffins like to be lumpy.’ This is true of many things. It is so easy to over salt, over mix, overdo.

I take comfort that I am not the only professionally trained individual who wants to make and eat the basics. If you can’t do a nice whole chicken, or a properly cooked steak, how on earth can I trust you to do Coq au Vin or Beef Wellington?

I love a cook that can make the perfect French fry (thin, crispy and dusted with garlic and herbs), and my other half makes a wonderful Chicken Marsala for a man who claims to be an ‘okay cook.’

To me the most important part of the food you make is the love you put into it. How you make something can say as much about you as what you choose to eat. When I make my food with love, even my mistakes are good, according to the critics. (Okay, really my little brother and other half. They can be fairly tough!)

I am very interested in the current trend to get closer to the fundamentals of food, the growing of, making of and learning more about what we eat. I hope that it is not a trend, and is instead a new way of life.

Food should be fulfilling and make you happy. It should bring people together in new and interesting ways. It should calm, soothe, energize and inspire. I hope that this week, you will find a food that does one or all of the above for you.

Even better if you made it yourself!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Witch in the Kitchen: Potato Gratin

Witch in the Kitchen has some great recipes that are easily adaptable and simple to make. The potato gratin takes very little ingedients, prep and equipment making it perfect for a night when you don't want to spend a lot of work on a delicious dinner.
The recipe calls for a medium size gratin dish. I didn't have one, so I improvised with my tart pan. If you do this, make sure you add more water!

So for two people you will need:

1 large piece of garlic
2 large and 1 small potato
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons butter
water or stock
Preheat to 350 F.
Rub the inside of your dish with the garlic. Thinly slice your potatoes using a mandoline so that all the slices are neat and even. Layer, overlapping and then sprinkle with salt & pepper. Continue layering until you have used all the potatoes. Slice the garlic clove and lay across the top.

If you want more flavor, you can add some spices, such as dill, thyme or bay leaf, depending on your tastes, sprinkling across the top.

Add 2-3 dots of buuter and add enough water to make sure the bottom of the dish is completely covered with water or stock. Cook on a low rack for about 45 minutes. Check halfway through, if your oven runs hot you need to a bit more liquid.

In the photo above, I served it with haricots verts and some juicy chops with a glaze of Blood Orange Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lemon Cocoa Nib Cupcakes w/Caramel

I originally posted these last year, but they are soooo good, I thought they (and you) deserved a second helping!

Lemon Cocoa Nib Cupcakes w/Caramel

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin tins with liners.

zest and juice of 2 lemons, separated (the juice is for the caramel)

stick butter, softened

3/4 c sugar

2 eggs, room temp

1/2 c half and half, room temp

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 c Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

1/2 c All Purpose Flour

1/2 c cocoa nibs

I actually just threw everything together until just combined. Scary I know. Divide among the lined tins and bake for 15 minutes.

For the Caramel

the juice from the lemons

1 c sugar

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp half and half

Put lemon juice and sugar into pan and cover on medium heat. Caramel goes quickly so you want to watch it. When it looks perfect, leave it on just bit burn so it lightly burns. Pull from stove and then add salt, butter & half and half, give it all a quick swirl.

This is your frosting! I swished it on, let it cool and then added some more. They are so good!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Flour: Types and Percentages

I thought today would be a good day to talk flour. Stroring flour properly is very important: I keep my flours in sealed containers in the fridge. This protects from becoming rancid and infestation possiblities. What type of flour are you using and does it contain gluten?

What is gluten? It is a source of protein most often found in wheat and grain products.

The standard type of flour that most people use is called All Purpose or AP Flour It is made from wheat and has 12-13% gluten. It can be bleached or unbleached. Personally, I feel if you are using AP Flour, you should always stick with the unbleached version. One, its not bleached and two, it has a nicer consistancy.

Self Rising Flour, which is used a lot in baking, is 9-11% gluten. In his book Biscuit Bliss, James Villas recommends making your own as baking powder can lose its power if stored too long.

Durham or Semolina is used for pasta and contains 13%.

Whole Wheat Flour, also used as a general purpose flour most commonly in conjunction with AP, contains 14%.

Cake or Pastry Flour, is mostly used for anything of a more delicate nature that is required to be flaky. 7.5-9% gluten.

Bread Flour is 13-14%

Amaranth, Cornmeal, Rice, Soy, Chickpea, Nut flours and Teff have no gluten, while Oat, Rye, and Spelt have low percentages. Always be sure to check that your flour has been processed in a gluten free facility if you have gluten issues. The packages should be clearly marked for your safety.

Soy has a very strong aftertaste, as does Chickpea flour, which is delicious with herbs and made into crackers.
In European recipes you will hear about 0 or 00 flour. The numbers indicate how find the grind is with 00 being the finest. Both of these are easily used in pastry, bread and pasta making.

And here is another unusual flour featured in Supernatural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. Can't wait to try Mesquite flour!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Witch in the Kitchen: Moroccan Chicken

for the Moroccan chicken I used the Seductive Spice Mix, two chicken legs, 1 lime and 1/4 cup of olive oil.

I rubbed oil on the chicken, then rubbed in the spice mix and squeezed the juice of the lime into the pan (I used my cast iron skillet). I then roasted the chicken @ 400 degrees until lovely and crispy. It was quite delicious with rice and vegetables.

The spice mix is quite good, but I wanted more zip, so I added an extra tablespoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon of ancho chili powder. I will do the chicken with the etxra zing and let you know how it tastes!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shrimp and Salmon Salad

Some nights we just need something light, cool and refreshing. When you get home early from work and need to eat something delicious, so I whipped up this fantastic salad.

Shrimp and Salmon Salad (serves 2)

Baby Greens (you can determine serving)
Sunflower Seeds
8 Cooked Shrimp
1 package smoked salmon (4 oz)
Cherry Tomatoes (only if in season where you are)
Lime Juice
Salt (Coarse, that way you don't use as much)
Hot Sauce to taste

Set up plates with baby greens, seeds and tomatoes. Heat Lime juice, salt and hot sauce in pan. Add shrimp and heat until cooked and season. Set aside to cool. Break up salmon evenly between the two plates. Once the shrimp is cooled, add to the plates, drizzle lime sauce over as a spicy dressing, pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy!