Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day everyone! I decided to push my "Seasonal Saturday" post to Sunday so I can combine my love of seasonal ingredients with one of my favorite days.
Every year I make a big brunch for my family as per my mother's request. When a mother says, "I would rather eat your food than any restaurants," you'd better take it seriously.
So I go all out....deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce, quiche...a real smorgasbord. In fact, I'd better head over there now!
So for this "Seasonal Sunday" post, I decided to focus on the midwest and as I've said before, there are a lot of great resources available online to help you find what is in season in your area. Two of my favorites come from and the National Resources Defense Council. You simply enter your state and month and voila, you have your ingredients. Epicurious' interactive map not only allows you to find these ingredients but also leads you to further information about the ingredient as well as recipes featuring the item. The NRDC's handy program allows you to choose time of the month (early, mid, late) and also helps you locate farmer's markets in your area.
In early May rhubarb is in season in Michigan. Here are a few insights into rhubarb:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Guess who's nominated for a Best Food Blog Award?

No! Not me sillies.
That would be a little presumptious of me, no?

However, a few of my favorite food blogs are nominated and I couldn't resist spreading a little love and encouraging others to vote for them.

So anyway, Saveur holds the Best Food Blog Awards each year and there are a lot of categories, like Best Photography, Best Regional Cuisine Blog & Best Original Savory Recipe, to name a few.

From Saveur's website:
In SAVEUR’s ongoing mission to chronicle “a world of authentic cuisine,” we find what we’re looking for more and more in one place: online. We’re thrilled to shine a light on the very best of the best in the second annual SAVEUR Best Food Blog Awards — and we need your help. After going through all your nominations for the best blogs, posts, and photographs on the web, we’ve narrowed the field down to finalists in each category — and it’s time for you to pick a winner! Voting is open from April 26 – May 12. We’ll reveal the winners on May 17. Start voting today!

Head over to Saveur to vote your faves but check out the categories for a few of my favorites:

Smitten Kitchen (

Traveler’s Lunchbox (

Alinea at Home (

Remember, voting ends on May 12!

P.S. Anyone else checking out the Future of Food Conference live? Prince Charles said some very inspiring things about agriculture.
"The entire food system is at the mercy of the increasing price of oil."
"We must have 'agri-culture', not 'agri-business'."
The current panel is on the future of agriculture, but panels III & IV are beginning at 2:15 and 3:15 and are on Health & Nutrition and the future of International Food, respectively. Check it out!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cod vs. the Crazy Life

I live a fairly chaotic life. I have one of those jobs that never leave you. I rarely spend 40 hours a week in the office and when I do, I end up spending much of my nights and weekends catching up on work I couldn’t get to or attending work events.
I try to plan better and go food shopping once every two weeks to cut down on cost and impulse shopping (never walk into the grocery store hungry!) but my schedule sometimes doesn’t permit it.
On top of that my boyfriend and I live in separate homes that we both own and spend our weeks bouncing back and forth from place to place. On any given day I can be found carrying around a rolling shopping bag filled with clothes, sauté pans, ziplocks of jewelry and other miscellaneous necessities.
Why am I spilling my guts on my topsy turvy personal life? No, I’m not pitching a reality show. I just happened to find myself yesterday in the fortunate position of being able to cook dinner at home (With all of my high-quality cookware and ingredients to keep me company), but also in the unfortunate position of having no actual plan or food for that matter. Oh, and we planned dinner for 6:30.
So, all I had to do was figure out what to make (I’m still on a diet L), pick up all of the ingredients, cook it and get it on the table in an hour and a half….ha!
Luckily I stumbled upon this fantastic cod recipe that required little purchasing on my part and fairly little time and effort (roughly 30 minutes). With a little bit of rapid fire cooking and a blind eye to kitchen mess, I managed to get dinner on the table in pretty good time.
The Mediterranean flavors quite simply sing and compliment the cod beautifully. I served it on top a bed of steamed spinach (though sautéed would be tastier) and tri-color orzo (Go full throttle on that one- make it with chicken stock and mix in some of the tapenade) but a nice rice pilaf and roasted veggies would be nice accompaniments.

Forget the dress! What about the food?

Like many people out there, I woke up early this morning to watch "The Royal Wedding" (which will most likely be referred to in exasperated whispers and clasped hands from now on. Heretofore written only in quotes. Seriously it's a big deal). Because of the miracle of DVR, I was able to wake up at 6:30 am instead of 4, but I still want my "early morning wake-up street cred".
This being the biggest royal wedding in I-don't-know-30-years(!) they really pulled out all the stops. But for me it wasn't about the dress (it was beautiful!), the celebrity guests (Posh & Becks looked amazing but her "fascinator" had some sort of parasite (wink, wink)) or even the first fairytale kiss (yes, it was très adorable), for me it's all about the food!
Obviously "The Royal Wedding" wasn't going to have a reception following the church like many of us are used to in America so it's been interesting to see what kinds of celebrations will be going on throughout the day (Fun fact: There will be a dance party at the palace tonight and rumor has it, MOH and sister of the new HRH stood up to the Queen herself and had disco balls installed).
One event that sparked my interest is the lunchtime reception held by the Queen. According to the official Royal Wedding website, "The Queen is giving a lunchtime Reception at Buckingham Palace for around 650 guests drawn from the Wedding Service congregation, representing the Couple’s official and private lives."
Considering the 6 hour time difference, this is old news but who cares! It's almost lunch time in New Jersey and I'm hungry!Since this blog was borne out of my love for appetizers, I simply had to share the menu with you all.
Doesn't the phrase "Scottish Langoustines with Lemon Mayonnaise Pressed Confit of Pork Belly with Crayfish and Crackling" give you the warm & fuzzies?
The website is also so kind as to give us a play-by-play of the luncheon as well as assurances that the food is locally sourced (Bravo Royals!)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Seasonal Saturday!

Lately, it seems everyone has gone green. Whether to cut down on energy costs or to truly limit our "footprint" on the world, this new way of thinking has taken hold all over the country.
In the culinary world, this behavior has been around for a long time, but only bits and pieces have leaked out to the mainstream kitchen. Suddenly, the home cook is being asked to take a stand...What's better? Farmed or wild-caught? Free-range or organic? Most recently, which is better for my family? Organic or Local?
Phrases like "sustainable seafood" and "eating seasonally" have made their way into our everyday vocabulary.And yet, many people don't understand the importance if this method of cooking and eating.
Seasonal eating is a very simple practice. You try to eat foods (namely produce like fruits and vegetables) that are in season in your area.
Again, why is this important?
In my opinion, there are three very good reasons for eating seasonally: nutrition, freshness, environmental damage.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And would you like this polenta gift wrapped?

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.
Well, I’m asking for forgiveness dear readers (but please don’t forget me!). See, I didn’t mean to stay away for so long. I just have this life outside of this blog (as much as I wish I didn’t) and it kind of took over.
At first, it was party planning and then more party planning. Then it was home(s!) repair. Then it was work and more work and then even more work. By the time I inevitably realized the work just WOULD. NOT. CEASE. I was riddled with guilt and fear.
Would I just continue on and pretend nothing ever happened? Would I overcompensate by deluging you with multiple posts? Should I throw up a quick commentary post to let you know I’m still here? Does any of this really matter?  (Who knows?!)
I eventually came to the conclusion that I would have to come back with a bang. Someone once said, “Apologizing is like leaving a gift on the doorstep and hoping it’s appreciated.
So here is my gift to you: Polenta
(Record scratches)
What? You didn’t know that polenta is the coolest thing under the sun? Hear me out… 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The "heart" of my family and my table

Hi guys. I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately and haven’t been up for blogging so much. However, I promise I’ll have a whole bunch of new content this week starting with this great lunch/snack/side dish item.

Artichokes. Yum.
Let me begin by telling you why I love this vegetable. My mother, a pure-blooded Italian-American, is generally more of the Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee School of Cooking, as opposed to the Pancia Mia Fatti Capanna Italian Nonna School of Cooking. She’s a good cook but like many mothers, she likes her short cuts and recipes her mother used to make rarely made it to the dinner table (They did occasionally make it to the holiday table which is why I was blessed to eat Calamari and Anguilla as a child…right up until my cousin told me they were eel and squid! Forgiveness for this is impossible.).
Also like most mothers, Mom tried not to buy pricier items until they came on sale. This accounted for the “extreme cereal binges” of my youth in which my mother would purchase multiple boxes of my favorite cereals and then vigorously encourage me to eat them all before they expired (To this day I have difficulty opening that cabinet in her kitchen).
There were a few family dishes that my mom did make for us and steamed artichokes is one of them. Due to the high price of artichokes, this precious commodity only came around when there was a sale, which made them a delicious treat for my sister and I to enjoy.