Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mediterranean Eggplant Salad

OK! Now that we've got our batch of roasted eggplant, let's make a salad. I just love making this to bring to work for lunch. It's delicious a little bit warm, room temp, or cold so it's very versatile. It also holds up to the "dressing" so it's great to bring on picnics and such.

I don't have measurements here, but here's what goes in it. If you don't have something, you could leave it out of course.

  • Diced roasted eggplant
  • Diced ripe tomato
  • Kalamata olives cut in half
  • Chick peas/ Garbanzos
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Chopped herbs like parsley and basil
  • Lemon juice
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Little salt and pepper to taste if you like
That's it! You can toss it all together ahead of time and let the flavors mingle. I have photos here of the before and after toss.

Veggie Basics: Roasted Eggplant

I roast a lot of eggplant. It's quite common for me to be sitting watching TV in the evening and periodically running back and forth to the kitchen to tend to my batches of roasting eggplant. Actually, what I do is broil the eggplant. If you don't have a broiler, you could bake the eggplant at a high temp in the oven.

This is super simple. Turn on the broiler. Wash and dry your eggplant. Then, cut it into 3/4 inch slices. Place some foil in a broiler pan (washing broiler pans is awful) and lay the eggplant slices down. Spray or brush them with a little oil. You don't have to do this, and sometimes I don't. It wont effect the moisture of the eggplant because they are loaded with water. Without the oil however the slices are more likely to char a little bit.

Now, roast then for about 4 minutes on each side, spraying the other side when you flip them. Take them out and eat them right away or let them cool for use later.

You can do all kinds of things with these. I like to make a salad (recipe coming next post), or a sandwich with chevre and maybe some roasted red pepper, pesto, and sprouts. Yum! You could just add some tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella for a quick eggplant parm.

(Sorry..I just realized I left photos on other PC. Will add them when boyfriend brings PC back from conference.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beautiful Rose

This is my favorite kind of rose.. Yellow in the middle and then it
fades out to orange and pink. Can't believe how nice this looks even on the iPhone.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Culinary Course: Test Time! Plus Photos

Tonight was the first of 3 "test" nights in the culinary program I have been taking since last November. It has been an amazing experience. I've learned so many things in the kitchen and have tasted some of the best food I've ever had. It's been so much fun and when I am there I truly feel like I am in my element.

The photo on the right shows the pavlovas I made in the last class. You can see a nice photo album of many of the great things we've made throughout the course from one of my classmates. Click here to go to the album.

Tonight was just nuts! I felt like we were on Top Chef! We each had to prepare a 3-course meal, perfectly timed, in 2 hours. We received the ingredients and some simplified recipes. This kind of thing is much more challenging than you'd think. I was actually shaking when I was preparing things. Overall, I averaged an 8/10 on things. Next week we will have to prepare another 3-course meal with only the ingredients and no instructions. YIKES!

I will definately be practicing this weekend. Who wants to come over for creme brulee, souflee and hollandaise?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Simple and Delicious Jicama Salad

You simply have to try this recipe. It's not even really a recipe it is just so simple.. but this is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. You'll agree with me if you like jicama. It's a root that looks like a turnip but is sweet and tastes a little bit like an apple or pear. It's very light and crunchy and refreshing.

Start by peeling. To peel a jicama root, a little apple or cucumber peeler isn't really strong enough so use a knife. Once you get all the peel and thin underlying coarseness off, dice up the jicama. Squeeze fresh lime juice over it and toss with freshly chopped cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, you could leave it out and it will still taste good. If you like, serve with some fresh, ripe avocado slices for texture contrast. So delicious..

Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Bought a ton of veggies and herbs yesterday at the market. So excited to make some great things with them. Look at these beautiful lilacs!! My mom would love these..

Friday, April 10, 2009

Amazing Sticky Buns

This is another recipe from my culinary course that I got to make last week. It came out so delicious and beautiful! This would be fabulous for an Easter brunch.

Sticky Buns
Makes 10 buns


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 1 Tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the warm water, yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to proof until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  3. Heat the milk just below the boiling point and add the butter. Cool to 105 degrees. Stir in the egg, salt, and remaining sugar. Add to the yeast mixture.
  4. Incorporate about one half of the flour and stir until smooth. Add the remaining flour. Work into a stiff dough. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Punch down the dough and roll out into an 18" by 10" rectangle.

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecan halves, about 12-14
  1. Melt the butter in a saute pan. Remove from heat.
  2. Add brown sugar and stir (whisk) to dissolve.
  3. Divide the mixture between two 8 inch round pans.
  4. Top with the pecans. Set aside to cool.

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 ounces butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins - plumped in hot water or bourbon
  • 1/3 cup pecans - roughly chopped
  1. Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  2. Spread the sugar/butter mixture over the dough, leaving 1.5 inches bare at the end. Sprinkle the raisins and pecans over the sugar mixture. Roll it, jelly roll style, lengthwise.
  3. Cut the rolled dough with a pastry cutter into 10 slices. Place in the prepare pans over the topping. Allow to proof another 20 minutes. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown in a conventional oven. Let it sit for 2 minutes and then turn it onto a plate. Cool a little and serve!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Carrot, Fennel and Orange Soup

The Easter bunny is going to love this! This is one of my favorite dishes from the culinary course I am taking. It is super creamy and delicious because it's pureed and there is just a touch of creme fraiche. You can easily reserve the creme fraiche and use it as a topping for the soup instead. Or, skip it all together and/or just add a tablespoon or two of half and half to the soup when it's ready to serve. The flavor combo of carrot with the fennel and orange just sings in your mouth. It's also power-packed with vitamins.

Carrot, Fennel and Orange Soup

Serves 6

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed flush with bulb, and bulbs sliced thin crosswise
  • 1.5 oz unsalted butter
  • 3 pounds carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin or crushed
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice plus 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  1. In a soup pot, cook fennel in the butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden.
  2. Add the sliced carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
  3. Add stock or water and salt and simmer, covered, 20 minutes or until carrots are very tender.
  4. (Now, I suggest you cool things off in the fridge before blending because I put the hot soup directly in the blender and the heat popped the top off the blender and it was a mess. I cooled it overnight and blended the next day and it came out great.) In a blender, puree mixture in batches with orange juice, zest, creme fraiche, and salt and white pepper to taste until smooth.
  5. Transfer the soup back to the pot and heat through. Serve with fresh black pepper and creme fraiche, if desired.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Healthy, Light, and Delicious Cinnamon French Toast Cooked in Coconut Oil

I believe that coconut oil is good for you. It has a special kind of saturated fat that is healthy. You can do the research yourself and see if you agree. That being said, I try to think of ways to incorporate coconut oil into my diet..without adding a ton of calories. Virgin, unrefined coconut oil is the best for you, but it does bring with it a coconut taste. So, I make foods where the coconut flavor complements the taste and I am not trying to cover it up.

Cinnamon is also very good for you .. so I add it to my cereal and try to think of other ways to incorporate it into my diet as well.

So, when I came up with this easy delicious recipe for French toast this morning.. I just had to share!

There are some variations to this depending on your preferences. First, I added some virgin coconut oil to the pan and heated it up. It melts very quickly. Then, I coated some light (45 cals per slice 100% whole grain, Sarah Lee makes it) bread with some egg whites. You could use another kind of bread or whole eggs if you like. I put it in the pan and then sprinkled a lot of cinnamon on it. I cooked it on both sides and then topped it with Mrs. Butterworths sugar free maple syrup. It's about 10 calories per Tablesoon.. which is nothing. Now, you may not want to use this kind of syrup because it is made with fake stuff, chemicals, etc. Instead, you can use some honey, real maple syrup, or agave syrup. In any case, you are getting a deliciously sweet breakfast and getting some coconut oil, whole grain, and cinnamon at the same time. Another variation I tried was mixing some dried, flaked coconut right into the Mrs. Butterworths and spreading it on the French toast, as shown in the picture. Delicious!!

Overall, I thought I would actually taste the coconut oil more than I did.. it was actually barely noticable to me.

So, there you have it. A healthy meal that can be incorporated into a low-calorie diet. Bon Appetit!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Easter

Hi! I am re-posting last year's Easter photos because I don't think I am going to be cooking or making treats this year. I made these pretty cupcakes last year. My cupcakes came out too dry, but basically you can make any cupcake you want, then, pipe frosting in a circle around the edge of the cupcake. Color some coconut with green food coloring in a bowl, and then place that in the center. Top with a few tasty candy eggs and you have some lovely little nests! Have a great Easter everyone! = : )