December 31, 2010

Reflections in Food 2010

My Husband Troy is constantly giving me feedback about my food, and it is his that means the most to me, as I know that he truly wants the best for me personally and for my career. Often times he tells me I should write things down that work particularly well. I don't. I almost always do it different, which, although fun, may not be the best strategy when it come to ideas that really work. It would be nice to truly reproduce something. So perhaps in 2011, my vow should be to write down recipes that work. We will see how that goes.

Occasionally, when you cook as fervently as I do, and are constantly trying new things, a recipe doesn't turn out the way that you expect. Especially when like me, you tend to deviate.

During the time that I have had off over the holiday with my daughter Lucia, I have been going through our pantry, organizing and accessing ingredients. In 2009, I was a canning dervish. I canned my favorite Oven Roasted Tomatoes from our garden, raspberry jam, fig jam, peach jam and even deviated into sugarless jams (Troy is diabetic). Based on the favorable out come of the previous preserves, the last thing that I "put up" in 2009 was a Strawberry Balsamic Jam. My own idea using good Italian balsamico and strawberries from Lucero Farms. Right out of the pot, the jam was a viscous, delicious spoonful. I opened the last jar today and found that since canning this luscious flavor combination, it had morphed into a really really firm gel resembling more fruit leather and less something to spread onto your morning toast. Hmmmm.

What to do? I couldn't just toss it out....not this lovely combination. Could I roll it out between a couple of sheets of plastic wrap and add homemade fruit snacks to Lucia's lunch? Not really....we get ants too easily in Berkeley. So I decided to try making a cracker with a bit of the emulsion in the middle. Like a savory thumbprint cookie.

The results were terrific first time out of the gate! In he heat of the oven the jam melted and the results were beautiful. Lucia, my side kick and always willing tester, said that they were delicious and came back for seconds and thirds. I hope that you will like them too.

Happy New Year to all my friends and family. May the year 2011 bring us all closer to our dreams in the ardent comfort of each other's love and support.

Blue Cheese and Jam Biscuits

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cube of salted butter at room temperature
4 oz blue cheese
ground black pepper
your favorite preserves

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a flat log. Roll the log out into a sheet of about 1/8 inch with a lightly floured rolling pin. I turned the dough a couple of times while rolling, to insure that it did not stick.

Cut 1 inch rounds with a biscuit cutter, and place onto the parchment lined baking sheet.I fit six down and four across on a
regular 1/2 sheet pan. Gently gather and re-roll bits and pieces until all your dough is cut into lovely little rounds.

Using a teaspoon, place a tiny dollop of jam into the center of each round. Be careful not to use too much, since you are not
making indentations to hold the jam. I would imagine that jelly would be too loose to use in this application, so to insure
the success of your biscuits, use a firm, fruit-filled jam or even a finely chopped chutney would work. Repeat
until all the little rounds are adorned.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the bottoms of the biscuits are golden brown and the jam is bubbly and melted.

Let cool on the parchment for 10 minutes, then remove each biscuit to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen biscuits.

June 21, 2010

Organic Tomato Tart

Tomatoes are finally in season again and paired with a shallot, garlic, some good olive oil, a little sea salt, basil and whatever cheese you have laying around that needs to be used and some puff pastry purchased from Whole Foods.....well you have a completely delicious dinner at hand within 30 minutes.

There are a couple of tricks to this amazing tart however. If you follow them, it will yield a tart with a crisp and buttery "crust" and perfectly chewy, intensely flavored tomatoes. The recipe, and the tips follow. Please, even though it is warm, please don't run out to some fast food joint right now! Take my word for it....this is an easy recipe. It is worth the 30 minutes.

Organic Tomato Tart with Cheese

1 purchased sheet of puff pastry, defrosted and pricked top to bottom
2 pints of organic cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, smashed and finely chopped
3 TBSP good olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Parmegiano Reggiano, grated coarsely
Basil, torn or julienned

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put all the tomato halves, shallot, garlic and olive oil together on a cookie sheet. Toss to coat, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Bake until slightly shriveled and fragrant. Notice if most of the liquid is gone from the tomatoes. This is the perfect time to remove from the oven and cool. About 15 minutes time total.

Top the defrosted and pricked puff pastry sheet with the thinly sliced mozzarella, placed along the tart being careful not to put too much, as too much filling with make the tart soggy. Layer the seasoned, oven roasted tomatoes atop the cheese, spreading around evenly. Top with grated reggiano.

Bake at 45o degress until edges are puffed and really brown. About 10-15 minutes, depending upon your oven. If the tart puffs too much, stick the tip of a knife into the puffed part to release the steam.

Remove from the oven. Cut into 8 slices and top with the julienne of basil and a sprinkling or coarse sea salt.

Serve hot or cold.....great picnic food!

April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Alice!!

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me even casually that I am president of Alice Waters and the Edible Schoolyard's fan club.
Alice has been so fundamental in my culinary sense and development. As I have become a Mother and grown in my own career as a Chef, I have seen first hand the magic in her philosophy and the work that has been the passion of her life.

I work with kids for whom it has been a big deal to get to go to Mc Donalds. I cook for these kids and their families, who's lives have been filled with nothing but processed foods. These families come to Seneca for help and counsel and I am the lucky one who has the privilege of introducing them to the freshest, local fruits and vegetables. Foods that they never have seen let alone tasted from organic farms grown locally in season. The looks on their faces when they first see an heirloom tomato with its tiger stripes and funky irregular shape! Then, finally, when they screw up the courage to try the thing......a sweet smile of amazement fills their faces as drips of tomato juice drip down their eager chins and I am filled forever and reminded why I do what I do!!

Both my parents, food mavericks in their own ways, and Alice are responsible for this. My career, my joy in the farmers at the markets hawking their home grown wares with the excitement of a new parent, my amazement in sharing my world with my own precious daughter Lucia, my deep appreciation for my sweet husband Troy who's motto since meeting and wooing me has become "shut up and eat it, it will be wonderful", and my devotion to sourcing the best for "my kids" at Seneca.....all of this, I give up to Alice.

Alice.......with all of my heart, thank you for your determination. Thank you for your commitment to all of our children and putting the future of food squarely in their eager hands. And lastly, thank you for your patience, for 30 years, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

Happy Birthday Alice!!

March 21, 2010

Mmmmmm.....What is that Delicious Smell?

The power of good baked products is like magic. People come together following the heady scent of butter and flour coming together in the oven to make something delicious to eat. My Dad was a baker for the Merchant Marines, baking bread and pies for over 5000 captive sailors...and as you can imagine, providing these swarthy guys with the sweet smell of home for months at a time at sea, my Dad was a pretty popular guy on the ship. So I guess my appreciation for a well made baked product is in my blood.

Lately I have been obsessed with a local place that hands down, turns out some of the best bread and pastry that the Bay currently has to offer on it's already full menu of culinary marvels. Tartine Bakery is on the corner of 18th Street and Guerrero in the Mission District of San Francisco. Elisabeth Prueitt, turns out flaky buttery tarts, cookies, croissants and beautifully simple but decadent cakes and pastry using local and seasonal ingredients. Her partner in crime and husband (lucky man) is Chad Robertson is the reigning king of the dark crusty loaves (available by calling and reserving one by 3pm Weds- Sun) and the smell of the fresh bread wafts down the Mission like a beacon.

Tartine is not hard to find. Just follow the line outside of the black store front always adorned with a huge lovely bouquet of flowers and of course, follow your nose. This is where Troy and I were first introduced to Four Barrel Coffee and I must admit, I like it just a teeny bit better than the much more popular Blue Bottle Coffee. It seems, after waiting in the queue of grungy posh and hungry folk from all over the neighborhood, everything in the case looks good and it is very easy to over do it here at Tartine.
From the savory Croque Monsier done with spicy turkey or ham, to the Banana Creme Cream Pie with Caramel and Chocolate or seasonal fresh fruit Bread Pudding, literally everything screams fresh and delicious.

What has caught my eye lately is the tiny crisp Chocolate-Oatmeal-Walnut Cookies and the Buttermilk Scones. This amazing crisp and buttery cookie also comes in a huge size, but I prefer the small ones. This way I am able to have one and not break the calorie bank......but of course, you should leave such thoughts on 18th Street and come back to them after your pastry party.

At home, I have been methodically working through Elisabeth and Chad's book called of course, Tartine (Chronicle Books, 2006). The pictures, recipes are all impeccable and amazingly, they seem to be the exact recipes from the bakery. I still cannot seem to get my favorite cookies just crisp enough, but that may be because I don't have convection oven at home. For me, what is most agreeable about their cookbook is the addition of kitchen notes. For each recipe, Elisabeth give a paragraph of ideas that will bring each recipe to her exacting professional addition that as a professional myself, I am extremely grateful for.

This Sunday morning, focusing on an impending visit to Troy's grandma Nelba in the South Bay, I decided to make the scones from the book. Amazingly easy and delicious with a substitute of Callebut chocolate chips instead of currents and lemon zest. The recipe below does not include the weight measurements, as I used the standard American volume measurements that most home cooks will use, and it also omits the directions for using an electric mixer, as I made the dough by hand.

Tartine Bakery Buttermilk Scones
Yield 12 scones

Zante currants (or as I used today, chocolate chips).... 3/4 cup
All purpose flour........................................................... 4 3/4 cups
Baking powder.................................................................... 1 TBSP
Baking soda..........................................................................3/4 tsp
Granulated sugar................................................................1/2 cup
Salt.......................................................................................1 1/4 tsp
Unsalted butter, very cold.................................1 cup and 1 TBSP
Buttermilk.......................................................................1 1/2 cups
Lemon zest, grated..................................................................1 tsp

Unsalted butter, melted......................................................3TBSP
Sugar, for needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking sheet.

Combine the currants with warm water to cover in a small bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes until currants are plumped. Drain well.

Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and scatter the cubes over the dry ingredients. Using a pasty blender or two table knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. You want to end up with a coarse mixture with pea size lumps of butter visible.

Add the buttermilk all at once and the drained currents and lemon zest (chocolate chips) and mix gently with the spoon or by hand. Continue to mix just until you have a dough that just holds together. If the mixture seems dry, a little more buttermilk. You still want to see some of the butter pieces at this point, which will add to the flakiness of the scones once they are baked.

Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle about 18 inches long, 5 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches thick. Brush the top with the melted butter and then sprinkle with sugar. Using a chef's knife, cut the dough into 12 (I cut 14) triangles. Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the scones until the tops are lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

March 19, 2010

Top Chef Should do School Lunch!

With school lunch being debated on Capitol Hill, "Top Chef" should get in on the action and focus some kitchen challenges on school meals. One challenge could have each contestant try to cook a collection of delicious and healthy meals (breakfast and lunch) that spend less than $1 on food per meal. Another might be to cook in a real school, perhaps H.D. Cooke Elementary School, the setting of The Slow Cook’s excellent multi-part series on school meals, or use the actual school kitchen staff as assistants, though this one might be getting a bit close to the upcoming Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC. The contestants could also integrate ingredients from local farms with USDA-provided material.

Washington and the school lunch community also offers plenty of interesting possibilities for guest judges: First Lady Michele Obama, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Chef Ann Cooper (the "renegade lunch lady"), or a room full of cute and opinionated schoolchildren.
I think this idea is genius.......what do you think?

March 17, 2010

A Ole Irish Wish.......

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone! Have a drink with friends, do an Irish jig just because, eat something that you shouldn't (like the Luck O the Irish Rice Krispy Treats that I made for my kids at Seneca today) and be our Lucia with her Ivy earrings! Just be safe and if your drink is an adult beverage, have someone else (like a bus driver) to get you home!

March 09, 2010

Anniversary with Michael Chiarello

Troy and I spent a day last weekend tasting our way through lovely little Yountville in Napa Valley, to celebrate our seventh anniversary. It was a lovely day, and though rain was predicted, we were spared. We stopped for coffee at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery (all we could afford with Keller's name attached to it, to be honest!) and had a delicious lunch at Bottega. We lucked out and Michael Chiarello showed up ready to work, kitchen clogs and all. Though he has gotten a bit of bad press recently because he called out a young, smart mouthed chef, who was there to assist him, on the Bravo TV show "Top Chef Masters" last season; we found the Chef extremely accommodating and full of good cheer.

The food was completely lovely and deeply satisfying. We started with a nice bruchetta trio on some crisp, light bread from the Model Bakery......which we made a bee line for after the meal to bring some of this bread home. Honestly, the Bay Area has the best bread ever! I ordered a handmade handkerchief pasta with a slow braised rabbit ragu and Troy had the fall-off-the-bone, balsamic glazed short ribs. We found the service professional and friendly, and when we asked our server to suggest a nice spicy red wine to accompany our meal, she brought us one of Chiarello's own. I confess to say, that I don't remember which one it was....but it was terrific with just enough spice and berry goodness to compliment our menu selections.

After lunch and our picture with the Chef, we meandered the streets, trying to walk off our hearty lunch and enjoying our rare time just the two of us. It wasn't expensive or a fancy kind of day, but it was slow and easy and just what we needed and wanted.

March 02, 2010

As we are enduring yet another round of the rainy day blues here in the Bay Area, it is not too late to think about what we can do to boost our health and immunity while we wait for Spring to come. Taking care of your heart is one of the most important ares that people neglect in the Wintertime, as we sit and sleep more and exercise less. Of course, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption helps but nutritionally you can:

-Eat more salmon which is loaded with omega-3s and antioxidants (if you are a veggie person, you can get these from flax seed as well)

-Add blueberries to your diet. The compound that makes blueberries that rich shade is called anthocyanin and it is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the structures of the entire vascular system

-Get your ruffage, like your Mama says. Consuming vegetables from the brassica group (cabbage, broccoli, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts) is linked to a significantly decreased risk of stroke and heart attack.

-Lead with legumes! Researchers following 16,000 middle aged men in seven countries for 25 years found that those who ate the most beans had an 82 percent reduction in risk of death from heart disease.

-Go nuts! Five large epidemiological studies at 11 clinics show that frequent nut consumption decreases the risk of coronary heart disease. Plus nuts are just about equal in good fats, carbs for energy and protein to maintain after working out, a small handful of nuts are a great snack to get you through the afternoon slump!

-See red.......pomegranates and their juice do more than just give your heart a boost. Research suggests that long-term consumption may help to slow the aging process and protect against heart disease and cancer.

-Add supplements when your diet lags behind......Omega 3 fats should be taken on a daily basis, Flaxseed can be toasted and sprinkled over salads for a boost. Other important supplements are L-Carnitine for building muscle and magnesium, as it helps to relax the blood vessels. And for those folks who are on cholesterol-lowering (statin) medication, CoQ10 is a must, since statins deplete this important heart healthful nutrient.

Below there is a recipe for one of my family's favorite rainy day meals, which coincidentally uses three of the above ingredients. Sometimes I add ground lamb or brown rice for a one pot meal and a punch of protein to boot, but it is delicious as it is.

Kitchen Notes: For little kids or folks who prefer a less spicy version, you can omit the red pepper flakes. And of course, any dark leafy green can be substituted for the Broccoli Rabe....I just am totally hooked on the stuff!

To make a delicious vegan version, add 1 cup of brown rice, which together with the beans makes a complete protein, and can of fire roasted tomatoes. When I do this version, I use my canned-in-the summertime oven roasted tomatoes, same measurement as the chicken stock (with the tomato juice).

M'Lisa's Greens and Beans

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch or 2 cups broccoli rabe, washed, stems trimmed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 (15- ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
3/4 cup chicken stock

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven.

Add onion and garlic. Saute until tender about 3 minutes or until golden and caramelized. Add the red pepper flakes, sea salt and pepper; stir until fragrant.

Add the broccoli rabe and let saute until it cooks down slightly.

Add the chicken stock. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes. Add the beans, cook another 10 minutes.

Serve hot with grated sharp cheese of your choice and some good crusty bread.

February 26, 2010

Junk Food Tax in Romania

Introducing the Junk Food Tax
14 Jan 10 - Sloweb
Romania may be the first country to introduce a tax on junk food as early as March of this year, in an effort to fight obesity and increase the level of funding for its crisis-hit health system, Romanian authorities announced on Tuesday.

One in four Romanians suffers from obesity with diet-related diseases increasingly becoming a problem among the younger population. The country’s public health system suffers from chronic lack of funding with authorities warning that 2010 may see problems in financing some medical infrastructure and medicine.

"We intend to introduce a tax on fast food, soft drinks and candies in order to support national health programs," Health Minister Attila Cseke announced during a press conference in Bucharest. Full details of the tax still need to be developed, but it is expected that a special nutrition commission at the ministry level will be in charge of designing the tax. If approved, the levy would apply to producers of fast-food products, certain snacks and crisps, confectionery and soft drinks, and is estimated to bring around one billion euros (1.45 billion dollars) to the ministry's budget.

The announcement comes soon after Taiwan’s plans to become the first country to introduce a tax on junk food in an attempt to reduce obesity rates and encourage healthily eating. Such taxes have been considered in other countries, including France and Australia, but were not followed through due to concerns about the additional cost to consumers and the difficulty in coming up with a suitable scheme.

February 25, 2010

Pop Up General Store

Pop-Up General StoreTUESDAY, MARCH 2ND FROM 5-7 PM

Hi there! We wanted to let you know that we'll be popping up next Tuesday, March 2nd from 5-7pm. We hope you'll be able to swing by!
Please note that this is a departure from our previous Wednesday markets.We'll be making Boudin Blanc Sausages, Tuscan-Style Arista Pork Loin, Ragù Bolognese and Hand-Torn Straccetti Pasta.
We are also excited to have new offerings from several of our friends: e.b.c.b., Stacie Pierce, Melissa Fernández, Anthony Tassinello, Mary Jo Thoresen and Blue Chair Fruit!
We'll be there next Tuesday, March 2nd from 5pm to 7pm awaiting your arrival! We'll have lots of extras (including Chris's salami and coppa, as well as Goulash's Handmade English Muffins) for sale, so feel free to pop in even if you don't place an order!

Stop in for a taste!Please use this order form to place an order by Sunday, February 28th at 10am.

Become our fan!
Click here to become our fan on Facebook and help spread the word about Pop-Up General Store!

WHAT: Pop-Up General Store selling handmade sausages, pasta, sweets and more!
WHEN: Tuesday, March 2nd from 5pm to 7pm
HOW: Pre-order by Sunday, February 28th at 10am using this form and come ready with cash or check, as we are unfortunately unable to accept credit cards
Forward email

Pop-Up General Store 4629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way Oakland CA 94609
Deliciously brought to you by Samin Nosrat and Chef Christopher Lee, both formerly of Eccolo on 4th St in Berkeley.

Organic Milk=Grass Fed Cows

A decade after such regulations were proposed, the USDA has passed new requirements for organic dairy farmers. New rules specify that cows must be allowed to graze on open pastures for at least 120 days of the year and get a minimum of 30 percent of their nutrition from fresh grass for their product to qualify as organic.

The decision marks a victory for organic food advocates, who have vigorously lobbied for the United States to revamp organic milk requirements.

February 24, 2010

Kumquats!! Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Special Symbolism of the Chinese New Year Celebration

Why are peach blossoms and kumquat trees such a welcome gift at a Chinese new year celebration? And what is it about fish served whole, duck, spring rolls, noodles, and bamboo shoots that make them abundant features of the traditional new years meal?

From special foods, to particular flowers and lucky numbers, the traditional Chinese new year celebration includes a myriad of auspicious symbols for longevity, prosperity, fertility, and all manner of good fortune. Whether hosting a new years party or attending a celebration, you may want to keep these in mind as you offer your intention and good wishes for the year ahead to family and friends.

Kumquat tree in Cantonese is called Gam Gat Sue. The word Gam rhymes with the Cantonese word for gold, and the word Gat rhymes with the Cantonese word for luck. In Mandarin, kumquat is jin jiu meaning "golden orange" symbolizing gold or wealth.

My Seneca teens tried these little sweet/tart golden nuggets today in a seasonal fruit salad and loved them! Lucia loves them too. Strangely enough "little kids" like sour things so don't be afraid to introduce them into their diet and expand their palates and combat the sweet treat habit.

As the annual Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco approaches this weekend, keep in mind these other foods that can help assure your good fortune and health this year.

Chicken and fish symbolize happiness and prosperity - especially when served whole, symbolizing togetherness of the family

Oranges and tangerines represent wealth and good fortune because they are golden and because they are China's most plentiful fruit. Traditional etiquette includes bringing a bag of these fruits whenever visiting family or friends during the 2-week long new years celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one's relationship with the other remains secure.

Noodles represent longevity (therefore, they should never be cut!)

Duck symbolizes fidelity, while eggs signify fertility.

Clams and spring rolls both symbolize wealth; clams because of their resemblance to bouillon, and spring rolls because their shape is similar to gold bars.

The word for fish (魚yú) sounds like the word for abundance or surpluses "(餘yú). As a result, on New Year's Eve it is customary to serve a fish at the end of the evening meal, symbolizing a wish for abundance in the coming year. For added symbolism, the fish is served whole, with head and tail attached, symbolizing a good beginning and ending for the coming year.

Turnips are served because their name "cai tou" also means "good omen".

The word for bamboo shoots also sounds like the phrase for "wishing that everything will be well".
Meanwhile...... here is a nice recipe for the new year......
Kumquat Chicken
1 1/2 tsp chili oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 x 2 inch strips
2 T hoisin 1 T oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 T cornstarch
2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder
1/2 C chicken broth
1 T rice wine vinegar
1. In a large wok or skillet, combine the chili oil and grated ginger. Sauté on medium heat for 1 minute until fragrant.
2. Add chicken strips. Cook until chicken becomes opaque.
3. In a separate bowl, combine oyster sauce, cornstarch, sugar , chicken broth and 5 spice powder to taste. Stir until thickened. Add to chicken then immediately add kumquats.
4. Add vinegar, turn down heat, cover pan and simmer 5 minutes until chicken is done and kumquats are limp.
5. If necessary add water by teaspoons to keep mixture from becoming so thick it sticks and burns.
6. Serve over rice or noodles and garnish with thinly sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

February 22, 2010

Fresh Black Mole Enchiladas

My Husband Troy says that he is an Irishman by heritage, but a Latin lover in his heart. He LOVES Mexican food. Typically taco trucks are his weakness, not "chi chi" California style fresh Mexican food. I am constantly working to develop recipes that embrace both. Mexican depth of flavor and California healthy style.

Recently, I went to a "pop up" store in Oakland, organized by my friend Samin Nosrat, who by the way was the catalyst and organizer for the wildly successful Bakesale for Haiti, and Chris Lee of the recently closed Eccolo and purchased some black mole sauce.

After watching Mexican food aficionado and Top Chef Masters winner, Rick Bayless go into eye-rolling ecstasy describing his first taste of black mole and his life-long quest to re-create it, I jumped at the chance to bring some home and source a great way to use it.

Inspired recently by a recipe that I saw in the San Francisco Chronicle, I tweaked this M'Lisa style and came up with a real winner that I tried out tonight for dinner. It was as beautiful to look at as it tasted, and even my taco truck loving, Portuguese Irishman Husband declared it a run away winner. Below is the M'Lisa-ized recipe. For those who are interested about what I changed, I have included at link to the original article as well.

The recipe includes a version of the afor-mentioned black mole, but for this recipe, I used the mole that I purchased from Samin and that was made by personal chef Melissa Fernandez

Enchiladas Under a Salad

Serves 6 with leftover sauce and picadillo.

You will have sauce and filling leftover for more enchiladas or to freeze. You can make the sauce a day before making the enchiladas.

  • Sweet Mole Sauce:

  • 5 dried ancho chiles
  • 6 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried California chiles
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt + more later to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves - 2 peeled, 1 with husk
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 2-inch piece canela (cinnamon bark), broken up
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 small Knorr chicken bouillon cubes or 1 tablespoon Superior Touch "Better than Bouillon" (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar or one 3-inch piece piloncillo
  • 1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate (Abuelita brand or Oaxacan), chopped

  • Family Picadillo:

  • 6 peeled carrots, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 pound Prather Ranch ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon olive oil, as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • -- Black pepper to taste
  • 12 corn tortillas

  • The Salad:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • -- Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • -- About 3 cups crisp romaine lettuce cut into 1/2-inch thick ribbons
  • 4 watermelon radishes, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

For the Sweet Mole Sauce: Put on a teakettle of water to boil and then use scissors to cut stems off dried chiles and cut chiles in half. Shake out seeds. If I see large white veins (the hottest part of chiles), I cut them out with the scissors. Do this operation over a spread out newspaper or your kitchen will be covered with seeds. Place chiles in a large heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. If the chiles are cut up they tend to float less, but keep pushing the chiles into the water. Add the 2 teaspoons salt and the peeled garlic and soak for 1 hour.

While the chiles are soaking, heat a 10-inch skillet and toast the sesame seeds on medium heat until deeply golden, stirring constantly; remove from pan and set aside. While the pan is still hot, quickly toast the cumin seeds until dark brown and aromatic (be careful - they can burn quickly), then add to the the sesame seeds.

Increase heat to medium high; add the small tomato and remaining garlic clove (with husk). Cook the tomato until charred around the edges along with the garlic, turning the tomatoes over to char the other side. Add the oregano; stir to toast, about 30 seconds. Put aside to cool.

After 45 minutes to 1 hour, the chiles should be rehydrated. Pour off the soaking liquid, which can be bitter. Use a blender to puree the chiles (in batches as needed), adding just enough water to help puree. Pour puree through a wire strainer placed over a large bowl. Discard the skins (they are great in compost). After straining the last batch of chiles, pour the liquid back into the blender jar. Add the charred tomato, toasted garlic, sesame seeds, cumin, oregano, cloves and canela; puree.

Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy pot and blend in flour until well mixed and smooth. Cook until slightly toasted or golden. Slowly whisk in the chile-spice puree and 3 cups water. Lupe always adds the bouillon because it is traditional. Add the sugar or piloncillo and the Mexican chocolate. Simmer the sweet sauce for 20 minutes over the lowest heat because it can splatter. Stir often to make sure the chocolate and sugar are well-dissolved. Add salt to taste, if needed. This sauce can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Makes about 1 quart, enough for the enchiladas plus leftovers.

For the Family Picadillo: Sautee the onions and carrots in a spot of olive oil, until caramelized. Add the ground beef, use a potato masher to break up the meat and distribute the vegetables throughout. Pour off the excess fat. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Add the cooked black beans and diced tomato. Warm though. Set aside, cover and keep warm. Makes about 5 cups, enough for the enchiladas plus leftovers.

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 375°. Oil a 9- by 13-inch baking pan or 3-quart baking dish. Pour enough sauce into the prepared pan (just large enough to hold a tortilla) to fill the pan about 3/4-inch deep - about 2 cups. Heat until warm, if necessary. If the sauce has been refrigerated and has thickened, blend in a bit of water or chicken broth to thin it out.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle to warm tortillas on. Warm two at a time then lay them out on a flat plate. Place 1/4 cup of picadillo along one edge and roll up tightly. Place each rolled enchilada into the baking dish, seam side down. Place baking dish in the oven, and heat through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Whisk together lime juice, salt and oil. Add lettuce and radishes, toss together.

To serve: Remove enchiladas from the oven, and place 2 on each plate. Pile a heaping 1/2 cup salad over each serving, top with 2-3 avocado slices and sprinkle with goat cheese. Or, serve family-style on a platter.

Per serving: 484 calories, 18 g protein, 49 g carbohydrate, 25 g fat (7 g saturated), 46 mg cholesterol, 896 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.

Wine pairing: The mole is not overly hot, and it finishes with a sweet edge. A beer, a soft white or lighter-bodied red like Beaujolais will all work.

February 17, 2010

School Breakfast and Lunch

This is what my kids at Seneca Center had for breakfast today. Homemade Orange Marmalade Buttermilk Pancakes, Saggs Chicken Apple Sausages, and fresh warm fruit.
As many of you know, I have been working with the Slow Food folks on the School Lunch Initiative and awareness about this upcoming legislation coming before Congress in March this year. I guess you could say, it has become my passion to get all of my friends, family and acquaintances to lobby Congress that we need change across the board in school food. A move to healthier, more localised food....prepared daily for our kids by people like me who care.
It boggles my mind when I think of the slop my Husband Troy's daughter is served at school in Benicia. This is one of the Bay's wealthiest suburbs....lovely waterfront homes, a historic downtown and a safe town to raise your kid in with highly acclaimed schools. But what do they have for lunch? Steamed hamburgers out of wrappers. Soggy deep fried stuff. Canned fruit and vegetables or when the fruit is has been sitting around for a very long time.
Why? Well like many school districts around the state of California and our great is because we spend less per week on our kid's school food than we do FOR A SINGLE VENTI LATTE at Peet's. heard me correctly. We spend less than $5 a week per child for breakfast and lunch for our kids. No wonder today's children are stressed, unhealthy, and hard to control! They have no nutrients in their little bodies to run them and their minds efficiently!!! This is not rocket science folks! What we put in.....we get out. We are creating an unhealthy future for our children and habits that will put them in the running to die before we do (for the first time in history). 1 in 5 children in this generation will have insulin dependant diabetes by the time they are 15. If you know any one with know that they can lose mobility, eye sight, and in the worse cases, people with uncontrolled diabetes can lose their limbs! Did you know that people with diabetes cannot get life insurance? Did you know that people with diabetes pay higher medical premiums? Did you know that automatically, many MDs will put people who have diabetes on blood pressure and cholesterol meds too? Did you know that all this medicine and the things that go with it can cost upwards of $200 a month?
Yes.......I have first hand experience. My sweet husband Troy is diabetic. He has learned about the damage to his body all too late. I know what this horrific disease can do and it is the food that we are choosing and the food that our government is choosing to feed our children everyday that is creating this epidemic.
But it can be stopped. WE can stop it. YOU can stop it!!! Demand from Congress that our schools get just $1 a day more for each student for nutritious, healthy, local, largely organic and sustainable food. Just a dollar a day more, can change everything.
It is up to you and me. If you would like to join me in lobbying Congress for just a dollar more for our kids.....for good, clean and fair food for everyone. Please click on the link below and let your voice be heard!