Archive for May, 2008

The Lure of the Top Chefs

Monday, May 26th, 2008

From Lisa Barnes

When did chefs become so popular and get notoriety like rock stars? Don’t get me wrong, I get caught up in the hype too. And I am usually more nourished and fulfilled by an amazing meal than a great song. But cooking, eating and food overall as entertainment seems to be a phenomena of the last 10 years. I don’t remember knowing names of chefs or watching them on T.V. when I was a kid. Now I have many friends whose children love to watch cooking shows and can tell you the names of the Iron Chefs, like a baseball line-up.

A few months ago I saw the advertisements for the Pebble Beach Food and Wine event and saw the list of chefs, food discussions and meals – and I began salivating. I bought tickets for my husband and me. I was not in a position to splurge for a weekend package or even more than one event, but that didn’t matter. We opted for the grand tasting. How could “grand” not be anything but wonderful?

We got there on a cool gray day and went into the tents, which were enormous. At first all we saw was Lexus advertisements and we wondered what we got ourselves into. Then we got the lay of the land (tent) and saw that all the chefs were around the perimeter. There were lines of foodies (although not too long) waiting to compliment the chef and taste their offering. However for each chef there were probably 20 wineries offering wine. Many more organic wines than I had ever heard of, which was nice to see and learn about.

In the center of the tent there were presentations and book signings. We immediately saw Chef Jacques Pepin was up first. Thinking there would be a big line waiting we headed towards the center. There was no one there but us and Jacques. He was a delight, and we took a picture (above). But it was kind of sad that he didn’t have a bigger following. Everyone was more interested in Trey from the last season of Top Chef. Don’t get me wrong… it’s one of the few shows I watch on T.V. (See below) But let’s show some respect to a pioneer and forefather.

Later in the day a crowd of people was trying to get a look at Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio and a man was pushed into my husband. My husband helped the stumbling man and it was poor Jacques!

O.K. yes I like Top Chef. The biggest surprise was how nice Judge Gale Simmons was. I think she gets edited as the picky and hardest to please. In person she is very likable and seemed genuinely happy to hear about what I was writing for this blog and my philosophy about feeding children. We even swapped a Food and Wine Cookbook for a Petit Appetit Cookbook.

So as far as the food, some was great and some was unimpressive. My husband and I thought we were Top Chef Judges the way we picked apart and praised the food. Surprisingly some local S.F. favorites like Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake (a strange pudding shot with tasteless cookie) and Charles Phan of Slanted Door (a ho-hum wonton) were a disappointment. Our favorite savory offering was a duck and seared fois gras dish from Cal Stamenov at Marinus Restaurant at the Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley. At the other end of the tent was an amazing dessert table with carrot cake cookie sandwiches and “ocean” chocolate truffles (unlike anything I’d tasted) and that too turned out to be from Marinus. So guess where I want to go?

One thing I found missing at the event was signage. There are so many people with food allergies and intolerances and very few of the tables had a sign even saying the name of the dish/food item let alone the ingredients and where they came from. I thought this was remiss. Having a food allergy I didn’t like having to ask if something was hidden in food that may cause me to go to the hospital. A few chefs told exactly what was in the dish and where the ingredients were grown. Call me crazy but I expect to know (and don’t think we should assume) that the peas are organic and were grown locally when at an event such as this.

So what about children? Yes, there were a few in attendance. We even talked about how much our foodie son would’ve enjoyed some of the chocolate and seafood dishes. But then remembering the ticket price and the fact that this was a real weekend get-a-way date with my husband I was very happy he was home with grandma and grandpa.
~
See also Lisa’s I Met Alice Waters
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Lone Pine at Pebble Beach, WikiPedia Commons
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]

Share

The Heat is On… Time for Lemonade! (Recipes for Kids)

Friday, May 16th, 2008

From Lisa Barnes

For us in the San Francisco Bay Area, the temperature has soared this week. A favorite to quench thirst for all ages is lemonade. In working on my latest book I test drove all kinds of lemonades – sparkling, traditional, herb infused, and more. The basic lemon can really be turned into something special.

Besides the yummy drink, making lemonade can provide a fun activity for children. If you have a tree, there’s the picking. My kids love to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s to pick lemons with “the picker” — a long handled pole.

Then there’s the juicing. Of course this can be done with a machine, but you can also use a hand-held citrus squeezer. Kids love to test their muscle strength, plus it makes the chore last longer (sometimes a necessity for parents looking for some down time). If you have too many lemons and an abundance of lemonade, be sure to share with friends or set up a stand.

The positive power of one child and a refreshing drink created a unique foundation that evolved from a young cancer patient’s front yard lemonade stand to a nationwide fund-raising movement to find a cure for pediatric cancer. Since Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004) set up her front yard stand at the age of four, more than $17 million has been raised towards fulfilling her dream of finding a cure for all children with cancer. Nationwide the effort continues: AlexsLemonade.org

Refreshing and Inspiring!
Here are two different recipes, one requiring lots of lemons and ice for a thirsty few and one that makes a glass or two with just a lemon hint (from my friends at SmallShed Flatbreads in Mill Valley, California).

Frozen Lemonade

This is the perfect lemonade for sipping on a hot afternoon. It is really great whipped in the blender, but if you don’t want to bother you can skip the last step and just pour over ice. Please note the color if this will be golden rather than bright yellow due to the use of raw sugar. You can always substitute white if you prefer.

Makes 3½ cups

½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, juice from about 4 lemons (organic if possible)

½ cup raw turbinado sugar

1½ cups water, divided

2 cups ice cubes, break into chunks if large

Heat sugar and ½ cup water over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture has thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. This is simple syrup.

Combine lemon juice, simple syrup and additional cup of water in blender with ice cubes and blend until slushy. Add more ice as desired.

Small Shed’s Fresh Squeezed Maple Lemonade

“I have always found foods to be most enjoyable when prepared simple, and nothing is more simple than our house-made lemonade. Frequently our customers will bring a box of Meyer lemons in from their yards and trade us for a Flatbread pizza!” – Ged Robertson, chef owner at Small Shed Pizza.

Makes 2¼ cups

Juice squeezed from 1 lemon, about ¼ cup

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste

16 ounces sparkling water

Put ingredients in a pitcher and stir with a spoon. Pour and serve over ice.

Tips: first roll lemons pressing between your hand and a counter. This will make them easier to squeeze, and yield more juice.

Variations: You can substitute regular still water for sparkling, and honey for maple syrup. This lemonade tastes great made with hot water too!

~
See also Organic Lemonade Has 10x More Antioxidants Than Regular
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: © Norma Cornes | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]

Share

Happy Mother’s Day! (with Organic Greek Frittata Recipe)

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

From Lisa Barnes

There seems to be three camps of moms on mother’s day…one that likes to celebrate with family, one that likes to celebrate without and one that tries to juggle both.

The first like to be surrounded and reminded of their children and their own parents – getting multiple generations together for usually brunch or dinner. Then there are those (usually with young children) who like to take the day off from being a mommy. Many I know do a relaxing spa day alone or with other mom girlfriends and then go to a romantic dinner with their spouses. The ones that like to try to fit everything and everyone in (like their daily life) tell me they’re doing a lunch or spa without children in the morning and then are joined for a family celebration in the evening.

If you’re a Dad – ask your wife what she’d prefer. One year I celebrated mother’s day by shopping by and for myself. I thought it would be nice and relaxing but it was so depressing. I watched families going into restaurants for brunch and missed my husband and kids (they had a fun day without me!) and also missed my own mom who doesn’t live close by. I came home and said I never wanted to do Mother’s Day alone again. Of course I like the alone time – just give me the day off before or after.

Anyways if you’re lucky enough to celebrate with your own mom and family, here’s a lovely and easy fritatta recipe to make at home. And if you’re in the mood for someone else to make brunch, make reservations fast (OpenTable.com can help). If you live in the Bay Area I would suggest Foreign Cinema. They have a wonderful brunch, excellent mimosas and bellinis for mom, and a great 3 course children’s menu.

Happy Mother’s Day! (Here’s a photo of my mom with my daughter)

Organic Greek Frittata
A frittata is an easy, yet elegant dish, to serve for friends and family – perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch. Adding couscous to the frittata makes it heartier, and gives the eggs a bit of a crust. Cut the frittata into wedges and your children will think it’s an egg pie.

1/2 cup water, plus 1 tablespoon water – divided

1/3 cup uncooked couscous

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

5 cage-free, organic eggs

2 teaspoons expeller pressed canola oil

1/3 cup slivered oil packed sun dried tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped nicoise or kalamata olives

1/4 cup diced organic onion

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan bring ½ cup water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in couscous, remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff and separate with fork.

Combine the 1 tablespoon water, salt, pepper, and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk together. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, olives, and onions and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in couscous and egg mixture. Level mixture with rubber spatula. Sprinkle cheeses over top. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, or until set and cooked through. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges with knife or pizza cutter.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Tiny Feet © Orangeline | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]

Share

Kids on a Plane (with Organic Snack Recipes)

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

From Lisa Barnes

So we’re headed to the East Coast to visit family (and see a Red Sox game). It will be great once we get there. However anyone ever traveling with (or unluckily, near) small children knows how touchy and anxious the plane flight can be. Even if you’ve packed all the old favorite (and new) books, games, stickers, toys, DVD’s, etc. it may still not work for a child who is confined for more than an hour.

I’ve been stockpiling and preparing snacks now that only peanuts and “cereal bars” are the only edibles offered any more (unless you are flying first class). And you can’t bring in liquids, gels and other food type textures (forget the yogurt, hummus dip and apple sauce). Some of the items in our (large!) carry-on include: bananas, apples, carrot sticks, trail mix, dried spicy peas, yogurt covered raisins, and fig bars. In addition here are a few recipes for things my children (and husband and I) will enjoy en route. In addition I’m sure we’ll be buying food (an actual meal) in the airport (an activity for the lay-over, right?)

Organic Cherry Almond Granola
This is from my baking friend, fellow mom and food blogger Amy Andrews. It is the perfect crunchy snack for on-the-go packing or enjoyed at home in your child’s favorite cereal bowl with milk. It also makes the perfect top layer for a yogurt parfait.

Makes 5 ½ cups

Granola base
2 cups organic rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup organic sliced almonds
1/2 cup organic unsweetened grated coconut
3 tablespoons organic flax meal
1 cup dried cherries

Granola syrup
2 tablespoons organic, expeller pressed canola oil
3 tablespoons organic agave nectar
3 tablespoons organic maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Line a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper. In large bowl combine the oats, almonds, coconut, and flax meal.

In small bowl whisk together canola oil, agave nectar and maple syrup. Add the vanilla and salt. Pour over oat mixture and stir with wooden spoon to combine.

Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet pan and spread to an even layer. Bake for 1 hour stirring every 20 minutes until golden in color. Remove cookie sheet pan from oven and add the dried cherries. Stir to combine and let cool. (At home, enjoy as a topping to organic yogurt or as a cereal with your favorite milk or nut milk.) Store airtight.

Organic Apple Crisps
An alternative to boring potato chips, this simple treat satisfies a child’s need for crunch. Having a mandolin provides convenience and accurate cuts for even baking. However a careful, steady knife works as well. The apples crisp because of the low heat which dries out the moisture. Once in the oven these need no attention (just remember to turn off the oven overnight), until it’s time to pack them (or eat) them in the morning.
Makes about 48 apple crisps.

2 large organic apples such as Fuji or Braeburn
2 tablespoon evaporated cane juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Stir together evaporated cane juice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Using a mandolin or a steady hand cut the apple vertically in to 1/8 inch thick rounds. You do not need to core or peel the apple. The seeds will fall out or can easily be removed from apple slices once cut.

Place apple slices on baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with cinnamon mixture. Bake in the middle of the oven and cook for 1½ hours. Rotate pan and cook an additional hour. Turn off heat and leave pan with apples in the oven overnight if not dry and crisp.

Loosen chips with a spatula to remove from parchment paper.

Tip:
Shake it Up! The easiest way to lightly and evenly sprinkle sugars and spices is to transfer to a spice shaker. Having a specially marked shaker for cinnamon and sugar saves time when making other snacks such as cinnamon toast or spicing up plain yogurt. This is also a “neat” way to get children to help with decorating and flavoring tasks.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Ripe Oats © James Virgin | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]

Share

Popeye Puree (Organic Spinach For Kids Recipe)

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

popeye

From Lisa Barnes

Today’s children probably don’t even know Popeye, but most adults remember him fondly chugging those cans of spinach. No wonder everyone thinks spinach is wet, gray, and tasteless. Here’s the real deal—very sweet and packed with vitamins.

Makes 12 to 14 (1-ounce) servings

1 bunch organic spinach, or 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen organic spinach

Separate leaves and trim from stalks. To clean spinach of all the sand and grit, fill a sink or large basin with lukewarm water. Plunge leaves into sink and swish under water. The silt and sand will sink to the bottom, leaving you with clean leaves.

Steamer Method: Place spinach leaves in a steamer basket set in a pot filled with about 1 to 2 inches of lightly boiling water. Do not let water touch spinach. Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 2 to 3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and bright green. Rinse spinach in cold water to stop cooking.

Puree spinach in a food processor. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cooking liquid to make the puree smoother and adjust consistency.

Microwave Method: Place spinach in a microwave-safe dish. Add 2 tablespoons water and cover tightly, allowing a corner to vent. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir spinach. Re-cover and cook for 1 minute, or until wilted and bright. Cool spinach and proceed with directions above.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]

Share