Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Lunar New Year!

Today is the Chinese or Lunar New Year, marking the beginning of the Year of the Ox. Unfortunately I don't have any ox recipes to share. Perhaps a beef recipe instead? (And Thai not Chinese - I am really stretching today!)

Thai Curry Beef
2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons curry paste, or less depending on your spicy preference (panang curry paste is preferred)
1 cup coconut milk, or more if you prefer a soupier dish
2 cups sliced beef sirloin steak, sliced into around 1" slices
1 cup sliced red bell pepper, sliced into around 1/2" to 3/4" slices
1 – 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 – 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons roasted peanuts
3 – 4 kaffir lime leaves, slivered for garnish (optional)
3 – 4 fresh Thai chilies, slivered for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil over medium heat in a wok of high sided skillet. Add the curry paste and sauté until it becomes aromatic.
Stir in the coconut milk and increase heat to medium-high. Heat until coconut milk just begins to boil.
Add the meat and cook until it is nearly done, about 5 minutes for medium rare.
Add bell peppers, 1 Tablespoon of fish sauce and 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Taste and add more fish sauce and brown sugar if necessary.
Serve over jasmine rice and garnish with kaffir leaves and chilies.
NOTE: Fresh basil leaves can be substituted for kaffir leaves. Although the taste is not the same, it will add flavor. Chose Thai basil if it is available.

For my Lansing area readers, I have been able to pick up fresh kaffir lime leaves and panang curry at Oriental Mart (2800 E Grand River Ave, East Lansing #517/337-2519 – near Coral Gables restaurant between Hagadorn and Park Lake Roads).

Obama's Favorite Foods

With a new President in the White House, starting his first full week of office, I thought I would pay a bit of tribute to him by letting you in on his favorite and least favorite foods. According to what I was able to dig up:
Favorites Include:
Nuts like Roasted Almonds and Pistachios
Vegetables, especially Broccoli and Spinach
Handmade Milk Chocolates from Fran's Chocolates in Seattle
Shrimp and Grits /Soul Foods
He loves to add hot sauce to his meals
Dislikes Include:
Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips
Asparagus, but will eat it if no other vegetables are avaialble
Soft Drinks, he prefers water
Sorry Mr. President, but your dislikes are some of my favorites. Beets and asparagus are probably my two favorite veggies.
Obama's favorite thing to cook is chili. Below is his receipe, I haven't tried it yet but hope to shortly. The tumeric is an interesting twist to a traditional recipe.
Obama Family Chili Recipe
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
1 can red kidney beans
Saute onions, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft.
Add ground meat and brown.
Combine spices together into a mixture, then add to ground meat.
Add red wine vinegar.
Add tomatoes and let simmer, until tomatoes cook down.
Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes.
Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cristeta Comerford to be White House Chef

As you may have heard, the Obamas will be keeping White House Executive Chef Christeta Comerford. She has been Executive Chef at the White House since 2005 and is the first female and minority to hold the position. She has been working in the White House kitchen since 1995.
Chef 'Cris' Comerford was raised in the Phillipines. After culinary school, she trained in classic French cooking in Vienna, Austria.

"Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family," Michelle Obama said in a statement released by the transition team. "Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spring Class Schedule

I will be teaching the following classes this spring, I hope to see you there.

In this hands-on class, you will learn to make a four course romantic dinner, just in time for Valentine's Day. The class will include an appetizer course, salad course, entree course, and dessert course. Each course is easy to make, allowing more time to enjoy the meal instead of slaving in the kitchen. You will sample the meal when you have completed it. Class fee includes a $15 non-refundable supply fee. Limit 10.
Tuesday, January 27 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Class offered through Delta Township Parks & Rec. Registration begins January 13. Register at or call 517/323-8590.
Herbs add depth and flavor to dishes, but herbs can be intimidating and overwhelming if you are not familiar with them. In this hands-on course, you will learn about herbs and how to cook with them to enhance your meals. You will taste all the recipes you prepare in class. Class fee includes a $15 non-refundable supply fee. Limit 10.
Tuesday, March 10 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Class offered through Delta Township Parks & Rec. Registration begins January 13. Register at or call 517/323-8590.

The current culinary industry is experiencing a trend that emphasizes recipes using sustainable and locally produced food and ingredients. Join Personal Chef Jen Riebow and discover tips on seasonal produce and where to purchase products and learn some easy recipes to make tasty creations with local ingredients. In this demonstration-style course, you will see these recipes being made and have an opportunity to sample from each recipe. Chef Riebow will also describe the practices behind sustainable food. A LIMITED ENROLLMENT COURSE
Mondays, April 6 and 13 7:00 - 9:00 pm (2 session course)
Classes offered through MSU's Evening College. Registration begins January 14. Register at or call 517/355-4562.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Jewel Salad

Over the last few weeks, things slowed down for me and I have had the chance to cook. It somehow felt different from my regular cooking. I am often cooking for a purpose - testing a recipe, for photos for my upcoming new website, etc. But the last two weeks felt like cooking for the pure enjoyment of cooking! It was fabulous.

I found a few different recipes that were heavenly. I made Afghan Roasted Chicken from The Barbeque Bible by Steven Raichlen and also Dukkah-Crusted Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Molasses from Bon Appétit magazine. The Dukkah Crust was fabulous and the next day I roasted sweet potatoes and sprinkled the left over crust over them. I also sprinkled it over roast pork and chicken. The pistachio and earthy spice combination was finger licking good! I would highly recommend trying out this recipe.

I also made an Autumn Jewel salad created by Abra Bennet. I met Abra through Personal Chefs Network. She is an incredibly knowledgeable woman who I admire so much - versed in it feels like every cuisine, spice and technique. She is now living in France, writing a cookbook and living a life I am very envious of. You can follow her journey on her blog French Letters, but I warn you it is amazing and addictive.

One of Abra's original creations, Autumn Jewel Salad, is the perfect combination of ingredients. And luckily the produce is still available. So I am calling the salad Jewel Salad since it is no longer autumn. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Abra's Jewel Salad
Serves 10 - 12
6 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons white verjus (see note)
2 cups arugula
1 cup radicchio
2 cups mixed greens
2 Fuyu persimmons -- sliced
2 cups halved red grapes
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2/3 cup toasted whole almonds
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake to emulsify.
Arrange salad ingredients beautifully and drizzle with dressing.
NOTE: Verjus (pronounced vair-ZHOO) is the tart, fresh juice of unripe wine grapes. It is a culinary ingredient indigenous to the world's wine producing regions that is used in sauce making, for poaching fish and meat, and to dress lettuces, vegetables and fruit. Verjus or "verjuice" as it is sometimes called, literally means green juice in the sense that it's made from fruit that has yet to fully ripen — it's green. It is used to add acidity to foods, an important component in food and in cooking.
SUBSTITUTION: To make 1/3 cup verjus, mix 3 Tablespoon white grape juice with 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar.