Happy Thanksgiving from the Foodies!

For many, Thanksgiving epitomizes the holiday spirit. It’s a time for good food, good wine, and good company. It’s also a time for reflecting on and appreciating all of the above. For Gabrielle and myself, it is especially meaningful. The eve of Thanksgiving is when we mark the anniversary of the night we met, on a fateful Wednesday years ago. Though this year we celebrate on opposite coasts, as she hosts a family meal in San Francisco, and B and I cook up a feast at my dad’s house in New York, I think I speak for both of us when I say (or type) that we’ve never been closer… or more grateful for each other.

On behalf of us both, I’d like to thank you, the reader, for joining us on the journey of food and friendship that is this blog. If you haven’t already, please feel free to subscribe via email at the top-right of the homepage. While we’ve had an understandable lull in posting this holiday week, you won’t want to miss the recipes (and mouth-watering pictures) that will be the aftermath of our respective Thanksgiving tables. We wish everyone out there a happy holiday, and that in the coming year you may have ever more blessings for which to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving ingredients

Cheese of the Week: Harbison

Between preparing for Thanksgiving and wedding preparations, this week is especially busy which means that meals made at home become very simple.  During weeks like this, Shay’s vote is always for my chicken and brie sandwiches which have sliced apple, Lemonaise, brie of course,  and chicken breast cutlets sauteed with pepper flakes, oregano and a little white wine at the end. Well, this week I wanted to find something to make this sandwich a little different, and decided it was a perfect opportunity for cheese exploration.

Harbison by Jasper Hill Farm

Harbison, image courtesy of Jasper Hill Farm

Cowgirl Creamery, as most of you know, if one of my favorite spots in the city. A whole store filled with delicious cheeses and people who know much more about cheese than I do! Too good to be real, except it is.  This week at Cowgirl, I asked them for a creamy cheese like a brie and described what I was going to do with it. The cheespert (cheese expert) handed me a piece of Harbison: incredibly creamy, with a bloomy rind and distinct mustard finish. (more…)

Healthy Beet Brownies Recipe – Moist and Delicious!

Any time you use the word “healthy” to describe a dessert, you’re bound to get some rolled eyes… so do what I do: just don’t tell anyone.

Beet brownies

Beet brownies

Yesterday, with beets in the house and a hankering for something rich and chocolatey, it occurred to me to combine the two.  Apparently I’m not the first; there are a number of “beetroot brownie” recipes out there, but none of them were exactly what I wanted.  First of all, most brownie recipes seem to use cocoa powder, while I prefer using unsweetened baking chocolate for a richer, deeper choco flavor.  Then, in the case of the beet brownie recipes I found, people seemed to be simply adding beet puree to a regular batch of brownies, and the accompanying photos confirmed my suspicions that this would produce a result that was overly moist, to the point of almost falling apart.  I read one blog post that replaced all fat with beet puree, as many low-fat cooks do with prune puree or applesauce, but that’s going a little too far, even for me.

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Low-Fat Whole-Wheat Persimmon Muffins

‘Tis the season for persimmons,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-yum-yum!

With the steady supply of this aromatic fruit in our local co-op, I’m taking full advantage of the opportunity to try as many different persimmons recipes as possible.  With my recently renewed passion for muffins, it only makes sense that I make at least one variety of persimmon muffins this winter.  I attempted my first batch today, and while they did not rise as much as my blueberry corn muffins did, they turned out fabulously delicious.

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California Crottin: Cheese of the Week

I don’t think it’s a secret that I love firm goat cheeses with a rind (it’s like crack to me), but I know that I have almost exclusively writing about these for a while. Let’s call it a series and I promise to venture outside of my comfort zone soon. But for today…

California Crottin

California Crottin

So a long time ago, I did my favorite thing to do at any cheese counter– tell the expert behind it to pick a cheese.  I told this particular cheese expert that I was looking for a hard goat cheese that I could put into salads (specifically, my spinach pomegranate salad recipe).  She handed me a small piece of this little 3 oz (about) round of goat cheese that looked a lot like Chevrot. Despite the size, it was packed with flavor, a mellow tartness, with a very pleasant after taste. It’s a great introduction into the world of goat cheeses, and unlike the cheeses in previous posts, is definitely both kid and recipe friendly. To top off its attributes, it was awarded Best in Show at the American Dairy Goat Association National Cheese Competition.

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Pomegranate Spinach Salad

I love baby spinach salads, the possibilities are endless and the leaves maintain their texture better than your average lettuce. The goal with this recipe was to create a light, healthy side for Thanksgiving. My turkey and stuffing are going to be heavy in truffle butter (shocker, I know), so I wanted to have a tart dish on the table, other than cranberry sauce, to cut through that flavor.

This recipe is incredibly easy and simple. The only trick is getting the seeds out of the pomegranate, for which my mom taught me an effective technique when I was young. The pomegranate is sweet but a little tart, and this perfect little goat cheese (again, surprise, surprise) compliments the flavors beautifully.

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How to Make Cake Flour from Regular Flour

If you’re like me, you don’t always have cake flour in your pantry.  Cake isn’t usually my dessert of choice, so there’s usually no reason for me to keep it on hand.  For special occasions, I plan ahead and pick it up at the grocery store.  Occasionally, however, I’m caught by a whim to bake a cake, and since we don’t have a supermarket nearby, I find myself needing to make my own cake flour.

Contrary to popular belief, cake flour is not just regular flour ground up smaller.  The difference between cake and all-purpose flour is protein (gluten) content.  Regular flour averages about 11%, while cake flour ranges from 6-8%.  This is why cake flour makes a much lighter, spongier product — gluten is a binding agent, creating elasticity (or chewiness), which is the opposite of what you want in most cakes.  Consequently, all you need to do when substituting regular flour for cake flour is reduce the amount of protein.

Here’s how you do it:

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Roasted Butternut Squash- My First Thanksgiving Recipe Invention

I am definitely a new cook. Don’t get me wrong, I could sauté since I was 10, but I almost never did anything outside of the stove top until this last year. However, in this short year, I have been trying to really make up for lost time.  I’ve been constantly trying new things, often texting Maddie to make sure that I’m going to be doing it right or to run a recipe idea by her. Long story short: I really have tried to break out of my ‘I only make pasta’ shell.

In culmination and as a final exam, if you will, of this fabulous year of culinary exploration, I am making the entire Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Ambitious you might say, but I am determined and very stubborn, so bring it on.

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Easy Low-Fat Blueberry Corn Muffins

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Muffins are a beautiful thing: they’re a canvas for just about any flavor you want to throw at them, compact and handy to grab for breakfast on the go, and the perfect size for snacking.  A few years ago, I was baking fresh muffins at least once a week, and lately I’ve been realizing just what a smart lifestyle choice that was.  I’m determined to get back into the habit.

I like to bake from fresh ingredients, whenever possible.  Unfortunately, this week when the muffin-making frenzy struck me, all I had in the house were frozen blueberries.  I whipped up a batch of simple blueberry corn muffins, which (despite thawing the berries on a layer of paper towels) the juices from the frozen berries turned a lovely shade of blue.  Now, there aren’t a lot of foods that are naturally blue, and color influences taste more than most people realize.  (In fact, I remember a diet tip from 10 years ago that involved putting your food on a blue plate to suppress your appetite.)  So, looking at the batch going into the oven, I was a bit concerned.  Blue corn muffins.  Then it hit me.  There really is such a thing as blue corn.  And that, for whatever reason, made me feel a whole lot better.

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Cheese of the Week: Truffle Tremor

Amongst the many yummy treats my mom would purchase at Market Hall was this amazing creation: Truffle Butter. I should not admit this, but as a kid I actually used to eat tiny bits of it, guiltily trying to hide behind fridge door. Thus began a lifelong love affair with all things truffle.

Truffle Tremor

Truffle Tremor, courtesy of artizone on Flickr

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