“To Die For”, Cooked Cabbage with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar!

031cabbage

Don’t hate me!

We should all eat more cabbage.

It’s inexpensive and one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

I like to make a big pot of this and have as my go to dish all week long!

I also add stuff to it like cheese and other veggies. I eat it with whole wheat bread or brown rice.

This dish is so simple yet so delicious you may just find yourself addicted…as I am!

For those of us avoiding simple carbs, these tender cooked cabbage “noodles” make a nice substitute for the real thing.

The shape and texture satisfies noodle lust!

074Cabbage

Simply chop a head of cabbage; I always use 2 and 2-4 tomatoes and sautee in a large deep pan with olive oil.

When the cabbage is tender add the tomatoes.

When everything in soft add the balsamic; enough to add color.

You can also use canned tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Make sure that they are unseasoned.

Unseasoned tomato paste would work as well.

Cover the pot and allow to cook for 2-4 hours on medium to low heat.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

083cooked cabbage with tomatoes

077cooked cabbage

076cooked cabbage

I add flakes of crushed red pepper at the end and garnish with sheep feta and hot sauce!

This is so tasty! So healthy! and soooo addictive you won’t believe me until you try it!

030cabbage

Ricotta Cheese Cake with Lemon Zest and Honey! Light and Delicious!

017ricotta cheesecake

My grandmother used to make a Farmer’s cheese or cottage cheesecake when I was growing up.

It was her “not fancy”, always good with a cup of coffee, cake.

I have yet to try these versions but decided to start first with ricotta cheese since that was what I had in my fridge!

001ricotta cheesecake crust

This cake was wonderful and whipping the egg whites makes it especially light and delicious.

005ricotta cheesecake

Lemon zest or even lavender is a lovely flavor note.

I plan to experiment with herbs and other flavors such as almond, orange or even rose.

010ricotta cheesecake

I used a 9 inch spring form pan for this recipe.

I also used Nilla Wafers with pecans and butter for the crust.

I ballparked the amount for the 9 inch pan.

015ricotta cheesecake

Ingredients:

6 Large eggs
2/3 cups sugar
2 tspn vanilla
2 15 oz containers whole milk ricotta cheese
2 tspn grated lemon zest

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 fahrenheit

seperate eggs

place yolks in mixer

and sugar and vanilla to yolks in mixer

Add ricotta cheese and zest and mix for 30 seconds

Beat egg whites until stiff

fold into the ricotta cheese mixture

pour mixture into greased pan

Bake until golden, approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Let cool at least 6 hours before serving

016ricotta cheesecake

I serve this was honey!

023ricotta cheesecake

028ricotta cheesecake

033ricotta cheesecake

ricotta cheesecake

001ricotta cheesecake

009ricotta cheesecake

012ricotta cheesecake

018ricotta cheesecake

An Afternoon at the Four Seasons! Espresso, Biscotti and Apple Tarte Tatin with Caramel Ice Cream!

022apple tarte tatin at the Four Seasons Chicago

The Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago is a very special place for me.

The lounge is cozy and relaxing and I have spent plenty of time with a cup of coffee; alone or with friends, enjoying the atmosphere and the desserts!

an afternoon at the Four Seasons Chicago

This afternoon was no different.

005an afternoon at the Four Seasons Chicago

It was a warm and sunny Autumn day in the Windy City and we sat by a window enjoying the view and the sun streaming in.

021apple tarte tatin at the Four Seasons Chicago

This apple tarte tatin was warm, caramel and puff pastry perfection.

023apple tarte tatin at the Four Seasons Chicago

I personally, took the world tour of coffees! I had 2 espressos, a cappuccino and a cafe latte!

It was a long afternoon and I couldn’t resist the excellent brew!

012espresso and biscotti ar the Four Seasons Chicago

And, of course, the photos.

With the warm sunlight soaking everything on our table in a golden glow, every shot was glorious.

024apple tarte tatin at the Four Seasons Chicago

047apple tarte tatin Four Seasons Chicago TS

051apple tarte tatin Four Seasons Chicago

This is not the recipe for the Four Seasons Apple Tarte Tatin, however, this looks amazing Courtesy of Curtis Stone.

CLASSIC APPLE TARTE TATIN WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM
Serves 4

Ingredients

7 oz / 200 g butter
7 0z / 200 g caster sugar
4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into halves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
2 x 7 in / 18 cm pastry disks, rolled to a thickness of 0.1 in / 3 mm
2 vanilla bean ice-cream balls
For the caramel sauce
7 oz / 200 g castor sugar
3 fl oz / 100 ml double cream

Espresso an afternoon at the Four Seasons chicago

Method

1.Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C.

2.In two 6 in / 15 cm high-sided copper pans, push 100 g of the butter into each pan and sprinkle 100 g sugar over the butter in each pan.

3.Place four apple halves, core-side facing up, onto butter and sugar in pan.

4.Place cinnamon stick and vanilla pod in between the apple halves to resemble a cross.

5.Stretch pastry over the apples pushing pastry down between the apples and the sides of the pan.

6.Prick pastry 4-5 times using a fork.

7.Place tarts in fridge and allow pastry to rest for 1 hour.

8.Over a medium to high even heat, on preferably an electric stove or BBQ, begin to caramelize sugar and butter (NB. you won’t be able to
see the full extent of the sugar colouring but if you gently swirl the pan, you will get glimpses down the side of the pastry of the colour the sugar is turning – this should take around 4-5 minutes).

9.Transfer tarte tatin to preheated oven and cook until the pastry is golden brown, approximately 18-22 minutes.

10.Once the tarts come out of oven, it is best to allow them to sit for around 1 hour to allow all flavours to amalgamate.

To make the caramel sauce

1.Place the sugar in a saucepan over a medium to high heat and allow sugar to dissolve.

2.Once sugar has turned to liquid and begins to change colour, keep a careful eye on it as sugar will change colour and burn quickly.

3.You need sugar to turn golden brown before adding cream.

4.Once cream is incorporated, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

To Serve the Tartin

1.Place pans with tarts over a high heat until the caramel in the bottom begins to bubble.

2.In a swift movement, turn tarte tatin over onto a clean plate, discarding vanilla and cinnamon stick.

3.If the plate is a little messy, it may be easier to transfer tarte tatin to a clean plate to serve.

4.Drizzle caramel sauce around tarte tatin and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

5.One tarte tatin will serve two people.

014espresso at the Four Seasons Chicago

Artisan Goat Cheese and Lavender Honey with Fresh Baked Flatbread at Tavern On Rush in Chicago!

036flatbread with honey and lavender

The Tavern on Rush in Chicago’s Gold Coast is where Chef John Gatsos creates this simple but outstanding flatbread and cheese appetizer.

TAVERN FLATBREAD: Chef’s daily selection of artisan cheese served with freshly baked flatbread and a side of lavender honey.

032Tavern on Rush flatbread

Lavender honey with seasoned goat cheese is perfect.

033tavern on rush flatbread

Warm and fluffy, doughy and lightly seasoned with fresh parsley, this flatbread melts in your mouth.

034tavern on rush flatbread with honey and lavender

A picture is worth a thousand words and on this gorgeous sunny day one photo just wasn’t enough!

035tavern on rush flatbread with honey and lavender

Indulge my prediliction for photos of beautiful food!

037tavern on rush honey and lavender flatbread

038tavern on rush lavender and honey flatbread

040tavern on rush flatbread with honey and lavender

041tavern on rush flatbread with lavender and honey goatcheese

042goat cheese at tavern on rush with lavender and honey

043goatcheese with lavender and honey at tavern on rush

044tavern on rush goatcheese with lavender and honey

045goatcheese at tavern on rush

046 goat cheese at tavern on rush

047goat cheese with lavender and honey at tavern on rush

048tavern on rush goat cheese and flatbread with lavender and honey

Vegetarian Chili! Healthy, Delicious and Easy!

031vegetarian chili

068Vegetarian Chili

Although I am not a fan of “fake meat”; TVP, or any other ersatz animal products I must admit that Texurized Vegetable Protein works really well in this chili.

The secret to this amazing chili is the copious use of fresh cilantro! Added at the end of cooking to ensure fresh and intense flavor.

I also soaked the TVP in vegetable broth for and hour or so before adding it to the chili. This adds flavor to something which basically tastes like cardboard. The good thing is that it soaks up the flavors of everything around!

002Vegetarian chili

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 sweet onion
5 cloves garlic
4-5 Tbspns chili powder
2 cups TVP soaked in broth or water then drained
1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cans dark red kidney beans
Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe provided chili for a crowd. You can always adjust the amounts and vary the beans to include your favorites.

I also missed an opportunity to add fresh corn!

005TVP vegetarian chili

Method:

Soak the TVP in 2-4 cups of broth or water
Sautee the veggies in 1/4 of olive oil until soft
Add the tomatoes, beans, and TVP
Allow to cook for about an hour on medium heat and add the fresh cilantro
Allow to cook for about another hour then serve with cornbread or rice or anything you like!

Sauteeing the TVP with the veggies adds more flavor.

011garlic vegetarian chili

Pumpkin Cheesecake! Pumpkins, Squash and Autumn Corn! The Flavors of the Season!

023pumpkins

It’s that time of year and nothing says Autumn like pumpkins!

Pumpkin is great in soup, cheesecake, cookies, pies, breads, curries and more.

Cooking with Fresh Pumpkin

There’s no shame in using canned pumpkin. Even professional bakers do it. But if you’re using fresh, choose small, flavorful sugar pie pumpkins–and save the big ones for carving. A four-pound pumpkin should yield about 1½ cups of puree.

To make pumpkin puree:

1. Cut the pumpkin in half and bake cut-side down, covered with foil, in a 375 degree F oven for about 90 minutes or until flesh is tender.

2. Allow to cool, scoop out the flesh, and puree.

3. Strain the puree for extra-silky smooth soups and custards.

022Pumpkins

A trip to a local farm introduced me to all kinds of squash and corn varieties.

The possibilities are vast and are not limited to baked goods.

Pumpkins are great in savory dishes and lend themselves to spicy flavors; think curry and roasted pepper.

024pumpkins

Over the next few weeks I want to explore all things pumpkin, squash and corn!

027pumpkins

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ingredients

1 1/2 cups graham cracker cookie crumbs
3/4 cup ground hazelnuts
3 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 eggs

Method

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan.

2.Using a fork, combine gingersnaps, hazelnuts, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and melted butter. Press mixture onto the bottom and two inches up the sides of the pan to form the crust.

3.With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin. Mix in the cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth.

4.Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes, or until center of cheesecake is set. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

028pumpkins

I have no idea what these are but I am willing to give them a try!

029pumpkins

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese! Easy, Yummy and Healthy!

016macaroni and cheese

Nothing says comfort food like macaroni and cheese.

And there is no reason to resort to boxed products when homemade cheese sauce is so delicious, nutritious and easy!

Experiment with your favorite cheeses and get creative.

This recipe is the basic cheddar cheese sauce that we all remember.

There is a way to make this old favorite healthy and hardy with quality ingredients.

002cheese sauce

This cheese sauce starts with a basic roux and shredded cheddar cheese.

Roux
1 stick of butter
2-3 Tbspn flour
1 cup of half and half or whole milk

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
Add flour and allow it to bubble and cook for a few minutes
Then add milk creating a smooth and creamy sauce.

Cheese Sauce

Add to the Roux,
1 and ½ to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
A pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste.
And add enough milk or half and half to reach the desired consistency; which should be creamy and not too thick, approximately the thickness of heavy cream.

Stir over low heat and allow to cook into a creamy, rich sauce.

Stir in cooked whole wheat shells or the macaroni of your choice.

This is the basic sauce. To the roux you can add any cheese you like.

You can also add ingredients like crushed garlic, capers sautĂŠed onions, mushrooms, fresh green onions or sautĂŠed leeks.

The list is endless.

Macaroni and cheese can go from simple and familiar to gourmet and sophisticated in no time.

The most important ingredient is your imagination!

Experimenting with Recipes

If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking or baking, you probably have a pretty good idea of how basic cooking mechanics work. There are no real secrets to cooking, because everything makes sense in a physics sense. Once you have a handle on how to fashion together bases like gravies and sauces, you can experiment at will to create a wide variety of different dishes and recipes. Something to consider is that you can also take recipe books and websites, find dishes that you will enjoy, then tweak them slightly to make them your own.

Experimentation is an important part of both cooking and baking. If you enjoy your time spent in the kitchen, then you should extend your capabilities past printed recipes in books and on websites and start making your own unique dishes as well. Take a simple recipe and add a favorite spice combination or change a detail to make it your own. Experiment over and over with recipes that you enjoy making, adding and removing ingredients to see what the final result will be like. For example, add white chocolate, hazelnuts or coffee powder to an ordinary brownie recipe and you have something different all together.

Cooking is largely the same way. Substitute different cheeses for the ones that a recipe calls for, or add an exotic vegetable into a pot of stew that did not normally call for it. Experimentation is a vital element of cooking and baking because it allows you to discover new things as you go, and to find yourself in the process. You will learn more about cooking and baking by experimenting than you could by taking professional courses. Experimenting in the kitchen can give you entirely new experiences that will enrich your life, challenge you and give you a completely new understanding of the culinary arena.

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