Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy new year!

May 2011 bring all the best to you and your family. Thanks for reading this year.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Custom holiday cards!

card front

Doing some major holiday card procrastinating?  I have the answer for you: custom holiday cards from SABRA KROCK photography!  Package of 25, professionally-printed 4x5x5 folded cards with text as shown or custom text, $52.  Front image features a white branch with paper snowflakes cut from a vintage encyclopedia (no two flakes are alike!).  25 plain white envelopes included.  Packet will arrive tied with a red ribbon.  Nice holiday stocking stuffer too!  Cards suitable for the year-end holidays, New Years or general greetings.  Please allow 5 days to ship. (note: SK photography watermark will not be present on printed cards).

inside, right

Please email me if interested!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Apples, light and sweet

I shot this as part of a puff pastry and phyllo dough story.  This is such a delicious, easy apple dumpling that you can bake while you are having dinner and have it fresh and hot for dessert.  Or, if you are feeling particularly decadent, have it for breakfast with some hot coffee or tea - it would be a wonderful weekend treat.

Apple dumpling
(makes 6-8 pieces)
Packaged phyllo dough, defrosted
1 red delicious apple, cut into small dice (remove skin if desired)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting
½ - 1 teaspoon cinnamon as desired
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Sanding sugar
Butter for brushing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine apple, sugar, cinnamon and nuts.  Lay phyllo sheet on counter, short side facing you.  Brush with butter and dust lightly with granulated sugar. Place ½ apple mixture on phyllo about 2 inches from edge closest to you.  Spread evenly across dough leaving 1 inch on both sides.  Fold sides of dough in over mixture and roll dough away from you creating cigar-like roll filled with dough.  Do not roll too tightly or dough will tear. Place seam-side down on a non-stick baking sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Repeat with remaining filling.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until phyllo dough is golden.  Allow to cool slightly and then cut rolls into slices of desired length.

  • Don’t freeze your dough for too long: pay attention to expiration dates
  • Plan ahead: phyllo dough needs to defrost in the refrigerator for 8 hours to overnight depending on manufacturer’s instructions
  • Work quickly once dough has defrosted:  phyllo dough will begin to dry out instantly: have your ingredients ready to assemble and keep a damp cloth over phyllo dough while working
  • Brushing pastry with butter or egg wash before putting it in the oven will help to brown the top and lend a sheen to the pastry.  Sprinkling with a course (sanding) sugar will add some shine and sweetness to a sweet dish

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pizza for lunch (with spicy chili oil!)


Is everyone in as big of a tryptophan coma as I am?  Pfew - that was a lot of turkey - and leftovers.  It was a great holiday (my favorite).  Hope you enjoyed yours too.  I thought I'd provide a little inspiration to move back into the kitchen with something simple, and not about turkey leftovers: homemade pizza.  Have you ever made pizza at home?  The trick is buying the dough - it makes cooking a snap.  Whole foods sells a wonderful refrigerated dough that comes in several varieties including multi-grain.  Unlike the others doughs you find in the market, this one doesn't need to be defrosted - it's fresh and ready to go.  Your local pizza store will probably sell you dough - and if they're nice, they'll even sell you one of their rolled out doughs which will save you even more time.  Top with some roasted garlic, fresh ricotta, a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella, some fresh grated Parmesan,  some fresh shredded basil leaves and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 450 degrees F on a hot pizza stone or the back of a cookie sheet for to minutes until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling.  There are a couple of tricks: 1) once you roll out your dough, allow it to sit for 10 minutes sot that it settles and won't bounce back.  2) Pull it out or press it out with your fingers to stretch it back out if it shrinks back after your initial shaping.  3) Do this on parchment paper so that you just slide it into the oven when you are ready and 4) heat your stone for 30-60 minutes before you are going to use it - this will ensure the crust crisps nicely.

And what better to season your pizza than some spicy chili oil?  Heat olive oil (needn't be your best) in a pan with dried chilis, allow to cool, and then pour into sterilized jars.  It will get better the longer you let it sit.  This would make a nice little homemade holiday gift for someone who loves to kick it up a notch. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've been cooking all day.  Bet you have too!  So far, I've made Gourmet's cranberry grappa mould, a pumpkin pie, verjuice dessert bars, made stracciatella gelato, four cranberry-pumpkin loaves (for breakfast the next day - to give to my guests in take-home bags), brined the turkey, prepared the brussels sprouts, sauteed apples for apple crisp and shopped for everything else that's getting prepared tomorrow!  Pfew!  I was lucky to have my sister-in-law chopping and stirring today, and then my mom arrived and immediately started cooking a stock to be used for the gravy tomorrow (gravy's her specialty).  My aunt is uptown in another kitchen cooking sides.

Tomorrow I have potato and onion cakes to make, brussels sprouts, and the turkey, of course. I'll bake the topping on the crisp right before dessert. Looking forward to it all!

My pumpkin pie go-to recipe appeared on today. If you are a last-minute baker, hop on over and check it out.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A date with some cows and a romp in the woods (oh - and apple crisp)

A couple of weeks ago after a somewhat difficult week, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves with a mid-week drive up to the Hudson river valley for a long walk with our dog and a visit to a local orchard to pick apples.  Apple picking is one of my favorite Fall treats and we were just in time to catch the very end of the season and the last of the beautiful Fall foliage.  I looked up an orchard I hadn't been to before and we decided to make it the last stop on our drive.

About an hour out of the city the drive becomes beautiful.  Toward the end, we pass scenic horse farms and grazing dairy cows.  The area is woodsy and the trees are old and majestic.  Fall is a wonderful time to visit: the leaves paint the woods a fire-y orange and at high points, the fallen leaves allow for peppered views to the Catskills in the distance.

There's always somewhere fun to stop for lunch.  We usually seek out a wholesome sandwich shop and a local coffee shop that takes its individuality (but not much else) seriously.  This time, we stopped in Rhinebeck and remembered how much we like the town.

We followed directions to the orchard and were surprised when we found an empty parking lot and happy to smell apple pie wafting out of a barn-like structure in the distance.  As we approached we were greeted and told that we had come to the "offices" and that pick your own was several towns away - too far away to enable is to make it back to the city in time for our commitments.

Needless to say I was very disappointed.  It was my first and last chance at apples picked (myself) from a tree for the season.  I sadly vowed to continue on with at least some of the lofty plans I had for my pick-your-own bounty.  Buying apples at the farmer's market is not nearly as personally satisfying - but at least I know that someone else picked them for market from exactly the same area.

This crumble is so delish, it will take the sting out of whatever disappointment you might be facing ...

Apple crumble (serves 4) (adapted from delicious magazine)

5 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
4 Tbs unsalted butter, chopped
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded


1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sliced almonds
6 Tbs chilled unsalted butter, cubed
pinch salt
confectioner's sugar for dusting, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt butter and brown sugar in a pan over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Stir in apple slices, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean pod and seeds.  Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally until apples are fork-tender.  Discard vanilla pod and cinnamon stick.  Divide apples among four oven-proof bowls.

With your fingers, combine crumble ingredients, rubbing butter into other ingredients until it is evenly distributed and creates pea-sized crumbs.  Distribute crumble over bowls.  Drizzle with some of the cooking liquid and bake for 8-10 minutes until crumble is golden and apples are bubbling.  Dust with confectioner's sugar if desired.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


The holiday edition of Sweet Paul Magazine is out now.  There's so much fun stuff in there, I can't wait to spend some time with it to see what everyone else has contributed (btw: check out Paul's very clever pendant lamp - I am in love with it).  My piece is on cranberries and begins on page 104.  Paul wrote the cake recipes and I wrote the sugared cranberry recipe.

I adore cranberries and love this time of year when they are available fresh.  This year, try dressing your turkey with a raw cranberry "sauce" versus the traditional kind - you will be surprised about how crunch, fresh and flavorful cranberries can be.  Paul's version is in the article, and another great, savory one to try from an old post on this blog can be seen here.

Have you ever tried sugared cranberries?  They are a delight to the eyes (the perfect decoration for a cranberry mould or a cheese plate) and a surprise to the tongue - they become completely crunchy like a hard candy.  They are a cinch to make - just have them ready no more than a day ahead.  Humidity is not their friend.  Enjoy!

Sugared cranberries

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed, patted dry and picked over
1 cup+ medium-grained sugar for dusting

Create simple syrup by heating 2 cups sugar with 2 cups water until sugar is completely dissolved.  Allow mixture to cool off-heat for a few minutes so that cranberries won’t pop when simple syrup is poured over them.  Put cranberries in a large heat-proof bowl and pout simple syrup over them.  Allow to cool completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Drain liquid from cranberries.  Roll cranberries in sugar (note: one simple way to do this is to pour sugar onto a baking sheet and place a handful of cranberries on sheet and move back and forth to coat.  If sugar clumps replace with fresh sugar.  Repeat handful by handful until all cranberries are coated.  Spread coated cranberries onto two baking sheets and allow to dry for a couple of hours.  Sugar will dry and cranberries will turn into a crispy candy.

Best used same day 

Saturday, November 06, 2010


One of the reasons that I changed the name of my blog was to have a forum for sharing not only my food/still life work and ideas but also my portrait photography work.  I've been photographing more and more children/families and have had such a great experience sharing a moment with some wonderful clients. 

When you do portrait work, you really develop a relationship of sorts with your subjects (albeit a very short one).  There's the hours involved in the sitting where you have an opportunity to talk to and get to know them, and then so many hours involved in processing the images and turning them into family memories and display pieces.  I love that the moments captured become a documented part of a family's history.  It's rewarding to be able to provide something so important to them.  From my experience, the people who spend the time and money to capture and memoralize these moments are truly lovely people.

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite newborn images from this year.  There are so many - it's hard to whittle them down to just a few.  I have been favoring black and whites lately.  They are so quiet and peaceful - there is nothing to distract.  If you are interested, more can be seen here.

One very different aspect of my portrait business from my food/still life business is that I turn the images into final products, producing prints, albums, canvasses and other display pieces.  I've really developed a point of view about how to display images in a way that you can really appreciate them.  I'll share some learnings here soon.  I recently went to the PDN photography expo at the Javitz center in NY - it was a huge expo of the different vendors of printing services available to professional photographers.  I left with a lot of materials to comb through and a lot of new ideas.  It is all very fun and exciting.

Let me know what types of things you might be interested in - it will help me shape posts on this subject.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mad about pumpkins - happy Halloween!

I photographed some floral arrangements for Design*Sponge's upcoming book this week.  They were absolutely beautiful.  Amy Merrick arranged them and she did a wonderful job.  I really don't have much of a green thumb, but looking at her arrangements sent me up to the flower district to have a look around.  She brought a Cinderella pumpkin (I had never heard of that variety before).  It's the most beautiful pumpkin I have ever seen.  As far as I'm concerned, there is no reason to buy a conventional pumpkin again!

I've also been loving ghost pumpkins.  They seem to be popping up everywhere.  I have some out on the table now and they are definitely going to play a role in Thanksgiving decor.  They are so subdued and elegant - i just love them.

I found a large one in the floral district today and immediately thought of turning it into a lantern.  Not a traditional jack-o'-lantern but something a little more sophisticated.  I haven't gotten into Halloween festivities yet - but this seemed like just the right toe in.  A knife, a drill, and a few minutes later and I had a little nod to Halloween. 

The best part? I now have seeds to roast.  I already know just what I want to do with them - more on that later.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A treat: garlic confit

I am definitely trying to be better about attacking the bread basket when I am out but the one time I simply cannot resist is when there is a garlic confit accompanying it.  There is nothing like garlic cooked until it is sweet and mellow and the combination of garlic and olive oil cannot be beat.

I purchased Michael Psilakis' How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking a while ago and enjoyed flipping through it.  There are a number of interesting recipes to try but it's the garlic confit that jumped out as the first to try.  It's incredibly simple and keeps in the refrigerator for at least three weeks.  It's a fun project and a nice gift idea with a crusty bread or a jar of interesting olives to add with it.  I cheated and bought pre-peeled garlic (why not?).  The cooking item is about an hour, all of it unattended, so you can just let it do its thing and then enjoy the fruits of (barely any) labor pretty soon thereafter.  Enjoy (and just don't worry about the bread basket).

(makes 3 cups) 

3 cups garlic cloves, peeled
1 fresh bay leaf or 3 dried leaves
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and whole black peppercorns
Optional: add 1 tsp dried crushed red pepper (or to taste)
About 2 cups blended oil (half/half canola and extra virgin)

Combine cloves and seasonings in a heavy braising pan or Dutch oven.  Barely cover with the oil.  Cover pan and braise at 300 degrees F for 1 - 1 hour 15 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

Store in sterilized jars with oil to cover.  Stored properly, the confit will last for at least 3 weeks. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's for dinner?

I have fresh curry leaves, fresh kaffir lime leaves, kaffir limes, lemongrass, and coconut milk.  What should I make?  Tom yum (minus the curry leaves?).  Any ideas?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apple season!

We had had a tough weekend. My son, for some inexplicable reason, woke up every night (Fri, Sat, Sun) at 3:45, leaving us all tired and cranky during daylight hours. He's awfully cute, so it's not so bad, but we are really hoping for a full night's sleep tonight. When we have tough weekends it always makes me want to treat myself. Top on the wish list is a drive up north to apple country, to pick some apples and have fun with my camera. I love apples and it's this time of year that apples are in their full splendor. It make a world of difference to have an apple straight (or not long from) the tree versus cold storage.


There are always interesting local varieties in the farmer's market and picking an apple is often like selecting a bottle of wine: crisp, honey undertones, firm flesh, tart ... Did you see my last piece in Sweet Paul Magazine? I wrote a story on apples. This was before apples were actually in season and now it's truly the right time to take advantage. My favorite recipe in the piece is for apple butter. Have a look and give it a try.

Apple butter
(makes 3 cups)

4 pounds all-purpose or saucing apples peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups apple cider
1.5 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 Tbs cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice

Combine apples and cider in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until apples are tender.

Stir in sugar, lemon juice vanilla, cinnamon and allspice. Return to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for about 35 minutes. or until mixture is very thick.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Seasonal specialty: fried zucchini blossoms

The farmer's marketing has had beautiful zucchini blossoms for several weeks now and every time I see them, I make a note to buy them but I am always hesitant to purchase them unless I know I'll have time to make them right away.  They are so beautiful (but fragile) and they deserve to be eaten right away while "just picked."  If they weren't quite so ephemeral, I'd put them in bud vases and decorate the dinner table with them. My favorite way to eat them is stuffed with some fresh mozzarella and basil and fried in a light batter.  It seems to bring out their flavor and still preserve their interesting form.  It's also quite a crowd-pleaser.

The recipe is quite simple.   Be sure to make them only moments before you plan to eat them: they are quite fragile and won't hold their shape long.

Fried zucchini blossoms
(for ~12 blossoms)

12 zucchini blossoms, pistils removed, stems trimmed, washed well and gently patted dry
2 cups whole milk
4 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Generous pinch salt
Mozzarella (small amount)
4 basil leaves, torn into three pieces each
Canola or olive oil for frying

Combine milk, flour and egg.  Heat oil in a medium saucepan until a droplet of water crackles vigorously when dropped in.  While oil is heating, place a small chunk of mozzarella and a piece of basil in each blossom.  Gently twist tops to seal as best you can.

Dredge blossoms in batter a few at a time.  Allow excess to drip off.  Fry a few at a time for several minutes until blossoms turn golden brown.  Cheese will melt on the inside.

Remove gently with a slotted spoon.  Drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Artichoke salad and a shortcut

Eataly just opened in New York to a ton of PR and local excitement.  It is a massive indoor space filled with restaurants and a large, mostly Italian dry goods and gourmet items plus local produce, seafood and a local meat counter.  A foodie's dream come true.  One very interesting feature is a station dedicated to chopping and preparing vegetables to your specifications.  Initially I thought "who would ever be so lazy that they couldn't chop their own vegetables?" But then, I realized that there are some vegetables that are so onerous to prepare that I actually avoid buying them: artichokes!  Would they pare raw artichokes down the the hearts and shave them on a mandoline so I could make a fresh artichoke salad?  I optimistically picked out and weighed a dozen baby artichokes and presented them to the counter.  Sure enough, a short while later I had shaved raw artichokes floating in acidulated water, ready for assembly at home. 

At home, I sliced fennel thinly on a mandoline, tossed the fennel and the artichokes with some baby arugula and fennel fronds and drizzled it with some nice olive oil and red wine vinegar.  An "instant" salad that would have taken me quite some time without the leg up.  I was so excited I forgot to shave the 12-year aged Parmesan I had bought to go on top.  I can only imagine the other things I can concoct with freshly prepared artichokes!  I'm quite sure they didn't see this coming but they were game and I'll be going back.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where am I? (and apple and crab salad)

Hi everyone!  I hope that you have been enjoying your summer!  I've had a great summer with lots of fun work on both the child and food photography fronts.  I will share some of what I've been working on soon.  Recently I've shot a couple more cookbooks and am in the midst of working on the photography for a single-subject cookbook on lobster.  I'm shooting environmental shots of lobstermen and the like now, and will do the plated dishes next spring when the author finishes the manuscript.  I've had some a amazing child/parent clients and some really lovely and touching images that have come out of those sessions.  I have a great slate of new work coming up that I'm very excited about.  If you are interested, I seem to be doing little updates more frequently on my Facebook site than my blog - please feel free to hop on over there.

My family and I just spent 2 weeks in Maine.  Both relaxing and enjoying the ocean and the wonderful, quaint towns but conveniently also making some progress on the lobster cookbook.  I had the opportunity to meet many lobstermen as a result (and eat many lobsters!).  My husband and I were both remarking that it's nice when I have an assignment when we are away because it forces is to interact more with the locals and discover more of the local culture.  This time, we certainly were able to do that, and it was wonderful.

So what's been up with this blog?  Well, I have been wanting to re-brand for some time.  I've felt for a while that Cookbook Catchall is a name that no longer really reflects what I'm writing about.  I want to include more of my child photography on this site and wanted a broader name.  I also wanted a new look and feel and a custom URL.  So all of that was accomplished easily enough but when I went to publish my blog, Blogger managed to throw out all of the comments prior to the change.  Years of comments from you that I truly value.  If I switch back to the Blogspot URL, I get them back.  Go back to the custom domain name, and they are gone.  I've looked up this issue and it seems it's a known bug with no fix.  I'm so frustrated and disillusioned that it's kept me from doing new updates!  Does anyone know anything about this?  Any ideas?  Should I just switch to Wordpress and start all over again?

I thought I'd share an outtake from the next issue of Sweet Paul which will be out during the first half of September.  I contributed an apple story, and the final recipes ended up being sweet.  This one, which is delish, is out so I'm sharing it here - enjoy.

Apple and crab salad
(serves 4 as a light side salad or appetizer)

1-2 granny smith apples, sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
1 lb lump crab meat
1 Tbs mayonaise
1 Tbs+ freshly squeezed lemon
1 Tbs chopped tarragon
1 Tbs chopped chive
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Sea salt to taste

Drizzle some lemon juice on apple slices to prevent browning
Combine crab meat and seasonings.  Adjust seasonings to taste.
Arrange crab meat in layers between apple slices.  Serve immediately.

I shot a bunch of long exposures of the clear Maine sky while we were there.  This was my favorite.  No photoshop here - this is straight out of the camera!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Newsworthy: Sweet Paul Magazine Launches

Sweet Paul magazine launched today. Paul did a wonderful job and I am a proud contributor. Stop on by!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Going East: Indian-spiced fish wrapped in phyllo

Indian-spiced Halibut in Phyllo
(serves 4)

4 6-8 oz fillets of halibut, skin and bones removed
1 package phyllo dough, defrosted according to package directions
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
Olive oil spray

I adore fish. When I prepare fish at home, I most often pan fry it in a pan coated with 1/8 inch of oil, allowing one side to crisp. I must share my favorite recipe for salmon prepared this way. One way I occasionally shake things up by wrapping it in phyllo dough and baking it in the oven. It takes no more time and is a nice variation to a more typical preparation. I love Indian spices and think they go particularly well with fish. Halibut is my favorite for its firm but flaky texture and non-fishy taste. Phyllo can be a little temperamental: the trick is to work quickly and keep the phyllo covered with a damp cloth while you are working. This simple recipe is a nice introduction to phyllo if you've never used it before.

Pat fish dry. Working quickly, lay one phyllo sheet on counter with short side facing forward. Spray with olive oil. Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough. Spray with oil. Place one piece of fish horizontally on sheet near start of pastry closest to you, about two inches from the end. Season generously with spice mixture and sprinkle with salt. Fold sides on top of fish and then slowly roll fish away from you to encase completely in dough. Arrange packet seam-side down on a non-stick baking sheet. Spray with olive oil. Repeat with remaining filets. Bake for 15 minutes until phyllo is golden and fish is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cool and crunchy: vinegary cucumber salad

Ever notice that sometimes just cutting something differently seems to make it taste better? I'm having a little love affair with my new extra-wide peeler. It's just making my salads much more interesting. Today, a long seedless cucumber, sliced into thin strips, paired with some scallion microgreens from the farmer's market, turned into a fresh, crunch salad with a lot of interest. I have even grander plans for my peeler! Stay tuned. : )

Crunchy vinegary cucumber salad

1 large seedless cucumber, sliced thin lengthwise and rolled decoratively
1 medium shallot, chopped small
3 Tbs champagne vinegar
generous pinch sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Microgreens to garnish, if desired

Combine salt, vinegar and shallot. Set aside and allow to marinate for ten minutes. Slice cucumber. Season with pepper. Drizzle with dressing when ready. Sprinkle with microgreens if desired. Serve cold.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting ready for warmer weather: fruit smoothies

We have had some short bouts of warm weather. Enough to remind me that we are getting toward that time of year where lighter clothes come out of storage and where I have a desire to start eating lighter and more healthfully. I have already vowed to cut out unhealthy snacks and try to eat breakfast more regularly. I'm not giving up my weekend waffles though! Those must stay!

When I do want an effort-free snack or quick meal replacement I love homemade smoothies. In addition, I recently gave in and purchased a Vitamix blender (a major splurge) and now I will jump on any excuse to use it. I have two favorite smoothies: a frozen berry smoothie (raspberry is my favorite) and banana. The banana smoothie requires fresh bananas which I don't always have on hand, but you can buy frozen berries and keep them in the freezer all year long for a smoothie on demand!

Frozen berry smoothie

1 cup frozen berries (raspberries are my favorite)
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)
1 cup ice
1 scoop vanilla flavored protein powder (you don't need this but adding a sugar-free whey protein powder will turn the smoothie into the perfect snack and keep you full for hours)
Agave to sweeten, if desired

Blend all ingredients in blender until ice is completely crushed and drink is thick and well-blended. I like my smoothies fairly thick, but you can add additional milk or water to loosen if desired.

Banana smoothie

1 ripe fresh banana
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)
1 cup ice
1 scoop vanilla-flavored protein powder (see note above)
Agave to sweeten, if desired

Blend all ingredients in blender until ice is completely crushed and drink is thick and well-blended.

note: I like my smoothies fairly thick, but you can add additional milk or water to loosen if desired.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quick and creamy: cauliflower and roasted garlic soup

Want to have a creamy, seasonal (at least for here) soup with a sunny demeanor that almost cooks itself? We are preparing for a much-needed week-long vacation and I was cleaning out the refrigerator when I spied a head of cauliflower (not purchased long ago, but forgotten). I checked my root vegetable drawer and I had shallots, onions, and garlic - everything needed to turn cauliflower into delicious soup. I roasted the garlic to give it the benefit of rich garlic flavor without the bitterness or bit. One head of cauliflower made enough for two generous bowls.

Cauliflower and roasted garlic soup
(serves two, or double for more)

1 head cauliflower, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 large shallot or 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 head garlic
3 cups good vegetable stock
4 Tablespoons olive oil
Olive oil and sea salt

Cut garlic in half through the cloves width-wise. Drizzle each half with 1 Tbs olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in a 400 degree oven until cloves are tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute shallots or onion in a saute pan over medium heat until translucent. Add cauliflower and saute until just tender, allowing it to begin to brown. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is fork-tender.

Pour cauliflower mixture into a blender or food processor. Squeeze 3-4 cloves roasted garlic into mixture and blend until creamy. Add additional vegetable stock to thin consistency if desired. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Pour into bowls. Garnish with something nice and green. Serve with toasted French bread crostini smeared with remaining garlic and drizzled lightly with olive oil.


p.s. thanks so much everyone for your nice notes on the cookbook - I really appreciate it!
p.p.s. why won't blogger let me put an accent on saute??

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tomato: a Fresh-from-the-Vine Cookbook

Just received my copies of a cookbook I shot last summer. It is a cookbook of tomato-based recipes (even desserts!) from wonderful chefs including Alice Waters and Daniel Boulud. It is wonderful to see it in print!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Simple and colorful: steamed baby winter vegetables

Feeling a little down-trodden due to the constant cold, I perused the grocery isle in search of a little color, a little brightness, a little hint of the colors of spring. What jumped out at me was a selection of pint-sized root vegetables: baby turnips, and tiny baby carrots with vibrant greens and sugar snap peas (where are these peas coming from?). I thought: bright, vibrant, crunchy five-minute lunch! I peeled and quartered the baby turnips, peeled the carrots, leaving their stems on and trimmed the peas. The turnips and the carrots went in a bamboo steamer and the snap peas were blanched in some boiling salted water (and then dropped into ice water). I love the way blanching brings out the green, but I could have made even faster work of the dish by adding the peas to the steamer as well. I then drizzled the vegetables with some pure sesame oil, sprinkled them with some black sesame seeds and sea salt and voila! Lunch!

Steam. Season. Serve with some brown rice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Time for tea: warm, spicy chai

This week, I have received a few requests for use of a chai tea image I shot some time ago (strange: is there a chai convention going on???). The conversations reminded me of how much I enjoy chai and how fun it is to concoct your own flavors. Chai is such a nice option on a cold winter day: warm, rich and soothing with spices to wake up your senses. It was the perfect afternoon beverage to sip while watching the falling snow today. Follow the basic recipe for chai and then add your own spices to taste, or follow some of my ideas below.

Basic chai

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tsp loose black tea
Spices to taste
1 Tbs granulated sugar (or to taste)

Heat water and milk along with spices until liquid boils. Remove from heat, add tea, cover and steep for 2 minutes. Strain out tea and spices. Add sugar to taste.

For every cup of liquid, add:

Eastern Blend

1/2 tsp sumac berries
2 pods green cardamom

Sweet Blend

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 pieces "Vietnamese or true" cinnamon or 1 stick Cassia

Spicy Blend

1-2 star anise
3 balls allspice
3 black peppercorns

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Satsifying a sweet tooth: quick-bake raspberry rolls

I've been fiddling around with some left over puff pastry from the Sweet Paul piece. It's so fun to work with pre-prepared pastry. It takes just minutes to make something delicious. It's a good thing it's frozen - at least there is some hurdle to baking a hedonistic treat!

Quick-bake raspberry rolls
(makes six, double recipe for 12)

One sheet puff pastry, defrosted according to package instructions
1/4 - 1/2 cup raspberry jam, heated to loosen it (strain seeds if desired but I like them)
Scant handful dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Melted butter for basting
Granulated sugar and sanding sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place defrosted pastry on a lightly floured surface. Lightly dust with granulated sugar. Brush with butter and use a fork to prick pastry in 4 or 5 different places. Spoon on and evenly distribute jam. Scatter walnuts and cranberries on top. Cut pastry into six rectangles and roll each rectangle horizontally. Place on a non-stick baking sheet, seam down. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for ~15 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Perfect for winter: miso soup

Do you ever go into a Japanese supermarket and end up with a full shopping basket just because everything looks so beautiful and you just can't leave the store without it? Well, I'm definitely guilty of that. I love browsing through the aisles looking at all of the exotic ingredients and the ones that aren't so exotic but are so beautifully packaged that they seem so.

There's a small but well supplied supermarket in soho that I love visiting when I am in the neighborhood. Earlier this week, I stopped in with the goal of satisfying a soba noodle craving but of course, ended up with enough to make several dishes.

Miso soup is so easy to make and I was reminded how delicious and satisfying it is. I like to short cut the process by buying soup broth concentrate and I like to add whatever strikes my fancy to the soup. This time, some beautiful enoki mushrooms and Japanese garlic chives caught my eye in the produce section. I added tofu to the mix and some chopped scallion and in less than 10 minutes, had lunch. For dinner, I re-heated the leftovers and added some soba noodles and a fried egg on top. It was the perfect light winter meal - protein, vegetables, warm and soothing.With the left over soba noodles, I revisited a favorite recipe I will never tire of, Otsu (pictured above).

Miso soup
(serves 4)

3-4 cups water
Dashi-based soup concentrate to taste (liquid form, ask for a recommendation at the supermarket)
1 package firm, silken tofu, cut into 1/2 inch squares
1 package enoki mushrooms (trim root ends and use amount desired)
3 scallions (white and light green parts), sliced thinly
1/4 cup chopped garlic chives (nira), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons miso (I like shiro miso)

6 oz dried soba noodles
4 eggs, over easy

Bring water and soup concentrate to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add tofu. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn off heat. Dissolve miso in a few tablespoons of the hot soup broth in a small container and add into the pot. Add scallions and garlic chives. Add soba noodles if using. Serve in bowls. Top with fried egg if using.