I'm excited to share that I will be teaching cooking classes at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE).  They have a fun and delicious variety of recreational cooking classes for all levels. My next class will be on Essentials of Tuscan Cooking on Saturday, July 14 from 10am - 2:30pm.

For information on my upcoming  class offerings and how to register, please click here.

Dan Barber, Chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barnes, offers a great explanation on organic and local foods on Slate V. Check it out!
Here's a tasty recipe for an easy lunch or after-work supper.

Black Beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, folate and is a great regulator for blood sugar levels.

Quick and Easy Black Bean Burgers
Yield: 4 burgers
Equipment:  Food Processor

1 medium to small onion, peeled
½ cup carrots, peeled
½ cup celery
1 bell pepper any color, coarsely chopped and seeded
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon powdered coriander
15-ounce can black beans (no salt added)
½ cup cooked brown rice
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh sage

Avocado slices

Preheat a nonstick pan to medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil.

Pulse the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper in the food processor until you have a coarse mush of vegetables. 

Transfer the vegetables to your preheated pan, then add your spices and one teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables for about ten minutes.  You will see steam coming from the pan, which is what you want.  The salt will release the moisture in the vegetables and help to cook it evenly.  Once your vegetables are softened, transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Add the beans, brown rice and herbs to the food processor and puree until smooth. Mix with your cooked vegetables and taste for salt and pepper.

Wipe down your pan with a damp cloth or paper towel, then spray with non-stick cooking spray and preheat to medium high.  

Using your hands, take about a 1/3 cup of the bean mixture and form into patties. You should yield about 4 medium to large burgers. Cook about 3-5 minutes per side or until a dark golden crust forms on each side.

Top with avocado slices and serve on toasted whole grain english muffins. If you want to stay gluten-free, they are delicious atop a green salad.

Today is my good friend Sarah’s birthday, and to honor the day of her birth I am going to have what Liz Lemon calls a “nooner.”  That means going home in the middle of the day to have pancakes. 

Here’s my taste good – feel good version.

Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Yield – 8 small/medium pancakes

1 ½ tablespoons melted butter
1 beaten egg
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup

¾ c whole grain (or whole wheat) pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Your favorite chocolate chips

Melt the butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds in a heat safe bowl. In the same bowl add the remaining wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Preheat a nonstick pan that is sprayed with cooking spray to medium-high heat.

Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl with a whisk, and create a well in the center of the bowl. Pour in the wet ingredients and whisk gently until just combined.  Small lumps are ok, and as a rule of thumb, don’t whisk longer than 5 seconds. Under mixing will give you fluffy pancakes.

In circular motion, drop about a ¼ cup of batter onto your hot pan.  Sprinkle the tops with chocolate chips evenly. Once the sides of the pancakes are dry and the center is bubbly, flip over and cook for another 30 seconds. To check, gently press the middle of the pancake with your finger. If the center sinks, cook a little longer. If the center bounces back easily, you are ready to have a great birthday!

When I'm sad or just need a little levity in my life, I go to my happy blog. Without fail this blog will make me laugh, no chuckle, out loud. While soo many blogs out there claim to be funny, this one actually is, and the butt of the joke?  Cake. Hilarious, hilarious cake. What could be better?  So the next time you are needing a giggle, or just want to read postings from some seriously funny ladies, and a guy, I highly suggest going to Cake Wrecks.

Women Chefs & Restaurateurs has opened their scholarship season! If you aren't already, sign up to be a member for eligibility to international internships offering experience in the kitchen, sustainable farms, wine, how to run a variety of businesses, writing, photography, event planning and marketing. You may also compete for scholarships to culinary and pastry programs.


Level: Intermediate - Advanced
Price: Bought used

Healthy?: Not so much, but has a commitment to local, sustainable, and sometimes organic.

Miette is the brainchild of pastry chef, Meg Ray, who like me was also a career changer, but more impressively is self-taught. She opened her pastry shop, the book's namesake, eleven years ago in the popular Berkeley Farmer's Market and then went on to open in the San Francisco Ferry Building. I found this shop on my first visit to SF, and like my reaction to seeing her book, was captivated. Upon seeing her shop, you will be immediately struck by the attention to detail - drawing inspiration from Parisian pastry shops and Ray’s own vintage, yet elegant aesthetic.

My only reservation is that because the book is so beautiful, people may not realize on their way to the cash register, that it is not for the faint hearted. It's not a Nigella-Bakes-book. (Hey I love Nigella.) The recipes, whether Ray realizes or not, are for bakers with a pinch of experience. That being said, however, the recipe themselves can be easily followed, but it's the final product, the cake decoration, that needs a more experienced hand, as well as pastry tools. There are old-fashioned recipes such as Hot Milk Cake so seductive by title and photo, you are helpless to make it. So I would, and forget the business about dyeing and rolling fondant. If you really want a challenge, I’d go for the fleur-de-sel caramels.

_What exactly is all this business about CSA?  It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Essentially, you and other people (community) purchase together (support) a piece of a farmer's harvest (agriculture) in advance, then receive scheduled boxes of fresh produce and other treats directly from the people who made them. In short, it's awesome. 

When you live in the city, it's hard to get products that are any fresher or more authentic. To boot, these fruits and vegetables have a higher nutritional content because there is a shorter time between harvest and your table. Some CSA's also offer fresh eggs, which are incomparable in quality and flavor to factory processed eggs.

My specific CSA is Farm Share which is a family run company located in Westchester NY. Currently, I'm receiving my "winter shares." Winter shares are often received with less frequency than say, summer shares because of the season. Though, I have found that I particularly love the winter shares because they not only contain produce, but incredible handmade items like jam, yogurt, butter and sauces. Everything so far has been absolutely delicious.

Check on my links page for a CSA closest you. The way you receive your share will differ between companies. Sometimes you have to pick them up from a host center if delivery is not offered. Farm Share includes delivery in their price, but NYC residents must have a doorman to accept the box.

A concern some people have about receiving a regular share is that they receive too much! They don't have the time to cook or start losing their minds when they get seemingly endless amounts of tomatoes and zucchini.  First, I'd say (ahem) contact me for ideas on how to use your ingredients. Second, some CSA's allow you to purchase half or quarter shares. If the CSA you like doesn't offer partials ask a friend to share your share! It will lower the cost for each of you and give you some time to use everything. Finally, think about donating your box to a local food pantry. My CSA actually offers this service if you ask ahead of time. It was a great option in the summer when I knew I would be on vacation.

CSA's are starting to work with farmers now to organize summer shares. This allows farmers to begin planning their crops and create a pricing structure. Remember, farmers will receive a fair price for their goods with the right CSA. So start thinking about your share today! How could this not be a taste good - feel good?

Here's a quick, cost-conscious and of course, healthy meal ready in less time than getting take out. Escarole has a wonderful texture, with its white stems providing a satisfying crunch, similar to bok choy. This dish is packed with lean protein from the chickpeas to your choice of poultry sausage. Also, like other greens, escarole is an excellent source of calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K. You can find escarole right now in your local farmer's market, and because it's in season, escarole is very affordable in your regular supermarket, sometimes for less than a dollar.

Makes 4 servings
1 head escarole
1 13-oz can chickpeas
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped garlic, about 3-4 medium cloves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup white wine
1 package of your favorite chicken or vegetarian sausage,
sliced lengthwise for faster cooking, Apple or Italian style pairs best

Begin by filling your sink with cold water. Slice the end of the escarole to release individual leaves. Soak leaves in water for a minute or two to allow grit to fall to the bottom. Shake excess water vigorously, but don't worry about getting all the water off.

Using the largest saute pan you have, a wok would be ok as well, add enough oil to coat the bottom the pan. Then, add the garlic and turn heat to medium. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, stir to prevent it from burning. 

After 2 minutes, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat, then add your escarole and wine. If the leaves do not all fit in the pan, cover and let sit for a few minutes to allow leaves on the bottom to wilt down, then you may add the remaining escarole. Stir every so often to bring wilted leaves to the top. Tongs are the best tool for this job.

While the escarole is cooking, add 1 tablespoon oil to your grill pan and use a paper towel to coat evenly. Preheat pan on the highest setting until it begins to smoke. Place sausage on your grill pan on an angle. Think of 2 and 10 o'clock just like your driver's ed class. Following this method will give you beautiful grill marks. After 2 minutes, turn the sausage on the opposite angle, grill for another 2 minutes. Turn over and repeat.

While the sausage is cooking, add chickpeas to the escarole and stir to coat evenly. Let cook uncovered on medium to high heat until most of the liquid on the bottom has evaporated. About 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and adjust salt if necessary.

Serve in a large bowl, with sausage atop greens for a great presentation. Sorry for not having a picture - making a quick meal also means eating quickly too!

One my favorite things to do is to take a recipe that I have been using for a while and give it a tweak to create something even more special. I've taken my business as usual sweet potato soup and added some uber health-supportive coconut milk and turmeric for a soup that would be a welcome addition to Thanksgiving dinner.

3 cups chopped sweet potato, about 3-inch pieces
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg, separated
1/2 cup coconut or olive oil, separated
2 large shallots,chopped (3/4 cup)
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 -15oz can coconut milk
4 cups vegetable stock or low sodium broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
zest of half a small orange or tangerine
dried unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 400.
  1. Mix sweet potato, 1/4 cup oil, ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until equally coated. Place on a baking pan and roast for 20 minutes. To ensure proper roasting, make sure potatoes are laid out in a single layer, and use another pan if necessary.
  2. Meanwhile, saute shallot in remaining oil along with the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, thyme, remaining nutmeg, ginger, turmeric and 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper over low-/medium heat in a deep soup pot. Stir occasionally.
  3. Once shallot is soft and translucent (about 5-8 minutes) add coconut milk and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil covered. Shut off heat. 
  4. Once the potatoes are done, add them to the soup pot and turn heat back on. Bring back to a boil, then immediately turn down heat to lowest setting, and let simmer for 25-30 minutes covered.
  5. The potatoes should be very soft. Remove cinnamon stick, bay leaf, thyme sprig and ginger. Add orange zest and maple syrup, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To have a chunkier soup, serve as is, or carefully puree in blender in batches. Top with shredded coconut before serving.