Rockstar Granola -With or Without a Recipe

Granola Recipe

Granola is one of the more simplistic baking endeavors. Yet, there are several granola recipes which have reached national notoriety. Ironically, the creators of these recipes are on the opposite ends of the country.

The first granola recipe from Eleven Madison restaurant in New York City, my adopted hometown. Yes, at the end of the 15 course, $295 per head prix-fixe dinner, you are presented with a mason jar of the house granola. It is an unexpected and lovely touch. You ration the hell out of that granola because it is probably the best you’ve ever had. And, you know you won’t be getting more anytime soon. Or ever. Continue reading “Rockstar Granola -With or Without a Recipe” »

Seven Tips for Using Miso

Miso PasteDo you have a tub of miso, a culinary time capsule, lurking in the depths of your fridge -neglected and long forgotten? If so, this post is for you!

During an ingredient lecture at the Natural Gourmet Institute, chef instructor, Olivia Roszkowski commented:

“You may have bought a tub of miso for a recipe and then wondered how you
will ever use it up. But, once you learn some tips for how to use it, you’ll
wonder how you ever cooked without it.”     – Chef Olivia

She is so right. Continue reading “Seven Tips for Using Miso” »

The Ultimate Bargain 3-Course Organic Brunch

Chickpea Crepe with Mango Sauce

New Yorkers love their brunch, or ‘Boozy Brunch’ as they are often promoted. This is no doubt fueled by their tendency towards late nights, the ‘my phone is my kitchen’ mindset and a restaurant-dense landscape. So, after living here almost nine years, I was surprised to find that I was in the dark about THE best brunch deal in the city -hands down! Case closed. Where is this brunch nirvana? Read on to find out. Continue reading “The Ultimate Bargain 3-Course Organic Brunch” »

White Bean Miso Soup

White Bean Miso Soup

You must try this White Bean Miso Recipe recipe at some point. Because at some point, it will be just what your body needs. Let me explain.

I first tried this soup during a baking class at Natural Gourmet Institute. After hours of baking and sampling, baking and sampling and more baking and sampling, the class was on a collective sugar buzz. Knowingly, the chef had made this miso soup to counterbalance the sugar. Satisfying, grounding and nourishing, the miso soup quickly became more popular than the baked goods. Ying and Yang. It worked. So, for these reasons, miso soup is comforting, not just on a cold day, but is generally a welcome treat on its own and especially after overconsumption. Continue reading “White Bean Miso Soup” »

Why We Cook

Peep In The City

Peep In The City

Happy Easter everyone!

Holiday aside, Sunday is traditionally a day for family dinners. I love to spend a little extra time in the kitchen on Sundays either prepping for the week, or experimenting. Due to geographical challenges (being on the opposite coast) I won’t be joining my family holiday gathering in Seattle. But, if I could, I would cook. And this is why, and perhaps why you cook, best captured by the brilliant Michael Pollan.

“To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every working moment into yet another occasion for consumption.

Cooking has the power to transform more than plants and animals. Cooking, I’ve found, gives us the opportunity, so rare in modern life, to work directly in our support and in the support of the people we feed.

In the calculus of economics, doing so may not always be the best use of an amature cook’s time. It is beautiful even so. For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted than preparing something delicious and nourishing for the people you love?”

– Michael Pollan, ‘Cooked’

Why do you cook? Please leave a comment below!

5 Reasons to Love Seaweed

Seaweed Love

While you might not order seaweed beyond sushi rolls or stock it in your pantry, you’re probably eating it —more than you know. Edible seaweeds, also known as sea vegetables, are frequently used in ice creams, consumer baked goods, salad dressings -and of course, nut milks (most brands except Whole Foods 360). But, if you’re not intentionally including seaweed in your diet —should you? Maybe.

I’ve been starting to work with edible seaweeds, also known as sea vegetables. Check out these 5 interesting facts about our green, brown and red friends under the sea and ideas for introducing them into your diet. Welcome to Seaweed 101!

Continue reading “5 Reasons to Love Seaweed” »

Turmeric Tahini Anti-Inflammation Dressing

Turmeric Tahini Dressing

 

This versatile dressing makes it easy to bring turmeric into your daily cooking. Pour it over cooked fish, grain bowls, soba noodles and vegetables. And with anti-inflammatory ginger, probiotic-containing miso and alkalizing sesame in tahini, this dressing will boost the health quotient of almost any meal!

Continue reading “Turmeric Tahini Anti-Inflammation Dressing” »

‘Whole Detox’ by Dr. Deanna Minich

Whole DetoxWith the onset of spring, many of us consider a detox or cleanse of sorts. But, what is it we are wanting to accomplish?

The usual goal is a physical ‘refresh’ gained by temporarily cutting out the toxins of our lives. But, should we limit our view of toxins to the compounds tracked by the Environmental Working Group, removed from specialty food items or listed on allergen warning labels? Should we broaden our concept of toxins to include damaging thoughts and relationships? Should a detox program pay as much attention to what we need to add to nourish ourselves as it does to the things we need to avoid? Continue reading “‘Whole Detox’ by Dr. Deanna Minich” »

Icelandic Food – Part 2

Icelandic Arctic CharThe first post on Icelandic food provided an overview of the cuisine’s ingredients with a focus on indoor farming. This post gives an overview of the foods this traveller ate (or not) in the Land of Fire and Ice.

Icelandic Breakfast Buffet

What’s for breakfast?
Iceland may be a little challenging for vegans. For example, the above photo shows a typical  hotel breakfast buffet; liver and lamb pate, cheeses and sausages. Eggs, pastries, muesli and rúgbrauð, a dense dark and sweet rye bread were also typically part of the spread. And then there is skyr, always skyr —as in all the time and everywhere!

Skyr

Skyr is Iceland’s ubiquitous cultured dairy product. For over a thousand years, Icelanders have been making skyr from pasteurized skimmed milk and a bacteria culture. While it seems similar to yogurt, technically it is a soft cheese, not a yogurt.

Compared to typical domestic yogurts, skyr is non-fat, lower in sugar, higher in protein and stick-to-your-spoon thick! Ironically, this non-fat product has incredible full-fat creaminess.

While many commercial yogurts are thickened with fats and stabilizers, the skyr texture develops through a unique filtration technique which removes most of the excess water. Evidently, it takes a whole three liters of milk to produce just one liter of skyr. In contrast, the ratio is 1:1 when producing traditional yogurt. This explains why it is such a concentrated source of protein.

Skyr can be found at every Icelandic breakfast buffet and convenience store. But, it is also becoming readily available in U.S. supermarkets under the Siggi’s and B’more Organic brands. However, these brands are not considered authentic skyr. The actual Skyr brand, manufactured in Iceland, is currently only available at select Whole Foods Markets.

Snack Time!
There were a handful of snacks which seemed to follow us everywhere.

Fish Jerky

One was HarðfIskur. Here, our guide is offering us the value pack. HarðfIskur is basically a fish jerky, available from grocery stores to gas stations.

I thought it was pretty good. But, I evidently didn’t experience it the favorite way of the locals —with salted butter, like Americans might enjoy potato chips or popcorn.

Another in the movie snack category -Icelanders love their black licorice, a softer and often saltier version than we have in the U.S. And in that same color scheme is the famous Brennivin, which literally translated means ‘burned wine’.

Nicknamed ‘black death’. This caraway-flavored, unsweetened schnapps is the appropriately assertive companion beverage when consuming fermented shark.

Yes, fermented shark or kæstur hákarl is a national dish of Iceland consisting of a Greenland shark or other sleeper shark.

Apparently the Greenland shark is poisonous when fresh and can only be consumed after a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months. Allowing the shark to ferment and cure removes the toxins from the flesh, making it edible. The result is an ammonia-filled fish which smells like something you might keep under your kitchen sink.

Is your mouth watering yet?

As you might imagine, kæstur hákarl is known as an ‘acquired taste’. It was offered to us at the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum, served in the traditional way; in cubes on toothpicks with the schnapps. One cube was more than enough. No regrets. But, I would have to agree with Anthony Bourdain who described it as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” he has ever eaten.

Fermented Shark

THE BEFORE HÁKARL FACIAL EXPRESSION. (NOT ANTHONY BOURDAIN)

Dinner

Our travel itinerary meant staying in a lot of remote hotels with pre fix dinners. These prefix dinners typically offered a choice between fish and lamb. Because locals and travellers alike rave about the lamb, I was tempted to try it. But, I never wanted to give up fish for dinner!

Iceland is heavenly for fish lovers. A unique combination of cool and warm ocean currents meet off the island’s shores. This creates ideal conditions for fish stocks to thrive, mainly Cod, Haddock, Pollock, Golden redfish, Herring, Greenland halibut, Wolffish and Ling.

Today, fish remains not only a key part of the Icelandic diet and culture, but is also the country’s primary export product. As such, Iceland maintains rigorous standards for healthy, sustainable fisheries and strict laws protect the coastal waters from pollution.

These rigorous standards and strict laws also benefit aquaculture. About 50 fish farms have started operating since the 1980s. The main aquaculture species, Atlantic salmon, Arctic char and Atlantic cod seem to make their way onto every restaurant menu, or at least the ones I scanned. While I didn’t realize it at the time, evidently I ate quite a bit of farmed fish. But, the taste and texture was exceptional and nothing like my experience with farmed fish in the US.

Salmon and ling cod with carrot puree and blue mussel foam
Cured salmon with celery root mayonnaise
red fish (ocean perch) and langostine with langostine hollandaise
arctic char with celery root puree

 

And Dessert

Liked baked goods? You’re in luck because you won’t have to go out of your way to find some phenomenal ones. Icelandic bakers know their craft, carrying on the tradition, originating from Danish influence. The image below captures a small sample of what was commonly available at Iceland’s equivalent of roadside stands. On this occasion, our vehicle had to stop to wait out extreme weather and road closures. So, when in Rome…

Icelandic Baked Goods

Icelandic Foods I did NOT Eat
As you will see, traditional Icelandic is rather resourceful. Nothing gets wasted!

  • Horse – I’m not casting judgment
  • Hotdogs – Famous dogs, made with lamb, pork and beef
  • Hrútspungar – Ram’s testicles, pickled and pressed into blocks
  • Lamb – Lamb lovers rave about the Icelandic lamb quality
  • Puffin – Often smoked
  • Svið –  a half sheep’s head with the brain removed, singed to remove the fur, and boiled
  • Minke Whale – Actually not an endangered species, prepared skewered, as kabob, as steaks or seared like tuna

In summary, modern icelandic food is probably much more innovative, sustainably sourced and delicious than you may have ever imagined. If you eat fish or lamb, eat as much of either or both while you are there. Everyone should at least try a few of the novelty traditional items to gain an authentic flavor for the place. And vegan, pack some snacks.

Have you travelled to Iceland? If so, what did you think of the food? Please leave a comment below!

Iceland Food – Part 1

RESOURCES:

http://www.iceland.is/files/pdf/food-press-kit-iceland-iv-pdf.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_cuisine
http://lfh.is/documents/AquacultureinIcelanddes2009upps.pdf

Icelandic Food – Part I

Icelandic FoodTravelling to Iceland?  You likely have high expectations about the landscape, the geysers, the glacier and, of course, the northern lights. But, Icelandic food may not be on your radar. While it certainly wasn’t on mine, I was pleasantly surprised by Icelandic cuisine. The food was not only flavorful and minimally processed, but also sourced with a tradition of pride.

Is Icelandic cuisine a great example of ‘Clean Eating’? Yes. Vegan friendly? Definitely not.

Yet, despite their animal-centric diet, Icelanders are among the world’s healthiest people. Obesity and smoking rates are lower and life expectancy is longer (the 4th highest in the world) compared to other developed countries. No wonder 81% of Icelanders report being in good health. Might nutrition researchers someday discuss the ‘Icelandic Paradox’ alongside that of the famous French Paradox?  Continue reading “Icelandic Food – Part I” »