A Culinary Journal

A Culinary Journal

Classically trained NYC chef...turned California mom + food blogger

Recent Posts

Beautiful Beet Hummus

Beautiful Beet Hummus

Not surprisingly, I know a few chefs.  Most in NYC.  One I met almost 20 years ago when we began working together as culinary instructors.  We became instant friends and despite the distance between us, we have remained close.  Rian has a lovable Southern background with a great New York attitude. He is quick, witty, kind and one hell of a cook.  If asked, he would say he “prefers” pastry, but he is amply skilled in cooking both sweet and savory foods. He is also (like many great chefs) self-taught. A dinner at Rian’s home is always an incredible treat filled with surprises. Often a multi-course meal with 6-8 dishes and perfectly matched wines, dinner at Rian’s is one of the things I miss most about New York.

As he is a talented chef, I was humbled when Rian came to my blog to look for a particular recipe: one for beet hummus.  Maybe you’ve had some, or maybe you’ve seen it on a menu recently.  Beet hummus it is considered a “hot dish” right now.  So when Rian e-mailed, I developed this beet humus recipe for him.  I hope that he likes it as much as I do.

beet hummus

I love beets.  Straight up roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, I think they are like candy–but better.  On menus, I will order almost any dish with the word “beet” included.  Red, golden or stripped, beets are a wonderful root vegetable that can be used in a wide range of foods from smoothies to layer cakes. Beets are also good for you. For instance, they contain a lot of nutrients in a low-calorie package; and they contain dietary nitrates that get converted to the “miracle molecule” Nitric Oxide, which is why they are known to lower blood pressure.

beet hummus

Hummus is traditionally a simple spread made of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic.  It has become increasingly popular in the last twenty years.  Considered almost a peasant food in the Middle East, it has been credited as being “a dynamite product in America.” 20 years ago, hummus sales had not even reached $5 million; by 2016 they had reached $725 million annually. It’s estimated that 25 percent of American homes now stock humus in the fridge.

Numerous variations of this classic have popped up, from red pepper to edamame (a flavor my mother-in-law lives on).  For my beet hummus recipe, I wanted the classic humus texture with the earthy beet flavor.  To achieve this, I use roasted red beets as the base but also added a mixture of chickpeas and edamame.  I like to oven roast my beets; although easy, it is the most time-consuming part of this dip.  Once roasted, everything gets blended until you have a vibrant, spreadable dip.  I serve mine with pita and vegetables for variety; but this dip would also work well with just about anything.  Although I am yet to get Rian’s stamp of approval, I did get a major thumbs up from my husband, who is not normally a huge beet fan.  In fact, he liked it so much he ate it for breakfast; but if you know my husband, that’s not all that surprising.beet hummus

Beet Hummus

February 25, 2018
: 2 cups
: 20 min
: 50 min
: 1 hr 10 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 large red beets
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Step 2 Cut off the beet tops. Scrub and dry the beets then wrap them loosely in aluminum foil. Place the beets on a baking sheet and roast for about 50-60 minutes, depending on their size. Check the beets after 40 minutes by piercing with a small paring knife. Beets are done when a knife slides easily to the center. Open the foil and allow the beets to cool.
  • Step 3 When cool enough to handle, peel the beets. Using a paring knife or your hands, gently peel away the skin and discard. Set aside.
  • Step 4 Using a food processor, such as a Cusinart fitted with a metal blade attachment, add the cooled, roasted beets, chickpeas, edamame, tahini, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Puree on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Pulse in the olive oil to blend.
  • Step 5 Serve hummus dip chilled.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Perfect Bloody Mary

The Perfect Bloody Mary

There are many occasions when a Bloody Mary is the perfect beverage: Sunday brunch, family gatherings, a long cross-country flight, and during lunch while skiing on a cold winter day.  I have always loved a good Bloody Mary, I think mainly because they are salty–and I do love salt.  In Wisconsin, where I went to college, when you order a Bloody Mary they serve a light beer on the side as a chaser, which I later learned is common in some places. In college, I loved that.  What student wouldn’t?  A tasty, two-for-one drink special that appealed to most students living on a tight budget.

Fernand Petiot claimed to have invented the Bloody Mary in 1921. Petiot was working at the New York Bar in Paris (which later became Harry’s New York Bar, a famous hangout for Ernest Hemingway. New York City’s well-known 21 Club has claimed the cocktail was invented there in the early 1930s by a bartender named Henry Zbikiewicz.  In 1942, Life Magazine listed a Bloody Mary style beverage s a “new cocktail” but called it “Red Hammer“.

The basics of the drink aren’t complicated: the two main ingredients, vodka and tomato juice, are standard.  However, the drink almost never consists of just these two ingredients. Bartenders pride themselves on their secret ingredients.  There is a vast amount of variation on both the making and presentation of this well-known favorite.  Some Bloody Mary’s even have different base spirits like bourbon, rye, tequila or gin. But liquor aside, a lot of mixologist creativity goes into the garnish.  This has become a bit of a culinary obsession in recent years.  Celery, a traditional garnish, is now the exception rather than the rule.  Favored instead are eye-catching, ginormous, over-the-top garnishes such as beef sliders, giant shrimp, bacon slabs, pickles, a whole sausage, and onion rings.  You name it, bartenders are out there making this drink a meal in and of itself.

Regardless of the size of the garnish, a Bloody Mary is a filling cocktail.  For that reason, it is not one that I drink too often.  But when the mood strikes, there is nothing else like them.  I particularly enjoy whipping up a low alcohol version for family gatherings around the holidays.  This is a drink to be creative with both heat-wise and garnish-wise: anything can work, just make it interesting, fun and maybe even dramatic.  With my husband’s love of pickled products, I often have various things around the house to work with, so I put them to good use.  But what I listed in this recipe is optional: even plain old celery works just fine on its own.  My four semi-secret ingredients in the drink itself are low-sodium V8, pickle juice, spicy white horseradish and Louisiana hot sauce.  After making this drink or many years, I truly believe it’s perfect.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

February 23, 2018
: 1
: 5 min
: 5 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 8 ounces low-sodium V8
  • 1 ounce dill pickle juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground white horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • dash of ground black pepper
  • dash of salt
  • dash of celery salt
  • 1 dill pickle, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 green olive, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 pickled okra, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 pickled onion, for garnish (optional)
  • beef jerky, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 lemon slice, for garnish (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Using a cocktail shaker, add the vodka, V8, pickle juice, horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce, black pepper, salt and celery salt and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
  • Step 2 Pour mixture into a tall pilsner glass filled with a good amount of ice. Garnish with a pickle, olive, okra, onion, and jerky. Serve with a lemon slice.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata Cheese

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata Cheese

I have not been shy about my love of salads. My simple radish salad and my arugula and golden beet salad, are examples that salads don’t need to be overly complicated to be delicious. My mom had me eating salads when I was a kid and I’m incredibly thankful for that.  Because of that early exposure, I’ve never stopped. You can make a great salad with just about anything you have in the refrigerator.  If you work with the season and look for complementary flavors, there are limitless easy combinations, so many that you hopefully won’t get tired of any one thing.  In cooler months, I opt for a heartier salad, using more filling seasonal ingredients such as this lovely salad with roasted butternut squash and one of my favorites soft cheeses of all times, burrata.

roasted butternut squash

Butternut squash intimidates some people. I get that. The shape can make it tricky to work with, and it requires proper cooking to bring out the flavor you want.  For tips on how to safely peel and cut a butternut squash click this link. But if you can handle those hurdles, you’re golden.  Butternut squash is a member of the gourd family, like pumpkins and melons.  Because of its seeds, it is technically a fruit.   Butternut squash is naturally low in fat and loaded with dietary fiber. Butternut squash is also a great source of potassium, Vitamin B6 and is very high in beta-carotene, a powerhouse nutrient that might have cancer prevention properties.  So, if you are not yet a butternut squash fan, it’s worth considering. I pair this healthful gourd with fresh, slightly salty burrata cheese, flavorful microgreens and a sprinkling of whole pecans.  A simple apple cider vinaigrette blends all the wonderful earthy flavors together into an elegant, filling salad that you can enjoy any night of the week, just make a little bit of extra for lunch the next day.

roasted butternut squash

Roasted Butternut Squash With Microgreens And Burrata

February 22, 2018
: 4
: 20 min
: 15 min
: 35 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • For the Salad:
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted or plain
  • 6 cups mixed microgreens
  • fresh Burrata cheese, cut into 1-inch size pieces
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Step 2 Place the butternut squash on the prepared pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, maple syrup and salt using your hands, lightly toss well to coat. Place in the oven and roast till tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Step 3 For the dressing, in a small bowl and the shallots, honey, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, whisk to blend. Adjust the seasoning as needed and set aside.
  • Step 4 To serve, in a large mixing bowl add the microgreens and roasted butternut squash, drizzle with some of the dressing. Gently toss to mix. Place on a serving platter. Place the burrata on and around the salad.  Garnish with pecans and serve.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


What's New

Beautiful Beet Hummus

Beautiful Beet Hummus

Not surprisingly, I know a few chefs.  Most in NYC.  One I met almost 20 years ago when we began working together as culinary instructors.  We became instant friends and despite the distance between us, we have remained close.  Rian has a lovable Southern background with a great New York attitude. He is quick, witty, kind and one hell of a cook.  If asked, he would say he “prefers” pastry, but he is amply skilled in cooking both sweet and savory foods. He is also (like many great chefs) self-taught. A dinner at Rian’s home is always an incredible treat filled with surprises. Often a multi-course meal with 6-8 dishes and perfectly matched wines, dinner at Rian’s is one of the things I miss most about New York.

As he is a talented chef, I was humbled when Rian came to my blog to look for a particular recipe: one for beet hummus.  Maybe you’ve had some, or maybe you’ve seen it on a menu recently.  Beet hummus it is considered a “hot dish” right now.  So when Rian e-mailed, I developed this beet humus recipe for him.  I hope that he likes it as much as I do.

beet hummus

I love beets.  Straight up roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, I think they are like candy–but better.  On menus, I will order almost any dish with the word “beet” included.  Red, golden or stripped, beets are a wonderful root vegetable that can be used in a wide range of foods from smoothies to layer cakes. Beets are also good for you. For instance, they contain a lot of nutrients in a low-calorie package; and they contain dietary nitrates that get converted to the “miracle molecule” Nitric Oxide, which is why they are known to lower blood pressure.

beet hummus

Hummus is traditionally a simple spread made of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic.  It has become increasingly popular in the last twenty years.  Considered almost a peasant food in the Middle East, it has been credited as being “a dynamite product in America.” 20 years ago, hummus sales had not even reached $5 million; by 2016 they had reached $725 million annually. It’s estimated that 25 percent of American homes now stock humus in the fridge.

Numerous variations of this classic have popped up, from red pepper to edamame (a flavor my mother-in-law lives on).  For my beet hummus recipe, I wanted the classic humus texture with the earthy beet flavor.  To achieve this, I use roasted red beets as the base but also added a mixture of chickpeas and edamame.  I like to oven roast my beets; although easy, it is the most time-consuming part of this dip.  Once roasted, everything gets blended until you have a vibrant, spreadable dip.  I serve mine with pita and vegetables for variety; but this dip would also work well with just about anything.  Although I am yet to get Rian’s stamp of approval, I did get a major thumbs up from my husband, who is not normally a huge beet fan.  In fact, he liked it so much he ate it for breakfast; but if you know my husband, that’s not all that surprising.beet hummus

Beet Hummus

February 25, 2018
: 2 cups
: 20 min
: 50 min
: 1 hr 10 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 large red beets
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Step 2 Cut off the beet tops. Scrub and dry the beets then wrap them loosely in aluminum foil. Place the beets on a baking sheet and roast for about 50-60 minutes, depending on their size. Check the beets after 40 minutes by piercing with a small paring knife. Beets are done when a knife slides easily to the center. Open the foil and allow the beets to cool.
  • Step 3 When cool enough to handle, peel the beets. Using a paring knife or your hands, gently peel away the skin and discard. Set aside.
  • Step 4 Using a food processor, such as a Cusinart fitted with a metal blade attachment, add the cooled, roasted beets, chickpeas, edamame, tahini, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Puree on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Pulse in the olive oil to blend.
  • Step 5 Serve hummus dip chilled.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin