Tag Archive for 'Ilina Ewen'

Grapefruit & Greens Ya-Yas Salad

grapefruit greens salad 4.JPG

There are times when you think you find a friend because you believe that they need your help or support. Other times, without you realizing it, that same friend switches places with you and you suddenly realize that despite what you initially thought, they really found you. Audrey was one of those friends. While we became friends without a formal introduction from our common connection, in a most unconventional way, somehow it just worked. A friendship surfaced despite either of us really knowing much about the other. Continue reading ‘Grapefruit & Greens Ya-Yas Salad’

Yahoo! Cherry Clafoutis (pronounced kla-foo-TEE)

Last month I was invited to participate in a fantastic blogger summit hosted by the Yahoo! Mother Board. It was the first conference of its kind that I have attended since I started blogging. There were a number of things that were unique about the event that impressed me. The agenda for the sessions was targeted, relevant and robust, the bloggers were hosted by the organization which brought together a lot of wonderful thinkers/writers who may not have otherwise have had the opportunity to travel to this summit. While I was not alone in the food blogging realm of attendees, I was amongst the minority that comprised this collective group. You may wonder why I attended? Well, as a former writer for the Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog (which recently closed down its operations)- I was there to learn more about what Yahoo! had to offer me in terms of an alternate place to post my content.

While there are an ever increasing number of conferences for bloggers to attend, what I find has changed over the past few years is that the level of ‘experts’ that I am engaging with at these shows has greatly shifted, as has the overall content, which remains skewed to the entry level blogger. Those who might have been considered experts a few years may no longer be the best spokespeople, nor are these sessions the most relevant for me. This was far from the case with the Yahoo! Mother Board Summit. While I do realize that that I was presented with predominantly Yahoo! focused content, I found their business acumen approach to be worthy of my time. Yahoo! has realized that to best work with the blogging community, to expand their digital voice and footprint, they must also invest in educating their constituents about their products. Refreshing! I am constantly approached for various types of corporate projects and on one hand I do feel honored to be exposed to these various opportunities, I am very aware that many of these come with a specific expectation. I am not a stalwart writer or investigative reporter- I blog to celebrate food and fun (and occasionally technology). While I remain unconvinced that I want to make blogging or cooking my full time career, I adore keeping this world as my coveted hobby/passion project. I maintain this space because I like to be here. I like to talk to you..whomever you are…and some-days I even think someone may be listening to my random thoughts on fun and food. I am not convinced that my site is about advertising revenue, or that I want to blog daily, but I do want to curl up on my sofa with my laptop and share some words and thoughts and engage with this exciting frontier of cyber space.

While I debated just telling you about the content presented, which ties closely to my professional comfort zone, I did think we could meet half way and I could share with you my new favorite recipe with PURPLE INGREDIENTS (the same color as the famous Yahoo! logo) in appreciation to the folks at Yahoo! Mother Board for having the vision and foresight to assemble such a stellar summit. And for those whom wish to know more about the summit, scroll down to the bottom of the post for a few more insights.

Now time for foodie fun- purple food! Cherry Clafoutis or clafouti (pronounced kla-foo-TEE) is a rustic looking French country dessert from the Limousin region that has become very popular in North America. Traditionally it was made with the first sweet cherries of the season, and the cherries were left unpitted so their kernels could release their delicate almond flavor as they baked. It is a bit of a pudding of sorts, with the sweet cherries covered by a thin pancake-like batter and baked in a hot oven until the batter has set with nicely browned and slightly puffed edges. The clafoutis should be served immediately with a dusting of confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar. Et voilà!


Cherry Clafoutis

Ingredients

1 TBS unsalted butter, softened
4 TBS powdered sugar, plus a sprinkle
1 TBS + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups (about 3/4 pound) mixed fresh Bing (or Rainier) cherries; stemmed, rinsed, drained on paper towels, pitted, and left whole (frozen pitted cherries are an easy alternative to use as well)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
6 TBS flour
5 TBS unsalted butter, melted
2 TBS sliced almonds
1 TBS honey
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBS kirsch (optional)
1 cup creme fraiche (optional)

Directions

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Center a rack in the middle of the oven.

Rub approximately 1 TBS softened butter over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch oven-proof glass pie pan. Dust with 2 TBS powdered sugar, then about 1 TBS granulated sugar and tap out any excess; set aside.

Arrange the cherries over the bottom of the prepared pie pan.

In a blender or food processor, combine the half-and-half, eggs, flour, butter, the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, almonds, honey, vanilla, salt and kirsch (if using). Process until it forms a creamy, smooth batter.

Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake approximately 30-35 minutes, until the custard is golden brown around the edges and puffy yet firm in the middle.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top with 2 TBS of powdered sugar. (It will deflate as it cools). Eat warm or at room temperature.
Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Adapted from Bay Area baking expert Flo Braker’s latest book is “Baking for All Occasions” (Chronicle Books).


And if you need a bit of reading while devouring your dessert, I shall continue to tell the tale of the Yahoo! Mother Board…

The Four Seasons in Palo Alto was the backdrop that kicked off this lovely roof-top cabana clad event. The cocktail party was well done and as people arrived from their flights they filtered into the location creating a fun filled room of both conversation and tweets. While the after party migrated downstairs to the main bar, and few other room parties took center stage things didn’t run late into the night as we all knew that the morning would come early and we wanted to be well rested.

The summit topics ranged from services like how to optimize your SEO, Social product offerings, utilizing your network, Flickr to a powerful session on Online Safety that showed a tragic video of cyber bulling gone horribly wrong. There was so much content that my mind was spinning, I’ve only provided a glimpse of the topics broached. Hats off to Jeanne Moeschler and Amy Heinz for acknowledging the value of bloggers and for Elisa Steel, Mother and Yahoo! CMO, for being brave enough to personally speak to this audience – it’s not easy talking to a group of bloggers who hardly look at you when you speak amidst the laptops and cell phone tweets and blog posts. That said, no one is better suited to talk to a group of people that appear not to be listening than a mother!

Yahoo! Mother Board Factoids:
– Yahoo!’s has grown its network from 16 to 80 smart, savvy, influential women bloggers
– On Friday, July 16th, it took less than an hour for the 62 summit attendees to have two trending topics on Twitter—Elisa Steele (proud mom and CMO keynote speaker) and #ymotherboard
– Attendees at this summit cover topics ranging from living a vegan lifestyle to the impact of political issues on moms—from across the U.S. and Canada
– This summit was dubbed “the mother of all conferences”, conversations were sparked between the 62 attendees and Yahoos from Shine, Flickr, Yahoo! Safely, Yahoo! for Good, Yahoo! Green, Social Products, Yahoo! Editorial, Yahoo! Accessibility and Ad Products.

A few photographic outtakes to bring this experience into color!

Vanessa Druck, Jessica Rosenberg, Lindsey Krolik, Gina von, Jennifer Perillo

Gina and Ilina Ewens finally meet!

Gina and Stacy Libby

Other great posts from this summit. (And a picture of the rice krispie treats with purple M&Ms)

Yahoo! Mother Board Summit Exceeds All Expectations

Yahoo! Mother Board Summit: The Mother of All Conferences

Yahoo!’s Mother of All Conferences

I went to the Yahoo! Mother Board Summit and all I got was this wonderful time.

The Yahoo! Mother Board Summit

Yahoo! The Mother of All Dirty Martinis

Cinco de Mayo

I am not sure WHEN it happened but I do know WHERE it took place. While I’ve always enjoyed Mexican food it wasn’t until I went to school in San Diego that my inner ‘cinco de mayo‘ became revealed. Coming from a family steeped in traditions at every holiday – there are two holidays that I have claimed as my own – the fun filled fifth of May celebration and Halloween. There are a whole lot of other sentimental reasons that I love this day (despite that I am not of Hispanic origins or currently living in Mexico) and if you really know me, well then you’ll know why this is one of my favorite days of the year – good food, good drink and good fun – and yes, there IS more to that story but that’s the beauty of a cliff hanger. You just keep wanting more.

To whet your appetites, and get this party started, I am posting my second recipe from ‘Taste This’. It is not too late to put this one together to go with your evening cervesas…Chicken Tinga. Enjoy it with a glass of White Sangria! Ole! (See story below the Chicken Tinga recipe for the hidden bonus treat in this post).



Chicken Tinga

Ingredients

1 large tomato, chopped big
½ large yellow onion, sliced length-wise
1 garlic clove
1 chiplote
1 can tomato soup
1 TBS water
1 lb chicken breasts
2 tsps salt
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups rice, cooked

Directions
In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add in chicken. Cook until the chicken floats to the top. Remove from water, set aside to cool.

In large pan, heat vegetable oil on high heat, add the onion (SET TWO SLICES ASIDE FOR THE SAUCE) and cook, stirring until translucent, approximately 3 minutes.

In a blender add and mix together:
– tomato soup
– garlic
– 2 slices of onion
– chiplote
– water
– salt

Shred the meat and add the onion into a large-size pan and cook on medium-high heat. When onions are softened, add in the tomato and cook for 5 minutes. Add in liquid contents from blender and bring to a boil. Do not let all of the liquid dissolve. Serve over rice prepared according to package directions.

Serves 5-6.

Note: If you don’t have time to boil and shred three chicken breasts you can by a pre-cooked chicken and shred it.


BONUS: Oh, and did I mention it is great with a glass of White Sangria? I’ve co-posted with Ilina Ewens, Dirt & Noise, who does my favorite 5:00PM Friday’s drink posts to give you a second recipe from ‘Taste This’. This is a day that deserves a good drink. Click on over– I know you’ll enjoy her post and her blog. (Shhh- don’t tell her that it is really not Friday yet, with enough of this beverage you just might think it is!)

Drink to the New Year

This guest post is from the friend I’ve yet to meet in person. We speak to each other nearly daily via Facebook and Twitter – we share laughs, recipes and stories and we talk about spending time together when our lives finally collide. Until then, she honored me with her gift of words and mixology. This mystery woman – Ilina Ewen writes a wonderful blog called Dirt & Noise and can often be found on Twitter at @ilinap.

Thank you Ilina, for helping me drink this new year away with illusions of beach-side naps and fruity blissful beverages!

******
I haven’t yet met this fellow foodie and cocktail maven on the left coast, though I count her among my friends. I have a hunch that when we meet we could very well gab for hours on end whilst shopping and sipping, leaving little room for breaths and pregnant pauses. Gina perks me up, makes me chuckle, and whets my appetite. I’m dying to pull up a barstool in her kitchen and nosh and toast and laugh.

I imagine Gina has a lovely kitchen. I bet she has really cute aprons too.

A little bird, known as Facebook, told me that Gina will be blowing out candles on a cake this week. Nevermind just how many candles. Since she’s the one who inspired me to start baking from scratch (I’m telling you, her blueberry muffins are sinfully delicious.), I’m pretty sure she’s indulging in a damn good cake. Let’s just say that I’m a better mixologist than a baker. I’ve concocted a little birthday cocktail for my friend Gina.

I’d whisk her away to a blue hued sea with white sand beaches and red pedicures if I could. We’d eat fresh fish, succulent pineapples, and sweet coconut juice. This must sound like a romantic rendezvous to some, but for mothers who work work work, paradise is a beach replete with libations and girlfriends where no one calls us Mommy.

So to toast Gina on her big day, here’s my little taste of paradise. Cheers!

Gina Bina Bobeena

Ingredients
1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce coconut rum
1 ounce banana liqueur
5 ounces pineapple juice
splash of grenadine
pineapple wedge and banana slice for garnish

Directions
Pour first three ingredients over ice in a high ball glass. Add pineapple juice and an ever so slight dash of grenadine. Skewer a pineapple wedge and banana slice to plop in as garnish.

Happy Birthday, Gina!

What do ya love? Keys to a Successful Bowl-en-tine Meal


So much to love in the next few weeks. Do you love the Super Bowl? Do you love the romance Valentine’s Day? Do you love the one your with? Whatever it is that you love, there are some fun days to prepare for and food is key! Yes- you need to make sure that you have your food ready to go. A fun way to ring in either of those days is to go red, get fired up or go home!

I pulled together a few recipes from the blog to get your Bowl-en-tine juices flowing:

Hot Mess Spiced Nuts
(great name, easy to make, just do it!)

Savory Drumettes (a crispy juicy treat –SEE RECIPE BELOW)

Fondue Pasta
(Cuz Cheese is a Crowd Pleaser)

Red Velvet Cup Cakes (for the romantics)

or if you need to connect w/your inner chocoholic and need a serious dose of caffeine to offer your guests…..skip the mini cake and opt for these amazing brownies with a twist.

The Ultimate Cappuccino Brownie (chocolate = Good)

Lemon-aid Blur (get the party started, featured drink for party of 2 or 20)

The key here is that all of these things can be done ahead of time. For a Super Bowl you can serve the mac ‘n cheese in small ramekins for easy individual servings; for the V-day meal serve the mac ‘n cheese along side a nice salad.

Whichever event you do – make it memorable. Incorporate cool serving ideas and make 90% of it ahead of time so that you can kick-back and enjoy the meal ….and the beverage!

Sue’s Sumac Drumettes

The best part about this recipe is that there are only three ingredients besides the chicken: seasoned salt, sumac and pepper. To find other delicious dishes from Sue go to www.justforlicks.com

Photo: www.justforlicks.com



Savory Sumac Drumettes

Ingredients

2 pounds chicken drumettes
2 ¼ tablespoons sumac (available at any Mediterranean market)
1 ¼ tablespoons seasoned salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
Flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven on broil at 500 degrees.

Rinse chicken drumettes in a colander. Set aside. Line a 12 x 18 baking sheet with aluminum foil, covering the sides. This makes for easy clean up and protects your baking sheet from scraping any stuck-on chicken.

Line up the drumettes on the baking sheet making sure they do not touch.

Using half of your ingredients, sprinkle drumettes evenly first with seasoned salt, then sumac, then pepper. For even coating, it may be easier to use your fingers. With tongs, flip them over and repeat on the other side.

Broil on the second level from the top for fifteen minutes – depending on the heat of your oven. They should look dark brown and crispy. Take out of the oven. If there are any fatty drippings on the baking sheet, drain them off in the sink. Turn the chicken over and broil for ten more minutes until dark golden brown and crispy.

These drumettes do not have the texture of buffalo wings, which are slightly gooey. These are crispy and juicy. They are so flavorful that there is no need for any dipping sauce.

>Personal Gina commentary – These drumettes are great as an appetizer or to accompany another dish, like mac ‘n cheese. Just be sure to have your napkins ready because your digits will be messy. WARNING: once you have ONE drumette, you’ll have FIVE more. Just. That. GOOD! <

Cremas- A Haitian Indulgence


While we are nearly mid-way into 2010 I have surprisingly not had the time to post any of my recent cooking adventures- that said, many of the new ‘concepts’ have not been what I would deem as worthy successes. Happily, this morning when I logged onto email a post from my Twitter pal @ilinap hit me as the perfect post. I reached out to her and asked if she would share her thoughts/words/philanthropic outreach/recipe with all of you. Graciously, she said ‘yes!’.

This post is more than just a fun recipe, this post can help a group of people. Each comment on her site earns a dollar to help Haiti and you get to learn a bit more about a wonderful, sweet local beverage. What you may not know is that ‘Dirt and Noise’ has a regular Friday feature called 5:00 Friday where Ilina posts a fun new drink recipe. This week she took that concept and blended together (pun intended) a way to use her Friday indulgence to help others.

A bit of Ilina’s excerpted post:
I grappled with posting today. I mean, I feel kinda lousy throwing back a cool cocktail while millions of people are struggling for a simple glass of water in Port Au Prince, Haiti. It is hard to belt out a guffaw and embrace glee while I know so many people are hurting in the throes of despair. There’s not enough hyperbole to go around to adequately explain the situation down there. A mere 90 miles from our shores.

Today I’d like to use 5:00 Fridays to give a nod to Haiti’s culture. With this drink, you’d better make a couple batches and invite over the neighbors. Better yet, invite the neighbors and collect a cover charge at the door. Donate the cash to the people of Haiti. I’ll even donate a buck to UNICEF for every comment on this post.

This drink is like a delectable milkshake without the hassle of a blender. What I love is that the Haitians like to serve this rich concoction with pastries or cakes. I’m all about indulging my inner sweet tooth (and outer love handles).

Cremas

2 (12 oz) cans of evaporated milk
4 (12 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 (15 oz) can cream of coconut (NOT to be confused with coconut milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 anise star
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 lime (zest and juice)
1/5 80 proof rum (You read that right. A fifth. The whole bottle)

Mix all ingredients together in a large pot and pour into tall glasses filled with crushed ice. Sprinkle with a bit of nutmeg to fancy it up.

I raise a glass to the people of Haiti and all those reaching out and flying in to help them. Peace. Click her to

Thank you Ilina for your post. Friends and family, please click here to comment and donate (at no cost to you) one dollar to Hati.

————————————————————————————————————-
And if you want to do more- there are many ways to contribute (as taken from both Ilina’s site ‘Dirt & Noise‘ and Jane Maynard’s “This Week For Dinner‘:

Unicef

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
: (Text “HAITI” to “90999” to donate $10 to the Red Cross.)

Haiti Reborn: An local organization accepting donations to help earthquake relief efforts http://www.quixote.org/earthquake

Doctors Without Borders: Another organization already in Haiti and working directly with victims of the earthquake http://doctorswithoutborders.org

Partners in Health: Based in Boston, Partners in Health (PIH) have been working in Haiti for many years to establish rural health clinics http://www.pih.org for more information

Yéle Haiti: Wyclef Jean’s organization. They have many directly-linked projects to community groups in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. (You can text “yele” to 501501 to automatically donate $5 to the éle Haiti Earthquake Fund. The 5 bucks will be charged to your regular cell phone bill. It doesn’t get any easier than this.) or you can visit the website http://www.yele.org

It’s A Pisco Party

A delightful alternative pisco beverage

A dlightful alternative pisco beverage

I have the honor of being the celebratory guest blogger for my good Twitter pal and birthday gal Iliana Ewen. That in mind, this drink comes with wishes for another great year ahead. Should she wish to hide from her special day, this tasty beverage is certain to erase her memory when combined with laughter, friends, family and a bit of cake!

Three years ago, I met a young gal from Peru named Rosa. We became friends and through that friendship she introduced me to all things Peruvian. While the cuisine is amongst my favorites I must also confess that I have often indulged in the native alcohol — pisco [prounced PEES-KO]. You should know, I have a soft spot for both Rosa and pisco. These two key instigators blended with my Italian heritage are responsible for this seemingly innocent concoction.

But like all bar drinks, this one must have an interesting story and that story is rooted in the origins of pisco.

Pisco- Drinkology 101- facts to impress your friends while under the influence:
– Pisco is both a city and an important port on the Peruvian coast.
– The name originates from the Inca word for a ‘bird’
– Pisco is made from a special grape in the Andes Mountains and dates back to the 1500s
– It is a South American brandy-like liqueur distilled from grapes and is 45% alcohol
– Both Chile and Peru claim pisco as their national drink and are still fighting over who has sole ownership (Rosa says it is Peru that owns it!)
– Most common pisco drink is a pisco sour (but that’s a whole ‘nother story!)

In conclusion, pisco is some serious stuff.

Lemon-Aid Blur
Note Secret Measurement: 2 parts liquid K.O. Be sure to read over both ingredients lists.

Lemon Simple Syrup Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 strips of lemon zest (approx 2 lemons)

Lemon Simple Syrup Directions

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest (or peel) off of lemons before juicing them as directed in the remainder of the drink recipe (called The Blur- see below).
In small saucepan, on medium-high heat mix together sugar, water and zest. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Let stand 20 minutes, until cool. Syrup can be refrigerated up to one week – and is also good over berry flavored sorbets.

The Blur Ingredients

¾ cup lemon simple syrup
¼ cup pisco (or ouzo), chilled
½ cup + 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
4 lemons
6 sprigs basil (or mint for the less adventurous)
ice, crushed

The Blur Directions

Stir together the simple syrup, pisco (or ouzo), and the fresh lemon juice.
Fill six small glasses with ice, fill to the brim and add a sprig of basil.

Foodie Mama Ilina Ewen- Discovers Taste This!


Ilina took the book in like it was her own creation- she prepared and sampled THREE recipes from the book:
* Chicken Jerusalem
* Parmesan Crisps
* Needle in the Haystack

Some stories behind the recipes:

I remember eating Chicken Jerusalem for the first time at my friend Sue’s house. There was always a delicious something brewing at her home – and this dish is still a favorite of mine on a regular basis.

The Parmesan Crisps were my Grandmother Ginny’s favorite ‘keep on hand’ appetizer for those unannounced drop-by guests. If you are organized (I am not often in this category), you can make them before hand and keep them ‘ready to go’ in the freezer. They are featured on the front cover of the book and they are a MEGA CROUTON waiting to be devoured.

Needle in the Haystacks are just something I loved to eat growing up. No deep dark story here except for the variety of chocolate you use. Total salty-sweet combo. Wish I could whip some up now.

So what did Ilina have to say? I’ll share an excerpt from her review:
I have been a cooking fiend the last few days. I serendipitously received a new cookbook on my doorstep last Friday. I generally read cookbooks like they’re novels. I pore over them in the bookstore, thumb through dogeared pages among the racks at used bookstores, and spend hours gazing at recipes online. On rainy days, I curl up with a cup of Tension Tamer tea and browse through a stack of cookbooks. I clip recipes from the likes of Cooking Light , Food & Wine , Cookie , Bon Appetit , and Southern Living, all of which arrive in my mailbox monthly. You know what? I never make a single recipe. I use cookbooks, recipes in general really, as inspiration. I don’t measure a thing and am fond of substitutions when the recipe calls for something I don’t have on hand and can’t manage a trip to Harris Teeter. I joke that I am the queen of “kitchen sink cooking;” I can muster up a great meal with a dash of this and a dollop of that, whatever lurks in the back of the pantry or in the bowels of the freezer are fair game. I consult a recipe just to get ideas for spice blends, cooking times, food pairings, or menu options. It is rare that I cook with a book propped open.

Until I discovered Taste This! by Gina Von Esmarch.

If you want to know her detailed recap of the recipes, you must read her article, Taste This!.