Tag Archive for 'Jennifer Perillo'

Grapefruit & Greens Ya-Yas Salad

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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’

Squash Blossom Stellina Pizza – Food Is Art

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I am often accused of playing with my food, and sometimes the results are both delicious and beautiful. Squash blossoms, while difficult to find in the U.S. outside of home gardening or the occasional farmer’s market, are available in great abundance in Italy. Their flavor is floral but with a hint of mushrooms and squash. Their season is delicate and short-lived so be sure to have your recipes at the ready once the zucchini flowers start to blossom.

The recipe for ‘Stellina Pizza’ is one that I am particularly proud of, as it combines my love of food, my passion for art, my deep rooted desire to play with my food AND a very special pizza dough recipe from a good friend.

Admittedly, this recipe has a few steps to it but it is worth the effort. To save time, sauce can be made ahead of time and stored.

Be certain to read to the end of the recipe to ensure that all ingredients have been captured for:

– Pizza Dough (‘Homemade with Love Recipe’)

– Pizza Sauce

– Pizza Toppings

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Squash Blossom Stellina Pizza

Blossom Prep 101

Note: If not using the squash blossoms right away, wrap in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Blossoms will keep well up to four days. Just before cooking, rip off the stems and remove the stamen.

To prepare the squash blossoms first remove the sepals around the base of the blossom, as these can be bitter. Trim off the stems of the blossom and cut a slit up on side of each blossom so that you can cut out the stamen in the center and discard it. Dip into a bowl of cold water and clean for dust and bugs.

The number of squash blossoms needed for the pizza will depend upon the shape of pizza. Round pizzas will require 6-8 blossoms. A rustic rectangular pizza will require double that amount per pizza.

Stellina Pizza

While it is possible to do a quick fix and buy a pre-made pizza dough, fresh made dough will take your breath away. My good friend and author, Jennifer Perillo, is known for this very special pizza dough recipe. I couldn’t think of a better way to make this special dish any more special. This star studded pizza is dedicated to my Brooklyn star gazer.

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Homemade Pizza Dough (reprinted from ‘Homemade with Love’ with permission from Jennifer Perillo and Running Press)

Pizza Dough Ingredients

3 cups unbleached bread flour

1- 1/2 tsps active dry yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp natural cane sugar

1 cup warm water

1 TBS olive oil

Pizza Dough Directions

In a deep bowl whisk together 2 cups of the flour with the yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir it together to form a wet, sticky dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the remaining flour on to a clean counter or large cutting board. Scrape the dough out onto the board and knead in the flour until the dough is smooth and soft but not tacky or sticky (you may need more or less).

Lightly oil a deep glass or ceramic bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until doubled in volume (about 90 minutes).

Once the dough has risen, sprinkle some of the remaining flour, about 2 TBS, on your work surface. Turn the dough out and gently knead it once or twice to deflate. If you’re making one thick-crust (or deep-dish) pizza, place the dough back in the bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap again, and place back in a warm spot until doubled in volume once more (about 30 minutes). For two thin-crust pizzas, divide dough in half and let rise in separate oiled bowls.

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

28-oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes

2 TBS olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1-1/2 tsps balsamic vinegar

3 TBS fresh basil, slivered

Pizza Sauce Directions

In a food processor or blender, puree the plum tomatoes with their juices and set aside. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and then add the garlic. Saute until the sauce begins to change color. Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until just thickened. Remove from heat, add in basil and stir until well combined. Cool before using.

Note: This recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated up to four days or frozen for later use.

Pizza Topping Ingredients

12-16 squash blossoms (per pizza)

8-12 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices

Pizza Assembly Directions

Preheat oven to 500°.

Flour the working surface. Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, flatten it onto a greased 18×13-inch baking sheet. If it becomes difficult to manipulate, allow the dough to rest 5 minutes to enable the gluten to relax. Brush the dough with 2 tsps of olive oil Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce onto the dough and spread it out evenly. Add additional sauce if needed. Allow at least a 1-inch dough at the rim.

Cut open the squash blossoms and fan out with the yellow tips of the flowers facing the edges of the pizza. Arrange blossoms onto the dough – I tend to like rustic rectangular pizza’s best. Place half of the cheese in the middle so it overlaps but does not cover any of the blossoms. Bake 12-18 minutes, until browned on the edges. Using a wide spatula, transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

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The pizza dough is only one of Jennifer’s delicious recipes. Her book is bursting with page turning recipes that I adore (i.e. Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad). Be sure to pick up your copy by clicking on the link above… and then grab another one to gift to a friend. 😉

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Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad

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Over a year ago Jennifer Perillo (AKA Jennie) came out to California to visit with her two daughters. Aside from the fact that we had a wonderful and memorable time together exploring the Marin Farmer’s Market and the City by way cable cars something really exciting happened. Jennie received a very important call – she had a book deal! In some small way my clock started ticking from that day forward. And as I proudly hold her book in my hands I can feel all of the hard work she put into “Homemade With Love”. I know what it takes to create a cookbook and how much of yourself you pour into this type of passion project. It is a wonderful accomplishment to her ability to dream coupled with her determination to see it to fruition. I am honored to be able to participate in this virtual pot-luck in support of my good friend Jennie and to be participating along with so many other wonderful foodies I admire.

There are so many wonderful recipes I’ve read >um, drooled over< and made from Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook that the most difficult task was deciding which recipe to share. I’ll be honest the Deep Chocolate Cupcakes, Chocolate Tres Leches Cake, Clementine Pistachio Crumb Muffins, Lentil Ricotta “Meatballs”, Pot of Mussels….you get the idea…were ALL in the running for my blog vote. I could list the entire book but I felt tempted with each page I turned to try another recipe.

I ultimately selected the Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad recipe because it was the very first one I tried and it really underscored for me the simple, fresh, and delicious flavors that is so true to Jennie’s cooking style. My entire family enjoyed this salad and I woke up thinking about it the next day, eager to prepare it for friends.

This recipe takes hardly any time to pull together and it is one that is guaranteed to impress.

Homemade with Love- Jennifer Perillo

Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad

Ingredients

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

sea salt

pepper, fresh ground

1/2 bulb of fennel, thickly sliced

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, torn into pieces

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp lemon, zested

(my addition to this recipe)

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil and lemon juice until well combined. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fennel, chickpeas, parsley, and cheese to the bowl. Toss together to combine.

To serve, spoon the salad onto a large platter, and sprinkle the almonds on top. If using, add lemon zest.

Time saver- The salad can be prepared up to an hour in advance. Allow to sit at room temperature, and it will marinade in the juices. Wait to add the almonds until serving so that they remain crunchy.

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Graciously reprinted with permission from Jennifer Perillo and Running Press.

Need more of Jennie’s food?…you can buy her book on Amazon and you can check out these other great posts!

Flexing my Mussels in Jennie’s Kitchen from Ilina from Dirt and Noise

Food and Friends from Selfish MomBaking with my Kids from Homemade with Love from Selfish Mom

Easy and Delicious from Homemade with Love from Selfish Mom

Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta and Slow Roasted Tomatoes from Chefdruck: French Foodie Mom

Dude, I Made the Best Pizza Last Night from Kim of House of Prince

Food is Delicious When It’s Homemade from Kim of Hormone Colored Days

Homemade with Love from Jessica of Momma’s Gone City

Homemade with Love Lunch with Jennie from Toni of Food Just Sayin’

One of the photos from my Jennie archives…some other wonderful bloggers you might recognize: French Foodie Mom (Vanessa Druckman) and Savory Sweet Life (Alice Currah).

foodie blog girls

Jennie’s Love Pie – Peanut Butter Pie With A Purpose

Jennie & Mikey Perillo

There are those moments when you wish you could turn back time, and know what awaits you in the months, weeks, days, moments ahead. If you could only be fully conscious that a quick good-bye would be the last time you gazed at the one who makes your world complete, what would you say? What would you do over? How would you slow down time and savor that last cherished interaction so that it could somehow last you a lifetime? Questions I continue to ask myself, in light of those I’ve lost.

Last month, I received a note from my friend Jennie, a note that revealed tragic news, that has made my heart sink countless times – her husband, Mikey, had unexpectedly passed away while helping their daughter ride her bike. He told her he needed to sit for a moment, then keeled over from a massive heart attack. It was undoubtedly a nightmare of the worst kind- reality. I can’t put a silver lining on it, I know that in an instant her world changed.

In the time that has followed, she has shared her grief, frustration, fears and sorrow. Jennie also shared something special to Mikey. He loved for her to make his favorite Peanut Butter Pie. She held a tribute to him that was both impactful and heartwarming. On August 12th, everyone gathered in their respective hometowns and made Mikey’s favorite pie to support Jennie and their girls and share in his memory. This pie was photographed and shared on hundreds of blogs until an enormous ripple of pie had been felt. Mikey, a person whom many will never know, was cherished and thought about in an indescribable act of loving foodness.

I regrettably wasn’t able to join Jennie and her girls that day, but I watched as sites like CNN.com, Food Network, LA Times, Tastespotting and Foodgawker picked up Jennie’s story and tribute. I was touched by videos made by fellow food bloggers and funds that were set up to help their family. Mikey would have smiled to know that Jennie and their girls were thought about and loved with such an outpouring of pie stories, Facebook posts, and photos shared for her and for her true love.

While I am here to share with you Jennie’s Love Pie, I wanted to also share with you a piece of my love and affection for Jennie. I believe that the greatest gift you can give someone that has lost an important person in her life is thought – keeping his memory alive, sharing tears and stories and eventually laughter again. Jennie and Mikey were great together, they made a beautiful family together and he encouraged her to be the food blogger that she is today. I believe that this is only part of Jennie’s story, and I have a feeling that it will be this love that propels her to discover the next part of her story. I know Jennie is strong, and kind, and loving and that in time, she will laugh again and know that she is not alone even in a room full of people. Jenny this post is for you, to give you strength, as I watch and read you making all of Mikey’s favorite dishes, may you draw on all the good things that are surrounding you in this difficult time and know that you had what many can only hope to find. You had a very special love. Today I make your Love Pie, and share it with my blogger friends because stories shared are memories kept alive. #JennieLovePie

To learn how you can help me, help Jennie, please read to the end of this post.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

8 ounces chocolate cookies

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice.Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.

Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving. (photo cooking essay below)

Serves 10-12

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This is where YOU can help. A few wonderful ladies founded a non-profit charity organization called Bloggers Without Borders, which helps people in need during crisis. Their first official project is called #AFundForJennie. The purpose of this project is simple – raise money to help Jennie with her bills as she painfully transitions to life as a widow and single mom. There are two ways to donate: (1) Click on the donate button below to contribute or (2) For every comment you share on Bowl Licker, I will donate to this fund. Share it and make me pay! “What can you say?” you ask. Comment if you’ve baked this pie, if you have some nice words for Jennie or just want to share your thoughts on this post. I’ve learned that blogging can make a difference but only when and if there are others reading your words. Thank you for reading!

Donate to Bloggers Without Borders

Pie enjoyed with our friend Ava.

Hunger Does Not Discriminate – Giving Thanks

While I eagerly plan out a Thanksgiving meal that will treat and tease the palate, I become humbly aware that millions of people will go hungry this holiday season.

This Thanksgiving I am joining my friend, Jennifer Perillo, to help work towards closing the hunger gap. Whether your heart is drawn to helping those around the world, or those in your own backyard, we can all agree hunger does not discriminate. This empty plate represents the millions of people whom will go hungry on Thanksgiving. Whether you support local or global, we can collectively show our strength and work towards filling the plates of those whom are less fortunate.

When you look at this plate, imagine all those dishes you look forward to sharing with your loved ones and then imagine that this year things would be different. How would you change this holiday for the hungry? How can you make a difference? I am always inspired by American’s eagerness to evoke change. Today, we can feed someone. I hope you will join me and donate now.

Global Donations
Share Our Strength- No Kid Hungry

Feeding America

San Francisco Bay Area Donations

San Francisco Food Bank

Second Harvest Food Bank

Alameda County Food Bank

Holiday Food Drives in Marin (excerpted from the Marin IJ)

*Boy Scout Food Drive: The Boy Scouts of America Marin Council will collect donated food from homes throughout the county on Nov. 20. Scouts will start leaving hangers on doors in the middle of the month.
*Can Tree at Northgate mall: The Marin Food Bank will set up an 18-foot can tree at Northgate mall in Terra Linda where shoppers can donate up to 5,000 pounds of canned food during shopping center business hours from Nov. 22 to Jan. 3.
* NBC Channel 11/Safeway Turkey and Ham: The Marin Food Bank and Rotary clubs will have volunteers at all eight Marin Safeway stores from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 20 asking shoppers to buy a turkey or ham for the food bank. Safeway will bring all hams and turkeys to the food bank that day.
*Town Center Corte Madera Donation Turkey: The annual donation turkey will be at Town Center Corte Madera accepting food and cash donations through early January.
*St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin County Turkey/Meat Drive: Volunteers will stand outside the Free Dining Room in San Rafael at 820 B St. accepting turkeys, chickens, ground beef, fish, canned tuna and other meat items from 6:30 to 1 p.m. daily starting Nov. 13.

To learn more about donating to or volunteering for the Marin Food Bank, call 883-1302 or visit www.marinfoodbank.org.
To donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, call 454-3303 ext. 12.

BlogHer 10 Food-gaism and Alfajores (prounced al-fa-hor-es)

While I’d love to tell you that my time time at BlogHerFood 2010 #blogherfood was all about the sessions at the conference, that is not entirely true. In all honesty, it was also about the food and most importantly about the people. That is not in any way to minimize the quality sessions that I attended, I thought that the show organizers really put a lot of thought into making this event full of enrichment tracks and packed with speakers I couldn’t wait to hear. But at the end of the day, I know my experience was all the more satisfying because of what the people attending brought into the mix– the ‘social’ into ‘networking’; the element most often missed as we communicate on Twitter and FaceBook and LinkedIn.

For my second attendance at #blogherfood I wanted to bring something special to a few special people that I was fortunate enough to meet over the past few years. (The Ultimate Cappuccino Brownie was the treat I brought to BlogHer 09 Food – worth a try if you love the coffee and chocolate combo!) And I’d like to think these little colorful boxes, with home made treats inside, were coveted by those who received them and enjoyed by them as much as I enjoyed making them with my lovely friend Avanti Morocha.

Inside each box were four petite home baked alfajores. What is an alfajores you ask? Well it is something like a blond Oreo cookie stuffed with caramel sauce – the cookies are a soft butter cookie infused with orange zest, and drenched in powdered sugar, and well the rest is just yummy goodness.

While the word alfajor stems from the Arabic al-hasú, which means filled or stuffed, the history of this cookie can be traced to Andalusia Spain. Alfajores are popular in Argentina, Uruguay and Peru, although they can be found throughout South America in many different varieties.

Note: Immediately following the recipe post is my photo essay, which I hope reflects some of the great photo tips I learned from Todd Porter and and Diane Cu.

Avanti Morocha and Gina von

Avanti Morocha’s Soon-to-be-famous ALFAJORES

Ingredients

1¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup flour
2 tsps baking powder
3 TBS butter, room temperature
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp orange peel, zested
2 TBS milk (more if necessary)
1 cup manjar blanco (caramel), you can buy Nestle’s Dulce de Leche (13.5 oz) can

Directions

In a medium-size bowl, sift flour, cornstarch and baking powder. In a small-size bowl whip butter and sugar until well creamed. Add egg yolks, one at a time, while beating the butter mixture. Add sifted ingredients and orange peel.

Knead with hands, forming a ball. Cover with a cloth and set aside for 20 minutes. Often times, if the recipe is doubled, the mixture may seems too dry, and you will need to add additional milk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously flour a flat surface and roll dough approximately 1/8 inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter, about the size of nickle. Cut circles and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until edges begin to color. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To assemble, the caramel cookie sandwich, take one cookie and generously spread with manjar blanco/dules de leche. Cover with another cookie. Generously sprinkle with sifted confectioner’s sugar.

Don’t hold back, gobble them up! They are worthy of the work involved to make them.

Yields: 54 cookies, plus some tasters

Note: If you want to make the manjar blanco recipe, read on:

Ingredients

10 cups of milk
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or half of a stick of vanilla

Directions

In a medium-size sauce pan, lightly coated with water, boil the milk, stirring constantly. When the milk begins to boil, add the sugar and vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon being careful to not let it stick to the pan. When the mixture begins to stick to the spoon, and you start to see the bottom of the pan, move to a plate. The mixture should not be loose.

Continue to stir it, once it is removed from the heat so that the mixture softens slightly.
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BlogHer Food 10 Begins!

The party at Orson’s kicked off the Scharffenberger and TootiFoodie Chocolate Adventure Contest complete with a fun blind taste test of some of their previous adventure ingredients, and chocolate recipe sampling. Thank you to Marcia Gagliardi/Tablehopper, Scharffenberger, TuttiFoodie and Orson, it was a great way to start the fun and get those taste buds flowing.

Tour of a few of the Ferry Building’s Culinary Offerings

Back on the conference show floor, Chef Elizabeth Falkner invites attendees to cup cake decorating party gourmet-style.

La Petite Soirée was an event to behold, the foodie theme was SF food carts and each one was better than the next – Girl From Empanada, Sataysfied, Local Flavor, Good Eats + more! I wish it had been possible to bring a second stomach to this event, as I was stuffed and wished I could eat seconds! Thank you to Stefania Pomponi Butler, Helen McSweeney Kristen Doyle, and Jane Maynard.

Back at the show, the cooking demonstrations continued and so did the prizes.


Closing Key note was an inspirational treat with Shauna James Ahern, Michael Ruhlman , Molly Wizenberg

And for the foodie event crescendo (AKA the closing party), at the California Culinary Academy, home of Le Cordon Bleu, Elise Bauer, Jaden Hair, and Ree Drummond hosted the first all gluten free party I’ve ever attended. It proved to me that everyone could eat gluten free and not feel deprived; it was delicious! I am still dreaming about at least 6 of the recipes served. I am inspired!

Thanks to BlogHer for such a great conference! It was mentally stimulating, socially engaging and totally foodgasmic!

To read additional recaps of the conference, there are a few links to reference (and if you’d like to have your post added to the list, just send me an email at bowllicker@gmail.com):

The Italian Dish: BlogHer Food 2010 in San Francisco

Panini Happy: Memorable Moments from BlogHer Food ’10

Bay Area Bites: BlogHer Food Conference, Day 2

Celiacs in the House: BlogHer Food 2010

Celiac Teen: BlogHer Food and Irish Soda Buns

Chef Druck: 9 Cheap Props Every Budding Food Blogger Needs

Dine and Dish: Defining Success (Recipe: Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies)

Eat the Love: Don’t Forget the Homos! Blogher Food 2010

Everyday Alice (of SavorySweetLife): BlogHer Food 10 – My Blog Conference Take Away

Food Blogga: Nine Things I Learned at BlogHer Food 10 Conference

Food Woolf: How to Go to a Food Blogging Conference

In Jennie’s Kitchen: Chestnut Orange Crisps

Picky Palate: BlogHer Food Extravaganza

Steamy Kitchen: Oinker

Use Real Butter: something about best intentions + blogher food 2010 recap

What’s Gaby Cooking BlogHer Food and San Fran

Will Write for Food: BlogHer Food, the Love Fest

White on Rice: Appreciation- Speaking at Blogher Food 2010

***And last of all, for those whom might enjoy reading my take-aways from BlogHer 09 Food: The Denied Inner Cook (the monster post unwrapped) you may just see a few familiar faces. Enjoy!

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

The Denied Inner Cook (the monster post unwrapped)

It was a week ago that I spent my entire day at BlogHer Food09 at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. Since that time numerous articles have been written about the the event and I realized from the moment I had “planned” to write my post that I would be at risk of not having anything new or news worthy to say – then I realized that my take on things would inevitably be different than everyone elses because I like to let my thoughts simmer (pun intended) – that’s just my style.

THE CONFERENCE: self revelations
I was truly excited about this conference because as someone relatively new to the Foodie blogger label I have grown up a foodie and yet it is a part of me that I have frequently denied- my restaurant heritage. When you grow up with something, and opt out of this career choice you never really imagine that some how you will back in the tangent realm of food. Now to you, the devoted reader, that may be obvious, I wrote a cook book and I talk about food, ergo I am very in touch with my inner cook. Well, I can be a bit stubborn in allowing myself to acknowledge this is my passion. But I believe the day has arrived. With that acknowledgment comes responsibility- or isn’t that what I am supposed to say? I generally avoid doing or saying what I am supposed to say so let’s move away from that lame concept.

THE NETWORKING: better than a tweet-up
The conference, the first of its kind, was a great networking event and a good first step in what I hope will be an event that grows in scope (not size because the approximate 300 attendees/sponsors) was a truly perfect sized group for someone like me who avoids the traditional conference. Having participated in many trade shows I generally avoid them like the plague but this was different. I had the chance to get together with some of my favorite gals – Stacy Libby, Stefania Butler, Charlene Prince Birk, Jane Maynard, Lori Luna – meet in person my long time Twitter buddies Jennifer Perillo, Alice Currah, Vanessa Druck a few new friends Genie Gratto, Heather Hal, Arnold Gatilao, Lori Lange and Jeremy Pepper.

Bertolli Dinner at St. Supery Winery

Bertolli Dinner at St. Supery Winery

Bertolli Cocktails at St. Supery

SPONSOR IMPRESSIONS: those that tried and those that won
Not to boar you with the fine little details but my take on the sponsors is that there was a good mix of sponsors to address the mommy blogger crowd and the more au natural food blogger gang. That said, the event may benefit in the future from holding two days next year to provide insight to these two distinct groups. That’s not to say that there isn’t cross-over, there certainly is but then I think I may be amongst the few to ADMIT to toggling the line. For example, I love to cook with fresh local ingredients but I also like to include items like Campbell’s Soup in some of my quick meals because I don’t always want to make my onion soup, nor do I have time to do this, when blending this flavor into my dishes. (This goes back to the fact that I am a person with limited time and resources and yet I often prefer to cook then to go out to eat but I don’t usually have 5 hours to splurge during the week to whip up my grandmother’s typical five course meals.)

Another sponsor was Bertolli Frozen, they took a few hits at the show for not knowing their audience and while I adored the Bertolli team that was kind enough to include me in their Friday night festivities at St. Supery (which I viewed as a big success), I have to confess that there might have been a better way to showcase their products at the luncheon and I say this from the view point of someone who has done numerous events and is open to the idea of incorporating their high-end alternative to cooking products into a meal — offering a pasta bar of their featured foods or having a tasters plate blended with other fresh local veggies and/or breads might have featured their product in a slightly different light. This is where Campbell’s won the prize in my mind, they hosted the cocktail party and they used all recipes made from their product line and it was done on the veranda on a gorgeous city night and the compliments were flying – it was tasteful and anything but a hard sell and it worked.

Scharffen Berger Hosted the afternoon break demonstration with acclaimed chef, Elizabeth Falkner and these wonderful chocolate boxes filled with chocolate glob and salty and sweet and spicy treats — and well you had to wear a glove to get a bit but it was creepy and fun all at the same time. Personally, I loved the creativity behind it and the experience. They were showcasing their upcoming Chocolate Adventure Contest and had a great follow-up invitation to this afternoon on two fronts – they participated in the post-party deserts showcase and a cooking webinar a few days later. This sponsor showed they knew their audience and took extra steps to solidify and leverage this event to meet their end results. From a marketing/sponsorship/communications viewpoint this was well executed – another win!

Gina and Jennie Tasting Divine Chocolate Glop in Scharffen Berger Box

Gina and Jennie Tasting Divine Chocolate Glop in Scharffen Berger Box


TAKE AWAYS (not take-outs): we all have something to learn
What I loved was a lot of the take-away thoughts that I’ll share with you. Guest speakers included an all star line -up of Matt Armendariz and Heidi Swanson (Developing Your Visual Voice), Amy Sherman, Jaden Hair and Helen Dujardin (Your Blog Is Great…now what? Letting your blog lead the way the way to new opportunity), and Jory Des Jardin, Ree Drummond, Garret McCord, Dianne Jacob and Susan Russo (The Meaning of Identity and the Value of Voice in a Crowded Foodblogging World) and then the closing keynote with Lisa Stone, Elise Bauer, Ree Drummond and David Lebovitz (Foodblogging, now and forever).

Two fun video clips taken with the Bertolli Flip during the closing key note with Ree Drummond, David Debovtiz and Elise Bauer (L–> R):


Developing Your Visual Voice- 5 things to think about
(there were 7, I choose 5) 😉

1) Be inspired by others
2) Think about photos in context
3) Understand what you are shooting
4) Think about the type of shots you are after
5) The workflow is important

Bottom line- there are no rules. Take as many or as few shots as you like, have fun with it and be bold.

Your Blog is Great… now what?

Use this as your yardstick when opting to provide your work for free:
Cash/Credibilty/Visiblity

People will always want your work for free and if you give it away then you hurt others in the business. For example, one person in the audience shared that she used to get $1,200 to write a piece and now the market will only pay her $300 for a piece. Where can you go to learn the value of your work? Your local food society. Ask them what the going rate is for what you’ve been asked to do for free.

Remember your recipe is the MEAT of a piece and the photos are the DRESSING.

Advice from the professionals:
– Helen: where each opportunity will lead you – who knows? But why not try it. If someone tells you NO it is not NO FOREVER it is NO for right now.

– Amy: Food is a competitive business and it is not always pretty. But usually it is friendly and passionate. Blogs open up the door to new opportunities but the deal is sealed in person.

– Jaden: Treat your blog as a business and get advisers to provide perspective, ask a more well recognized blogger if you can be an intern, write a yearly business plan and stretch beyond your blog to be a leader in food.

The Meaning of Identity and the Value of Voice in a Crowded Foodblogging World

Garrett: Blogging is VERY “I” focused.

Garrett: A good rule is not to say anything on your blog that you wouldn’t say at a cocktail party. (Ree asks,” After how many drinks!”)

Susan: How you deal with criticism is up to you but you have to let a lot go, as long as it doesn’t get personal.

Ree: I will often spend between 1-5 hrs on a post but not all at one time, because sometimes I am herding cattle.

Dianne: I had trouble finding my ‘Me” voice. It is important to define your voice for your readers, as a journalist we were not accustomed to doing this.

Photo Taken by Stephanie Im/KQED for Bay Area Bites

Photo Taken by Stephanie Im/KQED for Bay Area Bites


WHAT TO HOPE FOR NEXT TIME: my suggestions
I think there is a big opportunity to look towards some tracks that appeal to the every-day blogger that struggles to post even once a week. Talking with the celbs of this micro-mondo are good but I did find that left me wanting even a bit more practical every-day advice. Some tracks I would vote for on the foodie front:

The Economic Hangover/Cooking Less- Getting More

The proposed session looks at how we can get the most out of our limited available time to maximize our efforts and food dollars to recover from our manic lives in this economic hangover. The discussion would be focused on how to spend less time in the kitchen but arrive at getting more – the more being healthier meals, meals in reserve and stretching and leveraging your budgetary dollars.

Social Media Food For Thought or Stirring the Pot of Social Media Flavors

As your resident tech-geek gal, I’d like to see a bit more social media in the mix in terms of branding and promoting. Some of this was touched on but not in a structured presentation with solid take-aways which a gal like me would appreciate. Food for thought, if you will!

Unspoiled- The Future of Food Blogging

With so many social media outlets emerging do Foodies really have time to stir the pot to create and/or maintain a successful blog – Twitter, Facebook, Alltop, Del,icio.us, Ning groups and the ingredients list drones on like the who’s of who knows what. Can Foodies get lost in the shuffle and burn themselves out of creating compelling blog posts? Where are food blogs today and which should be at the top of your list? If you spend more time on some outlets will your audience migrate?

(Relevance/My sidebar: seems to me that with all of the new social media outlets, some food bloggers are having a hard time keeping their blog audience, they may drift away from their blog to focus on twitter, or perhaps newbies want to learn how to create a food blog in these times of the social media craze. Should be a solid panel.)

TA-DA
I am forever bemused that true chefs and the more famous variety of cook book authors (Rocco DiSpirito, Ryan Scott, Elizabeth Falkner) are always a bit surprised that the rest of us DO know how to cook. It is a kind of high-brow/low-brow dichotomy and I say it not to paint a divide but to point out a new observation. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not versed in all of the fancy smancy terminology but where good flavors are in the mix I can be trusted. I had the chance to eat dinner with Rocco, and he is an adorable dream, but he too was surprised by the questions of the ladies at our table. And if that wasn’t fun enough, I was invited to come up on stage and help Ryan Scott, Top Chef contestant and chef, cook his frittata and he complimented me on how nicely I cut mushrooms (supplied by sponsor The Mushroom Channel) – I of course laughed and said thank you, he too was quite a charmer even with his girlfriend by his side.

And Elizabeth Falkner on the Scharffen Berger webcast, unless I was imagining it, responded to my questions with an approving nod. So you see…bloggers are cooks too and the rest of the world is about to find out. (well maybe).

Gina and Rocco "Say Formaggio"

Thank you to the folks at BlogHer for taking this inaugural step to host the first blogger foodie show- I hope you will take on the challenge again! I look forward to the Second Annual Event in 2010.

And thank you to the sponsors for believing in the blogger foodies as a viable audience.

Special thanks to the after-party hosts that put on a top notch event – Elise, Jaden and Ree! Great music and OF COURSE great eats!

Anna Lingeris & Chef Elizabeth Falkner

Anna Lingeris & Chef Elizabeth Falkner

Please note that I had an great video to share from the Bertolli dinner featuring Gaston and Rocco but the video exceeds the YouTube length by one minute and I am unable to post. If you have any suggestions on another site I can use, please do email send me a note at ginavon@bowllicker.com.

For the Love of Bread & Twitter

I was recently asked to write a guest post for my good Twitter Gal Pal, Jennifer Perillo. While we’ve never actually verbally spoken, we have had many a conversation and recipe exchange and she is someone I eagerly look forward to meeting in September for BlogHer Food in San Francisco. I’ve excerpted a portion of the piece I wrote, slightly more personal than my usual posts…hope you enjoy it!

For the Love of Bread….
I’m not here to merely talk about my carb addiction to bread (yes, glorious bread) but more about digging down to the very crust of it all. Because it is for me, at the very root of the bread-addiction, to be blamed almost entirely upon my family and my heritage. Growing up with a strong, if not occasionally overpowering, Italian heritage is clearly seen in the foods I crave.

While my father’s side cooked predominately with a Northern Italian flare it was my mother’s side that cooked Sicilian (or Southern Italian) food. It is truly difficult to say that one region’s cooking is better than the other, as there is such a variety of food combinations once you move beyond the stereotypes of the ever delectable pasta and pizza. So eating what my mother prepared from her built in index of home cooking enabled me to eat a lot of Sicilian foods. She also cooked a number of other worldly wonderful dishes but this is about my recollection of those fantastic Sicilian dishes as recently recaptured on our Food-cation this past week.

The basic ingredients to 80% of the recipes are: breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil. Spending the week with my mom at her vacation home is always a food extravaganza – so worrying about squeezing into my bathing suit during the afternoon would be a wasted empty effort. No matter how huge I may feel, I am told that I always have room for dinner AND desert…oh, and wine since it technically = water, or so it did in the New Testament, so it shall at our table too.

(Yes, I am a tease…to read the rest, you will have to take a visit to In Jennie’s Kitchen)


One side-bar to note: we were only six people eating the 64 meatballs but what we didn’t eat we could easily turn into meatball sandwiches for our beach-side fun. Doesn’t everyone want to eat meatball sandwiches while sitting in their swim suit at a beach filled with skinny folks who are practically drooling at the sight of your lunch? 😉 Sure they are skinny but you are eating a slice of heaven.