Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Foodie Links

Wishing you all a very happy (and safe) Halloween!

Sparkly Halloween pumpkin
Our sparkly pumpkin and the last of our squash this season
Here are some of our favorite foodie links from today. I don't know about you guys, but I am definitely going to have to try these recipes out... except for the pumpkin carving. I'm going to leave that one to expert Ray Villafane.

Grown Up Caramel Apples with Booze

Meringue Bones with Elizabeth LaBau

Pumpkin Carvings by Ray Villafane

Fleischmann’s Creepy Mini Pizzas
The Corpse Reviver Cocktail from Craftside


Be sure to visit to get great deals on our best-selling foodie books. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Has your pie gone to the birds?

Until I started reading Millicent Souris' How to Build a Better Pie, I had no idea what a bird pie vent was, or even that I might need a vent for my pies. I had never really been a big pie person, with the exception of some great pumpkin, apple, and strawberry rhubarb numbers around the holidays.

Pie bird vent
Image courtesy of Le Creuset
Pie vents, which happen to sometimes look like little, adorable birds, are a helpful tool for anyone who wants to become more serious about pies. Not only do they look awesome atop a pie, but they actually work to prevent the pie filling from boiling up and leaking out of the crust by allowing the steam to escape. Decorative and functional? The perfect blend for a kitchen tool if you ask me.

Typically made of ceramic, bird pie vents are said to be linked to the old nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Six Pence", which refers to "four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie". Kind of makes the rhyme seem slightly less creepy, but then again, who knows right?

You can pick up your very own bird pie vent at your local Williams and Sonoma or online at And if you pick up a pie bird, you might as well bake a pie. Trust me, Millicent's recipes are outstanding. 

How to Build a Better Pie by Millicent Souris
Millicent Souris is a New-York-based, self-taught, homegrown, DIY-driven pie-maker. She's made thousands of pies in the past 10 years (you may have tasted some of them in places as far-flung as Chicago and Brooklyn). A resident of Brooklyn, she teaches pie-making workshops at the Brooklyn Kitchen, and she can spot a limp crust from 100 paces. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Time for Hot Apple Pie

With the weather barring down on us across the country, I thought what better way to keep warm than a hot apple pie?

Hot Apple Pie
Recipe excerpted from Shake, Stir, Pour by Katie Loeb

This drink is an easy winter warmer and tastes exactly like a slice of hot apple pie. You could easily leave out the vodka and add a few drops of vanilla extract to make a child friendly/teetotaler's version of this if you wished.  The bitters would add a minuscule amount of alcohol to the drink and could be skipped as well, although the drink is less sweet and better balanced if they are included.

Hot Apple Pie Cocktail by Katie Loeb

6 oz. hot apple cider or apple juice
1.5 oz. vanilla vodka
.75 oz. cinnamon syrup
.25 oz. lemon juice
dash orange bitters

Garnish: lemon rind studded with cloves, cinnamon stick

Add vanilla vodka, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice and bitters to a heat proof mug.  Pour heated apple cider or juice over to mix.  Garnish with clove studded lemon rind and a cinnamon stick stirrer.


Shake, Stir, Pour by Katie Loeb

Katie Loeb is a bartender, sommelier, creator of craft cocktails, and author of numerous articles and cocktail recipes, which have been published in Bon Apetít, The Los Angeles Times, Imbibe, Philadelphia Magazine, Inside, and Food & Wine Magazine cocktail books. She has consulted for numerous restaurant groups and spirit brands, providing cocktail recipes, beverage lists, and operations assistance. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Carving and Halloween Cocktails

Just for fun this Halloween weekend, I thought I'd share this amazing pumpkin carving video I found. Remember to save and toast your pumpkin seeds for a delicious snack.

Also, if you're in the mood for a spine-tingling cocktail, why not try Dr. Cocktail's Corpse Reviver #2? The spooky recipe can be found on our sister blog, Craftside.


For an entire selection of vintage cocktails, including the Corpse Reviver #2, pick up Dr. Cocktail's book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

Ted Haigh, a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail, makes his living as a graphic designer in the Hollywood movie industry and has worked on such spectacles as O Brother Where Art Thou?, American Beauty, and The Insider. He has been researching cocktails since the ’80s and has been referenced by the New York TimesEsquire, the Malt AdvocateMen’s Journal and writes regularly for Imbibe Magazine. He is a partner in, an encyclopedic database of cocktail knowledge and curator and designer of The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cleaning Bay Scallops

Every chef worth his/her salt knows that when it comes to ingredients, fresh is best. Knowing how to clean and prepare fish and seafood is an old-world, classic skill that many home chefs can find a little daunting.

So let’s start small then. Smaller-sized bay scallops are commonly enjoyed all across the United States and are as easy to clean as they are to cook. Buy your bay scallops in the shell and follow these four easy steps from Aliza Green (The Fishmonger’s Apprentice) to clean and prepare this delicious ingredient.

Learn how to be a fishmonger with help from the best. Pick up your copy of The Fishmonger's Apprentice today.

The Fishmonger's Apprentice by Aliza Green

Aliza Green, author, journalist, and influential chef, has been a fish lover her whole life. Green won the coveted James Beard award for co-authoring Ceviche: Seefood, Salads, and Cocktails with a Latino Twist (Running Press, 2001) with chef Guillermo Pernot. Her Field Guide to Seafood (Quirk Books, 2007) is a compact encyclopedia of fish written from the cook's point of view that is a must at top restaurants and seafood markets. Visit her website at

Steve Legato is a freelance photographer specializing in food, restaurant industry, cookbooks and advertising. His work has been featured in Art Culinaire, The New York Times, Food and Wine, Wine Spectator, Food Arts, GQ, Departures, Wine & Spirits, Travel & Leisure, Philadelphia Magazine, Delaware Today, New Jersey Monthly and Main Line Today. He currently resides just outside of Philadelphia, PA. Visit his website at

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Find Joy in Food Foraging

Food foraging is the act of searching for wild food in local locations, such as your backyard, neighborhood, parks, woods, hiking trails, and more. Foraging can truly be a rewarding process, especially when you find that perfect ingredient to complete your recipe. Whether you plan on foraging for fun, to learn something new, or to create an incredibly fresh and tasty meal, you’ll need to know the basics of what to look for, what to avoid, and everything in between.

Did you know that you can make burgers out of acorns? Expert forager, Gary Lincoff, shows you how in The Joy of Foraging.

The Joy of Foraging by Gary Lincoff

Excerpted from The Joy of Foraging

Kids love burgers, even acorn burgers. 
Although many kids seem to be first in the berry patch, I wondered if kids would eat wild foods that grownups have convinced themselves either taste good or are good for you or both. Because acorns were not only a staple food of native Americans before corn became available, but are still being used by peoples in Europe, Africa, and Asia, I thought kids might like them if presented in an appealing way.

Since hamburgers seem to be one of the most popular foods among the young, why not turn acorns into burgers? I bought a Big Mac and took it apart to see what it was that kids found so irresistible. I was determined to duplicate it, replacing the meat with an acorn patty. This meant buying sesame buns and the “special” sauce used as a condiment on the burger. The meat by itself is quite forgettable, having neither texture nor flavor to recommend it. I collected, let dry for a few days, then shelled the acorns. I boiled these, then roasted them dry, then fed them into a meat grinder. The fine grade meal I got went into muffins later, but the gritty pebbles were perfect for the burger. These I soaked to soften, added an onion, seasoned, then added an egg to hold it together, shaped the mixture into patties and sauteed them. These were put on toasted sesame seed buns that had been liberally lathered with the “special sauce” I found for sale in a local supermarket.  
The product was not a “Big Mac”, but it found favor among the 5th graders I invited over for a taste testing. The one criticism I got was not about the acorn burgers; it was about the lack of French fries to go with them. But that’s another story.

Find out how to forage acorns (and over 80 other edible plants) by picking up your very own copy of The Joy of Foraging. You’ll save money at the supermarket and have a new skill that is sure to impress just about everyone!

 The Joy of Foraging by Gary Lincoff 

Gary Lincoff is the author of The Complete Mushroom Hunter (Quarry Books, 2010), and the author, co-author, or editor of several books and articles on mushrooms, including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. He teaches courses on mushroom and plant identification and use at the New York Botanical Garden and has led wild mushroom and edible wild plant study trips and forays to 30 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and South, Central, and North America. Lincoff chaired the Telluride Mushroom Festival for 25 years (1980–2004), and still participates as its principal speaker. He is also a featured “myco visionary” in the award-winning documentary, Know Your Mushrooms, by Ron Mann. Lincoff also founded and led the New York City Edible Wild Plant Workshop, which featured a once-a-week wild edibles dinner plus a weekend hunt for edible wild plants and mushrooms in city parks. Patricia Wells published his edible wild plant recipes in an article in the New York Times, and he has been profiled in the Village Voice and New York magazine. He lives in New York City. Visit or find Gary on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Coffee Cupping

I'm a coffee addict. I admit it. I get a little snippy when I don't have my morning brew. Unlike many other coffee enthusiasts, I actually am not loyal to a particular brand or roast. I like to try different kinds to get a flavor for what's out there.

In order to find out what coffee gets you excited to get up in the morning, why not try a coffee cupping? Like a wine tasting, coffee cupping is a fun way to get to know different flavors.

"Coffee cupping is the process to evaluate coffee's taste, the stop-and-smell-the-roses step in your development as a coffee drinker." - The Art and Craft of Coffee, Kevin Sinnott.

Coffee Cupping from The Art and Craft of Coffee
Photo taken from The Art and Craft of Coffee (© Quarry Books, 2010)
Here's what you'll need

Tea kettle
1 6-ounce (180 ml) rocks glass for each coffee sample
1 water glass per participant, for rinsing spoons
3 to 6 fresh ground coffee samples
Scale, to weigh coffees
1 cupping spoon per participant
Log book to score and describe the coffees
1 serving sparkling water for each participant, to cleanse palate between cupping (optional)
Spittoon, such as a tall glass or bowl (optional)

What to do

Make sure to deeply sniff the coffee. As in wine tasting, coffee is deeply aromatic.
Taste deeply. Keep in mind that coffee becomes more flavorful as it cools.

The important thing in a casual coffee cupping is to have fun with it. Try to guess the roast or the region. Share your thoughts with others. And, most importantly, make sure to write down your favorites so that you know which ones to buy for next time.


For more information on coffee cupping or on how to keep a cupping journal, pick up your very own copy of The Art and Craft of Coffee by Kevin Sinnott.

The Art and Craft of Coffee by Kevin Sinnott

Kevin Sinnott, host of the how-to video Coffee Brewing Secrets and curator of, is the United States’ foremost consumer coffee authority. His latest project is, a web series following college students determined to win a national competition marketing their own brand of Guatemalan coffee.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Clean Eating for Busy Families

As a busy mom, I have to admit I have weeks where I just don't know what to prepare for my family. I want to make sure I have the right combination of food groups (vegetables, meats, grains), but I also want something fresh and delicious.

One of the most difficult things is finding a great vegetable side dish that the whole family will love. This recipe from Clean Eating for Busy Families has become a new family favorite. The best part... it takes less than 15 minutes to make.

Roasted Citrus Asparagus
Excerpted from Clean Eating for Busy Families

1 bunch asparagus, woody bottom third cut off
1 teaspoon (2 g) grated orange zest
1 teaspoon (2 g) grated lime zest
1 teaspoon (2 g) lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons (10 ml) extra-virgin olive oil


I love my zester/grater.
Prepping roasted asparagus
It's as easy as 1, 2, 3
Preheat oven to 450º F (230º C, or gas mark 8) and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on the pan. In a small bowl, whisk together orange and lime zests, lime juice, salt, and pepper and then drizzle in the oil while whisking. Pour evenly over the asparagus. Toss the asparagus gently with your hands to coat completely. Bake 14 minutes until fork-tender.


Clean Eating for Busy Families by Michelle Dudash

Michelle Dudash is the author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. Michelle is an award-winning registered dietitian, writer, television personality, and recipe developer, and is nationally recognized as an expert in teaching people how health and food can happily co-exist.

Michelle is the Health Expert for, a website engaging nearly 18 million unique visitors monthly and has her own column. She is also the nutritionist for the web show Delicious Life Challenge. Writers frequently quote her in publications such as Prevention, Family Circle, SELF, Woman’s Day and Women’s World. Michelle contributes regularly to, has written articles for Paramount Farms’,, ADA Times and Raising Arizona Kids, and has written recipes for Sargento, Whole Living, Today’s Diet & Nutrition and Betty Crocker magazines. She lives in Gilbert, AZ.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vaquero Bean Tempeh Chili Recipe

Vaquero Bean Tempeh Chili
Excerpted from The Great Vegan Bean Book (available in May 2013)

gluten-free, oil-free option*, soy-free option**

This chili has a very rich, dark flavor from the combination of chiles. If you decide to buy heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, be sure to order some of their yummy chili powders.

2 tablespoons olive oil (*use water or broth)
1/2 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces (225 g) soy tempeh, diced (**use seitan)
6 cups (1500 g) cooked Vaquero beans or 3 cans (15 ounces, or 420 g each) pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (235 ml) water
1 can (14.5 ounces, or 406 g) diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups (270 g) chopped fresh
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon pasilla chile powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
Salt (smoked or plain)
Vegan sour cream **or Cashew Cream, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add everything else except the salt and sour cream. Cook over medium heat and turn to low as soon as it starts to simmer. Cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until piping hot. Taste and season with salt. Serve topped with vegan sour cream.

Yield: 6 servings

Total Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 40 to 50 minutes
The Great Vegan Bean Book hits the shelves on May 15, 2013. 

Kathy Hester is the author of The Vegan Slow Cooker, and the founder of the blogs Healthy Slow Cooking ( and Busy Vegan ( She writes for various online health and cooking websites, including Bright Hub (, Divine Caroline (, Everything Mom (, and The Healthy Hostess ( She lives in Durham, NC with her partner, two cats, and one dog.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cast Iron Texas Chili Recipe

Cast Iron Texas Chili
Excerpted from Cast Iron Cooking by Dwayne Ridgaway.

It seems that cast iron and chili where created for one another. The history and lore surrounding chili is varied, offering many stories, either true or fictional, that seem to point to Texas as its birthplace. Although, I'm sure there will be some that disagree with this, I am biased as I was born and raised in Texas and this is my book, so I can tell the story however I choose. 
From chuckwagons and campfires to the Mexican Mercado and street fairs, chili has been painted into many pictures of the past. Possibly developed as early as the late 1600s, chili is thought to have originated as a concoction from dried meats and crushed chiles that would have been popular and available in those times. 
Today, chili recipes are as ample and varied as are chowders the nation over. Because of my Texan heritage, I offer a recipe that not only is perfect made in a well seasoned cast iron Dutch oven, but prefers the flavors and techniques of what might be referred to as Texas chili. If you like, add or remove ingredients and experiment with what makes you happy in a good, hearty bowl of chili.

Serves 6

4 strips extra-thick, smoked bacon, chopped
3 medium onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
4 pounds (1800 g) boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch thick cubes
1/3 cup (80 ml) chili powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (5 ml) cayenne pepper
2 cups (475 ml) water
3 cups (700 ml) beef stock
2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried oregano
2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) masa harina (or fine ground yellow cornmeal)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 dashes hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
sour cream, for garnish
shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
corn tortilla chips, for garnish
2 chopped scallions, for garnish

Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon and eat, reserving the grease in the pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook until browned on the outside, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the chili powders and cumin, stirring well. Add the water and beef stock, enough to cover the mixture, and bring to a simmer. Add the oregano and salt, cover and simmer until the beef becomes tender, about 2 hours. About 1 1/2 hours into cooking, add the sugar and masa harina, stirring to combine and allowing to thicken a bit. Add salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce to season. Cook for an additional 30 minutes. 

Serve hot with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, corn tortilla chips, and chopped scallion.

This cast iron concoction is from Cast Iron Cooking by Dwayne Ridgaway.

Cast Iron Cooking by Dwayne Ridgaway

Dwayne Ridgaway, the indoor grill master, is the well-known author of Quarry's cookery books including Indoor Grilling, Sandwiches, Panini, and Wraps, and The Gourmet's Guide to Cooking with Chocolate. He has been a chef at numerous resorts and restaurants, including the San Destin Beach Resort and the Elephant Walk in Florida. He is a food and beverage consultant and caterer, and lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chili Cheese Dip Recipe

And the chili recipes continue...


Chili-Cheese Dip

A hot dip with a bit of a bite, sure to heat up any party. If you want to kick it up a notch, add a splash of hot sauce.

Cooking time: 3 to 3 1/2 hours

Attention: Stir occasionally; remove cover during final hour

1 pound (455 g) pasteurized processed cheese food, Mexican-flavored or plain, cut into cubes
One 12-ounce (340-g) jar hot chunky-style salsa
One 4-ounce (115-g) can chopped green chile peppers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the cheese food, salsa, and green chiles in the slow cooker and stir to combine. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste and stir it again. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the cheese has melted, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 1 more hour, or until the mixture is hot. Stir the dip and serve it immediately, or keep it warm in the slow cooker.

YIELD: 8 appetizer servings 

Add it! Garnish the dip with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped tomato, a dollop of sour cream, or chopped green onion for added visual appeal. Serve with tortilla chips or warm flour tortillas torn into bite-size pieces.

This flavor-filled recipe comes from 365 Winter Warmer Slow Cooker Recipes by Carol Hildebrand, Robert Hildebrand, and Suzanne Bonet. 

365 Winter Warmer Slow Cooker Recipes by Robert and Carol Hildebrand
Robert Hildebrand is the executive chef at the Three Stallion Inn in Vermont ( He has been featured in Bon Appetit and on Tony Danza and Fox and Friends. He lives in Montpelier, Vermont. Along with his sister Carol Hildebrand, he's the co-author of 500 3-Ingredient Recipes and 500 5-Ingredient Desserts. He resides in Burlington, VT.

Carol Hildebrand has written for several books, including 500 3-Ingredient Recipes and 500 5-Ingredient Desserts. She resides in Wellesley, MA.

Suzanne Bonet is a slow cooker aficionado and is the author of 3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes. She lives in Lutz, FL.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Three-Bean Chili Recipe

In honor of National Chili Month, enjoy these next few days of recipes from our favorite authors.


Three-Bean Chili
Excerpted from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Delectable and dramatic, this dish—with its many vegetables—is a mosaic of colors. It also makes a delicious filling for burritos. Make it a one-, two-, or three-bean chili, depending on the type of beans you have on hand.


3 to 4 tablespoons (45-60 ml) water for sautéing
3 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow), seeded and cut into 1/2-squares
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons (30 ml) chili powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground coriander
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) cayenne pepper
One 16-ounce can diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes – see below)
One 16-ounce can corn, drained (or 1 1/2 cups/350 ml fresh or frozen corn, thawed)
One 16-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
One 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
One 16-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped fresh cilantro leaves or fresh parsley (optional)

Heat up a few tablespoons of water in a soup pot over medium heat. The water replaces the oil
that is often used for sautéing, and you won’t know the difference. Just use enough water to coat
the vegetables so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the peppers, onion, garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, and cayenne, and cook,
stirring, for 5 minutes, until the onions turn translucent.

Stir in the tomatoes, corn, and all the beans.

Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, and turn off heat.
Serve in shallow bowls, and top with the chopped cilantro or parsley.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Serving Suggestions and Variations
*If you use fresh tomatoes (3 diced tomatoes would be sufficient), just be sure to add 1/4 to
1/2 cup (60-120 ml) of water. When you use canned tomatoes, there is enough liquid from the can, so no
additional water is necessary.
*Add a dollop of nondairy sour cream or guacamole on top of the chili once it’s plated.
*Add more cayenne and chili powder to make it hotter, less to make it more mild.
*Serve with different color tortilla chips: white, red, and black/blue.

*Oil-free, wheat-free, soy-free

This delicious recipe is from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
The Joy of Vegan Baking author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is the founder of Compassionate Cooks (, an organization whose mission is to empower people to make informed food choices and to debunk myths about veganism. A recognized expert on healthful plant-based cuisine, Colleen has appeared on the Food Network and is a columnist for VegNews magazine. Visit her Web site for The Vegan Table at She lives in Oakland, CA.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Grab Your Spoon, It's National Chili Month!

The weather has cooled, the leaves have changed color, and October is here. In addition to pumpkins, gourds, and Halloween, October is also National Chili Month.

Chili is a wonderful fall and winter dish that's packed with great flavors designed to warm your body and your soul. It can be enjoyed alone or shared with many. Whether you slow cook it, freeze it for later, or enjoy it with warm bread, chili is always a great choice.

Here are some great ways to celebrate National Chili Month this October.

1) Host a chili tasting party
Have everyone bring their favorite homemade chili and taste everyone's batch. You could even award the winners with a fun prize (maybe a slow cooker?).

2) Choose or create a new chili recipe
Rather than creating your go-to chili, why not try something new? Change up the meat, go veggie, or add some new ingredients to create a bold taste.

3) Check out a local chili cook-off
Find local restaurants and venues who are hosting chili cook-offs so you can sample something different.

Whatever you decide, may the results be delicious! Happy National Chili Month ;)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quinoa Tabbouleh

I'm a huge tabbouleh fan. It's an easy-to-make salad that brings big flavor to any meal. Up until recently, I never thought about changing up my recipe from the standard... and then I found this recipe that is not only a great change, but is also vegan and gluten-free.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh


1 cup (175 g) quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups (470 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups (120 g) finely minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup (30 g) finely minced fresh mint
3 medium-size tomatoes, seeded and diced
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 scallions, finely chopped


Combine the quinoa and water in a 2-quart (2 L) saucepan.

Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer, stir gently, and cover. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Chill the quinoa in the fridge until cold, about 1 hour.

Stir in the olive oil and salt and then gently fold in the parsley, mint, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, black pepper, and scallions until well combined. Let rest for at least 1 hour in the fridge until well chilled. Serve cold.

"Don't do dried! Fresh mint and parsley are essential when making tabbouleh. The intense flavors of these herbs just don't come through well in dried varieties and the fresh herbs add a nice texture and color to the salad."

For more gluten-free, vegan recipes, check out Allyson Kramer's Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats.

Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer
  Allyson Kramer is founder of the blog, which she launched in 2009 as a way to communicate her love of vegan cooking and recipe development to the world. Shortly after the site's launch, Allyson was diagnosed with celiac disease, and she began focusing solely on gluten-free, vegan recipes. Manifest Vegan was listed as one of the top veg blogs of 2010 by VegNews Magazine, and has received praise on such sites as,, and Allyson develops all of the recipes and photos that appear on the site. She is also a contributor to National Celiac Foundation Association newsletter and She lives in South Vienna, OH.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's Your Favorite Kitchen Gadget or Tool?

I will be the first to admit that I have too many kitchen gadgets. I love a good time-saving tool and am always excited to try out something new. The problem is that many kitchen gadgets end up using much more time than they save, and they end up in my kitchen tool graveyard. There are a few amazing exceptions.

Here are my picks for favorite kitchen gadgets.

1. Lemon Squeezer
My lemon squeezer
Squeezes lemons, holds seeds, dishwasher friendly. Need I say more?

2. Silicone Spatula
The handy dandy silicone spatula
I love this spatula because of its flexibility, literally. It's great for getting all of the batter into the pan and even does a great job with scrambling eggs.

3. Egg Whisk
Mini egg whisk
The smaller size of this whisk makes it simply fantastic for whisking eggs, small batters, and sauces. I use this tool ALL the time.

4. Bamboo Stir Fry Spatula
Bamboo stir fry spatula
We're a little stir fry crazy at our house, so this is the go-to tool when the wok comes out. It flips, mixes, stirs, and more. A recommendation from my mother-in-law that has never let me down.

5. Avocado Peeler/Slicer
Avacado peeler/slicer
Peels, de-pits, and slices in one easy step. My husband's all-time favorite gadget. He even brought it into work to show off to his coworkers.

Do you have a favorite gadget or tool that saves you time and helps create stunning dishes? Share with us!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Behold the Pumpkin Regatta

It’s fall and that means that the great pumpkin has now become the center of attention as we celebrate harvest time.

While many of us are baking pumpkin pies, breads, and muffins, and are sipping our pumpkin coffees and lattes, an elite group of pumpkin enthusiasts are crafting elaborate pumpkin catapults and, yes, even pumpkin boats.

This year is the first I’ve heard about pumpkin regattas and I was amazed to find out that they happen this time of year all across the country. From Maine to California, people are carving out 500-pound pumpkins and are creating squash vessels to compete in an annual regatta.

If sailing pumpkins gets your juices going, then be sure to take a look at the links below to find out if there’s a pumpkin regatta in your town.

Pumpkin Regattas - Burlington, Vermont

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alex Lewin and Real Food Fermentation

Author Alex Lewin found his passion for fermenting thanks to kimchi. What is kimchi, you may ask? Kimchi is a fermented vegetable side dish flavored with seafood and spices. It happens to be Korea’s national dish.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with Alex to discuss his book Real Food Fermentation, as well as the process of fermenting food and how he stumbled upon it.

More than merely the act of putting things in jars, fermentation is also a lifestyle choice.

Alex will be the first person to tell you that in addition to being a lot of fun, fermentation is important to our culture and out health. These days we are so conditioned to believing that bacteria are bad that we forget that there is good bacteria out there that is important to our very survival.

As Sandor Ellix Katz says, “The war on bacteria cannot be won. We wouldn’t want to win it anyhow.”

Bacteria helps us properly digest our food, inhibit the growth of bad bacteria, prevent disease, and much more. Did you know that the human body does not make vitamin K by itself? Bacteria create this by the process of breaking down food.

We are killing good bacteria by purchasing antibacterial products, overusing antibiotics, and panicking about every instance of “germs”. It’s resulting in increased allergies and illnesses. Think of how common peanut allergies are today.

When Alex first found fermentation and began to explore, he read a couple of authors who changed his perspective and helped him get on the path to eating well and living better. These authors are Sandor Ellix Katz of Wild Food Fermentation, and Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions.

We desperately need to get back to eating real food.

Real Food Fermentation offers readers a chance to learn about one of the oldest food preparation techniques out there. It’s a tried-and-true process that is easy to do and extremely rewarding.

Rather than constantly worrying about putting food away, fermentation lets you play with your food. Leave it out and watch the good bacteria do their best work, creating truly delicious concoctions that have delighted numerous cultures for centuries.

Alex’s five steps to getting back to real food:

1) Filter your water
2) Buy local, fresh produce
3) Stop using antibacterial soaps and products
4) Avoid consuming pesticides and artificial ingredients
5) Ferment!

If you want to know more about all things fermentation, be sure to check out Alex’s blog: 


Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin
Preserve your favorite foods through every season with Real Food Fermentation. Control your own ingredients, techniques, and additives. Learn a practical food-preparation skill you’ll use again and again. And express yourself by making something unique and whole.

Inside, you’ll find:

—All the basics: the process, the tools, and how to get started
—A guide to choosing the right ingredients
—Sauerkraut and beyond—how to ferment vegetables, including slaw-style, pickles, and kimchi
—How to ferment dairy into yogurt, kefir, crème fraîche, and butter
—How to ferment fruits, from lemons to tomatoes, and how to serve them
—How to ferment your own beverages, including mead, kombucha, vinegar, and ginger ale
—A primer on fermented meat, fish, soy, bread, and more
—Everything you need to know about why the recipes work, why they are safe, what to do if they go wrong, and how to modify them to suit your taste 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Calling all Foodies and Food Stylists!

Are you a diehard foodie with a passion for the artistic? Do you find yourself snapping photos of each dish you create? If so, we've got the contest for you.

Get your food photos published in 1000 Food Styling Ideas, our newest full-color book due to publish in fall 2013.

If you think you've got what it takes, click here to find out more.

Rockport Publishers specializes in books for design professionals—our publishing program includes graphic design, interior design, crafts, architecture, product design, and general reference. Our world- wide book distribution offers designers the opportunity to show their work in an international forum. Please visit our website at


Any image of a food or drink item photographed within the last two years. Photos that have been published in other Rockport books are not eligible. There is no entry fee and, because of that, we cannot provide free copies of the book to those whose work is chosen. However, we do offer a 50% discount on copies of the book.


Please send digital submissions. There entry fee and you may submit as many entries as you like, but be s to complete a separate form for each entry. The information you provide will be used in a caption to accompany your submission should it be selected, so write legibly, be as complete as possible, and double check all spelling. Incomplete or illegible forms will
be disqualified.


The deadline for entries is October 22nd, 2012. Upon publication, designers whose work is selected for the book will be notified and will receive a 50% discount on unlimited copies of the book.

Good luck! We can't wait to see what you create!

Go for the Blue Ribbon

Sometimes a great recipe is really all about the marketing.

My uncle, Marty, had an amazing recipe for caramels that his mother had passed down to him. Eventually he was talked into entering his delicious treats into the state fair Land O’ Lakes Butter contest for creative caramels. He crafted his caramels with care and precision, labeled them, and then waited patiently as the judges approached.

The judges cut into his caramels, tasted a bite, and conferred amongst themselves. His caramels were pushed to the side and the judging continued.

After not winning the prize, Marty snuck over and read the judges’ comments.

1      1. Not cut uniformly
2      2. Too soft

Rather than giving up, Marty took the feedback to heart. The next year he made his caramels and stayed up late into the night carefully measuring each to ensure they were the same size. 

When he got to the fair, he entered his caramels as “Mom’s Old Fashioned Soft Caramels”. He took home the blue ribbon and a year’s supply of Land O’ Lakes Butter.

Don’t get discouraged if your recipes don’t always impress whoever the judges are in your life. Sometimes all you need is a change in perspective.

Marty's caramel recipe
Wanna try out Marty’s caramels? Here’s the recipe:

Mom’s Old Fashioned Soft Caramels

2 sticks of Land O’ Lakes salted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
2 ¼ cups (535 ml) brown sugar
1 cup (240 ml) white corn syrup

Melt butter. Add sugar and syrup. Slowly add sweetened milk. Cook on medium heat, stirring all the time. Cook to form a firm ball in cold water (about 248ºF or 120ºC on your candy thermometer). Add vanilla. Pour in a 9 x 9-inch buttered pan. Cool, cut, and wrap in wax paper. Makes about 100 individual caramels.

Happy candy making!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Dry Herbs

You've spent ample time carefully selecting what herbs to grow in your garden. You've watered them, cared for them, harvested them... and now winter is coming. Rather than just closing up for the season and spending money on store-bought seasonings, learn how to dry your own herbs so you can use them all year long.

Fresh herbs (even when they're dried) still have a better flavor than their purchased counterparts. It's easy to dry and freeze-dry herbs and is sure to save you a ton of money during the colder months.

This helpful video shows the ins and outs of drying herbs.

How to Dry Herbs -- powered by ehow

Here's to a successful harvest and a great winter filled with delicious dishes!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Red Velvet Fudge

"You've heard of red velvet cake, but red velvet fudge? It's so crazy it just might work!" - Elizabeth LaBau.

Homemade red velvet fudge from Elizabeth LaBau

It really, really does. You're going to want to write this recipe down and pull it out for parties, work events, and to generally impress your friends and family. 

For Fudge:

2 cups (470 ml) buttermilk
1 1/2 ounces or 1/3 cup (37 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 ounces or 1/4 cup (77 g) light corn syrup
31 1/2 ounces or 4 1/2 cups (882 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces or 8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons red gel food coloring*

* Be careful to read the packaging on your food coloring carefully. Many companies will sell decorating gel, but write the word "decorating" so small that you won't notice until the fudge is finished and just isn't red. Elizabeth recommends Wilton brand gel food coloring for ultimate potency.

For Cream Cheese Topping:

1 1/2 ounces or 3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ounces (56 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces or 2 cups (224 g) powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
Red sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

Here's What You Do:

Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the fudge:

In a saucepan that holds at least 6 quarts, combine the buttermilk, cocoa powder, corn syrup, granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda. Place the pan over medium heat, and whisk everything together until it is combined and there are no lumps of cocoa powder remaining. Continue to stir until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a full boil. It will bubble up a great deal as it cooks.

Cacoa powder

Mixing in the sugar

Ready to cook

Boiling the chocolate mixture

Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, and insert a candy thermometer. Boil the candy over medium heat, without stirring, until it reaches 240ºF (115ºC) on the candy thermometer.

Using my candy thermometer

My candy thermometer

Once at 240ºF (115ºC), remove the pan from the heat and place the cubed butter, vanilla, and red food coloring on the top of the fudge in the pan, but do not stir in! Just let everything sit on top of the fudge. If you stir right away, you will be forming sugar crystals that will make your fudge grainy. Instead, let the fudge cool to 115ºF (46ºC) without disturbing the pan.

Butter cubes!

Adding vanilla extract and red food coloring

Making fudge

When the fudge reaches 115ºF (46ºC), remove the candy thermometer. Begin to stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. At first it will be thick and glossy, with a layer of butter on top. As you continue to stir, the butter will become incorporated and the fudge will become less shiny. After 15 to 20 minutes of stirring it will take on the matte look of frosting. At this point, the fudge is about to set, so quickly scrape the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer.

Fudge is almost ready

To make the cream cheese topping:

In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and there are no lumps of butter or cream cheese. Add the sifted powdered sugar and pinch of salt, and mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, then turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until the topping has a light, fluffy texture.

Scrape the topping onto the red velvet fudge, and smooth it into an even layer. If desired, top the fudge with red sprinkles or red sugar crystals.

Red velvet fudge!

Red velvet fudge!

Refrigerate the fudge for 1 hour to set the topping. Once set and firm, remove the fudge from the pan and peel off the foil backing. Cut the fudge into small, 1-inch squares to serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

The Sweet Book of Candy Making by Elizabeth LaBau

Create your own delicious, gorgeous, and professional-quality candies with The Sweet Book of Candy Making. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned candy maker, you will find mouthwatering recipes and expert tips to inspire you—and satisfy your sweet tooth.

To read my interview with Elizabeth LaBau, click here.