Monday, December 31, 2012

The Brooklyn Cocktail

This New Year's Eve, why not look to the past as well as the future? Rather than serving up the traditional glass of Champagne, check out some vintage cocktails. The trend of exploring tinctures of old has become incredibly popular and is a fun way to add some originality to your evening.

I recommend The Brooklyn Cocktail from Dr. Cocktail's Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails.




Cheers to 2013! Have a very wonderful night :)
Katie

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In this expanded and updated edition of Forgotten Cocktails and Vintage Spirits, historian, expert, and drink aficionado Dr. Cocktail adds another 20 fine recipes to his hand-picked collection of 80 rare-and-worth-rediscovery drink recipes, shares revelations about the latest cocktail trends, provides new resources for uncommon ingredients, and profiles of many of the cocktail world's movers and shakers. Historic facts, expanded anecdotes, and full-color vintage images from extremely uncommon sources round out this must-have volume. For anyone who enjoys an icy drink and an unforgettable tale.

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 Times, Esquire, Malt Advocate, Men’s Journal, and writes regularly for Imbibe Magazine. He is a partner in CocktailDB.com, an encyclopedic database of cocktail knowledge and curator and designer of The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans.
 

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve Party Ideas

First off - huge congratulations to Aaron, Becky, Jennifer, Lisa, and Shari for winning our iBookstore giveaway! Your codes to download the book(s) are on their way to you by email. Thanks to all who entered!

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Can you believe it's almost 2013? It has been one heck of a year and I can't wait to see what fun 2013 holds for us all. This year found me completely addicted to Pinterest. If ever I need a great recipe, craft, organizational idea, or even new outfit, Pinterest has me covered. Be sure to share some of your food inspiration with me. I'm always up for something new!

Since I've been thinking about what to bring to my friend Fran's New Year's Eve party, I thought why not check out Pinterest for some ideas. Here are my top six choices. I hope they inspire you!

Whatever you're doing and wherever you are, I hope you and yours have a wonderful New Year's Eve.

Ball Drop Cupcakes

Ball Drop Cupcakes
http://pinterest.com/pin/186336503301989316/

New Years Cookies

New Year's Eve Clock and Champagne Cookies
http://pinterest.com/pin/186336503301989485/

Sparkling Pear and Cranberry Cocktails

Sparkling Pear and Cranberry Cocktails
http://pinterest.com/pin/119415827590711041/

Milk Shots for Kids

Milk Shots for Kids
 http://pinterest.com/pin/272045633712994907/

Roasted Smashed Potatos

Roasted Smashed Potatoes
 http://pinterest.com/pin/110267890846069698/

Baked Zucchini Fries

Baked Zucchini Fries
 http://pinterest.com/pin/112027109451766169/

What are you planning for New Year's Eve? Let me know. Leave a comment below ;)

Happy holidays!
Katie

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Raw Food: Maki Sushi Recipe

If you're looking for a fun way to bring the fresh flavors of raw food into your world, why not start out with vegetable sushi? It's a fun project that looks great and tastes even better. Here is Judita Wignall's Vegetable Maki Sushi recipe from her book Going Raw. And just because you guys are awesome, I've also included the video tutorial.

Vegetable Maki Sushi

These fresh, crunchy rolls are as much fun to make as they are to eat.

Sesame-Ginger Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup (60 ml) tamari
2 tablespoons (30 ml) brown rice vinegar
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

Maki Sushi:
3 cups (390 g) chopped jucama
6 sheets untoasted nori
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into sticks
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 avocados, sliced
2 cups (100 g) alfalfa, or other similar sprouts

Preparing the Dipping Sauce:
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Watch the video tutorial with Judita to learn how to make the sushi:


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Going Raw by Judita Wignall

Go raw, get radiant, start a revolution!

A raw-food diet is a healthful way to detox, clear up your skin, shed a few pounds, and feel radiant. But who has time to track down hard-to-find ingredients and whip up labor-intensive recipes every day? (Hint: not you!) So what’s the best way to start? Going Raw gives you everything you need to start enjoying the benefits of a raw-food lifestyle, all in this gorgeous guide.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

An Interview with Raw Food Expert Judita Wignall

Happy holidays everyone! I hope each of you enjoyed a wonderful holiday and are excited about all of the opportunities that 2013 holds. I know that I'll be thinking about my new year's resolutions as 2012 rolls to an end. One of them is trying some new cooking methods out, including trying some raw food dishes.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with raw food chef Judita Wignall about her passion for raw food and the differences this change in eating has made in her life. I know the difference that fresh foods make in the flavor of my dishes, so I was excited to learn more about how I could incorporate some raw food techniques into my cooking (or in this case, not-cooking) arsenal.

Raw food author Judita Wignall
Photo courtesy: Amazon.com

What made you decide to go raw?

A few years ago I was having major issues with acne. I had been on an Atkin’s diet for a really long time so my vegan friends were recommending I try changing my diet and cutting out all the animal products. I was so desperate I was willing to try anything. When I went shopping for vegan recipe books I found some raw books that looked really intriguing and thought I’d give it a shot. I figured I had nothing to lose but bad skin!

What is one thing everyone needs to know about the raw food diet?

That it can be really delicious!! Everyone is so scared they are going to starve or be unsatisfied eating raw. Not true if you do it right and own some good recipe books.

Should I go completely raw? What’s the best way to get started?

Start by replacing one meal a day with raw. Breakfast is usually the easiest. Smoothies are a great way to start your day with loads of nutrients without loading you down. Work your way up to 50% then 75% and then 100% and see how you feel. 100% raw is great for cleansing, but you really don’t need to go completely raw to enjoy the benefits. An all raw diet is not for everyone so listen to your body.

What was the hardest part about moving to raw food? What are the benefits?

Learning to become proficient in the kitchen. I never liked cooking to begin with so when I went raw I had to make most of my own food since there were only a couple raw food places in the neighborhood and they were really expensive. There’s a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s just as quick and easy as whipping up a cooked meal. The benefits I gained from changing my diet were well worth the small inconvenience of having to prep my own food. I dropped 15 pounds in one month, gained a ton of energy and cleared up my acne!

What kitchen skills do you need to learn to switch to a raw food diet?

I had zero kitchen skills when I started and I did pretty well for myself, but if you’re good with a chef’s knife, that will make slicing and dicing go a lot faster.

What tools do you need for raw foods?

A good knife and cutting board is the most important; after that a good quality blender and a food processor. Dehydrators are used for making raw snacks, wraps, and granola. They’re fun to own if you’re really into raw food, but not necessary. My new book Raw & Simple doesn't require any dehydrating. When I wrote the recipes for the book I put my dehydrator in my office and barely touched it for 6 months. Now I’m used to only making quick, easy raw food meals. 

You started off your career as a musician/model. What made you add “chef” to your resume?

I thought it would be fun to be a trained raw food chef so I could have more ideas of what to make in the kitchen. It quickly went from being a hobby to a new career.

Do you still play guitar/sing?

I still write songs at home but just for fun. I haven’t played a show in ages.

Is it easier to write music or recipes?

Recipes for sure. If I’m hungry I can whip up a recipe in a few minutes. Songwriting takes me forever these days.

Is it easy or tricky to balance a raw diet with modeling/acting? What do you eat on an all-day shoot?

It’s pretty easy if I plan it out in advance. I almost always bring my own food to set just in case there’s nothing healthy to choose from in catering. I usually make a quart of superfood smoothie for breakfast and a kale salad. I also pack some organic fruit and almonds and some kind of raw cacao treat. Catering always has salad, but I bring my own homemade dressing.

How do you handle eating out at restaurants?

Since I eat really well at home, I give myself flexibility to eat what I want at restaurants. If they don’t have (or I don’t like) the raw options, I order the next best thing, which is usually cooked vegetables and whole grains. If I’m going out to a place that doesn't offer healthy choices, I’ll eat before I go out and just order something really small at the restaurant. I’m not 100% raw and I don’t stress out about it when I’m out and about. I just do the best I can.

How do you create your recipes?

My recipes are usually inspired by some food porn I've seen online or a great cooked meal I had at a restaurant. I always say, “Oh! I bet I can make a great raw version of this!” I almost always succeed.

What’s your favorite ingredient to use?

Avocado! It’s so versatile. I use it in smoothies, soups, salads, and desserts. I never get sick of it.

What’s your favorite recipe from the book? Why?

The Carrot-Apple Cupcakes. The cream cheese frosting is just ridiculous and the nutty carrot cake is so delicious. I could eat an entire batch in one day.

How do you prepare rice if you can’t cook it?

Well I make my own “rice” by pulsing cauliflower or jicama in a food processor. If you want to make a raw rice dish like my Mexican Seasoned Rice from Going Raw, you need to use wild rice only. The best kind is hand parched wild rice, which you can find online. Soak it in a mason jar filled with water overnight in a warm dehydrator. If you don’t own a dehydrator, soak it for 24-36 hours on your kitchen counter, changing the water ever 12 hours. The rice will puff up and can be seasoned in many delicious ways. It’ll be a bit chewier than cooked rice.

What new techniques will readers learn in your next book, Raw & Simple?

How to make raw cupcakes, fermented water kefir beverages (sort of like kombucha, but easier), classic ice pops, plus lots of low sugar/sugar free alternatives for people who are trying to eliminate sugar from their diets.

What has authoring a book taught you?

That writing books is hard! But also really rewarding. I love all the emails I get from readers all over the world telling me how much my book has helped them.

What’s for Christmas dinner?

I spend the holidays with my in-laws who are very not raw, but they are sensitive to my needs. We always have a gorgeous salad, sautéed carrots, sweet potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts, and I make my raw apple crumble from Going Raw, which everyone just loves. 

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If you think Going Raw might be for you, be sure to pick up Judita's books, Going Raw and Raw & Simple.

Judita Wignall is a commercial actress, print model, and musician from Los Angeles. She discovered the healing power of raw foods after health challenges made her reassess her diet and lifestyle. Her passion for great-tasting food, holistic health, and wellness brought her to Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, where she became a certified raw food chef and instructor. In between her many creative projects, she continues to teach classes, coach, and act as a personal chef for clients around the country. Learn more at http://www.rawjudita.com.


Raw and Simple by Judita Wignall


Making smart, delicious food choices in a short amount of time is now easier than ever. Raw and Simple provides easy (and incredibly tasty!) recipes that will feed your body and spirit without requiring hours of prep work. Recipes include:
Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Cookies, Apple Pie Smoothie, Winterland Salad, Cucumber Basil Soup, Creamy Kale Salad with Capers and Hazelnuts, Maple-Dijon Brussels Sprouts, Thai Veggie Noodles, Root Vegetable Slaw, Cherry-Hemp Muesli, Watermelon-Fennel-Mint Chiller, Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette, Colorful Cabbage Salad, Cauliflower Couscous, Carrot-Ginger Coconut Soup, Orange-Cranberry-Apple Relish, Herbed Pecan Pate, and Orange-Almond Truffles.

Raw food chef and instructor Judita Wignall fully integrates her raw food platform with holistic health and wellness. It’s not just about food—it’s about feeding your whole body and fueling your life!

Going Raw by Judita Wignall

Go raw, get radiant, start a revolution!

A raw-food diet is a healthful way to detox, clear up your skin, shed a few pounds, and feel radiant. But who has time to track down hard-to-find ingredients and whip up labor-intensive recipes every day? (Hint: not you!) So what’s the best way to start? Going Raw gives you everything you need to start enjoying the benefits of a raw-food lifestyle, all in this gorgeous guide.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! Happy holidays from SPOON :)

'Tis the season, so I thought I'd share some digital Polaroids of our holiday moments. I hope yours are just as special. I'll be back with more recipes, interviews, and foodie moments tomorrow.









 Enjoy the day with your family!

—Katie

Monday, December 24, 2012

Last Minute Christmas Ideas

It's Christmas Eve and, if you're like me, most of your plans are done and you're focused on enjoying the day with family and friends. My Christmas Eve tradition is going stocking stuffer shopping with my dad. It's something we've done for as far back as I can remember and I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it.

Last minute Christmas ideas for foodies

Since Christmas morning tends to be a little crazy in my house (especially now that my son is mobile and seriously into the tree and gifts), I'm planning on trying out one of these make-ahead breakfast recipes. That way, I can prep everything this evening and simply pop it into the oven on Christmas morning while everyone rips open their gifts. Easy.

Huffington Post's 10 Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes for Christmas Morning
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/20/make-ahead-breakfast-recipes_n_1160799.html#s560730&title=Oversize_Breakfast_Biscuits 

Bacon, Cheddar, and Scallion Strata
I have a feeling this Bacon, Cheddar, and Scallion Strata is going to be the winner this year. 
Jamie Deen's Breakfast Bake 
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-deen/breakfast-bake-recipe/index.html?ic1=obinsite

McCormick's Cheesy Bacon & Egg Brunch Casserole
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cheesy-bacon-egg-brunch-casserole-recipe/index.html?ic1=obinsite

Whatever you make, whatever you're doing, however you're celebrating... have yourself a Merry Christmas! Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday!


—Katie

Friday, December 21, 2012

The art of Mise en Place

It never ceases to fail. I've been dreaming about a recipe all day. I've purchased all of the ingredients and am sure that I have [insert ingredient here]. Only I don't. And I don't realize this fact until I'm more than halfway through the recipe. I've done this more times than I can count. Typically, it ends up with me at the grocery store at 9PM (or my husband when I'm able to guilt trip him - yeah, I'm that person...).

I used to scoff at the TV chefs with their little glass bowls all over the counter. Sure, the aesthetic was great, but from a practical standpoint? It seemed like such a waste of time to measure everything out in advance and end up having to wash all those bowls. Especially when you don't have a team of interns to help with "prep". I figured it was something professional chefs did on TV to look extra special. Not something for me.

I was wrong.

Mise en Place bowls
Image courtesy: Williams-Sonoma
Mise en Place (or "everything in place") is actually one of the first techniques they teach in cooking school. There's a reason behind those little bowls and it's called planning. Yes, it takes some up front time to get your kitchen in order, but it actually saves time down the road. And you don't run the risk of running out of an ingredient mid-preparation or find out once you've started that you have to run out to grab more butter.

Three reasons why you should try Mise en Place

1. All the cool kids are doing it.
Seriously though. There is a reason why professional chefs around the world use this technique and it's because it works. If it works for them, it can work for you.

2. It saves time and energy.
A little bit of prep time ensures you don't run out of ingredients mid-cooking. It also allows you to focus on perfecting the recipe. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to stir something and chop something and grab the milk out of the fridge all in a miniscule amount of time.

3. Keeps foods fresh longer.
Yep. Preparing your food in advance actually can prolong the shelf life of fresh produce. "This is usually because the preparation involves some sort of heat which reduces any microbes present." Check out this article for more details.

Hopefully I've convinced you (and myself) to give this technique a try. I bet we'll all have better dishes and less frustration once we do.

And hey, if you're looking for a holiday gift for a foodie, Mise en Place prep bowls are a great idea ;)

Happy cooking!
Katie

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SPOON's iBookstore Holiday Giveaway!

My husband bought me an iPad for my birthday this past year. I know, he's awesome. He knows it too. One of the first things I did when I got it was to buy a couple of cookbooks from the iBookstore. I was fascinated with the idea of being able to use my iPad as an everything-in-one cookbook. And you know what? It works.

I'm definitely never going to give up my books (I'm an addict, it's true),  but there is something nice and easy about having a few of my favorites accessible digitally. I'm sure many of you feel the same way, which is why I thought I'd go digital with this holiday giveaway.

So here's how it works:

Just leave a comment in today's post by midnight on December 27, 2012 telling me which book you would like most and we'll randomly pick a winner for each title. Please note these are digital titles that you will be able to download and keep from iBookstore.

And then we'll randomly pick one more lucky commenter to get to download all 5 books from iBookstore!

The Gourmet's Guide to Cooking with Beer
The Gourmet's Guide to Cooking with Chocolate
The Spaghetti Sauce Gourmet
Making Artisan Chocolates
The Art and Craft of Coffee

And if you're feeling EXTRA lucky this holiday season, pop on over to Craftside to try your hand at winning some crafty titles. Stefanie is giving away five craft books. Same rules apply there.

Good luck to everyone!
Katie

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What the Heck is Lutefisk, Anyway?

Last week I did a post about Swedish recipes and included my mother-in-law's recipe for Cardamom Bread. In the writing of that post, I came across another Scandinavian holiday tradition... one with a strange personality all its own. That dish is called lutefisk.

So what is lutefisk?

Wikipedia says: "Lutefisk is a traditional dish of the Nordic countries. It is made from aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish) or dried/salted whitefish (klippfisk) and lye (lut). It is gelatinous in texture, and has an extremely strong, pungent odor. Its name literally means 'lye fish.'"

Urban Dictionary says: "Lutefisk: Food used in Norway to torture children."

This got me thinking. How could a food be so horrible as to bring about its own parody songs? This one actually made me laugh out loud.



So I've made it my personal mission to try lutefisk sometime this holiday season. I'm not certain as to whether or not I'll make it myself, but I am intrigued by this apparently "pungent" dish.

If you've tried lutefisk and want to share your story with us, drop me a note at quarryspoonblog@gmail.com or leave a comment below or on Facebook.

Happy Holidays! :)
Katie    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

While flipping through Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats I came across this recipe. What caught my attention was the cinnamon. I had never thought to put cinnamon on a vegetable. I had to try it.

Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower
Excerpted from Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats

Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Ingredients

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower (about 2 lbs or 910 g)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons (27 g) cornmeal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC, or gas mark 6).

Cut the cauliflower into bite-size pieces (about 1 inch or 2.5 cm across). Discard the tough core. Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl and coat evenly with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the olive oil.

Cinnamon and cauliflower

In a small bowl, sift together the cornmeal, cinnamon, and sea salt. Sprinkle evenly onto cauliflower and toss with your hands until each floret is well coated. Add a touch more cornmeal if needed to evenly cover.

Transfer the cauliflower to an ungreased baking sheet (flat sides down), discarding any excess cornmeal. Drizzle lightly with the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil.

Making cinnamon roasted cauliflower

Bake for about 40 minutes without flipping or until the cauliflower is crispy and browned on the edges and bottoms.

Gently transfer the cauliflower to a plate with a flat metal spatula. Serve immediately.

Delicious cinnamon roasted cauliflower

Yield: 8 servings

This recipe is an easy and yummy way to spice up your cauliflower. The flavors really enhanced the cauliflower and gave this side dish a great taste I'm still raving about!

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Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer

Following a plant-based, gluten-free diet is one of the healthiest lifestyle choices around, yet it can be a challenge to create meals that not only match your needs, but taste delicious too. But not any longer! Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats shows you exactly how to create compassionate and wheat-free recipes that are impressive enough for even the most seasoned foodie. Full of fresh and all-natural ingredients, the 101 fully-photographed, scrumptious recipes you’ll find inside prove that eating vegan and gluten-free doesn’t have to be a sacrifice, but a delight! From tempting appetizers, to hearty mains, to luscious desserts, you’ll find dishes to suit your every need and craving.

Monday, December 17, 2012

An Interview with Allyson Kramer

Before I begin this post, I just wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS to Mary, the winner of our holiday book giveaway. Congratulations also to Heather, who won the Craftside book giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered and made it such a huge success.

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One of my closest friends recently found out that she has celiac disease. It was a difficult diagnosis to hear. On one hand, she finally understood why she had been feeling so sick; on the other hand, it was challenging for her to know what to eat and if she could still have some of her favorite foods.

Having a better understanding of how to cook gluten-free (yet still delicious meals) is a huge deal to me right now. At first it seemed completely impossible and utterly daunting, but then I realized that there are many people out there who are doing it and doing it well, and Allyson Kramer is one of them. Allyson is the author of Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. If you are trying a gluten-free diet (or know someone who is), this is a great book to check out.


Why did you decide to go vegan?

When I was young, I got turned on to the idea by way of Buddhism (a subject my father had books on) and my sister’s dedication to vegetarianism. Ultimately, I decided to go vegan out of my desire to lead as non-violent a life as possible.  I wanted to distance myself from the destruction to animals and the environment as a result of eating a standard American diet.   

What was your first thought when you heard you had celiac disease? How did you overcome the challenges of switching to a gluten-free diet?

My first thought was relief, as my doctors were concerned before my diagnosis that I could have had rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis because of my medical history. I thought that celiac disease was much easier to cope with than the other options. 


I was mostly scared of how having to adopt a gluten-free diet would impact the way I developed recipes on my blog (which I had started a short time prior to my diagnosis). The uncertainty was overcome with the support of my husband (who believed in my cooking and baking skills), patience, trial and so much error, and a lot of passion to keep creating recipes. Once I understood the fundamentals of creating gluten-free recipes and how to make special flour blends for certain outcomes in baked goods, it was much easier for me to accept.

What’s the hardest challenge with vegan, gluten-free eating?

I’d have to say eating out at restaurants is the biggest challenge for me. Even though there are many more options for people following a gluten-free and vegan diet then there were even 5 years ago, and many non-American restaurants have menu selections that are naturally vegan and gluten-free, it is still difficult sometimes with spur of the moment dining or when craving traditional foods that you don’t want to recreate at home. Although I have never eaten in a restaurant where the menu could not accommodate my dietary needs, it’s just not the same as choosing from the menu as most folks would.

What advice would you give to those new to gluten-free, vegan, or G-free vegan?

Research, keep an open mind, and read all ingredients on everything, such as condiments, prepackaged goodies and other foods that may have mystery ingredients. The easiest way to start with either diet is to focus primarily on whole foods like leafy greens, whole grains, beans, legumes, rice, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits. Get familiar with these ingredients and learn how to create your own simple cheese sauces, milks, and meat substitutes with these types of foods. 


A food processor comes in handy, but beyond that, it’s really just a slight shift in thinking and then it’s easy to recreate the foods you love, or invent new favorites with whole foods. Not to mention, there is a vast array of vegan/gluten-free convenience foods available today, such as mayonnaises and cheeses, which makes the transition easier.

What’s your favorite recipe in the book Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats?

The Butterscotch Amaretti. I could eat trays of those things! And the ingredients are so simple, and mostly pantry staples, so I can whip them up virtually any time. I like to bring those to potlucks and get-togethers as they are always a crowd favorite. 


Butterscotch Amaretti Cookies by Allyson Kramer

How do you create your recipes?

I love to get into the kitchen and just play around. I take a lot of inspiration from the particular ingredients I happen to have on hand, but I also shop with recipe development in mind. If persimmons are in season, for instance, I start developing a recipe in my head, and then I’ll purchase a few complimentary ingredients, and get to work.  As I am bringing the recipe together, I continue to refine the dish, adding spices, herbs or layers
whatever it may need. I know it’s done when I don’t want to change it in any way.

What is (or who is) your biggest food inspiration?

What a tough question to answer! I would say that the food community in general is very inspiring to me: from legendary greats such as Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, to my favorite food writers, to professional groups such as the IACP, to the food blogging community. I am drawn to people who have a passion for creating original food that tastes delicious, and who also have a story to tell.

Walk me through an average day in the life of Allyson Kramer.

I work from home, but I keep a calendar and regular “office” hours (although I often work late) and mark off certain days for different activities, depending on what I am working on. Generally, I wake up and head straight for the coffee while I make my kids’ breakfasts and help my oldest get ready for school. Then, I get my youngest ready for the day as she stays home with me. I always check my email first, and after that I check my calendar, and tackle anything small that I can knock out early in the morning.  

Many days are just writing days, so I get myself a large mug of coffee and get to it, often working well into the evening. Other days are my recipe development/photography days, which are much more hectic and messy. I start by doing a thorough kitchen cleaning and prep for my photo setup. Then I am either developing or testing, and if the finished product looks good, and is done with testing, I photograph it. Then I transcribe the recipe in Word, edit the photo and add it to whatever project I happen to be working on. When 6 o'clock rolls around, it’s dinnertime, and I’m back in the kitchen again. Around 9 o'clock the kids go to bed, and if I have a tight deadline, I keep working; if not, a glass of red wine is in order.

Your photography is gorgeous. Were you a photographer or a foodie first?

Thank you! My interest in food developed before my interest in photography, but I have been into art ever since I could hold a pencil. Photography as a medium came later for me, but I studied fine art in college
focusing on both painting and sculptureso my art degree has a lot to do with how I compose and what I find important in a photograph. Even before I dove into food photography, in art school I was painting and sculpting a lot about domesticity, and food was very much a recurring subject in my work, but my desire to create cookbooks  was my main motivator for investigating photography. 

When I first started exploring food photography, I wasn't very good at all (take a look at some of my earlier posts on my blog!), but eventually I became very excited by it and started exploring my options more. Photography has really strengthened my love for food, by allowing me to connect with it on a different level and have more intention regarding the aesthetics of a good dish as well as the taste.

Your new book, Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats From Around the World, comes out in May 2013. What international cuisine was most inspiring when crafting these recipes?

I am really in love with the cuisines from South America and South/Southeast Asia. When I do my own cooking, the flavors and ingredients from these parts of the globe are pervasive, since much of our daily staples, such as potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and pumpkins, stem from South America, and so many spices originate in South/Southeast Asia. But, I’d say the combination of flavors from each region around the world
or regional culinary fusionwas the most inspiring part of creating these recipes. There is such a variety of foods available, that the possibilities truly are endless.

I get a ton of eggplant each year from my local CSA and never know what to do with it. What do I do with eggplant?

My favorite thing to do is to thinly slice a peeled eggplant, marinate in a simple sauce including tamari, brown sugar, a few dashes of liquid smoke, crushed red pepper, paprika and Italian spice blend including fennel. Then brush lightly with olive oil and bake at 350ºF (175
ºC, or gas mark 4) until crispy on both sides, flipping once halfway through. It makes a great bacon substitute. 

You can also slow roast the eggplant (350ºF [
175ºC, or gas mark 4], cut in half and lightly salted and oiled for 45 minutes or until soft, and broil for 5 to 10 minutes) and puree the roasted eggplant along with a little tahini and lemon juice to make Baba Ghanoush, a favorite of mine right up there alongside hummus.
Thin skinned eggplant is also great cubed and sauteed, and chilled to toss into salads or use as a main ingredient on sandwiches in place of meat. 





Pop by tomorrow to check out Allyson's recipe for Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower. 

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Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer
 
Following a plant-based, gluten-free diet is one of the healthiest lifestyle choices around, yet it can be a challenge to create meals that not only match your needs, but taste delicious too. But not any longer! Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats shows you exactly how to create compassionate and wheat-free recipes that are impressive enough for even the most seasoned foodie. Full of fresh and all-natural ingredients, the 101 fully-photographed, scrumptious recipes you’ll find inside prove that eating vegan and gluten-free doesn't have to be a sacrifice, but a delight! From tempting appetizers, to hearty mains, to luscious desserts, you’ll find dishes to suit your every need and craving.