National Cheeseball Day!


I’m a big fan of food holidays and April 17th is National Cheeseball Day! No, not the corny comedy kind of cheeseball but the decadent, rich, edible kind.

To say cheese has been an essential part of my diet growing up would diminish its importance. I lived on cheese. I grew up in Central New York (yes, there is more to New York than New York City) and part of our property actually was used by dairy farmers. I woke up every morning to the sound of cows and can’t tell you how many times I had to stop my car in the road on my way to school to wait for a cow to finish crossing. (It really happens.) Most meals had some form of cheese and many snacks consisted of peeling plastic layers from sliced cheese after a soccer practice followed by a sleeve of thin mints.

One memory that is vivid is my late grandmother’s absolute obsession with those port wine cheeseballs that you get from Hickory Farms. There was always one in the house. I can smell it just thinking about it. They even became a staple at our Christmas Eve gatherings. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the holiday tray of port balls and crackers and I’ve since pretty much given up dairy. Hard to believe, I know. I’m not a strict vegan by any means given my weak, weak will power, but I have really cut back on animal products of any kind- including my beloved cheese. 

Recently, I had my first pasta alfredo without cheese. Seems a bit like an oxymoron, but bare with me. You can actually make an incredible “cheese” sauce from cashews. It really tastes like cheese. When I discovered this and that it’s actually really delicious, I felt like I was cheating the system- above the law! 

I don’t have a lot of experience making vegan cheese but am definitely going to experiment more. I even have a one pound bag of cashews in my cabinet waiting for me. For those who are already well-versed in the language of vegan cheeses,  Native Foods Café is having a contest for the best vegan cheeseballs. Maybe I’ll enter next year after some practice. I am sure SOMEONE has to have a recipe that will fool my family on Christmas Eve into thinking they are eating the real thing.

Anywhoooo, check out their Facebook page where they will announce the winner. I highly recommend trying out some recipes. Even a girl growing up around dairy farms can get behind it.

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New Site is the LinkedIn for Chefs


Ok friends, I’ve got the scoop on a new site that is exciting for foodies and techies alike and frankly, it’s genius! It’s called Chef’s Roll and simply put, it’s the LinkedIn for chefs.

Chef’s Roll allows chefs to create online profiles for themselves where they can showcase their experience and abilities, including adding pictures and video. With their motto “Presentation is Everything”, it also allows chefs to market themselves in social media and will soon include a job board. 

The first thing that comes to my mind is “why did I not think of this?” Seriously, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, LOVE all things food and have worked in media and tech. I’m grounding myself. Absolutely kicking myself. However, hats off to the founders in San Diego who DID think of this, Thomas Keslinke and Frans van der Lee. Finally chefs will be able to have an online presence and community where they can look for jobs and show off their stuff.

I’m very familiar with startups and new sites, especially living in an area where they are abundant. I’ve even written for several. This one has some serious clout. It’s been endorsed by Cedric Vongerichten (Perry St., NY), David Burke (David Burke Group), Taji Marie (chef, food writer, consultant) and one of my favorite chefs and tv personalities Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame. In fact, Top Chef has actually used Chef’s Roll for casting and if you have read my blog before or know me at all, you know I’m not only a Top Chef addict but actually appeared on one episode. (ahem! insert humblebrag here. Ok, there were four shots of me in a crowd and every single one was the back of my head- minor details.)

Chef’s Roll was also selected for a technology incubator program, Accelerate-IT’s Launch-U, to help the business quickly scale and grow. I think you will be hearing a lot more about this site, but remember you heard it here first and don’t forget to check it out whether you’re a restaurateur, chef or just an obsessed foodie.

Chef’s Roll
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChefsRoll

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Lentil Sloppy Joes


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I’ve clearly been on a lentil kick and this is my second lentil comfort-food recipe in a row. I’ve made vegetarian sloppy joes in the past, but previously used seitan. This version uses a natural protein and the bonus is this is super easy to make!

Lentil Sloppy Joes
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Ingredients
  1. 1 yellow onion, diced
  2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 28oz can crushed san marzano tomatoes
  4. 1 Cup green lentils
  5. 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  6. 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  7. 1/2 tsp cayenne
  8. 1/2 tsp chili powder
  9. 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  10. 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  11. olive oil
  12. salt and pepper to taste
  13. Sandwich rolls
Instructions
  1. Heat a pot of water to boiling. Add green lentils and cook about 40 minutes or as directed on the package.
  2. In a dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Finely mince the garlic and dice the onion. Add to the dutch oven and sauté about 4 minutes. Add red wine vinegar, worcestershire, cayenne, chili powder, thyme and mustard and stir. Add crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer.
  3. Drain the lentils. Add the lentils to the sauce and stir. Cover and simmer on low heat about 25 minutes.
  4. Serve on sandwich rolls or hamburger buns.
Notes
  1. Check the ingredients on your Worcestershire sauce. Most have tiny amounts of anchovy paste in it so good to know if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan.
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Red Curry Lentil Soup


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(apologies for the pic quality- have not had time to take out my lighting kits so resort to cell phone pics , especially with a colicky baby!) 

I really enjoy making soups. It’s a great way to experiment with flavors and they are easy, one-pot meals. Here is a recipe for a red curry lentil soup that is warming and comforting. Perfect for anyone on the east coast experiencing after effects of the polar vortex!

 

Red Curry Lentil Soup
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Ingredients
  1. Olive oil
  2. 2 carrots
  3. 2 stalks of celery
  4. 1/2 yellow onion
  5. 2 cloves garlic
  6. 32oz container "No Chicken Broth" or Vegetable broth
  7. 5 tsp thai red curry paste
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. 6 cups cooked green lentils
  10. 3 cups chopped flat kale
  11. 1 13oz can lite coconut milk
  12. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Finely dice the celery, onion and carrot. Add to the oil and cook about 4 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the carrots, celery and onion and cook about 1 minute. Add the curry paste and broth and stir until smooth. Add the bay leaf, lentils, kale, salt and coconut milk. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper as desired.
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A lot has happened…


You may have noticed I’ve been gone awhile. Quite awhile. Months. There is a good reason. I have recently welcomed a beautiful baby girl into my life! 

I had my little bundle of joy back at the end of November which was the best day of my life. I can honestly say there is nothing I’m more proud of than her. Unfortunately, that day was followed by 25 days in the NICU. She has a handful of issues that I won’t get into and she will hopefully outgrow, but she is doing well and growing stronger every day.

Spending all that time at the hospital definitely leads to some horrible eating. The cafeteria options are, to put it nicely- revolting. We did have some outstanding Munchery meals thanks to our wonderful friends and coworkers. (Seriously- if you live in the Bay area, check this out. It is life-changing!)

To top off everything, when we brought our little critter home we discovered she is colicky. Very colicky. For anyone not familiar, it’s basically hours upon hours of a baby screaming (not fussing, not crying but SCREAMING) for no apparent reason. There is not much you can do but try your best to soothe her and wait until she outgrows it. Also, drinking helps. 

Anyways, she is getting better every day with both the health issues and the colic and I’m using the 15 minute naps here and there to occasionally cook something that doesn’t involve the microwave. I’ll do my best to publish on a somewhat regular basis, but I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t keep my word! In the meantime, meet the tiny little love of my life…

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