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Many of you asked for our recipe for this White Chicken Chili that we’ve been serving up to our pro-sports team. It’s yummy and hearty and a nice change of pace from our usual standby favorite. Give it a try and let us know what you think!!

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White Chicken Chili

makes about 8 servings

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

olive oil, as needed

salt and pepper

1  cup diced onion

2 poblano chilies, diced small

2 tbl minced garlic

1 jalapeno, diced small

2 tbl cumin

1 tbl ground corriander

4 tbl flour

4 cups chicken stock

2 15-oz cans white beans

2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

chopped cilantro, for garnish

grated jack or cheddar cheese, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet.

Roast for 20 minutes. Remove and let rest until cool enough to handle. Chop or shred into small pieces. Set aside.

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, poblanos, garlic and jalapeno in a drizzle of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until tender.

Add the cumin and coriander and a couple pinches of slat and pepper. Add the flour and cook for one minutes. Add the stock and stir.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans, corn and chicken. Cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.

Serve warm topped with fresh cilantro and cheese.

Enjoy!!

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One of our favorite vegetables for Fall and Winter is fennel. It’s subtle anise flavor, lends a  certain sweetness that complements this season’s cooking perfectly. The best part about this root vegetable is it’s versatility. It can be eaten roasted, sautéed, braised or raw. While the white bulb is the most used part of this vegetable, don’t throw away the stems — they can be used to subtly flavor soups and stocks. The feathery fronds that sprout from the tops can be used as a finishing herb or added to salads and sauces. When it comes to flavor and bang for your buck, fennel is definitely the seasonal produce that packs a punch! Here are some of our favorite ways to use this Fall gem:

KEEP IT RAW
One of our go-to salads this time of year is an explosion of flavors and textures and it all starts with thinly shaved fennel (to shave it thinly, we recommend a hand-held slicer like the Kyocera ones – great tool to have in your kitchen). Then we have halved grapes, thinly shaved apples and leaves of watercress. We toss the whole thing lightly in a maple vinaigrette (maple, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil). This is a salad that makes you want to eat salads.

SWAP IT OUT
A great way to start using fennel is to swap it out for onions. Any time a recipe starts with some sautéed onions and garlic try using some fennel and garlic instead – you’ll notice it’s sweet, rich flavor in the background of dish. For instance, try caramelizing it in some butter and thyme in place of caramelized onions…..you’ll be eating this sweet concoction right out of the pan!

BRAISED & BROWNED
Leave it to the French to figure out the most luscious way to prepare fennel: braised in buttery stock and finish in the oven with cheese. To do this, cut the stalks off the fennel and then cut the bulb in quarters. Place in a pot with a couple pats of butter and enough stock to just barely cover the fennel. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender. Strain out the soft fennel and place in a shallow baking dish. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan or Gruyère cheese and some salt and pepper. Bake at 450 until golden and melted. A vegetable has never tasted so good!

Join us for our popular Global Comfort Food class to learn an amazing Fennel, Bread and Tomato Soup recipe that is perfect for cold Winter nights. If you already have Thanksgiving on the brain, we have you covered with our annual Thanksgiving 101 class, where we’ll demonstrate how to create a Brioche Dressing with Caramelized Fennel, Fuji Apples and Pancetta that is sure to become a family favorite!!

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These little fritters are always a hit at our catered event…there’s something about a crispy vegetable that is so appealing! We make many variations on this recipe, substituting the zucchini with shredded raw butternut squash, carrots, sweet potato, yellow squash. But these are my personal favorite — they are light and delicate on the inside and crispy on the outside, topped with a creamy dollop of ricotta. Just be sure to squeeze the shredded raw vegetables very dry before moving on with the recipe…otherwise you’ll have soggy fritters. Also, don’t skip topping the ricotta with plenty of cracked black pepper just before serving (or red chili flakes if you like some heat) — it’s that tasty final touch that puts these over the edge.

Zucchini Fritters with Ricotta & Mint

makes about 25 fritters

4 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (makes about 6-7 cups)

2 tbl finely chopped scallions

2 tbl finely chopped dil

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup chopped mint

Place the shredded zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of salt. Toss and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Rinse lightly and squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible and transfer to a bowl.
Add the scallions, dill, flour, baking soda, feta, egg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 1/2-inch of vegetable oil to a wide pan. Add heaping tablespoons of the batter to the pan and cook until golden. Flip and cook until golden and cooked through on the second side. Remove and place on a paper-towel-lined pan to remove excess oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt as soon as they come out of the oil.
Whisk the ricotta and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the fritters hot topped with ricotta and some fresh mint and final sprinkle of cracked black pepper.

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Sometimes in the midst of a busy week, a simple baking task can help put everything in perspective. Some sugar, some butter, some flour, a flick of wrist with nothing more than a whisk and, voila, a lovely little cake in born. A slice, still warm from the oven, alongside an afternoon cup of coffee demands a quiet moment….and such demands are not only heaven-scent but, at times, necessary. And so I have this simple little recipe for a Lemon Loaf Cake, baked on assignment from Tuesdays with Dorie, to thank for such a moment.

This is the kind of cake that’s easy to make and easy to eat. So easy, in fact, that it took nothing more than a bowl, a whisk and a few measuring cups to make this recipe. The only “special” ingredient called for was cake flour — since I was looking for simplicity on this particular afternoon, I decided to triple sift regular flour and use that instead.

While the fundamental recipe was fine (find the actual recipe on this week’s hosts: Treats and The Beauty of Life), I found this cake was begging for some improvisation. A bit more lemon zest and maybe some lemon oil to heighten the tang, a bit of vanilla bean paste or ground cardamom for a floral note, and perhaps even some toasted pistachios for an exotic, hidden crunch. The cake was dense — perfect for dipping in tea or, better yet, for toasting the next day and slathering with lemon curd. I think I’ll file this one away as a recipe to use for our Kids Cooking Camps…..thin slices of this cake would be the prefect “bread” for a summer ice cream sandwich….but that’s for a different post.

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We were recently asked to make latkes for a catered event and we were thrilled!  We made over 160 latkes for this all-appetizer party for 50 people, along with 5 other menu items and the latkes were the first thing to go — they were a smash hit. And no wonder — who doesn’t love a crispy pile of potatoes after all? Latkes are one of those foods that, for many, represent family tradition and holiday celebration — and that means that for every family there is a grandmother-approved way of making them and eating them. For some it’s extra crispy, for some it’s soft in the middle, for some it’s smoked salmon, for some it’s applesauce. While we don’t want to step on grandma’s toes, we decided it would be fun to mix it up and offer a variety of toppings for this particular party. So we did latkes with creamy horseradish sauce, watercress sauce and smoked salmon, creme fraiche and caviar, apple-thyme compote and pomegranate-orange relish. The smoked salmon one went first, but I like the apple-thyme compote the best. At the risk of ruffling the feathers of tradition, here are our tips for making the perfect latke, along with a recipe for the watercress sauce that was such a hit. We did one batch with just potatoes and onions and one with some added carrot. In the end, they all tasted the same and you couldn’t really see the orange of the carrot. I’ve done a version with all butternut squash before that were pretty and delicious — a nice alternative to the original.

1. SHRED WITH SPEED – While there’s nothing wrong with using a traditional box grater, there is nothing like hand grating 10 pounds of potatoes to make you never want to cook again. And we are against anything that makes cooking harder than it needs to be. So may we suggest pulling out those grating disks that came with your Cuisinart (or other food processor) that are on a bottom shelf somewhere collecting dust. This is their time to shine. Remove the standard blade from your food processor and replace with the largest grating blade and the whole grating part of this recipe will take under 5 minutes.

2. MOISTURE IS THE ENEMY – Whenever the goal is making something golden brown, moisture is not your friend. This poses a problem when working with vegetables that have a lot of natural water in them, like potatoes. The key to the perfect latke is drying your potatoes before you continue with the recipe. To do this, we like to use a clean, dust-free kitchen towel. Simply dump the freshly grated potatoes in the towel, bundle together and squeeze over the sink. You’ll be surprised to see about a cup of liquid come out. Do this in batches until all of the potatoes are dry before mixing in the other ingredients.

3. DON’T SKIMP ON THE OIL – Sorry, folks, but this is not a low-fat recipe. It’s fried. That’s what makes it delicious. So don’t try to get away with a few squirts from an olive oil spray bottle. You’ll need a solid 1/4-inch of oil on the bottom of the pan to get these to golden perfection.

4. BE CAREFUL. THIS IS HOT OIL WE’RE TALKING ABOUT – May seem obvious but it just takes one burn from a splatter of hot oil to ruin your day. Our advice is to use tongs to gently turn over the latkes – they allow you much more control than a spatula.

4. SEASON TWICE – If there was one single tip we could give you that could turn your home-cooked food from just OK to fantastic, it’s to learn to season correctly. This means using salt and pepper at multiple times during a recipe. For this one, you’ll add salt into the mix AND sprinkle some salt and pepper on the latkes when they come out of the pan. This ensures the flavors are all balanced. There’s nothing worse than a bland latke.

TRADITIONAL LATKES

makes about 2 dozen

4 large russet potatoes, peeled

1 onion, peeled

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1 tablespoon salt

vegetable oil for cooking

Grate the potatoes and onions using the largest grating blade in your food processor. Use a clean kitchen towel to squeeze the vegetables dry in batches. Dump all of the dry veggies into a large bowl and add the flour, eggs and salt. Use your hands to mix together until well combined.

Add about 1/4-inch of vegetable oil to a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. To see if the oil is hot enough, drop a couple strands of potato into the oil – if it sizzles immediately, you’re ready to go.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of the mixture at a time into the oil creating little piles (don’t spread the piles too thin or they will fall apart when you try to turn them). Once golden on the first side (about 3 minutes), use tongs to gently turn over and cook until golden on the other side.

Remove and place on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and immediately sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with your favorite topping.

NOTE: Latkes do not hold well overnight. If you want to make them before serving, your best bet is to make them same day and let them sit at room temperature. Before serving, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven and cook for 5 minutes until sizzling hot. If you have extra cooked latkes, they freeze nicely. Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, combine them in a Ziploc bag and keep in the freezer for up to a couple months. To reheat, place directly from freezer on a baking sheet in a 375 degree oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until sizzling hot.

WATERCRESS SAUCE 

makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup watercress leaves

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup fresh dill

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve latkes with a dollop of this sauce and a small piece of smoked salmon.

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Thanksgiving is around the corner and one of the most important parts of the meal is the gravy. If you’re like me, it ends up covering everything on the plate! But how many times have you been standing over the stove 10 minutes before dinner is meant to be served, whisking like mad over a hot pan trying to get your gravy lump-free and perfect? No more! Here’s everything you need to know about to make the perfect gravy. This is a step-by-step tutorial followed by our Life Changing Cooking Tip video — it’s meant to be a base point recipe that you can adapt and modify with your favorite flavors. Enjoy!

 

The Master Recipe –

This makes 1 cup so for Thanksgiving you’ll want to make this at least 4x. But once you know this master ratio, you can make a small batch or a huge batch of gravy and it will be perfect every time.

1 tablespoon butter (or fat from your roasting pan)

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup liquid (any mixture of wine, stock, juices from your roasting pan, heavy cream, fruit juices)

chopped herbs (like tarragon, thyme, rosemary) or sauteed vegetables (like onions, mushrooms) or meat (crumbled sausage or bacon or pancetta)- optional

 

The Rules –

1. Use a skillet, not a saucepan. This will make whisking easier and will allow the gravy to cook and thicken faster.

2. Start with the butter and flour in the pan and cook, whisking constantly for 1-2 minutes — this helps begin to cook out the flour flavor.

3. Make sure any liquid you’re using is room temperature — if it’s cold it will be more likely to make the gravy lumpy. Add the liquid slowly, whisking as you go. Once you’ve gotten enough liquid in the pan to thin out the flour mixture, add the rest.

4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. This is step most often missed. By cooking for 10-15 minutes, the flour flavor will cook out, the flavors will meld and the gravy will reduce and thicken a bit more.

5. If you’re adding herbs or veggies, add them once the liquid is added.

6. Be sure to taste and season with salt and pepper at the end. Depending on what liquid you use, it may already have salt from the stock or pan juices.

7. A note on thickness: Gravy should be glossy and the thickness of maple syrup — not gloppy and thickness of pudding. Gravy will thicken as it cools. Once it’s cooked for 10-15 minutes, remove from the heat and just allow to sit in the pan for another 10 minuets to cool slightly, whisking often so a skin doesn’t appear. Then your gravy should be the perfect thickness. IF you need your gravy to be thicker at the end of cooking, you have two options: (1) whisk together 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 tbl cold water and whisk into boiling gravy – cook for 1 minute OR (2) mash together 1 tablespoon flour with 1 tablespoon butter and whisk it into the bubbling gravy a little at a time – cook for 5 minutes once it’s all been added.

I hope this roadmap leads to a lump-free gravy on your Thanksgiving table this year. We encourage you to get creative with this basic recipe! Our favorite version from our Thanksgiving cooking class this year is flavored with some sauteed pancetta, shallots, marsala wine and a splash of heavy cream. Delicious! Check out our video tutorial and share with us your gravy tips, disasters and flavoring ideas.

 

 

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For me, this smoothie is gorgeous — bright green and luscious. But I know for many people a green drink does not look appetizing or exciting. I think so many of us have been trained to be scared of green foods….they must be bitter and tasteless since they are good for us. What I’ve found over time is that it’s really just a matter of challenging your assumptions about food. Employ the same attitude you demand of your children: “Just try it once and see if you like it” — the key it to KEEP trying new things over the years. You’d be surprised how your tastes may change over time. I’ve also heard it takes doing something new 7-10 times to create a new “habit” — so make this smoothie everyday for a week and you’ll have gotten over the hurdle. And the good news: this smoothie is actually really delicious and you can barely taste the greens.

We came up with this smoothie for a live demonstration we did in partnership with Vitality City and have since make it in many of our cooking classes. We wanted something that was nutritionally dense and not just a sugar-filled beverage. While smoothies from you local smoothie shack can be delicious, they are often filled with sugary juices, conventional (non-organic) fruit and rarely offer the addition of greens. So we set out to make a better smoothie.

First we considered flavor. We are cooks first, after all, and know that nutrition is useless unless it tastes good. We decided to feature a coconut-pineapple theme (pina colada, anyone??) and utilize frozen pineapple (no sugar added — just real pineapple, frozen, so it keeps the smoothie cold and icy). Pineapple is so high in vitamin C that one serving of this smoothie gives you over 100% of your daily recommended dose. We decided on coconut milk for the liquid for many reasons: it’s full of the “good fats,” it’s a non-dairy choice that tastes like milk but is non-GMO, you can get it unsweetened and find it for a great deal at Trader Joes (and many other grocery stores these days). To complete our power-packed smoothie, we added kale because throwing raw kale in a smoothie is one of the easiest ways to get 1-2 servings of dark greens in your daily diet and this means tons of potassium, vegetable protein and antioxidants. Finally, instead of adding some apple juice for sweetness (which is a fine option but increases the overall sugar), we added a cut apple (with the skin for added fiber) and a little water. In the end, we got a gorgeous green smoothie that is packed with vitamins, low in sugar and full of good-for-you calories. Most importantly, it tastes really good!!

While we love this version, there are many variations that would be delicious. Try subbing in mango for pineapple (it will be sweeter and high in beta carotene) or some fresh grapes for added sweetness. If you want more protein, add 1/4 cup of walnut pieces.

GREEN PINA COLADA SMOOTHIE

makes 2 16-oz smoothies

2 cups frozen pineapple (no sugar added)

2 cups chopped fresh kale

1/2 small apples, roughly chopped

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (we like the Trader Joe’s brand and SoDelicious brand)

1/2-1 cup cold water

Place the pineapple, kale, apple, coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more water as needed to get desired consistency.

Drink immediately!

NUTRITIONAL INFO (for 1 16-oz smoothie)

147 calories

30 grams carbs

3 grams fat

4 grams protein

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