Market Finds

Market Finds
Farmer's Market Bounty

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival: Jerusalem on a Plate

I love when an unexpected opportunity arises.  I had one of these moments last week, when new friend and Cancer Wellness participant, Helen Stern, invited Chef Nancy and me to the North American screening of Jerusalem on a Plate.  The film was brought to this country as part of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

The film is presented by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-born chef, who currently works and resides in London.  Mr. Ottolenghi is also the co-author of the beautiful cookbook, Jerusalem, pictured to the right.

My only complaint about this movie was that it was far too short.  The vivid scenery, cultural stories and spectacular food, made me wish that I could jump through the screen and join Mr. Ottolenghi on his journey through this fascinating city.

Throughout the movie, I was mentally taking notes as to what dishes and techniques I could bring to my own kitchen.  The one visual that stood out to me the most, was a deconstructed baba-ganoush.  I tried this eggplant dish for the first time almost exactly one year ago, and since then have been on a mission to taste baba-ganoush whenever it appears on a menu.  Thus, after viewing this film, I thought I would experiment with my own version of the recipe,  while incorporating the visual presentation I enjoyed in the film.  I encourage you to take a look at this beautiful cookbook next time you are in your local bookstore, and by all means if you ever have the opportunity to see this film, do not pass it up.

Baba Ganoush:

2 large globe eggplants, or about 20 small Italian or baby eggplants.  You will need about 4 cups of cooked flesh.
4 garlic gloves, chopped
1 tablespoon tahini
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Optional Garnishes:
Sesame seeds
Extra-virgin olive oil
Charred baby eggplant*

Step One:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork to poke several holes into the skin of eggplant and place on a sprayed, foil-lined baking sheet. Or if using smaller eggplants, cut off the stem of each eggplant and place on a sprayed, foil-lined sheet pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until inside flesh is nice and soft. Once the eggplants have cooked, remove from oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.

Roasted Italian and Baby Eggplant

Step Two:
Scoop flesh from the eggplant with a spoon and place in a food processor.  Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse until you have a smooth puree.

Remove mixture from food processor to a serving tray or bowl and sprinkle with desired garnishes. Serve with pita chips or crudite.

For the Optional Garnish of Charred Baby Eggplant:

Place eggplant over an open flame on a gas stovetop or underneath your broiler, turning often until flesh is blackened.  Once cooled, hold eggplant by the stem and gently scrape off the charred flesh with a small, knife.  Make sure to leave as much of the flesh as possible intact.

Place the peeled eggplant on top of your plated dip and spread the flesh with the back of a fork to create a base so that the stem end will stand up straight.

Finished presentation, inspired by the decondtructed baba-ganoush in Jerusalem on a Plate
I hope you will try this exotic dip and remember to make every plate something to be passionate about.  Cheers!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Healthy "Hearts" Salad for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day! I hope today finds you thankful for your loved ones both near and far, as well as an opportunity to express your gratitude and love to those around you. I have a fun and busy day ahead of me doing what I love best, sharing beautiful and delicious food with others.

February is American Heart Health Month as well as Valentine's day.  Both of these events, inspired my recipe this week. What better way to celebrate Valentine's day and heart health, than by giving the ones you love a heart healthy salad that is full off "hearts"?  Artichoke hearts, romaine hearts and hearts of palm, make a great base for a salad.  Throw in some capers, tomatoes and toasted walnuts and top it off with a drizzle of my crimson roasted red pepper Caesar dressing.

Tonight I will be at the Cancer Wellness Center with Chef Nancy and ten amazing couples who have been affected by cancer.  We will be doing a hands on cooking class, where the couples will be divided into four different teams, making four different recipes.  The menu includes red pepper jelly chicken, grilled shrimp with lemon pasta, a chocolate ricotta cream for dessert and of course, my healthy hearts salad as a starter.

Have a great Valentine's Day and get in the kitchen with the ones you love and create something healthy and beautiful to eat, while creating memories as well. 

Salad Ingredients:
1 8 oz box organic romaine hearts
1 9oz box frozen artichoke hearts, roasted*
1 14oz can hearts of palm, 1/4 inch slice
3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
1 recipe Roasted Red Pepper Caesar Dressing**

To roast the artichokes, place on a foil lined sheet tray, in a single layer. Coated generously with cooking spray and season itch salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 425 degrees for 35 minutes, until brown and caramelized.

Arrange romaine hearts on a large platter and drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Top with the remaining ingredients, in order, and serve the remaining dressing on the side.


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 2oz tin of Anchovies, drained
1 12oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained
3 garlic cloves
Zest and Juice of a lemon
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Step 1:
Place olive oil and anchovies into a small sauté pan and warm over medium heat while mashing anchovies with the back of a fork. Continue heating the mixture until anchovies begin to dissolve and break up, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Step 2:
Add cooled oil and anchovy mixture, along with the remaining ingredients to a food processor. pulse to combine.

This recipe will make more dressing than you will need for this salad, which is good news, since it tastes even better the next day.  Use it as a dip, a sandwich spread or even heat it up and toss with some whole wheat pasta.

Enjoy sharing a delicious and healthy meal with all of the special people in your life and remember to make every plate something to be passionate about.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A French Lesson:

Although I have been on a bit of an Italian kick as of late, I am a Francophile first and foremost.  What better way to rekindle my first love, than to attend the "Oh La La! - French Macarons"  class with Chef Renee Jackson at the Cook's Warehouse this past Sunday. This was  my first time attending a class at Cook's, typically I am on the other side of the counter cooking and helping Chef Nancy with one of her classes.  I must say, it was fun being a student for the afternoon, learning the art of making the colorful French macaron's that are all the rage.  But most importantly, I got to spend the afternoon with some of my new favorite people and support another chef who's passion clearly shines through in her baking.

We were cautioned at the beginning of the class that the macaron is not a hard cookie to prepare, but rather, it was a temperamental cookie.  The basic macaron recipe is fairly simple to prepare. It's nothing more than egg whites, superfine sugar, almond meal and powdered sugar.  Precise measurements and a calibrated oven are essential.  Well, precise and calibrated are not adjectives that best describe my cooking style.  I am more of a "pinch of this" and a "pinch of that" kind of cook.  I suppose this is the "precise" reason that I am not a baker.  No worries, we were all here for fun, so let the baking begin.

We were given this basic macaron recipe from the book Mad About Macaron's, by Jill Colonna.


150g Egg Whites, aged at least two day, at room temperature
100g Superfine Sugar
180g of Almond Meal/Flour
270g Powdered Sugar

Step 1:  Line baking sheets with parchment paper

Step 2:  Place almond flour and powdered sugar in food processor and pulse 4-5 times.  Sift dry ingredients using sieve into mixing bowl.  (when making flavored shells, add the flavoring during this step.

Step 3:Whisk the room temperature egg whites into glossy firm peaks, adding the superfine sugar gradually.  If coloring the shells, add at the very end of this step.  Use powdered or gel food coloring as liquid will change the consistency of the batter.

Step 4:  Fold the beaten egg whites into the dry ingredients using a large spatula.  Mix well.  The result should be a cake batter consistency.  Do not over mix.

folding egg whites into dry mixture
egg whites are folded properly

Use a rubber pastry scraper for the final incorporation

Step 5: Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitter with a large tip.  (Wilton 1A)

Step 6: Pipe out mixture onto prepared baking sheets.  Using a circle template under your parchment will help ensure equal sizing of shells.

Strawberry shell batter, piped onto "polka dot" template

Step 7:  Let shells set for no less than 30 minutes.  They are ready to be placed in the oven when they are somewhat hard to the touch

Here are some lemon shells that are waiting to dry before going into the oven

Step 8:  While shells are setting up, move racks to the center of the oven and preheat to 325 deg.  It is a good idea to use an oven thermometer.

Step 9: Bake shells, one tray at a time, for 10-12 minutes

Step 10:  Remove shells from oven when done and place tray on cooling rack to cool thoroughly

Step 11:  Once shells are completely cooled, pipe your favorite filling (butter cream, ganache etc...), onto half of the shells.  Place partner on top using a circular motion to squish filling toward the edge of shell.
I may have "squished " too hard.  Mine looks more like a Whoopie Pie

Step 12:  Eat and enjoy! 

As Renee said, they may not always be pretty, but they will always be delicious.  This was the truth.  While none of the groups produced a pastry shop worthy specimen, we all learned a lot and most certainly could not have found a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  A glass of wine, three flavors of French macarons and time spent with passionate food lovers.

Jennifer, Brenda, Nancy, Renee, Moi, Mary Rob