Retox and Detox: 10 Favorite Holiday Indulgences

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Exhale.  Its all over.  The glorious gluttony.  The constant consumption.  The indulgent imbibing.  In place of the cream and sugar which has been dominating every nook and cranny of my kitchen I am happily welcoming my old friends, kale and quinoa back into my life.

Perhaps my  body may have an unnatural affection for greens and vegetables, but for the past six days I have been yearning for the super nutritious whole foods which usually grace my plate.  The future of my meals will look something like this: squash stuffed with quinoa and beans; kale and white bean casserole; sauteed greens loaded with nuts; garlic soup studded with brussel sprouts, onions and everything else cleansing.

Although, before I happily begin my post holiday purge, I would like to share some of my favorite indulgences of the past couple weeks.  After all, extravagance may be my favorite aspect of detoxification.

10. Biz’s Cookie Party.  Buckwheat and Quinoa Fig cookies, Mexican Wedding cookies, Peanut Butter chocolate chip, Basic Sugary bliss.  Need I say more?
9. Every Excuse for Champagne.  From Christmas morning mimosas, to raspberry champagne cocktails with dinner, to champagne shots at the stroke of midnight, this beverage has made an appearance too frequently in the past week.  My body always knows when I drank champagne the previous night.
8. Mallory’s Whiskey and Cider.  If there is anything better to warm you from the inside out than a piping hot thermos of Barnard’s apple cider mulled with cinnamon, cloves, a little vanilla, and a large glug of whiskey topped with some fresh whipped cream (spiked of course) please let me know.
7. Morning After Whiskey and Champagne Breakfasts.  Plates smothered with creamed chipped beef, cups filled with v-8 (and vodka?), ovens filled with stratta.  Any of the above are (almost) proven to expunge most nausea.
6.  Desert after every meal.  Leftover cookies, cakes, and meringues, make this mandatory.  Breakfast and that fourth meal between lunch and dinner included.
5.  Phyllo Dough.  What?  Yes.  Not the typical indulgence, phyllo dough has proven to be the perfect companion to everything oozy and gooy: baked brie au bleu, apple and brie quiche, feta and sundried tomato pizza, and endless cheese combinations (see below).
4.  Cheese.  Most of my cheese plates this year were compiled thanks to Talula’s Table.  Favorites included:  Sharp aged gouda, pungent and slaty shroppshire blue, lovely humboldt fog, smooth and delicate rosemary goat.  Similar h’ordeuvres were compiled from layers of phyllo dough brimming with  heavenly marriages of cream cheese and onion pepper jelly, brie with pears and brown sugar, fresh goat with cranberry and pistachio crumble, and gruyere with caramelized onions.
3.  Bacon.  It occurred to me that even as a see myself as a kind of closet vegetarian I somehow omit bacon from the realm of carnivorous consumption.  My new favorite party trick is to fabricate bite sized bowls from a slice of bacon and load them with everything good * instructions below.  Sliced mushrooms melted together with a gorgonzola cream somehow found their way into my cups of salted heaven.
2. My First Roast Duck + Duck Fat Fried Potatoes Everything. A Classic Christmas feast, duck is actually quite easy to make and produces a ungodly amount of animal fat suitable for making the ordinary roasted potatoes exceptional.  My duck was lucky enough to be smothered in honey and rubbed down with a blend of lavender and peppercorns leaving the skin insanely crisp and the meat dark and juicy.
1.  The people and parties which provide the opportunities for extravagance.  Maybe this is a cop-out or cliche but its true.  Eating bacon, cheese, and dessert three times a day may be enough to make one sick, but somehow the wonderful company of friends and family keeps me feeling healthy.  I supposed it could be the additional laughing and smiling around this time of year.  

Bacon Cups:

I used 2 packages of bacon but was not keeping track of how the yield or the actual number of slices needed.  The thinner, leaner cut bacon works best.  Fattier cuts will shrink more.  I also used a very small muffin tin which makes the cups bite sized as opposed to awkward two bite sized.

Cut a slice of bacon into 3 pieces:  first in half and then one of the halves in half.
Make a cross with the two quarters on the bottom of the muffin tin.
Use the long half piece of bacon to wrap around the circumference of  the muffin tin and secure by pressing the ends together.
Experiment with what you have.  This is simply what worked for me.
With all the cups wrapped, place the tin into a casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes or so at 500 degrees until the bacon is quite crispy but not burned.
Let the cups cool and then simply pop  them off, possibly with the assistance of  a spatula.
Load the cups with anything you heart desires.   


Fair-weather Vegan and Baily’s Dairy

November 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

Usually, the freshest things on my plate are fruits and vegetables from Barnard’s or Highland Orchards, the farmers market, various CSAs, and occasionally my garden.  In fact, I have gotten so accustomed to the plethora of obscenely crisp produce in my diet that my unconsciously have transformed in a pseudo vegan.   This may upset some hardcore vegans as there is no real way to be half vegan.  But if there is, I have discovered the animal-less jackpot and I feel glorious.  There is defiantly something to be said about veganism, and I am overall glad that food awareness has become/is becoming as mainstream as it is.

Although the fundamental reasons that I love eating like a vegan; the real and whole foods, the exposure to different foods, the pureness of the foods are the same reasons why it seems impractical.  When I discovered how great I felt with a significant decrease amount of cheesy, buttery, milky, bacony, food in my belly I began to think about converting completely to the green side.  Fortunately, a few things stopped me.

One being my love of croissants and all baked goods for that matter (preferably a  la mode and ice cream is absolutely a vegan no-no).  I am just not really that okay with using butter substitutes.  Not that I have not fallen in love with many different kinds of oils in the past year but there is just no way to replace the sweet salty velvety heaven of fresh cream and butter.  I find that these dairy fats are essential in baking.  And I love to bake.  So sorry veganism I choose butter.  No oleo-margarine, it simply contradicts my whole eating philosophy of simple and fresh and delicious.

Which brings me to the freshest dairy a food lover could hope for.  Every day I drive by the hills speckled with the happiest cows grazing on grass, not hormones in feedlots.  Seeing the cows just makes me want toast with butter melted all over it.

The dairy just opened up to the public in the spring of 2010 after selling their milk to Land-O-Lakes for years. And while I am in favor of drinking raw milk as I believe that the pasteurization process eliminates the enzymes in the milk which make is human digestion friendly, I have talked to the Bailys about their pasteurized milk.  They flash pasteurize which makes it safe to sell as pasteurized but is not heated to levels which kill off all of the good enzymes like mass produced dairy.   

Now I stop into the market once a week to pick up my supply of cream line milk and pearly cream for baking and ice cream for eating (as we drive by the farm to school the 4 year old I nanny for always asks which cow made the ice cream and it makes me so happy that this question is even possible).  At this point they are still working on selling their own butter.  And I am waiting patiently, err, impatiently.

This dairy may be the reason for my inability to commit as a vegan and I could not be happier to be drinking and baking with the milky creamy products of the happiest cows I know.

Baily’s Dairy


8121 Lenape Unionville Road
West Chester, Pa19382

Open daily 10 am- 6pm

Labels are Arbitrary: Baked Spinach and Cheddar Sconey-Biscuits

November 11, 2010 § 4 Comments

In Mark Bittman’s cookbook How to Cook Everything, he says that scones are basically ‘ultra-rich biscuits’.  Something in me wants to disagree.  There is a part of me which has a deep affection for scones with their soft, dewy innards and sturdy, craggy shell.  My dream scone is slightly salty and gathers its lingering sweetness from chunks of fresh fruit nestled into a combination of whole wheat flours and luxurious fresh cream.  Biscuits are all good and fine, they just dont have the heartwarming appeal of my beloved scones.  Not that a buttery, flaky biscuit is not the perfect home for a fried egg on a Sunday morning.  They simply lack the versatility of additions which makes scones wonderful.

The scones I set out to make this week were of the savory sort, with caramelized onion cheddar cheese from Trader Joe’s and fresh spinach aching to be devoured.  I expected the cheese to make up for the fact that there was no cream in the house and would have to settle for 2% milk.  This was where the scone began its descent into an oozy, bright, spinach spattered biscuit.  It lacked the density of a traditional scone but was not quite the flaky texture of a true biscuit either.  This is surely a new breed of baked good.

Spinach and Cheddar Sconey-Biscuit
Thank You Mark Bittman for your outline of scone recipes. Cooking Everything has been a great go to for basic techniques.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
chili pepper or garlic
to your liking
5 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup milk or heavy cream (preferable)
2-3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup grated/chopped cheddar cheese (I used aged cheddar with caramelized onion)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  While the oven preheats mix all the dry ingredients together (flours, bp, salt, seasonsings).  Cut the butter into cubes and begin to use your fingers to add the butter into the flour mixture by rubbing/pinching the cubed butter in until the butter and flour is all blended and looks sandy.  When the butter is about the size of rice grains  you have succeeded.  Now beat the two eggs and milk or cream then add the cheese and spinach all in the same bowl.  Slowly incorporate the wet mixture into the dry ingredients.  Stir briefly, and knead even more briefly, adding more flour if it seems too sticky to handle.

Now flatten the cheesy, spinachy, dough into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick.

Some scones are triangular and some are round, so choose your shape and get cutting.  I used a simple glass as my mould.

Transfer the scones to a baking sheet as you cut them.  With the dough scraps just re-flatten and cut in the same manner.  I topped my scones with extra cheese, but you can coat them with an egg wash (1 egg+ 1tbs water) if you prefer a glossy finish.

They will be nice and golden after about 8 minutes (give or take a minute).

Eat Happily.

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