Posts Tagged ‘jose andres’

Strawberry Cupcakes (and 5 links for Friday)

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I probably don’t have to tell you it’s strawberry season — in fact, we’re getting down to the final weeks here in Virginia, and there were reports of the first cherries of the season at the FreshFarm Penn Quarter market yesterday. We had friends over last weekend and I wanted to make strawberry cupcakes for the kids. (Ok, for all of us.) I found this recipe using fresh berries from famed Sprinkles Cupcakery via Martha Stewart, and it turned out wonderfully. The frosting, a semi-cream cheese twist, is my new favorite frosting — the husband, who doesn’t typically like cream cheese or buttercream frostings, even approved. And of course the kids were big fans, too.

Recipe: Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
(Adapted from Sprinkles’ recipe; get the cupcake recipe at MarthaStewart.com.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 package), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or extract)

Instructions: Cream cream cheese and butter in mixer bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing on low at first, then medium until smooth. Add strawberry puree and vanilla and mix another minute. If your frosting is really soft (as tends to happen when working in a warm kitchen), chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so before frosting cupcakes. Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes. Enjoy!

And now, a few links for your holiday weekend … have a great one!

1.  I’ve spotted a few spring panzanellas around the food blogs. Typically made with late summer’s ripe tomatoes, these versions use what’s in season today, like asparagus and arugula panzanella from In Jennie’s Kitchen and spring panzanella from Sassy Radish – perfect side dishes for Memorial Day cook-outs!

2. Speaking of cook-outs, Borderstan has a round-up of bbq-ready recipes from DC food bloggers.

3. If you’re running out of ideas for all that spring asparagus, here are Five Ways to Eat Asparagus from Food & Think at Smithsonian.com (including my crustless asparagus quiche).

4. It’s officially soft shell season here in the Chesapeake Bay region, and Coconut & Lime has a helpful tutorial for cleaning fresh crabs if you’re brave enough to cook them at home. (Buster’s Seafood at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market usually has them for sale this time of year.)

5. If you’re staying in town this holiday weekend, catch Chef José Andrés and his daughter Ines cooking another giant paella at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm market, 11am.

Clementines for the Holidays

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

It’s no secret that citrus is one of the reasons I could never live on a 100% local diet — at least not without moving back to California first. As soon as the weather dips near freezing, I start stocking up on grapefruit, oranges, Meyer lemons or, my favorite, clementines. As much as possible I buy organic citrus from Florida, but for clementines it’s the real thing, all the way from Spain. (I actually spotted those newfangled California “Cuties” at Whole Foods the other day, but stuck with the Old World variety.) When I was a kid, we always got a clementine in our stocking, and devoured it while waiting for Christmas breakfast to be ready. I’ve planned to do the same for the boy, but considering how many clementines we eat in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I’m not sure it’s quite as special a treat.

Today I had a meeting near one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Jaleo, so I stopped in for lunch. Imagine my delight to see the “Clementina Festival!” sign in the window. I couldn’t resist and enjoyed a three-course clementine lunch. First up, seared clementines with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and microgreens. Simple yet bursting with flavor. For the main course, seared squid with artichokes and clementines, the citrus contrasting perfectly with the silky squid. And then dessert. Clementine ice cream atop clementine curd, with some almond/graham cracker crumbs and fresh clementine slices — drizzled with olive oil. Perfection. It was like being transported to sunny Spain for an hour, and left me inspired to do more than just eat our way through the box of clementines straight up. The clementine curd in particular has me pondering a clementine tart … stay tuned.

Do you cook with clementines? What’s your favorite way to use them?

Clementina-web-banner

If you’re in DC, the Clementina Festival continues at Jaleo through December 20.

From the White House to DC School Cafeterias: Local Flavor Week

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama opened the new FreshFarms Market by the White House. Next week, the fresh, local food movement will march not on the marble steps of the Capitol, but down hallways of the District’s public, charter and private schools. As part of this week’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” roll-out by the US Department of Agriculture, additional tools and $50 million in funds were announced to help bring healthy, local foods into schools, now, without waiting for Congress to take up school lunch re-authorization. (Which isn’t going to happen until next year.)

dc farm to school

Also not waiting for Congress to act is the new DC Farm to School Network, which is launching “Local Flavor Week” September 21-25 as the opening foray into bringing the regions farmers into local schools. Together with the Capital Area Food Bank, Whole Foods and other community partners, DC Farm to School is coordinating a full week of taste tests, cooking demonstrations, farmer visits and nutritional education activities. The festivities kick-off Tuesday at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School cafeteria in Southeast DC, where local chefs Peter Smith of PS7 and Oliver Friendly of Eat and Smile Foods will compete Top Chef-style using ingredients grown in the school’s garden.

Andrea Northup, coordinator of the DC Farm to School Network, notes that the District has one of highest child obesity rates in the nation. “School-aged children consume most of their daily calories in school meals, so it makes sense that we should connect school with nearby sources of fruits and vegetables to serve in their cafeterias. The only way the District’s schoolchildren will thrive is if they are well nourished and armed with the skills they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.”

If you’re in the area, find out more about participating schools and activities — and volunteer opportunities — at dcfarmtoschool.org/localflavorweek. And to find a Farm-to-School organization in your state, take a look at the National Farm-to-School map.

PS If you didn’t catch my live tweets from the White House market opening, here’s a slideshow recap (click picture to view):

white house farmers market whrrl

You can read more about the market opening, and see pics of the First Lady and Chef Kass (whom I missed waiting in the security line), on Cookography, Obama Foodorama and the twitter stream from @FreshFarmMktsDC.

Don’t forget it’s Fight Back Friday — visit the Food Renegade to join in!

At Market: Simple Tomato Gazpacho

Monday, September 14th, 2009

grapes at marketAt the Alexandria Markets: We’ve returned to our Alexandria farmers markets after our recent travels, and witnessed that unequivocal sign of seasons changing from summer to fall in the peaches and tomatoes being nudged out by apples, pears, and early winter squash. Now I don’t know if there’s some sort of zucchini shortage in Northern Virginia, but we’ve received none from our CSA this year and I only spotted a few giant ones at the West End market. Has there been some sort of run on zucchini by crazed zucchini bread addicts? (By the way, if you haven’t been to West End lately, you’re missing out on some wonderful authentic Mexican tamales from Alma at Westmoreland Berry Farm.)

At any rate, we received word from our CSA that their tomatoes have begun to show signs of early blight (not the late blight you’ve heard so much about), so I set about to make sure we enjoyed the ones we got to the fullest. After our tomato jam experience (kudos to Jennifer for winning the food52 best preserves contest with her recipe!), the boy comes running to get his knife whenever he sees me dicing tomatoes. He even overcame his fear of the blender to help me make this super simple gazpacho. With all due to respect to José Andrés, who makes the best restaurant gazpacho in town, this recipe is even simpler with just six ingredients, tasting pretty much like, well, a pulverized tomato. Ironically the boy liked it even though he refuses to eat fresh tomatoes. Be sure to use good quality extra virgin olive oil — preferably from Spain, of course.

tomato gazpacho

Recipe: Simple Tomato Gazpacho (kid-friendly instructions)

Ingredients:

  • About 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 slices white/Italian bread, crusts removed and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • generous pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

1. Using a kid-safe knife, assist child in cutting tomato and bread into pieces.

2. Place tomatoes, bread, garlic, vinegar, salt and 1/4 cup oil in blender. Cover and blend for 1 minute.

3. Add additional olive oil as needed, blending after each addition, to reach a smooth consistency. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then serve with an extra drizzle of oil to garnish. (Use basil oil for extra oomph.)

Bonus Foodie Tot Video! This was a totally unscripted, impromptu video shot by the husband so please disregard the messy counter and, uh, my lack of make-up. (And no, Seventh Generation did not provide compensation for the product placement, but clearly we should buy stock or something. ;-) ) Anyway, enjoy!

Foodie Tot cooks gazpacho from Colleen Levine on Vimeo.

Foodie Fun at the White House

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

white house egg roll 2009

We were one of the lucky few, er, 30,000 people to get tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll yesterday. As promised, it was full of activities to promote healthy, active kids lifestyles. From yoga lessons, soccer, jump roping and basketball activities to cooking demos from District and White House chefs (Art Smith, Jose Andres, and Spike Mendelsohn), First Lady Michelle Obama certainly did her part to shift the focus away from Easter candy binges to healthier living.

Of course, the traditional egg roll took place with enthusiastic children rolling, tossing and/or flinging their hard boiled eggs across the finish line. But beyond the egg roll and photo ops with favorite PBS characters* and a posse of Easter bunnies, other activities kept kids busy and moving around the South Lawn. (*I’m proud to note that the boy identified SpongeBob SquarePants as “Giant Cheese Man!”)

sam kass white house organic garden

Sam Kass, assistant White House chef and gardener, proudly presented a fresh-picked rosemary sprig for a curious family to sniff. Standing watch at the temporary fencing, he answered questions about the White House organic garden, with herbs, rhubarb, chard and fennel plants springing up behind him. (The beehive was nearby, also fenced off from the crowds.)

jose andres white house egg roll

José Andrés (with daughters) was his usual charismatic self, extolling the virtues of summer’s fresh tomatoes and demonstrating how to make gazpacho. (You can find Jose’s gazpacho recipe – which is actually his wife’s – here. It’s one of my favorite dishes at his local Jaleo restaurants.)

egg chair white house egg roll

Among the crafts was a recycled egg carton decorating station, and the souvenir egg we took home was green too, and not just in paint color. According to the White House, they were made from FSC-certified wood and the ones available by mail order come packed in eco-friendly paper packaging. (Not sure how sustainable the hard boiled eggs were — a volunteer told us they cooked 100,000, though the White House fact sheet says only 13,000 — and the one commercial product placement came from the “Incredible Edible Egg” people, aka American Egg Board.)

There was an Easter candy display, but no candy available. No food at all, actually — nor were you allowed to bring food or drinks in. They seemed to only be confiscating open packages at security though, as we made it in with a few small snacks. Thank goodness, because five hours without a meal (after our original group was oversold, we had to wait an extra two hours(!) in line to get in) the toddler was feeling more than a little crabby. (More pictures here.)