(Happy PI day 2015*)

PI Plate

“A cherry pie is . . . ephemeral. From the moment it emerges from the oven it begins a steep decline: from too hot, to edible, to cold, to stale, to moldy, and finally to a post-pie state where only history can tell you that it was once considered food. The pie is a parable of human life.”
― Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World
I came across that quote and thought it was apropos for this blog, although I cannot perceive a pie ever getting past the “edible” stage at my house.
For some folks, pie was the first thing special in their lives. Others it was for special occasions such as birthdays and holidays and for one person I talked to: pie sealed marriages.
The fact of the matter is when you make a homemade pie, you use your hands with love and care to peel the apples that were picked at their prime, make the dough and embellish with slits and designs on the top and when they come out of the oven, nice memories are made.

Apple Pie
Pies can celebrate a harvest, warm hearts and put a grin on your face from ear to ear.
I’d like to give you a piece of the pie, here are some awesome pie recipes for you.
It’s easy as pie! Hint: It’s the crust that makes the pie!

APPLE PIE
Makes 1 Apple Pie

Ingredients:
Pastry
3 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour (or Spelt flour)
1 Pinch Salt
1/4 teas. Sugar
3 Sticks Butter (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 -3/4 Cup Cold Orange Juice (from 2 oranges)
1 Egg (wash – to brush on top crust)

Filling:
12 – 15 Apples – sliced thin (Granny Smiths, etc.)
1 teas Cinnamon
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
Zest from 2 oranges (reserve O.J. for pastry)

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 f.
Cut very cold butter into flour, salt and sugar until course and pea sized. Add very cold O.J. and mix just until a ball forms. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing filling.
Peel, core and slice apples very thin. In a food processor, pulse the sugar with orange zest then toss in bowl with the sliced apples and set about 30 min.
Roll out dough on floured surface and cover bottom of pie plate with half (of the rolled out dough). With a slotted spoon, scoop the apple slices and pile high into the pie plate. (Reserve the remaining liquid from the apple / sugar mixture to reduce and save to use on oatmeal, pancakes, etc.)
Top with the second half of the dough. Brush with egg wash, cut slits in the top and bake for approximately 1 hour.
Serve warm with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Lemon and Lavender infused Honey Pie

Makes 1 Pie
Ingredients:
Pastry:
1 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour (or Spelt flour)
1 Pinch Salt
1/4 teas. Sugar
1 1/2 Sticks Frozen Butter (cut into very small cubes)
1/2 -3/4 Cup Ice Cold Water
Filling:
1 Cup Honey (plus extra for glaze)
4 Large Eggs (beaten)
3 Tablespoons Butter (unsalted)
1 Zest of one Lemon (plus extra for garnish)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
4 teaspoons Lavender Buds (plus extra for garnish)
Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 325 f.  Cut butter into flour, salt and sugar until the texture is between peas and cornmeal. Add 1/2 of the very cold water and mix. Keep adding 1 Tablespoon at a time and mix just until a ball starts to form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 min. while preparing filling.
Bring double boiler to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add honey, lemon zest and lavender buds and steep for 20 – 30 min. Strain and add the lemon juice and butter until it is melted. Slowly drizzle into beaten eggs while whisking until mixed thoroughly. Let cool to room temperature.
Roll out dough on floured surface and cover bottom of pie plate. Use a fork to perforate the bottom of the dough so it won’t bubble up. Pour filling into the pie crust and bake for approx. 50min or until the center is set and top is golden brown. Let cool slightly.
Glaze with remaining warm honey and garnish with lemon zest and lavender buds.
Serve warm.

Postcard Key Lime Pie

This recipe was derived from old postcards as well as experience and a little help from my friend Karen.
It is a pretty basic and simple recipe and using the freshest and highest quality ingredients is paramount.
Makes: one 9” pie
INGREDIENTS
Crust:
1 Sleeve Graham Crackers
1/2 Cup Sugar (more or less depending on your taste for sweetness)
2 – 3 OZ. Melted Butter
Filling:
4 LG Fresh Eggs – separated (Farmer’s market eggs if possible)
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup Key Lime Juice – more or less depending on the tartness you prefer
(If fresh Key Limes aren’t available to you, use Nellie and Joe’s famous Key West Lime Juice)

Top: With fresh whipped cream and zest from limes.
Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350f. Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Finely crumble the Graham Crackers in a Cuisinart or by placing in a ZipLock baggie and running it over with a rolling pin. Place the Graham Cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl and slowly add the melted butter mixing it all together until it just starts to stick together. Transfer to a 9” pie dish (I like to use Pyrex) and form to the dish. Place in oven for 10 min.
In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk (use rubber spatula to get all the condensed milk out of the can), and lime juice and whisk until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
When the crust is out of the oven, let cool then add the filling. Place back in oven and bake for an additional 15 min. Let cool. Refrigerate until set. Top with whipped cream.

*Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. This PI day, (3.14.15) comes around only every hundred years.

copyright

http://www.TrusanCuisines.com • 303-517-6225 • trusan@trusancuisines.com

PHO BowlI believe that one of the hardest things to do with PHO is to pronounce it correctly. We all know that “PH” is pronounced like a “F” and the “O”, well, like an “O”. So you would think it was pronounced “FO” as in Fee Fi “Fo” Fum or “PHO”to. Much to my surprise, “PHO” in the Vietnamese language has a mark over the O that softens it and is pronounced “FUH”, just like how you would start to say the FUH sound in Fudge, Fun or Elmer Fudd. If I’m in the company of American friends, I’ll pronounce it phonetically: “PHO”. But when I’m in a PHO restaurant I’ll be properly respectful and say “FUH”. No matter how you pronounce it, it has become one of my favorite comfort foods.
What the PHO is PHO? It is a Vietnamese soup bowl loaded with noodles, beef (or your favorite protein), vegetables and the most fragrant and delicious broth. It is the broth that makes the PHO. It’s served with condiments on the side such as: bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime (or lemon) wedge, Jalapeño slices, perhaps some cilantro and always Sriracha hot chili sauce and Hoisin (sweet) sauce.

PHO Garnish PHO Condiments

How to properly eat PHO. There are several different ways, but pretty much all have the following in common: First of all, forget a fork. I would be so embarrassed to use a fork while eating PHO. It’s not that hard to figure out chopsticks. Just practice a few times before you go out for PHO and you’ll get it. Also when served your delicious bowl of PHO, you will get an Asian soup spoon. I always have chopsticks in one hand and the soup spoon in the other. Start by tasting the broth. Take time to notice its clarity. Savor it’s depth and deliciousness, it should be nice and rich and fragrant. PHO is all about the broth, everything else is secondary.
Step 1: Fill your soup spoon up and savor the broth like it’s a fine wine. A good PHO broth is rich and scrumptious.
Step 2: Hand tear the Thai basil (and cilantro if that is included) and introduce it to the bowl. Next, put a generous handful of sprouts in the bowl too. Jalapeño slices too if you wish. Finish up by squeezing the lime in your PHO.
Step 3: Save the Sriracha hot chili sauce and Hoisin (sweet) sauce for a small sauce bowl that should be with your setup. Putting it directly into your bowl of PHO will compromise the awesomeness of the broth. Instead, just dip your beef in the sauce as you consume it. (see step #6 below)
Step 4: With your chopsticks, stir it all up releasing the flavor of the condiments you just added and to cook any of the proteins you might have (beef, chicken, shrimp, etc.).
Step 5: Here’s where it becomes a personal preference: I start by grabbing a bunch of noodles with my chopsticks, get my face over the bowl (at a 45° angle), shove the noodles in my mouth guiding them in with your chopsticks as you go. This is a traditional Asian way to eat noodles. Slurping is not only accepted, but a sign that you are enjoying your PHO. I also have my soup spoon in the other hand full of broth ready to indulge.

Eating PHO

The other way is to compile the noodles, beef and veggies into your soup spoon and gingerly insert into mouth. This is for folks that are a bit timid about slurping or just want to be polite. I threw the politeness and political correctness away a long time ago. The bottom line is: “Enjoy your PHO”!
Step 6: Put some the Sriracha hot chili sauce and Hoisin (sweet) sauce in your sauce bowl. You can mix them together or as I do, leave them segregated so you can control the proportion of each as you please. Sometimes I want it a little hotter, sometimes I like it a little sweeter. I never add those directly into my PHO bowl. You loose the awesome flavor of the broth if you do that. Next, pick up your beef, etc. with chopsticks and dredge through the sauces and enjoy.
Step 7: When you get to the bottom of your PHO bowl, I don’t hesitate to lift it up to my lips, tilt it and savor every last drop.

Asian Beers

 

 

 

 
Last, but not least: Accompany it with a nice Asian beer!

 

PHO Beef Bowl
Pho Soup serves 8
Ingredients
For the broth:
4 pounds oxtails; cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces and trimmed of fat
2 pounds of good beef bones, preferably leg and knuckle
1 inch chunk of yellow rock sugar (about 1 oz) – or 1oz of regular sugar
2 gallons cold water (approximately)
One 3-inch piece of ginger, unpeeled
1 large onion, halved and unpeeled
1/3 cup Vietnamese fish sauce

For the Beef:

1 Pound thinly sliced beef

In a bouquet garni (spice packet):
8 whole star anise pods
5 whole cloves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces
1 tbl fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbl coriander seeds
3 cardamom pod, lightly crushed
3 bay leaves

For the garnish:
2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves (found at Thai or Asian markets; you an subsititute regular basil if unavailable
1-1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
3 large limes, cut into wedges
Sliced fresh hot chilies (optional)

Noodles:
4 14 oz. pack of rice noodles
(I prefer the long flat rice noodles that look similar in shape to linguini)

Condiments:
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha red chile sauce

Directions:
Lightly coat the onions and ginger with oil and Char under your broiler. Set aside.
Bring a stock pot of cold water to a boil, add bones and boil vigorously for 5 – 10 minutes. This will extract all the residual blood and impurities and create quite the scum to rise to the surface of the pot. Drain and rinse the bones and the pot. Refill the pot with the rinsed bones and 8 quarts of cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Add ginger, onion, spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for at least 1 1/2 hours. Use a strainer to remove any little bit of scum that might appear. Remember to keep some of the fat & marrow bits, they add a lot of flavor to the broth.
Strain broth and return the broth to the pot. Taste broth and adjust. Cook noodles per directions on package, drain and place in bowl(s).
Arrange sliced beef atop of the noodles.
You’ll want the broth really hot (bring to a boil) just before you serve it (to cook the beef and vegetables in the bowl).
Ladle the hot broth into the bowl(s) and serve.
Your guests will “assemble” their own bowls with garnish that is already on the table.

Enjoy your wonderful PHO!

How to Make an Awesome Picnic Basket
Picnics are fun and one of my favorite summer events to both cook for and to attend. Food is always the central theme of friends, family and loved ones gathering for a day of camaraderie and relaxation.

ABC’s and 123’s on how to make a successful picnic:

1.) Make it interesting, diverge from the usual or give it a twist. A few exceptional food items are better than 5 or 6 things that are mundane.

2.) Make it practical:

          A) Easy to transport
          B) Easy to eat & non-perishable (finger food, sandwiches, fresh fruit, etc.)
          C) Be prepared for inclimate weather, bugs, & heat. KEEP HYDRATED!

3.) Avoid foods that require refrigeration or need to be frozen like Jello, yogurt or ice cream. The more foods that don’t need refrigeration the less ice or ice packs you’ll need making your load lighter. Also foods like soups and chili might be difficult to heat up and eat in a picnic environment. Who wants hot food on a warm summer day anyway?

Just a few more common sense things to remember:

* Don’t bring more food than you can consume.

* Bring insect repellent and sun screen and plenty water to drink.

* Please be respectful to the picnic grounds and bring extra trash bags to pack out used disposable utensils, paper plates and napkins, etc.

* Drink any alcoholic beverages responsibly!

Below are some of my favorite Picnic Basket Recipes:

MEDITERRANEAN ORZO SALAD

by

Trusan
Makes about 6 to 10 servings.

Ingredients:

16    Oz.       Orzo pasta
1/4   Cup      Olive oil
1/3   Cup      Red wine vinegar
2      Tbsp.   Grated lemon zest
1/4   Cup      Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2      Cups    Kalamata olives, chopped
2      Pints    Grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1      Lg.       Red onion, finely chopped
1/2   Cup     Drained capers
1/2   Lb       Feta (crumbled and chopped)
1/2   Cup     lightly packed chopped fresh parsley leaves
To    taste    Freshly ground black pepper
pinch           Sea salt

Directions:

1. Bring about 3 quarts of water to boil in the large pot. Add salt and the orzo and cook until al dente. Drain well in the mesh strainer, then pour hot orzo into the mixing bowl.

2. While the orzo cooks, stir together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the small bowl. Pour the mixture over the hot orzo and toss. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3. Add the olives, grape tomatoes, onion, capers, and parsley, and stir well. Season with fresh ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Sparkling Lemonade
by
Trusan

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients:

1/2  Cup    Agave Nectar

4     TBS    Lavender Buds

Zest of the 4 lemons
4     LG     Juiced Lemons – about 1 cup (Meyers if available)
3    Cups  Sparkling Mineral Water

      (see: *note of interest after the recipes)
Mint
1              Lemon for wheels
3   TBS   Agave nectar (or to taste)

Directions:

Steep the Agave, Lavender and Lemon Zest under very low heat for 25 – 30 min. Let cool.

In a pitcher, add the steeped mixture to the squeezed lemon juice and mineral water. Add more Agave nectar to sweeten to taste. Stir well and enjoy. Serve over ice and garnish with a mint leave and lemon wheel.

* Note of Interest:

If you’re lucky enough to live close to Manitou Springs, Colorado (or a natural mineral springs) use the spring water. It makes incredible lemonade. The Twin Spring (in Manitou) is naturally effervescent, has a slight trace of lithium and is very refreshing. Locals refer to it as: “Happy Water!”
Awesome Slaw
by
Trusan
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Slaw:

1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Red Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Green Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Nappa Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sm Cubed) Jicima
1/2    LG    (Bite Sized Julienne) Colored Bell Pepper
1/2    Cup    (Grated)    Carrots
1’2    Cup    (Grated)    Radish
1/2    Cup    (Grated and rinsed) Beets

Any other root vegetables you might have

Dressing:

1/4    Cup    Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1    Oz.    Ume Plum Vinegar
1    Oz.    Honey
2    Cloves    Minced Garlic
2    tsp.    Minced Cilantro
1    Key    Lime Juice
Pinch    Sea Salt and Fresh ground Pepper

Directions:

Prep vegetables.  Prep dressing.  Mix together. Chill.  Serve.

Summer Beef Salad
by
Trusan
Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients:    

1/3    LB    Beef (cut into thin bite size strips)
2    TBS    Olive Oil
1    pinch    Kosher or Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1    Cup    Cooked Barley
1/4    Cup     Fresh Corn (kernels off the cob)
1/4    Cup    Small Diced Red Onion
1/2    Cup    Blanched Small Broccoli Florets
1/2    Cup    Cherry, Pear or Grape Tomatoes (cut in half)

Dressing:

1    teas.    Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
2    TBS    Pomegranate Molasses (recipe below)
1    pinch    Kosher or Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2    TBS    Red Wine Vinegar
1/2    teas.    Red Pepper Flakes
1/4    Cup Olive Oil

Pomegranate Molasses:

2    Cups    Pomegranate Juice
1/4    Cup    Sugar
2    TBS    Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Directions:

Add all of the Pomegranate Molasses ingredients to a small saucepan and heat over low heat for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes (until it becomes syrupy).  Let it cool to room temperature.  Cook barley according to package directions, usually takes about 45 min.  While these two are reducing and cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for about 20 seconds then placing them to cool in an ice bath.  Repeat the same procedure for the corn kernels.  When cool, drain and set on double folded paper towels to remove any further moisture.  Cut the onion into small dice.  Cut tomatoes in half (if not done so already).  Heat olive oil in sauté pan and sear the thin sliced beef slices with salt and pepper very briefly on both sides.  Transfer the beef with juices to a bowl and let cool.  Add the previous ingredients to the beef bowl.

To make dressing add all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk briskly.  When dressing has emulsified, add to the beef bowl and fold in.  Refrigerate for several hours.

Panco Spiced Fried Chicken

by
Trusan
Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients:

6    Pieces    Chicken
1    Cup    Flour
2    TBS    Chopped Fresh Rosemary
2    TBS    Salt and Pepper
to    taste    Cayenne
4 Eggs
1    Cup    Panco
2    Cups    Oil for frying

Directions:

Pre-Heat oven to 375f.  Heat up oil in frying pan or turn electric frying pan to 375f.  Mix together Flour, Rosemary, Cayenne and S&P in a bowl, Break and beat eggs in a separate bowl.  In a third bowl, put in the Panco.  Dredge the chicken pieces one at a time in the flour mixture, then the beaten eggs, then the Panco coating each thoroughly.  Place 3 (avoid crowding the pan) dredged chicken pieces in the pan for about 2 min or until golden brown.  Turn and repeat for about 1 min.  Remove with tongs and place on paper towel to absorb any excess oil.  Repeat with the other three pieces.  Place on a baking pan and finish in oven for 15 min.  Place on wire rack to cool.

 www.TrusanCuisines.com · 303-517-6225 · trusan@trusancuisines.com

Spring is upon us and new crops will soon be poking their tender sprouts through the soil.  While we will have a few early Spring greens such as lettuce, collards and kale, we really have to transition with what remaining Winter root veggies, any meat, poultry or fish that is in the freezer and even items that were canned in the fall.  One of those mainstays is honey.  Come to find out, after an amazing interview with dentist and beekeeper Dr. Stace Lind DMD, DDS, honey is one of nature’s most nutritious and healing foods on the planet.  Here is an excerpt* from that interview:

Chef Trusan:  How long have you been bee keeping?

Dr. Lind:  I’ve been bee keeping for about 5 years. It’s been enjoyable.

Chef Trusan:  What sparked your interest in it?

Dr. Lind:  All my allergies.  I had tons of allergies.  I was taking Seldane, I was taking shots, taking all these meds, antihistamines.  My eyes would be itchy, my nose would run, the back of my throat would get scratchy, I’d cough and I got tired of taking meds.  Someone told me about pollen and how the bees when they collected everything from all the flowers, all the things that make my nose run, and they collect it in a little ball and I eat it, my body builds up antibodies within my immune system to those markers, so all of a sudden it increases my resistance and helps my tolerance.  I haven’t taken allergy meds in probably five years.

Chef Trusan:  Great, I didn’t realize how that worked.

Dr. Lind:  Its pretty amazing when you look at it.  It’s nature’s best way to build up antibodies for immunity against all the pollens in the air by letting your digestive track bring those in and to build an immunity to them.  It takes about nine to fourteen days so you have to start before the season.  If you try to hurry and eat some pollen the day your eyes are itchy and your nose is runny, then it’s a little bit late to build up your system.

Chef Trusan:  What is the difference between store-bought honey and honey that is hand harvested?

Dr. Lind:  The store bought honey is very scary, particularly within the last few years.  Actually some of it is so tainted that Sue Bee and the Federal Government had to dump 40 million dollars worth of honey that had come over from China laced with all sorts of heavy metals and elements that you don’t want in your honey.  So I do not eat store bought honey.  Store bought honey is what I call “Bee Syrup”.  It’s not honey, its the sugars left over from all the good stuff, the pollen, the nectar and other things.  When they boil or treat the honey in that way they mix it with corn syrup.  They’re actually using corn syrup in about everything.  And even though it says 100% honey, it is one hundred percent honey but it’s amazing how many people are getting away with saying its pure honey and they’re adding corn syrups or they’re boiling it or taking out the pollens or worried about any issues that people have. So it’s just like taking maple syrup out of the maple tree and having it processed and refined three or four times and just basically having sugar that tastes like maple.  There’s a big difference.  Once you try natural honey vs. store bought honey it’s hard to go back.

If you’re interested in bee keeping, Dr. Lind would be happy to help you set up your hive and teach you the fundamentals of bee keeping.  Dr. Lind can be reached at:

Email:  stacelind@msn.com
Heritage Dental: 303-770-9901

*To read the interview in its entirety, click “HERE” or go to www.trusancuisines.com and click on the “beekeeping and honey”  button.

Here are some awesome early Spring recipes utilizing honey:

Honey Glazed Salmon en Papillote
by
Trusan

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2    6 – 8 oz. ea.    Wild caught Salmon fillets

8    Ounces        Local Wild Honey

1    Large        Vine Ripened Tomato (sliced into 1/4” slices)

1    Bunch        Spring Onions (scallions or green onions – minced)

1    Tablespoon    Capers

2    Sprigs        Fresh Dill

1    Large        Lemon (zested and juiced)

1    Pinch ea.        Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

4    Ounces        Unsalted Butter (1/2 stick)

1    Sheet        Parchment paper (18” x 26”)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400f.  Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Cut parchment paper in half so you have two 10” x 13’ pieces.  Fold each piece in half and starting at the top of the creased side, cut a Valentine’s heart at the outermost edges of the paper.  Repeat with the second sheet.  Brush one of the heart shaped paper with the melted butter.  Place two or three tomato slices on one half, just enough to support the salmon fillet.  Add enough lemon juice to the honey to thin it out a bit, but not too drippy.  Brush both sides of the salmon fillet with the lemon honey mixture.  Place salmon on tomato slices.   Place a sprig of dill on top of the fillet and sprinkle with half of the capers and enough onion to balance it out.  Top with a pinch of lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Fold the other side over the fillet and starting at the bottom point of the heart, fold and crease a small section repeating in 1 inch segments cascading folding and creasing till you reach the top of the paper.  This will seal in the moisture and help steam the salmon and veggies.  Repeat for the second salmon fillet.

Place on a baking sheet and set in oven for 10 min.

Serve directly out of the oven.

Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
by
Trusan

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1    Pound    Carrots

1    Pound    Parsnips

1/4    Cup    Olive Oil

2    TBS.     Melted Unsalted Butter

1/2    Cup    Local Wild Honey

1    teas.    Sea Salt

½    teas.    Fresh Ground Pepper

1    teas.    Chopped Fresh Thyme

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400f.  Peel and cut carrots and parsnips into coins.  Toss in olive oil and spread them out over a parchment paper lined sheet pan.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme and roast for 10 min.  While they are roasting, whisk the melted butter in with the honey.  After they have roasted for the initial 10 min, turn them over and drizzle with the honey butter mixture.  Roast for an additional 10 min. or until they are nice and golden brown and caramelized.

Serve hot.

Lemon and Lavender infused Honey Pie
by
Trusan

Makes 1 Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry:
1 3/4    Cup    All Purpose Flour (or Spelt flour)
1    Pinch    Salt
1/4    teas.    Sugar
1 1/2    Sticks    Frozen Butter (cut into very small cubes)
1/2 -3/4    Cup    Ice Cold Water

Filling:
1    Cup        Honey (plus extra for glaze)
4    Large        Eggs (beaten)
3    Tablespoons    Butter (unsalted)
Zest of one Lemon (plus extra for garnish)
1    Tablespoon    Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
4    teaspoons    Lavender Buds (plus extra for garnish)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 325 f.

Cut butter into flour, salt and sugar until the texture is in between peas and cornmeal.  Add 1/2 of the very cold water and mix.  Keep adding 1 Tablespoon at a time and mix just until a ball starts to form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 min. while preparing filling.

Bring double boiler to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add honey, lemon zest and lavender buds and steep for 20 – 30 min.  Strain and add the lemon juice and butter until it is melted.  Slowly drizzle into beaten eggs while whisking until mixed thoroughly.  Let cool to room temperature.

Roll out dough on floured surface and cover bottom of pie plate.  Use a fork to perforate the bottom of the dough so it won’t bubble up.  Pour filling into the pie crust and bake for approx. 50 min. or until the center is set and top is golden brown.  Let cool slightly.

Glaze with remaining warm honey and garnish with lemon zest and lavender buds.

Serve warm.

NOTE OF INTEREST

Some famous bee keepers:

Aristotle
Napoleon Bonaparte
Shakespeare
Thomas Edison
Ben Franklin
Peter Fonda
Steve Vai

This picture explains the inspiration for the Winter Blog:

Snowed in BBQ
Snowed in for the season

The Solstice is upon us and Winter is officially here!  It’s cold, the roads are snowy, icy and slippery, which makes it a perfect time to stay home, crank up the oven and the wood stove and make some comfort food.

While the BBQ might be closed for the season, there are still plenty of things that can bring family and friends together.

Eating seasonally in the winter consists mainly of these top five veggies:

1.) Squash
2.) Root Veggies
3.) Beets
4.) Brussels Sprouts
5.) Kale
AND:
For all you carnivores, I’ve included something for you as well.

I wanted to deviate from writing the same ole’ things that everyone else writes about and keep it interesting and adventuresome.  I’ve included some traditional winter favorites as well as a few with a slant to them.

Meat Loaf
By
Trusan

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 1/2    Lbs         Lean (80/20)ground beef (or buffalo, etc.)
3    Large        Eggs (beaten)
1    15 oz can     Stewed Tomatoes (chopped and drained)
1    Med-Lg         Onion (minced)
1/4    Cup         Chopped celery (about 1 Lg. stalk)
1/4    Cup         Chopped carrots (or grated)
1/4    Cup         Chopped green bell pepper
1-1/2    Cup         Bread crumbs, panco or rolled oats
2    tsp.         Kosher or Sea Salt
1/2    tsp.         Ground black pepper
1/2    Cup        Finely chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
1/2    Cup +        Ketchup (Plus some for the top)
2    teas.        Worcestershire Sauce
4    Slices         Bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put all ingredients except bacon in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly but not over mixed.  Put the meat mixture in a loaf pan and pat it to fill the pan evenly. Lay the strips of uncooked bacon over the top of the meatloaf, tucking the ends under. Put remaining ketchup on top of meatloaf and place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  Place a pan of hot water in the oven with the meatloaf and this will keep the ketchup from drying and cracking.  Internal temperature should be 160 degrees F. when done.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
by
Trusan

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2    LG    Sweet Potatoes or Yams
Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2    TBS    Unsalted Butter
Maple Syrup (Optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400f.  Wash the potatoes thoroughly and dry with a paper towel.  Slather the potatoes with the olive oil to coat them.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking dish and put in oven for 45min. to 1 hour depending on the thickness of the potatoes.  Check with a fork or wooden skewer for doneness.

When tender, remove from oven, slit the top with a knife and put butter in the slit.  Drizzle with maple syrup if desired.

Awesome Mac and Cheese
by
Trusan

Ingredients:

8    Oz.    Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta

1 1/2    TBS.    Butter
1 1/2    TBS.    Flour
1/2    sm.    Onion (peeled and halved)
2    Cups    Organic Whole Milk

1    Cup    Broccoli Florets
4- 5    Oz.    Organic Beef

1/2    Cup    Cravanzina Cheese (or Brie)
1/2    Cup    Maytag Bleu Cheese
1/2    Cup    Cheddar

2    Oz.    Panco (Japanese bread crumbs)
2    pinches    Salt and Pepper Mixture
2    TBS.    Italian Parsley (Chopped)
1    TBS.    Butter
1/2    Oz.    Manchego Cheese (or parmesan) Grated

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 f.
In a large pot with boiling salted water, cook the pasta till al-dente’ (about 11 min.) then strain in a colander and cool by running under cold water.  Let drain.

Melt butter in a saucepan, add onion and let sauté for several minutes. Stirring occasionally so the onions don’t burn.  Add flour and cook till the flour just starts to get some color.  Add milk and let simmer until it starts to thicken.

While milk sauce is thickening, grill or pan sear the beef for about 3-min. on each side then remove and let rest.  Blanch broccoli in boiling salted water for 2 – 3 min., strain and reserve.

In a skillet, belt butter.  When butter becomes hot and frothy, add the panco, salt and pepper, and parsley.  Stir until the panco absorbs the butter and just starts to get some color.  Remove from pan and hold.

By now the milk is starting to thicken.  Add the cheeses and mix with a stiff whisk until all the cheese is melted.  Keep under low heat stirring occasionally so a film doesn’t form.

Mix the pasta, beef and broccoli in a bowl then pour the cheese sauce in and gently fold in the mixture.  Pour into a casserole or pie dish.

Grate the manchego cheese and mix in with the seasoned panco.  Sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese and bake for about 20 min. or until it gets bubbly and the top is golden brown.

WOODSTOVE COOKING:
“It’s like camping inside the comfort of your own home.
It’s not only an adventure, it’s useful in case of an emergency if the power goes out.”

Granted, not everyone has a wood stove, but if you’re fortunate enough to have one, you can have a blast cooking as well as keeping warm this winter.

Woodstove Beef Stew
by
Trusan

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

1    LB    Cubed Beef
1    sm.    Red Onion (Cut into bite sized pieces)
2    ea.    Scallions
1    Med.    Potato (1/2” cubes)
1    LG    Zucchini (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1    LG    Yellow Squash (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1    LG.    Carrot (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1        Jalapeño (sliced into small wheels)
2 – 4    TBS    Chopped Cilantro (according to your taste)
4    Cloves    Garlic (Chopped)
4    TBS    Lime Juice
1    tsp.    Red Pepper Flakes
3    pinches    Salt and Pepper
2    TBS    Olive Oil
1    Cup    Beef Stock

Directions:

Light the wood stove using plenty starting material (isn’t that why they publish the National Enquirer?), kindling and hardwood for fuel.  This will ensure that the fire lights properly and maintains a nice hot fire without having to open the door and keep adding more logs.  After the logs burn down some, are glowing and have some white ash on them, brush them aside as much as you can to rest the container of stew on the floor of the stove.  I put an oven thermometer in at this point and my stove registered 425f, a good temperature for this dish.

Meanwhile as the stove is heating up, mix the above ingredients in a bowl and place in a container (a metal bread loaf pan works great!) double lined with foil.  Fold the foil over making sure you have a good tight seal.

Place container on the space that you just made for it inside the woodstove and close the door.  Cook for 50 – 60 min. turning the container once every 10 min. to ensure even cooking.

IF there are any leftovers, this is great to heat up the next morning with eggs and coffee.

Woodstove Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Garlic
By
Trusan

The basics are the same for all three:

Ingredients:

Root veggie of your choice (Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Garlic, etc.)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Aluminum foil

Directions:

Slather the veggie of your choice with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.  Wrap in at least three layers of aluminum foil (shinny side towards the veggies).

Same as above:  Light the wood stove using plenty starting, kindling and hardwood for fuel. Slather the veggie of your choice with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with Salt and Pepper.  Wrap in at least three layers of aluminum foil (shinny side towards the veggies).  After the logs burn down some, are glowing and have some white ash on them, brush them aside as much as you can to rest the foil wrapped veggies on the floor of the stove.

Cooking times will vary, this is just a guideline:

Garlic        25 – 30 min.

Potatoes        60 min +/- (until tender when pierced with a fork)

Onions        60 min +/- (until tender when pierced with a fork)

Woodstove Top Hot Cocoa
By
Trusan

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2    Cups    Whole Milk*
3    TBS.    Cocoa Powder
3    TBS.    Sugar
½    tsp.    Vanilla Extract

Directions:
Place above ingredients in saucepan, whisk briskly with a wire whisk and place on top of the wood stove.  Stir often.  Serve when steaming hot!

* use 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half for a real creamy cocoa.

Try spicing it up a bit by adding any of the following to taste:

Orange Zest
Cayenne Pepper
Cinnamon
Allspice
Tequila, Rum or Cognac, etc.

Have a warm and delicious Winter!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

Pumpkin Belgium Waffles w/ Citrus and Cranberry Compote

After surviving a harsh cold winter that seemed to instantly turn into a blistering hot summer, Autumn balances out the seasons with warm days and cool nights. The air becomes brisk and crisp and the sun is rising later and setting earlier. Shorter daylight lends itself for family and friends to enjoy backyard fire pits and perhaps an occasional bon fire. (City and County permitting of course.) Here in Colorado, it is traditionally the last weekend in September when the Aspen leaves turn gold in which shortly after they flutter down to blanket the ground for the Winter.

Autumn is my favorite season. The hustle and bustle of Summer is coming to a close and it reminds me of a James Taylor lyrics: *“The frost is on the pumpkin and the hay is in the barn.” I spontaneously think of jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pies and hay rides. So many pumpkins, so little time!

Pumpkin and Wild Mushroom Risotto
by:
Trusan
Serves 6
Ingredients:

3 TBS Olive Oil
1 LG Shallot (finely diced)
3 Cups Risotto (Arborio rice)
1 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Qts. Chicken or Veggie Stock (hot)
1 Can Pumpkin
3 LG. Portabello Mushrooms
1/3 Stick Unsalted Butter
3/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan
to taste Salt and Pepper (S&P)
Fresh Italian Parsley to garnish

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400f. Remove black gills from Portabello mushrooms and slice into strips. Coat with a little bit of olive and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast till tender (about 10-12 min.) Remove from oven and hold. Dice the roasted mushrooms when cool. Coat bottom of casserole pan with 2 TBS. Olive oil and heat to medium high. Add shallots and sauté till clear. Add risotto and roast in pan for approx. 2-3 min. Deglaze with wine. Add hot stock a ladle full at a time when all the liquid is absorbed by the risotto. Stir frequently with wooden spoon. Repeat this till the risotto still has the slightest crunch in the middle of the grains (Al Dente).

When risotto is al dente:

Add the butter, Portabello Mushrooms, pumpkin and parmesan. Stir just till mixed and creamy. Add S&P to taste remembering that the parmesan is salty already.

Garnish and serve.

Candied Pumpkin
(Calabaza en Dulce)
by
Trusan

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Lbs. Pie Pumpkin –NOT Jack-O-Lantern (after peeled and seeded and cut into strips)
4 Cinnamon Sticks
8 Cloves (whole)
1 Orange (Zest and juice)
4 TBS Butter
3 –4 Cones Piloncillo (brown sugar cones available in Mexican section of grocery store or Mexican
Markets) or substitute with: 1 3/4cup dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup molasses.
8 Cups Fresh Cold Water

Directions:

Cut pumpkin in half, remove stem and scoop out seeds and stringy parts on the inside. Wash the seeds and dry on a sheet pan for roasting later. Don’t dry them on a paper towel, they will stick to the towel and will be a mess to deal with.

With a sharp knife, lay the pumpkin cut side down on a cutting board and carefully cut off the outer skin. (Save the skin, stem and stringy part for your compost pile.) Now cut the raw pumpkin into bite size pieces and hold.

Put all other ingredients in a deep heavy pot and bring to a boil. I use a cast iron Dutch Oven. You could also use something like a Le Creuset, or any deep casserole dish that you can put on the stovetop.

After the piloncillos (or brown sugar and molasses) have dissolved, slowly add the pumpkin pieces and simmer for around 2 – 2-1/2 hours or until the pumpkin is tender and the sugar mixture has reduced to a thick glaze. You might have to add more water if it evaporates before the pumpkin is tender. You can bob the pumpkin pieces a bit at first to coat them, but do not stir, that will make the pumpkin all mushy.

Let cool then place each piece (with tongs) on a wire rack that is suspended over a bowl so the excess sugary glaze drips off.

Repeat until all the pumpkin slices are as goo free as possible.

Refrigerate or bring to room temperature and serve.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
by
Trusan

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Seeds
Olive Oil Enough to coat seeds.
To Taste:
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Ground Cayenne

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 250f.

Wash the seeds and dry on a sheet pan. You can place the sheet pan in a low oven, say 250f, turning them occasionally till they are dry. Don’t dry them on a paper towel, they will stick to the towel and will be a mess to deal with.

Up the temperature on the oven to 375f.

When they are dry, place in a bowl and coat thoroughly with olive oil. Then sprinkle with seasoning. I chose salt, pepper and cayenne, but you can use any seasoning of your choice.

Spread evenly on a dry sheet pan and place in a 375f oven for about 7 – 8 min. With a spatula, turn the seeds and continue roasting for another 7 – 8 min. or until golden brown.

Let cool and enjoy!

* Lyrics from the title track of James Taylor’s 1975 album “Walking Man”

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of experiencing yet another unique and fascinating culinary and cultural event: “Dinner with DaVinci”. This multi-media dining adventure was the conception of chef and host Cara Cruickshank of “Cafe de la Culture”. Check out the introduction video:


An Evening of discourse on the Italian Renaissance started out with a presentation by Anna Clare Monlezun and Giovanni Taormina followed by a dynamic, full-sensory experience featuring Hikaru H. Miyakawa as the other presenter, The Renaissance Project (choir), Emily Bowman (violin) and Margot Krimmel (harp), as well as Roger Reutimann (sculptor) and of course, the wonderful cuisine.

Photo by Brian Spielmann

What stuck in my mind about the Renaissance period was that prior to it, there was no word for Art. Everything was made by artisans be it local pottery or cooking food in your own home. It was a way of life. There was no mass production, everything was crafted by the heart and soul of the artisan. There is a new renaissance in food now inspired by the “Slow Food” movement. A “Back to the Future” way of creating food from the heart and soul. This time it involves not only back to basics cooking from scratch, but procuring ingredients from local indigenous sources that provide organic and seasonal foods.

Being a lover of Italian food and especially desserts, my contribution was a “Double Espresso and Marsala Tiramisu”. Here’s the recipe:

Double Espresso and Marsala Tiramisu

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups very strong coffee or espresso (double the amount of grounds used)
4 tablespoons Marsala
18 ladyfingers (a 6 oz. container)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings or 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat whites with a pinch of cream of tarter in another bowl until soft peaks form. Slowly add remaining sugar and continue to beat whites until stiff peaks form. Beat cream in another bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold cream into mascarpone mixture followed by the egg whites.

Mix coffee and Marsala in a bowl (cooled to room temperature) and dip ladyfingers briefly (anywhere from 1 – 4 sec. depending on the thickness of the ladyfingers). Place the soaked lady fingers in a baking dish and evenly spread the mascarpone mixture on top. Repeat this layering process until you end with mascarpone mixture on top.

Chill for at least 6 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with chocolate.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

Rosh setting up his Rosh & One Eye Glass Broken Band

I attended the *Boulder Blind Café tonight with a friend.  One of the things that was mentioned in our introduction was that there would be something on the table that could be rubbed all over your body.  I’ll follow up on that one at the end of this blog.  I both helped to prepare the food in the kitchen (yes, the lights were on) as well as a participant dining in the dark.

Chef Trusan helping in the kitchen

Delicious food being prepared

What an eye opening experience!  Picture having all your senses except for sight.  We had taste, (of course) touch, smell and sound (there was poetry, and music).  The menu was the brain child of Chef Marcus.  Being in Boulder it was a gluten and dairy free vegan meal.  Polenta, quinoa with veggies, fennel and apple salad, kale salad with goat cheese             (acceptable among many dairy free folks) and a vegan chocolate mousse with coconut.  Chef Marcus was awesome to work with, we cook a lot alike.  There were plenty of other volunteers in the kitchen too and the whole event gave a strong sense of community.

A whole new light was shed within a perspective without sight.  You have to have a good memory being blind.  After we were led through the darkness to our table and fumbled for our seats, the food was already plated in front of us along with a water glass at 1:00, an Izzy soda at 12:00 and kale salad with goat cheese at 11:00.  The fork and spoon were at 3:00 where you would expect them to be.  It’s interesting how I used my pinky to find the edge of the table to measure where to put my silverware so I could easily find it.  Shoveling food in mouth wasn’t as difficult as I had expected.  I used my left hand to get an idea of what and where the food was.  Then with my right hand, I slid the tang of my fork underneath the unseen goodness and with exemplary hand to mouth coordination was able to get a good mouthful without stabbing my lip.

The (blind) waitstaff (Rick and Gary) were excellent.  They had some of the best attitudes I’ve ever seen.  They really made us feel at ease with their wit, humor and appreciation.

I must say that this was an enlightening and visceral experience.

Chef Marcus was inspiring and one of the ingredients he used that I had totally forgotten about was fried capers.  These crispy unopened flower buds of the Mediterranean caper bush add a distinctive and salty zest to many dishes.

Here’s my recipe for Grilled Grouper with orange Beurre blanc sauce and fried capers:

Grilled Grouper with Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce and Fried Capers
by
Trusan
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 Grouper Fillets
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Thoroughly rinse the fillets in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Oil and salt and pepper the fillets and place on clean oiled grill. Cook fish about 10 minutes per inch*, gently turning it halfway through the cooking time until the flesh is firm and opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve with beurre blanc sauce and fried capers.

* Ten Minute Rule:  Measure the thickness of fish at its thickest point & cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.. This rule applies to baking in a 450 oven, frying, broiling, steaming and grilling.  If the fish is stuffed or rolled, measure it after stuffing or rolling.

Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce

Ingredients:

2        Oranges
½    Cup     White Wine
2    teas.    Minced Shallots
½    Pound    Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
Salt and white pepper

Directions:

1. Mince the shallot and zest half of one orange (about 2 teaspoons) and juice the two oranges.  Put the juice, zest, wine and shallots in a sauce pan on medium high heat.  Cook until it is syrupy and equivalent of two tablespoons..

2. Cut the very cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes.  On low heat, whisk in the butter with the reduction you just made continuously and vigorously, 1 cube at a time. Do not let the sauce boil.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fried Capers

Ingredients:

1/4    Cup    Capers
1    Cup    Olive Oil

Directions:

Strain the capers through a sieve.  In a one and one half quart sauce pan, bring the oil to a temperature where when you drop in a caper it immediately sizzles, opens up and floats to the top.  Carefully add the capers to the hot oil (it will splatter) and cook until golden brown (about 2 min.).  Strain the capers again through the sieve and transfer to a paper towel to drain and soak up any excess oil.

Us dining in the dark

The something on the table that could be rubbed all over your body?  It was a small slice of handmade soap from a local artisan.  In total darkness it resembled the size, shape and texture of a complimentary piece of after dinner chocolate you might get at a restaurant.  I wonder how many people sampled it?

* The Blind Cafe is NOT just a another dinner in the dark…it’s a community experience where people connect, learn and grow from working together to participate in something greater than themselves. The Boulder Blind Cafe is designed to help you feel more alive, awake, present and connected to your world.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to Boulder Guide Dog Puppy Raisers, a local organization that raisies puppies to become guide dog. Meet the puppies at the event!

http://www.theblindcafe.com/boulder-blind-cafe

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

My earliest childhood memories of food include pressure cooked chicken, overcooked pot roast with mushy gray veggies, pot pies, fish sticks, meatloaf and TV dinners in aluminum trays.  TV dinners back in the 60’s were so cool, they were futuristic and compartmentalized. The entrée was front and center (usually fried chicken or Salisbury steak), to the upper right was the mixed veggies and contained in the upper left compartment was referred to as dessert but in reality was a molten blob of artificially colored sugary goo.

What was my relationship with food back then?  Or was there a conscious one?  I never thought about my relationship with food until I was much older.  I believe most people are either too busy or just haven’t been educated on the benefits and importance of having a positive connection with what they eat.

As you read this article, consider your relationship with food.  What I want to accomplish through this article is either a reinforcement of a healthy relationship that you already have with food, or an identification of changes that need to be made in order to begin to enjoy a healthy relationship with food. I have realized that our relationship with food is much like our relationship with other people, it can be a loving, nurturing relationship or a toxic one.

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is, “What am I hungry for?”  Is it your body that needs nourishing or is it your spirit that needs attention?  Are you eating for hunger or appetite?”  Hunger is the body expressing a need for fuel.  Appetite is a desire or need for spiritual fulfillment.  Would a hug, recognition, reassurance that you’re loved, or time spent meditating satisfy the real appetite that is calling?  If hunger is in fact what you are feeling, filling your need in a healthy, satisfying way may be easier than you think.

Initially, identifying a bad relationship with food is absolutely crucial.  This includes consuming inorganic foods, fast foods and processed foods which are, in my opinion, all dead foods.  Food cannot retain vital life energy and nutrients after being in an airtight can or vacuum packed, hermetically sealed and frozen.  Furthermore, these dead foods are generally microwaved and/or eaten while driving, talking on a cell phone, and steering with your knee.  Besides the danger of crashing after you dropped your cheeseburger, have you ever read the nutritional information on a cheeseburger and fries?  These foods aren’t capable of fulfilling your hunger or your appetite.

Ultimately, a healthy relationship with food starts with an intention to nurture the body, mind and spirit.  Selecting healthful foods and preparing them conscientiously are equally as vital. Choosing fresh, local, seasonal, and organic foods defines the benchmark of a great relationship with food.  Buying fresh retains all the vital nutrients and life force energy.  And remember that there’s a reason for the season.  Spring and summer foods are lighter and cooling, while fall and winter foods are hearty and warming.  Eating as much organic food as possible eliminates disease-causing pesticides, which will make you live longer and healthier.  Eating slowly and with purpose helps the digestion process.  A simple prayer of thanks or just a moment of silence before enjoying your meal is a way of gratifying the mind and spirit as well as calming the body so it can utilize its fuel more effectively.

Finally, food should also be the centerpiece of ritual.  At nearly every ritualistic gathering, food is involved. That is because throughout time, rituals and food have dually served the purpose of feeding the trilogy of body, mind and spirit.  Rituals give meaning to events and are a very important part of human existence.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with food takes planning and discipline, but is very achievable.  Try to always have nutritious options on hand.  You can prepare healthful foods in advance or have a private chef do this for you.  And if you must eat out or on the run, make health-conscious choices.

Identifying a need and filling it in positive ways are the beginnings of any healthy relationship.  When you are hungry, preparing foods that nourish your body and eating them in a way that nourishes your spirit will help you live a longer, more fulfilled life.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

Was the theme for last weekend’s successful retreat catering.  (Rolling R’s on your tongue acceptable here)  I love cooking for themes and this one came about because of logistical restrictions I had to maneuver around.  The retreat was in a private residence where the meeting space was directly next to the open kitchen and couldn’t be disturbed with the exception of an hour before meals to set up.  The prep area was in the basement which worked out quite well and had access to both upstairs and outside in case we needed to make a quick run to the grocery store (which we did several times).  Other than a few dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy free and total vegan and vegetarian, I needed to come up with a menu that not only included the above but required little or no cooking.  The only heat source I had in the prep area was a small table side burner.  I immediately thought of raw foods.  Not only are they healthy and will retain all of their nutritional value, there is no cooking required.  Salads are raw and so is the Raw Avocado Chocolate Mousse I have made for them before that was very well received.  Just a Raw theme seemed a bit too racy and adding Wild and Fresh toned it down a bit but still gave it plenty of sex appeal and stuck with my philosophy of cooking sustainably.  One of the participants even commented that I make vegetables very appealing!  Mission accomplished!

Here’s the highlights of the menu followed by a few recipes:

Lunches:

Pita, Hummus (3 kinds) w/ assorted veggies (Tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dill) sauce)
Fennel and Orange Salad
Wild, Fresh and Raw Salad w/Oil-less Dressing
Fresh Juiced Veggie Bar
Crust-less Vegetarian Quiche

Snacks:

Fresh Fruit and Nuts
Assorted Gluten Free Pastries

Dinners:

Raw Veggie Platter with Wild & Brown Rice and
3 Dipping sauces (Hot, Savory & Sweet)
Assorted artisan breads and gluten free crackers
Risotto with Wild Asparagus and Lemon
Colored Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Edamame and Wild Mushroom

Desserts:

Flour-less Chocolate Torte soufflé
Raw Mixed Berry Pie in Vanilla-Honey Cream (thank you Lisa Turner!)
Raw (Vegan) Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Wild Asparagus and Lemon Risotto
by:
Trusan
Serves 6

Ingredients:

3    TBS    Olive Oil
1    LG    Shallot (finely diced)
3    Cups    Risotto (Arborio rice)
1    Cup    Dry White Wine
2    Qts.    Veggie Stock (hot)
1     Lb.    Fresh Asparagus bunch (woody bottoms trimmed and cut into 1” lengths)
3 Lemons (zest of 3 and juice of 1)
1/3    Stick    Unsalted Butter
3/4    Cup    Fresh Grated Parmesan
1    Bowl    Ice Bath
to taste    Salt and Pepper (S&P)
Garnish with:    Whole Basil leaves, lemon twists, parsley sprigs, etc.

Procedure:

Coat bottom of casserole pan with 2 TBS. Olive oil and heat to medium high.  Add shallots and sauté till clear.  Add risotto and roast in pan for approx. 2-3 min.  Deglaze with wine.  Add hot stock a ladle full at a time when all the liquid is absorbed by the risotto.  Stir frequently with wooden spoon.  Repeat this till the risotto still has a slight crunch in the middle of the grains (Al Dente).

While the risotto is cooking:

ASPARAGUS – Blanch the asparagus lengths in the chicken stock.  With a slotted spoon remove from stock, place and hold in ice bath when al dente.

When risotto is al dente:

Add the butter, asparagus, lemon zest & juice and parmesan.  Stir just till mixed and creamy.  Add S&P to taste remembering that the parmesan is salty already.

Garnish and serve.

Quinoa & Edamame Stuffed Colored Peppers
with Roasted Portabello and Goat Cheese
by
Trusan
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4    LG    Colored Peppers (use a variety of colors except for the green bell peppers)
1    Cup    Edamame
1    Cup    Cooked Quinoa
2    LG    Portabello Mushrooms
1    Cup    Crumbled Goat Cheese (I also used some Mozzarella for it’s melting quality)
4    Oz.    Grated Parmesan (1/2 for inside the pepper mixture and 1/2 to sprinkle on top)
1    24oz.    Jar of Organic Tomato Sauce     (see: May 2010 blog “The Journey is the Reward!”
for recipe)

Procedure:
Pre-heat oven to 375f.  Lay peppers on side and cut of what is now the top leaving the stem intact.  Scoop out seeds and veins and hold the top.  Place peppers in boiling salted water for 15 min.  Remove and let drain and dry.  Cook the edamame in boiling salted water till tender (about 3 – 5 min.).  Run under cold water, drain and hold.  Soak quinoa in cooking pot for about 15 min. then cook per directions (approx. 15 – 20 min.).  Hold.  Slice and roast the portabellos and pepper top with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cut into small dice when cooled off a bit.

Mix cooked ingredients, cheese(s) and sauce together, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and liberally stuff in the peppers.  Sprinkle tops with some mozzarella and parmesan.

Put in oven for 20 min, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serve while piping hot!

Oil-less Dressing

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

1 Whole     Eggs
2 Yolks
1 Oz. each:
Tarragon
Spearmint
Dijon Mustard
Garlic (minced)
To Taste: Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1    Cup    Apple Juice
1    Cup    Apple Cider

Directions:

Combine eggs, yolks, spearmint, tarragon, mustard and garlic.  Blend in apple juice and cider.  Add S&P to taste.

Let’s keep food SEXY!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

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