Feb 26, 2010

Coming Up: Denise Teaching At Rancho La Puerta

Join Denise at the stunning Rancho La Puerta in Baja. She will be hosting a series of culinary classes May 1-May 8. Click here to learn more. We hope to see you there!

To give you a taste of the Rancho La Puerta experience, enjoy this blogger's account of "Couples Week" on the ranch. Is it May yet?

Feb 24, 2010

Peeling A Carrot

This multi-clamp action is courtesy of the genius team of Cindie, Jenny and photographer Ryan Beck. This is what it takes to set up a peeler meeting a carrot.

Any lengths, y'all, any lengths. That's what makes a true Food Fanatic!

The fruit of their labor:

Totally worth it.

Feb 23, 2010

We Can't Believe It's Not Butter Orange Pound Cake!

Well, actually we can believe it's not butter, but this was still very yummy! Denise had a coupon, was curious since she is not normally a margarine fan, Mandy's husband is lactose intolerant...it was time to bake (yes, Mandy used bread flour-oops!-don't judge).

Mandy made an orange pound cake, and the recipe was very easy. You can find it here.

It came out of the oven golden brown, with a nice crunchy crust (I like my pound cake to have a little bit of chew-and a bit of chew it had, especially using the bread flour).

We're a sucker for anything involving glaze. Ultimately, butter is king, BUT we have no complaints about the taste or texture of this cake, and if you're watching your weight, it is nice have a fat alternative with 30 fewer calories per tablespoon that also bakes well.

Feb 19, 2010

An Olympic Appetizer

Photo Courtesy of concierge.com

I love watching the Olympics, and I'm pretty sure it counts as exercise. Therefore, sustenance while viewing is imperative.

If you are having any Olympics parties, or you like to eat (or both), here is a dandy of an appetizer I like to call Crab and Blue Cheese Bundles!

True to what I wrote in The Entertaining Encyclopedia, “If you think you're making enough of these, double it - they go faster than hotcakes.”

Crabmeat comes in four basic varieties: lump or jumbo lump, the solid white meat from the back legs; backfin, from the body and legs, with good color; special, which is shredded; and claw meat, small reddish-brown pieces of meat from the claws. Choose lump or backfin meat for this recipe.


or can be multiplied up to 4 times

Candy/deep-fry thermometer

  • 12 oz cooked lump crabmeat 375 g
  • 1⁄4 cup crumbled blue cheese 50 mL
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped chives 25 mL
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise 25 mL
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened 25 mL
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 18 wonton wrappers
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  1. In a bowl, combine crab, blue cheese, chives, mayonnaise and cream cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Place a generous teaspoon (5 mL) of crab mixture in the center of each wrapper, then lightly moisten the inside edges with water. Gather edges together to make little sacks and pinch to seal.
  3. In a deep, heavy saucepan, heat 3 inches (7.5 cm) of oil over medium heat until it registers 350°F (180°C) on thermometer. Working in batches, fry crab bundles until golden, about 4 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove bundles to a plate lined with paper towels to drain before serving.
Make Ahead Tip:

Make these little bundles a day ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat in a 325°F

Feb 12, 2010

Low-fat Valentine Treats

Photo Courtesy of Ed Ouellette

Okay, this is what I cannot figure out about Valentine's Day: It's supposed to be about LOVE and INDULGENCE. However, I don't know about you, but when I indulge, the last thing I want to think about is love, if you know what I mean.

Indulgence=sweatpants, not hot pants. Or does it?

Low-fat Valentine Treats

Strawberries and Cream with Balsamic Glaze

No one will every guess the creaminess of this recipe comes from low-fat cottage cheese. Balsamic glazes are available in many grocery stores so you don’t have to make your own if you want to save a bit of time.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Splenda sugar blend
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/3 cup Splenda sugar blend
2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest
1 cup strawberries, sliced

1. Place balsamic vinegar and half of the sugar blend in a small saucepan and stir to dissolve. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue to boil until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, place cottage cheese and remaining sugar blend in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Add zest and pulse to incorporate.

3. To serve, divide cottage cheese mixture between 4 small dessert bowls. Add strawberries then drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Makes 4 servings

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Use snacking chocolate for this recipe, not baking chocolate.

3 ounces good quality dark chocolate (not bittersweet)
8 large or 12 medium strawberries

1. Chop chocolate into small pieces and put in a small glass bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between intervals, until chocolate has melted and is smooth.

2. Dip strawberries to cover lower half in chocolate and place on a wax-paper-covered baking sheet. Place in a cool spot (or refrigerate) until chocolate has hardened.

3. Serve with fat free whipped cream if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Chocolate Fondue

Skip the fat contained in melted chocolate by using a fat-free chocolate syrup. There are also sugar-free syrups available.

1 cup chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon almond or hazelnut liqueur, optional
8 (2-inch square) pieces angel food cake
4 large marshmallows
1 banana, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 dried apricots

1. Place chocolate syrup and liqueur in a small fondue pot or saucepan. Heat until warm.

2. Arrange cookies, marshmallows, banana, and apricots on a tray.

3. Serve with small skewers for dipping.

Makes 4 servings

Grilled Tropical Fruit

Purchase already peeled and sliced pineapple, papaya and mango in the produce section of your grocery store to make this even easier to put together.

1/4 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into1-inch thick slices
1 mango, peeled, seeded and cut into1-inch thick slices
1/2 papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into1-inch thick slices
1 banana, peeled, cut in half, then cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Pat fruit dry with paper towels. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture on top of pieces of fruit.

2. Place a grill pan over high heat. Spray lightly with canola oil cooking spray. Place fruit, sugar-side down, in grill pan and let cook without moving until sugar begins to melt and burn just a little bit. Turn and cook just until heated through.

3. Serve alone or with fat-free vanilla yogurt, frozen or regular, whichever you choose.

Makes 4-6 servings

Flaming Chocolate Crepes

Flambé brandy and cognac have a higher alcohol content which allows them to stay lit longer. Regular brandy or cognac will also work, just not as spectacularly.

3 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1/3 cup flambé brandy or cognac

1. Place all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Chill batter for 1 hour.

2. Spray a crepe pan or a shallow non stick pan with a little non-stick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Pour a small amount of crepe batter into pan and swirl to make a thin, even layer. Let crepe cook until it is set, then carefully flip over and cook until cooked through, about 1 minute total.

3. Heat brandy in a small saucepan until hot.

4. To serve, fold crepes into quarters and place on plates. Drizzle hot brandy over crepes and light carefully on fire with a match. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Feb 6, 2010

The Raw Food Revolution Diet by Cherie Soria

Blog Mistress Mandy, here. I just read Cherie Soria's book, The Raw Revolution Diet, and all I can say is oh my Chocolate Velvet heavens (I made this for my husband and he ate the entire batch right out of the blender-classy)! If you think eating raw is about deprivation, it is not so.

The book teaches how to incorporate raw food into your lifestyle, whether your goal is weight loss, greater health, increased vitality, reducing your carbon foot print...or all of the above! I was very impressed by Cherie's knowledge and was comforted by her down to earth, gentle approach (I am turned off by the holier-than-thou organic rawism that sometimes exists-blog mistress opinion only!). Cherie's approach makes me feel like I can embrace raw recipes without overhauling my entire diet (I'm not ready to give up roasted chicken, or bacon, or sourdough bread, or...).

Watch Cherie prepare her delicious Kale Coleslaw

We were delighted to have Cherie attend our Master Class I in San Francisco in January and we believe she enjoyed her experience:

"Denise and Cindie's Master Food Styling Class was absolutely packed with
tasty tidbits of knowledge gleaned from their years of experience in the
business. I've written 3 recipes books and had dozens of articles published
in magazines over the years, and what I learned in that class will take my
food design skills to the next level! I can't wait to share this information
with my culinary students and write my next cookbook!"

~ Cherie Soria, director Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, Author of Raw
Food Revolution Diet: Feast, Lose Weight, Gain Energy, Feel Younger!

Feb 2, 2010

What Food Stylist's Do With Their Blood Orange Post Maim. By Cindie Flannigan

Photos Courtesy of Ed Covello

This recipe came about because I was talking to my friend Paty Winters about all the blood oranges I have on a tree in the back yard. She suggested making a blood orange syrup that would last forever so I could use it whenever I wanted. I thought this was a great idea so I got right to it. Unfortunately, it was taking so long to reduce down, that I started doing something else and forgot about it until I smelled a burning sugar aroma wafting in from the kitchen. When I got to it, my beautiful blood orange syrup was dark brown and boiling over the saucepan and all over the stove. I couldn’t bear to admit defeat. So this is what I ended up with.

Tart Blood Orange Caramels
with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt

There’s more sugar in the recipe below than in my original test but if you like very tart candy you can cut the brown sugar in half. These caramels are soft. They are best stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

3 cups blood orange juice, strained
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup toasted almonds
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and set aside.

Place blood orange juice in a 4-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup.

Remove from heat and stir in sugars, butter, and cream. Return to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn heat to medium and let boil until a candy or deep fat thermometer reads 248 degrees F (or when a half teaspoon placed in a glass of icy cold water turns into a firm, chewy ball), about 17 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Scatter almonds on bottom of parchment paper. Pour caramel over almonds. Let sit until cool and firm, about 2 hours. Remove from baking dish and sprinkle salt flakes over top. Cut into 1-inch pieces.