Sep 29, 2010

The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite

An adorable book perfect for the Fall season that is upon us, The Comfort of Apples is as pretty to look at as it is useful in grasping just what in the WORLD to do with all the apples you picked (or purchased).  Filled with unique dishes such as Poached Eggs and Apple Butter, Miso- and Apple-Marinated Hangar Steak, and Coconut Panna Cotta with Caramel Apples, it also includes good old apple sauce and apple pie.

Miss Mandy tried her hand at the Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, and her toes are still tingling from the savory/sweetness of this pure comfort food.  Best enjoyed on a foggy evening with hot sourdough baguette and a beautiful chardonnay (or sparkling cider if you're knocked up).


Before Puree


Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
by Philip and Lauren Rubin,
Authors of The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite

Soup should be a smooth, friendly spoonful, which is why this is a lasting combination. Some ingredients just work well together: Butternut squash and apples have a complementary, mellow sweetness. Sweet potatoes and apples have a similar agreement, hence our sweet potato side dish 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
½ cup walnut halves
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced in ¼ -inch rounds

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the squash, apples, carrots, stock, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Ladle the vegetables and half of the broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the remaining broth, one ladleful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place a few walnuts in the center of a soup bowl. Shingle 2 slices of goat cheese on top of the walnuts and ladle the soup around the goat cheese. The idea is to have the goat cheese visible atop the soup. (Hint: it may be easier to ladle the soup into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour from there.)

Serves 6

The above is an excerpt from the book The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite by Philip & Lauren Rubin. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Philip and Lauren Rubin, authors of The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite

Author Bios
Philip and Lauren Rubin, authors of The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite, and graduates of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, own 2 Peas & A Pot, a Manhattan catering company. They previously worked in several restaurants, including Cafe Luxembourg, Union Pacific, and Tribeca Grill. Lauren has also worked as a personal chef and recipe tester at Good Housekeeping. They have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and were the subjects of a full-length feature in BizBash, the premier trade magazine for event planners. They live in New York City with their son, Henry.

For more information please visit and follow the authors on Twitter.

Sep 23, 2010

"How To Sell Yourself" Is On The Internet (It's not naughty, we swear).

Denise just successfully completed her first webinar!  We are so proud.

I think I know what I'm doing.
I don't know what I'm doing.
I think I did it?!

Yes, I did it!

Click here to view her Webinar in all it's glory (minus Denise's luscious voice, of course-she charges for that).

Sep 21, 2010

Food Styling For DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure)!

We helped Candace Cameron Bure prepare for this segment.  Clearly, Tiffany's a fan.  Aren't they both adorable?

Sep 20, 2010

Holiday Chocolate

Photos Courtesy of Jon Edwards

There's nothing like styling holiday fudge in September to make you crave Christmas decor and truffles.  Not in that order.

I love when we work on projects so far in advance of the actual holiday it's stupid; then I go home and make turkey and stuffing.  Just call me Pavlov.

Chocolate Orange Truffles

Makes 25 truffles

3/4 cup       whipping cream
2 cups         semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp          orange extract
1/4 cup        unsweetened cocoa powder

Line a 8 by 8 inch baking sheet with waxed paper.

Heat cream in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.

Place chocolate chips in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, let stand for 1 minutes, and then process until smooth.

Add the orange extract and process to combine.  Taste and add more extract, if needed.

Pour mixture into baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about 2 1/2 hours-3 hours, or until firm.

Score the pan into 1 1/4 inch squares.  Scoop out the pre-scored squares with a spoon and form balls by hand.

Place truffles back on baking sheet (cleaned and set with fresh waxed paper) and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Place cocoa powder into a bowl.

With clean, dry hands, roll each truffle between your palms to make a perfect ball shape.

Drop each truffle in cocoa powder and gently roll with your hands to coat.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container with waxed paper in between layers.

Not into orange?  You can vary the flavor of your truffles by substituting the orange extract with mint or almond extract, or substitute with alcohols like rum, bourbon, or champagne.  Yum!

Recipe courtesy of Do It For Less! Parties, Terrace Publishing

Sep 18, 2010

Happy Sails To You

I can't remember what ship this picture was taken on, but it was the last Holland America cruise I sailed with in Asia.

My sister Ann came with me.  We had a ball. It had been a good 40 years since we spent the night together. Not much had changed. She's my beautiful and kind older sister.

This photo was taken after one of my cooking demo's with Chef Shawn. If I was still young (and not married), I would have eaten Chef Shawn like a hamburger with everything on it.


Please, I'm old not dead!

Our new friend in the photo is Martha, whom we met on the tour bus.   Fast friends we became and spent a most magical day in Kyoto together.  Martha just sent me these pictures. It brought back the memories of one the best travel days ever.

Haiku: Pink cherry blossom trees in perfect bloom.

Good thing I can cook!

Sep 17, 2010

Loving The Imperial Suite...For 5 Hours

These videos document Cindie and Tiffany's way too brief time at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. It is a lovely hotel that was booked solid, so when they arrived at 8:00pm and the hotel didn't have their room ready, a short panic ensued. Cindie and Tiffany were supposed to have two rooms but there was some kind of mix-up.

The wonderful person at the front desk didn't know what to do with them so they told her that they didn't mind sharing a room, they just needed someplace to sleep for 4-5 hours before the satellite media tour madness began.  I will give you the rest in Cindie's words:

"Either because the were so adorable and nice, or because we looked dead tired and pathetic, she gave us the Imperial Suite. Score!

...Except for the fact that we had to get up a 1:30 AM and be at the studio at 2:30 AM. Oh cruel, cruel fate! We only had a few hours, most of them unconscious to wallow in the luxury of our 4,000 square-foot multi-room suite. There wasn't enough time to enjoy the sauna, the 3 separate sitting rooms, the dining room or kitchen, or the living room with the mucho gigantico TV."

These videos were shot by Tiffany Wu on her iPhone.



Sep 5, 2010

Love Letters Make It All Worth It

Just had to reminds me to express gratitude when I feel it...and make someone's day (or year).

Dear Denise and Cindie,

I can't tell you how thankful I am that you wrote The Food Stylist's Handbook. This is the text book of my dream job.

I just got the book from Amazon today, and just started reading, and somehow every page moves me in an earthquake way. I have a feeling that this book could really change my life.

I recall the first recipe that my mom collected for me in the newspaper. It was a simple sandwich rolled with banana and strawberry jam. I was ten, I tried the recipe, and completed my first dish. I could never forget the satisfaction when I took a picture of it and shared with all my classmates, and my dad bought me my first cookbook. It had recipes for summer drinks.  Books about food became my long lasting book collection. I guess that studying filmmaking didn't make me a successful film director, but it made me appreciate beautiful still and video photography.  Food gives me all the joy.

I heard there is an occupation called "food stylist", and I searched the internet, and found some web pages of American food stylists.  We don't really have that in Taiwan.  I accidentally met one Taiwanese food stylist, and she told me according to her 12-year working experience that probably only 5 people exist in the industry,  and they all learned food styling on their own.

In order to know the knowledge of food styling, I considered studying in LA, but I wasn't sure that was a good idea before I know how to do it, and I'm already broke from studying abroad. Then, your book came out. I tracked it when it is still in pre-order.

I'm so glad I bought your book.  It could be the best birthday present ever. I will finish reading it, and work on it, and play with it.  I would love to keep sharing my road to  food styling with you guys every once in a while. I truly believe this is it; this is my dream job. I've always have doubts about becoming a filmmaker.  And I never wanted to become anything so badly in my life as a food stylist.

Truly, Thank you for your generous sharing.