May 28, 2014

Barbeque Ribs + Mango Coleslaw + Mixed Mushroom Salad + Cajun Corn = A Family In-Home Cooking Class

Just like the way people and families come in all sizes...
SO. DO. cooking classes!

I just wanted to share a few pictures of a family In-Home Cooking Class.
I truly enjoyed the way this family was able to get everyone involved
with the hands-on aspect of the class.  Each family member
was able to participate and everyone was able to taste and season
as we were cooking each item on the menu.

Getting ready to season and marinate the racks of ribs. 
Both pork and beef. (just so we can taste the difference)

Getting mom and the boys involved!

Even Dad....

Grandma also...

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

May 27, 2014

Watermelon Thirst Quencher

When I think of summer fruits---
watermelon definitely falls under my top 3 summer fruits.
It's beautiful in color, juicy, sweet and a great thirst quencher!

Slicing or cutting your watermelon into cubes to eat is great
BUT what if you were to use the watermelon as a double duty thing?
Use a small watermelon not only as your drink but the actual glass
or drinking goblet!?!    What!?!  sounds like fun right?

It's really easy to make!  The only things you will need are:
a small watermelon, a large spoon or ice cream scoop to scoop
the inside of the watermelon, a colander (with finer holes),
a knife to slice the watermelon top (about 2 inches down from the top)
some fun, large straws and some booze.
(booze is optional and of your choosing of course!)

Once you scoop the inside of the watermelon, it's best if you blend it
to make it more of a juice rather than it being chunky. I like to use a wire 
colander like the one in the picture to get the froth out as well. 

You can add some large straws and an umbrella to make it even more fun to drink!
You can also make fruit skewers to add as a garnish.
Oh! and don't forget to add some ice.

It quenched our thirst Let's Cultivate Food

May 23, 2014

Fruit Pops!

As the hot weather is RIGHT around the corner (if you live in the Northeast)
One of my favorite summer treats... (actually almost all-year round)
is a home made fruit popsicle.  They REALLY are  awesome because of
many reasons.  They are healthy, delicious, refreshing, all-natural (literally),
super easy to make, fun, easy to eat/lick/suck/bite, did I mention
delicious?   What's also sweet about them is that you can REALLY make it your own.
You can cultivate these fun fruit pops by using whatever you, your family and friends
like. If you don't like a certain type of fruit for whatever reason... simply
don't use it!  Use your favorite fruits and mix them up or not!
You can also change it up by pureeing the fruit or dicing them up into small
pieces or both. Whatever floats your boat.... or pops in this case.

The easiest way to make these is-  to get all your fruit ready.
Get little paper cups out and line them up in a row or 2.
Add your fruit and then lastly add your little wooden popsicle stick at the end.
Lay them on a tray or plate (I just place them on a paper plate )
right in the freezer.  If you are eating them individually-
just take the paper cup wrapper off as you eat it but if you are serving it
to multiple people- it looks attractive if you take off /rip the paper cup
off for everyone and simply lay them upside down so that each person
can just grab their fruit popsicle  by the stick!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

The Waldorf Salad

I love salads but having the option to enjoy a vast variety of salads
is a luxury!?!  because -  wouldn't it be REALLY boring
to eat the same old garden salad  ALL.THE.TIME. ?

I am fascinated by all the combinations of salads
that one can create and of course eat and enjoy!

Among the many different types... there is the Waldorf salad.

The original Waldorf salad was made of fresh apples, celery
and walnuts tossed in mayonnaise.
It was served as a light meal at the Waldorf Hotel in NYC.
Oscar Tschirky the Maitr d' created it along with creating
Hollandaise sauce with Lemuel Benedict that is used in Eggs Benedict.

The Waldorf salad is often the topping to a bed of greens.
As technology and everything else that is evolving-  so has this salad.
There are often grapes or raisins or dates added to the salad  along with
it often being tossed and mixed with plain yogurt instead of the mayonnaise.
Some restaurants will substitute the celery with cauliflower and call it
the Emerald's  Salad rather than the Waldorf Salad.

Feel free to cut you apples in slices or just dice them.
To keep the apples from browning it's best to squeeze juice from a lemon.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

May 17, 2014

Korean style chicken wings

Korean style chicken wings......  'finger lickin'  YUM!

recipe --->
batter the chicken wings in beaten egg then 
2/3 cup of flour + 1 TBSP cornstarch
deep fry fresh room temperature chicken wings while
using Canola or veggie oil 

in a mixing bowl mix the ingredients below together
5 cloves garlic
1.5 inches piece peeled and grated ginger
3 TBSP soy sauce
3  TBSP gojujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1.5 TBSP rice vinegar
1  TBSP  sesame oil
1 TBSP honey
12 chicken wings 

Once the wings have floated to the top of the oil
it means they are done cooking-
Take them out carefully of the oil and lay them
on a paper towel on a tray or plate.
(The paper towel is to capture the excess oil)

Take the hot wings and toss them in the rest of the ingredients (sauce)
sprinkle toasted sesame seeds for extra toasty flavor and garnish

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

May 16, 2014


SUPER EASY make at home Tiramisu with all the flavor!

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert that can be a little tedious and tricky.
Especially the heating/cooking of the egg whites.
Here is a way to get the rich and delicious flavor of Tiramisu
done easy and pretty much hassle free.

Similar to a lasagna, Tiramisu is a layered dessert.
It starts with the 'lady fingers'. You can use pound cake as well,
but I highly recommend just purchasing the lady fingers.

The ingredients you will need are  --->
a package of lady fingers
a small tub of mascarpone cheese 
whipped cream
strong espresso (about a cup)  decaf is ok too!
cocoa powder
instant coffee (for garnish - optional)
chocolate bar (for shaving - garnish)

Once you have all the ingredients ready, you want to start with taking
the mascarpone cheese and adding some whipped cream.
(start with about 3 heaping tablespoons)
The whipped cream helps to soften, lighten and make the cheese fluffier.

The next step is  to dip the lady fingers individually into espresso coffee.
(Use decaf if you are concerned about the caffeine)
I like to dip only the bottom half of the lady fingers so that it's not too soggy.

You can layer the coffee dipped lady fingers first or you can put
a dollop of the mascarpone first - it really doesn't make that big of a 
difference especially since you are going  to lick the bowl/glass clean. 
I mean eat it all dainty like a fant-cee lady or gentleman!
In between the layers of the lady fingers and cheese, you can 
add the cocoa powder and or instant coffee using a wire sifter...
you know, so it can be dusted on.

It's best when you shave some chocolate on top as well.
Coffee dipped fluffy cake, chocolate and sweet cream.
How does one not like Tiramisu!?!

Ironically, the original recipe for Tiramisu did not have egg whites or any liquor.
I like to think this super easy recipe is not about taking a short cut but
bringing it back to old school.... the way it was first made back in the 
late 1960s  in Veneto, Italy.

During a recent Personal Chef Dinner -
the 4 couples decided on Tiramisu as  their dessert
and I recall them raving over the flavor!

SO goodSO easy,  Let's Cultivate Food

Chocolate chip cookie dough DIP

Who doesn't love licking the spoon of cookie dough leftover
from the mixing bowl as a child- let's face it, adults love it as well.

Were you ever told it might give you an upset stomach if you eat
the cookie dough because it isn't baked yet?  But we all did it anyway.

Here is a recipe where you can make chocolate chip cookie dough DIP!
No more worries of 'potentially' getting a stomach ache because it's
raw and uncooked.   What can you dip into this savory dip?
I'm pretty sure you can easily come up with many ideas of what to
dip into but! Here are a few ideas if you aren't sure.

You can dip animal crackers, graham crackers, strawberries,
crusty bread, bananas, vanilla wafers, name it.

Recipe --->  'mix it real good'  and then, 'dip it real good' 

1/2 cup of butter
1 package of cream cheese (8 oz.)
1.5 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

'Dip it real good'  Let's Cultivate Food

Friends having an In-Home Class

A while back, four friends decided to enjoy catching up on their lives
and having an In-Home Cooking Class cooking the Thai menu.

We have the chicken breast cut into strips being skewered here in the picture.
They were marinated in a peanut and coconut marinade.

Learning about some basic sauces and ingredients in Thai cuisine.                                     Pad Thai noodles and  Thai Dumplings were also made that evening.

It was a pleasure meeting and cooking with you guys!

Good times. Good Times.  Let's Cultivate Food

May 15, 2014

Re-GROW your scallions!

More often than not,
I try to teach and share with students that you can
very easily re-grow your herbs and veggies.

In this case...  it has become more like scallions galore.

Two weeks ago, Let's Cultivate Food participated in a Festival
and I had to use some scallions for the Buffalo Chicken Dumpling filling.
I cut the root end off at about 2 inches and placed them in a plant pot- 
all lined up only because there were so many. The only thing in the pot
is water, no soil or anything else.  I've been so busy with Festivals
and Personal Chef Dinners lately that I simply placed the roots in the
corner of the kitchen floor and would just add water every 3-4 days
and in a way they have been completely neglected. 

Low and behold 2 weeks later... they have re-grown into a pot of scallions galore.
I love gardening and growing and re-growing in this case...
thus the name "Let's Cultivate"  There are SO many things one can do
with a simple scallion.... starting with simply re-growing them!

Let us cultivate herbs Let's Cultivate Food

May 14, 2014


Many say that SPAM is "mystery meat"
Similar to cilantro,  people seem to either love it or hate it-

SPAM actually stands for Shoulder Pork and HAM.

SPAM was highly consumed in many wars for the soldiers
especially the Russian soldiers during World War II.
When I say highly consumed...
I'm talking about 100 million pounds of it!   WHOA right!?!
During the war there was even a mascot named  'Slammin  Spammy'.
It was a way that Hormel supported the war effort.

Roughly 44,000 cans of SPAM (33,000 pounds) are produced every hour
for over 40 countries to be consumed.  Some McDonalds even have it on
their menu. Hawaii consumes the most SPAM per capita of any US state.

When people call it 'mystery meat' it's really not that much of a mystery.
It's pork shoulder which tends to be fatty along with added salt, water,
sugar, potato starch and nitrites.  In a way it's almost the same stuff
that is in hot dogs.

There was once Kosher SPAM back in 2000 known as Loof for Israeli military.
It was made from chicken and beef and not pork shoulder.

I think when the "mystery" is taken out of it----
you realize there isn't really that much of a mystery to it.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

Dumplings Class through Mt. Airy Learning Tree

We recently held our classroom class of Dumplings through Mt. Airy Learning Tree.
We again, filled the room with eager students who were excited to learn how to
make the filling, fold, cook and of course eat many different types of dumplings.

The students were taught how to properly cut herbs and veggies and the best
way to store them and how long herbs and spices are good for.

A little of the history of dumplings was taught along with many different ways
of how to fold the  "pockets of goodness" - what it translates to in Chinese.

Below are some pictures of the students helping me during the demos
and of course the making and eating as well!

We had good times. Good times making steamed tofu kimchi dumplings,
deep fried veggie dumplings, pan-fried pork and chive dumplings and 
modernized buffalo chicken dumplings with home-made dipping sauces!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food