Search
This is Us!

We are here to bring you our life through food. Especially Italian food. You can learn more about us here.

Navigation

Entries in Colavita (13)

Monday
Jan122015

Elana's Food Journal - The First Flip Through

So what is this food journal anyway? I addressed this briefly last time, I'll reiterate now: it's a grand experiment. For me, that I'm inflicting on you. But I feel like I'm onto something here. It's the beginning...of what, I'm not sure. I've been writing, drawing and photographing what I eat. Not to count calories but to keep track of something else - memories. Events, thoughts, dreams, smells, and yes, even recipes, that surround my daily encounters with food.

So I compiled the most recent pages (as I haven't been good about posting them one at a time) into a flip book, so you can see the progress, read my thoughts (literally) and experience the last few weeks through my eyes (and stomach).

Here are a few snippets, followed by a link to the full book.

I've been messing around a lot with bread. Over Christmas I made my own spelt flour bread and then made a brief, ridiculous movie about it. Here's the film:

I've been busting out the Instax camera with some regularity as well. The above photos were taken at a Taralucci & Vino on the Upper West Side with my friend Steve. We were trying to get a hold of the light. Quite literally. Steve was trying to get a hold of a cinnamon bun.

There's also been more pizza. So much pizza, I'm almost embarrassed to say. Wait. Scratch that. I'm PROUD to say there has been SO MUCH DANG PIZZA that it would horrify you. The above is one I created for a New Year's Eve Party.

And then there are the thoughts. Thoughts brough on by spending too much time in the kayak (my tiny apartment), reading too many articles about finding your "calling" in life, and easy access to Sharpie markers.

And then there are actual recipes. If you can follow this one, I'll make you more pesto.

This one I can't give you the recipe. I promised not to. And I keep my promises.

If you'd like to see the full, scroll down. I'd like for this to go somewhere... Where I don't know. But I'd like to add in more thoughts, actual recipes, and etc. I'm even starting to take this agenda out on my clients. I created a food journal for Colavita which I'll also post. 

Now how many girls let you ready their diary??


Thursday
Nov202014

Pizza Class & A Come-to-Jamie (Oliver) Moment

I spent the past week and will spend the next one teaching classes on the book I wrote for Colavita, Top Your Pizza.

Yes, I teach people how to make pizza. We cover homemade dough, four different kinds of toppings and a salad for balance. I talk about how to caramelize onions and wax poetical about mozzarella cheese. People actually listen. They pay attention and ask questions. They even laugh at my jokes (sometimes). I'm finding the process rewarding, energizing, fun and definitely exhausting and challenging.

I am aware that my students are a self-selected population — they've signed up and have an interest in the subject matter — and that I'm not imparting life-saving information. This is pizza making...or is it??

Buy a man a pizza and he has a meal for that day. Teach a man to make a pizza and... 

...he has apps for every Super Bowl Sunday??

Along those lines, I touch on the topic of nutrition in class, as I believe pizza can be a healthy, balanced meal depending on your topping choice and application. Now, I'm not suggesting we can improve the health of the nation with pizza (or am I??), but during my trip, I had a come-to-Jamie moment when I stopped at a roadside IHOP restaurant.

To clarify, I meant Jamie Oliver.

I've been a fan of his since I first watched his TED talk and saw how passionate he seemed about food education, nutrition and helping people change their diets in order to change their lives.

That IS life-altering information, folks. As I watched Jamie show a few clips from his show Food Revolution, I thought, "Damn, that's gotta be HARD."

And I mean a serious challenge, as it's hard to change people's minds about anything, and that is no less true with their diets. Consider my efforts with The Box. Part of the problem, as Jaimie addresses, is that people just don't know. They're not education on the topic of nutrition, so you can't really blame them for making poor choices. That's fair.

So it becomes a two-fold problem:

1. Education

2. Changing people's taste

I'm here to suggest that the latter might be the more difficult of the two.

On my class tour on the road from Boca Raton to Jacksonville, my driver and I decided to stop at an IHOP nestled snuggly on the side of Route 95 for lunch. Also known as The International (which other nation?) House of Pancakes.

I assumed I could get something moderately healthy like a veggie omelette, and in fact IHOP has about two "Simple and Fit" entrees, one of them being a veggie omelette, which is made with egg substitute. How a chemical combination made to resemble the taste and texture of eggs is healthier than the real thing, I do not know.

All the "Simple and Fit" entrees were listed as under 600 calories, which lead me to believe that the other dishes on the menu were all well over that number, including Dulche de Leche Pancakes featuring what resembled large tubes of icing sandwiched between pancakes.

Time out. 

I like pancakes. In fact, at the end of this post, I'm going to list all the pancake recipes I've posted on this blog. However, I recognize that I'm what some would call, "a healthy eater." I like vegetables. Even kale. I'll go out of my way to eat them. I exercise. Maybe more than some. Definitely less than others. I watch my food intake, not by counting calories, but by trying to make good choices and recognizing when I'm full. 

But I'm not perfect. I've attacked a carton of ice cream with a spoon. I've eaten more than my share of pizza. I've come home late at night and ransacked the fridge like a racoon in the trash. This is life.

I also realize I'm lucky. I live in a city that has more food choices than most with access to farmers' markets, classes, independent food producers, locavore/organic restaurants and the like. I'm able to take advantage of these options. I'm very grateful for this, and I know this is not the case for many who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. This is a topic for another essay, and it's financial and access issue that I didn't list in my two-fold numeration above.

But I take issue with places like IHOP that are continuing to serve nutritionally negligent, over-portioned sugar delivery systems. Yes, there are "Simple and Fit" offerings on the menu, but like my pizza class attendees, only a self-selected group are going to look for them and then actually order them (and also try not to feel like a total ass when you say, "Yeah...I'd like the Simple and Fit Egg Substitute Omelette").

Additionally, the resulting egg substitute omelette looked so sad and watery in comparison to its fluffy, whipped and stacked neighbors, that who, indeed WOULD choose that option. It didn't look good. And, in fact, it was probably the worst omelette I've ever had. And IHOP isn't the only one. There are many more, as you know. John has a post coming up about Papa John's Frito Pizza that will alarm you.

This makes me sad. It makes me sad because I want to be able to convince people that healthy food is delicious. I cook for myself, my friends, and now complete strangers frequently, and manage to make delicious dishes that are nutritionally redeeming. And I know I'm not making a positive difference in the nutritional education system of this country, but I'd like to.

I want to think that the way to stop having items like this on restaurant menus is for people to stop ordering them. But that requires a change in taste. HOW do you change people's taste? How do you convince people that beets are tasty? Or that a quarter pound of sugar-laced lard has no place between pancakes?

I don't know. But I'd like to make an attempt with this blog post. With pancakes. Here are some recipes that I think are both nutritionally redeeming (in moderation, people) and delicious. I created them for Colavita and I'm reposting them here in the hopes that they might inspire you to think of pancakes, food and nutrition in a different light. And, uh...Jamie? If you're listening, I'd love to talk.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Recipe here and video below:

7 (ish) Grain Pancakess.

What You Need:

1/2 cup rolled oats (the real stuff)
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked farro
4 tablespoons chia seeds
4 teaspoons ground flax seeds 
1 cup almond or soy milk (you can use regular milk if you like)
2 eggs, beaten
a few swirls of agave syrup for sweetening (you can also use honey)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt 

Butter, oil or non-stick cooking spray for you frying pan or griddle.

What To Do:

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (don't forget the salt and cinnamon!). You can even use a food processor if you like. 

Add in the milk, eggs, vanilla and agave syrup. 

Blend until well incorporated. If the mixture appears too dry or sticky, you can add more milk.

Heat up your frying pan or griddle and grease with oil, butter or spray.

Ladle the batter onto the griddle in 1/4 cup sized scoops. Keep in mind, you might like to make mini pancakes, or HUGE BIG AS YOUR FACE ones. Go nuts, I'm not gonna stop you.

Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on one side. Break out your spatula and give those suckers a flip. Let them toast up on the opposite side for about 2 minutes.

Flop them onto a plate and serve with cinnamon butter (I used Ronnybrook's) and more agave or maple syrup. You can also store these in the frigde for quite some time and use them as pre or post-workout energy pancakes.

Feel free to add fresh fruit and nuts!

Blueberry Oat and Polenta Pancakes

Recipe here.

Oat and Whole Wheat Waffles (<-- Loosely Related to Pancakes!) with Fruit and Nuts

What You Need:

A waffle maker (gifted by your boss or bought by your own self. Either works)
2 1/2 cups warm (about 100 degrees) almond milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 egg whites
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds for garnish

What To Do:
Mix the almond milk, sugar and yeast in a medium bowl. Let it stand until it becomes foamy (this is the yeast working its magic) - about 10 minutes.

Mix both flours, oats, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.

Add the yeast mixture and stir to blend it all together. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. You can also leave it to chill overnight so you will be ready for hungry brunchers in the morning.

Separate the eggs, setting aside two of the egg yolks. Mix these two yolks into the batter.

Put the three egg whites in large bowl and with a hand held mixer beat them until they are white and foamy and peaks form (ex: when you lift up the beaters the egg foam will stand up).

Fold the egg whites into the batter with a spatula.

Heat up your waffle iron and spray it with a non stick spray (you can also use butter). When it is hot enough, pour the batter into the iron. Cook until the waffle iron gives you the green light (literally). Your waffles should be golden brown.

Serve with extra blueberries, slivered almonds and maple syrup.

 

Wednesday
Sep102014

How Do You Take Your Morning Garlic?

With cream and sugar? One lump or two? Or maybe just straight up...with the shavings on the side?

Yesterday was a day of "supposed-to's".

I was supposed to work on just one project all day...

I was supposed to not get harassed by a million little things...

I was supposed to not drink too many Gin and Tonics the night before...

Huh.

But when I woke up at 6:30am (I actually woke up at 5:30, thought better of the enterprise and went back to sleep) after an assorted arrangement of nightmares and fitful sleeping that was supposed to not happen, the light was just so nice in my little apartment. North light. Perfect light. It looked like this:

And I've been meaning to take breakfast photos in this light. Or at least photos of my morning coffee. This was SUPPOSED TO be a photo of my morning coffee. But I hadn't made it yet. And I didn't feel like making it yet. So, I grabbed the next handiest thing — a head of garlic — slapped it onto the radiator by the window and took a few shots.

Caravaggio-esque, don't you think? I mean...for a garlic.

Anyway, remember what I said about using what you have? And not baking a layer cake when a head of garlic or some Fruit Loops and plastic dinos will do just fine?

If you DO happen to have a head of garlic, I have some suggestions for what to do with it over at Colavita. I made a whole book about it. Check it out, and forget about the layer cake.

Friday
Sep052014

Something Simple – Candy Cane Beets

This is a photo I really like. I never meant to take it. It wasn't on the "agenda" for the day's photos. It wasn't even a real recipe I had in the hopper. 

It was just a result of some very pretty candy cane beets, a cracked silver plate and a rich slate counter top. That's really all. I threw some Gorgonzola cheese, fennel tops, salt and olive oil on there for "effect." Whatever that means.

I shaved the beets with a potato peeler (that happened to be polka-dotted).

A while ago, I wrote a post about cooking with what you have instead of always running to the store in a frenzy to pick up more ingredients. You can read about the resulting "Kitchen Sink Granola" here. But I feel like this is a valuable point in cooking and in life.

Often, with this blog, I am thinking of new exciting projects to post. "I KNOW!," I'll shout (to myself), "I'll make a layer cake and label each layer as something different and use some kind of wack-a-doodle metaphor about the frosting!!!"

Wouldn't that be GREAT?

Sure it would. And it would also take me about 47 hours of work. And maybe, just maybe, I already have some pretty cool stuff already in the "pantry."

So these days, when I'm thinking about cooking or doing or even getting something new, I pause to think about what I already have. Because what I already have is a lot.

A lot of cool photos.

A lot of spices.

A lot of pasta and olive oil (thanks, Colavita!).

And a lot of resources (people, family, friends, weird personal habits all included, bikes) that are useful in the present circumstances.

The pantry is well-stocked.

Because of this, I'm going to make an effort to show you things that I already have. They could be old. They could be silly. They could be completely non-edible. And I promise not to run out to the store for just one more ingredient for them.

Happy Friday!

Friday
Jul192013

July Slice of the Month - Fig & Pesto Picnic Pizza

We are all of us melting here on the East Coast (and beyond) in a heat wave. It is July. This stuff happens. However, don't let it happen to your pizza. Melted cheese = good. Flopping, listless pizza with frizzy hair and disengaged toppings = bad.

This has not happened to you? Clearly, you do not eat enough pizza in the mid summer sun's direct light.

Picture yourself in a bucolic field, surrounded by daisies, tweeting birds and copious amounts of sunshine. You have just produced a picnic basket of epic proportions and your companion looks on, eagerly anticipating the delicious contents. As you pull napkins, utensils and other non-perishables from it's wickery depths, you reach for the pizza, when - GASP! - you realize it has dematerialized into something resembling the Wicked Witch of the West at ending credits. Hmmm.

Time to rethink everything. 

To combat this all-to-prevalent problem, I present you with PICNIC PIZZA (did you hear an echo?). This is thick crust pizza at it's best, stuffed with an assortment of the high summer fruit, figs, jammed with ricotta cheese and prosciutto, and slathered in arugula pesto. You keep the pesto in a jar and slather on-site to reduce transport-related mess.

Genius, no? YES!

You should make some. In order to do so, head on over to Colavita's Facebook Page, like them and download the cookbook. You will find:

1. Instructions on toppings and assembly

2. A thick crust pizza recipe

3. An arugula pesto recipe


4. The photographical stylings of yours truly.

Go do it!! You've got a weekend ahead!