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Friday, December 20th, 2013
To me, French is the most beautiful language. It floats like a cloud and feels romantic. It’s the language of love. In high school, I worked my butt off to become proficient, taking honors-level classes, joining French club, and even becoming a teacher’s aid. I had dreams of keeping it in my daily life and raising bilingual children. Unfortunately, like a flower, language is delicate and must be tended everyday in order to flourish. When I got to college, my schedule doubled and I didn’t hold a single conversation en français.
Enter the French Institute Alliance Français (FIAF), a non-profit organization in New York City that promotes cross-cultural dialogue for children and adults alike. One of the largest and most respected centers of French-American activities in the U.S., FIAF offers art and education workshops for families.
Last Saturday, I tagged along to FIAF’s holiday bûche de Noël cooking class, where kiddos spoke elementary-level French to their moms and dads—c’est manifique!—while slathering layers of sponge cake with rich chocolate icing (and tons of red and green candies). Taught by Sylvie Berger, a chef raised in Paris, the class fully immersed children in the French language and was sprinkled with bits of English.
The bûche de Noël (“Christmas log,” or “Yule Log”) is a rolled sponge cake filled with buttercream and traditionally decorated with meringue mushrooms, marzipan holly, and wood-grain scored frosting. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Celtic celebrations of the winter solstice, but French pastry chefs popularized the confection in the 19th century and each bakery became known for its unique and elaborate embellishments. Today, few French people celebrate Christmas without one of these cakes.
Though messy, making the baby bûche was a blast! Take a look at my mini how-to video (click the play button), then make your own Christmas cake using one of the recipes below.
BAKE A BÛCHE!
Want more? Check out these recipes for easy holiday treats!
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baking, buche de noel, Christmas, cooking with kids, dessert, DIY, easy dessert, FIAF, french, getting your kids to do stuff, Holidays, recipe, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, yule log | Categories:
Food, GoodyBlog, Holidays
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Just like many others, my family’s holiday season is all about tradition. Though Thanksgiving is a couple days away, I already know we’ll be having my aunt’s garlic “smashed” potatoes and my gram’s pimento-stuffed celery (even though she’s the only one who likes it). We keep these recipes in the rotation because they’re near and dear to us. But this year, sharing them with others gives bigger benefits to those in need.
Go to Dish Up the Love to submit your favorite recipe and $1 will be donated to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks leading the fight against hunger. Each dollar provides nine meals for families who need them.
Partnering with the program is Top Chef alum and mom Antonia Lofaso, whose first book The Busy Mom’s Cookbook was recently released in paperback. A single parent, Antonia relishes her time at home with her daughter, Xea, making memories through food.
“For me the holidays are about making memories with family and friends around the kitchen table and giving back. Dish Up the Love celebrates these special holiday moments,” Antonia says. “I shared the recipe for my grandma’s lasagna because it’s served at all Lofaso family holidays. At Thanksgiving, we have turkey, but there’s always lasagna and tons of other Italian food.”
Serves: 6 to 8
Total time: 85 minutes
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ¼ cup chopped garlic (about 8 cloves)
• 3 (16-ounce) cans of peeled, whole plum tomatoes
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning, or 4 teaspoons fresh marjoram or oregano
• 1 (9-ounce) package of no-boil, oven-ready lasagna noodles
• Sauce (from above)
• ½ cup shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
• 4 cups shredded whole-milk, mozzarella cheese
• 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 6 to 8 slices each
• 12 medium to large fresh basil leaves
1. For the sauce, head the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and just as it starts to brown around the edges, throw in the canned tomatoes. You don’t want the garlic to burn, so have the cans open and ready to go beforehand.
2. Add the salt and sugar and whisk it all together. Let the sauce simmer on medium-low for 40 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. If any foam rises to the top of the sauce, skim it off. That’s the acid from the tomatoes, and your sauce will taste better without it. Using a hand blender or counter top blender, blend on medium until smooth.
3. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 10-inch sauté pan heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the ground turkey and the salt. Cook the turkey for about 5 minutes, until it’s browned throughout. Just as it’s finishing the cooking process, stir in the Italian seasoning. Drain any excess fat or liquid from the pan.
4. Cover the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with 3 sheets of pasta. Ladle 1 cup of sauce over the noodles. You don’t want the sauce to soak through, so you don’t need to overdo it. Layer on half of the meat, followed by half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and half of the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle on one-third of the mozzarella and arrange one-third of the fresh tomatoes on top of it. Top with one-third of the basil.
5. Repeat the process for the next layer: 3 sheets of pasta, a cup of sauce, the rest of the meat, the rest of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the remaining ricotta, a third of the mozzarella, a third of the fresh tomatoes, and another third of the basil. The last layer is your presentation layer, so make it pretty. Add three more sheets of pasta.
6. Top the noodles with the last of the sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The top should be a crispy golden brown when the lasagna is done, and the pasta sauce around the sides of the dish should be thick, not runny. Let the lasagna stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. If you cut into it while it is still piping hot, it will fall apart.
For more information and to share your favorite family recipe, visit worldkitchen.com/dishupthelove. After submitting a recipe, you’ll be entered for weekly sweepstakes to win Pyrex, Baker’s Secret, and CorningWare products.
Get more kid-friendly recipes from Antonia Lofaso.
Recipe and image reprinted from The Busy Mom’s Cookbook with permission from Avery, an imprint of Penguin Group.
Image of Antonia and Xea by Alex Martinez.
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antonia lofaso, charity, chef, Christmas, cooking, dish up the love, Feeding America, Food, giving, holiday, recipe, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, thanksgiving, the busy mom cookbook, top chef, world kitchen | Categories:
celebrities, Doing Good, Food, GoodyBlog, Holidays
Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Rounding up the family together for Thanksgiving (and having them get along) is already hard enough without the added worry of creating dishes to satisfy certain diets and picky eaters. And if you have family members who have certain food allergies and sensitivities (especially to gluten), you might feel even more overwhelmed.
But don’t throw in the towel yet.
Hosting a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast is possible — and Udi’s Gluten Free has simple and delicious recipes that can even convert gluten lovers (like me). Recently, another editor and I were invited to a special Udi’s Thanksgiving luncheon, along with other Meredith editors, to sample gluten-free takes on classic holiday dishes. As a foodie and someone who believed going gluten-free meant eating pale imitations of “real” foods, I was surprised by the versatile spread and even more surprised by the delicious flavors.
On the menu was a whole course that incorporated gluten-free bread, chips, and cookies:
I could definitely see the sweet potato hummus and roasted beet salad on my own Thanksgiving table, which usually has some gluten-free (and dairy-free) dishes made especially for my little nephew, who has a few food allergies. Even if no one in your family has gluten allergies, there are still some benefits to going gluten-free, like taming tummy troubles and maintaining a healthy weight. And some studies have shown a gluten-free diet could possibly help kids with autism, though research results are inconclusive.
Best of all: these gluten-free dishes could easily substitute Thanksgiving mainstays (without sacrificing tastiness) and be worth repeating for Christmas, perhaps served with an additional dessert like ice cream sandwiches made with Udi’s maple pecan chocolate chip cookies. So now that you have some new recipes, I hope this year’s dinner planning will be just a little easier!
More Gluten-Free Foods on Parents.com
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Food, GoodyBlog, Holidays
Friday, May 10th, 2013
I am lucky not to have any food allergies, but I still want to make so many of the delicious-sounding recipes in Elizabeth Gordon’s new book, Simply Allergy-Free: Quick and Tasty Recipes for Every Night of the Week. Just looking at the gorgeous photos in the book, you’d never know that ever recipe is free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and nuts. Author of the blog My Allergy Free Life and owner of the online allergen-free bakery Betsy & Claude Baking Company, this busy mom of two girls has multiple food allergies. She says, “I like to think of these recipes as the little black dress of my pantry—simple and economical fare that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.”
She shows you how to use (and where to buy!) key ingredients like xanthan gum, agave nectar, superfine rice flour, powdered vanilla rice milk, and sorghum flour, which can make gluten-free and allergen-free foods taste like “the real thing.” The recipes I can’t wait to try include chicken tikka burgers, chickpea French fries, beef tostadas, corn quinoa salad, herbed biscuits, and chocolate pretzel pie. Yum!
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Food, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety
Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Last week, Food Network’s chef Aarón Sanchez (you probably know him from Iron Chef America or Chopped) joined popchips for the ultimate happy hour at The Kitchen NYC. Sanchez is known for keeping things spicy both in the kitchen and on television, so I was eager to watch his food demonstration, steal some of his cooking tips, and sample some food. It turned out to be a blast, as Sanchez was very down-to-earth and kept cracking jokes all night long. And of course, the food was delicious!
Even better, Sanchez gave us a few of his recipes at the end of the night. Now, I’m no expert chef but these look straightforward enough that even I can handle them. One of my personal favorites was the chile, which I was fascinated to learn should not have beans in it. Instead, Sanchez says it’s all about the meat and the chilies. He also kept insisting that a meal must have texture as well as flavor, so that’s why he’s promoting the new tortilla popchips. The flavors perfectly complemented the recipes, and they have half the fat of regular tortilla chips, so that’s why he suggests serving the chile over some nacho cheese tortilla popchips.
Here’s my favorite recipe from the night:
All-Beef Chile Colorado
6 guajillo chilies, stems and seeds removed
1 1/2 cups boiling water
6 fresh tomatillos, papery skins peeled off
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 chipotle chiles in adobo
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 pounds ground beef (preferably chuck)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
grated sharp cheddar
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the guajillo chilies on each side for 30 seconds, until just softened. Put them immediately in a glass bowl and pour the boiling water over them to cover. Soak for 15 minutes.
2. In the same dry skillet, toast the tomatillos and garlic, turning several times until the vegetables have softened slightly and the exteriors have brown marks, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the paper skins on the garlic.
3. Put the guajillo chilies in a blender with the soaking water, the tomatillos, the peeled garlic, and the chipotle chilies in adobo. Pulse to make a smooth puree.
4. In a large stewpot over medium heat, cook the onions until softened and just turning golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook through, breaking it up with a spoon as you cook, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the pureed chiles and tomatillos, the tomatoes, ancho chile powder, cumin, salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour, loosely covered, until the deep orange-red sauce is thick. You may need to add a little more water, but take it easy. The finished chili should not be too wet.
6. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. For each serving, put a handful of nacho cheese tortilla popchips in the bottom of a bowl and ladle a serving of chili on top. Scatter with a handful of cheese and eat at once.
Photos courtesy of popchips.
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Thursday, September 13th, 2012
We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of children in third world countries who are barely surviving due to a lack of food. We all know that this tragic reality exists, but did you know that there are 16 million children living here in America who are battling hunger?
We at Parents take this issue very seriously. We recently ran a report on what hunger looks like in America and interviewed a mom who experienced it firsthand.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill is teaming up with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to bring 1 million meals to children in need. They invited us and other bloggers to write about their favorite Italian recipe and for every post they will donate $50 to No Kid Hungry, which will provide up to 500 meals for children in need.
Here’s what you can do to help.
Throughout the entire month of September, Macaroni Grill diners can donate $2 to No Kid Hungry and receive $5 off their next visit. A $2 donation could provide up to 20 meals.
Every time a fan shares a photo from the Mac Grill Facebook Gallery, Macaroni Grill will help No Kid Hungry provide a child with a meal.
Tweet or Instagram a photo of your Macaroni Grill experience with the tag #macgrillgive and Macaroni Grill will provide a child with a meal.
Here’s one of our favorite Italian dishes, the mega-simple Crockpot Lasagna:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 26 ounce jar pasta sauce
- ¾ cup water
- 1 15 ounce carton light ricotta cheese
- 6 lasagna noodles
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6oz.)
1. Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large microwave-safe bowl stir together pasta sauce and water. Cover bowl with waxed paper and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together ricotta cheese and carrot; set aside.
2. Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of prepared slow cooker. Break half of the noodles to fit the bottom of the slow cooker and arrange over the sauce in the slow cooker. Spoon mounds of half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the layers. Top with remaining noodles, breaking to fit, remaining ricotta mixture, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Spoon remaining sauce over and top with remaining mozzarella.
3. Cover; cook on low heat setting for 3 hours (noodles should be tender). Remove crockpot from liner and let stand covered for 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
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Stovetop Method: Prepare as above, except increase noodles to 8 and layer ingredients in a large deep skillet. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes.
childhood hunger, childhood poverty, hunger, lasagna, Macaroni Grill, No Kid Hungry, poverty, recipe, recipes | Categories:
Food, GoodyBlog, Solutions
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
For many of us, it’s almost a reflex: we add a dash of salt to our food before we take the first bite. But according to the Center for Disease Control, we shouldn’t be so quick to grab for the shaker. In recognition of World Salt Awareness Week, we shook up some facts on sodium.
A diet that’s heavy in salt can contribute to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks or strokes. The CDC estimates that 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium, 95% of which comes from restaurant or processed foods.
Here are some simple ways to cut back on sodium without scrimping on flavor:
Eat more fresh fruits and veggies (or frozen varieties without added ingredients). Try a blueberry-zucchini loaf for breakfast, or serve this vitamin-C packed fruit-and-pasta salad for dinner. For a quick meal, thaw a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to make an easy lasagna.
Ask restaurants for low-sodium options, or request that they don’t add salt to your food.
At home, read nutrition labels and choose lower-sodium options. Stock the pantry with staples like low-sodium teriyaki sauce. (Try it in this flavorful shrimp stir-fry.) With recipes this tasty, you’ll never miss the salt.
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Thursday, October 6th, 2011
So what do you do when handed an irresistible invitation that reads, Scharffen Berger® Chocolate Maker Invites You to an Evening of Elevated Desserts with Acclaimed Pastry Chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Johnny Iuzzini? If you love chocolate and eat dessert first, you say “Yes, please!” and head to the event with the resident Food Editor (the lovely Erica Clark) to watch the chefs give new twists to classic sweets using Scharffen Berger® chocolate.
Foodies and fans of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” will recognize Johnny Iuzzini as one of the head judges (alongside Gail Simmons) and Elizabeth Falkner as one of the guest judges from season one. Iuzzini cut his teeth at Payard and is now the Executive Pastry Chef at Jean Georges restaurant in New York City while Falkner will soon be appearing on “The Next Iron Chef” and is the brainchild behind Orson restaurant and Citizen Cake bakery/ice cream parlor in San Francisco, CA.
In a room mostly full of women (yes, we do love our chocolate), Iuzzini started his demonstration of creating “Chocolate Pudding with Passion Fruit Gelée, Whipped Chocolate Crème Fraîche, and Cacao Nibs,” which was inspired by Jell-O Pudding Face ads, while Falkner began her demonstration of “Chocolate Gelato Sundae,” which was inspired by her love for ice cream. In order to make the ice cream solidify faster, Falkner used liquid nitrogen to freeze the milk-sugar mixture, which gave the demo a science-lab feel. (Both recipes are featured after the jump below.)
The audience was then divided into two groups to learn how to make each dessert (while wearing chefs hats and aprons). Ending up in Iuzzini’s group, I mixed dry ingredients (those are my hands, on the right, and me with Iuzzini, below) and watched as unsweetened natural cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate became a trifle with layers of passion fruit gelée, devil’s food cake (that incorporated mayonnaise), chocolate crumble, crème fraîche, pudding, and for garnish: passion fruit seeds and freeze-dried raspberries.
Afterwards, we were given a taste of the deeply delicious desserts — the chocolate pudding was a combination of sweet/sour and smooth/crunchy while the gelato sundae (garnished with chocolate cake bits, cocao nibs, and marshmallow cream) was a combination of sweet/bitter and crunchy/chewy.
Moms (and dads) all need a little “me” time, so if you’re a parent who loves chocolate, baking, and creating unusual spins on traditional desserts, consider making these two desserts as a treat for the family (the gelato sundae is more child-friendly, though you won’t need a nitrogen tank at home to make it!). Or enter the “Elevate a Classic Dessert with Scharffen Berger® Chocolate Contest” for a chance to win a grand prize of $10,000. The contest period is between October 1, 2011 – January 2, 2012.
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