Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ethnic Spices Class @ Trillium Haven

What a way to start the day! A beautiful "Mezze" to greet us at 10 am! YUM!

What is Mezze?
Mezze (Mezzeh)

A typical middle eastern meal starts with Mezze. This can be an elaborate spread of forty or fifty hors d'oeuvres, little bits of tasty treats to please the palate.

The origin of the word mezze is unclear. It may be derived from the Persian "maza" meaning "taste, relish," or from the Arabic "mazmiz" which means to nibble at food. It may come from the Assyrian word 'mez' meaning table, and it would take many small tables to serve mezze. However we view the origin, it represents the pleasure of savoring little pieces of food. The mezze tradition extends from Turkey into the Balkans, including Greece, and spreads to Middle east countries.

~ The soup was delightful. A Middle Eastern (Syrian) chard & lentil concoction. It was room temperature and had a lemony flavor. The lentils gave it a nice weight.
~ Starting at the top of the plate:This bread was AMAZING! It's about 1/2 as thin as a regular tortilla and very first! When it sits out for a bit it crisps up a bit and acts more like a chip than a bread. I used to to cleanse my palate in between bites and to wrap around goodies like baby burritos! Underneath the bread is a spoonful of hummus. It was traditional and predictable and tasty.
~ The little green/yellow slice is an egg dish. It was minty and savory but not strong. It was mixed in a pan then baked in the same pan: BRILLIANT!
~ The Ful Nabed or Bissara is a Dried Fava Bean Puree. Oh my GOODNESS! It was definitely one of my favorites. The texture, taste, very smooth and savory!
~ The radish salad was tangy and had the essence of orange. It gave it a delightful flavor.
~ The red goo tasted just like that: red goo. Red pepper, tomato, garlic, seedy and a bit bitter. Not my favorite...can you tell?
~ That tasty little ball of heaven is called LABNEH!!! It's a yogurt cheese that DANCES on the tongue! It's great by itself and spreads smoothly. It has a zingy bite to it. It's worth the trip to the specialty market!
~ The dill yogurt dip is delightful! It's light and refreshing and would be a good compliment a heavier dish.
~ The orange grainy stuff has walnuts and pomegranates. It was really zippy.
~ The beige dollop is baba ganouch. It's made with eggplant and evidently LOTS of garlic! Yum!
~ The two green spoonfuls in the middle had spinach and chard. I can't figure out the names LOL!

After several hours of wonderful instruction and TONS of ideas we had lunch!

Beautiful spread!

Anya is setting everything up. It's all beautiful as usual!

~ Grilled watermelon? VERY INTERESTING! They brushed it with olive oil and grilled both sides. It tasted strangely of smoky meat (probably from a seasoned grill). It was a bit slimy, but when you add the yogurt sauce it's much better.
~ The soup is a chicken based so I didn't try that (I only realized after I took some).
~ The naan bread was homemade by Cyndi Young It was incredible! Soft, chewy, and filling!
~ Basamati Rice "the only rice" according to Anya.
~ Another helping of Labneh YUM!
~ Couscous salad with the BIGGEST coucous I've ever seen! The herbs made it fresh and crunchy!
~ Salatet Felfel wal Tamatem: Roast Pepper and Tomato Salad: slimy and cold but good spices.
~ Grilled eggplant with pomegranate. It was almost candied. Great on the rice.
~ In the middle there is a zucchini dish that was supposed to have crispy chick peas but we substituted black eyed peas. The flavor was very bland.

This is the Middle Eastern version of Bread & Olive oil~ The oil here is complemented with Za'tar (a typical seasoning that's added to LOTS of dishes) and Dukkah, my favorite. It's sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt, pepper and hazelnuts. We used almonds here. It's nutty and I think I'd like it on a wrap to give a big CRUNCH! The dill/cucumber and yogurt dip is just delicious! Refreshing!

I wish I could attend the Indian cooking class!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FARM DAY! July 15, 2010

From the top: A bag of mixed salad greens, beautiful Kale, summer squash, zuchinni, fennel bulb, swiss chard, parsley, mixed carrots and green onions.

I bought some fresh shallots (they're all the rage, but I don't know what to do with them yet), a different kind of Kale (beautiful!), than my friend Marnie gave me some DELICIOUS Michigan blueberries and her son, Ben, gave us some cherry tomatoes and peppers he grew in his OWN garden! WOO HOO! Way to go BEN!!

So, because David's been gone on a business trip I haven't been whipping up the veggies like I should be. It's more fun when someone appreciates them! K & K appreciate the occasional smoothie and the multi-colored carrots, but not some of my more "eccentric" dishes. As a result, We didn't consume all of last week's bounty! On the left you can see a beautiful Kale leaf in all its glory! One the right, however, is a pathetic yellow thing that sat too long in my fridge! I'll probably still use them both! ;)

So shallots are supposedly the big thing. They're pretty pricey in the store and lots and lots of recipes call for them, but I just usually ended up substituting green onion. They certainly are gorgeous! The smell heavenly, too!

We went to the $3 showing of Eclipse this last Sunday and took along some Hummus w/Greens and pita chips. They were a big hit! We had been planning on making Naan bread pizzas for dinner when Kyle asked for a layer of that "good green stuff" on his pizza. I didn't have any made up so I used almost the whole bag of salad greens and the tops off of one of the fennel bulbs. It was delicious! The recipe is on my RECIPES!~ tab.

Greens 101 with Anya Mast & Chef Amy Sherridan!

It ain't easy eatin' greens.... LOTS of greens!~ EVERY WEEK! We were actually doing okay, but I was really excited that Trillium Haven Farm offered a GREENS 101 class, and for only $25! (The food alone was worth that!) Chef Amy Sherridan (left) and Anya Mast (right) put on an amazing demonstration of using seasonal, local greens in a variety of ways.

Notice Anya's green apron...always the attention to detail! Also, our napkins were a beautiful tribute to green veggies!

I was too busy taking copious notes to take photos during the demonstration, but I got a couple of shots of the completed table and our plate! I've used several of the recipes repeatedly since and have had lots of great success! My favorites are on the RECIPES page.

Participants helping themselves to the delectable dishes~

From the Top:
Roasted Turnip and Greens (from Food & Wine), Napa Salad with Green Goddess Dressing, Palak Paneer on Basamati Rice, Quinoa with Spinach*, under the dark rice crackers: Hummus w/Greens*, in the bowl: Kale and White Bean Soup. We also had a deliciously refreshing & palate cleansing ginger/lime tea!

Chef Amy was kind enough to pull a bowl of the soup prior to adding the sausage. It was ALL delicious! In addition to the recipes I learned a LOT of techniques and where to go for some of the more interesting ingredients! I spent a good 1 1/2 in Horrock's looking for some of the specialty items. I also stopped in a very ethnic grocery store in the Towne & Country plaza on Kalamazoo Ave. by 44th Street. EVERYTHING was labelled in a language that I could not BEGIN to interpret! I sheepishly purchased some buckwheat groats (I could see them through the bag) and a bar of interesting chocolate. It has air bubbles in it and a "whipped" consistency. I can't wait for the next class!


My Quinoa with Spinach dish!

Blackberry Pie! OH MY!!

We have these "volunteer" blackberry canes next to our house. We've gotten a couple of handfuls in past years, but I haven't really done anything to them THIS year, when the cable guy came to check the connections I noticed they were REALLY full of blooms. So I gave it a couple of weeks and harvested a colander full of DELICIOUS, JUICY blackberries!

Since we also received the organic strawberries from Artisian Farms I add a few of those, too.

The strawberries were so tiny and sweet. I tried some on the way home, they immediately reminded me of the berries I picked as a little girl in our family garden. I could be found sneaking around, nibbling through the rows. I can remember one time, just as I finished tasting my way through the garden and went inside the house only to have my mom ask me to go get the ripe berries. OOOPS! I picked a few green ones, and had to take her to the garden to show here there were no other red ones. I think she saw the berry juice stains on my fingers! :)

I made the pie crust with organic whole wheat flour, and organic sugar and organic lemon juice (it breaks up the gluten and gives a flakier crust). It bubbled over and was SO JUICY that we needed some homemade ice cream to help it "stay together."

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's FARM DAY!!!

I'm not sure where I get the energy to create things on farm day, but the veggies are so beautiful that's where I get my inspiration~ This week we received (from left to right) a single Fava bean, multi-colored carrots (Kendall's favorites!), .75 lb of mixed greens, Radicchio (or we could have picked scallions),  radishes, green head lettuce, red lettuce, flat leaf parsley, Kale, Fennel (across the bottom) and I scavenged the U-Pick Fava Beans (in the basket).

The board said that the Fava beans and shelling peas were almost done and we could scrounge if we'd like to. I REALLY enjoyed the Fava beans so I gave it a go and spent about a half hour mucking around in the rows. I found some interesting looking beans.... Some had black spots all over the pod, some were withered, and some only had one or two beans per pod (instead of the 4-5 we had been getting). The COOLEST thing about these beans is the pod they're housed in. It's VERY protective and cushiony (is that a word?). The beans are great inside even if the outside leaves something to be desired.

The other cool thing about these beans is they grow "up" on the plants instead of hanging down. You can eat the pod and all on the young plants, but as they mature you only will want to eat the bean. The other interesting thing about Fava beans is the bean itself has a covering. Blanch the beans then use your fingernail to split the covering and squeeze the inside bean out! I found a lot of neat things about Fava beans on I'm starting a produce page to keep interesting information!  For instance, Fava beans are one of the oldest plants under cultivation, and they were eaten in ancient Greece and Rome. Despite the name, fava beans are a member of the pea family, though they are also known as broad beans, pigeon beans, horse beans, and Windsor beans.

So I was looking for a tasty recipe to use my beans in and remembered a pasta salad I had read about in Tastes of Italia one of the very cool cooking magazines I picked up at Schuler Books last weekend. It was originally a Pasta and Broccoli Salad, but substitutions had to be made! I'll put the recipe (adapted as well) on my Recipes~ page.

YUM! I served it on a bed of fresh greens from the farm. It has an olive oil, balsamic vinegar dressing that turned the pasta an interesting shade of beige. Neither kid was crazy about it, but they ate their greens first with Ceasar dressing and LOTS of croutons! I told them we needed to start making our OWN croutons (because they eat a bag between the two of them!) and Kendall said: "Mom, we don't have to make EVERYTHING!" :)

The dessert was a brilliant concoction I dreamed up after reading an advertisement in the Taste of Italia for Bel Gioioso Mascarpone. I had seen the product but didn't realize it was one of the oh so very tasty ingredients in Tiramisu! It's used for savory dishes as well, but my sweet tooth was demanding something else!

 SOOoo I started off with about a 1/2 cup of the Mascarpone (about 1/2 the container), added a 1/2 cup of organic sugar, a dash of vanilla, some dairy fresh cream and 1/4 of a very ripe peach. I blended it all together in my favorite appliance, The Bullet!  I cut thin slices of a rectangular angel food cake (about 1/2 -3/4 inch each) and spread the cream mixture between the slices and on top of the cake. I refrigerated them and then served them with the fresh peaches, fresh Michigan blueberries and a drizzle of organic raspberry syrup. Oh my HEAVENS!!! Kyle gave it a 4 out of 5 stars and Kendall gave it 2 plate licks and an OH MY! ;) Gee, I think they'd like to have that again!

David had to work late and didn't get to eat with us, but he really enjoyed the pasta salad. The dessert was a bit on the sweet side for him, but he enjoyed the extra peaches. Tomorrow I have 20 pounds of organic cherries to deal with! WOO HOO!

klah <3

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fourth of July and the Fifth!

Happy Independence Day!

Kyle demonstrates his special technique: lighting the sparkler in two places, bending the stem and twirling!

I'm a flower!

Kyle decided to purchase some fun fireworks "with his own money." We had a "blast" in the backyard on the 4th! Sparklers are still my favorite!

Kendall's camera had some interesting settings~ her sparkler-heart looked very different from ours!

Happy 5th of July! :)

Logan loves going ANYWHERE with us! Especially when we're all together!

This time of the year is so BUSY! The 2nd is Kendall's birthday, then there's the 4th of July and if it happens to fall on a Sunday, then we celebrate on Monday the 5th. Grandville has an AMAZING Independance Day celebration! The parade has over 130 entries and we enjoy the craft show, the entertainment, and of course the socialization! In past years the kids and I were in the parade for the Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts & Boy Scouts. This year Kyle was supposed to march with the High School Marching Band but he pulled a muscle in his back hauling some rocks in the backyard. He has a "marching horn," a mellophone. Through the concert year he plays a French Horn. He's very good and enjoys it. I think Kendall's REALLY glad the orchestra doesn't march!

We saw some wonderful friends (Ella and Ian Curtis-above & their mama & dad) and a NEW friend: Ava Faith!

After the parade & craft show we chilled out at home for a few hours (it was almost 90 degrees!!!) I made a couple of dishes (see the Recipes~ page): Quinoa with Chard Salad, Quinoa & Cranberry Beans, hummus with greens and a veggie platter. We went to Marnie, Bob, Ben & Erin Walski's house. We met Cathy, Mike, Taylor and Nick Burns there and we had a great time. The kids took turns doing tricks off the diving board.


CHEEZE!!! Kyle, Ben, Nick, Erin & Taylor!






The perspective makes it look like Taylor has MAGIC hands!

Kyle bravely holds Mike Burns' BIG candle!

We had burgers, hotdogs and lots of tasty treats. Marnie had brownies with ice cream and hot fudge sauce for dessert. The kids enjoyed sparklers and fireworks in the driveway. I showed Marnie and Cathy how to take a photo without the flash so the sparklers leave a beautiful trail. Then we watched the Grandville fireworks from poolside. They were beautiful as usual, but for the first time that the Walski's can remember, the wind was just right and we had firework ash blown all over us! It was very disconcerting~ like fluttery bugs randomly lighting on us.

Relaxing by poolside!

Driveway Fun!


Cool designs!

The pool was sprinkled with firework ash, too!