Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cooking class at Sante

I went to an Herbs and Spices cooking class at Sante restaurant on Monday night. I know a fair amount about herbs and spices, but I've been impressed by all of Chef Jeremy Hansen's fresh flavors and creative sauces and looked forward to learning some new tricks.

Chef Hansen had about 30 spices for us to look at, smell and talk about. Smelling some of them was like seeing an old friend - it reminded me of why I like them so much. The aroma of green and black cardamom reminds me of Swedish Christmas rolls and the little shards of fenugreek bring back images of pungent curries in Rhajastan. Seeing the sheer number of spices together reminded of why I like to cook. Spices to a cook are like paint to an artist. They're a palate of flavors (and colors)used to create something vibrant - maybe spicy and exciting, maybe sweet and mellow.

I was particulary interested in a little dish with a hot pink powder. Chef Jeremy explained that it was beet powder, made from beets that were dehydrated and ground into a powder. He uses the powder to add color and flavor to soups and risottos. I can't wait to try it. Similarly, he had a golden beet powder and carrot powder - all with an intensified flavor profile of the fresh version

Cookies for breakfast?

In the on-going attempt to break out of the bagel-cereal-bagel breakfast rut, I whipped up these breakfast cookies the other day. With chunks of apple, cheddar cheese and oats, they were just the right combination of sweet and savory. My kids liked them, but then again I'm not sure they've ever met a cookie they didn't like!

Breakfast Cookies:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 medium apple
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Cut in butter in chunks, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Peel and core the apple, chop it into small pieces or shred it. Add apple pieces, oatmeal, cheese and raisins. Stir. Place large spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes about 24 cookies.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Falafel for Dinner

I'm always looking for vegetarian dinner options that the rest of my family will eat. We made these simple falafel today with homemade pita bread, hummus and spiced eggplant. Garnished with feta cheese, olives and fresh veggies it was an easy dinner and the best part is that both of my kids asked for seconds! (well, maybe not for the eggplant)

Baked Falafel - makes enough for 3-4 people:
(adapted from recipe on

1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the garbanzo beans in a medium bowl and mash well. Add in all other ingredients and mix by hand or use a hand blender for smoother consistency. Form into balls a little smaller than a golf ball and then flatten into patties. Grease a baking dish with olive oil and cook the falafel at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, turning once so that both sides are lightly brown.