Sunday, April 25, 2010

Second Chance Soup

In food styling, the ingredients are the models. They are carefully selected and their every detail is scrutinized. The stem color, skin color, and shape are all taken into consideration. Once an item has the slightest wrinkle or blemish, it is cast aside. It is still totally edible, mind you, it is just not photo friendly. Needless to say, I am constantly faced with piles of produce "seconds". This includes tomatoes, several random halves of red onion, wrinkled peppers, loose cloves of garlic, and plenty of herbs that are starting to fade. This week, I decided to give these outcasts another day in the spotlight. Romas, heirlooms, and cherry tomatoes were tossed in a large stew pot along with sauteed onions, bell peppers, and garlic. After adding chopped basil and parsley with a pinch of red pepper flake, I covered the mixture with vegetable broth and let the whole thing simmer on low for about 35 minutes. A spoonful of brown sugar and a quick pass with the immersion blender and this rustic soup was perfect. Thick and hearty, it was a far cry from the canned Campbell's we all grew up on. No produce was wasted and several crew members became believers in "second chance" soup.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Snack Attack

I'll admit, snacks are my weakness. I like crunchy little tidbits and tiny bursts of sugar. (Don't judge me, we all have an Achilles' heel.) I try to keep a handle on my inner snackaholic, but it's hard to exercise self control when you are constantly surrounded by leftover cake and extra cookies. Oh the woes of a photo stylist! My new goal is to provide myself with travel portions of healthier alternatives in order to stay on track. Today, I made a creamy cashew butter that will be the perfect companion to crunchy celery sticks. I started with a cup of roasted cashews in the food processor. Slowly, I drizzled in olive oil until I got the desired consistency. I added a pinch of cinnamon, the juice of half an orange and a sprinkle of sea salt. The result was subtly sweet and decadently rich. Watch out, vending machine... there is a new treat in town.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apple Jicama Salad

Let the battle begin. Spring has sprung and that means bathing suit season is right around the corner. Uh oh... the heavy doses of cheesy polenta that sustained me through the winter have packed on a few extra pounds so it's time to get in shape! I need to dial up the workout and pay closer attention to what I eat. No more heavy comfort food or thick stews, lighter fare is in order. Fresh veggies will soon arrive in my garden and green salads will abound. Until then, I am at the mercy of the local produce department and today they did not disappoint. Red apples, jicama, celery, and cilantro combined to make a wonderfully crunchy salad that was sweet, flavorful and satisfying. I added spicy almonds that were toasted and tossed in smoked paprika, salt and cayenne pepper. A squeeze of lemon and a spritz of balsamic vinaigrette and the dish was complete. Ok, bikini... game on!! We'll see who has the last laugh.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Citrus Ginger Smoothie

Wrap your taste buds around this:
citrus, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla.
While mimosas are the usual suspect for Easter brunch, this year I wanted to try something different. Keeping it citrus based was part of my plan since a healthy dose of vitamin C helps keep those spring sniffles away. I started with the juice of two tangerines and one lemon. Next I added ginger, cinnamon, and whisked in a half a cup of vanilla yogurt. The result was sweet and spicy. The ginger and cinnamon added a wonderful depth to the flavor while the 2 types of citrus balanced each other out. The smooth and creamy texture of the yogurt made these tasty drinks absolutely divine. What a great way to start a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Happy Easter!

2 tangerines
1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 C vanilla yogurt

YIELDS: 2 smoothies