Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hone Your Skills: Knife Sharpening

One of the first techniques you learn as a cook in any kitchen or culinary school, other than product knowledge and food safety, is knife handling. How to safely use a knife, clean a knife, sharpen a knife, and eventually how to obtain consistent knife cuts always.

Today, thanks to Big Kitchen, we'll be touching on the subject of knife sharpening: why we do it, how often we should do it, and how to do it. We'll also be sharing a few demonstrations of basic knife cuts that will get you started! And let me tell you, I won't be sharing any teeny tiny knife cuts! I rarely use them at home, so no point in them. Surely, if you're working in a fine dining restaurant, you definitely need tiny and precise knife cuts, and for that I recommend The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America, 9th Edition. Actually, I recommend the Pro Chef to anyone and everyone wanting to practice and read up on everything from the basics such as knife skills to sous-vide. Plus, not only does this new edition have gorgeous photography done by award-winning photographer Ben Fink, but it also includes new sections "seasonality and sustainability, barbecuing, sous-vide cooking, and plated desserts, to name a few."

Sharpening Your Knife
You all should know by now that a dull knife, is a dangerous knife. One of the fastest and easiest thing is to sharpen your knife (and keep it honed) as needed.Thanks to Big Kitchen Store, I review the Chef's Choice Diamond Hone Sharpener 310. Click here to discover even more Big Kitchen products!
 Here are some details about it:
  • Diamond abrasives hone blades to razor sharpness
  • Magnetic guides keep blades at proper angle, eliminating guesswork
  • Two-step process sharpens, then hones entire blade length
  • Works on kitchen, pocket, and filet knives
  • Suction-cup feet hold the compact unit in place on countertop

The sharpener is divided into stage 1 and stage 2. The first stage is for dull knives and the stage 2 is for resharpening. Here are the basic steps to using this sharpener:
  1. Make sure your're sharpening a clean knife. Dry off any excess moisture.
  2. Turn on the machine
  3. Place the blade against the blades. You'll feel the magnetic edge place the blade into place.
  4. Slowly pull the blade against the running sharpener. Do this as needed (depending on your knife's need.)
  5. Repeat on both side. Now it's time to hone with a steel.
One of my favorite details of this sharpener is that when suctioned in, it will not move. A must have safety feature!

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when using a steel:
  1. Make sure you have plenty of room around you. Hold the steel by place ALL your fingers below the guard.
  2. Draw the blade across the steel, so that every part of the blade gets honed. 
  3. Keep the knife blade at a 20 degree angle to the steel.
  4. Use light stokes, placing even pressure as you go down the steel. Not doing so could create a curve in the blade. 
  5. Wash your knife and remove all residue.

Knife Cuts
Chiffonade: a fine slice of herbs and leaves, Chiffonade is a delicate knife cut that is easily achieved and often used as a garnish. For large leaves such as spinach or large herb leaves, such as basil, remove stems and place leaves one on top of the other. Roll into cylinder and cut using thin, parallel motions.You can use this technique on doughs as well, as you can see in the picture. Wonton papers, rolled up, sliced and made into thin strips, which can later on me deep fried and used as a crispy salad topping.

Batonnet: the knife cut you want to use when making fries or roasting perfectly sliced veggies. To cut a potato into batonnet, peel and cut ends and sides until you have a rectangular block, making four straight sides. This will result in even, perfect cuts. Slice lenghtwise and then stack the slices. Cut the same thickness for batonnet. Use the scraps in soups, stocks, and purees.

Small, Medium, & Large Dice: after cutting batonnet and depending on the size needed, just line up the sticks and cut into dice. Great for roasting, sauteing, and frying!

Enter to win! Hone your sharpened knives by winning a 10'' steel from Big Kitchen Store.

To enter, visit Big Kitchen and comment telling me what kitchen item you need the most in your kitchen. The comments are the official entry, there is no purchase necessary, void where prohibited. US mailing addresses only. One (1) winner will be chosen randomly. Prize will be shipped by Big Kitchen. The contest ends Sunday, March 4th, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The winner will be announced on Monday, March 5th via email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. 

Disclaimer: Big Kitchen Store facilitated this review by sponsoring it with a knife sharpener and steel free of charge. As always, opinions are based on personal testing. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is it Spring Yet? Almond Marshmallows

That's the question of the day. Is it Spring yet? Because all around me I see my tiny herbs growing (please pray for them to keep doing so), flowers popping from the soil in front of the Edgartown Library, and the weather? This weather we call "winter" is nothing but a joke. A joke I am grateful to be on the laughing end of (or is it the other way around? Who knows!). 50 degrees in February in New England? I'll take it!

So consider this your preview to Spring. Whether you're looking forward to starting your garden outdoors, or you want to have fun picnics, and make fresh salads. Or maybe you're just like me and want to look up into the sun, while lying on cool grass, and smiling? Corny, I know. But hey! It's my happiness!

You see those marshmallows there? Sprinkled with fairy dust, topped with two types of almonds, they are the sweet treat that will get you thinking about spring. The yellow background helps too, doesn't it? Well, I was approached by Oh!Nuts to pot a recipe including their Jordan Almonds, which come in a variety of colors & flavors and I of course choose the baby blue ones. Not because it's my favorite color (yellow is my favorite color if you were wondering), but because they look like tiny Robin eggs. And NOTHING says Spring more to me than those light blue eggs!!

The marshmallow recipe is my current favorite, "Vanilla Bean Marshmallows" adapted from Bravetart. It's based on gelatin and not egg whites, and definitely a great standby recipe. My adaptations to this recipe include:
  • Instead of using a vanilla bean, I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of Real Almond Extract. 
  • When spread in pan, marshmallows were topped quickly with a sprinkling of slivered almonds and carefully dotted with the light blue Jordan Almonds.
These are a great addition to your dessert table, as well as an anytime treat for kids and adults alike!

Disclaimer: This post is being entered in an Oh!Nuts contest. Jordan Almonds were provided free of charge by the generous folks (a.k.a. Sam) over at Oh! Nuts.

Monday, February 27, 2012

UPrinting: Review & Custom Stickers Giveaway

In exactly 31 days, the #IACPNYC conference will start! A whirlwind of networking with colleagues, hugging of new and old friends, and learning from the best in the food industry.  In preparation for the conference, I've got a massive list of things that need to be done, ordered, dry-cleaned, and packed. On that list of ordering were business cards, since I am down to about 20 cards. One morning last week, I woke up to see an email that I had won free business cards from UPrinting via a giveaway I had entered. Now that's what I call perfect timing!!

Pin It 
While having my morning coffee, I quickly got to work designing my new cards and I can honestly say that it took me about 20 minutes to design and order, which I loved. The UPrinting site makes it easy to upload your designs, as well as providing their own. Type in a few things, center them on the card, choose some colors, and off you go! You can customize your cards by size and shape, as well as various other printing options. 

Want to experience what UPrinting is all about? Here is what's up for grabs for one winner, thanks to the generous folks over there:

250pcs Customizable Stickers for one winner
2x3.5" 70lb Label Matte, Front only printing
4 Business Days Turnaround time
Free US shipping only

To enter, visit UPrinting and comment telling me which other service/product you'd love to try the most. The comments are the official entry, there is no purchase necessary, void where prohibited. US mailing addresses only, entrants must be 18 years and older. One (1) winner will be chosen randomly. Prize will be shipped by UPrinting. The contest ends Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The winner will be announced on Sunday, March 4th.

Additional Entry Options
  • Follow UPrinting on Twitter
  • Tweet the following message: "I want to get a chance to win stickers from @UPrinting by joining @nella22's giveaway"

Disclaimer: “You should assume that the owner of this blog will receive free print products in exchange for the post. Any and all reviews posted are based solely on my own experience and may be atypical. Please practice due diligence in making any related purchase decisions.”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mango-Coconut Granola

Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of what's to come. And right now during cold but not cold Martha's Vineyard winter, the one thing I'm looking forward is to summer. Heck! I'll take spring if it just gets here fast enough!

We're all overdosing on winter comfort foods: soups, stews, curries, and creamy pastas. We forget about the bright summer fruits, that although not available fresh right now, are available in other forms. Such is the current situation for mangoes. 

Mangoes are my reference to summer. Blending fresh mangoes with a touch of cinnamon for a breakfast smoothie, or as a mid-afternoon snack during the hot days. Since fresh mangoes are not available in New England right now, I was happy to find the Bare Fruit Snacks. They offer three types of apple chips, as well as dried cherries, mangoes and pears.

Some information from their website:
  • 100% Organic - Bare Fruit dried apple chips and fruit snacks are made from Certified 100% Organic Fruit, ensuring that you are getting healthy pesticide free snacks for you and your family. Even the cinnamon we use in our cinnamon apple chips is 100% organic.
  • Baked, Not Fried - Bare Fruit is cored, sliced and baked in wood-burning ovens for over 10 hours, at a very low temperature, to preserve nutrients, freshness, and taste.
  • Low in calories, high in fiber and naturally sweet.
  • No additives, No preservatives, No added sugar
  • Free of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). The fruit that we use in our dried fruit snacks comes from trees and plants from the original seed stock and not from scientifically engineered plants.
  • Cholesterol Free
  • 1 yr long shelf life with no refrigeration required
  • Kosher and Gluten-Free

Mango-Coconut Granola
Makes 2 cups

1 package dried mango
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1 box raisins
2 tablespoons slivered, blanched almonds
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
to taste: vanilla salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves
  1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease a baking tray with olive oil.
  2. In a medium bow, mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Pour on baking tray and bake for 10-20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

What would be the perfect ingredients in YOUR dream granola? 
What summer fruits do you miss? 

Disclaimer: Bare Fruit Snacks kindly sent me their dried mango chips to test and no monetary compensation was exchanged. Opinions are (and always will be) 100% my own and based on my testing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quinoa & Pear Banana Bread

When I heard that today is National Banana Bread recipe, I knew I had to share this recipe again! I'd previously shared it over at Honest Cooking, but what's more banana love? This recipe is adapted from Fannie Farmer's Cookbook, with a twist by incorporating quinoa flour and topping with sliced pears. Try it out, as well as visit Gourmet Delights, where you can get your own quinoa flour!

Quinoa & Pear Banana Bread
Makes 1 large loaf 

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 medium bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon bourbon
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup quinoa flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease one loaf pan or four mini loaf pans.
  2. Cream shortening, sugar, bananas, eggs and bourbon.
  3. Add flours, baking soda and salt. Slowly mix in buttermilk but do not overmix.
  4. Pour batter into greased pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until bread springs back to the touch.

If you've never baked with quinoa flour, here is a little information about this particular brand of flour from Gourmet Delights:

"With over 35 species of corn, 2000 varieties of potatoes, and 650 native species of fruit, Peru is an important center for genetic diversity. But many of the hardy plant species held in honored positions in Indian society for thousands of years were deliberately replaced by European species after the Spanish Conquest. Fortunately in the high Andes, the ancient influences still persist, and unique and highly nutritious grains such as amaranth, quinoa, and kañiwa are now available to the outside world. This is especially beneficial today as many people become more sensitized to the over-produced and engineered foods found in common western diets. They are naturally gluten-free and offer many other health benefits.

The producer of this quinoa flour, El Altiplano in Juliaca, Peru, was founded in 1994 with non-profit support as a way to organize and support the hard working farmers of his region. The company works with over 150 producers of quinoa and kañiwa, hearty heritage grains that have sustained the people of this rough terrain for centuries. The company has cultivated a strong bond with all of the farmers over the years, and the services they offer have grown and changed in relationship to the farmers’ needs. The company supplies the farmers with seeds and seed selection training, organic certification, the use of farming equipment, agricultural training, and low interest loans to purchase needed animals and resources."
 Purchase quinoa flour here and celebrate an even healthier Banana Bread day!
Disclaimer: Gourmet Delights provided Cooking with Books with quinoa flour free of charge to make this recipe. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kale & Chorizo Soup

Finally, we got on the Kale bandwagon! Kale chips, Kale soup, Kale casserole, Kale everything! Next thing we know, some food blogger is whipping up Kale brownies! Over at the Murrays, we wanted to keep it Kale simple, so we made Kale & Chorizo Soup, a fantastic winter comfort food!

The fantastic thing when making a pot of soup is that you won't have to cook much for the next few days. This large pot lasted us about 5 days, and each day we made a variation of the soup, serving it with different sides. At first we had the soup on its own, with a slice of crusty bread. The next day, we topped it with quinoa and mozzarella. Third day, it was served with a side of wild rice. And so on...until the pot dwindled down to a few drops. 

Large pot of Kale goodness!

Kale & Chorizo Soup
Makes 4 quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chorizo links, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch fresh kale, stems removed, chopped
2 quarts water
1, 28 ounce can diced tomatoes 
2, 5.5 ounce cans V8 (or your favorite tomato juice)
to taste: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin

  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, warm olive oil and sear chorizo until fat is rendered. Do not remove the fat, this will add flavor to the end result. Cook for 3-4 minutes and add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. 
  2. Sweat the vegetables until translucent and add chopped kale, tossing with all ingredients. Reduce heat to medium low and allow kale to cook. 
  3. Add water, diced tomatoes, tomato juice and simmer for one hour. Taste and season during cooking. Re-season before serving if needed.
  4. Serve topped with cooked quinoa and shredded mozzarella.
Kale & Chorizo Soup topped with Quinoa and Mozzarella

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What's YOUR favorite way to cook kale?  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Comfort Food: Avocado-Tuna Salad & Giveaway

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, our backyard had various fruit trees, including two Avocado trees. Two gorgeous, plentiful trees that gifted us every season with plump avocados, which we consumed day and night; shared with family and friends; and even sadly, some fell to the ground and the birds enjoyed them since we sometimes could not keep up.

And now on Martha's Vineyard, our current home, Avocado trees aren't really the norm. Actually, they don't exists in the Northeast at all (for all I know). And having to buy avocados at the local Stop & Shop isn't my number one preferred method, since they aren't the best varieties or condition. This is were SoCal Avocados comes in. When Virtual Potluck was offered the opportunity to work with this small avocado ranch, we jumped on the occasion! It was fantastic to work with a small operation, where we knew exactly where our avocados where coming from (Tierra Rejada Ranch in Northern California). The personal attention and customer service they provide reflects on the care they give each of their orders.

SoCal Avocados offers an Avocado of the Month Club, were you receive 20 avocados each month for a mere $30! Isn't that amazing? Having fresh avocados every month, no matter where you live!If you'd like more information about SoCal Avocados, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

So, what was in the box? 12 gorgeous avocados, ready to ripen. Did you know Avocados ripen only after they are picked? The great thing is that with such a big quantity of avocados, you can time the ripening by either freezing them or placing them in the fridge to slow the process. Want to have them ripen quicker? Place in proximity to apples or bananas, which aid avocados in their ripening process. Some of the varieties offered by SoCal Avocados: Bacon, Fuerte, Pinkerton, and Hass. Each avocado has a specific flavor and texture, with my favorite being the Fuerte, a smooth and creamy fruit that with a pinch of salt comes to life.

Today I am sharing with you my ultimate comfort food. No, it's not tomato soup & grilled cheese, but tuna salad over hot jasmine rice. I don't know how or when I started to love this combination, but it has become my go to dish to make when I'm cooking for myself or want a quick and comforting meal.

Avocado-Tuna Salad
Makes 3/4 cup 

1 can tuna, drained
1 medium avocado, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sour cream
juice of half a lime
to taste: salt, pepper, red chili flakes

  1. Fluff tuna in a small bowl. Reserve.
  2. Puree avocado, olive oil, sour cream and lime with an immersion blender (or regular blender). 
  3. Mix avocado puree with tuna, adding as much avocado as you like. 
  4. Taste and season. Add enough red chili flakes if you like heat. 
 Uses for this Avocado-Tuna Salad
  • Top jasmine rice for a comforting lunch
  • Make sandwiches
  • Serve alongside greens salad: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • Use as a dip with chips or fried tortillas
For more recipes, ideas, and avocado uses, head on over to Miss in the Kitchen, our Avocado Host!

Avocado Giveaway!! One reader will win a variety box of twelve (12) SoCal fresh avocados of the available varieties

To enter, visit SoCal Avocados and comment telling me which avocado variety you'd love to try the most. The comments are the official entry, there is no purchase necessary, void where prohibited. US mailing addresses only. One (1) winner will be chosen randomly. Prize will be shipped by SoCal Avocados. The contest ends Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The winner will be announced on Sunday, February 26th.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dulce de Leche Cheerios Martini & Giveaway!

Dulce de Leche is mostly known to be a Latin flavor. One that is tucked into two alfajor cookies, or swirled into chocolate brownies. Eaten straight from the can/jar is acceptable in all cultures and methods on how to make it range from cooking condensed milk over a water bath or even directly boiling it in the can for about 2 hours. But no matter how you make dulce de leche, the best part about it is getting to eat it!

I'm definitely excited about Dulce de Leche Cheerios! The flavor is spot on, sweet but not too sweet and perfectly crunchy. The weird thing about me is that I like to snack on cereal, not eat it as a meal. Just now I'm snacking on it after dinner. Perfect little sweet treat!

Now, remember when I made the Famous Cereal Milk™ by Christina Tosi in her latest cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar. I wanted to adapt that same method of soaking the cereal in whole milk, infusing it with the Dulce de Leche flavor and then using that flavored milk as a base for this creamy cocktail. 

Dulce de Leche Martini

This can be made both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, so just add a splash of vodka if you are of age and enjoy a drink after work. It's not overly sweet and has a slight caramel flavor. The creamy texture added by the Cheerios make this a drink you can sip on all night!

Dulce de Leche Martini
Serves 1 (double or triple for more)

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Dulce de Leche Cheerios
pinch of salt
1 ounce vodka

  1. Soak Cheerios in milk for 5 minutes and blend, adding a pinch of salt. Strain twice through fine mesh strainer. 
  2. Pour into ice filled shaker and add vodka.  Shake and strain into martini glass. Serve with a cookie stirrer.

Don’t just eat Dulce de Leche Cheerios with milk at breakfast. Enjoy the sweet flavor and crunchy texture of Dulce de Leche Cheerios in one of these recipes for fun new snacking options:

Dulce de Leche Cheerios Giveaway! Your Dulce de Leche Cheerios prize pack will contain:
  • Box of Dulce de Leche Cheerios
  • Orange polka dot cereal bowl
  • Cereal spoon
  • Dulce de leche scented candle
This is a weekend giveaway! Giveaway ends on February 19th 2012, at midnight eastern time. US mailing addresses only. Prize sent by My Blog Spark. How to Enter?
  • Leave a comment telling me your favorite Latin American/Caribbean dessert or flavor profile.
  • For an extra entry, tweet this and comment that you did: "Enter to win a Dulce de Leche Cheerios prize pack via @nella22 and #MyBlogSpark #giveaway"
Disclosure: The new Dulce de Leche Cheerios information, product, and prize pack have been provided free of charge by Cheerios and General Mills, through MyBlogSpark.

Monday, February 13, 2012

short & sweet: Trail Mix with Kashi Cereals

As part of Virtual Potluck, we're all sharing some sweet news about Kashi and their products. We received
Kashi Berry Blossoms, Kashi Cinnamon Harvest, and Kashi Honey Sunshine Cereal. From the three cereals, one of my favorites was the Cinnamon Harvest and I decided to think of new ways to consume it, since snacking on it was just one of the options. Here are some of the great things and nutrition facts on the Cinnamon Harvest cereal from the Kashi website:
  • 47g whole grains
  • High fiber
  • Low fat
  • Sodium free
  • USDA Organic—Certified Organic by Quality Assurance International 
    This trail mix recipe is a great use of odds and ends you might have in your baking drawer; half a chocolate bar chopped up, the last of the candied pecans and even some dried fruit to balance out the crispy texture. Used in this recipe is peanut butter, but you can use your favorite nut butter, as well as reducing the amount of confectioner's sugar in this recipe. The sugar is mostly used to keep the trail mix from being too sticky to eat. Like Kashi on Facebook here. 

    This is my craft of the year: Cupcake liner glued on the lid and some extra ribbon around the jar. You can add a tag or label and gift to your loved ones! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

    Peanut Butter & Cinnamon Harvest Trail Mix
    Makes 3 cups

    1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
    2 tablespoons butter
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla salt
    pinch of: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

    2 cups Cinnamon Harvest Cereal
    Add ins: chopped chocolate, candied pecans, 
    dried cranberries, dried apricots, granola, raw almonds

    1 cup confectioner's sugar
    1. Melt peanut butter with unsalted butter, salt and spices. Stir until combined. 
    2. In a large bowl, mix add-ins and Cinnamon Harvest Cereal. Drizzle melted peanut butter mixture and toss together.
    3. Add confectioner's sugar and toss until everything is coated. Store in an airtight container. 
    Enjoy these trail mix on it's own or over yogurt, ice cream or fold into cookie dough for added flavor and texture. 

    Disclaimer: As a part of Virtual Potluck, I received samples of Kashi Cereals to try free of charge.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Build A Better Me featuring Tim Chudy

    Today Cooking with Books has a different kind of recipe for you, our dear readers. It's not a recipe for chocolate cake, but a recipe to help you regain control of your fitness and eating habits in 2012. Tim is not only my best friend's husband, but a fabulous Dietician and Personal Trainer and he was kind enough to share with us some great information! 
    Welcome Tim Chudy of Fitness Together St. Louis!

    Q1: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

    I started weight training in high school to get stronger for sports. I was a tall lanky kid and if I wanted to progress at all I certainly needed to get bigger and stronger. It was just one of those things that kind of clicked for me. I got a lot stronger and a lot bigger and really enjoyed the feeling working out gave me.

    If you’ve ever exercised religiously you know how quickly it bleeds over to your diet. No one wants to spend time in the gym only to sabotage it in the kitchen. So I started getting into diet. I credit my dad for turning me into a health nut. He always made our school lunches with very healthy options.

    In college I majored in Dietetics. This gave me a very well rounded education, not just with diet, but the science behind all of it. The only problem was the establishment mentality of Dieticians. Plus, I had a strong distaste for the clinical setting. It wasn’t for me. So I skipped out on becoming a dietician and stuck with fitness.

    I became a personal trainer in college and knew that’s what I wanted to do. So I combined my education in dietetics and my experience in fitness and made a career. I’ve been doing it ever since.

    Q2: What's the most common mistake people set themselves up with when it comes to fitness resolutions?

    There are really two mistakes people make. New Year’s resolutions have become a societal staple. You imbibe and indulge during the holidays and once January 1st rolls around it's time to make a resolution. So the first mistake I see people making is having a resolution because that’s what everyone does. You must have a true desire to make a resolution and a change in your life.

    When you make a resolution it's got to be something that you absolutely positively want to change for the better. Over 60% of Americans are overweight so it’s clear why the top resolution is always lose weight or exercise more. Even the ones that want to look better and feel better will still fail. And that leads us to the second mistake, commitment.

    If they make a resolution with good intent but still fail, then somewhere along the way they lost commitment. Yes, it will be hard and long journey. But staying committed will ensure your success. Successful resolutions are not something to do just because it's January 1. They must be set with intent and then worked on until accomplished.

    Q3: What advice would you give a food blogger that's constantly testing out new recipes and is surrounded by food?

    Spit a lot! (This might seem crazy, but while in culinary school, where our homework was tasting 20 cookies a night, spitting out the cookies was the ONLY way to not gain 20 pounds a night! -Marnely)

    In all seriousness if you're working with food and testing out new recipes and tasting those recipes then you need to make sure that you keep a good balance with exercise and proper diet when you’re not testing.

    In college we had a chef that struggled to lose weight. He swore to us that he was following his meal plans we prepared for him to the T. After some searching we determined the problem was he had a few extra hundred calories from tasting the food alone! Dipping your finger into a cream sauce or spoonful of icing has a lot of calories. And those add up. Quick.

    Realistically you still have to test and taste and ultimately, love food. But outside of that time you must strive to keep a balance. If you test and taste during the day you should have a light lunch and a light dinner. Don’t expect to eat a normal size lunch if you’re doing a lot of cooking around 11am. Cut back on your portions and make sure you balance your calories through the entire day.

    Q4: What do YOU eat on a normal day? // What do you recommend?

    My day typically consists of 3 normal meals; breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a morning and an afternoon snack. My favorite breakfast is a scrambled egg sandwich with light Havarti cheese and some Canadian bacon or ham on a toasted English muffin. I may have a Greek yogurt for a morning snack paired with some fruit. I typically eat something on the go whether that's a protein shake or bar for an afternoon snack. Lunch can be anything from leftovers from the night before or a sandwich. Today it was a pita with grilled chicken, tomato, pea shoots, feta cheese and avocado. And for dinner my wife, who is also a chef and likes to cook will whip up a variety of meals. Italian one night, Asian the next. It’s less important to me what she cooks, but she’s always preparing with health and flavor in mind. And yes, they can go hand-in-hand!

    As a food blogger I mentioned you really want to focus on keeping a balance with your calories. Keeping your portions under control is key. You still want to strive for 5-6 mini meals which helps keep your metabolism burning throughout the day. Again, if you taste a lot on a given day, maybe you go with 7-8 smaller mini meals. As long as you stay within your recommended calorie range.

    Q5: Any exercise advise for the writer that sits on his/her laptop for endless hours a day?

    Try exercising intermittently throughout the day. Before you sit down to three sets of 15 squats. During your next break an hour or so later, get up and do push-ups; three sets of 20 push- ups. Then before or after lunch take a 15 to 30 minute walk. Take another midday break to stretch your legs and do walking lunges around the room. You can easily incorporate exercise throughout your day if you cannot set aside 30 to 45 minutes at one time. Plus exercising throughout the day will give your eyes and mind a break from the computer and your writing and allow you to go back to work refreshed and revitalized.

     Connect with Fitness Together on Facebook. 
    If you're interested in contacting Tim Chudy for interviews, articles, and more, contact him.
    Also, Tim is co-author of a great e-book called The Ultimate Body Transformation and you can download it for free here!

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Hot Chocolate Poached Pears

    'Tis the season to cook and bake with pears! This time, instead of the usual poaching pears in wine/port/sherry or any other red colored liquid, we're going to be poaching them in another quintessential winter drink: hot chocolate! Thanks to the inventiveness of Colby Garrelts and Megan Garrelts, authors and chefs of the Bluestem cookbook, these pears have come to live in my kitchen for the past 2 days and we've had one for dinner for the past two nights.

    For the past two weeks, Virtual Potluck has joined forces with Taste on the N8tion, creating Valentine's Day menu that include great drink pairings. Here's a little about Taste on the N8tion: is a web television and radio network covering a wide variety of topics from music to entertainment. Produced out of our Atlanta studio, our web shows feature guest experts, music artist, business founders,music producers, movie stars, comedians, technologists and CEO’s — all keeping you up to speed on what’s happening with a fast and funny style. Informative and entertaining, is the place for whatever your interests may be.

    The company was founded in 2010 by Myron McDaniel and Otis McDaniel and is based in Atlanta, GA.

    You can head on over to The Groovy Foody for more recipes, as well as check out these past menu ideas:
    These pears are decadent, without being overwhelming. You can use your favorite chocolate to poach them in, as well as adapt the spices. We added a few cardamom pods to enhance the holiday flavors even more. Make these the night ahead of a dinner party and re-warm just before serving.

    Hot Chocolate Poached Pears
     with Bonjwing Lee/ Andrews McMeel Publishing

    This is a comforting and lovely alternative to wine-poached pears. Letting the cooked pears steep
    in the chocolate poaching liquid overnight helps intensify the chocolate flavor. These pears are
    best served warm. This recipe can be doubled.
    Serves 4

    3 1/4 cups water
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
    3 cloves
    2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 tablespoons dark rum
    Pinch of salt
    2 semi-firm ripe pears, peeled, halved, and cored

    1. In a large saucepan, bring the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves to a simmer over medium-high heat to dissolve the sugar. Add the chocolates, cocoa powder, rum, and salt and whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. 
    2. Add the pears and poach them for 45 minutes over low heat. Turn them over once halfway through the cooking process so they cook more evenly. They should be tender enough that a knife inserted in the thickest part will easily slip in and out.
    3. Keep the pears warm until ready to serve. If you’re not using them right away, you may refrigerate the pears in their poaching liquid in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
    4. To reheat, warm the pears in their poaching liquid in a saucepan over medium-low heat and drizzle the sauce over it before serving. 
    Check out the video TheN8tion has developed specially for Virtual Potluck!

      What's your favorite way to cook and bake with pears? Do you have a favorite pear variety?  
      Enjoyed this post? Please use our share buttons below! If you have yet to like Cooking with Books on Facebook, now is the time! And follow me on Twitter for constant contact! Stay Updated on new blog posts by joining this site via Google Friend Connect (right-hand sidebar!)

        Wednesday, February 8, 2012

        Cranberry Cardamom Swirl Muffins

        Living on Martha's Vineyard, there's a sort of cranberry cult around. There aren't any cranberry bogs on the Vineyard (that I know of!), but close by Cape Cod and Nantucket are packed with them and I thought it would only suitable to create a breakfast muffin that was swirled, literally, with cranberry flavors.

        This muffin is not a light muffin by any means, but it's definitely a filling muffin to start your day with. Fresh, tart cranberries are scattered around and a swirl of your favorite berry jam adds a different texture that will be a nice surprise with your morning coffee.

        Ever wondered what the difference between a muffin and a cupcake was? It's all in the method of making them!
        • Muffins are made using the blending methods, and typically use a liquid fat such as oil or melted butter. The dry ingredients are added to the wet, and blended just to incorporate. This creates a moist, dense batter.
        • Cupcakes are made using the creaming method, and typically use a solid (but softened) fat such as butter or shortening. Like the name of the method, creaming the fat and the sugar is the most important step in this process; you will need to cream until the fat turns a lighter color and is aerated. This will create a fluffier, airier batter. 

        Can you say JUMBO Muffin?!

        Cranberry Cardamom Swirl Muffins
        This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.
        Makes 12 large muffins

        Berry Cardamom Jam
        1 cup fresh cranberries
        1/2 cup fresh blueberries
        1/2 cup sugar
        5 green cardamom pods
        pinch of vanilla salt 
        1. Simmer all ingredients over medium low heat until berries break down and most of the liquid evaporates. 
        2. Remove cardamom pods and reserve.
        Swirl Muffins
        1 cup granulated sugar
        2 sticks butter, melted
        1 cup milk
        2 eggs, beaten

        1 cup bread flour
        1 cup all purpose flour
        1 cup white whole wheat flour
        4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
        1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        1/4 teaspoon vanilla salt

        1 cup fresh cranberries
        1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees and line a muffin pan with paper cups. 
        2. Whisk together sugar, butter, milk and eggs. Add dry ingredients and stir only until incorporated.
        3. Fold in cranberries and distribute half of batter into muffin cups (fill 1/4 of the way).
        4. Drop a teaspoon of Cranberry Cardamom Jam and finish filling the muffin cups 3/4 of the way with muffin batter. 
        5. Using a table knife, swirl muffin batter and jam. 
        6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until done. 
        Not only does it look moist, it WAS moist!

         What's your favorite flavor combination w/ Cranberries? 
        Have you ever visited a Cranberry Bog?

          Monday, February 6, 2012

          An Elegant Birthday Dinner: Brandy's Virtual Party!

          Welcome to Nutmeg Nanny's Virtual Surprise Birthday Party! She's turning the big 3-0 and a few of us decided to surprise her with a fun and virtual dinner party! Our host, Jessie over at Living Mostly Meatless, was the mastermind behind all this and I'm so happy to be part of this joint and delicious effort! Brandy a.k.a. Nutmeg Nanny is such a sweet person, with a great sense of humor! She'll help you find a wedding dress in less than a few hours, as well as creates the most delicious recipes on her blog. Since I've been assigned the pasta course, I poked around her blog and here are some of HER pasta recipes: Pasta with Shrimp & Feta; Pasta & Pancetta in Smoky Tomato Sauce; and Poblano Macaroni and Cheese.

          Now, what did I bring to the party? Since I know her love for pasta, I wanted to create a pasta as unique and special as Brandy. One full of flavor but quick to make, and the only rule was that it had to contain bacon (that was my own made up rule!)

          Quinoa Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes & Bacon
          with Avocado and Lime Dressing

          Lately, quinoa pasta has become my love affair. I make it about twice a week, tweaking recipes and trying out new methods. This has been one of the best results: smoky bacon, fresh cherry tomatoes and a silky and raw avocado and lime sauce. You'll dirty one pot and one saute pan, plus a pair of tongs. Quick, flavorful and a healthy lunch idea, or better yet, as a side dish to a protein for dinner.

          Last touches are added with the Avocado Lime sauce

          Quinoa Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes & Bacon
          with Avocado and Lime Dressing

          1, 8 ounce package quinoa linguine

          2 medium avocados, chopped
          1 lime, juiced and zested
          3 tablespoons mayonnaise
          1 tablespoon olive oil
          salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

          6 strips of bacon, diced
          1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes, halved

          1. Cook quinoa linguine as instructed on box. Strain and reserve.
          2. In a medium bowl, mix avocados, lime juice and half of lime zest, mayonnaise and olive oil. Blend with immersion blender (or regular blender) until smooth. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. 
          3. Cook bacon in cast iron pan and add cherry tomatoes when bacon is desired crispness. Do NOT remove bacon fat, this adds flavor to dish. 
          4. Stir in Avocado Lime sauce and serve. Sprinkle with lime zest and if you have extra avocado lime sauce, serve with a dollop on top.

          Now head on over and congratulate Brandy by following her on Twitter: @NutmegNanny. Want to see what everyone else brought to the party?

          Meat- Heather over at 
          Dessert- Barbara over at

          Sunday, February 5, 2012

          Banana Cloud & Nutella {#chocolatelove}

          It's February, so chocolate is a must have in the house. We have it all over: in a kitchen drawer (half a bar of white chocolate and a bar of Pomegranate Chocolate from Texas); in the fridge (local raw, vegan Martha's Vineyard chocolate bars that need refrigerating); on top of the bookshelf (one white solid chocolate oyster and a decade of Dylan's Candy chocolate bars); on the coffee table (a clear jar halfway filled with Hershey's Kisses). I kid you not, those are real places right now in our home that house chocolate.

          So when Junia told me about the upcoming #chocolatelove, it was obvious that I was in. And then I made something that had not even 4% of the amount of chocolate in the house. Crazy no? Oh, and I forgot to mention the chocolate in the pantry: powdered cocoa, a jar of Nutella, a jar of Peanut Butter and Chocolate Spread, etc. 

          Since it's all about #love, I wanted to combine my most loved ingredients: Bananas and Chocolate! This is probably the simplest and most flavorful banana dessert I've ever made. A quick blend of bananas, maple syrup and eggs makes this a velvety custard that when topped with rich Nutella, is an indulgent dessert that you won't feel guilty about. I call it a Banana Cloud because of the texture: fluffy, soft and custardy. Just like I'd imagine a cloud tasting like!

          Banana Cloud & Nutella
          Serves 2-4
          2 extra ripe bananas
          2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
          2 medium sized eggs
          1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
          1 teaspoon olive oil

          1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees.  Set out 2-4 ramekins on a baking sheet. (Amount of ramekin depends on size)
          2. In a blender or using an immersion blender, whip all the ingredients together for 1 minute.
          3. Pour banana cloud batter into greased ramekins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it creates a small dome. Carefully test for doneness because this is a very delicate dessert.
          4. Serve with a teaspoon of Nutella while warm.

          What's your favorite way to garnish with chocolate? Do you grate chocolate on top? Swirl in a batter? Sprinkle on cupcakes? Such a versatile ingredient that can be either the main focus or a small detail in a dessert! One of my favorite chocolate cookbooks is Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner by Peter P. Greweling and The Culinary Institute of America, which I definitely recommend! 

          February is #chocolatelove month!

          Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of Februrary 2012.  Don't forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #chocolatelove event!  The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove.

          Cohosted by: 

          Remember to enter to win Guylian Belgian Chocolates, Chocolate Oysters, Not Your Sugar Mamas Raw Chocolate from Martha's Vineyard and a #love treat from Inedible Jewelry over at my Foodie Giveaway Extravaganza!

          Friday, February 3, 2012

          Foodie Love for Your Foodie Lover!

          Let's be honest, Valentine's Day is all about the chocolate. All the chocolate in the world, allowed on one single day. Oh, and sharing all this chocolate love with your favorite person in the world! And hey, if that person is yourself, than that just means more chocolate for you! That's why today is all about edible chocolate treats and one special inedible candy you can wear.

          The Chocolate Coast

          First up a company based out of Wellfleet, MA, called The Chocolate Coast and makes one of the most uniquely shaped chocolates I've ever seen: chocolate oysters. What describes Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Island better than fresh shucked oysters? Nothing comes to mind, and this is what The Chocolate Coast creates!

          They once found the perfect oyster shell and sent it out to be made into their own special mold. After that, the oyster mold is hand-filled and painted for a special treat. These would be perfect as a souvenir for a beach wedding or party! They come solid in assorted chocolates: white, milk and dark; they also come in a variety of fillings: Nutella, Bananas Foster, and Peanut Butter were some of the ones I sampled. One of my favorites? Bananas Foster, a silky caramel flavored with brown sugar, rum and banana flavoring.

          Would you like to try their hand painted oysters? 
          One (1) winner will receive The Chocolate Coast Giveaway Prize:
          One dozen (12) assorted solid Chocolate Oysters in dark, milk and white chocolate.

          Not Your Sugar Mamas

          Up next is a local chocolate maker on Martha's Vineyard, with one of the most whimsical names in the industry: Not Your Sugar Mamas. And they definitely aren't! Their chocolate bars are unlike any other I've tried, and believe me, I've had my fair share of chocolate. They're RAW, which means this chocolate is untempered, giving you the full health benefits that chocolate provides.

          "The health benefits of cacao are numerous, particularly in it’s raw form since none of the nutrients have been lost in the heating process. It is the highest antioxidant food on the planet. It is also very high in magnesium which helps to relax the muscles, support the heart and increase brain power. The bliss chemical, Anandamide, is found in cacao making us feel happy and good!"
          Not only are they raw, but they are jam packed with organic ingredients that add even more health benefits! So as I am eating a piece of their original bar, I'm thinking " this is actually HEALTHY. Which means I should eat it every day!", so that's what you should do. In my opinion. What other great ingredients do they add to their bars? Maca, Spirulina, Himalayan Sea Salt, Cinnamon, Coconut Palm Sugar, Pomegranate, Nutmeg, Lucuma, Mesquite, Lavender, and even a powerful elixir made by Skye Botanicals called Aphrodite's Love Potion (in their Be Sexy bar)!

          Unlike other chocolates, since these bars are untempered, they should be kept in a cool environment such as the fridge, but if you leave them out, their texture is like soft fudge, and both textures are delicious! You can also check out their Be Cozy superfood chocolate mix, perfect for the winter months.

          Would you love to try Not Your Sugar Mamas?

          One (1) winner will receive The Sampler (four bars):

          The Sampler includes one (1) bar of Be Jolly, one (1) bar of Be Sexy, one (1) bar of Be Original and one (1) bar of Be Cool.

          Guylian Belgian Chocolates

          Guylian's Special Valentine's Day Packaging
          From the island of Martha's Vineyard, we take a flight to Belgium! Let me now introduce you to Guylian Belgian Chocolates. Remember those chocolate seashells? These are the originals, crafted in Belgium from smooth Belgian dark, milk, and white chocolates made from 100% pure cocoa butter. The signature truffle recipe is still made in small-batch copper kettles exclusively in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium.

          One of my favorite things about the Guylian website is the Chocolate Experience, where they guide you through a full tasting; we sometimes forget to savor the sweets in life! Here are some of the guidelines:
          • See: notice the marbling created with white, milk and dark chocolate; the fine tempered shell creates a shine on each truffle shell, encasing the smooth praline interior.
          • Smell: not only will you smell rich chocolate, but you'll get a hint of Mediterranean Roasted hazelnuts contained in the filling.
          • Taste: you'll bit into the shell, noticing the contrast between shell and truffle interior. The hazelnut flavor is indulgent, and definitely one of my favorite ingredients to showcase in chocolate!
          • Feel: Silky Smooth. No other words are needed to describe this experience.
          • Share: if you want to. I shared. I did, promise! And plus, I'm sharing even more because thanks to the folks at Guylian, we're giving away a great chocolate extravaganza!
          Would you like to taste some Belgian chocolates?

          One (1) winner will receive the Guylian Belgian Chocolates Giveaway Prize:
          One – 22 piece box of Guylian Artisanal Belgian Original Chocolate Truffles 
          Two - 6 piece Original Chocolate Truffle Box
          Four - 2 piece Original Chocolate Truffle Box

          Inedible Jewelry

          Photo Credit: Inedible Jewelry

          Last, but not least is an inedible treat. One particular from Inedible Jewelry, an Etsy loving company based out of Charlotesville, Virginia. Once upon a time, I lived in Virginia and made chocolates. Coincidence, right? Well, I made real chocolates, read books and visited the farmer's markets. Thus, I met Inedible Jewelry! Sisters Jessica & Susan Partain have been creating teeny, tiny realistic miniature foods for about 20 years, since they were kids modeling clay.

          How they make these tiny inedible treat? I could probably say they have elves with tiny heads that craft these pieces, but apparently they are human hands, real sized. (I have yet to believe it, I think it's still elves!) But seriously, each piece is crafted with so much detail, realistic colors and so much love. You can see that love inside their Etsy shop, as well as their interactions on Twitter and Facebook. The passion they have for their craft is palpatable, and it's definitely unique! Have you ever seen...a box of chocolates necklace? Or bacon and eggs earrings? Even better, how about your favorite drink....say a Margarita or two floating from your ears? Today's fun giveaway is Valentine's Day based, and read below for what you could win!

          Inedible Jewelry Giveaway: 
          One winner will win one handmade candy heart necklace with their phrase of choice OR a pair of studs in their preferred color and phrase (see options below):

          Foodie Valentine's Day Extravaganza Giveaway! We will draw four (4) random winners from the comments below and in the order they are chosen, the specific prize from above will be given. Comments about any of the companies will enter you in the drawing to all four giveaways (meaning if you like Inedible Jewelry on Facebook, the comment counts towards possibly winning Not Your Sugar Mamas chocolate); the more entries you comment about, the more chances you'll have to win! More Details: US mailing addresses only; prizes will be shipped by each company to winner, in a timely fashion. Giveaways ends February the 8th at noon Eastern.
          1. Follow Cooking with Books via Google Friend Connect
          2. Follow Cooking with Books on Twitter
          3. Check out The Chocolate Coast and tell me something you learned
          4. Sign up for the Not Your Sugar Mamas newsletter
          5. Follow Inedible Jewelry on Twitter
          6. Answer this: What's your favorite love phrase combination from the ones Inedible Jewelry created (or make up your own, that fit into candy hearts of course!)
          7. Check out Inedible Jewelry's Etsy shop and come back and tell me your favorite item
          8. Follow Guylian Belgian Chocolates on Twitter
          9. Sign up for the Guylian Belgian Chocolates newsletter (top right corner)
          10. Tweet this and come back to tell us you tweeted: Win @Guylian_Chocs, jewelry from @inediblejewelry, Chocolate Oysters, & local-raw-organic MV Chocolate via @nella22:
          11. Share on your Facebook and come back to tell us you shared
          Since Facebook has certain rules, I don't require you to like any of these companies on Facebook as an entry, but I suggest you do for updates, recipes and new products launched! (Not an entry, just some love!)

          Disclaimer: Samples were provided by the various companies free of charge, but I was under no obligation to review them. As always, my opinions are 100% my own and based on personal tastings and testings. Giveaways were generously provided by The Chocolate Coast, Not Your Sugar Mamas, Guylian Belgian Chocolates and Inedible Jewelry.

          How to Kill a Lobster 101 & Poached Lobster recipe

          This is the beginning to a lovely friendship. One united by food challenges and lobster killings, romantic no? Well, this is how I feel Lynn from Order in the Kitchen and I will bond. We've decided to take charge of our culinary adventures and challenge each other every month of 2012. We decided that the rite of passage, the best challenge to do, the one that would make us focused: killing a live lobster.

          Maybe you've done this before, maybe you've even killed hundreds of lobsters in your lifetime, but neither Carolyn nor I had and with thoughts of Julia Child and trying to do this the kindest way possible, we started on our journey. Carolyn bit the bullet first and you can read all about her adventure over at her blog.

          And now, it was my turn. After watching Lynn's video 5.4 times, I mustered up the courage. Check out the photos below, the steps I went through and how we prepared this crustacean!

          He did NOT look at all happy. I wouldn't have been happy either!
          You might ask why we have a kitchen towel under the lobster? Well, after watching various videos, we saw the amount of liquid that oozes out of the lobster when killed this way and well, we jut didn't want all that lobster juice everywhere. 

          Lynn gives a good tip of freezing the lobster to numb it, and with all the energy going on during this time, I forgot to freeze it. As soon as I stabbed him, his tail curled up like crazy and his claws were everywhere. Thus, M. has to swoop in and hold it down.

          From top to right: the halves of the lobster. It was a male, so no roe but you still need to wash the insides. Under cold running water, scrape off all the gooey innards. See how clean it is now? We then cut it into more manageable pieces (because we didn't have a big enough pot, but you can certainly leave it as is). For the preparation we were doing, we were going to boil the parts for 30ish seconds to make it easier to remove the meat from the shell.

          A quick bath in boiling water (30 seconds) and then a dunk in ice water, we were able to remove the halfway cooked lobster meat. The shells were added to the start of our fennel tomato broth. The meat was refrigerated until needed. Our final dish was: Lobster Poached in Tomato Fennel Broth over Saffron Rice with White Wine Beurre Blanc. Read below for the recipe!

          Tomato-Fennel Broth Poached Lobster
          1 small onion, chopped
          1 stalk celery, chopped
          lobster shells
          1 cup tomato sauce (we used frozen homemade pizza sauce we had!)
          2 teaspoons fennel salt
          salt & pepper to taste
          3 cups water
          1.  Saute onion and celery in olive oil until translucent. Add lobster shells and cook for 3 minutes. 
          2. Add tomato sauce, fennel salt and seasonings. Simmer for 5 minutes.
          3. Add water and cook for 30 minutes. Reseason and taste as you go. 
          4. Strain twice through a fine mesh strainer and return to pot on medium heat. Drop lobster meat and cook until desired doneness, less than 4 minutes depending on size. 
          5. Turn off heat and prepare to serve.
          Saffron Rice
          1 tablespoon olive oil
          1 cup white rice (jasmine or long-grain rice work well)
          2 cups water
          pinch of saffron threads (about 3-4)
          1. Heat olive oil and saute rice for 1 minute. 
          2. Add water and saffron, stirring to disperse color.
          3. Cook on medium heat until 90% of the water evaporates.
          4. Fluff rice with a fork and cover. Lower heat to low and cook for about 5-10 more minutes. Reserve.

          White Wine Beurre Blanc (Butter Sauce)
          1 cup white wine
          juice of half an orange
          juice of 1/4 lime
          juice of 1/4 lemon
          1 small shallot, chopped
          1/4 cup heavy cream
          1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
          1. Over high heat, reduce white wine, all citrus juices and shallot until it's 1/4 of the original liquid (will turn syrup like). 
          2. Add heavy cream, reduce until thickens. Remove from heat and add cubed butter. Place back on heat while whisking. Removing from heat will allow butter sauce to incorporate, but keep warm. Continue whisking until velvety smooth. Strain and reserve warm before serving.

          To Serve
          • Plate 1/4 cup of rice in a shallow bowl. Surround with tomato fennel broth. 
          • Place lobster claw and tail intertwined and drizzle butter sauce over it.
          • Garnish with some herbs for color and flavor. Serve with a side of butter sauce!
           Now it's your turn! Have you ever killed a lobster? What's your favorite method to cook lobster? 
          Do you have a special lobster recipe (link up!) Let's talk lobster in the comments!