Friday, May 20, 2011

A Reminder to Remember

Back in March I went on a Yoga/Pilates/Meditation holiday on Fuerteventura . It was my reminder holiday, a reminder that in January I told myself that 2011 was going to be about balance and inner peace.

Well, off I went and since I've only sporadically done yoga and pilates, I was a bit nervous. I was about to do them everyday, at least two times a day, for a week... I wasn't sure how I felt about that. When friends would say, "That will be great!", I would answer, weakly, "Yeh-hes". (What I would insert now, if I could, would be that worried looking emoticon)

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. Yes, at least twice a day I did bend my body into shapes it wasn't always willing to go into but the experience was much, much more than that. It was about the people I met and shared time with. In Berlin, my life is somehow split into two: the public hostess and the private (self professed) cat lady who has a hard time leaving her cozy apartment on days off. The funny thing was, I wasn't expecting to connect to "others"on this trip at all, rather, I thought it was going to be a solitary experience- just me and my out of shape body. How wrong I was.

As always, food was a focal point. I love wandering around super markets in other countries, checking out all the stuff- from weird things in jars to locally grown produce. We also were fortunate enough to have one of the best restaurants on the island nearby, offering tapas like I have never known before- delicious. One night, I even had the pleasure of raiding (permission granted) the villa's fridge to make an emergency dinner for our group when we found out last minute that the whole island shut down to celebrate carnival.

But, the real highlight was Jo, the nutritional advisor for Azul Fit. She offered me a special consultation/cooking course where we made olive tapanade, roasted eggplant, homemade whole grain breads, cocoa-dried fruit truffles and quinoa cake. It has sparked a true interest in such healthy and tasty food. I wish Jo would cook for me everyday... then I'd surely have balance and inner peace.

(I highly recommend Azul Fit Villa for a one of a kind, healthy, relaxing, centering experience. They have two locations and I was in the Villa, up on a hill in the small town Villaverde, completely disconnected from any hustle and bustle. Jamie, Karissa and the entire team go out of their way to make your stay an experience to cherish. I definitely cherish mine. Thanks to the entire Azul Fit family!)

Not Jo's recipe but tasty all the same:

Quinoa Muffins

Makes 12


1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with oil; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, raisins, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups.
Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Man cannot live on Quinoa alone...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Everybody's Mama Got a Recipe"

Every Christmas when I'm in Detroit, one of my very best friends in the whole world, insists on buying me the heaviest cookbook she can find. This normally wouldn't be a problem but since the days of "extra heavy" luggage are long gone, it has become one. She (let's call her A.B.) has great taste and style in the food/cooking dept so I'm not really complaining... but, damn!

This year A.B. gifted me with One Big Table, A Portrait of American Cooking by Molly O'Neill. It's one hefty mama consisting of stories and recipes from real people who love their food. Gourmet, it is not and this is what makes it all the more appealing in a world of Top Chef, Iron Chef, Whatever-else Chef. I really love the sense of migration you get from reading the book... how different ethnic groups spread far and wide after entering the U.S. and how they shaped the food culture in the little (and not so little) towns they landed in.

The Chicken Fried Steak recipe from a Mr. Hoover Alexander himself, looks real good too. If you click on the photo, it should get big enough to read. In there you'll find that the southern favorite may just have been influenced by the Wiener Schnitzel. Duh!? Hopefully the print is clear enough for you to read the entire recipe and try yourself. Now if the Germans would only start smothering their schnitzel with gravy, we'd be getting somewhere.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Long time, no blog.

Playing catch up is rarely much fun but this time it's proving to be. Since writing last, we  threw many a private Christmas party and catered a good handful of offsite celebrations. Basically, we've been busy having a good time.

When so much piles up, it's a lot easier to use photos to tell the story than try and recall through words. We won't cover everything but here are a few highlights of what's been happening at Feast. The point is: we need to get you up to date so we can fill you in on the stuff going on NOW!

Dare I say that we did a catering for Mr. Armani? We did. Actually, what I thought was going to be a high end affair, turned out to be a promotional event out of an eyeglass store off of Friedrichstrasse. Oh well, but it was still a lot of fun and quite special- it certainly challenged our ability to make big things happen out of little spaces! One of the most exciting parts of the event was making these delicious and oh so sweet looking Guyere-Thyme Icebox Crackers. We topped them with a dollop of Delice
Argental (a luxurious, double cream cow's milk cheese from France) and our own 

(makes 20 crackers)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1) Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and chopped thyme in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a course meal. Add the cheese and pulse until combined. With the machine running, add the milk. Process until the dough comes together and is well combined.
2) Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a 2-inch wide log. Wrap the log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
3) Heat the oven to 163°C/325°F. Slice the well chilled log into 1/4-inch think slices. Place on baking sheet and bake immediately, rotating the baking sheet half way through cooking until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center. Cooking time is approximately 25-35 minutes. Don't let them get too dark! Transfer them to a cooling rack until completely cool and store in air tight container.

We took these caramelized figs and put them on top of goat cheese smeared crostini. Then we drizzled them with our homemade balsamic-rosemary syrup. A fast, tasty and elegant hors d'œuvre.

I've got my sights on starting my own product line in 2011- a little Feast to take home. I offered a small selection of things during December to get an idea of how it would look and of course, how it would taste. People really took to it.. buying 'em up for Christmas gifts and everything! The salted caramel coulis was a big hit, especially after I went around dipping my cut-out Christmas cookies in it and offering samples. Expect more of this soon...

This is my Blue Ribbon Photo of the entire day: Ella. She's the daughter of friends of mine and though she started out quite demure, she was break dancing to Frosty the Snowman before long. A few candy canes and some sugar cookies- would make anybody wanna bust a move.

Moving into the new year, we teamed up with Network Awesome for some viewing fun. Here, the guests anxiously await the showing of Winter of the Witch, an old favorite of mine from elementary school. I had been looking for it for years but our friends at the Network of Awesomeness worked their own magic and made it appear- live streamed- in our Cellar Cinema. Network Awesome is a free online TV network that digs up good old stuff. Watching TV is fun again!