Healthier eating in 2015: the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse #BACleanse

Happy New Year! This is the first post of 2015 and I thought I’d keep it healthy.

I really overindulged during the holiday season, and I wanted to find some inspiration to eat more healthily. In 2013, I took part of the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse. It is less of a cleanse and more of a healthy cooking challenge. This year’s menu looked appealing, so I took the plunge. It started on January 2nd but I didn’t start until the 5th because who starts a cleanse on a Friday?

The shopping list was huge, but I figured that it would probably cost just as much to buy breakfast and lunch as I had been doing. It does take quite a bit of time in the kitchen, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I prepare my dinner every evening, along with breakfast and lunch for the next day.

I love that all the menu planning has already been done for me. The plan is not about deprivation or cutting things out. It is more about adding in more vegetables, healthy fats, and fruit. Each day includes a menu for breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner (which includes dessert!). The menu was put together by Sara Dickerman and nutritionist Marissa Lippert. It is a two-week menu. You can definitely customize and swap things out. Most recipes have suggestions for replacements.

If you are looking for healthy recipes, do check these out. I’m really enjoying the BA Cleanse so far. To see what I’m cooking during the cleanse, follow my instagram hashtag: #BACleanse2015OVB

Check out the resources:
Calendar/Menu
PDF of Recipes
Complete Online Menu
Guidelines
Blog Posts to Keep You Going

Here are a few of my favorites so far:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with caramelized onions and goat cheese

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with caramelized onions and goat cheese

Breakfast: pomegranate chia seed yogurt parfait

Breakfast: pomegranate chia seed yogurt parfait

Lunch: swordfish with fennel, oil cured black olives, and blood orange

Lunch: swordfish with fennel, oil cured black olives, and blood orange

Lunch: tofu cabbage salad with kimchi miso dressing and peanuts

Lunch: tofu cabbage salad with kimchi miso dressing and peanuts

Dinner: swordfish with smashed white beans and sage, and kale salad with pepitas and red onion

Dinner: swordfish with smashed white beans and sage, and kale salad with pepitas and red onion

Dinner: beet soup with caraway, bistro salad with roasted vegetables, and orange carpaccio with orange flower water and pistachios

Dinner: beet soup with caraway, bistro salad with roasted vegetables, and orange carpaccio with orange flower water and pistachios

Dessert: spicy Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Bark (I added coconut)

Dessert: spicy Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Bark (I added coconut)

Southern Cranberry Sauce with Four Roses Bourbon and a Giveaway of the The Big Book of Sides

Southern Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

Southern Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

Let me start by saying that sometimes it’s the sides from the holiday table that we remember the most. Yes, the turkey is supposed to be the main attraction, but it’s the sides–the supporting cast, that really make the meal. That’s what I think anyway.

I received a review copy of Rick Rodgers The Big Book of Sides, and a bottle of Four Roses Bourbon to recreate one of the bourbon recipes from the book. The book has over 450 recipes for side dishes, pickles, relishes, and sauces that are great for everyday meals, special occasions, and the holidays. Since cranberry sauce is a staple at my Thanksgiving table, that’s what I chose to make. I always try to make a good cranberry sauce and especially appreciate having it for the mandatory day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

Four Roses Bourbon and Rick Rodgers The Big Book of Sides

Southern Cranberry Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

One 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup packed light brown sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons bourbon

1. Combine the cranberries, brown sugar, orange zest and juice, ginger, and 1 cup water in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring them to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to help dissolve the brown sugar.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until all the cranberries have burst and the juices have thickened to a light syrup, 7-10 minutes. Let the sauce cool until tepid. Stir in the bourbon. Transfer the sauce to a covered container and refrigerate it until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 weeks. Serve the sauce chilled or at room temperature.

Bonus idea, use this cranberry sauce as an appetizer. Serve on a cheese plate next to an aged white sharp cheddar or creamy brie, with some toasted nuts and crackers.

Watch Rick make the Souther Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon below. And he also has recipes for bacon onion and bourbon marmalade and bourbon gravy.

Thankfully, there is still plenty of bourbon left after making the recipe to drink straight up. I’ve recently been learning a bit about bourbon, and I’ve been trying different ones. Four Roses Small Batch is mellow, and smooth, and sweet. If you are like me, and you are learning about bourbon, you might appreciate the tasting notes:

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Four Roses Small Batch Tasting Notes

  • Nose: spicy, rich, mellow, fruity, hints of sweet oak & caramel.
  • Palate: creamy, mellow, ripened red berries, rich, spicy, well-balanced, moderately sweet.
  • Finish: soft, smooth & pleasantly long.









To enter the giveaway:
Leave a comment below stating what is your favorite holiday side dish. I will choose one comment at random. The winner will be announced on Monday, December 1st on this post and via Twitter. The winner will have to provide a US shipping address.

Hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

**Updated 12/3/14: The winner is PrettyPolyMath**

Disclosure: I received a sample of Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, a review copy of The Big Book of Sides, and a gift card. I choose to collaborate with brands that I would normally consume. All opinions are my own.

The EmporiYUM DC

The Emporiyum in DC

Several events were scheduled at Union Market area in DC this weekend: The Emporiyum, Gilt Warehouse Sale, Thread, and Blue Jacket Pop Up Beer Garden.

My friend K and I headed to the Emporiyum, a food market featuring US artisans. There were samples, products, and food for sale. Fifty-eight vendors, many of them local to DC, all together under one roof.

These were some of my favorites:

The Hamachi Don at East Side King was perfection, I could have had a big bowl of this. The pork buns, made with savory pate, were also good.

Hamachi Don from East Side King

Hamachi Don from East Side King

Next stop was Woodberry Kitchen. Chef Spike Gjerde was working the line and serving lechon tacos and tortas. The tacos were topped with the delicious chicharron picture below. The tacos were amazing. They also had some of their Snake Oil hot sauce on hand to top the tacos with.

Chef Spike Gjerde working the line at Woodberry Kitchen making lechon tacos

Chef Spike Gjerde working the line at Woodberry Kitchen making lechon tacos

Chicharron at Woodberry Kitchen

Chicharron at Woodberry Kitchen

A stop at Jenis Splendid Ice Creams Truck was mandatory, although it was a really cold day. I tried the butternut pumpkin with amaretti cookies which is one of their seasonal flavors, and salty caramel.

Jenis Ice Cream Truck!

Jenis Ice Cream Truck!

Buttercup Pumpkin with Amaretti Cookies and Salty Caramel Ice Creams

Buttercup Pumpkin with Amaretti Cookies and Salty Caramel Ice Creams

I came home with Momofuku Milk Bar compost cookies, Sfoglini Pasta, and Geechie Boy Mill yellow grits and cornmeal. Geechie Boy Mill grits are a long time favorite, it was nice to be able to purchase them there and not have to pay shipping. These grits are handcrafted in small batches by a family in Edisto Island, South Carolina.

My purchases at Emporiyum: Sfoglini whole wheat reginetti and porcini trumpets, Geechie Boy Mill yellow corn grits and cornmeal, Momofuki Milk Bar compost Cookies

My purchases at Emporiyum: Sfoglini whole wheat reginetti and porcini trumpets, Geechie Boy Mill yellow corn grits and cornmeal, Momofuki Milk Bar compost Cookies

Other favorites were the winter sun iced tea at Running Byrd Tea Company, the 100% natural and preservative free vanilla almond milk at Udderly Nuts, and what I think was a s’mores pumpkin pie at Butter and Scotch.

Did you visit the Emporiyum? Which vendors were your favorite?

Chicken Liver Pate with Apples and Calvados

Chicken Liver Pate with Apples and Calvados

Chicken Liver Pate with Apples and Calvados

I love Golden Delicious apples. They are sweet and rich. They are also good for using in recipes because they retain their shape when cooked. If you see any at your local farmers market, make sure to get some. The flavor and texture of apples that have been allowed to ripen on the tree is unparalleled to those from the supermarket. Many supermarket apples have been picked under-ripe and have spent weeks in storage. These apples can be bland and have an off texture.

Now that it’s apple season, I’ve been trying to make recipes that celebrate the flavor of apples. I’ve been craving creamy pate, and I can’t think of a better pairing than apples and apple brandy.

This pate is on the sweeter side, creamy and decadent. It will be perfect with cocktails or wine. What’s great is that you can make it a few days ahead, and you can even freeze it. It would make for a perfect appetizer for the holidays.

Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pate with Apples and Calvados

Ingredients:
• 6 tablespoons butter, separated
• 2 cups onions, chopped
• 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into large cubes (I used local Golden Delicious apples)
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2 teaspoons thyme, finely chopped
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste
• 1 lb chicken livers, cleaned of sinew, rinsed and dried with paper towels
• 1 ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
• ¼ cup Calvados or brandy
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• 4 tablespoons clarified butter, melted, optional
• Thyme sprigs for garnish, optional
• Small glass containers with lids for storing pate, optional

Procedure:
1. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sized cast iron pot or skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions and the apples. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the apples and onions start to brown slightly. You want the ingredients to start to caramelize.
2. Add in the garlic, thyme, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and pepper. Then add in the chicken livers and the salt. Cook over medium heat until the chicken livers are cooked but still slightly pink in the center.
3. Add in the Calvados or brandy, and cook on medium heat until about ¼ of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat, and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse a few times. Dice the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and add it to the food processor. Pulse 2 or 3 times to incorporate. Add in the 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, and pulse a few more times. I prefer for the pate to have some texture. I like getting little pieces of apple or onion. If you want your pate completely smooth, then process until very smooth. Taste the pate to ensure it has enough salt and pepper, add more to taste if necessary.
4. Pack the pate into clean jars leaving about 1 inch of room at the top of the jar. Place a few sprigs of thyme on top of the pate, and then pour in a couple of tablespoons of melted clarified butter on top. Cover the jars with lids, and place in the refrigerator overnight. The pate will keep for about one week. Pate also freezes well. Makes about 3.5 cups.

Book Shelf: Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry and a Giveaway

Mrs. Wheelbarrow Practical Pantry

**Update 11/15/14 4:48pm EST: The winner is Traci Ross!**

I’m so happy to have received a preview copy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. I’m a long-time fan of Cathy Barrow’s blog. Her home preserving expertise has been a source of inspiration and guidance.

The book is great for beginner and more advanced home preservation enthusiasts alike. It’s filled with detailed information, mouth-watering recipes, and gorgeous photographs. It focuses on water bath canning, pressure canning, preserving meat and fish, and fresh cheese making. It’s a great source to learn how to preserve seasonal produce, and also shows you how to make many pantry staples.

You’ll find recipes for double strawberry preserves, caramel pear preserves, drunken pineapple sauce (can you imagine it over vanilla ice cream?), smoked oysters, maple bourbon bacon, and more. In addition, there are recipes throughout the book that put to use many of these home preserved items such as jam tarts, rugelach, and the gorgeous kale and potato galette with duck fat crust that I chose to make.

The galette looked so enticing, that I had to make it asap. The technique for the duck fat crust is truly foolproof. Sometimes rolling out dough with duck fat can be a challenge, but this crust was very easy to work with. The crust is stuffed with kale, goat cheese, bacon, potatoes, and home-made creme fraiche. It’s amazing that such simple ingredients can come together to make such a show-stopping meal. Of course, the book has recipes for the bacon and the creme fraiche as well!

Layers inside the galette

Layers inside the galette

This is a great addition to any cookbook collection, and I know it will be a go to source for home-preserving. I’m really looking forward to exploring the chapter on pressure canning.

The wonderful people at Norton are providing me with a copy of the book to give away. To be eligible: leave a comment below stating what is your favorite way to preserve seasonal produce. I will choose one comment at random. The winner will be announced on Saturday, November 15th on this post and via Twitter. The winner will have to provide a US shipping address.

You can meet Cathy at one of the many scheduled book release events.

Potato and Kale Galette

Kale and Potato Galette 1

Kale and Potato Galette 3

**Update 11/15/14 4:48pm EST: The winner is Traci Ross!**