Tag Archives: recipes

Homemade Salad Dressings

31 Oct

Today’s post is from Luann Alemao, a chef and health/wellness speaker we’ve worked with over the years. Luann hosts a TV show titled Get Fit, operates several Kids Culinary Camps and offers presentations to corporations on healthy eating.

Here, Luann offers a quick tutorial on making your own simple oil and vinegar dressings. 

Oil and vinegar don’t mix. I had heard that phrase while growing up, but as I attended food and nutrition courses and did my own experimentation in the kitchen, I recognized they are compatible on the salad plate.

When making basic vinaigrette keep in mind that it’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

From that point, the type of oil, the kind of vinegar and the choice of seasonings or add-ins are up to you.

Here are some basics.

EVOO, Virgin, Pure or Seasoned– these are referring most of the time to olive oils in recipes. Other oils, such as soy, almond, and avocado will make great vinaigrettes too and will offer a distinction of their own originality in your vinaigrette.

You can make fine vinaigrette in just a pint jar or a salad cruet; you just need a vessel to shake up the ingredients and create an emulsifier for a short duration anyway.

So let’s get started:

1) Olive oil is the typical choice of taste and rightly so, as it has a fresh taste and natural fruitiness. My second favorite is soy oil as it is clean and light and doesn’t add an oily taste to vinaigrettes.

Light and extra light refer to the color of the oil and not the caloric content – don’t be misled. Fats do have calories and so does olive oil at 120 calories per tablespoon. Experiment with different regional oils and you will notice the differences.

2) Next is the acid or the vinegar.  Balsamic vinegar is my favorite, with its sweeter aroma and sweeter taste. It is rich in color, has undergone a special aging process and may be cured 12-25 years. Vinegar, because of its strong acidic makeup, does not require refrigeration. Other vinegars such as flavored vinegars, apple cider or rice wine vinegar are great culinary choices as well. White distilled is too harsh and best used for cleaning purposes afterward.

3) The add-ins: The combinations you can create are endless. Some dried mustard or Dijon adds a savory flavor.  Don’t forget the garlic and seasonings. Beyond the salt and pepper you can flavor with basil, Italian herbs, ginger, cilantro or tarragon.

Use the zest from limes, oranges and lemons. They add a citrusy blend that is clean and fresh.

Don’t have vinegar? A lemon will work just as well. I personally use a lemon along with the balsamic vinegar as I like the aroma and the pungent taste it offers. Make sure you use some of the zest (the outside peel) for more flavor and aroma.

Making your own salad dressing is cheaper too. It costs just pennies per tablespoon and to buy will be 4-5 times more. Save and FLAV! What more could you want?

Here are some recipes for delicious vinaigrettes:

BERRY-GINGER VINAIGRETTE

½ cup of oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 squirt or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice from a real lemon

1 tablespoon berry preserves

2 Frontier crystallized ginger pieces

Shake in a tight container and serve over greens.

**********

HERBED SALAD VINAIGRETTE

6 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Frontier dry mustard

1-2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of Frontier Italian Seasoning or Herbes de Provence

Fresh ground pepper

Shake in a tight container, let sit for about a ½ hour for flavors to macerate and pour over dark greens.

How do you use oils to make dressings?

Gumbo File Seasoning

19 Oct

A signature ingredient in gumbo and other Creole dishes, file powder, or Gumbo File, is used for its delicate but distinct flavor and thickening characteristics.

File was introduced by the Choctaw Nation in Louisiana. File is a sassafras leaf — we added thyme to give it our own deep, distinctive flavor.

LOUISIANA VEGETABLE GUMBO

Gumbo is one of the great comfort foods to come out of Louisiana. This spicy, rich concoction is actually more of a stew than a soup, but it is really in a class by itself. The word “gumbo” means “okra,” and there is plenty of it in this recipe. The amount of rice served with the gumbo should be dictated by personal preference. File powder is made from ground sassafras leaves.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1  large onion, diced
1  medium-size green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable stock or water
1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh or frozen okra
1  small zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon file powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco sauce
2 to 3 cups hot cooked long grain rice
Directions:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, cover, and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, tomatoes, okra, zucchini, thyme, file powder, salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste. Simmer, partially covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes. Taste to adjust the seasonings.To serve, spoon about 1/2 cup of the cooked rice into each soup bowl and ladle the hot gumbo over the top.

The Family Dinner, by Laurie David…and YOU

26 Sep

We’ve just returned from the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. One of the featured guests at the show was activist Laurie David.

Laurie’s new book, The Family Dinner, draws on one of Laurie’s passions: creating more awareness about the importance of the family dinner to the health and well-being of both children and parents.

We’re all for this crusade, and also appreciate her tips to help make it easier for you all to start, keep, and pass on this tradition in your homes.

We have a Cooking with Kids article on our website offering you ideas for ways you can creatively engage your kids in the kitchen. We’ve found that involving them in the process makes them want to share the meal afterwards all that much more.

And while sharing the responsibilities of cooking with the younger people in your life, introduce them to the fun of using spices. It’s a great way for them to use their creativity and curiosity to dream up new and interesting dishes, which in turn keeps them coming back for more fun and sharing.

This recipe dresses up peas with spices and pasta. It’s a good way to integrate farmer’s market goodies into the lessons in the kitchen, too.

Give it a try and let us know what happens!

Picnic Peas & Pasta Salad

You can add any garden-fresh veggies (like cukes, peppers, green beans, tomatoes) to this salad staple.

Ingredients:
4 cups cooked pasta (bowties work well)
1 cup cooked and cooled green peas
1/4 cup shredded carrot
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon thyme leaf
1 to 2 teaspoons tarragon leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions:
Combine pasta, peas and carrots together in a serving dish.In a small bowl or jar, whisk together remaining ingredients (except pepper). Pour dressing over pasta combo and mix well. Sprinkle with pepper.

Please share your family meal ideas with us. Did you grow up in a house where this was a priority? How do you make sure you all sit down together in your house? Do you see the benefits?

Creating the Perfect Pickle

19 Aug

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who’s never forgotten the fun of canning and pickling the bounty from your garden. Or you’re one of the many new people joining in this time-tested way to enjoy your crops all year long.

A symbol of both thrift and abundance, the pickle jar is a staple in every well-stocked pantry. If growing your own pickles doesn’t strike your fancy, you’re still a pickler if you enjoy mixing up that lively relish recipe or gourmet side dish of spicy pickled mango.

Using an array of spices and a variety of produce (think outside the cucumber patch), you can easily make your own signature pickles.

You’ll find it easy to experiment when making pickles, because the basic ingredients and processes are similar

If you’re going to make pickles, good spices are essential to good pickling. If you have fresh spices in the garden, like stalks of graceful dill, include those for visual interest and fresh taste.

But dried spices — whole, ground, and crushed — are really all you need.

For ease and dependability, you might want to keep a ready-made pickling blend on hand. You can have some fun concocting your own custom spice combinations, too. One person’s favorite pickles might highlight the warm sweetness of cardamom and allspice, for example, while another cook’s favorite blend might pop with chili peppers and garlic.

Here’s our favorite blend to get you on your way.  This is where the bulk section can really be your friend – buy a pinch or buy a pound of these ingredients, depending on the size of your project.

GET-YOU-STARTED PICKLING SPICE BLEND

Use this recipe as a rough guideline, and vary amounts and spice choices according to taste. Simply combine all ingredients to make about 1/4 cup of blend. Make small batches of several blends and use your assortment on pickling day.

one 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken up

3 bay leaves, torn into small pieces

2 small dried chili peppers cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed

2 teaspoons dill seed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seed

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed

Finally, here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Use soft water, or distilled or bottled water. Hard water interferes with the curing process.
  • Use vinegars—cider, white, or others—with 4 to 6 percent acetic acid. Commercial vinegars meet this requirement, and you can buy a ph meter to test homemade vinegars.
  • Use pickling salt—not table salt that contains iodine or anti-caking agents or sea salt, which contains trace minerals. Pickling salt (and kosher salt) is free of additives that might discolor ingredients.
  • Use pots, pans, and bowls that are unchipped enamel, stainless, or glass. Galvanized, copper, brass, or iron pans or utensils can react with the salts or acids and change the color and taste of the pickles or even form toxic compounds.

Please visit our Facebook page and post a photo of your pickle or canning project – we’ll randomly choose one of you to win a great batch of canning accessories and spices!

New Twists on Everyday Spices

16 Aug

As we seek healthier eating habits while dealing with tighter budgets, cooking and eating at home is more attractive than ever. If you’re an at-home cook looking for an easy way to expand your culinary horizons, you might try creating some new taste sensations in familiar dishes by using new versions of your favorite spices to liven up family favorites.

Here are some to consider:

Cinnamon is an especially popular spice that comes from the bark of an evergreen tree. For an even sweeter seasoning, try Vietnamese cinnamon. Compared to the more familiar Indonesian types, Vietnamese cinnamon has a distinctly sweet flavor and exceptionally high volatile oil content, the key flavor component. Gourmet cooks rate it as the highest-quality cinnamon in the world. Try using it in everything from oatmeal and baked goods to desserts, beverages and savory dishes.

If you love heat in your food, you’ve probably learned the ways of cayenne. Cayenne adds color and flavor to Southwestern salsas, Indian chutneys, Thai curries, Mexican enchiladas, Chinese stir-fries, Texan chili con carne, Cajun hot sauce and many other recipes. But for a smokier flavor, try chipotle peppers, which are actually dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. Their smoky-sweet flavor is often used in Southwestern and Mexican dishes. Add a dash to liven up everything from chili to barbequed fare.

Freshly ground black pepper is popular in a wide variety of foods, works well in combination with other herbs and spices and is commonly found in spice blends. To change things up, try using Sichuan (Szechuan) pepper instead of black pepper to add an exotic twist to recipes. Gourmet Sichuan pepper is grown in China and offers an unusual, pungent flavor that begins as warm and lemon-like with woodsy overtones and finishes with a more intense bite. It intensifies the flavor of fish, poultry, cheese, and vegetables.

You’ve probably been using vanilla extract to flavor all kinds of desserts, beverages and other dishes. One way to ramp up the flavor is to switch to vanilla beans instead of using the liquid extract. Simply substitute one vanilla bean for each teaspoon of extract, cooking it with the liquid used in the recipe and then removing it. The most common type of vanilla, Bourbon vanilla beans, are grown in Madagascar and are very aromatic with a full, rich taste. But to bump up the flavor, try Papua New Guinea vanilla beans, cultivated in the lowlands of the Pacific Basin. They have a fruitier taste than that of the Bourbon beans, with some notes of cherry that add a deep, longlasting flavor to ice creams, frosting, and many beverages.

Nutmeg is the dried seed of the fruit of an evergreen, which most often comes in ground form. However, nutmeg, like many spices, loses both flavor and aroma after it’s ground. Instead, buy whole nutmeg and grind it yourself using a special nutmeg grater or a fine grater. Grinding it fresh produces a much more robust and fresher flavor. Warm and sweet, nutmeg adds depth to desserts, cheeses, savory dishes and a variety of vegetables. Don’t forget to sprinkle it on eggnog, mulled wines and punches. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are delicious with a light dusting of nutmeg, too.

With just a few simple substitutions like these, you can go beyond the everyday with your spices and create a whole new meal experience. You’ll be amazed at the difference small changes like these can make — and you’ll have fun bringing new, creative flavors into your cooking.

Don’t forget, it’s easy to try these spices by buying from the bulk section, because you only buy the amount you need.

Here’s an easy recipe that allows you to experiment with some varieties of the spices above.

Pumpkin Parfait

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons sugar
6 ounces lowfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup granola with raisins

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, milk, and sugar. In 2 small bowls or ramekins, layer the pumpkin mixture and yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.

Layer in a parfait glass for a fun visual treat.

Herbal Summer Teas

2 Aug

Hey, Frontier Facebook fans: we really, really like you. Every time we ask you for suggestions and ideas, you come through with excellent combinations and uses for our products that we love to learn about.

Recently we asked our fans for summer tea ideas. As usual, they made us crave a refreshing iced tea, preferably from a Mason jar. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Just plain old sweet tea with a lemon, from a Mason jar, of course!
  • Peppermint! Very refreshing.
  • Black with raspberry herbal. Green with citrus. Double Bergamot Earl Grey.
  • Just good cold well water!
  • Grandma’s sweet sun tea!
  • Frontier Raspberry green tea makes a WONDERFUL sun tea!
  • Frontier Spiced Chai steeped, cooled, iced with a little half and half. Yummy!
  • I make all sorts of sun tea…anything from a mixture of my herbs to tea bags…I love it all.
  • I go thru a gallon every 2 days!
  • I make sun tea about every other day, 2 half gallons: one, black or a mix of black & green, for sweet tea; and the other, either just peppermint or a mix of green tea, roses, cinnamon and peppercorns.
  • Peppermint tea, with leaves fresh from my yard.
  • Raspberry and just plain old green tea. I sweeten w/stevia or honey.
  • Orange and blueberry are a lovely combination.  I’m diabetic, so I sweeten with Splenda or Truvia.
  • Mint tea!

Speaking of mint tea, it’s hard to beat as a drink to help cool you down on a sizzling summer day.

Try this easy recipe for making your own, combined with juicy strawberries and lemon, for added sweetness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STRAWBERRY MINT LEMONADE ICED TEA

8 lemons, juice only

1 quart of your favorite sun tea

¾ cup sugar

4 strawberries, chopped, per glass

ice

sprigs of mint

slice of lemon

Directions:

Mix the lemon, water, and sugar to create lemonade to taste.

Mix with your sun tea.

Pour into 16 oz glass.

Add strawberries.

Add ice cubes.

Add mint sprigs.

Finish with slice of lemon and straw.

Let us know your favorite summer teas!

More on herbal summer teas on our website.

Summer Soups

28 Jul

Here’s a very quick idea for a summer dinner. A cool soup! If you’ve never tried a summer soup, you’re in for a treat. You’re likely to come across some new flavor combos when exploring cool soups. And this delicious summer fare made with the weekly bounty from your local farmer’s market is a perfect way to eat healthy and support local growers.

Cool summer vegetable soups are a nice variation from serving a salad. They can also be a hearty meal by themselves. Unlike the desired smoothness of a fruit soup, summer vegetable soups are often rich and full of texture. To get texture, feel free to add beans, rice, or bread to the mix.

Again, there’s nothing like a summer farmer’s market to offer you an array of vegetables for creating soups: spinach, avocados, cucumber, tomatoes, beets, carrots, corn and asparagus. Any of these creatively combined with herbs and spices in a summer soup will revive your weary taste buds after a long summer day.

Here’s a sweet and tangy recipe to get you started.

Chilled Carrot Honey Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups water
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons mild honey
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6  thin lemon slices
1 tablespoon mild honey for drizzling
Directions:

Combine all ingredients except 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice in a 3-qt heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 30-40 minutes.

Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) until very smooth, then chill soup quickly, stirring occasionally, in a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and water, about 30 minutes. (Alternatively, cool soup, uncovered, 30-40 minutes, and then chill covered, until cold, about 4 hours.)

Stir in remaining 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and salt to taste. Divide soup among 6 bowls with a ladle. Float a lemon slice on top of each serving, then drizzle with honey and serve.

 
Remember, when cooled, some of the flavors of your vegetables may fade, so you need to start with the freshest ingredients you can. Newly picked vegetables will give you the most satisfying results.

Here are more summer soup ideas, and creative serving suggestions. Enjoy!

Organic Food Apps

17 Jul

If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, we’ve gathered up some apps you may want download to make your search for organic foods and markets a bit easier.

We realize not all of you are iPhone or iPad users, and some of you use other kinds of smart phones. But to keep things simple, we’ve kept this list just to the Apple apps for now.  We’ve discovered there aren’t a huge amount of apps in general for those who shop and cook organic; and the majority of the available ones are for Apple users. We’d love to know of more if you have some to share.

Here are links to the downloads, or links to information about the download.

Whole Foods Market Missions

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/iphone/

Expand your palate by exploring a range of delicious, nutrient-dense foods. Learn more about healthy eating and start a conversation with your social networks about your mission to better health. Complete steps of varying difficulty and earn badges through fun and educational missions. Get simple, practical advice on cooking, nutrition, green living, food storage and more.

GoodGuide

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2011-05-12-GoodGuide-app_n.htm

With GoodGuide, you open the app in a store, take a photo of a product’s bar code and instantly discover information about how green the product is.

Organic Food and Gardening News

http://www.apple.com/webapps/news/organicfoodandgardeningnews.html

Whether you’re new to or a veteran of organic food and gardening this app will give you daily tips and information about organic food and gardening that are practical and useful.

The True Food Shopping Guide

http://livingmaxwell.com/organic-nyc-iphone-app-true-food-shopping-guide

The Center for Food Safety, a non-profit organization, created this app to help shoppers become more educated about which foods/brands contain genetically modified foods and which ones don’t.

Farmers Market

http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/farmers-market

This app lists over 2,500 markets in New York, D.C., Washington, Vermont, Delaware, California, Florida, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia, and stores information on each location’s selection and specialties.

Dirty Dozen

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dirty-dozen/id312336368?mt=8

Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic.

Locavore

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/locavore/id306140158?mt=8

Using GPS, Locavore searches for in-season, local food by pinpointing farmers’ markets near you. It’s an easy way to find local, in-season food, pinpointing nearby farmers’ markets & farms that sell the products. Also includes recipes, and ways to share your finds on Facebook.

And finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend one of our brand’s apps:

Simply Organic

http://itunes.apple.com/app/simply-organic/id325214872?mt=8

With the Simply Organic app, you can browse our collection of hundreds of recipes, and ingredients.  You can access the latest Simple Savings coupons, and find the store nearest you that carries Simply Organic products.

Please share your favorite organic apps; we’d love to add them to this list.

Spork Foods

12 Jul

Spork Foods is a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. They offer live cooking classes in Los Angeles and online vegan cooking classes at www.sporkonline.com, one-on-one in-home healthy pantry makeovers, and recipe development/trainings for chefs, food companies and colleges.

Heather Goldberg, left and Jenny Engel, right, of Spork Foods.

Their cookbook, Spork-Fed, will be released in October 2011, with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Based on the Spork philosophy that veganism is about all of the wonderful things you can have, instead of what you can’t, Spork-Fed features over 80 original recipes, gorgeous full-color photographs and healthful tips sure to make any mouth water.

Stay tuned to our blog for more info about this book as its publication date approaches.

Heather and Jenny took time out recently to answer some questions for us about their past, present and future plans for Spork Foods.  They also generously shared one of their fantastic recipes.

What started you on the vegan path? What was it about environmental studies that made you decide to go vegan?  

Although 3 years apart, but virtually twins in all other aspects, we became enlightened to the world of veganism in college as Environmental Science majors. With Heather living in San Francisco and Jenny studying at UC Santa Cruz we each took classes called “World Ecological Crisis”, “Environmental Economics”, and “The Future of Rain Forests.”

Needless to say we were both very alarmed!  What we learned about was the connection between the degradation of the planet and the meat and dairy industry! Right then and there, and very separately, we went vegan over 11 years ago.

We worked together at an environmental non-profit organization called TreePeople in Los Angeles for a few years, sharing lunches and dreaming of running our own sister-business, until our hearts inevitably led us into the kitchen to do the work we were meant to do.

In your videos, you talk about the benefits of using herbs. What are some of your favorites to use? Do you have a favorite recipe you could share that takes advantage of herbs?

Lemon thyme is our fave herb! It has a gorgeous scent that is mildly lemony and super fresh!  We fold it into cashew cheeses, make zesty light potato salads with it, and throw it into spiked lemonade!

One of our main goals is to keep you out of the doctor’s office and show you how to take the health of you and your loved ones into your own hands every time you eat! Our food is more than just calories and protein. When you eat well and eat naturally, you have the ability to improve your body and mind. We’ll drink some carrot juice to that!

Here’s a recipe using lemon thyme — you might try it at your next party.

White Wine Cashew Cheese (on black bean sliders)

WHITE WINE CASHEW CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups roasted unsalted cashews

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon light miso paste

2 teaspoons brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon neutral tasting oil, organic safflower preferred

3 tablespoons unsweetened almond or soymilk

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup vegan white wine

3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, stemmed and finely chopped

Directions:

In a large food processor, add cashews, garlic powder, sea salt, miso, brown rice syrup, oil, almond or soymilk, lemon juice and wine.

Scrape the sides of the food processor occasionally and blend until smooth.

Fold in lemon thyme once.

Transfer to a bowl and ENJOY with crudités or crackers!

© Spork Foods, 2009

Tell us about your online classes! Can you tell us what some of the out-of-the-kitchen experiences might be?  

We launched our on-line classes at www.sporkonline.com less than a year ago! It is a membership-based website for anyone who wants to learn how to prepare fun, easy, delicious, vegan recipes – served anytime!

Our classes are shot and edited in HD by professional filmmakers to create an entertaining and engaging experience.

A NEW COOKING CLASS featuring a four-course meal and built around a specific theme is posted online and available to members once a month.  The classes are filmed with an eclectic group of students (including celebrities, authors, activists, farmers, parents, entrepreneurs and more) that spark interesting conversation around the dinner table and offer their own expertise.  As a member, you get to watch their conversation unfold!

Each month the site will also offer EXCLUSIVE BONUS RECIPES and classes that feature specific holiday and seasonal themes – all designed to enhance your cooking repertoire!

You will have access to extended OUT-OF-THE-KITCHEN EXPERIENCES with Jenny and Heather, taking members on mini adventures with us!  In our favorite one, we take our bestie Rory Freedman, Author of Skinny Bitch, to a farm where we eat things we’ve never even seen before! We have an ARCHIVED CLASSES section so you can master your kitch skills like a pro day or night! Don’t forget to ask the sisters your pressing foodie questions on our FOOD 911 page!

Whether you are a lifelong vegan, veg-curious, or just want to expand your cooking repertoire, Sporkonline offers tried and true original recipes that will please all of your friends and family!

Do you find that being based in LA is an advantage? Do find more vegans there, or a more vegan-oriented culture?

As 4th generation Angelinos, we love being in L.A. and in fact, we’re never leaving! Living in L.A., we are lucky because there is an abundance of Farmer’s Markets all over the city with incredible local fruits and veggies everywhere you look.

We actually take a sister trip each year to a place we have never been and can’t speak the language.  We have truly found a vegan culture in every single corner of the earth that we have explored, from Japan, to Greece, The Cayman Islands to Cuba. We vegans are everywhere!

Are other people in your family vegan?

Mom and Dad are vegan, and as my Dad’s doc says, “You’re the healthiest patient we have!” On no meds at age 70 and looking spry as a teenager, Mom and Dad are sticking with it. We’re still working on Grandma…

Tell us a little bit about some of the things your parents and grandparents taught you about cooking — we love stories of families in the kitchen, and traditions that are passed down. 

No need for explanation, we will let YouTube do the talking! In this video, Grandma Jeanette teaches us her strudel recipe, veganized, of course!

In our cookbook Spork-Fed we will feature Grandma’s Birds Nest Cookies that she has been making for us since before we can remember.

The one huge lesson that our mom taught us in the kitchen is to never be afraid.  She adds whatever spices she has, puts all sorts of veggies in a pot – and it always turns out amazing.

We love to teach people about harnessing their “kitchen intuition” so they can go from relying on a recipe to becoming masters of cooking improvisation.

Feel free to tell us what you like about our spices. Do you have any particular favorites?

We adore Frontier spices and we use them in everything!

We’re thrilled that you offer a wide array of organic spices, and we’re pretty much in love with your Ceylon cinnamon!

But the other thing that we really appreciate about your spices is that you have a picture of what the spice looks like on the container.

When we pass around the turmeric in our cooking classes, for example, people notice that it looks a bit like ginger root when they see the bottle and they feel more connected to their food.  It makes us so happy when people make connections with the foods they eat and the plants they come from  – so thanks for that!

Thanks so much, Heather and Jenny. We can’t wait for your book!

Moroccan Food

13 Jun

A team from Aura Cacia, our essential oil brand, recently traveled to Morocco on a sourcing trip. We always like to hear about the cuisines encountered on these trips. A few notes they shared with us about the food: Tagines were often used to cook the food, no pork was ever served, fruit was served as dessert, argan oil was used in many dishes, and the photos don’t really show how large the dishes were!

Because of Morocco’s interaction with many other cultures and countries throughout history, today’s Moroccan cuisine is surprisingly diverse. In addition to imported spices, many ingredients are home grown, including saffron, olives, lemons, and mint. Common spices used daily include cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, pepper, paprika, ginger, coriander, sesame seeds and anise seeds.

We’re going to let the team’s photos do the rest of the talking.

Veggie and meat dish.

Salad in Morocco.

Main course served in Moroccan home.

Honeycomb appetizer, for dipping bread.

Fruit platter, served as dessert.

Cous cous veggie dish made with argan oil.

Chicken dish with almonds.

Here’s a recipe from our recipe files for creating your own Moroccan spice rub, using coriander, fennel, cardamom and cloves.

Moroccan Barbecue Spice Mix

Dry toasting whole spice seeds intensifies their flavor and fragrance. You can liberally rub this enticing spice mix over salmon, halibut, pork, chicken or beef before cooking, or add it to sautéed onions with chopped kale, collard greens, or cabbage, sea salt, and black pepper with a little bit of broth, then cover and simmer for a delicious side dish. Thanks go to Chef Bruce Sherrod of Berkeley, CA, for sharing this recipe.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole shelled cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
Directions:

To toast seeds: Combine spice seeds in a dry, medium-size skillet over moderate heat. Stir until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pour seeds into a shallow bowl to cool.

To grind: Finely powder the toasted spices in a spice-dedicated coffee grinder (not the same one you use for coffee) or mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to 6 months (use sooner if possible).

To use with fish or meat: Season steaks, chops, fish, beef or pork roast with coarsely ground black pepper and finely ground sea salt; roll the meat in a portion of spice mix and press firmly to coat all over. Allow the seasoned meat to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, or cover loosely with unbleached parchment paper and refrigerate for up to 4 hours before cooking.

Sear seasoned fish or meat in a heavy, oven-proof skillet with coconut oil, clarified butter or ghee (2 tablespoons per 1 1/2 to 2 pounds fish or meat) until hot but not smoking. Sear 1 to 2 minutes per side, then finish in a preheated 400°F oven.

To shell whole cardamom seeds, place 1 tablespoon of whole cardamom pods (they have a beige color) on a cutting board. Rock over them with a heavy-bottomed skillet or chef knife. Pull away and discard the shell fragments, then measure the black seeds. Repeat as needed. To skip this step, buy shelled cardamom seeds.

Let us know if you have experience with Moroccan foods, or any favorite recipes you’d like to share!

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