macy’s culinary council: andrea robinson

You may recall that I told you a few weeks ago that I’m trying to learn more about wine, especially how to pair wine with food. Many of you gave me some great resources – Thank You! I also recently received an invitation to attend a Macy’s Culinary Council event featuring Andrea Robinson, renowned Master Sommelier, author and chef. Just what I needed. (I also got to meet Melissa!)

I can say, without a doubt, that I loved Andrea Robinson. She was engaging and warm without an inkling of being haughty.

I really appreciated her “rules,” the first being that there are no “rules” when it comes to pairing food and wine.

  • it’s not the protein, it’s the prep that you are matching
  • body with body – to acheive balance
  • pair intense herbs with intense, big reds
  • the fermentation element in foods (vinegar, cured meat, etc.) pairs well with the fermentation process that wine undergoes
  • everything goes with bubbles

In addition to being one of 16 female Master Sommeliers, she is the author of a number of books on wine and food, (I purchased Great Wine Made Simple), chef and most recently, the developer of a new set of wine glasses, The One. She prepared some delicious food to go along with some delicious wines for us to sample!

First was an edamame pesto that I will be making soon, it was delicious and fresh-tasting. The St. Supéry Sauvingon Blanc that was paired along with it was excellent as well. It was delightfully citrusy and refreshing on a 90 degree day. This pairing was an example of the similar fermentation elements between food and wine (ie. the toasted sesame oil and wine both being aged in a barrel)

While the proscuitto & sage crusted pork was very good, it was the last dish she made that I’m still thinking about. Skeptics of the world, the chocolate & chorizo toasts were my favorite of the evening. Salty & Sweet is a combination I’m sure I’ll never grow tired of, but the creamy chocolate with salty chorizo was the ultimate of sweet & salty. I can’t wait to make this again…I’ve just got to find a crowd with an open mind. ;) Any takers?

Vegan PB Blondies

I was lucky enough to receive a sampling of stevia products from NuNaturals. I have been a fan of stevia for quite some time, but I have never baked with it before. (Considering that I just started baking last month, could be part of the reason) While I was paging through all of the recipes that they sent along, one recipe in particular stood out. Vegan Peanut Butter Blondies. I’ve seen Mama Pea’s baking skills time and time again, and although I don’t have two cute helpers, I knew I was going to have to try this recipe, even if I was all on my own.

I love the idea of a whole-grain, low-sugar treat that I can feel good about eating. And I love that you can replace some of the sugar with stevia. NuNaturals baking blend is such a genius idea! I would try adding a little less stevia next time, because there was a hint of that stevia flavor that I don’t particularly care for – definitely not enough for me to not eat the remaining bars however! I can’t wait to try some more recipes with stevia and I’m also looking for some samplers, my freezer can’t handle anymore frozen cookies, bars and desserts!

Have you baked with stevia before? What have you made?

california dreaming…

Hello Everyone!

I’m back from California and despite the perfect weather and sunshine, I have to admit that I was ready to be home, looking forward to my daily routine, reading all of your blogs and of course seeing the taster!

Expo West 2010 went very well. As with any big event, the glitches are quickly fixed and we served up more bread, tortillas and pizzas than I can even wrap my head around. After the show, I was fortunate enought to spend some time in LA with family and meet Lynn from The Actor’s Diet! (I had confused the dates and due to a last minute change Christy was unable to attend – next time Christy!) It was so fun to chat with her and meet the famous Julius. She is as beautiful as you can imagine!

I promised you some of the newest and most interesting products out there so here they are. Because we were so busy and the show is so huge I certainly didn’t see everything but here are some of my favorites.

Interesting & New Products:

  • Lara Bars: There are some new bar flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (there is a bit more added sugar with the chocolate) but unfortunately by the time I got to their booth they were all out of samples! I heard nothing but good things so am anxious to see them in the stores!
  • Coconut Water Sorbet: This coconut sorbet was delicious, sweetened with agave and will be so refreshing in the midst of summer – the lemonade flavor was perfectly tart, but I’m even more excited to try the Hibiscus variety.
  • Amazing Grass: I’ve been using the grass for some time but was explaining that I just can’t down it plain with water and would like to – enter in the newest variety that has a nice lime flavor and also contains matcha and mate in addition to the green goodness – trust me when I say you can drink it straight. They also have a new bar out, Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar that was delicious and I will be buying again.
  • Daiya Cheese: this new vegan cheese is out of this world. I obviously am VERY picky with vegan/dairy-free cheeses because I love cheese and refuse to eat mediocre cheese. With that said, it will be in my shopping cart this weekend.
  • Zhena’s Gypsy Tea: Coconut Chai with some almond milk and agave/stevia = perfection in a cup.
  • Hansen’s Natural Fruit & Tea Sticks: The natural version of Crystal Light – finally! These low-cal drink mixes are sweetened with truvia and are deliciously sweet – I know the kids at camp will love them!
  • YumNuts Naturals: Roasted, jumbo cashews with no added oils – perfect for afternoon snacking (Toasted Coconut was my favorite).
  • Hummus Chips & Dressing: I’ve had the hummus chips at other shows and always loved them but have yet to see them in the stores – this year they also had a new hummus dressing which is similar to a thinned-out hummus – perfect for any salad!

peanut butter-stuffed milk chocolate sandwich cookies

It may be evident by now that I love the combination of peanut-butter and chocolate, especially when they are in the form of cookies.  But I also know someone else who is very fond of this flavor and she just happened to have a birthday recently. I knew just what to make.

These are not the prettiest of cookies but once you taste how good the chewy chocolate cookies are with the sweet peanut butter filling, you won’t care what they look like. They are reminiscint of brownies with the addition of a creamy peanut-butter filling. Giving them away worked out well because I could not be trusted around these cookies! I was lucky enough to see Holly last weekend, so she got a few too!

Peanut Butter-stuffed Milk Chocolate Sandwich Cookies - makes 8