Kwanzaa Culinarians 2014: Cacao Benne Cookies

Cacao Benne Cookies

Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced “benny”) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in a war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”

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Appetizing Event: Celebrating Pampano’s 10 Year Anniversary

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The recently hired coat check hostess said most of the opening day staff are still working at Pampano of New York City (there’s another location in Qatar). The evening celebrating the launch of Pampano’s ten year anniversary tasting menu of popular dishes, guests murmured about the friendliness of the staff based on their past visits. Before the event started, the staff finished preparations by placing small vases full of yellow roses on various tables. The bartender stood behind a table expertly arranged with wine, tequilas, fruit purees and garnishes. The evening was an unusually warm Tuesday in March, in between two frigid, cold days. As the event started, the waiters carried out trays of food. I carefully balanced my mango sangria in one hand, made sure the camera was securely around my neck, and tasted Pampano’s empanadas.   Continue reading Appetizing Event: Celebrating Pampano’s 10 Year Anniversary

Say Yassss to Spring

Baked Eggs in Harissa Spice Tomatoes Sauce with Quinoa and Kale

Say yasssssss to Spring being around the corner, especially after we had one too many snowstorms this past winter. As I’m writing this, we’re due for another snowstorm (or dusting) the next day. Usually my refrigerator is packed with flour, buttermilk, orange juice, eggs and maple syrup for a pancake breakfast. This time, there will be no pancakes to celebrate another snowflake.

Overlooking the buttermilk, I remove left over red quinoa from a salad made earlier in the week. I find other ingredients for a quick breakfast: Crisp baby kale, a new jar of harissa spice, fresh thyme and plenty of eggs. On a whim, a savory tomato and egg dish with a bit of harissa spice was made.

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Parade.com: Broccoli and Pear Salad with Ginger Yogurt Vinaigrette

Broccoli and Pear Salad with Ginger Yogurt Vinaigrette

After a few years, it finally caught me. A type of cold that makes your muscles ache, gives knock-out headaches, and a non-stop running nose. There’s only so much chicken soup, orange juice and ginger tea I can take until my body starts feeling better. In between all the bland and mushy food, here’s a crunchy salad with sweet pears, lightly steamed cold-fighting broccoli and toasted almonds. Drizzle the spicy and immune building Ginger Yogurt Vinaigrette over the salad to finish this dish. With plenty of sleep and more good eating, I can’t wait to finally end this cold and (hopefully) escape it for a few more years.  Continue reading Parade.com: Broccoli and Pear Salad with Ginger Yogurt Vinaigrette

Fall in Love with Pineapple Pizza

Pineapple and Duck Prosciutto Pizza

A whole pineapple was thoughtlessly purchased without a clue of what to do with it. Although, it’s a bit complicated to chop up, it’s a juicy snack or a nice garnish for a rum drink. Chunks of it always sweeten a mean, green stir-fry. When it’s pureed, it sweetens most dessert (try it in Hummingbird Cake with Mascarpone Frosting). After some thought, I decided to challenge myself by making a savory pineapple pizza.

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