Follow That Chef – Gwen Kenneally

Meet Chef, Cookbook Author and Food Writer Gwen Kenneally!

Gwen was the featured Chef for The Gourmandise School’s “Follow That Chef” this week! We met in our usual spot at The Santa Monica Farmers Market. Our group was very small and we had a wonderful time chatting as we strolled around. Gwen is so personable! We felt comfortable with her right away!

Gwen found some fantastic heirloom tomatoes for her peach salsa! They were just as delicious as they are pretty. 🙂

Gwen cut up some fresh peaches, heirloom tomatoes, ginger, torpedo onions, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and combined them to make a fresh summer salsa!

Also on the menu were asian inspired turkey burgers! Gwen filled them with ground turkey, dried cherries and ginger!

Gwen said she would normally grill these beautiful burgers (and I imagine they would be fabulous that way too!) but she fried them on the stove top instead. She suggested a slather of mustard to enhance the flavor of the burger.

Along with the salsa and turkey burgers, Gwen steamed baby purple artichokes. After they were steamed, she sautéed them in butter, onion and garlic!

These were fantastic!

We also munched on three different types of fresh goat cheese paired with french bread baguettes!

The entire time Gwen was cooking, she was chatting about her life, laughing with us and sharing great tips! She’s got a fun new cookbook called “Sweet and Savory!” I think it’s a perfect title! I can’t wait to try her Lemon Rosemary Risotto!

When everything was ready, it was time to eat!

Homemade Tortilla Chips with fresh Summer Salsa

Bread and cheese

Steamed and sautéed Purple Artichokes

Asian Turkey Burgers

It was a FEAST!

I have to tell you though, the best part, was meeting Chef Gwen! She is so down-to-earth and friendly. Food is obviously something she loves to share with others and it shows! Thank you Gwen for a fun morning and a great food demo! Thank you too, for being so patient and understanding while I took pictures. And more pictures. And more pictures. And maybe just one more picture. 🙂 You can find Gwen writing for “The Daily Find“, on her blog “Back to the Kitchen” or at her Catering Business, also named “Back to the Kitchen

A big thank you also to The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories for hosting these wonderful events!

Till next time, foodie friends! xoxox ~ Sara

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Foodie Pen Pals – Reveal Day!

This was my first month participating in Foodie Pen Pals! It’s a lot of fun and I really enjoyed getting to know new people from across the country!

I was paired with Julia from Tampa, Florida. Julia is a reader who just graduated from High School (Hope it was AWESOME!) She has such a passion for food! Through our emails I discovered she’s also a vegetarian and this was her first month participating in Foodie Pen Pals too. I was very excited to get her box in the mail!

FINALLY, I can show you what was inside! Take a peek…


Such a sweet note! I loved how she decorated it!


These were Julia’s Compost Cookies, a sweet-salty mix of coconut and chocolate that disappeared very quickly!

Ghirardelli chocolate, pretzels and cookies! Does my Pen Pal ROCK or what? 🙂
I was most excited about the mushroom soup! Julia shared that she thickens it a bit and uses it as a sauce over veggies. Given that my daughter is also a vegetarian, we gave it a try and it was AWESOME!

So where did my Foodie Pen Pal package go? It went to Jilly who blogs over at “My Outside Voice” I thought it was cute that “My Outside Voice” was paired with “My Imperfect Kitchen!” Imagine the things we could share about what happens in our kitchens and inside our heads! LOL! I had so much fun shopping and boxing up Jilly’s package! Follow the link above to check out her blog and see what you think!

How can you get your own foodie pen pal? Foodie Pen Pals is run by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean.

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

1. On the 5th of the month, you will receive your pen pal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your pen pal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
2. You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your pen pal!
3. The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
4. You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
5. Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your pen pal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

This was really fun!! I am looking forward to next month and getting to know two more new people from the foodie universe!!

Jicama and Red Onion Slaw!

This fresh, light slaw will be a permanent staple at our house! It has a peppery sweet dressing with a host of unusual veggies that create a refreshing change of pace from the usual mayo heavy coleslaw.

If you have a food processor, this comes together with incredible ease. Simply shred everything and viola!

Salad Ingredients
1 cup peeled, shredded jicama
1 cup peeled, shredded carrots
1 cup shredded cucumber
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup shredded red radishes
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 TBLS cilantro, roughly chopped

Dressing Ingredients
5 TBLS Rice wine vinegar
5 TBLS Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 TBLS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Using a food processor, shred all the veggies except the red onion and cilantro. If you don’t have a food processor, simply julienne all the veggies so the pieces are all the same size. Toss together in a large bowl. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the veggies. Chop the cilantro and set aside.

Add HALF the dressing to the veggies, tossing gently to coat. Allow the salad to sit for 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator to combine flavors. Add the cilantro just prior to serving. Put the rest of the dressing on the table for serving.

I love the way the vegetables blend together with a little sweetness from the Jicama with a tangy bite from the radish. The dressing adds some heat with the red pepper flakes and everything is light and fresh! A perfect addition to any summer meal!

A bit of warning, this makes a HUGE amount of slaw! We’ve been eating it for several days, but if you took it to a family party or outdoor BBQ, I guarantee it will disappear quickly and you’ll have requests for the recipe!

Enjoy!!

Blueberry Pancakes for our Birthday Boy!

Our oldest child, Matthew, turned 25 this weekend. It’s hard to imagine so much time has passed. It feels like yesterday we became a family and we were bringing him home from the hospital. All 7 lbs, 6 oz of him…

He’s all grown up now and moved out of the house, but to celebrate, his Dad and I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast on his birthday!

I made the picture antique because we’ve teased Matt about being a quarter of a century old now! I’m not sure who that’s harder for, us or him. 🙂

These are awesome pancakes that I made with Bisquick and fresh blueberries! The recipe is simple. Of course, if you have your own favorite family recipe, you can use it too, just add the blueberries at the end!

Birthday Boy Blueberry Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 pint fresh blueberries

Heat your griddle.

Mix Bisquick, eggs, buttermilk and oil together.

Gently fold in berries being careful not to break any berries. If you break many blueberries, you’ll have very blue pancakes. Which might be fun, but kinda weird at the same time!

Add a bit of butter to the grill and let it melt. Add scant 1/4 cup of batter to make small pancakes.

Flip the pancakes when the edges are dry and you see bubbles across the surface.

Continue to cook for about a minute or so. Transfer to a warm plate and serve immediately with butter and syrup!

Here is a picture of all my children taken just last week! They are all grown up!

Matthew is there on the left, then Amy and Evan. Evan just turned 18 and will graduate from high school next week. Gorgeous, aren’t they? I think we’ll make blueberry pancakes for ourselves on each of their birthdays. Time to start new traditions now that there are no more children in our house, right?

Basic Buttermilk Biscuits

If you’ve never made biscuits before, I have to tell you, there is something very satisfying about digging your hands into dough and creating flaky goodness in just a few minutes.

This is a very basic buttermilk recipe and there are many ways to play with it. You can make herb biscuits – stir minced fresh herbs or a pinch of dried herbs into the flour before you add the butter. After you add the butter you can add small dices of your favorite cheese or add ham chunks, minced green chiles, orange zest – whatever you want! Let your imagination run free! Doesn’t get any better than that, does it? 🙂

Basic Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBS baking powder
6 TBS unsalted butter, very cold *
1 cup buttermilk

* One very important tip: the butter for your biscuits should be cold! Very, very cold. Cut the butter into small pieces, put them on a small plate or in a small bowl and put it in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the dough.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a food processor. Add your ice-cold butter and pulse a few times. You want some pieces to be reduced to flakes and others to be pebbly and about the size of peas. Don’t over work the dough at this step. The water in the butter turns to steam in the oven and puffs the biscuits to give you those light flaky layers! YUMM!

Mix the cold buttermilk into the dough with a fork. If it seems dry, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be a fairly wet dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat it into a circle about 1/2-inch thick. Do NOT roll the dough. This will over work the gluten in the biscuit and make it tough. Fold the dough over several times, gently pressing down to about 1 inch thickness.

Cut the dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you can always use a knife and cut the biscuits into squares. You could get really crazy and use different shape cut outs too!

For soft-sided biscuits, place the biscuits with their edges together on the baking sheet. These biscuits tend to rise more (plus I like them better!) For crusty biscuits, put them about an inch apart, so the heat can circulate around them.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Don’t overbake!

And you can freeze the biscuits before they’re baked! After you cut them, put the circles (or squares) on a baking sheet and pop them in the freezer. As soon as the dough is frozen, pack them in an airtight container or a freezer bag. Then, when you’re ready for hot, flakey buttermilk biscuits, pull out what you need and bake them! Put them frozen straight onto a baking sheet and bake about 18-20 minutes at 450 degrees.

See, great bread doesn’t have to be hard! Besides, if you make sausage gravy to go with these biscuits, you have an amazing Sunday breakfast!

Leek and Asparagus Quiche from Joy The Baker!

“You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.”

Yes, it’s a cheesy quote from the movie “Julie and Julia” but it’s absolutely how I feel this week. Life has been rollercoaster crazy for me lately. It’s starting to slow down a bit (knock on wood) but I have MISSED being in the kitchen. It was such a comfort to be cooking yesterday. While this recipe isn’t egg yolks and chocolate, it is a classic combination of eggs, cream and cheese that comes together in a make your heart smile kind of way!

Wait! That’s not eggs, cream OR cheese? Nope, it’s asparagus and leeks sauted with a bit of olive oil. Don’t worry, the eggy, creamy, cheesy goodness is coming. I promise.

See. Feel better? Those delicious veggies went into a puff-pastry lined casserole dish and got a bath of eggs, cream and cheese! Now we bake it (at 350 degrees for 45 minutes) so it comes out looking like this…

Then, we make it pose for a pretty picture. Since you have to let it sit for a while anyway. It had nothing better to do…

Now, we EAT it! I might just be a little too excited about this part…

This fabulous Quiché is brought to you courtesy of the “Joy The Baker” cookbook and the equally fabulous Joy Wilson. (And as I am posting this on May 25th, Happy Birthday Joy!)

The recipe is super easy and super flexible – which I love! You can substitute almost any veggie combination and I’m sure it would be wonderful. There were several comments from the “Sundays with Joy” group about adding bacon too! Mmmm… bacon…

Anyway, if you’re looking for a great Quiché recipe, look no farther than page 39 of the “Joy The Baker Cookbook 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes”! It was certainly comforting to me, and I hope it will be to you too!

Till next time Foodies,
xoxox~ Sara

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