The blender is a fantastic tool in the kitchen, if yours is sitting around gathering dust it’s time to make a change! It allows you to prepare foods you simply would not be able to any other way, and can really help to elevate your cooking. Here are some of the things you can make in your blender and get the very most out of it.
The most obvious thing to make in a blender (and the reason most people buy one) is to make smoothies. Smoothies are fantastic, they’re a great way to get more fruit into your diet and make an easy breakfast or snack. Even fussy kids who don’t like fruit will generally sip on a tasty smoothie so it’s something the whole family can get on board with. For an excellent smoothie, every time use frozen mixed berries, chopped frozen banana (for thickness and sweetness) and juice or almond milk. From there you can add any additional ingredients of your choice. Goji berries for a nutrient-packed boost, avocado for good fats, Greek yogurt for protein, even a handful of spinach which you can’t taste when it’s with the other ingredients. Once you have that base smoothie right, you can tailor it with any extras you like so experiment and work out your favorite combinations.
Soup is such a convenient, versatile lunch. It’s light, healthy and a doddle to make if you have a powerful blender such as a Vitamix. There are a variety of models so some research will help you decide on the best Vitamix for you. Roast or boil some veggies, leave to cool and then blend with some stock and herbs. Heat up the mixture in a saucepan and swirl through some cream, creme fraiche or natural yogurt to finish. It’s a great way to use up the odds and ends you have left of your week’s veggies and is a super nutrient rich and healthy lunch. Eat with some wholemeal bread for added fiber if you want something more substantial.
Many of us indulge on unhealthy and expensive curries at the weekend from takeaways, but there’s no need as it’s so simple to make your own. To create your base sauce start with onions- lots of them. Around six large onions will do the trick, chop them and cook them down until they’re brown and sticky for maximum flavor. Add some herbs and spices- garlic powder, turmeric, coriander leaf, paprika and cumin seeds are good choices. Blend up this mixture with a tin or two tomatoes and a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and you have a great base sauce. You can cook this down to reduce it if you want a thicker consistency or add a little water if it’s too thick. Taste your sauce as you go, decide if it needs anything else adding. If you’re not confident with herbs and spices, buy a curry paste (not sauce) jar and add a few tablespoons of this instead. Add some marinated cooked chicken and simmer for thirty minutes until the flavors are infused. Stir through cream or natural yogurt and serve with basmati rice for the perfect weekend treat.
Buying ready made breadcrumbs is kind of expensive, and they can be a little crunchy and bland too. Making your own is far better, they taste nicer, and it’s a good way to use up stale bread. Plus they freeze nicely so if you make a big batch, simply divide into sandwich bags and pop in the freezer to use when you need them Slightly toasted or stale bread (but be aware of mold which is not good!) works best. For added flavor put in a pinch of herbs too. Breadcrumbs are useful for a technique called ‘penang.’ Here you coat meat, fish, even firm cheese in flour, then dip it in beaten egg and finally rolling it in the breadcrumbs. You can cook these in the deep fat fryer, but for a healthier option put them on a baking sheet and cook in the oven. You can make homemade breaded chicken, nuggets, goujons, fish fingers, even mozzarella sticks using this method.
Have you got fruit trees in your garden, or just regularly manage to snag good prices on fruit? A good way to use these up is by turning them into puree. Chop up the fruit and cook it down in a saucepan until it’s caramelized. Once cooled blend it up and put it into containers. If these will be used in recipes or cooking at a later date, you could freeze it in icecube trays. Simply pop out a cube or two from the freezer as needed and use it however you like.
Who said adults can’t enjoy Halloween too? Here are three Halloween inspired to cocktails to “treat” you and your friends!
- 1 Bottle of VOGA Italia Red Fusion
- 1 cup whole black grapes
- 1 cup whole green grapes
- 2 oranges, sliced into rounds
- 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
- 1 lime, sliced into rounds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 (12 ounce) can club soda
- Colored sugar, for rimming glasses
- 4 cups of rum
- 2 cups VOGA Italia Red Wine
- The peel of three lemons
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
- 4 cups of water
- 1 blood orange sliced into thin disks
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- freshly grated nutmeg
Pumpkin Spice Margarita
- The juice of 1/2 a lime, plus a wedge and a wheel for garnish
Kosher salt, for the rim
- 2 ounces Jose Cuervo white tequila
- 2 ounces pumpkin spice syrup
- 1/2 ounce orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
Vanilla is a classic and amazing flavor used in sweets, cooking and baking everyday. Even real estate professionals use the scent of vanilla for their open house. I recently tried Neilsen Massy Madagascar Bourbon Vanillas and they have made a world of difference in my weekend French Toast! I can’t wait to use it in all my favorite recipes…. Panna Cotta!
Nielsen-Massey are vanilla experts, crafting vanilla products for over a century. They know everything from where the bean is from, to the best use and pairing for its natural essence to shine. They use proprietary cold extraction process instead of heat extraction.
This process gently extracts vanilla’s essential oils, preserving the more than 300 distinctive flavor compounds present in the beans. By protecting our vanilla from heat, even its subtlest flavors survive extraction. Cold extraction is a more delicate, longer process that takes weeks instead of days, to produce the finest flavor and risk losing any of the complexity and robustness of the original bean.
All vanilla is inspected carefully –bundle by bundle, bean by bean–to ensure each bean meets the Nielsen Massey high standards.
The vanilla beans used are from the finest growing regions: Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti. And to showcase the unique flavor profiles of vanillas grown in different regions, we offer origin specific vanilla extracts from Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti.
All Nielsen Massey products are Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free, GMO-Free and Kosher, and also have a line of Organic vanillas.
Some really fun Vanilla facts:
A teaspoon or so of vanilla in Italian tomato sauces or Mexican chili helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
For best results when using our extracts, add them at the end of the cooking process or cream them with butter for baking.
To taste for yourself the difference between Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla and Tahitian Vanilla, whip up some whip cream. Just substitute in the different extracts for each batch. Ice cream and custards would also show off the delicious subtleties of each vanilla (though it would be a bigger undertaking).
Outside The Kitchen
A few drops of vanilla in a can of paint will help eliminate the unpleasant odor.
A vanilla bean under your car seat gives a fresh aroma and helps eliminate musty odors.
Vanilla extract is used by veteran fishermen to mask the smell of their hands so the fish won’t detect them.
Vanilla beans are hand-pollinated on family farms.
The curing process, which involves drying the beans in the sun by day and allowing them to sweat in a box at night, can take three to six months. The beans get hot enough in the sun to actually burn your hand.
Each vanilla flower opens for only one part of one day during the season. If it’s not pollinated on that day, no pod will be produced.
The entire vanilla-cultivation process, from planting to market, can take from five to six years.
In Mexico, vanilla was originally pollinated by a tiny native bee called the Melipone.
Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs, greeted Cortez the conqueror in his banquet hall with a chocolate drink, Chocolatl (or Xocolatl), made of ground corn, cacao beans, honey and vanilla pods. While Cortex greatly enjoyed the drink, Montezuma was nonetheless executed shortly after.
The Spaniards called the plant “vanilla” which means “little scabbard”.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing vanilla to the United States in the late 1700s. While serving as Ambassador to King Louis XVI of France, he became familiar with vanilla beans and brought 200 vanilla beans back with him when he returned to the United States.
George Washington liked vanilla ice cream and kept two pewter ice-cream pots at Mount Vernon during his presidency from 1789-1797.
Dolley Madison created a sensation when she served vanilla ice cream as a dessert in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812.
Find out about the best vanilla in the world http://www.nielsenmassey.com/consumer/index.php
One of the many perks of living in New York City are the incredible food options. The Mexicue food truck has been making rounds in the city for quite a while now, serving up a delicious fusion of Mexican and barbecue. The folks at Mexicue have recently expanded their footprint by opening a brick and mortar store in Manhattan, and now co-founder Thomas Kelly has created a brand new spice line of pepper-infused essential salts and oils called The Chili Lab.
I’ve been dabbling with the Pequin Chili Salt, adding it to many dishes from scrambled eggs to salads to cast iron grilled steaks. The flavors brought out from Pequin are a light smoke and citrus. It’s very unique to get such rich flavors from one spice, but The Chili Lab delivers. For fans of heat and flavor, such as myself, I’ll be continuing to experiment with these salts.
Other salts include Piri Piri (herb and citrus from Africa), Chipotle (red berry smoke), Cascabel (seasonal pumpkin and nut), Aji Amarillo (Seasonal light berry fruit), Dandicut (Citrus and fruit), Habanero (Seasonal floral and fruit), Pasilla (Raisin and wood), Guajillo (Smoke and tomato from Mexico). That’s a total of nine flavors to help bring new flavors out of your favorite dishes.
The Chili Lab salts are available online and at select gourmet grocers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. http://thechililab.com/
I am a vegan chef and holistic health coach based in New York City. I guide women to transform their lives with delicious and nutritious vegan meals. I help women lose weight, improve their energy, and stay motivated so they can feel and look their best without confusion or frustration.
For more information visit, www.thenourishingvegan.com
Autumn Immunity Cooking Class + Workshop
Protect your body from the flu and colds this year with delicious foods! My partner and I will show you how to eat for immunity.
October 20th @ 12-3pm
Suite ThreeOhSix 59 Franklin St. Tribeca, NYC
Guest Chef at Suite ThreeOhSix: Tropical Fall
I’m looking forward to my second guest chef dinner at NYC’s hottest new supper club, Suite ThreeOhSix. The 5-course menu will be inspired by the produce of fall, and the flavors of the tropics.
October 29th @7pm
59 Franklin St. Tribeca, NYC
Holiday Vegan Cooking Class
Join me as I share my favorite holiday recipes in this hands-on cooking class. We’ll make a festive breakfast, side dish, main course and dessert! Your non-vegan friends and family will be so impressed.
November 2nd @ 2-5pm
59 Franklin St. Tribeca, NYC
Registration Coming Soon (If you’re interested in this class let me know and I’ll send you the rsvp link asap)
Get saucy with it! Enough Miley talk for me – if you want to get really saucy you have to try California brand Mia’s Kitchen. A real kick and a real game changed in the pasta sauce – It is awesome and it is totally fun!
An out of the box, quirky young woman from sonoma. Mia and her mother, Nancy, developed the mia’s kitchen brand to share the bounty of their italian culinary skills with cooks and “foodies” who have an appreciation of fine epicurean experiences with a casual twist and who enjoy “eating gourmet everyday.”
I enjoy eating gourmet everyday and definitely recommend that you give your Tortellini new life with Mia’s Kitchen.