BLOOMIN In the KITCHEN: Arugula Apple Fennel Salad

January 2, 2011 by Barb Scala  
Filed under Bloomin in the Kitchen, What's New, salad

img_2703A colorful salad with a refreshing twist!

My friend Liz makes a wonderful fennel salad with currants, red onions and granny smith’s. Looking for an exciting new salad to serve over the holidays, I borrowed her idea and switched juice sweetened cranberries for currants and added arugula for a burst of color and flavor.

I love the contrast of tart and sweet, the crunch of the fennel and apples and how “clean” the flavors blend. With a splash of lemon juice and olive oil, it’s loaded with everything I look for in a great dish: fresh, healthy, organic and yummy!

3 fennel bulbs ~ cut into julienne
4 granny smith apples ~ peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups arugula ~ torn into small pieces
1/2 cup juice sweetened cranberries
1 large red onion ~ sliced into thin rings
Vinegarette to taste: Juice of 1 lemon and approx. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (ratio: 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil)
Sea salt & pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 2 hours).

*Organic ingredients really “cleans” up this dish

Blog: Cleaning up Holiday Recipes

Cleaning Up Holiday Recipes

December 8, 2010 by Barb Scala  
Filed under Blog, What's New

img_2683Over the years I’ve been cleaning up my act with what I eat and what I cook.

I even thought of writing a cookbook with a clean concept in mind, using “clean” in the title. Then, I discovered several websites already using my favorite cooking word and a wonderful cookbook, Clean Food by Terry Walters. Since Terry lives and cooks in my home state of Connecticut, I invited her as a guest on Bloom Talk and we dished out several delicious recipes from Clean Food and her new cookbook, Clean Start.

What does “clean” cooking, food and eating mean anyway? I think it means different things to different people as we try to learn more about our food, where it comes from, how to cook and prepare it and what’s healthy. For me, it’s about cooking with natural, fresh and unprocessed ingredients. I’ve been letting go of bleached flours opting for less processed grains such as spelt, teff and fava bean flours, and using more maple syrup and honey to sweeten things up instead of refined sugars. I also seek out grass fed meats, free range poultry and organic produce whenever I can because how our livestock eats and how we fertilize our crops is an important part of clean food.

So here’s my dilemma. How to bake and cook old traditional recipes with a “clean” spin? Take one of my favorites - pecan pie. The oohy-gooey yummy-ness comes from lots of sugars and syrups like molasses, brown sugar and corn syrup.  I’m not a trained chef so I started to experiment with a step by step approach. Since unsulphured blackstrap molasses is the most natural variety found at many grocery stores, I didn’t go for change there.  Even brown sugar comes organic (try Hain’s brand), so I decided to keep it in the recipe ~ for now. But corn syrup had to go and I felt butter should be reduced or altered a bit. Keeping my fingers crossed,  I decided to substitute organic maple syrup for corn syrup and ghee - clarified butter rid of the mild solids and casein - in place of traditional butter. The filling tasted even better!

The crust was another hurdle as a butter and white flour Pate Brisee was my traditional crust although my grandma ~ the best pie baker in the world ~ used shortening. Then I remembered Terry’s nut crust  when her Blueberry Tart was debuted on Bloom Talk in the summer. The crust is made from almond meal and coconut oil instead of  butter or shortening and is pressed into a tart pan (rather than rolling out dough).  Can almond and pecan go together? Why not? But, drats!  I didn’t have enough almond meal in the pantry (or almonds to grind up) so I used half almond meal and half spelt flour. It worked!  It made a great nutty crust that held together well with the slightest hint of coconut.

So my sinfully delicious pean pie was changed a bit this season into a pecan tart trying to use more natural and organic sweeteners and a shortening (ghee) that many claim to be healthier.  It made a hit at several holiday gatherings and was the main event at my dessert buffet on Christmas day. Although it’s not totally cleaned up, hey it’s a start!  I’ll keep experimenting and let you know if I can clean it up even more.

Now what am I going to do about my old scallop potatoe recipe my daughter requested for a holiday dinner? It’s loaded with buttter, cheese and gruyere cheese! Oh well, I guess eating clean is for most of the time but a once-a-year dish that I can’t figure out how to begin to clean up will just have to be that - a once-a-year dish.

Happy clean holiday cooking!

Bloom Talk: Smarter Food with Terry Walters

Healthy & Yum on Vacation

November 8, 2010 by Barb Scala  
Filed under Blog, What's New

img_2599Who says you can’t eat good-for-you foods on vacation?

Walking through Central Park NYC this past weekend on my way to Wollman Rink for some ice skating, I stumbled upon this organic food cart. Boy, was that grass-fed burger great and just the protein needed to spend the next a couple of hours dodging other skaters and working on my spins (only kidding).

Many places are sprouting up offering fresh, local and organic foods on the go. With just a quick tour on the web, anyone can find healthy, affordable  joints in the town or city of your next get-away. Also, scout out restaurants that offer healthy and delicious cuisine for when you’re not on the fly and crave a nicer meal. I pulled up several menus before traveling and made reservations at cafes and bistros serving organic salads, free-range chicken and wild fish.img_2603

So, after a weekend of organic baby greens, wild salmon terrine and a few special requests - olive oil instead of butter and egg-white omelettes - I enjoyed a fun and healthy weekend.

Now if I can only get my triple toe loop perfected. Yup, kidding again!