I just came across this blog post and it tugged on my heartstrings in big way. I wanted to share it with you.

I had a date with my past a few nights ago. Mum brought over some boxes that came from my bedroom in our old house. Most of the things I haven’t seen for ten years.

Here’s what I learnt about my previous self:

In my late teens, I was hot.

When I was in Year 6, I was not.

Michael Crawford is a kind man…kind enough to send a girl a personally signed photo of himself, all the way from England.

My grandma Joyce was matriarch and Queen Of All Things, especially the Christmas pudding.

My beautiful friend Margot, who passed away when we were 20, wrote me a card from Paris.

And so it seems that someone else wrote me a card from Paris.

And so did someone else.

And so did someone else. Maybe people think about me in Paris.

I learnt I kept a lot of journals…

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My tiny urban garden, part 2.

June 13th

June 23rd

July 4th

August 1st

August 16th. My, my you’ve grown up to be quite a beauty, let’s see how delicious you taste!!

Stay tuned for basil recipes! ;D

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Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child.

Julia Child in her kitchen. Image courtesy of www.thewholegang.org

Last Wednesday marked the 100th birthday anniversary of  Julia Child, and I’ve had her on the brain everyday as I relentlessly poured over recipes from her two volume food bible, “Mastering the art of French Cooking.” Julia’s charismatic on camera personality and her tremendous passion for a fine meal have always had a great impact on me as a food enthusiast.

Julia introduced Americans to the fine art of French cuisine during a time when it was thought of as better to dine on TV dinners. Her distinctive warbly voice and sense of humor made her show “The French Chef” not only a source of education, but entertainment as well. Even as she made errors with her technique, and fumbled with ingredients, she kept going. She was a fantastic teacher. Julia Child is the “Shakespeare” of the culinary world and her name will continue to live on forever.

Of all her recipes, I decided to re-create her classic “Coq Au Vin” dish. There are a few steps to this recipe, but the preparation is pretty straight forward. This is one of the sexiest dishes I’ve ever made, chicken drenched in red wine while cooked slowly, as it produces melt in your mouth meat that falls straight off the bone. Yum.

Chicken thigh doused in flour.

I love the natural juices that earthy cremini mushrooms produce when slowly cooked. The original recipe calls for button mushrooms, but these were readily available in my fridge.

About to de- glaze the mirepoix

Smoky! (I should’ve cut the carrots into smaller pieces, but oh well, what’s done is done ;))

Peeling each individual Pearl onion was a very meticulous process, but so worth the extra effort! They taste deliciously sweet when stewed. ;D

In goes about an entire bottle of cabernet sauvignon, (I reserved half a glass for myself 😉 )

Chicken thighs and drumsticks simmering in a hot, bubbling bath of red wine, cognac, chicken stock and juices exuding from the veggies. The fragrance traveled out into the corridors for everyone to enjoy.

Coq Au Vin

Ingredients

  • 3lbs of chicken (legs & thighs)
  • cup of flour (to coat chicken)
  • about 20 white pearl onions
  • 1 package of cremini mushrooms (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 cup of lardons or bacon (chopped)
  • 3. 5 cups of cabernet sauvignon or another deep, red wine.
  • 50 ml of cognac (mini – bottle)
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 carrots cut on the bias
  • 3 celery stalks cut into 1″ pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley (for garnish, if desired)

Wash & pat chicken parts dry, season with salt & pepper. Rub chicken with minced garlic and thyme. Place into the fridge for an hour. Meanwhile, chop carrots, red onions, celery and mushrooms, set aside. Peel pearl onions, set aside. In a bowl, take about 1 cup of all purpose flour and coat chicken with flour (it will thicken the sauce, too).

In a stock pot, add pieces of bacon in about 1/2 cup of water. Allow it to reduce slightly for 3- 4 minutes and get it screaming hot. Brown the chicken on all sides (about 3mins per side), remove from pot. Add one tbsp of butter, carrots, celery, red onion and a pinch of salt & pepper until the veggies tenderize and onions are slightly translucent. De- glaze the pot with the cognac (it intensifies flavors of the dish and makes cleaning the pot much easier, too).

In a separate skillet, saute mushrooms over medium heat in one tbsp of butter and a pinch of salt & pepper until tender. Pour mushrooms and their natural juices into the stock pot along with the veggies. Add chicken, chicken stock and red wine to the stock pot. Cook until boiling, lower heat, cover and simmer for an hour. Serve over egg noodles, rice or potatoes and garnish with fresh minced parsley. Serve with a glass of red or whichever spirit you prefer. 😉 Bon appetit!

Image courtesy of www.eclectique916.com

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Summer in Sweden

Though I love NYC, sometimes I need to escape, so I decided to embark upon a journey across the Atlantic to visit my lovely buddy Maria and her family in Stockholm, Sweden aka, Sverige. It was truly a memorable experience. They showed me around their sparkling land and introduced me to native foods and customs. All I remember saying to myself was “how fortunate I am to be here.”

Sweden is a land of beautiful islands, very attractive inhabitants, innovation (think H&M, Volvo, Ikea, just to name a few) and Nordic gods, hey, hey Thor! But for me, it was much more than that. I will take you on a trip through images filled with beauty, splendor, dynamic people, and plenty of scrumptious meals.

Garden spaces available for rent

A random deer in a backyard

Steaks marinating for the fiery grill. I love the scent of burning charcoal.

Little beach on the beautiful island of Vaxholm, a municipality of the Stockholm archipelago.

Sailboats attached to the dock.

Kallrokt salmon with dill potatoes and a chilled fresh glass of rose.

Apple calvados sorbet, light, crisp, tart and refreshing, the way I love my desserts!

Desserts, tarts and pastries made fresh and beautifully displayed.

Due to the heavy rainfall throughout the entire month of June, the plant life was lush and boasting with vibrancy everywhere. The air is so fresh, it made me cough!! 😀 (A perfect reason to cough, though!)

Beautiful

Narrowest alley in the Gamla Stan, the historic "Old Town" which dates back to as far as the 13th century, medieval times.

Narrowest alley in Gamla Stan, the historic “Old Town” which dates back to as far back as the 13th century. Medieval times, baby!

Fresh lingonberry juice

The guy whipping up my elk dish, I wish you could smell this!

Elk meat, with mashed potato and cloud berries doused in a creamy Graddfil and sprinkled in fresh parsley. A very satisfying lunch.

Cocktail creation “Summer in Sweden” made with gin, fresh watermelon, lime, honey and rosemary. Definitely summer in a glass, but not summer in NYC that’s for sure!

It’s common to eat fresh strawberries after a meal during the summer. There were even wild strawberries growing in Maria’s backyard.

My friend’s parents, Ingrid and Staffan whipped up a herring feast paired with different types of Aquavit accompanied with happy songs! A meal experience never to be forgotten.

Herring and potatoes with fresh dill.

Street Meat in Stockholm, hotdog and mashed potatoes stuffed inside a pita.

Lets take a closer look at what I’m indulging in…

My buddy Maria and I

I’m not going to deny this to you, I actually thought about making my own escargot. These snails were all over the backyard. Um, I may have  accidentally stepped on a few *crunch.* ;(

Crayfish, crawfish, aren’t they both the same? Very similar in physique to the lobster, except that they are from fresh water.

Maria’s childhood friend invited us over for a yummy BBQ feast, and served this for dessert. I’m not generally a “sweets” person. But I must have the recipe to this strawberry tart! I licked my spoon clean, also the plate. ;D

I had to check out their local marketplaces. Amazing!

Fresh jams

People

A Volvo classic

This photo was taken at 10:45 pm.

I heart you, Sverige!

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My Sexy Ceviche

My shrimp ceviche “cooking” in fresh citrus, as I patiently await. 😉

Origins

Ceviche (also spelled cebiche or seviche, depends on origin) is pure summer on a plate, a hot Latino person in dish form, regardless of the season. Peruvian in origin with Arab influences, its an ancient dish that has different variations throughout Latin America, The U.S. and all over the world.

Ceviche has made a huge come back in the food scene, and isn’t leaving anytime soon. Some versions are made with tomato sauce or coconut milk; one similar theme with most recipes is that the star ingredient, either super fresh fish, octopus or shellfish is “cooked” in citrus juice. Lemons are commonly used, but lime, sour orange and grapefruit are also known to be utilized in many different recipe variations. It can be served as an appetizer or as a main course on a bed of white rice, a side of plantains or sweet potatoes.

It makes my taste buds dance!

My mouth salivates when it knows its about to get some sexy ceviche action. Its the pure punch-in-your-face flavor made with a combo of red onion, garlic, red or green pepper, cucumber and in certain cases, spicy chiles. Herbs such as fresh mint, parsley or cilantro and a few dashes of Tabasco, um yes please! 🙂 Yummy seafood marinating in all that freshness, sprinkled with sea salt and coarsely cracked black pepper. Ceviche is a dish that makes me happy.

Freshness is key when it comes to Ceviche, so unless the creature has been pulled directly out of the sea, and even then, its better to lightly cook off any potential threat of bacterial growth. Then you can marinate in the citrus juice along with the rest of the ingredients for about 1- 3 hrs. In some cases, it’s served immediately, but again, its all about the freshness factor. What an invigorating meal! Packed with nutrients, and light in calories. Summer on plate. Pass me a Coronita or a glass of rose wine, and I’m set.

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Ceviche. Enjoy! 😉 xoxoxo

Ingredients

2 lbs of fresh medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 medium red onion (chopped)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

6 large lemons

1 sour orange

1 regular naval orange

2 juicy limes

handful of cilantro (chopped)

1 cucumber  (wax- free, seeds removed, skin intact and chopped)

1 large red pepper (seeds removed, chopped)

1 jalapeno pepper (chopped, remove seeds if you need it less spicy, but extra heat is always welcome, baby!)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1- 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce

sea salt & fresh coarsely cracked black pepper to taste

Prep

In a large hot skillet, add one tbsp of olive oil and lightly cook the shrimp on all sides until pink, immediately remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, add shrimp, chopped cucumber, red pepper, red onion, jalapeno pepper, and minced garlic into the mix and incorporate thoroughly. Squeeze all the citrus fruit juices into mixture, add Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Cover with cellophane, and place into the fridge for 1 – 3 hrs. Last, but not least, add the fresh herbs and mix really well. Serve in a chilled martini glass, over a bed of lettuce and garnish with more fresh herbs. Tastes best when paired with a rose or white wine like sauvignon blanc, or a crisp lager or sparkling wine.

Moi, “Food Vixen” relaxing in the Florida Keys, where many of my fond ceviche memories originate. I think of sunshine, beaches and good times.

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July 2, 2012 · 9:30 pm

Spreading Inspiration

The other day, a wonderful thing happened to me in the blogosphere. After having a long and somewhat tiring day, I get home and log into my WordPress account to discover the most welcome message from Dana of  “A Serene Scribe.” I was given The Versatile Blogger Award. Yay! This made my day and put a much needed smile on my face. Thank you. 🙂 I’m thrilled, tickled pink and ever so appreciative.

At Cafe Pick me up in Alphabet City, L.E.S E9th and Avenue A (Check it out)

Blogging, though may appear simple, is not. It takes a lot of time and dedication. It takes lots of research, editing and revisions. One blog post can take hours to write and that depends if you have everything, the photos, notes and material in order. It’s a constant process, and I’m always with a camera and miniature notebook on hand. Yeah, blog writing definitely requires passion, and please let me add that I enjoy every moment of it. The passion behind what I do are all that’s necessary to keep me going.

I realize that my efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and it means the world to me. I’m thrilled to have The Versatile Blogger award! Feelings of inspiration are at an all time high. Thank you again for your support! Xoxoxo.

Writing, food and people are my greatest passions. It’s what makes me happiest and no, this isn’t only a hobby, it’s my life. I love to make people happy. Plus, writing is the best form of therapy for me, so it’s a win/win! In my mind, cooking makes me feel as though I’m slowly improving the world with each delicious bite. To have people around me with whom I can share this joy is what makes life worth living.

7 things you don’t know about me….

  1. Sometimes, when I’m alone or when no one is looking, I eat tuna straight out of the can with fresh lemon juice and hot sauce (one of my only canned indulgences!!)
  2. I like to take refreshing walks in the summer rain without an umbrella.
  3. I make the sign of the cross before meals (my form of grace).
  4. I race to change the channel for those darn ASPCA “Arms of the angel” commercials, they depress me! 😥
  5. I read magazines from back to front (why the heck not?)
  6. I love tattoos… on other people, not on me. 😉
  7. I always make a wish upon the first star I see in the night sky. (I’ve done this for as long as I can remember.)

These are just a few of my fellow blogger folk whom never fail to inspire, keep up the great work!

The Little Kitchen

I met Julie Deily at the Techmunch food bloggers conference in Boston last summer, and I’ve been an avid reader of her blog ever since.  Her site is chocked full of tasty recipes and lots of information about the wonderful world of food. I want to present Julie with The Versatile Blogger award. Thank you for your inspiration. Keep up the great work!

The Scrumptious Pumpkin

I enjoy this blog. Her photos of food are mouth- watering. She has a great selection of tasty recipe ideas for anybody in a food rut. I want to present The Scrumptious Pumpkin with The Versatile Blogger award. Well deserved! Thank you for your inspiration. 😀

CrazyTasty Kosher

This is a blog where non- kosher recipes are converted into a more kosher version. Very well written and inspired. I enjoy the writing style and I want to present CrazyTasty Kosher with The Versatile Blogger award. Thank you for inspiring me. 😀

The Balanced Soul

This blog is very spiritually uplifting and truly inspirational. She covers topics ranging from yoga, meditation, chakras to spiritual food/meals. I follow this blog and I highly recommend it to anybody on the path to enlightenment. I can relate to her material and I want to present her with The Versatile Blogger award. Thank you! 🙂

Love & a six-foot Leash

This blog tugged on my heart strings in the best way! I love Pit bull terriers and they’re treated unfairly because of this misconception people have about them. Pits are one of the sweetest, kindest breeds of dog, and they are great with kids, too! It raises an awareness on this issue and provides foster care for these adorable beings until they’re placed in a loving home. 😥 Thank you for doing what you do! I genuinely support anyone in favor of such a noble cause. I want to present you with The Versatile Blogger award. Thank you so much for your inspiration! 😀

Mouth of the Border/ Midnight Brunch

Emily Cavalier, a lovely lady I came to know some years ago, has been an inspiration to me since day one. I’ve been reading her blog for over three years and I enjoy her musings on exotic cocktails and tasty recipes. She is also the master mind behind the concept of Midnight Brunch which I plan to attend really soon. I want to present her with The Versatile Blogger award. Emily, thank you for inspiring me and keep up the great work!

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June 14, 2012 · 10:29 am

My Mussels

Image

There’s this thing about mussels I can’t describe, they’re so enticing, and so satisfying. For some reason, when I make them at home, I feel like such an accomplished cook. You see, the secret is all in the broth. My twist on the broth consists of a dry red wine, butter, olive oil, garlic, shallots, lime, sea salt, pepper, and a just a pinch of saffron.

This is one sexy dish! Super easy to make and very inexpensive. Paired with Caesar salad, a crisp glass of rose or white wine and some crusty bread! Romantic dinner, friendly brunch or to be indulged in all alone. Delicioso.

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