Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rosemary, and Olive Knots...and Photo Props


Question! How important is "prop setting" for your food photo?...is it the prop behind the food? ...or is it the importance of the photo of the food! Plating the food is to me, and the presentation of it....is  the most important thing! First of all, the props, the plating, the lights...natural is the best lighting, by the way!
So, really, which angle works best?...and what do you really focus on?...my most amazing knot shaped rolls, filled with sliced Kalamata olives, and chopped fresh rosemary?...or the fresh bunch of rosemary?...what about the beautiful Batik Cloth?...well, that should be and "eyeful,"...so bright, and pretty, the floral designs are absolutely gorgeous, on the background of a soft blue-green color! This was a gift given to me by my dear food blog friend for over one year now, Joanna (Jo)...from ChicGorgeous , whom I finally met in person, at the 3rd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, and we share nearly one week of fun, and adventure, in San Francisco! She gave me this beautiful cloth, and what did I give her?...what do most American wear the most...all genders...a Baseball Cap!
Yes, an all American Baseball Cap, with of course, Palm Beach, Florida written on it, from yet, another famous 5 star hotel, The Breakers Hotel! (let's just hope Jo will pose with the cap, and takes photo with it to post on her blog)
Rosemary and Olive Knots...warmed up, on the second day; tasted even better!

Before I get to post the actual step-by-step direction, recipe...since now, I forgot the exact recipe from the book, which I didn't even really follow...just needed the idea. By now, I know the basic dough making for the yeast rolls, and I have become more "hands on" with the using of the dry yeast powder. Don't be afraid to use it, just make sure that the date isn't expired, and make sure that you start out with warm water to get the yeast started with.

I, for one, will tell you the source my recipes come from, or at least an idea how it came about, most of the times, unless it's a "hand me down" verbal recipe that I remember from making it over, and over again. It's just a matter of experimenting with various herbs, spices, and different ways of creating, and re-creating a recipe! I got this book called "The Modern Baker" by Nick Malgieri, from my local public library, and I fell in love with the book and all the amazing recipes, for cakes, rolls, and breads. I simply clicked on to my Amazon account, and ordered it online, for an unbeatable cheap price...and NEW! I took the book back to the library, just after I made these rolls, and forgot to copy the recipe, but my book will be arriving in a few days, or so! I just had so much fun with this dough, along with my little grandson, again. (I think he will follow his daddy's and my footsteps)...and he will become a chef, or a baker!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hungarian Kifli and a Quiet Weekend

While other people were piling up outside, after Thanksgiving dinner at various locations for the famous Black Friday shopping, 24 hours before, I was glad to get home and just chill out after a huge Thanksgiving feast with friends and family. Whatever happened to just the plain old "day after Thanksgiving Sale?"...now it's BLACK FRIDAY!...pretty scary, especially when you have to camp out the day before...luckily, this year they opened the doors at some stores, as early, as 9:00pm on Thursday, and midnight, instead of 4:00am on Friday! Granted, the sales are incredible, 40 to 60% savings, is for sure a bargain. I saw a few incidence on the news last night about an irate customer that was going around with pepper spray...spraying his/ her opponents so they can't get the bargains that she was aiming for: she did get arrested, but that is "bizarre" ...think I'm just going to take advantage on the online shopping, and leave the stress behind!
The reason this is called Hungarian Kifli, which means "crescent"  in English, or "kipfel" in German The dough is either a yeast based type of dough or in this case, is dough that is combined with equal amount of butter, and cream cheese, combined with flour. No eggs used in this recipe. This is the basic dough for the famous Rugelach, as well! On the front row, they are filled with ground walnuts, raisins and apricot jam, and in the back row, shaped like the Rugelach, but slightly bigger, filled with Nutella, which was the kids' favorite!
I also made the fluffiest, and most amazing Sweet Potato Pie, at the same time, with homemade pie crust. Lora and I were able to work alongside at the same time...making pies, and other pastries. As you can see, I got the favorite butcher block table, and she had the entire granite top counter, which she likes to use.
 I did not get a chance to take hardly any photos at the dinner party, but did not want to miss the chance of my son-in-law's Chef Fabrizio's Vegetable Lasagna, that was a huge hit!

 Lora's Cranberry cake...light, and moist, not too sweet, absolutely delicious!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

What was I thinking? This is the "butt" of my turkey from last year, which I actually posted on my blog last year! Now, I feel like I must have been the "butt" of the turkey jokes...yet, everyone was nice with their comments to me. No "butt" jokes! I still don't understand what was the reason behind this "turkey pose!" with yet, a scar on it's backside...what a turkey...turkey! The turkey was moist, and delicious...perfectly stuffed, and roasted to a golden bronze color! I will share with you our friends' turkey, after Thanksgiving, where we are invited for a feast!


Actually, I decided to upload the other photo of my beautiful stuffed turkey from last year...not to be rude, and just show the backside! I kind of miss, not baking a turkey for the first time, in over 30 years!

At any rate, I do have my lovely cranberry sauce with
vanilla, from last year...the more I look at those weird twigs (vanilla pods) the more I'm trying to figure out why I used it for decoration...the one pod looks like the letter U...for "unknown" perhaps, and the other pod is just uselessly leaning behind it! Just an observation from last year, but the cranberry sauce was so delicious, and just the right texture!

Cranberry Sauce with Vanilla, Maple Syrup, and Cassis


6 cups (about 1-1/2 lb.) fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over and rinsed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
1/3 cup crème de cassis (black-currant liqueur)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

Half a vanilla bean, split and scraped
Put 3 cups of the cranberries and all the remaining ingredients in a 3- or 4-qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and broken down and the juices look slightly syrupy, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 cups cranberries and cook until these have popped, 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla bean, and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away.

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I have so much to be thankful for, this year... and you, my food blogger friends and my other blogger friends, facebook, and Twitter friends, are on top of my list this year!

I have spent way too much time on my blog this year, but the rewards were worth every minute of it getting to know more people, and actually making friends on a personal level that will be remembered for a lifetime I learned a lot from other cultures, and feel that I have traveled around the world, just by reading their amazing stories, and to learn about the foods of their region. You get to learn so much just by sharing your ideas, opening your homes, and kitchens, talking about families, friends, trips, but mostly food...good food, and that is what food blog is about, making friends, laughing, crying, but mostly sharing!
I have a beautiful family; children, grandchildren... which I am blessed with and I am thankful for, every day of my life!

As for social networks... Twitter, and have just recently joined facebook...but haven't delved into it yet as much as I would love to!
Every day, I check comments, and comment back as much as I can, and/or find new blogs to comment to, and make friends...hopefully! It is so important in our foodie community to support one-another, and through Foodbuzz, I have experienced just that, by joining the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, for the first time this year, which was the 3rd annual event.

I have not joined hardly any...actually "none" of...social networks, other than Foodbuzz! All the other ones, which I did join, I forgot my password, or even the name of the site! For instance, just recently, I signed up for YELP...which is about restaurant, and business reviews. I did upload some restaurant photos, but have not posted a review yet. Also, Taste Spotting...I forgot my password there, as well!...and there is another site...Foodieview.com! Well, I signed up for that too, but have abandoned it, and forgot all about it. There's Etsy shop, and on that one I'm still trying to figure out how to copy and paste a logo!

There's Stumbleupon where I would get all those blogs to my e-mail, to stumble it...when I'm still stumbling here on my own, trying to figure out all these social networks. I actually joined FoodieBlogroll at the same time I joined Foodbuzz, but there, I felt lost...did not know how to connect with other food bloggers. I guess Food Gawker, is the biggy of them all where you have to have impecable photos, or else it gets rejected...I heard. (did not try out for that one either.) One very good networking I did sign up for is the Very Good Recipes, where you just register, and they do all the work for you to upload your posts!

A little preview of  my Hungarian Kifli that I made today for Thanksgiving to take to our hosts' house
So, I wish you all, here in the United States, and in other parts of the world where you reside,
A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving, and may you have a safe one as well, if you are traveling!
Hugs, to all!
Elisabeth

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto, and more of San Francisco

I almost totally forgot that, before I left for the 3rd Annual Blogger Festival, I did make a fabulous Butternut Squash Risotto, and I was reminded by my daughter Lora to be sure to post my risotto for the month of November, which is the SQUASHLOVE MONTH!  So, I'm linking this to the wonderful squash recipes that other bloggers have participated in, before the month is over.!
I love risotto so much, but I rarely make it, because Lora makes it often, as do Fabrizio, her executive chef hubby. He makes the most amazing seafood risotto, which really is my all-time favorite!
If you don't think this is the most perfect Butternut Squash Risotto, you've ever seen, or might have tasted...then I can personally come to your house to make it for you, just to prove it! As you can see for yourself, each grain of rice is perfect, and separated...yet, still the right amount of crunchiness on the inside! The flavor is, divine...I promise you, that!
I must sound like a broken record because, time, and time again, I keep bringing up Mark Bittman's Cookbook. As for me, it's like a "bible"...and a thrift find, which I have been bragging about, over, and over again! This is the basic book, where I adapted my Butternut Squash Risotto from.














Although, the recipe calls for Risotto with Vegetables, I followed the recipe, only to substitute vegetables, for butternut squash...therefore, adapting it that way.









Butternut Squash Risotto
adapted by me: from Mark Bittman's Risotto w/vegetables

4 to 6 cups, chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. butter, or extra virgin olive oil
plus 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch curly parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio  rice
4 cups cubed, peeled, butternut squash, about. 2 lbs.
Salt, and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup)

Warm the stock over medium heat. Place the butter, or oil ( I used oil)... in a large saucepan or skillet, preferably non-stick, and turn the heat to medium.




When it's hot, add the chopped onion, the small cubed butternut squash, and cook stirring occasionally, until onion and squash is softened...about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the rice, and stir until it is coated with butter. Add a little salt, and pepper, then, the white wine. Stir, and let the liquid bubble away!





Begin to add the stock, 1/2 cup or so, at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy, nor dry. Keep the heat to med. to med. high, and stir frequently! (Constant stirring is not necessary.)










Begin, tasting the rice after 20 min. after you add it; you want it to be tender but with still a tiny bit of crunch. It could take as long as 30 minutes to get to this stage.


When it does, add the 2 Tbsp. softened butter, a handful of the chopped parsley, and Parmesan. Check the seasoning, adjust if necessary, and serve immediately, with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.
4 to 6 servings.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Farewell Brunch...3rd Day!

Brunch, at Perry's on the Embarcadero-sponsored by Godiva Coffee...Granola, Yogurt, and Assorted Berries
I'm already nostalgic about posting the last day of the Blogger Festival, but then after everyone else has left, I stayed on, an additional 3 days to stay at another, more economical hotel with Joanna, since she stayed till the end of the week, it made more sense to try to economize.
"Local Farms" Stone Fruit Medley, and Artisan Cheeses...the most amazing cheeses you can imagine! There were of course hot chafing dishes of Fluffy Scrambled eggs, Crispy Bacon. Challah French Toast with 100% Vermont Maple Syrup, Homemade Fennel, and Cranberry Sausage...did not have most of these...therefore, no photos taken. The crowd waiting in line, was "overwhelming!"
No brunch is complete, without the Deviled Eggs Casserole...Yumm!
Plattered Gravalax, on Marbled Rye Toast
I'm not a "breakfast fan"...but brunch is more my style, which in this case worked, because by 10:00am, I'm ready for something good to eat, so I opted for some of these goodies, a nice cup of Godiva Coffee!


A word of advice: If you're planning a trip for next year,
do plan ahead...save your money, it's not so costly as you think it would be, because if you are a Fooddbuzz Publisher, your entry would be only $30.00...compared to $300.++. You get a huge discount for the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and even though the other 2 hotels they recommend are less expensive, but you have to take into consideration, that you have to walk 2 blocks to get back and forth to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, to meet up to take the shuttle bus to other places where the event is being held.

Also, you have to plan with other bloggers to get together, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO JOIN THIS EVENT BY YOURSELF! Do plan ahead, because you would not want to pay nearly $200. per night for the hotel room, get a buddy or bring a family member, or a friend with you. Also, you do have to take a taxi from one event to the other, and it could cost you up to $10. each way, so share the taxi with some friends! Do not venture out too far by yourself...the city is full of "crazy" people that actually approach you, if you make eye contact with them! Also, another advise!

I don't know how to tell you, other than being truthful about other food bloggers...there's a lot of bloggers that think they are "all that"...and trust me, they are NOT! You,...Me, being as friendly and sociable, as I am, had the worst time trying to make friends with others, than my little group of very, very, nice friends. We all just came together, each of us making friends, and brought them to join our table. I noticed the "young food bloggers" (20 something) are not as gracious, and/or friendly...some were totally "unapproachable"...when I actually checked their blog, I nearly fainted that here, I thought my blog was just so, so, and to think I am approaching "royalty" when I tried to make friends with them!...OK, enough said!

Just be who you are...and yes, you will be "snubbed" by some bloggers, but you are there, because you are invited, just as they are, and wouldn't it be nicer, if all of the bloggers could extend their welcome towards each other, instead of just checking out your badge...hanging in your neck on a rope, like a "puppy"...grin, and smile at one another, and say "Hi! it's nice to meet you"...and not just turn their back on you and walk away, because they never heard of your blog...Well, it goes both way, of never hearing of the other person's blog, as well!
I could go on, and on about other incidents, but I just know I had an amazing time, and on most part, almost all the bloggers I met were very nice! More photos, to continue, of the last day of the 3rd Annual Blogger Festival!

Hope to see you next year...do contact one-another, to plan meeting up, ahead. I planned at least 3 months ahead, and as a "thrifter" my plane ticket with Delta, with one stop, cost $348. less $200. with my Amex award points!
A total cost of $148. round trip...I kid you not!...perseverance, pays, by scouting for cheap prices at least 2 months prior!

This trip was from West Palm Beach to Atlanta Georgia...stop over, no waiting, just 45 min. layover, to San Francisco! I even had my seats assigned and just had to pick up my boarding pass, at the airport!...Now isn't that amazing? Why do you think my blog is called, food and thrift (finds)!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Alexia Foods Cooking Demo, and Gala Dinner

When you are attending a Gala Dinner, just make sure it's actually a GALA! According to the Webster Dictionary, it is referred to, as: Festive Occasion, Celebration, Special Entertainment, and Showy...and that it was! Anything less than that would not have been the proper name for this festive occasion, hosted by Alexia Foods!
Yes, all these flavors of Alexia's fries, were served for the appetizer course, open bar, and afterwards, the Cooking Demo, by Chef Tyler Florence, and the Gala Dinner. Doesn't this sound exciting, already?...you bet it was!
Jo, and Angela munching on the yummy Alexia french fries!
Such a fabulous cocktail party...and afterwards the GALA CELEBRATION!...from left to right: Joanna, from Chic&Gorgeous, and Angela, from Fab Find Foodie, who was a finalist in the Alexia french fries creation!
Getting the stage ready for Chef Tyler Florence to demonstrate a simple, and delicious Pork Chops dish, made gourmet!...(sorry, no photo of the dish)
Watching the cooking demonstration, so amazing, Chef Tyler Florence making this simple dish with such style, grace, and so comfortable, with such ease, was so nice to watch. The did show the the dish on the large screen, but my photo turned out blurry, so I had to delete it!
The table setting was so elegant, the appetizers were divine, and starting with the first course: Bibb Lettuce Salad, with Honey Roasted Pears, Glazed Pecan, and Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette
For the Entree: Brandt Beef Farms Filet Mignon, and Meyer Lemon Roasted Prawns...Heirloom Carrots, Celery Root Puree, and Peppercorn Demi Glaze. For an entree: as amazing as this, I tend to forget that I shouldn't consume eating a lot of beef. (well, maybe once a month)...I just exceeded my limit...guilty, but a happy feeling!
For dessert: Scharffen Berger Chocolate Mousse, Sourdough Bread Pudding, and Cowgirl Creamy Cheesecake...yumm!

Totally forgot to add this photo, from the Gala Dinner held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (not a very good photo, so dark in the room, but you can get an idea of the large turnout for this event!
...and for my dinner companions, Chef Dennis at A Culinary Journey, with Chef Dennis , and the sweet, and lovely Gina, from SPCookiequeen.
Across the table, lovely Joanna, from ChicGourgeous...whom I had the pleasure of meeting up in person, all the way from Malaysia. Now, do you see how far bloggers were willing to travel for this special 3rd Annual Blogger Festival?
A huge thanks to Foodbuzz, for making all the possible to bring so many food bloggers together!
Can't leave the photo of myself, and Chef Dennis! He is every bit of nice, as he is on his blog, Such an honor to have him as a dining companion, and to meet him for the first time!
Afterwards..."girls nite out"...upstairs from the Grand Hyatt Hotel, from the 36th floor, a final cocktail! Emily, and Gina, in the background!  Cheers!...Salute!...Salud!...Egészségedre!
Back at our hotel room...before turning in for the night, couldn't resist taking a photo of the night scene. I'm such a fanatic for view photos, and my little trusty Canon camera does take great photos in pitch darkness, as long as there are lights in the background!
This is the sunrise scene, at approx. 6:30am, Sunday, Nov. 5th...our final day for meeting up at the Farewell Brunch. I hope you don't think I'm a lunatic for taking all these photos (don't answer that.LOL) I'm an early riser, actually it was one hour ahead...changing the clocks back, 1 hr.
My next, and final Foodbuzz last event, coming up, and more photos to show you of the city, from the open two Decker tour bus!
Until then, have a wonderful day!
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taste Pavilion, and Book Signing, from Chef Tyler Florence!


As I mentioned in my previous post...here we are at the Taste Pavilion, on the second day, November 5th. at the Metreon! I happened to stop by the Alexia station to sample their delicious Sweet Potato Bites. Spicy, light and totally addictive.
Judy's Breadsticks lovesticks...all organic incredible, crispy, and so delicious!
These amazing breads are all organic, and vegan. I enjoyed the bread with cream cheese spread...had at least 3 pieces...yumm!
Lynda Najarian...Creative Director-Founder

Different kinds of fig dips featured...on the left, and right is pork tenderloin on skewers

Lettuce wraps, a huge favorite of mine...from ALASKA SURIMI SEAFOODS!
The famous Warren Pears...so sweet, and juicy!
Food tasting is not complete...unless you can have cupcakes with the creamiest swirled frosting!
I decided to check out the terrace, and of course...the VIEW!
I met some feathered friends, who were also checking out the view!
The BEST part was, Celebrity Chef, Tyler Florence...from the Food Network, signing his newest copy of his cookbook!...I missed out on getting a book...sigh!
Another magnificent view, from the terrace!...a cloudy, windy, and chilly day, but the photos turned out great!
Chef Tyler Florence came back to the Grand Hyatt Hotel where we were staying...just happened to catch him outside and asked if I could take his picture...he was ever so gracious, and said yes. He then asked me if I would like to have my picture taken with him...wow! I was not expecting that, from my all-time favorite celebrity chef from the Food Network! He is so, so creative, talented, and super laid back kind of person!
Patience is a VIRTUE...and patient, I was! I could not get through the crowd at the Book signing, to meet him in person, and unexpectedly I met him, afterwards. Later on, for the Gala Dinner, he gave us a fabulous cooking demo, that was equally laid back, and done with ease, and sheer casual, but with elegance, that only Chef Tyler Florence can do! Looks like I have more to show you of this unforgettable event!


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