MY GARDEN / exciting news

My tomato plant has ONE red tomato (so far...). No, the plants have not drowned yet, and there may be a crop after all, on the 19th floor. Keeping my fingers crossed...


BETTER SNACKS / Food Should Taste Good: madcap combos

Food Should Taste Good has just introduced two new flavors to its line of tortilla chips. Experience the surprise combinations of flavors baked right into the chip: Olive, Jalapeno, Chocolate, Sweet Potato, and the newest: Cinnamon and Potato Chive. These are definitely for children with a sophisticated palette. Take the sweeter combos and crumble them into ice cream, for the really deserving!


BETTER SNACKS / Cocio Chocoloate Milk: cocoa mojo

I was immediately seduced by the nostalgic look of this bottle, then completely fell in love with the taste. This popular drink in Denmark, uses only fresh milk from Danish cows that are free of antibiotics and added hormones, sugar and the best cocoa from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. To maintain the classic flavor, cocoa is strictly checked for color and flavor, pH-value, yeast and mold. Chug-a-lug one to recall younger days or reward your favorite youngster with a bottle of Cocio.


BETTER SNACKS / Noble Organic Juices

Choosing these juices is a no-brainer. Even the bottle is earth-friendly and can go right into your compost. Try the organic Orange Tangerine made with only juice from tree-ripened fruit, eliminating the need for added sugar or water. Get nostalgic with Old Fashioned Lemonade, which is sweetened with organic agave and cane juice. Their “gentle” pasteurization method lasts just long enough to kill organisms without affecting the taste that nature intended. Noble, indeed.



Manhattanites, you have probably been seeing the ads for these chips all around town. Stop being curious and try a bag. Popchips has solved the problem of removing the fat and fake toppings of ordinary chips without sacrificing the rich taste kids love. Their “popping” method applies heat and pressure to bits of potatoes, turning them into a crunchy chip. The only additives are a delightful blend of natural seasonings. Satisfy your savory cravings with original, barbeque, or salt and pepper varieties.


BETTER SNACKS / Raw Revolution's raw evolution

What kid won’t be fooled by punk-rock packaging of this bar? It’s one of the best raw bars that I have tasted, by far, and comes in 10 flavors, including Raspberry & Chocolate, Spirulina & Cashew, and Coconut & Agave Nectar. Raw Revolution was developed by a mom, turned off by sugary, processed snacks, who applied her talents as a natural foods chef with a passion for raw foods. Once the kids in the neighborhood got a taste, the raw revolution had begun.


BETTER SNACKS / Mary's Gone Crackers twiggy treats

Sticks & Twigs—this wacky name totally defies its goodness. Mary Waldner used her problems with celiac disease as a catalyst to create these award-winning snacks. A special mix of whole grains—brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and millet—along with toasted flax, sesame and chia seeds, add up to a taste sensation, and definitely cancel all crunch cravings. Add hummus or peanut butter for a more substantial treat. Mary’s Gone Crackers also has a line of gluten-free crackers, and CRUMBS for gluten-free coatings and mixtures.


BETTER SNACKS / Salba Chips: energy up

Next time a kid comes along hankering for a snack, slip them a bag of these tortilla chips. They add a grain called Salba, which is derived from plants the ancient Aztecs used to maintain their energy on long journeys. Salba contributes more omega-3 than flax or salmon, more antioxidants than blueberries or pomegranates, more iron than spinach and more calcium than milk. Read more about this grain’s nutrition and clinical tests here. Salba can also be purchased in whole or ground form, and added to salads, cereals, and used in baking. Salba Smart has created a whole line of healthy and tasty chips, pretzels, and salsas. and they all taste great. I like the small bags, who’s chips are kid-sized and portion controlled.



"better snacks for KIDS and the KID in YOU"
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PEA SPROUTS / hail to the crunch

I have been trying to incorporate different forms of protein into my diet. Since I grew up in a Eastern European household, a meal was really not considered a meal, unless it contained meat, therefore, legumes and beans have never held any attraction for me—that is until I came across the pea sprout at the greenmarket. You can just grab a handful and eat them as is. The crunchy texture is extremely satisfying, and it just has the slightest hint of pea taste. Since discovering this ingredient I have been looking for ways to introduce it into my repertoire. Here are some ideas I came up with:
—Naturally, it works great in salad, in this one I also put some baby fennel in. Good start.
—Next I delved into making some tuna salad. Chopped onions, olives, artichoke hearts, and added mayo, dijon mustard and THE PEA SPROUTS. Top a Wasa rye cracker, and you have lunch.
—Lastly, my ground lamb stir-fry test also got a bit of the crunchy goodness. See recipe to follow...
Let me know if you have any ideas, I would love to hear them...


On the cheesboard: Rustic Bakery flatbreads + crostini

Rustic Bakery The beauty of these crisps is only surpassed by the flavors, specifically designed to complement cheese. Each label lists the best pairings, so depending on your offerings, you might be attracted to Olive Oil & Sel Gris Flat Bread, which is neutral and can also work as a palate cleanser, or Pepper Polenta, great with creamy cheeses. They also make crostini which are loaded with fruits, nuts and seeds, like the Cranberry, Rosemary & Pecan. Rustic Bakery uses only organic flours and grains and ingredients from local organic farms. Bring some to your host or hostess next time you visit, gourmet treats are always appreciated.


On the cheesboard: Crisps

Crisps These terrazzo-like crisps will look like little works of art on your cheese board. Their fabulous combos lean to the sweet side: Cranberry Pumpkin, Date Walnut, Caramel Apricot Almond, and Goji Berry Pistachio. Crunch down on some for a healthy snack, or if feeling decadent, crumble some into ice cream. Best of all, they are freezer friendly, so you can keep them around long after opening, that is, if you can resist eating them all!


On the cheesboard: Patchwork Pâté

Patchwork Pâtés You will not be able to stop eating this once you’ve had a taste. Both the Chicken Liver with Triple Sec and Orange or with Bourbon and Blueberry were utterly addictive, with the creamy texture lending itself to dipping either crisps, celery, baby carrots or what-have-you. The original recipes were created by single mom, Margaret Carter in Wales, and are now lovingly manufactured here in Pennsylvania, using organic chicken livers. Unopened, the packs last quite a while, so are great for stashing for those surprise guests.


Perfect cheese mates: awww, honey, honey

Zambezi Organic Forest Honey This intensely flavored honey needs just a drizzle to complement an aged parmesan or tangy goat cheese. The bees who make this honey have 11,000 square miles of Zambian forest to cruise around in, which is one of the last remaining biologically diverse forests in the world. Founders Jenny and Keith Gelber, who met in the Peace Corps, keep their honey-making process simple, retaining more enzymes, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and bee pollen than most other honeys. Bonus. Photos show honey straws on top, great for traveling...


Perfect cheese mates: The Virginia Chutney Co

The Virginia Chutney Co I love chutney, and use it as a shortcut ingredient in many things, including salad dressings and as a spread on sandwiches. (Think turkey.) As a accompaniment to cheese, you can’t go wrong. Try the Spicy Plum, whose spice comes from caramelized onions and ginger. Great with Brie or cheddar. If you are more attracted to a sweet juxtaposition, go for Sweet Peach which pairs ups with just about any cheese. I used a tiny spoonful of chutney in my recipe for Leafy Chicken Bites, see Expertise.


Perfect cheese mates: Rick's Picks Phat Beets

rick’s picks I once made pickles with Rick Field at an event at the Yale Club. It was a blast, and I really savored those pickles and string beans over the course of a few months. Rick's fond memories of eating those same dilly beans as a child in Vermont was what inspired him to turn it into a business. He’s put his magic pickling touch on all sorts of veggies, including asparagus, beans, and okra. Phat Beets makes for an unexpected twist to the typical cheese platter. These beets play in your mouth with accents of rosemary, ginger and lemon, and work beautifully with a soft goat cheese.


Attention Foodies and Film Lovers: Third Annual Food Film Festival

The James Beard House hosted the Third Annual Food Film Festival PREVIEW on May 29th. Three filmmakers, Chef Harry Hawk, and mixologist Marshall Altier got us in the mood to experience the festival which is a week-long series showing films and then getting to eat what you see in them. See my photos of the event and be sure to attend the festival June 13th to 19th.

smile and say CHEESE: organic selections

Here are my picks for fantastic organic cheeses from around the world:

Coastal Cheddar Though this is not technically an organic cheese, it is made using ancient local methods—fresh milk from pampered cows who gaze out at the sea in the South of England. What sets this cheddar apart is a slightly milder and sweeter taste—and a crunch, from what appears to be salt but is actually a reaction of the cheese making process. The photo shows the cheeses maturing in a cave, which you can tour, if you are so inclined.

Latteria Perezin In the Middle Ages, farmers in Italy were obliged to give half of their produce to landlords for use of the farms. This inspired clever cloaking practices, like the hay shown here, and resulted in adding unique aromas and flavors. In my opinion, this looks marvelous plated. Called caciottona, it also comes wrapped in walnut leaves or with a peppery crust. It will last six months in its vacuum-packed state. This cheese is distributed in the US by Atalanta Corp, who carry an astonishing variety of excellent cheese, including the Parmeggiano Reggiano below.

5Spoke Creamery Did you know that only raw milk retains the enzyme that allows for more calcium absorption and digestion of lactose? That is just one of the benefits of the raw milk cheeses from 5spoke—besides their superior taste. Alan Glustoff, founder and cheesemaker sees cycling as the best way to see the world and thus named his company 5spoke. Try the Herbal Jack, which in addition to the chives and herbs has my favorite ingredient: garlic!

Casearia di Sant’Anna The family that started making this Parmeggiano Reggiano decided in 1959 that they were going to make their cheese with the best milk. So, they let their cows graze on the fields of three organic farms. You can really taste the centuries-old flavors in this traditional cheese.


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"the ultimate organic cheese board"