Sunday, October 26, 2008

A recipe from Gwyneth

I signed up for these fun e-mails from Gwyneth Paltrow after reading about them on photographer Melanie Mauer's blog. The first e-mail I received included three great (and healthy!) recipes: buckwheat and banana pancakes, Asian tuna sandwiches with soy and sesame mayonnaise, and caramelized black pepper chicken.

I tested the buckwheat pancake recipe today, though I swapped the bananas for apples in an effort to cook a little more seasonally. I peeled and sliced thin a Jonagold apple and sauteed it gently in butter, cinnamon and sugar. The best part was that I was able to find fresh, local black walnuts at the farmers' market, which really kicked up the flavor. (Who knew that walnuts grew on trees only 30 minutes from South Bend?) If you can find fresh walnuts at your local market, it makes a big difference in taste.

Is there anything better than homemade Sunday pancakes? These made me so happy today.

Buckwheat, Apple and Black Walnut Pancakes
adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow

1/14 cups skim milk (the original recipe recommends soy, but I didn't have any on hand)
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. real maple syrup, plus more for serving
1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1 T. each cinnamon and sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Mix cinnamon and sugar in small bowl. Melt 1/2 T. butter in small frying pan. Add cinnamon and sugar. Saute apples gently on low heat until soft.
2. Mix wet ingredients in small bowl; mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix gently just until combined.
3. Heat nonstick skillet or griddle to medium high. Ladle pancake batter on griddle and sprinkle with apple slices and walnuts. Cook until the surface is covered with small bubbles. Flip and cook other side until golden.
4. Keep finished pancakes on platter in 200 degree oven.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warm maple syrup.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catering Confidential

Have your ambitious dinner party plans caught you in a time crunch? Is there a dish you love to eat but hate to make? Whether your guest list includes 30 or 300, here are six great go-to caterers in southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana: You can read all about them in my story in the November issue of Lake. (Though I'm sad, sad, sad that the editors snipped the two fabulous Kalamazoo caterers I had originally included in the story: Rose Street Market and Candace Strong.)

In other writing news, I neglected to mention many moons ago that I received a writing award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists early this fall. The award was for my story "The New Spiritual Scene," which appeared this past year in Columbus Monthly. I collaborated with photographer Tim Johnson on the photo essay, which examined new and emerging faith communities in central Ohio. The project led me to a "street church" for the homeless, a Somali mosque, an evangelical community housed in a movie theatre (popcorn included) and a Pentecostal revival. Our efforts for this story stretched over more than six months. It's one of the best stories I've ever worked on, so it's great to get some kudos for our hard work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Honey-roasted root vegetables

I love stocking up on root vegetables at the farmers' market and roasting them until their natural sugars caramelize. They're so hearty and filling -- and healthy. I first made this recipe for honey-roasted root vegetables from Cooking Light two years ago, and it has since made it into my permanent fall repertoire.

Any honey will do, of course, but I like to experiment with different artisan honeys. This year I used rosemary-infused honey from Mockingbird Meadows just outside Columbus. I love, love, love Mockingbird's herb-infused honeys. I wrote about them in the September issue of Columbus Monthly, and their coffee-infused honey made its debut at this year's Slow Food USA conference in San Francisco.

I'm also partial to Mockingbird's lavender-infused honey, which I love to drizzle over Greek yogurt for breakfast. I stocked up on several jars before leaving Columbus, and I'm so grateful I did! If you come over to my house for breakfast I'd be happy to share! MM is hoping to expand their Web presence in the near future, but for now you can buy a few of their products from their online store.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Extreme granola

So I've been wanting to make homemade granola forever, and the title of this recipe from Epicurious caught my eye right away. It was easy-peasy, and it was a great way to use up some of the leftover nuts and dried fruits we had lying around. (I used golden raisins instead of the dried blueberries.) I also used real maple syrup that I had bought from some Amish farmers in South Haven, and the smell of the toasting oats plus the maple syrup filled the kitchen. Someone needs to capture that aroma in a scented candle. This granola keeps for a whole month.

For some reason I was into making breakfast foods this weekend -- I also made these morning glory muffins. The recipe came from Columbus Dispatch Food Editor Robin Davis, whose Wednesday food section I'm already missing now that I'm in South Bend. I'm always looking for healthy muffin recipes, and this one uses whole wheat flour, plus shredded zucchini and apple. The recipe makes about a dozen and a half, so I popped some in the freezer for quick breakasts later.