Friday, March 29, 2013

San Francisco, Where to Go and What to Do - From a Local Perspective

Have you ever caught a glimpse of a photograph, a painting or read a poem and immediately identified with the artist? Me too. I knew I’d like Tina Case the first time I viewed one of her pictures on the Internet. (Similar to her breathtaking shot of the Golden Gate Bridge you see above this article.) Tina, a talented professional photographer based in San Francisco posts some of her photos to Facebook.

Yes, we have a Facebook friendship. I’ve never met Tina in person. So when San Francisco was announced as the site of the International Association of Professional's (IACP) 2013 conference, I was one of the first to sign up. I am excited about the educational offerings, but am equally ready to see the city through a fun and interesting local who can steer me to the not-to-miss-places, both gustatory and visual.

You may not be as lucky as I am – and be striking out in the city on your own. As cooking teachers and school owners, I know we’re all interested in the best experiences in our conference city.  Here are some of Tina’s suggestions for things to do, see and eat in San Francisco!

What’s your favorite restaurant in SFO? Why?
There are two great restaurants I love in SF, they are Lulus ( and the other is the Slanted Door (

You can smell the wonderful flavors as you walk up the door to Lulus of roasted chicken, garlic Brussels sprouts (never liked them until I tried theirs) and roaring wood burning stove. Their food is rustic and amazing.

Slanted Door is Vietnamese with an urban flair, some of the dishes like Shaking Beef leave you wanting more. The dish is addicting!

What’s your favorite hole-in-the-wall that tourists don’t frequent?
I don't think I have one I can name. I like to try random restaurants in Chinatown for dim sum (sometimes called yum cha). I'll look in the window to see if locals are eating there and then try it out.

Beach Blanket Babylon
Favorite Restaurant off the beaten path?
We also love to go to Little Italy or North Beach and sit outside people watching. Go to "Beach Blanket Babylon" and have a meal in North Beach afterwards.

What’s your favorite grocery store or market? What do you always buy there?
I love to shop at the Ferry Building to get bread, cheese, meat. It's got a European feeling to me of small food stores. I actually shop a lot at Whole Foods.
The Fun at Buena Vista!

As a Photographer, what are your favorite three places to capture the essence of San Francisco in a photo?
Bakers Beach or Chrissy Fields, Fisherman's Wharf/Ghiradelli Square (we love to get an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista We've seen Governor Jerry Brown there plus it's near a cable car spot.

I also love going to Sausalito, which you can get to by ferry or car and see the city across the bay.

What dish best describes San Francisco? Where do you go to eat it?

Gosh if I were to answer that off the bat I would have to say my first memory of San Francisco as a tourist before I moved here was going to Fisherman's Wharf and having a bowl of clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. That or lobster bisque are still my favorites to get when we bring visitors. So when I think of SF and eating, I have to say soup in a sour dough bread bowl by Fisherman's Wharf. Now it is a tradition and whenever we have time to meet friends from out of town we try to fit that experience in.

After reading Tina’s answers I am ready to go! Can’t wait to start the day at the BV (Buena Vista) with an Irish coffee and a big fluffy omelet. I haven’t seen Beach Blanket Babylon yet, so it’s high on my list and I am ready for the juicy chicken and roasted brussels sprouts at Lulus. I’ve read so much about the Slanted Door in national food publications, its great to know that it is as good as its press. The Ferry Building is right by our hotel, so it will be easy to nip over and pick up a healthy snack and gaze longingly at all the beautiful produce and food.

One of the most-dos on my long conference list is to meet Tina and her family in person. I feel like I know them already! Tina’s daughter Allie is a chef, so I know that we will all share lots of good food and laughter. San Francisco, here I come!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meatless, Luscious, Fun! Goat Cheese Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Whipping up this salad is the perfect way to get in the mood for spring, and even a trip. The strawberry season has arrived in Florida, and if you are lucky enough to buy a box, just making this dressing will fill your kitchen with the aroma of juicy berries. Berries and tarragon. Now that's aromatherapy!

4 oz Goat Cheese Crumbled
1 Box Baby Lettuces

¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ TB Honey
½ Cup Fresh Strawberries
1 Tsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

1 TB Unsalted Butter
2 Granny Smith Apples, Skin On, Finely Chopped
2 TB Brandy (or reduced apple juice made by reducing ½ Cup Apple Juice to 2 TB)
½ Cup Chopped Toasted Walnuts for Garnish

Step One
Place the Balsamic, Honey, and Strawberries in a blender and puree. Stir in the chopped rosemary and taste for salt and pepper.

Step Two
Place the salad on 6 – 8 plates. Crumble the goat cheese over the greens.

Step Three
Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the chopped apple and cook until soft and tender. Add the brandy or apple juice and cook one more minute. Add the rosemary, mix and remove skillet from the heat. Place a large spoonful of the hot apples over the cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and scatter the walnuts on top.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meatless, Luscious, Fun: Strawberry Breakfast Cobbler

Ditch the bacon, lose the sausage biscuit, and dive into a luscious juicy bowl of cobbler for breakfast! Now, you may think I am advocating dessert for your morning meal, but NO...This cobbler is full of fruit, grains and protein. (But it is fun to think about being a little naughty for breakfast:) Wash and chop your strawberries the night before. Toast up the topping, too. The next morning, spray the pan, add the strawberries and topping and pop it into a 350F oven. By the time you are glamorous and ready to face the day, your coffee will have brewed and you will have cobbler for breakfast. Does it get better?

Try it - It will make you smile - I promise!

Strawberry Breakfast Cobbler
2 Cups Oatmeal
1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds
2 TB Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes*

1 Orange, Zested and Juiced
1 Large Basket Fresh Ripe Strawberries
Non-fat Greek Yogurt for Garnish

Step One
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, sugar and coconut together and place it on a sheet tray. Bake it for about 20 minutes on 350F, or until it starts to turn brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. Keep the oven on.

Step Two
While the topping is baking, slice or chop your strawberries. (The size is your choice - I like big messy hunks of fruit.) Add them to a bowl in which you have placed your juice and zest. Stir well.

Step Three
When you have finished chopping, and your topping is done, spoon the strawberry mixture into a butter- flavored-non-stick-sprayed 9" x 12" dish. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and spray one more time. Slide into the 350F oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Serve with a big plop of non-fat greek yogurt on top!

* Buy the coconut flakes at Whole Foods, Trader Joes or an international market. If you are like me, you didn't know about unsweetened coconut flakes when you were growing up. I thought all coconut came in a blue can or bag and was so so sweet, it made my teeth hurt. Good news! Unsweetened coconut is deliciously coconutty, and just naturally a little sweet.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lighter Lemon Yogurt Cake for Dessert

Last night we did a fun wellness class for a special friend, Beth Phillips and her wonderful, positive group of survivors. Here is our dessert - from the Taste and Savor cookbook, a Friday Four, and one of our favorite sweet recipes. No matter how you make it - in a springform pan, as cupcakes, in a 9 x12, or in a sheet tray like the one last night - it always bakes up beautifully moist and golden. We change it up, lime, orange, meyer lemon, even grapefruit as the seasons change.

Try this recipe, top it with ripe juicy strawberries and you will have the perfect dessert. Heck, it makes a great breakfast treat, too!

The Cake:
1 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Lemon Zest
1/2 Cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Canola Oil

The Glaze:
1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

Step One Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with a parchment round - coat with nonstick spray.

Step Two Place the flour, baking powder, and zest in a bowl, stir to combine.

Step Three In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended. Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture, then add the oil and stir to incorporate.

Step Four Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake for 15 minutes.

Step Five Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and remove it from the pan. With a toothpick poke holes all over the top. Combine the ingredients for the glaze and pour slowly over the cake. Cool completely before serving.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Luscious, Meatless, Fun: Kitchari - Indian Spiced Rice and Lentils

I love lentils. Orange, yellow, brown, green, black, you name it – I like them. I didn’t grow up eating lentils, for me they were an adult discovery. When I found dal, the name of legumes in Indian food, I fell in love. For years I ordered two things in every Indian restaurant I frequented. I didn’t prefer the tikka masala or butter chicken, oh no. At the top of my order were Dal Tadka, the yummy Lentil Curry, and Saag Panar, the delicious fresh cheese and spinach dish that is spicy and soothing at the same time.

So it was my sister who first introduced me to Kitchari, the lentil and rice combo that is full of flavor and is light and super easy to prepare. I like to make a double recipe and have leftovers to scoop into naan bread later in the week. See if this recipe doesn’t make you and your family happy eaters for dinner and lunch the next day and for snacks the following.


2 Cups Brown Basmati Rice
2/3 Cup Red Lentils (or any color you can find!)
6 Cups Water
2 EACH Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Sweet Potato, chopped
2 TB Olive Oil
½  Cup Chopped Green Onions + more for garnish
¼ Cup Pumpkin Seeds
2 TB Garam Masala
1 TB Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
3 TB Braggs Amino Acids* (optional)
1 Cup Coconut Milk
¼ Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper

Step One
Place the rice, lentils and water in a stockpot. Bring a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

Step Two
Add the zucchini, yellow squash and sweet potato to the pot, layering them on top of the rice and lentils. Cover again and cook until the mixture has absorbed all the water – about 20 minutes.

Step Three
In a sauté pan, heat the oil and cook the green onions and pumpkin seeds with the turmeric, garam masala and a good grating of black pepper. Cook until the green onions are wilted about 5 minutes. Stir in the Braggs, coconut milk and cook and stir until warm. Add in the lemon juice.

Step Four
Spoon the coconut mixture into the cooked rice and veggie pot and gently stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with the green onions.

*For this recipe I like to use Braggs Amino Acids. They are a liquid amino acid that you can find in the health food section of your grocery store. They add a delicious “umami” taste to the dish without salt, fat or calories.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meatless, Luscious Fun: Kale and Roasted Golden Potato Salad

In Atlanta, the month of March is our transition from cold weather to warm. We typically have a bout with bad weather: my sweetheart and I were married in March, (20 years ago!), and the weekend before, a huge snowstorm blew into town, paralyzing the city and making us happy that we our celebration was the next weekend.

This recipe combines the best of both seasons: winter and spring. The end of kale and the beginning of baby potatoes. Super easy and very delicious, it's a wonderful way to incorporate the tastes of Asia, (coconut milk and lemon), the last of kale and spring veggies like new potatoes.

Kale and Roasted Golden Potato Salad

2 LBs Yukon Gold Potatoes, Chopped in 1” Pieces
¼ Cup Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

4 Garlic Cloves, Grated
½ Cup Grated Pecorino Romano

1/3 Cup Natural (No Sugar Added) Almond Butter
2 TBs Coconut Milk
Juice and Zest of 2 Lemons
1 LB of Kale, Julienned
Lemon Wedges and Toasted Chopped Almonds for Garnish

Step One
Preheat the oven to 450F. Toss the potatoes with the oil, salt and pepper and place them on a sheet pan. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, or until almost done. Remove from the oven and stir in the garlic and cheese, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes more.

Step Two
While the potatoes are roasting, puree the almond butter, coconut milk and lemon juice and zest in a blender.

Step Three
Toss the julienned kale with the hot potatoes, and then toss with the almond butter dressing. Serve garnished with almonds.