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Posts Tagged ‘Bread’

Bon Appetit

Bonsoir! (good evening) After a night of French dining, I’m starting to channel my inner Julia Child. The restaurant we went to for my mom’s birthday this evening was a small and quaint venue operated by a team from France. HOW HAVE I NEVER BEEN HERE?!?!?? There are no words for my first French dining experience. It was one of the most delicious meals of my life.

It all started with a piece of fresh rosemary and olive bread with a glass of pinot blanc.Followed by a few appetizers.


Cheese flight:Escargot!!!

My main course:

With a Bordeaux:

And finally, three examples of heaven desserts:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!

One Happy Girl,

Nora

What is your favorite cuisine?

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I’m the type of person who cannot be idle. I find that when I have down time I end up getting antsy and think of anything and everything I could be doing. That being stated, sometimes you just need a day where you can stop, smell the flowers and relish in the peacefulness of having nothing on your agenda. Today was one of those days.

After my short country side run this afternoon I took myself on a “garden tour” around our backyard. My mom is extremely devoted to her gardens. She takes such pride and pleasure in them, and spends the majority of her day carefully tending to them. I think her dedication is what makes the flowers so beautiful.After my garden adventure we went to my cousin’s house for their birthday barbecue. I had a plate of grilled chicken, fruit and a mixed green salad with pear slices in a lemon vinaigrette. It wouldn’t be a birthday with out cake so I had a slice of vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and a little mint chip ice cream (can never resist mint chip 🙂 )After the party, I went for a nice walk-and-talk with my mom. When we returned I headed into our back yard to do a cart-wheel,  just because I haven’t done one in ages, and proceeded to lay in the grass and stare at the sky for a while. Sometimes you just have to soak in the beauty.

It was such a nice day that we decided to sit outside and absorb the beauty over crackers, hummus, bread, cheese and a bit of Dr. Loosen Riesling.

Life is good.

Peaceful,

Nora

What are your favorite ways to spend down time?

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Yesterday was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the upper 70’s and there was a consistent mild breeze. My parents and I thoroughly enjoyed the weather along with some amazing food.

After a little bit of this…Two pieces of this Calamata Focaccia and Wake Robbin Cheese.We were ready to sit down for dinner: grilled rosemary pork tenderloin, mixed green salad with a blend of cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and cucumber and steamed broccoli paired with  Diseno 2007 Malbec.Along with fresh herbs pressed on the pork, my dad also puts fresh rosemary right on the charcoal so that it infuses into the meat…delicious!

We were pretty full after dinner and decided to fill our glasses with a splash more of the Malbec and go for a walk around the backyard.After our “garden tour”, we each had a small piece of the brownies I made the previous evening and called it a night.

This morning we woke up at 7am to attend church and came home for our Sunday morning ritual: breakfast, biscotti, cappuccinos and the newspaper. My dad made an omelet for my mom and himself but the strawberries in our refrigerator were calling my name. I compiled a bowl of Plain Chobani Greek Yogurt, sliced banana, strawberries, cinnamon and had half of a chocolate-macadamia biscotti on the side (the other half was used for dunking into my cappuccino…aka the proper way to enjoy biscotti!) This biscotti was so rich! Initially I thought it was chocolate-almond but it ended up being packed full of macadamia nuts! It had a hint of orange zest in it, which made for a nice contrast to the espresso.

With a happy belly I’m off for a day that includes a nice country run, reading and a family BBQ for my cousin’s birthday.

Have a Relaxing Sunday,

Nora

Do you have special weekend traditions?

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I’m a little over excited for this post! I could hardly sleep last night because I had thoughts of fresh produce, artisan bread, flavored pastas and hummus running through my head. Today my parents and I ventured to my version of Disney Land: The Farmers Market. I have always been a Farmer’s Market enthusiast. I distinctly remember a time during my childhood when my family would go to Farmer’s Market almost every Saturday during the summer. I would always willingly hop out of my bed, excited by the prospect of finding handmade clothes for my barbie dolls and tasting locally produced cheese curds (I especially liked the pizza flavored cheese curds…I was a strange child.). There is nothing like waking up at 6am and entering a customer packed venue filled with smells of fried dough and dirt , to obtain “the good selection” of plants and produce. The energy at the market is what appeals to me the most. The vendors are so passionate about their products and you know you are purchasing something that was tended to with care. I always try to buy locally grown/ produced goods when I can because supporting the community is something that is very important to me.

The produce this time of year in Upstate NY is not at it’s best, however; we did not walk away empty handed. My mom bought several vegetable plants and herbs for her garden which will be amazing to have this summer–you can’t  get any fresher than straight from your own backyard 🙂 !

We made a stop at the Mediterranean store at the market for ground cinnamon, goat cheese, fresh hummus and kalamata olives. We also purchased some locally harvested honey and locally produced Bailiwick Cheddar Cheese from Wake Robbin Farm.

Our trips to the market are never complete with out buying a loaf of bread from our favorite vendor. Today we purchased one of our favorites: Calamata Focaccia. This bread never disappoints and has large pieces of kalamata olives under the top layer of airy dough sprinkled with sea salt. Simply stated: heaven in bread form.Because we tend to be Sunday morning coffee, biscotti and newspaper people, we purchased three of these lovely chocolate almond biscottis to round out our trip. I’m looking forward to trying this tomorrow, they smelled buttery and divine!

I’m off to enjoy some bread, cheese and wine with my parents!

Buy Local,

Nora

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Did I really just complete my undergraduate college education? Ladies and gentleman, at 4pm this afternoon I emerged from the confines of my minuscule apartment looking half-human and walked to campus to hand in my last college paper ever. It still hasn’t hit me yet. Do I really not have any readings to do? Tests to study for? Papers to write? As I sit in my room and type this I am in disbelief  that the past four years have finally come to an end.  It has been an interesting ride to say the least. The knowledge I have gained at this institution expands far beyond the classroom. I have learned a lot about myself and have grown tremendously. I have to take a moment here to pause and thank my parents.

Mom and Dad- Thank you so much for every opportunity you have provided me with. I am so grateful to have your love and support in my life. The road hasn’t always been easy, but you never stopped having faith in me and I appreciate that more than you will ever know. Thank you for never doubting me and encouraging me to pursue my interests. You are my best friends and every day I truly feel lucky to have you in my life. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

On to my day:

Today was such a scramble. I’m always such a mess during finals week between little sleep, weird eating and stressful studying. I’m glad that this marks the end of it! I started today around 7am and was under lock and key paper writing in my apartment until 3:30pm. I literally moved from my floor (everything was spread out on my floor…I couldn’t sit at my desk anymore!) to the kitchen all day long and finally sat in bed for some final editing and to provide relief to my numb “bottom” that suffered from my harsh floor all day. Yeah, it wasn’t a fun time.

Breakfast was exactly what I was craving: Berry Oats. Last night for dessert I had some luscious local strawberries with MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread.

I knew that I needed to have these again for breakfast, so I made a big bowl of oats for breakfast with strawberries and blackberries.Into my bowl:

Base: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 sliced banana, 2 tsp chia seeds, cinnamon, vanilla extract.

Toppings: ~1/4 cup Chobani Greek yogurt (last of it!), 3 strawberries, handful of blackberries and almond butter.

This was SO delicious. I really liked the melted Greek yogurt on top. It made my bowl so creamy and I loved the sour contrast with the berries. When I get more yogurt, I’m going to incorporate it into my warm oats more often!

This is the only meal that I was 100% certain of all day. As I got into paper writing the rest of my food was completely random and consisted of “I can’t focus, go make food” dishes. They were all consumed sporadically between the hours of 10am and 3pm. I really hate mindlessly eating, I never feel wonderful when I do and today was no exception. My stomach was…let’s just say a bit bubbly, but it got me through the day. I’ll try to categorize as best I can the randomness of food:

Morning Snack: Jonagold Apple with Almond Butter.

“Lunch”:

Lunch was a compilation of everything in my room/fridge/freezer that I could think to put together. I’m not sure what time this all actually took place, but I think it was a few hours after breakfast when I was getting into the really tedious part of my paper. I spotted a Luna Cookie Dough Protein Bar and decided I needed a little cookie dough to chug through more work. I ate half of it before lunch and the other half later in the day. Shortly after I decided that I needed to refocus and make myself a snack. I went back into my kitchen and prepared a plate of watermelon and pineapple. I wasn’t full and it was almost lunch time so after maybe 30 minutes I went back into the kitchen to make some real food. Remember that Multigrain bread I picked up at the bakery a while ago? Well it also comes in a Multigrain Currant variety(be still my heart, I’m in love with this bread), and I happened to have a few pieces in my freezer from a long, long time ago 🙂 . The pictures above are a before and after shot. I topped my toast with some natural crunchy peanut butter. After I made my toast, I thought to myself, “Nora, you can not live on nut butters, fruit and carbs alone.” And decided to make a plate of sautéed spinach topped with a runny fried egg, extra sharp cheddar cheese and hot sauce. Maybe I should just call this breakfast number two! It was so delicious, and held me nicely through the majority of my paper writing! I really love the combination of egg yolk and extra sharp cheddar cheese, it is so creamy and flavorful!

I finally completed the bulk of my writing around 2pm and determined I needed some editing food.I needed some greens so I made a mini “sludge” monster with 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk, 5 ice cubes, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop Amazing Grass GREEN Superfood, 1 heaping TBS Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa, and a big bunch of spinach. It looks like sludge, and wasn’t as good as my protein packed monsters, but it was still refreshing. After this freezing beverage I needed something warm so I microwaved a Medjool date with almond butter and cinnamon. I microwaved another unpictured date with just cinnamon after this. Still not satisfied, and now wanting chocolate, I used a random (embarrassing purchase… my campus store sells them so I picked up a bag a while ago.) rice cake as a vessel for MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and Raspberry Jam.

Today was a whirlwind, and I had a bunch more “finger swipes” of almond butter, some raw almonds, another apple and a big carrot somewhere in between. I think it’s safe to say: my paper was a nut butter fueled production.

It was a bit cool out when I finally left my apartment, but the walk was welcome. I was in need of a good leg stretch, and it settled the random bites of my day. I was fortunate to get to the Political Science Department mere MOMENTS before they locked the doors. My professor told us that the paper was due at 5pm, and the department locks  down at 4:30pm! I don’t know what I would have done if I left my apartment 5 minutes later.

I haven’t had time this week to exercise so I did a light 50 minutes on the Pre-core machine before heading home. I was planning to run but was felling a little “blah” when I finally got to the gym. I’ll tell you, paper writing + sitting + eating = exhaustion.

I wasn’t particularly in the mood for anything fancy for dinner, and wanted to continue my fridge cleaning so I used the remainder of my Bush’s Baked Beans for another Baked Beans and Sweet Potato dish. I served it with a fresh green salad and the last of my watermelon. I decided to cook my sweet potato in the microwave for the sake of time, and it wasn’t very photogenic. I ended up mashing it and topping it with cinnamon and Crofter’s North American Superfruit Spread (cranberry/blueberry mix) before adding my baked beans, which was delicious :).

For dessert I had a few squares of Green and Black’s Mint Dark Chocolate and a cup of Decaf Constant Comment Bigelow Tea. I needed something a little cozy to curl up in bed with because The Notebook was on and I had some blogging to catch up on :).

Hopefully, normalcy will resume tomorrow. I still think it is SO strange that I do not have anymore school work to accomplish. I have some personal projects and fun books to read, so I’m sure I’ll find a way to stay occupied. I think the most exciting part about finishing is that I now have time to do the things that I really like. I’m all for academics, but when it is a struggle to love and appreciate the material you are learning the work is tedious and stressful. I’m really looking forward to reading for fun and continuing my food/wine aspirations.

I have MANY more thoughts, but until I gather them I’m going to leave this rather long post be. I have one more week on campus for  “Senior Week”, which is filled with senior class functions (Finger Lakes Wine tour Monday…stay tuned!). I’m officially out of here after our graduation ceremony next Sunday. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Surreal Life,

Nora

Have you ever had a moment or experienced an event that seemed unbelievable?

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I made it home today safe and sound. It is still a chilly 35 degrees here, but the sun is shining and the sky is perfectly blue, so no complaints! On my way home I picked up a loaf of  Pecan Raisin Sourdough for my parents at the bakery: I love this bread. Over the summer, I was able to sample it  a few times as the bakers perfected the recipe. Now that they have it down, it is a “weekend” bread that they make from scratch on Saturday. I got there around 8:30 am to pick out the perfect loaf and say goodbye to my coworkers before heading home. I’m only an hour and a half away, so the bread was extremely fresh and delectable when I got home. The crust still had the perfect crunch and the inside was soft and flavorful. HEAVENLY! My parents and I toasted up some slices, sipped on coffee (decaf..it’s still Lent, but I feel so great being caffeine free!)  and caught up. After doing massive amounts of laundry and running errands with my dad, I snacked on a  Banana Bread LaraBar.I love Larabars, but was not so impressed with this one. It has dates, banana and almonds, and I think it would have a much better taste if they used walnuts. I brought home some PB&J Larabars for my NYC car ride on Tuesday,  so I was happy to try this one today.

I was so tired from the drive and have had very little sleep in the past few days so I decided to take a nap….well, in all honesty I fell asleep watching the Syracuse Basketball game on TV. I was so comfortable my eyes naturally shut! When I woke up, my brother came home and we went to church . It is always nice coming home and going to church, it reminds me of my childhood and humbles me, making me feel grateful for the life I have. After church we had our usual family birthday dinner. We started with warm bread with a dipping oil, a bottle of Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon and a Maytag Blue Cheese Salad with mixed greens, red grapes, walnuts and balsamic:

Lapostolle (you can see the dipping oil but we finished the bread so no picture)

Always have to smell the cork

Maytag Blue Cheese Salad

The bread was warm with a soft interior and crunchy exterior,  just how I like it. This wine was especially good with the blue cheese. It was a very dry Cabernet, and you could detect oak, red currents and blackberries in its scent. After reading the bottle, I discovered that this wine is aged for 10 months in small oak barrels. The salad was not so great. I’ve been to this restaurant before and have had better. The greens were wilted and overdressed. It was overly concentrated with blue cheese and had only a few pieces of grapes and walnuts. Despite this disappointment all of my woes were carried away when my main course came out: Grilled Harpooned Swordfish with garlic mashed potatoes, ratatoullie and a port wine reduction.

Pretty Plating

The swordfish was so tender, and succulent. The hearty, yet light flavors of the garlic mashed potatoes and the delicate ratitoullie garnish worked wonders with the meaty fish. Surrounding the meal was a port reduction, which was the perfect “sweet” component for the savory dish. I finished every last bite, and could not have been more pleased with my order!

Earlier in the day we decided to get desserts from our local grocery store so we could enjoy dessert at home and open gifts. I decided to get a Mixed Berry Trifle and my brother  Peanut Butter Cup Pie:Hers

His

As good as the dessert menu at the restaurant sounded, I was happy to come home, put sweat pants on and relax a bit before dessert. My dessert had a layer of chocolate cake topped with chcoolate pudding, whipped cream and fresh berries. The cake part was not too heavy, and absorbed the chocolate pudding. I was happy that the main element of this dessert was cream because  I am all “cake-ed” out from my birthday week. My brother isn’t really a dessert person (I know sad, but he didn’t inherit my sweet tooth or love of food.) so we decided on these desserts intead of a  birthday cake. Plus, my entire extended family is coming over tomorrow for MORE celebrations and my mom ordered our usual cakes (mine: Strawberry Whipped Cream, Brothers: Chocolate Chocolate ButterCream), so this was a good way to mix up my nightly cake ritual.

I’m SO stuffed! Off to bed then yoga with my mom in the morning. I’ll be sure to post tomorrow, and won’t forget to add a picture of the strawberry whipped cream cake I have been taking about!!

Glad to be Back,

Nora

What is your favorite part about coming home?

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What a day! I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful family and great friends. My birthday has been a time to reflect on all the important people in my life. I have received so many messages today from friends I haven’t spoken to in years (thank you facebook for birthday announcements haha!) and I truly appreciate that I was in their thoughts today.

On to dinner. I went out to dinner with 5 of my close friends. It was intimate, cozy and extremely enjoyable.

My Side of The Table..still have pink eyes 😦

I apologize for the not so stunning pictures. I was hesitant to use the flash on my camera since it was such a dark restaurant. My friends also think it’s so weird that I find the “art” of good and wine/food pairings. (Honestly, sometimes I find it hard going out to eat with people who don’t really appreciate good food, anyone with me?) I started with a necessary glass of wine:

Petite Sirah (Ravenswood, CA)

I ordered the Petite Sirah from Ravenswood, CA. I really enjoyed the flavoring of this wine. It was fairly mellow with a slight buttery finish. The flavor of cherry and current lingered with a hint of spicy ginger and smooth vanilla. I don’t typically choose red wines with sushi (I prefer Riesling or Gewürztraminer), however; with my appetizer and meal,  I felt this would be a nice pair.

While contemplating the menu, we were served a bread basket (unpictured because we all jumped at it the second it came out) that was composed of  7-Grain Sourdough, Miche (french country soft sourdough) and Jalapeno Corn Bread. Since I work in the bread department, I am very familiar with these varieties, and knew that I had to go for the 7-grain. The crust is coated in sunflower seeds and rolled oats, with a soft nutty interior. I seriously could live off of this stuff, it makes the best toast in the world and is the perfect base for left over Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches!

For an appetizer we ended up splitting 2 Margherita Pizzas between 5 of us and our other friend decided to get the squash soup topped with a brie cloud! It looked fantastic but I wasn’t sly enough to sneak a photo before she finished it!

Wood Fire Margherita Pizza

The crust is essentially a cracker. It is so thin and crisp, allowing for the phenomenal ingredients on top to really shine. This pizza is composed of roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and coarse sea salt. Basically it is heaven. The tomatoes are so sweet, the basil is potent and the fresh mozzarella….can you think of anything better than fresh mozzarella? I always want to try the other pizzas on the menu, they have such interesting options such as a Duck Confit Pizza with  roasted shallot, port reduction and dried blueberries, and a Tapanade Pizza with goat cheese, olive spread, arugula and white anchovies. Even with the mentality of wanting to branch out and try something new, I will always and forever be a sucker for the simple yet elegant Margherita Pizza.

For my main course I ordered a sushi roll entitled “Eel Next Door”.  The roll is composed shrimp, cucumber, tomago (sweet omelet), spicy mayo and avocado,  topped with eel.

Eel Next Door

I never wanted this to end it was the perfect combination of sweet, spicy and smoky. Umami? I have tried a lot of sushi in my life and there is nothing better than sushi rice that is correctly prepared, and sushi grade fish. One of my friends ordered the yellow tail roll, and I also had a piece of that. I don’t prefer yellow tail, but this was succulent and so flavorful! I feel like no matter what I ordered off of their menu, I could never be disappointed.

Naturally a meal isn’t complete with out dessert. It was my birthday so I needed CHOCOLATE! My friend and I decided to split (aka I ate most of it and all of the ice cream) the Molten Chocolate Cake with Bittersweet Caramel Ice Cream, Caramelized Pecans and a Port Reduction.

Half Devoured Molten Chocolate Cake

It came complete with a candle in the raspberry, and my friends sang happy birthday to me in hushed tones (haha I didn’t want to make my birthday a big to-do). This was so delicious that I couldn’t even wait to grab my camera before we broke into it. It had a caramel dust around the ice cream, and a vanilla wafer sticking out of the cake. It was so rich but every bite was pure bliss. I also had a few bites of my other friends Flourless Ricotta Cake with Almond Semifreddo. The cake was delicious and flavored with orange and almond. I really liked it but I LOVED the semifreddo. It was dense with an intense almond flavoring and coated with sliced almonds.

Aside from my family not being with me, my birthday was everything I could have asked for. It was a day filled with love, good friends and of course good food. I will be returning home this weekend, to continue birthday celebrations with my family and twin brother, maintaining our long-standing traditions.

Here’s To Another Year,

Nora

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