“Cheesecake” with Meyer Lemon Curd & Raspberries

This recipe was the result of trying to create a dessert that was allergen free and low inflammatory. This “cheesecake” is dairy free, refined sugar free, and gluten free. It is also insanely delicious and just a little bit is perfectly satisfying and indulgent!

Recipe testing is one of those things that can either go really well or really sideways, depending on the day and the experiment. Haha 🙂 Regardless, I really enjoy playing around with food and trying out new things. Sometimes I test recipes out of necessity for work, to clean out the cupboards, or sometimes for health. This recipe was the result of trying to create a dessert that was allergen free and low inflammatory. This “cheesecake” is dairy free, refined sugar free, soy free, and gluten free. It is also insanely delicious and just a little bit is perfectly satisfying and indulgent! It isn’t a difficult recipe, but has a lot of elements and does require some planning. Make sure you have everything started and the cashews soaking the day before you actually want to eat this delicious dessert! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Happy baking!

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”Cheesecake” with Meyer Lemon Curd & Raspberries

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

Crust

  • Almond Flour                                        ¾ cup
  • Coconut Flour                                        1 tablespoon
  • Salt                                                            pinch
  • Flax Seed Meal                                       1 ½ tablespoons
  • Shredded Coconut, unsweetened       ¼ cup
  • Coconut Oil, melted                               ¼ cup

“Cheesecake” Filling

  • Raw Cashews                                         2 cups
  • Almond Coconut Milk                          as needed
  • Coconut Cream                                      ¾ cup
  • Vanilla                                                     1 teaspoon
  • Honey                                                      1 tablespoon

Meyer Lemon Curd

  • Meyer Lemon Juice                               ½ cup
  • Whole Eggs                                             2 each
  • Egg Yolks                                                 2 each
  • Honey                                                      3 tablespoons
  • Salt                                                           pinch
  • Coconut Oil                                            1/3 cup

Raspberry Topping

  • Fresh Raspberries, washed                1 container

Directions

To Make the Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, flax seed meal, and unsweetened shredded coconut. Stir the ingredients together.
  3. In a small microwave container melt the coconut oil.
  4. Add the melted coconut oil to the bowl with the almond flour mixture. Using a fork stir everything together until just combined and resembling wet sand.
  5. Using your hand, gently press the crust mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and sides of a pie pan.
  6. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool complete.
  8. Once the crust is cooled, cover and set aside for use the next day once the filling is ready.

To Make the Meyer Lemon Curd

  1. Begin by measuring out all your ingredients for the curd separately and setting them aside.
  2. Set up a double boiler next. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a gentle boil then reduce the heat slightly. Place a bowl on top of the pot of water. It should be a nice fit and sit well on top of the pot of water trapping the steam in without being too wobbly.
  3. Place the Meyer lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolks, and honey into the bowl on top of the double boiler.
  4. As the mixture heats, it will begin to thicken and cook the eggs through. Whisk mixture constantly or you will end up with scrambled eggs. It should be done gently with constant stirring until it reaches 135 degrees F. Safety first!
  5. Turn off the pot of water and remove the bowl from the heat.
  6. Add the pinch of salt and coconut oil. Gently whisk the mixture together until the coconut oil is thoroughly incorporated and smooth.
  7. Place the bowl of lemon curd into the refrigerator to cool overnight.

To Make the Filling & Finish the “Cheesecake”

  1. Measure raw cashews into a container. Make sure there is a little bit of extra room for the cashews to expand as they soak. Cover the raw cashews with your favorite almond milk. I like to use Almond Breeze’s Almond Coconut Blend Original Unsweetened. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator. You can also use water if you’d prefer, but I recommend using the opportunity to impart extra flavor whenever possible!
  2. Soak the cashews overnight.
  3. The next day remove cashews from the refrigerator. Pour off the little extra almond milk that didn’t get soaked up.
  4. Combine coconut cream, vanilla, and honey with the soaked cashews. In a blender or food processor (or with an immersion blender) puree the cashews and coconut cream until completely smooth.
  5. Scrape down the sides and continue blending to make sure that the entire mixture is smooth.
  6. Next, pour the “cheesecake” filling into the cooled crust and smooth out evenly.
  7. Set “cheesecake” into refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
  8. Once the “cheesecake” is slightly firm spread the lemon curd across the top and cover with fresh raspberries.
  9. Return the finished “cheesecake” to the refrigerator to finish setting for at least another hour.
  10. When thoroughly chilled and set, slice the “cheesecake” into pieces and enjoy!!!

Stir-Fried Pea Shoots & Pac Choi

My favorite thing about working with food is that there is always something new to discover; a new technique, fun fact, or new ingredient just waiting to peak the curiosity. On the weekends, I love to wander the local farmers market and see what is in season and if there is something new to work onto my dinner plate. This weekend did not disappoint as I discovered two new ingredients I hadn’t worked with before, pea shoots and pac choi (also seen as pak choy).

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The tangled little bundles of pea vines on the table were so inviting and lured me in for a conversation with the farmer. Pea shoots are the young and tender vines of the pea plant available during spring and early summer season. A delicate green traditionally used in Asian cuisine that can be eaten fresh or cooked and could be used as a substitute for similar greens, like spinach. A little bundle was definitely coming home with me. Next I stumbled across what at first I thought was baby bok choy, a bunch of leafy greens with white stalks, but a tiny hand written chalk sign said different, pac choi. Another conversation starter as I tried to figure out what the difference between pac choi and bok choy was, as they looked identical. The differences are small as they are essentially the same plant, both Chinese cabbage, but as the farmer explained pac choi at full size is about the size of a baby bok choy. Intrigued and excited by my farmers market finds I went home with inspiration for my dinner in hand.

Stir-Fried Pea Shoots & Pac Choi

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • Vegetable Oil                 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame Oil                     ½ teaspoon
  • Yellow Onion                1 each, peeled & julienned
  • Fresh Garlic                  3 cloves, peeled & minced
  • Fresh Ginger                1 inch piece, peeled & finely grated
  • Pea Shoots                    1 pound, washed & cut into 2 inch pieces
  • Pac Choi                        1 each, washed & cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Tamari or Soy Sauce   2 tablespoons
  • Black Pepper                to taste
  • Sesame Seeds               for garnish

Directions

  1. Prepare and measure all your ingredients and set aside. Pro Tip: Freeze the fresh ginger first before peeling and grating! I recommend using a microplane zester to get a finely grated ginger.
  2. In a skillet or wok, combine the vegetable and sesame oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add the julienned onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions start to caramelize and turn golden brown.
  4. Add the minced garlic and grated fresh ginger and cook for about a minute, tossing often.
  5. Next add the pea shoots and pac choi and toss together with the onions, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a minute or two just until the pea shoots and pac choi are slightly wilted.
  6. Add the tamari or soy sauce and black pepper to taste. Toss together, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
  7. Stir-fried pea shoots & pac choi go great with steamed jasmine rice or even some chicken satay!

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Crisps

Lovely Washington days, like we’ve been having this week, call for quick and easy recipes and limited time in a kitchen. One of my favorite homemade snack recipes is perfect to make and enjoy on a warm day, plus it is healthy and delicious as well!

I don’t know about you, but when the sun comes out in Seattle I want to be outside enjoying it as much as possible! Lovely Washington days, like we’ve been having this week, call for quick and easy recipes and limited time in a kitchen. One of my favorite homemade snack recipes is perfect to make and enjoy on a warm day, plus it is healthy and delicious as well! The fruit salsa recipe is easily adaptable to accommodate your favorite fruits or whichever fruits are in season and requires minimal prep and no cooking. So take a few minutes to whip up this tasty snack then enjoy a sunny Seattle afternoon outdoors with friends and family!

Fruit Salsa

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • Pineapple                             1 whole (peeled, cored, and diced small)
  • Shallot, minced                   1 each
  • Red Bell Pepper, minced   1 each (optional- skip if you want to go nightshade free)
  • Fresh Raspberries               1 cup
  • Fresh Lemon/Lime Juice   1 tablespoon
  • Honey                                    to taste

Directions

  1. Once all the fruits and vegetables have been washed and diced, combine pineapple, shallot, peppers and raspberries together in a bowl and stir well.
  2. Add lemon or lime juice and stir. Add sweeteners as desired—the more ripe and sweet the fruit is, the less honey you will need to add. Sometimes no additional sweetener is needed!!!
  3. Let the fruit salsa sit for a bit for flavors to mingle.
  4. Enjoy with homemade cinnamon crisps–recipe below!

Fruit Salsa

Cinnamon Crisps

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • Whole Wheat Tortillas         1 package
  • Vegetable or Coconut Oil     1/3 cup
  • Granulated Sugar                  1/2 cup
  • Ground Cinnamon                 ½ tablespoon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl combine sugar and cinnamon, mix thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Using a pastry brush, lightly oil one side of all the tortillas- just enough for the cinnamon & sugar mixture to stick (you don’t have to use all of the oil).
  4. Once lightly oiled, sprinkled cinnamon & sugar mixture over to lightly coat the flour tortillas (you don’t have to use all of the sugar mixture either).
  5. Once sugared cut the flour tortillas into triangles (about 12 per tortilla) and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet. You may need to bake them in multiple batches depending on the size of your baking sheet.
  6. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Let cool completely and enjoy with fruit salsa.

 

Maui Adventures: Tropical Fruit Tasting in Hana

After many hours, the afternoon sun and designated mailbox eventually indicated I had reached my turn off. Up a steep and windy dirt road, the tiny rental car chugged and bucked through 50 acres of pure organic paradise along the southeastern slopes of Haleakala volcano; my excitement continued to build as the driveway kept winding ever upwards. As the dirt road came to an end I was greeted with a covered seating area and an impressive display of exotic tropical fruit with people milling about eagerly. The Road to Hana had led me to my final destination- the Ono Organic Farm.

A lost piece of luggage and the consequent voucher placed me in the middle of a solo adventure in a Hawaiian paradise last month. A full week to myself on the island of Maui to explore and do whatever I pleased. It would be my first visit to Hawaii, and seeing that I had only my own desires to consider my plans naturally were food focused. I find that travel and immersing myself in the food and culture of a new place is the purest form of continuing education as a chef.

As I “googled” and planned from my AirBNB, I contemplated whether I should spend an entire day passing around the 600 plus turns and estimated 54 one lane bridges on the famous Road to Hana. The journey itself replete with dynamic vistas, rainbow eucalyptus trees, and one waterfall and pull off after another had just about sealed the deal, and then I found what I didn’t realize I was looking for… a website for Ono Organic Farm and their tropical fruit tasting adventure! The more I read, the more I was certain this was one adventure well worth a drive for this chef and the perfect capstone to my journey along the Road to Hana. A couple clicks later and I had bought my ticket. I could hardly wait!

The day finally came and I was up before the sun programming an address into the GPS and setting up a Road to Hana app on my phone.  I set off on the road from Lahaina and headed towards Paia and with the tasting ticket in hand, start time, a rough estimate of mile marker, and a picture of what the mailbox looked like to indicate which driveway I needed to take up to the farm – I was on my way. I drove along the curvy, picturesque road mile after mile through sun bursts and rain showers pulling over at many of the road side treats along the way. I climbed in lava tubes, played on black sand beaches, ate Aunty Sandy’s fresh banana bread in Kanae, sampled Coconut Glen’s vegan lilikoi (passionfruit) ice cream and continued ever onwards toward the farm. It was sheer bliss and yet it was just the beginning.

After many hours, the afternoon sun and designated mailbox eventually indicated I had reached my turn off. Up a steep and windy dirt road, the tiny rental car chugged and bucked through 50 acres of pure organic paradise along the southeastern slopes of Haleakala volcano; my excitement continued to build as the driveway kept winding ever upwards. As the dirt road came to an end I was greeted with a covered seating area and an impressive display of exotic tropical fruit with people milling about eagerly. The Road to Hana had led me to my final destination- the Ono Organic Farm.

Tasting Table

Here I would spend the afternoon with a small group of people for an exotic tropical fruit tasting adventure including samples of at least a dozen in-season tropical fruits, home grown coffee, and home grown and roasted cacao beans. As we waited for the rest of the people to find their way, I savored a mug full of delicious, fresh, hyper-local coffee and gazed in wonder at the table laden with brightly colored tropical fruits in the middle of the covered area.

Tasting Table2
Clockwise: Bananas, Vi Fruit, Egg Fruit, Jabuticaba, Rambutan

Tasting Table3
Clockwise: Bananas, Mountain Apples, Chico Sapote, Avocado, Longan, Atemoya

It wasn’t long before we began our tasting adventure and much to my delight began to work through every single one of the items on the display table. I learned so many wonderful things and tried over a dozen fruits the likes of which I have never seen, even with my many years of working in the food service industry or that could be referenced in my trusty “Food Lover’s Companion” book. Surrounded by the lush jungle where four generations of the Boerner family have been organic farmers, I sat eagerly, notebook in hand and jotted as many interesting tidbits between samples as I could. In the Hawaiian language, “ono” means most delicious and each sample of hand-picked premium fruit I tried further proved Ono Organic Farm was aptly named. The day ended with a tour around the farm and even more opportunities to try items straight from the source! When it finally came time to get back in my little compact rental to begin the long journey home, I left with a full belly, a full heart, and a notebook full of culinary inspiration.Tasting Session

If you ever find yourself on the Road to Hana and favor the food-focused itineraries like myself, I highly recommend a visit to Ono Organic Farm! While I couldn’t possibly begin to list all the amazing information shared that day on the farm, I have jotted down some of my favorites! Here are just some of the many fun fruit facts I learned during my tropical fruit adventure in Hana!

Jabuticaba

A purple, thick-skinned berry with an astringent skin, but sweet gelatinous flesh, similar to a grape. This berry ferments fast, so is a very rare find outside of areas that grow it. Often used in jams, jellies, and tarts.

Longan

Longon
Longan

Longon2
Inside of the Longan

This small round fruit has a thin, brown shell surrounding a translucent white, juicy fruit around a center black seed. It is sweet and perfumy in flavor and is related to the soapberry family, of which lychee and rambutan are also a part.

 

Mountain Apples

A small bell shaped fruit with waxy red/pink skin, that grows wild and has a soft, slightly crunchy texture and distinct rose taste. Not actually a relative of the traditional apple tree though. They said a tree only produces fruit just two weeks of the year!

Jackfruit

The world’s largest fruit from the same family as breadfruit which has pebbly skin and can grow up to 100 pounds! It houses gold fleshy pods when ripe and has a sweet flavor like that of Juicy Fruit bubblegum.

 

Star Apple
Star Apple

Star Apple

A purplish fruit roughly the size of an apple named for the starburst shape of the core. There is a thin layer of natural latex in the skin, so do not bite into it – instead slice it up. This latex keeps insects from stinging and burrowing into the fruit. Avoid the rock hard, black seeds as well! Another rare find as it bruises and ferments easily!

 

 

Atemoya

Atemoya
Atemoya

This fruit is in the custard apple family, related to the cherimoya and soursop. Roughly the size of a bell pepper with a green, petal textured skin. It is soft, sweet, tangy and creamy like a sorbet- almost like a blend of mango and vanilla. The flesh is studded with large black seeds which you should not eat.

Egg Fruit

This fruit is creamy & rich like an egg yolk and great for soups, raw pies, and curries. Tear drop shaped, golden yellow with a big seed in the middle (toss this); also, known as canistell. It had the texture of cooked pumpkin, but with a tangy taste.

Durian

Durian fruit is harvested fresh on their farm in October, but most of the durian is shipped to the mainland. Durian fruit has a semi-hard, spiky shell and has an incredibly nauseating smell, indeed is often outlawed in certain venues, such as public transit and airlines. Each fruit can have one to six pods of custardy like flesh around one center seed. A durian blossom has six parts and each part must be pollinated to bear fruit!

Chico Sapote

Chico Sapote
Chico Sapote

This little brown fruit has a texture similar to a pear, but tastes like brown sugar! The skin is edible, but a little fuzzy.

Pineapple

Maui Gold Pineapple grown over island is very sweet and has low acid. Ready to eat when the top twists off easily! White pineapple is another varietal, that is even more sweet and not fibrous, but is hard to grow.

Papaya

When planting papaya, they put three plants per hole as there are male, female, and hermaphroditic plants. The hermaphroditic plants are the ones that bear the traditional “papaya” shape, while the female plants bear a round fruit and males do not produce. The papaya of the female fruit trees tend to have fewer seeds. There is a large center cavity filled with grayish-black seeds which are edible, but extremely peppery! I have never been a big fan of papaya, but it was recommended to pair a slice of fruit with a squeeze of fresh Tahiti lime juice and it was absolutely delicious! It completely changed the flavor to me.

Papaya & Tahitian Lime
Papaya & Tahiti Lime

 

Tahiti Lime

A sweet, pale yellow lime that is actually a cross between a key lime and a lemon. Accents fresh papaya incredibly well!

 

 

Bilimbi

This tree was incredibly bizarre looking like it had an infestation of small pickles growing all over it! We were welcomed to pick one and try it…it was very much like a pickle in texture, but was terribly sour, like atomic war head. I thought my face was going to turn inside out! Used for items like chutneys, relishes, preserves or to add a sour flavor to curries or soups.

Bananas

There were a variety of bananas grown on the farm. Cuban red bananas are a starchier banana and often used for cooking, while the apple bananas are small and sweet and the most commonly eaten banana in the islands. The ice cream banana was another that has a “fluffier” texture. It takes 18 months for a tree to produce stalk of bananas. At harvest plant throws off shoot “babies,” so the whole tree is cut down with the stalk of bananas to force nourishment to the baby trees.

 

Coffee

Unfortunately, a beetle infestation has made it to the islands that bores into coffee trees killing it in just a couple of weeks. Most places on the island had stopped production (or at least tours) to get rid of beetle. It apparently had hit the Big Island hard as well, so if you have been wondering why the Kona coffee prices are so high right now…that is why!Coffee

Coconut Sprout
Sprouting Coconut

Coconut Husking
Coconut Husking Demo

Coconut Foam
The coconut water on a sprouted coconut turns to a foam as nourishment for the sprout! It tasted like coconut flavored styrofoam packing peanuts!

Nightshade Free Adventures: Chili Edition

Nightshades. A veritable slideshow flipped through my head of past meals enjoyed followed by pain; all those meals had contained eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes, the main members of the nightshade family. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? Well, nowhere to go but forward. I finally had a starting point and so began my adventures in nightshade free cooking. As a chef, you can imagine suddenly having to limit my food choices was sad, but ultimately a culinary challenge.

I have distinct memories of little me holding onto my chest and begging my mom for some of her TUMS after enjoying a slice or two (or three…) of pizza. We would eat it often and I loved it. The indigestion and heartburn were a normal part of pizza enjoyment, I thought, and obviously, well worth it. My quest to quell the burn was a routine and only delayed if pouting was necessary- if the TUMS weren’t my preferred flavor. I would routinely chomp up the chalky tablets and think no more about it.

Fast forward to my early twenties, after graduating culinary school, where the heartburn problems continued. I could no longer ignore the burning pain that felt like a million fiery suns in my chest. I sought medical advice and given gluten intolerances were on the rise the doctor tested me to see if I too was being affected. I was a chef who had never had to worry about food allergies and I absolutely loved baking and hoped to open a bakery café someday. The thought of putting limits on my skill set and my dream was absolutely crushing. I sat on the floor of my kitchen and cried, awaiting the news. The call held good news and bad news for me—it was not a gluten intolerance or allergy, but they didn’t know why my stomach was “so angry.” Probably stress. While I was frustrated and still in pain, I didn’t question it. It seemed logical as being a chef does come with many stresses. I carried on, trying to avoid stress and too much coffee, and most days it felt like I single handedly kept the antacid industry afloat.

It was nearly a decade more before I finally had a break through. I was thirty and running a kosher kitchen at a conservative Jewish summer camp making a particularly delicious batch of baba ghanoush when some of the roasted eggplant splattered on my arm. Instantly, my arm was red, itchy, and a little blister formed on the skin. What?! It was the weirdest thing I had ever seen. Naturally, I wanted answers and once again sought medical advice, this time from my allergy and asthma doctor. Turns out still not technically “allergic” to eggplant, but if I reacted so strongly to it he suggested I should probably avoid it. And then he said something that made everything click…. “You are probably sensitive to nightshades.” The clouds parted and somewhere in the distance I swear I heard a chorus of heavenly voices. An epiphany!

Nightshades. A veritable slideshow flipped through my head of past meals enjoyed followed by pain; all those meals had contained eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes, the main members of the nightshade family. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? Well, nowhere to go but forward. I finally had a starting point and so began my adventures in nightshade free cooking. As a chef, you can imagine suddenly having to limit my food choices was sad, but ultimately a culinary challenge. I have the skill set to learn how to work around my new found dietary issues, sometimes I am successful and sometimes not. I am still learning and testing recipes and I am sure it will continue to be a process as I am continually finding out one of my beloved products has a surprise hidden nightshade in it. It proves to be one of the more challenging dietary restrictions I have encountered as a chef. I love me the nightshades and I miss them truly, but here I am, bound and determined to create some of my favorites without the pain.

Nightshade Free Chili is the first of these I feel I have mastered! It tastes and looks like chili without containing tomatoes, peppers, paprika, or even chili powder. Go ahead and give it a try one of these cold, dreary fall days and let me know what you think.

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Plums and beets replace tomatoes and give this chili its color!

Dani’s Nightshade Free Chili

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • Olive oil                                  1 tablespoon
  • Onion, medium diced         2 cups
  • Garlic, minced                      4  cloves
  • Parsnips, peeled & grated   2 cups
  • Carrots, peeled & grated     2 cups
  • Beet, peeled & grated          1 cup
  • Red Plums, pitted & diced  1 cup
  • Beef Bone Broth                   2 to 4 cups
  • Sea Salt                                  1 teaspoon
  • Garlic Salt & Parsley           1 tablespoon
  • Ground Cinnamon              1/8 teaspoons
  • Ground Cumin                     2 tablespoons
  • Black Pepper                        1 teaspoon
  • Liquid Smoke                       1 drop only
  • Prepared Horseradish        2 teaspoons
  • Ground Beef, cooked           1 pound
  • Canned Beans, drained       3 cans (I like a mix 1 black bean, 1 kidney, 1 pinto)

Directions

  1. Gather all your ingredients. Prepare all the vegetables and measure all the spices out. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat oil on medium high heat. Once oil is hot, sauté the diced onions until translucent.
  3. Add the minced garlic, grated parsnips and grated carrots to onions. Reduce heat and cook about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the grated beet and diced plums. Cook for about 5 additional minutes. These are what will give the chili its color (once it simmers—it will be bright pink at first! Do not worry!).
  5. Once all the vegetables have softened, add the bone broth (I start with half and then add more as it simmers, if necessary). Next add all the spices and seasonings. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes to begin to develop flavor.
  6. Remove pot from stove and set on a pot holder. Using an immersion blender, puree the cooked vegetables and broth mixture until smooth.
  7. Add the cooked ground beef and drained beans to the smooth sauce. Mix together and return to stove to simmer for an additional half hour.
  8. After simmer adjust seasonings, if needed.
  9. Enjoy chili hot and topped with cheddar and sour cream (if you’d like). Perfect served with a slice of fresh cornbread!

The Fair

The fair is a magical and over stimulating foodie experience to be certain. A must each summer.

Many of my foodie habits were ingrained as a child long before I officially became a chef. Part of it was my family trying to support me in my dream of pursuing culinary, but a large majority of them simply stem from my parents’ own upbringing and feelings trickling down. Fond memories of childhood adventures that once seemed kooky or simply routine now drive this deep-rooted nostalgia and naturally move me to these same habits.

One of these being following the seasonality of food. Now by this I am not referring to only eating things that grow during their set season and region, although this is a fantastic food philosophy to support. What has been deeply ingrained in me and what I speak of is that there are certain things you must eat during each season to feel you have fully experienced the passing of said season; an obligatory seasonal food bucket list as it were. Each season has one and I find I am constantly working towards checking those boxes.

So as summer slowly begins to lose its grip on the Northwest, I find I am trying to squeeze every last bit of summer from my food. I am devouring all the fresh berries I can possibly eat with plans for a blackberry cobbler already underway. Salt water taffy fills the candy jar. And I consider the possibility the wild fires might squelch my longing for a hot, gooey s’more and what that could possibly mean for me. But more than the one-off foods here and there, summer holds one of my favorite and biggest, yearly foodie adventures…the fair.

The fair is a magical and over stimulating foodie experience to be certain. A must each summer. Food booth after food booth line miles of fairground expanse, each with brightly colored signs and flair all designed specifically to lure you in to eat. Hey, it worked on Hansel and Gretel. You may have tried one type of fried dough, but have you tried this one…or better yet this one?! Seriously, the love of fried dough in various shapes and forms (fried anything really) gets us every time. But there is something beyond just eating your body weight in neon candy floss and fried food at the fair.

There are animals, exhibits, and demonstrations all talking about food or food processes. Beautiful displays of locally grown produce are displayed as art. Jars of jams and pickles line halls adorned with ribbons. Farmers alongside kids in 4-H milk their cows and goats answering questions from those passing by. These days most people are removed from the origins of their food, but at the fair it is front and center. Indeed, it seems the fair is one of the last standing places where people feel comfortable seeing and discussing food at various stages, all without losing their appetite. Besides being vibrant and simply entertaining, the fair atmosphere is one of food information and inspiration.

Where else could you speak with a farmer about piglets and how big they grow before “becoming food” (about six months I am told) and then walk just a few steps away and indulge in a yard of bacon. Yes, you read that right…a yard. of. bacon. Certainly, not in a restaurant or grocery store. It would be out of place and make people uncomfortable, while at the fair it is natural. It is simply a part of life. It provides a time when people can be curious, ask their questions, and get some answers. Yes, I go to the fair in the summer to spend the day eating, however, there is more to it. I love a good country fair for what it represents, a reflection of a simpler time. A time when people were connected and communities grew with food. I think we should all work on bringing that simpler time back. Before it is too late this year, go to the fair! Be curious. Eat and learn!

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In a couple months when the weather turns and you begin to feel a longing for summer, make yourself some fried dough and marvel at the process of it all. I recommend one of my favorites, funnel cake. The best recipe I have found is below. Happy frying! **Warning: Breathing in too deeply near the funnel cake before taking a bite can cause temporary choking on powdered sugar dust. 🙂 **

Funnel Cake

Philly Dutch-Style Funnel Cakes

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Credit: foodnetwork.com Recipe by Dave Lieberman

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
  2. Gradually whisk in the milk, then the egg and vanilla, and finally the sugar and melted butter.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat to 350 degrees F.
  4. Pour as much batter as fits into a funnel, holding your finger at the base of the funnel to dam it. Bring the funnel over the top of the hot oil, release your finger to begin the stream of batter, and move the funnel in a circular motion to create a spiral shape. Use about ½ cup batter per funnel cake, or more or less to your liking.
  5. Fry 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown and slightly puffed, turning over when 1 side is golden.
  6. Remove from oil and place on a plate lined with 2 layers of paper towels.
  7. Immediately top with a good scattering of powdered sugar.
  8. Repeat until no batter remains.