Spring into Summer

After Memorial Day, I really start to feel the transition from spring into summer.  Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Everything starts to turn green and we get to be less bundled as the temperature begins to creep up. Produce also begins to turn green and there is a new variety of vegetables and fruits to use in the kitchen! Now that we have passed the unofficial start of summer, I can dig out those white pants from of the back of my closet(Just kidding!) and embrace even more produce.  These days we do start to wear shorts more than pants and there are more days when I go out without a jacket.  School is slowly coming to an end and we can all look forward to the care-free fun of camp during the summer. 

One of my favorite parts of summer is the ability to serve something that requires little to no cooking.  Salads become staple on our dinner menu. I dare you to count the number of times I post a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad this summer. I’ll be changing them up slightly each time by using different sized tomatoes, perhaps using a dressing from Farm House Labs one week and the following week simply drizzling the salad with 5 Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I plan to cook vegetables ahead of time and serve them with a light vinaigrette to greet the freshness of summer.  The wine in our house also begins to change from red to white and maybe with a rose mixed in.  With the summer heat, a chilled wine is always appreciated and this summer we are ready for drinks on the terrace with plastic wine glasses!

One downside of the heat is that we need to ship some of our products express to make sure they arrive in their best condition.  You can check out all of our summer shipping guidelines here.

Whether you spend your summer in the city, at the beach or somewhere in between I hope it is as relaxing as you want it to be.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Fire up the Grill!

Fire up the grill!

Who doesn’t love to grill…especially on a warm sunny day, am I right?  At my house I typically do the cooking but my husband is always in charge of the grilling.  It isn’t that I don’t know how to grill, it is just that he likes it and it is an easy task for me to delegate to him.  In the city, we have a grill as part of our Wolf Range which isn’t quite as romantic as grilling outside (but better than not grilling at all).  When we go on vacation, we always rent a house with a grill.  On those instances I am pretty sure my husband loves being outside by the grill, sipping glass of wine and enjoying the weather. 

With Memorial Day Weekend starting, summer has un-officially begun and that marks the start of grilling season for most.  When I grill a protein I typically don’t follow  recipe.  The meat or fish is seasoned with one or more spice blends from La Boîte and some kosher salt.  For side dishes I tend to be more of a recipe follower.  Here is one of my favorite grilled side dishes. I first started making this when I lived in London and we had a charcoal grill on our roof top.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Grilled Romaine Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 heads Romaine Lettuce

1 red onion

2 ripe avocados

1 pint grape tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

-Pre-heat grill to medium high heat. While the grill is heating prepare the vegetables.  Slice the heads of Romaine in half from the stem to the tip.  Peel and slice the onion into ¼ inch slices.  Season lettuce and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.

-Place onion slices on the grill away from the direct heat.  Allow to grill for about 20 minutes or until no crunch remains.

-Place lettuce on grill and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes per side.

-Slice grilled lettuce into 1-inch ribbons and put into salad bowl.  Chop grilled onion and add to the bowl.

-Slice the grape tomatoes in halve and add to the bowl.  Dice the avocado and add it to the bowl as well.

-Drizzle with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.  Toss to coat and enjoy.

 

C is for Chocolate Chips

This past Wednesday was National Chocolate Chip Day, a holiday I can support without question.  If it were up to my children we’d probably sprinkle chocolate chips on everything… needless to say I am a huge fan. It all got me thinking about where Chocolate Chips came from.  As you might have suspected, the creation of the chocolate chip came about for a cookie recipe.  Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts added cut up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestle chocolate bar to a cookie recipe.  They were an immediate success.  Wakefield reached an agreement with Nestle to add her recipe to the back of their bags in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate.  That was in 1939 and Wakefield lived until 1977.  That is a LOT of chocolate.  It was around 1941 when Nestle began producing chocolate chips, before that they added a cutter to their larger bars.  This creation changed cookie making as we know it.

These days it is difficult to find a traditional bakery that doesn’t have some sort of chocolate chip cookie on their menu. While the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe is  a staple at home, here are some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to eat when someone else is baking.

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chunk – This cookie is crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. I had my fair share when I worked at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center for over two years. Sometimes quality control is part of the job and I wasn’t complaining.

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies – These cookies are HUGE and sinful.  They are pretty gooey on the inside with just the right balance of richness from the chocolate and crunch from the walnuts.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Coated Chocolate Chip Cookie – This chocolate chip cookie is coated on the bottom with 60% dark chocolate… WOW!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Shots from Dominique Ansel Bakery – Cookies and milk are a great combination and this one allows you to have your milk in your cookie.  It literally is a cup made of chocolate chip cookie. 

If you missed National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day do not worry, there are chocolate chip cookies made everyday.  Pick one up at your favorite bakery and let us know why it is the best!

Happy Friday,

Julie

A Mother’s Job

Messy Kids

                                                                                                                                   

Motherhood and parenting definitely comes with some positives and negatives. I love when you see a job posting for the position of Mother. It may read something like this:

Title: Mother

Description:

  • Long term, energetic team players needed, for challenging permanent work in a busy and often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.
  • Successful candidates are given a few hours sleep per night for the first few years increasing to more as you remain in the position. Even during sleeping time, successful candidates should be able to wake up and resume normal duty at a seconds notice.
  • There are ‘bathroom breaks’ permitted but these will be accompanied by small people. Be prepared to answer any questions they may ask while doing this task.

Responsibilities:

Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs something. Must be willing to bite your tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a lion and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small toy repair and stubborn zippers. Must maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have the ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, and an embarrassment the next. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the building.

Compensation:

None! You pay! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when clients they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. The strangest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

Benefits:

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life. There is one day per year allocated for you (it is marked in the calendar as Mother’s Day)

Needless to say being a mom is really hard and so is running your own business. I am very proud to be a mother and business owner. I have even more pride in the fact that Julie’ Beet supports other women entrepreneurs who are also mothers. 

Chantal Coady founded Rococo Chocolates well before she had children. Now she is the proud mother of two and is still running a very successful chocolate company.

Lucy Benjamin started Lucy’s  Granola due to the overwhelming response to her granola at her daughter’s bake sale.  Lucy is the proud mother of three and makes way more granola compared with the back to school days.

Stefanie, from Due Celucci is the proud mother of two sons and one dog.  She makes her sauces to taste like home-made so the only work you have to do is opening the jar and cooking the pasta.

Daniela, from Farmhouse Lab, also had two children. According to Daniela, her children are excellent taste testers.  We have them to thank for all of the delicious dressings

Leah, from Semolina Artisanal Pasta, is also a mother of 2.  She loves to bring her children with her when she is out ‘working’. Leah is `a renaissance woman often switching gears from mom to pasta maker in an instant.

 

I want to wish all of the mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.  Take some time for yourself today… fingers crossed the children will agree with that plan too!

Happy Friday

Julie

Do Your Kids Eat Veggies?

Everyone says kids are picky eaters and sometimes that is true.  Since my children were born, all three of them, I have put a lot of time and effort into introducing them to healthy foods and preparing them healthy meals. From breast milk to home-made purees, I started them early.  They all liked their vegetables, some fruits and for the most maintained a healthy diet.  Sometime about 2 years ago that slowly started falling apart, especially for my oldest son.  He now doesn’t eat any fruits or vegetables.  When he turned five he made the bold statement that he would start eating vegetables but I’m still waiting for that to happen.  My middle son, who is 3, is the best eater of the bunch. He loves fruit, specifically berries, and will eat greens like kale and spinach(not always but sometimes). My little one who is 1 ½, has started in the right direction and I’m really trying to hang on.  He does get macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers with French fries but he also eats yogurt, nuts, applesauce and a variety of other healthy items.

As a parent, and a chef, it disturbs me that my children don’t want to eat everything in sight. Also, that they don’t appreciate the effort I put in to prepare their meals but that could be a whole other issue.  I’ve turned to the internet many times for tricks to get my kids to like a variety of foods and most say exposure is key.  All of my boys like to cook with me, so they are exposed to everything from spinning kale in the salad spinner to making banana chocolate chip muffins and everything in between.  Because we cook together, it isn’t so easy for me to ‘hide’ fruits and vegetables in their food.  In an effort to get out of our weekly cycle of meals, I’ve turned to the internet again for suggestions.  Here are some good ones I found.  Follow our Pinterest Board, Kid’s Meals, where I will add more tips and recipes as I find them.

Choices: Kids love being in charge so instead of saying we’re having carrots with dinner tonight, offer a choice…  “Would you like carrots or cucumbers with your dinner tonight?” By being ‘the boss’ of what they eat, mealtime is more likely to be successful.

Serve a family meal: It is really nice when a family can sit down and eat together and even nicer when you all eat the same meal.  Kids look at their grown-ups for cues so if you are enjoying something sitting next to your child, there is a  higher probability they will try it and like it too.

Reward ‘good’ Eating:  My grandmother used to say “There is no such thing as I don’t like” and if we complained we would get more of whatever we didn’t like.  We got smart and started complaining about dessert.  She didn’t fall for that one but it is true that kids like sweets and treats.  Offer dessert for finishing dinner or even tasting their vegetables.  You’ll be surprised how motivated a child gets over a small treat like a chocolate chip or a mini marshmallow.

Do Your Best:  Don’t get frustrated if a meal doesn’t go as planned. Kids are unpredictable at best so what gets eaten one night might get turned down another.  Keep trying and something will stick.

If you have any other tricks that work for you please let me know. I’m all ears when it comes to getting kids to eat something that isn’t sugar coated or fried! On that note, have a great Cinco di Mayo this weekend!

Happy Friday,

Julie

It’s National Pretzel Day

To celebrate National Pretzel Day today I have to share this recipe from Julie’s Eats and Treats for Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels. I found it on Pinterest a few weeks ago and am just looking for an excuse to try it out.  I’ll be using Cacao Prieto Almond and Salt Bark for the chocolate bark!  If you try the recipe let me know how it goes!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

Mini Pretzels

1 bar Cacao Prieto Almond and Salt Bark

Method:

-Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.

-Mix peanut butter and butter together with a mixer until combined. Add the sugars and beat until combined.  You should be able to roll the mixture into balls without it sticking to your hands.  If it is still sticky, add more powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency.

-Roll the mixture into balls. Sandwich the balls between two mini pretzels.  Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

-Chop the chocolate into small pieces.  Melt in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth. 

-Dip each pretzel sandwich into the mixture and place onto the prepared baking sheet.  Let set  at room temperature and store in an air tight container.

Four Years(Plus) in the Making

This week Julie’s Beet celebrated its 4th Anniversary.  It is hard to believe that it was just four years ago that I had boxes of products stacked in our apartment.  And when the weather warmed up and all of the chocolate moved into our bedroom(for the air conditioning) my husband suggested I move Julie’s Beet to its own location.  I moved into our showroom on 80th Street shortly after Julie’s Beet launched online.  Since then we have continued to grow and change.  A few of our products have come and gone but it is nice to see friendly faces(items) remain on the website year over year because you love them as much as I do! I’m proud of how we have grown at Julie’s Beet but also proud of the way we have maintained what is important to us…

We have posted to our blog weekly since Julie’s Beet began.  The blog is a just one way we add a personal touch to the website by telling you family tales and sharing some of our favorite recipes.  It is not an easy feat to come up with something new and interesting to talk about week after week.  Please let me know what you’d like to see up on the blog. And if you’re reading this you’ve found our blog.  You can also follow the blog by simply adding your email here and you’ll get our blog posts sent directly to your inbox.

I’m very proud that we continue to support smaller producers from around the world.  We’re constantly looking for the next artisan who will join our roster of talented producers.  I continue to love telling the stories behind the products to anyone who will come in and listen. I also love sharing the joy when our artisans are recognized for all of their greatness. 

My love of food and cooking has never been stronger. Nothing brings me more pleasure than putting a smile on someone’s face through the gift of food.  Whether it is something home-made or a beautiful gift set or a bite of a really special bar of chocolate, food has a power over people and I love being able to spread that joy. Being a business owner has its fair share of challenges but the return on the investment is well worth it.

As I look ahead to the next four years, I get a little tingly thinking about all of the possibilities for growth. I cannot wait to try what you or your neighbor might be cooking up and I cannot wait to tell the story behind that very special product.  Here’s to more culinary adventures around the world!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Spring Feasting is upon Us

I know I’ve been saying it a lot, but I am so excited that SPRING IS HERE!   My son and I walk down the street pointing out green buds on trees, blooming tulips and daffodils and the many other signs that spring has sprung.  My favorite place to welcome spring is at the farmers market.  The stands are filled with green asparagus, peas, fiddle head ferns and all the beautiful flowers that come with spring.  I’ve been writing a lot of recipes for Easter lately and what really excites me are the vegetables!

Here is a menu I’ve been dreaming about with spring’s bounty:

Mint Pea & Goat Cheese Dip with baguette crostini

Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Leek and Potato Galette

Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake

The menu is fresh, innovative and really highlights spring.  I have been having a sweet tooth lately too so immediately went to test and modify the cake. Here is my version of the recipe for the Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake made with Gus and Grey Spellbound, Blueberry Lavender Jam.

Happy Friday,

Julie

P.S. Get your Easter orders in by midnight tonight for standard shipping and delivery before Easter.

Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake

Makes 1 9-inch Loaf

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup plain yogurt

5 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup Gus & Grey Spellbound Jam

Lemon Glaze:

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line the loaf pan with parchment paper leaving a little extra hanging over the side. Spray the loaf pan with cooking spray.

-Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk lemon zest into sugar into a separate bowl until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add eggs, oil and vanilla and whisk until light in color, about 3 minutes. Whisk in half of the dry ingredients, then add the yogurt.  Whisk in the remaining dry ingredients. Add lemon juice and whisk to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan.

-Bake cake until golden brown, 55-60 minutes. Cool for 2 hours or more.

-Once cake is cool, remove from pan and transfer to a baking sheet. Starting at one end, use a 1/8” dowel(or end of a wooden spoon) to make rows of holes in the cake about ¾” apart. 

-Transfer Gus & Grey Spellbound Jam into a squeeze bottle.  Carefully squeeze the jam into the prepared holes, filling them.

-To prepare the glaze whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.  Spread the glaze over the top of the cake with a spatula, filling in the holes.  Toss the blueberries in the bowl to coat.  Sprinkle over the top of the cake along with the lemon zest.  Chill until the filling and glaze are set, about 1 hour.

-Enjoy

Egg-cellent Round Up!

Spring is here… images of bright flowers and eggs are everywhere. The egg is a classic symbol associated with Easter and a roasted egg is also part of the Seder Plate for Passover.  While we see lots and lots of hen eggs around, we don’t see too many other eggs out there. I decided to do some research to see if we are eating the right eggs or if we should switch to something like an ostrich egg. 

Here is what I found:

Chicken Eggs – These are the most common eggs found as they have a mild flavor and contain lots of vitamins and nutrients.  The shell varies color depending on the type of chicken it comes from.

Duck Eggs – A duck egg is very similar in size to a chicken egg. The differences are that it has larger yolk giving it a richer taste and also providing more fat and protein compared with a chicken egg. The shell on a duck egg is also thicker than a chicken egg, allowing them to stay fresher longer.

Turkey Eggs – These eggs tend to be pretty rare as farmers find more value in raising a large turkey compared with selling the eggs.  The eggs are similar in size and flavor to a duck egg.  They have a thicker yolk and white giving them a creamier consistency.  Turkey eggs are favored for pastries for this reason.

Goose Eggs – Goose eggs are twice the size of chicken eggs. They are also rare, like turkey eggs, but for a different reason.  A goose only lays about 40 eggs per year making them hard to find.  Goose eggs are heavier than a chicken egg and provide more protein.

Quail Eggs – These eggs are tiny and delicate. They are often found poached or fried atop a fancy salad in a fancy restaurant.  Don’t get the real quail egg confused with this chocolate version by Rococo chocolates. The flavor and nutritional value of a quail egg is similar to a chicken egg but you would need to eat a lot more to get the same benefits because of their smaller size.

Pheasant Eggs – Pheasant eggs are similar in size to a duck egg but have a gamier flavor due to the flavor of the bird.  The taste is light and rich like a quail egg.

Ostrich Eggs – Ostrich Eggs are 20x larger than a chicken egg.  That would be very convenient if you are making eggs for a large group.  The egg has a similar yolk to a chicken egg but their hard shell make them difficult to open.  A single ostrich egg packs about 2000 calories… a single egg would cover your suggested daily intake!

After all of that research it appears that we eat lots of chicken eggs for a couple of reasons… they are easy to produce in large quantities and they have a mild flavor while providing us with lots of nutrients.

I hope you have an egg-cellent day!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Eat your Heart Out… Charleston

Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina for a weekend away with my sisters.  Before heading down south we did some research about the destination. As we are all pretty busy, we chose to divide and conquer the activities. I, of course, was in charge of planning our meals. Luckily I had some great recommendations from friends who had recently been to Charleston so I can say our meals were pretty spot on. Here are some of the highlights…

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit: A trip down south isn’t complete without a biscuit so we decided to start out trip with one.  This biscuit outpost in City Market was the perfect fueling station to get us through the afternoon.  We had a fried chicken biscuit(savory) and also a birthday cake biscuit(sweet).

Hominy Grill: I never get to sleep in so I insisted on a late start on Saturday morning. I got up just in time to catch brunch at this local favorite.  We had to wait a little while for a table but they have bar service on their patio so the waiting didn’t seem too bad.  I ordered a hodge podge of items for breakfast including fried green tomatoes, griddle banana bread and a biscuit. It was all wonderful and worth the wait. 

Husk:  This is the one restaurant everyone I spoke with recommended and it didn’t disappoint.  The restaurant strives to highlight local ingredients but not necessarily in the traditional manner.  We did have some pimento cheese but also had the chefs take on chicken and dumpling which involved sous vide chicken and the best potato gnocchi I’ve had in a long time.  Put husk on your list and if you can’t make the restaurant, there is a super cute bar/patio next door with it’s own amazing menu.

When we weren’t eating we were pretty much walking around so I didn’t feel bad about the not-so-healthy southern cooking I was consuming.  Charleston is a great city to explore on foot and we had the perfect weather for it.  I learned a lot about history, ate some great food and had a fun weekend with my sisters.

Happy Friday,

Julie