Our awesome little chef, FP Naomi, brought in some delicious homemade granola for us and it’s so tasty I had to ask her for the recipe. It’s perfect for snacking, especially here at our desks at work :) – and, it’s a great gift for the holidays! Read More
At the Free People home offices we have so many amazing things available to us. One that I’m sure many employees will tell you that they’re grateful for, is the amazing food. You can either head over to our dining hall called 543 or stop at the café Jharoka – both of which offer menus that are stocked with gourmet ingredients and creative pairings. The offering includes some of the freshest ideas in the culinary world today: smoked tofu and pear chicken salad with blackberry jam and arugula on a brioche, or, for the non-vegetarians, how about a grilled flank with balsamic mushrooms, horseradish mayonnaise and spring mix on semolina hero? The people behind these masterpieces are talented chefs, baristas, sauciers – they each have a reputable background and an artistry to share.
Meet Corbin – our 543 drink specialist who’s prepping up his magical Hangover Smoothie. FP Jemma will tell you that he steams the best cappuccino, and he’ll humbly profess that it’s what he loves to do. We talked to him while he got to work at the blender, learning all about his love of drinks and how he uses vitamin B12 to cure our post party pains.
Where did you work before this? Before this I worked at various coffee shops, always making drinks.
And how long have you been with the company? About a year now
How did you develop this hangover recipe – was it out of necessity? Ha – not so much…I mainly just researched ingredients. It’s about trial and error – getting to know ingredients and what they’re good for. I then combine things with similar benefits to make a power house recipe with a specific benefit, like weight loss or energy.
How does this smoothie help to cure a hangover? Bananas, spinach, and B12 have a lot of potassium which will give you a big kick and make you feel good. The B12 also has great added energy benefits. The Kale is just good for everything – it’s so nutrient-rich.
Where do you get inspiration? Are there any sources you often use for research? I mainly just talk to people, I visit other juice bars, and the internet – I look a lot of things up on the internet…
What’s next? I’m going to be adding supplements to the cleanses more. So far I’ve just been making combinations with the juicer like carrot, ginger, and lemon – no water or anything added. I’m going to start putting in supplements like Spirulina and Echinacea. For the New Year there will be a whole cleansing regiment offered. Employees can pick up a package of 6 juices each day to either use as a liquid diet or to add on top of a healthy eating regimen.
Here’s how to make the hangover smoothie:
Ingredients (Serves 2)
One handful (approx 1 cup) of Washed Spinach
4 Leaves of Washed Dinosaur Kale
1 Cup of Soy Milk
4-5 Drops of Liquid B12
¾ Cup of Chopped Ice
Put it all in the blender & drink!
He left us with a bottle of the first batch. It was full of banana-y flavor, and although not hungover, it definitely put some pep in our step.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to find that in the weeks following Thanksgiving I’m in major need of detox. After letting my gluttony run wild, I turn to the juicer and salads for almost every meal. Plates get piled high with antioxidant and vitamin-rich ingredients to get myself feeling normal again. That’s not to say that things get boring. Au contraire. This recipe is one of the creations I put together when in need of salad creativity. The combination of flavors sounds absurd, but one taste and it’s more like absurdly amazing. Each bite is full of mouthwatering freshness – making it tough to stop eating, but with such healthy ingredients, it’s okay. (Did you know that the calcium in Kale is easier for the body to absorb than milk? And, both butternut squash and pomegranates are FULL of antioxidants.) I swear you’ll fall in love with this one…
1 Butternut Squash
½ Cup of Sunflower Seeds
1 Medium Bunch of Red Kale
½ a Lemon
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
3 Tbsp. Sesame Oil (1Tbsp. for squash and 2 Tbsp. for dressing)
Preheat oven to 400F. Peel and cube your butternut squash, then toss it in a bowl with sesame oil, and spread it out on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet.
Place the butternut squash into the oven to cook until tender (approx 25 min). While it’s cooking, seed your pomegranate, chop your kale, and place it into a large bowl. Squeeze your half lemon over the mixuture, sprinkle with salt, and stir it up. This will help to begin softening your kale so it’s not extremely stiff and crunchy.
Once your squash is cooked, let it cool for about ten minutes, and then mix all of the rest of your ingredients together, and serve.
When I haven’t been to the grocery store in, awhile this risotto is something I’ll whip up for dinner. I usually have the ingredients laying around (maybe not the vegetables, but I’ll do some sort of variation), and it’s simple to make. My grandmother taught me the secret trick of stirring in some cream cheese. You don’t even have to use too much, but it makes the risotto so deliciously creamy. I also tend to use brown rice just because it’s healthier, and I find the effect to be just as desirable. This dish warms up any cold day and can help cure a funky mood. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods – my less guilty version of mac n’ cheese. Let me know if it’s just as good for you :).
2 Cups of Long-Grain Brown Rice
1 Lb Asparagus
1 Large Sweet Onion
¼ Lb Shitake Mushrooms
4 Cups of Vegetable Stock
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbsp Cream Cheese
1 Tbsp Truffle Oil
S & P to taste
Chop onion, asparagus, and mushrooms. I like to leave the onion pieces as larger wedges for a dish like this.
Pour truffle oil into a large pot and allow it to heat up. After two minutes or so, throw in your onion wedges to sauté. As soon as they begin to appear translucent, add in your mushrooms and asparagus to.
Once the vegetables appear cooked (you can test them with a fork), lower the flame and pour in your vegetable stock. Then add rice and stir.
Cover and let cook until the liquid has evaporated. Stir in parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt and pepper.
Let the risotto sit for about 5 minutes. Then stir again and serve.
Going home for a visit, I always look forward to some of my mother’s home cooking. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world. Everything coming out of “Mamma’s” kitchen is a unique invention that combines unexpected ingredients into something miraculous. I don’t know how she does it, but I thought I’d feature a sample of one for you all to get a taste (literally). This Pumpkin & Pear Curried Soup was the opener to our Thanksgiving meal this year. The recipe is delicately spiced, perfectly creamy, and just enough sweet. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. :)
1 Medium Sweet Onion – Chopped
1/2 Lb Carrots – Chopped
1 Large Yukon Gold Potato – Cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1/8 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Liter of Vegetable Stock
2 Ripe Pears
16oz Pear Nectar
2 – 29oz Cans of Pureed Pumpkin
3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
3 Cups of Nonfat Greek Yogurt
3 Tsp Curry Powder
3/4 Tsp Gara Masala
Salt to taste
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds/Sesame oil for garnish
Place onions into a large pot with sesame and olive oils to saute.
As they begin to turn translucent, add in carrots & potato.
When the carrots and potatoes are soft, remove from heat.
Slice pear, and add into sauteed vegetable mix.
Using a blender, puree mixture in batches. For each batch you’ll want to add a bit of vegetable stock and pear nectar to cool it down.
Return pureed mixture to heat on the stove. Stir in pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and any remaining vegetable stock/pear nectar. Let cook until mixture is heated through.
Pour into a serving bowl, and stir in yogurt.
Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and sesame oil, then serve!
Ever since Napolean Dynamite came out, I’ve been calling them “dillas.” Years later it’s far too ingrained into my vernacular to go back, so please excuse the blatant mutilation of an otherwise perfect Spanish word. Quesadillas are one of those foods that I think no American can live without once in a while. They’re the perfect blend of cheesy (who doesn’t like cheesy), carbohydrates, and (in my preference) loads of veggies – all topped off with sour cream. I like mine with a zesty flavor which I achieve using generous amounts of cilantro, garlic, and chili pepper. It gives the dillas that Mexican food sucking-air-through-your-front-teeth sort of satisfaction. Who doesn’t love that?
Ingredients (Yields 5 Quesadillas):
10 8” Tortillas (I pick mine up fresh from a Mexican joint in Philly – highly suggest it if you can find a place near you which does the same.)
1 Package of Mexican Blend Cheese or Shredded Montery Jack
¼ Red Onion – chopped finely
1 Small package of Cherry Tomatoes – cut into quarters
1 Green Pepper – chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic – minced
1 Tbsp Chopped Cilantro
1 Tsp Lime Juice
½ Tsp Chili Powder
½ Tsp Garlic Powder
½ Tsp Cumin
Salt & Pepper to Taste
You’ll also need a Panini press or George Foreman-type machine, but you could also probably pull them off in the oven or toaster oven.
Combine onion, green pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and seasonings in a medium bowl.
Stir it up well
Preheat your grill
Place a tortilla down onto the grill. Cover with desired amount of cheese, and then sprinkle with filling mixture. (I also cooked up some shrimp and added it to some. To do this, just cut raw shrimp into smaller pieces, and then sauté beforehand to have it ready.)
Sprinkle more cheese on top, and then cover with another tortilla.
Close grill, and let cook for about 8-10 minutes, and then they’re ready!
Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, or hot sauce – whatever you want…
Although I love to cook, when it comes to baking I’m something of an amateur. Growing up my parents always kept a kitchen stocked with healthy options, and if I whipped up a sheet of cookies for no reason they often went uneaten (except by me). As I got older and more health conscious, I realized that I probably shouldn’t be devouring these cookies either. So, in an effort to maintain a clean diet, I kind of fell off the baking band wagon and became more of a cook.
Nowadays, we have so many more options for healthy baking. Right here in Philly there is a café that serves up my favorite “nuffins” made with yogurt, olive oil, and splenda. It got me to thinking about baking in an all new way, and I decided to give it a stab again. Up until now, this has involved following other people’s recipes, but this past weekend I attempted making whole-wheat pumpkin cupcakes with yogurt as an experiment. I took photos, and was planning to post on them today, but sadly, they came out entirely too moist, and sort of fell in on themselves.
The week got hectic, and I couldn’t make it to the store to pick up ingredients for another recipe, so as a result, I thought I’d take you all along the learning curve with me. In attempts to get the recipe right, I’ve been doing some research on healthy baking substitutes that I’ve heard about. Here’s what I’ve learned so far and can’t wait to try out. Once I get the cupcakes just right, I’ll be sure to share them with you all & if any of you have tips – please share!
Substituting applesauce is one way to cut down on fat in baking. Using it keeps the finished product moist, but it really only works for oil-based baked goods (i.e. breads, muffins, and some cakes) not recipes calling for butter. When you substitute applesauce, it’s even more important to work the batter gently, and as little as possible. Most sources recommend a 1:1 swap (1 cup of applesauce in a recipe calling for 1 cup of oil). Measure it out in a liquid measuring cup, and use unsweetened applesauce.
Yogurt is another great way to cut fat and calories, but maintain a tender, moist consistency in baked goods. This one can be used in both butter and oil-based recipes. In those calling for butter, replace half of the butter with half as much yogurt (1/4cup yogurt & 1/2cup butter in a recipe calling for 1 cup butter). For oil or shortening, replaice half of the oil with ¾ the amount of yogurt (1/4 cup + 2tbsp of yogurt with ½ cup oil in a recipe calling for 1 cup of oil).
Whole Wheat Flour
This is where it can get a bit tricky. From what I’ve read, you want to find whole-wheat pastry flour which is generally lighter than the all-purpose kind. You usually still have to include white flour when making this switch. Sometimes you can use 100% whole wheat, but that’s where experimenting comes in. From what I’ve read, going entirely whole-wheat works great with banana bread. Breads in general can take more, as it tends to make the product heavier which is okay with bread. When baking pastries you’ll want to stick to a 50/50 rule (substituting half the amount of all-purpose white flour with whole-wheat flour).
click on images for sources
I love crock pots. There’s something magical about them. It’s like the modern day witch’s cauldron that you throw a bunch of stuff into, and poof, it turns into a delicious meal. It’s great for when I’m feeling lazy, or just plain don’t have the time to prep dinners all week. I’ll put together a concoction, turn the temperature to low, and go to bed for the night. When I wake up in the morning I’ll put aside enough for lunch. Then stick about half of the remains into the freezer, the other half in the fridge, and I’m set for a go-to healthy meal all week.
This Four Bean Soup recipe as is, is definitely not for wimps. The spice is strong, but burn is good. If you’re not into it, leave out the jalapeno peppers, or cut down on the amount of red pepper. You can also try removing the jalapeno pepper seeds before you add them into the pot as this is where they contain most of their spice. However you like it, it’s simple, good for you, and will make your week much more convenient. Here’s how to make it:
1 Can Kidney Beans
1 Can Cannellini Beans
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Pinto Beans
1 28oz Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
4 Cups of Vegetable Broth
2 Celery Stalks
1 Red Onion
2 Jalapeno Peppers
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Tsp Salt
3 Garlic Cloves
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Drain and toss all of your beans into the crock pot.
Pour in tomatoes and then cut each one into smaller pieces.
Peel and chop carrots
Peel and slice onion
Chop celery, jalapenos, and garlic
Throw all chopped ingredients into the crock pot along with vegetable broth and seasonings. Stir
Turn crock pot to “low” if you’d like the soup to cook for 6-8 hours. If you want you want to speed the process up to 3-4 hours, you can turn it to “high.”
Turn off and you’re done!
Yet another thing to love about fall is the plethora of squash varieties you can discover at farmer’s markets and the grocery store. It’s a great time of year to dream up dishes, and experiment around. The following recipe is one of my favorite results from doing so thus far this season.
1 Acorn Squash
1 Pint of Non-Fat Cottage Cheese
¼ Cup Dried Cranberries
¼ Cup Pistachios – shelled and chopped
1 Tbsp Honey
½ Tsp Cinnamon
½ Tsp Allspice
2 Tbsp Macadamia Nut Oil
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut your acorn squash in half
Scoop out insides with a spoon
Brush squash with macadamia nut oil
Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil
Place acorn squash face down onto baking sheet, and place into the oven to cook until soft (approx 30 min).
When your squash is almost cooked, throw cottage cheese, honey, cinnamon, allspice, and pistachios into a blender.
Stir in cranberries, and then spoon filling into squash. Garnish with cinnamon.
This weekend’s recipe is a two-parter. You can prepare the two dishes to go together or make them separately. I personally love them together for dinner, but I’ll often save the leftover tofu to throw on a salad for the next day’s lunch. There’s a great candied flavor to the tofu while the veggies inject a bit of spice into the meal. I like to think of this meal as the healthy version of potato chips and honey baked ham. It feels like an indulgence, but in reality you’re really being quite healthy.
Ingredients for Miso-Glazed Tofu:
14-16oz Lite Firm Tofu
¼ Cup White Miso Paste
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp Mirin
Ingredients for Spice Roasted Vegetables:
1 Lb. of whatever vegetables you chose (I used yellow squash and zucchini)
1 Tsp. Coriander
½ Tsp. Fennel Seeds
½ Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
½ Tsp. Italian Seasoning
3 Tbsp. Macadamia Nut Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Slice your tofu block into three layers and place in a towel to soak up moisture.
Cover a small baking dish with tin foil
Slice veggies. You can choose the size; just make sure they’re all more or less uniform.
Mix oil and spices together with in a ramekin with a basting brush
Paint over veggies and mix up so each piece is well coated
Place veggies in oven, and then begin mixing together the miso glaze for your tofu.
Liberally paint the glaze onto either side of each tofu slice with your basting brush.
Place pieces into a larger baking dish
Place into the oven along with your veggies. You can stir up the veggies at this point.
After about 10 minutes flip tofu over and finish baking until glaze looks candied. You’ll want to take the veggies out once they just begin to brown.
Serve it up!
Claudio’s, a small specialty shop nestled in Philadelphia’s Italian Market, is one of my all-time favorite spots. The shop has been open for over 50 years serving meats, cheese, olives, pasta, and other imported goods. It’s one of those places you go and feel the old world preserved. The employees who work there were born and raised right down the street. They can recount for you how their mothers used to send them down for a half pound of fresh mozzarella, and now they’re keeping the tradition alive by running the place themselves.
My favorite part about Claudio’s though is the cheese. They’re selection is out of this world. Gourmet cheeses of every kind – Italian, French…fresh, aged…sheep, goat….
It’s become my go-to place for cheese experimentation. I’ve tried everything from Bulgarian Feta to smoked cheddar – each inspiring me with a new recipe idea. After much sampling, here is some ingredient inspiration with my favorite, and some of the most novel cheeses, that I’ve discovered at Claudio’s.
(from left to right: Beemster, Vento D’Estate, Crucola, and Testun Occelli al Barolo)
Beemster is my absolute favorite cheese that’s I’ve discovered at Claudio’s. It’s a bright orange, 3-year aged cow’s milk cheese that originated in Holland. Its texture is delicate –its flavor sharp and nutty.
I love it on its own, or thrown into a gourmet grilled cheese – think pressed foccacia bread with thin apple slices and mixed greens.
This cheese is the most unique thing I’ve ever tasted. It’s an Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. In the aging process they actually cover it with hand-picked hay, and place it in wooden barrels. The idea came from a famer who, many years ago, was driving his cart filled with cheese down a country road when hay from the buggie in front of him started to blow off. He sniffed the air, and wondered why, if the scent was so pleasant in the air, couldn’t it be pleasant combined with his cheese. So he wrapped the cheese in the nicest hay he could find, and thus Vento D’Estate (literally meaning summer wind) was born. The hay gives it a pungent earthy flavor unlike any other cheese I’ve ever had.
I can see this cheese being great in a spanokopita-type dish because of its strong earthy flavor.
Crucola is a cow’s milk cheese originating from the Italian Alps. The flavor is mild with a slight hint of swiss. The swiss cheese flavor is ever so slight, so if you’re not a fan of swiss (like myself) you may still like it.
This is the perfect cheese to add into morning eggs for a twist on the old cheddar.
Testun Occelli al Barolo
You got it, this beer is bathed in wine – Barolo wine. For the last few months of its 7-month aging process the cheese is infused with it. The blend of cow and goat’s milk picks up the fine flavor, and the outside forms a funny flaky texture of dried wine bits.
I imagine this one crumbled up in a salad with some nuts and grapes, but then again, this guy might go best with some crackers and a glass of…Barolo.
If any of you love cheese as much as I do, and you’re interested in trying them for yourself, you can order off of their website. I highly suggest getting all four, slicing up an apple, putting out some crackers, pouring some wine, inviting over some friends, and having a cheese party. It’s one of the simplest, pleasure-filled ways to pass an evening.
What’s your favorite cheese? What’s your favorite way to eat it?