Archive for July, 2009

Chef’s Best: Cooking from scratch — how the pros turn ideas into actual recipes
July 16, 2009

Chef’s Best: Cooking from scratch — how the pros turn ideas into actual recipes

by Daily Hampshire Gazette July 10, 2009

Like many home cooks, I often change a recipe a little, substituting one ingredient for another, or adding a new one.

But creating a recipe from scratch? That’s a different challenge altogether, and one which, according to Kimberly Mayone, doesn’t always come easy.

She should know; she does it for a living.

Mayone, who runs her own recipe development company, Wow Delicious, in Maine, notes that sometimes she’ll be working and freezing outside at the grill in December, developing a recipe for August. Or a client will call to request 10 recipes in a week and a half. “They don’t understand why I can’t do that or realize how much work is involved,” she says. “I’m happy if I can successfully do two or three recipes, tested, typed and complete in a week.”

Mayone works out of her house using a standard four-burner cook stove: “When I’m developing recipes that a home cook may use, I like to use the same kind of equipment they probably have in their kitchens.” She only recently got a dishwasher but with three children under 10, she admits it’s a big time saver. “Now I can get the kitchen cleared up while my youngest takes a nap and before the others get home from school!”

A graduate of Cornell University’s Hotel School, Mayone honed her recipe development skills working for four years as chef for the Fresh Samantha Juice Company. “My (unofficial) title was the Juice Wizard and I wore a tall, carrot-top hat because Fresh Samantha started out with carrot juice.” In addition to reformulating a number of the company’s recipes, including their blended juices, Mayone created a new one called Strawberry Desperately Seeking C. But after the company was sold to Odwalla in 2003, she decided to branch out on her own.

Mayone’s clients include both corporate and public relations companies (the Idaho Potato Board is one). She has also worked with the Hannaford Supermarket chain, which has stores ranging from the mid-Atlantic states to Maine. One project was “Cooking Show to Go,” in which she developed recipes using the chain’s line of premeasured, prepackaged products. “All people basically had to do was go home and turn on the stove,” Mayone says.

She has also co-authored two cookbooks with Kitty Broihier, a food and nutrition communications consultant. The two women met at a conference and after discovering they live just three miles apart in South Portland, Maine, Broihier asked Mayone to collaborate on “The Everyday Low-Carb Slow Cooker Cookbook” (2004), and “The Big Book of Low-Carb” (2005). Mayone’s latest venture is co-editing a food blog,

Mayone begins creating a recipe by jotting down ideas on what might or might not work given the ingredients she must work with. At this point, she avoids looking at already published recipes. But if she finds that after considerable time and effort something simply isn’t working, she researches how others have prepared similar items, using cookbooks and the Internet.

The next step is to shop for ingredients. Then Mayone starts cooking, making notes on her computer as she goes along. “I love it when a recipe comes together and works the first time and you know you’ve got a winner,” she says. Most of the time, however, after testing a recipe once, Mayone tests it again. The third time, she calls in her “taste panel,” a group of 10 friends, family members and food experts she relies on for feedback.

Local nutritionIST Leslie Cerier, who develops recipes for organic and natural foods companies and for people with food allergies, takes a slightly different approach, sometimes getting a basic starter idea from a recipe she has seen but then changing ingredients to make the dish her own. Since she is a photographer as well, Cerier also envisions how the finished dish will look.

For example, there’s the recipe she developed based on Lotus Foods’ Jade Pearl Rice. Cerier combined the rice, which is green, with a red vegetable and white tofu to create a vegetarian meal with visual appeal. Like Mayone, Cerier prepares and taste tests a recipe several times before seeking feedback from friends and family.

Cerier, who lives in Amherst, is the author of three cookbooks and is at work on a fourth. She also runs a gourmet organic catering business, works as a personal chef and teaches cooking classes.

Mayone and Cerier advise people who want to try adapting or changing recipes to start small. Use a different herb or spice or choose something that looks similar and that will cook in the same amount of time, like swapping chicken for pork, or kale or spinach for Swiss chard.

Some of Mayone’s and Cerier’s recipes follow. Prepare them the way they are written the first time, then try your own variations.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup
Serves 6

Mayone based this soup on her paternal grandmother’s stuffed cabbage recipe. “It’s all the ingredients and flavors of stuffed cabbage without the work. My grandmother would have approved!”

1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cubes beef bouillon
1/3 cup barley, rinsed and picked over
2 teaspoons Splenda Granular sweetener
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce (about 2 shakes)
½ head cabbage (about 1½ pounds), chopped
3 14.5-ounce cans beef broth

In a medium stockpot, over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the beef and onions and cook until the onions are soft and the meat is browned, about 8 minutes. Drain the fat and add the tomatoes, bouillon cubes, barley, Splenda, garlic, pepper and Tabasco to the beef; mix well and set aside.

Place the chopped cabbage in a slow-cooker crock. Top with the reserved beef mixture; do not stir. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours; stir the soup well, then re-cover and continue to cook 1 hour more.

From “The Everyday Low-Carb Slow Cooker Cookbook” (©2004 by Kitty Broihier and Kimberly Mayone. Published by Marlowe & Co., New York. All rights reserved).

Lemon and Dill Salmon
Serves 4

½ cup chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1½ pounds salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 4 equal portions

To make the marinade, in a medium bowl whisk together all the ingredients except the salmon until combined and smooth. Place the salmon in a gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the salmon, making sure all surfaces are coated. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a medium baking pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Remove the salmon pieces from the bag (discard the marinade) and arrange them in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 22 minutes, or until the fish is opaque throughout (test by cutting into one piece with a sharp knife). Serve immediately.

From “The Big Book of Low-Carb” (©2005 by Kitty Broihier & Kimberly Mayone. Published by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved).

The following recipes are from “Going Wild in the Kitchen” (©2005 by Leslie Cerier. Square One Publishers. All rights reserved).

Banana-Chocolate Chip Cake
Serves 8

Cerier says you can substitute 2 cups whole wheat flour for the combined 2½ cups of spelt and teff flours if you prefer.

2 cups spelt flour
½ cup teff flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup white, milk or dark chocolate chips (or a blend)
3 ripe bananas, cut into 3-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch cake or loaf pan and set aside.

Combine the spelt flour, teff flour, baking powder, salt, and ¾ cup of the chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the bananas, apple juice, applesauce, maple syrup, oil and vanilla in a blender and puree. Add to the flour mixture and stir to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the cake pan, then sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips. Bake 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Slice and serve.

Asian Vegetable Stir-Fry With Bhutanese Red Rice
Serves 2 to 3

¾ cup Bhutanese Red Rice, rinsed and drained
1¼ cups water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups coarsely chopped onions
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup diagonally sliced celery
1 tablespoon tamari (Japanese soy sauce)

Place the rice in a bowl, cover with the water, and soak at least 45 minutes.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil, ginger, garlic and onions and stir-fry 5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Add the mirin, then toss in the carrots and stir-fry 3 minutes or until they turn bright orange. Stir in the celery, tamari, rice and soaking water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, then simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes, stir and serve.


Cooking From Scratch, Advice from Cookbook authors Leslie Cerier and Kim Mayone
July 13, 2009


Living Without gives Going Wild in the Kitchen a great review
July 9, 2009

In the August September 2009 issue of Living Without Magazine, and was a wonderful review of my latest cookbook, Going Wild in the Kitchen on page 60:  “Creative Cooking”  Stuck in a rut?  Let Going Wild in the Kitchen, The Fresh and Sassy Tastes of Vegetarian Cooking (Square One Publishers) free you from culinary mediocrity – and how.  With over 150 wholesome recipes, this exciting and yes, playful cookbook will have you creating new dishes using fresh ingredients in deliciously imaginative ways. Author Leslie Cerier’s philosophy?  Delight in the Earth’s seasonal bounty and enhance your diet with Mother Nature’s never – ending variety.  Recipes (many are free of gluten, dairy and soy) contain edible flowers, seasonal herbs, wild berries, sea vegetables and ancient gluten-free grains like teff, amaranth and millet. This book does more than tame your hunger. It is inspiration to kick – start innovative vegetarian cooking.