Entertaining

IT'S A MATTER OF TASTE

NOAM'S FIRST MEAL | FOOD & DRINK

Babyspoon_elegant baby_ first meal_ babyfoodie

There is a lot to catch up on here at Jenée Sais Quoi as Baby Noam is already almost 6 months old ! 

This first post after maternity leave covers a big event: Noam's first solid food! 

Over the years I have enjoyed writing about seasonal and celebratory

cocktails

,

homegrown recipes

and entertaining with

Cajun food

in NYC. So of course, for me, Noam's first meal would be monumental. 

This project meant more than just cooking food for my son. It was about setting the tone for a lifetime of healthy and adventurous eating. I even called a friend in San Francisco,

Melanie

, a foodie and

Certified Holistic Nutritionist

, for her thoughts on this big event.

As I contemplated it, bought it, and prepared it, I thought about the bigger conversation going on concerning food in this country right now such as: 

- Having a conscious about from where our food comes

- The injustice of poor neighborhoods not having access to healthy, fresh foods 

- and

treating food as medicine. 

I wanted all of this to be considered and passed on through the food.

Our pediatrician recommended that we skip over the rice cereal and go straight to complex recipes. Whatever we eat, he can eat. This new way of feeding babies in America is thought to lessen food allergies and picky eaters- I'm a big fan of that. 

I started the meal at the

Prospect Park Farmers Market

. I decided whatever was organic, local and in season would be his first vegetable. There was a small stand with carefully placed bunches of veggies in wooden crates that looked inviting. Since I was not one of the early shoppers, the pickings were slim. Yet, this bunch of White Japanese Turnips looked like a beautiful first meal and Farmer Greg posed for a picture so that Noam can see who grew his first meal. 

japanese radish_ farmers market_ brooklyn_ babyfood

Willow Wisp Organic Farm Stand 

japanese radish_ farmers market_ brooklyn_ babyfood

I considered just boiling them because it was still unfathomable that a baby could handle more than one ingredient at a time. But I decided to go all out and make this recipe from

Epicurious

. Luckily I had all the ingredients laying around. With tons of love, I prepared

Miso Japanese Turnips

. I even served it in little tea cups I acquired during a trip to Japan many years ago. Then I unwrapped a special spoon sent to him by my friend Tiffany. We shared this food on a Sunday - Mom, Dad & Noam - a perfect day for our family's first meal together. 

japanese turnip_ babyfood_miso recipe

baby mush on bottom

As for Noam's opinion on his seasonal, local, organic, miso Japanese turnips- he could not get enough!!!! He was even licking his tray!!! 

Hopefully the thoughtful choice for my son is the beginning of a healthy relationship to food, to his body and the world around him. 

May he always enjoy breaking bread with family and friends as it's one of life's best pleasures. 

Baby Products that helped make this a success: 

(not an endorsement - just a tip to help other moms) 

Bumbo Seat & Tray

- Great for babies that are almost ready to sit, but def ready to eat. 

BabySpoon by

Elegant ba

by

- It's cute, easy grip, just the right size, and BPA free

HOW TO PRESERVE YOUR BASIL & OTHER HERBS

TEAS, PESTOS, INFUSIONS
ENTERTAINING | FOOD & DRINK
Worm in the Garden, Basil, Worm, Summer, Organic

Before we know it, Autumn will be here so a few things need to be added to your to do list: update your wardrobe with new fall staples before the best ones are sold out and pick your garden before the cold gets to your vegetables and herbs.  In my case I often have more herbs than I can use so I have to find ways to preserve them. When I do things like this, it makes me feel more connected to my great grandmothers I never got to know. My Cajun grandmother in Louisiana often tells me stories about her mom preserving all the foods they would grow on their farm.  She says they were poor, but they always ate really well!!! For a Cajun, good food is good livin'.

This summer my father went crazy growing herbs and vegetables. He has the most incredible luck with plants. He sent me bags and bags and bags of different basil varieties from his gardens. So I got to work figuring out what to do with all of these before they wilted.

Here are some standard preserving techniques:
- Drying
- Freezing
- Salting

These are more fun (which is of course what I did):
- Teas
- Pestos
- Infused Oils 
- Infused Alcohols
- Infused Butters

LEMON BALM = LEMON BALM TEA
Lemon Balm herb

Many people think of tea as only being made of tea leaves. Yet any herb can be made into tea by simply steeping it in hot water. THAT'S HERBAL TEA! Fresh mint is my favorite. Lemon Balm feels like you are drinking a spa (in a good way)

Below it is shown as hot tea and cold tea. 
For hot tea------
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 C FRESH HERBS
4 C HOT WATER (just barely boiling)

STEPS:
Steep in hot water for about 10 minutes, strain and drink. 
HOT LEMON BALM TEA
HOT LEMON BALM TEA
For cold tea----
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 C FRESH HERBS
4 C HOT WATER (just barely boiling)

STEPS:
Steep in hot water for about 10 minutes, strain into a glass jar, refrigerate and drink when cold.
COLD LEMON BALM TEA
COLD LEMON BALM TEA


THAI BASIL = THAI BASIL PESTO

Often I have made "regular" pesto, but figured the ingredients should change up a bit when using Thai Basil. A quick search online lead me to a few different sites with recipes. Using my own cooking and chemistry skills I put together this version:

INGREDIENTS: (yeilds 1/2c)

2 C THAI BASIL
1//2 C DRY ROASTED PEANUTS
2-4 CLOVES GARLIC (depends on your taste)
1 T FISH SAUCE
1 1/2 T DARK SESAME OIL
1 t CRUSHED RED PEPPER
1 t SUGAR
1 T RICE WINE VINEGAR

STEPS:
- Pick every stem off of basil and wash. This is labor intensive but worth it. 
- Combine all ingredients except for oil in food processor or blender. Blend until finely chopped.
- Keep blending and slowly add in oil until it becomes paste like. 
More oil can be added if necessary to get to this consistency.
- Store in a glass jar and refrigerate or eat immediately
Thai Basil Pesto ,Homemade, Artisinal, DIY, kitchen hacks

Thai Basil Pesto ,Homemade, Artisinal, DIY, kitchen hacks
AFRICAN BASIL = AFRICAN BASIL INFUSED OIL
This is the easiest of all. The only time consuming part is waiting for the oil to become infused. 
INGREDIENTS:
Herbs (Basil)
Olive Oil
Glass jar 
STEPS:
Wash and completely dry herbs
Place herbs in clean jar
Pour in olive oil and seal bottle.
Store in cool, dry place for 1 week
If using fresh herbs it is recommended to store in refrigerator and use within a week. Infused oils will last longer if herbs are dried.

The same steps can be used to infuse in alcohol such as Vodka or Gin. Though fresh herbs can last for much longer in alcohol. So consider making an infused herbal Vodka for the upcoming holidays!
Basil Infused Oil_Infusions_DIY_Kitchen Hacks_Brooklyn Artisinal

Basil Infused Oil_Infusions_DIY_Kitchen Hacks_Brooklyn Artisinal
This little guy made it all the way from Louisiana in the Basil. This is how you know my dad's garden is organic. This is also why you must thoroughly clean all of your basil before blending it into pesto!!!  Thank god my sister was here to help me deal. I might have screamed a little when I saw this. I guess I've been out of the country for too long and/ or my hormones are out of control

SPECIAL THANKS TO MY DAD FOR THE GREAT PRODUCE AND MY SISTER FOR THE HOURS SPENT PICKING EVERY STEM OFF. XOXO

TIME FOR COCONUT HAMENTASHEN

It's Where Purim meets Luau
ENTERTAINING | FOOD & DRINK
Purim Luau, chai necklace, chai, hawaii, vintage shirt, men's fashion
One of my favorite Jewish holiday Fêtes is Purim because I love cookies! The food du jour on this holiday is Hamentashen. Usually I give up cookies and baked treats during Lent, but since we have a multicultural household now, I let myself indulge on Purim.

This year Elyse, the other 2 Non Blonde, threw a Purim Luau Party. It was all about the tiki plates, the fab florals, the island jewelry, the pink ukulele and... 

THE FOOD: Jewish Classics with an Hawaiian Twist.

Starters:
1: Arugula Salad with Chickpeas and Hearts of Palm
Purim Luau, arugula salad

2. Lox & Pineapple Kabobs 
Purim Luau, lox and pineapple kabob

3. Plantain Chips with Hummus
Purim Luau, plantain chips, tiki




Cocktails:
4.Assorted Aloha Series Ales from Kona Brewing Company
Purim Luau, surfer, kona beer, hawaii beer

5. Capri Sun Surfer Cooler (for the little party goers)

Purim Luau, surfer, capri sun, party


The Mains
6. Whitefish Sliders on Hawaiian Rolls *recipe at end of post
Purim Luau, fish sliders

7. Falafel & Mango salsa

8. Pineapple Lukshen Kugel *recipe at end of post
Purim Luau, pineapple kugel, jewish food

Dessert
9. Coconut Cream Hamentaschen 
Purim Luau, coconut cream hamentashen, cookies, purim, hamentashen

6. Coconut Peanut Butter & Banana Mini Pita sandwiches





coconut & peanut spread, earth balance, peanut butter

Of course, this post would not be complete with out a mention of... 
THE FASHION: It was still chilly outside in late March but warm inside. Everyone was ready to break into their summer gear! 

Floral dresses, shirts and hair accessories were most popular. Authentic Hawaiian necklaces were even spotted. I brought along my best Hawaiian accessory = A Pink Uke
Purim Luau, wood bead bracelets, pink ukelele, floral dress, party, luau

Purim Luau, hibiscus, tiki, lei, hawaii, hawaii fashion

Purim Luau, tiki, lei, hawaii, hawaii fashion

Purim Luau, tiki, lei, hawaii, hawaii fashion

Purim Luau, tiki, lei, hawaii, hawaii fashion

Purim Luau, tiki, lei, hawaii, hawaii fashion

THE PARTY: see what happens when you hand people a pineapple and a Uke

Purim Luau, pineapple, ukelele, Party, pink

Purim Luau, pineapple, ukelele, Party, pink

Purim Luau, pineapple, ukelele, Party, pink

Purim Luau, pineapple, ukelele, Party, pink

Purim Luau, pineapple, ukelele, Party, pink, selfie

Purim Luau, pineapple, ukelele, Party, pink
THIS IS THE HOSTESS (on the left)

Purim Luau, wood bead bracelets, pink ukelele, floral dress, party, luau, pineapple

Purim Luau, pineapple, ukelele, Party, pink

Purim Luau, pink ukelele, party, luau, beer, party over
PARTY OVER:::::::::::::::::  this PHOTO COURTESY OF ALYSE PARRIES








.....................................................
RECIPES from above photos - Donated by the Hostess


Pic #8:Pineapple Lukshen Kugel

- 1 pound medium wide egg noodles
- 1 pint sour cream
- 8 oz. Philadelphia bar cream cheese
- 1 pound small curd cottage cheese
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla
- ½ tsp pure almond extract
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple.

Parboil noodles for 5 min.
Mix all other ingredients and then add noodles.
Bake in 9x13 pan at 350 for about 45 min.

----------------------------------------------------


Pic #6: Whitefish Burgers 
(makes 8 sliders) 

- 8 Mini Hawaiian Buns
- 1 lb Tilapia filets, steamed & cooked
- 1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4.5 oz lemon juice
- 1.5 oz dry white wine
- 3 oz diced onion, sautéed & cooled
- 3 oz diced celery, sautéed & cooled
- 3 oz diced red bell pepper, sautéed & cooled
- 4.5 oz mayo
- 1.5 oz capers, rinsed
- ¾ tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1.5 tsp fresh dill weed
- 1.5 tsp parsley, chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- Japanese panko as needed
- 1.5 slices provolone cheese, shredded
- Olive oil for cooking
- Aioli, lettuce, pickles & tomatoes to garnish

Mix all ingredients together & grill burgers

----------------------------------------------------


(Makes 60) 

Filling
- 8 T cornstarch
- 2 c sugar
- 2 c water
- 2 c coconut milk
- 4 eggs

combine cornstarch, sugar & water; boil & bring to medium low
stir until translucent & add coconut milk
beat eggs & add slowly
cook until thick
put in bowl, cover & chill overnight

Dough
- ¼ cup margarine, softened
- ¼ cup shortening, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 2.5 cups flour

Combine everything in order; wrap in plastic & refrigerate overnight

Cookies
- 1 egg
- 2 T water
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

preheat oven to 350 degrees
line baking sheet with parchment paper
let dough come to room temperature
roll dough to ¼ inch and cut circles, and lay onto baking sheet
combine egg & water and brush each circle with the egg wash
put ½ tsp of filling in each cookie and fold up corners
brush sides with egg wash and sprinkle with coconut
bake for 15 min


HOW TO HAVE THAT JENEE SAIS QUOI - EPISODE 3

RELAX, RECOUP AND REFLECT
Series | How to Have that Jenee sais quoi



Recently I was having a conversation with a doctor of Chinese Medicine and he spoke of the need to adjust ones routines and regimes according to the season. It's all quite rational, really. In winter one should relax more and recoup from what should have been a vigorous summer.  This reminded me of another conversation I had years ago with a guy at a dinner party during the winter . I knew him to be a very active person and when I asked him what he was up to he said that he took winters to stay in more, read more and reflect more.  He happened to be a doctor of Western Medicine...

So this weeks advice on how to have that (jenée) said quoi is not only my personal recommendation but apparently "medical" advice too. Winter is a great time to get wrapped up in a long novel or several short ones. The background noise of wind and rain is the perfect soundtrack for the printed word. Then, for those inevitable sick days, getting lost in a character's adventures or misfortunes should be able to make you forget your own ailments. 

My top 3 Book recommendations to aid in your hibernating this season are:


THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE
by Julie Orringer

This is certainly a book to get lost in and got me through the worst cold last winter. 

The summary:

Paris, 1937. Andras L vi, an architecture student, has arrived from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to Clara Morgenstern a young widow living in the city. When Andras meets Clara he is drawn deeply into her extraordinary and secret life, just as Europe's unfolding tragedy sends them both into a state of terrifying uncertainty.
From a remote Hungarian village to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labour camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a marriage tested by disaster and of a family, threatened with annihilation, bound by love and history.



Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
by: Dai Sijie

This book I read many years ago as I became more interested in Chinese culture. Through these fictional characters I could better understand this exceptional period of Chinese history in the not so distant past. Like "The Invisible Bridge", it adds a human element to the harsh facts of historical data.

The summary:
The surprise literary bestseller of the year, this is a beguiling fable that shines with the wonder of imagination, the beauty of romance, and the power of storytelling. Set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the novel tells the story of two hapless city boys sent to a remote mountain village for reeducation.

HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY
by: Kelsey Osgood

This book I plan on starting immediately. While I can't give a personal testament to how good it is, I can attest to how incredibly entertaining and thought provoking Ms. Osgood is. If this book is as well written as her emails are to me, then I feel confident recommending this for winter's hibernation.
More here about how we celebrated the book being published.

The summary:
With attuned storytelling and unflinching introspection, Kelsey Osgood unpacks the modern myths of anorexia, examining the cult-like underbelly of eating disorders in the young, as she chronicles her own rehabilitation. How to Disappear Completely is a brave, candid and emotionally wrenching memoir that explores the physical, internal, and social ramifications of eating disorders and subverts many of the popularly held notions of the illness and, most hopefully, the path to recovery.



Mixers: Coffee Cocktails

coffee, coffee cocktails
WHAT YOU WILL NEED


Wondering how to start your day off right and plain coffee is not working anymore? Voila: The Coffee Bar. Though, perhaps you just want to change up your coffee routine on the weekend and invite some friends over. The Coffee bar is a perfect Brunch prelude.

Coffee is an international drink, but I have many coffee memories growing up in Louisiana. My grandparents could not start the day without a cup of it. So when I slept over as a little girl, they made a cup of coffee milk for me. It was mostly milk with a splash of coffee and a spoon of sugar. It was delicious. I feel now it's already one of those old time stories that parents or grandparents would never do - give a child coffee!?!?!?!? 

COFFEE BAR HOW TO:
Offer several mixers to make coffee cocktails, appropriate glasses and mugs, and fresh coffee. Guests can experiment with coffee cocktail recipes which is part of the entertainment.  It's coffee for grown-ups. 

coffee, coffee cocktails
Coffee Cocktail Recipes
coffee, coffee cocktails
Glass ware & Mugs
coffee, coffee cocktails
Cafe du Monde Coffee from Louisiana with Chicory
coffee, coffee cocktails
Going for the Bailey's Irish Coffee
coffee, coffee cocktails
Adding Coffee
coffee, coffee cocktails, whipped cream
Taste Testing the whipped Cream
coffee, coffee cocktails
A Bailey's Irish Coffee
coffee, coffee cocktails
Tasty?
coffee, coffee cocktails
Round II  !!!! Espresso Martini this time


(Painting by Tonya Engel)