Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pu-erh Chinese Brick Tea for Black and White Wednesday #131

Never heard of Pu-erh Chinese Brick Tea?  Neither had I until I was approached by Teavivre with a sampling of a variety of esoteric and enchanting Chinese teas to discuss here.  While that review will be forthcoming in a few weeks (to include a giveaway) I couldn't resist shooting and sharing these small, twist-wrapped parcels for Simona's hosting of Black and White Wednesday #131.  Black and White Wednesday is Cinzia's long-running weekly gallery featuring culinary photography for those with a fondness for images free from color.

Simona will have her gallery on line later today.  Do stop by for a look and consider joining in as a participant and/or host.  It is an easy and fun gig.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Green and Yellow Summer Squash Carpaccio Salad - A Review and Giveaway of Veggies for Carnivores

Zucchini Carpaccio with Baby Arugula and Spicy Globe Basil.

Lora Krulak, the lifestyle author of the vibrantly healthy cookbook, Veggies for Carnivores, Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate (Changing Lives Press) is blessed with an effervescence one would think is only available through the popping of a pill.  But Lora's energy is the creative combustion of what she prepares in the kitchen through recipes that are as innovative as they are simple.  I highly recommend her Zucchini Carpaccio. It has repeatedly dazzled me with its colorful presentation and flavors.  It makes an elegant appetizer when plated, but can also be piled high in a salad bowl for casual dining.              

A world traveler, Lora spent some time with me to discuss her culinary style, why it works for her, and how it can work for you, too, even if you are a meat eater.  (Details on the giveaway are below.)

Q:  Why Veggies for Carnivores?  What is the concept, and what are your goals in sharing the recipes you have developed in this cookbook?   Are you a carnivore who eats veggies?  What is a typical daily menu for you?

A: The goal behind Veggies for Carnivores is to show readers how to flip their vegetable ratio. I illustrate how vegetable-centric meals don't have to focus on tofu or beans and can be delicious - beautiful meals that can either complement a "carnivore's creation" or easily stand on their own. I'd also like to teach my readers how to use the recipes as starting points for their own creations, to learn techniques allowing them to incorporate more vegetables into their daily routines.

Regarding my own eating habits, I'm a vegetarian, mostly. I do eat fish and sometimes eat sheep or goat cheese. I can go weeks without eating any animal protein and not really notice.

I'm a creature of habit and will go through phases with foods. I'll find something I like to eat and will have to eat it every day. I recently went through a hummus phase and I'm pretty sure I ate it for lunch, snack and dinner every day for six months.

On a typical day for me is a breakfast of avocado, lacuma powder and dried mulberries, but I always have my green juice first. Lunch normally is a salad of some sort, and dinner is a vegetable and perhaps grilled fish or a roasted squash. Sometimes it's just soup and salad. My weakness lately is frozen yogurt. I like to make it myself, which is easy to do in a Vitamix.

Q: Tell me about your background. You have a degree from Parsons. You've mentioned that it has been very helpful in getting you to the place you are today. How have you applied your formal education to the career path you have now chosen?

A: You wouldn't think a BFA would have much to do with cooking or nutrition, but to me it's been the most useful training. I studied graphic design so I was trained to think in layers and in 2D. A professor at Parsons once taught me that if you limit yourself to two typefaces and only use those two with no other elements, you'll be able to design anything. I did that for 6 months. So when I was faced with food intolerances and began to re-create recipes, I applied that principle to cooking. I call it "creating in a small box." I actually approach everything that way. I find it easier to be more creative when I limit ingredients or choices. Anyone can create a masterpiece if given everything. Creating one with almost nothing makes cooking and eating more fun, don't you think?

Q: You have mentioned food intolerances. Which ones do you suffer from? What suggestions could you offer to those who do about making wise decisions to accommodate their own particular dietary requirements?

A: I am sensitive to dairy and wheat. I also avoid soy, but that is mostly by choice. As far as accommodating one's own dietary requirements, it's easier than you'd think. Many people approach food intolerances and allergies as if it's a difficult task or a prison sentence. In fact, it's really quite liberating and opens up a whole world of possibilities. Nowadays there are so many more products available, and restaurants are very accommodating to almost any eating style. When beginning to eliminate certain foods, the taste buds actually become more acute and awakened, so you may find you enjoy food more. My advice would be, try indulging in the plant kingdom first before reaching out to substitutes. Meaning, look into roasting a sweet potato and topping it with a homemade tomato sauce and grilled veggies before looking for a gluten-free pizza. Not that there's anything wrong with gluten-free pizza, but nature provided us with a whole rainbow of choices so why not look there first?

Q: You occasionally use ingredients like yacon, which is not widely known. What is it, why is it valuable to incorporate into recipes, and where can cooks locate these kinds of special items to stock in their pantries? 

A: Yacon is a low glycemic sweetener much like coconut sugar. It tastes a bit like molasses but is not as deep in flavor. I like it because it's filled with friendly bacteria for the gut, and that's a good thing! As far as looking for alternative sweeteners, I think it's important to find a few that you like and just use them. If you have a library of sweeteners, you can play with them in your cooking. I use maple syrup in my guacamole. It sounds strange but tastes fantastic. I'd never have thought of it had I only been a refined white sugar and brown sugar user.

Amazon sells a lot of alternative ingredients, but I also source items from or 

Q: What cooking shows do you watch and why do you enjoy them? 

A: I do watch cooking shows - not often, but when I do I find I can't stop. I really enjoy the Cooking Channel. It has a slew of different chefs, and shows that many have never heard of like "Hook Line and Dinner" and "The Beekman Boys," and I love the Debi Mazar show with her Italian husband and family. Very charming! Of course, I still indulge in Ina Garten and Giada. I mostly watch for inspiration - there's very little that I'll cook verbatim, but I like to look for inspiration, and also tips on how to present on-camera. Oh, and I love Anthony Bourdain's show, but then I'm a traveler at heart. 

Q: Since you have traveled all over the world, you've enjoyed many diverse cuisines. If you could envision yourself retired decades down the road living abroad, which country would you be inclined to settle in and why? 

A: Without a doubt, on an island in Greece. I have a bit of a "Mama Mia/Le Grande Bleu" fantasy. I absolutely love Greek food and every time I've visited, my body feels so good. The way Greek food is prepared just agrees with me. It's light and never overcooked, over-seasoned or over-oiled. 

Q: There is a lot of debate over what is the best diet for us to aspire to. How do we find our way through all the arguments for and against each option to arrange something on our own plates that we can live with, be nourished by, and take pleasure in eating? 

A: It is a great debate, isn't it? I truly believe that if your baseline is a vegetable-centric way of life, and then you follow your taste buds after that, you're going to end up in a very healthy, balanced place. We'll never be perfect and, quite frankly, who wants to be? It's too much work! But a diet of real, whole foods that don't come in foil wrappers, that have one ingredient (as Michael Pollan says so eloquently) will lead you to exactly where your body wants to be. 

ZUCCHINI CARPACCIO - Recipe reprinted by permission and courtesy of the author. ©2012 Lora Krulak.


2 small green zucchinis, sliced thin
2 small yellow squash, sliced thin
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 Tbsp. olive oil (plus a splash more to drizzle on top)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (lime is also delicious on this)
 Sea salt and pepper to taste
Large handful (about 1cup) of arugula
5 ounces Pecorino Romano (or parmigan/Parmesan if that is your preference)


1. Slice zucchini diagonally into thin slices with mandoline.
2. Arrange them on the plate so they overlap.
3. Sprinkle the basil leaves over the veggies.
4. Top with combined olive oil and lemon juice; sprinkle generously with sea salt and black pepper.
5. Allow the flavors to marinate and soften for at least 20 minutes.
6. Toss the arugula leaves with the remainder of the olive oil and lemon juice and place on top of the zucchini to serve.
7. Delicious served with shaved Pecorino Romano.


• Substitute with mushroom, carrot, radish, beet.
• Any firm vegetable that can be sliced with the mandoline.
• Shave any cheese or vegan cheese on top.


To enter the random drawing for a free copy of Veggies for Carnivores, Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate, please leave a comment below with your full name.  The deadline for the drawing is June 10.  The winner will be announced on June 11.  The giveaway is open to all readers worldwide with the exceptions of my personal friends and family. 

F.T.C. Disclosure -  I received a free, unsolicited review copy of this book.  The giveaway copy was purchased by me and will be shipped worldwide at my expense. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Black and White Wednesday #128 - The Gallery

Welcome to Black and White Wednesday #128, the long-running gallery of monochrome photographs of all things food.

It's been nearly eighteen months since charming Cinzia of Cindystar assumed the ultimate hostess role in her administration of these weekly presentations.   I know I speak for everyone in thanking her for her time and effort in seamlessly managing the banquets.  
In fact, Ci will be hosting next week's BWW; here are all the details you need to join in as a participant and/or future host. 

And I thank you for sharing your talents here tonight.   It is always a pleasure to see you and what you have created for this very special table.








Greek Gyros - Black and White Wednesday #128

Here is my sepia-tinted contribution for Black and White Wednesday, Cinzia's weekly culinary gallery of photos dedicated to all clicks without the usual color.  I am very pleased to be hosting today's presentation and will happily welcome your photographs until 6:00 p.m. New York time for inclusion in my post later in the evening.  The history of the gallery and easy details to join in are provided in the link above.

Thanks to those who have already sent me their lovely photographs.

See you later!