Apr 252013

I saw this recipe yesterday and was so excited. I actually had all the ingredients in my kitchen. That is a rarity.

The recipe indicated it would take 15 minutes and it did. The extra virgin olive oil I used was robust and slightly piquant. I thought this would be a nice flavor enhancement to the herbaceous, fruity and spicy flavors of the salad.

Even if you don’t have the ingredients, go get them. This Times of India healthy spring salad is a treat.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Jan 112013

by Tahni Segars

Until recently, eating healthy has never really been a priority. I’ve always just been after whatever tastes the best, no matter the calories, the nutrients, or the fat content. But I turned a new leaf and made a commitment to eat better and live better. And at first, I thought that meant sacrificing flavor and foods I liked. But after I picked up a spatula and started experimenting and creating my own menu, I realized there’s plenty out there to keep my taste buds and my heart happy.

The only thing that still trips me up is when I’m stressed and overwhelmed with work and all the surprises life throws my way. During those times I can’t quite make it to the grocery store and am tempted to find a drive thru and gorge on something quick, greasy and fried. I have to remind myself there are other options.

MetroFresh, a restaurant in Midtown Atlanta, has specialized in “fast food” that’s healthy, fresh and creative since it opened in 2005. This alternative to common burger-laden menus offers a constantly updated menu of unexpected fare that’ll make your mouth water.

“We don’t have a deep fryer or a microwave,” said Bryan Kraatz, executive chef at MetroFresh. “Our freezer is like someone’s freezer at home … our food is fresh and we buy most of our produce locally. I get all my produce that day and it gets made that day, so it’s impossible for our food not to be fresh.”

The secret to some of Kraatz’s amazing cuisine is olive oil. The former front man of a rock band and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Kraatz brings a lot of creativity to the menu. His take on cooking is to highlight ingredients’ natural flavors.

“Because (olive oil) is such a strong flavor and I like to let the natural flavor of things stand on their own, I only use olive oil to finish a dish — like marinating or in salad dressing.”

When this man mentions marinating, you listen — he’s the only chef who’s convinced to me to eat kale and actually want more. His marinated kale sent my taste buds swooning.

One of Kraatz’s favorite olive oil recipes is a basil vinaigrette dressing. So next time you’re looking for something quick, easy and tasty, pull out the food processor and try your hand at dressing up the food in your kitchen or head to MetroFresh for a sampling of Kraatz’s fun take on fresh and fast food.

“(MetroFresh) is unlike any other restaurant I’ve worked at,” Kraatz said. The eatery’s ever-evolving menu keeps him pretty busy with a daily to-do list that calls for freshly made soups, sides, sandwiches and dinner entrees. “You have to be quick, creative, be on your toes, which is something I like. Otherwise, I’d get bored.”

Basil Vinaigrette

1/4 lb fresh basil (stems discarded)
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1 peeled shallot (coarsely chopped)
Kosher salt (to taste)
White pepper (to taste)
1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in food processor.
2. Pulse ingredients until smooth.
3. Add olive oil in a steady stream with food processor on high to emulsify.
4. Remove vinaigrette and enjoy.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Dec 032012

by Tahni Segars

With the holidays approaching, I’ve been racking my brain for homemade gift ideas. Sure, who wouldn’t want the newest iPad or a shiny kitchen gizmo? But gifts from the heart are always what I remember and enjoy the most. My go-to solution is usually a reproduced or re-purposed photo that captures a perfect memory for my intended giftee.

But as I shuffled through old photos, searching for an ideal snapshot, I came across an album of a trip to New Orleans I took with a group of friends. After flipping through a handful of pictures, I found myself grinning ear to ear. Instead of finding a memory-sparking photo that I could offer a family member, I found a nostalgia-inducing gift for myself. The album provided a glimpse of our trip — adventuring through the French Quarter, soaking up the sun around Lake Pontchartrain and indulging on Café Du Monde’s mouthwatering beignets.

Whenever I travel, I find the best way to truly experience a culture is through the food. And New Orleans had plenty to offer. After we dusted ourselves off from a powdered sugar shower at Café Du Monde, we ventured out for even more saintly fare.

The week we spent in the Crescent City was filled with bite after bite of heavenly cuisine, but there was one treat I couldn’t pass up when it made an appearance on any menu we came across: The muffaletta.

The delicious sandwich made a lasting impression. In the seven days we spent in NOLA, I indulged in the muffaletta a few times. Sliced prosciutto, Genoa salami and mortadella team up with provolone and Swiss cheese and olive salad in this Big Easy original. The shining star, of course, is the olive salad.

The sandwich got its start in 1906, hailing from Italian immigrants who ran Central Grocery in the French Quarter. Though the fluffy bread that gives the sandwich its name is nothing shy of heavenly, it’s the olive salad I can’t do without. The original spread is made of diced olives, cauliflower, celery, carrots, olive oil and spices.

And while I’ll still be working on creating some meaningful family gifts, I think I’ll indulge once again on a gift for myself. Before I make it to the table for the Christmas ham, I’ll be whipping up Blake Royer’s take on my favorite New Orleans snack, reminiscing about Bourbon Street, Spanish moss and the St. Louis Cathedral. His recipe adds another of my favorites to the mix: roasted red peppers.

Muffaletta Sandwich


(Olive salad)
1 cup pitted mixed olives, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced celery
½ cup roasted red pepper strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

(For the sandwich)
1 loaf focaccia, halved lengthwise, cut into quarters
4 ounces ham, salami, capicola, or a mix, thinly sliced
4 ounces mortadella, thinly sliced
4 ounces provolone cheese

Combine olives, shallot, celery, red pepper and olive oil and a small bowl. Stir to combine. Season with vinegar, salt and pepper.

Tear out some of the doughy insides of the bread if it’s especially thick, and lay bread slices face up on cutting board. Spoon olive mixture on both top and bottom halves. Layer meat and cheese onto bottom halves, and then place on top halves. Serve immediately, or for better flavor, wrap in plastic and allow bread to soak up juices for one hour before serving.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Nov 142012

This is the time of year that I crave chicken tortilla soup. I’ve been getting into reading more food blogs – the kind with recipes.

One of the recipe blogs I like is The Girl Who Ate Everything. She has a lot of the homey eats that my family and I enjoy and lots of great photos.

This is the first time I’ve seen a cts recipe with extra virgin olive oil in it. Of course I use it everything already, but the addition of evoo in this recipe warms my heart.

Chicken Tortilla Soup — The Girl Who Ate Everything

May the sun shine through your branches.


Nov 032012

When I think of winter cooking I don’t usually have fish in mind. I am conditioned to think of fish as a warm weather food, but I shouldn’t.

Here is a recipe from ABC news using any firm fish. The final dish is very herbaceous with the richness of olives. The citrus should enhance the flavors and not overpower them.

Recipe for Grilled fish with black olive relish

May the sun shine through your branches.