Archive for October, 2011

October 24, 2011

How to De-Seed a Pomegranate & A Tasty Tart Too

by Jen Wanous





Pomegranates can be very perplexing (especially while wearing white!). I have a trick to share on how to get the tangy ruby seeds out without making a Dexter-worthy mess.

Walnut and Pear Tart with Pomegranate Glaze

This tart, full of fall’s bounty, will hit the spot for your gluten-free fans and everyone else too.


For the Crust

2 cups walnuts, raw

5-7 dates, pitted

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Fruit Topping

juice of one lemon

3 pears, thinly sliced

For the Glaze

1 pomegranate, seeded


1/4 cup sugar (brown sugar is ok)

1/4 cup water


1. Oil and parchment line a tart pan or pie plate. Pre-heat the oven 350.

2. Toast whole raw walnuts on a cookie sheet for about 15 mins or until fragrant and a deep golden brown. In a food processor, coarsely grind the walnuts, dates, maple syrup and salt. Press into the pie plate/tart pan.

3. Toss pears with the lemon juice. Arrange in a Rocket circular pattern on top of the crust. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of sugar on top. Bake for 25 mins or until pears are soft.

4. In a small sauce pan, combine pomegranate seeds, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 mins. Using an immersion blender or blender,  process the seed/water/sugar mixture for a min. Strain through a fine mesh colander. On the cooked tart, brush on the pomegranate liquid. Bake for 10 more mins.







October 18, 2011

Reflections on a Year’s Supply of Bacon

by Jen Wanous

Bacon changed my life.

It’s not often we’re handed pivotal moments on a platter… but one fateful day, one year ago, I won the Bacon Takedown of New York City. This set me on an irreversible path of culinary adventure.

I took the competition with my California-inspired concoction of goat’s milk avocado ice cream topped with candied bacon and sea salt. It was an ode to my home state and my favorite animal product, pork. I was an underdog novice and didn’t think I’d stand a chance against the reigning champ and fresh, fried bacon doughnuts. With a bright pink t-shirt proclaiming, “Bacon is the New Black,” in iron-on letters, I wowed the bulk of the 300 tasters who voted my dish their favorite against 22 others.

Part of my prize was a year’s supply of bacon, which quickly became my ingredient du resistance for the next 12 months. Dinner parties, potlucks, cupcakes and even Christmas stockings were tinged with the good grace of bacon. However, more than an endless supply of the rich pork product, I received an invitation to actualize my long-coveted dream of becoming a chef: the win was the universe saying, “Cook! Like, for real!”

Just after the competition, I remember sitting on the subway… coming home from my job managing events… still high from the thrill of the win… and I thought, If this one thing can bring me so much joy, I’ve gotta go for it! What was I waiting for?

I listened to the message. Just one month after the takedown I resigned from my job; 60 days after that I started culinary school. Now, after a 12-month whirlwind, my business card says, “Freelance Chef.” I love how life sends signals. I got it, loud and clear.

Today, at the annual event, I handed over my crown and sat in as an expert judge. It was an honor to be back in that role, tasked with deciphering which dish was most quintessentially bacon. The competition was stiff but I swooned for a bacon-wrapped s’more. It was the perfect salty pairing for this camping classic.

Navigating the world now, I know I’m one step further along the path of actualizing myself because I had the courage to listen to my heart (and the universe). The path isn’t always clear or easy, but it unveils many gifts along the way (some in the form of a BLT). I will anticipate the signs I know must lay ahead… trusting their returns will be just as savory.

I have included the recipe from my auspicious creation below. Enjoy.

Baco Avo Goat-Lato

(serves six)

Goat’s Milk Avocado Ice Cream

3 cups goat’s milk

1 cup goat’s yogurt

1 cup sugar

3-4 avocados

1 pinch sea salt


Combine all ingredients until smooth in a blender. Chill in the refrigerator until 40 degrees. Set according to your ice cream maker’s settings (about 15 minutes).

Candied Bacon Topping

1 pound bacon

1 cup dark brown sugar

Fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of coarse sea salt


Set oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cover bacon with brown sugar and pepper. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes (until a yummy-looking caramel dark brown color). Let cool and then chop.

Top the ice cream with the bacon topping and add a generous pinch of coarse sea salt.

October 9, 2011

On a Chilly Morning: Granola

by Jen Wanous

A fellow friend from California just told me that she is in denial about winter coming. We walked out of a dinner party, it was brisk out, but she didn’t put on her sweater. She said that if she put it on then it would actually mean that the season is changing–and she wasn’t ready.

I hear you sister! Winters are scary for us West Coasters. This will be my fourth galosh-wearing winter on the East Coast. Though my jacket that resembles a sleeping bag does give me great me peace of mind, I’ll never quite adjust. My mom has never owned an umbrella. I saw snow fall for the first time when I was 22. On a San Diego Christmas morning, I’d be playing on the driveway with my new toys, no jacket required.

Like my post from last week reminded me, there is magic that happens when you’re outside of your comfort zone–and by golly, if winter doesn’t get you out of your incubated comfort zone, then I don’t know what would. The gift of magic that comes with that trade off is a big one. Serenity, glitter and introspection. I’ll have to keep these things in mind as I zip up. For now, I know we’re not quite there yet, with an entire fall to savor.

Here is a recipe to make when you get up in the morning and it’s chilly but you don’t want to turn on the heater yet because that would mean that the cold has really come. It uses olive oil as the base, which I find I always have on hand, and the health benefits are far better than other commercial oils. You can switch it up to use different sweeteners like agave or brown sugar. You can also switch up the additions, like pistachio and apricot or cashew and cranberry.

Olive Oil Granola With Walnuts and Raisins

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or nutmeg

1/2 cup dried raisins

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, walnuts, maple syrup, honey, olive oil, salt, cinnamon and cardamom/nutmeg. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add raisins, tossing to combine.

Yield: About 6 cups.

October 3, 2011

Where the Magic Happens

by Jen Wanous

It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity to meet a star. Friday night I went to the Food Network’s Food and Wine Festival in New York. I was there as a culinary volunteer for their annual “Burger Bash”. There, twenty of the city’s top restaurants were set up in stations and served bites of their burgers for a ‘best in show’ award. I was set up with a Brooklyn staple, Bark. I was working with a small crew flipping buns and cranking out burgers for 600 people an hour!

It is in the places where we push ourselves outside of what is comfortable that really special things happen. I barely motivated to ride my bike down to the event on that dreery Friday night. It would have been a whole lot easier to stay home with my puppy and watch Project Runway–but I rallied and tried something new–and look–magic happened–I met Whoopi!

The challenge then is to be open to the opportunities around you; say yes a little more and have radical trust that the universe will take care of you (usually with magical things).

Here is a quote that a friend recently shared with me. It was a good reminder for me and I hope it is for you too. Of course, “God” can be replaced with whatever serves you.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I have included a recipe for a warming soup to fill you and ground you through this change of season. As always, be gentle with yourself too. Enjoy.

Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup

Serves: 6 – 1 cup servings

Preparation Time: 8 hours  Cook Time: 1 hour 


1 cup dried white beans, (Great Northern or Cannellini)*Soak for at least 8 hours

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 onions, small dice (1½ cup)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 sprig rosemary, minced (1 teaspoon) or 1 heaping teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3 carrots, small dice (1 pound)

2 stalks of celery, small dice (½ pound)

1 pound kale, remove the stems, coarsely chop

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Parmesan, grated to taste (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


1.  In a medium pot, cover the beans with water and soak over night, or at least eight hours.  Drain and rinse the beans then return to the pot.  Cover with two inches of water, add salt and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2.  While the beans are cooking, in a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and some salt stirring until the onions look glassy.  Add the garlic and rosemary, cook for 3-5 minutes more, being careful not to brown the garlic.

3.  Add in the stock, carrots and celery.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add in the beans.  Cook for 20 more minutes.  The beans should be tender.  In the last 10 minutes, add kale.

4. Top with fresh parsley and parmesan and serve with warm crusty bread.