Monday, September 15, 2014

Is It Black Pepper or Toxic Foam in Martha Stewart Pepper Mill?

Who Knew I was grinding away toxic materials with my black pepper using the Martha Stewart Collection 7.5' Walnut Acrylic Salt and Pepper Shaker purchased from Macy's.

This is a very upsetting day for me and my family. I was making a coconut curry sauce this afternoon when I took out the Martha Stewart Pepper Grinder, which I've had for two years now and used regularly. After I was done cooking I noticed some strange looking, 3 mm black particle in the sauce. I took it out, and rubbed it in my hand. It didn't look like anything "food related" that I had added. Then I thought, well, the only black thing I added was the pepper.  I took the pepper grinder and took it apart. I was shocked! There was a black foam (probably toxic material) and adhesive in the grooves/lining of the grinder! The black foam material was disintegrating and ending up in my food! It looks like my family has consumed half of this black foam material and adhesive without even knowing. It's mind-blowing to think about what ends up in our food without our knowledge.
In today's society, we cannot prevent toxic materials from entering our bodies, but this one is just upsetting. I'm sure Martha Stewart or many people have no idea that this product was defective. But shouldn't there be someone controlling this? If you put your name on it, shouldn't you be responsible? Materials that are used for cooking, especially ones that end up in our mouths, should be subject to better control. This product is made in China and who knows what cheap materials they use. Does Martha Stewart knows that? I don't think so. Most of you who have this product may have not even noticed since it looks so much like a black pepper. I bet if you opened one you may find it disintegrated. It's no wonder why so many people get cancer and other health problems. I feel like a victim here. I'm very health-conscious for my family, especially now that I have a baby, and I think someone needs to take action on this sort of thing. Major product recall and health risk!

The product received great reviews on but do they really know what they were actually grinding with their pepper. Major product recall!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Georgian Orthodox Easter and Paska Recipe

I am going to share some of my Georgian Orthodox Easter traditions. It is very different than Easter in the US. We do not have bunnies or kids hunting for eggs in the bushes. Preparation normally starts on Friday night. We color the eggs and make Paska, which is an Eastern European Easter bread.

Mom usually boils the eggs and dyes them red using red onion skins. Sometimes she places cilantro leafs, or other plants that have interesting designs, against the egg and then wraps the egg tightly in a fine net (usually pantyhose). The resulting egg is imprinted with the pattern of the leaves. Next, she makes Paska. The recipe is at the end of this post. 

It's a Georgian tradition that after the Easter mass we come home and start the game of breaking the eggs. Each person gets an egg and then we alternate hitting eggs the tip-to- tip and bottom-to-bottom. The first person with the unbroken egg is declared the winner! One year, my neighbor got a wooden egg that resembled a real egg and broke all of our eggs (obviously). We quickly realized his ploy!

P.S. If you like decorate your Easter table then, two weeks prior, you can sprinkle wheat seeds on a cotton ball in a container. The cotton ball should be moist with water. What grows in two weeks is called Jejili (grass), which is used as a table decoration. See the image below. 

Paska Bread Ingredients
  • 1.5 tbsp yeast
  • 180 ml of milk
  • 500 g of flour
  • 100 g of sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 100 g of melted butter
  • 1 cup of resins
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pre-Ferment: Add yeast to 1cup of warm milk. Next, add flour so that the consistency is like light sour cream. Add a pinch of salt and twice as much sugar. Wait for the mixture to rise. Keep it in a warm room.

Dough:In a separate bowl, mix rest of the milk, sugar, eggs, and melted butter. Next, add the pre-ferment, 1cup of oil, and flour so that the mixture yields a coherent mass. Put the dough in a warm place and let it rise two times. After it rises for the last time, add raisins, cardamom and nutmeg to the dough. Several options are available for forming the loaves. If you have tin can forms, pour the dough into forms wrapped in parchment paper. You can also form the dough into a braided loaf or however else you please. Here, we assume you are using forms. Make sure that you fill the forms halfway. Put the filled forms in a warm place and let the dough rise again. After the dough rises in the forms, bake them in the oven at 355F for 35 minutes and then lower the temperature to 320F for 25 minutes. Happy Easter!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Shoo (Cream Puff Pastry aka Pâte à Choux)

Shoo is very popular in Georgia. The pasty is very light, airy, and you can't help to eat more than one at a time. As promised, here is the recipe. This recipe makes 7-8 pieces.

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2-3 eggs
Cream (In Georgia we call this type of cream a 'boiled cream')
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Less than 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 stick of butter
  • Vanilla
Ganache (optional)
  • 3 tbs cocoa
  • 5 tbs milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 stick of butter
Batter: Boil the water in a pot and add the butter. After butter is melted set the heat to low and gradually add flour and stir. Remove the dough from the heat and start adding eggs, one at a time, while vigorously stirring the dough quickly with a wooden spoon (See the image below). When you add the first egg the batter might separate in chunks but it will come together after the stirring. The consistency needs to be thick so that when you scoop it out on a cooking sheet it stays firm.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Start scooping out the batter using a large spoon and placing it on a cookie sheet as shown in the image below. Shoo should be done when the dough turns a golden color, about 30 minutes.

Boiled Cream: Place the milk in a pot on a medium heat. After the milk is warm (before it starts to boil) start adding flour and sugar mixture slowly and mix it constantly with a whisk. After all the flour and sugar is mixed, let it simmer for 5 minutes. You will know if it's done when the flour taste has left the cream. Next, poor the cream in a different container and let it cool completely. You may put it in the fridge but make sure to stir once in a while to prevent clumping.

After the cream has cooled completely begin whipping the butter (soft, at room temperature). Add the boiled cream, little by little, until it's all mixed, then add vanilla. The cream should come out very fluffy.

After Shoo is completely cooled, start preparing it to add the filling. Use a knife and slice the shoo in half without going all the way through, then fill the opening with a cream (see the image below). After you filled all the shoo take the powdered sugar and ganache and decorate the shoo before serving.

Ganache (optional): Take a small pan and mix coco powder with sugar. Add milk and put it on medium heat. After it boils let is simmer and add butter. Let is simmer 3-5 minutes until it thickens. You can drizzle the ganache on the assembled shoo and then sprinkle on powder sugar. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Wild Rice and Asparagus

We are enjoying our charcoal grill so far and we use it almost every weekend. This time we purchased salmon from Market Street and grilled the filets on a cedar plank. First, we soaked the cedar in red wine and water for two hours. The salmon was seasoned with salt and pepper then placed on the cedar plank and onto the grill. The coals were set at the lowest position. The salmon was cooked until it just began pulling apart, but not so long as to dry out the meat. The cooked salmon had a wonderful flavor, and infusion of the wine, cedar, and the salmon's natural oils.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fresh Fruit Kampot

Growing up in Georgia, we didn't go to the supermarket to buy juice. Instead, my mom would make it at home. It's so easy to make fresh fruit juice at home and avoid the store-bought juices full of preservatives, flavoring, coloring and other ingredients!

After picking fresh blackberries, peaches and strawberries from the farm, we decided to make kampot. First, we washed the fruit. Some of the peaches were sliced while others were left whole. We placed the fruit in a large pot, added water, let it come to a boil on medium heat, then let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the fruit was softened considerably. Lastly, we added sugar to taste. After cooling to room temperature, it was ready to enjoy! I usually love warm kampot, but cold is just as good. Some people strain the kampot before serving, but I love the fruit that remains at the bottom of the glass.

There is nothing fresher and healthier to give your children than homemade kampot! My favorite kampot is made with concord grapes--amazeballs! Unfortunately, we can't seem to find concords in Dallas. You can try making kampot with your favorite combination of fruit. Enjoy!