Sunday, June 28, 2009

Little Buddy Store Update

Well it's hard to believe but our new retail store should be open by August as things are progressing quickly. Our contractor is doing his part by working steadily (more on his work soon), we have our utilities in process including a great phone number (which I can't publish yet), our awning and sign is being produced, our vendors are being lined up, I have hired a publicist (future details to come) and a host of actions being taken. I even have a part of my staff chosen (more on that too soon). There's a lot to keep track of and I hope to sit down today and tomorrow to organize everything.

One thing for sure is how amazing my wife Jill has been through this whole experience. I'm lucky to be married to someone who is so supportive. She has been behind this venture since it's inception and has contributed greatly to it as well, even as she works hard at her career and as a Mom. She has been invaluable taking on a multitude of tasks as if she was 3 or 4 people. Of course she has done all the graphics for Little Buddy and most of the marketing since day one. In addition she has talent at drawing a floor plan, interior design, writing a business plan, making product suggestions, researching vendors and equipment and so many other things that has made this endeavor a bit less stressful for me.

Keep posted for more news and for the date when we open our doors.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Everyone is Talking About Quinoa

It might be a bit of an exaggeration to stay that everyone is talking about quinoa but it is easy to say it's more commonly known today than ever before. At my shift at C.H.I.P.S. soup kitchen on Saturday we served some leftover quinoa salad. My shift mates were not very familiar with quinoa so I decided to post some recipes today to help them and you my reader. This morning on NPR there was a segment about people who are on gluten free diets and how they can benefit from adding quinoa to their diets to replace wheat. You can find it at any supermarket or health food store that carries a good selection of whole foods.

Quinoa is technically a relative of leafy vegetables not a cereal grain that was once considered gold of the Inca's. You can serve it as a substitute for rice or other grains. I like to steam quinoa add cilantro and scallions and use as a filling for burritos. It's also great in stuffed vegetables, the recipe below for saffron quinoa would be really good stuffed in red bell pepper with a morrocan style tomato sauce (think harissa). It comes in flake or as a flour and can be added to muffins or cakes . It is a complete protein and rich in magnesium, fiber and anti-oxidants. For more information on quionoa's health benefits go to the world's healthiest foods web site.

I am including two different uses and cooking teqhniques for quionoa. The first is a side dish where the quinoa is steamed the second is a salad and the quiona is cooked like pasta. Once you get the hang of quinoa you'll probably want to use it as a regular staple in your diet.

Saffron Quinoa with Peas

Serves 4-6

Saffron threads are highly prized pistils harvested by hand from the purple crocus grown in Iran, Kashmir and Spain. It is often used in North African cooking to give a fragrant, flavorful and colorful quality in stews and grain dishes. This recipe substitutes rice with quinoa resulting in a nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture. Quinoa is also a nutritious whole grain that is a complete protein.
Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, and Corn tossed with Mixed Herbed Vinaigrette

1 Cup Quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Half of red onion, minced
2 Cups of Water
3-4 threads of Saffron
Salt to taste
1/3-1/2 cup of frozen peas
1. Wash quinoa thoroughly in a bowl of cold water. Briskly rub the grains in the bowl of water and then drain in a strainer. Repeat procedure.
2. Place quinoa in a medium pot, about 3 quarts. Heat pot and stir grains till they dry out. Add olive oil, garlic and onion and cook a few minutes more, stirring frequently.
3. Add water, salt and saffron and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 11 minutes till there is still some water left, but almost cooked.
4. Add peas and simmer about 3 minutes more, until the water is cooked out and the quinoa has opened. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, and Corn tossed with Mixed Herbed Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6

In this recipe the quinoa is cooked like pasta in 4 quarts of boiling water instead of steamed in 2 quarts of water. This way the quinoa kernels remain separate and the texture is chewier, perfect for a salad. The addition of fresh green beans, cherry tomatoes and fresh corn and lots of fresh herbs, makes the salad perfect for summer parties and picnics. Feel free to use other vegetables and herbs from the garden.

Salad Ingredients
1 cup quinoa,
4 cups of water
¼ pound fresh green beans
3 small ears of corn
8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
Mixed herb vinaigrette (see recipe to follow)
1. Wash quinoa thoroughly by filling a large bowl with cold water, rub the grains, drain and repeat 2 more times, or until the water runs clean. Meanwhile bring the 4 quarts of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and the quinoa. Bowl for about 12 minutes or until the quinoa is translucent. Drain well and spread out the quinoa on a sheet pan to allow it to cool and to stop it from cooking further.
2. Meanwhile steam the green beans for about 4 or 5 minutes or until cooked, drain and shock in ice water. Steam or boil the corn for 2-3 minutes depending on how fresh the corn is.
3. Cut the green beans into small pieces, about 1 inch or so, set aside. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs, set aside.
4. Place quinoa in a bowl and add half the vinaigrette, stir to blend. Add the green beans, corn and cherry tomatoes, and mix well. Add the rest of the vinaigrette or as much as is needed and mix again. Serve slightly chilled or room temperature.

Mixed Herb Vinaigrette
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 sprigs of marjoram, stems removed
2 sprigs of thyme, stems removed
1 sprig of tarragon, stem removed
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 ounces of extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces of walnut or hazelnut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Place the vinegar in a blender with the herbs and Dijon mustard and blend for a minute or two. If you don’t have a blender, mince the herbs and whisk with the vinegar and mustard. With the blender motor running, slowly add the oils, or use a whisk while adding the oils.
2. Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

mmm Ice Cream & Sorbet, What's your Favorite?

As you may know Little Buddy Biscuit Company will soon be opening it's first retail bakery (sometime in July/August, stay tuned). After 4 years doing wholesale and about 16 months looking for a space, and doing what it takes to open a space we are soon getting the keys to a bakery formerly Regina at 635 5th Avenue in Brooklyn.

As a sole business owner I have had to do many things recently that are very challenging to me and that I would prefer not to have to do. It's just part of being a business owner without a partner, not counting my wife who gets stuck helping me from time to time.

But the fun part is doing things like testing recipes for product I hope to carry (my friends like that part to as they get to eat the samples). In addition to having Little Buddy baked goods, cookies, cakes, muffins, scones, brownies, cupcakes etc we will be scooping ice cream and sorbet. It most likely that we will be carrying Jane's Ice Cream, a great small brand from Kingston, New York. Being able to decide which flavors we will carry certainly is a part of my job that I love. I'd like to share the pleasure by having my readers and hopefully soon to be customers a chance to pick their favorite flavors that Jane's carry. Here are some of the flavors I am thinking of trying first, trying to narrow down the possibilities. You can click on the link to Jane's to see their full selection.

After choosing your 8 favorite picks of ice cream and 3 favorite sorbet just click on the comments section below this blog post and place your bets.

Here are the flavors I am thinking about as my first offering:
Ice Cream
Killer Chocolate
Milk Chocolate Fudge
French Vanilla
Vanilla Chocolate Chip
Cookies & Cream
Cappucino Kahlua Caylpso
Maple Walnut
Black Raspberry
Peanut Butter Fudge
Pumpkin (Seasonal)
Mint Chip
Dulce de Leche


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Commercials on TV and Your Child

Last year when Jack first went to kindergarten he graduated to commercial TV. Somehow he decided he no longer could watch Noggin and Nick was his new viewing choice, which means seeing commercials on regular basis. After a long love affair with Fairly Odd Parents (wacky cartoon), he wound up gravitating towards shows that were really meant for pre-teens like Drake and Josh and iCarly.

Lately I've threatened to take away his TV privilege if he didn't stop asking me to buy everything he saw advertised. I was getting weary of explaining why we don't buy breakfast cereals with marshmallows in them or every junk toy that would wind up in his pile of not-played with toys.

But yesterday he said something that made me laugh really hard and proved that even he had a limit on what he coveted from viewing TV. We were watching iCarly together, okay so I sort of got hooked on it too, and there was a commercial for PedEgg. It's an egg shaped device, for ergonomic design, that is a file for your foot callouses. It even captures the filed skin for easy disposal, which is sort of gross to see on TV. I'm not sure why it was being advertised on a show like iCarly, unless I'm not the only old person watching with their child.

So Jack is watching this commercial and he looks at me and he says "What is that? We don't really need that do we?" It made me laugh because it might have been the first commercial for a product that he knew enough to reject. I was wondering how many times he viewed that commercial before coming to that conclusion.