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    Tamra Davis

    My friend Tamra Davis and I have so much in common, it’s ridiculous. We are both mothers of two small children, in the film business, are passionate amateur cooks, have an obsession with Vegenaise, are married to musicians and have a similar food ethos. Like most of us ladies out there, we are also attempting to balance it all. Tamra is a great cook, and after she had children, she became concerned with her family eating well and being healthy. She started developing family-based recipes and then she started sharing them with her friends. She has written an AMAZING self-published, purse-sized cookbook that is easy to bring with you to the market. She also does an online cooking show that I have gotten very into. It shows her cooking easy, delicious recipes to feed the whole family (including the Beastie Boys and their kids). My faves are the combo meals (another idea we have in common), where she makes something great for the kids and at the end tweaks it with some more sophisticated flavors for the adults. It’s really brilliant. I asked Tamra to share a bit of her philosophy and some of her recipes. She is an inspiration to me and she rocks.

    Love,
    gp

    Questions & Answers

    GP: As a successful film and TV director (Billy Madison, Grey’s Anatomy), when and how did you start to get interested in food? Was it something you always loved, or more so since having children?

    Tamra Davis:

    A: I’ve always loved cooking and especially eating, but having kids is such a lifestyle changer. I found out how important it is to not only feed my kids healthy food but I realized I needed to eat well too. A mom can’t afford to get sick. It was also much easier to invite friends over for dinner than to go out. Dining out with kids can be great or it can go terribly wrong.

    Because I was home so much with the kids, I found myself watching reality TV and the Food Network. It was challenging to find a host of a cooking show who was cooking food that I wanted to make for my family: healthy, organic, mostly vegetarian and easy. So what started out as an experiment in what happens when a filmmaker who is a mom winds up in a kitchen, ended with me making my own little reality cooking shows.  No crew, just a camera, my life and a good recipe. A recipe has the structure and pacing of a perfect short film. It has a beginning (you shop or plan), a middle (you cook) and an end (you eat!).

    GP: How did you start to develop your recipes? What were the restrictions/guidelines that you or your loved ones imposed?

    TD:

    A: If I ate all the food I wanted to, I would be huge. For myself, I’m looking at how a recipe is written or a restaurant meal is prepared. Since I care about the size of my butt, I began by looking at ways to eliminate fat. I also don’t eat chicken or meat, so I had to get creative in coming up with recipes that have substantial protein without using them. My husband is lactose intolerant and my kids are vegetarian, but sometimes my older son Davis eats fish. So just in my own household there was a lot to consider. Then when you start to cook for friends or bake sales or potluck dinners, you realize so many people have eating concerns. I found it challenging and also rewarding to come up with recipes that tasted amazing and that my loved ones and friends could eat and enjoy.

    GP: You are an incredibly talented artist and an amazing mother of two young boys. How do you find time to cook and why is it so important to you?

    TD:

    A: I always prided myself on how efficient I am as a director, especially in television. It’s a whole different thing walking on to a set and telling 60 people what to do and then going home and patiently trying to get my toddler to eat his vegetables. In both situations you have to be creative and passionate about what you do. I tried to show in my cooking webisodes how I arrange my busy days to make certain recipes. Sometimes when I’m making a recipe, one of the steps is to do a quick part in the morning and that cuts down on the prep time at dinner. I also find that if I want to spend time with my kids when I’m not working, cooking with them is super fun. Even if they are not helping me in the kitchen but seeing me cook, they feel I’m there for them.

    I really hope to inspire women with my recipes and show that it’s easy, fun and rewarding to cook for your family. When half of all meals eaten by Americans take place outside of the home and about one in every five children are obese I feel there is a great need to get people back in the kitchen cooking healthy and delicious food. I also think with the current economy more people will find that cooking at home can save them money. I hope my recipes inspire these people!

    Recipes:

    Tamra generously gave us a few recipes from her new cookbook, Make Me Something Good to Eat. They are delicious meals everyone can enjoy!

    Seitan with Lemon Caper Sauce, aka “Dinosaur Meat”

    Seitan is an amazing meat substitute. We use it all the time. It has a very similar texture and it even looks like meat. It really is a good substitute to use on someone who is used to and likes to eat meat at meals. I like it because it is a great source of protein for my kids and they always eat it. Don’t take this Seitan with Lemon Caper Sauce for granted. It’s really good. I ate the original version of this at Candle 79 in New York City. It was amazing. They have a great cookbook called The Candle Café Cookbook. Basically, I just do a quicker version of theirs. It’s almost impossible for this not to taste great.

    Serves: 2 adults and 2 kids
    Time: 30 minutes

    “Dinosaur Meat”:

    • 4 ounces seitan
    • ¼ cup flour
    • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
    • 2 pinches salt
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • ketchup

    Slice the seitan into ½" wide medallions. Fill a covered dish or a baggie with flour, breadcrumbs and two pinches of salt and shake the seitan around. Heat a pan with two tablespoons of oil, add the garlic and sprinkle off the excess flour mixture as you put the seitan in the pan. Fry till golden on all sides. Serve with a vegetable and a grain. I sometimes make a silly design with the ketchup.

    Seitan with Lemon Caper Sauce

    Serves: 2
    Time: 30 minutes

    • 8 ounces seitan
    • ½ cup flour, plus 1 teaspoon
    • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
    • 2 pinches salt
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ scallion or 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 onion, sliced thin
    • 2 lemons, juiced
    • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
    • 1/3 – ½ cup white wine
    • 1/3 – ½ cup water or light vegetable broth
    • salt and pepper

    1.Slice the seitan into ½" wide medallions. Fill a covered dish or a baggie with flour, breadcrumbs and salt. Shake the seitan around. Sprinkle off the excess flour mixture as you put them in a pan with two tablespoons of the olive oil and garlic. Fry till golden. Set on a plate and cover to keep warm.

    2.Add the onion, garlic and two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan you just used to cook the seitan. When the onions soften, add the lemon juice, capers, white wine and broth. Add the liquids slowly and reserve a little in case you need to add more. Cook for a few minutes and then thicken with a teaspoon or so of flour.

    3.Top the seitan with the lemon caper sauce and serve with a grain and a vegetable for a complete meal.

    Grilled Fish with Pesto, aka “Shrek Pasta”

    Pesto is a great standard. It’s simple to make and always tastes good. The color is so fantastic I can usually connect it with some cartoon character and the kids will eat it. Sometimes it’s Shrek Pasta, the other night it was Green Lantern Spaghetti. You could also call it The Little Mermaid Spaghetti. I make up names for their food all the time to help make it more familiar. I made this in Kauai - I served the kids a pesto pasta and added grilled fish for the adults. It was delicious. Oh, and I topped it with pine nuts and a bit of parmesan. Obviously, you can also serve fish to your kids too!

    Serves: 4
    Time: 30 minutes

    “Shrek Pasta”:

    • 1 16-ounce package of spaghetti
    • 1 cup toasted pine nuts, a small amount reserved for garnish
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 cups basil leaves, washed, one reserved for garnish
    • ½ cup parmesan cheese (optional), plus a small amount reserved for garnish
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ½ cup vegetable stock or water
    • salt and pepper

    Boil water and cook the pasta. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a frying pan with a pinch of salt. When they turn lightly brown put them in a blender with the garlic, basil, parmesan cheese and olive oil. Add a ¼ cup of vegetable stock or water and blend until smooth. You may need to add a bit more stock or water to get the consistency that you like. Add plenty of salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts, a basil leaf and parmesan cheese.

    Grilled Fish with Pesto Sauce

    Serves: 4
    Time: 30 minutes

    • 1 16-ounce package of spaghetti
    • 1 cup toasted pine nuts, a small amount reserved for garnish
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 cups basil leaves, washed, one reserved for garnish
    • ½ cup parmesan cheese (optional), plus a small amount reserved for garnish
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ½ cup vegetable stock or water
    • salt and pepper

    1.Lightly brush four 6-ounce filets of fish (halibut, cod, salmon, or sea bass) with olive oil, lemon and salt. Grill for three to five minutes per side depending on how rare you like it. Place the grilled fish on top of a plate of spaghetti. Top with the Shrek Pesto Sauce, some toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan and shredded basil.

    2.It’s excellent, and an easy dinner to pull off for guests and kids.

    Apple Cake

    This is a super simple cake to make especially around apple season. In New York we get amazing apples. We went to an apple-picking farm right outside of the city with the boys. It was great fun and we got a ton of apples. If you can take your kids to a farm (where they can pick their own fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk...anything) and show them where their food comes from; it can be a great experience. This cake is also good in the morning with a cup of coffee or when you’re hosting a brunch.

    Time: 1 hour approx. including baking time

    • 1 cup sugar
    • ½ stick or 2 ounces butter, melted
    • ½ cup applesauce
    • 1 egg
    • 1¼ cup flour
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2½ cups chopped apples (or two large apples)
    • ¾ to 1 cup chopped walnuts

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease your baking dish. Mix the sugar, butter, applesauce and egg together with a hand mixer. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Blend the wet and dry ingredients and then add the apples and walnuts. Pour into baking dish and bake for 30 to 50 minutes (depending on your pan and oven temp) or until knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

    Visit Tamra’s website Tamradaviscookingshow.com for more information and make sure to pick up a copy of her new cookbook while you’re there!

    Next Week

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