Foodie Corner

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January Theme: Healthy Eating

Each week we will highlight our readers favorite recipes vetted by team BA50. Please Click below to submit a brief description of what you love about your recipe, where you found it or if you invented it — no more than 200 words, your website link if you have one, the recipe itself of course and please upload a photo (optional). Click below to submit. Thank you.

 

Our Latest Recipes

A Duet of Meatballs for Summer’s Swan Song

Suzanne Goin MeatballsAs the summer wanes and cooking begins to move indoors, comfort food is what will get your family and friends  to gather around the table once again. Back from their far-flung journeys and sand-covered explorations, no longer are they yearning for traditional summer food. Here we have two recipes that will do the trick. They look like old standbys, but they put a spin on the usual meatball-and-sauce dinner. Simple to make (and freeze for later), so you can still get out there and enjoy what’s left of the whisper of summer. Suzanne Goin’s “The A.O.C. Cookbook” is where I found these small, crispy meatballs that are submerged in a thick sauce with hints of warm North African flavors and the citrusy bite of orange juice. A sprinkling of crumbled feta and sliced mint take the dish across the globe. The original recipe calls for ground lamb, but I substituted ground turkey. If you like lamb, by all means, go for it!  A great accompaniment would be couscous or farro. The Chipotle Meatballs are from Rick Bayless’ “Mexican Everyday” cookbook. The chipotle and bacon lend an earthy smokiness and a nice go-with would be rice or fideo (vermicelli). Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce (adapted from “The A.O.C. Cookbook”) For the Meatballs:

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 egg yolks, extra-large
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch red-pepper flakes
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

For the Sauce:

  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • Red-pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 3-inch strip of orange peel, pith removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Topping:

  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves
1. Preheat broiler. In a large bowl, mix together the onion, cream, egg yolks, cinnamon, cumin, red pepper and cayenne. Put the lamb in the bowl, and season it aggressively with salt and pepper. Add the bread crumbs and parsley, and combine the mixture well. Shape the meat into balls that are a little larger than golf balls.
2. Grease a baking pan with olive oil, and put the meatballs onto it, spaced evenly. Place beneath the broiler, and cook, turning once or twice, until the meatballs are well browned, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, then set meatballs aside. Turn oven to 400.
3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill, or whizz them quickly in a food processor. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat for a minute, then add olive oil, rosemary and red pepper and shake to combine. Cook for another minute, then add onion, thyme, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and bay leaf and sauté until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, orange juice and peel, along with salt and pepper.
4. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat, until reduced by a third. Adjust seasoning.
5. Remove bay leaf. Pour the tomato sauce into a large baking dish that you can put on the table. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce, putting them about ½ inch from each other. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through.
6. Top with crumbled feta and scattered mint.
YIELD: 4 servings

Chipotle Meatballs

3 slices bacon in 1-inch pieces 3 garlic cloves, peeled 2 large eggs ½ cup bread crumbs (¾ cup if coarse-textured panko) Salt 1¼ pounds ground pork ½ cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped mint leaves, more for garnish 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), drained of all but ¼ cup juice 1 or 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, stemmed, seeded and sauce reserved 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican About 1½ cups beef or chicken broth.

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine bacon and 1 garlic clove. Process until finely chopped. Add eggs, bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse several times to combine thoroughly, then add pork and mint. Pulse a few more times until well combined but not a paste. Remove meat from processor.

2. With wet hands, form meat into about 16 plum-size balls and space them out in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

3. While meatballs bake, combine tomatoes, ¼ cup tomato juice, chipotles, 1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce, oregano, remaining garlic cloves (cut in half) and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor. Process to a smooth purée.

4. When meatballs are ready, spoon off rendered fat from baking dish, then pour tomato mixture on top, covering meatballs evenly. Bake until sauce has thickened somewhat, 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Heat broth in a small saucepan. Divide meatballs among four dinner plates, leaving sauce behind. Stir enough broth into sauce to give it a spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Spoon sauce over meatballs, decorate with extra mint leaves, if you wish, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Meatballs...all gone

Chilled Asian Corn Soup

Chilled Asian Corn SoupThe school bells have rung, you’ve probably packed up the summer shack, and your orienting yourself to thinking about cozy sweaters and leaf peeping. But don’t go down that road quite yet. There’s still some life left of summer, especially at the market. Fresh sweet summer corn is still available and Nancy Lowell offers just the right recipe with which to showcase that last bit of summer splendor. Nancy writes:

It seems everywhere I turn people are tolling summer’s death knell, but as long as I can still get fresh corn, peaches and tomatoes, I know there’s still some summer left. Yes, my daughter has gone back to school, and I’m optimistic that by Sunday I’ll be able to turn my AC off for the season, but I am still enjoying summer’s bounty, and the last of it is often the best. I find the September corn is the sweetest, but that may be all in my head.

With these lingering warm days I wanted to make a cold soup, and with some leftover ears of corn I started looking around for recipes for cold corn soup. I found some interesting sounding ones, but none had the flavor profile I was looking for. I even bought some plain Greek yogurt, planning on using that in the soup to make it creamy—I found a few recipes using buttermilk, but I really didn’t want anything that tangy. Generally when I cook for The Chef’s Last Diet I don’t wing it. I try a few things, find one that works well, and tastes exactly like I want it to, but not today…

Chilled Asian Corn Soup

As I was assembling my ingredients I kept switching things out. The first thing to go was the yogurt. I really didn’t want that milky, creaminess. Once that was gone I rethought the flavors I really wanted, and chose a more Asian profile. I used the corn, and the typical Chinese flavors of ginger and scallion. I can still hear my Oriental (sic) Kitchen Chef, Shirley Cheng, from Culinary school admonishing us to start every dish with a mixture of ginger (unpeeled), a few cloves of garlic, and some rough chopped scallions wooshed up in the food processor. Because I wasn’t cooking this soup I omitted the garlic, I was afraid the raw garlic would be too harsh.

chopped scallionscold corn soupLimes for juicing

I’m sorry I didn’t have the ingredients on hand to make this with coconut milk, as I think that would add another layer of flavor that using chicken stock did not. I will plan on doing that next week, and update this post. If you wanted to make this vegan you could use miso broth, or some other vegetable stock. I don’t recommend mushroom stock as that would make it too earthy, and you really want the corn to be the star here. I also recommend making this a day ahead of time, as even if you start with cold ingredients as you make it, the blending will warm it a bit, and because you’re not cooking it, the flavors need some time to meld together.

This is a simple soup to prepare, and if you wanted to dress it up you could strain it to get a thinner, less coarse texture, but I like it like this, it’s more corny. So while there’s still some summer, and some summer corn left, please try this tasty soup. What is your favorite cold soup?

Chilled Asian Corn Soup

Serves 2-3
Prep time 20 minutes
Meal type LunchSoupStarter
Misc Serve Cold

Ingredients

  • 4 cups corn, cut from 4 ears of corn (make sure to use the flat side of the knife to get all the starchy juice from the ear)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce (one TBL plus one tsp)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 scallions (1 reserved for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves (make sure stems are discarded)
  • 1/2-1 cup chicken stock (or other stock)
  • 1 medium slice Lime (juiced)

Directions

Step 1
cold corn 6

Remove corn from cob
Pick cilantro leaves from stems
Cut scallions into 1″ pieces
Step 2
cold corn 10

Combine corn, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, cilantro and chicken stock in a blender, Vitamix or food processor, process until you reach a creamy consistency
Step 3
Taste for seasoning
The soup will be bubbly and a bit green
Let it chill overnight, and the bubbles will dissipate
Step 4
To Serve:
Slice the remaining scallion into thin slices on a bias
ladle the soup into chilled bowls, garnish with scallion and a leaf or two of cilantro

Skinny Kitchen Philly Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Crock pot Philly Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwiches.You don’t have to be from Philly to love these terrific sandwiches, and you don’t have to break your diet to eat them. Nancy Fox and Skinny Kitchen came up with a delicious alternative to the Philly Cheesesteak using chicken and you don’t even have to fire up the grill–they’re crock pot friendly!

 

Nancy says, “If you’re not cooking for a crowd don’t worry, it freezes great.” Each very filling sandwich has 280 calories, 7 grams of fat and 7 Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS.  I’ve included the skinny facts and points for a low carb version. See below.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: low heat 6-7 hours, high heat, 3-4 hours


Ingredients for Crock-Pot:

1½ pounds chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

3 cups onions, sliced

2 cups red bell pepper, sliced

2 cups yellow, orange or green bell pepper, sliced

1 (10 oz) package of mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup barbecue sauce

1 (1 ounce) packet Italian dressing dry mix, see shopping tips

1 (14oz) can reduced-sodium chicken broth


Ingredients for Sandwiches:

8 hot dog buns, use your favorite, see shopping tips

1 cup reduced-fat cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded


Instructions

1. Coat the crock-pot with non stick cooking spray. Place chicken in crock-pot. Top with onions, sliced bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic. Add barbecue sauce and sprinkle the packet of Italian dressing seasoning mix over the top. Pour the chicken broth all over.

2. Cover and cook on low for about 6-7 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. The time varies depending on your crock-pot. Mine took 6 hours on low. Remove chicken from crock-pot and cut into slices. Add chicken back to vegetables and sauce in crock-pot. Mix to blend.

3. To assemble each sandwich: On a baking sheet, add the hot dog bun and add 1 cup chicken filling onto the bun. Spoon 3 tablespoons sauce over the chicken. Top with 2 tablespoons cheese. Assemble all the sandwiches you want to serve on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and broil for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and toast the buns. Keep an eye on it so they don’t burn.

4. Add each to a plate. Serve with a fork and knife. You’re going to need it. Too messy to eat with your hands but oh so good!

5. For a low carb option: Add 1 cup chicken mixture to each bowl. Spoon 3 tablespoons sauce over the top. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese and serve with a fork and knife.

Makes 8 cups total (8 sandwiches)  Each sandwich, 1 cup chicken filling, 3 tablespoons sauce and 2 tablespoons cheese


Food Facts

The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century by combining beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread. Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s. Today there are many variations. A cheesesteak made with chicken instead of beef is called a chicken cheesesteak.


Shopping Tips

Most supermarkets sell (1 oz) packages of Italian Dressing Seasoning mix.  I used Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or their Zesty Italian. You find it in the aisle where bottled salad dressing are sold.

Classic hot dog buns usually have the lowest calories and fat. Most contain 110 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. I based the skinny facts using these. That said, I personally like using Trader Joe’s honey wheat hot dog buns. Each has 160 calories and 2.5 grams fat.

 

Dutch Peach Pie with Crumble Topping

There’s still time to cling to Peach Strawberry Piethe last breath of summer. No one should be able to get away without at least one slice of pie. “But who wants to spend time preparing the pie dough, rolling it out and making that sucker look all pretty?” you ask. You’re absolutely right, and that’s why this pie is perfect for the pie-making haters out there. The crust is crisp and buttery–more cookielike than traditional pie crust–and it’s no-roll! The crumble topping can be made ahead (and even frozen), as can be the filling. Once the summer is gone, and the berries and peaches are no more, the crust can be just as comfortable cozying up to an apple or pear filling.

Dutch Peach Pie with Crumble Topping
(adapted from Great Pies & Tarts by Carole Walter)

Press-On Butter Pastry
1 ¼ cups unsifted unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup partially frozen unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons apple juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure:
Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times to combine. Add butter, pulse 4 to 5 times, then process 4 to 5 seconds, or until the mixture forms meal-like crumbs.

Using a fork, beat together the egg yolk, orange juice and vanilla. With the processor off, pour the liquids into the crumb mixture. Pulse 4 or 5 times, or until the mixture begins to stick together.

Lightly flour a flat surface. Empty dough onto the floured surface and, with floured hands, shape into a flat disk.

Butter a 9 ½-inch deep-dish ovenproof glass pie plate. Place the disk into the pan. With floured hands, press the pastry into the dish, working it up the side first, then smoothing out the middle. Re-flour hands as needed. Chill pie dish in refrigerator while preparing the filling.

For the filling:
3 pounds ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch slices

1 pint strawberries, sliced in half lengthwise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Butter a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish ovenproof glass pie plate.

2. With floured hands, press the dough into the prepared pie plate, working the pastry up the sides. Re-flour your hands as needed.

3. Make the filling: Place the peach slices in a large skillet. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

4. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the peaches and stir gently to distribute through the fruit. Cover the skillet and bring the peaches to a slow boil. Gently stir the fruit to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. When the peaches begin to exude their liquid, add the strawberries, and cook about 5 minutes longer. Uncover the skillet and remove the pan from the heat.

5. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the peaches to the pastry shell. Do not add the liquid in the skillet.

6. Make the topping: Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork to form crumbs. Take a clump of the crumb mixture in your hand and squeeze gently to form a larger clump. Then break the large clump apart over the peaches. Repeat using all of the crumb mixture. Do not press the crumbs into the fruit.

7.
 Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the juices begin to bubble. (Place a baking mat or sheet pan beneath the pie to catch any drips which might wreak havoc on your oven floor.) Cool on a rack. Let stand 3 to 4 hours before cutting. Serve with ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Maw Maw’s German Chocolate Cake

German choc cakeThere’s a story in every delicious bite of celebratory desserts that have been passed down through the generations. Connie McLeod’s “Maw Maw’s” cake was a perfect choice for her mom’s 86th birthday. We know her Maw Maw would be proud.

My mom’s birthday party pictured below would have been on a hot August day in the hill country of Texas with all the children dressed in their Sunday best. I asked Mom if she remembered how old she was in this picture and she knew she was five. Shirley Temple had a new movie out, Curley Top, and her mother made her a dress fashioned after the one Shirley wore in the movie. Mom says she remembers it clearly because Shirley’s dress was made from silk and lace, while hers was made from pale pink organdy and was stiff, puffy and itchy. I wonder what cake my Maw Maw would have made her little girl dressed in her pretty, but uncomfortable Shirley Temple dress.

 

Decades have come and gone since this picture. This August, Mom turns 86. I recently heard someone ask her if she was named after her Dad since her name is Jimmie. “No”, she proudly said, “I’m named after my Mom and my brother is named James!” Until I heard it said, I never thought about how unique that was.

Maw Maw's German Chocolate Cake
I do know that having my grandmother, Jimmie Corrine’s recipes, her cooking tools and her dishes are a unique treasure from my history. I began my yearly ritual for my mom’s birthday and went through my grandmother’s handwritten recipes. I like to give my mom a taste of her childhood for her birthday. This is a cake I’ve never made. It’s not hard, but it is involved and has taken all afternoon. I even baked it in the heart shaped pans that three generations have used to bake cakes in. I know this cake is made with the love, just as it was back when Shirley Temple was dancing her way into this country’s heart.

Jimmie Corrine—My Grandmother's Handwritten Recipe

German Chocolate Cake


Cake
1/2 cup boiling water
4 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
1 cup softened, unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
4 egg yolks, unbeaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Directions
1. Melt chocolate in boiling water in saucepan, let cool.
2. Sift flour with soda and salt in it’s own bowl.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff (it will form peaks like a meringue).
4. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add each egg yolk one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and cooled chocolate. Mix until well blended.
5. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk into batter, beating after each addition.
6. After batter is smooth, fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
7. Pour into 3 9-inch layer pans that are greased and floured.
8. Bake at 360° for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on cake rack.

Coconut and Pecan Frosting
1 cup white sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Combine and cook sugar, evaporated milk, butter, beaten eggs and vanilla over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (about 12 minutes). Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool completely, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To assemble
Trim off the “dome” of the bottom 2 layers to help level the cake. Make sure the cake and frosting are completely cooled. Put icing between the layers and as Maw Maw made note, do not frost side of the cake.

I honor my maternal lineage: I am Connie Lee, daughter of Jimmie Dee, daughter of Jimmie Corrine, daughter of Minnie Mae; mother of Jade Lee-Mei.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Chef's Last Diet-cold-brewed coffeeNancy Lowell of Chef’s Last Diet calls cold-brewed the “sun tea of coffee.” We love it because it’s a low-acid brew that has a mellower taste than traditional iced coffee. It’s perfect on a hot day…like tomorrow. (And you’ll have to wait until tomorrow because the process takes overnight.) No fancy equipment required, so, get going. And when you go to bed tonight you can look forward to having a great treat in the am.

 

If you’ve never had cold brewed iced coffee, stop what you’re doing right now, and make some, then you can thank me tomorrow because it won’t be ready until then. I am not a daily coffee drinker, especially in this hot weather, but I love cold drinks, like iced coffee and tea. I go through a pitcher of iced tea every other day, a simple mix of green and peach teas, unsweetened, I guzzle it all day. Iced coffee is a real treat for me, and when I really want to splurge I walk around the corner toFederal Donuts , and grab a cup, with plenty if ice and an obscene amount of half and half, and I’m in heaven.

Cold brew coffee is kind of the sun tea of coffee. According to Wikipedia the method originated in Japan in the 17th century where it was introduced by the Dutch (so maybe it originated in Holland, or in Indonesia where the Dutch had settled) , but other sources say it originated in Java, or Peru. So clearly I’m not being very helpful… In 1964 Todd Simpson had a cup of coffee while traveling in Guatemala, and came home and created a contraption that eventually became The Toddy a sort of bucket with a cork in the bottom that made the cold brew. If you search, there is no shortage of cold brewers, but you don’t need any of them. I made mine using two pitchers, several coffee filters, and a strainer.

Federal Donuts as well as some other remarkable coffee places in Philly have very elaborate contraptions to brew their iced coffee. But I’ve been doing some reading, and apparently you don’t need to invest $300 in a special, cold brew system, you can make it at home in a big container. There are a number of things that make cold brew so sublime, the most notable (to me) is the complete lack of any bitterness. It is rich and packs quite a jolt, which is why I made mine half-caf, that way I can drink it and continue to function without acting like the chameleon Val in the Valspar commercial.

There are numerous recipes and techniques on the internet, but my friend Jill did the work for me, and I used a recipe she recommended, then did some adapting myself, so I’ll tell you my adaptation. Though this is a time consuming process, most of it is waiting time. It may be quicker if you use the recommended cheesecloth rather than using a small strainer with a small coffee filter…

I didn’t want to make a gallon, so here is what I did, and how it all worked out:

  1. Weigh out eight ounces of coffee, half decaf, half regular coffee (coarse ground is preferable)8 ounces of coffee
  2. Put the grounds into a pitcher, or two quart container (I recommend a wide mouth container)coffee in pitcher
  3. Add five cups of cool or cold water, and stir well Pretty sludgy right now
  4. Cover container and let sit at room temperature at least twelve hours
  5. Stir well before strainingready to strain
  6. Put a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher or jar and line with a coffee filter (use cheesecloth if you have it, I didn’t)
  7. Pour enough of the coffee mixture into the strainer to leave some room at the top, and let drip (this will take a ridiculous amount of time). You’ll need to stir it to help it along, I used a chopstick, but feel free to use whatever you have handySlow dripping
  8. When most of the liquid has dripped through, carefully pick up the filter and gently squeeze to get more liquid out, discard that filter and start again with the coffee remaining. I had to do this three times, and this process went on for about three hours (really).
  9. You have now made a coffee concentrate, so when you finally make your lovely glass of cold brew use plenty of ice, and a good deal of whatever you choose to lighten it. I use half and half, and if you’re going to make this and then you’re going to ruin it put skim milk into it, please don’t tell me about it.
  10. If you want to sweeten it use simple syrup, or perhaps some chocolate or vanilla syrup! But even if you plan to sweeten it, please taste it first, to see how good it is without any sugar.

My very rustic system yielded a fine cold brew, and though I had planned to go get a cup from Federal Donuts to do a side by side comparison, I never made it. I promise to go this week and update this post, so stay tuned. The cold brew will be fine in your fridge for at least two weeks, but you probably won’t have it around that long.

 

The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Review and a Recipe!

Hundred foot Journey review and recipesI may not have gotten this exactly right, because it’s hard taking notes in a dark movie theatre, but there was a line in “The Hundred-Foot Journey” that I believe I will be repeating.

In the movie, an Indian family, displaced by violence at home, finds their way to a small town in France. To the dismay of his children, their father decides to stay and open up an Indian restaurant.

The oldest son gently tries to explain to his father that this is France, and they don’t eat Indian foods like Chicken Tikka there.

But Papa, played with award-worthy perfection by Om Puri, says “maybe they just haven’t had it yet.”

Kids of mine, beware.

Papa gets his way.  Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
Papa gets his way.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Of course, things don’t run all that smoothly for the Kadam family at first.

The delightful Helen Mirren Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
The delightful Helen Mirren
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

They have to contend with Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) who owns a Michelin-starred restaurant across from the Kadam family’s, colorful and sometimes loud, Maison Mumbai.

And one of Kadam’s young sons, the kitchen prodigy Hassan (Manish Daynal), who doesn’t just taste food, he feels it, is propelled into a place where all his standard references are gone. He has to adapt, too.

Hassan, played by Manish Daynal. A young actor to watch. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
Hassan, played by Manish Daynal.
A young actor to watch.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

The hundred-foot journey turns out to be one most of the characters have to take. They all have to embrace change whether they like it or not.

It’s a wonderful movie about differences and how food bridges gaps, (a theme that came up recently with World Peace Cookies).

It’s also about being open to new things.

Unimpressed by French food, Papa gives Madame Mallory a piece of his mind, and his opinion on the blandness of French cooking, saying,

“If you have a spice, use it! Spoon it in!”

Because honestly, why live a salt and pepper life when there’s curry in the world?

I was lucky to see this movie in pre-release when I was at a tech conference in San Jose last month. Walt Disney Studios sent me all kinds of great photos and recipes inspired by the movie.

Kashmiri Basmati Pilaf Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
Kashmiri Basmati Pilaf
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

I’m no stranger to Indian food. It’s easy addition to get me to stop at Shalimar Restaurant when ever I’m in Louisville. So I was surprised when I ran through the list of ingredients for Kashmiri Basmati Pilaf and didn’t recognize one of them.

Barberries.

Somehow, some way, I’d missed our introduction.

In the spirit of the movie, of learning about something unfamiliar, this was the recipe I needed to try.

Besides, it calls for sautéing a berry in butter. How could that be bad?

As it turns out, barberries and I had been acquaintances all along.

They’re small and taste like a slightly tart raisin. Once I had them, I recalled seeking them out with my spoon in many a saucy Indian dish, and wishing there were a few more of them.

So they’ll now be getting the respect they deserve, though the fried shallots called for in the recipe will not. They were a bit too much trouble.

And next time I make this, I think I’ll add some sliced green onions.

After all, embracing change makes for good cooking.

Until next time,

signature

Here’s recipe:

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Click here for the printable version of Kashmiri Basmati Pilaf

I got my barberries from a local ethnic grocery. You can also order them online. Here’s a place to try.

Another good recipe Chef Floyd Cardoz created for the movie, Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
Chicken Tikka
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

 

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes

minimalist baker vegan cheesecakesDid you know Oreo Cookies were vegan? Well, they are, and they form the base of these delicious cheesecakes that are not only “yes-vegan,” but “no-bake.” The recipe comes from the lovely food blog, Minimalist Baker.

 

Today, I turn 28.

Of the many things I’ve learned I realize the bulk of those lessons have come in the last couple of years.

I’ve learned to trust my instincts and be OK with the unconventional. I’ve learned the importance of doing what I love even if it feels silly. I’ve grown to love food photography even more than I did when we first started this blog. I’ve learned that running a food blog with your spouse can not only be fun but also ridiculously fulfilling. I’ve learned I still love cake and pancakes and simplicity and saying “hubba, hubba,” and probably always will.

Enough about me. This space is about you guys, really. I love to cook and take photos of the things I make and then share them with you all. That is what makes me supremely happy – the best birthday gift ever.

To celebrate all of these wonderful things, I made you cheesecakes. Peanut Butter Cup 9-ingredient vegan cheesecakes that scream simplicity: No springform pans, no water baths, no baking (besides the 5-minute crust). Just pure chocolate-peanut butter goodness that even the amateur cook can master.

If you have the ability to blend and pour, you can make these little bites of heaven. All you need is 30 minutes and a muffin tin and you’re golden. (For the recipe, click here.)

Do You Have An “It’s Party Time” Attitude This Summer?

cocktail hourSummer is in full swing and it’s time to savor our more hedonistic lives; more time spent playing, soaking up the sun and entertaining. This is the time of year that fresh fruits and vegetables abound as do Margaritas, Sangria, ice cream, hot dogs, pastries and long hours spent dining with friends.

As much as we love these summer indulgences, we need to think twice about the extent of our “it’s party time” attitude. We will live with this body that we help create for the rest of our lives.

Every carbohydrate you eat–every piece of bread, pasta, bagel, cake, cookie, muffin, fruit, vegetable, bean, or grain–ends up as glucose in the blood.

Glucose is the most basic form of sugar. Your body’s cells require glucose for energy. Glucose is the only form in which sugar can be transported directly into your bloodstream. All other forms or chains of sugars, otherwise known as carbohydrates, must be broken down by your digestive system to be converted into glucose. This creates…

The Carbohydrate Conundrum

To simplify, we have two groups of carbohydrates: the simple carbs and the complex carbs.

Complex carbs consist of whole foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These are digested more slowly and are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Simple carbs consist of refined foods such as most breads, pastas, bagels, cakes, cookies, etc. They are digested quickly, and they move into the bloodstream rapidly.

It’s a misconception that all carbs are bad. The truth is that the American diet is heavily dependent upon simple carbs. Simple carbs lead to blood sugar swings that effect your hormones, weight, moods, and they leave us more susceptible to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, immune challenges, and fatigue.

By choosing whole, unprocessed foods, you can control these swings and have a stronger hand in reclaiming your health. Our aim should be to keep our blood sugar levels within the green zone on the diagram below.

blood-sugar

www.replenishpdx.com/bloodsugar

If you desire to live a long and vibrant life it is time to modify the “swings” in your blood sugar levels. Bring on the good carbs! You will feel the difference.

So…. what SHOULD you eat at cocktail hour?  Raw vegetables of course (with a bit of hummus for dip)!  Edamame in the shell are a fun, great treat (but don’t over do it…the calories add up.) I also love the 2 recipes below:

Sesame Asparagus Spears:

1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar 2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp. sugar kosher salt

1 pound fairly thin pencil asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 tbsp. sesame seeds (white or a combination of white and black)

Bring large pot of water to a boil. In medium bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, white wine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside. Prepare ice bath for asparagus. Add a lot of salt to the boiling water. Add the asparagus to boiling water and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes – you want them to be crunchy. Remove the asparagus from the water with a strainer and transfer to ice bath. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then place them on a clean kitchen towel to drain any excess moisture. Toss the dry asparagus with the sauce and top with the sesame seeds. Refrigerate for an hour, or until ready to serve. Serves 6 – 8 small portions

Zucchini and Cucumber Carpaccio (Recipe created by Cristina Ferrare)

Serves 4–6

2 cucumbers, sliced paper thin

2 zucchinis, sliced paper thin

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped

2 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. kosher salt Fresh Cracked black pepper (to taste)

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

In a glass bowl whisk together, olive oil, lemon, rice wine vinegar, mint, dill and parsley. Set aside. Slice the vegetables on a mandolin or a vegetable slicer that can slice paper thin. Arrange the zucchini and cucumbers alternately on a large platter. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, walnuts and cracked pepper and add the crumbled feta. When you are ready to serve, drizzle 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the top. If you are not going to use the salad right away, wait to add the vinaigrette at the last minute. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

And the big question, “What About Alcohol?”  Most health experts recommend the following hierarchy when choosing alcohol, based on potential health benefits (such as antioxidant content): choose red wine over white wine; choose wine over beer; choose darker-colored beers over lighter-colored beers; and choose beer over liquor and liqueur.

 

Shrimp & Grits

Nancy Lowell Shrimp and GritsIf you intend on wearing a string bikini this weekend, you may want to hold off from making this dish until later on in the week. But since “Real Women EAT” is our motto this week, we are going to throw caution to the wind and make it anyway. (Especially because it sounds absolutely amazing, and that’s why beach coverups were invented!)

Another fabulous dish from Nancy Lowell of Chef’s Last Diet

 

I remember the first time I ever heard of shrimp and grits. I was in Atlanta, it was April 1999. I was working for Whole Foods Market and I was there for three weeks helping to open the Briarcliff store. We worked hard all day preparing the store and the department for the upcoming grand opening, and then we’d head out for dinner. Almost every place we went to offered shrimp and grits.

The team I was with included three other people, one of whom, Michael, had lived in Atlanta and when I asked him to describe the dish to me, I knew I’d love it! I already loved grits, and shrimp, and though everyone seems to have their own variation, they all sounded delicious. Who wouldn’t love a creamy, cheesy, soft bed for some crisp shrimp cooked with bacon, peppers and whatever else might have caught the chef’s fancy.

I don’t know how many times I ordered it, probably not too often as I was trying to economize and stay within my allotted meal allowance, but I did splurge a few times. Some chefs use tasso ham, some bacon, and others use that southern staple, country ham, which I confess I am not crazy about. It is too dry, and too salty (I’m sorry to anyone I’m offending, maybe I just haven’t had really great country ham…). It is an easy dish to prepare, and I made mine without any pork (my pescetarian was home) but I can see how that added smokiness would bring a depth that mine didn’t have. My preference would be a good quality, thick sliced bacon, I particularly like the 365 brand (from Whole Foods Market) thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, it is the best packaged bacon I’ve ever had (and no one has asked or paid me to say that).

When you’re making something with very few ingredients (actually whenever you’re taking the time to make anything) the better your ingredients, the better your finished product will be.  Stone ground grits are far superior to instant grits. They have a real corn flavor, and a less gluey texture, once you try them you will need no further convincing. I’ve written here before about making sure you buy dry scallops,  and the same goes for shrimp. Unless you live near a gulf where shrimp are harvested you are buying previously frozen shrimp, so you might as well buy good quality frozen. It’s worth seeking out shrimp that doesn’t have any STP (a sodium triphosphate additive) and for this dish you are throwing your money away if you used previously cooked shrimp.

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Occasion Casual Party
Region American

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 1/2 stick butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup aged sharp cheddar (grated)
  • 1 cup jack cheese (grated)
  • 1lb large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 4 thick slices smoked bacon (chopped)
  • 1/2 red pepper (diced)
  • 3 scallions (sliced thin on the bias)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced2)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 Medium lemon (juiced)

Directions

Step 1
shrimp n grits 11

Bring stock to a simmer, and slowly add grits to hot stock, stirring as you go
Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally
Step 2
shrimp n grits 4

When grits have finished cooking they will be creamy and all the stock will have been absorbed
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese
Cover and set aside
Step 3
shrimp n grits

While grits are cooking, fry bacon over medium high heat in a large pan, when brown and crisp, remove and drain on paper towels, leave bacon fat in pan
Add peppers and garlic to pan and saute until fragrant
Add shrimp and cook until pink, add scallions, bacon and lemon juice to pan, stir well
Step 4
shrimp and grits

Put grits into serving bowl, and top with shrimp mixture, top with chopped parsley and serve

 

Almond Joy No-Bake Cookie Bars

Almond Joy Cookie Bars from Fancy ShantyBy the end of July, summer has definitely made itself known. Things have calmed down, you’re into kicking back and relaxing…and it is HOT. Homemade treats would be nice, but who wants to turn on the oven and raise the temps even more? These delicious Cookie Bars from Stacey Molter of Fancy Shanty are not only no-bake, they are non-dairy as well, made with protein-rich almond milk. 

 

Almond Joy No-Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Packed with dark chocolate chips, coconut, and almonds, these Cookie Bars are topped with Dark Chocolate Ganache and are bursting with the sweet flavor you find in an Almond Joy candy bar. The rich dark chocolate ganache makes this recipe irresistible to the chocolate lovers in you life!

Ingredients:

For the no-bake cookies:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Silk Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Additional shredded coconut and sliced almonds to top.

For the ganache:

  • 11 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease glass pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixer with the paddle attachment, combine butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour 1/4 cup at a time just until incorporated. Dough will be crumbly.
  4. Add almond milk, coconut extract, and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms.
  5. Add shredded coconut, sliced almonds and dark chocolate chips and mix on low-speed until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Press dough evenly into greased glass pan and set aside.
  7. To make the ganache, add dark chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream to a small pan and heat on low. Briskly whisk as chocolate chips begin to melt, remove from heat and keep whisking until smooth.
  8. Pour ganache over top of cookie dough. Top with shredded coconut and sliced almonds, gently pressing them into the warm ganache.
  9. Allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends

 

21 Ways to Eat Safer this Summer

e-book about food safety

nancy lowell

We call Nancy Lowell our “Chef-in-Residence,” but that’s really wishful thinking. If she were, we’d be eating A LOT better! Regardless, her tips here will at least keep us eating SAFER.

Here are 21 ways to keep your food safer, and your friends and family healthy during the hot summer months. Think you’re prepared? Before you get started, take this quiz! Yeah! Summer is here, picnics, barbecues, block parties, pool parties, and food poisoning! This time of year toting food around can be risky business, don’t take chances, take action!

  1. Invest in insulated lunch bags for your camper, that lunch can go from healthy to dangerous in just a few hours when the temperatures soar, and put some ice, or an ice wand in the bag (I have one that came with a water bottle)
  2. Contrary to popular belief, commercial mayo will actually act as a preservative, it won’t accelerate spoilage. Chicken without mayo spoils faster than chicken salad made with mayo (you still need to keep everything as cool as possible !)
  3. Wash melons with mild soapy water before cutting, those melons grow on the dirt, and the skins can carry all kinds of bacteria that as you cut will go right into the melon
  4. When cooking out NEVER use the same platter for the cooked food that you used for the raw food
  5. When planning a cook-out that will last several hours keep all raw meats in a well iced cooler (you want it as cold as your beer)
  6. You can start with frozen beef patties, these can be cooked right from the freezer, so pack your cooler with frozen burgers
  7. Don’t worry about ketchup and mustard, they won’t spoil in the heat, and you can ignore the dates on those as well, it takes years for them to spoil
  8. Use mesh domes to cover cooked food, flies live a very disgusting life, and you really don’t want to share your food with them!!
  9. If you travel a long way to the grocery store, or have several stops to make on your way home, use coolers to pack the cold food, or keep the food in the air-conditioned car, rather than the trunk
  10. When buying meat and fish, ask for a bag of ice to keep them cool, most stores will give these to you, and good stores will offer it
  11. Once food has been cooked, if you haven’t consumed it, or refrigerated it in four hours, throw it away!
  12. You can tell if food is spoiled, it will smell bad, feel bad(slimy), and look bad, if your food does any of these things, toss it
  13. Dips and spreads need to stay cool, if you’re eating outside, use a metal bowl, and put the bowl of food into a larger bowl filled with ice
  14. Processed cheese like American cheese can be left out, and will not spoil, it will get very soft, and the oils may start to separate which is not attractive, but it isn’t a health risk
  15. Beans and starchy foods can spoil, and shouldn’t be left out, on the counter or on the picnic table, these, like meat should not be out of refrigeration for more than a total of four hours (cumulative, not four hours at a time)
  16. If you don’t have a cooler, invest in some insulated freezer bags, and ice packs for the beach, many people stay at the beach all day, and bring enough food to eat for several hours, keep it as cool as possible by not constantly opening and closing the bag or cooler
  17. If you’re going camping in a remote location rely on preserved foods, fresh whole fruit will be fine, but cut fruit won’t last out of refrigeration, nor will berries.
  18. Burgers need to be cooked through to an internal temperature of 160°F, but it’s safe to eat steak rare, this is because when e-coli is present on meat, it lives only on the surface of the meat, grinding meat mixes it all up, cooking steak (even rare) will kill any e-coli bacteria on the meat’s surface
  19. When buying frozen packaged food always inspect the box, if there are signs of the box having been wet, don’t buy that package, this means it was defrosted and refrozen, and you have no way of knowing how long it was thawed, or what caused that
  20. When you’re at someone else’s house, pay attention to how they are handling your food, and if it looks, smells, or seems suspect, stick to the chips and pretzels
  21. The golden rule of food safety is WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

If you have any questions about food safety, please write them in the comments, and I promise to answer all of them! And of course, if you want more you can check out my e-book, Food and Kitchen Safety; A Guide for the Home Cook

Diet Banana Cream Pie?

diet banana cream pie?Friends and family, and anyone who’s read my blog more than, say, twice, know that I don’t cook. At all. Notwithstanding Hubs’ evidence to the contrary, I’m a reasonably intelligent woman, but this fun cooking thing people constantly speak of just eludes me entirely.

Previous attempts to master the Zen of Cooking have been met with greasy explosions requiring day-long cleanup, blaring smoke detectors sending our Chihuahuas scrambling for cover, kitchen fires resulting in fire extinguishers now being kept under every counter, and reminders of grade school science class that repeatedly instructed us not to retrieve stuck bread from the toaster with a fork (turns out that really isn’t a good idea).

My sister, ironically, is an award-winning, valedictorian-of-her-cooking-school chef, whose culinary masterpieces are regularly photographed and proudly displayed for all the world to applaud and envy. I long ago concluded that Sissy sucked up the entire cooking gene pool, leaving me with a lifelong kitchen phobia not infrequently resulting in eating Pop Tarts directly out of the bag to avoid having to go “in there.”

Having said all that, there is one thing I do cook and it’s fabulous. With respect to all your mamas who heretofore had the best recipe in your hometown, I can whip out the world’s greatest banana cream pie in slightly over an hour. It’s the only thing I make and it’s loaded with calories, but if you have a sweet tooth for this dessert, it will rock your banana cream pie world.

One day, Hubs came home and announced that he’d invited some friends over for dinner and he thought I should make my pie. Since we’d both been dieting for summer, I was reluctant to blow weeks worth of deprivation in one evening. But I’d recently read an article about swapping out high-calorie ingredients in desserts for less butt-busting, lower-calorie ones, so I decided today would be a good day to try Diet Banana Cream Pie. I got out my famous recipe and all my “new” ingredients, and got to work.

Layer One: 1 C flour, 1 C chopped walnuts, 1 C melted butter. Stir together in rectangular lasagna-size pie pan, and bake for 15 mins. at 350. Let cool.

Diet version: Flour, skip the nuts, unsweetened applesauce.

Layer 2: 1 8-0z pkg. of cream cheese, softened. 1 C powdered sugar, 1 C Cool Whip. Put in bowl and whip with electric blender (Not the margarita one. That white thing with the beaters that your mom let you lick the frosting from.) Spread over cooled crust.

Diet version: Fat-free cream cheese, powdered sugar, and fat-free Cool Whip.

Layer 3: Slice bananas and place pieces side-by-side over layer 2.

Diet version: Same. It’s fruit. Go crazy.

Layer 4: 1 large package of Vanilla Instant Pudding, 3 C 2% milk. Put in bowl and beat with same blender thing you used for layer 3 until lightly stiff (“pudding-y”). Spread over bananas. and put pie in fridge until set (about an hour).

Diet version: Sugar-free instant pudding and fat-free milk.

Layer 5: “Frost” with remaining Cool Whip.

Diet version: Fat-free Cool Whip.

It was beautiful. It looked exactly the same as the regular version, only I figured I’d easily cut the calories in half. (Sara Lee, are you taking notes?)

Then Hubs suggested we try it, with maybe just a little nibble in the corner, to make sure it tasted the same. Rolling my eyes at the suggestion (it looked the same, so it had to taste the same, and I don’t like serving “leftover” dessert to guests), but he was seriously skeptical about this whole diet pie thing, so we each grabbed a small fork and sampled a corner.

Oh. My. God. The top layers were runny, gooey, and completely tasteless, and the crust…well, we’ll never know because you could use it to knock out a burglar in a home invasion. It was rock solid. SERIOUSLY?? By now, Hubs has spit most of his out into the sink and was laughing so hard he could barely choke down the beer he was using to wash down the rest, while I’d grabbed an ice pick and was vigorously banging on the crust, trying to get it to break, but succeeding only in denting the bottom of the pan. Well, crap.

Now Hubs is off to the store to get the real ingredients while I bury the remains of my experiment where the dogs won’t get it and break a tooth. Then I’m making my famous, original Banana Cream Pie. All 50 gazillion calories. But worth it?

Oh, yeah.

Today’s Dinner, Tomorrow’s Lunch Ideas

Dinner for LunchMy husband and I just hosted 2 couples at our summer home. It wasn’t the first time. These friends have come for a  communal retreat for the past 6 years. It’s an easy group because we love to do the same things and we move between shared activities with ease– biking , golf and most importantly — eating.

This visit was no different than the last and this is how it went. Day one they lumbered off the New Bedford Ferry weighted down with coolers and grocery bags. We were excited to see them and their goodies.  As they passed off their bags to us – the lists of delights began to flow:

“Here’s the 2 pound parmesan chunk you wanted– Oh, I brought my own tea –and I have that bread you love from Bradley’s – I had it sliced.”

“Oh and Ina Garten’s Orange Yogurt with walnuts and raisins– I know you love it so I made it for you guys.”

“Hope you don’t mind I brought a bushel of kale and 2 baseball bat sized zucchinis that I thought we could grill up” (I hadn’t told them I have a new bountiful veggie garden).

“Oh and wait til you try the phenomenal blended scotch I’ve discovered”.

We hadn’t even pulled out of the ferry lot and the women were in menu planning mode. Meanwhile, the guys had stacked the bikes, golf clubs and bags into our embarrassingly oversized car (we call it “The Beast”) and were instantly in deep conversation about biking routes.

Upon arrival at our home, I summoned my girlfriends into the kitchen as I needed help. I’d been wanting to tryout Farro but needed a support team to brave the cooking task. Turned out none of us had ever prepared this “ancient grain” and so began our group cooking. Immediately, we were totally ensconced in re-reading the prep directions for the 3rd time when the men appeared saying they were leaving to hit golf balls. We barely looked up.

That’s pretty much how the visit played out. Predictably the couples sectioned off into “Defending the Caveman” roles – Darwin called this one right.”

It makes me chuckle when I witness how the male/female natural divide is bizarrely stereotypical and predictable: yet here we were, three women happily in the kitchen reviewing the weekends meals – while the men busied themselves with pumping up deflated jeep and bike tires – rewiring the internet connection (no joke) and discussing our household electrical challenges.

Alas, women to the chopping boards – men to the grill! Seamless from the get go – we began our own version of a domestic square dance.

I am writing this piece as the weekend draws to an end – I hear them busy in the kitchen preparing the last lunch (I’m staying clear and am thrilled to have the excuse of writing – I’m totally done with meal prep at this point).

And as we sit down to this last lunch (see photo) all we can say is “Move over Ina Garten!”

We all are amazed at what we have created this visit. With one large pre-grocery shop before they arrived – we only visited the local farmers market once and managed to turn out outstanding healthy feasts that morphed brilliantly into substantial next day meals.

I can proudly say we mastered the Dinner Becomes Lunch challenge and the Lunch becomes Breakfast hurdle.

So – if you’re looking to stretch your meals creatively across a weekend with a full house of guests – here’s some ideas:

First Nights Dinner Next Days Lunch

Corn and Faroe SaladCold Farro Grains

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/farro-and-corn-salad-recipe.html

We added cranberries and chopped walnuts to this recipe – Next Day – it was even more delicious and we actually didn’t add the corn until the next day.

Butter lettuce and Kale Salad with avocado tomato and toasted hazelnuts- lightly dressed with lemon and basil oil and plenty of salt.

Marinated grilled chicken breast in olive oil, lemon and herbs

Swordfish with our favorite rub (we keep in the freezer)

Next day sliced thin to top off yesterday’s salad

Radishes with butter and salt with dinner … Next day’s addition to salad.

Corn on the Grill for dinner becomes part of next day’s salad fix ins and Farro toss-ins.

Breakfast Becomes Lunch and Lunch Becomes Breakfast

A basket full of local hard boiled eggs from the nearby farm makes for great snacking all day long.

PB & J Farm Style: This is our pre-biking staple. Wild-diced strawberries on toasted multi grain bread with Justin’s peanut butter ($$$ but great). Next Day Panini Grilled PB & J made with Homemade Strawberry Jam and Justin’s on Multi Grain Bread from yesterday’s beach sandwiches.  Just reheat them on the Panini and enjoy for any  next day meal or next day snack.

Oh and here’s my friend’s secret “Ina” yogurt recipe she traveled to us with that lasted for 3 bountiful breakfasts and someones lunch.

Ina’s Orange Yogurt with walnuts and raisins http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/orange-yogurt-recipe.html

orange yogurt recipe

 

 

 

 

Trifles: Perfect Summer Dessert

 

strawberry chocolate trifleAccording to the dictionary, a “trifle” is something that is of little consequence–a mere insignificance. But this rich, often indulgent, tiered dessert is anything but. The treat dates back to the 1700’s and came to the US via the British when it was served to the wealthy.

Over the years, trifles have evolved–crumbled biscuits became cubes of pound cake which became crushed coconut macaroons, which became lady finger cookies. And vanilla custard was replaced by lemon pudding which morphed into whipped cream, and chocolate mousse, and so on. Berries, peaches, and lemon curd were overtaken by chocolate curls, crushed brownies, and shards of toffee. 

Trifles are a perfect dessert to serve over the July 4th weekend–the ingredients can be home-made or store-bought, and they can be assembled a day or so in advance. In fact, the dessert gets better with a little time under its belt. The traditional deep, round trifle bowls really showcase the individual layers, but if you’re making the dessert for a crowd, a large, deep Pyrex dish would be equally good. Putting together individual mini trifles in tall iced tea glasses or large individual sherbet cups are a nice touch as well. (Once you’ve prepared all the individual ingredients, you can even have the little ones help you assemble them.)

We’ve searched the web and picked out a collection of favorites that really showcase the versatility of this long-loved dessert. And how fitting that it be served on Independence Day, as we celebrate just one more thing we’ve wrestled away from the British!

Strawberry Chocolate Trifle from frugalfanatic.com uses crumbled cake and pie filling.

strawberry chocolate trifle

 “Better Than Sex” Trifle from imtopsyturvy.com uses chopped Heath Bars and chocolate cake, and looks luscious! Better Than Sex Trifle Mini Tiramisu Trifles are from mybakingaddiction.com uses crushed cookies and can be made in individual glasses. mini individual trifles The traditional Mixed Berry and Angel Food Trifle is from natashaskitchen.com and can be assembled in “30 minutes!” angel food cake trifle Red, White, and Blue Trifles from recipegirl.com are the ones the kids can pitch in and help with. They’re adorable!   berry trifles

My Smoothie Is Better Than Yours

photoI might be a little bit competitive, but I think you will like my liquid lunch better than hers.  And no, it does not involve alcohol.

In the spirit of transparency, I have only 3 food rules:

1. I eat everything except sweet pickles and 3 bean salad;

2. I’m always hungry.

3. I don’t drink things that are green (other than pea soup.)

So when I saw Felice’s new liquid lunch post, it made my stomach turn.  I called her on it: it’s green, its not thick, it looks gross, it probably tastes grosser, where’s the frozen fruit?, where’s the protein?, why would you want to drink that for lunch? My dear, you have suggested a lunch that only skinny people would try.

For those of you that are like me, who want a nice, thick, sweet but healthy milkshake looking smoothie that fills up your stomach so much that you cannot even get off your chair, nay think about food for hours, here is my smoothie recipe.

I call it the “healthy smoothie that fat people love” because it is better than a McDonald’s shake.  Really, it is…and it is totally healthy. And probably not too fattening.

Sorry, a bit of bad news to start:  1. you need a Vitamix (though you can try it in a blender…); 2. I can’t give you measurements–I hardly ever measure. But trust me, you can just wing it. The amounts don’t really matter.

I start by pouring Organic unsweetened almond milk in the Vitamix.  At 40 calories a cup, you can afford to be generous– and keep adding at the end if your smoothie is too thick.

Add- 1/2 tsp chia seeds.  Don’t pour them those little seeds right in, be sure to measure- they are fattening! I keep the measuring spoon in the package so I am not tempted to pour. If you have patience, wait 5 minutes for them to steep and get soft and jelly-like. If you don’t, and you are like me, just keep going.

Add 1 tsp of flax seeds (optional).

Add- cut pieces of frozen fruit– pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, or any other frozen fruit you have– bananas are particularly yummy. Combine them, mix them up- there are no rules.  I never throw away left over fruit salad or brown bananas.  I always put leftover fruit in a plastic zip lock bag, lay them flat in freezer, and you always have fruit frozen ready to be broken up and added to your smoothie.  Or just buy a big package of frozen mixed berries.

Add 1-2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (the more powder, the thicker your smoothie will be.)

Add a scoop of Organic Greens– the Superfood kind. Don’t add so much that it will change your smoothie from its beautiful pink– you are just trying to make it a little bit healthier.  OR you can add fresh spinach instead if you have it in the refrigerator left over from that salad you intended to make, but never did.

Add 3 PITTED prunes (my signature ingredient for keeping regular…and don’t try this with a regular blender –just leave them out.)

If you are particularly adventurous, add fresh ginger, mint OR tumeric.

Mix up.

Add a few ice cubes if it is not thick enough.  Add water or more milk if it is too thick.

Taste.

If you have a super sweet tooth, add a packet of Stevia.

The best part– it is so thick, you can’t really get it through a straw.  Get a spoon, and you might mistake it for soft serve.  Enjoy. And let me know what you think.

Now doesn’t that beat a green juice for lunch any day?

 

Nectarine Cherry Crumble

In their wonderful blog, Plated Stories, Jamie Schler and Ilva Beretta discuss the delicious and very versatile fruit desserts know as Crumbles, Crisps, and Bettys.

 

Cherry Nectarine Crumble That’s the way the cookie crumbles

 Cookies, I believe, are the most unforgiving of all baked goods; they are, in my humble opinion, time consuming and aggravating. I speak from experience. Folding in the flour, all that elbow grease – one’s entire upper body and muscles we never otherwise use called into service – needed to turn those staple ingredients into something stiff and sticky, scooping up and pushing off spoonful by spoonful of batter onto a row of baking sheets, goo up to our elbows, in our hair and stuck to our face, then popped in the oven, 8 minutes, 10, 12 tops, waiting, watching, scooping, pushing more batter, another baking sheet, and another and another and another when will it ever stop and is the cookie dough actually growing? And. Leave the cookies in just one or two minutes too long and they are too crispy, burned around the edges. And crumbling into sand.

 That’s the way the cookie crumbles. So why do I bother? Why bake cookies when cake is so much simpler in so many ways that cookies are not? My men. Love cookies.

 Cookies are a part of our childhood: tiny hands slipped surreptitiously into cookie jars, stolen treasure stuffed into pockets and carried off to be eaten sitting high up in the branches of a favorite tree or under the blankets shhhh no crumbs or mom will find out! Bedazzled by the array of cookies wrapped carefully in foil, bringing a handful of home to the school playground. Curled up with a book in the comfy armchair with a selection of cookies stacked up within easy reach, eyes locked on the page as we blindly feel for another and another. Cookies are child’s play, the perfect size, big enough to satisfy, small enough to allow for a selection, one of each, not having to choose just one. Satisfying first bite over and over again, an endless choice of flavors. And I am just happy that my little French boys experienced the pleasure, and continue to clamor (along with their father) for cookies. (To read more and get the recipe for Nectarine Cherry Crumble click here.)

Greek Style Chickpea and Quinoa Salad

domesticdreamboat.com  summer saladCarissa Serink of domesticdreamboat.com was kind enough to share her recipe for a splendid summer salad with us. It’s a perfect dish to serve as a lunch entree or as a side with some cold chicken or sandwiches while sitting on a blanket listening to an evening concert in the park.

Carissa says:

Here’s another use-up-the-veggies-before-the-next-CSA-delivery recipe. It’s great, because people on many special diets can enjoy it: it’s vegetarian, gluten free, doesn’t have any major allergens and tasty enough that meat-lovers will love it too!

chickpea salad ingredients

Since this recipe doesn’t need to be cooked, chopping is the extent of the work you will be doing. You will need to chop up a cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, kalamata olives and herbs. The goal is to get the veggies roughly the same size as the chickpeas. Ideally, the quinoa in the recipe will be leftover from last night’s dinner. If you don’t have any hanging around in your fridge, make sure you start cooking it ahead of time to give it a chance to cool. The chickpeas get rinsed and drained from their cans, and some feta crumbled up.

Chickpea salad before mixingThe salad is dressed in a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, seasoned with a little salt, pepper, chili flakes and additional dried herbs if you prefer.

Since this salad has veggies, beans (in the form of chickpeas), quinoa and cheese, it is a complete meal in a bowl and doesn’t need anything else. But the nice thing about this salad is that it’s versatile in how it can be served. I most commonly eat it how it is straight out of a bowl. If I have leafy greens hanging around, I’ll serve it on top of them (my favorite is baby spinach). Or if I have leftover pitas or tortillas, I will make wraps with them.

Greek style chickpea and quinoa salad

Greek Style Chickpea and Quinoa Salad
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 14oz cans (or a 28oz can if available) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  2. 1 cup cooked quinoa (see note)
  3. 1 cucumber, diced (see note)
  4. 1 small red onion, minced
  5. 1 bell pepper (color of your choice), stemmed, seeded and diced
  6. 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
  7. 1/2 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  8. 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  9. 2 Tbsp minced fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  10. 1 Tbsp minced fresh mint (optional)
  11. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  12. 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  13. 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  14. 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  15. 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  16. salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Can be served immediately, but it tastes best if it sits in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Notes
  1. Leftover quinoa works great in this recipe. If you’re making some for another meal, make a little extra to save for this salad.
  2. If using a garden cucumber (as opposed to an English cuke), peel then cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon.

Carissa can also be found on https://twitter.com/DDreamboat

What’s For Lunch?

whats for lunchI never know what to eat for lunch anymore. The truth is, I really don’t like lunch in the summer. Sandwiches are so last year – what with the 2 slices of bread — and then what are you going to put between the slices?

Of course there’s always salad – but then what does that leave for dinner after a lunch of greens – more salad of course — BORING! As I peruse the menu at the local restaurants looking for something refreshing/different/healthy – I’m stumped. American lunches just never really taste fresh. Lettuces are rarely washed and have traces of the chemical flavor they are bagged with– tomatoes are usually mealy and cucumbers taste like soggy rice cakes.   Unless I’m in Italy or Israel (2 x in my life) –there’s never really an original selection – so it’s the usual – I think I’ll have the Cobb, or the Caesar.– How novel – Not!   It’s times like these I wish I hadn’t given up red meat — but that was back in1977, and I think my system would go into shock if I started up on burgers, sausages, and hot dogs.

So — What’s for lunch? This summer I’ve decided when at home, I’m going to drink my lunch. And, I’m going to drink it in a Chardonnay glass. I’ll be drinking liquid that’s elegant, fresh and crisp.  The ambrosia will be full of fresh pungent and complex flavors that coat my tongue and throat. And, even better, I’m going to drink what I have harvested. No – I don’t own a vineyard in California but I do have a 16 x 9 foot garden in Massachusetts. This summer I’m drinking my garden.

Yesterday, my dear friend Debra came over for lunch. She’s a veteran liquid lunch girl. When we talked about menu options – she was thrilled I had the right equipment to make a magical meal. You bet. I am fully loaded with the big daddy of all machines – the Vitamix Professional Series 300. I bought it on Amazon last summer for a pretty penny – but it’s worth it.   So here’s the essentials if you are thinking drinking lunch is for you.

  1. Fresh produce
  2. Vitamix
  3. Mason Jars — for the earthy look
  4. Wine Glass — for a bit of glamour

Although I’m a neophyte greens drinker, so far I’ve learned– if it’s in the garden or the veggie bin – it’s going into my lunch mix!

Here’s what Debra and I threw into the Vita Mix for our liquid green lunch:

Ingredients
  • 1½-2 cups (360-480 ml) water
  • ¾ pound (340 g) organic romaine lettuce, rough chopped, about 1 head
  • ½ head large bunch or ¾ small bunch organic spinach
  • 3-4 organic celery stalks, halved
  • 1 organic apple, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic pear, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic banana, peeled
  • ½ fresh organic lemon, peeled, seeded
  • 1 bunch organic cilantro with stems (optional)
  • 1 bunch organic parsley with stems (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place water, romaine, spinach, celery, and optional ingredients, if using, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 8.
  4. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Stop machine and remove lid.
  5. Add apple, pear, banana and lemon to the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  6. Select Variable 1.
  7. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  8. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.

Recipe courtesy of Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe.

Coconut Browned Butter Cookies

browned butter cookies Mindy trotta

I am going to put it all out there…I am not a fan of coconut. BUT, I am a fan of thin, crisp cookies and Browned Butter, so when my friend Helene Bludman posted a link to these Coconut Browned Butter Cookies from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite food websites), I took notice.

Browned Butter puts its pale yellow, insipid cousin to shame. It is butter that’s gone on a vacation…to the tropics…and it’s come home all tawny and burnished, and smelling goood. It’s a little wild, a little flirty and sputtery, so it needs to be watched carefully as you melt it down. First comes the foam and the sputter, and then comes the caramelization process and the “sun tanning” begins. Your kitchen begins to fill with a nutty aroma and just a second before it goes over the edge into burnt butter oblivion, you grab that hot sucker of a pan off the stove and pour everything (including the browned bits at the bottom) into a glass container (yes, anything plastic will melt).

 

    “Browned Butter is butter that’s gone on a vacation…to the tropics.”

Browned Butter is a treasure. Once it’s cold, it can be beaten into submission with sugar and eggs and folded into flour to make a totally awesome cookie dough. It is not a one-trick pony, however…it can be tossed with pasta or spooned into risotto to make a savory dish that much richer.   These Coconut Cookies should be crispy, not chewy, so bake them until they are a deep russet. And if, like me, you think you don’t like coconut, get over yourself. You will love these cookies! (BTW, it might be gilding the lily, but a handful of very bitter dark chocolate chips would be a great addition. Fold them in at the very end.)   COCONUT BROWN BUTTER COOKIES (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)   1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter 2 tablespoons water 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) granulated sugar 3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt 4 cups (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as it seems to take forever (more than 5 minutes) but then turns dark very quickly. Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours. You can hurry this along in the freezer, but check back and stir often so it doesn’t freeze unevenly solid. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well. Scoop dough into 1, 2 or more (a 2-inch wide scoop for bakery-sized cookies works best) balls and arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on first baking sheet; use the back of a spoon or your fingers to flatten the dough ever so slightly. Bake first tray of cookies; 1 tablespoon scoops will take 10 to 11 minutes; 2 tablespoon scoops, 12 to 14 minutes, the 2-inch scoop used at the bakery, 14 to 16 minutes; take the cookies out when they’re deeply golden all over. If cookies have not spread as much as you see above, stir 2 teaspoons more water into cookie dough, mixing thoroughly, before baking off another tray. (See note below for full explanation.) This should do the trick, but if it does not, repeat the same with your next batch. Once you’ve confirmed that you have the water level correct, bake remaining cookies. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more. About the water: When you brown butter, water volume is lost, but not all types of butter contain the same amount of water. Most standard American grocery store butters (any non-European style butter), 1 tablespoon of water per stick (1/2 cup) of butter is a sufficient replacement. However, should you find that your first batch of cookies is too thick, a little extra water is all you’ll need to get the texture right.