August 6, 2011
You thought I forgot, or was lost in the cornfields….perhaps taken away by a ground hog with a vengence, but I just got really busy this past week. Sadly the week of July 29 was a bounty of zucchini, corn, peppers, jalepeno, eggplant, mezuna, green beans and more summer squash. I needed to step out on this one and resorted to a favorite standby – grilled veggies. With fish, delish. Leftovers ended up in a lasagna with a little goat and parm cheese (trying to clean the fridge out, you know) The mezuna ended up in a stir-fry with leftover smoked chicken, carrots from the CSA ( I think the week before?) onions and the mezuna. Red curry sauce made this dish spicy and colorful.
The week of Aug. 5th, corn, beets, radishes, a pepper, carrots, more zucchini, cherry tomatoes, arugula, kale an eggplant and cukes arrived.
Saturday was spent creating and cooking. A roasted tomato sauce with the pepper and garlic roasted in EVOO, salt, pepper and rosemary. Pureed and to the freezer.
Zucchini ended up in a chocolate buttermilk cake that was moist and rich, no hint of a veggie inside. A caramel icing topped this sheet pan cake to be shared with family. The beets were caramelized in orange juice and maple syrup and cooked down. Then a little triple sec added, again cooked down until syrupy. This was added to the middle of a bundt pan cake with walnuts and baked. Wonderful dense cake with a unique twist from the beets. However the beets did stick a bit on the bottom and broke the cake, but that’s ok – this one was for us…..glazed with a little of the caramel icing leftover from above cake. The beets were sweet, adding nice color when you cut the cake.
The carrots were cooked with a leek, broth and harissa, a red chili pepper and spice mix paste used in a lot of African foods. Wonderful flavors and heat, with the fresh carrot taste just beaming through the soup. Corn will be enjoyed in a salad with the arugula, radishes, cukes and some tuna, perhaps with a lemon vinaigrette. And a glass of wine….which should be a nice Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, but will more than likely be something red. I think there is a bottle of Cab Franc open.
The eggplant? hmmmm need to think on that – one is not enough for moussaka, but it is a large enough one to have twice. May eggplant fries with our steaks tomorrow? We’ll see.
Next week we are giving our share to my in-laws as we won’t be able to pick up ourselves. But I will be back to tell you all more the following week, and may have some great food stores from Maine! Is it blueberry season yet? Have a great week, grill, eat local and enjoy! Peaches are right around the corner!
July 7, 2011
Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is an essential part of our diets, aiding in the prevention of anemia, promoting cell production in the skin and helping prevent dementias such as Alzheimers. Choosing foods with higher concentrations of folate (see below) can help you get the recommended 400 micrograms you need to stay healthy.
Collards, mustard greens, kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, asparagus and broccoli all have great stores of folate and can be added to soups, stews, pastas, or eaten as is. Replace lettuce with baby spinach. Add greens to soup, pasta or stews – think Italian Wedding soup. Roasting Brussel sprouts makes them sweet, especially when finished with a drizzle of honey. Saute greens with olive oil, walnuts and yellow raisins, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar to finish. Hate bitter greens? Drop in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, then saute to cut the bitterness.
Adding chopped greens to stuffed shells or lasagna ups the nutritional value and tastes great! Who doesn’t like lasagna? Use the same filling to stuff chicken breasts or pizza dough. Broccoli and asparagus can be eaten as a salad (mayo, curry powder and raisins is a favorite of mine), sauteed, steamed, and grilled.
Pinto beans, edamame, black eyed peas, black beans, and lentils are economical, full of fiber and protein. Used them as a main meal option. Red lentils sweeten a dish in place of carrots. Using different beans in hummus adds variety when used on a wrap, served as a dip with veggies, or spread on a sliced baguette, topped with roasted onions, artichokes or anything your heart desires. White beans pair nicely with rosemary – which by the way, herbs offer an extra punch of folate! Black beans pair with cilantro, cumin and a hint of espresso. Bake red beans with green pepper, celery, tomato, and a little chorizo for a twist. Saute black eyed peas with dark greens and bacon or smoked turkey. Mix beans into a pasta dishes, salads, or stew, such as Cassoulet.
Top any dish with an avocado and fruit salsa (mango, citrus or even papaya), adding a little olive oil, red onion and cilantro – delicious on fish and chicken! Bake fish in foil with orange slices and fresh basil. Replace vinegar with orange juice for a citrusy dressing.
Nuts and sunflower seeds add crunch and earthiness to any dish – as long as you are not allergic! Peanut butter in asian dipping sauces enhance chicken, shrimp or steak. Tahini in dressings or drizzled on roasted vegetables is wonderful. Almond based cakes or cookies are easy and delicious. Chop nuts to coat chicken strips or fish cakes (salmon and pistachios match nicely). Sprinkle wheat germ over your morning cereal or yogurt for added nutrition.
See it really can be easy to eat well. Try searching the internet for folate dense recipes and cook healthier meals everyday. Bon Appetit!
April 19, 2011
Bobby Flay was up against NYC’s Queen of Falafel, Einat Admony, owner of Taim Falafel and Smoothie bar in trendy Greenwich Village. Einat has won New York Magazine’s “Best Falafel” award and had once worked for Mr. Flay at his Bolo restaurant in NYC. Bobby did his research and found it was best to soak the chick peas overnight – don’t cook them. Grind the beans with the spices, form and fry. Sounded easy. Bobby and his test staff found that grinding the beans in a meat grinder resulted in a fluffier texture than a food processor. I followed this lead and broke out my attachment for meat grinding. He added serrano chiles, mint, garlic, cumin, cilantro, and coriander to his mix. He cheated with a little baking podwer to help “fluff them up. Bobby used the double fry (once at 325F then again at 350) method he uses for his french fries, to make them extra crunchy. He then added a few dipping sauces including a yogurt and piquillo pepper dip with smoked paprika.
Einat gladly accepted her former boss’s challenge, and made her falafel with mint, cumin, coriander, onion, garlic and parsley. She used an instrument to shape her falafel, claiming they are lighter that way. She also only fried her falafel one time at 350F.
At home, I followed the soaking overnight, meat grinding, ice cream scoop method of shaping my falafel. Bobby’s I fried twice, as noted, Einat’s once. Both mixtures were moist, easy to form, and fried beautifully brown. But on to the tasting.
Bobby’s falafel were dense, with a nice taste of mint and slight heat from the serranos. Crisp outside and tender inside, they were delicious with the smoky yogurt piquillo sauce. Einat’s were also very tender, with a nice clean flavor from the parsley, having a more traditional flavor in general. Both were tasted by themselves, then in a pita pocket with cucumber and tomato. Both were delicious, but in different ways. The judges in NYC rated each falafel on texture, presentation and authenticity. John Starks of NY Knicks fame, and Darryl Schembeck, Executive Chef of the United Nations in NY, were torn. The final vote was split, but Bobby knew it was his side dishes that won, not his falafel…so he gave the title to Einat. Here at our home, we would have to give texture and authenticity to Einat as well, though I really did like the minty heat of Bobby’s. Either way – I am having falafel for lunch. To see these recipes and try them for yourself, got to http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/falafel-recipe/index.html. Are you ready for a throwdown?
June 21, 2010
Chicken and Rice – seems like a simple thing. Boring? Not when you travel the globe. Many cultures use rice in their cooking – we often think of rice as an Asian dish. All those beautiful photos of rice fields, workers toiling away. Or sadly, we think Uncle Ben…that lovable man who makes the easy rice in the orange box. If you are health conscious, you may think brown rice – one of my favorites (for the taste more than the health).
But let’s think of rice in other places. Italians use Arborio rice, a high starch short grain rice, in their risottos. The Latin community eats a lot of rice and beans. The Indians and Minnesotans are famous for their wild rice, also called Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats. Creoles and Cajuns make Jambalaya
Paella. In India, basmati rice is used. It is an aromatic, long-grain rice grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and is especially popular in Indian dishes. Rice is grown around the world, from Australia to Africa, Asia to America. It comes in long and short grains, different colors and flavors. Forbidden Rice is a black rice grown in China that is high in anthrocyanins, a powerful antioxidant. Bhutanese Red rice is a semi-milled medium grained rice grown in the Himalayas. There are hundreds of varieties, of which you can learn more at:
But enough about the geography lesson….how does one enjoy these dishes? Chicken and rice is probably one of the most common dishes across the globe. Think Jambalaya in New Orleans, Riz à la Valencienne (Paella) in Spain, Chicken and Rice with Olives in Brazil, Arroz con Pollo in Cuba, Risottos in Italy, Chicken Jook in Asia, Pelu from Trinidad and Tobago and curries often served over rice in India and Thailand.
As with the types of rice available, there are unendless recipes that use rice as their basis. From a rice salad at a picnic, to American rice pudding and Eight-treasure pudding from China, rice fits any course. I urge you to expand your knowledge, taste the varieties and replace your starch (potatoes, breads) with rice.
I wonder what rice dishes I will find in Alaska? Bon Appetit everyone. And thank you for reading my blog.