Thursday, June 28, 2012

Zucchini Tart

We took a brief break from cabbage. Along with cabbage the farm sent us some lettuces, baby turnips, radishes, and zucchini. I remembered that I had some Pate Brisee in the freezer and some zucchini that didn’t make it into the crock pot. The dough holds fine in the freezer and only needs an hour or two on the counter before you can roll it out.

So that’s what I did. I rolled it out with almost no regard for how it might fit into tart pan as you can see. Officially this became a ‘Rustic Tart.’ If you don’t have a tart pan, you can do essentially what I did here which is to roll the dough out, add the veggies and then fold edges of the dough up and over.

I sparingly sprinkled feta, and parmesan crumbles, chopped basil and maybe some other herbs on hand… tossed the zucchini and sliced red onion with some olive oil, sea salt and a generous cracking of black pepper and threw that in there and baked it for 20 minutes at 350. Easy and so fresh tasting. It’s a great way to splurge on a little bit of rich crust while getting fresh veggies. I think Brian was very surprised about how much he liked it. Essentially, I ate this first little wedge and then over the next 24 hours he polished off the rest.

I had mine next to a nice Terembry Farm salad : )

OK, after installing random plug-ins to my site, it seems I still need to post in order to put a recipe on here. So I’m putting the tart recipe here and then following up with the Pate Brisee recipe, because I’d like to be able to reference it later. Holy learning curve Batman.

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Summer Zucchini Tart

Yield: 8 pieces

Prep Time: 10

Cook Time: 20

Total Time: 30

Use whatever squash, herbs, tomatoes you have on hand this summer for a simple and surprisingly enjoyable meal.

Ingredients:

1 - 2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp basil and/or parsley, chopped
1/4 cup feta crumbles
2 tbsp parmesan
3 tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 recipe Pate Brisee

Directions:

- get oven heating to 350 degrees
- in a bowl toss zucchini, red onion, oil, salt and pepper to taste
- allow brisee dough to sit at room temperature until it will roll out, but don't let it get too warm or it will be difficult to handle. Roll out dough for a 10" tart pan.
- lay dough into pan or place flat onto a sheet tray
- sprinkle the herbs and half of the feta and parmesan onto dough
- add a layer of squash and onion, sprinkle remaining cheese and top with the rest of the squash and onion, distributing evenly
- brush olive oil onto top layer of squash and lay sides of dough over the edge
- bake for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are cooked

Monday, June 25, 2012

CSA Cabbage ‘Lasagne’

This week’s farm share brought another head of cabbage so this time I broke out the crock pot. I shredded the cabbage, sliced the squash and basil that also came from the farm, and added to it some ground turkey, tomatoes and tomato sauce. It is hard to find straight-up tomato sauce without a gazillion mystery chemicals, but I found this one made in the Fra Diavolo style, which means it’ll have a little kick. I love almost everything with a kick, and even if you don’t generally like spicy food, you might want to consider using a full-flavor sauce because it helps season and flavor the water that comes out of the vegetables when they cook and makes a really tasty broth.

I started by mixing the turkey with the basil and some, well a lot of chopped garlic, and then putting that in the bottom of the cock pot after spraying it with cooking spray. Then I layered sliced onion, squash, some Pomi chopped tomatoes, and covered it all with cabbage and put half the sauce on top and repeated that again.

By the time I finished the second round of layering it was piling up out of the pot, but I kept going as long as I could get the lid on, because all of those veggies were going to cook down and the whole casserole shrinks down into the pot.  Finish with the other half of tomato sauce on top so it will simmer down through and flavor the other layers while cooking.

Admittedly it winds up eating more like a stew than a lasagna, but it’s good. And it’s an affordable, healthy way to get a big pot of food cooked, and I’m now in my third week of, but last half head of cabbage!

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Crock Pot Cabbage Lasagne

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours and 45 minutes

Cruciferous vegetables have been linked with cancer prevention, so embrace the farm delivery of cabbage and add it to the broccoli and peanut butter rotation.

Ingredients:

1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 medium onion, halved, sliced
1 - 2 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup basil or parsley, chopped
1.5 lbs ground turkey
1 24 oz jar tomato sauce
26 - 30 oz chopped tomatoes (I used 1 26 oz box of Pomi tomatoes)

Directions:

- mix turkey with herbs and garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper
- spray slow cooker insert with cooking spray
- add half the turkey to the bottom
- top turkey with half of each the onion, squash, chopped tomatoes, cabbage and tomato sauce
- repeat layers starting with turkey again and finishing with the rest of the tomato sauce
- cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 - 8 hours

Monday, June 18, 2012

Margarita Coleslaw

We went to a fun cookout in Richmond this weekend after my father and brother-in-law did some race car driving at the  Richmond Int’l Raceway. It was cool to be in the infield, right on pit row where the one-time drivers got into their cars. Here’s my brother-in-law, my sister and kids. Both nephews got to sit in this famous #14 car.

Once they were done, I was happy to leave the incessant loud drone of revving engines for my bestie’s backyard where I found they have something I fully intend on plagiarizing someday. A beer ledge in the stone wall right by the grill. brilliance. I see no reason a beer ledge couldn’t double as a sparkling rose ledge and I must have one someday soon.

 

 

 

 

Since we were keeping it simple with a cookout, I decided to use this week’s second delivery of cabbage from Terembry Farms to make some slaw. How do you take a sexy picture of cabbage? Why give it your fashionable sunglasses…

This week’s CSA delivery also included some cilantro, so I stopped by the store for some limes and mango to make a ‘margarita’ style coleslaw.

As usual, I zested the limes before juicing, and I also peeled the jalapeños. Since the jalapeños are more prominent than just a last-minute garnish, peeling and seeding them is a good way to use them raw, but to less acerbic effect.

A nice side-effect of peeling the jalapeños is that they are easier to julienne. Once the skin has been peeled off it is is just as easy to get the knife through either side of the pepper. So you just halve them lengthwise and can then press the (formerly) seed side down flat onto the board and your knife will run through for an easy julienne. I julienned each half and then cut those across in half so that the julienne pieces were shorter.

On to the mango. After making a mango and avocado salad for hundreds in culinary school I got my first true understanding about how I would come to understand certain things after doing them repeatedly for the first time for hours. With mangoes you just want to remember that the pit is oval and kind of flat. So to get the best yield for a julienne you want to come down each flat side of the mango to get two decent sized ‘halves.’ Then you can cut the strips down the sides. For a slaw a medium ripe mango is about right, so it’s firm enough to be tossed, but also sweet enough to brighten the coleslaw.

 I made the dressing with only one tablespoon of honey because I was accounting for the sweetness of the mango, which aaaactually, and not shockingly as it came from the King George Foodlion, was not all that sweet, so I wound up adding another tablespoon of honey as I combined everything. I suggest starting light on the honey until you get to taste the slaw with the mango.

It turned out really well and my best friend’s husband, father extroidinaire and the evening’s grill master proclaimed several times how much he liked it, so I felt my mission was completed.

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Margarita Coleslaw

Yield: 2 quarts

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

If you want to make this 'Lime and Jalapeño Coleslaw' just eliminate the mango and adjust sweetness with additional honey to taste.

Ingredients:

1/2 large head cabbage, shredded finely
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 mango, peeled, julienned
3 limes, zested, juiced
4 jalapeños, peeled, seeded, julienned
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
4-6 oz or about 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used fat free and thought it tasted great, but use what ever suits your waistline and tastebuds)
1/3 cup mayo
2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

- whisk lime juice, lime zest, 1 tablespoon honey, yogurt, mayo and salt
- give that a taste, adjust a little and combine with cabbage
- prep the other stuff while that sits and then toss to combine cabbage and dressing with mango, jalapeño, and cilantro
- taste and adjust acidity and sweetness with vinegar and additional tablespoon of honey as needed; reseason with salt as need

**adding vinegar usually will need to be balanced with a bit more salt

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Low Cal Fresh Lemonade with Xylitol

In my growing skepticism about prepared foods, including powdered drink mixes and protein bars, I’ve been experimenting with a sweetener called xylitol – pronounced zahy-li-tawl according to dictionary.com. I’ve come across it periodically on the internet and then started cooking with it when I began doing Jamie Eason’s training program here on bodybuilding.com (more on the training program later when I make it through Phase 3 – right now I’m repeating Phase 2, sigh).

I had been trying some homemade protein bar recipes but so many of them were more caloric than I wanted and often turned out to be sticky, goopy suckers. Then I tried this Chocolate Protein Bar recipe from Jamie and loved it! Since then I’ve been trying her various versions of them and experimenting with Stevia and xylitol because further informal internet study has me thinking that they are the healthiest artificial sweeteners out there right now. Stevia doesn’t have the chlorine that is in Splenda, and xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol. Right now I’m trying to balance them so that I can sweeten my coffee, tea and lemonade etc, and bake with them as well, while keeping consumption of each moderate. One warning – xylitol is totally toxic to dogs, and they love sweet stuff, so store it and keep your lemonade and protein bars out of the four-leggers’ reach.

Jamie uses Ideal brand xylitol and I plan on ordering some soon because they have a ‘brown sugar’ version that I want to try. But in the meantime I found this non-GMO version by NOW Healthy Foods at the local Healthway store. So, that’s what I used to tackle a bowl full of lemons. Here’s an attempt at an artsy shot of lemons. Feeling parched and in search of refreshment?! Thank you for playing along : )

I zested the lemons and am saving the zest because it feels like such a waste not to. But that’s just part of my own mental illness and you would be a very normal person to just juice the lemons. Another nice feature in the xylitol is that, unlike sugar, it will dissolve quite well in cool liquids, so I didn’t have to make a syrup first. So all I did was combine the lemon juice, water, and xylitol and stirred well for 30-60 seconds to make sure it was well dissolved. Taste it at this point because it might be sweet enough for you. If not, stir in a tablespoon of Stevia at a time until it’s sweet enough for your tastes. I added 2 tablespoons of Stevia and then poured it into this impossible-to-clean pitcher in the name of ‘sexy food photography.’ What I won’t do for a successful blog… what’s that you say? Wildly turned on? My pitcher and I thank you.

Cleaning laziness aside, it’s so refreshing to finally have a lemonade that doesn’t break the diet bank and isn’t made from a powder. It’s also making a rather decent Arnold Palmer out of my afternoon iced green tea. Am I buff yet?

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Low Cal Lemonade

Yield: 1 1/2 quart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Guilt free fresh lemonade! If you're entertaining you can combine the lemon juice and sweeteners, and then mix with a bottle of sparkling water instead of the flat water.

Ingredients:

6 lemons
1/4 cup xylitol
4 cups chilled water
0-3 Tbsp Stevia

Directions:

- juice lemons
- combine juice, water and xylitol and stir until xylitol is dissolved
- taste and sweeten to your liking with stevia

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ginger Smothered Tilapia

I always keep those individually wrapped, frozen tilapia filets on hand for the nights that I haven’t managed to plan much for dinner. They thaw out and cook quickly and take on whatever flavor you want to give them. And ginger is so refreshing that I often have that on hand as well. This is good post-workout noshing, especially if you have mixed grain pilaf and a batch of peanut butter broccoli on hand : )

Start by prepping the ginger and anything else you might want to top the tilapia. In this case I had a jalapeño – I would have included chopped scallion and cilantro or Thai basil if I’d had it on hand. Peel and julienne the ginger, and slice the jalapeño. The steaming effect that happens when the foil package is wrapped up and in the oven mellows the ginger and jalapeño, so you can use a lot and you can leave the seeds in the chile. yum.

Once the toppings are prepped, tear off pieces of aluminum foil large enough to wrap up individual filets and spray them with cooking spray or drizzle with a little sesame oil. Place filets in the middle of foil pieces and season lightly with salt and pepper. Fresh herbs are best, but again I was improvising, so I sprinkled with dried basil from the spice rack.

 

 

Now for what my brother-in-law calls the litmengobb – a catchall term for goop or stuff that makes things good. WD-40, duct tape and ruben Russian dressing are all examples of litmengobb. Pronounced lit-men-gawbb.

Put ye faith in the litmengobb. Top the fish with ginger, herbs, scallion, chiles and drizzle with sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Depending on your tastes you might want to add a touch of fruit or something sweet like a little bit of pineapple or orange marmalade. I added a pinch of minced, caramelized red onion. Then wrap up each filet into packets, bake off and slide onto a plate. Make sure to drizzle all of the litmenbgobb in the foil over the fish!

 

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Ginger Jalapeño Tilapia

Yield: 4 filets

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Cooking the fish and aromatics together in foil packets brings everything together in a quick and healthy way.

Ingredients:

4 tilapia filets
1.5 cup fresh ginger julienne
1 - 2 jalapeños, halved, sliced
.5 cup picked Thai basil or cilantro leaves
.5 bunch scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp sesame oil plus a drizzle
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Directions:

- tear of foil squares to make packets for each filet and heat oven to 375
- spray foil pieces with cooking spray or drizzle with sesame oil
- place filets in the middle of each piece of foil
- top fish with ginger, jalapeño, herbs and scallions
- drizzle each with soy sauce and sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds
- wrap up packets and bake on a sheet tray for 10 minutes, until fish is cooked

 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Campfire Clams

…or so they were intended to be. A special weekend with my nephew was set to start off with a night of camping in Gaithersburg until the violent t-storms and tornado warnings and watches came through! Kyle was a good sport about setting up camp in the basement instead where, fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law have a full kitchen. So while I wound up making one of Kyle’s favorites, littleneck clams, on the stove, the recipe works well on a campfire grate or camping stove. It started out with sautéing garlic and Kyle was quick to step up as my sous chef once he saw my camping cook pot has a nifty grabber as a handle.

 

 

 

I figured clams with butter broth along with some blanched beans would be a good one-bowl meal for camping but as an aunt I was a bit naive. I later learned that the butter business is more appealing to little ones when it’s served on the side as a ‘dipping sauce.’ So I wrote the recipe the way I make it for myself, but recommend offering SOS, sauce on the side if you’re cooking and camping with kids! At least he said I make the best garlic bread in the world : )

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Campfire Clams

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Keep dishes to a minimum and take a break from burgers on your next camping trip with steamed littlenecks swimming in lemon butter clam broth.

Ingredients:

50 littleneck clams
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp butter
1 large lemon, juiced
1-2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsely, chopped

Directions:

Before heading out to camp:
- rinse/ scrub clams and keep on ice
- mince garlic and combine with the olive oil (keep cold and only do 1 day ahead)
- chop parsley

At camp:
- have a large bowl or individual bowls and tongs handy
- place cook pot on stove or campfire grate and add garlic and oil
- when garlic is softened pull the pot from heat for 1 minute, then add the water and return to heat
- when water and garlic mix is steaming add the clams and cover
- leave alone for 1-2 minutes and then check for any opening clams
- as clams open, remove them to the large bowl or individual bowls
- once all of the clams are cooked stir the butter into the clam broth in the bottom of the pot and squeeze in lemon juice; taste and possibly season, but the clam juice should be quite salty on its own
- add the parsley and pour broth over the clams, or serve on the side

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Horses, Hats, and a Misguided Blogger at the Gold Cup

Hey little girl, want a pretty hat and a pony? Apparently the Virginia Gold Cup is all it takes for me to completely revert to childhood.

Our friend has a tent? Oh great, I’ll help with the tailgate, snap pictures, blogpost. It wasn’t until the races were over and the tents were cleaned up that I realized I had not taken one picture of food. Not my food, not anyone else’s food. Between the beautiful hats, fashion-watching, and the purdy horsies, I was like a small child with bright shiny objects, unable to think about anything else I might want to tend to.

Nevertheless I did cook, so I have a recipe to share and a few pix, even if they are not of anything edible.

My husband actually made a few bucks betting on the races. 

And got to visit with our gracious host Steve Berry.Thanks for a great day Steve!

We had some exciting jumps to watch from the tent.

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   And well, a buffet managed to sneak into one of my pictures.
Somewhere on there is my veggie salad which was good that day and will be nice to make over the summer. It can be hard to keep it healthy at tailgate style events so I included these vegetables with the salt roasted peewee potatoes and sandwiches I brought. Here’s the recipe for that along with some ‘x’s’ because I recently changed my operating system and I’m having lots of challenges with formatting this post right now. Hopefully we’ll be x-free next time around.
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Broccoli, Cauliflower and Roasted Fennel Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Roasting or grilling fennel gives it such a light earthy flavor and I love it with lemon and toasted pine nuts.

Ingredients:

Vegetables

1 head cauliflower
2-3 head broccoli
3 fennel bulbs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1 jalapeño, seeded, minced
.25 cup pine nuts, toasted

Vinaigrette

.5 cup white wine vinegar, plus juice from the lemons above
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1.5 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp thyme, picked
.25 cup basil, chopped

Directions:

- cut cauliflower and broccoli into bite-sized florets and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
- blanch the cauliflower then the broccoli in batches, removing each batch to ice water, then draining and drying
- heat the oven to 400 degrees and cut the fennel into medium dice; alternatively half-inch slices of the fennel and grill on medium high. Grilled fennel is the best!
- roast fennel for 5-7 minutes until softened and edges brown
- combine vinegar, lemon juice and mustard
- whisk in oil slowly, add herbs and season with salt and pepper
- combine all salad ingredients and vinaigrette
- refrigerate and re-season to taste - the flavor will mellow as it sits in the fridge, so if you make this the night before you plan to eat, you may want to add more lemon zest, herbs, salt and pepper

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Salmon Burgers with Cooked ‘Cole Slaw’

Efforts continue around here to show my other half what he’s missing by eliminating all things raw from his diet. This time, alongside the kale I assembled a BBQ salmon burger with sauteed cabbage, topped off with a creamy sauce, hoping to simulate the magic combination of BBQ topped with cole slaw.

I started by caramelizing onions, making a chipotle glaze, and lime yogurt sauce. It seems too simple to bother with ‘writing a recipe,’ but I think it may payoff later because it will be ‘cataloged’ or something along those lines when I get WordPress figured out.

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Mock BBQ and Cole Slaw Sauces

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

These two sauces could be used together on so many things. I'm going to try veggie burgers and tempeh sandwiches, and then move onto lettuce wraps and tacos.

Ingredients:

1 can chipotle chilies in adobo
1/4 cup olive oil
2 limes, zested and juiced (or use bottled lime juice, or white wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp honey (or agave, though I'm falling off that bandwagon right now)

1 cup yogurt, plain
1 lime (or lemon), zested and juiced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
sea salt to taste

Directions:

For the chipotle glaze:
- put the chipotles and sauce from the can into a blender
- add remaining ingredients, blend and taste

For the yogurt:
- if you want to be really good, strain the yogurt overnight in a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. If you just commuted 65 miles to get home and have a mediabistro class in an hour, to hell with that and go to step 2
- combine yogurt, mustard, zest and juice and season to taste. Keep chilled because this is the 'cool' counterpart to the chilie glaze

This was a weeknight supper, so I had to use what was on hand. I would have liked to use fresh lime juice and zest in addition to the Nellie & Joe’s key lime juice I keep in the fridge, but it worked fine with the bottled stuff. For the cabbage I left the sweet burnty bits from the onions in the pan, added a little oil, cooking spray and the cabbage. Once there was good heat in the pan and the cabbage I deglazed with a little veg stock and scraped it all up from the bottom of the pan. I put a lid on the cabbage to steam for 5-6 minutes, then removed the lid, let it finish cooking and let the remaining moisture cook off. You definitely don’t want it wet on the sandwich. OK, assembly time.

Grill your salmon burgers. Again, this was a weeknight quickie, so I used these Wild Grill pre-made, frozen salmon burgers. I got mine at Healthway heath food store in Fredericksburg (they have stores throughout northern VA), but as that link/google search reveals, while they appear to be sold online, they aren’t currently available. I thought they were delicious and wanted to recommend them, but can’t do so until I unravel their availability mystery. In the meantime, this recipe would work with virtually any burger, salmon or otherwise, or simply with a grilled salmon filet.

Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your burger or filet and how cold it is going onto the grill but when you start to see the white protein appearing on the edges, you’re cooked. On medium high heat, these took about three minutes on each side on my grill pan and then I brushed them with the chipotle glaze as they came off. The stacking went: toasted bun, caramelized onion, burger, cabbage and ‘slaw dressing’ on top.

Sorry it’s a crummy picture, but hey had tuuuns of flavor and while the ‘eat raw’ campaign continues, he did at least enjoy two of these versions of bbq with cole slaw and I think got the idea! That’s something, right?

 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Easy Way to Cook Kale Ahead

Signed up for a CSA? If so, you have a befuddling box of leafy greens coming sooner than later. While it’s still a little early in the season for kale to be coming from the local farms here in Virginia, kale is generally easy to find year round, and I have the daily challenge of getting leafy greens into a husband who eats nothing raw. That’s right, no salads… no cobb salad, no seared tuna over sesame greens, no slaw, no avocado with pink grapefruit and poached shrimp – ok, I digress. The point is, I need to come up with tasty cooked greens that fit into the busy schedule and continue to help lower my honey’s ever-plummeting cholesterol, thankyouverymuch.

Enter several bunches of kale. If you need any convincing of kale’s health benefits you can check out this article on WebMD. It’s a veggie loaded with fiber, antioxidents, a truckload of vitamin K, and surpisingly is more effective in preventing heart disease when it’s cooked than when it’s raw. Amen to that!

Tackling kale can feel like a big, dirty mess but if you start by blanching it, you will quickly have a very manageable medium. To begin, pull the leaves off the stems and give them a rough chop. You’re cooking it so you don’t have to be to prissy or particular in the chopping. Just run a knife through it to get smaller pieces and then drop it into a bowl with cool tap water. By floating the kale leaves in a  bowl, a lot of dirt and little stones and unwanted elements will fall to the bottom while the leaves stay at the top.

In the meantime boil a pot of water with some sea salt. Take the kale out of the water bath and drop it into the pot. Depending on your tastes it will need to cook 6-8 minutes. Just take a piece out and taste it. When it’s the right level of resistance for your tastes, remove it to a sheet pan and spread it out to cool. I had three bunches of kale, so I worked in three batches. Again, it’s not a prissy affair, so you can prep other things, step away, send a text message and it will be fine as long as you’re back in 6 – 8 minutes.

I used one of my favorite low-tech kitchen gadgets. I love it and use it for blanching a frying and couldn’t imagine life without it. It’s called a bamboo spider – I’m not sure why. Seems to me it should be called a spider web, but either way, they are inexpensive, lightweight, easy to clean (just rinse, don’t put it in the machine!) and relatively easy to find. I bought mine at an Asian market, but I also found them here on shopwiki for eights bucks.

Once done blanching I had this bright green, seasoned, clean and totally manageable volume of kale. At this point I squeezed the water out and stashed it in the fridge for ‘pick up,’ to use some restaurant vernacular.

 The difficult part is officially done! To pick it up, I decided to try a couple of different vinaigrettes. The recipe is for a sherry vinegar, mustard version and it is very good and versatile and can accompany pork, chicken, fish, tofu etc. I had some for lunch one day with seared tempeh ‘croutons’ and they were toasty and nutty alongside the bright greens and slight tang from the mustard. Another day I had a peach cider version cold alongside chinese chicken salad. They were both surprisingly good.

To make variations on the recipe you can change the mustard from grainy to smooth, and swap different acids in for the sherry vinegar. I had purchased a bottle of peach cider on a recent visit to an orchard and it was too sweet for my tastes for drinking, so I used it, with a squeeze of lemon and smooth Dijon and it was great. Another sweeter version came from a Spanish Moscatel vinegar I have on hand. Then I tried using a prepared sesame ginger dressing, and that was a quick and easy way to make it with an Asian profile. Hope this helps you heart your heart-healthy kale!

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Kale with Sherry Vinegar and Grainy Mustard

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: about 45 minutes

Blanched kale is easy and delicious when finished off with a vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

2 bunch kale, blanched in salted water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T grainy mustard
2 T sherry vinegar
4 T cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

- combine vinegar, garlic and mustard
- slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil and season lightly (kale is already seasoned from blanching, so go easy)
- heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan
- add kale and saute until heated through
- add the vinaigrette and leave on heat just until the garlic smells fragrant and like it's starting to cook

two thumbs up from your gastroenterologist

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vodka Schmodka?

Being a vain, skinny chef is not always easy. When asked about it I usually advise folks that there is a big difference between tasting and eating. You can taste what you’re making without turning it into a mini meal, which is the temptation when surrounded by good food all day and night. But there are some other influential lifestyle factors of course, like extracurricular dining, exercise, and well, booze.

Which brings me to vodka. In my research http://getdrunknotfat.com/ I came to believe it is one of the lower calorie options. Look, I know there are even lower calorie options out there, but they are buzzless, so back to vodka. Or wine. I’m always up for a glass of Patricia Green Savignon Blanc or a Virginia Viognier, but it’s not always in the budget or particularly figure-friendly either.

I was leaving the liquor store with a bottle of plain ol’ plain ol’ vodka when on a impulse I bought something new. Yes, that’s right I bought dill pickle flavored vodka. In my defense, it was the airplane size, it was a total impulse buy and, I hoped it might make for some fun new bloody mary or other recipe, yielding an interesting blog post.

Pffft! It did not. Also, had I seen the ‘Yellow #5’ color additive on there, I probably would have forgone the whole experiment. We’ll say I suffered in the name of journalism. Anyway, while I have no fabulous new dill pickle bloody mary recipe to share, in the meantime I came across this article on Huffington Post by Adam McDowell and found his snobbish takes on vodka to be quite persuasive.

Here he argues that ordering safe and familiar drinks in a restaurant or bar where the bartender has trained in their craft, curated interesting liquors and brews, and mixed and mingled them in various ways to develop new cocktails, is like ordering fast food from the neighborhood artisanal, wood burning oven pizzeria. And, yeah, I have to agree. Sometimes those fancy cocktails are a bit too much, and aren’t always great when paired up with other menu items, but it does seem a shame to let the chance to try something new and get that bartenders’s point of view go by.

I then clicked through to his Six Reasons Not to Drink Vodka and was further convinced I should break out of my ‘low-cal cocktail’ rut and get into whatever other spirits the bartenders may recommend. And now that I have a jar of bloody mary mix open, I think I’ll put his theory to the test that the drink is better with tequila than with vodka. Maybe that’s what I’d been looking for all along in that dill pickle debacle. And let’s face it, when we’re putting down the ice water or green tea and picking up a libation, it may as well be great. Cheers!