Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Healthy dinner ideas

Lemon cous cous with swiss chard and turkey kielbasa

I combined 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice, seasoned it with salt and pepper and added that to 1 cup of dry uncooked cous cous.  After it absorbed it all it was still slightly hard; I was watching a show where the chef said "do this and once the liquid is absorbed it's ready to eat".  I really just wanted to try this but wasn't planning on having it for dinner that night.  Well it went in the refrigerator and the next day I made this dish. 

I got some turkey kielbasa and cut it in half lengthwise; Sear the kielbasa in a skillet then add chopped onions (with some olive oil too) and the stems of swiss chard until tender then added the swiss chard greens and cooked until tender; add the cous cous and some chicken stock; let it all simmer together until the kielbasa is cooked all the way and the flavors meld.  I plated it and sprinkled on some amaranth micro greens.

Homemade pizza with tomato sauce, Madeira mushrooms, thyme cream cheese, fresh mozzarella, lemon zest and fresh basil.

Bechamel over soft boiled eggs
We watched Jacques Pepin on his show "Essential Pepin", it was his show on eggs. He started the show with this easy recipe. He soft boiled the eggs by cooking them in boiling water for 6 minutes ( make a hole in the rounder end of the egg with a push pin before adding it to the boiling water). When they have cooked for 6 minutes drain and rinse in cold water, let the eggs sit in ice water and get really cold. Peel them by lightly tapping all around and hold them under running cold water while peeling and put them aside while you make the spinach and the bechamel.
Just saute some baby spinach in olive oil and garlic until you taste it and it's perfectly done (pinch of salt). To make the Bechamel, melt 1 Tbsp of butter and whisk in 1 Tbsp of flour in a skillet to make a roux, then add about a cup of milk. Whisk and cook until it thickens and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes to ensure that the raw flour taste is gone. Season the bechamel with salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg. Place the spinach in a baking dish and nestle the soft boiled eggs in, sprinkle on some Gruyere and top each egg with bechamel; place under the broiler just until the bechamel turns a golden brown and serve.

Here is what it looks like when you plate it and cut open the soft boiled eggs. Serve with toast and it's really good!!

Spanish Tortilla

I had never made this Spanish Tapas.  It's very popular in Spanish homes and I keep saying...." I gotta make one of those Spanish tortilla's some day...".  I made it because I was watching a show called "From Spain with Love".  The chef she went to see made one and it was almost under cooked in the center.  I tried to do that but it was kind of cooked all the way through but still very good!!  It's potatoes and onions with eggs and salt and it's cooked in alot of olive oil.  Here is the recipe I followed.

Grilled pork chop, grilled potato with aioli and baby spinach

I brined these good looking pork chops with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup kosher salt and about 1.5 quarts of water, for about 2 hours.  Tony lit the charcoal grill; he put these potatoes into an aluminum foil pouch with olive oil, salt and pepper; he gave the potatoes a head start on the grill, off the heat then added the pork and made some great grill marks and cooked them perfectly.  I sauteed some baby spinach with olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar and some re hydrated raisins.  I made an aioli with garlic, egg yolk, mustard, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and olive oil.  I served the aioli (below) with the potatoes.

Panzanella Salad

I had alot of tomatoes and alot of bread so I thought I'd make this.  I made a dressing with equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil, about 2 tsp of Dijon mustard and salt and pepper.  I toasted some flavorful bakery bread, chopped in 1" squares and place in a serving bowl.  I had alot of cherry tomatoes (usually you use fresh summer tomatoes and they are not heated), but I added some olive oil to a non-stick skillet and tossed in cherry tomatoes that I cut in half and about 1/2 of an onion sliced; heat through just to slightly cook the onion but so it's still crisp, and to heat through the tomatoes just to bring out the flavor.  Toss this tomato mix on top of the toasted bread in the bowl and add some of the dressing; toss and let it sit for 5 minutes then toss again (add more dressing if it needs it).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mushroom Sheppard Pie

Here is the mushroom Sheppard's pie, plated.

This was so good and easy to make and it's vegetarian.  I simply made some mashed potatoes seasoned with Gruyere cheese at the end.  Simultaneously I made the mushrooms; rehydrate about 1 cup of dried mushrooms with hot water(about 15 minutes), once re hydrated chop them;  saute thickly sliced fresh Baby Bella mushrooms in olive oil and butter for about 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper; add 1/2 cup of red wine and let it reduce for 4-5 minutes; add about 1/4 cup of the liquid that you re hydrated the mushrooms in and cook it until most of the liquid is gone; season with fresh chopped thyme. Put some olive oil on the bottom of a gratin dish and layer in the mushrooms and top it with the Gruyere mashed potatoes; place into a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes until the top starts to brown.

I served the mushroom Sheppard's pie with the Panzanella salad, very good combination.

Chocolate Cake with Chantilly Cream

This was good (sure it's healthy), there is no flour in it... just eggs, butter, sugar and chocolate.  It's from my favorite lady Laura Calder here is her recipe. 

Chantilly cream is a fancy way of saying whipped cream with sugar and vanilla. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

More good food....

Chocolate covered strawberries

I use 60%-70% chocolate and I temper it by melting about 3-4 oz chocolate over simmering water in a double boiler and then remove it from the heat and add 1-2 oz more chopped chocolate and let that melt in.  This is an easy way of tempering chocolate, by bringing the temperature up then back down.  This ensures that when the chocolate dries it won't have that dull chalky look.

Red and Yellow Beets with Goat Cheese

I roasted these beets by leaving them whole and wrapping each color individually in aluminum foil, tightly and in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees (these were big ones).  After they cooled slightly just cut off the ends and with a paper towel I just rub off the skins.  Sliced and layered with goat cheese then over some greens and toast on the side.  I also cut up the green tops of the beets (which is basically Swiss chard) and sauteed them in some olive oil and garlic. 

Corn relish with Morbier cheese and crusty bread.

This was a mish-mosh but it worked.  It was an appetizer I made one night just to nibble on with drinks.  I got this fresh looking corn on the cob and wanted to use it.  I just cut the corn off the cob and sauteed it with some butter and sliced shallots.  After just about 1-2 minutes I added a little apple cider vinegar, a tiny bit of sugar to balance the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper (basically make a dressing right in the pan).  Remove it from the heat and add chopped basil, it total it cooked for 5-6 minutes.

Hollandaise-glazed Sea Bass over Shiitaki and Snap Peas

This was goood!  I followed a recipe from "The White Barn Inn" cookbook.  It called for Halibut, but there wasn't any available at the store so I got this fresh looking Bass.  Basically you sear the fish and cook it pretty much all the way and top it with a hollandaise that is flavored with champagne vinegar, white wine, parsley and shallot.  This is spooned over the top of the fish and just finished under the broiler until its browned.  Next time I will use a halibut or even cod and hide some quinoa or brown rice under the fish along with the vegetables (the mushrooms went perfectly with this). 

Baby artichokes with Edemame, shallots and basil

I never make artichokes because it just seems like so much work and waste to get to the heart (I buy the cans), but I saw these baby artichokes that don't have the choke in them so its minimal trimming.  It worked out to be really good and I will buy these again.  Basically I browned the artichokes in olive oil with some leeks, garlic, salt, pepper and edamame then add a splash of water and braised them for 15 minutes until they were tender then finish with some lemon juice and fresh basil.  Left overs went very nicely with some homemade pasta (which I didn't take a picture of ) the next night.

Zucchini spaghetti with Amaranth sprouts and fresh basil

I have been doing this a lot lately, its just julienne strips of zucchini tossed with olive oil in a skillet for no more than 5 minutes, toss in what you like I put in salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and the basil and amaranth sprouts

A friend asked me to make some cornbread for a party so I wanted to test this recipe I found to make sure it comes out perfectly.  It did here it is..
I also made some guacamole here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday's dinner

I had bought a cookbook a month or two ago, that I have been raving about called La Tartine Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre.  I saw that she was going to be on the Martha Stewart show, today!  I watched it and was inspired to make a Tartine (she made them on the show), which she says is the French way of saying an open faced sandwich.  All this time I thought I was making bruchetta but I was making tartines.  So I didn't have all ingredients she had on the show but I just used what I had and they were scrumptious!

I slow roasted some tomatoes with balsamic, oil, salt and pepper.  I had this really good whole wheat bread that I toasted up and spread goat cheese onto, I grated some lemon zest over that and then some baby kale's, baby spinach and baby chard over that then I topped with the tomatoes.  Of coarse you finish it with Fleur De Sel, black pepper and olive oil.

Slow baked sweet onion.
I know some of you are saying "What, an onion?"  Yes an onion!  I saw Laura Calder do this on her show and I have been wanting to make it and I finally did.  You put it in the oven on a bed of salt if necessary ( I didn't have to do that, mine stood up just fine).  Stab it a couple times so it doesn't explode.  I didn't have my temperature up high enough so (it actually was something I was planning on serving the night before but it wasn't done yet) I decided to continue cooking it the next day which worked out just fine. 
Here is her recipe so you don't have to continue it the next day.  It was topped with this aioli, that is easy and so good.  It reminds me of a "blooming onion" that you'd get at Outback restaurants, but without the deep fry and oily exterior.

Filet Mignon with Stilton Cream Sauce and Bay Mashed Potato with a Mushroom and Caramelized onion "Pie"
This picture doesn't show how good the tasted!  I have to be honest, it was gooooooood!  Tony and I shared one big Filet Mignon and of course it was plenty for me and Tony agreed it was plenty.  I made the mashed potatoes as you would but pour some milk of your choice into a small saucepan and heat it with a couple bay leaves; bring it to just under a boil, shut off the heat; cover and let it steep for 20 minutes; remove the bay and reheat it before adding it to the potatoes as you mash them with butter (it's amazing the flavor that you get from the bay infused milk). 

For the "Pie" I re hydrated some gourmet blend mushrooms (portabella, oyster, shiitake, porcini and chanterelle) and while they re hydrated in hot water I caramelized 2 onions.  Once the onions were done I buzzed up the re hydrated mushrooms in the food processor and add them to the onions along with a little of the mushroom water.  Cook together for a minute and turn off the heat.  In ramekins I buttered them and filled half way with the onion and mushroom mixture and I topped them with a round of puff pastry, egg wash the top and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or so. 

For the Filet Steak itself I minced up some fresh sage, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and just rubbed it all over the filet (top, bottom and sides).  I let it set there at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  I thought I would pan sear it instead of starting the charcoal grill and everything.  So olive oil and butter in the skillet and brown the filet on all sides (6 sides).  I put it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  I let it rest about 5 minutes before slicing it into portions for the two of us. 

For the Stilton cheese sauce I heated a splash of cream (about 1/4 cup) in a small saucepan and added some Stilton cheese about 2 Tbsp worth (I didn't measure).  Cook it and watch it, you want to melt the cheese into the cream and cook is on medium heat to thicken slightly.  It also thickens slightly as it sits and cools slightly.

Everything came together like a dream with a glass of Old Vine Zinfandel it was a great dinner.

I made this lemon meringue pie for dessert and it was goooood!  I basically made a graham cracker crust but I added some ground walnuts into the mix and baked it off.  I made a lemon curd and topped it with the hot method meringue.  Tony torched the top of the meringue and did a nice job!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some more healthy food choices

I love my whole chickens!  I picked one up and removed the breasts for the chicken saltimbocca (below) and I broke down the rest to make some chicken stock (and chicken salad for sandwiches for lunch the next day).  I had the pot of stock simmering away for a few hours on the back burner, so it was right there when I needed a couple ladles full for the sauce I made for the saltimbocca.

I made this chicken saltimbocca, which was easy, quick and delicious!  Its chicken that's pounded out to about 1/8 inch thick and I sliced each chicken breast in half and made 4 smaller ones (out of 2 chicken breasts).  Lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, then I placed a few sage leaves on each, a slice of prosciutto and a grating of Gruyere cheese.  I rolled them up and secured with a toothpick.  Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to finish them.  When it came time to cook them I heated a skillet with butter and oil then browned the chicken on all sides.  I ladled in some chicken stock and a squeeze of lemon juice to deglaze, cover the pan and simmered gently for about 8-10 minutes to cook the chicken through.  Remove the chicken to a warm oven, add some fresh sage leaves to the pan and reduce the stock and lemon juice that's in the pan to a nice, slightly thicker consistency then swirl in a tablespoon of butter off the heat.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken once it's plated. 

I made a salad using baby Swiss chard, baby spinach and baby kales, grapes, tomatoes and walnuts.  I also made a walnut-Graham cracker "soil", we had at a restaurant recently.  I crushed some walnuts and Graham crackers to a powder and added a little cinnamon and a pinch of salt.  This "soil" is placed under the salad and it's a nice surprise that you get under the salad.  

Zucchini two ways
I made this raw salad by cutting long strips of the outside of the zucchini until you get to the softer center (which I used differently), and tossed with a dressing made of a baby bit of grated garlic, white wine vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and olive oil.  I chopped up the center of the zucchini and sauteed it in a little butter and olive oil to brown, season with salt and pepper.  Good stuff.

I happened to be watching my favorite chef show, French Food at Home, Laura Calder and she was doing a show on being Thrifty with French food.  She made this quick lentil soup.  Here is her recipe, I followed the general idea but topped it with some prosciutto that I cooked in a skillet briefly to brown it slightly.

These Bosc pears looked so good at the store so I got them just figuring I'd put them in a salad or something but I did this instead.  I poured the rest of a red wine bottle in a pot (maybe it was about 2 small glasses worth and dissolved about 2/3 cup of sugar and water to cover the pears.  I peeled the pears and left them whole and added them to the pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover for an hour or so until it's tender when you Pierce it with the tip of a knife.  I let it sit in the liquid to cool slightly, remove the pears and reduce some of the liquid until a syrupy consistency.  I spooned it over the top and let it fall onto the plate.