Wednesday, April 28, 2010
A couple of years ago, I was watching a British cooking show and most of the details have escaped me, but I think someone like Gordon Ramsay was teaching families how to make their cultures traditional dishes. I have been experimenting with Indian food for a while, but one thing I got from the show really improved my curry sauce. Curry sauce generally consists of onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, tomato, chili and spices. Often you blend the onion garlic and ginger, then cook and add the remaining ingredients. This never worked for me, I could always taste raw, biting onion. So the show had the people sauté all of the veg in oil, I usually use coconut oil, until soft. Then add some water and puree. Cook the vegetables and then puree? I love it! This produces a much better flavor in my opinion.
A word on curry powder-you can buy it in any grocery store, but look for different varieties in specialty stores or gourmet markets. You can also combine turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander and cayenne to make your own.
Anyway, here's my version of curry:
1 onion, coarsely chopped or sliced
1 couple of cloves of garlic, peeled
1 two-three inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tomatoes (canned are fine)
1/2 bunch cilantro
chile pepper to taste, chopped (I usually use 2-3 serranos)
2-4 tablespoons curry powder
1-2 cups water
1 cup coconut milk (not light) or full fat plain yogurt
2 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless), cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/4 cup coconut oil
Place the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chile. Sauté the vegetables until soft, then add curry powder. Stir to coat everything, then add tomatoes, cilantro and water. Simmer for about 10 minutes then blend in a blender. Return sauce to the pan and add chicken and any vegetables. Reduce heat to low, add coconut milk, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Now that I have a lot of free time on my hands, I have been cooking up a storm-you will soon see. Yesterday, I made a batch of lentil stew. This was something my mom always gave me as a kid, it is my comfort food. My version uses beluga lentils, the "caviar of lentils" they are called, presumably because they look like caviar, but you can use any lentil here. One thing to note, is that if you use the red or golden lentils, they will not retain their shape, but rather soften and become mushy. I guess "mushy" isn't the best word, but I think you get the idea of what their end result is. My husband, the self proclaimed "salad dodger" and "bean banisher" likes it.
Of course, I added a bunch of vegetables to the stew to boost up the nutrients. You can play around with the basic recipe and add whatever you have on hand. I added some red pepper flakes and chipotle chile puree to give it a kick.
2 carrots, finely diced (keep in mind the size of the lentils as you chop-you don't want teeny lentils and giant carrot hunks)
1 large celery rib, diced (see above)
1 medium onion, diced (I didn't have an onion so I used a couple of shallots)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup beluga lentils
4 cups water or stock
1 bunch dandelion greens, chopped
1 12 ounce can of tomatoes (I like the diced fire roasted for this dish)
a couple of swigs of extra virgin olive oil (will not say or write EVOO)
Salt & Pepper
Place a large sauce pan over medium heat. After a minute, add the oil, then add the mirepoix (carrots, celery, onions) and sweat until soft but do not color the veg. If they start to color, turn down the heat. After about 5 minutes or so (depending on the size of your cut veg), add the chopped garlic, making sure it doesn't burn. Add the lentils and stir to coat with the oil and then add in your stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook until lentils are soft, then add tomatoes and dandelion greens. Season with salt and pepper.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
It is spring in Kenwood and there is white stuff from some mysterious tree floating around in the air that looks like cotton and is messing up my sinuses.
But who cares when the wisteria is blooming and you are outside in the 70 degree sunshine at 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon drinking a peartini and eating olive oil roasted almonds with Herbes de Provence?
Not I. Never mind that it is my only day off this week. Never mind that I spent my day off studying and writing a paper on anorexia.
The afternoon was bliss and dinner will follow.Life is good....
When Jess started our blog I actually used to cook every night. I was not working as a chef at the time, but was in school studying nutrition and cooking on a daily basis. Then, I started working in real estate and my time and my life have been sucked away and I recently realized I had not posted one thing since Jess started the blog.
There were a few things I WANTED to post. For example, one night I made a rack of lamb with olive tapenade and asparagus. I took a pic of the lamb on the grill, but then had too much wine and neglected to photograph the final product (plus I dropped my camera in a swimming pool on vacation last year and my present camera does not take the greatest photos).
There was also a night that we had some friends over and I made this amazing swordfish with an insane pomegranate salsa from Suzanne Goin. I served it with this time consuming and delicious roasted butternut squash, farro and sautéed greens side dish. It took me two hours to make the side and it was truly superb. The meal was so beautiful. Guess what I photographed? The raw swordfish and the cheese platter. That’s it.
You see? I am a poseur blogger. But I am embracing it and posting the unfinished meals anyway.... here they are:Robin's unfinished wonderful meals....
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The other night we had the forbidden rice mixed with some farro, roasted butternut squash and sage. This was the centerpiece for my breakfast yesterday!
I reheated the rice in a pan with a little olive oil, scrambled some eggs and grilled some asparagus. Yum. In the last several years, pizza has moved into one of the top slots for breakfast foods. The reason is that the leftovers are starring back at you in the morning before you head out the door. Easy, because you don't need any utensils and who doesn't love cold pizza? So, there is no reason why you aren't eating your healthy dinner leftovers as breakfast.
A few weeks back my old buddy Faith requested a recipe for pork tenderloin-at least that is what I think she wanted...Anyway, that's what I made last night, along with some caramelized carrots and marinated zucchini. It is still a little early for zucchini but I couldn't resist it at the farmers market.
As I may have said before, Monday is the night the husband plays basketball with his mates. By the time he returns, just after 8, I am ready to eat my own foot. So each Monday I aim to have dinner ready by the time he gets out of the shower post ball. I could make it easy on everyone and just have dinner ready by 8:30, but 8:15 or 8:17 for that matter seems so much earlier. As a result, this pork was about 3 minutes overcooked. It wasn't dry and tough but it had just lost the pinkness.
Tonight, I rubbed the pork with a few tablespoons of ras el hanout, a Middle Eastern Spice blend (cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, chile and more) and placed it in a roasting pan drizzled with olive oil.
Pork tenderloin is a super simple thing to prepare, just roast it in a preheated oven at 400 degrees. The time that you roast depends upon the size of the pork. Typically, they are around 1 pound, give or take. This one was very small at just over 3/4 of a pound. It took about 20 minutes to cook. After about 20 minutes, touch the pork with your finger, if it is on the soft side, it needs to cook longer. Alternatively, you can get a digital thermometer and cook the pork until it reaches 145 degrees then let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Sorry I haven't been posting that much, last week was a bastard. What a way to wind down a crappy week-roasted chicken and clean out the pantry/fridge dinner!
I have been cooking for a client this week and some of the leftover ingredients made their way into this meal. I had half of a head of cauliflower, a tiny butternut squash, some forbidden rice, half a cup of farro and some cherry tomatoes.
I really did not feel like making a whole chicken, so I picked up some breasts with the bones and skin, popped them in a sauté pan, drizzled with olive oil, roasted at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Fifteen minutes before the chicken was done, I added some halved cherry tomatoes, a few whole cloves of garlic and some sage leaves. While that was cooking, I diced the squash and roasted it on the same tray as the cauliflower, checking it every few minutes because the squash didn't need to cook as long.
Forbidden rice has a deep purple almost black color and slightly nutty flavor. It cooks just like regular rice, so when that was done, I folded it into some cooked farro. To that mix, I added the roasted squash and drizzled that with some olive oil and sage leaves.
There you have it, roasted chicken breasts with tomatoes and sage, forbidden rice and farro with butternut squash and roasted cauliflower. I know, it is a weird mix of seasons with the winter squash and the summery tomatoes. It went surprising well and made me happy.
Monday, April 12, 2010
We always hear that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, so I figured I would show you some of the ways I get fruits and veg into my diet.
Most mornings I have a variation of a green lemonade, made in the juicer from kale, lemon, ginger, celery. Even the meat and potato loving husband will drink it without complaining.
Another way that I try to get my 5 a day is by eating mostly vegetables during the day. Rarely do I eat any meat for lunch. Instead I try to stick with big salads with lots of vegetables and legumes, maybe a little cheese. It's not that I am opposed to meat, but by avoiding it during the day, it leaves more room for veg. I eat vegetable sandwiches often. I love a sandwich, I really do. They are so convenient. The picture above is a raw vegetable sandwich. I just threw some lettuce, sprouts, shredded carrots avocado and tomatoes in between two slices of sprouted grain bread. Sometimes, I grill or roast a bunch of vegetables and then they are at my disposal whenever I want them for a salad or sandwich.
Finally, I just made a batch of kale chips. It's the easiest thing to do-tear up some kale, toss in a bowl with a tiny bit of vinegar and a tablespoon or so of olive oil and bake at 350 degrees until crispy. Much better than a bag o' chips.
How do you get your five a day?
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Please tell me you have been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Being married to a Brit, I have been a fan of Jamie Oliver for nearly a decade. For Christmas and my birthday, the in-laws get me either Jamie's latest or Gordon Ramsay's latest book. I have acquired quite a collection. Jamie has always been my favorite because my style is so similar to his-simple clean food. All of his recipes are accessible and can be made pretty quickly.
Jamie started his food revolution in England a couple of years ago and has been really successful. He's got balls for trying it over here. Whether he succeeds or not (I happen to think he will), he has already won so many small victories, like revealing to the American public that french fries are considered a vegetable, that many kids cannot even identify vegetables in their natural state. He has given many of us the wake up call we need to see that the way we are eating is having long lasting effects. Did you see that teenage girl who was told by her doctor that unless she loses weight she will be dead in 5-7 years? When you are 16, you really shouldn't have to think about your own mortality as a result of your diet.
Do all of you cook at home? What about those of you with kids? My mom used to cook our dinners and she routinely made things we didn't like. God, it seemed like she made spinach for every damn dinner and I know we had fish at least once a week despite my protests. She only made one meal, if we didn't like it, we had to sit and consume a portion that she deemed reasonable before we were excused from the table without dessert. She never made us a box of macaroni and cheese because we didn't like her dinner. She never let us have ice cream or a bag of chips instead. At the time, I wasn't amused, but looking back, I am glad that she stood firm and made us eat the things that we didn't like.
I don't want to ramble on about my food philosophy, but I do want to make an important point about health and weight loss-they are not the same thing. Many of my peers suggest to their clients lowfat or nonfat foods in an effort to reduce calories for weight loss. I do not agree with that. Many of those diet foods are full of additives, preservatives and gross ingredients that have nothing to do with health. I really believe in eating whole, real foods. If you are trying to lose weight, you can eat this way, you might have to balance it with reduced portions and exercise, but please avoid the faddy diet foods.
Let's get back to the Food Revolution for a second. If anyone wants to make any changes to their current diet and don't know where to start, I am happy to give some advice and tips, drop me a line or write a comment below. A good place to start would be the first meal of the day-breakfast. It is really as important as you have always been told. Instead of sugary cereals, maybe have plain oatmeal with a bit of honey and fruit, or scrambled eggs and spinach. I love quinoa porridge for breakfast, it's quick, cheap and a good source of protein. It doesn't really matter where you choose to make your changes, it's just important that you do something! Oh, and it would be nice if you told the rest of us about it so we can congratulate you.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
This is one of my favorite main course salads. It is fairly light, yet filling. I love to make this after an evening yoga class or after the husband returns from a night of basketball. The best part about it is the cleanup-there hardly is anything. Everything is cooked on the grill so there are no pots and pans.
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons mustard
1/3 cup fresh oregano or marjoram
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 head romaine lettuce, quartered-root intact
1 bunch asparagus
4 slices baguette or country loaf
1 bunch broccoli, blanched and shocked*
1/2 cup feta
Combine garlic, mustard, oregano and 1/4 cup olive oil in a blender. Season with salt and pepper. Put half of the marinade in a large bowl or large ziploc bag, add shrimp and toss to thoroughly coat. Refrigerate at least one hour.
Heat a grill or grill pan. Drizzle romaine, asparagus, baguette and broccoli with olive oil and place on grill. Remove when warmed through. Grill shrimp until golden and cooked through. Chop vegetables and put in a large bowl. Add shrimp and feta. Toss with remaining marinade and serve over grilled bread.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Last night, I had a really great little dinner with some friends. I love cooking for people and it is a bonus when I get to sit and eat with my friends instead of clients. I wanted to keep it fairly simple and really show off the incredible spring produce. This is what I cam up with:
The first course was homemade ravioli with ricotta, mint and fresh English peas in brown butter sauce. I also added some sage to the brown butter because I cannot physically prevent myself from adding sage to brown butter. I love it so. Thankfully, it went well with the ravioli and didn't detract from the flavors which I considered as I was adding fistfuls of sage to the pan.
The main course was grass fed roasted lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic served over Finley Farms spinach. This spinach is better than all others because it is not baby spinach, it's the real deal wrinkled leaves and all and it is really sweet. Next to that was roasted asparagus with even more garlic, red pepper flakes and pecorino cheese. Normally, I would serve some sort of grain or carb, but skipped it because of the ravioli starter.
I am really trying to cut back on sugar in general and especially at night because it keeps me up. That's a new and unwelcomed phenomenon. Anyway, dessert was fresh strawberries, picked that morning with lightly whipped organic cream.
Now, since I forgot to take pictures of the entire evening I am giving you this only picture from last night (which I actually took today from leftovers, eek!) and hoping your imaginations will entertain you with what my dinner looked/tasted like.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Another simple recipe. I almost feel guilty for this one because I cheated a little. See, I do not ever use any prepared ingredients and here I am using Thai curry paste. Recently, I have rediscovered Thai curry paste and fallen in love.
Tonight's dinner was a vegetarian curry based on what I had in the fridge and pantry. I always have coconut milk in the pantry which is the key to this dish. You could substitute nearly any vegetable, add chicken, shrimp or tofu. I had rice noodles in the pantry but you can just as easily serve this over brown or jasmine rice.
Thai Vegetable Curry
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 can coconut milk (not low fat)
1 heaping tablespoon Thai curry paste or more to taste
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups mixed vegetables- I used broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and edamame
1 tablespoon fish sauce
In a large sauce pan, combine the coconut milk, stock, ginger and curry paste and mix well. Add the vegetable mixture and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. Before serving, stir in fish sauce, lime zest and cilantro.
That's it! Easiest recipe ever.
When I was a kid, I hated fish, yet my mom made it at least once a week. Ugh. While I am sure she made other fish dishes, this is the one that I remember most because it was the one I liked best. I used to squeeze so much lemon on it to hide the taste of fish, but now, I love fish and I particularly like this simple little dish. The breading is easy and a technique that I apply to thinly sliced chicken breasts pretty often. I have also used it for tofu when cooking for some of my vegetarian clients.
2 large sole filets
1/2 cup flour
1/2-1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and pepper
Season the sole with salt and pepper. Set out three plates. Put the flour on the first plate, break and lightly scramble the egg on the second plate and on the third, put the bread crumbs. Dredge the sole first in the flour, then the egg and finally the bread crumbs, making sure to evenly coat the fish in each.
Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then carefully add the fish. Sole is a really delicate fish and doesn't need long to cook. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden and then flip. Continue to cook on the other side for another couple of minutes until the bread crumbs are golden then remove from heat. Serve with lemon slices.
If there ever happens to be leftover fish, I like to make my version of a filet o' fish sandwich. Put the fish in a baguette with some mayonnaise and arugula. Yum.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Since my gardening class a few weeks back , I have been really anxious to get some more things planted. Yesterday, I did it all. I got a few more tomatoes in the ground, got cages for the existing tomatoes and planted another salad garden much like the one I did in class. I still have a bunch of little pots lying around as well as some of my planting mix so later this week I will have to get some more herbs, but I am well on my way. Not so bad, huh?