Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roasted Grouper with Tomatoes and Capers

For this next Daily Special Posting Challenge, I'm going to post and item that I've wanted for a really long time, but I don't have (which I seem to be doing a lot for these challenge postings). This item is a classic kitchen item and I hope to have someday. It's the Le Crueset enamel-on-steel stockpot, and I really love the color Caribbean, which would look so cute alongside my pink Kitchen-Aid stuff.
Now, onto my latest recipe inspiration.

Last Friday I had a girls night with a few of my friends. We went to see a girly movie, Letters to Juliet, which can only be described as a chick flick. It was a decent movie---entertaining at least. We went to downtown Savannah after the movie to an amazing restaurant that focuses on everything you want after dinner: a delicious dessert or fantastic cocktail. The place was called Lulu's Chocolate Bar, and I had the most fantastic chocolate cake. It was called a chocolate suspension cake, where there where two layers of light, chocolate-y sponge cake filled with a mascarpone mousse that had strawberries suspended in it. The cake was covered with chocolate was heaven on a plate! I posted the picture to the side---it's not the best photo, but you get the idea at least of what this amazing cake was like!

One of my friends prepared dinner for us that night, and as a side dish she made a delicious potato salad with capers in it. I had never had capers before because just the murky green color of them was a huge turn-off, however I went ahead and tried them and found them to be delicious. Capers have a salty, briny flavor. I sort of think they are like pickles for grown ups. I knew I had to start experimenting with this new ingredient. Here is my first recipe using capers, which is a light roasted fish dish. I used one of my favorite fish, grouper, which on the scale of flavor I would say it leans a little more towards a mild fish flavor, but it does have more flavor than tilapia, for example (which would be a great substitute in this recipe, by the way). I serve this with another one of my new favorite ingredients, farro, an ancient grain native to the Mediterranean, which I cooked using chicken broth instead of water.

Roasted Grouper with Tomatoes and Capers
Printable Recipe

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp dry white wine
1 cup diced fresh tomato
1 tbsp drained capers
1/8 tsp dried oregano
2 4-oz grouper fillets
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Heat the oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat.
3. Add the onion and saute until the onions are translucent.
4. Add the garlic and wine and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated and the garlic is fragrant. 5. Add the onion, capers, oregano, and some salt and pepper and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened.
6. Spray a small, non-reactive dish such as a glass pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Add the fish fillets to the plate and season with salt and pepper; pour over the tomato sauce.
7. Bake the fish for 12-15 minutes until opaque.

  • Servings per recipe:2
  • Per serving:
  • Calories:191
  • Fat: 3.9 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 53 mg
  • Sodium: 193 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.9 g
  • Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Sugar: 2.7 g
  • Protein: 29.3 g

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Parmesan

You can tell summer is approaching by the increase in variety at the farmers' market. I've been enjoying the unique summer squash I've found at the market for several weeks now. I've tried a new type of squash recently, the zephyr squash, which has a mild, buttery flavor. I always prefer the long, thin varieties of eggplant, too, and the market has had both Japanese-style eggplant and Fairytale eggplant, which are cream and lavender striped. These types of eggplant are my favorite because of their small seeds and they lack some of the bitter flavor that can be so harsh in standard eggplant.

This recipe is really similar to one of my other favorites, Zucchini Parmesan. This is even easier to make because I took the step of sauteing the vegetables out of the equation. Instead, I roasted the vegetables, which not only adds a nice roasty flavor, but also cuts out the need to stand over a hot skillet for a while. Vegetables cooked in marinara sauce and covered with cheese is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables. This is a great for a side dish or a vegetarian main course.

Roasted Vegetable Parmesan
Printable Recipe

2 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut into thin slices
2 medium slender eggplant, such as Japanese eggplant, cut into thin slices
1 medium sweet onion, halved and cut into thin slices
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese
non-stick cooking spray
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, for easy clean-up, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Toss the zucchini, eggplant, and onion with the olive oil and some salt and pepper and arrange the vegetables on the sheet pan; it's ok if they overlap a bit.
4. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes, flipping them over in the middle of the cooking time.
5. Meanwhile, spray a 3-qt casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
6. Toss the cooked vegetables with the marinara sauce. Arrange half the vegetables in the dish, cover with half the cheese, then repeat with the remaining vegetables and cheese.
7. Bake the casserole, covered, for 30 minutes, removing the lid in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Allow the casserole to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Servings per recipe: 6
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 266
  • Fat: 10.8 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 17 mg
  • Sodium: 770 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 30.8 g
  • Fiber: 9.5 g
  • Sugar: 16.6 g
  • Protein: 13.3 g

Monday, June 14, 2010

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Semifreddo

It's another week and another time to post's daily special. My favorite special this week is an electric salt and pepper grinder...not only does it grind, it has a little light on the bottom so you can see exactly how much you've added. How cute is that? I can imagine taking these camping and when making foil-wrapped packets of good food, I can season them to perfection because I can see what I'm doing! Another reason I am posting these is because I have neither a proper pepper grinder nor a salt grinder. I use kosher salt that I store in an old Grey Poupon jar and my pepper grinder is one of those McCormick grinders. I had a pepper grinder at one point in time, but it bit the dust. Just another thing I need to add to my list of kitchen essentials.

This week I made a really decadent recipe for a few friends who came over for a dinner party. I served a two-course meal, with the main course being my spice roasted chicken and vegetables. Everyone who has tried that recipe has loved it, and it's a fool-proof recipe for small dinner parties. I'd have to say that the main course was definitely surpassed by dessert. Now, I know this site is focused on health and a raspberry dark chocolate semifreddo seems counter-intuitive to healthy eating, but let me explain my reasoning. I think it's more healthy to eat whole, real ingredients. Therefore, I'd rather have a little bit of full-fat ice cream that has pronounceable ingredients than some sort of fat-free Frankenstein ice cream full of fillers and who knows what else. Therefore, I don't feel guilty eating a little bit of this rich dessert and I hope you don't either.

This semifreddo recipe is derived from one of my most cherished cookbooks, The Silver Spoon, a quintessential cookbook if you are seriously into Italian cuisine. The recipe is exactly the same as theirs, however the addition of chocolate was totally me because I love chocolate! The original recipe was supposed to fill 1 loaf pan, but perhaps loaf pans are massive in Italy---I ended up with not only a loaf pan of ice cream but also a 1.5 qt casserole dish! I guess it's good to have so ice cream on hand, however, because it's been ridiculously hot outside lately. For this version I'm giving you, I adjusted the proportions.

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Semifreddo
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup raspberries, fresh or thawed frozen
3 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unbleached granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 oz dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt brand)

1. Add the raspberries to a small bowl and lightly mash them with a fork; set aside.
2. Whisk the eggs with the sugar in a medium heat-safe bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and whisk continually until the mixture thickens. It should go from a golden caramel-colored liquid to a yellowy-beige thickened liquid. It should take about 10-15 minutes of whisking. An electric hand mixer can be used to whisk as well.
3. Once the egg mixture has thickened, remove it from the pan and continue whisking it until it's completely cool.
4. Stiffly whip the cream, then fold in the raspberries and cooled egg mixture.
5. Line a rectangular loaf pan with plastic wrap and sprinkle the chocolate on the bottom. Pour over the ice cream. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Turn the semifreddo out the the pan, remove the plastic wrap, and slice.

  • Servings per recipe: 8
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 206
  • Fat: 12.1 g
  • Saturated fat: 7.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 102 mg
  • Sodium: 37 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 19.9 g
  • Protein: 3.2 g

Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Green Beans, and Peas

While I was at Whole Foods recently, I picked up an ingredient that I have wanted to cook with for a while but haven't been able to find. This special ingredient is called farro, which is an ancient grain related to wheat. I had never had it before but I had seen it cooked with on Food Network and it looked like a great alternative to other grains. I looked up a lot of ways to cook this grain, and I chose the directions that would make the final result chewy and not soft and mealy---perfect for soaking up a vinaigrette in a salad. I used a lot of sweet vegetables: grape tomatoes and peas. I also chose another ingredient that is in season and is probably my favorite vegetable, green beans. Because of all these sweet vegetables, I made a tangy dressing that the farro could soak up as it sat in the fridge. I love brown rice for it's nutty flavor, and farro is very similar. I love how big and fluffy the grains get after cooking and they have a great chewy texture. If you can't find farro, there are a lot of substitutes: brown and wild rice, barley, orzo, and Israeli couscous would all be great substitutes, you'll just have to adjust the liquid-to-grain ratio as well as cooking time. This recipe is a great change from the usual pasta salad at a picnic or barbeque.

Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Green Beans, and Peas
Printable Recipe

1 cup farro
2 2/3 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups cut green beans, fresh or thawed frozen
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
2 tbsp chopped basil

For the dressing:

1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro and cook, covered, on low heat for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork after cooking.
2. Meanwhile, combine the shallot, garlic, vinegar, honey or agave nectar, and oil in the bottom of the salad boil; whisk to combine.
3. If using fresh green beans, steam them in a vegetable steamer until tender or blanch them: add the beans to a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. One the beans are done steaming or boiling, immediately add them to ice water to stop the cooking process.
4. Add the cooked farro to the dressing and toss. Allow it to cool to room temperature before adding the green beans, tomatoes, peas, and basil. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 312
  • Fat: 9.1 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 531 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 48.8 g
  • Fiber: 4.6 g
  • Sugar: 7.3 g
  • Protein: 9 g

Friday, June 11, 2010

Spaghetti with Asparagus and Cannellini Beans

This is an easy pasta recipe that comes together within the time it takes to cook the pasta. It's a go-to for me on a busy night, and I often substitute other seasonal vegetables for the asparagus; broccoli is a great example. It's a light pasta dish that has something other than a red sauce. Adding the pasta water is a secret to really great Italian pasta dishes...think of it as pasta broth. I love the cannellini beans in here because they have protein in them and they have a great creamy texture. This pasta is both light and comforting at the same time. If you like a fiery pasta dish, add some dried red chili flakes along with the garlic and lemon zest.

Spaghetti with Asparagus and Cannellini Beans
Printable Recipe

1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the asparagus. Before draining the pasta, reserve the pasta cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, add the oil, garlic, and the zest of the lemon to a cold pan. Heat the pan over medium heat, cooking the garlic and zest until they become fragrant. Add the juice of the lemon and the beans and heat the beans through; season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the pasta and asparagus into the skillet the the bean mixture along with the Parmesan and the basil. Add enough pasta water to allow the pasta to be coated with cheese. Serve immediately, topped with more cheese.

  • Servings per recipe: 6
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 348
  • Fat: 5.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 7 mg
  • Sodium: 147 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 54.7 g
  • Fiber: 20.2 g
  • Sugar: 2.7 g
  • Protein: 22.8 g

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stuffed Pattypan Squash and Bell Peppers

It's week 3 of the daily special posting challenge, and the special I have chosen is a kitchen gadget that I don't have but have been lusting after for some time. It's a mandoline, which is a really great tool for cutting food into thin slices. You may think "I have a food processor for that," but you typically have to cut foods into manageable slices in order to fit them into the machine...with a mandoline you can keep them in large pieces and get super-thin slices and julienne cuts. It's just a great tool.

Now, onto today's recipe. As you all know, I love going to the farmers' market to support the local farmers and because I can get the freshest produce around. There are many times I am able to get a lot of unique vegetables I can't get at the regular grocery store, which is something I really love as well. One of my purchases from over the weekend was pattypan squash, which I have never cooked myself but have eaten at restaurants before and really liked. These ones were a little large, so I thought they'd be great to scoop out and stuff as you would bell peppers, which is one of my favorite dishes. Once I had the pile of squash flesh on my cutting board, I had to figure out something to do with it. I knew if I but it in a container and stuck it in the fridge I would forget about it. If I mixed it into the meat, there wouldn't be room for all the stuffing because I was essentially putting back exactly what I took out! So, I got a bell pepper out of the fridge and filled it with some of the mixture. This would be great for a dinner party because the different stuffed vegetables look pretty in their dish and your guests can have a choice of which vegetables they prefer. This is a really inexpensive meal, too, because you're only using a half pound of meat for four servings!

These were actually difficult to photograph because they kind of turned into amorphous blobs of marinara-covered cheesy goodness, but I tried my best. They tasted really good, which is what's really important!

Stuffed Pattypan Squash and Bell Peppers
Printable Recipe

2 pattypan squash (about 6-8 ounces each)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, any color
1/2 lb extra-lean ground turkey
1 egg
3/4 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups low-sugar marinara sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut a small amount of the stem end off the pattypan squash. Using a melon baller, gently scoop out the flesh of the squash, leaving about 1/8-inch margin (it's really important for the wall to be thin, otherwise the squash won't cook through), being careful not to pierce the sides of the squash (see photo).
3. Coarsely chop the flesh of the squash. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add the oil.
4. Add the squash, garlic, and onion to the skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables until tender, then remove them to a bowl to slightly cool.
5. Halve the pepper from top to bottom and remove the ribs and seeds, leaving the top part of the stem intact.
6. Once the cooked vegetables are cool, add the turkey, egg, 1/4 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, oregano and some salt and pepper. Gently mix all the ingredients together. Divide the mixture into quarters and stuff each vegetable with some meat mixture, mounding the meat up a little bit.
7. In an oven-proof, non-reactive baking dish, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add half a cup of the marinara, then place the vegetables on top. Pour over the remaining sauce, using a spoon to smooth it over the surface of the meat to help keep the meat moist.
8. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F once inserted into the meat. Add the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake for about 5 minutes more, or until the cheese melts.

  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 312
  • Fat: 15.1 g
  • Saturated fat: 6.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 106 mg
  • Sodium: 661 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 20.9 g
  • Fiber: 4.4 g
  • Sugar: 12 g
  • Protein: 23.7 g

Beef and Kale Stir-Fry

One of my favorite vegetables that's been at the farmers' market for several weeks now is kale. I've been trying to eat other greens besides spinach since they're so full of vitamins, and kale has been a nice change. It's definitely different from spinach because it holds up to longer cooking and it has more texture. I think it pairs well with strong flavors, too. I have been including it in stir-fry dishes and it holds up well with the high cooking temperature and rich sauces. This stir-fry mainly features kale and beef, but also some other colorful vegetables. From my perusing of Chinese recipes, oyster sauce is classically paired with beef, so I used this rich ingredient here as well. I have been able to find oyster sauce at my ordinary grocery store in the Asian food section, so it should be easy to find. Another new little technique I have tried is dredging the meat in cornstarch instead of making a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. The cornstarch mixture on the outside works to form a browned crust on the outside of the meat while it's cooking, and once the meat combines with the sauce, the sauce thickens on its own. Browning the meat this way adds another dimension of flavor.

Beef and Kale Stir-Fry
Printable Recipe

For the meat:

1 lb lean beef, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp unbleached granulated sugar
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp canola or vegetable oil

For the sauce:

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp unbleached granulated sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce

For the vegetables:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, any color, sliced
8 oz snow peas
4 cups chopped kale

cooked rice (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, corn starch, sugar, and soy sauce and let marinade at room temperature for 15 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp of oil to the pan, then add in the meat. Cook the meat until it's seared on the outside, then remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Immediately add the remaining oil, then the garlic, pepper, and snow peas. Stir-fry the vegetables until they are tender. Once the vegetables are slightly tender, add the kale and stir-fry a minute more.
4. Add the sauce ingredients and the meat to the vegetables and cook until the kale is slightly wilted and the sauce has thickened. Serve with cooked rice.
  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 333
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated fat: 3.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 101 mg
  • Sodium: 1165 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 20.9 g
  • Fiber: 3.6 g
  • Sugar: 8.8 g
  • Protein: 40.1 g

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Everyday Beauty from the Garden

Today I was walking past the vegetable garden that two of my friends and I set up in a part of the backyard, and I noticed so many beautiful flowers on our vegetable plants. So, instead of "stopping to smell the roses" I stopped and took photos so that I could share these lovely flowers with you. I can't wait to have the vegetables that will come from these beautiful blooms.

Fairytale Eggplant Flowers

Turkish Cucumber Flowers

Zucchini and Tomato Flowers

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thai Green Curry with Shrimp, Scallops, and Summer Vegetables

This past weekend I managed to get some hard-to-find ingredients and Whole Foods. One was fresh lemongrass and the other was cute Thai eggplant. I also found a new brand of curry paste that, after tonight's dinner, has become my new favorite. The brand is World Foods, and it made my curry taste just as good as my local Thai restaurants. It tastes really fresh and is incredibly fragrant, compared to other packaged curry pastes. I definitely recommend you look for that one the next time you're at the grocery store.

Thai curries are supposed to be a balance of sweet, sour, and salty, and now that I have been preparing them for a while I'm beginning to figure out the proportion of flavors that I prefer. There's a lot of room for adaptation for any Thai curry recipes depending on your tastes. Another thing I have figured out is that, while I prefer the lower fat count of lite coconut milk, it lacks the richness of regular coconut milk. Tonight I combined regular and lite coconut milk so that I would get the creamy texture, but less calories (I just put the leftovers in a freezer bag to freeze for later use). I can honestly say this is my favorite curry recipe so far. Adding the lime at the end is perfect because seafood and citrus go so well together.

 One of the Thai eggplants

Thai Green Curry with Shrimp, Scallops, and Summer Vegetables
Printable Recipe

7 oz coconut milk
7 oz lite coconut milk
4 tbsp green curry paste (or to taste)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp demerrara sugar
1 tbsp minced lemongrass
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut on the bias into 2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into medium-sized strips
1/2 red onion, cut into medium-sized strips
4 Thai eggplant (aka: Kermit eggplant, or 1 small regular eggplant) diced
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1/2 lb sea scallops, cut into sizes similar to the shrimp
juice of 1 lime

cooked rice, to serve

1. In a soup pot or large saucepan, add the coconut milk and curry paste. Stir well to dissolve the paste and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Add the fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, jalapeno, green beans, bell pepper, onion, and eggplant to the coconut milk mixture. Lower the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the seafood and cook 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat until the shrimp are coral-colored and curled up and the scallops are opaque and white. Stir in the lime juice and serve with the rice.

  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 322
  • Fat: 18.6 g
  • Saturated fat: 12.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 120 mg
  • Sodium: 1191 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 17.1 g
  • Fiber: 3.4 g
  • Sugar: 4.3 g
  • Protein: 24.9 g

Beef and Eggplant Stew with Red Lentils

Several months ago, one of my friends prepared a traditional Persian recipe which was a stew with eggplant and beef with sweet spices and a thick tomato sauce. I've been wanting to make my own version for a long time, and now that eggplant are looking so beautiful at the market I thought it would be perfect (forget the fact that it's nearly 90 degrees outside...a true foodie seeks good food no matter what the temperature outside!). After looking up a lot of recipes online, I sort of forged my own recipe. The non-traditional but very me touch to this recipe is the addition of red lentils, which not only add protein but also make the sauce really thick. I couldn't resist adding two of my favorite spices, cumin and coriander, and also a spice that I don't normally use, allspice. Allspice was one ingredient that seemed common in the multiple recipes I looked up. Contrary to what the name may sound like allspice is not a mixture of all spices, rather, it's is own spice derived from a berry that grows in warm climates such as Central America. I love how it makes this recipe such a unique take on beef stew.

Beef and Eggplant Stew with Red Lentils
Printable Recipe

1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lbs lean beef stew meat (I found some at my grocery store specially labeled "lean" apart from the
      regular stew meat)
1 onion, cut into large dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 14.5-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp honey
1 15-oz cans beef broth
1/3 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through
salt and pepper, to taste

cooked rice (optional)

1. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add half the oil. Cook the meat in batches in the hot oil; set aside the cooked meat.
3. Add the rest of the oil and then add the onions, garlic, and eggplant. Saute the vegetables until they are tender (add water if they start to stick), then add the cumin, coriander, allspice, cinnamon, tomato paste crushed tomatoes, honey, and broth. Then, return the meat to the pan. If the liquid does not cover the meat, add enough water to cover. Season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 1 hour.
4. After the 1 hour, add the lentils (add water if it looks like the stew has thickened too much) and cook for 20 minutes longer with the lid half covering the pan. Cook until the lentils are tender and the sauce is thickened. Serve the stew with cooked rice.

  • Servings per recipe: 6
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 358
  • Fat: 10.2 g
  • Saturated fat: 3.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 101 mg
  • Sodium: 447 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 24.2 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Sugar: 11.1 g
  • Protein: 41.9 g

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Brown Rice Risotto alla Primavera

This past weekend I went back to Indiana but of course I passed through Atlanta. While there I went to Whole Foods. It was my first time going to a Whole Foods and I have pretty much decided that if I could have my own version of heaven, I would want it to be like Whole Foods (but I also have to have a gourmet kitchen and could buy and unlimited amount of groceries...then it would be heaven). I walked through the store one time and once I got to the end I literally turned around and walked through it once more. I just love seeing ingredients I can't get anywhere near where I live!

One of the things I purchased was short-grained brown rice. I had been playing with the idea of making risotto with brown rice. I had never eaten anything like it before, but I thought it would be a good experiment. Normally, risotto is made with short grain white rice such as arborio because these types of rice are very starchy and leech their starch into the liquid they're cooked in, making a creamy consistency.

I feel a lot of people get nervous when cooking risotto because of all the stirring. However, after having made risotto several times I don't get so nervous about the final product. It even seems like you don't have to stand there and stir the whole time! Not having to stand and stir the whole time is a bit of a relief considering this recipe took at least 50 minutes to cook. I actually watched Food Network while cooking. I stirred during the commercials and took a break when my programs came back on (which happened to be Giada at Home and Barefoot Contessa, my favorite shows). I left the veggies a little chunky and they were all cooked to the perfect consistency. The rice was creamy and cheesy and everything it ought to have been. I liked the extra flavor the brown rice added and I even liked it more than the white rice versions I have made before. Ironically, I found the basis for this recipe after googling "brown rice risotto" on the Whole Foods website. It must have been fate...

Brown Rice Risotto alla Primavera
Printable Recipe

1 quart vegetable broth
5 cups water
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice
2 carrots, quartered and sliced
2 zucchini, sliced into batons
1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed peas
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1. Combine broth and water and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add asparagus and blanch until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a bowl of iced water then drain and set aside. Cover broth-water mixture with a lid and bring back to a simmer.
2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to the oil and saute until translucent and softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add rice and cook, stirring often, until toasted, fragrant, and lightly translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is almost evaporated.
4. Add 1 cup of the broth-water mixture and cook, stirring constantly. Adjust the heat so that the rice maintains a simmer (about low-medium heat). Season with a little salt and pepper. Keep adding about 1/2 cup of the broth-water mixture each time the rice has almost absorbed all the liquid.
5. At about 25 minutes (once the rice is getting tender, but still has a bite to it), add the carrots and continue process with broth-water mixture.
6. By the final broth-water addition, the rice should be al dente and the carrots should be tender. Add the zucchini and cook 5 minutes more. (If broth mixture gets low, add water as needed.)
7. Add the peas and asparagus and cook 2-3 minutes more of until they have warmed through. Add the butter and cheese and stir briskly with a wooden spoon to emulsify the butter and cheese into the starchy liquid. Fold in the basil and taste for salt and pepper.

  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 380
  • Fat: 11g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg
  • Sodium: 770 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 64 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Protein: 10 g

Chewy Cocoa Brownies

I actually made these brownies a while ago to surprise my fellow grad students on a random Friday, however there was hardly anyone in the building! After walking the halls asking people if they'd like a brownie, I left them in the grad lounge where they mysteriously vanished, like most baked goods do when left unattended.

The original recipe for this came from The Cooking Photographer. The reason this recipe appealed to me was because it is made with whole wheat flour, and not out of healthfulness, but because it makes a more chewy brownie than white flour would. I really loved the glossy version of the frosting (which you will see if you go to the original post) but out of impatience I ended up spreading the frosting. I followed the directions to the letter, so I'm not going to re-post the recipe here---I merely wanted to recount a good brownie-making story. Instead, please follow the link above.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Honey-Vanilla Iced Tea with Raspberries

As a continuation of the Daily Special Posting Challenge, this week I was inspired by the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla, which was one of the Daily Specials. I didn't have this exact product, so I did a little brainstorming. The first thing I thought about was baked goods, however it's getting hot here in the south and I didn't want to heat up the oven. So, I thought about a cool summer favorite, iced tea, and how I could add a vanilla aspect to it. I didn't want to use an extract, so I perused the tea section at the store and found a vanilla herbal tea. The tea I found was Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile, which besides its namesake flavors has orange, chicory, licorice, and lemongrass in it. Any vanilla tea would do, such as vanilla rooibos, which is another favorite of mine. Like the recent Fresh Strawberry Lemonade post, I thought fruit puree would be a nice counterpoint to this tea. Because of the floral flavor of honey, I chose to add a fruit with a floral flavor as well, so I chose raspberries. This is a refreshing drink perfect for warm weather and looks elegant garnished with more raspberries. The flavor reminds me of red zinger tea, but with even more flavor because of the raspberry puree. If you're running short on time, just use bottled raspberry juice.

Honey-Vanilla Iced Tea with Raspberries
Printable Recipe

2 quarts water
6 vanilla tea bags, any variety
1 cup thawed frozen raspberries
1/2 cup honey

ice and whole raspberries to garnish

1. Boil 4 cups of the water and add it to your pitcher along with the tea bags. Steep for at least 5 minutes, or until the water becomes infused. Remove the tea bags and chill the tea.
2. Add the raspberries to a blender and puree. If the blender doesn't seem to be pureeing the raspberries enough, add a little bit of the tea to get it going.
3. Sieve the raspberry puree into a medium measuring cup in order to remove seeds. Blend in the honey. Add the raspberry-honey mixture to the tea, then add the rest of the water. Chill. Serve with ice and whole raspberries as garnish.

  • Servings per recipe: 6
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 97
  • Fat: 0.1 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 11 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 25.7 g
  • Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Sugar: 24.1 g
  • Protein: 0.3 g

Peach-Strawberry Crisp with Pecans

This past weekend I managed to get home for Memorial Day. I brought some Georgia peaches home and decided to use them in a crisp so that my whole family could enjoy them. My mom happened to have some fresh strawberries on hand, so I added them to the crisp as well. To make the topping more special, I added pecans to give more crunch and to go along the theme with the Georgia peaches. I added a lot less sugar than the Betty Crocker crisp recipe (which I used as a guideline) because the fruit was so sweet already. I also added a lot less butter, and it still tasted delicious. I definitely tailored this recipe for my mom, too, who likes the fruit to be covered with thickened syrup, or "goo" as we call it. She also like lots of crunchy topping, so I put a nice thick layer on.

Peach-Strawberry Crisp with Pecans
Printable Recipe

Fruit filling:

4 cups sliced peaches (from about 6 peeled peaches)
1 cup quartered strawberries
2 tbsp granulated sugar (preferably unbleached)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
pinch salt


1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup cold butter, diced into small cubes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg

non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a medium baking dish by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray
2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches and strawberries with the sugar, flour, and salt. Add it to the prepared dish.
3. In a small bowl, add all the topping ingredients. Using a fork, a pastry cutter, or your finger tips, cut in the butter until the topping looks moistened. Sprinkle it evenly over the fruit.
4. Bake the crisp for 30 minutes or until the juices are bubbling and the topping is crisp and browned.

  • Servings per recipe: 8
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 215
  • Fat: 8.9 g
  • Saturated fat: 3.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 15 mg
  • Sodium: 63 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 33 g
  • Fiber: 2.8 g
  • Sugar: 20.2 g
  • Protein: 3 g
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