Monday, March 28, 2011

a lightened up, one-pot wonder

One-pot meals are a wonderful thing.

I love the ease of "throwing" everything in one pot without an inkling of worry having to clean multiple dishes. One-pot meals are usually associated with the ole' crock-pot, but I myself am a huge fan of the braise (searing the meat before adds so much more flavor).

I didn't grow up with many casseroles or one-pot meals in my immediate household. My father liked to grill and we usually accompanied lemon, herb or barbeque chicken with a salad, vegetable and starch of some sort.

Because this one-pot notion is a bit foreign to me, I concocted my own one-pot meal perfect for sharing and not too heavy for the warm weather.

Turkey Chili with Scallion Crema

This chili boasts the rich flavors of traditional chili but is lightened with lean protein and fresh vegetables. Although considered a sin with Texas chili, red kidney beans are added for flavor, color and texture. Scallion crema cools the rich spice with a burst of crisp freshness.

Yields 6 servings.

1 yellow bell pepper, diced small
1 red onion, diced small
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1.25 lb lean ground turkey
2 T flour
1.5 t chile blend (I used local Pendery's Spices)
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne
1.5 t Spanish smoked paprika
one 10 oz can diced tomatoes & green chiles
one 15.5 oz can red kidney beans
1 c water
1 T brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Scallion crema:

1 c light sour cream
2 T scallions, sliced thin
1 T fresh cilantro, minced
salt to taste
fresh cilantro and sliced scallions to garnish

Began by sautéing yellow bell peppers and red onions in a hot Dutch oven with olive oil until vegetables are softened and translucent approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Re-season with salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked through.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour and chili spices: chile blend, cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika. Add atop turkey and vegetable mixture and mix to distribute. Flour will aid in adhering spices to turkey and to later thicken chili when liquid is added.

After flour and spice mixture is added, mix in rinsed and drained kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, brown sugar and water. Raise heat and bring to a simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

While chili is simmering, make the scallion crema. Combine sour cream with sliced scallions, fresh cilantro and salt to taste (this will be your only additional bowl used in the cooking process).

To serve chili, ladle portion into bowl and top with a spoonful of crema, fresh cilantro and sliced scallions.

Enjoy, y'all !


Sunday, March 13, 2011

spring rolls & grapefruit green tea compote

I love making clients feel good inside & out after eating
flavorful, healthful foods that I've created.

I recently spent a sunny afternoon preparing light & fresh handheld appetizers for a surprise birthday luncheon with Linguine and Dirty Martinis.

Fresh herbs, healthy fats, citrus, teas and aggressive spices served as low calorie flavor carriers for my menu for 20:

Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Wasabi Yogurt Sauce

Before starting to assemble spring rolls,
have all ingredients ready and within reach:

Vegetables/herbs for filling
I used broccoli slaw, fresh mint, orange bell peppers, fresh basil and pickled ginger. Buttery avocado slices and blanched asparagus would also be divine later in the summertime.

Spring Roll Wrappers
(also known as rice paper)

Paper towels

A bowl of warm water
(large enough to submerge rice paper rounds)

Submerge rice paper into warm water until softened and pliable. Lift gently (careful to keep wrappers from tearing or folding onto themselves) and set on a flat surface. Carefully blot with a paper towel. Assemble filling ingredients near the bottom half of the circle (as shown).

Tightly roll bottom of wrapper over vegetable filling then fold sides over "burrito style." Continue rolling tightly to the end of the wrapper. Rice paper will seal itself.

Cut spring rolls in half on the bias
and serve with wasabi yogurt sauce.

Wasabi Yogurt Sauce:

1 c plain yogurt
1/2 c light sour cream
3 T wasabi paste
1 t lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
1 T fresh cilantro, minced
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Chill until ready to serve. (yields 2 cups)

Orange, Feta and Green Olive Skewers
with a Lemon Mint Vinaigrette

To-do: Simply alternate pitted green olives,
chunks of feta (slide gently, these cubes crumble easily),
and orange segments on small, wooden skewers.

Drizzle with your favorite citrus vinaigrette
and fresh, minced mint.

Albacore Tuna & Spiced Chickpea Crostini with a Caper Celery Pistou and Fresh Oregano

This appetizer full of healthy omega-3's started with crisp crostini made from oatmeal wheat baguettes.


3 small oatmeal wheat baguettes or 2 regular whole wheat baguettes cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 T melted unsalted butter
1/2 t herbs de provence

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir herbs into melted butter. Assemble baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush tops evenly with butter mixture (as shown). Bake approximately 8-10 minutes until rounds are crisp.

While crostinis are cooling,
prepare the tuna and spiced chickpea mixture:

3 c chickpeas, rinsed and dried well
sprinklings of salt, paprika, cumin & cayenne
3 c albacore tuna (packed in water)
3 stalks celery, diced small
1/2 c capers, drained well
1 c red onion, minced
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
salt to taste
fresh oregano leaves to garnish

(yields approximately 50 crostini)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (keep oven on from crostini). Toss chickpeas with spices and bake approximately 10 minutes to dry out chickpeas and toast spices. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine celery, capers and red onion with olive oil. Muddle in a mortar and pestle to make pistou or simply mash with a fork to release juices.

Combine spiced chickpeas with tuna and pour pistou atop. Adjust seasonings with salt. Serve a spoonful of mixture atop crostini with a fresh oregano leaf and a drizzle of olive oil.

Roasted Chicken Salad atop English Cucumbers
with Fresh Cilantro and Grapefruit Green Tea Compote

Crisp, seedless English cucumber was the perfect vessel for this creamy, chicken salad with a burst of vibrant citrus.

Green tea adds a cooling element
while grapefruit and lemon rind add tang.

Herbed Chicken Salad:

3 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
a sprinkling of salt, pepper, herbs de provence & dried ginger
3 stalks celery, diced small
5 medium scallions, sliced thinly on the bias
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced, plus additional to garnish
1/2 c fine mayonnaise
1 T dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
2 English cucumbers cut on the bias to 1/2 inch slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss chicken with spices and olive oil. Roast approximately 15-20 minutes until chicken is just cooked through and juicy.

Let rest a few minutes then dice into small chunks to prevent any residual cooking. Let chicken cool then combine with celery, scallions, cilantro, mayonnaise, dijon and salt and pepper to taste.

Chill completely then serve atop cucumber slices with fresh cilantro and grapefruit green tea compote.

Grapefruit Green Tea Compote:

rind and juice of 1 grapefruit
rind and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 c brewed green tea
1 c sugar

Simmer on medium high heat approximately 1 hour until reduced by half. Chill.

(yields approximately 40 canapes)

After lunch, guests sipped champagne and were spoiled silly with a beautiful white chocolate fountain complete with accompaniments compliments of my client.

strawberries, pretzels & pineapple...oh my!


Monday, March 7, 2011

sweets for dear ole' Dad

My father has a huge sweet tooth.

Particularly for chocolate, ice cream
and anything involving coffee.

Growing up, some of his favorite
go-to "midnight snacks" included:

Broiled Cinnamon Sugar Toast with plenty o' butter

Tart, Lemon Sorbet with Shards of Dark Chocolate

and my personal favorite...

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with
a Splash of Milk and Coffee Grounds

He also loves obnoxiously-tart confections found in vintage candies such as lemon drops and cherry sours.

For his birthday last March, I baked him a delectable Cocoa Rum Bundt Cake with an Espresso Glaze to accompany a build-your-own BLT bar.

This rich bundt was moist, not-too-sweet and layered with flavor-- a definite party pleaser.

This March, he celebrated his 63rd Birthday and I wanted to make him a whimsical, sweet treat.

Tied for time to make a multi-layered cake or roll out butter-laced crust for a pie, I decided on a tempting candy perfect alone or crumbled atop ice cream:

Chocolate & Salted Peanut Toffee

adapted from Epicurious

4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole roasted and salted peanuts
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Line a large, lipped sheet pan with parchment paper.
Set aside.

Attach a candy thermometer
to the side of a 4-5 quart heavy pot.

Bring butter, sugar and salt to boil over medium high heat, whisking until smooth then boil, stirring occasionally until mixture is golden brown and registers 300 degrees (hard crack stage) on the candy thermometer approximately 15-20 minutes.

Immediately stir in half of peanuts, then carefully pour hot toffee into center of parchment-lined pan. Spread with spatula and let stand one minute. Sprinkle chocolate evenly on top and let stand 2-3 minutes to melt. Spread chocolate evenly with spatula then top with a sprinkling of remaining peanuts. Freeze until chocolate is firm and break into pieces.

Whether it be pie or cake,
cookies or candies,
custards or ice creams,

Share some sweets with a loved one!