Monthly Archives: November 2009
|November 12, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fall, Fish and Seafood, Italian, Lent, Light, Mexican and Southwestern, Sides, Special Occasions|
Back to real life… but that doesn’t mean back to boring food! This salmon and polenta could easily pass for a dish at a fancy restaurant, but it can be on your kitchen table in no time at all!
I’m already starting to get tired of pumpkin and other squash so I thought that I should lay off it for a little bit – at least in the forms that I’ve been eating. I decided that I wanted to try something with pumpkin seeds – pepitas – and thought that a pesto would be nice. I encrusted some salmon filets in a mixture of sun dried tomatoes, spicy pepitas, and cilantro and then cooked it until it was crispy on the outside and coked to about medium inside. The rich and spicy flavor of the salmon paired perfectly with a soft, creamy polenta. The completed dish had a Mexican/ South American feel to it, while still seeming very upscale.
The pepitas that I used were pre-seasoned and came from the bulk bin at the co-op. Id you can’t find pre-seasoned spicy pepitas, you can toss some regular ones with 1 Tbs of chili powder and cayenne to taste.
I typically cook with dry-packed sun dried tomatoes, but for some reason I was having trouble finding them this time around. I ended up using ones that were packed in oil – I think it actually worked out better because the tomatoes pureed into a paste very easily and I didn’t have to add any additional oil. If you want to use the dried kind, rehydrate them in boiling water for several minutes before adding them to the food processor. You may need to add some olive oil to get the ingredients to come together.
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 ounce queso oaxaca or mozzarella
- 1 large handfull cilantro
- 3 Tbs spicy pepitas (see note above)
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 lb salmon, cut into four filets
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until it is softened. Meanwhile, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add boiling water and bay leaf to the softened onions. Whisk in cornmeal. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to bubble and thicken. Stir constantly, until the mixture is smooth and not gritty (this might take up to 30 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.
Meanwhile, pat the salmon dry and let it rest while you prepare the pesto. In a small food processor or mini-chop, combine the sun dried tomatoes, cilantro, and 2 Tbs pepitas. Process until a thick paste is formed. Spread the paste in a thick layer over the skin of the salmon.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the salmon skin-side down and cook until crisp – about 6 minutes. Turn and cook until pink in the center – another 3-4 minutes.
Spoon the polenta onto 4 plates. Top with salmon and garnish with a sprinkling of the remaining pepitas and some cilantro.
Approx. 374 calories, 17 grams fat, 3 grams fiber, 27 grams protein
|November 11, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fish and Seafood, Italian, Lent, Light, One Pan, Quick Weeknight Meals, Reviews, Special Occasions|
Now that the Foodbuzz Festival is over, I’ve been given the go-ahead to share my winning cioppino recipe with you all. I’m really excited that I can finally post this dish – as I’ve mentioned before, I thought it was amazing (and from the feedback that I got at the festival, a lot of other people thought to too!). It’s also crazy easy to make. I was honestly worried about how I was going to fill the time in my 35 minute demo, because this essentially just requires dumping everything in the pot and letting it do its thing. Because it’s so fast, easy and elegant, it would be the perfect thing to make for weeknight entertaining.
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 16-20 count)
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 2 stalk celery, minced
- 1 green pepper, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1-1/2 cup fish stock
- Generous pinch Spanish saffron (approx 1/4 gram)
- 1 jar Bertolli fire roasted tomato sauce with cabernet sauvignon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 sourdough baguette, sliced
Add olive oil to a large, deep sided sautee pan set over medium-high heat. When oil is heated and begins to glisten, add onion, celery, pepper, garlic, oregano, and red pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add fish stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, or until vegetables are extremely soft.
Stir in sauce, saffron and sea salt. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
Add shrimp. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to cook. Add mussels. Replace cover and cook another 5 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through and mussels are opened.
Stir in parsley. Serve over sourdough.
Approx. 440 calories, 15 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, 42 grams protein
****Some pictures from the festival!
|November 9, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Special Occasions|
That’s all I can say. Thank you so much to Bertolli Sauce and Foodbuzz for this incredible experience! I had the best weekend – full of wonderful new friends, amazing opportunities, and delicious food. The entire weekend was surreal and I had a blast!!
The weekend was so jam-packed that I can’t even imagine trying to fit it all into one blog post. But since I really want to share the experience with you all, I’ll do my best. This post is pretty heavy on the photos, but tons more can be found HERE (These are from the whole weekend, so not all of them are food shots – there are a few around the city and some from Sacramento).
I arrived in San Francisco Friday afternoon for an orientation meeting with the other Bertolli Sauces team and the other presenters: Chrystal and Amir (from The Duo Dishes) and Mardi (from Eat Live Travel Write). I can’t imagine a better group of bloggers for this. They were all awesome and their dishes ROCKED. I’m very happy to be able to call them my friends. I was extremely nervous about doing my demo, but the Bertolli team made me feel right at home.
After getting oriented, we headed up to a cocktail reception on the roof of Hotel Vitale. The view of the bridge and the Ferry Building was breathtaking! We sampled some cocktails presented by Skyy and snacked on some cheese and bacon gougres. I was also really happy to run into Kelly from Evil Shenanigans. She is an absolute doll!
After a bit, we headed across the street to the Ferry Building for a “Street Food Fare” which was such a fun idea for an event! There were samples of all different San Francisco street foods along with some local beer and more cocktails. Everything was sooooo good! I couldn’t pick a favorite, but I think it was either the Potato and Chorizo Taco from Tacolicious or the porchetta sandwich from Rolli Roti (this sandwich was beyond ridiculous – pork loin wrapped in pork belly cooked on a spit until it was crispy, then served on a roll with cilantro and crispy pig skin. Served with potatoes that were roasted under the spit to catch the drippings before they were tossed with more crispy pig skin).
I also had my first ever raw, vegan dishes – a coconut cheesecake, and a flatbread with tomato from Alive. They were both surprisingly good!
Raw oysters from Hog Island Oyster were by far the best I’ve ever had!
Because I was still on East Coast time, I was up bright and early on Saturday morning. I logged onto twitter to see if anyone else was awake, and it turned out that Mardi was too! We went over to the Ferry Building for coffee and then took a beautiful walk around the farmer’s market. The market was amazing – I’ve never seen anything like it! They had EVERYTHING! It also really amused me to see things like figs and pomegranate at a farmer’s market. Welcome to California!
At 9:00 I headed back to the hotel for a Farm to Table discussion. We heard from a rancher and it was really interesting to me to hear about the farm to table movement from that side of the aisle. I never really thought about how difficult it must be for ranchers who want to sell grass-fed, humanely treated beef while continuing to make a profit. After hearing from them, I’ve realized that if you’re looking to buy grass-fed, it really is worth the extra price. Not only does it cost them three times more to raise a cow tis way, but they also have trouble selling them. He said that they often get orders from restaurants for things like “a pallet of filets” – but each cow only produces so much filet, so that’ a LOT of cows. And every cow yields about 100 pounds of steak and 300 pounds of ground beef – which noone ever wants. He was talking about how since change comes slowly, they’re trying to get kids to eat grass fed by getting it into schools, but they’re running into problems with governmental regulations. The whole discussion was very interesting really made me thing about a lot of things. I really want to see what I more I can do to support this industry.
After grabbing breakfast at the Ferry Building and wandering around a little more, it was time to head over to the Tasting Pavillion! This is where I was doing my demo, so I was starting to get REALLY nervous. But they made us feel right at home, and it was pretty cool to get to go into the kitchen to see the chefs preparing our recipes! Although I prepared some on the stage, the chefs prepared a massive amount so that everyone would be able to have a taste. It was completely surreal to see them preparing MY recipe in such a professional setting.
Since I was up last for the demo, I spent a little bit of time exploring the different booths that were set up. I got to try tons of interesting products, and i met lots of really cool people. I love how friendly and down to earth everyone was!
I was also signed up for a sparkling wine tasting, which was pretty cool. I had small sips of each, but I didn’t want to have too much before doing my presentation (something told me that would be a bad idea!!). The tasting was done price-blind, with prices revealed to us at the end after we voted on which we liked the best. My favorite was the cheapest one!! I actually didn’t like the most expensive at all – it had no flavor. Most of the participants agreed.
After watching the Duo Dishes and East Live Travel Write do their demos, it was time for mine! Despite battling nerves, it was actually really fun! I can’t thank Bertolli Sauces enough for letting me participate. And no one spit my samples out (at least that I could see!) so I’d consider it a success! (And seriously how cool is this setup that we had? The mirror overhead allowed everyone to see exactly what we were doing on the table. Brilliant)
After my demo, I made one final swing around the pavillion to talk to some people and sample some more wine and a watermelon-wheat beer that was told couldn’t be missed. I was thankful for the recommendation – it was like nothing I’d ever had before and it was SO GOOD! I’ll be on the lookout for it locally.
Dinner on Saturday night was hosted by Outstanding in the Field and was held in the Greenleaf produce Warehouse, which was a really cool space. The entire dinner (and wine pairing!) was too good for words. Highlights for me included curry-crusted sea trout (which I had never had before but is a new favorite!) and Brussles Sprouts with beef cheeks and oxtail.
We sat at a table with Jesse from Beer and Nosh who brought a bottle of beer that he had made to share. What can I say? The man is a beer genius! It was incredible. He also won the award for Best Beer Blog later on in the night – an award that he completely deserved. If you don’t read his blog, you really should check it out, because he’s pretty awesome (he has some amazing food on there too, if you don’t love beer. I actually discovered it a while back when searching for duck hash).
Sadly, neither Kelly or Mardi won awards for their blogs. Andrea from High/Low Food/Drink, Natalie from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine, and I considered “pulling a Kanye” on their behalf, but we thought better of it. We drowned our sorrows with champaign at the hotel bar instead.
Sunday was pretty low-key, but fun nonetheless. After packing and repacking my suitcases about 12 times before deciding that the only way that I was going to get everything home with me was to go buy another bag, we headed off to lunch at Restaurant Lulu. The brunch was hosted by Nature’s Pride, and they came up with some really creative ways to highlight their bread. My favorite was the French Toast topped with cinnamon butter and a pea-blueberry compote (the toast was made with a brand new Nutty Bread that actually won’t even be in store until next week!). I was also really excited to finally meet Jaden from Steamy Kitchen! She is absolutely adorable, and her new cookbook is stunning. After saying our goodbyes, it was time to go off an explore the city with my friend Allie from Fat Kid Who Loves Food. I had never been to San Francisco before, and she was a great tour guide. It’ a beautiful city, and I was sad when the weekend had to come to an end.
Over all, it was a fantastic experience, and I really recommend that everyone try to attend next year. Especially those of you who I know were there but that I was never able to track down (I’m looking at you Sophia and Jen!!)
And now, back to real life. I predict a lot of salads in my immediate future.
PS- if anyone has any pictures of my demo or of my cioppino, would you mind sending them my way? I obviously wasn’t able to take any myself. I didn’t even get to taste my dish – hopefully the chef’s back stage did it justice! One of them tried some of the one I prepared up front and said he liked it better than what they prepared… but I don’t know if he was just saying that.
|November 6, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fall, Italian, Lent, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Vegetarian or Vegan, Winter|
I recently received the December issue of Fine Cooking Magazine in the mail, and this dish jumped out at me. It combines some of my favorite things: pasta, brussels sprouts, blue cheese, and pecans. I couldn’t wait to make it! But when a quick flip to the back of the magazine showed me that their version had a whopping 670 calories, I knew I would have to put my own spin on it to lighten it up. With just a few simple substitutions, my version clocks in at around 266 calories – not too bad!!
I know that Brussels sprouts are one of those things that a lot of people just don’t like, but I think this dish might make anyone fall in love with them. The sprouts are shredded and then roasted, which gives them a nutty flavor. Tossed with the pasta and covered in gorgonzola cream sauce, you’ll forget that they’r even there. If you REALLY hate Brussels sprouts though, you can probabaly get a similar flavor by substituting shredded green cabbage.
What I loved the most about this dish was the texture – some of the sprouts will begin to darken and become crispy as you roast them. When you combine that with the crunchy nuts, chewy pasta, and creamy sauce you end up with a dish that’s really a lot of fun to eat.
- 1 lb Brussles sprouts, trimmed
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 lb pasta (I used my favorite shape -cavatappi!)
- 1/2 Tbs butter
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup fat free milk
- 1 tsp arrowroot (or cornstarch)
- 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
Preheat oven to 500.
Meanwhile, shred the Brussles sprouts by using a food processor with a slicing attachment. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper and arrange on a baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are under and the edges have become slightly charred.
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the pecans until the butter browns and becomes slightly syrupy. Remove pecans and set aside. Return the pan to the stove and add the shallots. Cook until softened. Add the milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the arrowroot and allow to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.
Drain the pasta and toss with the Brussels sprouts, pecans, and cheese sauce.
Approx. 266 calories, 5 grams fat, 3.5 grams fiber, 10 grams protein
|November 4, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Breakfast, Fall, Fruit, Grains, Vegetarian or Vegan|
Without a doubt, pears are my favorite fruit. I’ve loved them ever since i was a little kid. I actually remember one time when I was about 5 or 6 and I was eating one at my grandmother’s house it was sooo juicy and sooo good. I ate the entire thing. And I mean the ENTIRE thing! My mom came in and asked when I did with the core and I was like “what?” Yeah, I ate that pear core, seeds, and all!
Anyway, it’s easy to overlook pears in the Fall because of all of the excitement that surrounds apples. I decided to make a pie in celebration of the season’s “other” fruit. When thinking about what I wanted my pie to look like, I decided on a crumb top. Then I remembered that Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted an apple breakfast granola crisp that looked amazing, and my pear crumble as born. With a combination of pears, apple, cranberries and a lightly sweetened granola topping, this crumble is delicious for breakfast, dessert, or anything in between.
I was originally planning to use solely pears and cranberries for this dish, but it didn’t seem like there would be enough bulk. I had some apples laying around with no plans (I bought them to snack on, but they were baking apples – I hate when bins aren’t labelled with that information!) so I threw those in too. I thought the combination of fruits tasted great, but the predominant flavor was definitely pear.
This crumble was great served either warm or cold: warm topped with a scoop of ice cream makes a wonderful dessert, but I’ve been eating it cod for breakfast with a dollop of yogurt. Yum! I’m especially liking Brown Cow cream top yogurt these days. It’s a nice switch from my usual Greek yogurt – very creamy and rich with great flavors. These photos feature the coffee flavor. I’ve also been enjoying the vanilla topped with peanut butter puffins a lot!
- 4 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into medium chunks
- 2 apples, cored and cut into medium chunks
- 1 cup cranberries
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 3 Tbs brown sugar
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 450.
Mix pears, apples, cranberries, lemon juice, cornstarch, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Spread in a medium baking dish (9×13 works well).
Melt butter and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, oats, pecans, and coconut. Combine until all of the oats are moist and the mixture becomes crumbly. Spread over the fruit mixture in your baking dish. Top with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minute. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until fruit is soft and topping crisps.
Approx 188 calories, 5.5 grams fat, 6 gram fiber, 3 grams protein
****Bertolli Sauces update!!! Thanks for all of your support – you got me into the top3!! For those of you attending the festival, be sure to drop by, say hi, and grab a bite to eat. Fo those of you that can’t make it, I’ll be sure to take loads of pictures. Thanks again!
|November 2, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Italian|
Thank you all for your support in trying to get my cioppino into the top 3 Bertolli Menu Items so I can share it at the Foodbuzz Festival later this week. Voting is now over and the final results are being tallied, but it’s looking pretty good! I promised you that I would share my other entry – the one that wasn’t chosen to be on the menu – and thought that today would be a good day to share. Following my theme of “not Italian,” I decided to make some meatballs with a Middle Eastern flare. These tender lamb meatballs are flavored with a touch of cinnamon and simmered in a cumin-scented sauce. I served the over a bed of spaghetti squash and wilted spinach and topped them with some sauteed onion. I really liked how this looked just like traditional spaghetti and meatballs, but tasted nothing like it! I also thought that adding the cumin to the sauce was a nice way to transform jarred sauce into something a little more special. As with the cioppino, I thought that this was a strong entry, but I agree with the judges that the cioppino was slightly better. Shawn preferred this dish.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 5 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1-1/2 tsp cumin, divided
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup + 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 jar Bertolli Olive Oil and Garlic sauce
- 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- cracked black pepper
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups baby spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add whole spaghetti squash. Let boil for 30 minutes, or until flesh of squash can be easily pierced with a fork.