Monthly Archives: April 2010
|April 30, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Greek/Mediterranean, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Reviews, Salads, Summer|
Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to side dishes. In the colder weather, a lot of my dinners tend to be soups or stews that don’t require any extras. But now that it’s getting warmer out, it’s hard to resist the simplicity of just throwing something on the grill — which usually means making some sort of side dish to go with it. Baked potatoes and pasta salads are good, but I get tired of them pretty quickly. So I’ve been thinking about other easy-to-make options that will help round out a grilled meal. The white bean salad is exactly the kind of dish that I’ve been looking for. It’s light yet full of flavor, and it only takes a few seconds to throw together. The leftovers are great on a green salad, or they can be pureed and served with toasted baguette pieces for a satisfying hummus-like snack.
I recently came across a good deal on lamb leg slices, so I stocked up and now have a freezer full of them. Which is great, sine they go perfectly with the Mediterranean flavors of the bean salad. I especially like to prepare them in this updated take on my herb-crusted lamb — rubbed with a mixture of olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary, then grilled and slathered with this delicious pesto that Mezzetta sent me (I’ve since bought another jar). I love how intense the flavor of this pesto is! It doesn’t taste like something out of a jar at all. The only weird thing about it is that it needs to be refrigerated after opening, and the olive oil congeals a little in the cold. But as long as you remember to pull it out a few minutes before you plan to eat it so that it comes up to temperature, you’re good to go!
White Bean Salad
This versatile white bean salad is a snap to throw together! Feel free to use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand, or throw in other vegetables that you want to use up.
- 1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 artichoke hearts, chopped
- 2 Tbs sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 2 Tbs fresh thyme
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a serving dish. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to chill and allow the flavors to meld.
Approx. 120 calories, 3 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, 5 grams protein
I’m submitting this recipe to Reeni’s Side Dish Show Down
|April 28, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Lent, Quick Weeknight Meals, Sandwiches, Summer, Vegetarian or Vegan|
While I love a good beefy burger as much as the next person, every once in a while I find myself in the mood for something a little different. A little healthier. I love veggie burgers, but the frozen ones remind me too much of fast-food burgers: overly processed, eerily uniform in size, oddly lacking in color, and much, much too small. I like a burger that I can sink my teeth into. I’ve been toying with the idea of homemade veggie burgers for a while now, but never got around to playing around with recipes. A recent photo featured on The Kitchn has me headed straight for my kitchen though — shredded beets gave the veggie burger a brilliant red, meaty hue that I couldn’t resist.Don’t be scared off by the beets though. While they provide a ton of color to the burger, I didn’t find that they tasted overly of beets. There’s enough other good stuff — brown rice, black beans, spices — to balance out the flavor. While you wouldn’t mistake these burgers for ones made from beef, they didn’t taste like vegetables either. They just tasted good. Really good. The flavor was amazing, the texture was better than any veggie burger than I’ve ever had, and they looked beautiful. Given the choice, I think 9 times out of 10 I would actually pick this burger over a more traditional meat one. And that’s not even considering the fact that they clock in at 150 calories and boast 7 grams of fiber. Not too shabby!!
A few notes about making these burgers: First off, the mixture will be fairly wet and it takes a little effort to get it to form patties. Don’t be afraid to really smoosh it — you don’t run the risk of overworking it like you do with beef. Once the patties have been formed, they will be very delicate and won’t hold their own on a grill (they’ll just fall through the grates). I grilled mine in the mesh wok that I usually use for vegetables. Alternately, you could cook them on the stove in a very hot cast iron pan.
The burgers also don’t reheat very well. They dry out. I crumbled a leftover, reheated burger over a salad and it was great, but I don’t think it would have been very god as a burger. So if you don’t plan to eat these all in one night, I’d recommend refrigerating the extra, uncooked patties and cooking them up to order.
When it came to toppings, I felt like these burgers were calling for a nice, spicy mustard. I also added some banana peppers, which I thought were the perfect touch – I liked the little bit of tang that they gave to it. Shawn had his with barbecue sauce and said it was ok, but I think my combination was way better. I’m not normally a mustard-on-burgers kind of girl, but I couldn’t imagine anything being better ion these. So don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to dressing these!
Ultimate Veggie BurgersThis is a veggie burger that you can sink your teeth into! With a brilliant hue from shredded beets, and tons of fiber and flavor from shitake mushrooms, black beans, chipotle peppers, and spices they’ll be sure to please the vegetarians and the omnivores in your group. I recommend topping them with jack cheese, spicy mustard, and banana peppers, but feel free to use your favorites!
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 beets, peeled and grated
- 2 Tbs cider vinegar
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp steak seasoning
- 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce*
- 1/4 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup oats
- buns, jack cheese, Dijon mustard, and banana peppers for serving (optional)
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the beets and cook until heated through. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar.
Transfer the beet mixture into a large bowl. Add the next 7 ingredient (through the egg) and mix well. Add the oats, a little bit at a time, until the mixture becomes less wet and resembles a meatball mixture.
Use your hands to form the mixture into 6 patties . Don’t be afraid to really work the mix to get the patties to form – I found that pressing it firmly in between my two cupped palms worked the best. Cook the burgers in a basket on the grill or in a very hot cast-iron pan until a nice, charred crust forms on the bottom. This took me about 10 minutes on the grill. Carefully flip the burgers over and cook another 5 minutes. If you’re adding cheese, add it right after you flip the burgers, and cover them to help the cheese melt.
Serve the burgers on crusty buns with mustard and banana peppers.
Approx. 140 calories, 1.8 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, 8 grams protein (not including bun and extra toppings)
*A commenter noted that worcestershire isn’t always vegetarian as it may contain anchovies. Feel free to omit this or substitute a splash of soy sauce.
Congratulations to Art and Lemons, who has won a ticket to join me at the Taste of the Nation event in Hartford! If you want to buy a ticket, it’s not too late! You can visit their site for more information,
|April 25, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Uncategorized|
Spring has sprung and the flowers are in full bloom! What better way to celebrate than with a floral-themed picnic in the park?
In addition to being gorgeous to look at, flowers can be a source of inspiration and flavor in the kitchen. For this month’s 24, 24, 24 event, I created a multi-course picnic dinner inspired by — and including — flowers. On the menu: Orange Blossom Brioche with Pate and Orange-Balsamic Marmalade, Green Salad with Flower Petals and Lemon-Poppy Vinaigrette, Tuna-Strawberry-Rose Maki, and Lavender Creme Brûlée. The biggest hits were definitely the brioche and the creme brûlée — yummy!
Hunting down flowers to use in my dishes was a little more difficult than I anticipated. It’s still a little early in the season for the farmer’s markets to have any, and even though many common flowers are edible (dandelion, chrysanthemum, pansy, etc), you don’t want to just go and pick them or buy a bouquet because they’ll be full of nasty chemicals. Make sure that any flowers you intend to eat are sold as being edible or grow them yourself without any chemicals or pesticides.
Anyway, I was having trouble finding exactly what I wanted, so I had to make do with using only one type of fresh flower (I’m honestly not even sure what they were, since they weren’t labeled other than “edible flowers” anyone know?) as well as dried rose buds, dried lavender, and a bottle of orange blossom water. Dried flowers have a more concentrated flavor and tend to be more “floral” tasting, so it’s best to use them in applications where the flavor is infused into another ingredient. Fresh flowers have a more subtle flavor that’s less like eating perfume — they’re a little bitter and almost peppery. I like to balance them out with something sweet or rich.
- Orange Blossom Brioche with Orange Marmalade, Pate (Slice the brioche and toast under the broiler)
- Baby Lettuce Mix tossed with Flower Petals and Sliced Strawberries, Lemon-Poppy Vinaigrette
- Tuna-Strawberry-Rose Maki (Cook the sushi rice with dried roses in the water, seared tuna, and sliced strawberries rolled in nori. I really wanted to use salted cherry blossoms in this, but unfortunately couldn’t source them in time for the event.)
- Lavender Creme Brûlée
|April 21, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Uncategorized|
Foodbuzz and Share Our Strength have generously given Shawn and I tickets to this year’s Taste of the Nation event in Hartford. And one of you gets to go too! (Well, one of you gets to go for free. Anyone can go if they buy a ticket )
You and me, we’re pretty lucky. Sure things don’t always go our way, we’re tired and overworked, and there’s an endless list of things to complain about. But we don’t have it that bad.
You’re here. I’m assuming that means that you, like me, have a computer and access to the internet. Or at least access to a nice public library.
You’re reading a blog about recipes. I’m assuming that means you, like me, have money with which to buy food, a store to buy it in, a kitchen to cook it in, and at least basic knowledge of how to assemble ingredients into a meal.
And maybe you, like me, can even afford a fancy meal out once in a while or have the luxury of throwing out that experiment-gone-bad and ordering a pizza. You are probably fairly confident that when you’re hungry, there will be something around to eat. For us, food is more than merely sustenance. It’s something to be experimented with, considered, and thoroughly enjoyed. It’s something to b celebrated.
Some people aren’t so lucky. And that breaks my heart – especially when those people are children. Right here in the US, there are millions of people who don’t have a fully functioning kitchen, don’t have the tools necessary to create a nourishing meal. Their “neighborhood” grocery store is far away and difficult to get to without a car. When the do get there, the selection is horrible: produce rotting on the shelves, fruit flies buzzing around. Not that they’d know what to do with it anyway, since they don’t know how to cook. So they buy some prepackaged meal full of chemicals and preservatives, lug it home, heat it up, and feed it to their kids for dinner before heading out to their second minimum-wage job.
Enter Share Our Strength.
You’ve probably heard of them. They’re a great organization committed to ending childhood hunger in America. They increase access to programs provide food to children and their families and strength community resources so to connect kids to healthy foods through school breakfast and lunch programs, after school snacks, and summer time meals. AND they teach parents about food budgeting strategies; Teach them how to cook healthy meals with limited resources. They send participants home with a bag of groceries at the end of each class, so they can practice the skills they’ve learned and share it with their family. They aren’t about giving people handouts. They’re about empowering people with the knowledge and skills they need to provide their family with a healthy, nutritious meal.
If you ask me, that’s pretty awesome.
One of SOS’s most talked about fundraisers is the annual Taste of the Nation series. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has brought together the most creative culinary minds across the nation. Each spring and summer, pioneers of modern American cuisine, national celebrity chefs and mixologists including David Burke, Stephan Pyles, mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, Bravo’s Top Chef Tom Collichio, Food Network stars Tyler Florence and Emeril Lagasse and thousands more like them donate their time, talent and passion at nearly 40 events across the United States and Canada with one goal in mind: to raise critical funds needed to help end childhood hunger. At the event, you’ll get to sample food and drink for some of the areas leading chef’s as well as participate in live and silent auctions. 100% of the proceeds go to Share Our Strength.
Want to win a ticket to this year’s Hartford event? Just leave me a comment indicating that you will be able to attend the event in Hartford, CT on May 6. That’s all. If you support Share Our Strength, I ask that you put one of their banners on your next blog post or tell a friend about them if you don’t have a blog. But you don’t have to do that to win – just leave a comment.
I’ll pick a winner on Monday, April 26th.
|April 19, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Chicken and Poultry, Reviews, Special Occasions|
Chocolate pasta. Cream sauce. Chile peppers. Sound Good? What if I told you this fabulous meal would set you back a mere 350 calories and a half hour in the kitchen?
A few weeks ago I spent some time wandering around Boston, where I stumbled upon Hotel Chocolat. As the name would imply, this adorable little shop sold delicious (and very expensive) chocolates. I almost made it out empty-handed. Almost. As I was on my way out, I caught something out of the corner of my eye: cocoa pasta. At first I thought it was just chocolate in the shape of pasta, but then I realized it was actually pasta that contained cocoa powder. There was obviously no way I was leaving without some of that!
I almost immediately decided that I wanted to pair the pasta with a cream sauce. If you’re cooking chocolate pasta you go big or go home, right? I was afraid of it being too rich though, so I used a lightened-up version of cream sauce. I added some chile peppers to the sauce for good measure and to help cut through the richness, then tossed it all together with some zucchini ribbons and grilled chicken. The final dish as every bit as delicious as it sounds and is definitely worthy of being on a menu somewhere.
The flavor of the pasta itself was really interesting. There isn’t any sugar in it, so it isn’t sweet like you might expect it to be — it’s just normal semolina pasta with added cocoa powder. Once it’s cooked it has an intense chocolate aroma, but the flavor isn’t overpowering at all. It’s subtle yet complex, like a good mole sauce might be. The dried pasta can be purchased through the link above, but google also returns a few recipes if you want to make the pasta yourself (this one looks simple enough — avoid any dessert pastas that call for sugar).
Because I replaced much of the cream in the sauce with skim milk, it takes a little longer than normal to thicken. Be patient though — it will get there! The sauce is done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line drawn across it with your finger.
Chocolate Pasta with Light Cream Sauce and Chiles
The chocolatey aroma of this pasta is intense without being overpowering, and pairs perfectly with the light cream sauce and the heat of the red chile peppers. The chicken can be easily omitted for a vegetarian meal, but I enjoyed the additional flavor and texture that it contributed to the dish. The heat from the chiles will mellow as the cook in the sauce. If you prefer a more intense heat, reserve some uncooked chiles to stir in at the end.
- 1 tsp butter
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 chile peppers1 tsp flour
- 1 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1/4 tsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- generous pinch salt
- 1 package cocoa pasta
- 1 small zucchini, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- 1 skinless chicken breast
- 1 tsp Emeril’s Poultry Rub, or your seasoning of choice
Melt the butter in the bottom of a small saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, and chiles and cook until softened. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the wine, milk, and cream. Heat until just below boiling, then reduce heat slightly and let simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk in the arrowroot and season with salt. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line drawn across it.
White the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the zucchini ribbons and cook for 1 minute. Drain.
Season the chicken breast and grill until done. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into cubes.
Combine the pasta, zucchini, chicken, sauce, and ay reserved chile peppers.
Approx. 350 calories, 9.5 grams fat, 1.5 grams fiber, 18 grams protein
I’m submitting this pasta dish to Natasha’s 5 Star Makeover challenge for April.
|April 16, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Breakfast, Fish and Seafood, Light|
Last winter, Restaurants & Institutions Magazine published an article outlining their predictions for the major food trends of 2010. One of their predictions was that eggs would be the new bacon. I thought they were crazy. Who would ever pass up bacon — especially if only to replace it with an egg? Pure silliness.
I should have given them more credit. It pains me to say it, but I’m a bit baconed out. And I’m finding eggs — poached, fried, or baked with their quivering yolks — completely irresistible. Which might explain why as I was thumbing through Michael Symon’s cookbook the other day the crab tater tots caught my eye. I thought they would go beautifully with a softly poached egg.
Crab Hash with a Poached EggThis crab hash is delicately spicy, with sweetness from the crab and red peppers. It’s lovely topped with an egg that has a slightly runny yolk that mixes into the dish. Don’t be tempted to skimp on the crab — you want to use fairly large pieces of good-quality crab. I used Crown Prince White Lump Crab Meat, but if you have the luxury of having access to fresh crab, it would be even better. Don’t be afraid of seasoning this dish. The crab is delicate, but it holds its own very well when combined with the other ingredients.
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 small Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning (preferably reduced sodium)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 6 ounces lump crab meat
- 2 eggs, poached
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the bell pepper, potatoes, cayenne, and Old Bay.Cook for 5 minutes, or until the edges of the potato begin to crisp up. Add the chicken broth. Simmer until the broth cooks off and the potatoes are soft. Stir in the crab and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Top with poached eggs.
I apologize if anyone had trouble accessing the site earlier this week. I ran into some technical difficulties while moving the blog to a new, faster host. I gave the blog a little bit of a facelift as well! Things will continue to be tweaked over the next few days, but there shouldn’t be any major problems (knock on wood!) and hopefully you’ll notice that things are much faster to load. If you do tun into problem or notice anything out of whack (broken links, pages not loading correctly, etc) please email me to let me know! Thanks! PS- If you’re looking for the comments, they’re at the bottom of the post now.