Monthly Archives: May 2010
|May 11, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Salads, Sides, Summer, Vegetarian or Vegan|
There’s a first time for everything: Eating rhubarb. Making steamed buns. Eating cool, creamy potato salad.
Yeah, you read that right. I only recently had my first bite of creamy potato salad. My aversion to mayonnaise (sorry, I know some of you think it’s good, but I find it repulsive!) had always prevented me from enjoying this delicious salad. Until now.
I was flipping through a recent issue of Food+Wine when I saw this idea. It looked like a normal potato salad, but it used hummus and yogurt. And, most notably, no mayo. It immediately got added to my “to try” list.
So one night we decided to grill up some burgers, and I knew that it was the perfect time to try this salad. I mixed it up, but I have to confess it looked so much like the potato salads that I’ve been avoiding all these years that I was a little hesitant to take a bite. (Which was ridiculous, since I made the stuff and I knew that there was absolutely no mayonnaise in it.)
So I took a small nibble. And it. was. awesome. I mean, we were lucky that there was any left by the time the burgers were done – I couldn’t keep out of it! For those of you who hate mayo, this is a great substitute. Those of you that do eat mayo will enjoy it too – Shawn said that it actually tastes very similar. It’s cool, creamy, and slightly tangy. The hummus flavor isn’t nearly as pronounced as you might imagine it would be, and it has a whole lot less fat (about 5 grams of fat in mine, compared to over 20 grams in traditional versions.)
Creamy Potato Salad, Hold the Mayo
Adapted from Food+Wine
A combination of fat free yogurt and hummus make a cool, creamy sauce for this mayo-free potato salad. I used Greek yogurt to prevent the sauce from becoming to watery, but regular yogurt could also be used. Add in whatever your favorite potato salad ingredients are; this recipe is only a guideline. I do like the crunch that the celery and pickles added though – without them the salad would be too mushy.
- 4 Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 3/4 cup hummus
- 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 Tbs chopped gherkins
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- salt and pepper
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place in a large stockpot and cover with watre. Bring to a a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes are tender and. Drain and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the remaining ingredients, mixing well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Approx. 193 calories, 5 grams fat, 6.5 grams fiber, 8.5 grams protein
See that plate I was using for my dinner? That’s one of the eco-friendly plates that I mentioned the other day. MarxFoods.com sent me some to check out, and I’m so excite about them! They’re renewable, sustainable, compostable, and stylish. They plates are made from palm leaves collected from the floor of the rainforest (aka they’ve already fallen off the tree!), which are compressed, dried, and molded into shape. What shape? Well, that depends on what you order – there are rounds ones, square ones, rectangular ones, and octagonal ones in a variety of sizes. My dinner up there was on a large square plate – as you can see, it was plenty big enough to hold a huge burger, corn, and a ramekin full of potato salad. The plates are very sturdy too – they didn’t give in to the weight of that ramekin at all!
They hold up really well to wet foods (I only put the salad in the dish for aesthetic purposes) but unfortunately they do get soggy if you get them really wet. So no washing and reusing them.
I definitely wouldn’t use these every day, since they are on the expensive side – about 75-cents each if you order 100 – but they’re a great alternative to paper plates if you’re having a cookout or need something tat you can throw away for some reason. I was very happy to see some of the restaurants at Taste of the Nation using them instead of paper.
You can learn more or buy some for yourself at MarxFoods.com
|May 8, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Reviews|
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a Taste of the Nation event in Hartford, thanks to Foodbuzz and Share our Strength. As I wrote before, I think Share our Strength is a great organization and the series Taste of the Nation events is one of their biggest and most exciting fundraisers. I felt a little guilty going for free, but the event was fabulous. There was tons of food and wine from some of the area’s best restaurants as well as lots of great auction items. 100% of the proceeds went to benefit Share our Strength’s local efforts.
But let’s talk about the food. WOW. There were some really delicious, really creative dishes to sample! From guacamole with lobster and fruit (so much better than you’d expect!) to pulled pork sandwiches with diced apple to the amazing asparagus and mushroom custard in that top photo. I even got to try bao! (I have to say though, Shawn and I both liked my Pillsbury version better – this one was kind of dense and dry.) And don’t forget the desserts! My favorite was the caramel custard topped with caramel foam and sea salt from ON20, but there was also a delicious lemon custard cake with blackberry sauce that I’ll be trying to recreate at home soon. And plenty of chocolates. And wine. And beer. Honestly, for the price of the $75 admission ticket (which will supply 18 bags of groceries to those who need them) you might feel like you’re ripping them off a little bit. If you purchase a VIP ticket (which I would do in a heartbeat next time) you’ll also have access to a roped off area that looks like it had some seriously good food and cocktails behind it. VIPs also left with gift bags (I left with a t-shirt from one of the participating restaurants and 2 beer glasses). If one of these events is coming to your area, I highly recommend going. It’s a great time for a great cause.
I took a ton of pictures, so I decided to make a slideshow instead of posting them all. Enjoy! (Also, see that plate above? I was so happy to see a lot of the restaurants using these. They’re eco friendly and very cool. I actually got some last week and have a review coming up soon!)
|May 4, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Asian, Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Lent, Quick Weeknight Meals, Reviews, Sandwiches, Vegetarian or Vegan|
Do you ever see something or hear of something and immediately know that you’ll love it? That’s how I felt about the delicious looking Chinese steamed buns, or bao, that keep turning up everywhere I look lately. Everywhere, that is, except on menus here in Albany. It seemed as though if I wanted to taste these for myself, I would ether have to travel to NYC or make them myself. Making them seemed like it would be complicated, so I tucked the idea away in my every-expanding file of recipes to try on the weekend. But then I read this post from Carolyn Jung, who had a little truck up her sleeve to make steamed buns on a weeknight a very real possibility.
The trick? Don’t bother making your own dough. Instead, turn to a tube of refrigerated biscuits. Easy Peasy. When classic Pillsbury biscuits are steamed instead of baked, the texture undergoes a complete transformation. Instead of turning out buttery and flakey, they become pillowy-soft and slightly chewy. I don’t know how authentic the flavor or texture is, but it’s exactly how I imagined it would be. And every bit as delicious.
I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to fill my bins with, so I ended up doing two version: one fatty, porky version based on Momofuku’s popular buns, and another light version stuffed with tofu that I baked with my favorite generic “Asian” marinade. Bother versions were amazing, but I actually liked the tofu version the most! It was light and fresh in flavor and the combination of textures — the doughy bun, crispy-creamy tofu and crunchy vegetables — was so much more interesting than that of the chewy pork belly.
I’ve posted tofu very similar to this one before, but I’ve recently started to fry the whole block very quickly before baking it. This gives the outside of the tofu a crispy coating that tastes really good and also makes the texture of the tofu a lot more appealing.
Easy Steamed Chinese Buns
A can of Pillsbury biscuit dough makes these buns easy to whip up for a weeknight dinner or as a delicious snack. Look for the traditional smaller sized tubes — no need for “grands” or “flaky layers” here. I also learned the hard way that you’ll want to line your steamer with something or the buns will stick and be difficult to remove — a cabbage leaf or a simple piece of parchment paper will do the trick! You’l need a bamboo steamer to make these. If you don’t have one, you should be able to pick one up in a Chinese grocery store or well-stocked kitchen supply store for well under $10. The steamer should fit snugly on top of a saucepan.
- 1 tube Pillsbury biscuits
- 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cucumber, sliced into rounds
- hoisin sauce for serving
For the tofu filling:
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 4 Tbs soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbs sesame seeds
For the pork belly filling:
- 1/4 pound pork belly, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs hoisin sauce
To prepare the buns: Bring a pot of water that will fit under your bamboo steamer to a boil. Pop open the tube of biscuits and separate them. Use your fingers to flatten each round into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Fold over into a half-moon shape and place in the steamer. Set the steamer on top of the pot of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice each bun to form a pocket for fillings.
To make the tofu: Preheat oven to 350. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the tofu — it should immediately start to sizzle. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until La thin, crispy crust forms. Place in a baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over the tofu and bake for 15 minutes.
To make the pork belly filling: Set a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pork belly and cook slowly, allowing the fat to render off. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the edges begin to crisp. Add the hoisin to the pan and stir around to allow it to melt and lightly coat the pork pieces. Drain on paper towels until ready to serve.
To serve: Slather a little bit of hoisin sauce in each bun. Stuff with cucumber slices, scallions, and either a slice of tofu or pork belly.
Makes 4, 3 bun servings
|May 3, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Cake and Pastry, Desserts, Fruit, Shawn's Favorites|
The other day I mentioned on twitter that I have never had rhubarb. The responses were fast and plentiful, and most fell into a rage from disbelief to pity. I never realized it was so popular – I don’t even think I knew it existed until a few years ago! I decided that since everyone seemed to love it so much, I should take the plunge and give it a try. I went with the traditional combination of rhubarb with strawberries, but I didn’t want to commit to a whole pie. So I made a tart. A tart with a brown sugar shortbread crust.
Ok, fine. Maybe I just didn’t feel like dealing with pie crust. But the shortbread crust was perfect. Strawberries and shortbread. Strawberries and brown sugar. How could you go wrong? Especially when you start out with strawberries that look like these:
I mean, strawberries have been awesome this year as it is, but take a look at those beauties! They were every bit as juicy and sweet as they look. Which is good, since I paired them with rhubarb. Which, in case you’re like me and have never had it before, is extremely tart. Especially when it’s raw. I don’t recommend doing what I did and taking a nibble to test it out.
Despite the tartness of that nibble, I could tell that this was going to be a thing of beauty so I forged ahead. Let the berries and rhubarb macerate in sugar to release the juices. Scooped it into the partially baked cookie crust. Baked it until the filling became luscious and jammy, almost like a grown up version of a linzer tart. Where has this been all my life?
Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart with Brown Sugar Shortcrust
This may be one of the easiest and most impressive desserts I’ve ever made. The cookie crust is simple to mix up, and the brown sugar gives it a nice complexity. The filling is sweet without being too sweet, with the perfect amount of tartness to balance it out. It tastes like summer.
The tart is perfect straight out of the pan, unadorned. But if you’re looking for a little something more, please don’t ruin it with whipped cream. A dollop of sour cream mixed with a tough of sugar is the perfect sweet-tart compliment to this dessert.
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1.5 pints strawberries, sliced
- 1 stalk rhubarb, diced
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 Tbs arrowroot powder or cornstarch
Preheat oven to 325. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan.
Add the butter to a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the brown sugar, mixing well to break up and lumps. Gently mix in the flour and the salt, taking care not to overwork the dough (it will be very dry and crumbly).
Press the dough out into the prepared tart pan. Use a fork to dock the dough (poke holes in it — this will help keep the crust thin by preventing steam from making it bubble up as it cooks).
Bake for 20 minutes.
While the crust begins to bake, combine strawberries, rhubarb, white sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside to rest — the mixture will get very syrupy.
Pour the strawberry mixture into the partially baked crust, making sure to spread it out across the whole thing. Return to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the crust is baked and the middle looks like jam.
Remove and let cool before serving.
Approx. 255 calories, 12 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein
|May 2, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Reviews|
Earlier this year, the city I live in implemented one of those “chain restaurants must post calories counts on their menus” laws that seem to be popping up across the country like wildflowers. I’m not going to get into a debate on the merits. I like the idea of it, but it honestly doesn’t effect me that much since I rarely eat at chains.
But once in a while, I do. Like the other night, when I went to Chili’s for dinner. I knew that everything on the menu would be awful — processed, fried, and loaded with calories. But can we just talk about their salads for a second? I mean, I certainly wasn’t expecting them to be the healthy salads that I make at home, but over 1,000 calories for something that didn’t even seem that appetizing? That’s insane. A “salad” shouldn’t have anywhere near the amount of calories as a half rack of ribs. (Yes, theirs did.)
Which got me to thinking: I usually bring leftovers with me to work to eat for lunch. But that doesn’t always happen — there either aren’t any, or they won’t reheat well, or I just don’t feel like eating them. So I buy something. Usually a salad, since they’re fresh and (relatively) healthy (sometimes). They’re not usually very good though, and I really have no way of knowing how “healthy” they are.
So I was really excited when the people’s from Olivia’s Organics contacted me to let me know about a new product that will be hitting supermarket shelves on Monday. Individual, grab-and-go salads. Organic. For $2.99, which is way cheaper than anything you’d get at a lunch place. AND THEY COME WITH A FORK! Which makes sense since they’re meant as a to-go type of a meal, but I still think it’s pretty brilliant.
Anyway, there are going to be three kinds: spring mix salad with balsamic dressing; chopped romaine salad with garlic croutons and Caesar dressing; or baby spinach salad with ranch dressing. I’m still waiting on them to get back to me with nutrition information, but I’m pretty sure they’ll have a lot less calories than anything you’d find in a restaurant. A hand full of fresh berries thrown on top or a little bit of chicken from the deli could easily transform these salads into a satisfying and healthy lunch. The next time I’m looking for an effortless lunch in a hurry, I’ll definitely seek out one of these instead of getting one from a take out place.
(I was not compensated for this post. They sent me information about the new salad line, and I’m choosing to share it with you because I am excited about it and thought that you might be too. I did receive some coupons for samples of Olivia’s lettuce a while back, but I also buy their products all the time.)