Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 












As Summer is in full swing and the fun family gatherings are a frequent occurrence, I’ve got one question for you …

What are you bringing to the backyard barbecue?

Forget about the pasta or potato salad.  Ratatouille reigns supreme when it comes to the perfect summer side.  Alright I do love a good mustard dill potato salad too but I digress.  

Ratatouille has it all.  Besides being the perfect way to highlight all those summer veggies, it’s also a great dish to make ahead then serve cool or at room temperature during your family festivities. 

Can you think of a better sidekick to a piece of grilled chicken, pork or fish?  Heck it’s not half bad as a gourmet burger topper either.  But besides being a stunning side dish or condiment, ratatouille also easily adapts to be the star of the show.  

Just imagine the elegance of your ratatouille pressed into a ring mold then topped it with a fresh grape tomato salad and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.  You don’t have to imagine it.  I demoed the stunning light lunch in my video tutorial below.  

Honestly this might have been the tastiest lunch I had all summer. 

Ratatouille
Prep time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1-1½  hours

Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant, (diced into large cubes)
  • 2 zucchinis, (diced into large cubes)
  • 2 summer squash, (diced into large cubes)
  • 2 red bell peppers, (diced)
  • 1 large yellow onion, (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley
  • olive oil (enough to saute all the veggies about ½ cup)

Video Tutorial: 


Instructions
  1. In a very large skillet over a medium heat add few tablespoons of olive oil with half the eggplant cubes and some salt and pepper then saute for a few minutes stirring as needed until the pieces all have a golden color while still maintaining their structure then remove from the pan and set aside. 
  2. Add the other half of the eggplant with a little more oil and salt and pepper repeat step 1.
  3. Add the summer squash with more olive oil, salt and pepper repeat step 1 then set them aside in a separate bowl than the eggplant.
  4. Repeat with the zucchini and when they have some color set them aside in their own bowl.
  5. Add the chopped onion and red peppers together since they both have similar cooking times and saute for a few minutes with more olive oil and salt and pepper then clear a space in the pan and add the sliced garlic with a little oil and toast the garlic for a minute before mixing it in with the peppers and onions.
  6. Add a 6 oz can of tomato paste and stir it into the veggies before adding a cup of water to dilute the paste into a sauce consistency then add all the veggies back into the pan with the parsley and thyme. 
  7. Stir it all together and at this point you can either put the whole mixture into a casserole dish and bake it in a 325 degree oven for ½ hour or finish it right on the stove-top over a low heat for 10 or 15 minutes.
  8. Let it rest for 10 minutes and serve or serve it at room temperature or reheated the next day.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Meat Stuffed Artichokes

Braised Meat Stuffed Artichokes












When I was a girl I remember my mother making large trays of stuffed artichokes for a holiday meal.  Actually, it was a team effort.  I was about 8 or 9 when she first handed me a pair of scissors and showed me how to trim the sharp points from each petal.  She did the real knife-work of course which basically consisted of trimming off the top and stem. 

I guess she didn’t want any preholiday ER visits.

She added the stuffing ingredients to a bowl while I mixed it all together.  We both stuffed them.  I’d watch her carefully and mimic her movements feeling accomplished as they began to take shape.  Before long we’d have tons of them done.    

Then during the holiday meal I’d grin from ear to ear when she told all the distant relatives how I made the artichokes.  A child’s pride is unsurpassed.

In this blog and corresponding YouTube video I did a small batch just to give you a scaled-down snapshot of how it’s done.  If I were actually preparing these for a holiday meal, let’s just say that filming and editing a video would have been nearly impossible.

  
Meat Stuffed Artichokes
Prep time: 15 Minutes
Bake Time: 1 ½ Hours
Servings: 2

Ingredients to Stuff the Artichokes
  • 2 artichokes
  • 6 oz ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh grated GF bread crumbs (toasted)
  • ½ cup pecorino romano
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cut lemon (to rub the artichokes during the prep)

 Ingredients for Baking the Artichokes
  • boiling artichoke water (enough to come up 1 inch in the baking vessel)
  • ½ cup white white
  • 1 clove garlic sliced
  • peeled artichoke stems sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Video Tutorial: 

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (or 175ºC) and have a baking dish ready that will fit the artichokes.
  2. In a medium bowl stir together all of the stuffing ingredients.  I like to use 2 forks to break apart the meat and keep the stuffing light and airy versus compacting the meat and other ingredients together.
  3. To prepare the artichoke have ½ a cut lemon ready to rub all the cut surfaces as you are working to keep the artichoke from browning.
  4. Remove any leaves along the stem and the bottom row of leaves then cut off the stem.
  5. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of the stem and discard then peel the stem and slice it on the bias it into thin rounds to be used during the baking process. Remember to toss the slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
  6. Cut the top ½ inch off the top of the artichoke with a sharp knife then use a scissors to trim the sharp points from every remaining leaf.
  7. Bring a pot of salted water to boil then blanch the artichokes (not the stems) for 15 minutes.
  8. Drain and cool the artichokes to a point where you can work with them. (reserve the artichoke water)
  9. Open the leaves until you are able to work your way down to the choke and small leaves and pull them out with your fingers or a scrape them out with a small spoon.
  10. Divide the filling into 2 parts and use half for each artichoke, opening the leaves as go so that you can work a nice amount of stuffing down into each leaf. 
  11. When they are both done prepare the baking dish by adding about 1 ½ cups of the salted boiling artichoke liquid, add ½ cup of white wine, the sliced artichoke stems and garlic and some crushed red pepper flakes to taste. 
  12. Stir the ingredients together then add stuffed artichokes to the dish.  Sprinkle with a little more pecorino, and a drizzle of olive oil then cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes covered then, remove the foil and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes more or until lightly golden and the leaves are tender.
  13. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the pan juices over each artichoke just before serving.

Notes: 
  1. Since oven temperatures vary, make sure to check your artichokes for doneness by poking with a knife at the base to insure they are tender and testing to see that a leaf can easily be pulled out.  
  2. The braising liquid from the artichokes can be tossed with cooked short pasta, additional parsley, lemon slices, pecorino, and red pepper flakes for a nice accompaniment to the artichokes.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Paleo Pecan Crusted Chicken and Sweet Potato Waffles

 Pecan Chicken & Sweet Potato Waffles












What do you know about chicken and waffles?

According to Wikipedia there are two origins of this American classic. 

The first is the “Soul Food” version and involves pairing fried chicken with waffles then serving with the same butter and syrup you’d use at breakfast. 

The second is the “Pennsylvania Dutch" version which combines a plain waffle with pulled, stewed chicken in gravy.  This version is typically found in the Northeastern United States although I live in Philly and never heard of it.

My version of chicken and waffles more closely resembles the soul food variety.  However I did take some liberties to take this classic in a whole new direction.  Instead of plain waffles, I did sweet potato waffles and instead of regular fried chicken I did pecan crusted chicken.  Then to up-the-ante, I made an Asian inspired sweet spicy ginger maple syrup to take this whole dish to the new heights of deliciousness. 

And beyond the updated flavor profile, this recipe is gluten free, grain free, and perfect for the paleo or primal lifestyle.  

Pecan Crusted Chicken and Sweet Potato Waffles
Prep time: 20- 25 minutes

Ginger Maple Syrup Ingredients
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 heaping tsp sambal sauce (or other Asian chili sauce)
  • 1 tsp liquid aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
  • 1 large chopped scallion
  • ¼ tsp fresh ginger root (grated or finely minced)

Chicken Ingredients
  • 1 cup pecans, finely crushed
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 1 tbs of Adobo seasoning (or other seasoned salt)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 4 chicken tenders

Waffle Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
  • 2/3 cup milk (or almond milk to keep it paleo)
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1/8 tsp ginger

Video Tutorial: Coming Soon

Instructions
  1. To make the Ginger Maple Syrup stir together the syrup ingredients and set aside while you make the other components. 
  2. For the chicken combine the crushed pecans, almond meal and adobo seasoning and stir to combine.
  3. Dip the chicken tenders into the beaten egg then dredge in the pecan mixture.  You can do them twice for a thicker coating. 
  4. Fry the tenders in a few tablespoons of oil over a medium heat for a few minutes per side then drain on paper towels while you make the waffles.
  5. For the waffle batter, in a medium bowl beat the eggs then add the mashed sweet potato, almond milk and melted coconut oil and stir to combine. 
  6. In another bowl combine the  almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger and salt then stir to combine. 
  7. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined. (The batter should be pretty thick).
  8. Preheat the waffle maker according to your machine’s instructions then ladle in the recommended amount which for me was ¾ of a cup, close the lid and let it cook according to the directions that came with your machine which for me was about five minutes. 
  9. To serve, spread the waffle with a little butter or ghee if you want then top it with the pecan crusted chicken and a drizzle of the sweet spicy maple ginger syrup.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Smoked Salmon Fettucine with Olives

Smoked Salmon Fettucine with Olives












Shirataki noodles are made from the Japanese konjac yam and they're a miracle indeed.  When 8 ounces of regular gluten free pasta clocks in at over 800 calories vs the same amount of shirataki tofu noodles being 20 calories I think you can understand my joy. 

With summer upon us shirataki noodles are my best friend.  I think you’ll rejoice in this recipe too especially when it’s time to slip on those summer clothes.  Of course the noodles aren’t as good as other gluten free pastas because the texture is a bit more rubbery but it’s a small difference considering the huge advantages in calorie savings.

The trick for me is to keep the sauce flavorful like I’ve done here with the briny olives and smoked salmon.  I also like to toss in some butter at the end to coat the pasta and give the whole dish a nicer mouth feel.  

This meal comes together so effortlessly that it's become a real favorite of mine when unexpected people drop by.  

Living in the city means constant surprise guests so I'm sure I’ll be making this one a lot.  Although I'd probably use regular gluten free pasta for them since it's a far cheaper to feed a crowd that way.

Smoked Salmon Fettucine with Olives
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloved garlic halved
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 10 pitted olives (you need a briny variety like Kalamata)
  • 1 (8oz bag) Shirataki Fettucine (rinsed and drained)
  • 3 oz smoked salmon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • parsley and dill to taste

Video Tutorial: 


Instructions
  1. In a medium pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and olives and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the shirataki and some salt and pepper and saute for a minute or two then add the smoked salmon, butter and herbs and stir to combine then serve.  

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