Saturday, March 7, 2009
Frisée is a member of the chicory family. The leaves are thin and delicate but they are very crisp with a lovely slight bitter taste. Frisée salads work very well with a white wine, champagne or lemon vinaigrette. Spicy, crisp colorful radishes are a nice compliment with this salad.
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon finely mined shallot
Fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Whisk first four ingredients. Continue whisking while slowly drizzling in the oil.
Toss frisée and thinly sliced radishes with enough dressing to lightly coat the salad.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Nothing says spring like green garlic and peas. Toss them in a pasta with a little cream and serve with crusty whole grain bread, a light frisée radish salad, a glass of crisp sauvignon blanc and you have a perfect, yummy spring comfort meal.
Many people seem intimidated with the idea of shelling peas. This is just silly. It only takes a few extra minutes to prepare and the taste is so much more satisfying than the frozen ones. However, if that is all you have available they are an acceptable substitute.
If you have never heard of or used green garlic then you are really missing out and it is time to give it a try. Green garlic is just young garlic. It looks a lot like green onions and has a very similar texture. It tastes and smells like garlic, but it is much more delicate and mild.
1/4 pound of spaghetti. This would also work very nicely with a penne or bow pasta.
1/2 a cup of shelled peas (just over 1/2 pound of peas with shells)
2 tablespoons roughly minced green garlic
1/2- to 3/4 cups heavy cream
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper
Cook pasta in boiling salted water- I like to use a good coarse sea salt for my pasta water. As Silva, my friend in Italy says “your pasta water should be as salty as the sea”. For some delicious recipes and fun stories check our her blog at www.afriendinitaly.blogspot.com
Your pasta should be al dente, don’t over cook.
Cook the peas in boiling water for about a minute or two. Once they float to the top let them cook for about 30 seconds or until they are done. You want to keep the peas nice and crisp for this dish. Drain the peas and set aside.
Heat oil in a sauté pan to medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes until the garlic is translucent. Add the cream and bring to a simmer and cook about another minute or so until the cream thickens slightly. Add a tablespoon of cheese and a sprinkle of kosher salt to taste. Turn off the heat and add the peas.
Drain the pasta and toss into the cream. Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese and fresh ground pepper.
Servings: 2 main course or 4 smaller servings. Since this dish is rich you might want to serve smaller portions as a first course.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The best way to know what is in your food is to make it yourself.
Overall, homemade peanut butter costs about the same to make it as is does to buy it, but there are so many added benefits to making your own. You won’t believe how easy it is and the flavor of freshly roasted peanut butter is amazing. But the biggest benefit is that you control the ingredients.
Most commercial brands of peanut butter often contain added sugar and oils, including partially hydrogenated oil (trans fats). The two main reasons this is added is for texture, to give it that ultra creamy look and feel, and as a preservative to extend the shelf life. Be careful with hidden trans fats, the new labeling regulations state that products can claim 0 trans fats as long as they only contain 0.5g. Unfortunately so many products still contain 0.5g, your daily intake can add up quickly. The National Academy of Sciences states that there is not a safe level of partially hydrogenated trans fat and yet it is still widely used in our food supply. For more information on trans fats or just a quick refresher go to http://www.bantransfats.com/abouttransfat.html
But enough about trans fats (people that know me know I can go on for days about this topic) this entry is about how to make homemade peanut butter.
The healthiest peanut butter has one ingredient; fresh dry roasted peanuts. Maybe a pinch of salt. If you like an extra creamy, slightly sweeter peanut butter add a spoonful of honey.
Start with shelled, raw, organic peanuts. One pound of peanuts gives you about 1 ½ cups of peanut butter.
To remove the skins, vigorously rub the peanuts together in a clean dish cloth. This will slightly loosen the skins. Place the peanuts into the strainer part of a salad spinner and shake so the loose skins will fall through.
Pour the peanuts onto a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until they are lightly toasted and fragrant. Start checking them at about 15 minutes, you don’t want your peanuts to burn. Stir the peanuts several times during the baking process, making sure the nuts are roasting evenly.
Once you take them out of the oven they will continue to cook until cooled, so I like to take them out just before they are at the color I am looking for.
Pour the roasted nuts on to the clean dishtowel. The nuts will be extremely hot at this point so let them cool for a few minutes. Once the nuts are cool enough to touch, vigorously rub the nuts between the towel,
then pour them into the strainer and shake so the loose skins will fall through. You will want to do this several times until most of the skins are removed. There are always stubborn ones that I rub off by hand. This process can take some time, but I promise you, once you taste fresh warm roasted peanut butter you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before.
Once the skins are removed, put the peanuts in the food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. This will take several minutes.
First the peanuts will turn into a crumbly mixture with the texture of cornmeal. You may want to stop the processor and scrape down the sides. Keep on blending. Next it will form a ball, keep on blending. After a minute or two the peanuts will start to release their oil and they will become creamy and smooth.
Blend until you have a desired consistency. If you are going to add salt do it at this time and give it one more quick blend. The fresh roasted peanuts have so much flavor you really only need a pinch or two of kosher salt. If you are going to add honey, also add it at this time.
If you want chunky peanut butter, keep a handful of nuts out of the food processor and chop by hand. Stir them in with a spoon at the end.
Done, that’s it. Yummy, warm fresh peanut butter.
Homemade peanut butter will last up to several months in the fridge.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
This Chow Mein is filled with crunchy, fresh, healthy vegetables. Make extra, this re-heats well and makes great leftovers.
3 Stalks Celery sliced
2 Carrots sliced
½ Medium Onion sliced
1 Cup Firm Tofu cut into ½ inch pieces
1 Cup Broccoli cut into florets
¼ Cup Snow Peas
1 Cup BeanSprouts
Braggs Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
1 Pack Chow Mein Noodles- We used O’Hanna House Chow Mein Noodles (comes 2 in a package)
In a large skillet or wok, add a little olive oil and sesame oil (how much depends on your taste) heat to a medium heat.
Add, the celery, carrots and onion, stir fry for about 4 minutes, vegetables should be slightly cooked at this point, but still firm and crunchy.
Add, the tofu, broccoli and snow peas, stir fry for about 3-4 minutes.
Add, the Chow Mein Noodles, stir fry for about 2 minutes, add the bean sprouts and continue stirring for another minute or two, sprinkle in a generous amount of Braggs Liquid Aminos or soy sauce.
2 large servings or 4 smaller portions.