Monthly Archives: May 2010

FoodBuzz 24,24,24,: Awesome Rawsome – A 5 course Raw Food Dinner


As celebration of FoodBuzz’s new Healthbuzz section, I wanted to discover the mysteries of the Raw Food diet.  This month, FoodBuzz selected my proposal for 24,24,24  I decided to invite a group of my friends and together we explored the beauties of eating raw through a 5 course meal. Does that sound Awesome Rawsome?  I think so.

This was probably one of the most challenging menus for me to think of — I mean eating RAW? I am use to the heat of the kitchen, the sounds of oil sizzling in a pan but no, not this time.  One of the main rules of eating raw is nothing is cooked above 118F, any temperature above that will begin breaking down the natural enzymes in fruits and vegetables. Now many of you are thinking — So what? but because of the degradation of these enzymes, it forces our bodies to generate the enzymes necessary to digest cooked food. Our bodies are unable to produce enzymes in perfect combinations to metabolize our foods as completely as the food enzymes created by nature do. As a result, starches, proteins and partially digested fats can cause blockage to your body’s intestinal tract and arteries leading to health challenges such as high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.

I used Raw, a cookbook written by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein, as guidance through my exploration of raw foods.  They included this example about Eskimos and their raw diet:

The Eskimos are a remarkable example of the transformative power of enzymes.  The word Eskimo means one who eats raw. While living for centuries on a diet that consisted primarily of raw whale or seal blubber, Eskimos developed no arteriosclerosis and experienced almost no incidence of heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure.  Established nutritional doctrine would predict a high rate of these ailments given the diet, but even blubber will digest itself completely if it is not cooked since its enzymes are intact.  Once you heat even the finest olive oil above 118F, you will not be able to digest it completely.  More important, many authorities believe that eating cooked foods depletes our finite enzyme reserve.  Proof of this effect is that an eighty-five-year-old has only one-thirtieth the enzyme activity level of an eighteen-year-old.  In other words, your enzyme reserve is slowly exhausted over a lifetime of eating cooked foods.”


I found this compelling, I never thought about the importance of eating foods raw.  I mean in my mind, raw food meant leafy salads and those party veggie trays, — food isn’t meant to be eaten raw, right?  I guess that’s why I had so much fun with this proposal I had to think of a 5 course menu consisting of all raw foods, made in different ways and in clever combinations to make my guests say — Wait, this is RAW? I could eat this!

To do this, the most important thing would be to pick good quality produce and discovering the beauty of fruits and vegetables in their natural state and using them in way that would enhance their flavors. An interesting fact I also learned when reading Raw, was our bodies’ struggle with digesting unsprouted nuts and seeds — nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting into a plant or tree; however, if they have been sprouted (soaked in water), these enzyme inhibitors will degrade and then our bodies are able to digest them naturally.

Maybe it may not be practical to say– I will eat raw for the rest of my life! In the society we live in today many of us are not able to do that.  However, I’m going to make a personal commitment to improve the quality of foods I place into my body.  Maybe as a start, I’ll start eating raw a couple nights a week, or making my meals half cooked and half raw either way, incorporating raw foods into my daily diet would never be detrimental to my health and would only improve it.  Our health is one of the few things we are able to control in our lives through daily practices of healthy eating habits and exercise; our bodies will take care of us if we take care of it.

In all of the food we eat, (fruits, vegetables, meats), there are natural food enzymes that are present in their raw state.  These enzymes are a perfect combination and fit to help our bodies digest it completely.  Enzymes act as catalysts for every metabolic reaction in our bodies: cell division, energy production, brain activity, which are essential to our mental and physical well-being.

“Nature in her never-ending perfection sees that all food, whether flesh, fruit, or vegetable, decomposes and returns to the earth from which it came.“ Roxanne Klein


Menu for Awesome Rawsome

Appetizer

Gazpacho Granita

relish of cucumber, red and yellow bell pepper and red onion

Soup

cream of corn soup with tomato basil lemon oil

Salad

heirloom tomatoes with arugula served with lemon tahini

Entrée

jicama ravioli with avocado crema and southwestern corn slaw

Dessert

watermelon medallions served with a tropical salsa in a chilled mango soup

Ingredients for Gazpacho Granita: (serves 4 to 6)

Granita

  • 2 pounds ripe sweet tomatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt

Dressing

  • ¼ cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Salad

  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • ½ red onion, finely diced

To make granita: Quarter tomatoes and puree in a food processor with sugar and garlic. Strain puree through a sieve to discard seeds. Stir in basil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Let mixture chill in refrigerator at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

Pour the granita mixture into a wide and shallow container, such as a stainless steel baking dish (the shallower the container, the quicker the granite will freeze). Cover with a lid, foil, or plastic wrap. Freeze the mixture 1 to 2 hours, until it is solid around the edges.  Take the container out of the freezer and scrape the ice with a fork, mixing it from the edges into the center.

Repeat this scraping and mixing process every 30 minutes or so (at least three times) until the entire mixture has turned into small, sequined ice flakes.  When ready to serve, scrape with a fork to loosen the granita and spoon into serving dishes.

To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients until blended.  To assemble salad, in a large bowl combine all ingredients; add dressing and toss to coat.  Spoon granita on center of serving dishes.  Arrange salad evenly around each.

Ingredients for Cream of Corn Soup: (Makes 4-6 servings)

  • 4 cups sweet corn kernels
  • 2 cup filtered water
  • ½ avocado
  • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Place ingredients in a large bowl and using a blender or hand held blender, puree until it is a smooth consistency.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove skin of kernels and taste with salt and pepper.


Garnish for Corn Soup:

  • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
  • ¼ cup julienned jicama
  • ¼ cup microgreens
  • 4 tsp tomato basil lemon oil


Ingredients for Tomato Basil Lemon Oil:

  • ½ pound ripe tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups cold pressed olive oil
  • ¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp lemon zest


Slice the tomatoes in half crosswise (through the equator) and gently squeeze out the seeds; discard them.  Working in a large bowl, rub the cut sides of the tomatoes across the large holes of a metal grater so that the flesh is coarsely grated but the skin remains intact in your hand.  Discard the skin.

Combine the tomatoes, oil, basil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Place at room temperature for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, before using.  Strain and spoon the oil off any juices into clean, dry jar.  The oil will keep in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month  Bring to room temperature about ½ hour before serving.

To assemble soup, pour corn soup into bowls and garnish with jicama and corn mixture.  Drizzle with tomato lemon basil oil and top with microgreens.

Ingredients for Heirloom Tomatoes with Lemon Tahini: (Makes 4-6 servings)

  • ½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 8 medium heirloom tomatoes, washed and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 3 cups Arugula
  • 1lemon,, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Freshly ground pepper


In the bowl of a food processor, place tahini, half the lemon zest, and lemon juice; pulse to combine. With the motor running, add 7 to 8 tbsp cold water and continue to process until mixture is thick and smooth. Add salt to taste, and refrigerate until cold.

Bring tahini to room temperature.Place arugula on a large platter and arrange tomatoes on top in a tight overlapping pattern; drizzle half the tahini over the tomatoes.  Scatter remaining lemon zest on top.  Tuck lemon slices around and between tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Serve remaining tahini on the side.

Ingredients for Jicama Ravioli: (serves 4-6)

  • 1 ½ medium-sized jicama, washed and peeled
  • 3 cups raw walnuts, sprouted
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Finely chop the walnuts and mix with chile, cumin powder and salt pepper to taste. Set aside. Take peeled jicama and cut into paper thin slices using either a sharp knife or mandoline.  Place in a large bowl of water with some fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Ingredients for Corn Salsa:

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • ¼ cup jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • 1 tsp cilantro, minced
  • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and taste with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Avocado Crema:

  • 1 ½ avocado, pitted
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ tsp garlic, minced
  • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Puree and strain ingredients into a large bowl, adjusting the consistency according to your preference–  if it’s too thin add more avocado, if it’s too thick add more water.  Adjust the flavors to your taste.

Take jicama slices and using a round cookie cutter, cut into desired sizes.  Lay one jicama round and spoon walnut mixture in the middle and top with another jicama slice.  Make 3-4 per plate and top with Corn Salsa and Avocado Crema.  Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Watermelon Medallions in a Chilled Mango Soup: (serves 4-6)

  • 4-6 Watermelon pieces cut into 4″ rounds 2″thick

Slice watermelon into 2″-thick slices and using a 4″ round cookie cutter, cut out 4-6 rounds.  It would be preferable to use seedless watermelon so it is easier to eat for your guests.

Ingredients for Chilled Mango Soup:

  • 3 Champagne Mangoes
  • 1 ½ cups filtered water
  • 1 tsp agave
  • ½ vanilla bean

Peel and slice the mangoes, discarding the pit, and place in a large bowl with water and agave.  Using a blender or hand held blender, puree ingredients until nice and smooth.  Scrape vanilla beans from the pod and allow soup to chill for at least an hour.  To make mango stars, pour some of the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze for 1-2 hours.


Ingredients for Tropical Fruit Salsa:

  • ½ pineapple, small-diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 mango, small-diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, crushed
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and allow fruit to macerate/marinate overnight. You may add a little agave or honey if the fruit is not sweet enough.

To assemble the dessert: place watermelon rounds in bowls and spoon chilled mango, filling bowls ¾ of the way.  Top with tropical fruit salsa and garnish with mint and frozen mango ice cube.

Watermelon Lemonade and Strawberry-Mint Iced Tea


The sweltering Texas heat is beginning, y’all. And boy is it hot.  Though Dallas is not humid like Houston, June hasn’t even begun and I find myself blasting the AC wherever I go.  To make matters worse, I am awkwardly sweaty (I call it a sexy “glow”) so whenever I am outside there is sweat pouring down my face, non-stop.  I had to find a solution for not only the excessive heat but something to cure my insatiable thirst for something refreshing.

I am making these 2 drinks for my Awesome Rawsome event this weekend and thought I’d give it a spin before serving them Saturday.  Oh yes, about that — FoodBuzz selected my proposal this month for 24,24,24!  So stay tuned for an exciting menu of Raw Foods hence the title “Awesome Rawsome”.  I’ll keep this short and sweet, the drinks are awesome — I’ve finished half the batch of Strawberry Lemonade because it’s probably the best drink EVER.  Don’t believe me?  Give it a try!  And seeing that Memorial Day is this weekend, why not whip up a big batch for guests?  Maybe if you’re feeling a little sassy, kick it up a notch with some gin or vodka (because who are we kidding, everyone gets a little saucy during Summer holidays).  Have a great weekend folks!

Ingredients for Strawberry-Mint Iced Tea: (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup honey water (1/4 honey 1/4 water) <— you can also use agave
  • 4 mint-flavored tea bags

In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil.  Allow water to cool down to a warm temperature (around 110 degrees). Add 3/4 pint strawberries and mint. Allow to steep for 10 minutes then add honey water and tea bags.

Strain mixture through a fine seive and mash strawberries to extract more juice.  Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until serving.

Pour over ice.  Garnish with remaining sliced strawberries.

If you do not feel it’s sweet enough, feel free to add more honey/agave.  The reason I did not steep the tea leaves in boiling water is because with Raw Foods, they have a rule where they do not cook anything above 118F.  However, if you could care less, feel free to simmer the strawberries and mint at a low heat for about 6 minutes, add the honey water and tea bags and simmer for an additional minute.

Ingredients for Watermelon Lemonade: (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 1/2 lbs sliced watermelon, (preferably seedless), rind removed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish

In the bowl of a food processor, place watermelon and process until very smooth.  Strain through a coarse sieve set over a bowl, stirring to push through any pulp.

Pour juice into a large pitcher.  Add lemon zest.  In a bowl, whisk lemon juice and honey until honey dissolves; stir into watermelon juice.

Stir in water; cover and refrigersate until very cold.  Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices.

Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken with Tomato Yogurt Sauce


One of the most common questions I get is “What’s the easiest and most impressive dinner I can make for friends?” My response is always Roasted Chicken. It’s relatable, always delicious and easy to make.  There are so many different varieties — herb roasted, lemon pepper, cajun, the possibilities are left to your imagination.  You can pair it with a salad, or rice, any type of veggie, I guarantee your guests will leave with happy stomachs and a full heart!

There’s something magical about roasted chickens — perhaps it’s the down-to- earth simplicity, the intoxicating flavors and smells, the comfort that seems to spread to the deepest corners of your soul — okay got a little overly dramatic there, but you get the idea.

Today I am taking a page from the big boss, Oprah Winfrey, is there anything that woman can’t do?  In the Oprah Magazine Cookbook I found this beautiful recipe for a Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken.  I made a few changes which I will note in parentheses and then came up with two sides that I felt would pair well — Coconut Basmati Rice and some Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes.  The flavors of the spices were out of this world, I loved the boldness of the cardamom and the spicy sweetness of the cinnamon.  O-M-G talk about flavor heaven!  The recipe was by Chef Rori Trovato — “It’s a little bit sweet, a litte bit daring.  It’s cinnamon, and it’s probably sitting right there in your pantry.”

Ingredients for Cinnamon Roasted Chicken: (Makes 2-3 servings)

  • 1 (3-4 lb) roasting chicken
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 shallots, unpeeled and quartered
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Ingredients for Tomato Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, room temperature (I used fat-free)
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

***I also brined the chicken, it retains more moisture in the meat.  I have included the ingredients and direction below.

Ingredients for Brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 6 cups ice water

Take your spices and ground them in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.  For the brine, combine the water, salt, sugar, and spices in a large saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Reduce to heat to low and simmer for 10 min so the flavors of the herbs can be drawn out. Pour the brine into a deep set large bowl and cool it down with your ice water.  Set aside.

Clean the chicken by rinsing out the cavity and outer skin and place on a clean surface.  Be sure not to contaminate any vegetables or other ingredients, because no one is a fan of salmonella!  Place the chicken in the brine,  make sure it is completely immersed in the brine.  Cover and allow to marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

To make the chicken: Preheat oven to 400F.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Place on a rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish.  Set aside.  In a small frying pan over medium heat, combine cumin seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods.  Swirl until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly; grind using a mortar and pestle (or a coffee grinder).  Mix with curry powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes.

Finely chop peeled garlic cloves and combine with ginger and olive oil in a small bowl.  Rub mixture over entire chicken.  Sprinkle with salt, then with spice mixture.  Place unpeeled garlic, shallots, and cinnamon sticks inside chicken cavity.  Tie legs with kitchen string.  Roast 30 minutes before basting with 1/2 cup chicken broth.  Roast 20 minutes more, then baste with remaining 1/2 cup broth.  Continue cooking until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife and meat is no longer pink, about 1 hour and 15 minutes total.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

To make the sauce: Transfer juices from pan into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Slowly add in the yogurt, stirring constantly with a whisk so yogurt doesn’t curdle.  Remove from heat.  Add most of the tomatoes and cilantro, setting some aside to garnish top of the chicken.  Serve with sauce on side.

Ingredients for Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound boiling or baking potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of saffron

n a small bowl stir together the butter and the oil along with the saffron and garlic. In a food processor fitted with a 1-millimeter slicing blade or with a mandoline or similar hand-held slicing device, slice the potatoes thin. Working quickly to prevent the potatoes from discoloring, brush the bottom of a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with some of the butter mixture and cover it with a layer of the potato slices, overlapping them. Brush the potatoes with some of the remaining saffron buttermixture and season them with salt and pepper. Layer the remaining potatoes with the remaining saffron butter mixture in the same manner.

eat the mixture over moderately high heat until it begins to sizzle, transfer the skillet to the middle of a preheated 450°F. oven, and bake the galette for 25 minutes, or until it is golden and the potatoes are tender. Cut the galette into wedges or you can cut them with a circle cutter.

Ingredients for Coconut Basmati Rice:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Basmati rice

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Buitoni Pasta and Wine Pairing Event!


For the past 6 months I’ve been reading up on wines– from the barreling process to the different regions where grapes are grown, also learning about the vast variety of flavors ranging from the fruity to floral, to the full-bodied to medium and the dryness and smoothness, down to what these characteristics in the wines would pair well with — the venture of my wine adventures was much more complicated than I initially had anticipated, but nonetheless interesting!

 

When Foodbuzz and Buitoni presented a proposal to host a dinner and wine pairing for friends or family, I jumped at the opportunity.  I have never had a wine pairing dinner nor had I ever tried any Buitoni products before so it was a win-win for sure.  Plus, what better way to spend my birthday than with good food, good wine and great friends? I came up with the following menu and included the wine pairings with it —

Appetizers

Roasted Eggplant and Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta

topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh goat cheese on garlic cracked pepper crostini

Fruit and Cheese Plate

muscato grapes and fresh organic strawberries with Argentinian cheeses

**Paired with Yellow Tail Riesling

Salads

Caprese Salad

vine-ripened tomatoes with basil and fresh mozzarella cheese drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic

Whimsical Spring Salad

shaved radish, green beans, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, toasted pine nuts and fresh goat cheese

**Paired with Yellow Tail Riesling or Christian Moueix Merlot Bordeaux

 Entrees

Vegetable Primavera with Bolognese Sauce

quatro formaggi agnolotti with yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, broccoli and basil

**Paired with Steel Merlot

Wild Mushroom Agnolotti with Porcini Alfredo Cream Sauce

porcini mushrooms sautéed in white wine and shallots

**Paired with Steel Chardonnay

Pan Seared Rib Eye with Whole Wheat Linguine

linguine tossed in lemon garlic thyme butter topped with Argentinian parmesan

**Paired with Ghost Pines Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Dessert

Warm Brownie Bites with Ice Cream

 gooey brownie with vanilla or chocolate Bluebell ice cream

White Chocolate Mousse Tart with Fresh Organic Strawberries

made with pecan shortbread crust

  

Ingredients for Roasted Eggplant and Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta (serves 6-8):

  • 1 baguette – sliced in 1/2″ rounds
  • 2 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 eggplant, halved vertically
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted, diced
  • 6 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 2 oz toasted pine nuts
  • salt pepper to taste

*** What the heck is chiffonade? It’s a technique of cutting ingredients like herbs into ribbons.  You stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them into a cigar-like shape, the cut the roll crosswides and the pieces will unravel in ribbons.

Pre heat oven to 350 F.

Line 3 baking sheets with foil and set aside. 

Take eggplant halves and generously coat with olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic.  Pierce the skin of the eggplant with a fork to decrease cooking time.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and arrange facedown on baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until eggplant is softened. In a bowl mix 1 oz olive oil, the cracked black pepper and garlic.  Arrange crostinis on the remaining two baking sheets and brush w4th mixture.  Bake for 5-6 minutes or until crostinis are slightly golden brown.  (You do not want to over bake your crostinis or your guests will break their teeth)

Set prepared crostinis aside.  Once eggplant is cooked, remove the outer skin — you should be able to peel it off easily just using your hands (be careful to not burn your fingers).  Place in a large bowl with roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes and basil.  Taste with salt and pepper.  When ready to serve, place mixture on crostinis and top with goat cheese and toasted pinenuts.

 

Ingredients for Caprese Salad: (serves 6-8)

  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 ball or 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 10 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • salt pepper to taste

Sliced tomatoes in 1/4 inch pieces and the same goes for the mozzarella cheese — the size of the tomatoes and cheese should be about the same.  Arrange on large serving platter, alternating between the tomatoes and cheese.  Garnish generously with basil and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.  Taste with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Whimsical Spring Salad: (serves 6-10)

  • 5 medium radishes, thinly sliced
  • 10 oz green beans, blanched
  • 16 oz yellow or white corn, kernels only
  • 1o oz baby heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 4 oz toasted pine nuts
  • 8 oz spring mix
  • 8 oz arugula
  • 6 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients (except for the cheese, pine nuts and lemon juice) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  When ready to serve, toss with lemon juice and garnish with goat cheese and pine nuts.  Taste with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Vegetable Primavera with Bolognese Sauce: (serves 6-8)

  • 8 oz ground sirloin
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 container of Buitoni’s All Natural Marinara Sauce
  • 1/2 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 yellow squash, diced
  • 4 oz broccoli florets
  • 6 oz green beans
  • 6 oz roma tomatoes, diced
  • salt pepper to taste
  • 2 packages of Buitoni’s Riserva Quatro Formaggi Agnolotti

Bring a large pot of water to a simmering boil.  Take a large skillet or heavy bottomed saute pan and melt butter at medium heat.  Add garlic, onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  (Do not disturb the ingredients too often, or else they won’t properly caramelize)  Add the ground sirloin and when almost thoroughly cooked, add Buitoni’s marinara sauce.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add the remaining vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the packages of Buitoni’s Riserva Quatro Formaggi Agnolotti in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.   Drain and place into the sauce mixture.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until sauce thickens and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately and garnish with shaved parmesan if preferred.

Ingredients for Wild Mushroom Agnolotti with Porcini Alfredo Cream Sauce: (serves 6-8)

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 oz white wine
  • 2 oz cream
  • 1 container Buitoni’s Alfredo sauce
  • 2 packages of Buitoni’s Wild Mushroom Agnolotti

 

Bring a large pot of water to a simmering boil.  Take a large skillet or heavy bottomed saute pan and melt the butter at medium heat.  Once the butter is bubbling, add the shallot, garlic and mushrooms and cook until browned, about 4 minutes.  Add the wine and cook for an additional 2 minutes and add the cream and alfredo sauce and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Meanwhile place the packages of Buitoni’s Riserva Wild Mushroom Agnolotti in the boiling water and cook for 304 minutes.  Drain and place into the sauce mixture.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.  Taste with salt and pepper.

 Ingredients for Pan Seared Rib Eye with Whole Wheat Linguine: (serves 6-8)

  • 1 16-18 oz rib eye
  • 2 tablespoons butter + 4 tablespoons for pasta
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 packages Buitoni’s Whole Wheat Linguine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt pepper to taste
  • parmesan for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a simmering boil.  Pre heat oven to 400F.

Take a medium skillet or saucepan and melt the butter at medium high heat.  Sprinkle both sides of rib eye with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Once the butter is bubbling and slightly browned, sear the rib eye on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Place in the oven and cook for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the steak) for medium rare.  If the steak is still too red, simply place it back in the oven at 3 minute intervals until it has reached the desired color.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet or heavy-bottomed saute pan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter at medium heat.  Once butter is bubbling, add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant.  Place the linguine in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes (reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water), drain and add to the large skillet.  Add the pasta water along with the lemon juice and cook for 2-3 minutes or until water has been soaked up by the pasta, taste with salt and pepper.  Take the steak (after allowing it to sit for 10 minutes once it is removed from the oven), slice thinly and place over the pasta.  Garnish with fresh thyme and shaved parmesan. 

**If the pasta still seems a little dry, simple drizzle with olive oil. 

Ingredients for White Chocolate Mousse Tart with Fresh Organic Strawberries: (makes 1 x 9″ tart)

Ingredients for White Chocolate Mousse:

  • 6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 16-ounce basket organic strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise

Combine white chocolate and 1/4 cup whipping cream in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate mixture until lukewarm, about 15 minutes.

Beat remaining 1 cup whipping cream and vanilla in large bowl until peaks form. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with cream of tartar in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into chocolate mixture, then fold in whipped cream. Transfer mixture to cooled crust; smooth top. Chill overnight.

Combine jam and lemon juice in small saucepan; bring to simmer, stirring over medium heat until jam melts. Remove from heat. Arrange sliced strawberries in concentric circles atop tart. Brush berries with melted jam mixture. Chill tart up to 2 hours and serve.

Ingredients for Pecan Shortbread Crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons (about) ice water

Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl; add butter and shortening. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons ice water. Beat until dough holds together, adding more water by 1/2 tablespoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap disk in waxed paper and chill until firm enough to roll, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 12-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper. Invert dough into 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish; peel off paper. Press dough gently into dish. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch; turn under and crimp edge decoratively. Freeze crust until firm, about 30 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until golden at edge, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans; continue to bake until crust is pale golden, piercing with fork if crust bubbles, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on rack.

Wine List

  • Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
  • Steele Merlot 2007
  • Christian Moueix Merlot Bordeaux 2005
  • Stelle Chardonnay 2007
  • Yellow Tail Riesling 2008

 

Lemon Meringue Pie


I’m turning 25 on Sunday, yes a quarter CENTURY old.  How did that happen?  Where did the time go? What does this mean?

Since I was 7 I would tell my mom “I can’t wait til I’m an adult.  Then you can’t tell me what to do and I can do WHATEVER I WANT!”  Boy, how I wish I could take those words back.  Being an adult isn’t all that it’s cut out to be.  Frankly, it’s stressful and partially confusing.   What happened to those wonderful days of allowances, despite the early curfews, those were really cool.  What happened to free room and board, what’s with this having to pay rent business?

All that time I was trying so hard to grow up, I finally get here and I realize “Hey this kind of sucks.”  These things called “bills” start to appear, and then taxes and insurance, mortgage payments, so on and so on.  Before I knew it, I had responsibilities and priorities, why isn’t there a disclaimer for adulthood?

Though I just hopped on the adulthood bandwagon, this little voice inside of me is freaking out.  When you tell people “I’m 25” there are expectations!  By this time, people expect you to have your life in order (kind of).   My mother told me “You don’t get any more birthday or Christmas presents once you turn 25, you’re too old for that.” UHM WHAT? Before I know it, it’ll be time for kids, wrinkles, and cellulite, and probably in that order.

Okay with all jokes aside, growing up is actually pretty exciting– I’m getting married next year, I’m moving into our first home in a few months, and I finally figured out the route I wanted to go for my career.  All very good things that I am extremely fortunate for, maybe turning 25 isn’t that bad after all.

I decided to make this Lemon Meringue Pie, because I found some beautiful lemons at the store and well, it’s my birthday week, I eat what I want 🙂 I found this recipe on Epicurious, it was printed in an 1995 issue of Gourmet Magazine (r.i.p.)

For shell

  • 1 recipe Pastry Dough for a single-crust 9- to 10-inch pie
  • raw rice or pie weights for weighting shell

For filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest