Sunday, November 28

15 Minute Shrimp and Bean Stew

One of the best things I did was buy 1/2 pound bags of different types of beans when I was at the bulk section at Whole Foods sometime toward the end of the summer. I spent a day soaking and cooking all of the beans, and then freezing them on a pan, so I could store them in the freezer to be thrown into a soup or stew at any time. A can of beans can be used in place of the frozen ones that I keep at home. Either way this is a nutritious and delicious Mediterranean-style meal, perfect for chilly autumn evenings



15-Minute Shrimp and Bean Stew

Yields 4 Servings

Ingredients:


2 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme, or 3-4 sprigs of fresh
1 C chickpeas
1 C white cannellini beans
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional: cut shrimp in half)
1 lemon, juiced (~1 T)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Method:

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic slices on medium-low heat, until the garlic begins to sizzle. Cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, water, pepper flakes, thyme, and beans. Turn up heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the shrimp, and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in bowls with bread.



Alternatives:
The shrimp could easily be substituted with langoustines, fish, scallops, or chicken.



Monday, November 22

Turning Mike into a Cook

Mike checking on one of his culinary creations (cheesy bread, I'm sure)

Over the summer, I did all of the cooking. But Mike is taking some of his first forays into the kitchen, in a capacity beyond my hyper-observant and not-so-helpful sous chef.

Thursday, November 18

How to Poach an Egg in a Microwave

I love topping a salad with a poached egg, flirting with normal conceptions of breakfast and lunch in the morning. As per the suggestions of this post, I need to experiment more with lentils, and the poached egg on top with be a nice and familiar touch. I've always cooked my eggs on the stove top, using salt and the vortex method, however they always inevitably get stuck to the bottom of the pan and I have to maneuver a bit to prevent the yolk from breaking and spilling out. So it was fortunate that I came across this simple how to post on poaching eggs in a microwave. 

My kitchen is quite small and the microwave takes up a significant amount of counter space, so I've been trying to use it more often. This includes quick-steaming vegetables, sweet potatoes, as well as swordfish (2 minutes on high with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, slat and pepper, continue from there for 30 second bursts until it flakes). And now it's time to step up my game to poached eggs. 

This tip is also very useful to those still living in dorms as most common rooms are outfitted with microwaves. I'm su re there is a way to cook both the eggs and the lentils using a microwave and I'll explore those microwave-compatible-meals a little more in the future.

For now, enjoy this post, originally from The Kitchn, a great cooking and kitchen resource with many other affiliated blogs.


How To Poach an Egg in the Microwave

I don't usually use the microwave to poach my breakfast egg, but it can come in very handy for a lunch egg. Lentils, brown rice, or a salad can be elevated from a side dish to a main dish with a tender, gooey poached egg on top. Here's how to make a quick, freshly poached egg in the office microwave.

 
2010_08_25-Microwave.jpgHuge caveat, before you try this: Remember that microwaves come in lots of different configurations. This is a basic set of instructions but you will probably need to tweak it a bit to adjust to your microwave.

What You Need

Ingredients
1 egg
1/3 cup water
Approximately 1/2 teaspoon vinegar (optional)
Equipment
Microwave
Microwave-safe mug or small bowl
Microwave-safe small plate
Slotted spoon

Instructions

1. Gather your ingredients. The vinegar is optional, but it will help the egg coalesce a little better.
2. Crack the egg into a microwave-safe bowl or mug.
3. Pour in about 1/3 cup water.
4. Add a bit of vinegar. (You can also add this directly to the water before pouring it in.)
5. Cover the bowl or mug with a microwave-safe plate. Place in the microwave and cook on 80% POWER for 60 seconds. Check the egg. If it is not done yet, return to microwave and cook on 80% POWER in 20 second bursts. (I usually cook mine for a total of 80 seconds.)
6. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, and enjoy!
Additional Notes:
• This method will give a rather wobbly egg. If you like a more hardboiled-style egg, microwave on HIGH for 60 seconds.
• Do note that, unlike when poaching eggs on the stovetop, the microwave tends to cook the yolk even faster than the white. So if you like gooey yolks, it's best to take the egg out when the white is still a little wobbly.

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin


I had a spaghetti squash sitting on one of the shelves in my dining room for about a month (embarrassingly enough). Eventually I figured it was time to cook it, praying that it hadn't gone bad. Luckily, after an hour of baking, it shredded into perfect strands, which I promptly threw into a Pyrex bowl. I spent the next few days trying to think of a couple methods of preparation. I settled on a gratin after seeing a recipe for spaghetti squash gratin with basil in the Recipes for Health column of the New York times.


Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Basil


Prepared In this image, the squash was cute width-wise, rather than length-wise, which I prefer.Image via Wikipedia

Ingredients:
4 C spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t salt
1 t pepper
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup non-fat milk
4 T basil leaves, diced
1/2 cup gruyere and swiss cheese blend (I got this blend from Trader Joe's, Gruyère on its own would be fine)
2 T grated Parmesan










Method:


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Bake for one hour. Remove from heat and let it cool. Run a fork through the flesh to separate the strands. Measure out 4 cups and then chop it coarsely.
Parmigiano ReggianoImage via Wikipedia
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and onion. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic and salt. Cook until fragrant, then add the squash. Continue to cook until the strands of squash are a little more tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolks, add milk, salt, pepper and basil. Stir in the squash mixture and the Gruyère, and combine well. Pour the mixture into a well oiled baking dish (I used an 8-cup Pyrex bowl). Sprinkle the Parmesan or pecorino over the top, and gently press down to moisten.
3 egg yolksImage via Wikipedia
Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until browned. Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve as either a side or main dish.


Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 
194
Calories from Fat 
113
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
12.5g
19%
Saturated Fat 
4.8g
24%
Cholesterol 
175mg
58%
Sodium 
703mg
29%
Total Carbohydrates 
12.6g
4%
Dietary Fiber 
0.7g
3%
Sugars 
2.9g
Protein 
9.2g
Vitamin A 10%Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 26%Iron 6%
Nutrition Grade B-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
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Wednesday, November 17

Quick and Easy Udon Noodle Soup with Fried Bean Curd Sticks

Soup is one of my favorite dishes to eat, particularly in the winter when you want a hearty meal done quickly, so you can go back to your couch and comforter as soon as possible. I had lots of bean curd sticks (basically, they are the dried skins off the top of soy milk) and wanted to find a way to apply them in a soup. I chose a Japanese Udon soup, as I felt Asian flavors would be the best compliment to the bean curd, and from there it was simple, thinly slicing and chopping whatever vegetables I had in my fridge. And the result is this highly customizable noodle soup.

 
Udon Noodle Soup with Fried Bean Curd Sticks 

Serves 1 (simply multiply each ingredient by 4 to determine the individual yields) 

Ingredients:  
1 oz bean curd sticks (I soaked mine for 20 minutes, but they can be fried as is) (can be replaced with 1/2 a serving of any other kind of protein)
1 C canola or peanut oil (or enough to cover 1/2 in of the bottom of a shallow pan)
1 C (Vegetable/Chicken/Fish) Stock 
1 T miso 
1 t mirin 
1/2 carrot, sliced 
1/2 C broccoli, chopped 
1/4 C leeks, sliced
1/4 cup cubed tofu 

Method:  
Heat the oil over medium heat until just before it smokes. Add the bean curd sticks and fry on either side until golden brown. Set aside on paper towels to drain the oil.

Cook the udon noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. In the same pot add the stock, miso, mirin and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and tofu and cook for 2-3 minutes, just enough so that they are still slightly raw and crunchy.

Put the noodles in a bowl and pour the stock and vegetables over them. Top with the bean curd sticks, serve, and enjoy.
  
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Tuesday, November 16

Vanilla Sugar-glazed Oatmeal Yogurt Scuffins (or Mones)

 

I found this recipe for Oatmeal Yogurt Scones on a blog that I have enjoyed reading before. The recipe just happened to be featured on Fitsugar. The recipe is actually modified from one for quick bread, and the result is something much moister, and less flaky than a traditional scone. what this means for my adaptation is that it lies somewhere in between scone and muffin. Jarrett and Mike coined the terms Scuffin and Mones as a label for this creation. Whatever it is, here is a petite, yet filling (thanks to all the fiber) snack with just enough sweetness and substance to be a snack or part of a meal.

Vanilla Sugar-Glazed Oatmeal Yogurt Scuffins (or Mones)

Ingredients:
Oatmeal directly from the packing.Image via Wikipedia
1 C oatmeal
1 1/3 C whole wheat flour
4 T flax meal
1 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg 
1/4 C brown sugar 
1/4 t salt 
3/4 C Greek yogurt
1/4 C non fat milk
3 egg whites
1 t vanilla extract
1 T walnut oil 

Nielsen-Massey Vanilla ExtractImage via Wikipedia
 
For The Vanilla Simple Sugar: 
2 T sugar 
2 T water 
1 t vanilla extract 
Combine and microwave until the sugar is dissolved 



Method:  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 


Stir together the yogurt, milk, egg whites, and vanilla until combined. Mix together the flour, oats, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and flax meal. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the mixture of the wet ingredients. Mix well until a sticky dough is formed. 


Divide into 9 portions and roll into balls. Flatten the balls and place on a baking sheet with a greased sheet of aluminum foil. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Glaze the top of each ball with simple sugar and bake for another 2 minutes. Let them rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, if you can resist.


 
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 76 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 
170
Calories from Fat 
26
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
2.9g
4%
Saturated Fat 
0.5g
3%
Trans Fat 
0.0g
Cholesterol 
1mg
0%
Sodium 
236mg
10%
Total Carbohydrates 
29.6g
10%
Dietary Fiber 
2.6g
10%
Sugars 
8.2g
Protein 
7.1g
Vitamin A 0%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 4%Iron 8%
Nutrition Grade B-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
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The Future of Coffee: Chemex Coffee Filter

My father is a coffee connoisseur. With that burden, he taught me the proper way to prepare and enjoy my coffee, that being with a coffee press. Before I left for college, he bought me an 8-cup bodum french press. And since then, my coffee press was never far from me. While I was in China, I missed fresh French press coffee so much that my parents attempted to ship to me. When the box finally reached me, it was 
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Olive Cream

I've been experimenting a lot with flavors that I was previously averse to, as well as vegetable purees. And so I came up with this recipe for an olive cream, a great base for plating, something of which can have an affect on how much one enjoys ones food. It's salty and creamy and a nice compliment to a steamed, poached or roasted fish or chicken. Enjoy.


Olive Cream

Yields 12-2 Tbsp Servings


Ingredients:

1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 cup sliced black olives (or 1 can Trader Joe's sliced Greek olives, reserve the canning liquid)


Method:
Place a sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and onion and cook until translucent. Add the olives and heavy cream and blend until smooth. Reserve.




Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 17 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 
26
Calories from Fat 
23
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
2.5g
4%
Saturated Fat 
0.8g
4%
Cholesterol 
3mg
1%
Sodium 
99mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates 
1.0g
0%
Protein 
0.2g
Vitamin A 2%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 1%Iron 2%
Nutrition Grade C-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

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Monday, November 8

Clafoutis d'onigons

Clafoutis, similar to a flaugnarde, is a French dessert, in which pieces of fruit are covered with a rich, flan-like batter and baked. Traditionally it is made with cherries (pits included, for added flavor) and it is a sweet, custardy dish. But flirting with sweet and savory is a fun way of developing new dishes and expanding one's palate. And so the cherries and sugar were replaced with onions and Parmesan. 
The original  recipe that I referenced was twice the yield of this recipe, and used Gruyere, rather than the Parmesan cheese I used (note: It was all I had in the fridge and still came out, which is a testament to the flexibility of recipes and the power of substitutions). I see lots more clafoutis in my future and will have to do a little more experimentation to discover even more great flavor combinations, and perhaps a lower fat version (substituting part of the heavy cream for whole milk, or even skim). For those of you on a low glycemic index diet, this is a great side dish, and could be replicated with any number of vegetables.
Clafoutis d'oignons
Serves 4 as a main dish, or 8 as a side dish


Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 chopped onions
2 egg yolks, plus 1 large egg
5 oz heavy cream
3.5 oz grated Parmesan cheese (or other firm cheese)

Method:

Place a pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and onions. Saute until transparent, about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir periodically in order to prevent burning.

In a bowl, add the egg yolks and egg, heavy cream and the Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Add the sautéed onions to the mixture. When all of the onions have been well incorporated, pour the mixture into an oiled baking dish or back into the saute pan (only if it is oven safe), and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350.

Serve warm or cold, with a side salad or soup.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 84 g (1/8 Clafoutis)
Amount Per Serving
Calories
168
Calories from Fat
122
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
13.6g
21%
Saturated Fat
7.1g
35%
Cholesterol
114mg
38%
Sodium
209mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates
5.0g
2%
Dietary Fiber
0.7g
3%
Sugars
1.9g
Protein
7.0g
Vitamin A 8%Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 17%Iron 3%
Nutrition Grade B-

Friday, October 29

Dinner Party for Two

Recently, my friend Jarrett and I had a little dinner party. We made a nice salad with gorgonzola, walnuts, craisins and a raspberry vinaigrette, chicken glazed with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, broccoli roasted with crushed walnuts, and some pork dumplings on the side (which of these doesn't belong?).

I'm posting the pictures of our dinner, along with a shout out to my friend Jarrett!

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