Isn’t it great when you get invited somewhere and get to take a doggie bag home (assuming the food was worth carting away)?
I was invited to a lunch my son prepared over the weekend and everything he served was worth carting away! It was a seemingly simple but delicious menu because it was all seasoned and cooked to perfection…grilled chicken breast, pasta salad with a fresh pesto sauce and an assortment of grilled veggies: eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, onions and eggplant.
My doggie bag included the yellow peppers, zucchini and eggplant. I also had about 6-8 tomatoes at home that were ‘just’ ripe so today I decided to slow roast them with a couple of cloves of garlic.
Time for lunch.
How about eggplant, roasted tomato and Wasa toasts spread with hummus and a squeeze of roasted garlic? Oh, yeah!
Ooh…is it dinner time already?
Well, you didn’t think I wasn’t going to insert pasta somewhere in this…did you? This started out as a spaghetti fritatta but, as kitchen mishaps go, it kind of stuck to the pan and didn’t flip well…so let’s just call it scrambled egg pasta and zucchini or something like that. The important thing is it could not have been tastier!
Recipe for fritatta (serves 2)
1-1/2 pre-grilled zucchini cut up
2 roasted garlic cloves squeezed out
3 quartered marinated artichokes chopped
3 eggs (you may want to add another)
4 ozs spaghetti
1/2 cup mixed shredded Italian cheese (mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, etc.)
a generous amount of grated fresh parmesan
S&P (lots of black pepper)
• Cook spaghetti and drain.
• Heat zucchini, garlic, artichokes and parsley in a little olive oil in a skillet.
• Add spaghetti.
• Add eggs and cheese and mix thoroughly.
• Cook over medium heat (or as you normally cook an omelet or fritatta).
Note: Invert on plate and turn over back into pan for finishing or put in oven.
Serve with whole roasted tomato, another sprinkle of parmesan and a grind of black pepper.
I try to keep a low-fat kitchen and I love to make breakfast interesting, but I don’t generally count calories. I just work at two things: purchasing the right products when I’m at the market and keeping a variety of options at hand.
I’ve made this breakfast (or something similar) many times…it’s easy and pleasing to the eye and palate. And I always thought it was healthy, but today I decided to put it to the calorie test and document it.
2 EGGO NutriGrain waffles 140 calories
1/2 apple stewed in water with a cinnamon stick 27 calories
1 tablespoon no-fat sour cream 12 calories
1 walnut half 14 calories
2 dates 40 calories
Total calories: 233
I’m a little disappointed that the little sucker of a date holds so many calories (1 serving of 5-6 = 120 calories) and I’ll be more judicious of their use in the future. If I hadn’t thrown them in the pot with the apple (and they really weren’t needed), this breakfast would have come in under 200 calories.
Just some food for thought.
It’s raining. It’s pouring. The old man is snoring. Do you remember that little jingle from your childhood? It was the inspiration for this dinner. It was raining. It was pouring. There was no old man snoring. Otherwise, I would have woken him up and sent him to the market!
Instead, I ferreted through the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. I mixed. I matched. I re-purposed. And each step (noted below) brought me closer to the ‘kitchen magic’ that we foodies love so much.
- I pulled out the container of pulled pork from the carnitas my son made for our tortilla food challenge last week.
- My mind immediately went to a pulled pork sandwich and simultaneously to a fresh tasting salad to go with it.
- First came the idea of a red cabbage slaw (because that’s what I had).
- Since I already was on a Latin path, I thought to make it tropical with toasted coconut and a citrus dressing.
- Then, I remembered I had squirreled away a couple pieces of plantain (maduros – the sweet ones) that were leftover from a prior meal.
- Aha, I had it!
I would make a tropical slaw dressed with a plantain vinaigrette. It would add crunch, freshness, acidity from the citrus and a little sweetness from the plaintain — in fact, it was a perfect complement to the savory pork. It truly was kitchen magic!
Shredded red cabbage, shredded carrot, fresh cilantro, toasted coconut and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Pulsed 3 small slices of baked plantain with juice of 2 limes, 1/2 large lemon and olive oil. It was more the consistency of a salsa than a vinaigrette so I mixed a little through the slaw and then topped it with a dollop.
The Moral of this Tale
NEVER throw leftovers away, especially if they’re 3 measly pieces of plantain. This was unplanned but flavor-popping delicious…so much so, that the dishes are the table, the pans are in the sink, and I rushed off to the computer to tell you all about it.
I’m very happy it rained today.
Ben of What’s Cooking? issued a challenge to food bloggers to make tortillas. And, I issued a challenge to my team…let’s collectively make the tortillas and individually make a filling and topping. [I'm not a fan of dough-related recipes. I like to eat them, but I just don't have the temperament to make them. So, "collectively" means I issue ideas (I had a few), Jim does the actual work, and Cassie plays games on his I-phone.]
Ay, caramba! Qué pasó? Every recipe I saw said “masa harina” so I bought masa harina. While harina is the literal Spanish translation for flour, ‘masa harina’ as sold in our supermarkets is corn meal and not the right product. Did I know? When it became obvious things were going badly, I rushed out to pick up ready-made tortillas so we could at least have dinner and not waste all the delicious fillings and toppings. And, there, on a lower shelf all by itself, I saw Maseca corn FLOUR so I bought it figuring we’d (Jim) would give it another shot and if it failed again, we’d be ready to eat anyway with the store-bought tortillas.
1. obviously not working; 2. in the garbage; 3. the back-up plan
Blast Off. We didn’t have to abort and were able to successfully complete the mission and add our culinary points-of-view to the actual tortillas, the fillings and the toppings.
We used the standard tortilla recipe (easy with the right product) and made them ‘ours’ by pressing cilantro leaves into the dough (left); mixing in Sazon seasoning with achiote (center); and blending the dough with squid ink (right).
Jim made carnitas with a slow-cooked pork butt and pickled onions which we paired with the achiote tortilla; Cassie wanted to make a “salad” filling and chopped lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, olives etc. and served it with a citrus vinaigrette and we paired that with the cilantro tortilla; and I made a shrimp ceviche which I had planned to serve with the squid-ink infused tortilla.
(Note: While none of the tortillas really took on the flavor of the infusions, they did make for a nice visual.)
Toppings. I made a salsa of black beans and crumbled Mexican cheese with cilantro, red onions, and a sherry vinaigrette. Jim shaved a few ears of corn and dressed the niblets in a bright and delicious citrus vinaigrette. He also made pickled onions. Cassie made a fresh guacamole to go along with her salad but we were so hungry, we just started eating it with blue corn chips and it never made it to the photography table.
After a disastrous start, we got our stride and created the meal I envisioned – and it was muy delicioso - so I’d like to thank Ben for coming up with the idea. I would have never thought to make my own tortillas! Visit Jim’s Our Family Food Fight for his take on the challenge, the pork recipe and more photos.
Recipe for ceviche:
16 jumbo shrimp
1/2 cup Naranja Agria (sour orange juice) or use fresh squeezed orange
salt to taste
splash of hot sauce
red onion sliced very thinly
handful of cilantro
Marinate well in refrigerator for several hours (at least) until shrimp take on color.
Fava beans are a seasonal ingredient that I don’t have any experience with. I’ve seen a few bloggers writing about them recently so when I spotted them in my local Whole Foods, I decided to experiment.
My kitchen credo is…when in doubt, make pasta and so I did. Fa-va-Va-voom! (That means it was delicious.) I never follow a recipe, most particularly with pasta, and just use what is available. For this one, with the exception of the fava beans, everything else was waiting for me at home.
crushed red pepper
crumbled gorgonzola cheese
• cook shelled fava beans in chicken broth for about 10 minutes; add grape tomatoes, fresh garlic and crushed red pepper. Let simmer till beans are tender and tomatoes have started to break down. Add additional chicken broth if needed.
• Drizzle a little olive oil and add a small amount of crumbled bacon (about 1 teaspoon per serving).
Spoon gorgonzola cheese on bottom, add pasta and top with sauce. Toss.
Grated parmigiano reggiano and a quick sprinkle of Sicilian sea salt with orange essence (optional).
I must tell you that this is my favorite type of cooking…spontaneously adding layer after layer of flavor. Simple, bold, and pop-in-your mouth tasty.
Simple…and simply delicious.
1 lb. mussels
1/2 dozen clams
fresh basil (2 cups pulsed + a few leaves reserved for garnish)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tomato chopped
olive oil (approx. 1/4 cup)
white wine (1/2 cup)
juice of 1 lemon
red pepper flakes
crusty bread (I used ciabatta) toasted, drizzled with olive oil and salted
• Pulse 2 cups of fresh basil with olive oil, garlic and S&P. Set aside.
• Chop 1 tomato and reserved basil leaves. Dress with olive oil and lemon and set aside.
• Rinse shell fish and place in pot with white wine and steam for a few minutes. Add basil mixture, a heavy dash of red pepper flakes, and cover till shells open.
• Toast bread till crunchy and brown. Drizzle with olive oil and salt.
Spoon mussels, clams and broth into bowl and serve with toasted bread to sop up all the good juice.
Top with fresh tomato salad for a fresh counterpoint to the heat (temperature and seasoning) of the broth.
Now you see it…now you don’t.
Kristin of Dine and Dish is a busy lady. Almost literally on her way to the hospital to give birth to her 4th child, she coordinated her third Adopt-a-Blogger event. This is a great way for those of us who have reached a modicum of success in blogging to give back to the blogosphere by mentoring a new blogger. I participated in the second event as a newbie and was introduced by Holler to her readers at Tinned Tomatoes in Scotland. It was a fun experience and, after only 9 months of blogging, I’m happy to have moved to the ‘veteran’ category and to be able to ‘pay it back’ by introducing you to…
Jeremy Hanlon is a Professional Chef…yes, with capital letters. He has great credentials (think Daniel Boulud, Arzak in San Sebstian, Guy Savoy in Paris). But, he is a newbie blogger so I wanted to welcome him into our community. Classically-trained and market-inspired, Jeremy focuses on fresh ingredients in the kitchen and on his blog.
Originally from New York, Jeremy now resides in Palm Beach County and operates 2 businesses: My 1 Chef and My Fresh Chef. He has appeared on Holiday and Feature Cooking segments on local NBC and ABC stations and has taught Seasonal Cooking classes at Williams Sonoma.
Jeremy’s philosophy is:
“Everything is better FRESH! Think about the feeling you have when a fresh idea pops into your head…A fresh honeydew melon melts your taste buds; a fresh start creates limitless possibilities; a fresh spring pea tastes crisp and overwhelming sweet; a fresh attitude opens new doors; a fresh-caught fish has an amazing translucent texture; and a fresh perspective creates tireless energy!”
One of my favorite of his posts is a portabello sandwich. This will give you a window into his fresh perspective and creativity! You’ll also find other amusingly titled and informative pieces, like the zest of both worlds, which is a primer to using citrus to kick your food up a notch, and choose your sword which illustrates what to look for…well, when you’re choosing swordfish.
A visit or subscription to Jeremy’s blog is an investment in honing your technical skills, opening your eyes to fresh products and the creativity they inspire, as well as a chef’s perspective of putting it all together on a plate. Jeremy is just embarking into the blogosphere. Let’s give him some love. You won’t be disappointed.
Note: A new blogger is born…as this goes to press, I notice on FaceBook that Leah Katherine arrived healthy…all 8 lbs. 12 ozs of her! Congratulations to all!