Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Meatball and Escarole Soup

February 14, 2007 on 8:19 am | By | In Recipes | 1 Comment

Meatball SoupI’m always looking for new recipes and techniques to share with my clients, but I don’t always get the chance to test them beforehand. Fortunately I’ve been a personal chef long enough to know whether a recipe is going to be a dud just be reading it (or least 99 times out of 100).

My Monday client — a Martha devotee — recently gave me Ms. Stewart’s recipe for Meatball and Escarole Soup to prepare for her. It’s basically a version of Italian Wedding Soup as far as I can tell: beef & pork meatballs simmered in chicken broth with escarole and kidney beans. I agreed with my client that it sounded like a very tasty recipe.

Because she’s on a lowfat diet, I made a few modifications. I used a combination of white and dark ground turkey instead of the beef and pork, and I baked the meatballs rather than fried them (I actually prepare most of my meatballs this way, unless I really need the fond — or brown bits — for a sauce). Martha also calls for currants in the meatballs, but I left them out (okay, so I forgot to put them in!) I did add a bit of Italian parsley though. Once the meatballs are cooked you simmer them in the broth until the escarole is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

As the the soup was simmering away on my client’s stove I just had to take a taste. Yum-scrumptious. I knew then what my darling and I would be having for dinner. Served with a few slices of crusty bread (Essential Bakery’s Rosemary Diamante is particularly good) and you have yourself a quick, easy and satisfying weeknight meal.

Meatball and Escarole Soup
Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound ground white turkey
1/2 pound ground dark turkey
4 cups chicken broth
1 head escarole, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 400. Crumble bread in a bowl and add buttermilk. Mash to a paste. Mix in onion, oregano, parsley and salt and pepper. Gently mix in ground turkey. Form into 2″ meatballs and place on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned.

Bring chicken broth to a boil, add escarole and cooked meatballs and reduce to a simmer. Cook until escarole is tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Add kidney beans and adjust seasonings.

Flank Steak Roulade

February 3, 2007 on 11:25 am | By | In Recipes, Techniques | Comments Off on Flank Steak Roulade

Stuffed flank steak

I have an interesting relationship with cookbooks. I’m drawn to those that feature stunning pictures and mouth-watering recipes, but as a chef I challenge myself to craft my own creations. As my skills improve, I’m less inclined to purchase a “cookbook” than a book that features techniques. My favorite culinary game is to pick an ingredient (typically one I happen to have in the fridge), turn to “Culinary Artistry” and come up with a unique recipe.

However, when I was devising my goals for 2007, I decided I should give my neglected cookbooks another chance (I have about 50). My first experiment was from Madhur Jaffrey’s “World Vegetarian” for Malaysian Curried Pineapple (I had purchased the book four years ago when I signed on a vegetarian client. I no longer cook for them). As always, I added my signature to the dish and included tofu for some protein. It was okay, but not stellar (hence no blog entry).

My next target was “Tom’s Big Dinners” by Tom Douglas, a local restaurateur. I’ve prepared several recipes from both this cookbook and his first, “Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen,” with great results. I had a bunch of flank steak in my freezer, so I was intrigued by his Olive-stuffed Flank Steak with Tomato Confit — more for the technique than the actual recipe. When I prepare flank steak, a relatively tough cut of meat, I either briefly grill it or stuff and braise it for 1 1/2-2 hours. Tom’s recipe called for searing the steak then roasting it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes; interesting!

I fully intended to follow the recipe verbatim and then post a review, but reality has a funny way of intervening. I nixed the tomato confit from the get-go since no amount of slow roasting would coax any flavor out of winter tomatoes. The recipe calls for Kalamatas, but amazingly I had none. Normally I’d just head to the store, but my 8-mile run sapped my energy. I perused the contents of my fridge and found a jar of jalapeño-stuffed olives (not the double-stuffed ones; those are saved for my martinis). Inspired, I decided to veer completely from the recipe and concoct my own, stuffing the steak with the olives, cilantro, Cougar Gold cheese and pine nuts and serving it with Herdez salsa. Yum!

Continue reading Flank Steak Roulade…

Sesame-crusted Ahi

January 25, 2007 on 10:33 pm | By | In Recipes | Comments Off on Sesame-crusted Ahi

Ahi SaladI recently taught a private cooking class for a gentleman looking for new dinner ideas for his family. He’s the primary cook, and while he considers his skills to be intermediate, he felt he had tapped out all his culinary creativity. He was especially interested in quick and simple seafood recipes, particularly with an Asian flair. I immediately thought of sesame-crusted Ahi. Incredibly flavorful and nutritious, it can be on the table within minutes.

The key, of course, is to start with sashimi-grade Ahi (which is quite plentiful in Seattle), as you want to serve it raw. However, I was surprised to find that flash-frozen Ahi works very well. I picked up a 3/4 pound brick from Central Market, which I cut into 4 rectangular pieces. I like to marinate mine in a bit of soy sauce and wasabi, but only briefly as you don’t want the marinade to overpower the fish (15-20 minutes will suffice). I love the look of mixed black and white sesame seeds, but you could just use one color (you can find black sesame seeds in most Asian markets).

Coated AhiStart by coating the four long sides of the log. To ensure the fish won’t overcook, I’ll refrigerate the coated pieces for at least 30 minutes, but you can also stick it in the freezer for a few minutes if you’re in a hurry.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. I’ve found a nonstick works best, but you can also use a regular skillet. Brush the skillet lightly with oil (I typically use peanut as it has a high smoke point), then add your coated Ahi pieces. Be sure not to crowd them. You just want to sear them until the sesame seeds start to turn golden brown and adhere to the fish (30-45 seconds per side). Once all four sides have seared, place on a plate and stick in the freezer to stop the cooking. Continue with the remaining pieces.Seared Ahi

To serve, cut the fish into 1/2″squares. As an entrée, I’ll toss the pieces with some greens drizzled with an Asian vinaigrette. But I also like to serve them on Chinese soup spoons as an appetizer (two pieces per spoon), drizzled with wasabi cream. Enjoy!

Sesame-Crusted Ahi Salad
Two entrée servings

3/4 pound sashimi-grade Ahi tuna, cut into rectangular pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Wasabi, to taste
Black & white sesame seeds, for coating
Peanut oil, for searing

Asian Vinaigrette
(note: I don’t measure my ingredients when preparing the vinaigrette; I just mix everything together until it tastes the way I like!)

Rice wine vinegar
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Peanut oil
Nori flakes
Salt, to taste

Whisk ingredients together and toss with wild greens (or lettuce of choice). Top with Ahi pieces and serve.

As an appetizer:

Ahi Appetizer

Pommes douces frites

January 21, 2007 on 3:33 pm | By | In Recipes, Techniques | 1 Comment

Sweet potato friesFrench fries are one of my (many) weaknesses. I just can’t turn down their salty, crispy goodness. Sometimes I’ll dip ’em in ketchup; other times, if I’m feeling French, I’ll dip ’em in Dijon. Chipotle mayo and ranch dressing are also mighty tasty accompaniments. Of course, such caloric indulgences must occur in moderation lest my behind begins to resemble a giant mound of mashed potatoes. Baked French fries lessen the damage somewhat, but they’re still white potatoes — those too easily digested tubers that whip through your system in record time, providing little to no sustained energy. (But DANG, they’re good!).

Enter the sweet potato.

These delightful roots only recently became part of my culinary repertoire. Up until a couple years ago, this Yankee had only associated them with southern cooking. I also didn’t realize what we call “yams” here in the States are actually orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (true yams are humongous tubers only grown in south and central America, the West Indies and parts of Asia and Africa). My first encounter with sweet potatoes was most likely in chip form. Either packaged in a medley of taro, yuca and beet chips, or served as an appetizer with fruit salsa, they had me at the first bite.

Continue reading Pommes douces frites…

Good luck and prosperity

January 2, 2007 on 6:23 pm | By | In Recipes | No Comments

Hoppin' John

So what’s a New England Yankee turned diehard Seattleite doing serving Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day? Ain’t than a southern thang?

Well, yes (folklore has it that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day brings good luck and money). But ever since my client — a fiesty Texan who relishes her Southern comfort food traditions — turned me on to this dish I was hooked. You see, I’ve always been partial to a hearty bowl of beans. Rich and nourishing, they satisfy on so many levels. When it’s cold and dank outside, they warm me from within. When I’ve overindulged, they fill me up without packing on the calories. When I’m stopped up, well — you get the picture. Add cruciferous greens and you get a nutrient dense and visually appealing dish.

Continue reading Good luck and prosperity…

Turkey Time!

November 19, 2006 on 12:35 pm | By | In Food Musings, Recipes | 2 Comments

The calendar may say Thanksgiving isn’t for another 4 days, but in our household today is turkey day. Because my post-Thanksgiving party was canceled, I decided to join my darling at Whistler under one condition: I get to prepare the Thanksgiving feast. Despite being a chef, I rarely get to prepare the holiday turkey (other than prepping them for clients). We typically spend Thanksgiving at my darling’s cousin’s house, and she handles all the preparation; I normally just bring a pie and a side dish. The last time I actually prepared Thanksgiving dinner was 9 years ago when we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new home with my parents. I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoys spending an entire day in the kitchen, and now I have my chance.

One wrinkle: I’ll be in an unfamiliar kitchen at a condo in Whistler. Preparing the side dishes won’t be an issue, but the thought of cooking the turkey there seemed a bit daunting (not that I wouldn’t be up to the challenge). There’ll be about 10 adults and 3-4 young children milling about, and since it’s not our condo (we’ll be staying at a hotel nearby), I thought it would be rude to banish everyone from the kitchen. So I’ve decided to experiment: I’m cooking two 14-pound turkeys today, which I will cut up into large chunks and freeze. I’ll then gently reheat the turkey at Whistler, basting with some homemade turkey stock. Hopefully the stock will keep the turkey moist, but just in case I’m also preparing a ton of gravy. (I’ll also make sure everyone — except the children — drink copious amounts of wine so they won’t notice if the turkey is dry).

Continue reading Turkey Time!…

Part 3: Whole Grain Goodness

November 7, 2006 on 7:46 pm | By | In Recipes | Comments Off on Part 3: Whole Grain Goodness

Given colon cancer runs in my family, I give a lot of thought to my plumbing (don’t worry, I won’t go into detail!) From a nutrition standpoint, I’m incorporating more leaner meats and seafood into my diet rather than red meat, plus I’ve introduced more whole grains. I still love white pasta, potatoes and pizza crust, but as with everything, it’s in greater moderation.

As I was perusing my “Techniques of Healthy Cooking” book from the CIA one recipe jumped out: Native Grain Cakes of Corn, Wild Rice and Quinoa. For those unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), it’s a grain native to the Andes that has a slightly nutty flavor. When raw the grains are teensy tiny, but they cook up fluffy while still maintaining a bit of a crunch. They’re packed with protein and all sorts of healthy vitamins. It’s one of those grains that I don’t often think of, but when I have it I always enjoy it.

When cooking quinoa it’s important to rinse it thoroughly as it has a somewhat soapy film on it. It cooks up quickly (about 10 minutes), and can be used in both hot and cold dishes. For the CIA recipe, you cook up the quinoa, wild rice and polenta separately, then mix them together for the cakes. The CIA has you coat the cakes in a cornmeal and crushed cornflake breading, however, I found panko to be much more desirable. The cornmeal was far too crunchy (I used medium grind), plus I had to purchase the corn flakes specifically for this recipe (I didn’t think they added anything either). The cakes are quite rich; although my picture shows three cakes as a serving (with a roasted red pepper/hazelnut romesco sauce on top), two were plenty for me.

Risotto Cakes Continue reading Part 3: Whole Grain Goodness…

Part 2: Salivating for Salads

November 5, 2006 on 9:54 pm | By | In Recipes | 1 Comment

Caesar salad is one of my signature dishes. Creamy and garlicky, it’s the perfect complement to most Italian meals, especially pastas with tomato sauce. And while I realize this may be blasphemous, I forego the coddled egg in favor of mayonnaise to create the emulsion (along with Dijon mustard). So many people are leery of raw egg these days, plus mayo is easier! I serve the salad with my home-made garlicky baked croutons, which many clients find more addictive than crack rock.

(Disclaimer: NONE of my clients are crack addicts or have even tried crack. Yours truly — along with all her friends and family — has never tried crack. It was just an easy analogy).

Okay, back to the Caesar salad.

Continue reading Part 2: Salivating for Salads…

Guilt ridden

November 5, 2006 on 7:05 pm | By | In Recipes | Comments Off on Guilt ridden

I feel like I’ve let down my legions of fans (aka Mom, Dad, hubby, friend Wendy and all the online pharmacy, erectal dysfunction drug and sex toy purveyors). My goal for this blog was to share my experiences with food and fitness, as well as healthy cooking techniques and recipes, yet all I’ve been doing lately is blather on about my training (that is when I’ve even bothered to write). But between my work and running schedule, I’ve been too pooped to do so. Bad Betsy.

So tonight I will assuage my guilt and offer up a few recipes/techniques I’m really digging right now. Most of my clients are looking to lighten up their meals (and one is on a rather strict diet), so I’ve been tasked with finding recipes that are lower in fat but still full of flavor. Many of the techniques/recipes come from Cook’s Illustrated’s “The Best Light Recipe,” but I’ve also been turning to the CIA’s “Techniques of Healthy Cooking.” The latter is written more for a commercial kitchen environment (most recipes are for 10 servings or more), but I have found a few that are adaptable for the home kitchen. For now I’ve skipped over the ones that call for Fond de Veau Lie since I rarely have 25 pounds of veal bones lying around.

Continue reading Guilt ridden…

Soup for the soul

September 24, 2006 on 3:04 pm | By | In Eat to Train, Recipes, Whatcha Got | Comments Off on Soup for the soul

As mentioned in an earlier post, now that the weather has turned I’m craving hearty soups and stews. To me, there’s nothing better on a windy, cool day than to wrap yourself in a quilt and curl up on the couch with a steaming bowl of goodness.

Originally I was going to prepare a Moroccan-themed dinner for my darling on Friday — Tunisian vegetable & bean soup, or Hlelem; spicy carrot salad and Moroccan lemon chicken — but the ganglion cyst on my right wrist had other ideas. Actually, it was the lack of a cyst that caused the problem — I went to my doctor to have it aspirated and she advised keeping my wrist immobilized over the weekend. So much for cooking! Instead my darling prepared a simple Thai steamed mussel dish with rice.

Continue reading Soup for the soul…

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