Tag Archives: Eat Fresh Food

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 5)

1 Feb

chocolate chiliChocolate Chili with Cauliflower Popcorn
From Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes For Teen Chefs (Bloomsbury, 2009)

This delicious vegetarian chili is made dark and mysterious with a touch of semisweet chocolate and cinnamon. Chocolate and cinnamon are used together in several Mexican dishes. Small roasted florets of white cauliflower turn a simple idea into something that looks really dramatic.

½ pound dried black beans
2 large garlic cloves
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 large cauliflower
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley

1. Put the beans in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander.

2. Peel the garlic and finely chop. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 4-quart pot. Add the garlic and onions and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until soft. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, drained beans, cinnamon, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1½ hours, stirring often. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes until thick.

3. About 40 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into ½-inch florets. Put in a bowl and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt to taste. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes until golden. Shake the pan often during baking to prevent sticking. Remove from the oven. Ladle chili into bowls and top with “popcorn” and herbs.

Valentine’s Day 2013

14 Feb

childrens-valentines-fortune-cookie-sayingsHappy Valentine’s Day. I got my love of cooking from my beautiful Hungarian mother, Marion, who made meatloaf in the shape of a heart. Not until I was much older did I ever realize it didn’t always come that way! Her secret to the meatloaf was putting a few small ice cubes into the mixture to keep it extra moist. More precious than gifts were the edible expressions of love she would prepare: my favorite comfort food — cabbage and noodles or ultra-thin crepes known as palacsintas filled with jam. The tradition continues with my 16-year old daughter Shayna who helped me write my cookbook for teens “Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs.” The book, to our delight, was reviewed in the Science section in the New York Times, helping us spread the secret about healthy eating. There you will find another style of meatloaf — made with sun-dried tomatoes, grated carrots and chives, but today I am sharing my mother’s original recipe…complete with ice cubes and seasoned breadcrumbs.

And while you might swoon from my intensely delicious and ridiculously simple chocolate mousse, you might also consider making palacsintas, thin Hungarian crepes, and fill them with scarlet red strawberry jam and dust with powdered sugar. It’s a simple and sexy way to finish a Valentine’s dinner. What to drink? Consider the selections in Wines for Valentines.  And just what do farmer’s give their wives for Valentine’s Day?  Hogs and kisses!  Enjoy the day.

A Heart-Shaped Meatloaf (adapted from Little Meals)

1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1-1/2 cup ground sirloin (or a combination of sirloin and chuck)
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons ketchup
1 clove garlic
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water plus 2 small ice cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a medium pan.  Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl put chopped meat, breadcrumbs, mustard, 3 tablespoons ketchup, and the cooked onions.  Mix lightly.  Add egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper to taste, and ice water and ice cubes.  Mix well with hands and form into a large heart shape that is 1-1/4 inches high.  Place on rimmed baking sheet.  Glaze top with an even coat of remaining ketchup.  Bake 35 minutes.  Serves 4

Palacsintas with Scarlet Jam & Powdered Sugar (adapted from Eat Fresh Food))
Use the best quality strawberry you can find or a variety by Tiptree called Little Scarlet.  You can also top the rolled crepes with fresh raspberries, lightly sugared.

1 cup whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup strawberry jam
powdered sugar for dusting
optional:  fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Blend milk, flour, sugar, eggs, melted butter, and a large pinch of salt in a blender.  Process until smooth.  Melt 1 teaspoon butter in an 8-inch skillet until ti sizzles.  Coat bottom of pan with batter so that you have a very thin layer.  Let crepe brown lightly and turn over.  Cook 30 seconds.  While still in pan, put 1 tablespoon jam in a line down center of crepe and fold like a jelly roll, pressing down as you roll.  Remove to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven until you have made 8 crepes.  Serve 2 per person on large warm plates.  Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with raspberries, if desired.  Serves 4

Singapore Food Critic Loves My Mac-n-Cheese

31 Jul

MAC-AND-CHEESE with Cauliflower and Creamy Red Pepper Sauce, one of over 80 recipes from “Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs” (recipe below).

It’s amazing how recipes circulate around the world. Back in the early ’80s it took about two years for “blackened redfish” to migrate from New Orleans, where it was invented by Paul Prudhomme, to Chicago. But that’s because the primitive media of culinary exchange were cooking magazines and Wednesday’s newspaper food sections.

By the time the blackening fad arrived in Australia, redfish had been over-harvested to near-extinction, recovering only after trendinista chefs moved onto something else. These days, of course, food news and recipes shoot around the globe in no time flat via the Internet — which is why we’re suddenly inundated with gilded “gourmet” hamburgers and bizarre pizzas everywhere in the United States.

I’m reminded of this by an email that just arrived from Singapore, where one of my own recipes recently appeared. Two years ago, Michael Whiteman, my husband The Restaurant Consultant, worked with Richard Helfer, the former far-thinking president of Raffles Hotels, to help create a fast-casual rotisserie chicken restaurant prototype that was slated to colonize numerous corners of Singapore and then beyond.

On one of his trips he brought as a gift a cookbook, which I’d written with my daughter, called Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs. Every recipe is healthful and colorful, with major emphasis on swapping fresh vegetable purees for otherwise fattening cream and butter. For example, zucchini gets whirled into a gorgeous jade-green sauce for pasta primavera; cauliflower gets star billing in a delicious side dish called “Looks Like Mashed Potatoes;” and creamed spinach is enlightened with a puree of (yes!) cottage cheese.

Helfer named his chicken chain Charly T’s, after a fictional gastronome who roamed the globe in search of recipes that would sate his infinite lust for chicken. Knowing that go-withs and flavorful sauces are at least as important as a well-lacquered bird, Helfer paid lots of attention to side dishes, one of which he happened upon in the aforementioned cookbook.

A Singaporean food writer alarmingly named “Little Missy Greedy” recently visited the newly opened second outlet of Charly T’s to write about how to make the restaurant’s celebrated mac-and-cheese — and there it is, straight from Eat Fresh Food: my singular recipe that incorporates, among other ingredients, red peppers, chipotle powder, honey and cauliflower florets. Its gorgeous bright orange sauce is made from cooked red bell peppers and garlic that get pureed together until silky. The seven step-by-step photos all have captions in Chinese, which happens to be Greek to me — but you can make this at home with your kids and be rewarded for being a terrific parent. You’ll love it because it looks like it’s oozing with cheese, but it has much less fat and is more nutritious than regular mac-and-cheese. And now it’s among the trendiest dishes in Singapore. Singapore Sling, anyone?

MAC-AND-CHEESE with Cauliflower and Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

4 oz. very sharp yellow cheddar
2 medium red bell peppers, about 12 oz.
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
8 oz. ziti or penne rigate (or elbow macaroni)
3 cups small cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Procedures

Shred the cheese on the large holes of a box grater and set aside. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with ½ cup water. Cut the garlic in half, lengthwise, and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the peppers are very soft. Transfer the contents of the saucepan, including the water, to a food processor or blender. Add the butter, honey, chile powder, and salt to taste and process until very smooth. Return to the saucepan. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cauliflower and cook for 12 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and shake dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Heat the sauce and pour it over the pasta. Add the cheese and stir well. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with chives. Serves 4 to 6

Wrinkled Grapes

20 Jan

Grape-and-Pignoli breakfast Cake

A few weeks ago, my husband brought home a rather large amount of seedless red grapes.  They were the size of marbles and looked like they would pucker your lips.  Instead they were delicious and sweet.  But they lingered in the fridge and began to wrinkle like the tips of your fingers after a long hot bath.  Didn’t give it much thought until I got a Facebook message from Nancy at Expendable Edibles.  She and her partner are in the business of making sure people discover fascinating ways to use the odds and ends in the refrigerator:  the last dregs of vinegar, the dehydrated knob of ginger, two pieces of leftover soppressata, a gnarled carrot.  Nancy, who, after seeing the large photo of my Sauteed Chicken with Roasted Grapes (from Radically Simple) in the New York Times queried, “Hey, couldn’t you use oldish, wrinkled grapes for that dish?  After all, that’s the way they wind up after roasting?!”  I liked the question and the theoretical construct.  Using pre-wrinkled grapes already gave you a head start!  More importantly, though, not throwing those grapes away benefits the planet — and stretches the family grocery bill.  “Of course the sun does some of this for us already,” I thought, as I contemplated the inverse evolution of some of our favorite foods — grapes into raisins, plums into prunes, ripe tomatoes into sun-dried tomatoes, botrytised grapes into Sauternes.  I’m certain there are others, some of them are lurking in your fridge.

In addition to that gorgeous chicken dish, however, is another splendid recipe that features grapes as a prime ingredient:  “Grape and Pignoli Breakfast Cake.”  A huge hit from Eat Fresh Food, my cookbook for teenage chefs, no one (including adults!) can resist the pleasure of pushing grapes, one by one, into the batter. I will be using the last of my wrinkled grapes this morning with a nod to the girls at Expendable Edibles.  Look for my “live interview” with them tomorrow.

Grape-and-Pignoli Breakfast Cake
Not too sweet, but full of flavor, this moist breakfast cake is an original spin on more ordinary coffee cakes.  My daughter, Shayna, is a grape freak and thinks the cake is “divine.”  It lasts several days in a tightly-covered tin.  And yes, you can use slightly wrinkled grapes.

12 ounces red seedless grapes (not too large)
2 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons pignoli nuts (pine nuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Wash the grapes and discard stems.  Dry well and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup olive oil,vanilla, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the sugar.  Blend thoroughly.  Stir in the flour and mix well until smooth.  Use 1 tablespoon oil to grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and pour in the batter.  Place the grapes evenly, about 1/4-inch apart, in concentric circles on top of the batter to cover the entire surface.  Press the grapes halfway into the batter.  Scatter pignoli evenly on the cake and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Bake 45 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool.  Serves 8 to 10

Herbs in Desserts

8 Dec

Sometime in 1980, I had an extraordinary lunch at restaurant Troisgros in Roanne, France.  One of the mandatory go-to restaurants on every foodie’s list, it was a shrine to gastronomy in the days of nouvelle cuisine when the world’s first celebrity chefs were French.  While there were many aspects of that 4-hour lunch that are worth a thousand words (I was there with New York master chef Richard Burns who headed the kitchens at the Palace — once the most expensive restaurant in the world!) there was one dish that stood out among all others.  It was the simplest dish of the meal, too: an apple tart with fresh tarragon.  I never forgot it. Since then (that’s 30 years ago!), I have been slipping fresh herbs into my own desserts.  I, too, now make an apple tart with tarragon plucked from my window box, and add fresh slivered basil to ripe summer peaches. And I have found pine-y rosemary to be a felicitious gracenote to sweet offerings.  I’ve concocted a dulcet gremolata (grated lemon zest, minced fresh rosemary and sugar) to adorn lemon sorbet.  I strew snippets of fresh rosemary atop an olive oil cake I invented (the only recipe I never share) and created the following dessert, which I am very happy to share, for Cooking Light magazine over a decade ago.  The recipe can also be found in my cookbook for teens called Eat Fresh Food…’cause everyone seems to love them!  These little confections magically separate into custard with a layer of cake floating on top.  The vibrant fresh flavors of lemon and rosemary make more magic in your mouth.  Sophie Hirsch, one of the teens who helped test recipes for the book, said the following.  “I loved the Rosemary Custard Cakes so much!  There was an extra one and we all fought over it.  I will make this all the time.  They are amazingly great.” I guess one is never too young to be a foodie.

Rosemary-Lemon Custard Cakes
3 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 large lemons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary, plus small rosemary sprigs for garnishing
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Separate the whites and yolks of the eggs.  Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt at medium-high speed in the bowl of electric mixture until foamy.  Slowly add the 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes.  Grate the zest of both lemons and set aside.  Cut the lemons in half and squeeze to get 1/3 cup juice.  In a separate bowl, beat together the 1/3 cup sugar and butter until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the flour, lemon zest and juice, and rosemary.  Add the egg yolks and milk and beat well.  Use a rubber spatula and gently stir in the egg white mixture.  Spoon equally into six 5-ounce custard cups or ramekins.  Place the cups in a baking dish and add very hot water to the dish to a depth of 1 inch.  Carefully put dish in oven and bake 45 minutes until firm and golden.  Remove the dish from the oven and remove the cups from the dish.  Let cool.  Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, pushed through a sieve, and eat from the cups.  Or you can unmold from the cups: Using a butter knife, loosen the custard around the edges of the cup, place a small plate on top and turn them upside down.  Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.  Serves 6

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