March 29, 2013

Garden of Eden Spring Salad



Flavor upon flavor, this salad contains a bright array of fresh, healthy ingredients that contain amazing textures and colors paired so  incredibly together.  Indescribable. This recipe is a crown jewel. Spring mix tossed in a honey-basil-Champagne dressing, dried figs, pomegranate arils, avocado, banana, toasted almonds, and fried cheese coins.  I call it "Garden of Eden" as a reminder of the wonderful foods God has provided us in this life.  Not only food to sustain us, but food to enjoy and to marvel at and celebrate with.  Flavors, colors, textures...a never ending range of possibilities. 
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces of Spring Mix or other rustic/baby greens
  • Honey Basil Champagne dressing (recipe to follow)
  • 3-6 dried figs, quartered
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds and juices reserved (or POM brand pomegranate arils)
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 banana thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup of soft cheese spread like Aoulette or Borsin (you can also use goat cheese), divided
For frying the cheese coins:
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 raw egg, scrambled
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs like panko
  • Oil for fying
Directions 
 Cheese coin:
(Mise en place: 3 dishes for dredging, paper towel lined plate, slotted spoon)
  1. Divide cheese spread into 6 small balls and flatten into disks
  2. Using a basic dredging method, dredge cheese in flour, then egg and finally the breadcrumbs.
  3. Place the disks on  plate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.   
  4. Heat oil for frying/sauteing  and fry the cheese disks until lighlty golden brown (I don't like heavily fried food so I saute them in about1/2 inch of olive oil).
  5. Drain on a paper towel and set aside
Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
  • 1Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup  honey
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh sweet basil, chopped
  1. In a blender, add all ingredients except the basil.
  2. Process until smooth. 
  3. Add  basil and pulse only until basil is blended into dressing. 
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the salad:

1.  Toss greens with dressing, using about 1/4 cup to start.
2.  Top with remaining ingredients, arranging them on the salad platter/bowl and finishing with cheese coins.

March 28, 2013

Bruschetta

 For yourself or for a party, this simple display is one of  my all time favorites.  It uses the best of ingredients in the whole history of food: Cheese, bread, garlic, basil, tomatoes, olive oil and salt.  

Ingredients
  • Sliced baugette, lightly toasted
  • 1 lb. grape tomatoes, quartered and divided
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 4 cloves of garlic, divided
  • 1/2 cup cheese of choice: fontinella, asiago, parmsesan, or manchego, shredded and divided
  • Fresh basil, chopped chiffinade style or leave whole
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly toast baguette.
  2. While it is still hot, using 2 cloves of  fresh garlic, rub garlic onto bread. Set aside to a serving platter.
  3. Chop remaining 2 cloves of garlic.
  4. On medium heat, in a small saute pan heat  1/4 cup olive oil and choped garlic.  Saute about 20 seconds and add 1/2 of the tomatoes, a sprinkle of cheese, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Set aside.    
  5. Drizzle toasted bread with olive oil & drops of balsamic vinegar.
  6. Top with remaining tomatoes, cheese and basil leaves.  
  7. Sprinkle with more salt and freshly ground pepper.
  8. Garnish platter with  warm oil and tomato mixture.     

Gluten Free-er & Cleaner Day 10

Wednesday Day 10 was a busy one.  I finished up our taxes and shopped, & cleaned and cooked for a potluck dinner to be held at our place later that evening.  I had several packages of sweet italian sausage and  needed  to update a photo from a previous blog post....so Tortellini soup was on the agenda.  Not exactly gluten-free but a hearty soup, even when you take the pasta out. You can skirt around it  if you want to serve it as the recipe calls.   I have been using a lot of tomatoes and basil lately and was seriously graving bruschetta.  I put together a display for my guests  that was so simple.  It had many  of the soup components, so all the ingredients were readily available. Gluten-free bread or bread of choice can be used.  This time I used an Asiago cheese baguette from PANERA to go with the soup, so I lightly toasted some of that,  added a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh tomatoes, fontinella cheese, fresh basil and some artisinal salt: Himalayan Pink. 

Breakfast:
Oatmeal
Lunch:
Asian Chicken Sald from Panera Bread (I was out doing errands)
BTW...I love to listen to Dennis Prager especially when  I'm out and about
Potluck Dinner:
I ate a large spinach salad, some roast beef and a few bites of a raspberry trifle (dessert 2 nights in a row, UH OH.)

Gluten Free-er & Cleaner Day 9


It has been difficult to keep up with the journal as well as my regular blog posts.  I have also been updating my past blog posts with nicer pictures and better organization.   thi has been a huge task and I have spent hours and hours on my blog.  I am technology challenged when it comes to blog organization.  I know HOW I want it to look, but it takes me A LONG TIME to get there!  So, with that said, I am going to play around a bit to see what is the best way to keep the updates current while maintaining  organization and efficiency in all things.  
So on to day 9 which was Tuesday....
I spent the morning eating more oatmeal (I just can't get enough...I look forward to it every morning now).  I worked on some butternut squash soup while I ate breakfast so that  lunch would be ready later in the afternoon.  Dinner was going to be out so nothing had to be prepped. I was planning to update a past bog post that had the butternut squash soup recipe and looked for a fun garnish.  I love putting lots of fun ingredients on top of soups.  I had a huge bag of raw pepitas that I roasted with cumin and cinnamon for the top.  With a homemade tortilla chip, the soup went to the next level.  I needed some sour cream, but was out!  Next time.

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with maple syrup & granola
Lunch:
Dinner:
Salt & Pepper Grill & bar ~ Holland, Michigan
I had a nice sirloin steak with caramelized onions and a brandy sauce.  A salad with Cherry Balsamic dressing and Creme Brulee for dessert.  
 


Butternut Bisque with Pepitas

This soup is great example of a traditional bisque but with out the crustaceans.  technically it would be called a cream soup, but the term bisque also points to the pureed roasted vegetables accompanying the cream. Plus, "bisque" sounds prettier than "cream soup".  You can also swap the squash for tomatoes to make a tomato bisque or any other fresh ingredients.  Experiment with seasonings and garnishments, allowing them to tell the story of what is inside. 
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds squash-butternut, acorn or a mix; approximately 2, seeded halved
  • Unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the squash onto a half sheet pan, brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the white pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.
3. Scoop the flesh from the skin into a 6-quart pot.
4. Add the broth, honey and ginger.
5. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
6. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until smooth.
7.  Stir in the cream and return to a low simmer. Season with the remaining salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 
Garnish with roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), corn chips, sour cream.  
 

March 26, 2013

Gluten Free-er & Cleaner Day 8


Day 8, Monday:  As you read this post, it does not sound very gluten free-er...It was an usual day, being a  Monday when thre are lots of leftovers  and it also being a  family member's birthday.  Most of the day was spent getting ready for our son's 16th birthday. Andrew  wanted a creamy pasta dish, garlic bread and an ice cream cake for dessert.  Not exactly free and clean.  But all of these recipes are so easily adaptable to a gluten free-er diet.  The flours used in baking mixes, especially brownie mixes are undistinguished from their gluten-  filled counterpart.  Gluten-free pastas made from corn and rice have the same texture as those made with durum and other flours.  It was a bit of a crazy night, with the family scattered to the four winds, so with separate "seating" times.  We will celebrate together as a family when we go out to diner this evening.  There is a local restaurant that has wonderful live music on Tuesday nights.  Easy listening, classics,  sprinkled with trivia is what these guys do.  They are fun and engaging with amazing musical abilities.  If you are in the South West Michigan area, look them up at Salt & Pepper, Holland, Michigan Wally Michaels and Tony Reynolds. 
I ended up eating lunch for breakfast because I wanted to taste the asparagus salad and then couldn't stop eating it.  I learned how to braise short ribs, and even made individual  Monte Cristo sandwiches for the kids after school  snack. Use Gluten-free french bread from _____ ???? I can't think of the name right now!!!???? 
I also prepared some more compound butter, this time with fresh garlic and basil,  a Vegetable Pasta for the husband and an Italian Pasta Salad for school lunches the next day.  Gluten-free Rice pasta is an excellent choice.  I also made a honey mustard dressing for the week based on the flavors of my favorite; Honey Cup and some more individual crustless quiche.
The compound butter I used in the pasta, with asparagus and on garlic bread

Recipes:
Breakfast- 
Asparagus salad with shallots.
Lunch/Snack & Prep time-
Sampling the Braised Short Ribs.  I was planning this for my husbands lunch the next day. Also worked on the Monte Cristo and Homemade Honey Mustard.  Prepped all the vegetables for the Italian pasta salad and made the individual quiches.  I ate some of the rice and braised ribs.  Excellent lunch!
Dinner-
A bow tie pasta with white wine cream sauce for the kids and one with vegetables for the husband.  I skipped dinner... I had sampled so much during the day. 
Ice Cream cake (recipe pending)

Quiches for the coming week.  Recipes here.
Italian Pasta Salad (Recipe Pending)
Bow Tie Pasta with Asparagus & Tomatoes (pending)










Homemade Honey Mustard

Braised Short Ribs

I have always wanted to try short ribs.  Most of the recipes I see are for braised short ribs.  I saw them on sale last week and grabbed them and yesterday was cooking day.  The prep was a bit labor intensive, but since I had so many ingredients out,  I took the opportunity to prep another meal at the same time.  I have been doing this alot lately, especially with baking.  The recipe for short ribs is an amalgom of several recipes,articles and tv shows I have stored in memory.The sauce is a great base for any braised meat.  As the ribs were braising, and  infusing the home with the most amazing fragrance,  I thought they would go perfect with some florally jasmine rice and fresh cilantro. I alsao added some fresh sauteed asparagus to round the dish out. 

Ingredients
  • 6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds) 
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large vidalia  onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled, 1 cups tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • A bunch of fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a dutch oven with olive oil and bring to a high heat. 
  3. Add the short ribs and sear both sides,  about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. While the short ribs are browning, chop then  puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a paste.
  5. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. 
  6. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. 
  7. Season the vegetables generously with salt and sautee, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add the tomato paste and mix in thoroughly.
  9. Add the wine and incorporate all ingredients well.  
  10. Bring to a boil.
  11. Decrease heat to simmer and reduce the mixture by half.
  12. Return the short ribs to the pan and cover with water.   
  13. Add the thyme and bay leaves.
  14. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.
  15. Check to make sure there is enough water through out the cooking time. Add more water as needed.  
  16. After cooking, remove bay leaves.  
  17. Serve alongside your favorite rice or egg noodles. 

Monte Cristo With Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing


 While I was cleaning up the kitchen yesterday morning, instead of dumping out the  remaining egg & milk mixture left from making french toast, I decided to whip together a Monte Cristo with turkey instead of ham. Because it was Monday, I would be  trying to use up ingredients in the refrigerator that were  half-used or ready to expire.  You know, the ends of the jar, 3 day old deli meat or the last of the vegetables.  I had turkey meat, asparagus, white cheddar and shallots on my mind specifically. A Monte Cristo is a fried ham and cheese sandwich, a variation of the French croque-monsieur. In the 1930s–1960s, American cookbooks had recipes for this sandwich under such names as French Sandwich, Toasted Ham Sandwich, and French Toasted Cheese Sandwich. Emmental or Gruyère cheese is typically used.  In most regions, the sandwich is savory rather than sweet.
The Monte Cristo has been known to be occasionally served with preserves. Yum. 


Ingredients
  • 18 slices bread of choice (white, whole wheat, gluten-free)
  • Butter for spreading
  • 1/2 lb. turkey breast (you can also use ham)
  • 4 ounces of white cheddar  or swiss cheese like Gruyere, shredded
  • Honey mustard dressing or spread, recipe to follow or link here
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Salt 7 freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
Directions
  1. For each sandwich use 3 slices of bread. Butter one side of bread first, then cover opposite side with meat and some cheese.
  2. Spread  both sides of the second slice of bread  with a little mustard.  
  3. Place on top of turkey and cheese.  top with bit more meat and cheese.
  4. Butter third slice of bread for top, butter side up; press sandwich lightly and trim crusts.
  5. I used a biscuit cutter to make mini individual tea size sandwiches.
  6. Beat eggs with milk and spices. Dip sandwiches into the egg mixture and fry on a hot skillet .
  7. Brown on all sides, adding more butter when necessary. 
I served this with a small salad of asparagus and macerated shallots.
Recipe for Honey Mustard 

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard (you could also use yellow mustard)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients.
  2. Heat on medium high heat to bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simer for about 10 minutes, making sure all sugar is dissolved and sauce has turned a nice dark brown color.
  4. Remove from heat and store in a bottle up to 2 weeks.

Asparagus Salad With Shallots


In food preparation, maceration is softening, or breaking into pieces using a liquid. Raw, dried or preserved fruit or vegetables are soaked in a liquid to soften the food or absorb the flavor of the liquid into the food. This process makes the food more flavorful and easier to chew and digest. The following recipe is also a nice base for a classic vinaigrette. 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbp. minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup Sherry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste.
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
Directions
  1. Add shallots to vinegar andd let sit about 1 hour.  
  2. Add remaining ingredients to taste  for  a simple vinaigrette.  
  3. Dress the asparagus.  

Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce or Dressing

Here is a basic honey mustard sauce to be used as a dressing or spread.  You can add a good mayonnaise to it for a thicker, creamy bread spread or salad dressing.  I used equal parts of each ingredient for the sake of ease, however you may tailor it to your own tastes.
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard (you could also use yellow mustard)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients.
  2. Heat on medium high heat to bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simer for about 10 minutes, making sure all sugar is dissolved and sauce has turned a nice dark brown color.
  4. Remove from heat and store in a bottle up to 2 weeks.

Crustless Vegetable Quiche



This is one of those recipes that I make almost weekly.   I change the ingredients based on what I have on hand:  Typically a meat, a vegetable, a cheese and some herbs.  They are used as grab-and-go snacks and for early  breakfasts.  The Demarle pans make it so easy to pop them right out of the pan, even with very little cooling time.  THEY DON'T STICK...EVER.  And clean up is done in seconds.  Really.  I try not to push the Demarle products too much in my recipes or on this blog, but these are a great tool to have in your kitchen.  



INGREDIENTS
  • 10 beaten eggs
  • ¾ cup cottage cheese or HUMMUS if you want to higher the protein content
  • 1 ½ cups Gruyere or white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of minced vegetables of choice, I used red onion, carrot, tomato & red pepper
  • 1 cup cut up asparagus 
  • Fresh herbs
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS
 Mini Individual Quiches
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F and place oven rack in center position.
2. Spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Or use Demarle Flexipan Muffin Tray and set on baking sheet.
3. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a whisk and pour into mold.
4. Bake for 20 minutes or until center is set and lightly golden.
5. Unmold, place onto a platter and serve.
Garnish with fresh herbs
 
Demarle Sunflower Mold (not pictured yet)
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F and place oven rack in center position.
2. Place Flexipan® Sunflower Mold on  baking sheet and set aside.
3. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a whisk and pour into mold.
4. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until center is set and lightly golden.
5.  Invert onto a platter and serve with fresh herbs 
These ones were made with cheddar cheese, green onion and  bacon.

Sunflower Mold

March 25, 2013

Gluten Free-er & Cleaner Weekend 1


The weekend came and went.  It can always be more difficult to stay the course when our days are so unstructured.  I spent Friday working on Braised Pork and Polenta, mini crust less quiches and gluten-free pizza.  On Saturday, we had  lunch out to watch the Michigan game during the NCAA tournament at Buffalo Wild Wings and also had some dinner out this weekend.  We went to a new-ish place in Grand Rapids, The Green Well, where I ate  Pork Tacos with corn tortillas,  that were fabulous, along with truffled French Fries with a garlic aoli as an appetizer.  My kids tried an amazing homeade ginger ale...i couldn't say enough about it! 
I tried to stay clean and as gluten free-est as I could manage.  All in all, not a bad "dieting" weekend.  
This morning I had lunch for breakfast because I was developing a new recipe...for tomorrow.  Also working on Braised Short Ribs for dinner with a pasta dish for my 2nd Son's birthday dinner. Those will be posted tomorrow as well.  
All this "extra" cooking everyday is wearing me out.  I think that's why we spent 2  meals out this weekend!  But Tuesday will bring another grocery day and I will be back in the kitchen, but refreshed!   


Recipes
Individual Crustless Quiche with Bacon & Scallions (pending)
Gluten -Free BBQ Pizza ( I used some of  the braised pork, and a gluten free store bought crust)


Braised Barbeque Pork With Polenta




I use this braised pork recipe for sandwiches, pizza, even over rice or cous-cous.   The sauce is versatile as well, and has become my go-to barbeque sauce for chicken and ribs. Toasting the spices really brings out the flavor and adds a smokiness to the meat. 
THE SAUCE
  • 3 c. Ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 3/4 cup. soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
  • 1 tbsp. fennel
  • 3 tbsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp. granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  1. In a skillet, on medium to low heat, toast the spices.
  2. Add  the wet ingredients.  
  3. Mix well and heat through, simmering about 10 minutes.  
THE PORK
  • 2-3 lbs of pork shoulder, cubed
  •  salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbs. granulated garlic
  • 1 tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tbs.cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander

BRAISING LIQUID

  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups Dijon mustard
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • water

CREAMY POLENTA

  • 16 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 can chicken stock
  • 4 c. andouille sausage (chopped)
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley
Directions
 Pork: 
  1. Combines spices
  2. Toss pork with spices.
  3. In large heavy bottomed pot, drizzle olive oil.
  4. Sear pork on all sides and add braising liquid and enough water to cover pork.
  5. Bring liquid to boil with pork, then cover and put in 350 degree oven for about 1.5 hours or until tender.
  6. Remove from oven, lightly shred and cover with desired amount of BBQ sauce.
Polenta: 
  1. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT CHEESE, in saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer stirring constantly until the polenta starts to pull away from pan.
  3. When desired consistency is reached, remove from heat and add cheese.
  4. Add more or less cornmeal/stock as needed
Place pork on top of the creamy polenta. Garnish with extra sauce, parsley or fresh cilantro

Perfect London Broil


This wonderful piece of meat was used recently to make  a traditional Steakhouse Dinner.  The Flank steak is sometimes labeled London Broil.  The preparation of London broil typically involves marinating the meat for several hours followed by high heat searing in an oven broiler or outdoor grill.   I would typically grill London Broil but its about 22 degrees outside and my grill is still covered with snow.  EVEN THOUGH TECHNICALLY IT IS  SPRING HERE IN MICHIGAN.  It has become our "second Winter". I actually used a cast iron skillet on the stove top this time. Cooking it stove-top, rather than in the broiler, enables you to have more direct control. After cooking, the meat is served in thin slices, cut on a horizontal diagonal across the grain. Because the muscle fibers run the entire length of this cut, the meat can be tough if not tenderized marinating and massaging. Scoring, stabbing, cutting, penetrating, or otherwise mutilating the cut before sending it into the broiler results in a tougher finished product as it allows desirable juices to run out of the meat into the pan. 

Ingredients
2 lbs. flank steak or London Broil
Marinade:
1/2 cup olive  oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Directions
  1. In a large plastic bag, place meat and marinade ingredients.  
  2. Massage marinade into meat and place bag in the refrigerator.  
  3. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Prior to cooking, drain meat and pat dry.  Let it sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.  This ensures a even internal temperature of the meat.  
  5. Grill or cook the meat on medium high heat, searing both sides and turning several times throughout the cooking process to reach desired temperature and doneness:

Rare:120° - 125°
Medium-rare:130° - 135°
Medium:140° - 145°
Medium-well:150° - 155°
Well-done: 160° and above

March 22, 2013

Gluten Free-er & Cleaner Day 4

 In  preparing for #marchmadnesssnacks, dinner and making a meal for a family in our community, I was in the kitchen most of the day. For the family,  I made my Island Pork Tenderloin, Rice Pilaf and White Wine Cream Sauce; Quiche, Salad and individual mini french toast casseroles.   For our dinner/snacks I made this Cheese Terrine, Fountain Avenue's Parmesan Crusted Potatoes, and  another corned beef to make Reuben sandwiches.  I also wanted to use leftover mushrooms from so I made a risotto to go with a TBD weekend side dish. As I was preparing all this food, I found time to put together a salad for lunch. I used leftover steak from the previous night's dinner, leftover bacon from a quiche, and salad ingredients I always have on  hand.  I whipped it up in just a few minutes and it was AH-MAY-Zing.  All those flavors together made my afternoon.  I ate standing up as I cooked the rest of the afternoon.  The steak and bacon with the red onion and tomatoes popped in my mouth.  I know that all sounds corny, but it was true. Trying to keep up with a gluten free-er and cleaner way of eating has been pretty easy so far.  I have indulged a little on the dark side, but not as much as I normally would. My great epiphany has been, and my son agrees...food tastes so much better!  I feel like a vail has been lifted from my palate and I can really TASTE the beauty of the food.  Especially vegetables.  I think the key has been to keep the fridge full, and keeping up my journal entries and knowing that, even if no one reads them...somebody might!  And I don't want to fail.  Yes, I have given into temptation but I have not felt guilty...except for the day I ate all those Good & Plenty candies. 




Recipes, Summary & Highlights:
Breakfast
Oatmeal with brown sugar...I was in a hurry and ate standing up.

Lunch
BLT Steak Salad...Ah-May-Zing...I ate standing up.

Dinner & #marchmadnesssnacks
Cheese Terrine with Herbs de Provence, Maple Balsamic and Toasted Pecans
Reubans..I ate the rye bread

BLT Steak Salad with Buttermilk Ranch


In between preparing for #marchmadnesssnacks, and making a meal for a family in our community, I had lunch.  I was super busy, but whipped up this salad with leftover steak from the previous night's dinner, leftover bacon from a quiche, and  of salad ingredients I always have on  hand.  I whipped it up in just a few minutes and it was AH-MAY-Zing.  All those flavors together made my afternoon.  I ate standing up as I cooked the rest of the afternoon.  The steak and bacon with the red onion and tomatoes popped in my mouth.  I know that all sounds corny, but it was true. Trying to keep up with a gluten free-er and cleaner way of eating has been pretty easy so far.  I have indulged a little on the dark side, but not as much as I normally would.  Read my post for day 4 as I came to a "food lovers epiphany"....

Ingredients
Romaine lettuce
Red onion
Grape tomatoes
Cooked bacon
Cooked steak
Directions
Just a few notes about salad making. 
I like to make all the ingredients uniform in size.  This makes the best "bite".  
I made rings out of thinly sliced onion, halved the tomatoes on the vertical, thinly sliced the steak and then sprinkled the bacon on top, then drizzled the ranch.  



Cheese Terrine with Maple Balsamic & Pecans


A terrine  is a French forcemeat loaf similar to a pâté, made with more coarsely chopped ingredients. Terrines are usually served cold or at room temperature.  I love making layered cheese terrines. The ingredients are forced, or pushed together to create many layers  flavorful ingredients.   The first one I made was with goat cheese, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts I served at a cocktail party - style wedding reception.  It is an elegant display of food and offers an interesting combination of flavors.  For the NCAA Tournament games last evening I made a cheese terrine made from cream cheese seasoned with Herbs de Provence and layered it with a Balsamic Maple Dressing and honey roasted pecans.  Served with a light water cracker, this spread takes center stage.  
Ingredients
6 oz. cream cheese 1/4  cup heavy cream Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 Tbs. Herbs de Provence
3 Tbs. maple  dressing (homemade or store-bought) 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped More dressing  for drizzling
Directions
  1. Line the inside of a custard cup or another small dish, about 2-3 inches across, with plastic; let the ends extend over the sides a few inches. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash the cheese and  cream with a fork, or in a food processor, and season with salt and a few grinds of pepper; 
  3. Add Herbs de Provence. 
  4. Spoon about one-third of the cheese into the lined bowl and pack it into an even layer. 
  5. Spread half  the dressing almost completely to the sides of the first layer of cheese. 
  6. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of pecans.
  7. Top with another third of the cheese, more dressing, and another Tbsp. of pecans.
  8. Top with the remaining cheese. Smooth out.
  9. Pack down, fold the plastic over, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  10. Half an hour before serving, take the bowl out of the refrigerator. 
  11. Pull on the edges of the plastic to loosen the terrine from the bowl.
  12. Invert the terrine onto a plate, drizzle with dressing, and let sit for 1/2 hour to warm up.  
  13. Sprinkle with the remaining pecans, season with more herbs.

March 21, 2013

Steakhouse Dinner


Appetizer: Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon
London Broil
Sauteed  Portabello Mushrooms: Recipe Pending
Compound Butter with Tarragon & Honey
Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce
Reduction
Chopped Salad
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Brussels Sprouts
Sweet Potato Fries (frozen from SCHWAANS...kids loved them)

Vidalia Onion and Fig Sauce Reduction

 
 
In cooking, reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by boiling. Reduction is performed by boiling liquid (whether stock, wine, whiskey, vinegar, or sauce mixture) rapidly and usually without a lid (enabling the vapor to escape more easily) until the volume desired is reached by evaporation.
 
 
Ingredients
1 cup chopped dried figs
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup port wine
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 large vidalia onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
Touch of honey

Directions
Lots of steps but it is a great lesson on how to reduce and make reductions.  This adds so much flavor to a sauce and brings your dish to a whole 'nother level.  
 
  1. Place figs in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit until softened, approximately 30 minutes. Place the softened figs in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid and process until smooth. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a skillet,  add olive oil and saute onions on medium to caramelize.  Be careful to not overcook.  Don't sweat them, caramelize themHelp?
  3. Puree the onions in a food processor.Combine the onion puree and chicken stock in another saucepan and reduce by half over high heat.
  4. Combine the vinegar and port wine in a medium nonreactive saucepan and reduce by half over high heat. 
  5. Add the sugar, orange juice, and fig puree and reduce by half again, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the reduced vinegar-fig mixture to the chicken stock mixture along with a touch of honey and reduce by half again, stirring occasionally. Strain the mixture into a clean medium saucepan and reduce to a sauce consistency.
Reducing wine is simple: pour a good wine into a pot and boil away until reduced. Won't burn. Won't stick. Add whatever else towards the end, being careful not to add more than a pinch of this and a bit of that. Same for reducing wine and a true stock. If the stock is seasoned, however, care will be needed to not add too much of something or the other, throwing the whole out of balance.
 
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