Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cold Snap & Mellow Food

All I need is a winter storm and a cold snap to think of comfort food and a good excuse to turn the oven on in the kitchen. After New England's recent storm, this meal was a warm welcome to a dreary day. I browned a pork loin which I had seared in a cast iron pan— seasoned with Mrs. Dash
( no salt) and herbs de Provence— and then put in it a 325 degree oven. After 15 minutes, I slathered it with a mixture of 1/2 dijon mustard and 1/2 fig sauce and added a splash of port to the pan.
A half hour before the roast was done, I added more port to deglaze the pan. For sides, I microwaved some sweet potatoes, and made some sweet sour red cabbage with apple and onion. It's a quick fix...slice an onion, saute in a cast iron pan, add shredded red cabbage and a thinly sliced apple, pour blasamic vinegar over the mixture, stir, add a little water, and some sugar to taste. Cover until tender. After you slice the roast, deglaze pan again with port and then add a dollop of creme fraiche... or for fewer calories a TBS of soy creamer. Drizzle sauce over pork.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ratatouille favorite dish. The ingredients... the essence of Provencal cooking. A melange of tomatoes, peppers of all colors, zucchini, auburgine, zest of lemon, and cloves of garlic sauteed in olive oil with the scent of fresh rosemary, thyme and basil. A great dish anytime of year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Turkey Enchiladas

Faced with some delicious leftover turkey and wanting a departure from the Thanksgiving melange of flavors, I went Mexican. Try this for something different: spread non-fat refried beans on wraps ( roll-ups), add a layer of salsa, leftover turkey, slivered almonds, crumbled goat cheese,and sprinkle with cumin . Roll up and put in a baking dish. Make a white sauce ( basically milk with heaping TBS flour to thicken- butter is optional) , add cinnamon and nutmeg and stir over heat until creamy. Cover enchiladas with sauce, top with coarsely grated parmesan and bake until bubbly. This works well with any leftover meat or poultry.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ginger Chicken

Last night , I tried to be creative with two boring chicken breasts and came up with a spicy and aromatic sauce with the crunch of slivered almonds and the sweetness of raisins. I sauteed a large shallot in olive oil, browned the chicken breast and covered them with white wine. While they were simmering I added 2tbs powdered ginger ( fresh ginger would be better but alas I didn't have any on hand)2 tsp curry powder, large handfuls of raisins and slivered almonds and covered the pan. When they were done and the sauce thickened, I added a dollop of creme fraiche to compliment the pungent spices. I served the chicken and sauce over pappardelle pasta with some french green and yellow beans with baby carrots ( the frozen combo from Trader Joe's is excellent especially if you steam them until crunchy). Not so boring after all!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sunday brunch

Poached pears in wine and cinnamon sticks are a great way to warm up the kitchen with the scent of fall. Sunday I made eggs benedict with a low fat ersatz "Hollandaise" that I think is even better than the real thing...and much easier. In a small sauce pan, put 4-5 TBS The Ojai Cook's Lemonaise Lite, 1 TBS spicy mustard, whisk in no-fat Half and Half ( or soy creamer) until the sauce is smooth and the consistency of hollandaise and heat until warm and bubbly. Top off rounds of toasted English muffins layered with ham ( or smoked salmon) with poached eggs and drizzle with sauce. I poached the pear halves ( I scooped out the seeds) turned them upsidedown with the skin on, poured in about an inch or two of white wine, added some cinnamon sticks, covered and put them in a 350 degree oven for about an hour until firm but tender. I served them with a ball of goat cheese that I had rolled in crushed pecans and drizzled with a blasamic glaze. I served the eggs and pears on a bed of baby was delicious!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Spinach & Goat Cheese Pizza

Pizza seems like the perfect fall Friday night supper. The ingredients usually depend on what I have on hand and last night it was a lovely bunch of organic spinach. After rolling and spreading out a rectangle of prepared pizza dough on an oiled cookie sheet, I carmelized two sliced onions and added some mushrooms. Finally, I added the fresh spinach and tossed it in the onion/mushroom mixture for about 3 minutes. I then spread the mixture on the dough, added some herbs, black olives, dollops of goat cheese, a sprinkle of grated parmesan and baked it in a 450 degree oven until the crust was crispy. Delicious and quick!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pesto al Fresco

Today, a bunch of fresh basil that was part of the still life I was painting started to wilt. I realized that I should make use of it for dinner. Pesto came to mind, but I had a taste for a texture that was different. Here's what I came up with... and it was delicious! In a food proceessor, I did the usual by blending up cloves of garlic , a bunch of fresh basil, some pine nuts and olive oil to a pesto paste. I then cooked up some mezza ziti ( spaghetti length ziti) chopped some fresh tomatoes, and heated a small amount of goat cheese. When I assembled the pasta, I tossed it with the pesto, added a sprinkle of walnuts, surrounded it with the fresh tomatoes, and topped the dish with a dollop of warm goat cheese. It was superb...not your usual dense pesto but a layered combination of crunchy walnuts, juicy tomatoes, pasta coated with pesto and topped with warm goat cheese. It was exceptional.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fall Cassoulet

This was a great combination of lowfat garlic/chicken sausage, fennel, and cannellini beans in a tomato and wine sauce. Perfect for a cool fall day... a good excuse to turn the oven on to take the chill off. In a cast iron pan, saute 3-4 garlic cloves with chicken and garlic sausage in olive oil until brown. Add a large quartered fennel bulb and brown, add 1 can diced tomatoes , a splash of red wine, majoram, basil, thyme and a stick of cinnamon ...cover and put in a 325 degree oven for 1/2 hour. Then gently stir in two cans cannellini or white northern beans. Turn heat down to 300 degrees and bake for another 1/2 hour or so. Serves 2-3 generously

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Salmon Supreme

Here's a great marinade for oven-roasting salmon:
roast three whole garlic bulbs drizzled with olive oil in the oven. In a blender put in roasted cloves, Key Lime juice (or fresh lemon juice), olive oil, Dijon mustard, and a tad of maple syrup. Blend until thick (there may still be some chunks of garlic which is all to the good). Line a baking pan with parchment paper, place filet on top, slather marinade on top, cover with saran wrap and put in refrigerator for the day. Remove saran wrap (don't remove marinade), sprinkle tarragon, pink peppercorns and dill on top... bake in 350 degree F oven until there is no resistance when poked with a fork. Remove from oven, grab hold of the parchment paper and slide the filet gently onto a platter ( the skin underneath will remain on the parchment paper) Serve with asparagus and a pilau of wild rice. Here's an easy lowfat sauce for fish and asparagus...take 3-4 TBS Dijon mustard, slowly whisk in Key Lime or lemon juice until creamy, add sugar to taste, top with dill.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Too hot to cook...

The hot weather has returned to Boston and who wants to cook? Here's a refreshing salad, with no fat and full of crunch. Combine sliced celery & cucumber, with videlia relish and canned salmon. Toss mixture with that creamy, thick non- fat Greek yoghurt ( FAGE is the brand) and season to taste. Heap the mixture on a large tomato cut into sections and lettuce, garnish with fresh dill.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A winning meal!

Started to get hungry during the Red Sox/ Yankees game and went for a quick fix. During a break, I hurriedly butterflied two boneless center cut pork chops and stuffed them with a layer of fig sauce, goat cheese and roasted pine nuts, sprinkled them with herbs ( sage and rosemary), sauteed them in olive olive until browned and then put them in the oven at 325 to slow roast. Twenty minutes later, ( during a station break) I added a splash of port. Forty-five minutes later, I took them out, plated them, turned on the asparagus to steam, tossed the salad and deglazed the pan with more port for a sauce. During a break, I served the pork with spears of asparagus and baby arugula salad with walnuts, pear and feta...turns out it was not only a great win for the Red Sox but a superb meal!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Papparadella Provencal

Here's a quick but elegant way to celebrate the last of the market's
Toss thick slices of Italian eggplant, zuchini, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and black olives in olive oil and season with 2 generous TBS of herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. In a large cast iron frying pan, saute 3-4 cloves of garlic (diced) in olive oil, add the vegetables, splash port (or red wine) over the mixture, stir and cook until tender. At the last minute stir a little Aged Balsamic vinegar into the vegetables and serve over a dish of papparadella (or your favorite pasta)that has been drizzled with olive oil. Top with grated parmesan Reggiano.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Currying flavor...the scent of autumn

Today, I was inspired by all of the luscious fall colors of squash in the market. The result was an aromatic vegetable curry that was full of flavor and autumn spice. Although it was easy to assemble, it did need time on top of the stove for the flavors to mellow. Start by sauteing a large onion cut into eighths in olive oil, add equal amounts of bite-sized chunks of potato and peeled squash (I used butternut squash) , saute for a couple of minutes then add 2 cups chicken boullion or broth, 1 TBS ginger, 1 TBS curry powder, large handful of raisins, a few whole cloves, 1 TBS whole cardamon pods ( or powder), two cinnamon sticks and gently stir. Cook covered over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes, (stir occasionally to prevent sticking) add a quartered firm pear and continue simmering until squash and potatoes are tender.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Getting the Best of Broccoli

With all good intentions, I bought a microwavable bag of organic broccoli for dinner. When it came time to cook though, I couldn't bear the thought of boring broccoli and tried to think of something that would please my palate AND still be healthy...hence, this recipe which I loved....the bonus was that it was ready on the table in 4 minutes! It was's the drill—microwave the broccoli florets for 2 1/2 minutes in the bag (or in another container), combine with a handful of walnuts, baby arugula, and toss with a garlic/rice wine vinagrette.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Great Sauce for Lamb or Pork

Here's a great easy- to- make sauce for grilled lamb steak or pork tenderloin (slather lamb or pork with dijon mustard, roll in herbs de Provence for a great crust and grill)... for the sauce...crush and mince 3 cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil ( and drippings of grilled meat if you have it), add 1 cup red wine or port and reduce for 4-5 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbs catsup...(I know..I know... catsup...but believe it or not, I got this recipe when I was living in France) add some herbs de Provence and reduce for another 3-4 minutes.
Drizzle over meat and serve remainder of sauce at the table. This is great with the summer salad of grilled eggplant, mint, and tomatoes tossed with balsamic vinegar ( see archives " great summer salad")

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lightshow Today at the Tombs of East Carbane

Today is the autumnal equinox. As you might know, it's a day when the hours of the day are equal to the hours of the night. Thousands of years ago, ancient man kept track of these events by building tombs that contained large stones carved with solar symbols—the first calendars! This morning, in Cairn T, a megalithic tomb in Loughcrew, Ireland ( above), the backstone of its chamber was illuminated by a beam of light at sunrise. The sun light shaped by the stones at the entrance, traveled down the passage and descended to the backstone while moving from left to the right illuminating the symbols (petroglyphs) carved into the stone. Two years ago, I had the priviledge of travelling to's my painting of what the backstone at Cairn T looks like today as the sun moves across its surface.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Simply Delicious Wild Cod

Fresh fish shouldn't be messed with but prepared as simply as possible to keep its flavor. Today, I bought some wild cod, dipped it in buttermilk, rolled it in panko breadcrumbs, sprinkled herbs de Provence on top, sprayed the top with olive oil, placed it on an oiled baking pan, and baked it until there was no resistance when I put a fork in it. A quick trip under the broiler to brown the top and it was ready to go...moist, flaky and crisp on the outside.

With the cod, I served a gratin of sliced potatoes and asparagus. Here's the details— steam some sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, at the last minute add some asparagus until they are both al dente. In a "buttered" (the no transfat kind) shallow baking dish, make alternate layers of potaoes, grated Parmesan Reggiano, and asparagus, pour some bechamel sauce over the layers, top with more grated Parmesan Reggiano and bake until bubbly. For a lo-cal "ersatz" bechamel...take 1cup+ of 1 % milk, whisk in a very generous TBS of flour, 2 TSP Mrs. Dash's garlic and herb blend of seasonings (great because it has no salt) and heat the mixture (stirring constantly) until it becomes thick.
Give the gratin a quick broil along with the cod, toss a salad and you've got an easy but elegant meal.
Here's another simple and delicious cod recipe ...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The pleasures of green tomatoes...

Every September, a friend brings me kilos of green tomatoes from her garden in Maine. For many, green tomatoes left on the vine in September mark the end of the garden's tomatoes. For me, the left over green tomatoes are just the beginning of a delicious cycle of the tomato tomato chutney, green tomato jam, and best of all, fried green tomatoes... although I don't fry them anymore. Now, I bake them until they're crisp in the oven for a more heart healthy treat. Simply cut tomatoes in 1/2 inch slices, spray with olive oil on each side, coat in panko Japanese bread crumbs ( you can also use regular breadcrumbs) arrange them on a baking sheet lined with foil that has also been sprayed with olive oil, sprinkle with a blend of herbs and garlic ( Mrs. Dash is great because it contains no salt), bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes and then broil until crisp on top. This is a great side dish for grilled meat or fish.
TIP: if you have many green tomatoes left over, you can also put them in a bowl with an apple and they will ripen

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Labor, food & fabulous company

What a feast...
for starters J's wonderful carmelized onion/mushroom pizza plus another smoked salmon and creme fraiche pizza...dinner was an updated 50s pasta salad (grated carrots, red/yellow grape tomatoes,green beans, black beans, corn,sliced purple scallions) with a greek yoghurt, light mayonnaise, and videlia onion relish dressing, A and J's salad with a great combination of baby spinach, sliced apple, prosciutto and goat cheese with a garlicky lemon and olive oil dressing and the grill master's spicy smoked pulled pork tenderloin, plus a fabulous grilled smoked pork tenderloin rolled with ham and rosemary in a puff pastry ...see pix...what a concept! Throw in some swimming with Lulu the lab and a crazy game of crochaos (helter skelter croquet)some cobbler and ice cream for dessert to top off a great day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Great Summer Salad

Grill slices of eggplant and onion coated with olive oil spray in cast iron pan....when done, bring to the table... add fresh sliced tomatoes...a handful of fresh mint leaves and a splash of balsamic vinegar...toss and serve with any grilled meat....great with butterflied leg of lamb.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Curried Chicken Salad

A great salad made from leftover grilled chicken...
Cut up grilled chicken into small pieces...add diced celery, diced pepper, handful of walnuts, diced cucumber, black seedless grapes
make dressing of; 2 large TBS of Miracle Whip Free, 2 TBS Videlia Onion relish,1 TBS ginger, 1 TBS curry powder, 2 tsp sugar,whisk in soy creamer or low fat milk, until smooth and toss with above salad ingredients.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Patty Pan is here!

It's the season for summer squash and the Farmer's Market was brimming with them in all sizes. My favorites are the patty pan squash which come in all hues of yellow and green (they are the small round yellow squash with the scalloped edges on the left)
They are great for the grill. Just cut them in half so you have two scalloped pieces. Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs de Provence, salt, pepper and lay them out on a perforated rack and grill until they're crispy brown on each side.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Something different

I walked into the market (Whole Foods) the other day looking for something different to grill... What I discovered was a lovely cut of meat...a boned butterflied leg of lamb that was small enough for a serving for two with a little left over for a cold lunch the next day. I marinated it for the day in red wine, olive oil, rosemary and thyme and 3 large cloves of garlic. By the end of the day it was moist and juicy, ready for grilling. Lamb is great with mint which grows like a weed in the garden... usually taking over most of the herbs while it spreads like wildfire. Having so much of it, I decided to make a sauce for the lamb. I put three large cloves of peeled garlic and a large handful of mint leaves in the blender. Turning on the blender, I slowly added some rice wine vinegar to the mixture and made a foamy sauce. It was a little sharp so I added some sugar to taste. The result was a really fresh mint sauce pungent with garlic that was terrific when lavished on the grilled lamb. The mint sauce was great the next day on the leftovers of thinly sliced grilled lamb which I served on a bed of dressed elegant lunch on a summer's day.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Lime Chicken on the grill

An easy meal for these hot days...just add a salad.. pasta or other wise... and you're out of the kitchen

COMBINE appox. 1/2+ cup fresh lime juice, 1TBS each paprika, ginger powder, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, pinch of cumin, catsup, cornstarch,Worcestershire sauce 3 TBS brown sugar, dash black pepper

PLACE 4 large bone in chicken breasts with skin removed in above marinade

MARINATE 1-2 hours (overnight if you have time)

GRILL on bony side for 10 minutes— turn over and grill for another 10 minutes, then make cross cuts on meaty side of each piece and grill until done

For some easy sides...

CUT whole onions with skin in half and coat cut side with olive oil

WRAP onion halves in foil and place on grill for 1/2 hour

CUT red peppers in quarters lengthwise and remove seeds

SPRINKLE with herbs (herbs de Provence or a mixture of thyme, oregano, basil) salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil

GRILL for 15 minutes