Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Celebrating 60!

A couple of weekends ago I was asked to cater a party for a neighbor's 60th birthday. The hostess was finding herself a bit overwhelmed with the thought of preparing more than a couple of dishes for 35 people so I gladly joined in.

The hostess prepared a beef tenderloin that was thinly sliced and served with a trio of mustard and sauces and a wonderful tabbouleh salad. I rounded out the food with:

Cheese and Meat Board

Sweet Onion and Bay Leaf Marinated Shrimp

Mediterranean White Bean Salad

Tomato and Corn Bites

I also prepared a mixed olive tapenade served with pita bread and cheesecake fingers. Sorry, no pictures! To finish the evening we had both a German Chocolate Cake and Caramel Cake.

Much to my surprise I received the beautiful flowers pictured below a few days after the party. The birthday boy is a pilot for Delta and he had flown in from a trip to Hawaii that morning. Certainly gives new meaning to fresh flowers!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Power of Green

Last month I demoed at three of Piedmont Hospital's Cancer Wellness Center in the Atlanta area. The food focus was on green foods. Working with our dietitian, we developed a great menu and game plan for sharing information about the power of eating green. As with all the demos I do for CWC, I learn a great deal and this time was no exception.

Here is why eating green is so powerful:

1. They are high in antioxidants. You'll find plenty of vitamin A, C, and E as well as iron and zinc. Antioxidants play a major role in protecting your body from viruses. Make your goal to eat three servings of green foods each day.

2. They are low in calories. Green foods, especially dark leafy one, have a large amount of water which in turn leaves them extremely low in calories so you can east as many of them as you possible can and not have to worry about gaining weight. Adding greens such as spinach, chard or kale in soups, casseroles and even enchiladas with bulk up the meal while keeping the calories in check.

3. They are a great source of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are special chemicals found in green foods that have a good effect on the body after consumed. They boost your immune systems as well as protect you from cellular damage. Switch up the foods you eat from day to day in order to get a wide range of these nutrients.
4.They are practically carb free. While there are a small amount of carbs in green food, these carbs are important to your health. These carbs are complex so they are packed with much needed fiber which helps you keep fuller longer throughout the day. Fiber also helps to grab pollutants and other unnecessary things in your body and dispose of them before they are absorbed.

5. They are easy on your glucose level. Green foods are very low in sugars. Along with being packed full of fiber and water, they actually help to regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Kale is all the rage right now, from using it to juice, in salads or as a side dish. I think that I have eaten more kale in the last 6 months than I have in my entire lifetime! Below is one of the recipes we prepared and shared at CWC. It has become one of my favorites.

Wilted Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings
4 cups washed, dried, and chopped kale
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1/2 cup fresh or dried cherries

4 tablespoons toasted almonds

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and maple syrup. Set aside until needed.

Heat a large saute pan over a medium Heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan and allow to heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add kale. Stir frequently to just wilted. Remove from heat.

Rewhisk the vinaigrette and pour over the kale. Gently stir to coat.

Divide between plates and finish with cherries and almonds.

Note: The vinaigrette is also great on other greens, especially those that are more bitter such as arugula.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Rosemary Scones


I love scones! Don't you? What's not to love...butter, sugar, heavy cream and served with clotted cream! Add a dollop of raspberry jam and it's complete. While typically considered a 'sweet' they can also be a 'savory'.

I'd like to share a savory recipe that I have used over and over this past month, Savory Rosemary Scones. Not only awesomely wonderful, these scones are also healthier than the sweet scones. Serve with soup or stew, or even with a salad and you have a meal.

Savory Rosemary Scones
Makes 8

2 cups white-wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 + 2 tablespoons soy milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or use parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to mix. In a medium bowl combine the oil, soy milk and rosemary. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just until blended. Do not over mix.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and press dough into a 1-inch thick circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and place them on a prepared baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cook for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: You can also use regular milk or unflavored almond milk instead of soy milk. Additional rosemary can be added if desired.

Adapted from 1000 Vegan Recipes

Hope you enjoy these as much as my clients and I do!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Vegan Challenge Continues

Almost a year ago I began cooking for a client who wanted to prescribe to a vegan diet. Her goal was to see if removing all animal and animal by-products from her diet would get her cholesterol levels back under control. She did not want to be on a lifetime of medicine to control it if she could do so another way.

So our relationship began and I must admit that even today I find cooking for her a challenge. I have cooked for vegetarians in the past and knew that I had a great arsenal of recipes that I could use. It was when I began moving into the truly vegan recipes that I became overwhelmed.

My client suggested a cook book, Forks Over Knives, which I bought and began using...occasionally. I found the recipes to be interesting but very daunting. The amount of work that needed to be done to complete one recipe was mind blowing. I found  there were many more steps/preparations to get to the finished product and it can be pretty expensive! Given that I prepare five different meals for her each time I cook, I don't need one recipe to take an hour and a half to prepare before I cook it.

Needing to find over sources for recipes I turned to the Internet and found Urban Vegan and Veg Web. Both have been provided me with a variety of recipes that don't have four hundred ingredients and steps!

Another challenge is keeping the menus "fresh"...aka known as exciting and full of variety. Cooking every two weeks makes this aspect especially challenging. I seem to stuff a lot of things, like peppers, cabbage and grape leaves, and tortillas. I use a lot of beans and grains and rice. Dense foods like lentil loafs are out as she doesn't like, well, the density of them. I've got a good thing going with side sides; it's the main dish that often throws me in a panic. 

To add to it all, many vegan recipes do not freeze or freeze well.

I cooked this week for my client, who I really like, which is probably one of the reasons I am still cooking for her! It was not too challenging of a day, but then I made soup for one of the meals.  Here's a photo of the results of the day.

Spinach and Lemon Paella with Wine Braised Brussels Sprouts

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage with Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli finished with Walnut Oil

Gnocchi and Wild Mushroom Gratin with Italian Style Green Beans

Braised Tofu in Curry Coconut Milk over Brown Basmati Rice

Mushroom, Orzo and Kale Soup with Herb Bread
I welcome any suggestions and/or recipes/websites, that might help me not feel so challenged!