Monday, July 5, 2021

Caribbean Kale "Paneer"


 One of my favorite Indian dishes is saag paneer. I had an enormous bag of kale to use in smoothies and one evening recently we decided to make some curry and I thought kale could be a fun way to add some veggies to dinner. This year as we embark on the end of our forties we have both made a concerted effort to drastically alter our lifestyle. Full disclosure, I had been a regular consumer of alcohol most of my adult life and it simply wasn't serving me anymore. We both began rigorous fitness training during the pandemic as well as daily meditation and decided our days of freewheeling partying and drinking to alleviate stress, boredom, celebrate success, etc. needed to be put behind us. I've never felt better. 

Ridding myself of negative relationships, unhealthy lifestyle choices and really focusing on gratitude through journaling has made a tremendously positive impact in my life and that of my husband. The joy of life is that each day we are given the chance to start anew and learn from our past mistakes while working on curating a better future for us and the world around us. Namaste.

This dish is so comforting a creamy and easy to make. It is a very bastardized version, but that'a what's so fun about being creative in the kitchen and using what you have on hand. I have also made it with more of a mediterranean twist and used Greek Haloumi cheese as a nod to the Greek heritage of my husband's family, a zest of some lemon and it's bright and fresh. Traditionally garam marsala would be used, but I used my favorite Jamaican curry powder instead and it's delish!

INGREDIENTS:
2 cup of kale
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbs Jamaican curry powder.
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup paneer cheese or haloumi cut into cubes
zest of one lemon (optional)

I steamed the kale, curry powder and garlic in chicken stock for about two minutes until bright green and softened. Then in a blender added the coconut milk (or heavy cream if you want to get decadent). Add cheese and bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes until bubbly and warmed through. This really is more like a smooth sauce and also works great as a bed to nestle gently steamed or seared fish. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

30 Minute Lemon Chicken


 Well it’s been a minute! Whew, what a year. I tried hard to capture the positives of living in a pandemic and happily I managed to find many happy memories and was buoyed by my admiration for co workers, friends and families and their resilience. One of the greatest pluses was staying home and cooking! I relished in it and it strengthened my gratitude for those who work so hard to bring us the food that graces our table. Now that we are back in the full swing of work and life, we no longer have the luxury of spending hours preparing dinner while WFH. So this has been my favorite easy recipe for hectic weeknights.  

INGREDIENTS 

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken cutlets

4 TBS cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp baking powder

5 cloves garlic, slightly smashed

2 TBS capers 

2tbs avocado oil

1 Cup white wine 

1 knob of good butter

Juice from one lemon and slices for garnish

Seasoning salt, onion powder, fresh pepper, red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper. 2tsp olive oil

On a large bowl I mix a hearty sprinkling of seasoning with the olive oil then sprinkle both sides with the starch mix.

Heat avocado oil in a shallow pan on medium high until oil shimmers. Sauté the cutlets until golden on both sides- about 3 minutes each side.

Add butter, garlic, 1 cup of wine and 1tsp bullion, lemon juice and capers. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven at 300 for 30 minutes or to make it super tender, 225 for 1.5 hours. Grate some fresh lemon zest and and serve with your favorite side dish. A sprinkle of Parmesan is perfect. I love simply sautéed chopped veggies on the side. 


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

BBQ Meatloaf with Blistered Fingerlings on the Big Green Egg

Happy Summer 2020!! This has been one for the records and it seems there is no end in sight for our new friend Covid-19. He just keeps packing the punches! During this time I've really been counting my blessings and have been so happy to have my yard and a fun grilling situation so we can have a mini vacay each day right here at home. I've been loving watching celebrity chefs cranking out some great recipes from their homes and last night we decided to do a riff on Chef Michael Symon's BBQ Meatloaf he featured on his Instagram. It is off the hook delicious!!! I form two loaves and freeze one, uncooked for easy weeknight dinner on the grill. Of course it would be outstanding made in the oven as well.



INGREDIENTS
1 Pound ground sirloin
1 Pound ground pork (or veal or all beef, I had ground pork that needed to be used)
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use Schar Gluten Free)
1 cup grated onion
3 diced scallions
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
5 dashes of Worcestershire
2 large beaten eggs
Fresh cracked Pepper
1 head of roasted garlic, smashed (I cut the bottom of a whole head of garlic, roasted in olive oil in foil with salt and pepper and rosemary in the oven 20 minutes at 350. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and smash it up finely.)

GLAZE
1 cup organic ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar OR 3 TBS Mirin
3 tablespoons Worcestershire or steak sauce such as A-1
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

In a large bowl combine all the meatloaf ingredients and mix well and form into two loaves or one large loaf. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour up to 4 hours, to "marinate" the loaf. This really lets the flavors sink in.

Light a grill to medium heat (375 on the Big Green Egg)
Place the loaf in an aluminum loaf pan, or foil or a cast iron pan. we grilled it indirectly, so if you are using a weber type grill, be sure to move charcoal to one side and place the loaf over the side that doesn't have coals.
Grill for 30 minutes then drizzle with glaze and grill an additional 30 minutes.

For the potatoes, we got some fab French Fingerlings from Farmhouse Delivery, our local CSA. We par cooked them in our Ninja Foodi pressure cooker for 8 minutes, smashed them with the back of a spoon, sprinkled with seasoning salt, avocado oil and 1 tbs butter and roasted them for 30 minutes alongside the meatloaf until they were blistered on the outside and creamy inside.

SO GOOD!!!! No time to snap a good photo because the hubby was ravenous....




Friday, May 29, 2020

Muhammara- Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

         





Think you like hummus? Wait until you try Muhammara, a decadent dip originating from Syria that will make your world explode with creamy, comforting goodness.

Prior to the nightmare that has been Covid-19, I loved frequenting the Peacock Lounge at the Proper Hotel here in Austin, where I first discovered this outstanding treat. Served with warm pita and a zesty cocktail or shrub, this is hands down my favorite appetizer or mezze to enjoy while lounging in the colorful middle eastern inspired lounge lobby with friends. And then, just like that, the entire world was turned upside down due to a virus that literally made society come to a screeching halt, and along with it, entertaining, dining out, bountiful grocery store visits. The pandemic proved the terrifying reality that these great United States was woefully under-prepared to handle the wave of illness headed its way. And so we all did our part and took shelter for what we thought would be a fortnight and stretched in to two months. I was blessed to be able to work from home, despite my worries for my team who stayed working the front lines with the public at my office. They adapted beautifully, and I did my best to pray for them and send food to nourish them and send them my love from afar. It has been the strangest and most unsettling and surreal of times. Not a war, but in a way still a battle, only with an invisible killer.

My anxieties hit a peak when we had to take one of our beloved pugs and put him to sleep- socially distanced as I tearfully soothed him with my voice. I lost my appetite and with it, five pounds shed from worry. And then I began to learn and practice daily meditation and slowly felt my limbs and my breath relax and return to life, and with it, my love of cooking. We made some tremendous meals throughout the sheltering and I was thankful I have learned to be resourceful and stock a pantry, as supplies were at one point very limited in our formerly abundant stores. There are just the two of us, so we have no back up freezer as the majority in our area have. They were the fortunate and dare I say, greedy ones, who stockpiled all the shelves at our local store. They ate well, so did we, but with much planning and frugality. My Depression era father thankfully taught me how to stretch out a meal and get creative.

I was craving my favorite treat from the Peacock, so I googled muhammara recipes and with the staples I had on hand, made a rather good knock off which was a huge hit with my husband. He could dip handfuls of homemade pita into the creamy dip. Being gluten free, I enjoyed it with crudites or Simple Mills almond flour Rosemary and sea salt crackers. The recipe calls for Pomegranate molasses, of which I did not have, so I made due with pomegranate juice in the back of the fridge. I scored some fresh seeds from a Whole Foods delivery on the rare, and lucky day they had a slot open after weeks of none. They even had some chicken that day! I realize I still had many blessings to count as so many around the globe have lost their jobs and all sense of normality and security.

Things were looking up, until our refrigerator and freezer broke. The Russian repairman who spoke but a few words of broken English, typed in his google translator that our fridge was beyond repair. We hurriedly went to the home improvement store to find another one. A rush delivery would be six days out. I felt deflated and despaired that the small amount of food we managed to procure would all go to waste. Somehow, by a miracle, the freezer held it's temps until the new fridge came. It was quite the relief and I was so grateful my prayers were answered. This dip, while not quite as good as the one I enjoy at the Peacock, will always hold a bittersweet memory for me as we embrace the new way of life.

INGREDIENTS

1 12 oz jar of Roasted Red Bell Peppers, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup creamy almond butter
2 roasted cloves of garlic (I smoked mine in the Big Green Egg)
2 teaspoons allepo or cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons or pomegranate juice and 1 pinch of sugar
Olive oil, pistachios and pomegranate seeds to garnish

Blend all the ingredients except for the garnish until smooth and creamy. Add a little water if it is too thick.

Drizzle with olive oil, garnish and serve at room temperature with crudites, warm pita or crackers.

Stays sealed in a container in fridge for a week.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Avocado Chocolate Mousse-Vegan Option



Well it's been a minute since I've been on my little blog and I was missing it. So I thought I'd share my new favorite dessert! I recently enjoyed a vegan lunch at a tasty little place in Austin called Citizen Eatery and for dessert they suggested I try Avocado chocolate mousse for dessert. What the what?? Is that a thing? Why yes it is and I assure you it is DELICIOUS!!! I had my friends at the office try and they were as incredulous as I was that this was made from avocados.

My fabulous Belgian mother made the VERY best chocolate mousse I've ever had in the whole world, but it is rich and filled with sugar and decadent Belgian chocolate and eggs and while nothing will ever compare to her recipe (another great idea for future blog!) this was super easy, low carb and has a variety of things you can do to it to change up the profile. Here goes:

2 Ripe avocados flesh (unripe and it will have a green, vegetal undertone), so pick the ones that are starting to turn soft.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup dutch Cocoa powder
A few pinches of sea salt
4 Tbs Milk of choice (I like almond, hazelnut or coconut milk)
4 drops of liquid stevia (I use Trader Joes), you could use maple syrup too.

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth and creamy and spoon into ramekins and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Some other fun ideas: add a pinch of Cayenne, use cold brew coffee instead of milk or buttermilk for a nice little sour flavor punch. A little dollop of raspberry preserves in the blend is yummy too. 

Top with whipped cream and berries (they even have a tasty coconut milk whipped cream at Whole Foods).

Here's to your health and happy taste buds!!




Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wagyu Beef Brisket on the Big Green Egg

Summer is in full swing and we recently made the most perfect brisket EVER. We splurged on a wagyu Beef brisket from www.farmhousedelivery.com which is a fabulous locally owned company that delivers farm fresh meats and produce to our door. What's even better is it's owned by an Ursuline high school alum! Go Bears! We also bought the Wagyu brisket full packer pictured above for 4th of July 2019, which we hand trimmed from Snake River Farms. It was outstanding!!

We've made many a brisket on the Big Green Egg and this was hands down the most delicious and successful cook yet.

We simply slathered it in Whataburger mustard (our secret weapon- perfectly balanced acidity for grilling), then generously cracked fresh pepper and Himalayan salt all over. Let it come to room temp about an hour.

We used B & B hickory and brought the temp to 200 degrees. Indirectly cooked this 7 pounder for 11 hours. We sprayed it with Beef stock every hour. Then we wrapped in butcher paper, wrapped in a towel and placed in a cooler and let it rest two hours before slicing.

This truly tasted like MEAT BUTTER. I've never had such a tender and unctuous brisket in my life!  Doesn't get much more Texan than that! Fresh corn on the cobb, my Drunken BBQ Baked Beans wrapped up the whole affair with a gluten free local blueberry pie and fresh whipped cream. Lawd have mercy make the tastiness stop!!!!!!!!



This is the brisket from 2018-we did not trim it, so it was kind of fatty. You can learn trimming skills from Aaron Franklin on you tube.  


 Naughty yet fun mitt my friend gave me ;-)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Spicy, Creamy, Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Well the name speaks for itself. We had returned from vacation to find we had suffered a loss of a beloved aunt and a friend's mother, so we drove to Dallas to pay our respects and returned with a terrible virus that wiped us out for a week. No fun.

When sick I always make a big batch of chicken broth in the pressure cooker with loads of fresh turmeric and ginger, but after living off that for days, we were craving comfort food. The best thing EVER is Instacart delivery from Whole Foods! I typically love shopping groceries, but since I was also working, simply had no energy to go shopping and then cook. Delivery saved the day!! This recipe freezes really well and while I served it with gluten free rotini ( a guilty treat after days of nothing but green tea and broth), the hubby liked it poured over a flaky biscuit.


INGREDIENTS
3 split skinless chicken breasts, bone in.
1 tbs Lemon Pepper blend (We love Trader Joe's)
1 onion
1 celery stalk
1 large carrot roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
several sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
1 jalapeno
1 carton condensed cream of chicken soup (Pacific organic brand)
1 tbs onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs paprika
3 cups spring water
a "glug" of white wine
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup jalapeno jack cheese

In a heavy dutch oven, brown chicken in a little oil (we use avocado these days) after you've generously sprinkled the chicken with lemon pepper blend. Once the skin has a little golden color to it, set aside on a plate and add chopped onion, celery, carrot, a whole jalapeno split in half lengthwise (I'm trying to open up my sinuses people), and saute over medium heat until softened. About 5 minutes. Add the slightly smashed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant- about a minute. Do not over cook the garlic or it will burn and taste bitter. Add that glug of white wine (about 1/4 cup) and reduce another 30 seconds to cook off the alcohol.

Re-introduce the chicken, add two bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, the cream of chicken, spices and spring water. It will look like this:

Before you add the cream of chicken and water...


Cover and place in a 215 degree oven for four hours or until the chicken is tender. Remove chicken and discard the bone. Remove thyme stems and bay leaf. Add cream cheese and with an immersion blender or in a blender, whip it all up until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add the shredde jalapeno jack cheese and melt into the sauce. Pour over the chicken and pasta or biscuit or some roasted veggies such as zucchini, turnips and squash or even sauteed greens. We topped with crispy bacon, chives and parsley.

Spicy, creamy and comforting. Perfect after days of stress and sickness or just any time you want a little comfort, really.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Asian Pork Belly on the Big Green Egg.

This dish is simply unctuous, in a good way! Tender, creamy pork belly braised for over 4 hours on the Big Green Egg was the perfect thing to make on a scorching 106 degree day. The heat of the Texas summers never ceases to amaze me and makes me yearn for the Rockies. I feel very grateful to have a pool to plunge in while dinner cooks on the Green Egg, as it is too hot to cook indoors with this God forsaken heat. They had some lovely pork belly at our local HEB grocers, so I bought a pound and it turned out even better than I imagined!






My favorite rub is Pineapple Dizzy Dust!! Get ya some ASAP!!!!!

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound pork belly- cut into 4 squares (I froze two for later use).
Pineapple Head Dizzy Dust
1 bottle gluten free sweet soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
2 cups rich chicken stock
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic- lightly crushed
1 small nob of ginger (about a tablespoons)- roughly sliced.
1 red onion sliced
Several pineapple chunks

I generously rubbed the pork with Dizzy dust and let it relax in the fridge over night.

The next day I slathered a half a bottle of SPF on myself, donned a big sun hat, opened up the umbrellas and lit up the Big Green Egg with hickory wood to 225 degrees. We like BG Brand charcoal.

With the the plate setter on indirect cook, we gently placed the bellies fat side up on the grate and smoked it for an hour and a half.

Then in an aluminum pan we added all the remaining ingredients and placed the bellies in the braising liquid, fat side up and raised the temp to 275 degrees and smoked them for 4.5 hours until tender and the fat was rendered on top and crispy. We basted it every 30 minutes with the pan sauce.

 2 hours in above.


3 hours in above

Once the skin is crisp, remove from pan and let it rest 20 minutes before slicing. Holy Mother this was sinfully delicious and would be great in tacos, with fried rice or on a salad, as I served it. I had some fresh local peaches and spinach and drizzled it with orange vinaigrette for a simple, yet sinfully delicious experience. This freezes well and is easily reheated in a non stick skillet until warm.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Poached Egg & Kale Salad


Greetings!! Each week I make a batch of quinoa that I use to sprinkle on my salads as a garnish.  I cook it in chicken stock with a garlic clove, freshly grated turmeric and ginger and make sure it's super al dente with a little crunch to it- about 13 minutes total cook time.

I've surprised myself by making another successful 365 days of rotation around the sun and now that I am officially middle aged, it's time to really get serious about being super diligent with my health and diet. It's an uphill battle! But this salad is a terrific way to start the day, enjoy for lunch or dinner with some fresh soup. Since I haven't logged on in ages, thought I'd add this to my recipe bank for future reference.

INGREDIENTS
2 poached eggs
1.5 cups kale, rinsed, dried and "massaged" to soften it
3 tbs cooked quinoa
1 strip of crispy nitrate free bacon- torn
Your favorite vinaigrette
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Balsamic glaze for drizzling
(options- sliced almonds, tangerine segments, avocado- skies the limit)

Lately on Sundays, along with making quinoa, I have been making homemade chicken stock in the pressure cooker and a batch of either pork or turkey bacon in the oven to keep on hand for quick breakfast or garnishes. I used to hate breakfast as I don't have an appetite in the morning- but I'm forcing myself to have a little bite of protein or something. I find a cup of hot stock or a nibble of breakfast salad has done wonders for my energy levels. That and Whole Foods Vitamin B shot- waaaay better for me than coffee! I feel really fortunate to be alive and well and enjoying life- both the ups and the downs (those make us more aware and teach us lessons on how we can be better people in this world- I have a lot more learning to do) Here's to health and happiness!!






Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pressure Cooker Beef Short Ribs

Wow it's been a while! Life has been very busy and I've made a couple of terrific things to nosh on lately with family and friends and this latest was a hit and pretty easy to make as well. Whole Foods had glorious looking short ribs and while normally I would slowly braise them for about 4 hours in a Dutch oven, I decided to cut the time by cooking them in the pressure cooker for about 75 minutes. They were meltingly tender, rich and satisfying served with ultra creamy risotto or mashed potatoes. The photo lighting isn't great, but I snapped it with my iphone and I guarantee the photo does not do this dish justice!




INGREDIENTS
4 Beef Short Ribs
1/2 bottle red wine such as Sangiovese
1 cup beef broth (preferably homemade)
1 carrot cut in half
1sweet onion
4 cloves whole garlic
6 peppercorns
sea salt to taste (about a teaspoon)
2 bay leaf

Marinade the ribs in all the ingredients overnight or for 12 hours. In a pressure cooker add the ribs and other ingredients and cook on high pressure about 75 minutes. These were really big short ribs, so one hour may suffice for smaller ones.

Marinated and ready for the pressure cooker


Release pressure, set ribs aside lightly wrapped in foil, strain some as much of the fat from the sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce about 1o minutes until slightly thickened. Serve with mashed potatoes or creamy risotto.

RISOTTO
1.5 cups Arborio Rice
2.5 cups homemade chicken stock- warmed
1/2 cup wine
1 shallot minced
3 tbs butter
1/2 cup parmesan
Parsley chiffonade to garnish

In a pan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter and coat the rice. Add the wine and cook off alcohol - about 2 minutes. Stir constantly. Then ladle about a 1/4 cup of the warm stock, stir and bring to a simmer. continue ladling 1/4 cups of stock each time it is fully absorbed into the rice, stirring and simmering for about 20 minutes until the risotto is cooked through. Once the rice is cooked , add 2 tablespoons butter and the cheese and stir like crazy.  Serve in warmed bowls and top with short ribs and sauce.