Thursday, January 29, 2009

Make stock and then compost

Before you send those vegetable scraps to the compost heap (or worse) make stock
Here is a step by step explanation from Squidoo

I used my stock to make a lentil vegetable soup -topped with pickled winter vegetables. I saute the lentils with the vegetables before adding the stock - it gives them a richer flavor.

If people can compost in New York City apartments --there is no excuse.

Wine recommendation: Gewurztraminer

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pizza Toppings that are good and good for you

Whether you do it yourself or use pre made crusts and sauces, it is pretty easy to add a healthy topping. Any hearty green such as kale, collards, chard or spinach makes an easy addition. I recommend cooking them first -either roast them with other ingredients and chop them or you can blend them into a pesto or sauce.

Here's a post about pizza toppings and wholewheat crust

whole wheat ONLY pizza dough

1 teaspoon dry active yeast, 4 cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups warm water.
Proof the yeast (put it in the 2 cups of warm water and make sure the yeast bubbles)
Add one cup of the whole wheat flour and run the food processor for five minutes. Then add the remainder of the flour slowly until the dough is soft but not sticky. Let rise until double in bulk probably around 90 minutes. This dough freezes well.

The dough can be used for pizza and other breads such as pita.
My pizza has vegetable shreds which I blanch first

heat the oven to 450 -pizza cooks for around 10 minutes depending on the size
and the pita from 4 to 6 minutes.

One of the complaints about whole wheat pizza crusts is they are too dense...just use less dough then you would for a white flour pizza. Also not adding oil to the dough makes it less dense.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

EZ pickled vegetables a great condiment

The local grocery had organic broccoli,red cabbage and carrot shreds on sale. The easiest winter pickle to make. Heat the shreds with enough equal parts vinegar/water to cover and simmer for five minutes -let cool. Will keep in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks. I added hot pepper flakes and jalapeno cuz I like it hot.

Monday, January 26, 2009

meyer lemons quick preserved/California gremolata

An easy condiment -garlic, preserved lemon (rinse off the salt) and cilantro ( based on the classic garlic, parsley and grated lemon peel) It can be served as a topping for an entree, mixed with other ingredients for a dip or spread, and other things like chopped jalapeno can be added to spice it up.

- Quick-preserved Meyer lemons

Meyer lemons

salt and a pinch of sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the lemons, trying to keep away from the white pith. Squeeze the juice from the peeled lemons into a bowl and reserve: You should have about 1 cup. Add water to bring the liquid up to 2 cups; set aside to reserve. I used a grapefruit spoon to scrape away the pitch. It's one of my favorite kitchen multiuse tool.

Place the peel and 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Drain. Repeat this procedure once more. Return the drained peel to the pan, add the reserved juice, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Makes about 3/8 of a cup.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

onions -pickled and jammed!

Onions are great for adding flavor in winter. Slice 'em up and heat them in some vinegar or citrus juice and instant pickle. I used balsamic vinegar for mine.
And a long slow saute in olive oil gets to caramelized onions a good addition to just about anything! Easy peasy and will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. If you make a large quantity you can can it or freeze them.

Homemade, easy condiments winter ingredients

Eating less salt is easier if you use less processed foods. Homemade condiments are easy and better for your. Here are ingredients available in the winter months.

Winter citrus salsa has a lot of uses and no special equipment is required. Chop up the supremes (sections) of a grapefruit and a tangelo but you can substitute your favorite winter selections. Add 1/4 onion (any kind -red onion is especially colorful), a few tablespoons if cilantro leaves, garlic, jalapeno (if you like it hot) or bell pepper for a milder flavor, and a splash of vinegar.
Let it sit for a fifteen minutes. It can be served cold with chips or heated as sauce for an entree.

Chili sauce is an easy winter pick-me-up. Dried chilis toasted and rehydrated and then combined with the citrus of your choice, some garlic cloves, chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup no salt canned tomatoes

Update an article from the LATIMES --a splash of seasonings

Friday, January 23, 2009

Eat Your Politics Use Less Salt

Eat Your Politics –USE LESS SALT
Public-health campaigns should be as tough and as effective. Too often campaigns are blunted for the benefit of the processed food industry. The nation faces a public health crisis and much of it can be prevented by changing the American diet and lifestyle.
“Four of the top 10 killers in America today are chronic diseases linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. It is no coincidence that in the years national spending on health care went from 5 percent to 16 percent of national income, spending on food has fallen by a comparable amount — from 18 percent of household income to less than 10 percent. While the surfeit of cheap calories that the U.S. food system has produced since the late 1970s may have taken food prices off the political agenda, this has come at a steep cost to public health. You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet.” Michael Pollan


US medical experts
warn that Americans consume too much salt, which is a harmful factor for their health. If the daily intake of salt recommended by food watchers is the equivalent of 1 quarter teaspoon, it is a known fact that most of the population consume far more than this amount of sodium chloride (salt). …..The intake of large amounts of salt has negative effects upon our health, by causing high blood pressure, which can eventually lead to heart disease, stroke or severe kidney disorders. Even if your blood pressure is normal at the present moment, do not even dare to hope that this would last forever. Unless you are extremely careful and cautious with your lifestyle, the blood pressure could increase with age and also other disturbing health problems can occur. This is why medical experts always warn that it is much better to prevent than to treat. Therefore, try cutting on the salt today and you will have an intact health tomorrow and the day after tomorrow

Industry not Lowering Sodium in Processed Foods, Despite Public Health Concerns
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a leader in policy for healthier Americans but the food industry continues to block the way.

A Few Companies Actually Hike Salt Levels Dramatically in Some Products, Says CSPI
WASHINGTON—Health experts have been ringing alarm bells about the amount of sodium,
or salt, in processed foods for years. But according to discouraging new data published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, most food companies aren't listening. The average sodium content of 528 packaged and restaurant foods stayed essentially the same between 2005 and 2008, increasing by under one percent. But considering the food industry's acknowledgment that sodium levels are too high, the lack of progress is disturbing, said CSPI. The medical community has long agreed that diets high in sodium are a major cause of strokes and heart attacks.
For some products, though, the spikes in sodium content are alarming: Hardee's French fries, for instance, contain three times as much sodium as they did in 2005. Wal-Mart's cream cheese nearly doubled in sodium. Jimmy Dean's Regular Premium Pork Sausage, salty enough in 2005 with 280 milligrams of sodium per serving, has 60 percent more in 2008. Some 109 products increased by 5 percent or more and 29 products increased by 30 percent or more. On the other hand, sodium in 114 products declined by 5 percent or more and 18 products declined by 30 percent or more. The rest remained about the same.

Here are some general guidelines:

• 1 teaspoon per quart for soups and sauces.
• 2 teaspoons per pound for boneless raw meat.
• 1 teaspoon per 4 cups flour for dough.
• 1 teaspoon per two cups liquid for cooked cereal.
• 1 teaspoon per 3 cups water for boiled vegetables.
• 1 Tablespoon per 2 quarts water for pasta.
• 1 Tablespoon coarse or kosher salt = 2 teaspoons table salt.

Salt Intake: How Do You Compare?

The average person consumes about 6 to 18 grams of salt daily. That's roughly one to three teaspoonfuls. Your body actually needs only about 2300 mgms. of salt a day.

Reducing the amount of sodium you consume may help you reduce or avoid high blood pressure. High blood pressure, is more likely to lead to heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

American Heart Association sodium recommendations Healthy American adults should reduce their sodium intake to no more than 2300 mgs per day. This is about 1-1/4 teaspoons of sodium chloride (salt). Many foods in their natural state contain sodium, but most sodium in our diet is added to food while it's being commercially processed or prepared at home. That's why you need to be aware of both natural and added sodium content when you choose foods to lower your sodium intake. When buying prepared and pre-packaged foods, read the labels.

Decreasing sodium is one of the easier changes you can make in your diet. Once you start a low-sodium diet, you will gradually become more sensitive to the taste of salt in foods. For most people, this takes about 30 days, so it is important to stick with it. You will begin to enjoy lower salt, less processed food choices, and you will find that foods such as canned soups and packaged meats taste too salty. Use natural spices like oregano and rosemary to add flavor, but beware of seasonings with hidden sodium, such as Cajun seasoning and blackening spices.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Celebration

We had waffles with blueberries, sour cream, spiced pears, bacon, sausage, and lots of mimosas...California Sparkling wines Korbel Rouge, Gloria Ferrer and Mumm Napa Valley Brut. Everyone was excited and very happy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are you full of beans?

Beans are one of the best sources of fiber available, and they’re an excellent source of protein as well. In fact, a one pound can of beans contains more protein than a pint of milk, yet ounce for ounce, fewer calories and fat than eggs, meat or cottage cheese.
It’s no wonder the American Academy of Science and the National Research Foundation agree that dry beans are sure to be the high fiber food of the 21st century!

Wine recommendation: CHARAMBA Douro Valley Red an inexpensive (under $5) from Portugal the home of a lot of white bean recipes

Edible Dry Beans – The High Fiber Food of the 21st Century
Today, beans are recognized by many health-related groups, including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association as an extremely beneficial addition to most diets.
That’s because they’re high in complex carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber, low in fat and sodium, and completely cholesterol-free.
It’s long been recognized that increasing the fiber content in our diets promotes a healthy digestive tract and reduces the risk of many types of cancer. And fiber also plays a significant role in lowering high blood cholesterol rates, one of the main risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease.

I use dry beans and always cook up a lot and then freeze the extra but in a pinch canned beans will do.

The picture is white bean and broccoli soup in a vegetable stock.

Three excellent resources for bean recipes are: bean bible, Central Bean and Bean Beat -canned beans

Beans have an important place in MyPyramid, the USDA’s recommended eating plan for Americans. Because of their nutrient content, beans and peas are the only foods that appear in two food groups: Meat & Beans and Vegetables.
Beans are in the Meat & Beans Group because they are a good source of protein and iron. Even better, beans provide a low-fat, saturated fat-free, and cholesterol-free source of protein.
Beans are listed in the Vegetables Group because they are a plant-based food that provides fiber, folate, potassium and antioxidants.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Escarole and cheddar cheese soup or chedder if you are from Austraila

The soup is served here with a fresh salsa garnish and there are lots of possibilities for garnish --yogurt, sour cream among others...garlic toast.
White beans and escarole have a natural affinity for each other and this a party version of the soup.
Escarole, cannelini beans and cheddar cheese soup.

1 head of escarole
2 cups cooked cannelini beans
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup beef stock
1 cup cheddar cheese grated
2 T olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
2 roasted skinless.boneless chicken breasts (or sautéed) cut into cubes or shredded

Heat the cannelli beans with 2 cups of the chicken stock and then puree
Chop the escarole into bite size pieces and sautee with the garlic until limp.
Add the cooked escarole to the bean and chicken stock puree
Add the grated cheese and chicken and the remainder of the chicken stock.
I used a crockpot but you could also put it in a regular stock pot and simmer it for 45 minutes to meld the flavors.
At this point, I added a cup or so of beef stock from concentrate to add depth to the flavor –but this could be achieved with a bit of chipotle in adobo

It was Western Sonoma County wine night
Hart's Desire Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2005
Adobe Road Zinfandel 2005
and finally a fake Western Sonoma wine called Bohemian Highway which goes from Monte Rio to Freestone but is from a Napa winery...where is the labeling police?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Escarole with pork as a condiment

What is escarole?...a pretty good explanation from Cookthink.

I made it up with pork as a condiment -other additions meyer lemon, garlic, hot pepper flakes and a bit of anchovy paste.

Wine recommendation: Soave, Orvieto, Frascati-- based on the trebbiano grape in California 'Saint Emilion'

Monday, January 5, 2009

Give Up White Flour

One of the easiest changes to make is using whole grain pastas and bread instead of white flour. This is a lemon, spinach, potato, tomato, garlic whole wheat pasta dish.
I freeze whole tomatoes (blanched and skinned)and just pop them into the sauce. Quick and good. Top with some preserved lemon, parmesan cheese, and hot pepper flakes.

Wine recommendation:sangiovese

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thomas Jefferson's Good Advice Salmagunde

"Another favorite dish of Jefferson's was called Salmagunde. This is an Olde English supper meat salad, made from cold cooked chicken, grapes and onions, and garnished with anchovies and capers."

This is my version for winter. Grilled romaine, corn/chipotle puree served as a hot dressing, sausage and chedder cheese.

Wine recommendation: Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lentils, spinach and spicy tomato pickle

The weather is gray and raining (we need the rain!) so I wanted something sunny and hot. I made lentils with spinach and used the spicy tomato pickle as a condiment.
I like to saute the lentils with other vegetables before cooking them through. Saute, then add water(or soup stock) and bake for an hour. I pureed the lentils and vegetables and before serving added fresh spinach and the pickle.

Wine suggestion: Reisling, Pinot Noir, Rose or Viognier