Archive | January 2012

Winter’s Delights: Wheat Berry Salad

Bringing lunch to work can sometimes be the only way you’re guaranteed to eat healthy for the entire day. That’s because when  forced to put something together for lunch, it tends to be quick, simple, and good for you.

Salads are a big hit.

So is soup.

And veggie wraps, carrots & dip, yogurt, smoothies, almonds…

We always eat better when we choose what goes into our lunch tote, right?!  But the key is that it doesn’t have to be boring.. the same old thing every day.

In honor of my new series, Winter’s Delights, and of my new job, I thought I’d share this make-ahead salad that fills you up till dinner. And by “filling you up” I mean with slow-digesting proteins – not pounds! If you eat this every day with your other staple lunch snacks, I bet you will feel a little “lighter” come the weekend. Just in time for the fruit snacks & popcorn for date night at the movies!

Wheat berries are a true whole grain and are used to make flour by grinding them down. They are filled with nutrients and cook as easily as rice. When cooked they have a chewy texture and have an “earthy & nutty” flavor. Because they are a kernel, virtually none of the nutrients are stripped away when eaten whole. A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron. If you enjoy sprouts on salads and sandwiches, you can add water and grow your own wheat sprouts! These tasty sprouts are loaded with vitamin E, a cell-protecting antioxidant, and magnesium, which is good for healthy bones and muscles.

What makes them a healthy alternative to a piled-high sandwich for lunch is all that protein and fiber – they tend to be slow-digesting and therefore keep you fuller longer, preventing you from gorging on that side of fries… or that muffin sitting in the break room. And that fiber? Well it will keep you regular, which is always a plus!

This recipe is actually my version of a grocery store’s deli salad that I tasted not that long ago. They kindly printed out the ingredients and I went home and concocted my own version, which tastes just like the real thing! I hope you try this – It is affordable and a great way to eat your way into that bikini in summer!

Wheat Berry Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hard red winter-wheat berries
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup of crumbled Ricotta Salata Cheese
  • 1 cup packed spinach leaves
  • salt & pepper

Directions

Rinse and drain wheat berries into a bowl and then put in a meduim-large saucepan. Add chicken stock, making sure the wheat berries are covered by a few inches. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat until berries are tender, about 45min-one hour. You may need to add more stock (or water) during this time to make sure they don’t dry out.

Meanwhile, to make the citrus dressing, place the chopped  shallots in a small bowl.  Add in the zest of one orange and one lemon.Then slice the orange in half and squeeze the fresh juice into the bowl with the zest and shallots. Do the same with the lemon, but only add 1 Tbsp. of the lemon juice. Cover the bowl and place in fridge for the flavors to congeal while the wheat berries cook.

From a pre-packaged bag, measure 1/2 of sliced almonds and place in a serving bowl. Then cut the ricotta salata cheese into chunks and crumble into even smaller pieces, placing them in the serving bowl as well.

Once the wheat berries reaching a chewy texture, turn off the stove and drain them into the serving bowl with the cheese and almonds. Add in the citrus dressing and spinach leaves. Mix it all together until combined and serve immediately, or refrigerate until the next day. I personally love it chilled!

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Winter’s Delights

I really enjoyed coming up with recipes to share for the “Fall Foods Recipes” series and decided to start a second series of seasonal recipes, entitled “Winter’s Delights”.  The benefit of doing a series is that it gets me here posting at least once a week, as well as forcing me to look for local & fresh ingredients during the winter. And I hope some of you enjoy it as well!

I learn, you learn; we all become educated winter eaters!

The first recipe I’m excited to share is one from today’s   OregonianBeet Fritters! I LOVE beets, yet most people steer away from them because of some childhood nightmare. And I’ll be honest, I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat them until I was 22 years old, so that might be why I can stand them now.

I’ll never forget the first time I ate them…. the next morning I was left a bit surprised, and if you eat beets, then you know what I’m talking about!! haha… too funny.  🙂

Given the expected “side effects”, I can eat them knowing my body is nourished with plenty of vitamins.  Approximately 2 cooked beets have:

44 calories

3% DV of  sodium

3% DV of Total Carbs

2 grams of Fiber

8 grams of Sugar

1% DV of Vitamin A

2% DV of Calcium

6% DV of Vitamin C

4% DV of Iron

Beets are  fairly easy to grow in mild winter climates (which is most of the country this year), so you can find them at your local winter Farmer’s Market or at your local grocer. I would recommend trying to buy those growing locally if you can, since they are so easy to grow – what’s the point of paying for a veggie that is across the country??

Here’s the first of a series of Winter’s Delights recipes:

Beet Fritters

(makes 8)

Ingredients

  • About 6 small beets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup soft, white bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • A few grates of fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Roast the beets at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, until soft; cool and peel, then shred in a food processor or box grater. There’s no way not to make a bloody mess in this process, but it cleans up easily.

Slice the half onion into shreds comparable to the shredded beets.

In a medium bowl, mix beets, onion, bread crumbs, egg, ginger, cream, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil and fry fritters in 1/4-cup portions for about three minutes for each side.

*** Update: Jan. 18, 2012 ***

So last night I learned that it may not be a good idea to post recipes before I actually try them out first. This is the second time I’ve done it, and the second time that I later made the recipe and it came out horribly! I’m so sorry if you already made this recipe, but most likely, you didn’t, because I know there aren’t many beet fans out there!

Last night I made these Beet Fritters… and they came out… and were not all that exciting. For the amount of time, work, and the cranberry-colored mess my  turned into, they aren’t worth the fuss!

An alternate version could be :  roast the beets, dice them up, and mix in some lemon zest/ juice, goat cheese crumbles, and fresh basil. This way you don’t need to lose part of your finger nail grating a hot beet (yes, that happened last night too) or worry about staining your cute apron. Luckily, beet juice does wipe off easily from the counter & a bamboo cutting board – I was soooo happy about this because I don’t know about you, but I tend to make big messes in the kitchen!

Fast & Fabulous French Food at Home

Have you seen this cookbook yet?

A recipe from this book came up on my daily looky-look at foodgawker.com. After perusing a few of her pages, I fell in love with her style and recipes! Ooh la la!  (sorry, but that’s all the french I can come up with on the fly… pretty sad, right?)

– from her website

“Wini Moranville draws on years of traveling to and living in France and serves up a hip, user-friendly volume that brings a wealth of up-to-date French recipes and time-saving techniques seamlessly into the American kitchen. In a voice at once wise and lighthearted, Moranville offers 250 recipes that focus on simple, fresh ingredients prepared well.”

I gotta tell you, there is seriously nothing quite as exciting as finding a new food blog to follow. And I think that makes me a foodie… um, maybe we should make that an obsessed foodie… a.k.a. a  person that might be spending all her time looking at food websites and her salary on food & food related items.  But you know what? I don’t mind being labeled obsessed, because that means I have a hobby and hobbies create contentment. And I am as happy-go-lucky as it gets when I’m doing something “food” related!

So, back to the book…and her easy-peesy French recipes for the modern working woman. (A far cry from some of Dame Julia Child’s difficult recipes)

This is what I’m making tonight with some freshly caught Steelhead (Salmon’s cousin). I just cannot get enough fresh fish these days – some people say they crave a good hunk o’ steak, a BLT, or hamburger.. but me? I crave fish like a mad women who reached in her drawer for a piece of Dark Chocolate and realized there was none left. I need it NOW! Gimme, gimme!

Roasted Salmon with Pernod Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit here.

I’ll keep you in the loop for the final results 🙂

 

 

Cioppino – A Fish-lover’s paradise!

This was the featured dish after a one week labor strike I had with the kitchen.

I had heard that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and after a marathon of cooking & baking since November, I knew the only way I could stay so in love with my kitchen and cooking was to step away. I needed a vacation. A stay-away-from-the-kitchen vacation. A we-are-only-eating-out-or-I-refuse-to-ever-open-a-cupboard-again vacation.

And boy did it work. After a week of instant breakfast (cereal, toast), cheese & crackers (where I don’t even have to slice the cheese), eating take-out or at restaurants, I longed for the taste of something homemade. Something that wasn’t sitting under a heat-lamp to keep warm; something that was made just for my meal, something that wasn’t doused with calories & fat. I craved a meal made from love, with love, and for love. 

Then Christmas morning rolled around and I found that my HoneyBee (Blake, that was my nickname for him waaaaay before your song)  had honored me, our relationship, and our love by giving me a KitchenAid mixer (eeek!!!!!).  Maybe he saw how big of a mess I became when I had to use 3 different electric tools to mix dough; maybe he was scared that my labor strike would be the end of his high-end meals;  or maybe he noticed that this cooking adventure wasn’t just a phase & that I’ve grown from a novice to an experienced cook in a mere 6 months. Whatever the reason, he loves me & my cooking, and wants them both to stay 🙂

With my new toy in the kitchen, the labor strike ended in a flash and my first dish was inspired from a wonderful broth & stew we had for our anniversary dinner in August – Cioppino. After our Dungeness Crab feast on Christmas Eve, I had a few crabs left that needed to be eaten pronto. After searching for an authentic San Francisco version with Dungeness Crab, I ended up combing two recipes that formed into one spectacular dish.

Why do I call it spectacular, you ask? Because Mr. Honeybee told me so! He was so excited that he told me it was the best dish I ever made! EVER!! I was blushing at the table, let me tell ya!   The broth turned out to be the most amazing broth I’ve ever had, most likely due to letting it develop for 3 hours before adding in the fish and serving. I highly recommend making this dish if you are a fish lover, love a good soup for a couple of nights, and don’t mind starting the broth ahead of time.

Cioppino

  • 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1  onions, chopped
  • 2  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1  (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1  (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 cooked Dungeness crabs, about 2 pounds each
  • 3/4 lb. Manila clams, scrubbed (or 1 dozen Littleneck clams)
  • 1 lb. firm, white-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut, (I used Steelhead; you can use salmon too), skinned and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used frozen shrimp)
  • 1 lb. mussels, scrubbed
  • 3/4 pound sea scallops, halved vertically if large

Directions

Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large stockpot, add onions, garlic, peppers and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, over moderately high heat until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute longer. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juices and cook over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the clam broth, chicken broth, water and spices; season lightly with salt and generously with pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower temp and simmer over low-moderate heat until the broth is reduced and developed, about 40 minutes to 3 hours. The more time it has the better the broth will taste.

Meanwhile, shell the crab if whole and remove the meat. Add the crabs and clams to the pot. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the clams begin to open, about 5 minutes.  Add the fish, shrimp, mussels and scallops to the pot, pushing them into the broth.

Stir occasionally until the clams and mussels are fully open and the fish, shrimp and scallops are cooked through, about 8 minutes longer.

Ladle the cioppino into deep bowls and serve with some crusty French bread for dipping in the broth. If you have leftovers, be sure to remove the clam & mussel shells from the stew prior to storing in the refrigerator.

Be prepared to be amazed!