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Archive for March, 2013

Beautify Your Easter Buffet!

If I said EASTER followed by a blank and you had to fill it in, I bet you would say EGGS! It’s the quintessential symbol associated with the holiday since ancient times, when eggs were a symbol of re-birth. During the Spring Equinox (Wednesday, March 20 in 2013) they were even colored just like we still do today – except they used natural dyes from plant leaves and flowers.

Deviled Eggs Fit For a Queen!

Deviled Eggs Fit For a Queen!

Intrigued by that idea, I decided to go natural this year to keep my eggs healthier and chemical free, plus make a more interesting Easter brunch item besides. I discovered that there were a ton of things at my fingertips to use to accomplish this. Some could be cooked right along with the eggs and other added after the eggs were cooked. Here are some examples of how to make some fun colors:

Yellow and earth tones: Onion skins: Cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes. Cook, then refrigerate with the skins left in the water to darken to the color you want. Drain and let the cooked, peeled eggs sit in the colored water for at least 3 hours or overnight. You can also use red onion skins with the same method and the color will be a reddish brown.

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Go Fish!!

When I’m cooking for one or want a really quick, low calorie but delicious and filling meal, one of my “go to” recipes is BEER FISH. You have to try this because I know you will love it and it will be at the top of your list for diet food! Plus, it’s easy. What more can you ask for in a recipe?

Beer Fish!

Beer Fish!

This recipe is called Pijiu Yu in Chinese and it comes from the southern region where rivers are abundant and fish are plentiful. I often make it with salmon because it’s inexpensive and easy to obtain where I live, but to be more true to its origin, you should make it with a firm and fairly thick white fish.

This is also a one pot dish – so there’s not much clean up. That pot is a Chinese WOK (with a cover), but you can also make it with a chef’s pan that has a cover. Stir frying in general is a quick and healthy way to cook, so if you don’t have a wok and want to get one, here’s a good, inexpensive source: The Wok Shop in San Francisco. I recommend that you get one made of carbon steel. Your choice if you want a single or double handle. With the double handle, you have to have oven mits handy because they get hot, but that’s the only real difference.  http://www.wokshop.com/store/search.php?list=subcat&subcat=1 You can get a great wok at this link for $20. Make sure you also get a wok spatula. They are wide and flat and great for stir frying. So now to the recipe!

When using a wok, the cooking process is very quick, so it’s important to first assemble your ingredients. You will need:

Delicious and healthy ingredients

Delicious and healthy ingredients

4 to 6 ounces of fish (skin can be on or not)
2 Tablespoons corn or peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon each, salt, pepper and ground ginger (or 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, sliced thinly)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup beer
1 Tablespoon spring onion, sliced thinly, on a diagonal, for diagonal

METHOD:
1. Mix together the salt, pepper (and ground ginger if you are using it). Sprinkle part of this mixture on the fish. If you are using fresh ginger, just sprinkle the fish with some of the salt and pepper.

2. Heat your wok on high heat. Then add the oil. Sear the fish on the meat side (if your fish has a skin). When it’s lightly browned and cooked half way through, flip it over. (Watch the side to see the color change as it cooks, so you can see when it’s cooked half way through.) By the way, this wok is not dirty! Woks develop a patina from the oil and you want it do so because the coating is “non-stick”.

Salmon

Sear the Salmon

3. Place the tomato, peppers, fresh ginger slices (if you are using fresh) and garlic on top of the fish, plus any leftover salt and pepper. (If you are using ground ginger, so the same but sprinkle in the rest of your mixture you made in step one.) Add the soy sauce and beer.

Add all other ingredients!

Add all other ingredients!

4. Put the cover on the wok and set a timer for five minutes. (You are still cooking on high heat.)

5. Remove the lid and transfer the fish and vegetables to a large bowl. In most cases, there should be a thick gravy underneath. If it’s a little thin, just cook it by itself for a minute or two to thicken it. Watch it because it will thicken very quickly! Spoon this “gravy” over the top of the fish and garnish with the sliced garden onions. Serve immediately.

If you want to watch a video about how to make this dish for more than one person, come see me at this YouTube link on the MexAmerica Foods channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT33TYUY4nI

ENJOY!

Erin go Bragh! Long Live Ireland!

I love fusion – the blending of food cultures from across the globe, to produce new and exciting dishes. So St. Patrick’s Day is an ideal time to pair tasty, warm tortillas with hearty, traditional Irish food. I offer you three dishes here… one plate with three different takes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy!

BREAKFAST:
Throughout Ireland, it’s common to see what’s called a “fry-up”… lots of breakfast type goodies inside a roll. The idea is that you can eat it on the way to wherever you are going, so it needs to be compact and not too runny. It could easily be compared to a Mexican burrito! So here’s our version in a warm, whole wheat tortilla.

Irish Breakfast RollIrish Breakfast Roll  Serves: 4
Makes 18 pancakes and serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 MexAmerica Whole Wheat Tortillas
1 pound ground sausage
8 Tablespoons thick tomato sauce
1 cup cherry tomatoes
4 to 5 ounces sliced mushrooms
4 Eggs
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

METHOD:
1. Fry the sausage for 3 or 4 minutes or until it’s cooked through and no longer pink.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and sprinkle them with pepper.
3. If using canned mushrooms, drain them. If using fresh mushrooms, clean them, slice them in half and fry them in two Tablespoons of butter.
4. Fry each egg in 1 Tablespoon olive oil, for several minutes, until firm.
5. Warm four Whole Wheat Tortillas. Split the sausage, tomato sauce, tomatoes and mushrooms into four parts, fill the tortillas and roll them up.

Here’s what I found in making this dish:

1. I like to mix hot and regular sausage half and half. For me, that’s the perfect amount of spice.
2. If serving your rolls on a plate, it’s nice to use garnishes of tomatoes and fresh herbs. When you’re garnishing, if you first look for things that actually contained in the dish, you will know the flavors will blend well. Look for a contrasting color to the outside.
3. I usually break the yolks when I put eggs on sandwiches so they aren’t messy to carry around.
4. You can also control the spice by the tomato sauce you choose. If you like it really spicy, use an Arrabiatta (spicy) sauce. If not, choose something more like Tomato and Basil. This recipe works best – again to keep it from being too runny – with very thick tomato sauce.
5. When you’re rolling up your tortilla, it helps to put your ingredients toward one side of the tortilla and then roll it up. You will have better luck than if you have your ingredients in the middle.

LUNCH:
For lunch, we turned to the traditional Boxty. This dish is most well known in the western part of Ireland. Even in Ireland, it’s paired with stew or beef or just about anything, so it’s perfect for our fusion philosophy! To me, it was screaming for bacon and sour cream, but wanting to keep it lighter, I chose turkey bacon and lite sour cream. I find it just as delicious as the real thing! Boxty is commonly known for its rhyme:

Irish Boxty Tacos
Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty on the pan,
If you don’t eat Boxty,You’ll never get a man!
(LOL)  Try it out! 

Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:  6 MexAmerica 6” flour tortillas

1 cup medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed (about 3 medium)
1 cup Yukon Gold potato, raw, grated by hand, peel on
½ cup All Purpose flour; 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

11 pieces turkey bacon, cooked crispy, divided (5 pieces are to mix in. The rest is for garnish.)
Salt and freshly grated white pepper
Butter, for frying; 1 cup Lite sour cream for garnish

METHOD:
1. Mix the mashed potatoes with the grated potatoes.

2. Add the flour and baking soda and mix in.
3. Add the milk, parsley and 5 pieces of the cooked, chopped bacon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix it all up well.
4. Heat a large frying pan. Add 2 Tablespoons butter and fry the pancakes in small strips until slightly browned.
5. Warm your tortillas and fill each with three of the pancakes. Top with sour cream and bacon.

Here’s what I found in making this dish:

1. The tricky part of frying the Boxty is not to have your pan too hot or you will burn the butter. You need more butter at the start than the finish, so top the butter away from the Boxty when it is holding together and you want to brown it.|
2. Grate your potatoes at the last minute and mix them in quickly because they will tend to turn brown right away. If they get a little brown, don’t worry. You won’t see that when it’s all mixed together.
3. Most Boxty recipes don’t have enough liquid in them. They should be more like a pancake than their cousin, the Jewish Latke.

NOW ON TO DINNER! What else but CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE? So easy and so tasty!
Irish Corned Beef & Cabbage Bites
Irish Corned Beef & Cabbage Bites
To me, corned beef and cabbage should be eaten more like a sandwich, so we turned to a larger wrap style tortilla made of unbleached white flour. The nutty taste of this tortilla pairs excellently with the corned beef. To make it, just warm the tortilla, add as much corned beef as you want, slather it with your favorite mustard, add a slice of Swiss cheese and then garnish with sauerkraut and a few fresh herbs.
Roll this one up and eat it, or cut it into pieces before adding the sauerkraut as I did in the picture and then place the sauerkraut on top. Add a slice of cheese and bake it at 350° F just until the cheese is melted – just a few minutes. Great garnishes are garden onions and fresh herbs. Can you say YUM?

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