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Archive for February, 2014

HUMP MONTH is just around the corner!

Winter is hanging on… and if Wednesday is HUMP DAY, then March is the same – a month with still a lot of winter left and just a month we have to get through to find the warmer weather. Some people head south, but for those of us who stay here, the challenge is to make it fun so that it goes by quickly!

Luckily we live in a global economy, so getting fresh food is still relatively easy.  However, to pair with those vegetables and starches, Michigan still offers wonderful smoked fish – a delicious respite during this cold, winter month. Here are two of my favorites – an entrée and an appetizer. I know you will love them both and both are as easy as can be.

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APPETIZER: SMOKED WHITE FISH (OR SMOKED SALMON) MOUSSE

(Enough for a large party)

¼ Cup Shallots, Cut into rough pieces

1 Pound Smoked Whitefish (OR Smoked Salmon), Boned and Flaked

½ Cup Sour Cream

½ Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened

½ cup Cream Cheese

3 Tablespoons lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons Vodka

½ Cup Whipping Cream, Whipped to Soft Peaks

White Pepper and Salt, to taste

Cayenne Pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Place the shallots in a food processor and chop them finely, scraping down the side of the bowl and running it a little bit more. Then add the fish and pulse a few times to blend it. Add the next 5 ingredients and process until smooth.  Remove to a bowl.
  2. Whip the cream and fold it in by hand. Season to taste with white pepper, salt and cayenne pepper.
  3. Pack into one large mold or smaller molds.  Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
  4. Serve with toast points or sliced baguette. Or serve with rice crackers and it’s gluten free!


MAIN COURSE: FISH PARMESAN
(Serves four)

4 Fish Filets (4 to 6 ounces each)
2 eggs, beaten
1 to 2 cups Parmesan Cheese, grated
Baking Spray

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400⁰F.
  2. Put the egg in one bowl and the Parmesan in another. Spray an oven proof casserole dish with baking spray or lightly rub it with olive oil.
  3. Dip the fish in the egg (on both sides). Then press it onto the Parmesan (both sides again) and place it in the casserole Press more Parmesan into the fish to cover it well.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the fish just flakes.

 NOTE: You can prepare the fish ahead and then just pop it into the oven when you are ready. If it’s cold, allow a few more minutes cooking time.

 It doesn’t get any easier than this! Enjoy!

Cooking with Ruben (NYA Catering)

1-Lynn and RubenWhat a pleasure to have Ruben Blake Griffin on my Cable Cooking Show. Educated in CA at the CIA and after a long restaurant career, Rubin is starting his own catering business called NYA Catering in the Bloomfield/Birmingham area of Michigan. That stands for NOT YOUR AVERAGE Catering Company and I would truly second that emotion! Ruben is far from an average cook and today he brought his expertise into the Flavor Secrets Kitchen. He always kicks everything up a notch… and here, for you, are the recipes for the dishes we made on the show!

2- Lamb Kofta TotsAPPETIZER: Lamb Kofta Tots
Mix together:
4 cloves garlic,minced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 pound ground lamb
3 T grated onion
1 T chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh mint
1 T ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper

BAKE at 375 F for about 10 minutes, or until just done. Serve on a spoon with Tatziki Sauce and a garnish of fresh mint.

ROASTED GARLIC TATZIKI SAUCE:
Roast 6 small garlic cloves in the oven at 375 F for about 30 minutes or a little longer, until slightly browned and soft. You should have 1/4 cup. Mash or purée.
1/4 cup cucumber, puréed and strained to get the water out.
Pinch of cayenne
2 cups Greek yogurt

Just mix it together for some great Tatziki!

3-Bacon Bourbon JamAPPETIZER: BACON BOURBON JAM
2 pounds bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup garlic, chopped
1/2 pound brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 bottle Wild Turkey Bourbon

Cook the bacon until firm. Drain the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 5 to 6 hours.

SIDE: ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
Place a whole cauliflower in a casserole pan or on a baking sheet. Drizzle it with oil and rub it with a BBQ rub. (We used Seasons Harvest BBQ Rub.)
Place in a pre-heated 375 F oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave it in there another 30 minutes or until your dinner is ready.
You can also prepare this without the rub, and/or purée it.

SIDE: COOKED BRUSSEL SPROUTS SALAD
Cut 3 cups Brussel Sprouts into thin slices. Add it to the pan after you remove the lamb chops and rosemary sprigs. Stir up any fond in the bottom of the pan and cook until al denté.
Add 1 cup Pancetta or Prosciutto, cut into small pieces. Sauté until the meat is rendered.
Add 1/3 cup blue cheese and stir through. Turn off the heat and leave the salad in the pan until ready to use.

4-Raw Cabbage SaladRAW BRUSSEL SPROUTS SALAD
Cut the sprouts into very thin slices. Toss with Deviled Egg Vinaigrette and serve.

DEVILED EGG VINAIGRETTE
1 cup chopped hard boiled eggs
1 cup rice wine or champagne vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp. granulated garlic
2 cups vegetable oil

Mix the first six ingredients in a food processor. Then run the processor while you drizzle in the vegetable oil. Mix in just enough to moisten the salad. You will probably have extra for later use. Other things that would taste great in this salad are blue cheese, bacon, turkey bacon and/or nuts.

5-Lamb with Roasted CauliflowerMAIN COURSE: LAMB CHOPS
Season the chops on both sides liberally with salt and black pepper. Sauté  in a little vegetable oil until crispy brown on both sides. Add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary to the pan but don’t pull off the leaves.
(Don’t crowd your pan! Do this in batches if necessary.) Set aside.
When ready to eat, place in a pre-heated 375 F oven and bake for about 10 minutes for medium rare.
Serve with the baked cauliflower and cooked Brussel Sprouts Salad. Serve the raw salad on the side or use it for a different meal.

Winter Squash Salad

So many people are asking me for great vegetable recipes these days, so this one is for you… a very different and hearty salad from the Pasolivo Olive Oil Company in Paso Robles, California. Add a piece of sautéed chicken or meat and your dinner is done!

Paso Robles (in San Luis Obispo County) is an interesting area in itself… a wine region that is less known than Napa or Sonoma, but rapidly becoming a popular destination wine and resort area. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named it “Wine Region of the Year” in 2013… Obviously because it is the up and coming place to go for some interesting wines. Having been there a number of times, I can tell you that it can boast of being a quiet little western town with GREAT restaurants and places to stay. The hills are alive with up and coming wineries and darling start-ups, like the Pasolivo Olive Oil Company, which was the product of the original owner’s wife’s hobby. I love their oils, but especially the flavored ones… lemon and lime. They told me they crush the skins of the fruit with the oil to get these lovely tastes. In my opinion, they are the best citrus flavored oils out there and worth ordering on the Internet. I use them to flavor vegetables and to make vinaigrette to  flavor salads. (Remember… fruit acids and salt spike up the flavor of everything else in the dish!) So here’s the EASY recipe!

Squash Salad

WINTER SQUASH SALAD 

1 medium butternut squash, roasted until you can just get a fork easily through it and cut into cubes

2 sweet potatoes, roasted al dente and cut into cubes

1 T ground cumin; 2 tsp. salt; Pinch of paprika

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup blonde-green lentils, cooked (1 cup to 4 cups of water. Simmer 30 minutes.)

Dressing:

¼ cup + ½ T fresh lemon juice; ½ cup olive oil (Passolivo suggests its California Blend)

½ cup green onions, finely chopped

2 tsp salt (I left this out because there was enough salt in the salad, but taste yours and decide. Conditions can vary.)

Pinch of paprika

½ cup feta cheese

Chopped nuts and/or bacon (Optional. I used turkey bacon and no nuts.)

METHOD: Mix the salad ingredients together. Then mix the dressing ingredients together. Combine them just before serving.

ENJOY!

 

Fabulous, Quick Comfort Food!

ImageAll together now… B-r-r-r-r! If there was ever a month for comfort food, this is it! The problem with most comfort food, however, is that it takes a long time to prepare. The good news, though, is that dishes often use inexpensive cuts of meat, albeit tough ones! That’s why in our house we have recently discovered the pressure cooker and I can’t rave about it enough. Like many of you, the first time my husband turned it on, I removed myself from the kitchen! My mother’s stories of the top blowing off her pressure cooker are still fresh in my mind. (In fact, in our house, it blew off so many times that the pressure cooker became a simply popcorn cooker – great because of its heavy bottom, but not exactly its intended use!)

If you still have an old one, throw it out and get a new one. Really. Pressure cookers today are very different and are much, much safer. They are easy to use, to clean, and allow you to save money on groceries by using those tougher, cheaper cuts of meat. You can get one for about $100. There are plenty of great recipes on line and even the ones that come in the little book with the cooker are fabulous. That’s because a perfectly tenderized meat is unbeatable. They also cook so much faster that you will save a lot of time. And last but not least, cleanup is much easier because you can make a one pot meal. They sauté, brown, simmer, warm and cook at both low and high pressure. Amazing machines they are – really!

 

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Here’s one of my favorite recipes for pork BBQ: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork loin, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 large yellow onions, cut into strips

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper

1 jar of your favorite Barbecue Sauce (I like Cattlemen’s or LEGENDS Apple Cider BBQ Sauce)

1 pound extra-wide noodles (if desired), mixed with 2 Tablespoons butter OR soft buns

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your pressure cooker.
  2. Sprinkle the pork pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in batches.  Then brown the onions (Optional).
  3. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the cider vinegar over the whole thing. Put the top on the pressure cooker according to the instructions in the manual. Cook for 50 minutes under high pressure.
  4. Release the pressure according to the instructions in the manual and stir in the BBQ sauce.
  5. Serve over wide, cooked noodles or on soft buns.

I promise you this will be a hit with your family!

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