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Archive for March, 2015

Raw Cauliflower Salad: A MUST TRY!

Raw Cauliflower Salad

Raw Cauliflower Salad

Almost any restaurant you walk into these days will feature a signature Cauliflower Salad. Thank goodness it’s one of the top trends this year because it’s a great diet dish that’s really healthy for you.

As an aside, if you’re on a low carb diet and you steam cauliflower and puree it, it will help you not miss your potatoes. In fact, many people won’t even be able to tell the difference. Often when I serve it to guests they remark, “Wow. These potatoes are really good!” Cauliflower also contains a lot of fiber, which should help you feel full longer as well as being healthy for your heart.

Cauliflower has antioxidant properties (Vitamins C and E, folic acid, lycopene, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene). It also contains nutrients that protect you from the sun and help you to age well. It’s possible to find conflicting information on whether nutrients are destroyed by cooking, but certainly some of the less stable ones are lost. So why not eat it raw? If you slice the florets very thinly, you won’t notice so much that it’s not cooked. Mixing in other things will also help to develop an interesting taste.

Here’s a recipe that I like. It pairs well with anything – meats, poultry, pork, or fish. It’s just a little spicy but you can make it more so by adding more Peppadew pickled peppers (usually found in the deli section of your grocery store). For interest, you can use other colors of cauliflower (yellow or purple) or mix up the colors. The purple variety has even an extra antioxidant, the same one found in red wine.

RAW CAULIFLOWER SALAD 

1 head Cauliflower, florets sliced thinly

1 large Romaine leaf, sliced thinly

2 red Peppadew peppers (or more, to taste), chopped tiny

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped tiny

1 teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon salt

½ cup salted and roasted cashews, rough chopped

1/3 cup sweetened coconut

1/4 cup olive oil

¼ cup Champagne vinegar

½ teaspoon ground garlic

1 teaspoon orange zest

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Method:

  1. Layer the first seven ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix together the oil, vinegar, garlic, zest and juice. Pour it over the ingredients.
  3. Mix by folding with your hands, trying not to break up the cauliflower too much and that’s it. Couldn’t be simpler! Can be made several hours ahead of your meal.

Citrus as a Dieter’s Tool

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits hopefully have an honored place in your diet. Their refreshing taste on a hot day is unequaled. But more importantly, citrus fruits contain flavonoids. According to the Dairy Council of California, they “have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the spread of tumors. Citrus flavonoids are also antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals and may protect against heart disease”… as well as preventing “the oxidation of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, which is an initial step in the formation of artery plaques. Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, and are good sources of folate and potassium. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from damaging free radicals. It is also required for the synthesis of collagen, which helps wounds heal and helps hold blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and bone together. Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that is essential for the function of nerves, heart contraction, and some enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism.”

Because they contain citrus acid, they are also great for tenderizing meats, an important aid for dieters who are trying to create flavor without fat. Not only do they add taste, this ability to tenderize makes cheaper (and tougher) cuts of meat more palatable and actually delicious. Here’s a good example of a citrus marinade from Chef Seamus Mullen of Tertulia in New York City.

Citrus Marinated Pork Chops

Raw Chops Marinating

Raw Chops in the Marinade

Mix together: 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon grated lime zest, ¼ cup fresh lime juice, ¼ cup honey, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 1 small red onion, sliced, 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and Kosher salt and pepper. Marinate 4 pork chops for 15 minutes and then fry in a hot pan in a small amount of butter.

The recipe says 15 minutes, but I actually left the marinade on for more like a half hour. These were thin chops. If you use thicker ones, I would pierce the chops and leave it on for an hour.

This is a delicious recipe. I have always hated cooking pork because if it’s overdone it’s awful. So make sure to cook the chops just until their color changes throughout. Watch on the side as they are cooking and when they are white half way through, flip them to cook the other side.

Bring the sauce to a boil

Bring the sauce to a boil.

Chef Mullen says to strain the marinade and cook them in the marinade. Remember that you must heat this marinade before serving because it has been in contact with the raw pork. If you like, you can sear them quickly over high heat to add taste and color. Then add the marinade and continue cooking. However, getting the color is a bit difficult since the chops are wet. They will boil first instead of searing. If you don’t mind that they aren’t brown, they will be juicier if you do not sear them.

Pair this with a fruity wine like a red Zinfandel. It would also be great with a sweet drink like a Whisky or Pisco Sour. Or if you’re on a diet, simply drink water and enjoy the citrus flavor even more.

Finished dish

Finished Dish

Next beach walk: A dish hunt?

2-Sunray Venus Clam Shell

Sunray Venus Clam Shell

You’ve all heard the old adage “You eat with your eyes first”. As a Chef, I’m always looking for ideas for making a plate appealing. If it looks attractive, I can be sure it will be gobbled up by my guests and besides the quest is fun! I look for pretty dishes everywhere I go – even on my recent trip to Marco Island, a place known for its beautiful shells washing up on the beach. As well as shells for table decoration, I was looking for dishes. Yes, I said dishes!

When you find your shells, first sanitize them by dissolving one “San Tab” (available at Gordon Foods) in a gallon of water. Then add the shells for at least 20 seconds and that takes care of it. Be sure to also rinse them well to remove the chemicals and you’ve got an interesting and attractive dish. (You can also paint them with Mod Podge on the outside to make them a little shinier if you like, but don’t paint the surface where you will place food.)

I looked for large white clam shells, Sunray Venus clam shells and the largest scallop bowls I could find. Most of these were out on Tiger Tail Point Beach. What’s really interesting about the ocean is that different things wash up each day. One day it will be full of Fighting Conch shells and the next day you might not be able to find any at all. Different shells can be found in various parts of the beach. Make sure not to take one that’s alive or inhabited, which is actually illegal. If you really want to help protect the eco system, you take those that are alive out beyond the waves and throw them out into the ocean so they will have another chance.

3-Table decoration

Variety of small shells for decoration

But let’s get back to the table. Small shells went into decorative bowls. (You can leave them simply as they are or fill the bowls with water and float candles or flowers above them. You could also partially fill a vase and add flowers.) Fighting conchs, starfish and a sand dollar became appetizer tray decorations. Larger shells became containers for little specialties I like to make. The larger shells could simply be handed to people with appetizers in them. I took it one step further and added them to a Bento Box (a Japanese lunch box divided into four sections. Plastic boxes can be found in Japanese grocery stores. Or, if you want beautiful lacquered ones like these, you can find them online). I found the little dishes that fit in them in all kinds of different stores on my travels as well as at Crate and Barrel.

What you see in the box below is grilled shrimp marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and perched on purchased Quinoa-Vegetable Salad, marinated chicken skewers, lump crab and a crab cake topped with a little fresh thyme. The sauces are Sweet Chili Sauce and Thai Peanut Sauce – both simply purchased. On the clam shells on the appetizer tray are seared scallops topped with shredded ribs, Sushi and sashimi. You don’t have to use these exact things. Just use little things that you like to make and don’t forget about your leftovers for toppings or other little creations. Simply have fun with it!

1-Scallop Shells

Large Scallop Shells

4-Bento Box Presentation

Bento Box

 

To make the ribs: Cut four pounds of bone-in ribs into four pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sear in hot oil in a Dutch oven. Then spread a small can of tomato paste on the meaty side. Turn them over so the tomato side is down. (Heating the tomato sauce sweetens it.) Add 1 cup of beef stock. (If you don’t make your own, I like the Kitchen Basics brand the best.) Cover and bake for 2-1/2 hours at 350 F – or until the meat pulls away when you rake a fork over it. Remove the meat and chop it. Freeze any extra for another meal.

The marinade for the chicken is ½ cup Sesame Seed oil, ½ cup Soy Sauce, 1 Clove minced Garlic, 1 minced Green Onion, 2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce. Pinch of Cayenne Pepper, 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder and 1 Tablespoon ground ginger. Marinate for at least 45 minutes and then cook them in a pan. Remember to soak your skewers ahead of time so they won’t burn.

To make the crab cake: Mix 1 pound of crab with 1/4 cup chopped pepper, 1/4 chopped shallot, ¾ cup Pepperidge Farm Herb dressing (first mixed with 2 Tablespoons Dijon or Mucky Duck mustard and 1 egg and then added to the mix) and salt and pepper to taste. Press into cakes and dip in Panko. Fry in butter.  Enjoy!

6-Finished Appetizers

Finished Appetizers

7-Finished Bento Box

Finished Bento Box

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