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Savory Baked Apples

13 Apr

Here’s a tasty idea I found on Cooking Light…along the lines of my recent post on Apple Pie In An Apple. This could be easily adapted for Vegetarians or Vegans too. Click on this link for details.

Other combinations or substitutions I might try are the following:

  • Granny Smith Apples
  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Golden Raisins
  • Dried Apricots
  • Sundried Tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Fennel
  • Celery
  • Fontina or Cheddar Cheese (how can you can wrong?)
  • Curry Powder
  • Garam Masala (do you have this spice blend in your pantry yet? It’s so versatile)
  • Thyme
  • Couscous (White, Red or Tricolor)
  • Bulgur Wheat
  • Farro
  • Bread Crumbs (for topping)

By changing up the flavors, you’ll be able to serve this for many occasions as a main course, or for a side dish I think that half an apple per person would be adequate (cut in half before stuffing). This could also be a good dish for entertaining, since you could easily make the stuffing a day or two ahead. It would be delicious with a Pork Roast or any poultry!

Apple Pie In An Apple – Part 2

10 Apr

This post is related to Apple Pie In The Apple on my blog in February. I found another recipe online yesterday, and after trying this idea myself, I’ve adapted the original “re-blogged” recipe, and feel obliged to add Part 2.

Check out this link for the other recipe I found. It’s got nice pictures, including the lattice crust, that you may find helpful.

I’ve mentioned previously I’m not much of a baker (mainly because I don’t have the patience to measure out lots of ingredients), therefore, hoped to find an easy pie dough recipe and referred to Michael Ruhlman’s ratios for Pie Dough. I’ve put a link of his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking on My Tasty Store and there is also iPhone App  available for about $4.99. I think it’s worth it just for the convenience of having it if you’re a traveler who cooks while on vacation.

For a single crust:

  • 12 ounces Flour (350 grams)
  • 8 ounces Fat (I used Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces; note:1 stick of Butter is 4 oz.)
  • 4 ounces Water (I added 1 ice cube to keep it chilled)

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt (Optional)

1 Tablespoon of Sugar (Optional)

Mix dry ingredients and Butter in a Food Processor until Butter is in Pea-sized pieces.

Slowly add in the Water until it starts to hold together , but work it as little as possible (you may not need all of the Water, depending on the humidity of your environment). Don’t worry if it’s not totally formed into a ball.

Dump it out onto a piece of plastic wrap, knead it a bit and shape into a flattened disk, wrap up the plastic disk and place it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and up to a full day.

Once chilled, roll out on a floured surface and cut into strips for the lattice (you should count on chilling longer than 20 minutes if the temperature is warm and/or if the dough is very soft).

My tips/filling recipe are below:

  • 4 Apples
  • 4 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend (or Cinnamon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Optional)
  1. I figured out that you should not try to make the lattice directly on top of the apple (it’s too hard to get it looking nice). Make it on the counter and then place it on top of the apple. Leave a little space in the lattice for steam to get through.
  2. I also dotted the top of the apple with a little butter for extra flavor which you can see in the photo above (optional but delicious!)
  3. I used Pumpkin Pie Spice in lieu of Cinnamon
  4. I used 4 Apples, not 5-6 as in the original recipe I re-blogged, and there was plenty of filling for the apples.
  5. I used a Tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar per Apple in lieu of 1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar and 1/4 Cup White Sugar (since I prefer the flavor of Brown Sugar)
  6. I used a round metal Teaspoon measure to scoop out the Apple.
  7. I tried setting the Apples on the top slice of the Apple (that is cut off the top) as a base…it helped stabilize 3 of the apples but the 4th one slide off during the baking process. Not sure I’d do that again, unless the top slice was a little thicker, or maybe I’d cut a bigger hole in it for the base of the apple to sit in.
  8. I’m not crazy about covering them with aluminum foil and will be test without next time. I felt it took too long for the crust to brown.

I think this concept would work equally well if you wanted a short cut and topped the Apple with some nutty Granola instead of a crust. If you try it, please share your tips or ideas. Would love to hear them!

Deconstructed Pork Tamale from Bocanova

8 Apr

It takes a creative chef to turn a Tamale, or anything for that matter, into something memorable. This dish definitely hit the mark! Imagine the inside of a delicious, homemade, authentic Tamale with stoneground Masa, slowly cooked Pork shoulder, seasoned with Onions, Garlic, Cumin, and Mexican Oregano, maybe some Epazote or Cilantro. But then, don’t hide all those delicious ingredients inside the Husk.

Instead, layer the Husk, Tomatillo sauce, Masa (think of a round slice of Polenta, but with more texture than a traditional Masa since this one had bits of corn kernels added), and Pork that has been cooked a long time so it melts in your mouth (think of Confit), then garnish with some Guacamole, Queso Blanco, Micro-greens and Red Bell Pepper. This modern and elegant dish would work well for a dinner party too. The other photo here is a Crab Pozole…also delicious!

Bocanova’s Executive/Proprieter Chef Rick Hackett provides an ever-changing Pan-American menu for brunch, lunch and dinner, including many great options for Vegetarians. The restaurant  is located on the waterfront at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA.  I highly recommend Bocanova!

A Seasonal Vegetarian Antipasti Platter

11 Mar

Whenever I think of an Antipasti platter, I think of various cured meats, such as Prosciutto, Salami, Sopresatta, and Bresaola. The one pictured here, from Peter Lowell’s Restaurant in Sebastopol (West County Sonoma) was all Vegetarian and I didn’t miss the meat one bit! I’m definitely going to be ordering it again.

This one included Grilled Radicchio with Balsamic Vinegar (I think it was White Balsamic), a head of Roasted Garlic, a small slice of Frittata, Roasted Potato sprinkled with some Parmesan, Roasted Beets, Bosc Pear slices, a Mustard Greens Pesto (delicious!) and Kalamata Tapenade with Kumquat (a very nice creative twist!), Olives (including Castelvestrano which are one of my favorites), Caperberries and a couple of Pickled Red Chiles, Brie, Crostini, a bit of fresh, lightly dressed Kale, Curly Endive and Watermelon Radish.

I recommend trying to put together your own Vegetarian Antipasti–I think you’ll love it!

And of course, if you’re in the area, visit Peter Lowell’s…it’s one of the best places in town (open 7 days a weeks for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Twitter – A Bountiful Community For Foodies

25 Feb

Decided to give Twitter a try. Follow me @FoodOutsdTheBox

Enjoying it so far! Read that Daniel Boulud ate dinner at Zuni Cafe earlier, and Ruth Reichl tweeted about her breakfast of soft scrambled eggs.

Crab Louie Salad and Spud Point Marina

20 Feb

There is nothing like freshly cooked Dungeness Crab, dipped in garlic butter! I also like to make a second dipping sauce from Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice and some Curry Powder. The flavors pair very well with the Crab and a simple shaved Fennel & Apple salad (tossed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt & Pepper), along with some crusty bread, can’t be beat. By the way, family members, please note for my “Last Supper”!

We wanted to cook up some live Dungeness Crab for dinner a few weekends ago, so took a drive out to Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay in Northern California. It’s just a few minutes north of Lucas Wharf. Lucky for us, Seafood Watch considers this type of crab sustainable and Paisano Brothers Fisheries had a holding tank full of them–being well into the season, we were surprised by the large size of 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. It’s a good idea to take an ice chest since they only have plastic garbage bags, which are easily punctured by their claws, making your trunk wet and possibly having them escape!

If you’re not up for cooking them yourself, Spud Point Crab Company is across from the Marina and serves Crab sandwiches and Clam Chowder, among other things.

We had plenty of leftover Crab, so I made a salad with a “Louie” style dressing (including Mayo, Sweet Pickle Relish, Ketchup, Lemon Juice, Chopped Capers).

Hopefully, we’ll do this again at least one more time this year! The season begins in Mid-November (perfect for a pre-Thanksgiving meal) and runs to June, but it’s best to get them in the winter months. Do you have a favorite Crab recipe to share?

How To Prevent A Cut Apple From Browning In Your Lunch

21 Jan

Sometimes it’s the simple ideas that bring me happiness. This one did! To prevent a cut apple from browning in your kid’s lunch box, secure a rubber band around it. I wish I had thought of this, but I found it after stumbling upon the Bragg Blog (Bragg Live Food Products include a delicious Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar). I actually like the idea for myself too, since I prefer to cut up an apple rather than biting into a whole one, especially at my desk at the office.

You surely know the trite expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and it’s a good reminder that most of us are not eating enough fruit and vegetables each day.

The new USDA Guidelines suggest you fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables–here is a link with some guidelines and nutrition data: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov. I’d try going lighter on the fruit and eat more vegetables, since some fruits are quite high in sugar…mangoes, bananas, oranges, for example. On a side note, I read recently that the average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. Just imagine what a pile of that looks like!

Do you remember the Seinfeld TV show episode with Elaine who wants a “BIG” salad? That’s the kind of salad I like, that really satisfies my cravings for raw vegetables, and makes me feel super healthy with no remorse after eating a meal. You’ve probably heard of the “Meatless Mondays” campaign. What do think about “Salad Saturdays” or “Salad Sundays” where you fix a BIG salad for dinner instead of a eating heavy meal? Uh oh, I’m off on a tangent but I’d love to hear your ideas of what you’re doing to eat more fruits or vegetables!

Good Eats To Take On A Plane Trip

23 Dec

I recently found these cute little Mini Brie “Bites” from Trader Joe’s. They are perfect to throw in my bag and nibble with an apple once I get through security.

Traveling anywhere on a plane these days takes much longer than it should, so I never leave home without snacks. You never know when you’re going to get delayed by a flight being late, or even worse, cancelled!

Some of my favorite snack foods to carry are:

  • Nuts or seeds (or chocolate covered nuts…even better!)
  • Peanut butter sandwich crackers
  • A couple of tangerines (also good for squeezing or muddling into a drink) or an apple

Depending on the time of day or the length of the trip, sometimes a more substantial meal is necessary. If you freeze a 2 oz. tube of yoghurt, like Stonyfield Organic YoKid Squeezers, it can be placed in your bag of liquids. Once defrosted, squeeze into a paper cup or small container with a few tablespoons of granola.

If you travel for several days, instant oatmeal can be made using a coffee machine in your hotel room (mix it in the coffee pot and change the flavors by infusing the water with a tea bag like orange spice, and add some walnuts for a boost of protein). I always travel with a set of plastic utensils and some paper napkins…

Other quick and easy ideas for breakfast:

  • Whole grain tortilla with crunchy peanut or almond butter wrapped around a banana
  • Whole grain tortilla with smoked salmon and chive cream cheese (red onions optional)
  • Whole grain tortilla with avocado (mashed with a little green Tabasco sauce and lemon juice) and bacon
  • Leftover Vegetable Frittata or a fried egg and prosciutto or spinach in a whole wheat pita
  • Hard boiled egg

Easy ideas for lunch or dinner:

  • Panini with Charcuterie, slivered red peppers or zucchini and a hardy lettuce, spinach or chicory
  • Wraps using cabbage or escarole leaves with sliced turkey and cheese (mustard optional)
  • Chinese chicken salad using shredded cabbage (doesn’t get too wilted if you go light on dressing)
  • Pasta or Couscous salads

I always pack a few tea bags, which motivates me to keep hydrated, and I find that many herbal ones, like spearmint, can be steeped in cold water.

On a side note, if you have an iPad, the Scrabble App is a great way to kill time…a little pricey at 9.99 but worth it, in my opinion.

Bon Voyage and Merry Christmas!

October is Fire Safety Month

19 Oct

This is a good reminder for everyone cooking…take this Quiz and see how you score.

http://safecoagent.com/webwidgets/SAFECO_FireSafety_ldr.html

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

7 Oct

You’ve probably heard that seafood is healthy for us and should be part of our diet (although there are some concerns about elevated levels of Mercury in certain fish, like Tuna and Swordfish). The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides valuable information about seafood recommendations to promote sustainability. They offer a seafood watch program suggesting what seafood to buy and what seafood to avoid. Download the pocket guide or get it on your iPhone or Android via Apps.

One sustainable fish is the Anchovy. You probably love ’em or hate ’em! If you like them but haven’t tried Anchovies in recipes other than topping a Pizza or in a Caesar Salad, I highly recommend the House-cured anchovies at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco or create your own version at home, although the House-cured Anchovies are more mild than canned.

Try this simple appetizer with a few staple ingredients:

Good quality anchovies (note, a small bottle 0r can of anchovies will be more salty than Zuni’s house-cured so I would suggest rinsing then drizzling Extra Virgin Olive Oil over them and let them marinate about 10-15 minutes before eating. Save the oil to drizzle over the dish)

Celery, sliced thinly on a diagonal

Nicoise olives (Kalamata would be a suitable substitute if you can’t find Nicoise)

Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced

Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon juice, to taste (optional)

Serve with sliced Acme Levain bread (or other Artisan Sourdough) and a glass of Champagne or Sancerre. It’s great for  a light lunch too!