Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Celery Leaf Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan

As I mentioned in my Farmer's Market essay, I bought a simply gigantic bunch of celery this weekend. I used the leaves alone for a salad that would probably serve four people. I know, though, that many of you do not have access to giant bushels of celery leaves, so let me suggest that this salad could also be made with lettuce, shaved (very thinly sliced ) asparagus, shaved green beans, shaved brussel sprouts, or plain old celery.

bunch of leafies
1 lemon
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and cooled
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
block of parmesan, shaved with vegetable peeler--any desired amount

1.In a large bowl, gently toss the vegetable of choice, walnuts, the juice of the lemon, a few Tablespoons of olive oil, and a small sprinkle of salt and pepper.

2. Shave the parmesan over the top and enjoy!

Printable version here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shrimp Pasta with Meyer Lemon, Dill, and Feta

When walking through the Farmer's Market this weekend, I came across a beautiful bunch of dill. I love dill--it has a really musty smell--very earthy and distinct. Some bright yellow meyer lemons also caught my eye. Meyer lemons have a flavor that is like a cross between a lemon and an orange, so I thought it would pair nicely with the grassiness of the dill. The bread crumbs bring a toast factor, and the feta balances it all out with a little creaminess. Best of all, this pasta dish is super healthy and won't weigh you down! This dish was created for an event called Presto Past Nights and being hosted by my friend and fellow blogger at the Skinny Gourmet.

3 Meyer Lemons, 2 juiced for marinade, 1 of which should be zested, and a 3rd for finishing
1/2 box whole wheat linguini
1/2 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
4 shots Tobasco
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 cup low-fat Feta cheese
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, lightly toasted

1. In a small plastic bag or bowl, combine juice of two meyer lemons, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped dill, garlic, and Tobasco. Place shrimp in, tossing or mixing every 5-10 minutes to make sure the shrimp marinates evenly. Ultimately, the shrimp should only marinate 15-20 minutes maximum.

2. Put pot of water on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil, salt the water, and add linguine. Cook linguine according to package directions. (Approximately 8 minutes). Start next step when there are 3-4 minutes left of cooking time left on the pasta.

3. Put a heavy wide saucepan over medium-high heat on another burner, and add 2 T. olive oil. Wait till the olive oil starts to glisten, then add shrimp. Salt and pepper the shrimp. The shrimp cooks quickly--turn over after 1 minute, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the rest of the dill, the lemon zest, and the marinade. At this point, the pasta should be cooked to al dente. Add the pasta and a few spoons of pasta water. Stir and let cook for about one more minute to make sure all the flavors are combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Stir in feta and bread crumbs. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and a couple swirls of good olive oil. Serve immediately. Garnish with dill and lemon wedges.

Printable version here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Magic" Mushroom Soup

Alas, this soup is not "magic" in the way you are are SO BAD!!! It will not cause hallucinations, but it might make you see stars!!! If you want to take this to a whole 'nother level, sprinkle with little truffle salt before serving. Don't have truffle salt? Well, to tell the truth, I didn't either until I was looking at a box of it in the store and then I dropped it and ripped the box and had to buy it. But I'll tell you, BEST ACCIDENT EVER! I use it on top of those 100-calorie packs of popcorn-- it will blow your socks off! (I often sneak it into the movie theatre so I don't have to feel all sad and martyr-y watching everyone else eat their popcorn. I swear this stuff is better, anyway!) It's a bit expensive, but it will last for years.
Since this soup is SO angelic (OK...a tiny bit of bacon), I serve it with a killer Grilled Cheese. If you want to make this soup more "devilish," add two Tablespoons of butter before pureeing, and 1/2 cup heavy cream after. Try it without, though--I think you will like it as is. ENJOY! And STAY WARM!!!

1/2 c dried porcini mushrooms
1 c hot water (not boiling)
1/4 lb. pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, minced
1 1/2 lb wild mushrooms (I like a combo of cremini, portabello, shittake, chantarelle, and the reconstituted porcini from above), chopped*
1/2 lb. button mushrooms, chopped
1 T. lite soy sauce
1 C. dry white wine
1 qt. murshroom/chicken stock
1 chicken or vegetable bullion cube (try to find out without MSG)
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
splash of Madeira wine
1/4 c. fresh Italian parsley, chopped (optional)
2 shots Tabasco (optional)

1. Reconstitute dried porcinis by pouring hot water over them and steeping them for 20-30 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan on Medium heat, heat e.v.o.o. and add pancetta. Cook till crispy but not burnt. Transfer to a paper towel with a slotted spoon. Pour all but about 1 Tablespoon of fat. Add shallots, garlic, and celery Season with salt and pepper. Sautee until soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add wild mushrooms, including chopped reconstituted porcinis. (Save porcini liquid). Add button mushrooms and thyme. When mushrooms have cooked down significantly, add soy sauce. Season with pepper.

4. Add wine and reduce by half.

5. Add broth, buillion, and most of porcini liquid, leaving a little in the bowl in case there is any grit or sand from the mushrooms. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool, if using a regular blender--no need to cool if using an immersion.

6. In batches puree soup in a blender or using an immersion blender. (The food processor doesn't work here as well).

7. Finish with a splash of Madeira and tabasco. Stir. Top with parsley. Garnish with crispy pancetta.

Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: This is even more "magical" the next day!

*When cleaning mushrooms, never put under the faucet. They're too sponge-like and will get too watery. Just dampen a paper towel and wipe any dirt off mushrooms by hand.

**If you are using portabellos, make sure to remove the gills with a spoon before chopping.

***Never add salt to mushrooms at the beginning of the cooking process--it will take longer for them to cook and might make them a little tough. Add salt towards the end!

Printable version here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Grilled Cheese

Nothing is more cozy than soup and grilled cheese. The nuttiness of the seeds and the earthiness of the whole grains in the bread stand up to the salty, oozy cheddar. Make this for someone you love!

4 slices whole grain bread (cut from a whole grain loaf, such as La Brea Bakery)
Cheddar cheese (amount to liking)
Butter (not margarine!!!)

1. Put a pan on medium-high heat.

2. Butter all four slices of bread on only one side.

3. Slice cheddar.

4. Place two pieces of bread, butter side down, on the pan. Working quickly, set cheddar slices on top and then top with the other piece of bread, butter side up. Let get crispy and brown, then flip with spatula.

5. Let the second side get crispy and brown, then take off pan and cut down the middle.

Printable version here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Apricot and Feta-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Orange Brandy Sauce

Pork goes really well with fruit, so the apricots and the orange in the sauce pair nicely with the super-tender meat.

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
10 dried apricots, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon reduced-fat feta
1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. brandy
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut pork tenderloin lengthwise 3/4 of the way through to create a pocket for stuffing, but not going all the way through.

3. Heat 1 Tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat in oven-proof pan. Throw in shallot, apricot, and thyme, and sautee until shallots are soft, 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Add feta.

4. Stuff pork with apricot mixture and tie pork with twine to keep filling in. Salt and pepper the outside of the pork generously.

5. In the same pan, heat another Tablespoon of olive oil over Medium-High heat until glistening. Put in the tenderloin and don't touch. Let brown--it will easily move (won't stick to the pan) when brown. Brown on all sides.

6. Transfer pan to oven and let finish cooking, 15 minutes or so.

7. Take out of pan and let pork rest. Put oven mitt on handle of pan to make sure you don't burn yourself on the stove, and put the hot pan back on the stove over medium heat. Add the orange juice. Take off the heat and add brandy. Expect a flame when you put back on the stove as the alcohol burns off. Reduce to a glaze.

8. Remove the twine, cut the pork across the grain and finish with glaze.

Printable version here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Saltimbocca Turkey Burgers

I love finding new ways to make chicken and turkey interesting...and I'm really happy with how these burgers turned out. The "surprise" inside adds a lot of moisture, as does the yogurt, so they're not too dry, which is the crux of the typical turkey burger. These flavors really lend themselves to fruit, so this would be great served with a couple slices of pear, a cranberry sauce, or a chutney. If you're really watching your calories, forgo the prosciutto...but if you can allow the extra calories (50 or so for 2 slices), it adds a great saltiness and crispiness to the outside of the burger. I've also noticed that different brands of ground turkey breast really differ in texture--Jennie-O is pretty easy to handle. I tried a kosher brand today that was really sticky. Either way, it tastes good--just be warned that they might be a little tacky when forming. I serve this along with my Arugula Salad with Rosemary-Roasted Grapes and Pistachios.

2 lb lean turkey meat, ground
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1-2 teaspoon onion flakes (depending on taste)
1/2 c. fat-free plain yogurt.
1 shot worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
6 Tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzerella
1 pack sliced prosciutto (or 12 slices)
6 whole wheat hamburger buns

1. Mix turkey, poultry seasoning, onion flaes, worcestershire, and sage in a big bowl.

2. Score into 6 with fingers and pick up 1/6 of the mixture with your hands. Form into two discs. Put 1 Tablespoon mozzerella on the center of one disc and put the other turkey disc on top. Seal the edges. Salt and Pepper both sides. Repeat with rest of meat.

3. Wrap 2 slices prosciutto around each turkey burger.

4. On medium heat, heat olive oil in pan and cook turkey burgers until no longer pink in the center.

5. Serve on whole wheat buns with chutney.

Makes 6 burgers.

Printable version here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Arugula Salad with Rosemary-Roasted Grapes and Pistachios

I absolutely love fruit in salad, and roasting fruit gives it depth of flavor and richness. Combined with the earthy, woodsy rosemary, the toastiness of the pistachios, and the creaminess of the blue cheese, I think it's pretty darn near perfect.
Bon Appetit!

1 container arugula
1 c. seedless black/purple grapes
1 t. turbinado sugar
1 t. olive oil
1/2 t. dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 c. pistachios, toasted
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. sherry vinegar
1/2 t. honey
1/2 t. dijon mustard
3-4 T. e.v.o.o. (less if you like it tangy)
1 t. fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 c blue cheese, crumbled (optional)
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine grapes with 1 T. olive oil and rosemary, and spread out on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Roast in oven for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make viniagrette. In a small bowl, combine vinegars, honey, mustard, thyme, and a small pinch of salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

4. When grapes are roasted and slightly cooked, transfer to a bowl and add arugula, pistachios, and viniagrette and toss well.

5. Add blue cheese if using.

Printable version here.

Kale Salad

OK, don't give up on me quite yet...I understand your skepticism of all things kale. I share them. However, I discovered a raw kale salad at Whole Foods that's really good...but I don't enjoy paying $5.00 for a pint of kale with a couple nuts! So I created one that is loaded with antioxidants AND flavor. You won't even realize you're eating dark leafies! Note: this recipe uses preserved lemon. If you have an extra day to make it, I highly recommend it as it adds a special flavor. If not, no worries--just use lemon rind.

1 bunch kale, chopped (discard big stems)
1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon preserved lemon
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Put chopped kale in a large bowl. Throw in the blueberries and the cranberries.

2. In a small bowl, combine preserved lemon, mustard, honey, and vinegar. Throw in a tiny pinch of salt and swirl around until salt dissolves. Now whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.

3. Toss kale salad with vinaigrette and top with ground pepper, if desired.

Printable version here.

Preserved lemon

This is a recipe from

2 lemons
1/2 c water
4 t kosher salt
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c evoo

Peel lemons with vegetable peeler, being careful to get the rind and not the pith. Simmer the peel, water, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until salt dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is reduced to 2 Tablespoons and the peel is tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer peel and liquid to a jar. Add the lemon juice and olive oil. Stir and refrigerate at least one day for flavors to set.

Printable version here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sesame Scallops with Blood Orange and Avocado Salsa

So, today I was walking down Montana Ave. in Santa Monica and there was a guy selling produce...I bought a few avocados and some blueberries from him...later, went to the grocery store and there were some really gorge blood oranges on display. Then the little mouse inside my brain started running on its little wheel...and I came up with this super-healthy, and I must say, super-delish dinner. It's light but full of flavor.

6 large sea scallops, rinsed, dried, and feet removed
black sesame seeds
salt and pepper
1/2 Avocado, roughly diced
2 blood oranges, segmented
1/2 lemon
1 shot Tabasco
1 English cucumber, cut into long julienne
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon citrus champagne vinegar

1. Combine blood orange, avocado, juice of half a lemon, Tabasco, and a tiny pinch of salt. Mix and set aside.

2. In another bowl, combine cucumber, sesame oil, vinegar, another little pinch of salt, and few grinds of pepper. This will be the bed for the scallops, so plate the cucumber on two plates.

3. Heat up 1 Tablespoon (or so) of olive oil in pan over medium heat until rippling. (This step is key to good scallops--you've GOT to get that pan HOT).

4. Sprinkle scallops with salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. Put in pan and don't touch. Cook on that side for about 1 1/2 minutes, flip. Cook on that side for another minute or so. Take off heat and put 3 scallops on each plate on top of the cukes.

5. Top with the blood orange and avacado salsa.

Serves 2.

Printable version here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grilled Vegetable Chili

OK, here goes..first recipe! I love anything you can eat with a spoon (real comfort food if you ask me), so I'm always trying to come up with new recipes for soups, chilis, etc. This makes a lot of chili, but it freezes well for cold winter nights. I like to top it with a little bit of shredded cheese and a few crushed baked corn chips. P.S. VERY angelic!!!

olive oil
1 ear of corn, husked
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 zucchini
1 small eggplant
1/2 large red onion
2 carrots
2 cloves garlic
28 oz can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you want a more smoky flavor)
5 c broth, chicken/mushroom/vegetable
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
pinch red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 14-oz can black soy beans/black beans
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat grill on high heat.

2. Cut vegetables into big enough chunks so that they won't fall through the grates of the grill (leave corn whole). Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Grill vegetables until charred. (Don't worry about them being cooked through--they'll do this on the stove). Take off the grill and roughly chop into more bite-sized pieces. (Cut kernels off the corn at this point)

4. In a large pot, combine vegetables, beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, broth, bay leaves, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then turn to low. Let simmer on a low flame for 45 minutes.

5. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!

Printable version here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

More about Me and This Website

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve gone through it all--from being chubby and eating whatever I wanted--to being very thin and probably on the verge of an eating disorder. I moved to California from New York City and immediately met a trainer who got me into incredible shape...and put me on a diet that made me a skinny...and a little pscyho. It was very restrictive...and it worked! I looked really good...but after living that way for months and months, I started to become someone I didn’t even recognize--caring so much about calories and numbers on the scale, and avoiding social gatherings because I couldn’t control every aspect of my food choices. So I went off that diet--and you guess it, gained weight--not incredible weight, but maybe 15 pounds. Well, that didn’t make me happy, either. So thus began my journey of finding and creating recipes that were healthful AND taste really delicious. The other thing I guess I should mention is that I am a foodie. I think that if it weren’t for my concern about health and appearance, I could be a complete food hedonist. So it is very important to me that my food tastes good. I also believe that all things should be in moderation, including moderation. So, when I feel like a moist, rich, intense piece of chocolate cake, I am NOT going to try to make a healthy one with prunes or some ridiculousness like that. I am going to have a piece of chocolate cake! Along these lines, I have developed a little system of labeling foods on this website--Angels will denote healthy recipes, and Devils will be decadent ones. They say you should eat 80% healthy, 80% of the time, so I will try to always have 80% of the recipes on this website be angelic ones. But, hey, you only live once, right? All work and no play makes Suzy a skinny psycho. :)