Monday, August 13, 2007

Speedy Cooking Tips from Five Top Experts

Take a look at this interesting article from Food & Wine's September 2004 issue. Also, there are 10 yummy looking recipes to consider.

As an aside: Happy Camping! to Janet over at Janet is Hungry. She'll be camping for the next week or so.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dinner for a Recovering Friend

Our friend Michael got quite the surprise last week. He went into Eisenhower Hospital for a routine operation and came out a week later with a triple bypass. So when he was up to it, we had him and his partner Tom over for dinner on Saturday to give them a night out. I hope everything was okay for his new heart-healthy diet.

The starter recipe I got off of the KARE 11 website the other day while looking for videos of the bridge collapse. It's from a restaurant called Cue in Minneapolis. Very refreshing and lots of flavors going on all at the same time.

Green Gazpacho with Lime Sour Cream

For the gazpacho:
1 c. honeydew melon, peeled and seeded
1 T. jalapeño peppers, gilled and seeded (I used ungrilled)
¼ c. green bell peppers, gilled and seeded (I used ungrilled)
¼ c. green onions, chopped
½ c. English cucumbers, chopped skin on
1 c. tomatillos, husked and chopped
1 c. sweet onions, peeled and diced ¼" (I used shallots)
2 T. Banyuls vinegar or other red wine vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
2 T. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 t. fine sea salt
½ t. white pepper, freshly ground

For the sour cream:
1 c. sour cream (I used low fat)
2 T. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 t. sea salt
½ t. Tellicherry black pepper, freshly ground
(I thought it was a bit thick for drizzling so I added a bit of water to thin it down.)


For the gazpacho:
Purée the fruits and vegetables with the remaining ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Transfer to a labeled container with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate immediately. (Thin with some water if too thick)

For the sour cream:
Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly in a stainless steel mixing bowl until well blended.

For the plate:
Ladle six ounces of gazpacho into a chilled serving bowl. Garnish with sour cream and some freshly chopped chives. (the store didn't have chives, so I used thinly sliced green part of scallion)
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For the salad I made a refreshing salad of watermelon, shallots, feta and olives. Recipe adapted from a recipe in Food & Wine.

Watermelon Salad with Feta

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon harissa or other hot sauce (I used harissa)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, fruit sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (I used shallot)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pitted Moroccan or other oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

1. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice and harissa and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the watermelon slices on a platter and sprinkle with the onion, parsley, olives and feta. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve.
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Next up was a recipe that came in a weekly newsletter from The Splendid Table for using the season's best tomatoes in a amazingly simple recipe. It just so happens the grape tomatoes from Costco this year are sugary sweet; so they were perfect for part of the sauce. Allow the maximum time for the tomatoes to give up as much juice as possible. In addition to rubbing the bowl with garlic, I pressed a clove into the tomatoes as well. Start with only half the sea salt; 1 teaspoon seemed to be excessive. You can always add more later.
Mellowed Fresh Tomatoes for Pasta
Copyright 2007 Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Serves 6 to 8 as a first course, 4 to 6 as a main dish
1 clove garlic, split
3 pounds richly flavored tomatoes (if possible, one-third cherry type, one-third mellow-tasting, and one-third low-acid), unpeeled, unseeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 generous pinches hot red pepper flakes
1/3 cup good tasting extra-virgin olive oil (I used Goya brand Spanish)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 pound spaghetti, or linguine (Barilla brand)
6 quarts boiling salted water
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tight-packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves, torn
1 cup fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

1. Vigorously rub a pasta serving bowl with the garlic and discard the clove. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, oil, and the salt. Gently combine. Let stand at room temperature from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
2. When ready to eat, cook the pasta in fiercely boiling salted water, stirring often, until tender yet firm to the bite. Drain in a colander and turn it into the pasta bowl. Quickly add the black pepper and basil, and toss everything together. Taste the pasta for seasoning and serve. If you like, pass cheese at the table

Here's a tip from Lynee:

• "I discovered a trick for making pasta with raw tomato sauces taste lustier. Slightly undercook the pasta. Drain it. Spoon the juices that raw sauces always throw off into the empty pasta pot. Set it over medium-low heat, add the pasta and toss until the juices are absorbed, then add the pasta to the sauce. Pasta and raw tomato sauce are served at room temperature, never chilled."
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I thought some protein was needed to bump up the pasta, so I made a batch of breaded chicken breasts. So moist and tasty. I strayed from the recipe by browing both sides and finishing them off in a 325 oven for about 25 minutes, until the internal temperature reached about 165. The recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated online.

Crisp Breaded Chicken Cutlets

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each), tenderloins removed
1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 - 8 slices high-quality white bread such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and torn into rough 1 1/2-inch pieces
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup vegetable oil
lemon wedges for serving

1. Pound chicken breasts to even 1/2-inch thickness. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water in gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Add cutlets and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate 30 minutes. Line rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels.
2. Remove cutlets and lay in single layer on baking sheet; cover with another triple layer of paper towels and press firmly to absorb moisture. Allow cutlets to dry for 10 minutes. Process bread in food processor until evenly fine-textured, 20 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs). Transfer crumbs to baking dish. Carefully peel paper towels off cutlets, sprinkle cutlets with pepper, and set aside.
3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set large heatproof plate on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Spread flour in baking dish. Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon oil in second baking dish. Spread bread crumbs in third baking dish.
4. As shown in illustrations below, bread the cutlets, one at a time. Dredge cutlet in flour, shaking off excess. Using tongs, dip both sides of cutlet in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip back into baking dish to ensure very thin coating. Dip both sides of cutlet in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs with fingers to form even, cohesive coat. Place breaded cutlets in single layer on wire rack set over baking sheet and allow coating to dry for about 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat 6 tablespoons remaining oil in heavy-bottomed 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Lay two cutlets gently in skillet; cook until deep golden brown and crisp on first side, gently pressing down on cutlets with wide metal spatula to help ensure even browning, about 2 1/2 minutes. Using tongs, flip cutlets, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until meat feels firm when pressed gently and second side is deep golden brown and crisp, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes longer. Line warmed plate with double layer of paper towels and set cutlets on top; return plate to oven.
6. Discard oil in skillet and wipe skillet clean using tongs and large wad of paper towels. Repeat step 5 using remaining 6 tablespoons oil and now-clean skillet to cook remaining cutlets; serve along with first batch with lemon wedges.
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For dessert I made very low-fat milkshakes using nonfat vanilla yogurt, 1% milk and reduced-fat Oreos. Yummy! Turned them slightly mocha with some instant espresso powder.