Wednesday, November 17, 2010


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Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable dish consisting of eggplant, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, garlic, bell peppers, and various herbs. This is usually served as an accompaniment, as I did to veal cutlets, but has also been known to serve as an entree.

Ingredients: For the eggplant, I used Italian eggplant, (Italian eggplant is smaller than American eggplant and usually less bitter), plum tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, yellow onion and garlic. I subtracted bell peppers and added cremini mushrooms and okra to the mix.

Preparation: For the eggplant, zucchini and squash: All were halved then quartered and cut into one inch pieces. The garlic is finely chopped. One large yellow onion: cut the ends, peeled, halved end to end, then cut into 1/8's. I blanched the tomatoes. When the tomatoes are blanched, the skin is easily peeled off. (Blanche is a cooking method that requires the plunging of vegetables, pasta or proteins into boiling water very quickly, until cooked, then removed and plunged into ice water to stop the cooking process.) The mushrooms were cut into 1/3rd's. For, the okra, I cut off the tops and a slight bit of the tips, then halve across (not lengthwise).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil was heated in a large saucepan, over medium. Next garlic was added. After a minute or two, I added all veggies to the pan, covered and lowered heat. Keeping an eye and stir often, I added fresh parsley, thyme and Herbes de Provence. In order to avoid the veggies getting mushy, you can do one of two things: Keep a close eye and do not overcook or prepare all veggies separately and combine and heat all together.  

FYI: I like to add red chili flake when I eat this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Fall Back" In Love With Pork Chops

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It's the time of the year where certain ingredients and flavors just taste so right. This plate consists of pork chops accompanied by sautéed pears and red onions, which all add up to a fabulous fall delight.

For the meat: One side of each chop was lightly brushed with extra virgin olive oil. Then, seasoned with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, freshly chopped rosemary and thyme, and finished with a touch of Morton & Basset ground allspice. (Allspice, also called "Jamaica Pepper", is a spice which is the dried, unripe berries of the pimento tree. The name allspice was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavors of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.) Next, I lightly coated the seasoned side of the pork in flour, placed the pork, floured side down, and repeat oil, seasoning and flouring. The meat was cooked in a bit of vegetable oil on medium/high heat, four minutes on each side.

Pears and Onions: One extra large or two medium red onions quartered then cut into 1/8's. Four Bosc pears, halved, quartered, cored, then cut into 1/8's (skin stays on). I added extra virgin olive oil to large pan. Once the oil was heated, I added a few tabs of butter. According to my eye, it was about 3 to 4 tbsp. Once butter melts, I add the pears and onions, season with salt, pepper and grate one whole nutmeg. Sauté and toss frequently, until pears are tender but not mushy, approximately 10 to 12 mins. Lastly, I sprinkled brown sugar (approx 2 tbsp) over the pan, cook another minute or two, plate next to the chops and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

American Style Healthy Stuffed Peppers

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 The Low Down: Stuffed peppers is a dish which exists in different names and forms around the world. Stuffed peppers in American cuisine is a dish where bell peppers (red and green), are typically filled with a stuffing such as ground beef mixed with breadcrumbs and/or cooked with rice, egg, herbs, spices, (especially paprika and parsley), and cheese. Recipes vary, but often include the following steps: removal of the seeds of the pepper, stuffing them, covering with cheese, and baking the combined filling until the peppers are soft. A sauce may be served with them, often a tomato sauce, but this, too, varies greatly.

Preparation: I decided to be health conscious and utilized ground turkey (instead of ground beef) and brown rice (instead of white rice) as the main ingredients. I started off by cutting off the tops of the peppers, and clean the insides. Next, I mixed the turkey meat with the brown rice that I have prepared beforehand. As the meat and rice are mixed, fresh onion, celery, parsley, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder were added. In a large bowl, everything is generously combined by hand, then I continue to season by eye and taste. Notice, no cheese in this dish.

Next I turn on the oven to 375 to pre-heat. Once my meat and rice mixture is complete, I add it to the hollowed out peppers by spoon. Then, I puree fire roasted tomatoes and cover the stuffed peppers on top, adding a few chunks of tomatoes as a garnish and sprinkle with fresh oregano and basil.

Place the dish in the oven, uncovered. The peppers will remain in the oven for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.

Food For Thought: Green Jalapeno Tabasco is a great compliment to this dish.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Healthy Pork Chops with Grilled Veggies

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Are you into eating healthy and cutting out those nasty carbs and gut building fats? My last chicken dinner was very health conscious (chicken with leek and asparagus) as well is this pork and grilled veggie plate.

Preparation:  I sliced one large yellow and green zucchini, and two white onions about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Next, I grabbed about eight asparagus, chopped off the inedible, hard bottoms and set aside all veggies.

Wash three 3 inch pork chops off and let them dry. Next, soak them in low sodium soy sauce for about 20 minutes and turn on your broiler to heat up. Afterwards, I rub the chops in a bowl with the some of the remaining soy sauce, paprika, salt, pepper and (manually) minced garlic. After the chops are ready to be thrown into the broiler for 30 - 35 minutes, I mix the veggies with EVOO, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano and place them on the grill, and continue to flip every 5 minutes or so (be sure to achieve grill marks).

I'm Just saying: Proper serving temperature for pork is medium. Pink in the middle is safe, juicy and totally delicious. Please do your mouth a favor and do not over-cook the pig.