Follow by Email

Monday, June 20, 2016

Me On A Plate

As many of you may know, I have been working toward hosting a cooking show.
I also dream of one day having a mobile cooking school.  
I'd love to travel to parts of the world with high incidences of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, and Heat Disease to teach folks how to cook healthy meals for themselves on a limited budget.
In the meantime, I teach, blog and go on auditions when I'm not hawking gourmet food for The Man.

I don't live to be on reality TV, but it is a popular and accessible platform where I may get some exposure and have my message heard.  Reality TV Cooking shows offer prize money to the winner, which could potentially kickstart my goals. 
So yes, I have applied for many.  I prefer to apply online and have a one-on-one audition, but the more popular shows tend to host open calls.  The process can be fun and entertaining and I have met several really amazing like-minded people.  The regular series show ask applicants to to bring a dish to the call to show their talents and cooking style  - essentially "[the person] on a plate".
Because I am multifaceted there are quite a range of dishes to choose from.  I rely on the climate of the show, the season, and my mood to determine a dish or an outfit.  Although the type of cuisine, ingredients, and cooking methods may change, the end result is always colorful, healthy, and unseemingly complicated - just like me.
This is a perfect example:  Skillet Eggs.
The dish has many components - each made from scratch; prepared and seasoned separately but with a common theme.  It is also healthy, colorful, and at once rustic as well as sophisticated.
With this one, it's "me" in a pan.
Because, really, does it have to be a plate?    

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hearty White Bean and Kale Soup with Mushrooms

For me, pretty much all soup is kale soup as I always fill the bottom of my bowl with leafy greens before any soup I am about to eat.  But this one truly earns the label.  Based on the classic Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup, which is already hearty and healthy, my version is vegetarian - "beefed" up with mushrooms instead of the traditional sausage.  I skipped the carrots that often appear in the dish.  If you care to add them, wash about 4, remove ends, cut into thick rounds, and add between the onions and mushrooms, cooking about 3 minutes. You may need to add a little more oil.  If you must have sausage, slice it, cook it separately, and add it with the beans.   For extra flavor, you can toss a Parmesan heel in with the stock.
There are really so many ways to go with this, so have fun and make it your own.

Hearty White Bean and Kale Soup with Mushrooms


1 lb Cooked  Cannellini Beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
1 Large          White Onion, peeled & diced
~2 Tbsp        Vegetable Oil
4 Cloves        Garlic, smashed, peeled, smashed again,& diced finely 
~5 Cups        Vegetable Stock or Bean Liquid
1                      Bay Leaf
1 tsp               Rosemary; fresh, finely chopped or dried 
1 tsp               Sage; fresh, finely chopped or dried 
1 tsp               Thyme; fresh, finely chopped or dried 
1 lb                 Crimini Mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel, cut into large dice 
1 lb                 Kale, washed, dried, stems removed, and coarsely chopped
                       Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper to taste
                       Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste
                       Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Bring vegetable stock/bean liquid to boil in a medium saucepan on back burner; keep warm.
Place a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat.
Drizzle in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot.
Stir in the onion and toss in the oil to coat.
Cover with tight-fitting lid and cook until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. 
Remove lid, stir in mushrooms, and replace lid.
Cook until mushrooms are soft and browned and pan in nearly dry, about 5 minutes.
Remove lit, stir in garlic, and cook another minute.
Stir in beans.
Ladle in enough hot stock to cover.
Toss in Bay Leaf and sprinkle in Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme.
Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook on medium until beans are heated through.
Stir in kale.
Add more liquid, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency.
Simmer uncovered, until kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
Adjust other seasonings as needed.
Remove Bay Leaf
Serve immediately.  
Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle with Red Pepper Flakes if you like.
Cool leftovers completely.
Cover and refrigerate up to 4 days.
Additional stock may be necessary to reheat.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sweet Potato Salad

Cold salads are a wonderful summer staple to make ahead and take to events or just grab from the fridge for an impromptu picnic lunch.  They hold up well to refrigeration and usually taste better the day after they are made.   Everyone loves potato salad, buy the one most are familiar with is made from white potatoes, which are high in carbohydrates and have very little nutritional value.  I make mine with sweet potatoes which contain vitamin C, fiber, and are much lower on the Glycemic Index than Idahoes.   To keep my salads healthy, I avoid mayonnaise and sour cream and stick to healthy fats like Greek yogurt and nut oils.  Adding interesting textures like nuts or raw onions means they take longer to eat as well as digest.  Incorporating flavorful seasonings give more satisfaction per bite so you'll eat less, too!

Sweet Potato Salad
Makes 2 1/2 cup servings

1 Large     Sweet Potato, washed and dried but not peeled
1/4 Large Red Onion, ends removed, peeled, and diced
1 Clove      Garlic, smashed, end removed, peeled, de-germed, smashed again, chopped     
Splash       Sesame Oil
                   Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper to Taste
~1 Tbsp    Poppy Seeds
Dash         Cinnamon
~2Tbsp     Peanut Oil

Poke several holes in the potato with a fork.
Bake about 40 minutes or microwave up to 5 minutes; until a paring knife slides easily into the center.
Let cool.
Wipe chef's knife with paper towel dipped in cooking oil and cut potato into large dice.
Place in a large bowl, making sure to separate potato cubes.
Add onions and Garlic.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, poppy seeds, and just a dash of cinnamon.
Drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil.
Pour over Peanut oil.
Mix gently with hands to combine.  
Taste to adjust seasonings. 
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Okra with Black Beans and Avocado

I know that Greenmarket season is right around the corner, but I am getting antsy. I love my local supermarket, but I am getting tired of the predictability of what will be there every time  I shop and feel like I am running out of choices.  I've got the winter doldrums and need somefun on my plate. Of course, there is always kale and the possibilities of what to do with that are endless, but aside from that, there is only so much broccoli a girl can eat.  And don't get me started on apples...  So I got super excited with I saw a few packages of Okra in the produce section.   I know it's not in season and we don't grow it anywhere near here even when it is, but this okra was calling me.  It just looked so lovely sitting there and it was reasonably priced and super fresh.  I could not wait to get it home and play with it.  After I complained to the store manager about the styrofoam plate it was packaged on...
The pods looked fresh and intact with no mold or soft spots, so I figured it would hold up to some high-heat and a bit of sauce.  
I decided to sear it to get a bit of a char and some smokiness.  The pods were also around the same size, so I was able to cook them in one batch, but I did them separately before the rest of the dish to keep them from getting slimy.  After the okra was cooked, I used the same pan to cook my base of peppers, onions, and mushrooms.  Then I took them southwest with fresh tomatoes, black beans and avocado.  I loved the big crunchy pods mixed in with the creamy black beans and the tang from the tomatoes and I had some fun colors going on thanks to my yellow baby bell peppers.  I served this as an entree but with the pods sliced after cooking, it would do well as a burrito filling or stuffing for a pepper.
I prefer fresh beans, but canned are fine.
The link to the post on how to cook dried beans follows the recipe.

Okra with Black Beans and Avocado  
Serves 2

About 2 Dozen      Okra Pods, rinsed, patted dry, ends trimmed if necessary
1/2 Red                  Onion,ends removed, peeled, cut in half then into large dice
6 Baby or 1 Large Pepper (I used Yellow), washed, dried, cored, cut in half, seeded, diced
4 Large                   Crimini Mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel, diced
1 Large                   Tomato, washed, dried, cored, diced
1 Cup                      Black Beans, fresh or drained and rinsed, liquid reserved
1/4                          Avocado, peeled and diced
                                Canola or Safflower Oil
                                Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper

Heat a large heavy-bottomed or cast iron pot over high heat.
Drizzle in about a tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat.
Add okra to pan in a single layer.
Cook over high heat, shaking constantly, until pods are sears, about 3 minutes.
Remove pan from heat, cover with lid and allow to rest about 2 minutes more.
Okra should be softened.
Transfer okra to plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with paper towel, and set aside.
Return pan to medium heat and add a bit more oil if necessary.
To the pan, add the onions, peppers, and mushrooms, and cover with lid.
Cook about 3 minutes, remove lid, and stir.
Continue to cook until vegetables are somewhat soft - al dente.
Add a bit of bean liquid if the pan looks dry.  Increase heat if contents are too wet.
Toss in beans, tomatoes, and avocado; pour in enough bean liquid to cover the pan's bottom.
Stir well, replace lid, and cook 1 minute.
Remove lid, stir in okra, check liquid - should be a thickish sauce by now.
Re-cover and cook 1 minute, until hot - okra and other contents should be the same temp.
Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer vegetables to plate with a slotted spoon and pour sauce over.

For the post on how to cook beans from scratch, please follow the link below:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Broccoli with Peppers and Onions

This has been a long, hard winter here on the east coast (and pretty much every where else). People are looking a bit beaten down and I'm sure all those comforting meals in the dark have taken a tool on the American waistline.  Although I have no problem eating healthy through the colder months, I to0 get tired of casserole-y type things and miss my cold & crunchies.  The cool freshness of a salad is great as a post-workout pick-me-up and I love to snack on raw cucumbers and celery between meals, but when it's in the single-digits or lower outside, hot food is the most welcoming option.  To keep my dishes colorful and give them varied texture, I turn to peppers and red onions. Their bright colors keep things cheerful and still have a bit of a crunch even after being sauteed. The trick is not to add fats or other liquids which make them soften and swell. Broccoli, also affordable and available all, can add a shot of toothsome green to any dish.  I like to blanch some ahead of time and keep it in the fridge to add to finished dishes when they need a little something-something. Please eat the stems if they look good.  They are an amazing source of fiber.  But cook them separately from the florets as they take longer.
Here is a basic sautee using those lovely elements that I serve as an entree.  It would also be great over (brown) rice like a stir-fry, (whole grain) noodles, or as a side for a holiday meal.

Broccoli with Peppers, Mushrooms, and Onions
Serves 2

1 Head                     Broccoli, rinsed and drained, woody ends removed, cut into large pieces
1/2                           Red Onion,ends removed, peeled, cut in half then into large dice
6 Baby or 1 Large  Pepper, washed, dried, cored, cut in half, seeded, diced
8 Large                    Crimini Mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel, quartered
                                 Canola or Safflower Oil
                                 White Wine, Vegetable Stock, and/or Water
                                 Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water.
Separate the broccoli stems from the florets and cook separately in 2 batches.
Blanch the broccoli florets in the boiling water until al dente, about a minute.
Shock in the water bath.
When cooled through, drain and transfer to a bowl lined with several layers of paper towels.
Repeat with broccoli stems, cooking up 2 a minute longer than the florets.
Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil in a saute pan and swirl to coat
Add the peppers, mushrooms, and onions to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Stir with wooden spoon to lightly coat with oil.
Place over medium heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Cook about 5 minutes and stir well.
Drizzle bottom of pan with stock, wine, or water if it looks dry.
Replace cover and cook another 3 minutes, until vegetables are softened
Add the broccoli, splash with white wine, stir, turn heat up to high, and replace lid.
Cook until the broccoli is hot, about two minutes more.
Season with salt and pepper and transfer to plate with a slotted spoon.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Egg-Topped Portabellas

Although I eat a largely plant-based diet, I still do eat eggs - for now anyway.  They are a great source of protein, and Omega 3 fatty acids.  Egg yolks contain a substantial amount of Vitamin E, which is extremely important for hair, skin, and nails during harsh, dry winters.  At one time, there was a controversy about the yolks being too high in fat and cholesterol, the American Heart Association recently accepted that up to 6 eggs per week can be a part of a healthy diet, even for those on restricted diets because the benefits outweigh any negatives.  Of course, they are referring to the eggs themselves.. Once you start scrambling them with heavy cream, frying them in fat, and serving them on a buttered bagel with bacon, you've negated any benefits.  So, as with any healthy food item, simple is always the best way to go.  Scrambled plain, hard (or soft) cooked, poached, or steamed as -I've done here - are great options.  
Vegetables make a great vehicle for creating a substantial, healthful egg dish and are just as good if not better than bread for sopping up a nice, runny yolk.
Ones that are the size of a cracked egg or larger are your best bet.  Even better if they are hollow and have a space for the egg like mushrooms like in the picture or avocados.
Because of the size of the mushrooms, just one egg makes a hearty serving.
I like to cook my veggies first; roasted, sauteed, or blanched.
I did this all on the stove so I wouldn't have to fire up the oven (which is coincidentally still on the fritz), but there is a lot of room for improvisation here and, as always, I encourage you to tweak my recipes to suit your particular tastes and health issues.
Half a hollowed-out baked sweet potato with a layer of black bean salsa would also be pretty awesome with an egg baked on top. 

Egg-filled Portabellas
Cross-section of finished dish

Egg-Topped Portabellas
Serves 2

2 Large Portabella Mushrooms, stem removed, wiped clean with a damp paper towel
2 Large Eggs
              Canola, Olive, or Safflower Oil (Not Extra-Virgin)
              Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper

Place the mushrooms in a large bowl.
Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and massage to coat.
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat until it is hot to the touch.
Place the mushrooms, stem side down in the pan.
Reduce heat to low and cover pan with a tight-fitting lid.
Cook about 5 minutes.
Occasionally tilt the pan to distribute the liquid that will come from the mushrooms.
Check halfway through.  
If they are browning too fast or the pan gets dry, add a splash of water.
When the mushrooms are softened and lightly browned, flip with tongs.
Crack one egg into the cavity of each mushroom and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Drizzle a little more water into the bottom of the pan and re-cover.
After 3 minutes, lift lid.  Check to make sure mushrooms remain moist and eggs are cooking.
Cook 3-5 minutes more depending on progress, tilting covered pan occasionally.
Serve with a green salad and fresh fruit.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cilantro Mushrooms

I've done lots of things with mushrooms and they never steer me wrong.  I add them to pretty much everything I make because they are bulky and meaty and add depth and earthiness to dishes.  They go well in sautees and stir frys and casseroles.  I've also made them the main dish as well as the "meat" of a meal. Often, I use them as a side dish with little added other than some seasoning.  Here I've sauteed them with red peppers, onions and garlic in red wine with cilantro added at the very end.  
This can become a meal with some grated queso and whole-grain tortilla chips.  

Cilantro Mushrooms 
Serves 2

1/2 Large   Onion, ends removed, peeled, cut into small dice  
1/2 Small    Red Pepper, washed, dried, cored, cut into small dice
10 oz            Crimini Mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel, quartered.
2 Cloves      Garlic, ends removed, smashed, peeled, de-germed, and minced
Handfull      Cilantro Leaves, washed, dried, and chopped  
                     Canola or Safflower Oil
                     Red Wine 
                     Salt and Freshly-Ground Black Pepper
                     Red Pepper Flakes

Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large shallow pan over medium heat.
Add onions to pan and stir well to coat.
Cook about 2 minutes to soften and stir in the red pepper.
Increase heat to high and toss in the mushrooms.
Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until softened and browned.
Add garlic, cover pan with tight-fitting lid, and reduce heat to low.
Cook about 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally to stir.
Remove lid.  Mushrooms should be reduced in volume and gently browned.
Pour in enough wine to just cover the bottom of the pan.
Stir well, increase heat to high and cook another minute or so until very little liquid remains. 
Toss in cilantro and just a quick shake of red pepper flakes.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.
Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary 
Serve immediately.