Lemon Pasta with Caviar

I have gone back through the 364 posts and would like to share a few highlights with you.

First of all, I am very upset about the news that Beyonce has signed a deal with Pepsi Co. for 50 million dollars. Since it is reported that she already has 300 million, I am not feeling that she needs the money and the message that she is sending to the young girls that look up to her is now quite confused. Childhood obesity is at epidemic proportions and this is especially true in minority neighborhoods. Here is part of a piece from Jan. 3:

We have a serious health issue in childhood obesity. There was an article in the LA Times recently outlining the disparity between an affluent beach community and a Latino community.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-obesity-gap-20111228,0,6940998.story

While parental nutrition plays a major role in keeping our children healthy, I’m sure that the children of Manhattan Beach are not staying slim by drinking their mother’s diet soda. The jury is still out on whether Aspartame (the sweetener used in most diet drinks) is safe, but regardless of whether it is “safe” your children should not be drinking it. I’m pretty sure neither should you. Substituting one bad habit for another is never a great solution.

The eating and drinking habits established early in life are very hard to reverse. Hats off to all of the school systems that have eliminated sugary drinks from vending machines. We are moving in the right direction. Please be vigilant about eliminating ALL of the sugary drinks around your house. They are empty calories and cause a myriad of health issues.

My early thoughts on vegetarianism:

I have become somewhat of a weekday vegetarian. Like many, I have been influenced by “Knifes over Forks” and the overwhelming evidence that is out there about the benefits of a plant based, whole food diet. If you are not yet considering changes in your eating lifestyle you might enjoy Mark Bittman’s Ted Talk as food for thought:

http://www.ted.com/talks/mark_bittman_on_what_s_wrong_with_what_we_eat.html

On Shopping:

Shopping with me at the supermarket can be an interesting experience. The first thing that one would notice is that I never go into the center isles (unless it’s for beer). There is nothing eatable between the toilet paper and the light bulbs. All of the fresh food is on the parameter. So, that means that I don’t go into the frozen food, cans, bread, or any of the other profit centers that specialize in packaged, processed food. There hasn’t been a reason to by frozen food since the 60′s.

On Protein:

We live in a country driven by supply and demand. The reason that there are so many cows being raised the way they now is not because some big corporation said so; it’s because we as consumers are demanding more and more meat, chicken and pork. This is not sustainable, healthy or necessary. You do not need to eat meat products, period! Protein is not meat. It is a nutrient that is in almost all foods. Vegans who eat no meat products at all do not lack this essential nutrient in their diet. In fact, the average American eats far more than the needed amount of protein to maintain a healthy, growing body. If you want to read more, check out the best food writer on the internet, Marion Nestle. http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/01/peevish-about-protein/

And on Government:

Another article in The Los Angeles Times today was about the Food Stamp program and how states are starting to try to regulate the types of food that can be purchased. Already one cannot buy alcohol, tobacco or “hot food”. Both of these topics bring to light the same quandary. Do you want  government involved in food? I welcome protection from mad cow disease, e.coli, botulism and a whole other host of risks associated with malfeasance on the part of greedy, or at least sloppy, suppliers of our food. I want my tax dollars used to keep tabs on and make laws about the safety of the food I feed my children.

And that was just highlights from January. I hope you enjoyed reading my rants, opinions and references to others in the food movement. I have tried to be fair and informative without just stating opinions that were not backed up with at least a modicum of research. There are so many events and actions regarding our food that it is hard to keep up. I hope you found my underlining of some of the issues useful. I feel that it is important to keep as well informed as possible on these subjects. Our food is at stake which means that our lives are at stake. It is no small matter.

I wish you a prosperous new year. There will be something here but not a recipe a day. The transition will be announced soon. I hope you come back. Tomorrow will be my last recipe.

Today, I give you an idea that originated from Ida Garten. This is a dish very similar to the one she enjoys on New Years Eve in Paris (the lucky gal).

Ingredients

  • 1 Package of Dried Fettuccini (16oz)
  • 1/2 Cup Meyer Lemon Juice
  • Zest of 2 Meyer Lemons
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • Handful Fresh Chives, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • As Much Black Caviar as you can afford

Tools

  • Large Sauce Pan
  • Large Saute Pan
  • Fine Grater
  • Measuring Cup
  • Hand Juicer
  • Whisk
  1. Put a large pan of water on to boil.
  2. When boiling, add salt then pasta and cook as long as package indicates, or until al dente.
  3. Zest two lemons. The meyer lemon skin is thinner than a regular lemon and therefore produces less zest.
  4. Squeeze 1/4 cup juice, careful not to include any seeds.
  5. Whisk in olive oil. Taste to make sure it has the right acidity. The lemons will vary and might require more or less oil.
  6. Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Add the olive oil/lemon mixture and cheese to it and stir together. Turn off flame.
  7. When the pasta is done, strain into sauté pan.
  8. Toss with a little pepper, lemon zest and the chives.
  9. Serve in bowls with a dollop of caviar on each. If you can find it, try the American Paddlefish roe. Only your wallet will know the difference.
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Mom’s Holiday Jello Salad

Yes, I am running a little thin but I thought this one was entertaining. I found this recipe among my mother’s stuff. I remember it barely. You can certainly attempt to make it but I present it as much as a recipe as a remembrance.

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Lime Jello
  • 1/2 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 Cup Crushed Pineapple
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Packages Regular Cream Cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil (listed as salad dressing in the original recipe)
  • 3 Tablespoons Pimentos
  • 1 Teaspoon Pimento Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Ground Nuts (pecans or walnuts)
  • 1 Cup Celery

Tools

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Stand or Hand Mixer
  1. Place jello in bowl and pour over boiling water. Let combine.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.
  3. Let stand then chill.

 

Chanterelle Risotto

We are closing in on one year. I have posted a recipe every single day since New Years Day, 2012. I have covered a lot of territory and I hope that I have shared some delicious meals with you. I have learned a lot about cooking, eating, writing and myself. It has been quite an experience.

Eating is such an important part of our life. Some might say the most important part. I urge you to keep a good attitude about cooking, eating and the three buzz words of this century: local, organic and sustainable. Eat whole foods, mainly fruits and vegetables and not too much. Drink well and also not too much. Above all, be happy, exercise and you will be healthy. The biggest obstacle between you and good health is between your ears.

We found some great and affordable chanterelles last night and took a break from all of the holiday fare.

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine
  • 1 Cup Chanterelles, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan, coarsely grated
  • 1 Teaspoon Rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • 2 Large Sauce Pans
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Grater
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Non-stick Pan
  • Ladle
  1. Warm the chicken broth and water in one of the pans. 
  2. In the bottom of the other sauce pan warm the olive oil.
  3. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent.
  4. Stir in the rice so it is well coated in the oil.
  5. Add the wine and let reduce by half. Stir while it reduces.
  6. Add the broth a ladle at a time, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
  7. Repeat until the rice fluffs up.
  8. In a non stick pan cook the mushrooms with a little salt until they soften. About 10 minutes.
  9. When the rice is fluffy but still a little hard to the tooth add the mushrooms and rosemary.
  10. Continue to cook, adding more broth if needed.
  11. When the rice is al dente, stir in the cheese.

We served this with a couple of scallops and an arugula salad. It was a wonderful post Christmas dinner. One I will remember for a long time thanks to my lovely wife.

Divinity

This is another of those family favorites.

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Vinegar
  • 1 Egg white
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans
  • 30 Pecan Halves

Tools

  • Cookie Sheet
  • Deep Sauce Pan
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Blender or Hand mixer or Stand Mixer
  1. Combine the honey, water, vinegar, chopped pecans and vanilla in a pan and bring the temperature to firm ball, 250.
  2. In a separate bowl beat the egg white to stiff peaks.
  3. Gently combine the egg white into the sugar mixture.
  4. Drop by teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet.
  5. Press a half pecan in each cookie.
  6. Let cool.

Springerle Cookies

I dug a little deeper in my mother’s recipe mayhem and much to my surprise, I found my mother’s springerle recipe. If you are not familiar, don’t worry, you are not alone. Pre-internet, I searched forever to find a recipe for these little, hard anise gems. I think I have mentioned before that my hometown had a small but fierce German contingent, my grandfather and hence my mother being part of it. These cookies were a remnant of that somewhat faded tradition. In fact, my memory of sringerles is pretty dim and it was not until well into my 30s that I have any memory of these funny little cookies.

When I came across my mom’s I was surprised by how simple her’s was. I was also surprised that there was no fat, no butter or crisco or anything. Subsequently, I did find others on the internet that left out the fat as well. I think you could add a little butter and not hurt anything, but here is my mother’s recipe as is. All I have done is organize it in my format and typed it so you can read it. There are very few people on the planet that can read my mother’s scrawl.

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 1/4 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Anise Flavoring or Oil

Tools

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Flat Space or Board for Rolling
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Rolling Pin
  • Springerle Rolling Pin or Forms (optional)
  • Spatula
  • Paring Knife
  1. Stir together the eggs, sugar and flour.
  2. Add the anise flavoring.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until about 1/8 inch thick.
  4. Cut with springerle rolling pin, cookie cutters or just cut into rectangles aprox. 1″ x 1 1/2″. The tradition is to have the little designs specific to these cookies but the rolling pins are hard to find and not so easy to use. If you enjoy the tradition then by all means, but I usually cut them into little rectangles and just enjoy the taste tradition.
  5. Leave them on the cutting board at room temperature for at least 10 hours.
  6. Pre heat oven to 325.
  7. On a lightly buttered cookie sheet, bake cookies for 12-15 minutes.
  8. They will keep in a tightly sealed container for a long time. Part of the tradition is to age them until they are really hard. I could never wait.

Caesar Salad

Tonight we are fortunate to be alone. We have had plenty of Christmas with the family and lots to eat and drink, but the children have been dispatched and the reveling has diminished. It is now the lovely wife and I and our expanding waists. We haven’t had dinner and are going to have a little bit of a little roast, as is tradition. But, instead of stodgy potatoes or any other fixins, we are going to enjoy a simple and refreshing caesar salad. I realized that I have never done a proper caesar salad here. I did a grilled one once, but the straight caesar is a standard around here and for good reason. It is easy, tasty, good for you and incredibly satisfying.

Ingredients

  • 1 Head Romaine Lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1 Tin Anchovies
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Egg (If you don’t mind raw egg, if so skip it)
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Vinegar (whatever you have. I like balsamic)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon
  • Croutons
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Salad Bowl
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Grater
  • Small Bowl
  • Hand Juicer
  1. In a small bowl, soak the garlic cloves in the olive oil for 10-20 minutes.
  2. Mince the garlic.
  3. Combine the garlic, anchovies, egg, mustard, vinegar and oil with salt and pepper and the juice of one lemon in the bottom of a salad bowl and mix well.
  4. Toss the romaine, cheese and croutons into the dressing and serve immediately.

Red Velvet Cake

Tonight is Christmas Eve for most of us. My friends in the UK and Europe are long since tucked in and my Chinese and Australian friends are already nursing hangovers or opening presents or both. Most of us are extremely fortunate to have good health, make a good living and have interesting and successful lives filled with lots of friends and family. This is the season of giving. Please give what you can to those not as lucky and fortunate as you. Be careful, be thankful and be gracious. From my warm hearth to yours, Merry Christmas!

I know, I know another sweet thing. It is Christmas after all and this is the perfect Christmas cake. There are many variations of this cake floating around. What makes this one special is the icing and my lovely wife makes it so well.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 Cups Butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 4 Teaspoons Red Food Coloring
  • 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

For Icing

  • 16 Ounces Sour Cream
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Cup Sugar

Tools

  • 2 Large Mixing Bowls
  • Fine Sifter
  • Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
  • 3 Cake Pans, buttered
  • Whisk
  • Small Mixing Bowl
  • Wire Racks
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350.
  2. Butter and lightly flour the cake pans.
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, soda, salt and cocoa into a mixing bowl.
  4. In the other large mixing bowl whisk the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.
  5. In or with a mixer, combine the dry and wet ingredients just until a batter is formed.
  6. Pour batter into the three cake pans, divided evenly.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then switch positions and bake for another 15 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out dry.
  8. While baking, combine the sour cream, coconut and sugar in the small mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool on wire racks.
  10. Stack the cakes on a cake stand and ice. We like ours iced on the top and sides.
  11. Refrigerate and keep refrigerated until gone (this won’t last long). If you have the option, it is better the next day.