Saturday, July 30, 2011

Canola Oil

At the CIA I learned that Canola Oil was one of the healthier oils to use... but I recently learned, through the University of Bridgeport, that Canola oil is a genetically engineered oil produced from Rapeseed [obviously the plant needed some PR help]. So from now on I will be promoting the use of Grapeseed [not rapeseed, not canola, GRAPEseed] oil in place of canola in recipes that call for vegetable/corn/or canola oils. This applies to everything from making your own aioli to cornbread to boxed cake mixes at the store. Grapeseed is a mild flavored oil with a high smoking point, which makes it great for saute and stir-fry [it won't burn as quickly].

That's all for now. I just needed to share that with everyone because previously I had been promoting the use of canola and now I am appalled!!

Blog Navigation

At the end of each month I will post a blog with the title of the recipe linking to the blog page/date it can be found on for easy access.  But for the duration of each month you'll just have to stay tuned :o)

Also, if you look to the right of this post you will see a "Find Recipes" box which I just added; you should be able to type in some key terms or ingredients from any of my previous posts, like "purple kale" and it will display any entries pertaining to your search criteria.

Lastly- there should now be an option for non-g.mail users to subscribe without having to set up an account. That link should be at the bottom of this page. I hope I have made things a tad easier for everyone.

Good night!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Grilled Cheese Chronicles: Part I

Having grown up in Jersey, a grilled cheese has always been yellow American cheese sandwiched between two slices of buttery white bread griddled to greasy, bronzed perfection and served up at 2:30 in the morning... a meal barely suitable for anyone sober.

I didn't intend to share this recipe, solely because I didn't think there was anything that special about a grilled cheese, but then I checked myself- who was I to slight such a sandwich?! Why not give credit where credit is due? So here is my yummy and satisfying grilled cheese upgrade...

For 2 sandwiches you will need:
4 slices of good Sourdough bread
6 Tbsp softened Butter [3 Tbsp, divided, per sandwich], plus 2 Tbsp for cooking
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 lb ground breakfast sausage, casing removed or patties crumbled
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
4 ounces of Extra Sharp Cheddar [if slicing from a block of cheddar, about 3- 1/8th inch thick slices will equal roughly 1 ounce of cheese]
Kosher salt, as needed

  • Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and crumbled sausage; let cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Once the sausage is nicely browned, add the sliced bell pepper and a small pinch of salt. Cook until the pepper is slightly softened, about 1.5 minutes [What's great about the bell pepper is that it will clean up all those yummy browned bits of sausage from the bottom of the pan, adding yet another layer of flavor]
  • Line a plate with a couple of paper towels and pour the sausage and peppers onto it; this will soak up any trace amounts of excess fat. Now, preheat your toaster oven to 325 degrees [you'll see. just do it].
  • While the mixture is cooling, lightly butter the "outside" side of each slice of bread. Heat your saute pan on medium for a couple of minutes and then add 1 Tbsp butter to the hot pan. Place your bread, buttered side down in the sizzling pan and put 1 ounce of cheddar on it, followed by half of your sausage & bell pepper mixture and another ounce of cheese. Place the other slice of bread, buttered side up on top and press down with a spatula. Let the sandwich sit for a little over a minute, being mindful that it won't burn. 
  • Take a peak and if it looks golden, carefully flip the sandwich over, trying your hardest not to spill its guts.  Continue to cook on the other side for another minute or so and then transfer to a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side up, and loosely scrunch shut. Repeat this process with the other sandwich if you couldn't fit both in your pan.
  • Transfer foil parcels to toaster oven and allow to continue melting for about 8-10 minutes.  Unwrap, cut in half, serve with a peppery arugula salad, and enjoy!

You're probably scratching your head at the inclusion of breakfast sausage over any other type of sausage, but the comforting flavors os sage and thyme shouldn't have to be limited to breakfast.  It also pairs deliciously with sweet potatoes and swiss chard... but I'll save that recipe for fall.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

news to share

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have officially been accepted into the Graduate Program for my Master's in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Bridgeport, CT! I was nervous, being that they had my transcripts from Brookdale and Rutgers to review... those years were a lot, a lot of fun, but not really too productive or exemplary, academically speaking.  Thankfully my personal statement, CIA transcripts and current progress in my pre-requisite courses must have made up for it, as well as having the wonderful Chef Liz Briggs and Professor Livingston vouch for me; two incredible, strong women who helped me through my time at the Culinary Institute of America and continue to help me find my way today.

So that is all for the day.  I have two finals and a midterm this weekend so I need to focus on that, but I will find the time to post a couple of tasty morsels here and there! Pinky promise.  Also, I purchased a new camera... now I just need a photographer or extra pair of hands.  Big things are coming our way!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

a quick reference for knife cuts

a side of Hash

I have been holding back sharing this recipe due to last week's extreme temperatures, but on a beautifully breezy Vermont summer's day like today, I think this Purple Kale, Baby Bliss & Chorizo Hash would pair well with a couple of poached eggs or a pan-crisped Halibut filet for a substantial, yet light, mid-week supper. Its also great for brunch.

This recipe yields 2-3 servings and can easily be adjusted to accommodate more.

You will need:
4 small palm-sized Baby Red Bliss Potatoes, medium dice
1 bunch Purple Kale [regular kale or swiss/rainbow chard may be substituted], wash & roughly chopped
4 cloves of Garlic, smashed & peeled
2 ounces [3 inch long cross section] dried, cured Spanish Chorizo, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.5 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper, as needed
1/2 Cup Water, just in case
2 ounces Manchego Cheese, finely grated [completely optional, but very delicious]

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 
  • In a medium bowl, combine the diced potatoes, garlic cloves & olive oil with a liberal pinch of salt and a couple of turns cracked black pepper and toss to coat.  Transfer to non-stick sheet pan or cookie sheet and spread in an even layer, making a modest attempt to leave some space between the potatoes so they can brown. Place in the oven, middle/top rack and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are bronzed and slightly crispy.
  • In the meantime, render the chorizo in a medium saute pan [to render: place meat in a cool/room temperature pan and bring both the pan and the meat to temperature on the stove simultaneously] over medium-low heat.
  • Once the chorizo is slightly crisped and a significant amount of fat has been released into the pan [it will probably render out at least 1.5 Tbsp fat], add the kale [in batches if necessary] along with a pinch of salt & pepper; raise the heat to medium-high [about 7 out of 10]. Saute the kale with the chorizo, if the pan seems too dry or if you are having trouble wilting the greens, add a splash [eyeball a tablespoon or so] of water.
  • Once the kale is just wilted down, add the vinegar and quickly toss to coat.  Taste & adjust the seasoning as desired and then fold in the roasted potatoes.
  • Garnish with Manchego cheese, if desired... or use this hash to accompany a Manchego cheese omelette [::wipes drool from chin::].
In the interest of brunch, or dinnertime... or simply what to drink with this meal I would suggest a sparkling Rose`.  If you cannot find sparkling Rose` then mix 2/3 regular Rose` wine [or Riesling if you cannot find Rose` at all] with 1/3 Prosecco.

Where can I find chorizo...

Chorizo is typically located near the Soppresatta and Prosciutto, etc and other cured specialty meats; most gourmet supermarkets & specialty grocers should have it in stock.