Friday, April 22, 2011

Ouefs en Cocotte

Here I am, once again. Posting about a meal I made five days ago. Ah well! It's the only blog-worthy thing I've made this week anyway.

The name of this recipe literally means "eggs baked in ramekins." I found it in my cookbook Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson a long time ago and logged it away as a recipe to try whenever I find some affordable truffle oil.

Well. I finally found some. It smells and tastes so distinct. Earthy, but delicate. So I pulled this recipe out and served it for dinner along with some olive bread and salad and those Szechuan Green Beans I made a while back.

Here is the recipe. The only thing I changed was reducing the salt. I also used black instead of white truffle oil. I know some gourmets would be shocked, but I honestly wouldn't know the difference. I would love to know sometime, though!

Ouefs en Cocotte

Butter for greasing
3 high quality eggs
3/8 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsps heavy cream
3/4 tsp truffle oil

Preheat oven to 375 and bring a full kettle of water to boil. Meanwhile, dip a pastry brush in softened butter and grease the ramekins (4 oz size). Place into an ovenproof dish.

Crack an egg into each ramekin. Top with 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tbsp cream, and 1/4 tsp truffle oil. Pour boiling pan into the pan to come up halfway on the ramekins. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Calories per ramekin: 140

I am ashamed that I don't have better pictures of this, as it is really an awesome recipe. I've gotten a little fed up trying to work with our lighting (and plus I haven't yet figured out how to photograph without making Ryan wait or the food getting cold). Ryan and I are planning to buy a house this summer (!!!) and so I am holding out for a real window or back patio to light my pictures.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata

I should have made this for my sister's fiance, as he is a geologist. I thought it was quite lovely...a little vegetarian for Ryan, but we pulled some London broil strips from the freezer (thanks to my mom and our spring break efforts, remember?) and rounded out the meal nicely.

I found the recipe on Gastronomy Blog and they had modified it from Cooking Light. For some reason that blog isn't working right now, so I will just link to Cooking Light. Basically all I did differently was omit the oil and shallots, use marinated artichoke hearts instead of frozen, use skim milk instead of 1%, increase the goat cheese by 2 oz (never too much!), and use Mountain Crunch Bread (one of my favorite breads!) from Great Harvest.

Approximate Nutritional Info (6 servings):
Calories: 300
Fat: 14.5 g (5.9 saturated)
Carbohydrates: 27.1 g (2.7 g Fiber)
Protein: 16.5 g
*Good source of calcium

I've been able to spend some time at my parent's farm recently. Ryan took this beautimous picture of their tulips.

My insane.

I've been uber busy lately due to homework and such...but I will officially be done with the semester in less than 2 weeks!! Look out, summer!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spiced Tilapia, Israeli Coucous with Goat Cheese, and Mushroom Soup

Last Saturday we had my brother over and this is what I fixed! I had been hankering to unwrap the goat cheese log I had been saving from Trader Joe's...but knew I've have to make a week of meals using it so it wouldn't go bad. Tonight will be the third dinner in the past five days featuring goat cheese!

Goat cheese is actually my favorite kind of cheese. I believe I got hooked on it a few years ago when my sister brought home some honeyed goat cheese once and let me try it. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! But...regular goat cheese is so much more when I do buy it, I usually don't get the honeyed version.

That night, I put the goat cheese in Israeli couscous...which, if you don't know, looks like couscous on steroids.

Israeli Couscous with Goat Cheese
2 tbsp butter, separated
1/3 cup pistachios
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
5 mushrooms, sliced
 salt and pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped
zest from one lemon
2 oz goat cheese

Melt 1 tbsp butter in 2 qt saucepan. Add pistachios and toast until slightly browned. Remove. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add couscous and brown slightly. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until done.

Meanwhile, melt the other tbsp butter in a frying pan. Add mushrooms and saute until they have released all of their liquid. Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper.

Remove couscous form heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, lemon zest and goat cheese. The cheese will melt completely. If you prefer to have it crumbled on top, simply serve the cheese on the side.

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 270
Fat: 10 g (4.2 g sat)
Cholesterol: 14.7 mg
Potassium*: 200 mg
Carbs: 38 g (2.7 g Fiber, 1.1 g sugar)
Protein: 9.7 g

*Mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium.

I seasoned the fish with garam masala, cayenne pepper, and garlic salt. I have to say I will make this again as it turned out very tasty! Simply sprinkle the spices on both sides of the fillets and cook for about 3 minutes per side in a little olive oil.

The second dinner with goat cheese was Mushroom soup...made yesterday in my fantastic slow cooker! It was more like a supplement to dinner, as we were at a function earlier in the evening where some food was served. When we got home, it smelled so good! Well, I happen to love the smell of mushrooms.

I halved and modified this recipe from Delicious and Dependable Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson.

Mushroom Soup with Goat Cheese
1 tbsp butter
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 oz goat cheese to top

Melt 1 tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until all the liquid is released. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for about 1 minute. Transfer to slow cooker. Add bay leaf, wine, and broth and cook on High for 3-4 hours or Low for 6-8.

When ready to serve, discard bay leaf. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Ladle into bowls and top with goat cheese.

Serves 3

Nutritional Info: (1 oz goat cheese per serving)
Calories: 200
Fat: 10 g (6.6g sat)
Cholesterol: 23.4 mg
Potassium: 282 mg
Carbs: 7.3 g (0.7 g Fiber, 2.5 g sugar)
Protein: 7.4 g

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coca Cola Pot Roast and Chocolate Tart with Banana Caramel, Pecans, Chocolate Caramel Ganache, and Chocolate Mousse

This past Wednesday, as you may recall, was my dear husband's birthday. When asked what he wanted for dinner and dessert, he said he wanted me to choose. So choose I did!

I decided to make pot roast (for the first time) and didn't find out till a couple days ago that Ryan doesn't even generally like pot roast. But he said he really liked that's good, I guess! We had a half liter of coke left over from a time when he had his brothers over, so I knew I wanted to use that somehow. My dad made ribs this past summer with coke and they were the best ribs I've ever I believe in the power of coke+meat. Though most recipes using coke combine it with some form of pork, I actually found one for beef.

That morning I seared the meat and put it in the crockpot with chopped sweet potatoes and carrots, a package of dry Italian dressing mix, and the coke and turned it on low. The recipe was little more down-home than is typical for me, but it turned out all right!

It was a little sweet...but Tony Chacheres came to the rescue! Tony Chacheres, fondly called "the satch," is a Creole seasoning that was introduced to me by Ryan's family and has subsequently become a staple in my pantry and a topping for all Mexican meals.

We didn't take any nice shots of the roast...but here is a picture Ryan snapped of his plate.

One of the main reasons I choose this as the entree was so that I would have time that afternoon and evening to create the dessert. I choose the recipe from my favorite blog, Cannelle et Vanille. Aran had made it into little tarts, but I don't have 3" molds. So I settled with my 9" spring-form pan. I also used pecans instead of peanuts.

The recipe is three pages if you want it, click on the link above. And don't even ask for the nutritional information. There is no way I'm calculating it. I don't want to know. And besides...the tart's all gone now anyway.

I learned many, many things just from making this one dessert! First, I had to convert everything from grams to ounces and then to cups and tablespoons. Here's a tip: either brush up on your math or get a calculator if you want to cook a metric recipe!

The first step was making chocolate tart dough. I've made tart dough before....keep the butter cold and all that. But one thing I discovered that is so helpful is that if you roll out your dough on parchment paper, then you can just flip it into your tart pan AND completely cut out cleanup time for your rolling space. I prefer to roll the dough around my French rolling pin (it just tapers at the ends--no handles), and then unroll it over the pan. But for cold, crumbly doughs like this, that method sometimes doesn't work.

The recipe directed me to blind bake the tart shell at 350 F. No, this does not mean to put on a blindfold and randomly guess when it is done. As far as I could figure, using the context of the recipe and my googling skills, blind baking means the recipe doesn't tell you how long to bake it...that is up to you and your knowledge of your own oven.

There was no way I was going to let my hard work slide down the sides of the pan and result in a thick chocolate disk (as has happened before!) So I lined it with parchment paper and poured in some handy dandy black eyed peas to preserve the shape.

Next I made the Banana Caramel and the Chocolate Caramel Ganache. These both called for a dry caramel base. This means no liquid...just melt the sugar. The recipe called for a little added glucose...but I was fresh out! :) I don't think you really need it.

Making dry caramel can be very exciting...just make sure you watch it carefully. I made the first caramel in a small, thick-bottomed saucepan and the second in a slightly larger, thin-bottomed saucepan. I definitely recommend going with the thicker bottom, if you have one! It allows the caramel to brown slower. I ruined a batch or two in the larger pan before I realized what was going on. Trust me, you don't want to have to scrape off caramelized chunks of sugar hard as rocks from the bottom of your pan!

Here is what the sugar looks like as it is melting.

And this is with the bananas added:

This was the bottom layer of the once it and the shell had cooled, I poured it in and sprinkled over pecans.

After pouring in the Chocolate Caramel Ganache, I tackled the Chocolate Mousse. This required simple syrup. I had never made it before...but it really is simple. Just heat equal parts of sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved!

I had to chop up a lot of chocolate for this recipe.

The mousse looked beautiful as I was folding it together.

I used my new pastry bag (Walmart has everything!) to pipe it on top. Then I sifted some cocoa over it and sprinkled some chocolate shavings on top and it was done!

Notice the difference in lighting. Above is a shot taken on my stove-top under the "natural lightbulb." Below is a shot taken on my table with a flash.

Ryan loved it! Success!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sesame Soy Venison Meatballs with Crunchy Cabbage Salad and Nutrifact #3

I couldn't help but squeeze in a post before my week started. I hate feeling behind...even in something I do for fun. Call it perfectionism or being OCD if you like...I think of it as simply not being willing to let these recipes fall into the oblivion of the past. I can't risk forgetting about them or not being able to share them with you!

And this recipe especially cannot be forgotten. This is definitely my favorite way to have venison. Yes, I know, I'm talking about deer meat. If my husband wants to kill two or three deer a year, that's fine with me (just as long as I don't have to handle the carcasses!). They may be beautiful animals, but there are a lot of them. And now that I know about these meatballs I might actually be encouraging him to go this year!

So now that I've piqued your appetite...let me give you the recipe! :)

It's from Cooking Light...I just used ground venison instead of ground beef. The marinade is simply gorgeous. This is the second time I've made it...and it will definitely be showing up on the menu again. For the recipe, click here. Sambal oelek is pretty easy to find in the Asian section of the grocery store. And please don't substitute anything for the sesame oil. It makes the dish.

I actually have this thing for sesame oil. It's probably one of my favorite flavors. If you mix up sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a dash of soy sauce, it makes anything anything and everything good.

Also, don't be scared by the idea of making meatballs if you never have. It's actually really easy and fast. At least...this recipe is. I served it with some brown rice and a Crunchy Cabbage Salad that I had been craving. All I did for that was chop up cabbage, red bell pepper, and carrots, then toss them with slivered almonds, sesame seeds, and crumbled uncooked ramen noodles, then mix with a little of the Asian dressing I described above.

Here is my plate:

Here is Ryan's plate:

Don't worry. We both had seconds.

Now on to Nutrifact #3! It will actually be easier for me to keep up with these now, because I signed up to be a student blogger for WebRD. In effect, I have to write the equivalent of a Nutrifact for them weekly. Feel free to go there and check out our posts! There are a bunch of other dietitians-in-training blogging about what they are learning and researching. I, at least, find it fascinating.

Nutrifact #3: Cowsify Your Bones

Do you ever think of osteoporosis as something you won't have to worry about until you are much older? If so, think again. What you do now can greatly affect your chances of suffering from this condition in years down the road. In my Advanced Nutrition class this past week, I developed such a sense of urgency about preventing this debilitating condition that I knew I must share my new-found knowledge of calcium with everyone to convince them to care for their bones.

Calcium is the mineral found in the largest amounts in the body because it is used in the bones and the blood. Our body's calcium priority is to keep blood levels constant, since it is vital for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and calcium-dependent transporters. Thus, when we are not consuming enough calcium, we signal our bones to release their calcium to maintain blood levels. This results in a lower bone density, which eventually turns into osteoporosis.

To prevent this from happening, we must ensure that we are getting enough calcium in our diets or through supplementation. The recommended amounts for calcium are as follows:

Children: 500-800 mg/day (the equivalent of 2 cups milk)
Teenagers: 1300 mg/day (4 cups milk)
Adults: 1000 mg/day (2.5-3 cups milk)
Pregnant women: 1000 mg/day*

*The reason that calcium intake does not need to increase during pregnancy is that the body absorbs a higher percentage than normal of what is consumed during this time.

The bioavailability of calcium, or absorption rate, is an important factor to consider when choosing how to meet your calcium requirements. If the food has a bioavailability of greater than 30%, it is a good source of calcium. Some examples include dairy products, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and calcium-fortified foods or drinks. Sources of calcium with an absorption rate below 30% include almonds, sesame seeds, pinto beans, sweet potatoes, spinach, rhubarb, and swiss chard.

When choosing a calcium supplement, make sure you check what calcium complex it is, as different kinds have different bioavailabilities. The best form to get, and usually the most expensive, is calcium carbonate. This has an absorption rate of 39%, which is higher than dairy. Centrum is an example of a brand that contains this complex. The next best choice is calcium acetate (32%) and then calcium citrate (30%). Try to avoid supplements containing calcium gluconate, which only has a bioavailability of 27%.

Even if you are consuming enough calcium, it is possible that you are not absorbing enough. Some factors that increase calcium absorption are adequate stomach acid levels, adequate vitamin D levels, lactose (which explains why dairy is a good way to get your calcium!), and growth hormones. Calcium absorption is decreased by lack of stomach acid, vitamin D deficiency, high phosphorus intake, high fiber diet (we're talking really high), and phytates and oxalates (found in grains, legumes, spinach, and rhubarb, to name a few).

Now, here's the clincher. You reach peak bone density at age 30. If you're older than that, do everything you can to maintain it, because you can only lose density. If you're younger than 30, I hope this post will convince you to take a closer look at your calcium intake. You are at a higher risk for osteoporosis if you are female, have a family history of the condition, don't consume enough calcium or vitamin D, or don't exercise regularly. So get out there and cowsify your bones! You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Perch and Wild Rice in Miso Broth

A week ago Monday I made up this recipe, and even though it's been so long, I can't pass up posting about it.

Perch and Wild Rice in Miso Broth
3 small perch fillets (or other white fish)
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 cup wild rice
4 cups water
Miso paste (use according to package paste/water proportions)
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Boil water in pot and add miso paste. Add wild rice and cook according to package directions (ignoring the water amount, of course). Add carrots and 1 1/2 tbsp ginger.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Cut perch into pieces (about 4 per fillet) and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1/2 tbsp ginger. Saute for about 4-5 minutes.

To plate, put a few pieces of perch in a shallow bowl. Spoon broth and rice around it. Enjoy!

Ryan and I both thought this was delicious! And I loved eating it in our new bowls...never thought I'd appreciate the dollar store so much. I served it with steamed cabbage and sriracha sauce.

Well...I have cooked since a week ago Monday, don't you worry. The pictures are in the editing process and as soon as I have a chance I will tell you all about the Sesame Soy Venison Meatballs and Crunchy Cabbage Salad I made yesterday.

And I think my little apartment kitchen experienced the biggest culinary endeavor it has ever seen. I made Ryan's birthday dinner tonight since the actual day tomorrow has other plans. So I made pot roast for the first time--with coke! But the biggest part is yet to come...

Chocolate Mousse, Salted Caramel Ganache, Pecan and Banana Caramel Tart.

Yes. That is all one dessert. And yes, it took me four hours to make. And yes, it is in the middle of the school week in the last month of the semester. But...I think it will be worth it! I will let you know how it tastes in my next post!