Archive | February, 2008

Adventures with Swiss Chard

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Swiss chard is another one of those vegetables that I did not grow up eating, so of course I bought some so I could figure out what to do with it. I learned several things including that you can use Swiss chard in a number of recipes instead of spinach. Also, my friend Jennifer tells me that when you buy Swiss chard you want to get red Swiss chard not green – apparently it’s healthier. In case you know as much about Swiss chard as I did, that means the stalks and veins are red, not the leaves….

My first Swiss chard experiment involved a pasta & sausage dish. I adapted this recipe from one I found on Epicurious.com (one of my favorite websites – actually my home page on my home PC). Thanks to my friends at Clever Sexy Beautiful Tough, I found an amazing new exercise regime that has me exercising like a fiend, but also constantly hungry so I’m in to hearty food right now (and yes, I’m still losing weight.) If you are dieting, use turkey sausage and whole wheat pasta.

Pasta with Sausage and Swiss Chard

Adapted from a recipe by Alexis Touchet from Gourmet Magazine

3/4 lb Swiss chard
1/2 lb pan sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3/4 lb whole wheat penne
1 oz finely grated ParmigianoReggiano (1/2 cup)

Trim the chard, cutting out the center ribs and the stems, then thoroughly wash the chard ribs, stems and leaves.  Cut ribs and stems crosswise into bite-sized pieces and chop the leaves coarsely.

Cook sausage in oil in a heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Cook chard ribs and stems with salt for 3 minutes in the fat remaining in pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add chard leaves, broth, and red-pepper flakes and simmer, partially covered, until chard stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir in sausage.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente and drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta to the chard mixture.  Sprinkle the mixture  with cheese, salt to taste and toss until combined well.

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Hotty Totty Fried Green Tomatoes

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My sister went to college at Ole Miss, and while in Oxford, Mississippi she picked up the taste for great Southern food. Of course, like most of us, she is watching her girlish figure so she doesn’t eat it often. When I saw green tomatoes at the farmer’s market, I knew I not only had to buy them, but that I had to find a light, or at least lighter, way to prepare them.

When in doubt, I turn to one of my favorite cookbooks, Great Good Food by Julee Russo. I love this cookbook because it is organized by season (much like this blog) and has very flavorful recipes that are low-fat and calorie conscious – but the taste comes first. Seriously, order it now.

And of course, Julee did not let me down. She offers several Green Tomato recipes including Fried Green Tomatoes.  I, of course, changed a few things, replacing the milk with eggs so that the flour sticks better and spicing it up with cayenne

Make sure your oil is hot and serve them immediately so they don’t get soggy and ENJOY!

(By the way, Hotty Totty is part of the Ole Miss fight song, in case you were wondering where I got that from…)

Fried Green Tomatoes
Adapted from Great Good Food by Julee Russo
Serves 8

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp freshly ground sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsps vegetable oil
4 green tomatoes,sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 lemons, cut into wedges

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and cayenne. Pour the eggs k into another small bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.

Dip each tomato slice into the eggs and then the flour. Fry the slices in HOT  oil until golden, about 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately with lemon.

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A stir fry to celebrate the small fries

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The last two weeks have been filled with celebration as two of my friends have welcomed beautiful, healthy baby boys into the world. Way to go Sara & Kate!

In honor of these small fries, I give you a farmer’s market stir-fry. The fish is also from the market. A fish vendor has been coming weekly with shrimp and fish from the gulf. It is high quality seafood (they are also one of the purveyors for the Four Seasons) and a great addition to the market.

Pan Fried Snapper & Market Stir-Fry

1 red snapper fillet
soy sauce
canola oil
broccoli, chopped
carrots, peeled and sliced
mushroom, cleaned and sliced
1 cup white or brown rice, cooked
Hoisin sauce

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of Canola oil.

In two flat bowls or plates, put soy sauce in one and Canola oil in the other. Dip the snapper in the soy sauce and then in the canola oil. If you want the fish to have a stronger soy flavor, you can let it sit in the soy sauce for a few minutes so it soaks a little in.

Pan fry the snapper skin side down first, 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness. Flip it and cook for another 4-5 minutes until flaky. (Some people don’t like to cook the fish with the skin on, but I find that it keeps it from falling apart. You can take the skin off once it is cooked.

In a separate skillet or wok (who’s not looking for an excuse to use their wok), heat about a tablespoon of canola oil so that it is very hot. Toss in the broccoli, carrots and mushrooms and cook until almost to desired doneness. Add a tablespoon or two or Hoisin sauce and a dash of soy. Give one final stir to coat everything.

If you don’t want to use oil, I have also stir-fried with broth. You have to get it really hot for that to work, but it does have good flavor. Basically you are looking for some moisture to keep everything from sticking. If you haven’t figured it out, I don’t believe in cooking spray. Use less oil or use broth. I don’t know what’s in those aerosol cans and I don’t think I want to….

Plate your rice, vegetables and fish and eat up!

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Pass (on) that beef and head to the Market

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I spent this week traveling and didn’t return until mid-day on Saturday so I didn’t get to go to the Farmers Market this week. I have a few recipes that I’ve been holding on to for just such an occassion so I’ll post those this week.

In the meantime, I read an article in the New York Times today that sums up why I’ve started buying most of my meat at the Farmer’s Market. The USDA just issued the largest beef recall in US history.

The problems in the meat industry have turned some of my friends into vegetarians, but I really enjoy eating meat and feel better when I do. So, instead I’ve decided I want to know where my meat comes from. Plus, the local, farm-raised meat tastes better. I still buy from the store on occassion, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.

Think about it. Ok, no more lectures.

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