December 13, 2012

Porcini Mushroom Cream Sauce

I made this dish about one week ago and finally ate the last of it for lunch today.
You know when they tell you most dishes taste better the next day? Believe them. This was still wonderful. Full of meaty mushroom flavor with that hint of Marsala and the sweetness of the cream.
Diabetic friendly for sure, but if you want to make it low fat just make a roux and use fat-free evaporated milk instead of the cream. It will still be thick, clingy and creamy.

To get the ounce of mushrooms I need for two servings I am using a mixture of dried porcinis and morels. Two mushrooms that can stand on their own.
I suggest you use the processor or blender to mince the onions, just pulse until they are minced but not pureed. If there is no processor or blender I would suggest grating them but you will have to squeeze out any excess liquid.

I used Radiatori pasta. The more ridges the more sauce will cling and since the sauce is not chunky, it makes the perfect sauce delivery system. You could also use fusilli, rotelle or campanelle, anything with curls and swirls to trap the sauce.

<u>Pasta with Porcini Cream Sauce</u>
Serves 4-6
* 1 cup water + 1/2 cup sherry
* 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste
* 2 onions, chopped fine
* Salt &amp; pepper
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
* 1 pound swirly pasta
* 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup), plus extra for serving

1. Microwave water/sherry mix and porcini in covered bowl until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms through fine-mesh strainer lined with coffee filter: reserve liquid and chop mushrooms into 3/4-inch pieces.
2. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoons salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in strained mushroom liquid, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream, thyme and garlic and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to the pot. Add sauce and Parmesan and toss to combine. Season with salt &amp; pepper to taste and add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve with extra Parmesan.

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December 11, 2012

Italian Balsamic Peppers, Onions, Potatoes and Asparagus

I have been wanting to make some sort of an Italian version of a sweet/tangy/savory mixture of peppers and onions that uses balsamic vinegar. I bought a bottle of really good aged Balsamico when I was in Florence and we all know vinegars are very healthy for digestion and glucose control.
I had 6 pee-wee potatoes left in cold storage and asparagus I will add right at the end.

The ingredient list for this dish is sparse and could almost qualify for a 5 ingredient fix. You could use chicken instead of the chops but if you do, buy the ones with the bones and roast everything in one pan.

Since this post is mostly about the topping, I need to warn you that bottled hot peppers are very hot and so is the brine that they are stored in. I only used 3 small pepperoncini and even though I seeded and de-veined them, I should have rinsed them. I am not a wimp when it comes to hot stuff but my mouth was on fire and I honestly could not finish this dish. Next time I make a version of this I will use pickled jalapenos.
Other than the heat, it was full of flavor and The Nudge enjoyed that last blast of vinegar at serving.

If your balsamic is inexpensive, you might want to boil down to half before using.

This was FULL of flavor. Every bite was an experience yet I used only simple ingredients.
Diabetic Friendly in every way, you really must make this.

Grilled Pork Chops with Peppers, Onions and Potatoes
makes enough to serve 4
* 4 pork chops with rib bone attached
* 1 large red onion, quartered with stem end intact (I used half sweet, half red)
* 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon EVOO
* dozen pee-wee potatoes, cut in half
* 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
* 1 jar roasted red peppers
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 6 peppadew, banana peppers or pepperoncini, julienned
* Course sea salt
* Aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375°.
1. Place potatoes and onion quarters on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Toss to coat.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Add peppers and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. Mix well.
2. Bake for 10 more minutes and remove from oven. Scrape everything into a bowl and add the red pepper flakes. DO AHEAD TO THIS POINT, COVER AND CHILL UP TO ONE DAY.
3. Brush chops with oil and season with salt & pepper.
4. Heat grill pan till very hot about 5 minutes.
5. Grill for about 5 minutes per side. Remove and tent with foil.
6. Add asparagus to grill pan and cook for 2 minutes on high heat. Add potato and pepper mixture to pan, stir to combine flavors and reheat.
7. Place one chop on each plate and spoon 1/4 of the vegetable mixture over top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with additional sea salt.

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November 19, 2012

Restaurant Veal Stock

I can always tell when fall settles in, besides the hundreds of squash and sweet potato recipes that flood the blogosphere, I notice that I tend to start putting stuffed roasted meats on the menu.

I do not know what possessed me but I ordered a breast of veal from the butcher. I think I have made this cut of meat once about 20 years ago and the only reason why I could think I did that was because of a recipe I must have seen or a cooking show.

Although The Nudge loves veal, we rarely wander off the scaloppine trail and dabble in other cuts. I am not sure why, veal has a great flavor and I have had veal chops, I remember till today, unlike that stuffed breast.
I am a little intimidated by this cut, it isn't cheap (I forgot to ask) and I would hate to ruin it using the wrong stuffing. First thing, though, I have to find a recipe for veal sauce which will inevitably start with a good brown veal stock. For inspiration I always turn to Wolfgang Puck for great Cooking 101.

Until I open his cookbook, I forget how he makes quality restaurant-style dishes easy for the amateur cook. I should spend more time with him. Classically trained there are a few techniques that require time, but mostly because of knife work and stock making but nowadays we can purchase pretty good stocks and broths and even pre-cut up aromatics.

Since I am making this dish a big deal, I asked the butcher for the breast to be cut off the rib cage and the ribs chopped into manageable pieces so I can make the stock. This is definitely a Sunday affair but the stock can be started ahead when you find a few hours to roast the bones and vegetables. While the breast is roasting the stock can be simmered and while the breast is resting, the gravy can be made.

Brown Veal Stock 
adapted from Adventures in the Kitchen, Wolfgang Puck, 1991
makes 1 quart
  • 4 pounds veal bones, cut into 2" chunks
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, quartered or 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups water
1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
2. Arrange the bones in a roasting pan, large enough to hold them in a single layer. Roast in the oven until dark golden brown, about 1 1/2 hours, turning to brown on all sides. After one hour add the remaining ingredients to brown. Transfer the bones and vegetables to a large stockpot, 10 quarts.
3. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan and deglaze the pan with 2 cups water, scraping up any particles that stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour into the stockpot with enough additional water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches, Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, 4-6 hours, skimming the foam as it accumulates on top, and adding water as needed to keep the bones and vegetables covered at all times.
4. Strain the liquid into a clean pot, pressing down to extract all the juices. Reduce, over medium heat, until 1 quart remains.
5. Cool and refrigerate in a covered container up to 3 days, discarding any hardened layer of fat before using or freezing.

This could not have been any easier to make. It is time consuming but it requires no effort on your part. It sits on the stove for hours, you cool, drain and put in the fridge.
I forgot how good homemade stock can be, and I think I will do this more often.

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September 13, 2012

No Cook Mustard BBQ Sauce

This wonderful no cook BBQ sauce is courtesy of Bobby Flay's Grill It! Food Network Show. This would work well on a hot dog, corn dog, chicken fingers and pulled pork sandwiches.

Mustard Barbecue Sauce
makes 4 servings

* 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
* 1/4 cup Sherry Vinegar
* 1/4 cup ketchup
* 1/4 cup molasses
* 1/4 cup honey
* 2 tablespoons maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
* salt and pepper to taste
* hot sauce (optional)

Whisk together the ingredients and let it sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

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September 3, 2012

Shasha Sauce

For the first 3 months of the spring/summer the weather was so inconsistent that my pepper population was three. Three poblano and NO yellow Hungarian peppers.

As the summer wore on into August the pepper count was still poblanos 3, Hungarians 0.

The first week of August was the best weather of the whole summer and I looked out on my deck and there was, no kidding, 20 yellow peppers!!

Where the hell did they come from? I had just about given up on getting those hot little babies. Bad things about yellow peppers, they don't start out as green, like the bells do, they start out a light yellow, so how do I know they are ripe?

I waited until I saw a slight reddish hue along one side and snipped that pepper as fast as I could.

Oh baby, these were hot, hot, hot. Little Serrano's in yellow clothes. The first pepper ended up in a pasta dish while I seriously surfed the web.

I am getting addicted to hot, spicy sauces but The Nudge has been slow to join me. Are we understanding where I am going with this......

What do I do with 20 very hot peppers that will all be ripe at the same time?
Ahhhhhh, now you get it.

Like so many dishes that end up on this blog, the majority are due to ingredients that were on sale at the market, product that was in season, an overage of leftovers, a craving and just plain necessity.

The minority are ones that seem to plop right into my lab, usually from a cooking show of one kind or another, that catches my attention long enough to look up from one screen to another.

I have never watched The Chew. I knew it was there, I even tried to secure tickets, but I am not fond of the programming on ABC lately so my favs are not programmed to include it.

Last week (and I am not kidding) I was looking for something to watch while I did some paperwork, and actually on purpose clicked on ABC. There was Michael Symon making a breakfast sandwich in what I gathered was their "5 ingredient dish in 5 minutes" themed show. I like Michael Symon so I gave him 5 minutes of my time.

The best part of his dish was this Shasha Sauce he squirted on the fried egg in the sandwich. Everyone raved about the sauce and the sandwich? well, I think it's 5 minutes of fame were up.

But that sauce......was made with, hold on now, have I got your attention?
Can you guess? Come on, I know you know this........

No less then 10 hot yellow peppers!!!!
OMG, am I not, like, an episode of Twilight Zone?

I have to say that I agreed with the audience, this sauce is better than Tabasco Sauce. I could, if I had one of those bottles, shake some of this goodness on everything I eat. Can be made as hot or sweet or tart as you want, can be made in any season of the year, takes up all of 1 hour of your time (mostly unattended time) and if you don't have a bush of yellow Hungarian hot peppers on your deck, you can use a jar of hot banana peppers.

Ya ya. It is that good. Keep a squirt bottle in your fridge (it lasts forever) and use it generously. You will never buy a bottle of Tabasco sauce again.

Plus, it's yellow. It's pretty and cool looking on your food.

I used it on my turkey burgers yesterday and plan on using it on everything.

Shasha Sauce
From the kitchen of Pass the Sauce with inspiration from Michael Symon

* 12 fresh Hungarian peppers or a jar of banana peppers
* 4 cloves garlic
* 1 cup yellow ballpark mustard
* 1 cup white wine vinegar
* 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (optional)

Process peppers with the garlic, mustard and vinegar until pureed.
Add puree to a hot saucepan and add in sugar.
Simmer 30 minutes.
Add a slurry of flour and water to thicken if desired. (Mine did not need to be thickened.)
Once it cooled, I ran it through my hand blender one more time, added some salt to taste and poured it into a squirt bottle.

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August 28, 2012

Herb Nut Salsa

This is so Italian, really diabetic friendly and wonderfully full of flavor (think I got enough adjectives in there?). I think it closely resembles a chimichurri sauce but with hazelnuts for crunch and anchovy for salt.

Perfect with a steak of any kind. We spooned this over a rib-eye, but I do believe it originally was paired with a hanger steak. A inexpensive choice would be a London Broil or a flank steak.

Herb-nut Salsa
Adapted from Food & Wine, 2009
Servings: 6-8

* 1/4 cup hazelnuts
* 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
* 1/4 cup snipped chives
* 2 teaspoons minced tarragon
* 1 teaspoon minced chervil
* 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced
* 2 teaspoons chopped rinsed capers
* 1 medium shallot, minced
* 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
* 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
* Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Toast the hazelnuts in a pie plate for 12 minutes, or until the skins are blistered. Transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel; let cool slightly, then rub off the skins. Finely chop the nuts and transfer them to a bowl. Add the parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil, anchovies, capers and shallot. Stir in the vinegar and the 3/4 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the steaks with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, about 12 minutes for medium-rare meat. Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat across the grain and serve with the salsa.

We shared a dry aged rib-eye we bought at Whole Foods (yum) and I made creamed spinach and mashed potato sides. A very good steakhouse style meal. Oh, and we also shared a very nice Barolo.

Sharing is a good thing....for the heart and the tummy!

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August 15, 2012

The Quickest 5 Ingredient Marinade and Glaze Ever

I am not a fan of marinating salmon. I find they can be harsh and too sweet as well as make the meat mealy. Acids will break down the flesh but with good wild salmon, you don't need to tenderize.
We all know never marinate fish longer then 30 minutes?

I developed this glaze for two reasons, to give the fish a little more flavor and to hopefully get The Nudge to like salmon.

His one major complaint was that it tastes fishy. Now, if you buy bad food it will taste bad, he just never had good salmon. So afraid the fish I cook would taste the way he's had it year's ago.

Year's ago you could not get really fresh salmon, only frozen and everyone cooked the crap out of it (sorry to offend, but it's the truth).

Well, it worked and I have been grilling these at least 2x every summer at his request.

The other day I had one lone boneless chicken cutlet and dinner to make on the fly.
Why not try this glaze on chicken. I butterflied one boneless breast, brushed the glaze on both sides and let it sit while the coals got hot.

The chicken had lots of flavor and the perfect grilled glaze without being too much.
Takes 5 ingredients everyone should have in their pantry, 5 minutes to put together and 5 minutes on each side to grill. No need to salt the meat but I did grind some pepper on it. The ginger does give it a slight amount of heat so not too much black pepper.

The key to getting the glaze to glaze correctly is to make sure your grill or grill pan is screaming hot and lubed.

Can be multiplied to how many pieces you are cooking. This amount will work on 4-6 chicken pieces, 4 salmon steaks and a dozen large shrimp.

Salmon Marinade and Glaze
* 1 tbls Colemans Dry Mustard
* 2 tbls dark brown sugar
* 1 tbls water
* 1 tbls Tamari (or soy)
* 1 tsp ground ginger

Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning only once. The longer it sits on the grill without moving the darker those caramelized grill marks will be and the better the flavor.
Do not play with your food, please.

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August 7, 2012

Yes, Hummus Can Be A Sauce

Cooking in a family of one Diabetic can sometimes be challenging. There are things I should eat lots of that won't fly in this house.

I imagine this happens often in similar situations. I mean, a diabetic diet can be heavy on the vegetables and when you have carb lovers in your house you have to make foods that appeals to all.
If I baked a loaf of bread every day, it would disappear in the guise of one, if not two, PB&J sandwich snacks every bedtime.

This recipe for Red Pepper Hummus is excellent. Not only does the red pepper add a two kapow punch of nutrition, it adds a sweetness that will tame, what can sometimes be, a bitter basic hummus (usually the tahini is to blame).

When I roast red peppers (which is always), I clean and store them covered in olive oil. Made perfect sense to use that olive oil as the one called for in the recipe. More flavor, I am all for it.

Adding the hummus to yogurt makes this a wonderful sauce to spoon over a flavorful ground lamb dish.

I halved the recipe because I just will never use up 12 servings. I know everyone is Lady GaGa over hummus, but in this house it's just OK. The Nudge is not a dip person and I have thrown away more opened containers then I want to think about.

This is the reason I wanted to try this recipe. Maybe I can get him to put a dollop on a lamb burger, or nestled aside a perfectly grilled lamb chop.

Maybe the next time I ask him if he would like a spicy dip with pita chips, he will say sure and if that does happen, I could even overlook that bedtime snack if, on that bread, was this hummus.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Makes 12 servings

* 2 large sweet red pepper
* 2 cans (15 ounces each) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
* 1/3 cup lemon juice
* 3 tablespoons tahini
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, peeled
* 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon curry powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* Pita bread, warmed and cut into wedges, and reduced-fat wheat snack crackers

1. Broil red peppers 4 in. from the heat until skins blister, about 5 minutes. With tongs, rotate peppers a quarter turn. Broil and rotate until all sides are blistered and blackened. Immediately place peppers in a bowl; cover and let stand for 15-20 minutes.
2. Peel off and discard charred skin. Remove stems and seeds. Place the peppers in a food processor. Add the beans, lemon juice, tahini, oil, garlic and seasonings; cover and process until blended.
3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with pita bread and crackers. Garnish with additional beans if desired. Yield: 3 cups.

Nutritional Facts 1/4 cup (calculated without pita bread, crackers or additional beans:
113 calories
5g fat (1 g saturated fat)
0 cholesterol
339mg sodium
14g carbohydrate
4g fiber
4g protein

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fat.

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August 2, 2012

Balsamic Ketchup

This sauce rocks.

Yes, ketchup is a sauce and with our focus on vinegar-based sauces this first week, it fits right in.

You need a good Balsamic Vinegar, preferably the glaze. It's naturally sweeter so it tames the acidity of the roasted tomatoes, a perfect pair.

Not all that hard to do, you need two very important things.

Three hours and really ripe tomatoes, about 1".
I used Campari tomatoes but if you can get good, meaty small Romas, use them.

Cut 2 pounds of tomatoes into quarters and on a wire rack set into a sheet pan, place the tomato quarters and bake for three hours in a 325° oven.

Mine were done in two hours because I used smaller tomatoes then what was called for.

Run them through a processor with the herbs and seasonings and press through a fine sieve. Makes enough ketchup for 4 burgers.

I know that the next time I do this I will make 3 batches, it's that good.

We used this on our Buffalo Parmesan Hamburgers, recipe here.

Balsamic Ketchup
makes 16 tablespoons

* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
* 2 pounds small tomatoes, quartered
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
* 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. Combine oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and tomatoes in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange tomatoes, skin side down, on a wire rack set inside a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 325° for 3 hours. Cool slightly; peel. Discard peels.
3. Combine tomatoes, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, basil, and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

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August 1, 2012

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Keeping with the vinegar theme (and with the healthy theme), I introduce you to a very flavorful Vietnamese Dipping Sauce. This 5 minute sauce is delightfully refreshing and the perfect accompaniment to grilled foods, whether it be vegetables, seafood or pork.

In this instance, it was paired with a marinaded grilled pork tenderloin. I could see this as a marinade for vegetables that would be a great garnish for a cold meat sandwich.

Delicious indeed.

If you want to switch the sugar out for agave or Truvia (my new favorite sugar sub) make sure to start with less, as the subs are all VERY sweet.

I cut in some mint for color as well as flavor but basil would be an excellent substitution.

You can find the pork recipe on my sister site, here.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
makes 4 servings

* 1/3 cup grated carrot
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 cup rice vinegar
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 Thai or serrano chile, thinly sliced and divided
* 1 teaspoon shopped mint or basil

Place all ingredients in a bowl and let it sit so the flavors can meld.
Serve room temp.

July 23, 2012

Vinegars - What you don't know could hurt you

We all know how effective white distilled vinegar is to the cleaning of and in the disinfection to every household surface as well as in the washing machine, but are you also aware of its medicinal properties?

Vinegar increases insulin sensitivity, perhaps acting similarly to Metformin.
Now studies have found that vinegar at bedtime reduces fasting blood glucose in the morning, indicating that vinegar might promote insulin production.

Type 2 Diabetes is mostly found in people who are insulin resistant, thus making our bodies work harder to produce more insulin to break down the carbohydrates before they are converted to sugar.

Pretty amazing that a simple chemical like vinegar (acetic acid) could have the benefits of three different classes of diabetes drugs, and all for two cents a dose! It’s likely good for both Type 2 and Type 1, especially for lowering postprandial glucose. And postprandial glucose levels account for 30% to 70% of A1C values. Vinegar has got to be the most cost-effective medicine in history, but most people with diabetes still aren’t taking it.

How can vinegar be so powerful? I think it has to do with our ancestral diet. We used to eat carbohydrate in highly complex forms that took a long time to break down in the intestines. Vinegar may be a signal to our bodies to produce insulin and not resist it. Today’s highly refined carbohydrates are absorbed long before they start breaking down. Our bodies don’t get the ancestral signals that carbohydrates are coming, so they’re not ready for them. Drinking a bit of vinegar might trigger the hormones and transmitters that are now missing the boat.

This theory might be nonsense, but the benefits of vinegar are proven reality.

No, you don't have to drink vinegar before eating a high carbohydrate meal, but you can include vinegar for consumption at that meal.

I love vinegar, I always have. I am one of those people that adore tart and sour characteristics in food and have been known to ambush my family when it was my turn to make the salad dressing.

Back to the food.......

Ways to incorporate vinegars into your diet.

#1 - Salads
A no-brainer there

#2 - Dipping sauces
Asian choices are many

#3 - Vegetables
Just like lemon, it wakes up boring vegetables and works wonders on canned

#4 - Cold Sauces and Salsas
Think pickled vegetables (Salsa Verde, Salsa Cruda, etc) and mignonette

#5 - Bread Spreads
Think pickled vegetables (yes, again), mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup

#6 - Glazes
Think Chicken Milanese, Caprese Salad, Strawberries

#7 - Moisture Filler
Patties, Meatloaf, Fritters...surprised? It works.

#8 - Tenderizer
Marinades and mops

#9 - Flavor Boosters
Butters, Braises & Chutneys

#10 - Desserts
Did you know that strawberries with balsamic vinegar is the most underrated dessert of all time?

When you reduce vinegars, especially balsamic ones, they become naturally sweet. They actually turn into a sweet and sour sauce all by themselves but by adding spices and herbs to these reductions, you can create what no one expects, a sauce that is packed with flavor and is a powerhouse of good things for your body.

I would love to hear how you use vinegar in your everyday cooking.

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July 21, 2012

Lime, Honey and Sumac Butter Sauce

There is always a food bailiwick that I just can't master consistently. Grilled corn on the cob is mine.

Either it's not done enough, it's over grilled and spotty or it's just plain dried out. I have no patience to stand at a grill and babysit, there just has to be a better way to speed up the process.

Yes, I have tried grilling them in the husks. Sometimes it's perfect, other times not.
I have tried slathering them in lots of butter only to have the butter drip into the coals and cause a flare up. Not good.

Tonight I tried a technique I haven't used in some time and I think I finally will have that perfect grilled cob.

I took the husks off just before cooking and rubbed a lime butter into every crevice. I wrapped each cob in wax paper and nuked them for 4 minutes and let them sit till they cooled down.
I unwrapped each cob and then placed them on the grill just as I moved the chicken off the coals for indirect grilling.
The cobs grilled to perfection and I saved extra lime butter to reapply for a fresh burst of flavor before eating. I added some sumac for extra zing!

Cook's Note: Sumac has a tart flavor that is very nice sprinkled on fish, chicken, over salad dressings, rice pilaf, or over raw onions. Try substituting in any dish on which you might squeeze fresh lemon juice. If you enjoy hummus, try topping it with a sprinkling of sumac. It's delightful!

Sumac is considered essential for cooking in much of the Middle East; it served as the tart, acidic element in cooking prior to the introduction of lemons by the Romans. Sumac has a very nice, fruity-tart flavor which is not quite as overpowering as lemon. In addition to their very pleasant flavor, flakes from the berry are a lovely, deep red color which makes a very attractive garnish.

Lime, Honey & Sumac Butter
makes 1/2 cup

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
* 1 teaspoon honey
* Zest of 1 lime
* 1/4 teaspoon Sumac (I buy mine from Penzy's)
* 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix everything together until well incorporated. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

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July 19, 2012

Creamy Mushroom and Provolone Sauce

For my first cream based sauce post I chose a favorite ingredient in this family, Provolone cheese. Buy a good one, you use less so it's healthier and has so much more flavor.

You can build a cream sauce in many different ways but the main ingredient will always be a thickening agent. Most use a roux but you could make a slurry or use a starch, like corn, tapioca or rice. If you need to limit your fat intake, blend the flour directly into the dairy without the use of butter/oil.

It is easy to do and creates a lump-free sauce.

Measure out 1 tablespoon flour in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon dairy and whisk quickly. Once you have a cohesive texture, add another tablespoon and whisk, then another and repeat until you get the thickness you are looking for. I like to start with a sauce the consistency of buttermilk.
So why use the flour at all? You don't have to if you use heavy cream, but I prefer to use 2% - whole milk. With the milk you will need to thicken, even with the cheese. We are going for something that flows, not a queso.

Also, the flour helps to stop the dairy from separating or curdling.

I am sorry to go on about all this but this is a blog about sauces, and you need to know all the little tricks (and the science, of course) to create exceptional sauces.

Step 1 - Think about what you are serving this sauce on and what you want it to do.
I am breading thin chicken breasts in panko and serving them over polenta cakes (recipe here).
Bland foods, right. I can get away with a very assertive sauce.

Step 2 - Pick the main flavor ingredient (cheese, an herb, a spice, ethnicity, vegetable, wine or butter)
I had a hunk of good provolone in my fridge, so I picked that.

Step 3 - Next are the flavor components, the ingredients that will round out the main flavor.
I chose fresh sage, mustard and shallots.

Step 4 - Last is the finishing ingredients (olive oil, cilantro, chives, parsley, citrus juices.
I choose chives.

Provolone & Mushroom Sauce
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 tablespoon flour
* 1 small shallot, minced
* 2 oz good quality dry Provolone cheese
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 4 fresh sage leaves
* 1 1/4 cup milk
* 1/3 cup Marsala Mushrooms (recipe follows)
* salt & pepper

1. Melt the butter and saute the shallot. Season with salt & pepper.
2. Add the flour and whisk to incorporate. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until it's all mixed in.
3. Add the mushrooms, sage and Dijon and stir.
4. Add in the cheeses and shut off the heat. The residual heat will melt the cheeses.
5. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

Marsala Mushrooms
* 1 tablespoon both butter and olive oil.
* Add as many sliced mushrooms as you need and saute until browned.
* Deglaze with 1/4 cup Marsala (dry sherry will also do) wine.

Remove mushrooms and store in a container in the fridge until ready to use.
I always have plastic bags with 1/2 cup of these mushrooms in my freezer at all times.

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July 15, 2012

Vinaigrette Basting Sauce for Poultry

For my first sauce post, I would like to discuss vinaigrette's.

I have a little saying I like to use....
........a spoonful of vinegar makes the sugar go down.

My main blog is all about glucose control and nowadays eating for your metabolism is the backbone for many diet food diets and the foods they sell.

Yes, we are talking about NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, eDiets, South Beach and the newest one, Food Lovers Fat Loss.

Did you know you can make homemade food the same way they make theirs for a fraction of the cost, even on a busy night as long as you know the buzz ingredients.

Last night I made Cornell Chicken, a central New York specialty invented by Dr. Robert Baker, a professor at New York's Cornell University. He wanted to create a delicious way to grill smaller chickens, so that the local farms could sell more birds, sell them sooner, and more affordably. It became so popular and easy to prepare, it hit the State Fair circuit and is still sold at the NY State Fair.

While the full recipe with directions is over at Wish Upon A Dish, the sauce is the main focus here and can be used with any cuts of poultry, especially leg quarters, which are always inexpensive.

This sauce is what is commonly known as a vinaigrette with the ratio of oil to vinegar reversed.

The vinegar acts as a tenderizer and is great for the control of glucose in your blood, so not just diabetics benefit from more vinegar in their diet, anyone looking to lower their sugar and jump start their metabolism should think vinegar.

The Italians use vinegars as a finishing condiment to wake up the flavors in vegetables and when cooked become sweet, so its a wonderful way to sweeten food without sugar, honey or agave.

Now tell me, what's not to love about vinegar?

Vinegar Basting Sauce:
* 2 cups cider vinegar
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 1 egg (pasteurized, please or leave it out)
* 3 tablespoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

Combine the basting sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until emulsified. Place the poultry in a large zip-top plastic bag and pour in 1/2 cup of the sauce (reserve rest for basting and 3 tablespoons of that for serving). Seal the bag and shake gently to coat the chicken evenly. Refrigerate for 1 hour. After 1 hour the vinegar can make the meat mealy and we don't want that.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, and wipe off excess sauce from the surface. Grill over charcoal, turning and liberally basting with the reserved sauce every 10 minutes after the chicken has cooked 15 minutes, and up to the last 10 minutes, for about an hour, or until meat is cooked through and instant read thermometer reads 165° for white meat and 180° for dark meat.

Note: This recipe makes enough basting sauce for 4-5 whole chickens, and any extra can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

July 14, 2012

Welcome to my new blog

All about sauces, all about flavor, all about the easy and a lot about the healthy.

First, we need to define 'sauce'.

In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted. Possibly the oldest sauce recorded is garum, the fish sauce used by the Ancient Romans.

Sauces need a liquid component, but some sauces (for example, pico de gallo salsa or chutney) may contain more solid elements than liquid. Sauces are an essential element in cuisines all over the world.

Sauces may be used for savory dishes or for desserts. They can be prepared and served cold, like mayonnaise, prepared cold but served lukewarm like pesto, or can be cooked like bechamel and served warm or again cooked and served cold like apple sauce. Some sauces are industrial inventions like Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce, or nowadays mostly bought ready-made like soy sauce or ketchup, others still are freshly prepared by the cook. Sauces for salads are called salad dressing. Sauces made by deglazing a pan are called pan sauces.

A cook who specializes in making sauces is a saucier.

While writing for my other blog Wish Upon A Dish I came to realize that people don't make sauces from scratch anymore. Look at all those jars of sauces in the mustard/ketchup aisle.

Answer me these three questions.....does anyone ever remember finishing a bottled sauce before they eventually had to throw it away?

Then there's......How many sauce bottles line your refrigerator door?

and last but not many bottles in your pantry have expired expiration dates?

I am not talking about gravies. Gravies are made using meat or fish (bones, flesh or shells). That, my dears, is a whole 'nother thing.

Marinades are considered sauces if you cook them after marinading is over, to make a pan 'sauce' as well as basting sauces.

Confused yet?

Stick with me and I will make you an expert.