Archive | May, 2010

Juicy Secrets

26 May

So I recently purchased a juicer. In my continual effort to get healthy without sacrificing anything I love, I decided to add juice. Mind you, I am not talking about fruit punch or OJ here. I’m talking about veggie juices that are slightly sweetened by fruit, not refined sugar.

Juicer have come a long way from the infommerials. You can find quality juicers everywhere from Walmart to Amazon. There are 2 main types. One that acts like a super blender and liquifies anything that goes in, and the one that separates the juice from the pulp. I went with the one that separates the pulp and juice. If I’m going to drink something, I want it to be smooth and easy.

Juice is a great add to a healthy diet. The juice allows you to get all the benefits from fruits and veggies without eating them. Why not just eat them? Well, studies have shown that most fruits and vegetables lose many of their essential vitamins when they are cooked. Raw produce is just plain better for you. The catch is, not all raw veggies tastes good. The picture to the left is a juice made from 2 apples, 4 stalks of celery and 1/2 pound of kale. Now I love vegetables, but that’s a lot to eat in one sitting. But, I can drink it in no time flat!

There’s is a “downside” to juicing. If you are separating the pulp and juice, you are losing the fiber that comes along with eating produce. For me, it’s worth the sacrifice. I eat produce during the day and eat whole grains to get my fiber so the juice is just a bonus.

Juices have a devious bonus. Fresh juice tastes better than any canned or bottled juice you will find. So why is this freshness devious you ask? The best bartenders will tell you that the best ingredients make the best drinks. And fresh juice is no exception. Try making a Bourbon and Ginger with Maker’s Mark, fresh ginger juice, and club soda. Or try Captain Morgan with pineapple juice and orange juice.

These mixology recipes seem easier to find that straight juice recipes.I’ve been looking online and have not really had much success finding juice recipes. Martha had a few but they were all a little boring. Here are the juices that I’ve tried thus far:

Kale, Celery, Apple
2 apples
4 stalks of celery
1/2 pound kale

Carrot Ginger
1 pound carrots
1 large navel orange
1 in piece ginger

2 large tomatoes
1/2 English cucumber
3 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper

1 large pinapple
2 oranges
2 kiwi
1 mango

Watermelon Lemonade (makes a large pitcher)
1 large watermelon
1 lemon

Be sure to remove any large pits or seeds. Small seeds like apple seeds will be filtered out by the juicer. If you’re looking for an easy, delicious way to boost your health, buy a juicer and get drinking.

Always thinking of the next meal


Tone your Mussels

24 May

I was at the grocery store this afternoon getting mussels for dinner and this woman started talking to me. She was getting scallops but told me she had made mussels for dinner last night. She asked me how I was preparing them. Honestly I didn’t have a plan yet. I just love mussels and thought I’d figure it out with whatever I had in the produce drawer. I felt like I couldn’t answer her question with that though. So I said I usually prepare them with sautéed fennel and white wine (which is true.) She gave me a terrified look and turned back toward the seafood counter. This was not the reaction that I was expecting. Surely if she was looking to share a successful menu with a fellow seafood lover, dinner must have been great. Did she think fennel was gross or maybe she didn’t know what fennel was. In any case, I decided that I should ask her how she prepared hers. This was a mistake. She turned around quickly and very stiffly said spaghetti sauce and wine and turned back around. Immediately I regretted saying anything. I was handed my mussels and told her to enjoy her scallops.

This awkward conversation started me thinking. Has our culture of convenience brought us to thinking that something in a jar that is labeled “spaghetti sauce” means that is good to use in anything we deem to be “Italian.” There’s nothing wrong with the quickie dinner that you are too busy to think about. A box of pasta and a jar of sauce and bada bing dinner. I have been known to have the occasional emergency meal. I guess the real question is why would you take something as delicious as a mussel and smother it in a sauce that’s been sitting on a grocery shelf for an unknown amount of time. I’m all for mussels marinara, but jarred spaghetti sauce just won’t cut it for me.

I wanted to shed the “usual” mussel preparation and try something new. After a quick internet search (as you may be doing right now) I decided to just wing it with the ingredients I had on hand. Here’s what I came up with…

Mussels a la minute
serves 2 for appies or 1 for dinner

1.25 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup red or white wine (whatever is open)
2 tablespoons olive tapenade
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan add the oil garlic and onions. Sauté until the onions are soft. Add in the the mussels and wine and cover the pan to create steam. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels are just open. Add in the butter and swirl the pan. Add in the lemon juice, zest, parsley, and cheese. Season and put in a serving dish and garnish with toasted ciabatta bread.

This was great. It was fresh and light and perfect for the time of year.

Always thinking of the next meal


Relish the moment, not the pickles

11 May

Relish is a condiment. Duh. But relish does not need to be a bright green, sort of sweet, sort of tangy, mushy mess from a jar. Relish can be a revelation.

I like to make relishes when I want to bring a different flare to a simple meal without a lot of hassle. You can make a relish that’s inspired by India, Spain, the Caribbean etc. and wind up with a fantastic outcome.

Last night’s dinner had a German flare. I wanted to have that classic sweet and sour combo stand out without making a huge heavy meal. So, I made an Apple Bacon Relish for over pork chops.

Apple Bacon Relish

1 golden apple, small dice
1/3 cup rendered bacon
1 cup white wine
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon bacon fat
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a sauté pan and add in the bacon fat. Add the apples and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and caraway seeds and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add in the wine and reduce by half. Add in the bacon and season to taste. Serve over pork.

This is a new fun way of transforming that same old dinner into something exciting. Remember that a relish is usually cut small and doesn’t use dried fruits. If you did that, you’d be making a chutney. So, I guess you could say that relishes and chutneys are cousins. Just another culinary relationship 🙂

Always thinking of the next meal