“The Hunger Games” influenced recipe: Herbed Goat Cheese Bites

These “Herbed Goat Cheese Bites” are healthy and delicious little treats everyone will love.   YAY!    All I can say is “Bring on “The Hunger Games”.”  So excited we have a popular trilogy starting where food (and sadly hunger) play a central role.  So much room for creative inspiration, and mine will all focus on healthy interpretations of the many scenes where food and meals play a central role in the character’s life at the moment.

Why in the world am I doing “The Hunger Games” recipe or food interpretations? I have to admit, this time last week the last thing I thought I would be uploading was any “Hunger Games” influenced recipes.  Victor (long time boyfriend) and I are chilling out up here at his house in Lake Tahoe for awhile, so we decided at the last minute Friday to see the premiere of what seemed to be an over marketed movie, “The Hunger Games”.   We found the movie intriguing enough we decided to  download all 3 books onto our Ipads as well as downloading the entire series on audio book.  We have been listening to them together ever since on our Apple “boom box” while watching the snow fall.   Its been kind of fun. I decided to do an internet search to see if there were any sites posting “Hunger Games” recipes and there were.  Yahoo had this one and then I found on Amazon “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook”.

These “Herbed Goat Cheese Bites” represent the morning of the “reaping day” when 2 children are chosen for the “Hunger Games”. The main character, Katniss, wakes to find goat cheese wrapped in fresh basil leaves, a gift left by her little sister Prim.   Katniss had bought her little sister an injured baby goat years before to help the family survive.    Katniss takes her sister’s gift and eats it in the meadow by the woods with her friend Gale, where they spread it on fresh bread Gale had traded a squirrel for.  In district 12, where Katniss and her family live, bread is a rarity.

I made this yesterday and it was delicious.  Is a great appetizer at a party as well.  This recipe is slightly different interpretation of a “celebrity” chef  Tyler Florence recipe featured here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup of finely chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 8 ounce goat cheese log
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces French baguette sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Finely chop and combine the first four  herbs listed (thyme, parsley, tarragon, mint)
  2. Roll the goat cheese log evenly in the fresh herbs and then wrap tightly in plastic.  Chill 2 to 24 hours.  I chilled mine overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 and drizzle the bread slices with olive oil and place on cookie sheet
  4. Bake at 350 degrees until browned and crispy.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes
  5. Remove the fresh herb goat cheese log from the fridge and spread lightly on the baguette slices
  6. Top generously with the fresh chopped tomato and basil

Serve and Enjoy!

Adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence, Southern Living
JANUARY 2009



sig

Chicken and Shrimp Lemongrass Dumplings

If you have been reading my blog for awhile you probably have noticed I have a “thing” for dumplings.  See 2 of my recent past blogged recipes for dumplings  here and here.   And its true, I love them.  I have a lot of personal affection and history surrounding eating and making Chinese Dim Sum and Asian Dumplings.

I can’t remember the first time I made dumplings at home, but likely quite young.  My mom taught my sister and I at a very young age how to make homemade egg rolls, wontons, and pot stickers. Additionally my  mom, a kindergarten teacher of over 40 years, used to come to my elementary classroom every year and spend the entire morning with my class, teaching us all how to make these little Chinese “treats” along with the  variety of sauces that accompany them.  My mom would set up different little stations where each of us children would participate in cutting, chopping, mixing and filling our dim sum. It was set up so that we would all alternate every 30 minutes,  so that each child had a chance to learn and participate in each step of the cooking process. Our half day lesson ended with us all cooking and then eating our “home made” won tons, egg rolls, and pot stickers for lunch.  It was a big hit every year.  Even now as an adult, at school reunions, someone will almost always come up to me and remind me of those days my mom spent the day teaching our class how to make Chinese food and how much they loved it.

This following recipe I decided upon after picking up some beautiful lemongrass at the Farmer’s Market and thinking  Vietnamese inspired dumplings certainly sounded like a yummy way to use it.  I did a quick search on the internet and the best thing I could find was a May 2010 Food and Wine magazine recipe for encouragement and inspiration, that “yes indeed”, lemongrass does work well in a dumpling.  I then made my own “Truffled Pig” version, which you will see,  ended up being a completely new recipe on its own.

As with my previous dumpling recipes, I focused on creating a  filling  that was healthy and nutrient dense.  Additionally I demonstrate how to cook these dumplings 2 methods, which are quite healthy as well.  These dumplings can be cooked  1.  Steamed in a bamboo steamer, or 2.  “Pan Steam-Fried”  (featured in photo above) which is a low fat method of browning and steaming the dumplings in a non stick skillet over medium high heat for a couple minutes.

Make Ahead: Freeze any uncooked dumplings on a floured (or cornstarch) baking sheet.  Once frozen, after about an hour, transfer them to freezer zip lock bags. Cooking your dumplings straight out of the freezer is exactly like the directions below, just extend the steaming time in the bamboo steamer or on the non stick pan (lid on for steaming) a few extra minutes.  Or if you want to have a freezer filled with a variety and large supply of dumplings ready to cook, double the recipe and your ready to go.  If you were to check my freezer at any given time, you’d likely find it filled with at leas one big freezer zip lock bag of dumplings, sometimes two.  Some say  last one month the in freezer, but I say as long as you really squeeze out all the air in the bag each time you put it back in the freezer, keeping it air tight protects them from frost and “freezer burn”.  With proper storage they can easily taste good and last up to 3 or 4 months in the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground chicken (I use organic ground chicken breast)
  • 1/2 lb finely chopped medium to jumbo sized shrimp/prawns  (Click here for nice guidelines on shrimp)
  • 2 stalks (2 tablespoons) of fresh grated lemongrass  or 2 tablespoons store bought prepared lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (Ie: Thai Kitchen Brand here)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 can water chestnuts finely chopped (optional, I love it for the nice crunchy texture it adds)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of white or black pepper (I prefer white pepper but black is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 organic egg ( You could probably omit this if you want, its used as a “binder” but I have made this without the egg)
  • 1 package of gyoza wrappers ( found at Asian markets and most major supermarkets in the refrigerator section)

* Tip: If you can not find the round gyoza wrappers you can use square won ton wrappers instead, your dumplings can be folded into little triangles, or you can use a cookie cutter to make the wrappers into a circle

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the first 12 ingredients together
  2. Place a dumpling skin on a work surface, moisten the edges with water, and put  teaspoon of the filling in the center
  3. a. To fold dumplings like in the photo featured at the to which is called Shu Mai:  Gather the edges of the wrapper up around the filling, squeezing gently, to plea the sides;  some of the filling should remain exposed. For step by step easy to follow video instructions click here: Video Here  b.  To fold and make in half moon shape like here: Place each dumpling skin on a work surface, moisten the edges with water and 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center. Fold over the skin at the median line to create a little “half moon” shape (see above photo at the top of this recipe).  Use a fork to press in and indent around the corner to make sure the dumpling skin stay folded over and stuck together.

 

Cooking Methods: Steaming or Pan Seared and “Steamed”

  1. Option A. Rig a bamboo steamer over a large pot with about 1 inch of water; bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Option B.  Heat a non stick skillet with 1 tablespoon neutral oil over medium high heat
  2. Option A: Put as many dumpling in the bamboo steamer (lined with parchment paper) as you can fit in a single layer and cover the pot.   Option B: place dumplings in skillet with hot oil and wait 1 to 2 minutes until edges are brown and then add a couple tablespoons of water and quickly place lid on skillet to steam
  3. Option A : Cook until the exposed filling turns pink and the wrappers are tender: in steamer 4 to 6 minutes Option B :  in skillet cook  aprox 4 (do not burn the bottoms)

Serve and Enjoy with dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil

I’ll be posting all the nutritional information for these later this week, but these are healthy, low fat and low cal.

 

 

 

 

 

 



sig

Healthy “Creamy” Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is a snap to whip up in less than 20 minutes (yes I said less than 20 minutes), and with the light coconut milk and the spicy curry, make it quite a unique version, and universal hit amongst those whom I have shared this with.   This recipe is  so nutrient dense and healthy , yet at the same time sophisticated enough to “wow” your friends at any dinner party.  Great as an Amuse-bouche in a shot glass at a fancy dinner or party reception, as an appetizer, or main dish.   From my own experience, I can assure you that this is a real crowd pleasing dish!

I make “Butternut Squash” soup all the time, yet through trial and error, find this version to really showcase the kind of depth, creaminess, flavor and balance, not frequently utilized in traditional butternut squash soup.  Even if you think you don’t like curry, I think you’ll find that in this recipe, the yellow curry addition, takes the flavor and exotic “wow” factor to a whole new level.  I really worked hard to hit my perfect Fat/Acid/Sugar/Salt balance  in this soup recipe to create a taste filled/ harmonic balance of  layered flavor notes in this recipe.  I also include tips on how you can “customize” this recipe to create the perfect dimension of flavors that works best for your palate.  I hope you love it as much as me, and if you do, please be sure to share your own photos and versions wither here on my blog in the comments section, as well as on my FB page.

* Special Note for chemotherapy patients or persons experiencing weight loss from chronic illness and need to up the caloric density to the foods your eating: I ate this while going through massive amounts of chemo and radiation, and this was one of my favorite foods to eat while I was sick, nauseated, and losing weight.  The spicy curry and the creamy coconut flavor really “knocks out” that yucky chemo flavor,  and the soup itself, so delicious I just kept eating more.  If you need to put on some weight or add  extra calories due to cancer or illness related weight loss, just use regular full calorie coconut milk (and heavy cream)  to really crank up the calorie density!

*To lower the calorie and fat content in this recipe even further: omit the coconut milk and use the full amount of chicken stock when doing the puree in the blender

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 can light coconut milk (Regular can be used but I prefer light for less calories and can’t taste the difference)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons yellow curry ( I use 2, but I really like curry, so 1 tablespoon might be enough for most)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 lemon to squeeze to taste (preferably Meyer Lemon, its less bitter)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil or butter
  • Grade B Maple Syrup or sweetener of choice (Optional to sweeten ONLY if necessary)
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste (optional, and I used white pepper because you don’t “see” it in the soup, you can use regular pepper if you like)

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oil or butter over medium heat
  2. add onion and a dash of salt, and saute for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent and soft
  3. Add butternut squash and stir to coat with oil
  4. Saute the butternut squash for aprox 3 minutes
  5. pour in chicken stock, either the entire cup and a half, or just until it covers the top of the squash
  6. Bring stock to a low boil, turn down and then simmer, for aprox 10 minutes or until the squash is tender and can be pierced with a fork
  7. Pour the squash and only 1/2 of the stock into a vita mix/blender and puree, the consistency should be like a thick milkshake when through
  8. Return squash puree to the original pan on the stove and add the coconut milk, gently stirring
  9. Add curry
  10. Heat over medium, and squeeze in lemon to brighten up flavor
  11. Add salt to taste
  12. Taste and if the soup needs a little sweetening to brighten it up, add in a teaspoon or so of maple syrup (I choose maple syrup grade B because its healthier, but you can use whatever sweetener you have on hand or prefer)

Special Note:  As with any soup, but this one in particular, I find that creating that “perfect” balance  between the Acid/Sugar/Salt can really make a huge difference in the final soup masterpiece you have created.  Each time you make this soup, or any, is different.  So learn to  “play” around with it once your done with the final steps, taste and adjust.  With this soup you can make very subtle yet poignant adjustments to the overall final product just by playing around with the  salt, acid (lemon juice to “brighten it up”), and sweet.  The coconut milk and squash are naturally a little sweet so you may find you don’t need to enhance the sweetness at all, or just a teaspoon of maple syrup, sugar or sweetener.  Its up to you!

Serve and Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
via Spark People Calorie Counter

 

 

 

  4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 92.1
  Total Fat 1.6 g
  Saturated Fat 0.3 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 1.0 g
  Cholesterol 1.9 mg
  Sodium 374.3 mg
  Potassium 720.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 19.5 g
  Dietary Fiber 4.5 g
  Sugars 0.6 g
  Protein 3.1 g

 

 

 

 

 



sig

Healthy Spanish Paella, An Amazing Family Style Dish

 

Wow!  What an amazing class and dish I learned how to properly make with Local Silicon Vally Chef Joni Sare.  The back story is I run and organize a local “Healthy Lifestyle/Fitness” meetup group here in the San Francisco Bay Area and with the guidance and incredibly instruction from Chef Joni Sare.  Joni was kind enough to allow me to organize a very reasonably priced cooking class to offer my members last weekend.  And boy was it a BIG hit.  Thank you Joni!  We made a really healthy and nutrient dense Veggie/Chicken and Shrimp Spanish Paella that was just amazing and am so excited to share it with you.

Paella, is a traditionally “peasant style” Spanish dish that has been round for many many generations, and a delight to serve large groups, dinner parties, or large gatherings.  Paella, is technically a four stage dish, which can be put together quickly with a little preparation.  Even better, with a few family member or assistants to help with the cutting and chopping of the vegetables,  its easy to piece together and just flow through all 4 stages easily and with little thought. When you get to the last stage of the final cooking process, you just allow the ingredients to finish their final cooking phase and you can enjoy a glass of wine or sparkling water chatting with friends.  The final product is finished in the last stage of cooking for about 20 minutes. Llastly you turn up the heat and allow the rice to toast and caramalize or that tasty crispy bottom at the end, the lid on, for about 3 to 5 minutes.

There are many variations of Spanish Paella:

To get an idea of a basic Spanish Paella “how to” you can see a great link here in an older “Fine Cooking” magazine link.  For basic Spanish Seafood Paella recipe how to with video see here through this link.

Here is the recipe for the Paella we made yesterday that are reflected in the photos I have included on this blog entry.  This was a veggie, seafood, chicken recipe but you can make any variation of this from excluding the chicken and seafood for just a super veggie version, of by just excluding the chicken or seafood very your own preferences.

Classic Spanish Paella Recipes Include Many Of These Ingredients:

Rabbit, chorizo, pork sausage, chicken sausage, chicken legs or thigh pieces, shrimp, fish, mussels, clams, greens beans and peas. Seafood options can include: Shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, scallops, and fish (any variety).  Veggies options can include: Marinated artichokes, green bean, zucchini (any type, bell peppers (green , red, yellow, and orange colored), chickpeas, carrots sliced, asparagus, parsley, mushrooms and potatoes.

Recipe below Created AND Developed by Chef Joni Sare

Serves 4 and should be prepared in aprox a 10 to 12 inch pan

Ingredients Stage 1 and 2:

  • Chicken legs or thighs bone in, or for less juicy or “lower fat” meat, chicken breasts quartered
  • 1 whole  chorizo , pork or chicken sausage sliced at a diagonal
  • 1 cup short grain arborio Rice
  • 1 large pinch of saffron (aprox 8 to 12 strings crushed)
  • 2 large bell peppers of any color, we used red and green for this particular dish yesterday
  • 2 tomatoes chopped into bite sized piece
  • 1 zucchini green or yellow sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 red onion chopped1/2 cup of frozen green peas defrosted
  • 1/2 cup of green olives from a can (reserve liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced roasted piquillo peppers from a can

*** Remember that is just the ingredients from the recipe shown in the photos, you can be creative and use any of the ingredients I have listed as common ingredients used in Spanish Paella

*** Go to Stage 3 to make the cooking liquid if you have time before completing stage 2 so cooking liquid will be ready to go directly into pan at the end of Stage 2

Directions:

Stage One:

  1. Heat until soft in the olive oil the yellow onion dieced, the bell peppers diced, and the tomato diced
  2. Heat until soft aprox about 5 minutes, stirring often

Stage Two:

  1. Brown the meat in the onion, bell pepper and tomato mixture, until meat is nicely browned on all sixed, then remove meat and set aside.
  2. Add the rice, cook, stirring often allowing for the rice to have a nice oil and vegetable mix while allowing the rice to “toast” somewhat.
  3. Make a “well” or circular area in the middle of the pan, add the saffron and toast it for about one minute.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients except the browned meat

 

Stage 3 Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves of garlic minced or crush (or 1 tablespoon can prepared crush garlic)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small 4 ounce jar of pimentos (liquid too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1.2 cup of the olive juice from the canned olive can
  • 1.2 cup of white wine or 1.4 of a cup vermouth

Stage 3 and 4 Directions:

Stage 3:

****If you have time while meat is browning in Stage 2, begin on Stage 3 while its browning

  1. In a 2 quart sauce pan , mix the liquid ingredients well, and keep warm on stove until time to add to Paella dish in Stage 4
  2. Mix the chicken broth or stock, the tomato sauce, the jar of pimentos with liquid, the bay leaf, the dried thyme, the reserved olive juice from the can, and the white wine or 1.4 cup of Vermouth

 

Stage 4:

  1. Add the broth mixture to the paella pan, mix well, making sure the rice is evenly distributed.  Add the brown meat to the paella pan in strategic places (wait on the seafood).  If you are using whole chicken legs or thighs, try to kind of nestle them into and within the rice in the pan so they are nicely surrounded by the warm mixture to insure complete cooking.
  2.  Keep the lid off and do not disturb the mixture until serving!
  3. Cook uncovered on a low simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid is well below the rice and just about gone.
  4. 4. When liquid is about gone, at the point add the seafood, if using, in strategic places, and push down into the mixture.
  5. Turn the heat up now to medium high and allow the underside of the rice to toast and caramelize, making the “soccorat” aka the crispy rice bottom that Spanish paella is known for.
  6. Remove from heat , cover and let stand for 5 minutes, this allows the  “soccarat” or crispy browned rice bottom to loosen and lift from the bottom of the pan

Recipe Developed by Chef Joni Sare www.Jonisare.com

Serve and Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 430; Fat (g): 13; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 22; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 54; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 710; Cholesterol (mg): 65; Fiber (g): 2;

 

 

 

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


sig