Here is another fast and healthy recipe from my kitchen to yours. It must be Spring because daylight savings time kicks in tonight. Not to mention it’s sunny and warm out today too! Pretty soon us vegie gardeners will be outside planting lettuce, beets, kale, peas, cabbage, and broccoli. Broccoli is one of my favorite healthy green vegetables to eat. I like it in stir frys, salads, casseroles, just steamed, and in soup. I have been thinking of making up a recipe for a gluten free cream of broccoli soup for all the gluten intolerant folks out there to enjoy. Most cream of broccoli soups contain roux, which contains flour. I figured that if I cooked potatoes with the broccoli it would thicken the soup quite well. So into the Fast and Furious test Kitchen I went and developed this gluten free cream of broccoli soup that so many gluten free folks can eat. You don’t have to be gluten intolerant to like this soup. The rest of you can give this a try too! It’s fast and easy, as well as healthy. You can try it with coconut milk to make it a Vegan soup, or lowfat milk to make it low fat and healthier. Please leave comments so I can continue to improve my recipes. Without your input I don’t know how well the recipe works in your kitchen.
Cream of Broccoli Potato Soup
1 1/4 pounds fresh broccoli
1/1/4 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable stock
1 3/4 to 2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
Optional, 4 ounces of grated colby or mild cheddar cheese
Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and put in a bowl of cool water until needed.
Trim broccoli and stems. Cut tops into golfball size florets and chop the stems.
In a 4-5 quart pot with a lid bring potatoes to a boil in vegetable stock. When it comes to a boil reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes covered.
Add broccoli stems and cook for 4 minutes covered simmering.
Add broccoli tops and cook 4 minutes. Stir and cook 2 more minutes or until potatoes and broccoli are just tender.
Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, and lesser amount of milk and blend in a table top blender or use an immersion blender.
Taste and add milk, salt or pepper if needed.
Return to heat and bring it to a simmer just before serving.
Top with grated colby or mild cheddar.
Vegetable stock varies a lot, and you might not need to add any salt depending on how salty your stock is. I used a recipe from the Moosewood cookbook for my vegetable stock.
Chicken stock can be used also.
This can be a very thick soup or thin depending on how much stock and milk you use.
I am but the conduit from which many chefs and cooks speak through me in the language of great food. Yes it was great learning old school cooking from my mom, grandmother and aunt, but I really put together my cooking skills when I worked at over thirty restaurants. I am so fortunate to have some natural ability with food, and cooking but the most important aspect of my culinary journey is my passion for learning more about cooking great food. Without all the great cooks and chefs that have taught me over the years you would not benefit much from my writing as I could not have done this on my own. Unless that is all you wanted to read about was scrambled eggs, and hamburger recipes. That is not to say I was a pushover when working as a young cook! I was a young lad of 27 when I worked at the famous Brown Palace in Denver. It was there that I told the sous chef I thought the head chef’s mornay sauce sucked. He jokingly asked me if I’d tell that to the head chef to which I replied “of course”. Mind you this was a kitchen where to get to sous chef status you had to be working there for about 25 years back then in 1982, and the chef had been there for over 40 years.
I continued to move around the restaurant world and ended up working at the Trans Alpen a restaurant no longer in business where I cooked with a couple of young chefs from the CIA(Culinary Institute of America). One of them went to the New York State school, and the other went to the Napa, California school. These two chefs were constantly in a friendly competition to see who was better. I learned so much from these fun yound chefs while working there. Lessons like every main course needed a sauce of some type to bring life to the plate and palate. The visual as well as the taste factor must be considered before devising our specials for the night. I still remember well some of the dishes we cooked there.
For learning soups my best teacher was the US Coast Guard where I was required to make a soup from scratch every day for over two years. When you live with a crew of 30 guys day in, and day out you don’t give them the same soup too often. I learned that soups should change with the seasons, and I cooked up hearty soups and stews for the cold winter months, and lighter soups for summer. After more than two years of this soup journey I felt like I could make soup in my sleep! Along the way I became enamored with soup and it’s ability to make people happy on a cold day. With this very chilly winter we are having I have developed more new soups than ever to add to my original recipes database. This sweet potato soup is already one of my favorites this winter. It’s fast, simple and healthy as well as delish! I hope you give it a try and please leave comments on how it turned out.
2 tablespoons olive oil oil, or garlic infuse olive oil
1/2 cup minced onions
1 cup chopped celery
1-2 4 inch Portabella mushroom caps with the stem removed
2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 1/2-3 cups water
1 1/2- 2 cups milk, or coconut milk for Vegan
1/4 teaspoon thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
optional, omit salt and use 1 1/2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion chicken base
Sautee onions in a 3 1/2 or 4 quart cast iron pot on medium low heat for 5-7 minutes in 1 tablespoon of the oil then add celery and cook for 5-7 more minutes stirring often.
While onions and celery are cooking using a checkerboard like pattern lay the mushroom cap gil side down on a cutting board and cut the Portabella mushroom into 1/4 inch pieces. They will be about an inch long, but that’s ok.
Sautee mushroom pieces in a saute pan with a bit of salt (1/4 teaspoon), white pepper (a dash), 1 tablespoon oil, and thyme if using. Stir mushrooms every 2-3 minutes and cook until well done, and a little crispy. This takes about 12-15 minutes.
When celery and onions are soft add sweet potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper and water. Increase heat to medium high and when it comes to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook at a simmer until sweet potatoes are soft(about 15 minutes).
When potatoes are soft turn heat off and add milk. Use the full 2 cups if you want a thinner soup. Blend with an immersion blender or tabletop blender until nicely pureed.
Stir in Portabellas and taste to see if it needs more salt, or pepper. If it’s too thick just thin it out with some more water or milk.
Note: 1/2 cup chopped carrots added with the sweet potatoes are a nice addition.
2 pounds sweet potatoes
1-2 portabella mushroom caps
milk, either cow’s milk or coconut
Optional, Better Than Bullion chicken base
Yesterday I went to a mushroom talk and cooking demo to highlight pom pom mushrooms, aka lions mane and other strange names like monkey’s head. The studies showing health benefits are many and varied, but what I found most interesting was studies showing that pompoms helped with MS, Parkinson’s disease, reducing cholesterol, improving liver function, ailments of the stomach and digestive tract, and inhibiting cancers and tumors. That’s a lot of health benefits from one little mushroom!
What I like is they taste good and are quite different from most other mushrooms in texture and flavor. The cooking demo showed us how well pom poms work in a faux crab cake. If you slice them about one inch thick and then just pull the slices apart into one inch clumps they resemble crab bits. Then you saute the pompom bits on high until browned a bit and cool. Use them like you would crab in your favorite crab cake recipe and you have a yummy meatless faux crab cake with many health benefits.
I had already planned a crab cake dinner for last night so I thought I’d just try this faux crab cake thing alongside the real thing, but when I started to prep for dinner I found that the crab I had bought the day before had somehow ended up in the freezer so I was lucky to have the pom poms to use instead. I cooked them up the way Alan Kaufman had shown us to use them at the Phillip’s demo and mixed them into the Old Bay Seasoning crab cake recipe. I won’t say that it would fool many people into thinking it was real crab, but it was delicious and quite similar. Pom poms can also be used in place of veal and lobster in many recipes with good results. I hope you can find these golf ball sized wonders of the mushroom world and give them a try.
With all these cold and snowy days this year hot comfort food is welcome more than the past two winters. I keep coming up with new original recipes for the blog to keep you warm and eating healthy through the cold and crappy weather most of the country is experiencing. Now you could find tofu enchilada recipes on a google search, but it wouldn’t be these. I like to put a hot and happy feel to many of the dishes I create and chipolte peppers in adobo sauce make this recipe a winner. It’s also fast and simple for those who don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.
Should you think tofu is just too weird a substance to use in Mexican food think again. Tofu lends itself to this type of seasoning quite well, and if you want it more meat like just get the extra firm tofu. It’s certainly more healthy for you than CAFO(concentrated animal feeding operation) pork/beef that most Americans would be eating in their enchiladas. Served with beans and rice it’s a meal you won’t walk away from feeling hungry. I also like to serve it with sliced avocado and fresh cilantro sprigs for color and taste. For a bit more protein and taste I top them with roasted shelled pumpkin seeds just out of the oven.
As for the enchilada sauce it whips up in 15 minutes, and is easy to cook at the same time as the filling as long as you start the sauce cooking first. I hope you brave souls that are trying to eat healthier give this a try and please leave comments on this or other similar recipes you are trying. Until next week stay warm and think Spring!
1/4 cup minced white or yellow onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil, or regular olive oil
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika, or hot paprika
1 15.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 chipolte minced, optional
Saute minced onion and garlic in oil for 5-7 minutes on medium low to low heat stirring often.
Add rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat uncovered stirring about every five minutes. If you have the time simmer for thirty minutes.
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 15.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 can chipolte peppers in adobo sauce
1 yellow or white onion
Fast and Furious Feisty Tofu Enchiladas
2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil, or regular olive oil
1/3 cup chopped yellow or white onion
3/4 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
12 oz firm tofu, drained and dried a bit
3/4 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons salsa(like Pace Picante Chunky)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar and jack cheese
6 inch corn tortillas
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Saute onions in oil in a saute pan on medium heat for three minutes stirring often.
Add peppers and cumin and cook for seven minutes on medium low stirring occasionally.
Add tofu, and salt. Cook five minutes stirring carefully so you don’t break up the tofu too much.
Add the salsa and cook one more minute stirring just to incorporate the salsa.
On a countertop or cutting board assemble corn tortillas and fill them with approximately 1/3 cup tofu filling, and cheese. Roll and place close together in a 10-12 in square baking dish. Top with sauce, cheese, and bake at 375 degrees for about ten minutes to melt cheese.
You can also use banana boat shaped baking dishes to bake two enchiladas per person in.
Makes 4-6 enchiladas, and is easily doubled.
1 white or yellow onion
1 green or red bell pepper
12 oz firm tofu
Pace Picante salsa chunky style
8 oz shredded cheddar and jack cheese
6 inch corn tortillas
roasted shelled pumpkin seeds, optional
I was recently presented with a challenge to write a menu for a cooking class at Phillips Mushrooms I’ll give in May featuring a Mexican themed menu using mushrooms. Now most of us would never think that Mexican food and mushrooms go together, but I can assure they do. The problem is most of us north of the border have been raised on the belief that Mexican food is taco, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos,fajitas, and not much more. I am glad to report that there is about 99% more to Mexican food than most of us were led to believe.
If you are ever in Chicago’s O’Hare airport with some time for lunch or dinner be sure to try Tortas Fronterra by chef Rick Bayless. Amongst many great choices on the menu is a mushroom dish called Roasted Garlic Mushroom Torta (sandwich) that is one of my favorites. Chef Rick incorporates mushrooms in the menus at most of his restaurants including a Silky Almond Caldo(type of soup) at Xoco with woodland mushrooms.
Today to further my research on Mexican food with mushrooms I dropped in on my friends at R&R Taqueria(seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) to see what they could teach me about using mushrooms with Mexican recipes. First up was a blended mushroom and chicken quesadilla. It was so good I would have eaten the whole thing except they wanted their two employees to get a taste also.
Next was Grilled Portabella Fajitas with onions and bell peppers. This was my second favorite, and I was surprised how the portabella mushrooms made a great meat substitute. When seasoned with R&R’s fajita seasoning this dish just didn’t need meat. A little salsa roja and some cheese made this a winner.
They also tried mixing Oyster mushrooms with pork carnitas, but I thought the pork overpowered the mushrooms. Just for fun I gave them some Maitake mushrooms to saute with onions and garlic so they could taste this type of mushroom for the first time. they liked it and thought it might fit into there future daily special menu as some type of taco.
So armed with this knowledge I tested a new original appetizer today using a tweaked guacamole recipe to stuff white mushrooms with. The result was a silky smooth guacamole with hidden nuggets of pan roasted organic frozen sweet corn that went down nicely, even without a cold beer to chase it with. Come summer the beer would go quite nicely with this appetizer.
Like most of my recipes, this one is also fast, simple and healthy. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish to make the guac and stuff the mushrooms. Since spring is just around the corner this would be a great treat for a weekend at home happy hour sitting on the patio with your favorite beverage and a comfy chair, or for Cinco de Mayo too! Give it a try and let me know what you think by leaving a comment even if you don’t try it.
Guacamole with Pan Roasted Sweet Corn
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil, or plain olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/4 tomato salsa, or minced fresh tomato
1-2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sour cream, optional but makes it smoother and creamier
1-2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno, optional
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, optional
In a small saute pan add garlic infused olive oil and brown corn on medium heat for 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool while you prepare the guacamole.
Scoop avocado out of shell and place in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add everything but the corn and mix until most of the lumps are gone. I just used a fork to mix and smash it.
Add corn by stirring just until it’s mixed in well.
Note: I like this with chips or stuffed mushrooms with. If stuffing mushrooms use just under golfball sized white mushrooms with the stem removed. Fill the mushroom with the guac and top with an olive slice or a fresh cut jalapeno ring and serve chilled, but don’t prepare too far ahead of time or the guacamole turns brown.
Thanks to Phillips Mushrooms for supplying the mushrooms for recipe testing and this post!
The roads outside my home are white. Not with snow, but with salt from combatting all the ice, and snow we have had recently. Just a week ago I was enjoying a great vacation in Spain where we didn’t see snow. Then we came back to reality and one week’s worth of below freezing temperatures with some nights below zero. Yikes!
Maybe we should have stayed just one more week?
Spain is an amazing country. Sure they are going through financial pain and unemployment is a huge problem especially with the young folks, but it’s still a great place to visit. Some of the things I learned on my latest trip are that Spain has the largest wine growing region in the world, with 2.89 million acres. It is the most mountainous wine producing country (this according to the book “Wine”, by Andre Domine). They also have some great beaches on the Mediterranean Coast. Unfortunately I wasn’t there for beach weather. It rained six out of the seven days we were visiting, which was a bit unusual. At least it only rained a little each day. On our one sunny day we made it to the beach in Valencia and had a nice walk in the sand and surf. It was a great respite from the rain. Any country that boasts great beaches, mountains, food and wine is tops on my list of places to hang out.
I also think Spaniards are about the friendliest Europeans I have met compared to the French, Brits or Italians. In Madrid when we got off the metro to go to a flamenco performance we were stumped by the map in the Metro station. A young family of four got off at the same stop and saw us staring at the map with that lost look, and asked if we needed help. They were kind enough to walk with us two blocks to make sure we knew where the Flamenco venue was even though they had a crying two year old with them.
Food and wine are very reasonable at numerous tapas bars and restaurants. Spaniards love to eat out and there are lots of foodie choices in most cities and towns. Madrid has a population of about 3.2 million according to Wikipedia and Tripadvisor.com list 5,930 restaurants. Little ol’ Denver, Colorado(where I’m from originally) has a population of around 2.9 million and sports only about 2,448 restaurants on Tripadvisor.com.
May I be so bold as to say Spain is a foodie paradise!
On our trip we started in Madrid for one day, then went to Granada for two days, then back to Madrid for one night to cue up for the high speed(185 mph!) Renfe train the next day, then Valencia for two days, before retuning to Madrid for one more night before heading home. In all of these places we found outstanding restaurants and tapas bars.
In Valencia I went to the huge Central Market. I wished I had a place where I could have cooked at, but we were in a hotel. I was blown away by the abundance of vegie stands, fish stands, fruit stands, olive and olive oil stands that all sported great looking groceries. The freshness of the seafood and the variety of fish and shrimp had me taking a lot of pictures, as that’s about all I could do with the seafood.
One of the olive oil stands had free samples where I dipped bread bits into many types of tasty oil. I held off buying any as I still had one more train ride to go before flying home from Madrid and olive oil is heavy stuff. I did buy some yummy dried and roasted fava beans as well as Mediterranean pistachios to bring home. I didn’t do much other food shopping until I got to Carrefour a huge grocery/department store from France that has locations all over the world. It was the biggest grocery store I have ever been in, and I bought a bunch of olive oil, rice and saffron to bring home.
In Madrid there was a different type of mercado. The Mercado de San Miguel was an old iron and glass building that housed a bunch of food and drink options. We bought tray full of seafood tapas from one of the stands then got a plate full of olives for just one euro to go with it. There were several wine bars to choose from and we tried the goods from two of those. We bought a nice cod croquette to go with a glass of white wine that was delish! If you are ever in Madrid I hope you can check this place out. It’s just off the Plaza Mayor, and fairly easy to find.
My favorite food stop on the trip was in Valencia where a friend of a friend recommended Navarro restaurant for paella. It was so good we went back on our last day there to have a different type for our last lunch in Valencia. You can see my review on tripadvisor using this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187529-d993266-r191597981-Navarro-Valencia_Valencia_Province_Valencian_Country.html#REVIEWS
The funny thing was that as good as the paella was we were the only ones eating it both days we ate at Navarro. Everyone else looked like they were locals, and I guess they were there for the other items on the menu like the amazing seafood and salads. We had the vegetarian salad for a starter both days we went there. It had three types of lettuce, several chopped vegies, as well as olives, tomatoes, sliced beets, avocado and grilled tofu. It was the best salad I have had in Europe!
When I got home I was determined to make paella in a way that you my dear readers could make also. Knowing that a paella pan is a rare thing in American kitchens I tested my recipe in a saute pan and a enameled cast iron dutch oven. I think the cast iron cookware worked best and would recommend that type of pot if you have one. This one pot meal is prepped and cooked in less than 45 minutes making it a great dinner item.
To make it easier for you to make paella in your kitchen I’m having a giveaway of:
one bottle of Spanish olive oil, one bag of Bomba rice and a small jar of saffron, all of which I bought in Valencia. One lucky reader will receive all three to make paella in their home. Just leave me a comment of your favorite rice dish and you will be entered in the giveaway. Good luck and happy eating!
Paella, fast and furious style
1 cup of Bomba rice, or Uncle Ben’s original converted will do
2 cups stock, chicken or vegetable see note
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh garlic minced
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/2 cup cut green beans
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen lima beans
1/3 cup chopped tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon ground saffron, see note
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
In a saute pan or enamel cast iron pot saute onion, red bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil on medium heat for 5-7 minutes stirring until onions are soft.
Add rice and cook one more minute stirring to coat the rice with the oil.
Add the spices, salt if using, lima beans, all but 1/4 cup of the stock and turn heat up to medium high stirring once or twice to distribute the stock. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat and cook for eight minutes uncovered.
Stir in tomatoes and green beans and cook for five more minutes at a low simmer.
Add peas, stirring one last time, and cook about five more minutes at a simmer until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is just barely cooked through. You may need to add the rest of the reserved stock at this time.
Stir to fluff it up a bit and serve with a nice salad, bread and olives for a Spanish type meal.
Serves two, but is easily doubled to serve four.
This is a good vegan or vegetarian meal if you use vegetable stock. If you want meat add 8 ounces bite sized raw chicken at the beginning when the onions, garlic, and bell peppers are sauteeing. Chorizo, shrimp, and rabbit are good with this also.
Saffron is considered one of the most expensive food ingredients in the food world, but you only need a little and a small jar(.7 grams) of saffron threads bought at Trader Joe’s will only set you back $5.99. This small jar would make about three to four batches of paella thus costing you about $1.50 for a paella that serves four. You can also buy it on Amazon.com for about $12.50 for 2 grams plus shipping.
I like to grind my saffron threads in a mortar and pestle like my friends from the middle east taught me instead of buying ground saffron.
In Praise of Soup
It is definitely soup season. With the appearance of real winter this year as opposed to the last two mild winters we have had in Maryland I am willing to bet soup consumption is up here and in most North American households. The great thing about soup is it does well as a starter, a snack or a meal.
I have been on a soup theme for a couple of months now with post like the lamb and dried mushroom stew recipe I developed,(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/lamb-mushroom-stew/), Navajo Stew from the Moosewood Cookbook, (http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/cold-weather-special/0) , and back in October I developed a Beef and Mushroom Chile recipe for my friends at Phillip’s Mushrooms in Kennett Square,PA,(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/soup-season/). All three of these are good choices for an entree type soup.
Lets take a look at some other great soup attributes. I suspect I’m not the only one that packs a lunch for a spouse that goes off to work Monday through Friday? My wife loves having a thermos of hot soup for lunch from the previous night’s leftovers,or freshly made that morning. There are several types of thermos bottles out there that will keep soup hot for hours if preheated properly. When your loved one opens up the thermos at work or school that day at lunch time out comes that wonderful aroma of home made soup. A much healthier and tastier way to eat at work, school or play.
Versatility is another great attribute of soup. You can tweak most recipes to your liking. If you want sausage, go ahead and add it t a bean soup, or Italian style tomato soup. If you want a cream soup but want to make it Vegan, just use coconut milk instead of cows milk. Vegetables are great in soups and you can find a soup recipe for just about any vegetable.
Soups can be very healthy too! Since we are coming out of the holiday season where many of us have eaten a fair amount of not-so-healthy foods it’s a good time to put healthy soups on the menu a couple times a week. Most bean soups are very healthy. Vegetable soups without cream are some of the best soups you can eat. One of my very favorite soups is my own concoction called Italian Tomato Soup,(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/italian-tomato-soup/0 a soup I posted back in November of 2012 just after launching my blog. This soup has the heartiness of a stew, and the health qualities of a bean or vegetable soup all in one pot. It’s a Vegan soup that can be changed for meat eaters by adding pork or lamb sausage to it, and it cooks in under one hour start to finish!
Soups are ethnic food. Take a Cuban black bean soup, of Chinese hot sour soup for example. Many cultures have their special soups. I love a good bowl of French onion soup when I visit France. When I used to cook in restaurants Portuguese fisherman soup, of French bouillabaisse was one of my favorites. to make and eat. I guess American’s have their chili to represent them on the ethnic soup stage as our best known original soup. Without chili I think the saltine cracker would disappear.
Soups pair very well with salads, and sandwiches for lunch, and many restaurants serving lunch offer such combinations on the menu. Even in the winter I like a soup and salad combo at lunchtime occasionally. Recently I developed a new salad dressing using cranberries in a vinaigrette style dressing. It’s quick, easy and delicious. It could be used on green salad or on chicken salad too. This would pair well with my mushroom chowder(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/392/) or my butternut squash and curry soup. So give this a try while fresh and frozen cranberries are still available, and let me know what you think.
Cranberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, or thawed frozen cranberries
1-2 fresh lemons juiced, about 3 tablespoons
1/2 cup walnut oil, or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
optional, a dash of Bragg’s Aminos, or soy sauce
optional, 1 to 1/2 package of stevia, or 1 teaspoon of agave
Mix all ingredients in a bowl with an immersion blender, or use a tabletop blender until cranberries are pureed. Makes about 18-20 1 tablespoon size servings.
Walnut oil works very well with this recipe, but it is more expensive than canola.
I like this dressing without the sweetener best.
This would work well with a variety of salads like green, chicken, pasta, or bean salad. Have fun experimenting.
Fresh cranberries freeze exceptionally well without any extra work. Just pop them into the freezer in the bag or plastic package they came in. I have used one year old cranberries from my freezer that had no freezer burn, or other bad taste.
‘Tis the Season to Eat Smarter
Here we are at the start of the new year and already the television and radio campaigns are hitting us with weight loss, exercise commercials and stories. I heard a story on the radio this morning on bariatric surgery for those who just can’t seem to lose weight. That is one serious way to try and lose weight stapling your stomach! Surgery is not something to take lightly. I have watched the television show The Biggest Loser enough to have seen interviews with some of the contestants that had this type of surgery to lose weight. It didn’t work for any of them or they wouldn’t be on the show.
I was over weight(topping out at 190) for about ten years towards the end of my twenty year cooking career and was lucky to be able to figure out what worked for me without having to try something as radical as surgery. I’m no expert on nutrition, but from my experience I can tell you it’s not rocket science to eat healthy. I dropped most of my thirty pounds in 60 days from eating a low fat, low sugar diet of my own design, and ate that way for the next two years. I kept off the weight and felt great!
I’ll share the key points of my current eating and exercise program with you to see if it can help those of you who might want to lose weight and feel better.
Eat three meals a day at the same time each day.
Eat low fat, low processed foods, or non processed foods.
Don’t eat past 6 pm, or whatever time is four hours before going to bed.
Exercise at least thirty minutes per day six days per week. Walking or bike riding is great!
Eat enough that you don’t feel deprived.
Have a splurge meal once every week or two, or splurge snack.
Eat lots of vegetables and beans.
Eat an apple a day.
Consult with a doctor, and or nutritionist.
See yourself as being thinner, and enjoy the ride.
After I got off this strict way of eating about twenty years ago I gained some of the weight back, but kept refining my eating habits until just three years ago fine tuned my eating to where I don’t have to worry about gaining weight again. Now I eat a diet of about 80% vegetarian/vegan meals to 20% meals with meat. Most of the meat I eat is wild salmon from Alaska, a sustainable healthy food source. I also eat chicken, and lamb two to four times per month.
Most of the recipes I have developed here on my blog are to reflect what has worked for me. I believe they are simple, healthy recipes that will work for you too. After all, the recipes reflect 42 years of cooking experience! What’s most important after the fact that they are healthy is they taste great too! Give it a try and see if this is the year you start eating healthier, and feeling better using my Fast and Furious Cook recipes.
Here is one of my favorite soups for you to start the new year right. It’s a black bean soup recipe I developed that takes about 25-30 minutes start to finish that tastes great and is good for you too! Please give it a try and leave your comments. Feel free to share with family and friends too.
Fast and Furious Cook’s Black Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil, or water, see note
1/2 cup yellow onion diced small
1/2 cup celery diced small
1-2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups cooked black beans
salt and pepper
In a two quart pot saute onion, celery and garlic on medium low heat stirring often for five minutes.
Add cumin and continue cooking on medium low heat for three more minutes stirring often.
Add stock and increase heat to medium high while stirring well. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for five minutes.
Add beans and simmer for five to seven minutes.
Using an immersion blender puree the soup, or a tabletop blender will do.
Taste the soup and add salt and pepper if needed.
Serves two but is easily doubled.
For a lower fat version use 1/4 inch of water instead of oil when sauteeing the onions, celery and garlic.
Top with a bit of steamed rice or quinoa if you like. I used a quarter cup of cooked quinoa in mine.
Last night was Christmas dinner at our home, and with my in-laws visiting it made it even more special. We spent the day hanging out, and watching a bit of tv. We managed to eat quite well throughout the day as you might expect. The whole wheat waffles I made for breakfast came out great using hazelnut oil in place of melted butter, and topped with home made hot blueberry topping with just a touch of whipped cream.
We all enjoyed the Maitake Mushroom Chowder(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/392/) I made the day before for our simple lunch. After lunch came our nice walk in the sun to let our puppy Tucker chase sticks behind the school for some much needed high impact exercise. You got to take advantage of the sunny days this time of year in Baltimore!
Around 3pm I put the leg of lamb in the oven for its three hour journey to tasty perfection. It was simply rubbed with Penzey’s lamb seasoning, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper. I placed it on top of diced carrots, onions, and celery for flavor. What was real different was surrounding it with sunchokes. This was my first time cooking sunchokes and I went to youtube to find instructions on how to prep and cook the little nuggets. Lucky for all of us Youtube is there when you don’t know how to cook something like sunchokes. For those of you that don’t know about them they are native to North America and are a tuber. Think of them as a little potato with more flavor.
To round out the lamb feast was a nice starter of cauliflower, red bell pepper, sun dried tomato salad on a bed of shredded cabbage dressed with my mushroom salad dressing. We also had garlic mashed yukon gold potatoes, and succotash.
The pecan bars I baked the day before made for a great dessert when paired with a scoop of Keyes Creamery pumpkin ice cream. Mind you that this was not a low fat healthy meal, but well worth the calories!
To wind up the festivities we had bought four party poppers( a British tradition ?) with a reindeer theme. You haven’t lived until you have had in home reindeer races! These little wind up toys were inside the poppers and came with a race course. All four of us received a reindeer for the big race. A practice session was granted to get the feel of the equipment then off we went. My mother-in-law seemed to have the winner in the practice round as it flew straight and true. I had a fast little guy named Prancer, but he didn’t have a great sense of direction. My father-in-law had a confused reindeer that only excelled in running tight little circles. When the smoke had cleared Prancer won the race and the prize bag containing a $20 gift certificate to Trader Joe’s, a fine little note pad and pen set, and a candy cane.
Some of our most memorable Christmas dinner parties have been the ones with poppers. So if you see some while out shopping the day after Christmas be sure and get some for New Years or Christmas dinner parties and party like a reindeer!
I consider myself a master of using leftovers! This comes from years of restaurant, and crew cooking. In the restaurants many places I worked at fed the employees on the leftovers from the night before. Since many of the employees were close friends of mine there was an added incentive to making the employee meal taste good.
In the Coast Guard and on the offshore oil platforms I would often incorporate the leftovers into soup from the previous days meals. One of the best ways I found to use leftovers was in fried rice. There would be leftover steamed rice quite often and it’s perfect for using in fried rice the next day. If there was some roast chicken, pork or steamed shrimp all the better. Many cultures from Asia, and even Ecuador have their own versions of fried rice. The best thing about making fried rice from leftovers is it’s really quick and a one pot meal too!
I got home from a three day trip to New York City late last night and figured I’d post a good one pot/pan meal today for all of you that love to eat well with less time in the kitchen. I had in my fridge 2 1/2 cups of leftover brown rice, 1 cup of cooked lobster claws, and some green onions that all needed to be used soon. The stage was set and off to work in the Fast and Furious Test Kitchen I went. It took all of 5 minutes to get the vegetables cut and ready, then out came the wok. It took less than 15 minutes to whip up the fried rice and sit down to a tasty lunch without making a huge mess of the kitchen I had just cleaned up. Made with brown rice and lots of vegies this is a healthy fast meal that can be tweaked to please almost anyone. Just plan ahead by making extra rice next time you cook it for a dinner starch and plan on using the extra in the next 3-4 days for a yummy fried rice main dish or side. I think you will agree that this is a winner.
Lobster or Shrimp Fried Rice
2 teaspoons peanut, or canola oil
1/2 cup yellow onion diced small,(about the size of a pea) or slice green onions will do
1/2 cup celery diced small
1/2 carrots diced small
1 small clove fresh garlic minced
1 pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup lobster, shrimp, or tofu cooked or raw
2- 2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, but white rice will do
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce, regular or low sodium
In a wok or fairly large saute pan on medium high heat add one teaspoon of the oil and the garlic and cook stirring for 1/2 minute.
If using raw lobster or shrimp add now and cook for 3 minutes stirring on medium high heat.
Add celery, carrots, pepper flakes, and yellow onion, and cook stirring on medium high heat for three minutes,see note*
If using cooked lobster or shrimp add now and cook on medium high heat for 3 minutes.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Wipe pan then return to medium high heat.
Add the last teaspoon of oil and rice.
Cook stirring for 3-4 minutes then add the lobster and vegetable mix.
Cook stirring on high heat for, you guessed it, 3 minutes or until everything is hot.
Add soy sauce and stir in well while cooking on medium heat 1-2 minutes or until soy sauce is well distributed and the fried rice is piping hot.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
If using green onions add after the celery, and carrots have cooked for 3 minutes.
Many vegetables go well with this dish. Consider adding with the celery and carrots:
1/2 cup cubed zucchini or yellow squash
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup fresh shitake mushrooms
Makes a good vegan main dish when adding tofu and extra vegetables.