Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flavorful Garam Masala Dip at Whole Foods!

Yesterday I did a FUN Cooks Warehouse Class at the New Whole Foods in Marietta. (Cooks is opening a NEW store in September - next to Whole Foods.) My intrepid helpers, (Brenda, George, Bobby and Suzanne), and I showed the class how to make a variety of delicious and healthy recipes from fresh, seasonal, local produce.

Whole Foods carries the Modern Day Masala line of spices - owned by my friend Kristin Sharma. I ran into Kristin the other day and she gifted me with a large bottle of her Garam Masala. Since Kristin roasts and grinds her organic spices in Marietta - this definitely qualifies as local. We served this dip with popcorn chips, but check out some of the other delicious ways you can use it. Make a double batch on Sunday and munch on it all week long.

Flavorful Garam Masala Dip

This dip is full of good-for-you ingredients AND tastes great. Protein from the beans and yogurt, antioxidants from the garlic, omega 3s from the olive oil, and turmeric both in the garam masala and as the individual spice - a potent source of anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

2 (15 OZ) cans Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

3 Cloves Garlic

Zest and Juice of a Large, Juicy Lemon

1 TB Garam Masala

¼ Cup Non Fat Greek Yogurt

1 TB Turmeric

2 Tsp Sea Salt

¼ Tsp Cayenne

1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Chopped Red Pepper for Garnish

Place all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until coarsely pureed. Serve with chips, fresh veggies, as a sandwich spread, (I imagine it on coarse whole wheat bread layered with fresh tomatoes and crunchy sprouts), or as a topping for a piece of fish on the grill.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Fare at the Health Fair: A Guest Post By Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

This week, Chef Nancy and I had the pleasure of participating in a health fair at the King and Spalding Law Firm. We had a great time meeting many people and giving them some healthy eating tips. After all of the meet and greets, book signings etc... that we have participated in over the past 6 months, I still get such pleasure out of turning a skeptic into a believer. You would be surprised by how many people are still in awe of the fact that healthy food can be delicious and fun. It is an obscure concept to many, and I love it when even the biggest skeptic leaves our table with a smile on their face and an extra tasting sample in their hand.

This week we showed how even the most time-crunched person can prepare a couple of simple items early in the week and enjoy them in a variety of different ways throughout the rest of the week. We featured Nancy's Tomato-Basil Dressing from her cookbook. It is such a versitile sauce and the recipe is especially delicious this time of year when tomatoes are at their peak. This dressing can be used as a dip with crudite, as a sandwich spread, a salad dressing or as a marinade for fish or shellfish.

I hope you will take the time to taste and savor Chef Nancy's wonderful tomato dressing before the summer season slips away.

Fresh Tomato Basil Dressing:
1 Large Ripe Tomato, seeded
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
2 TBSP Fresh Basil, chopped
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Light Mayonnaise (I like the Kraft Light Olive Oil Mayo)
1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
2 Garlic Cloves, grated
2TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Step I: In a food processor, puree all the ingredients except for the Oil, Salt and Pepper.
Step II: With the processor running, add the oil slowly and S & P to taste.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recipe for Success: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

Last night, Chef Nancy and I had the pleasure of hosting a group of executives from The Coca-Cola Company for a hands on cooking class at the Cancer Wellness Center. This internationally diverse group of people were in town for meetings and of course a little fun. Nancy and I, I believe were an integral part of their "fun" component. Upon arrival, the guests enjoyed an array of southern inspired appetizers and a lovely selection of wines. They then broke into teams for an "Iron Chef" like competition. It was great fun to watch the teams collaborate as they tried to recreate, sans recipe, the grilled corn salad wrap they had tasted earlier. A winner was delcared and each of the four teams were next assigned an entree to prepare. Pork tenderloin with homemade BBQ sauce, Ratatouille Pasta, Shrimp n' Grits and Grilled Chicken in Pepper Jelly Sauce with Black-Eyed Pea Salsa were on the menu. Chef Nancy and I had miticulously prepared each team's mise en place, so that they would be able to create the food exactly as it was intended by the recipe. An interesting thing happened however, as more wine was consumed, and the worries of the day started to fade away, the teams began to relax. While teamwork and competition were always aparent, the relaxed, party-like atomosphere helped their creative juices flow. It was great fun to see a group of people who's day to day lives may be ruled by production, spread sheets and the bottom line, improvise with ingredients and create inovative food presentations. I saw spicy mustard go places I'd never imagined, and at one point a huge glug of wine, straight from a participant's glass, dumped into a sauce. A taste here and there, nods of approval and good hearted trash talking between the groups made for what I hope was a great bonding and team building experience for them. In the end, the food was declared delicious and happy plates were all that was left on the dining table.

I hope that this group enjoyed the process of cooking with their colleagues and working together at tasks that differ from their day to day responsibilites, as well as an appreciation for good ole southern hospitality. See my "Recipe for Success" below.

Recipe for Success:
1 Favorite Family Recipe and all the ingredients to make two full recipes
4-6 Friends or Co-Workers
Bottles of Wine, To Taste

Step One: Gather ingredients for the recipe
Step Two: Divide your friends into two seperate teams
Step Three: Pour your friends/family a glass of wine*
Step Four: Start cooking, competing, creating and enjoying eachother's company!!!!
* If your friends and family are like mine, start with step 3 and proceed from there.

And don't forget to Taste and Savor your results

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Remembering Ignes-A Guest Post by Healthy Sous Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

Recently, I received news of the death of a dear woman, Ignes Pellis. Ignes was my family's housekeeper during my childhood in Brazil. Ignes did much more than keep our house neat and tidy. She took care of us by being a friend, companion, interpreter, babysitter and most importantly, cook.

I have vivid memories of the moist and oniony meatballs she would fry up for us, as well as the ubiquitous Brazilian birthday party chocolate bon bon, called brigadeiros. Ignes often treated us to a delicious chocolate cake that was so good on it's own, no icing or further embellishment was required. As much as I loved the chocolaty treats, it is her method for making rice that has really stuck with me all this time. I have been trying religiously for the past ten years to conjure up the garlicky aroma and depth of flavor that I remember so fondly from my time in Brazil. The recipe below is as close as I have been able to come to reproducing Ignes' staple. I hope that this dish would have made her proud, and that it will provide as much comfort to those who try it, as it did to me when I was a youngster in a foreign land.


4 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Spanish Onion, Finely Minced

1 Large Carrot, Finely Minced

4 Garlic Cloves, Grated

2 Cups White Rice*

3 TSP Kosher Salt

4 Cups Chicken Stock

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over med-high heat. Add onion and carrot and saute, stirring constantly until veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Be sure not to burn the garlic, so keep stirring. Add the rice, making sure to coat all the grains with olive oil. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let cook untouched with the lid on 20-25 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the liquid has evaporated. Fluff with a fork before serving.

*2 Cups of brown basmati rice may be substituted

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bella Italia: A Guest Post By Healthy "Sous" Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

I had the pleasure of traveling to Italy for the first time this summer. This trip exceeded all of my expectations. From the ancient history of Rome, to the rolling hills of Tuscany and finally to the glorious canals of Venice. It was all breathtaking and awe inspiring. Of course, one of my favorite parts of the trip was the food. I am the kind of person who explores a farmer's market or Italian grocery store with the intensity of an art student studying Michelangelo's David. For me, everything I want to know about a culture can be observed through their food and eating habits. I was so enamored by the simplicity and freshness of every meal I ate. Artichokes and zuchinni blossoms were in season and appeared in one form or another on almost every menu I saw. Additionally, I just loved the Italian version of "fast food", which consisted of a cafeteria like line where you pick and choose from beautifully constructed panini, colorful salads and pastas, all of which are served to you on a real plate rather than the ubiquitious American style disposable styrofoam container. What is even better, your wine is poured from a 750ml bottle into the appropriate wine glass. How civilized!

I left Italy with my culinary creative juices flowing and a new found appreciation for simple, fresh food. The recipe below is inspired by one of the salads I had at one of the aformentioned fast food restaurants in Rome. Mangia!

Italian Rice Salad:
3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TSP Crack Black Pepper
3 TSP Turmeric
1 Small Onion, Small Dice
1 1/2 cups of Brown Basmati Rice
2 Cloves of Grated Garlic
Salt to taste
3 cups of water or vegetable broth
1/2 Cup Sliced Thinly, Crosswise Carrots
1 Cup Sliced Thinly, Crosswise Zucchini
Chopped Parsley and Basil for garnish
Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling just before serving

Heat Olive Oil in sauce pan, add black pepper, turmeric and onion. Cook, stiring constantly until transluscent. Add rice, garlic and salt. Stir to coat rice with olive oil, and garlic is softened. Add the water or stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook rice for 20 minutes, adding remaining veggies to pot for last five minutes of cook time. Remember not to stir the rice until it is done cooking. Once the rice is fully cooked, mix the vegetables with cooked rice, add the chopped herbs. Just before serving, drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.