Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Respect Thy Mother Grain-A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

I first heard of quinoa in culinary school. This word appeared as an answer on a multiple choice quiz. The question was, "What is considered to be the mother of all grains?" Unfortunately, I had never heard of quinoa, and evidently had not done my required reading, and erroneously chose "wheat" as my answer. This mistake on the quiz, prompted me to go back and find out what this mysterious grain with the funny name was. What I learned is that quinoa was a staple in the ancient Incan diet. It is a great source of nutrition, in that it is a complete protein, and provides all the essential amino acids the body needs. Interesting information for sure, and I made certain that I got the "mother grain" question correct when it reappeared on my final exam.

I was later reintroduced to quinoa in the kitchen of Cancer Wellness. It provides abundant nutritional value, and is perfect for the many gluten-free participants who attend our classes. Chef Nancy uses this grain in many of her recipes, from soups to salads. I have grown quite fond of quinoa and love that it is a blank canvas that can be imparted with any number of different flavors.

This week's recipe uses quinoa to showcase one of my favorite flavor combinations, lemon and basil. This dish can be served warm as a side or a main dish, as well as cold or at room temperature as a salad.

Lemon-Basil Quinoa with Cannellini Beans:

1 Cup Quinoa*

2 Cups Water

1 15.5oz Can of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 Cup of Packed Basil Leaves

1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Zest and Juice of One Lemon

2 Scallions, finely chopped

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa stem pops out. Once cooked, cool slightly and combine in a bowl with remaining ingredients.

*Quinoa is cooked using the 1-2-3 method. Meaning, 1 cup uncooked quinoa + 2 cups water = 3 cups cooked quinoa.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't Be a Hater: A Guest Post, by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

Last week, Chef Nancy and I were testing a recipe for a lighter Caesar salad dressing. The original recipe called for one anchovy fillet. We ended up using the whole can of anchovies in the recipe, in order to achieve a flavor we both agreed on. As we were cooking, we started discussing people's passionate feelings regarding anchovies. For the most part, people either love them or hate them. Rarely do you find someone who says, "I kind of like anchovies". As it turns out, Nancy and I both fall into the category of people who love anchovies. For those of us who are fans of anchovies, our love of this tiny fish, supplies not only a wonderful flavor profile, but it is filled with nutritional benefits as well. Anchovies are packed with protein, calcium and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

I don't anticipate immediately changing any one's negative opinion about anchovies, but do hope that those who dislike them, might consider the health benefits and give them another shot. My recipe this week is for the anchovy lover, and is inspired by the Caesar salad we made last week. Instead of pureeing the anchovies in a dressing, this recipe puts the anchovies front and center.

Caesar Salad Bruschetta:
1/2 Cup Light Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1 Cup of Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tsp of Lemon Zest
1 Tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
12 Slices of Baguette, cut on the bias
1 Large Garlic Clove, Sliced in half lengthwise
24 Anchovy Fillets
1 Cup of finely shredded Romaine Hearts
Lemon Wedges for Garnish

Combine Mayo, 3/4 Cup of Parmesan, Lemon Zest and Black Pepper in a bowl. Set aside. Meanwhile, coat both sides of baguette with non-stick cooking spray and toast in a 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes, until nice a toasty, but not too brown. Rub both sides of the warm toasted bread with the flat side of the garlic cloves. Next, spread a thin layer of the mayo-cheese mixture on each slice of toast. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top of the may mixture. Place the bread slices under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread start to brown. Once out of the broiler, place about a tablespoon of romaine in the center of each bread slice and top with two anchovy fillets in a crisscross pattern.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Why Orange You Eating Your Greens?-A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

My new favorite dark, leafy green is kale. It is not a vegetable that I had eaten often in the past, however, I do remember it being served with the Brazilian national dish, Feijoada. Kale is a member of the cabbage family and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a great source of dietary fiber and vitamins, A, C and K. A one cup serving of kale contains a mere 33 calories. We use kale often in the kitchen at Cancer Wellness, as kale is believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are important in cancer prevention.

Kale is very versatile and can be sauteed, roasted or served raw. If serving raw, try massaging a bit of sea salt into the greens, this will soften the leaves. My recipe this week is inspired by the kale I remember eating in Brazil and has a punch of citrus and garlic. This dish makes a great side for grilled pork tenderloin or can be eaten as a vegetarian main dish when served on top of some brown basmati rice or quinoa.

Garlic-Citrus Kale:

2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2-3 Cloves of Garlic, grated

16 oz of Kale, Stems removed and cut in Chiffonade*

Zest of 1 Orange

Squeeze of Fresh Orange Juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add kale and saute, stirring frequently, until leaves soften and turn a bright green. Lower heat and add garlic and orange zest, tossing until garlic is softened, about 1-2 minutes more. Remove from heat and hit with a squeeze of fresh orange juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

*A 16 oz bag of pre-washed and chopped kale may be substituted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

160 Years of Tradition Inspires a New Recipe: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

Last weekend I went to Franklin, N.C. for the Siler Family Meeting. For 160 consecutive years, the Siler Family has been gathering on the first Saturday of August to enjoy family, fellowship and most importantly food. I began attending this meeting with my grandmother Katherine Siler Zachary as a young child. Back then, my grandmother would always prepare her famous chocolate chip cookies, or a platter of ripe tomato slices from her garden, to share with the family. The buffet table was, and still is, always laden with the best of traditional southern delicacies such as: fried chicken, country ham, potato salad, deviled eggs and peach cobbler.

As this was my first family meeting since begining working at Taste and Savor, I really wanted to bring a delicious and healthy dish to contribute to the bountiful spread. Unfortunately, staying in a hotel room the night prior to the meeting, made it impossible to prepare the beautiful salad I had envisioned. So, I made some of Chef Nancy's Orange-Oatmeal Cookies at home and brought them with me. I had planned on this being my only contribution, but my creative juices got the best of me. Determined to still provide something healthy and beautiful, I headed across the street to the Ingles grocery store and starting gathering items for a no-cook appetizer. It was here that "Hotel Room Hummus Dip" was born.

I was quite surprised at how many pre-chopped, pre-cooked items were available in the small town grocery store. With my supply of ingredients and a disposable serving tray, I headed back to the hotel and put together, what I thought turned out to be a pretty good presentation. My mother actually overheard someone in the buffet line saying that she wanted the recipe. So, here it is, Hotel Room Hummus Dip. Enjoy!

Hotel Room Hummus Dip:
1 Container of your favorite Hummus
1 Box of Crumbled Feta
1 Box of Fresh Chopped Tomatoes
1 Box of Fresh Chopped Scallions
1 8 oz can of Sliced Black Olives

Layer the items in order on a serving tray and serve with baby carrots or pita chips.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I've Never Met a Cheese I Didn't Like: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

Chef Nancy and I both share a fondness for cheese and often joke that we could easily become "Cheeseatarians". This is the one food that I crave more often than any other. So, it was with great pleasure, that I received a gift of several different cheeses, that were hand carried to me, from Wisconsin by my friends, Steve and Carol Christensen. All week, I have been sampling from my treasure trove of artisal cheeses from the Fromagination store in Madison, WI. It was hard to pick a favorite among the Eagle Cave Reserve Truckle, Rembrant Gouda, Chalet Swiss and Dunbarton Bleu. Each was flavorful and unique. I have yet to visit Wisconsin, but may have to make a culinary pilgramage to the Fromagination store for a wine and cheese tasting. In the event that I can't make it to Wisconsin, I was pleased to find out that Fromagination has an online store through its website at They sell individual cheeses as well as gift baskets.

I used some of the delicious Eagle Cave Reserve Truckle and the Rembrant Gouda in a Vidalia onion quiche this week. It was the perfect blending of the midwestern cheese with the sweet southern Vidalia onion. This recipe is versitle and can be used with any type of cheese you have on hand. I hope you enjoy!

"I Never Met a Cheese I Didn't Like" Quiche:
1 Pie Crust for an 8" pie plate*
2 Cups of your favorite Cheese, grated
2 Large Vidalia Onions, Carmelized**
4 Eggs
3/4 Cup of Half and Half
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Lay pie crust in your pie plate and crimp the edges. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese on top of the crust. Next, spread the carmelized onions on top of cheese, then add another cup of cheese on top of the onions. Beat the eggs and half and half together and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the onions and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover the edges of the crust with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes at 425 deg, until custard is set.

* I cheated and used a ready-made crust this time
** To carmelize onions, cook thinly sliced onions in Exra Virgin Olive Oil for about 20 minutes over medium-high heat. I always add a splash of Lea & Perrins and some salt and pepper. Cook the onions until they are soft and reach a nice carmel-brown color.