Thursday, May 31, 2012

A New Twist on A Southern Summertime Classic: A Guest Post, by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

I have a bit of an obsession with chicken salad.  It is a a dish that has many variations.  Chef Nancy, Intern, Mary Rob and I were discussing the virtues of chicken salad a couple of weeks ago while making a batch of curried chicken salad for an event.  We all agreed that the curried chicken salad was delicious, but each had an opinion about certain likes and dislikes.  Mary Rob likes the addition of apples, Chef Nancy, grapes.  I admitted my dislike for the addition of fresh fruit in my chicken salad, thus sparking a fun debate about the best ingredients for the perfect chicken salad.

So, it was with chicken salad on the brain and a continuing abundance of fresh basil from my garden, that I decided to venture way off the traditional track and come up with an recipe using some of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients instead.

Sun dried tomatoes took the place of the dried fruit, fennel instead of celery and pine nuts rather than pecans. This fun little experiment yielded a tasty and decidedly non-traditional chicken salad.  I love the challenge of taken a tried and true dish and making it into something unexpected.  This is a simple recipe, that with a little bit of chopping and a large mixing bowl, comes together quite easily.

Serve this cool salad on a bed of leafy greens or as a hearty sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread as shown below.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad:
3 cups chopped cooked Chicken Breast
2 TB  chopped Fresh Basil
1/4 cup chopped Fresh Parsley
1/4 cup chopped Scallions (green parts only)
1/2 cup chopped Fennel
3/4 cup chopped Sun dried Tomatoes (not in oil)
1/3 cup chopped Kalamata Olives
1/2 cup Light Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Not-Fat Greek Yogurt
2 TB toasted Pine Nuts
Juice of one Lemon
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to and hour to allow flavors to meld. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Taste of the Mediterranean at the Brookhaven Farmer's Market Today!

I had so much fun a the Brookhaven Farmer's Market today! Wish you were there! Above you can see our crew from Cooks Warehouse along with Julie from the Farmers Market, (and her small greens-muncher). Brady from Double Bee Farm had beautiful bunches of mixed greens and gorgeous squash. I combined them for the first recipe - and Sean from Dillwood farms gave me some Kale - so I used that for a Kale Pesto!

Try using the salad in a wrap - and the kale pesto would rock as a pizza on a whole wheat pita, topped with the grilled squash and sprinkled with a little more parmesan! 

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

The Salad
2 Cups Quinoa, Prepared as the Package Directs
2 Cups Thinly Sliced Fresh Kale, Collards or Chard
2 Roasted Red Peppers, Cut in Strips
2 Summer Squashes, Sliced Thinly and Grilled with Salt and Pepper
1 Cup Green Peas, or Black-eyed Peas
Corn from 2 Ears of Cooked Corn (if you have really fresh corn – no need to cook it!)
½ Cup Capers (Rinsed if you desire)
¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro
½  Cup Chopped Green Onion Tops or Chopped Chives
1 Recipe Mediterranean Salad Dressing*

Toss the salad ingredients together and drizzle with ½ of the dressing to start, adding more as desired. Chill for at least an hour to let the ingredients and dressing meld together.

Mediterranean Salad Dressing*

1/3 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ TB Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
2 Tsp Pomegranate Molasses**
1 Tsp Sea Salt
½ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a small bowl, (or jar) whisk together the vinegar, mustard, paprika, pomegranate molasses, sea salt and black pepper. Slowly add in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies.

**You can find the pomegranate molasses at Cooks Warehouse, or make it yourself by reducing ¼ Cup Pomegranate Juice to 1 TB. OR, substitute honey for the molasses.

 Kale Pesto

½ Cup Raw Whole Almonds
1 Large Garlic Clove, Peeled
3 Cups Chopped Kale

¼ Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

¾ - 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ Tsp Red Pepper Flacks
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Step One Place on the almonds on a sheet pan and roast at 400F for 8 – 10 minutes

Step Two Pulse garlic clove in a food processor or blender until it is finely chopped, about 30 seconds. Add the kale, almonds and Parmesan  - process until very finely chopped.

Step Three With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until you get the consistency you desire. Add the red pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, May 25, 2012

3 Things I Learned This Week with Taste and Savor!

This post was written by our wonderful intern, Mary Rob Murfee. Mary Rob is a graduate of the University of Alabama, and is pursuing her RD certification. Thanks Mary Rob!

The Best Roasted and Smoked Pecan Recipe

I love salted toasted pecans!  My tried and true recipe with butter and iodized salt has now been replaced with healthier monounsaturated extra virgin olive oil and SMOKED sea salt.  Chef Nancy prepared these delicious toasted pecans for a Cooks Warehouse cooking class and I couldn’t get enough!  The smoked sea salt adds a unique flavor that makes these nuts stand out.  Make these for your next happy hour!

Toasted Pecans with Olive Oil and Smoked Sea Salt
            Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
            Scatter pecans over the baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes. Use your timer!
Remove from oven and lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with smoked sea salt. Bring the edges of the foil together to form a packet and shake.  Let cool and enjoy!

Quit Avoiding Anchovies!

We have probably all experienced the dreaded pizza with anchovies on top at one point in our lives.  I was forced to consume this culinary disaster at a young age, and that is when my aversion to anchovies began.  This past week, I tasted TWO sauces that contained anchovies, and they were delicious!  I must say I am now an anchovy convert thanks to Chef Nancy and Sous Chef Lea.  You may know that the beloved Caesar salad has anchovy in it, but did you know the first ketchup did?  The Chinese introduced ke-chiap (which included anchovy as an ingredient) to Europe in the 19th Century and the condiment evolved into what we now call ketchup.  Anchovies are very high in sodium, which means you don’t have to add salt to the recipe you are using.  Anchovies are considered an anti-inflammatory food because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  They are also a good source of calcium.  Experiment with anchovies by making Chef Nancy’s 20 minute pasta puttanesca one night this week! (Find the recipe in her cookbook, Taste and Savor Delicious Healthy Recipes and Tasty Wine Tips, OR on the website under Friday Four - a weekly free ezine!)

Okinawan Yams

I had never heard of or seen this Japanese purple yam until last week.  Nancy and Lea found the Okinawan yams at the Buford Highway Farmers Market, and roasted them one day for lunch.  The pale beige skin was deceiving because once we cut into them a vibrant purple flesh emerged.  Okinawan yams are the sweetest potato I have ever tasted!  It tasted like dessert!  Although very sweet tasting, the Okinawan yam is low on the glycemic index scale, which means it causes a slower rise in blood sugar.  The Japanese purple yam is a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C.  This power-food has 150% more antioxidants than blueberries!           

Kale Takes a Dip: A Guest Post, by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

The school year is winding down, Memorial Day weekend is on the horizon and the weather is sunny and warm.  It's time for a cookout and a dip in the pool.  I am planning all of the above for my holiday weekend.  And certain to make numerous appearances at events this summer, is my new Creamy Kale and Artichoke Dip.

I brought this dip to a family gathering earlier in the week and they went through it so quickly, that I did not even have time to get a photo of the finished product for my blog.  Not a problem, I had the opportunity to make up a batch later in the week. I tweaked the recipe just a bit, based on the family's feedback.

I love experimenting with new ways to showcase some of the Taste and Savor kitchen's favorite healthy ingredients, such as kale and roasted red peppers.  This hot and gooey dip can be enjoyed with your favorite multi-grain chips and crackers or vegetable crudite.

Here's to a fun, happy and healthy summer!

Creamy Kale and Artichoke Dip:

1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 cups Kale, ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Roasted Red Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 box frozen Artichoke hearts, defrosted, drained and chopped
1 clove Garlic, grated
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup Light Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
3/4 cup Cotija Cheese

Step One:
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan.  Add kale and toss continuously for 1-2 minutes, until kale has softened slightly and is bright green in color.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Step Two:
Add the cooled kale, roasted pepper, artichoke hearts, grated garlic, mayonnaise, Parmesan and 1/2 cup of cotija in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Step Three:
Spread kale mixture evenly in the bottom of a small baking dish, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until heated through and brown and bubbly around the edges.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Atlanta Food and Wine Festival: A Guest Post, by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

So what does a hard working sous-chef do on her day off?  Why spend it at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, of course!  Despite the cloudy skies and sporadic downpours, Chef Nancy and I hit the festival with enthusiasm.  Our day started off with a wine tasting class at the Lowe's Hotel, followed by lengthy tour of the food and wine tent.

It was great fun to be able to indulge in some foods that aren't likely to make an appearance on a Taste and Savor menu anytime soon.  Pork belly, barbecue duck and pork jowl, just to name a few.  There were wine and spirits galore as well as chocolates and cheeses.  It was a wine and food lover's wonderland.

 And while the tastes, sips and fun atmosphere were all amazing, the thing that impressed me the most, was the pride that all of the chefs and vendors took in there respective dishes and products.  When a chef can tell you that he knew the pig that the pork jowl he was serving came from and a cheese maker beams with pride as she gives you the 4-1-1 on her creamery's newest goat's milk cheese, their passion and dedication are inspiring.

The festival was the perfect way to unwind and let loose after a long week of work, creating the beautiful and  healthy food that Chef Nancy and I are dedicated to and passionate about.

Friday, May 11, 2012

3 Things I Learned This Week w/ Chef Nancy & Chef Lea

My name is Mary Rob Murfee and I am excited to be Chef Nancy’s new intern!  I graduated from The University of Alabama last May, and have been completing a dietetic internship here in Atlanta in order to become a Registered Dietitian.  My rotation with Taste and Savor will complete my dietetic internship and I will become eligible to take the RD exam this summer.  I am having so much fun working with Nancy and Lea!  My first day even included a party…my kind of job!  Chef Nancy has asked me to share 3 things I learn each week during my internship with her.  It is actually hard to select only 3 things because Nancy and Lea have already taught me so much!  The fact that there is something new to learn everyday is one of the main reasons I love to cook!

Superfood = Super delicious!

I’ve known about Quinoa (Keen-wah) for some time now, but have never eaten it or cooked it.  I wanted to experiment with it a couple of months ago but a small box of Quinoa at Kroger was $7.99!  Too expensive for an unpaid intern to experiment with!  Luckily, I had the opportunity to make it for a Taste and Savor event.  I learned a very large bag of Quinoa at Costco is the same price as the tiny box at Kroger.  Quinoa is easy to make and only takes about 30 minutes.  Once the small white tendril or tail has appeared, it is ready.  Serve it alone, or mix it with vegetables, nuts or lean protein. 
Quinoa is a superfood, which means it is high in phytonutrients and antioxidants, an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other diseases.  Quinoa is one of the only complete plant proteins, and the highest in potassium of all the whole grains.  It is actually a pseudo-cereal and related to beets, chard, and spinach.  There are over 120 varieties but the most commonly sold are white, red and black. 
One cup of Quinoa provides:  222 calories, 3.5g fat, 5g fiber, 8g protein, 2.8mg iron.      

Simple Yet Elegant Decadence

I wanted to share a new recipe from this week that was absolutely delicious:
Strawberries stuffed w/ blue cheese and drizzled w/ balsamic glaze
This truly is the perfect bite!  These strawberries are so delicious, and excite your taste buds with a combination of sweet and savory flavors.  And it’s a simple appetizer to make but looks very impressive.  With only 4 ingredients and 4 easy steps who could be intimidated? 
The next time you have friends over try this recipe:
Fresh Strawberries
Blue Cheese
Low-Fat Cream Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar
1) Wash & Hull the strawberries
2) Soften the cheeses then whip together
3) Spoon cheese into strawberry
4) Reduce balsamic vinegar into a glaze and drizzle over berries

Pink Is The New Red

I love wine, but I can’t say that I’m a connoisseur.  This week I tried Rosé for the first time.  In the past, I have always steered away from pink wines due to one too many tours de Franzia in college.  I thought pink wine was sweet and I’m not a fan of sweet wine.  Surprisingly, I found Rosé to be light, tart and crisp.  I loved it!  Perfect for a warm summer afternoon alongside some creamy goat cheese and sweet apples.  I can’t wait to enjoy that happy pink trio this summer on my balcony! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

First Harvest: A Guest Post, by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

I have managed to keep my little container garden alive for two weeks.  Not only, are my plant still alive, they are thriving.  Pretty exciting stuff, considering my previously unsuccessful gardening attempts.  Of course, I can't take full responsibility for the garden.  My son has been instrumental in remembering to water the plants and we have both enjoyed watching the garden's progress thus far.  While we are still weeks away from seeing any tomatoes or cucumbers, the basil plants are abundant.

I have been putting basil on everything the past two weeks.  It's a great substitute for lettuce on a sandwich or added to a side dish of sweet corn, but my favorite use for basil is as a garnish for a fresh tomato sauce and pasta.  The recipe for the tomato sauce is below.  Enjoy topped with Thai, purple and Italian basil or whichever variety you have available.

Basil Garnished Pasta:
1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Roasted Red Pepper, 1/2 inch dice
1 14.5 OZ can of Fire Roasted, Diced Tomatoes
1 clove Garlic, grated
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 cup julienned basil (use a combination of Thai, Purple and Italian if available)
8 oz Spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over med-high heat.  Add red pepper, tomatoes, garlic and pepper flakes.  Stir to combine.  Cook over medium heat till warmed through and sauce has thickened slightly, about ten minutes.  Add cooked spaghetti to sauce in saute pan and mix together.  Remove from heat and place in two pasta bowls.  Garnish with chopped basil.