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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Brazilian Mango and Jicama Salad

 When the Becca, the Food Editor of Gozamos, wrote to ask for a Brazilian recipe (my version- of course), my mind started to churn - what did Brazilian mean to me? 

My head filled with visions of everything vibrant and fresh with intense flavors.  Succulent grilled meats, lively stews, bright fruits and hearty beans.  Scantly-clad couples dancing in the street at the midnight hour swirled amongst the culinary images.

It's tough to dance the night away if your belly is full, so the dish I create needed to be light, but with enough flavor to satisfy.  And I needed to be cognisant of easily attainable ingredients here in the states.  A series of Brazilian flavors did the samba in my kitchen and out came four different dishes including a Coconut Corn Stew, a Grilled Banana and a Black Bean Soup (look for these recipe postings soon.)

This Mango and Jicama Salad encompasses all things Brazilian (to me); it's fresh, colorful, lively, slightly spicy and healthy.  This salad would be a great small plate starter or pair with grilled meat or grilled shrimp for full meal.  Get together with a close friend, toss this simple salad together and then dance the night away in the street- that is fat and happy in the purest sense.

Tips and techniques:  As oxygen reaches the insides, many fruits and vegetables will turn brown after you cut them, which looks quite unappetizing. Squeeze fresh lemon or lime on the the apples and avocado immediately after cutting them to help avoid this oxidation.

Brazilian Mango and Jicama Salad

1 semi-ripe mango
1 Jicama
1 green apple
1 red pepper
1/4 small red onion

Slice all ingredients into matchstick size pieces, except the red onion.  Or, however you decide to slice them, just keep in mind the salad will look more appealing, be easier to eat and the flavors will blend better when all ingredients are cut to the same size (length and width). Carefully slice the red onion into the same matchstick length, but as thinly as you can.  

Spicy Avocado Dressing:
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and all (use a whole pepper for a spicier sauce)
1 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped (substitute cilantro if desired)
1 ripe avocado
1 shallot, rough chopped
juice from 2 limes
juice from 1 lemon
2  Tbls red wine vinegar
olive oil (roughly 4 Tbls)
water (roughly 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a blender except for the olive oil; I like to roughly chop everything before placing in the blender - it helps in the blending process and is easier on the blender. 

Turn the blender on high and drizzle in the olive oil until desired thickness is obtained.  Depending on how ripe the avocado is, you may need to thin the vinaigrette out slightly (I did).  Use simple water for this.  You could use more olive oil- but these flavors are all strong enough they can hold up on their own plus you don't want to overwhelm the dressing with too much oil.

For a special presentation, line up each salad item across a plate, drizzle the dressing on the salad, top with chopped parsley and serve.

For a more rustic appeal, simply toss the dressing with all all the chopped fruits in a large bowl.  Add a bit of parsley for decoration and serve.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pickled Radish

There are people who like vinegar and there are people who love vinegar- the latter are my peeps.  The ones who could do a shot of vinegar and not wrinkle their nose.  Vinegar lovers are pickled lovers (seeing as pickling anything typically involves vinegar) and pickle lovers usually like getting a little pickled themselves. Funny how that works out.

Pickling can be a long canning process, but you can also do quick, down and dirty version.  This is a super simple, cheap and quick summer side dish; it's great along bland dishes to give the whole meal life. The radishes give just a hint of heat while the mint brightens the flavor.  The addition of the caraway and celery seed offer an unexpected depth.

Pick up a bunch of radish at the farmers market or from your neighbors yard even and get to quick pickling. Between the pickling and the getting pickled, I'm figure I'm basically a well preserved walking about fat and happy!
Tip and Techniques:  Allow this to sit at least 20 minutes before serving.  Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge to avoid causing a stinky fridge!

Pickled Radishes

1 heaping cup of grated radish
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbls sugar
1/8 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp caraway seed
pinch of fresh chopped parsley
pinch of fresh chopped mint
Pint of salt- I used black Himalayan salt

Grate the radishes on a box grater (careful of your fingers!) If you don't have a grater, carefully slice the radishes in tiny matchsticks or chop them into cubes.

Toss with the remaining ingredients.  Allow the mixture to rest for at least 20 minutes in a sealed container. Serve at room temperature for the best flavor.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Turkey Chorizo Sandwich

To me, a sandwich should be bursting with flavor, dripping with goo, touting a super fun bread and almost too tall to fit in your mouth.  We are not kids any more, it's time to grow up past the white bread and bologne zip locked baggie sandwich.  There really isn't much that can't be made into a sandwich so your sandwich creativity should never be limited; afterall- someone had to come up with the ice cream sandwich at some point!  See my Kahlua sandwich bar recipe here.

Get cooking, get tasty and get messy.  This Turkey Chorizo Sandwich is the perfect way to break out of your lame sandwich rut.  While I love, love, love bacon, I feel it's getting 'overused'.  Chorizo however, chorizo is the new bacon. You heard it here first, actually I think this at least the second or third time I've said that on this blog. Chorizo is simply a wonderful mexican sausage, it's extremely excellent with eggs.

Chorizo sauteed with fennel, garlic and carrots is the star of our sandwich.  The thin slices of roasted turkey breast and the creamy goat cheese bring it all to life while the hearty pumpernickel bread completely finishes it off.  Put it together as a sandwich you pick up with your hands or as an open faced sandwich to eat with a fork, either way it's messy, it's hearty and bursting with so much flavor your tastebuds will be utterly fat and happy.

Tips and Techniques:  Try not to sautee the crunch out of the fennel and carrots, it's great to have a crunchy texture in the sandwich. Invite friends over and serve with Modela for brunch.

Warm Turkey Chorizo Sandwich

1/4 cup onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup fennel, sliced thin
1/4 cup carrot, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chorizo

handful of chopped Parsley
small handful of Fresh Thyme

Turkey breast
2 Tbls Goat cheese, per sandwich
Dijon Mustard
Pumpernickel bread

Lightly sautee the onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil for a about 5 minutes and then add the fennel and carrots, toss often, sautee for about 2 more minutes. Add in the garlic and chorizo, toss and continue to sautee until mixture is nicely combined.  Turn off the heat and finish with the fresh chopped parsley and fresh thyme.

In the meantime thinly slice the turkey and cut your fresh pumpernickle bread (toast if desired).

It's important to warm the turkey, it would be odd to bite into a warm chorizo sauce but cold turkey.  If you have a toaster oven, place the sliced turkey into dish with a few tablespoons of water to help keep if moist, or warm on in a pan in the oven or on top of the stove.

Spread about one tablespoon of mustard and 2 tablespoons of goat cheese on each bread.

Fold the turkey slices on top of the goat cheese (folding the slices will keep the turkey from feeling like your are biting through a breast of turkey) and top with a scoop of the chorizo mixture. Top with a second slice of bread or serve as an open faced sandwich.  Or do my favorite move and top with a runny egg.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quick Warm Lentil Salad

Eating healthy doesn't need to be expensive, it just takes creativity. My cupboard is filled with dried beans, lentils, barley, quinoa and other goodies that are really quite cheap.  I try to plan out my meals to some extent, it helps keep me on track and saves me money so I'm not forced to eat at crappy, expensive little lunch spots. Plus all of these options give you great protein and fiber.

Making a big pot of beans/lentils/barley on Sunday nights gives me a base for a few days from which to make daily salads, quick soups and stews, sandwich stuffing or spreads and even breakfast casseroles.

This week it was lentils.  Coming home after a full day at work and then full night of volleyball it was 9pm and I was hungry.  The precooked lentils gave me a chance to make a really quick, really good light meal.

I liked this so stew-like lentil salad much I made it the next morning and topped it with an egg for protein after my workout.  Yum! Try it for a dinner, or as a side or even as a brunch option.  It's Fat and Happy because it's cheap, it's easy and it's good for you. 

Tip and Techniques: When you cook your pot of beans/lentils/quinoa, add in some flavor - some onions, garlic, pepper, thyme or sage to give your base some seasoning. 

Warm Lentil Salad

1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup small diced carrots
1 large garlic clove, minced finely

2 Tbls soy sauce
2 Tbls Dijon mustard
1 Tbl lime
1/4 cup water
2 cups lentils, cooked

1 roma tomato, diced
handful of parsley, chopped
1egg (optional)

Begin by sauteeing the onion in olive oil for about 2 minutes; add the chopped carrot and sautee another 3-5 minutes - the carrots should begin to soften.  Add in the garlic and sautee for another minute.

Now add in the soy sauce, mustard and lime - allow that to sizzle in the pan.  Add the water and the cooked lentils, toss lightly to combine.  Let that sit and simmer for a 2-5 minutes to reduce the sauce and warm the lentils.

Top with the chopped tomato and the parsley.  Serve while warm.  Top with a fried egg if desired.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

John Daly Cocktail (Drunken Arnold Palmer Drink)

Did you know there is a National Ice Tea Day?  I just found out myself, everything has its day - I guess.  And why not?  From the health benefits to the flavors and the variety, tea has finally made its mark on the American beverage market.

And why not celebrate with a well known tea drink, the Jon Daly?  Let's start with the background on the drink.  Arnold Palmer, (legend on the golf course) is the name behind the original drink made with half iced tea and half lemonade. It's classy and sophisticated, just like Arnold.  The John Daly version is the same tea and lemonade drink with the addition of vodka; John Daly is not quite as well put together as Arnold, he is known as the 'drinker' of the golf course.

It's simple and it's good - just tea, lemonade and vodka. Black tea, white tea, oolongs, herbal, green- so many tea choices. If you are new to tea base your selection around flavors you normally rely on - do you like flavored coffee or straight black? You may find a basic black tea nice. Do you drink flavored waters that are fruity?  Try a flavored tea like white pomegranate.  Not a fan of caffeine?  Go with an herbal.  The choices are endless.

For the lemonade you can simply purchase a premade bottle. If you want to get fancy, squeeze real lemons and add sugar (honey, stevia etc.); this option would be my preference but it's not always realistic.

Bring on the vodka.  Vodka is more complicated than it used to be, do you go with a classic vodka or a flavored one? Again, lean towards your flavor profile.  You can't beat a simple classic. But fruity vodkas can work well too, just remember to match with your tea so the flavors are not competing. 
Whether you have the Arnold version or the John version, they are both a refreshing summer option and great way to celebrate National Tea Day...not that any Fat and Happy Blog reader needs a reason to party. 

Tip and techniques: National tea day is June 10th, you have all year to perfect your drink. If you are new to tea, start out with just a few simple flavors from the grocery store and then when you are ready you can move up to loose tea. Brew your tea ahead of time so it has time to cool. Strawberry lemon was the tea I used in the photos above.

 John Daley Cocktail (Drunken Arnold Palmer Drink)

1 cup brewed tea, unsweetened
1 cup lemonade
2 shots of vodka

Mix all ingredients in a glass with ice.  Garnish with a mint leaf.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pepita and Sunflower Seed Snack Mix

I'm an eater.  Much like a horse, if left to my own devises, I would eat until my stomach blew up.

To help combat overeating at meals I plan out snacks to have mini meals throughout the day; eating 5-6 mini meals keeps your metabolism going and is a healthier option than a few large meals. While eating this way keeps your metabolism revved up, it's a commitment that takes planning.

This seed snack mix is a super simple healthy recipe to put together, it's all the tastes and textures you want in a snack-- sweet, salty and crunchy.  The addition of flax seed helps with cholesterol levels and keeps your digestion system working well too.

Take this sweet and salty treat beyond a snack - try it as a breakfast granola over yogurt or sprinkle on your ice cream for a little crunch addition.  However you decide to enjoy it, this is one snack that you'll look forward to all day and will help keep you from grazing the pastures.  Commit to being fat and happy without an exploding stomach!

Tips and Techniques:  Store this in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. This is also a great give away for holidays or party favors- just fill a cellophane bag and tie with a colorful ribbon.

Sunflower and Pepita Snack Mix

1/2 cup raw Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup raw Pepita Seeds
1 Tbls flax seed
2 Tbls maple syrup
1/4 cup Dried blueberries
1/4 cup Banana chips (optional)
a few pinches of course salt

Toss the sunflower, pepita and flax seeds in a bowl with the maple syrup, stir well to coat all the seeds.  Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spread thin. Sprinkle with the course salt.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, it's really just long enough to roast the nuts.  Keep a close eye on them to avoid burning.

Remove from the oven, cool.

Once cooled, break apart the seeds.  Add in the blueberries and the banana chips, toss to mix.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rhubard Braised Beef and Pork with Zippy Rhubarb Sauce

A friend casually hinted at me recreating a tapas dish she fell in love with at a restaurant located too many states away to justify a monthly visit. I eagerly and quietly agreed, though I knew nothing about the dish other than the name.

My version adds a hint of sweetness to a heavy braised beef and pork combo, mixing beef and pork in this recipe helps vary the flavor profile. It is quite important to sear the meat first for a deeper flavor. This recipe offers versatility to serve as a tapas dish between crispy spring rolls or to serve as a main entree over polenta (both options explained below).

Did I succeed in recreating this dish? In my book I did; turns out we ate it all before my friend even knew it was made- oops; guess I better do it again. It'll be a fat and happy remake!

Tips and Techniques:
Braising is made for tough cuts of meat rendering the meat to become 'fall off the bone' tender by simmering in juices for hours. It's a great way to save money because it allows you to use cheaper cuts of meat (pot roasts, rumps, shoulders, etc.)  Do use the guy behind the meat counter - they are there to help you!

Rhubarb braised beef and pork

1/2 lb beef (leave whole, do not cut into chucks)
1/4 lb pork (leave whole, do not cut into chucks)
1/2 cup chopped white onions
1/2 cup chopped red onions

Add to the pan:

1/2 lb chopped rhubarb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbls ground ginger
2 tbls Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried sage
1 cup orange juice
2 tbls Worcestershire sauce

Cover with beef broth (If you use water, add a bouillon cube).

Cover and cook in the oven for about 2 hours at 300 degrees, add another 1/2 lb of chopped rhubarb.  If the pot is dry, add 2 cups of broth or water. Cover and cook for another 2 hours or until meat falls apart.

Using two forks pull the meat apart, leaving some lager hunks together.

To serve on a crispy spring roll:
Toast the spring roll/egg roll wap - take one spring roll wrap, cut into 4 squares and toast in a dry fry pan over medium heat until crispy, flipping sides as they brown.

Place one square in the middle of the plate, add a scoop of the braised rhubarb beef and top with a second toasted square.  Dress the plate with the zippy rhubarb sauce.

To serve on creamy polenta:
1/2 cup polenta (cornmeal)
4 cups water or broth
1/2 cup of creamy goat cheese
Salt and fresh black pepper

Begin the polenta during the last hour while the meat is braising.

Start with 1 cup of cold water in a sauce pan.  Slowly pour the cornmeal into the water while whisking vigorously.  Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, for about an hour.  Add in more water as the polenta soaks up the previous.  When the polenta is tender with no grit left, remove from heat and whisk in the cheese and lots of fresh black pepper.  Add salt if needed, however the cheese may salt the dish enough on it's own.

Place a dollop of polenta in the middle of a bowl, use a pair of tongs to place the meat on top of the polenta.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and a drizzle of the Rhubarb sauce (recipe below)

Zippy Rhubarb Sauce
1/2 lb chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
6 cloves
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ginger
1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer over medium low heat for about 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.  Place the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Strain and set aside until ready to use.


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