deviled eggs with sharp cheddar cheese

Let’s face it; it’s summer and it’s hot and you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen! Deviled eggs are another easy breakfast meal. Deviled eggs also make a great snack or appetizer. They really do not need additional salt or seasoning because I put in sharp cheddar cheese, a bit of mayonnaise, and Sriracha hot sauce.

Deviled Eggs
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sriracha sauce to taste
Cilantro or scallion, minced, for garnish if desired

Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cool water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 more minutes. Drain the eggs in the saucepan. Move the pan back and forth so that the motion cracks the egg shells. Hold the pan under the faucet and run cool water over the cracked eggs in the pan. Let the eggs rest in cool water until they are cool enough to handle. Change the water once or twice. Peel the cooled hard boiled eggs and slice in half vertically.

Carefully scoop the cooked yolks into a small bowl without tearing the egg whites. Using a pastry blender, cut the yolks fine. Add the mayonnaise and the cheese and continue blending. Add Sriracha to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the yolk mixture is dry add a teaspoon more of mayonnaise.  The yolk mixture should be the consistency of a thick paste. Using a rubber/silicone spatula, scoop the yolk mixture out of the bowl and into a plastic bag. Snip off one corner. Squeeze the yolk mixture out of the snipped end into the bowl of each egg white. Garnish with scallion or cilantro, if you wish. Enjoy!

poached egg on arugula

It’s been hard to keep up with blogging, dissertation-ing, and a full time job. And as if I don’t have enough to do, I also signed up for a course this summer on teaching reading. So I’m definitely  in the mood for some baking therapy. I just borrowed a cookbook from the NYPL about baking cakes from scratch.  To keep myself sane, I’ve been indulging in some of my food cravings. After all, how can I live in New York City and not eat a bagel, especially a bagel from Absolute Bagels. The people behind the counter are Thai and they make the best Jewish bread, in my opinion, on the Upper West Side. But this is New York. And  I digress. Here’s something healthier… a poached egg “hat” on fresh arugula.

I had some arugula (organic, what a splurge), that spicy green leaf that tastes like black pepper, and is it ever so yummy! I dressed it up with a poached egg. And for a non-vegetarian variation, I put in some sliced pepperoni. The saltiness of the pepperoni is the perfect complement to the sharp flavor of the arugula. Delicious. This is a great, simple, and easy to make breakfast.

How to poach an egg

To poach an egg, boil three inches of water in a small saucepan and add about a teaspoon of white vinegar. Bring to a near boil–the water should have big round bubbles. Crack open an egg into a small bowl. Stir the water and slip the egg into the center of the whirling water. Cook 5-7 minutes; 5 minutes for runny yolk, 7 minutes for barely runny.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg and place it on top of a cupful of arugula with a few slices of red onion. If desired, add some slices of pepperoni on top of the arugula and serve with toasted cheese on top of a slice of multi-grain bread.

florentine tortellini

Still continuing my quest for quick and easy meals that are healthy and low cal/low carb. This one met all my requirements, but I think I would have preferred the ravioli instead of the tortellini. I used Cheese Tortellini from Trader Joe’s, and it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t that good either. No flavor. I liked the spinach bed–I used fresh instead of frozen–it was flavorful because of the red pepper. Next time I would add some lemon juice to it. And caramelized onions.

Florentine Tortellini (adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients
1 20-ounce package frozen cheese ravioli, or tortellini (4 cups)
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 bunches fresh whole-leaf baby spinach, washed, drained,stems trimmed
1/2 cup water, optional
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the ravioli or tortellini according to the package directions.
2. While the ravioli/tortellini is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes. If the spinach is too dry, add a tablespoon of water up to 1/2 cup.
3. Divide among 4 bowls, top with the pasta and drizzle 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil over each portion. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Nutrition Per serving : 263 Calories; 13 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 28 mg Cholesterol; 28 g Carbohydrates; 13 g Protein; 5g Fiber; 660 mg Sodium; 730 mg Potassium

times square, june 18, 2012

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I made my favorite chocolate raspberry pavlova today. It’s the kind of dessert that deserves its own classification, not a cake but not a macaron either. It’s the kind of dessert I reserve for once a year.  The meringue was crunchy on the outside and sticky and sweet on the inside. “Squidgy” Nigella declares, using that quirky English-ism that’s neither Julia Child nor Harold McGee. I put a crème fraîche on top instead of whipped topping because I like the tanginess of it. And of course, raspberries. This year, I splurged on a block of Callebaut unsweetened chocolate and what a difference a superior chocolate makes. Now that I’ve had a year’s worth of experience making pavlovas, I’m no longer worried that it won’t come out. It’s supposed to crack and collapse under the weight of its own superiority.

third time’s a charm!

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I took Andy and AJ to Jing Fong in Chinatown for Father’s Day. Jing Fong is at 20 Elizabeth Street near the corner of Canal, and it specializes in Dim Sum. Dim Sum is a meal that consists of small dumplings, steamed and fried, savory and sweet. I prefer the steamed to the fried, and I love both savory and sweet dumplings! Dim Sum is served from steam carts  and trolleys wheeled from table to table, where you just point and it is put before you in these bamboo baskets, straight from the kitchen. There’s nothing fancy about Dim Sum; it’s all about the different ways rice flour can be rolled, molded, and shaped around a delicious filled center. Dim Sum is best eaten before noon, in my opinion. In any case, it’s seldom served in the afternoon. So Dim Sum filled us up for most of the day. For dinner, I made Misty’s Vegetarian Lasagna, my third try. They say the third time’s a charm. And so it was.

pappardelle with mushrooms, rosemary, and light tomato sauce, redux

I’m stubborn. Especially when I like a recipe and it doesn’t work the first time around.

It’s been a challenging week. Just as I was getting used to the rhythm of work, I started an online course last week. I’m keeping up with the assignments but not getting much sleep. It’s been tempting to eat out or to eat prepared foods from the supermarket, and so far I have not given in–though we did eat out once this week, and I told myself it’s just because it’s hump-day.  I am still determined to cook healthy low fat low carb meals, but now they have to be quick and easy recipes or they don’t make it into my kitchen! Still, I was stressed out enough that I needed some baking therapy.  I made Martha Stewart’s white butter cake recipe again, but this time I added strawberries to it. It tasted fine but that recipe needs to be revisited too. The strawberries sank to the bottom. I saw somewhere on the internet to dust the fruit lightly with flour to prevent this from happening. Does anyone knows if this really works?

Pappardelle with (Wild) Mushrooms, Rosemary, and Light Tomato Sauce (adapted from Dana Slotkin)

Serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra ­virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 large red onion, minced
2 garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (15­ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup low ­sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half (It doesn’t need it; I left it out)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound homemade or store­ bought pappardelle (or other wide pasta)
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, washed well and sliced (I used baby bellas)
Grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper, for serving

Preparation
1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over low heat and sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine, increase the heat to medium, and simmer until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the broth and cook until thickened slightly, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the cream, if desired; simmer for one more minute, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook’s Note: I had some grape tomatoes that I wanted to use up. I sliced them in half and added them to the onion and garlic mixture. You can never have too many tomatoes!

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend the sauce; keep warm.

4. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is tender but still al dente; drain (do not rinse) it and set aside.

5. While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat and sauté the mushrooms until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

6. Add the tomato sauce and pasta to the skillet, tossing to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. With a large serving fork, twirl the pasta and transfer it to serving bowls. Top each portion with extra sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. I added a few twists of freshly ground Trader Joe’s four peppercorn mix. I served it with a fresh salad and Hugo’s sushi vinaigrette salad dressing.

five-spice tilapia

This really was quick and easy! I blanched the broccoli and sugar snap peas for 2 minutes each. Then rinsed and drained them to set the color. I seasoned stir-fried the broccoli in a little oil and seasoned it with sea salt. Then I stir-fried the peppers in oil with a little garlic–two cloves to be exact–then added the sugar snap peas to heat through. Afterwards, I sprinkled the peas and peppers with Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. It’s becoming my favorite! The fish dish has just 3 main ingredients: soy sauce, brown sugar, and five-spice powder. Five spice powder is available from Asian markets. It contains star anise, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, fennel seed, and cloves all ground up together in a delectable powder.

Five Spice Tilapia (from Eating Well)

Makes 4 servings | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 15 minutes Ingredients

1 pound tilapia fillets (about 4 fillets)
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (this is so hard to be precise; just sprinkle it on both sides of the fish!)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally

Preparation
1. Pat the fish fillets dry. Sprinkle both sides of each fillet with five-spice powder and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and the sugar. Stir and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tilapia and cook until the outer edges of the fillets turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and flip the fillets. Stir the soy sauce mixture and pour it into the pan. Bring the sauce to a oil and cook until the fish is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with scallion. Serve at once.

Nutrition Per serving : 180 Calories; 6 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 57 mg Cholesterol; 9 g Carbohydrates; 24 g Protein; 0 g Fiber

turkey burgers with sweet potato fries

Since I started working, we eat dinner later. We didn’t eat until 9 p.m. actually. I looked over my menu and saw the devil in the details, as they say! Though the recipes are simple, quick and easy, there are a lot of them.  And I am stubborn. I refuse to compromise my standards for fresh healthy food for the  convenience of  frozen meals and take-out. That said,  I found this recipe on Eating Well called Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney. That was a coincidence because I had just found a recipe for chutney in Vegan on the Cheap. Tonight’s menu also included baked sweet potato fries. Now you see my problem… Easy yes, but quick, far from it!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I used Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning)

Preparation
Preheat oven 450˚F. Toss the potato rounds in oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 25 minutes or until done. While the fries are baking, make the mango chutney. This part is really easy!

Mango Chutney (adapted from Vegan on the Cheap)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced thinly or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1 medium ripe mango, peeled, sliced and cubed
1/2 cup dried fruit, such as apricots, chopped (I used raisins; no need to chop)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Preparation
In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeño, ginger, brown sugar, salt and water. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the mango and dried fruit or raisins, if using. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the vinegar. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes about 1 cup of chutney.

Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney

Ingredients
1 16- to 20-inch-long baguette, preferably whole-grain (recommended: multi-grain baguette)
1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, divided
1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
4 tablespoons mango chutney, divided
1 teaspoon salt or Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Preparation

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high. Cook’s Note: I used my George Foreman grill, grilling each patty 4 minutes.
  2. Finely chop 1/3 of the onion. In a medium bowl, put the turkey meat, chopped onions, 1 tablespoon mango chutney, and salt. Mix well and divide into four balls. Roll each ball into an elongated patty.
  3. Grill. Grill the onion rounds, if desired.
  4. Cut the baguette into four pieces. Slice each piece in half horizontally. Scoop out a trough in one side of the bread. Fill the trough with mango chutney. Put the patty on top with onions, lettuce, and more Everyday Seasoning, if desired. Since the bread is dry, I thought a spicy yogurt rémoulade (from the grilled fish tacos) should go on the other side of the bread. Here is the recipe, halved.

Spicy Yogurt Rémoulade

  • 1 cup fat-free Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard, or grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • juice from 1/4 fresh lime
  • Salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve chilled.

crunchy vegetable slaw

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I didn’t like the green bean casserole recipe I tried in the Carb Conscious Vegetarian cookbook. Why blanche the green beans to set the bright green color then bake the heck out of it for 50 minutes until the poor things are mushy and olive drab? Sam, my nurse practitioner at Columbia Health, recommended the books of Robin Robertson because I told him I like to cook and eat healthy meals. I also love to try out new cookbooks. This recipe is one I adapted from  Carb Conscious. I liked it. It was slightly pungent because of the raw broccoli and cabbage, and I loved the sweet crisp taste of the bell pepper in it. The dressing was bland so I dressed it up with some red pepper flakes, and it was slightly sour, so I added a little stevia.

Crunchy vegetable slaw

2 cups peeled, shredded broccoli stems (about 3 medium stems)
2 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1/4 of a large head)
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into thin slivers
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (or flat leaf parsley)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemon juice), (juice of 1 large lime)
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste (celery salt in the original recipe)
1/2 packet of stevia, about 1/4 teaspoon, optional

Shred the broccoli stems in a food processor.

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cabbage, pepper, and cilantro. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and stevia, if using.  Pour olive oil mixture over the broccoli mixture. Toss. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serves 4

Per serving: 169 calories, 14g fat, 3g protein, 9g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 0mg cholesterol, 123mg sodium.

central park challenge and a simple supper

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A fine mizzle was falling across Central Park when we arrived in the early morning for the YAI Central Park Challenge. We had signed  up for the 3K walk through the park. The meeting point was at 72nd and Central Park West but we saw no signs. Everyone was going into the park so we just followed everyone in until we saw the tents. Not long afterwards, the sun came out. It was a beautiful day–cool and sunny. I thought how two weeks ago we saw the park as a resource fit for the dinner table. Today, the park was a green oasis in the city for exercising, for having fun, and relaxation. And so, to cap an active day, we had a simple supper of homemade vegetable soup with chicken and ham, and romaine hearts with grape tomatoes served with Hugo’s sushi vinegar dressing. The dressing is mild and slightly tart. Simply delicious.


Hugo’s Sushi Vinegar Dressing

2 parts sushi vinegar
1 part extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil