Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

What’s On My Mind This Week

August 7, 2014

After almost 10 months of traveling endlessly for work, I am back in New York for awhile and settling into my new, OLD routine again!

I am finding joy in the mundane things that I haven’t been able to do lately. Here are just a few of them:

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Cooking and eating greenmarket fresh vegetables : I love vegetables and finding a variety of fresh, simply prepared produce isn’t so easy to come by on the road.

Many hotel restaurants don’t offer a lot of vegetable choices, and slathering them in butter, a creamy sauce or frying them doesn’t help matters. My current fixation is zucchini. It has become my main course when the family is having meat ( which I don’t like,) or pasta, ( which doesn’t especially like me!) In addition to spiraling it into noodles and eating it with my other current fascination, tomatoes, I am playing with it in zucchini bread, and instead of lettuce in a salad, among other things. I’ll keep you posted with unrecipes soon!

Old Paint Tin

Nesting: I am reveling in being home, and taking time to do some improvements. I shampooed the bedroom carpet, and am slowly reorganizing.  My sofa needs recovering, and the whole loft could use a coat of paint. I have been discussing this for months, but the current downtime is allowing me to look at fabrics and paint chips, and actually make it happen. I didn’t plan to do anything else, but yesterday I swatted a mosquito that had flown in through the kitchen window, and both the insect and the glass backsplash in my kitchen did not survive. I’m thinking of replacing it with mosaic glass tiles in neutral tones. Any ideas?

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Training…hard! I have been a gym rat for many years, but it’s not easy to keep up with a fitness routine on the road. Yes, there are hotel gyms, and I do run outside a little, but those workouts tend to be maintenance, not real training. Travel days and early morning meetings wrecked havoc on my schedule, and I have been finding my fitness level has slipped. I was lifting lighter weights, running shorter distances, and biking at lower wattages. I am back on a serious regimen, and feeling great about it!(Okay, a little sore, but energized!)

Slow foods: I got a slow cooker a long time ago, but lately, I am actually using it! I can prep everything early in the day and leave it cook while I do whatever else I need to do. It means that I am not scrambling to get dinner ready at 7, or slaving over the hot stove when it’s hot outside. So far, BBQ pulled pork and Bolognese sauce were a hit, and I popped my favorite coconut miso chicken with shiitake mushrooms in there a few hours ago. It smells great!

Rebooting: It feels so good to relax, reconnect with friends, and think about what’s next. I love what I do, and the busier I am, the happier I am. Yet, I have missed a lot of social events, kid’s milestones, and just sitting back and relaxing! It’s also giving me enough breathing space to think about what I really want to do next, instead of just taking on the next project blindly. I usually panic at this stage, but this time I am enjoying it. Before the craziness began, I was working on a new concept for Indigo Jones. Perhaps now, I can take it to the next level. I’m pretty sure that will be what I will obsess over next week! I can’t wait to be able to share it with you.

Finding balance: These days it seems like it’s all or nothing with me. I’m not retired and I do still have work to do. I need to find the balance between committing myself to it fully, and living a normal life. And that is what I intend to do.

photos: Glasshouse Images

 

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Peeling Tomatoes

July 15, 2014

 

1635400438This time of year, I can’t get enough tomatoes. The current bounty is a far cry from the mealy, styrofoam-like tomatoes we have around here most of the time. These ripe, juicy, deep red beauties are full of flavor and vitamin C.

I love them raw, baked, sliced, diced and sautéed.  Sometimes, it’s nice to take the skin off, and cook them down to a thick, rich sauce, to pour over pasta, chicken or spiralized zucchini ribbons.

The easiest way to skin a tomato, or other fruits and vegetables with a thin skin and fleshy interior, is to drop them into a pot of boiling water. You only need to leave them in the water for a brief time; less than a minute, before the skin cracks.
Remove them with tongs, and place them in a bowl. The skin should come off easily, leaving you with a naked, but still very much intact tomato. Be careful not to leave them in the pot too long, as they will begin to cook, and eventually fall apart.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Pasta With Seafood + Marinara Sauce

April 3, 2014

This is a perfect unrecipe for those of us lucky enough to live near a place to get the freshest seafood, pasta made daily, and even a homemade marinara sauce in a jar. For me, it’s a quick trip to Chelsea Market.

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I purchase freshly caught Atlantic shrimp and scallops at The Lobster Place, one of New York’s very best fish markets. I sear them with very little seasoning, as the marinara sauce from Buon Italia is full of diced garlic, rich red tomatoes, and slick with olive oil, which coats Rana’s homemade pasta beautifully.

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Sure, this can be done with commercially jarred marinara sauce, and dried pasta with acceptable results. For a few extra minutes

(ok, maybe 15 extra minutes,) you can create the sauce yourself. It’s that simple. It’s that easy. It’s that good.

Shrimp and Scallops in a Spicy Marinara Sauce Over Pasta:

Clean and devein shrimp, rinse scallops and pat dry. It is important to get as much moisture off of the seafood so it sears and browns.( I figure about 1/2 pound of seafood per person )

White garlic from Lomagne

Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté 3 or 4 cloves of diced garlic until soft. Place the seafood in a single layer in the pan so that each piece touches the hot surface. Don’t over crowd the pan. If necessary, do this in batches. Flip it and sear the other side. This should only take a few minutes.

This is our homemake pasta from a previous post.

This is our homemake pasta from a previous post.

Add a can or box* of diced San Marzano tomatoes and a liberal dose of salt. Add a little red pepper and lay a leaf or two of fresh basil across the top of the mixture. The leaves will wilt into the sauce naturally. Heat until the sauce starts to bubble, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook briefly, and serve over pasta.  Enjoy!

*canned tomatoes are a good news/ bad news item. They are healthier, due to the higher levels of lycopine than fresh tomatoes, but their acidity makes the chemicals in the can even more harmful. Whole Foods carries San Marzano tomatoes in tetra pack boxes, which is a much healthier alternative. If you can’t find them, you can use Pomi brand, which has always come in boxes.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: White Bean Soup

January 2, 2014

Mojettes from Marais Poitevin

It’s a new year, and so far, it’s a cold one. Temperatures are expected to drop into the single digits in New York City,  and snow is on it’s way. I am craving warmth and comfort, and this soup should fit the bill.

It’s low in fat and calories, and high in protein and nutrients, thanks to the white beans, tomatoes and baby kale.

White Bean Soup

Rinse 1 can (or box: kudos Whole Foods for your new BPA free packaging!) of cannelinni beans and put them in a pot with about 6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, a few springs of fresh thyme, rosemary and a few sage leaves. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves, and simmer for about 30 minutes or so. Add one 26 oz. can or box of chopped tomatoes with their juice, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove the herbs and garlic cloves,  and add several handfuls of shredded baby kale. Cook another 15 minutes until the kale is softened. If at any point, the soup gets too thick, add more stock or water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you prefer a thick, smooth soup, you can puree it at this point.

When ready to serve, drizzle each bowl with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Zucchini “Pizza”

December 30, 2013

TSF fuits et légumes sur fond blanc

The holidays have taken their toll, and we would be hard pressed to find anyone who is not interested in “reeling it in” a little bit, on the indulgence side. This quickie vegetarian dish could be the centerpiece to a meal, or a great appetizer. The zucchini base functions in lieu of a crust, and is topped with tomatoes and cheese like a pizza. It has all of the flavor, and none of the guilt of the real deal. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it replaces traditional pizza, I will say it’s a darn good alternative when the craving strikes and the scale is recommending abstinence!

Zucchini “Pizzas”

Slice open a zucchini lengthwise, and shave a little off the bottom so that it lays flat. Place it on a cookie sheet, brush it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle it with finely diced garlic. Top with thin slices of tomato, and sprinkle with some shredded basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Top it with mozzarella cheese, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. For an even lighter version, use Parmesan cheese instead of the mozzarella.

Enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Start the year off right:

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Unrecipe of the Week: Gazpacho Marys

August 7, 2013

With produce at the height of its summer glory, it is the perfect time to make gazpacho. This “unrecipe” is a twist on the classic. It lies halfway between a cold soup and a bloody mary with the addition of an (optional) shot of icy cold vodka.

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Gazpacho Marys:

Chop up an onion, a few cloves of garlic, a seedless cucumber, 4 big tomatoes and 2 red bell peppers.  Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4 to 1/3 cup of white balsamic vinegar, and puree in batches until it is “chunky smooth.”  Blend in some tomato juice, until it reaches the desired consistency, about 1/2 to 3/4 of a large bottle. Season with a couple of big squirts of srirachia ( or any other hot sauce you like), and salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

To serve:  Ladle the gazpacho into a martini glass, and add a shot of icy cold vodka.  Garnish with chopped cucumber and enjoy!

photo: indigo jones instagram

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Eat for Performance

July 25, 2013

If you work out hard, chances are you get sore. What you eat to fuel your workout is as important as the exercise routine itself. Here are a few healthy foods that aid in muscle recovery and help ease those aches.

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Cherries are in season, and you no longer need a mortgage to buy them! (They were $12.99 a pound in early June in New York City, down to $4.99 today!!!)

Studies have shown that tart cherry juice can help athletes recover more quickly from their workouts, due to anti-inflammatory properties that block the enzyme linked to muscle soreness. Enjoy these tiny red fruits as a post workout snack, but watch out for the pits!

Multicolored tomatoes

Tomatoes are also at their peak right now, and the Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores are filled with all kinds of ripe, delicious tomatoes in all sizes and hues.

A study has shown that athletes recovered faster when they drank tomato juice before and after their workouts, than when they fueled up with carbs. Tomatoes also have a high water content, and are filled with potassium, which helps replenish the electrolytes lost from sweating. It is also thought that the antioxidants in tomatoes soothe inflammation and hastens muscle recovery.

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Beets are another favorite, and they are full of natural nitrates that raise the nitric acid level in the body, improving blood flow. Studies were done using beet juice, but  eating beets can also be helpful.

Try adding roasted beets to your salad, tart cherries to your Greek yogurt and tomatoes to just about anything for better workout results.

photos: glasshouse images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Tabbouleh

July 5, 2013

taboulŽ

As the weather gets warmer, I find my appetite changes. I long for lighter, cooler foods, utilizing the fresh tastes of the season.This simple side dish fills the bill, yet it is hearty enough to build a meal around.

Tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad made of grains, herbs and tomatoes is a great make ahead dish, as it is best to allow the flavors to mingle a bit before serving. While it is traditionally made from bulgur or cracked wheat, quinoa, cous cous or even brown rice could be used in its place. It’s a perfect “unrecipe”that can be tailored to taste and dietary preferences.

Tabbouleh

Prepare 1 cup of the grains as directed, being careful not to overcook them. Bulgur can be cooked on the stovetop for about 20 minutes, or soaked in very hot water until softened. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, chop a bunch of parsley and ½ a bunch of fresh mint leaves. Add a diced tomato or 2, and a large diced cucumber. A bit of finely chopped onion or scallions can also be added. Stir in the cooked grains. Toss with lemon juice, and olive oil. Season liberally with sea salt and pepper. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to merge. Taste and add lemon juice or more salt and pepper if necessary. Enjoy!

Note: Traditional tabbouleh is very heavy on the herbs, and uses the bulgur modify the balance to herbs and grains to suit your taste.

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photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Socca Pizza

March 25, 2013
The finished product

The finished product

I have already posted our recipe for Socca, a chickpea flour flatbread that is gluten free, high in protein and delicious. Tonight, I was looking for something low in carbs, crispy and full of vegetables. After a little thinking, I decided to use the Socca as a pizza crust, and top it with a hearty blend of tomatoes, artichokes and mushrooms. The result was a beautiful flatbread, brimming with flavor and surprisingly filling. As with any unrecipe, top it with whatever you are craving. Consider adding goat cheese, parmesan or a little shredded mozzarella. Toss on some finely sliced pepperoni or bacon if you are a meat lover. Use zucchini instead of artichokes, or even both. The possibilities are endless!

For the crust:

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Whisk together 1 cup of garbanzo flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or up to a few hours.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 12″ skillet with olive oil. Add a chopped shallot, and place in the hot oven until sizzling. You can also add the herbs of your choice at this stage.

Pour the batter over the shallots, and bake until the flatbread is crisp and brown, about 40 minutes. The flatbread will easily lift out of the pan when it is fully baked.

For the topping:

The topping

The topping

Saute 1 clove of garlic and about 6-8 sliced mushrooms until brown. Add a few chopped artichoke hearts ( canned or frozen) and lightly saute them. Season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Add 2 chopped plum tomatoes (or some crushed canned tomatoes) and cook until the tomatoes start to soften. If the mixture gets too dry, drizzle in a little more olive oil.

When the crust is done, spread the the mixture over it, leaving a rim all around. Sprinkle with chopped arugula, and enjoy!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Bolognese Sauce

October 25, 2012

My family loves pasta with Bolognese sauce. I try to make it in a large batch, so that I can freeze the leftovers in small containers for a quick weeknight meal. It’s easy to make, and can be left on the stove to simmer for a few hours while you do other things.

Bolognese Sauce

Sauté a diced onion and several cloves of garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Add about a pound of ground beef and season with dried basil, dried oregano, salt, black pepper and red pepper. Don’t be shy with the seasoning, as some of the flavor will diminish during the long cooking time. Continue to cook until the meat is browned.

Carefully drain off any excess fat, and transfer the meat mixture to a large pot.

Add several cans (or boxes which are generally BPA free) of crushed tomatoes to the pot, along with a couple of bay leaves. Simmer gently with the cover on the pot, for a few hours.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  Taste and correct the seasonings before serving.

Serve the sauce over cooked pasta and enjoy!

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