Saturday, November 22, 2008

Do you see what I sea?

Lori's easy crab enchiladas
Serves 2

1 small onion, diced
8 ounces lump crab meat
½ lemon
6 corn tortillas
Olive oil (spray)
½ cup Herdez red or green salsa (or your favorite fresh salsa)
2 ounces grated white cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring about an inch of water in a steamer pot to boil. Put the onion in the top part and steam about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Unless you just boiled and cracked the crab, put the crab in water with the juice of the half lemon. Drain thoroughly.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Spray each tortilla just before putting it in the pan; heat until warm and flip. Remove from pan and fill tortilla with about a tablespoon of onion and a tablespoon of crab. Roll up and put in an 8x8 baking pan. Repeat with each (you'll have 5 across and one down the side).
Pour salsa across the top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and enchiladas are bubbly. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Soup bones for healthy bones

To get more calcium into your soup, the Ohio State University Extension suggests adding 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar when simmering soup bones, to transfer some of the calcium from the animal bones into the broth as it cooks.

A lighter crab gratin

Crab -- sweet, fresh crab -- pairs so nicely with a bubbly, creamy sauce, replete with vegetables and topped with a grating of cheese. But the traditional gratin, full of butter, cream and topped with a thick layer of cheddar, flies in the face of healthy eating. If you're trying to watch your fat intake, take heart. Here's a flavorful crab gratin that doesn't depend on cream for its creaminess.

Lori's lighter crab gratin

Serves 2

1         tablespoon olive oil
¼       cup small-diced onion
2         stalks celery, minced
½       tablespoon butter
2         tablespoons flour
1         cup milk
½       asparagus, blanched and sliced
8         ounces fresh lump crab
2         ounces grated fresh Parmesan

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add onion and celery and sautée until translucent. Add butter and when it melts, add flour. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk slowly, using a whisk to get out the lumps. When thick and smooth, add asparagus and crab. Turn out into two gratin dishes and top with Parmesan. Put in center of the oven and cook about 10 minutes until bubbly. Serve with crusty bread and a simple salad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Butter up!

Tip: If you don't use a lot of butter, but like to keep it on hand to add a little flavor to a dish now and then, store the sticks of butter in your freezer. When you need a tablespoon or so, mark off the amount with a notch of a sharp knife, then run the stick of butter over a coarse grater until you get to the notch. You can do it right over the pan you're using. It melts really quickly. Return the remainder to the freezer.

Seed and be seed

If you are planning on baking the pumpkin to go in your Thanksgiving pies, or just baking one for dinner or to make a soup, be sure to save the seeds -- they can be turned into a tasty treat. To get some ideas on how to bake the seeds and season them, listen and watch Gina Kim in a Sacramento Bee video by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Countdown to turkey day

In case you are new to this blog, there was a posting last month on how to do-ahead much of your Thanksgiving dinner so the cook can enjoy the day, too. Recipes for most of these dishes can be found here. To recap, here is the timetable:

Start cooking Sunday; buy bird Wednesday.

Sunday: Make the apple cake and/or the pumpkin ice cream pie and freeze (the sauces can be refrigerated).

Monday: Make the Gulliver's Corn. Refrigerate.

Tuesday: Make the Curried Cream of Pumpkin Soup and the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes. Blanch the green beans and make the sauce for that dish. Refrigerate.

Wednesday: Pick up a fresh turkey, allowing 3/4 to 1 pound per person. Make stock from the neck and giblets. Make stuffing and gravy; refrigerate. Wash turkey in cold water and dry well; cover and refrigerate. Set the table and cover with a sheet. Take the cake out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge.

Thursday: Determine when you would like to eat. Calculate the cooking time, stuff the turkey, place it on a rack in a large roasting pan and bake as directed. If you don't stuff the turkey, put the dressing into a loaf pan and cook it with the turkey for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 45 minutes while you heat the soup, the gravy and vegetable sauce on the stove, and bake the potatoes and corn in the 350-degree oven. Take out the green beans from the fridge. After 25-30 minutes, take out the potatoes and corn and crank up the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, serve the soup and urge everyone to start without you. Carve the turkey. Remove the stuffing to a serving dish, or slice it from the loaf pans. Toss the green beans with the sauce. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees. Serve and enjoy!

For dessert, put the apple cake into the oven 10 minutes before you're ready to serve. Heat up the sauce. Serve up the cake and top with sauce. Or soften the ice-cream pie a bit by putting it in the refrigerator before sitting down to eat, then serve it with its sauce after the meal.

Do not try this turkey dinner at home

Monday, November 17, 2008

What does raw hide?

Foodies, especially those who have lived in France and England, extol the virtues of cheese made from unpasteurized milk. Pasteurization does affect flavor, but it may be an effect that we can live with. According to research published in the November issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, there’s a lot more in raw milk than previously thought.

"When we looked at the bacteria living in raw milk, we found that many of them had not been identified before," said Dr. Malka Halpern from the University of Haifa, Israel. "We have now identified and described one of these bacteria, Chryseobacterium oranimense, which can grow at cold temperatures and secretes enzymes that have the potential to spoil milk."

Debate continues to rage about the benefits and risks of drinking unpasteurized milk. Some people believe the health benefits resulting from the extra nutrient content of raw milk outweigh the risk of ingesting potentially dangerous microbes, such as Mycobacterium bovis, which can cause tuberculosis, and Salmonella species.

Pasteurization involves heating milk to 162 degrees for 15-20 seconds in order to reduce the number of microbes in the liquid.

Tip -

xGoof of the day: I broiled a pound of Peruvian asparagus I got from Whole Foods yesterday (seasoned with a spray of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper, 8 minutes, perfect to the tooth and a lovely shade of green) after popping off the bottoms. But since I no longer have a compost pile (we're renting a condo in Charlottesville until June), I wanted to use the bottoms as well. I thought maybe by slowly cooking them until soft, I could purée them and use them in soup. I thought wrong. They turned a putrid green and once processed, they were as stringy as a bowl full of toothpicks. Slimy toothpicks. So the bottoms ended up in the trash anyway.

Tip +

aSuccess of the day: I bought a trio of whole wheat croissants last week, which were delicious with 6 g of fiber and 7 g of protein but heavy on the saturated fat (hey, they were flaky... how many whole wheat items can claim that?). We used two for sandwiches, but the last one was left hanging out on the counter until I noticed it this morning. Of course, it was dry and crusty. Rather than throw it out, I put it in the food processor and in 10 seconds, I had about a half cup of nice crumbs. I'll use them on fish fillets or chicken breasts later this week and let you know how they turn out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mex to the max

Spice is nice, but Mexican food doesn’t necessarily need to sear your lips to be authentic. Here’s one of my favorite meals that can be put together in about a half hour.


Serves 2

6 corn tortillas
6 chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts, cut into 3 strips each
Garlic salt
Chili powder
Salsa or guacamole for dipping

If serving with rice and beans, your beans should be cooked and on low, and you should start the rice before assembling the taquitos, since rice will stay warm up to 30 minutes after it’s done.

Heat about a quarter-inch of oil over medium heat in a frying pan that’s just a little larger than the tortillas. Have 6 paper towels ready. When the oil is hot, grab a tortilla by its edge with tongs and briefly submerge it in the oil. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat with all the tortillas. Keep the oil medium hot, just under smoking.

Season the chicken tenders or strips with a light dusting of the spices. Roll up each piece of chicken in a blotted tortilla and secure with a toothpick.

Put three taquitos in at a time. Brown on all sides (the toothpicks can come out after the first side is browned). The chicken will be thoroughly cooked, yet tender and moist inside. Keep the first three warm while cooking the rest.

Serve hot with the salsa or guacamole.