Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Bowl

I was hanging out with friends on play off Sunday and we decided spontaneously to have a playoff party. It was really fun as we all ran off to our favorite markets and pulled together chips, dips, sausage sandwiches and shrimp cocktail. Assorted chocolate coved treats and fresh berries rounded off our meal. For me it was a blast because I don’t normally eat that way. As we were watching the games we thought how fun it would be to have a super bowl party based on famous foods from the two teams cities. We came up with a lot of things for New Orleans and New England, but came up a bit light for Chicago and Indianapolis. Though a pizza bar could be fun, we decided to cozy up with chili, cornbread, salad some fruit and cheese and maybe a few chips for the “kids”! Have fun, enjoy the game and mostly use it as an excuse to hang with friends and family.

Vegetable Chili
! /2 cup olive oil
4 small red onions, roughly chopped
8 cloves of garlic
2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
6 carrots cut lengthwise then sliced
3 bunches broccoli, roughly chopped
3 zucchini cut lengthwise then sliced
3 yellow squash, cut lengthwise then sliced
2 cans (35 ounces) Italian style stewed tomatoes
3 pounds fresh ripe Plum tomatoes cut in 1- inch cubes
4-6 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons Italian Spices
(Or any combo of basil, oregano, sage, etc.)
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1-teaspoon salt
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
2 cups tomato sauce

Heat olive oil in really large pot. Add onion, garlic, peppers, carrots and broccoli. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add all tomatoes and beans. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add all spices and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the marinara sauce and 1 cup of water. Cook covered, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Serve with lots of shredded cheddar cheese chopped scallions and homemade corn bread.

Chili con Carne

3 Red Onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Pinch of salt
2 pounds Sirloin, cut into half inch pieces
2 15 oz cans kidney beans
3 large cans diced tomatoes

Sauté’ onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender over medium heat. Add seasoning. Then add the sirloin and brown the meat stirring constantly. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least one more hour.

Corn Bread
1-cup buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1-cup flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1/2-teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar.
Spray a 9-inch square pan with bakers joy. Combine buttermilk, eggs and butter. In a medium bowl mix cornmeal, flour baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in the buttermilk mixture until just mixed. The batter may be a bit lumpy. Pour into the greased pan. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown.

Jalapeno Cornbread
Great flavor with a nice kick!!!
4 eggs
1-cup buttermilk
2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned
2 sticks melted butter
4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 cups cornmeal, blue, yellow or white
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Mix in a large bowl. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. Bake at 350 for about one hour or until golden on top.

Over Sized Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-teaspoon salt
2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3-teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
3 packages (12 ounces each) assorted chocolate chips
(I like the mixture Ghirardelli 60% semi sweet, milk chocolate and biter sweet chunks.)
2 cups pecans, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Ser Aside. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and sugars. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs on at a time. Change to low speed and add the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Using a large ice cream scoop drop the dough onto a cookie sheet. The perfect amount is 5 to a tray. Bake about 15 minutes until edges are golden brown.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Meat, Turkey and Veggie Loafs

I thought that there was nothing I could do to shock my mother. After five kids and 7 grand children all I had to do was tell her that I was making meatloaf for a dinner party and I thought she would have a heart attack! I have served these at some of the trendiest parties in town. People go crazy. Serve them with mashed potatoes, corn, green beans or anything that reminds you of home! The meatloaf is rich and flavorful. The turkey loaf was created when I was looking fore something a bit lighter and is always a hit. The vegetarian lentil loaf is one of my most popular veggie entrees! Often times I serve them as minis. If you want make a double batch and freeze the uncooked loaf. Defrost and cook as directed. The country gravy works well with all. You can substitute the vegetable stock with beef or turkey stock. This is truly comfort food at its best!

The Meatloaf
4 tablespoons Butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
3 carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch salt
1-teaspoon black pepper
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 eggs, well beaten
3/4 ketchup
3/4 cup half and half
3 pounds ground chuck
1-pound sausage meat

Pre-heat oven to 375. In a large skillet melt butter and add onion, scallions, carrots, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Cook stirring until moisture has evaporated about 10 minutes. Stir in seasoning and let cool. In a large bowl mix meats, vegetable mixture eggs, ketchup, half and half and blend thoroughly. Place in a loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes and slice and serve.

Gwen's Turkey Meatloaf

(This is the basic...I tend to hit a little heavy on the can also add any veggies you like or delete any you don't according to taste)
2 Packages Ground Turkey
1 Package Turkey Sausage (what ever kind you like...I like Aid ells)
3 carrots
1 bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
3 celery ribs
1 onion
Garlic to taste (I like lots)
2 bunch scallions
2-teaspoon kosher salt
2-teaspoon black pepper
2-teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 egg
1 cup Ketchup
2 cup half and half or heavy cream

Chop all veggies fine (in or out of food processor) Sauté in heavy skillet with 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil until tender. Add spices and let cool for 10 minutes. In large bowel mix ground turkey, turkey sausage; veggie mixes ketchup, egg and half-and-half. Fill loaf pan and bake at 375 for about one hour or until the loaf is pulled from the pan. Let stand for about 5 minutes and serve with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus...or what ever you like.

Baked Lentil Loaf with Vegan Country Gravy

1 cup dry lentils
1 bay leaf
1-cup lentils
3 cups water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sesame oil
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 cup rolled oats
1-cup breadcrumbs
1-teaspoon thyme
1-teaspoon rosemary
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan cook the lentil, waters and the bay leaf until soft and the water is absorbed about 45 minutes. Set aside. Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery red peppers, and the spices and sauté about 15 minutes more. Let cool.
Add veggie mixture to lentil mixture mix well and then add the sesame oil, rolled oats, breadcrumbs and lemon. Mix well and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 45 minutes until firm. Serve warm with gravy.
Country Gravy
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 portabella mushrooms, slice 1/4 inch thick, then each slice in 4ths
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups veggie stock
1/2-teaspoon thyme
1/2-teaspoon rosemary
Pinch salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
Fresh thyme and rosemary to float on the top
In a skillet heat 1 1/2-tablespoon olive oil. Add mushroom, garlic and onion and sauté for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat up remaining oil and add flour and whisk until smooth and cook 30 seconds. Add stock in a steady stream while continuing to whisk cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserve mushrooms, thyme and rosemary and cook 5 minutes more season with salt and pepper. Pour into gravy boat and serve with mashed potatoes and the baked lentil loaf.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter Stews

I sure enjoyed the stormy, snowy Christmas. A bit of rain then back up to 80. I guess I am not really complaining, but it can be challenging to decide if you want a winter roast or a BBQ. When the weather is a bit cooler it is a wonderful time for stews and chilies. No matter what the temperature is the ease of putting everything in a pot and letting them cook all day is wonderful. My moms beef stew is hearty and rich and the perfect comfort food. The lentil stew and veggie chili are lighter and fresher, but so bold and flavorful they make wonderful meals. The read beans and rice are so delicious and if you are feeling like cutting back a bit you can eliminate the ham and replace the andouille sausages for turkey sausages. No matter what you are craving cozy up with your family and enjoy all the old and new flavors.

I have brought this stew to many events. It is a great traveling dish and a great addition to a buffet especially when you need a vegetarian dish.

1/2-cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped opinion
1-cup carrots
1-cup broccoli
1-cup kale
1-cup spinach
2 cups little green lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
6 cups marinara Sauce
1/2 cup red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
2-tablespoons basil, thyme
In a large soup pot heat oil and sauté over medium heat onions and garlic. Add lentils, carrots, broccoli, kale and spinach. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over low heat for about one hour.

Mom’s Beef Stew
One of the best things my mama made. I have such childhood memories of walking by the stew pot and grabbing a piece of meat. This is really traditional and wonderful.
1/4-cup canola oil
3 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
8 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)
2 cups celery
3 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
Flour (as needed)
Kitchen bouquet (as needed)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Dredge Beef in flour and add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, onions and sauté 5 minutes longer. Add beef stock and bay leaves. Add celery, carrots and potatoes Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer about1 hour until everything is tender, not soft and soggy. Add some kitchen bouquet for color (nice and dark brown) and if gravy is not thick enough make a roe. (In a coffee mug add one tablespoon flour and stir in liquid from the stew and blend until smooth. pour into the stew and give it a few minutes to thicken. repeat as needed until the gravy is nice and thick. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sourdough bread and a salad. This served 5 hungry children with leftovers!

Vegetable Chili
This is a basic roadmap. You can add or delete any veggies. So warm and cozy, like a hearty chili should be.

! /2 cup olive oil
4 small red onions, roughly chopped
8 cloves of garlic
2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
6 carrots cut lengthwise then sliced
3 bunches broccoli, roughly chopped
3 zucchini cut lengthwise then sliced
3 yellow squash, cut lengthwise then sliced
2 cans (35 ounces) Italian style stewed tomatoes
3 pounds fresh ripe Plum tomatoes cut in 1- inch cubes
4-6 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons Italian Spices
(Or any combo of basil, oregano, sage, etc.)
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1-teaspoon salt
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
2 cups tomato sauce

Heat olive oil in really large pot. Add onion, garlic, peppers, carrots and broccoli. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add all tomatoes and beans. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add all spices and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the marinara sauce and 1 cup of water. Cook covered, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Serve with lots of shredded cheddar cheese chopped scallions and homemade corn bread.

Red Beans and Rice
1 pound red beans
4 tablespoons oil
2 Medium onions chopped fine
1 green bell pepper
2-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon black pepper
1/2-teaspoon red pepper
1/2-teaspoon white pepper
2 cups chopped scallions
1 cup chopped parsley
2 smoked ham hocks (or salt pork)
2 pounds andouille sausages
3 garlic cloves
1-teaspoon sugar

Mahatma Brand Rice
3people per dry cup
3 bay leaves
Soak beans over night, and then drain saving the water. In a big pot over medium heat sauté’ onion, bell pepper, garlic and sausages. Then add beans, 1-cup scallions, and all seasonings and cover plus one inch with reserved bean water. Add ham hocks and bring to a hard boil. Lower to medium heat. Stir occasionally for 2 hours. (Add water if drying out) Take out 3 cups of beans and mash them up and put back into the pot. Garnish with scallions and parsley and serve over rice.

Monday, January 12, 2009


As I walk through the open-air market far from the abundance of winter fruits I stumble upon the misfit vegetables. Winter root vegetables lack the vibrant shade from the skin, but once peeled the beetroot is magnificent with intense texture and color. Uncooked they are crunchy but the transformation after cooking is smooth and buttery.
Red or golden is said that beets are good for the brain, but I just love the taste.

Beet, Lemon, and Ginger Marmalade
1 pound cooked beets combination of red and gold
1/2 tsp salt

Juice and zest of one lemon
1-teaspoon ginger, minced
Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, sliced

Peel and coarsely grate the beets, and transfer to a medium-sized bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a tightly capped jar.

Roasted Beet Salad
1 pound beets, washed, steams trimmed 1/2 inch above beetroot
1-tablespoon horseradish
6 Sage leaves, sliced
Pinch salt and pepper
8 ozs goat cheese
Place beet in a tightly covered casserole dish. Pour enough water to cover 1/2 inch at the bottom. Roast at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. It is cooked when the skin is slightly wrinkled and removes easily with your fingers. Remove from oven and as soon as they are cool enough to touch, remove skin and cut into about 8 1/4 inch pieces. While still warm mix well with horseradish, sage, salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours. Mix well again. Add the crumbled goat cheese. Mix and serve.

Golden Beet Soup With Walnut Oil
5 pounds large gold beets, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
2 onions, diced
1 leek, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4-cup honey
Salt and pepper
10 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup Walnut Oil
Walnut oil to drizzle on soup
Chopped chives to garnish

Sautee onions and leeks in olive oil over medium heat. When vegetables begin to caramelize add honey and beets. Cook until honey bubbles. Add chicken stock and simmer until beets are very tender. Add water if liquid reduces too much. Season to taste. Let soup cool slightly and then puree in blender. Re-warm in pan and whisk in Walnut oil. Serve with drizzle of walnut oil and garnish with chives.

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Avocado Aioli
1 lemon, halved
12 baby artichokes
1-pound young carrots, tops trimmed to 1 inch
1/2 pound thin green beans
1/2 pound sugar snap peas
12 small red-skinned new potatoes
12 small beets
½ cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Avocado Aioli:
2 ripe Hass avocados (about 1/2 pound each)
2 Tablespoons fresh limejuice
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Toss the carrots, green beans, snap peas, potatoes and beets with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes in a pre-heated 400-degree oven Trim the artichoke stems and cut about 1/2 inch off the tops. Remove any tough outer leaves at the base and snip the points from the remaining leaves with scissors. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the artichokes and lemon half’s and boil until tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well. Meanwhile halve the avocados. Scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash with the lime juice and garlic. Scrape into a food processor and puree. With the machine on, drizzle in the oil. Scrape the puree into a bowl. Fold in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. To serve, arrange the vegetables on a large platter. Sprinkle with parsley and serve the aioli in a bowl on the side.

Fussili With Beets, goat cheese and sage
2 pounds beets (red or golden or a combo)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-tablespoon olive oil
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
1 pound fussily
1-cup goat cheese

In the top of a steamer basket steam scrubbed beets until fork tender about 30 minutes. Remove beets and let stand. When cool enough to handle, rub off skin using a paper towel. Slice beets into wedges. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente about 10 minutes. In a large bowl toss beets with garlic olive oil, stock and sage leaves. Drain the pasta and return to pot. Toss pasta with 2/3 the goat cheese reserving the rest for garnish. Add beets mixture and coat well. Divide onto 4-6 plates and sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mindful Eating

As I cook away for the many parties and events people are often amazed at the amount of love I pour into my food. You can just feel it from all of your senses. The part of my work that I love the most is connecting with people and sharing my thoughts and ideas of a more mindful approach to eating. It is not about dieting it about cultivating a lifestyle that allows you time with your friends and family, activity and eating for pleasure. Taking a moment at the market to really search out the freshest ingredients while cutting corners where you can. If you are grilling one night toss on some veggies for next days lunch. Grill your swordfish and serve it with a simple mixed green salad. Grill extra chicken to keep in the fridge. Keep your sauces, salsas and marinades simple or find good packaged ones! I make everything from scratch, when I am working. While cooking at home well, we all need help from time to time and there are some amazing products available! Mostly just take a few minutes to enjoy you family and friends and express love through the meals that you create.

Asian Marinade for Vegetables
This simple marinade works well with chicken or fish. Eggplant, summer squashes, asparagus, inions, beets, corn. Just to name a few.
Be creative and look for fun veggies to grill!

6 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 inches Ginger, finely chopped
1 bunch Mint leaves, chopped
1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
1bunch Basil, chopped
3 Green onions, sliced
2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/2 cup Rice wine vinegar
Juice of 4 Limes and zest
1/4-cup Soy sauce
1/4 cup Honey
1-tablespoon Chili sauce

Remove and grate zest of limes and juice limes. Prepare 12 cups of vegetables for the grill. Combine ingredients and marinate for 2 hours rotating occasionally. Grill vegetables, brushing with marinade.

Shrimp on rosemary skewers
A very simple and amazing way to prepare shrimp. I have the biggest rosemary tree in my yard so I am always looking for ways to use it. Cutting 2 inch pieces of rosemary strip stem starting about 1" from top of stem. Using a very sharp knife cut points at the end of the stem. You will need about 25 for this recipe.

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon coarse
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves plus sprigs for garnish
4 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for brushing shrimp
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, cleaned with tails on

In a large bowl stir together garlic, minced rosemary, and 3 tablespoons oil and add shrimp. Marinate shrimp, covered and chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Thread the shrimp with the rosemary skewer.
On an oiled grill or a stovetop grill arrange shrimp so that the rosemary skewers are away from the flame.
Grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges

Swordfish and Veggie skewer
1 large lemon
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of Dijon Mustard
1/2-cup pinot gringo (or any light) vinegar
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 a teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-pound swordfish
1 large red onion
16 mushrooms
2 yellow or green bell pepper
8 cherry tomatoes

In a small bowl juice the lemon and add 2 teaspoons add two teaspoons zest. Combine the oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and black and red pepper. Cut the swordfish into 24 equal pieces.
Cut onion in half and each half into quarters. Cut the bell pepper in half and de seeds it and cut into 16 pieces. Clean the mushrooms. Dividing equally and then alternating them, thread the swordfish with all the veggies ending with the cherry tomatoes on 8- 12-inch skewers. (Don’t forget if using wood they need to be soaked in water for about one hour. Brush with half the marinating mixture and let sit in the refridgerator for one hour. Prepare your grill. When it is ready, Brush the skewers with half the remaining marinade. Grill the skewers about 5 inches from the heat for five minutes. Turn over and grill about 5 more minutes until fish is lightly colored, firm to the touch, and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve at once.

Grilled swordfish in a Black bean Sauce
2- 15 oz cans of black beans
1-tablespoon peanut oil
1 red onion chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
6- 8 oz swordfish steaks
Peanut oil for brushing fish
In saucepan heat peanut oil and sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook until softened stirring constantly. Add the black beans and stock stir over medium heat until thicken and sauce reduces about half. Puree with an emulsion blender. I like to leave it a little chunky. Cover while preparing the fish. Prepare grill. (These can be done on the stovetop grill o broiler as well.) Brush fish well with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through about five minutes per side.) If you made the sauce a head reheat. Place fish on a plate and spoon over sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Pineapple Salsa
! /4 cup of olive oil
Juice of one lime
Juice of one lemon
4 tuna Steaks, 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.
Prepare the grill. Mix the oil and lemons and lime in a small bowl and brush over the tuna generously. Grill the tuna steaks 5 inches over the heat for about 6 minutes per side until they are firm to the touch. (Many people like there tuna rare…that would be about 3 minutes per side. I personally, like all of my fish cook through. Not over cooked, but cooked through. Believe me I have taken much flack about this from chefs over the years, just another lesson for being true to your own tastes no matter what the “experts” say. Remove from grill and serve immediately with a generous amount of salsa.
Pineapple Salsa
1 medium sized pineapple
Juice of 2-3 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup very finely slivered fresh ginger
1 white onion, cut into thin slivers
1 to 2 small red chilies, dried or fresh stemmed, seeded and cut into
Very thin slivers
1/2 cup coarsely cut cilantro

Peel pineapple, remove the "eyes,' then core. Slice and cut into
Thin, matchstick slivers. Add lime and lemon juices, sugar, salt
Ginger and onion. Taste for intensity of flavor; add additional
sugar and/or salt if needed. Add chile slivers very sparingly,
tasting until you reach the degree you prefer. (Caution: The heat
will intensify as the salsa stands.) Just before serving, stir in
cilantro. Best served within an hour or two of mixing.