Dear Gourmet Diva,
Do you cook vegetarian meals or meals that will help you loose weight?
I love my veggies Boston
Dear veggie lover in Boston,
Congrats on trying to eat healthier. Before I type any more I must make this disclaimer “I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV” ( I always wanted to say that). Please see a doctor before altering your diet.
With that said. It takes discipline to be a vegetarian (I love a good steak every now and then) Also the assumption is that you will loose weight if your vegetarian, I have seen some big vegetarians. Watch out for the pasta and rice.
When people think about being a vegetarian, they think all they can eat is tofu and salad. So wrong, there are so many options out there you can try. It depends on how adventurous your taste buds are. I included two recipes for you to try. One if you need something simple and the second is if your up for a taste bud challenge.
If your not in the mood to cook, try going to a Japanese or Indian restaurant its easy to find a vegetarian dish to try. Houston's has a great veggie burger, also Haley House in Roxbury, MA. Vegetarian Planet: 350 Big Flavor Recipes for Out of This World Food Every Day by Chef Didi Emmons who is the owner of Haley House.
Or better yet, call me, hourly rates do apply.
Ratatouille (Did you see the movie?)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into wedges
2 medium zucchinis, cut into squares
1 small red pepper cut into squares
1 small yellow pepper cut into squares
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium eggplant, halved
1 can (14 oz) canned tomatoes, crushed
½ teaspoon dried basil or oregano leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1.Heat the oil in a large, heavy – based pan and cook the onions over medium heat for 4 minutes or until soft. Add the zucchinis, peppers and garlic, stir for 3 minutes.
2.Cut the eggplant in chunks and add to the pan with the tomatoes, basil or oregano and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 – 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
For the adventurous, I tried this dish this weekend and it was great and its also “RAW” (def - no cooking of food)
Sweet and Spicy kale w/Tangerine Salsa (Submitted by Sharon)
4 Tangerines (or you can substitute w/Tangelinos, Mangoes, or Peaches), peeled, sliced, and seeded
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped finely
1Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
3 Stalks of scallion
1Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 tsp fresh Habanero (or you can substitute w/jalepeno) pepper, minced and use the flesh but remove and discard seeds and ribs. * I suggest you coate fingers w/olive oil before handling peppers. _Gourmet Diva – dont place fingers near eyes once you do this you will BURN them.
1 dash of Chinese 5 Star Seasoning (also called Chinese Five Spice powder)
Combine ingredients into each other gently. cover and refrigerate an hour before serving.
3 bunches of Dinosaur Kale (also called Lacino)
1Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp of Celtic or Himalayan Salt
After washing Kale chop finely and add olive oil and pinch of sea salt to bowl. Massage Kale and leave to sit for an hour or more.
Sweet and Spicy Marinade
3 Tbsp Nama Shoyu or Soy Sauce
3 scallions thinly chopped
1 lime juiced (optional...helps in the absorption of Vit C in Kale)
1Tbsp Toasted sesame oil
1Tbsp black sesame seeds
1/2tsp Chinese mustard powder (or wasabi powder)
pinch of Cayenne to taste
Mix marinade ingredients together and then pour into Kale bowl. Toss and serve.
Try eating w/ripe Avocado
I had the pleasure of eating at Bensi Ristorante in New Jersey for a wedding rehersal dinner.. Bensi is a New Jersey Italian chain restaurant serving traditional Italian food.
Once we entered Bensi we were greeted with smiles. The decor is contemporary with the color scheme in dark shades of red and black. The dining room had a huge black & white photo across the walls with pictures of people enjoying Italian food.
The drink menu had a variety of cocktails and wines. The favorite amoung the guest was the white wine sangria. The food menu had traditional Italian dishes as well as Bensi inspired dishes. For starters I would recommend the Fried Calamari. It was lightly fried and not too chewy :) For entrees we had the choice of Penne Bensi (Chicken, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil), Eggplant parmigiana and Grilled Salmon and Chicken Marsala. Pasta, vegetables, and salad were served family style. All were excellent and huge portions.
For dessert we had dessert platter filled with slices of chocolate cake filled with chocolate moose and cannoli's and the Bensi Tiramisu. The cannoli was too sweet for my taste. The tiramisu was my favorite.
Overall this was a great choice, lots of food for a great price. Check out www.bensirestaurants.com for the nearest Bensi.
What is your favorite Italian dish?
I get a text at 8:09am from Suzzette “Almost there”, I'm thinking “What, oh no, wait shes almost an hour early”. Lucky I was up since 7am, I threw on a t-shirt, jeans and my Janeen St. Louis earings ready to go.
I met Suzzette Turnbull (SOM '03) when she was the associate director of the MBA Program at Simmons School of Management in Boston. In addition to her duties as the associate director, she also was an advisor for the Women of Color Club, where I was the co-chair of the student group.
Suzzette and I became reacquainted after she moved to Florida over Facebook. I learned that she had the entrepreneurial bug and started Valentine Consulting of South Florida,LLC (www.solutionsmavens.net). Valentine Consulting provides business solutions for small business. One of her areas of specialty that resonated with me was social media design (ie how to integrate, twitter, facebook, myspace,YouTube,etc). I took one of her classes and was able to see the benefit of “tweeting”. Follow me at(www.twitter.com/thegourmetdiva)
I learned about twitter and facebook from Suzzette, so it was only fair that I teach her something. Today we made crème brulee french toast. (Recipe below)
Work, Life and Cooking Balance...
At first I was upset that Amare interrupted the Kitchen Coaching session. Thinking to myself, I'm trying to make this video as professional as possible and then you hear the loud “Bam, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy can you help me”. I realized this is my life, this is a lot of peoples lives, its reality.
On traditional cooking shows they film in a controlled environment. Does Rachel Ray help kids do homework in her 30 min show (humm maybe thats why she can get her meals done in 30 minutes) , Does Bobby Flay have to answer his Blackberry while doing a throwdown? Have someone on the Food Network create a show called “Real Life Cooking Challenges”, I'll gladly host it.
Gourmet Diva Tips for dealing with Real life challenges:
Kids: Have them help you out in the kitchen to keep them occupied. It helps them be comfortable in the kitchen as well. If they don't like to cook, then tough, you like to eat right?!
Work: If you can turn the phone off, there is nothing like getting caught up in a conversation and your meal goes array.
Do you have any tips to help deal with “Real life”?
Crème Brulee French Toast (recipe courtesy of Epicurious.com)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
an 8- to 9-inch round loaf country-style bread ( I used Challah bread, you can find at Shaw's or Stop and Shop)
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish. Cut six 1-inch thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use, and trim crusts. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 350° F. and bring bread to room temperature.
Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve hot French toast immediately.
Gourmet Diva Tips to Perfection:
1. Make sure you whisk the eggs, half and half, etc throughly, you dont want to see clumps of egg yolk
2. Its a very sweet french toast, you do not have to add syrup to it.
3. Dont have Grand Marnier – use orange juice
4. This recipe works great with any type of loaf bread (I heard croissants don't work though)