Thursday, May 23, 2013
Don't you love recipes where you dump the pasta in with everything else, and it magically cooks just right? I do! I used ground bison, you could use any ground meat: beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, even vegetarian "meat." This is extremely simple and extremely satisfying, with a layer of gooey cheese on top. Gets even better on reheating.
This recipe uses homemade creamed spinach, which is easy to make. You make a Bechamel sauce (a milk sauce thickened with butter and flour, one of the classic French sauces) and mix in chopped spinach. You could use a package of frozen creamed spinach, but it's so easy to make your own, why not make it from scratch? Tastes a lot fresher too.
Baked Meaty Pasta
(serves 6-8, costs $9.50, though the cost will vary depending on meat used)
non-stick cooking spray
1 pound ground meat
about 1 teaspoon salt
about ½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups water
8 ounces dry penne, regular or whole-wheat
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup milk (skim, low-fat or whole)
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (see Note)
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese, about 1 cup
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 3 quart baking casserole dish with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
Spray non-stick cooking spray on a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and brown. Break up the big chunks into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the tomatoes, garlic powder, dried onion, oregano, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Spoon enough sauce into the baking dish to cover the bottom. Add the penne. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the penne.
In the same skillet that you cooked the sauce in (no need to clean it out), melt the butter. Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the milk, stirring to smooth out the lumps. Cook until the milk thickens. Add the spinach, stirring to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour spinach over sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Sprinkle on the cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
Note: Instead of frozen spinach, you can use a 10 ounce package of fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped, or 2 cups cooked broccoli. You can even use a combination, which is what I used.
Monday, May 20, 2013
The most common restaurant form of sweet and sour anything is a rather gloppy dish, often with an alarmingly red-colored sauce, thanks to red food coloring. This is not that dish. This is a light but tasty interpretation that is only a little bit sweet and a just a little bit sour. Usually, the "meat" is battered and deep-fried. No meat here, just tofu, and no deep-fat frying either. Frying may result in a delicious crispiness, but I find it rather a pain to execute. First, you need to heat up a fair bit of oil, even for shallow frying. That means you get to eat a fair amount of oil too. But, worst of all, is dealing with the oil afterward, hot oil being something like napalm. Frying is a fine technique once in a while as a treat. It's not what I consider a quick everyday sort of thing, however.
In this recipe, I do brown the tofu in a little bit of oil. This is to change the texture - it becomes chewy and I like that. If you don't want to bother (tofu, with its high water content spits a great deal when you brown it), just skip the browning step and use raw tofu. The texture will be softer but the flavor will be very similar. And, it will cut a bit of time off of a dish that comes together quickly, even if you brown the tofu.
Sweet and Sour Tofu
(serves 4, costs $5.10)
14-16 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into ½" cubes and blotted with paper towels
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
½ of a medium onion, cut into ½" chunks
½ to 1 whole medium red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into ½" chunks
1 cup fresh or canned pineapple, cut into ½ chunks or use canned bits
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon white or cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons sake, rice wine, or dry sherry
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
⅔ cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 Tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon cold water
¼ - ½ teaspoon salt
sliced scallions or chopped cilantro, for garnish if desired
Combine all the sauce ingredients(the garlic to the stock) in a medium bowl and set aside.
If browning tofu, get a large skillet or wok very hot and add the oil. [You want to fit all the tofu in the pan in one layer without crowding them together so they will brown nicely. If your wok isn't big enough to do this all at once, brown the tofu in 2 batches.] Add the tofu and brown on one side, give it a stir, and brown on another side. It takes too long to brown all six sides, but 2 sides is enough to change the texture. After the tofu is browned on 2 sides, remove to a bowl.
Get the skillet very hot again and add the onion. Cook until it just starts to brown a little and the onion is softened. Remove to the bowl with the tofu. Reduce the heat to medium and add the red pepper, then the sauce. Bring to a boil. Add in the cornstarch-water mixture, bring back to a boil, and cook until the sauce thickens. Add in the tofu, onions, pineapple, and salt. Stir and cook for a few minutes to get everything hot. Garnish with scallions and/or cilantro, if desired. Serve over hot rice.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
It was a fine day for a cooking competition at our local Whole Foods Market! What better way to celebrate Food Revolution Day then to try to whip up two dishes using seasonal ingredients in fifty minutes? It was intense but loads of fun.
My competition, two very fine chefs:
Brandy Dreibelbis, Boulder Valley School District Manager of The School Food Project
Dana Villiers, Whole Foods Market Pearl Street Cooking Coach
Two rounds of twenty-five minutes each. Believe me when I say twenty-five minutes flies by in about thirty seconds!
The appetizer round: pork belly, asparagus, and polenta. Three very different results. Brandy put together a great looking breakfast with fresh herb polenta, fried egg, and pork belly. Dana made a Filipino pork belly with chiles and her secret ingredients, a 9 year old balsamic vinegar. I made honey-soy glazed with ginger grits and grilled asparagus.
The entree round: hanger steak, ramps, and gluten-free pancake mix. The pancake mix definitely was the wild card. Dana definitely was the crafty one with the pancake mix. She used it to make a crepe that she used instead of a pancake for her moo shu hanger steak. I think that's what sealed the win for her. :-)
|Whole Foods presenting a big check to BVSD's School Food Project|
Big thanks to our Pearl St. Whole Foods Market! We so appreciate their support of Food Revolution Day 2013, the School Food Project, and the Growe Foundation.
Friday, May 17, 2013
On this Food Revolution Day 2013, the School of Eating Good would like to announce a new initiative: Cooking to Advance Community and Health for Everyone (CACHE).
Cooking is about sharing, as the tagline for FRD2013 says: Cook it. Share it. Live it. We cook for ourselves and we cook for others. It binds us together in a community. It's how we show we care.
And what better way to show how much we care, then by bringing people together to learn a few things about real food, cooking from scratch, and how these things can enhance our health. Then, we share some great food, building community.
In the past, our efforts for food education have focused on young adults - specifically college students - but we want to broaden this because we believe everyone enjoys sharing food with friends and everyone can discover the hidden "chef" within them to share their love with others. We're not talking fancy but we are talking cooking from scratch with real ingredients.
For the blog readers locally (local being the Denver/Boulder area), this means if you have a group of people that wants to learn about cooking delicious food quickly, we'll come up with a 2 hour class. We'll work together to find a good space. The number of people is up to you. For small groups, we can be very hands-on, like in our classes for college students. For bigger groups, we'll be cooking and you'll (mostly) be watching. But, no matter what, you'll get to try some delicious food at the end of it.
What about the cost? School of Eating Good was conceived as a not-for-profit school. We believe cooking is such an important skill, that everyone needs to know how to do it. We fully support efforts to bring food education back to schools but it's going to be an uphill battle. Until that happens, School of Eating Good is doing what we can in our community to teach everyone to cook, in a fun and friendly way and at a reasonable cost. We will work with anyone to arrive at a price that fits your needs. [And if you want to support our mission, get in touch. We've happy to take donations.*]
The significance of the acronym CACHE? A cache is a hidden treasure, a repository of wonderful things. That's what cooking skills are - a cache of knowledge that you can pull out everyday to make your life and the lives of the people you care about a little bit better.
Cook it! Share it! Live It! And have a tasty Food Revolution Day!
*School of Eating Good, Inc. is in the process of applying for recognition as a 501(c)(3) and is organized as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Colorado.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Tomorrow is officially Food Revolution Day! Events are taking place around the world. Our event is happening Saturday and it promises to be quite a good time. Hoping to see my local readers there and we can eat some great food provided by Whole Foods Markets, listen to some live music, and talk about food, cooking and food education.
In celebration of the day, Jamie Oliver is holding a Google+ Hangout to talk about all the great things happening for Food Revolution Day. There will be Jamie, who is hoot and so full of energy about real food and food education that you'll want to run to the kitchen to cook something right away. Special guests will include Lindsey Shifley, one of my fellow Ambassadors and the power behind The Mullies, a great blog about one mom's journey on the road to real food and cooking.
You can see the particulars and RSVP for the Hangout here or watch the event live-streaming on www.youtube.com/foodrevolution. I'll be watching so Jamie can fire me up for my Mystery Ingredient Cooking Competition on Saturday.
Cook it. Share it. Live it.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A friend of mine forwarded me this link about saving money by keeping things tidy in the kitchen.
How a Clean Kitchen Saves Your Family Money
It has some great reasons to:
How a Clean Kitchen Saves Your Family Money
It has some great reasons to:
- Clean up dirty dishes promptly
- Keep your countertops clutter-free (of dirty dishes and other stuff)
- Keep on top of what's in your refrigerator
They offer some smart solutions to getting these things done, all the time. I can personally attest to the problem of eating through stuff in the fridge, instead having it end up in the garbage. What a waste! One thing I would add to their list of solutions: learn to turn leftovers into something new. There are lots of posts here on the blog about taking leftovers and making a delicious meal out of them. Check out:
Tips to make cooking more pleasurable and less stress-free AND save some money? Sounds great to me!
Monday, May 13, 2013
I'm one of the chefs in the Cooking Competition. This is going to be fun! Excited to compete against chefs from my great partners for Food Revolution Day: Whole Foods Market, who is providing food, entertainment, and their awesome Pearl St. store's West Patio, and Boulder Valley School District's School Food Project.
Come join in the fun! If you don't live near Boulder, check out the main Food Revolution Day site for listings of Food Revolution Day activities throughout the world. Or, have your own Food Revolution Day celebration: invite friends over and cook a meal using real ingredients.
Cook it. Share it. Live it.