Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Kitchen Experiments and Recipe Thoughts
Yesterday was a day of experimenting in the kitchen. I decided to play around with making a “zucchini ball. That name really doesn’t sound right to me so I will need to come up with another one before I finalize the recipe. The zucchini ball (or dumpling) recipe isn’t ready to be published just yet but it is close. I will be making another batch this week and hope to have it finalized with that attempt so that I can publish it for you.
Vegetable and Potato Salad:
Today when I was in the kitchen I made a vegetable and potato salad. Instead of giving you the recipe I decided to explain it step by step and explain why I included certain items and methods. After all it is better that you know how to create recipes rather than just being able to follow them.
The salad today was inspired by standard all-American potato salad that we have all had. However I knew that I needed to add more veggies to make it a healthier dish. Also I wasn’t going to add mayonnaise because all that oil isn’t healthy. Here is what I did:
I used my stove-top halogen/convection/infra red oven to roast the potatoes. I cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks and doused them with wine vinegar, dried Italian seasoning, freshly ground black pepper and powdered garlic. The vinegar was added for two reasons. First the vinegar coated the potatoes so the seasonings would stick. Second the vinegar adds flavor to the potatoes. Use the tip of a paring knife to make certain they are thoroughly cooked. If you have any doubts eat one to be certain. Once the potatoes are cooked I spread them out on a sheet pan in the single layer so they would cool more quickly.
Next I cut zucchini into bite-sized chunks and roasted those in the stove-top oven. I coated the zucchini chunks with the same ingredients that I used for the potatoes (wine vinegar, Italian seasonings, black pepper and powdered garlic). The reason I roasted the zucchini was to reduce the water content of the squash and thereby concentrate the flavor. When the zucchini are tender crisp move them to a sheet pan to cool as well.
While the zucchini are cooking defrost some frozen artichokes thoroughly. You want to remove as much water as possible. If in doubt pat the artichokes dry with a clean lint free kitchen towel though a thorough draining should be enough.
Now make the dressing. I use cashew crème as a mayo stand it most of the time. To make the dressing combine raw cashews with a splash of water in your blender and process until completely smooth. I add a little wine vinegar to brighten the flavor. If you want you can add raw or caramelized garlic clove as well. Additionally you could add a touch of Dijon if you like.
Combine the cooled roasted potatoes, zucchini and artichokes with the dressing. You should have approximately equal parts potato and other veggies (zucchini and artichokes).
When I got this far I knew that I needed to add something to this salad for crunch. If I hadn’t used cashew crème for a dressing I would have used nuts. However with the fat in the cashews I knew that nuts weren’t a good choice. Instead I added some diced celery for crunch.
Now taste the salad and see what it needs. In this case I thought it was a little bland and added more freshly ground black pepper, some minced fresh parsley and just a little finely minced fresh rosemary. The fresh herbs add a punch of flavor, freshness and nutrition.
If you like potato salad this is a healthier version of an American classic. I hope this helps inspire you to make some of your favorite recipes healthier. If you have a recipe that needs a makeover and you don’t know where to start feel free to ask me. Either you can post your questions here or you can email me the recipe at email@example.com and I will help you rework your recipe.
• Massimo is feeling so much better today he was playing “mouse fetch” this evening with Dan. It is so good to see Masi playing again. You have no idea how much I love that sweet little fuzz ball.
• I was chatting with my girlfriend Deirdre today and she asked how often I go out for walks. The answer is every day. Deirdre wants to go with me some mornings now. I am really looking forward to a little girl time in the morning. It is very nice to have Deirdre close enough to see more often than when she lived in Annapolis.
• The gluten-free zucchini ball (dumpling) experiment went very well yesterday. I was stretching myself by making them gluten-free since I thought that would be more of a challenge. It is always nice when things work out better than you expect. The texture on the balls worked out well, now I just need to get the seasonings right and that recipe will be ready for sharing.
• Dan told me this evening that he is going to try to work a half day on Friday so we can spend more time together. Isn’t he just the sweetest husband? I am a very lucky lady to be married to someone who loves me as much as I love him.
It is time for me to start winding down and call it a night. I hope Wednesday treated you well. Talk to you again very soon.