Meatless Monday Recipes: Split Pea Soup courtesy of inSHAPE

Taking an old classic and turning it into a modern, one-dish meal, this hearty soup is great for lunch or dinner (Kim even encourages clients to try soup for breakfast too). Best of all, it’s a really easy dish to prepare!

Taking an old classic and turning it into a modern, one-dish meal, this hearty soup is great for lunch or dinner (Kim even encourages clients to try soup for breakfast too). It incorporates crimini mushrooms in place of meat, and manages to develop a bit of a smoky flavor with a dash of smoked chipotle powder. Best of all, it’s a really easy dish to prepare! Once you get everything cut up, it’s a matter of minutes to put it all together. Then just let it simmer as long as you can or put it in a slow cooker for the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. carton of crimini or baby bella mushrooms
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 bags of dried green peas
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked chipotle powder
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, skinned and cubed
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

Instructions:

First dedicate a little time to your mise en place. Having all of your ingredients at your fingertips makes the preparation of this comfort-food favorite so easy!

Drizzle olive oil in a large stock pot (make sure it has a lid!) and saute onions for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking on high heat for another 2-3 minutes. Add water and stir thoroughly in order to deglaze any flavorful tidbits from the bottom of the pot. Then add peas, potatoes, parsley, salt, pepper, and chipotle.

Once pot is boiling, turn heat down to low and mix in carrots and celery. Cook at least an hour, but for best results, cook 3-4 hours for full flavor development. Enjoy with a small salad and snuggle up with a great book.

Find out more about inSHAPE Fitness. Be sure to check them out at www.inshape-fitness.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Meatless Monday Recipes: Angel Hair with Spring Peas and Cauli-fredo Sauce courtesy of inSHAPE

Creamy Alfredo sauce can wreak havoc on anyone’s healthy eating habits. This version, however, with milk (easily substituted by using soy or rice) and cauliflower is just as creamy and far more nutritious.

Creamy Alfredo sauce can wreak havoc on anyone’s healthy eating habits. This version, however, with milk (easily substituted by using soy or rice) and cauliflower is just as creamy and far more nutritious. Of course, we added parmesan cheese; you can’t forgo that!

With Spring in bloom, baby peas were just the crunch we wanted to make the meal more well rounded. If you opt for this Meatless Monday dish for a dinner, make sure that you eat soon enough to process all of those carbs.

Best reason to try it: it’s oh so easy to make!

Ingredients:

  • Angel hair pasta, cooked to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup spring peas, raw or lightly steamed

Preparation:

In a sturdy sauce pot, heat milk, butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and cauliflower. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes, then remove from heat and cool a bit. Using a hand mixer, blend until creamy (some small cauliflower chunks are great though) and return to low heat. After about 10 more minutes, add cheese and stir well.

Wait to add peas until it’s time to serve.

 Find out more about inSHAPE Fitness. Be sure to check them out at www.inshape-fitness.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter. 

Meatless Monday Recipes: Vegetable Coconut Curry with Wild Rice courtesy of inSHAPE

This curry is about the easiest way to prepare a one pot meal for your family. Wild or black rice is rich in fiber, and combined with the rich coconut base, also chock full of protein. We can’t think of any real reason this dish would need meat! You can kick it up with additional Indian spices like ginger, peppers, more cumin. We kept ours a bit more subdued to make it easier on toddler taste buds.

Vegetable Coconut Curry with Wild Rice
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard powder
  • 4 cups coconut milk (not the canned version but the coconut milk drink sold in dairy section)
  • 3 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion sliced thin
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut in large cubes
  • 2 parsnips, sliced
  • 2 cups green beans (snipped and cut)
  • 2 medium red peppers, squared
  • 2 bunches kale, about 2 cups when cut and washed
  • wild rice (about 1/2 cup per person)

Directions:

Melt butter in large pot with lid. Whisk flour and mustard in, then begin to slowly add coconut milk. Simmer on low heat (don’t let it boil) while you add your spices and onion. Now it’s time to turn your attention to the veggie prep. After about 20 minutes of simmering, the base will have started to thicken – and this is when it’s time to start adding veggies. Start with the sweet potatoes and parsnips. Allow these veggies to develop some flavor and after about 15 minutes, add green beans and peppers.  Save kale immersion for 5 minutes before serving, and plate on a bed of wild rice or quinoa. Or any other grain. Pair with a glass of crisp, dry white wine. Enjoy.

Find out more about inSHAPE Fitness. Be sure to check them out at www.inshape-fitness.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

An inside look at the Rosa Mexicano Fall Harvest Dinner menu

On Wednesday, October 24th, Rosa Mexicano restaurants all across the country will be holding their first annual Fall Harvest Dinner. The menu for the dinner to be held at Rosa Mexicano Boston, which was crafted by Culinary Advisor Jonathan Waxman, showcases a menu that melds local flavors and ingredients with Mexican cuisine. The offerings sound delicious, and thanks to Rosa Mexicano, we can tell you that they look delicious too! Here’s your sneak peek at two of the dishes on the menu, along with recipes so that you can make them for yourself even after enjoying them at the restaurant next week.

Guacamole en Molcajete

Courtesy of Rosa Mexicano, www.rosamexicano.com

Guacamole en Molcajete

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. White onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp.  Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp. Jalapeño, or more to taste, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Salt, or as needed
  • 3 Medium ripe but firm Hass avocados
  • 3 tbsp. Plum tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. White onion, finely chopped
  • Salt as desired
  • ¼ cup of pomegranate seeds; plus ¼ cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Directions:

  1. To make the chile paste:  Grind the onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and salt together in a molcajete until all the ingredients are very finely ground.  Alternatively, use a fork to mash all the ingredients to a paste in a wide hardwood bowl.
  2. Cut each avocado in half, working the knife blade around the pit.  Twist the halves to separate them and flick out the pit with the tip of the knife.  Fold a kitchen towel in quarters and hold it in the palm of your “non-knife” hand.  Rest an avocado half cut side up in your palm and make three or four evenly spaced lengthwise cuts through the avocado flesh down to the skin, without cutting through it.  Make four crosswise cuts in the same way.  Scoop the diced avocado flesh into the molcajete. Repeat with the remaining avocado halves.
  3. Gently fold the avocado into the paste, keeping the avocado in as large pieces as possible.  Add the tomato, cilantro, onion; pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts; and fold in gently.  Check and add salt if necessary.

Grilled Lobster & Sea Scallop Taco

Courtesy of Rosa Mexicano Culinary Advisor Jonathan Waxman

Grilled Lobster & Sea Scallop Taco
  • 2 lobsters
  • 6 sea scallops
  • tomatillo salsa
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 2 Meyer lemon
  • 1 Green papaya
  • 2 tbsp. avocado oil
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  1. Poach lobsters and then remove meat, slice thinly, keep ice cold.
  2. Grill the scallops, let cool and then slice thinly and keep ice cold.
  3. Make a jalapeno and green papaya salad: Seed and top chilies, slice finely. Peel and seed papayas, slice finely. Place in a bowl with avocado oil, the juice of the lemons and toss well.
  4. Toast the seeds until golden.
  5. To make a taco, cook the lobster and sea scallops on a plancha, toss with jalapeno salad, place on a tortillas, top with a teaspoon of tomatillo salsa and toasted seeds.

Tickets for the Rosa Mexicano Boston Fall Harvest Dinner are available for pre-purchase at www.rosamexicano.com for $45/person (plus tax and gratuity), which includes 4-course meal (cocktails purchased separately)

Meatless Monday Recipes: Split Pea Soup courtesy of inSHAPE

Taking an old classic and turning it into a modern, one-dish meal, this hearty soup is great for lunch or dinner (Kim even encourages clients to try soup for breakfast too). It incorporates crimini mushrooms in place of meat, and manages to develop a bit of a smoky flavor with a dash of smoked chipotle powder. Best of all, it’s a really easy dish to prepare! Once you get everything cut up, it’s a matter of minutes to put it all together. Then just let it simmer as long as you can or put it in a slow cooker for the day. We also discovered this amazing new product called the Wonder Bag, and in the coming week’s, we’ll be telling you more about this amazing kitchen tool that you really have to get your hands on.

Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  •  1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. carton of crimini or baby bella mushrooms
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 bags of dried green peas
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked chipotle powder
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, skinned and cubed
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

Instructions:

  • First dedicate a little time to your mise en place. Having all of your ingredients at your fingertips makes the preparation of this comfort-food favorite so easy!
  • Drizzle olive oil in a large stock pot (make sure it has a lid!) and saute onions for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking on high heat for another 2-3 minutes. Add water and stir thoroughly in order to deglaze any flavorful tidbits from the bottom of the pot. Then add peas, potatoes, parsley, salt, pepper, and chipotle.
  • Once pot is boiling, turn heat down to low and mix in carrots and celery. Cook at least an hour, but for best results, cook 3-4 hours for full flavor development. Enjoy with a small salad and snuggle up with a great book.

Find out more about inSHAPE Fitness. Be sure to check them out at www.inshape-fitness.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Dietro l’uomo barbuto (Behind the bearded man): An interview with Chef Jonathan Waxman

‘Barbuto’, the Italian word for ‘bearded’, serves as both a proper noun and an adjective. Well, at least it does within the context of this particular interview! Barbuto is the name of one of New York City’s best restaurants, serving up Italian inspired dishes that might make your nonna a little jealous. It is also the culinary home of chef and owner Jonathan Waxman, ‘barbuto’ adequately describing the man as well, though many who know him or know of him would likely prefer to use the phrase ‘master chef’.

Having learned his craft in France, Chef Jonathan cut his teeth in the kitchens of some of California’s most well known restaurants. While well versed in French, and California cuisine, he is, at his core, an Italian chef. For an easy example of it, look no further than his signature Pollo al Forno (get a glimpse of this dish on the Simon Schuster YouTube channel).

During my interview with Chef Jonathan we discuss how he ended up in the food industry (need being the ultimate motivator!), the hard work required of both musicians and chefs, and one of his favorite food memories.

Jonathan Waxman – Photo by Jeff Prehn

Foodie Journal: Passion and love for food seems to be a must for any successful chef. When did you discover that you really had a love for food?
Jonathan Waxman: I think that’s always a hard question, and was there an epiphany? No. Were there many bright moments, yes. I was raised by food loving parents who were not daunted by anything. We were exposed to Cantonese, Hunan, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, French and a plethora of others. In this fashion I discovered how much I enjoyed food.

FJ: How did you get your start in the industry?
JW: Honestly, my journey to the chef world was mandated by fate. I was in Hawaii playing in a rock & roll band that broke up, leaving me stranded, with no cash. I was told by the locals that I could either sell drugs or work in a restaurant, I chose the latter. So I was introduced to the industry in a very back handed way.

FJ: In doing a bit of research about you and you’re career, I came across an article in the Times from 2002 that said “whoever said chefs in the 80’s were like rock-and-roll stars had Jonathan in mind.” Is that something you embrace? Being a rock-star chef?
JW: Music and food have a lot of similarities. They both broker many hours of practice, practice and more practice. They both are part entertainment, part craft and they both have a lot of fans. I would say a chef doesn’t perform for 50,000 at one time, but over a year, yes.

FJ: It was around the late 80s and into the 90s that there was a real shift in how people perceived chefs and the food world, so much so that now everyone is aware of celebrity chefs. Do you feel that the attention has helped the industry or hurt it at all?
JW: When I was in school in Paris in the 1970’s, the chef movement there was well under way. It crossed the ocean in the 80’s but TV has pushed it to a logarithmic height. In some ways this is good and other ways it isn’t. It’s not as healthy an environment, mainly because some newbies think that stardom is an easy ride.

FJ: Your personal website, and the Barbuto site talk about the charities you’ve supported and continue to support. How important do you think it is for chefs, and everyone really, to give back to the community?
JW: I can only speak from a personal perspective. I enjoy giving back. I was blessed in my career, and now I have the ability to raise awareness and money for good causes, which I think is important.

FJ: I know it can be tough to pick just one, but is there a particular food memory or experience that you’ve had that really stands out to you that you wouldn’t mind sharing?
JW: My meal at the Troisgros restaurant in Roanne in 1976 was earth shattering. It opened a door to a world where chefs could be creative and have excitement. It was a triumph of sheer magic, and a celebration of the bounty of France. Mostly, it was a demonstration of how French culinary art was progressing and they were at the forefront.

Barbuto is located at 775 Washington Street New York, NY. You can check out some of Chef Jonathan’s amazing recipes in his latest cookbook “Italian, My Way”.

20 years together deserves a trip to remember – Part 2

The Jersey Kid has resurfaced, sending along a new post regarding his anniversary trip to Italy. One of my favorite aspects of this particular write up is that it touches on the childhood food trauma idea I wrote about a couple of weeks ago (We shall overcome!). Enjoy the reminiscings of Sorrento and the Isle of Capri.

Why did it take me so long to write again about my food experiences in Italy?  Beautiful scenery. Tremendous food. My wife of 20 years (don’t I have to include that?). Wine, and my daily limoncello intake could have been responsible.  But really, who feels like typing on an iPad when you have all these other options to keep you occupied?

My last post mentioned that I would likely be biased towards positive experiences in Italy, especially considering the circumstances and the location. Why anyone would want to walk in to a situation not open-minded enough to expect positive experiences is beyond me.  In doing so, would one really be having an experience, or just another in a series of food experiments, designed to chart sensory reactions?  I suppose I need to provide examples.  Ok, here goes…

Sorrento

The restaurant in Sorrento, Italy was right over the water.  Not on the water. Over the water (the restaurant was on a pier).  My wife and I had peppered mussels (not from P.E.I) while watching the sun go down over the Bay of Naples.  I am smiling as I type this up.  Why?  The food was ok and in fact, I don’t really remember the name of the restaurant. But, the view and location: tremendous.  The experience: wonderful. The chance that would have been the case had I walked in the door focusing just on food rather than the whole experience is minimal.

The Isle of Capri

We ate lunch at a wonderful restaurant, Edode.  This was recommended to us by our waiter at another restaurant in Sorrento.  He gave us the name of his friend, a fellow waiter, at Edode.  We arrived, were seated by the window to people watch (always good for experiences!) and we mentioned that they came recommended and that we wanted to meet Tonino.  Please start the experience meter.  We explained to Tonino what we were in the mood for and asked for recommendations.

A digression: when I was young, my mother scarred me emotionally with eggplant.  She accomplished this by serving some type of baked, cubed eggplant thing with croutons. It was quite simply, the worst tasting thing in the world. I would beg my father to say he didn’t like it so we wouldn’t have it again. I was made to sit at the kitchen table until I finished every bite.  There was no chicken finger option in my house growing up.  This meal was so bad that I have steadfastly refused to eat eggplant since those troubling meals.  In fact, I once was served eggplant parm and, thinking it was chicken parm (I never claimed to be bright), loved it!  As I dug in, the hostess asked how I liked her eggplant parm?  Just hearing that it was eggplant started the gag reflex.  Excuse me while I suck my thumb and rock back and forth for a bit…

Why am I boring you with that sordid tale of abuse by eggplant?  Tonino started us off with, yup, you guessed it, eggplant.  It… was… delightful!  Eggplant thinly sliced layered with buffalo mozzarella and freshly crushed tomatoes.  Wow!  Is THIS how eggplant should taste?  My wife, after I had to pick her up off of the floor from the shock of my pleasure, was giddy knowing that eggplant could be placed back on the menu at our house.  With one bite, the strong memory of my childhood was replaced.  Food can do that.  We remember the awful meals, and the wonderful ones.  We can recall the smells and tastes for years.  As more years go by, the tastes we remember become stronger, for good or bad, depending on the experience.  That eggplant on Capri tastes better every day.

– Jersey Kid

The Jersey Kid has a few more awesome experiences to share, so keep an eye out. More coming soon!

The ‘Venice’ of Lowell?

First, Foodie has blessed me with the privilege of guest blogging from time to time.  Be gentle with this one, as it is my first review.  They will improve, how could they not?  On to the restaurant…

Not too far from the ‘famous’ canals of Lowell (there is a sign that proclaims Lowell the ‘Venice of America’, Foodie, Jr kids you not) sits this little italian restaurant.  We tried it out on a recent Saturday night and found the food to be good, the wine to be reasonably priced, and the service to be on the slow side.

We had reservations for 8:30.  We arrived a couple of minutes early, were greeted by the owner, and showed to our table without delay.  It appeared that they filled a few tables at the same time, and with in our waiter’s section.  He came to the table right away, but the water, bread, and drinks. He was attentive throughout the night.  Overall the service seemed to just be set at a  more leisurely pace.  Ricardo’s is not the restaurant for a quick meal out.

The menu, which you can link to here Menu, was reasonably sized.  It seemed to cover the basic italian fare.  The portions for the meals we had were on the size.  We had an appetizer of field greens with roasted pumpkin and gorgonzola cheese.  It had a very light, oil-based dressing.  It was ordered out of curiosity, someone had to see what roasted pumpkin was like.  It was, delicious.  The flavors were very complementary.  The other appetizer we tried was a shaved steak pizza.  Once more, it was tastefully done.  A minor complaint was the leaning tower of field greens that covered at least a third of the pie.  Both appetizers were larger enough to be shared.

For the entree, we had two meals, both specials for that night.  One was a haddock over a scallop risotto.  The sauce that was over it was a nice, well, not really memorable.  Seemed like a great idea that fell a little short. (we have had seafood risotto in Venice and it was fantastic.  Wait, that was in Italy, not the Venice of America, forgot) The other was a bolognese sauce over tube noodles that started with an f.  Hey, I had knee surgery two days after and have been ‘under the influence’, give me a break.  Whatever the noodle was, the meal was good.  Hearty, full of flavor, and reminds you of grandma’s bolognese, assuming grandma was second generation Italian.  You know, very good, something you could definitely have again, but not off the boat

We had a nice bottle of italian that ran about 35 dollars.  It was smooth and went well with the meals.  It was probably overpriced, but isn’t all wine at a restaurant?

Overall, we had a nice, slow-paced meal with good conversation.  Is it destined for Italian greatness?  Probably not.  Is it a good place to spend a leisurely dinner, absolutely.  Remember, Ricardo’s is not in Venice, Italy, just the ‘Venice of America’.

The Last Supper

As is the case with most foodies, I’m a fan of the Food Network. One of my favorite series on the network is “Best Thing I Ever Ate”, and last night they aired a new episode called “Last Supper”.

“Last Supper” is a game played by various members of kitchen and wait staff after they have finished their shifts and retreated to the quiet recesses of secret haunts. It’s one that foodies might even think about on occasion, but more often than not we’re distracted far more by “what’s my next supper”, rather than “what would be my LAST supper”.

The game, quite simply, goes like this: You’re either on death row for some horrible offense (poor tipping? sending food back to the kitchen?), or your deathly ill (we know how much people enjoy eating when they’re sick). Either way, the question to you is this… What would you want for your final meal?

For me, this is right up there with, “What’s your favorite movie? Book? Song?” There are so many, how can I possibly choose??

After many hours of soul-searching, though, I believe I have managed to make my choice. My last supper would be at The Capital Grille.

The Capital Grille
The Capital Grille

If you aren’t in the know on this one, The Capital Grille is a high end national chain along the lines of the more well known Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Having eaten at both multiple times, my nod has to go to The Capital Grille’s Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin.

I know that other restaurants have done a similar steak, rubbed with coffee grounds, but I can only opine in regards to one I’ve tried. I assure you, the version served up by the culinary masterminds at The Capital Grill, well seasoned and rubbed with Kona coffee grounds, is worth ordering, and then reordering. Adding to the flavor of this perfectly seasoned sirloin is a delicious caramelized shallot butter that adds a nuttiness to the steak. But, don’t for one minute think I’d stop there.

A great steak deserves great ‘fixings’. No question I’d get the au gratin potatoes, since no final meal would be complete without starchy, creamy goodness. The Kona steak and au gratin combo is by far one of the best meals I’ve ever had that just thinking about it, I feel all weak in the knees. It’s THAT good. But, since we’re talking about a last meal, I think a second side dish would be in order, so I’d request a bathtub sized portion of their lobster mac-and-cheese. I know that the amount of butter and cheese in their lobster mac has to be horrible for your health, but we’re talking the last supper here. Clogged arteries and heart stoppage for the win!

Add a fine glass of red wine to go with it, and this is without a question a meal worth dying for.

So the question comes to you – what would be your last meal? We’ve all had meals we remember fondly. Foods that we crave in the middle of the night. And, if you don’t, well I’m disappointed for you! Just know that it is never too  late to discover the overflowing plates of cuisines in our wide world. Get out there and explore!

– If you feel like sharing YOUR last meal selection, do so in the comments below! If you know other foodies, or people in general who enjoy talking about food, but sure to share this blog with them.

Sometimes you have to live to eat…

So, I don’t know that anyone will ever read any of this. Maybe a few friends. Maybe some strangers. But, ultimately I thought it would be fun to write about a topic that I really do love…

Food!

Don’t pretend you don’t care about what you eat! More often than not, if you go somewhere that involves food and it isn’t up to snuff, you don’t have nearly as good a time as you might have otherwise.

“It was a nice wedding, but the food was terrible.”

“I really liked the resort, but wish they had more selections available at the buffet.”

Yes, it isn’t the only thing, but it sure is an important thing!

Everyone on this planet, even health nuts or those who are allergic to just about everything, have a favorite food. For most of us, food can serve as a memory trigger, reminding us of a place we’ve been, a moment we’ve experienced, or a person we love. Food is one of those great things that involves using all our senses. It isn’t just about how something tastes, but how it looks on the plate, what it smells like, the sounds of friends and passers-by as you eat and enjoy time together, and if you’re particularly playful, even sometimes how it feels.

While it certainly is clear that the food we take in needs to serve as fuel for our bodies, for the vast majority of us, it means a whole lot more. Yes, we definitely need to eat to live. But, there are so many things to enjoy when it comes to food that sometimes you really DO have to live to eat.

I’m going to share with you my thoughts on anything food related. Restaurants, recipes, ingredients, grocery stores… and the occasional food memory. Feel free to leave comments and share some of your thoughts too!

Will talk to you soon!