Low-Karb Veggie Kugel

April 20, 2008

by Rachel Perlow

This veggie kugel was a big hit at our Passover Seder last night. Knowing it was low carb and low fat, everyone took seconds of this instead of the Potato Kugel. When we made it yesterday, I used 4 boards of matzo and 20 oz of egg product, but we found the results a little too starchy tasting. So, the proportions below use less matzo and more egg. I am hoping to achieve a more quiche or souffle like texture on our next attempt.

It’s not just a Passover dish, it’s a St. Patrick’s Day dish too! Green Kugel is made of PEOPLE!!! It’s made of PEOPLE… oh never mind.

Does the Veggie Kugel frighten you? It should, because it’s damn tasty. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms a la NYT

March 19, 2008

When we were called and asked to prepare a dish for Kim Severson’s “Fat Pack” article in the New York Times that the photographer could watch me cook that very weekend, we took one look in the refrigerator and noticed we had a package of great, big, phallic King Oyster eryngii mushrooms, along with our usual staples of soy sauce, hot chile peppers and scallions.

“How about grilled King Oyster Mushrooms?” Rachel said to Phaedra, the NYT Dining Section photo editor.

“Great! We’ll be there Saturday morning at 9am”.

The resulting recipe that was used in my photo that accompanies the piece — which was originally intended to be published but ended up on the cutting room floor — pretty much came together last minute as the photographer was setting up. My idea was to replace the fattening butter yaki that typically is used as the prime flavor component of this dish with something more like a teriyaki sauce or a Korean BBQ marinade, but with an Awase Miso and fresh chili punch, and using a small amount of molasses instead of sugar.

Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms

1 bunch Scallions
2 tsp Awase Miso paste
1 tsp Ginger, grated
1 clove Garlic pureed
1 small Hot Red Pepper, minced
1/4 tsp White Pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp Molasses
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Rice Vinegar
2 Tbs Chicken Broth (optional, use water if a vegetarian dish is desired)
1 tsp Roasted Sesame Oil
1 pound King Oyster Mushrooms
1/2 tsp Sesame Seeds

Clean scallions and separate the white part from the green. Slice the scallion greens and reserve for garnish. Mince the scallion whitesand put in a bowl with the miso paste, grated ginger, garlic, minced red pepper, white pepper, molasses, soy sauce, rice vinegar, broth or water, and sesame oil. Stir to combine.

Begin heating your grill pan or outdoor grill. Lightly spray the grate with cooking oil, or use a silicone basting brush to apply a scant amount of oil.

Slice the king oyster mushrooms lengthwise into 1/3 inch thick planks. Brush one side of each mushroom slice with the glaze as you place it, glaze side down, on the grill. Then brush the tops of all the slices. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning when the underside is well marked and basting to use up the glaze.

Serve hot or at room temperature, garnish with reserved scallion greens and sesame seeds. Serve with brown rice as a side dish (serves 4) or main course (serves 2). The leftovers are great sliced and added to a salad.


Soup, Glorious Soup: Part 2, Beans and Grains

March 17, 2008

In Part I of “Soup, Glorious Soup” Rachel presented a variety of recipes for lentil soup. Now, she’ll share some ideas for using other legumes and whole grains in soups.

Chunky Bean and Vegetable Soup

The first recipe is for split pea. Split pea soup has always been one of my favorites – I make a vegetarian version that you’d swear was cooked with a ham hock. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s hardly necessary to soak beans before cooking them, as you will see in the second recipe. I just simmer for an hour or so before adding the other soup ingredients and my mixed bean soup is perfectly tender. The third recipe below is for an addictive minestrone. Finally, I present Mushroom Barley. I brought this soup over to a friends house for part of a dinner we were making together. Jason’s friend went crazy over it, the wife has asked for the recipe for her mother – she said it tasted just like her grandma’s. Even the kids liked it, and it’s vegan!

If you don’t read the rest, there’s NO SOUP FOR YOU! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Soup Glorious Soup: Part 1, The Pulse of Life (UPDATED)

March 16, 2008

Rachel has turned herself into a regular Soup Diva. Here’s the first in a series of articles about how to make some easy, healthy and nutrilicious soups. Take it away, Rachel.

Photo: French Lentil Soup.

In our Top 10 Lifestyle Changes list, we recommend adding beans and lentils (aka pulses to your diet. They are high in protein and fiber, while being low in fat. One of the primary ways we like to include legumes in our diet is in soups. Below are five lentil soup recipes. I didn’t even like lentils when we began all this healthy lifestyle stuff, back in October, but I’ve found many different varieties and recipes and have grown to love them.

In Part II, I’ll share some ideas for using other legumes and grains in soups.

Red Lentil Curry Soup

Soup’s on! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Steak Boriqua

February 28, 2008

Nothing, and I mean nothing, satisfies a man’s appetite like a good steak. But one of the problems of trying to lose weight is learning that “a good steak” is also by definition, high in fat content and also high in cholesterol. So what do you do? Well, one option is to go for the cuts of meat that are the lowest in fat content, such as Flank or London Broil. However, both of these cuts really need serious marination and flavor boost. I can think of no better preparation for these versatile economy cuts than to employ a few tricks from the Latino community. Specifically, the Puerto Ricans, or as they like to call themselves, La Comunidad Boriqua.

Adobo Marinated Flank Steak with “Boriqua Slaw” and Arroz con Gandules, yellow rice with pigeon peas.

Want to learn how to make steak the Boriqua Way? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Turkey Burger Redux (UPDATED)

February 22, 2008

The last time we visited Turkey Burgers here on OTB, it was nearly a year ago. And while I think the rules of bold seasoning still apply — I’ve personally gone from turkey burger as occasional curiosity to turkey burger as virtual necessity. Turkey burgers and ground turkey meat in general has become a staple in our household now that we have gone down the healthy lifestyle route. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a very malleable protein, which is great at absorbing flavors, be it used in a burger, sausage, kebab, chili or even stir-fry dishes. And it shouldn’t surprise you that in future cooking posts, you’re going to see this ingredient creep up a lot.

This last weekend we got particularly burger crazy, as we wanted something easy to cook because we were all burned out travelling to Connecticut and bringing back our new dog, Kona, from the folks at Flora’s Pet Project. And it didn’t help at all that we were all couch potatoed when we got back and watched dietician-chef Ellie Krieger on Food Network cook up some particularly tasty looking DIY Diner Food.

Our first Turkey Burger was a bit of a cheat, as it involved the use of pre-made frozen burgers from COSTCO. All hail the mighty Kirkland! But we amped up this burger with our Giant Mushroom Chili that we made for the Superbowl along with a small amount of melted cheddar cheese, served on a whole grain burger bun. But it was a quick and easy lunch, and really satisfied that Chili Burger craving. Hell, the last time I had a real chili burger was back in August at The Varsity in Atlanta. This one was just as good, and nowhere near as bad for you. Next time I’m going to use use fresh ground turkey meat instead of COSTCO pucks.

But wait! There’s more burgers in store. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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All Hail the Egg Beater

February 22, 2008

Egg Beater Omelet with fresh spinach and summer yellow tomatoes, basil and brown rice

Breakfast is a meal that used to be treated as pure fuel for the morning rush — if I had the time with my busy lifestyle, I’d usually grab a buttery Kaiser roll with my choice of fried nitrate-enhanced meat and two fried eggs, and coffee in that all-too-familiar blue paper cup with the Greek iconography on it from a “roach coach” or the local deli on the way to work, and wolf it down, usually soiling my shirt in the process. It was high calorie, fattening, and probably had enough cholesterol in it to kill a rogue elephant.

With my recent lifestyle change, I now approach breakfast from a different mindset entirely. One, I see it as something that should be enjoyed and not rushed. Two, it most definitely is the most important meal of the day, but it also should not contribute to harming my health. So with that in mind, and with my current 110 cholesterol count as validation (in my test results prior to October, there was arguably more cholesterol than blood) I’ve become a huge fan of the Egg Beater.

Do you fear or adore the Egg Beater? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Superbowl Tailgate Degustation Menu 2008

February 2, 2008

Click for Hi-Res Slideshow!

So, the last time we decided to have a Super Bowl party, around this time last year, things were a little bit different. For starters, let’s just say I was not as focused on maintaining a healthier lifestyle. But most importantly, the NEW YORK GIANTS WERE NOT IN THE SUPER BOWL!

This year, we’ve made more of a commitment to eating healthier. But the Super Bowl is still the Super Bowl, and that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy yourself. The folks over at Promise Buttery Spread contacted us and wanted to know if we were going to be posting any recipes this year, and of course I said we would. As it turns out, for this Super Bowl, Promise is having blogs participate in the 2008 Cardio Kick-Off, where they have their resident cardiologist, Dr. Richard Collins, help bloggers prepare heart-healthier tailgate menus.

So without further delay, here’s our heart healthy Super Bowl Menu for 2008.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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OTB Classic: For the Love of the Muffuletta

January 27, 2008

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Central Grocery
923 Decatur Street, New Orleans
(504)523-1620

Nor-Joe Importing Co.
505 Frisco Ave
Metairie, LA 70005-4215
(504) 833-9240

The Muffuletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans, the sandwich of love.

What could be better than expressing your love for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day than by making them a giant, meat and cheese stuffed Italian cold-cut sandwich? And as far as I am concerned, nobody does it better than the city of New Orleans, with its “other” signature sandwich — the Muffuletta. Certainly, if someone were to drop one of these babies on my doorstep, even in my current health-freak and weight loss inspired state, they’d be my sweetheart for life.

One such sweetheart is author Sara Roahen, who has a love affair with the city of New Orleans. Her new book, “Gumbo Tales“, which is being released on February 5, 2008, talks about the Muffaletta in some detail:

Central Grocery on Decatur Street in New Orleans’s French Quarter.

“I admit to having favored other muffulettas in the past — the bigger ones at Nor-Joe Importing in Old Metairie, the cheaper grab-and-go ones at Zara’s Supermarket in Uptown, the ones with more olive salad at Dimartino’s across the river. But there’s no stand-in for a muffuletta from Central Grocery, because there’s no stand-in for Central Grocery. Dried fava beans in burlap sacks, fig cookies in cellophane bags, salt cod in wooden slide boxes, olive oil in gallon tins, sherry vinegar on unreachable shelves, tomatoes from San Marzano, truffle oil from Umbria, anchovies in jars, halva in cans, vacuum-packed semolina, marinated octopus, white cheeses, hanging salamis, green coffee beans…some of the grocery‘s products are so unfamiliar that walking among them transports you to a foreign place, and some of their labels are so dusty and faded the goods appear to be relics stocked by Salvatore Lupo himself.”

Do you want to make your sweetheart a Muffuletta for Valentine’s Day? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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‘Shroom Insanity

December 30, 2007

I like mushrooms. A Lot.

I do know some people that hate mushrooms, I guess because of texture reasons. Some are legitimately allergic to them. But those of us that truly love mushrooms — that could eat obscene amounts of them in a single session — we’re a unique and proud bunch.

Mushrooms, those weird and wonderful fungi are not without their health benefits either. They’re very low in calories (as they are about 80 or 90 percent water) and high in fiber. They are naturally high in potassium as well as riboflavin and niacin, and especially high in selenium, a powerful antioxidant that is sort of a sidekick to Vitamin E that protects your body’s cells against free radicals which can cause cancer. Additionally, white button mushrooms, criminis and portabellas contain substances called aromatase inhibitors which prevent both prostate and breast cancer. Shiitakes contain Lentinan, which appears to stimulate the immune system and protects against flu and other infectious diseases, as well as suppress tumoral activity. Those of you that hate the ‘Shroom should take all of that under consideration.

In any case, health benefits aside, Rachel and I just love ‘Shrooms. So we were happy to find a dish out of the Reversing Diabetes Cookbook called Mushroom Madness that used a lot of them. We decided to improve this recipe a bit by amping up the Asian condiments and the garlic and ginger, and using even MORE mushrooms.

‘Shroom Insanity

2 Tbs. Soy Sauce, divided

1 tsp. of prepared Chinese Chili Paste

1 tsp. sesame oil

8 oz. of Pressed Tofu or “Soy Chicken” (or any Vegan meat substitute, such as Wheat Gluten), sliced

4 Cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1 large thumb of Fresh Ginger, grated

6 cups sliced Mushrooms (We used Shiitakes, Enoki, King Oysters. But White Mushrooms, Portobella, Crimini, or any kind of edible mushroom in combination is good.)

1 bunch of green onions, whites and greens separated, chopped.

1 cup Bean Sprouts

1 can of water-packed Bamboo Shoot Tips, drained. If you can get fresh hearts of bamboo (like you can during the wintertime) even better.

6 Tbs. Broth (Chicken, Vegetable)

1 Tbs. Dry Sherry

1/2 Tbs. Oyster Sauce or Mushroom Oyster (Vegetarian) Sauce

1/2 Tbs. Hoisin Sauce

1/2 Tbs. Black Bean Sauce or Chinese Fermented Black Beans

1 tsp. Cornstarch

1 Tbs. Cold Water

Combine sesame oil, 1 tbs of Soy Sauce and chili paste in a container with a tight fitting lid. Add pressed tofu, shake evenly to coat. Marinate while preparing other ingredients (at least 10 minutes), shaking and inverting container 2 or 3 times. Remove tofu from marinade and drain.

Mix broth, sherry, 1 T of Soy Sauce, hoisin, oyster sauce and black bean paste in a small bowl and set aside. Mix cornstarch and water together in a small bowl.

Brush about 1 tsp sesame oil in hot wok (use a silicone basting brush, or use spray oil). Add scallion whites, cook until translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Add tofu, stir fry for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from wok.

Brush a little more oil on wok. Add mushrooms and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Pour in sherry/broth/condiment mixture, simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bean sprouts, bamboo shoots (unless they are the fresh ones, in which case, you should stir fry them with the ‘shrooms), cooked tofu, and most of the scallion greens, reserving some for garnish.

Pour cornstarch mixture into wok, stirring constantly until sauce has thickened.

Serve over brown rice and garnish with scallion greens, with steamed Chinese green vegetables on the side (Gai Lan, Choy Sum Chinese Bokchoy, Mustard Greens, etc) with a drizzle of Oyster Sauce.