Thursday, April 25, 2013

Grilled Flat Bread.Feeding my new grill obsession

This past weekend P2's cousin and his partner gave us a grill. Yup.. GAVE us a brand new grill!!! Since that day almost everything I have eaten has been grilled. I know that's probably not the healthiest choice in food preparation, but right now I can't help myself.  I'm a city boy, so I have never actually owned a grill.   
Soon I hope to share the ridicules  joy I have found in brining meat before grilling it, but for now I am going to share the pleasure of the grilled flat bread.
If you are unfamiliar with flat bread, it's Pizza. I am not sure what why it's cool to say flat bread, but in the past few years, that's just the way it is.
So Clearly there not much to know about in term of how to make a grilled flat bread (store bought by the way). What I can tell you is more advise than anything else.
I found success in having the grill very hot on one side and less hot on the other. Brush each side with a little olive oil then grill the top of the flat bread on the hot side of the grill. Once you have some good grill marks, remove it from the grill to add the toppings.
Topping options are endless. Do whatever you feel like. Below my pictures are of a breakfast flat bread I made with prosciutto and egg, and a  shrimp pesto flat bread. Both were great as a meal, but could be cut to be shared or added to a meal like brunch!
Once you've topped the flat bread return it to the cooler side of the grill, cover and let it cook until you are happy with the doneness.
That's it. Easy Peasy!
Wishing everyone a great summer!!! Get out there and grill!
XO - P


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Something is fishy with our fish!

Nationwide study casts a wide net over seafood fraud
February 21st, 2013
03:02 AM ET
Mislabeled fish is flooding the marketplace and Americans may be swallowing it hook, line and sinker, according to a new study by an environmental activist group.
A look at seafood sales across the country by ocean conservation group Oceanafound that roughly one third of the time, seafood sold at U.S. grocery stores, seafood markets, restaurants and sushi venues had been swapped for species that are cheaper, overfished, or risky to eat.
Beth Lowell, campaign director for Oceana, told CNN that the study was conducted over the course of two years and encompassed retail outlets in major metropolitan areas across 21 states. Staff and supporters of the organization purchased 1,247 pieces of fish and submitted samples to a lab for DNA testing to determine if the species matched the in-store menu or label in accordance with Food and Drug Administration naming guidelines.
Out of the 1,215 samples that were eventually tested, 401 were determined to be mislabeled.

The FDA, which holds the primary responsibility for the safety of seafood products in the United States, uses a Web-based resource known as the Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia to aid in the identification of commercially important species of fish. The agency worked with several organizations, including the University of Guelph's Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, where the Oceana study’s testing was conducted, to develop the Fish Barcode of Life Initiative (FISH-BOL) program, which introduced a definitive, universal system for identifying fish.
Seafood fraud is of particular interest to the FDA not only because the lack of a standard naming convention would prevent correct species identification and inhibit processors' and consumers' knowledge of the potential safety hazards and allergens, but also because it may enable economic fraud due to high value fish being swapped for lower value species. The FDA’s “Seafood List” identifies acceptable market, scientific, common and vernacular names and specifies which may be used interchangeably to avoid any ambiguity in the marketplace. The agency frowns upon the use of vernacular names, which are usually introduced at the regional level.

13:36 – Eatocracy speaks with CNN Radio's Edgar Treiguts about how to buy responsibly sourced and tracked fish
The two most mislabeled fish, according to Oceana, were snapper (for which 33 different species of fish including rockfish, perch, sea bream and tilapia were substituted) and tuna, which was mostly replaced with escolar - an often-banned snake mackerel that can cause mild to severe gastric distress to those who consume it. In many cases, Atlantic cod, which is often overfished, was mislabeled as the more sustainable Pacific cod (and vice-versa). Grouper was often replaced with at-risk species including Gulf grouper and speckled hind, or in one case, king-mackerel, a high-mercury fish that the federal government has advised sensitive groups, such as pregnant women, to avoid.
The most frequent outlet for mislabeling was sushi restaurants. Out of 118 sushi venues visited, 95% sold fish that varied from their menu identification, including the previously mentioned snapper and tuna, as well as yellowtail/hamachi, which was incorrectly labeled in every case.
Diners at non-sushi restaurants received considerably more honest ingredients,according to Oceana, with just more than half of the 148 visited locations selling incorrectly labeled fish (snapper and cod again were the most slippery catch). And grocery store shoppers fared best of all, with only 27% of the 408 stores selling seafood that didn’t live up to its label’s claims.
While this was one of the largest studies to date, the findings echoed those in previous studies by the Boston Globe (48% mislabeling in 183 local samples in 2011, with little improvement in a 2012 follow-up), Consumer Reports (20 to 25% mislabeled), and the United States Government Accountability Office, which used its 2009 findings to call on the federal government for additional inspection resources.
But who is responsible for reeling in this widespread fraud and why is it happening in the first place?
That’s where things get fishy, despite the efforts of the seafood industry. U.S. fishermen provide most of this information at the dock, but save for product from participants in voluntary programs like Trace Register or Trace and Trust, it is extremely difficult for vendors and consumers to track this information from boat to plate.
The matter is further muddied by the fact that 91% of seafood consumed in the United States is imported from other countries, 54% of which is processed at sea, and roughly 2% of which is governmentally inspected for fraud. The further a fish gets from its origins, sold in parts rather than whole, the more difficult it is to track to its eventual destination, leaving the supply chain wide open to human error and deliberate deception.
According to the GAO, three federal agencies play key roles in detecting and preventing seafood fraud: the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, which reviews import information to detect fraud schemes; the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which offers a voluntary, fee-based inspection program, and the FDA, which focuses its seafood-specific resources primarily on health issues by way of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points management program. The separation of responsibility and lack of collaboration, the GAO’s analysis found, left the system especially vulnerable to fraud.
While the agencies might not be aligned in their methodology, they - and organizations like Oceana, Food and Water Watch and the Blue Ocean Group - do all agree: every level of the seafood chain suffers as a result of fraud. From the economic impact on the fisheries that are undercut by sellers skirting the rules, fish species endangered by a muddied tally of their stocks, vendors and chefs whose reputations are at stake, and diners who risk ingesting allergens and toxins from mislabeled fish, there is a cost to misidentified seafood.
In 2009, the FDA sanctioned seafood seller Peter Xuong Lam, president of Virginia Star Seafood Corporation, after he was convicted of conspiracy to import catfish, falsely labeled as sole, grouper, flounder, snakehead, channa, and other species of fish, from Vietnam for fraudulent sale. He was sentenced to five years in prison and became the first food importer ever to be debarred (for a period of 20 years) by the agency. The agency continues to cite and seeks to prosecute offenders who attempt to undermine the system, but notes that the responsibility of regulating retail food stores and restaurants falls primarily to state and local agencies.
In 2012, U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Barney Frank, both Massachusetts Democrats, introduced the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act which would require full traceability for all seafood sold in the United States. The bill died in Congress, but industry members and civilians are taking up the charge.
Members of the National Fisheries Institute can sign a pledge to stamp out economic fraud in the seafood industry, and its Better Seafood Board provides a mechanism for members of the seafood industry to report fraud where they see it occurring and provide documentation on issues that arise.
Closer to the plate, in October 2012, 500 chefs - including Mario Batali, Thomas Keller and Rick Bayless - signed a pledge calling on the U.S. government to require that seafood be traceable in order to prevent seafood fraud and keep illegal fish out of the U.S. market.
But diners need not be left dangling.
Lowell recommends that consumers empower themselves by purchasing whole fish, which are easier to identify, and not trusting prices that seem too good to be true. She also encourages asking questions of fish vendors, such as what kind of fish it is, whether it was wild-caught or farm-raised and where, when and how the fish was caught. Even raising the question will alert the sales staff that consumers are interested in where their food comes from - and that they won’t settle for anything fishy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Is your dinner Gay?

Just saw this while I was tooling around on google looking for other food blogs. It's an iReport from CNN about what foods people think are gay, and which foods people think are straight, seemingly stemming from the whole Chick-fil-A disaster a little while back. I think it is a funny, and light hearted piece, however after reading the comments left by some people I am surprised by how many seem to have thought the reporter was trying for a "hard hitting" journalistic masterpiece. Other comments were quite funny.
Here is the video;
Here is the link to CNN if you want to check out the comments too.

Any thoughts to foods that you think are gay??? ;)


Friday, November 30, 2012

Eggplant and Pepperoncini Tomato Sauce.

So the surprise breakout star of my culinary week is a sauce I used to top off a dish last night. It was an Eggplant and Pepperoncini Tomato Sauce that was simple and actually quite delicate.
If you read this blog often you know I have random and strong cravings that need to be satiated immediately.  For weeks I have been craving spicy food, and yesterday it was those funky little green peppers. If you don't know what Pepperoncini are, they're those pickley, and a little spicy peppers you find in Italian Antipasto and Greek Salads. You find them near the olives at the grocery store. They look like this-

The gorgeous recording artist Chantae Vetrice was coming over to record with P2, so I needed to make something impressive, but this damn craving was bugging me. I sent Chantae a message and asked what she would like for dinner, and she said she eats everything, so it was on!

I knew a few things going into this meal;
1. I wanted a sauce to top breaded chicken cutlets.
2. I wanted to pair the Pepperoncini with a mellow veg in the sauce.
3. I wanted to try and make mashed Cauliflower and use it as a bed for the chicken. (that was pretty amazing too!)

All of my wished came true!
Everything paired well and the sauce was a success! There was just enough kick to the sauce to relieve my craving, but still left my dining buddies saying; "there is something great about this that I can't quite put my finger on".
Here is what to do to make this sauce;
In a deep saute pan, start to saute half of a diced medium white onion and 3 diced cloves of garlic in olive oil over a medium heat.
Once they are translucent add half of a large Eggplant diced small to the pan (or 1 small Eggplant diced).
Once the Eggplant is cooked, (about 20 mins cooking time so far) add a drained large can of Petite Diced Tomatoes. (I prefer RedPack)
Let that cook down for another 10 to 15 minutes, and season with salt and pepper. If you need to add moisture, feel free to add some water or chicken stock.
Now start adding in the Pepperoncini. I started with 3 which I had sliced into rings. Let it cook a few minutes and taste to see if that added enough kick for you. In all I added 6 or 7. That gave just a little heat and great background flavor.

Once it is cooked and seasoned again with salt and pepper to taste, I added a handful each of chopped flat leaf Parsley and Basil.

That's it! It worked great over the chicken, but you can use it with pasta, fish, or I would imagine it would even go great with beef! It was also perfect for the cold weather!

I hope you make this and love it like we did. I am heading over to eat some leftovers now!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gluten free, Soy free, and Dairy free Apple Crumble with roasted Coconut.

Fall is here, and if you live in the North East like I do then you know that Apples are in season. Apples, Pumpkins, Cinnamon, and Corn are all over the place, so naturally I started to crave the comfort of Apple Pie. Well not really the pie but those soft, cinnamony Apples inside the pie. So that being said, I am happier with a crumble than a pie. Not to mention I hate to bake, so a crumble is much more my speed.
I fell victim to my cravings today, and the picture above shows that I have no regrets!
In the spirit of health I cut out the bad stuff because the more I do that, the more I realize we don't need it. Mind you, I still kept real sugar in there, but it was organic. Does that count?

What I did was follow this recipe, but switched out things to make it gluten, soy, and dairy free;
Admittedly it is not the best recipe out there, but again, I do not bake, and it was real easy to follow.

I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, and I used their Gluten Free Oats too. I also took the butter out and used Earth Balance dairy free and soy free "butter".

Otherwise I followed it.
What I would change is that I would add more Cinnamon. And not only Cinnamon. I would also add Nutmeg and maybe even Clove.
The amount of Cinnamon that this recipe called for was not enough.
I also took the nuts out of the recipe and replaced them with shredded Coconut.

It was really quite perfect when all was said and done. I also added a big scoop of So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

So far out of the 4 ramekins I made, I have eaten 2. But today is not over! :)

Let me know if you make it and what you change along the way! Hey! Don;t forget to add the love too!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Can you say Fajita Frittata 3 times fast??

Have left over chicken and not sure what to do with it?? Do what I did.. Make a Chicken Fajita Frittata!   Seems like Friday night is a popular night for roast chicken, so when a weekend brunch comes along why not use the inevitable left over chicken for a quick and fun take on a brunch classic?
I have been kind of obsessing over frittatas lately, They are so easy, pretty healthy, and pretty cheap to make too. With a little cash you can feed like 8 people. That is not too shabby if you are counting your pennies!
So what I did was saute slices of different colored bell peppers and onion in my cast iron pan with a little olive oil, and when they started to develop color I added in the meat I had pulled apart from one chicken breast. I seasoned the mix with Adobo, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
While that cooked and the chicken got heated back up, I whisked a dozen eggs with a handful of chopped cilantro, a little more adobo and chili powder, and a splash of cold water.
When the peppers and onion were tender, and the chicken was hot, I took the mix out and placed them aside. I added a little more olive oil to the pan and then poured the eggs in.
I took the chicken and veg out so that the egg could set in the pan a bit and firm up for a few minutes so that all the chicken and veg don't sink to the bottom.
When the eggs are just a little bit firm, add the chicken mix back into the pan evenly throughout the eggs, and stick it in an oven that has been preheated to 375. It will take about 20-30 minutes for the frittata to cook, and when it's done it will be golden on top and will have puffed up and look huge. Don't worry if it looks lopsided or strange in anyway. It's just air and the whole thing will deflate as it cool.
I didn't have any, but this would have gone great with a little Avocado on top, or a little hot sauce!

That's it! Enjoy your frittata, enjoy your weekend, and don't forget to share!

Roast Chicken with Gravy over Mango Corn Salsa

I had a chicken, I had stock, and I had left over Mango Corn Salsa. I didn't intend on making this dish until it was done. I had intended to make the chicken with Swiss Char, but at the last minute I wondered about what the salsa would taste like once it mingled with the chicken and gravy, and thank God I did! Wow wow wow!
I am a huge fan of the sweet and savory mix in a meal and this was a perfect example of why it's so good! Plus it's a super simple fall dinner to make. 
I happened to have the Corn Mango Salsa already from the other night, but you will probably have to make it, so here is the no recipe recipe;
2 Mangos diced
4 ears of corn grilled and the kernels cut off
1 Jalapeno diced small. Take the seeds out if you don't want the heat
About 1/4 of a red onion diced small
A handfull of Cilantro roughly chopped
A large tomato seeded and diced small
About 4 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lime
Salt and Pepper.
Mix everything in a bowl and season to taste. The longer it sits, the better it will taste. If you can make this a day or 2 in advance it will be perfect!

For the Chicken I simply stuck it in the oven at 375 degrees for an hour and a half. I bought a whole chicken but it was pieced up, so I laid the pieces in my cast iron pan and gave it all a light coating of olive oil. Then I seasoned the pieces liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried parsley flakes. I also squirted a few slices of lemon over the chicken and tossed the slices in the pan too. After the hour and a half the chicken was cooked perfectly and the skin was nice and crisp.
When the chicken was done I took it out of the pan, drained almost all of the fat out as well, and then put the pan over medium heat on the stove.
In the remaining fat I sauteed a few spoonfuls of Trader Joe's Mirepoix, and a little more dried parsley. Once the mirepoix was softened I added about a 2 cups of chicken stock. I let it simmer for a while and then a spooned some of the hot stock into a cup and mixed in a spoonful of corn starch. I stirred that until it was smooth and then added it back into the pan and allowed it to thicken the stock into gravy. Then I let that simmer a little more to get thick and condense the flavors. Then season it with salt and pepper to taste. 

Once the gravy is done your all set!
To plate, stack a couple pieces of chicken on top of a few spoonfuls of the salsa, and then pour a little gravy over the whole thing.
Make sure your first bite has a little bit of everything on the fork. Its like a weird, bright take on a pot pie but with no "pie"

Our "wine guy" Alex from Botella & Co has a perfect wine pairing for this meal too. Check out what he suggests!
Try a french Chablis. This wine is made of Chardonnay grape. The village of Chablis gives its name to one of the most famous white wine in France. Chablis is located at the north of the Burgundy region, over there people called it Beaunois, taking the name from the close-by wine region of Beaune. Chardonnay grow on a limestone soil rich with fossils and specially oysters. A long time ago, a sea covered Burgundy and Chablis, this wine is brisk and fruity, very dry and with a refreshing acidity. In the nose, there are flavors of green apple and lemon. In the mouth Chablis delivers aromas of vanilla, lemon and linden. When older, Chablis has a golden color and is more spicy. Cheers...
Thanks Alex!! Sounds perfect as always!!!

Let me know what you think, and of course... don't forget to add the love! :)