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On the menu: Breaded cauliflower cutlets

Let’s say that one of your New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier and lose some weight. Join the crowd, right?

In practice, what we probably mean — among other things — is that we plan to eat more vegetables and less meat.

It’s a challenge.

But if you try this dish — a wonderful vegetarian version of breaded veal (or pork or chicken) cutlets swimming in a marina sauce — you will see how easy and satisfying it can be to turn a resolution into reality.

You start by slicing a whole head of cauliflower into cutlets.

The idea is to end up with thick slabs of the vegetable. One easy method for doing this is to cut the head in half down the center, then turn each half on its cut side and cut the halves into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. There will always be a few loose bits from the ends, but those also can be breaded and cooked as described below.

You’ll want to take care with the breading, too. It’s a three-step process: dust the steaks lightly with cornstarch, coat them well with an egg mixture, then finish them with a layer of breadcrumbs. This is standard operating procedure among culinary pros. The three layers provide a more substantial crust than any other single coating or combo of coatings.

Now it’s time to brown your vegetable cutlets. You could do it in a skillet — just as you would a breaded meat cutlet — but that would require a ton of oil (those breadcrumbs just soak it up).

And remember, it’s the New Year and you’re on a new path. So we bake them instead, which requires a lot less oil. The key is to place the cutlets fairly close to the heat source. In my electric oven that’s the top of the stove. If they’re not properly browned at the end of the prescribed cooking time, just leave them in the oven a little longer.

Then dig in. The biggest flavor is going to come from the marinara sauce. Your brain likely won’t care at all whether the cutlet is veal or vegetable. But your body will thank you.

BREADED CAULIFLOWER CUTLETS WITH MARINARA

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (45 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

I large head cauliflower

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups speedy marinara (recipe below) or store-bought marinara, heated

Heat the oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, combine the oil and the garlic. Set aside.

Pull off any leaves from the stem end of the cauliflower and trim off just enough of the stem so the cauliflower stands flat on the counter. Slice the cauliflower head in half down the center top to bottom. One at a time, set each half onto its cut side. Starting from one end of each half, slice crosswise to create 1/2-inch-thick slices. This will yield 3 to 4 cutlets from the center of each half, with the small ends being chunks. The chunks can be prepared as the cutlets, or reserved for another use.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, 3 tablespoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

On a sheet of kitchen parchment, combine the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring the mixture with a fork to combine. On a second sheet of parchment, combine the panko with the cheese, stirring with a fork.

One at a time, coat the cauliflower cutlets (and trimmings, if using) on both sides with the cornstarch, knocking off the excess. Next, dip each in the egg mixture, coating them on both sides and letting the excess drip off. Finally, coat them with the panko mixture, patting the crumbs on well. Set aside.

Strain the garlic oil through a mesh strainer, pressing hard on the garlic to get out all the oil. Discard the garlic (or reserve for another use).

On a rimmed baking sheet, spread half of the oil in an even coating. Set the baking sheet on the oven’s top shelf and heat for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and quickly arrange the prepared cauliflower on it in a single layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, drizzle the tops of the cauliflower evenly with the remaining oil, turn them over, then bake for another 15 minutes. Divide the cauliflower among 4 serving plates, then serve topped with marinara.

Nutrition information per serving: 490 calories; 190 calories from fat (39 percent of total calories); 21 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 1110 mg sodium; 58 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 17 g protein.

SPEEDY MARINARA

Start to finish: 35 minutes (10 minutes active)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Hefty pinch red pepper flakes

28-ounce can plum tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), chopped

Kosher salt

In an unheated medium saucepan, combine the garlic and the oil. Turn the heat to medium and cook, turning over the garlic several times, until it is just golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and a hefty pinch of salt, then bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook at a brisk simmer until the sauce is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the garlic. Season with salt.

Nutrition information per 1/2 cup: 60 calories; 25 calories from fat (42 percent of total calories); 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 460 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 1 g protein.

Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”

Easy comfort dinner? Chicken paprikash

Chicken paprikash is the kind of dish that reveals itself immediately and inarguably as comfort food, even if you’ve never eaten it before in your life.

It’s a classic Hungarian dish which features chicken, onions, broth, tomatoes (sometimes, not always) and of course copious amounts of paprika. I have been playing around with my tin of smoked paprika for quite a while now, and while I love the flavor, it can come on strong. So here I relied primarily on the typical sweet Hungarian paprika, then added a little bit of smoked to give it another level of flavor. You also could add a bit of hot paprika to give the dish a different kind of kick.

If you are the kind of person to make your own dumplings or noodles, this is a great moment to whip out that skill set. For the rest of us, and for a weeknight dinner, a bag of egg noodles fits the bill perfectly. You don’t want to heat the sour cream in the sauce over the stove, or it might curdle. Just stir it into the pot at the very end and it will add a tangy-creamy note to the warm sauce.

 

CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 8

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 large yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika (optional)

2 bay leaves

14-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup sour cream

16-ounce bag egg noodles

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a very large, deep heavy saute pan (such as cast-iron) over medium-high, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 4 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for another 4 minutes; it will not be cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate. It’s fine if there are bits stuck to the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the onions. Saute for 5 minutes, or until softened and moderately browned. Stir in the garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in the flour and both varieties of paprika, stirring for 1 minute, or until well mixed. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom to loosen any stuck bits.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with any juices on the plate. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot salted water to a boil and cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and divide between serving plates. When the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Remove the bay leaves from the sauce and discard, then stir in the sour cream. Top each portion of noodles with chicken and sauce.

Nutrition information per serving: 520 calories; 140 calories from fat (27 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 245 mg cholesterol; 410 mg sodium; 49 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 44 g protein.

 

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”

Umami-enhanced pasta packs in flavor

If you’ve been out to eat at any trendy restaurant during the past five years or have watched any food competition show, you probably have heard of umami. Umami is the pleasant savory flavor resulting from the interaction of certain amino acids with receptors on the human tongue. (It’s a wonder we don’t get into this level of detail on TV, no?)

Translation: Dishes higher in these specific amino acids taste better to us, balanced and complex, even in low-salt dishes, which is good to know if you are watching sodium. Foods with umami have a meatiness or pleasant earthiness that can feel rich and satisfying. Anchovies, soy sauce, mushrooms, aged cheeses, yeasts and fermented foods all are rich in umami.

This week’s mushroom-miso pasta is a tad indulgent, but tastes far richer, creamier and more sinful than it actually is. Using nutty browned butter underscores the earthy mushroom’s umami flavors. Miso paste, or fermented soybean paste, is the real hero here, though, adding surprising depth to this easy weeknight dish, as well as a buttery, almost creamy taste to the sauce that brings all the flavors together.

Miso paste, available in various strengths in most grocery stores — mild white, medium yellow and stronger red and brown — is a staple in my kitchen, as it brings flavor and richness to dishes without adding fat and calories (but note that it does have salt).

Adding even more umami to this dish is the nutritional yeast. It’s an optional ingredient, but I think well worth seeking out if you aren’t familiar with it. It adds a wonderful aged-cheese-like flavor that turns this simple mushroom-miso pasta dish into a veritable “umami bomb,’” which is a good thing in the food world.

MUSHROOM-MISO PASTA

Start to Finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

8 ounces whole-grain penne pasta

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces chopped mixed mushrooms (portobello, cremini, button, etc.)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon white miso paste

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to taste)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium, heat the butter, allowing it to bubble and cook until it turns nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, as butter burns easily. Add the mushrooms and garlic, then cook until the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and stir and scrape the pan to deglaze, then simmer for 1 minute to cook off the alcohol.

Whisk in the miso and chicken stock and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the nutritional yeast and mustard, if using, then stir until the sauce is uniform. Season with pepper, then taste and adjust with salt as needed. Remove the skillet from the heat and toss with the hot pasta.

Check the family recipe books | California woman offers house for best dessert

A woman in Antioch, California, is offering a sweet deal on her 1906 Craftsman home in Jackson. She’s trading it for a great dessert.

The Contra Costa Times reports that Erin Allard is hosting a dessert contest with 2,267-foot century-old home as the grand prize.

The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home has been newly restored and is valued at $390,000.

Allard, who is a licensed real estate agent, has spent weeks checking details and legalities to make sure the competition goes off without a problem.

The contest will be judged by a panel of food experts.

Those looking to apply have until Sept. 7 to submit a $100 entry fee and a million-dollar recipe.

On the Web

The contest site on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HomeRecipeContest 

The delicious love child of potato salad and deviled eggs

This recipe is what would happen if your favorite deviled eggs hooked up with a sinfully delicious potato salad. Rich, creamy, tangy, eggy and starchy, this is everything you want in a July Fourth side salad.

This also happens to be a lovely do-ahead recipe. In fact, we highly recommend you prep it the day before to give the flavors more time to marry. Just hold off on the smoked paprika garnish until just before serving.

And if you want to play up the deviled egg idea, you could serve this spooned into endive leaves as an easy starter to enjoy while the burgers and dogs are on the grill.

CREAMY DEVILED EGG POTATO SALAD

If you find the potato salad too dry, just add another spoonful of mayonnaise or a splash of water.

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 10

12 eggs

3 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Smoked paprika, to garnish

In a saucepan large enough to hold the eggs comfortably but closely in a single layer, arrange the eggs and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover the pan and remove from the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Have a bowl of ice water near the stove.

After 10 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the ice water. Chill them for 5 minutes. Remove the eggs and tap the shells all over on the counter to crack them. Return the eggs without peeling them to the ice water while you cook the potatoes.

In a large pot of salted water over high, bring the potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender, but not falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the cider vinegar and allow to cool.

While the potatoes cool, make the dressing. In a medium bowl, mix together the mascarpone, mustard, mayonnaise, cayenne and a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper. Peel the eggs, rinsing to ensure no bits of shell remain. Halve the eggs and remove the yolks. Mix the yolks into the dressing, mashing with a fork until smooth.

Chop the egg whites and gently fold into the dressing, along with the cooled potatoes and scallions. When ready to serve, sprinkle with smoked paprika.

Nutrition information per serving: 310 calories; 170 calories from fat (55 percent of total calories); 19 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 275 mg cholesterol; 350 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 11 g protein.

Seek the savory side of chocolate in the new year

While I still pay attention to what I eat during the holidays, I nonetheless allow plenty of small splurges. And those splurges mostly can be summed up in one word: chocolate!

Trouble is, the holidays eventually pass, but my cravings for the deep flavor of a perfectly-roasted cocoa bean linger. Even more than the sweetness that accompanies most chocolate desserts, I miss the unctuous coating cocoa leaves on the palate. But who says healthy eating must mean the end of that deliciousness? Enter unsweetened chocolate! All the richness of the flavor without the sugar.

My healthy chocolate-eating strategy has me leaning toward savory dishes because they need no sugar for me to appreciate the wonderful flavor of the cocoa. Among the most classic choices — and one of my favorites — is Mexican mole, a thick, spicy sauce based on cocoa or chocolate that traditionally takes a couple of days to develop its rich flavors.

But I have four hungry kids who aren’t willing to wait days for chocolate, sweet or savory. So I have developed a version of mole that takes under an hour. Does it capture all the flavor of a two-day mole? Nope. But for a recipe that shaves 47 hours off my labor, I think it still does a pretty darned good job.

And you can take comfort in knowing that you’re getting all the delicious benefits and satisfaction of chocolate without the pesky sugar. Chocolate in the New Year? Yes, indeed. All in the name of health.

CHICKEN IN QUICK MOLE SAUCE

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 4

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo (more or less according to heat preference)

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup prune juice (or 1/4 cup chopped pitted prunes)

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Squeeze of lime (1 to 2 teaspoons)

Fresh cilantro, chopped, to serve

Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the chicken and brown until golden on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, then cook, stirring, until very fragrant, another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 3 more minutes. Add the chipotles, orange zest and prune juice, then cook an additional minute, stirring.

Add the stock and let simmer until the onion is fairly soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Pour or spoon carefully into a blender, then add the almond butter, chocolate and lime juice. Let sit for a minute in the hot liquid. Blend carefully _ low at first, then at higher speed _ until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Add more stock if the sauce is too thick.

Return the chicken to the pan (no need to clean it) and pour the sauce over the chicken. Heat over medium until the chicken is cooked through, another 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with rice and beans and top with cilantro.

Nutrition information per serving: 430 calories; 190 calories from fat (44 percent of total calories); 21 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 105 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 39 g protein; 690 mg sodium.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the upcoming cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net.