Heart Healthy – Feta and Green Onion Couscous Cakes over Tomato-Olive Salad

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The basics of eating healthy are quite simple actually: choosing a variety of fresh, natural (as opposed to processed) foods and enjoying them in moderation. But with the wealth of foods, supplements, and information on micronutrients, preparation methods, storage methods and numerous other topics that healthy eaters now have access to, the details can be overwhelming. For today’s Heart-Healthy selection this Middle Eastern dish adds interest and multiple flavors to our quest of eating healthy.

Ingredients

Cakes:

1/3 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons egg substitute
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
Cooking spray
Salad:
2/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups Acadian salad greens

Preparation

1. To prepare cakes, place couscous in a medium bowl; stir in 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover and let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Cool slightly. Add cheese and the next 3 ingredients (through pepper). Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Spoon about 1/3 cup couscous mixture into 4 mounds in pan. Lightly press with a spatula to flatten to 1/2 inch. Cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Coat tops of cakes with cooking spray. Carefully turn cakes over; cook 2 minutes or until heated.

2. To prepare salad, combine tomato and next 5 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon pepper). Arrange 1 1/2 cups greens on each of 2 plates. Top each serving with 1/2 cup tomato mixture; arrange 2 cakes over tomato mixture.

 

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Fontina Risotto with Chicken and Roasted Asparagus

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A decadent one dish meal that is certain to amaze your guests

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth

5 tbsp butter

i med onion chopped

2 1/2 cups arborio rice

3 sprigs thyme

1 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)

Mediterranean Sea Salt

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup coarsely grated fontina cheese, plus some more for garnish

1 pound chicken breast, diced  (about 2 cups)

8-10 Fresh Asparagus spears ( 4 inches long )

Preparation:

Bring the broth and 4 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt 4 tbsp butter in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the rice and thyme, cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy, about 1 minute.  Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1 tsp sea salt.  Ladle in the hot broth about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, allowing all of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.  Continue until the rice is just tender.  20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, put asparagus spears on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil then salt and pepper and put into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let rest.

Back to the rice, remove the thyme, and stir in parmigiano, the remaining 1 tbsp of butter, 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper to taste.  Gently stir in the fontina and chicken.  Top with asparagus spears and serve.   Buon Appetito      Chef Lynnie Logo

 

 

Caprese Salad

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Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish).

Caprese is truly a magical and perfect combination of flavors, textures, and freshness: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and some kind of drizzle of either olive oil or balsamic…or both.

This is one of the easiest and yet elegant and colorful salads to prepare and serve. Your  guests will love you for it.

Ingredients:

3 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/4-inch thick slices
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper

Preparation:

Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Who Cut The Cheese ? The Truth About Mascarpone

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Mascarpone    (mass-car-pohne)

More like a cloud caught in a container than a cheese, Mascarpone is soft, sweet and entirely unforgettable. Almost like a butter-cream cake frosting, your taste buds will think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Needless to say, Mascarpone has made its place in the cheese world as a delectable dessert cheese.

Thick, creamy and velvety, Mascarpone is heavenly as a dip, filling or frosting, or melted for a sauce. Enjoy Mascarpone with fresh fruits, berries and figs, chocolate or lightly-sweet desserts like shortbread and lady fingers.

Did you Know?  Mascarpone was created in Northern Italy nearly 400 years ago, and is a key ingredient to the Italian dessert delight Tiramisu. As an American-made cheese, Mascarpone has been praised as being just as delicious as it’s European ancestor.

Who Cut The Cheese ? The Truth About Gruyere

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Gruyère can best be described as having an earthy, buttery and toasty flavor, with slightly fruity undertones. Its full-bodied taste stands up well with other rich flavors, so think of it as a perfect complement to heartier pastas and entrees.

For snacking or entertaining, try a Gruyère deli platter with prosciutto, thinly sliced ham and salami. If you want to mix it with fruits and nuts, aim for red apples, melons, dates, figs, hazelnuts and walnuts. Gruyère also has a wonderful meltability, making it ideal for sauces, soups, and fondue.

Who Cut the Cheese ? The Truth About Asiago

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One bite of Asiago will create images in your head of a warm, twilight-lit evening on the Italian countryside. It is an inspiring cheese. It ranges in flavor from mild and buttery when it’s young (look for the clear or white wax coating) to an intense, semi-sharp when it’s aged (in the black coating). Flavorfully and savory, Asiago can add something special to just about any dish. Try it grated over pastas, potatoes, rice and salads, or melted in quesadillas and pizza.

Who Cut The Cheese? The Truth About Brie

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Brie is the best known French cheese and has a nickname “The Queen of Cheeses”. Brie is a soft cheese named after the French region Brie, where it was originally created. Several hundred years ago, Brie was one of the tributes which had to be paid to the French kings.

In France, Brie is very different from the cheese exported to the United States. “Real” French Brie is unstabilized and the flavor is complex when the surface turns slightly brown. When the cheese is still pure-white, it is not matured. If the cheese is cut before the maturing process, it will never develop properly. Exported Brie, however, is stabilized and never matures. Stabilized Brie has a much longer shelf life and is not susceptible to bacteriological infections.

Brie is produced from the whole or semi-skimmed cow’s milk. Rennet is added in to raw milk and heated to a temperature of 37°C to obtain the curd.  The cheese is then cast into molds, several layers of cheese are filled into mold and then kept for around 18 hours. After this the cheese is salted and aged for minimum four weeks.

Brie cheese is slightly pale in color with a greyish tinge under a rind. Its flavor varies depending upon the ingredients added while producing the cheese.

Brie, one of the great dessert cheeses, comes as either a 1 or 2 kilogram wheel and is packed in a wooden box. In order to enjoy the taste fully, Brie must be served at room temperature.