Stack Your Salad

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“So often we serve food family style at dinner parties, and miss out on the wow factor of serving our guests composed plates. Beautifully plated food, like what you get in a great restaurant, makes eating more fun and certainly more stylish. “

Stacked Cobb Salad

From Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation, by Christopher Styler

Rethinking the arrangement of ingredients is one of the hallmarks of the architectural style. Here, the ingredients of a traditional cobb salad are stacked one atop the other, purely for fun and looks. Just as the “spokes” of a traditional cobb salad last for a moment or two until tossed together, this tower makes its statement, then tumbles into disarray as one starts to eat it. Choose layers of the ingredients that complement each other in terms of flavor, color, and texture. (The ingredients should also be large and moist enough to hold their shape—coarsely chopped nuts, for example, won’t.) Clearly defined layers are the key; picture this cobb salad as if it had been plated after all the ingredients were tossed together, then tamped into the mold.

Step 1

Place a tomato slice in the center of the plate to form the base of the stack. If the tomato is very juicy, drain it on paper towels for a few minutes. Set the mold over the tomato slice. In this case an empty tomato can serves as a mold, but a length of clean, unused PVC pipe works equally well.

Step 2

Spoon the first layer of the salad into the mold. Gently tamp down to help the stack hold its shape after unmolding.

Step 3

Continue adding layers, gently tamping down each, until the mold is filled.

Step 4

Remove the mold from the salad, lifting it straight up to keep the stack intact

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Bourbon Pecan Chicken with Rice Pilaf and Asparagus

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Boneless breast of chicken rolled in Georgia pecan pieces and sautéed in a bourbon butter sauce. A perfect approach to adding WOW! to chicken.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup sugar
2+2/3 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
6 trimmed chicken breasts
1/4 cup melted butter
6 ounces chilled butter cut into 12 pieces

rice pilaf (per instructions on package)

Preparation:

1. Whisk together mustard, bourbon, sugar, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce in sauce pan.
2. Heat mixture and add butter one piece at a time until each piece is incorporated, whisking entire time.
3. Mix together pecans and breadcrumbs.
4. Whisk together egg yolks and milk.
5. Dredge chicken in four, shake off excess.
6. Dip floured chicken into egg mixture.
7. Push chicken into pecan/breadcrumb mixture to coat.
8. Sautee chicken in melted butter on medium heat until chicken is done.
9. Serve chicken on bed of rice pilaf top with 1/4 cup of bourbon sauce.

NOTE:  The perfect addition to this meal is steamed Asparagus.  This vegetable adds a splash  of color to a white plate and is very healthy as well.

Black Bean Zucchini Quesadilla

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This is a great recipe for our Vegetarian friends, or for anyone else for that matter!

Black beans, zucchini, and a bit of cheese folded into tortillas – this may be the best quesadilla you’ve ever tasted.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds zucchini, grated
  • 1½ t salt
  • 30 oz cooked or canned black beans, drained
  • 12 oz Monterey Jack, grated
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 8 eight-inch flour tortillas
  • olive oil

Preparation:

Toss zucchini with salt in the colander, and squeeze out excess water.Combine zucchini with beans, cheese, green onions, and jalapeño.

Brush one side of each tortilla with oil. Place four tortillas oil side down and spread each with one fourth of the zucchini-bean mixture. Top each one with an oil-side-up tortilla.

To Cook

1. Fry: place one quesadilla in a frying pan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side, until golden.

2. Broil: Place quesadillas on baking sheet and broil about 1-2 minutes per side, until golden.

Serve quesadillas with salsa and Spanish rice for a hearty meal.

Salad with Egg, Nuts, and Veggies

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Loaded with slow-digesting veggies and a protein-packed egg, this salad makes the perfect lunch. The avocado and olive-oil-based dressing deliver enough healthy fats to make you feel full. If you want to add more good carbs, pair the salad with a whole-grain roll or a piece of fruit.
Night before: Steam the asparagus, boil the green beans and combine them with the last four ingredients in an airtight container, and refrigerate. Leave the avocado peel on and tightly wrap it in plastic to keep it fresh.
Ingredients:
  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Several spears of Asparagus
  • 2 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 ounce baby spinach (3/4 cup)
  • 2 ounces arugula (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons pecans

Preparation:

  • Place egg in a saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring just to a boil; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 12 minutes, then run under cold water to stop cooking. Peel egg and quarter.
  • In the same saucepan, bring 2 inches salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately run under cold water to stop cooking.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Store this dressing in a small airtight container.
  • Just before serving, dice avocado and add it to your premade salad, along with egg. Toss with dressing.

Leafy Greens

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Today begins our month-long series on foods that give you energy.  Strap in, Let’s get started.

It’s three in the afternoon, your energy is flagging and all you want to do is take a nap, but instead you have to sit through a boring meeting. While you could just have a second – or seventh – cup of coffee, you could also have some pumpkin seeds, an apple, a few red bell pepper slices with hummus or a piece of dark chocolate. These 20 foods can help relieve fatigue, sharpen your focus and give you the jolt of energy that you need to avoid falling asleep at your desk.

Leafy Greens

Spinach, kale, arugula and chard. Virtually every variety of leafy greens is flavorful, packed with vitamins and minerals, and a low-calorie addition to your meals. Not only do they contain vitamins C and A, which are important for energy levels, they also contain depression-fighting folate.

Vegetables – Artichoke

Green Veggie 6 is one of my favorites – Artichoke is one of the popular winter-season edible flower bud of the Mediterranean region known since ancient times for its medicinal and health benefiting qualities. Botanically it belongs within the thistle family of Asteraceae, of the genus; Cynara. Scientific name: Cyanara scolymus.

ImageHealth benefits of Artichoke

  • Artichoke is low in calories and fat, but is a rich source of dietary fiber; provide 5.4 g per 100 g, about 14% of RDA. Dietary-fiber helps control constipation conditions, decrease bad or “LDL” cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines and help prevent colon cancer risks by preventing toxic compounds in the food from absorption.
  • Artichoke contains bitter principles, cynarin and sesquiterpene-lactones. Scientific studies show that these compounds inhibit cholesterol synthesis and increase its excretion in the bile and thus; have overall cholesterol reduction in the blood.
  • Fresh artichoke is an excellent source of vitamin folic acid; provide about 68 µg per 100 g (17% of recommended daily allowance). Folic acid acts as a co-factor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of DNA. Scientific studies have proven that adequate levels of folates in the diet during pre-conception period, and during early pregnancy, help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn baby.
  • Fresh globes also contain good amounts of anti-oxidant vitamin; vitamin-C (Provides about 20% of recommended levels per 100 g). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
  • It is one of the vegetable sources for vitamin K; provide about 12% of DRI. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is an also good source of antioxidants such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, which help the body protect from harmful free-radical agents. Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of artichokes (globe or french) is 6552 µmol TE/100 g.
  • It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.
  • Further, artichoke is rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutaseCopper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
  • Additionally, it contains small amounts of antioxidant flavonoid compounds like carotene-beta, lutein, and zea-xanthin.

Vegetables – Collard Greens

ImageCollard greens are highly nutritious staple green “cabbage-like leaves” vegetable. Collards are one of the most popular members of the Brassica family, closely related to kale and cabbage and could be described as a non-heading (acephalous) cabbage.

Health benefits of Collard greens

  • Wonderfully nutritious collard leaves are very low in calories (provide only 30 calories per 100 g) and contain no cholesterol. However, its green leaves contain a very good amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that helps control LDL cholesterol levels and offer protection against hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases.
  • Widely considered to be wholesome foods, collards are rich in invaluable sources of phyto-nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane that have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
  • Di-indolyl-methane has also found to be effective immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties by potentiating Interferon-gamma receptors.
  • The leaves are also an excellent source of folates, provides about 166 µg or 41.5% of RDA. Folates are important in DNA synthesis and when given during the peri-conception period can prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
  • Fresh collard leaves are also rich in vitamin-C, provides about 59% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural anti-oxidant that offers protection against free radical injury and flu-like viral infections.
  • Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin-A (222% of RDA per 100 g) and carotenoid anti-oxidants such as lutein, carotenes, zea-xanthin, crypto-xanthin, etc. These compounds are scientifically found to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for healthy vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • This leafy vegetable contains amazingly high levels of vitamin-K, provides staggering 426% of recommended daily levels per 100 leaves. Vitamin K has a potential role in the increase of bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone. It also has the beneficial effect in Alzheimer’s diseasepatients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
  • Collards are rich in many vital B-complex groups of minerals such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and riboflavin.
  • Further, the leaves and stems are good in minerals like iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc.