Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Year, New You - Healthy Ingredient #3: Kale!

How I used to think of green vegetables!
I have to be honest...

If you had told me a few weeks ago it was possible for me to like kale, I would have laughed at you. Chortled might actually be a more accurate word, because due to a serious aversion to green foods that dates back to childhood, I have never gone near the stuff. In the spirit of exploring more healthy ingredients however, I was feeling up to the challenge. I also recently came across a basic recipe for Kale Chips that sounded easy to make and potentially tasty so I decided to give it a try. I mean, this time of year, who isn't looking for an easily accessible, healthy snack to stave off those dastardly post-holiday cravings?
Curly Kale
Why kale you might ask? This member of the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea) has been getting some attention lately in culinary circles and for good reason. In addition to having a very distinct flavor, kale is chock full of nutrients including beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein and calcium. Like broccoli, it also contains the chemical sulforaphane which has very potent anti-cancer properties. In order to preserve these desirable nutrients, it's best to prepare kale by steaming, stir-frying or baking; boiling can cause a decrease in the concentration of these chemicals.

Kale has a variety of culinary applications in many countries around the world. In Ireland, it is mixed with potatoes to make the traditional dish colcannon. Kale is also popular in China, Taiwan and Vietnam where it is often combined with beef in a stir-fry and in Portugal, it is often combined with pureed potatoes, broth and spicy sausage to make the traditional soup, caldo verde. Other countries that also have a traditional dish that utilizes kale are the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Africa. This green which dates back to the 4th century BC, has certainly made an international impression!
I hope you enjoy this quick, easy and delicious recipe for kale chips. Feel free to experiment with different toppings and flavor combinations to suit your taste. If you have leftovers, the chips can easily be stored for a few days in a Ziploc baggie or airtight container. Following my previous recommendations of quinoa and lentils, this post concludes the series of three healthy ingredient suggestions for the New Year here on the Glamorous Gourmet. I hope you've enjoyed learning about these healthy options!

Coming up next are my interviews with two esteemed figures in the wine world, Christie's Head of Wine for the Americas, Robin Kelley O'Connor and Executive Editor of Wine Spectator magazine, Thomas Matthews. They were kind enough to sit down with me during a recent trip to New York and share details about their respective journeys and successes in the wine industry. Please stay tuned for their interesting stories, I look forward to sharing them with you.  

Cheers,


Baked Tuscan Kale Chips 
Ingredients:
2 heads of kale leaves, stems removed
Olive Oil
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Tear kale leaves into "chip"-size pieces and place on baking sheet. Drizzle the leaves with olive oil and season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Toss kale with seasonings and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake kale chips for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Sprinkle chips with grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes to taste and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and chips are sufficiently crispy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Year, New You - Healthy Ingredient #2: Lentils!

Red, Green & Black Lentils
Ah, lentils! I've been a fan of this legendary legume since enjoying my Grandmother's homemade lentil soup as a child. Having sampled them in many incarnations since, I have to say their inherent earthiness and delightful texture always keep me coming back for more. I especially find myself drawn to lentils during the Winter months when they can effectively double as both a comfort food and a health food. What's not to love about that?

Illustration of the lentil plant, 1855
Much like quinoa (Healthy Ingredient #1), lentils were introduced to the human diet a long, long time ago, approximately 9,500 - 13,000 years to be exact. They were actually the first domesticated crop in the Near East. Lentils are presently available in many different colors, shapes and sizes. Whether it's the hearty, peppery French green lentils (lentilles du Puy) or the delicate, colorful red lentils, there is definitely one to suit your taste. Also, lentils are sold in a variety of forms including with or without skins, whole or split. 

Culturally speaking, lentils have turned up in some well-known yet very diverse sources including the Hebrew Bible as well as Grimm's well-known fairy tale, Cinderella. In Italy, it is a tradition to eat lentils on New Year's Eve to symbolize hope for a prosperous year ahead.

Nutritionally, lentils have the third highest protein level of any legume following soybeans and hemp, and are also a rich and inexpensive source of iron, fiber, folate, vitamin B1 and minerals. They are very popular in many vegetarian cultures around the world especially those in Asia, the Mediterranean and West Asia. In these regions lentils are usually mixed with rice or other ingredients to round out a meal. In Europe and the Americas, it is common for lentils to be made into a soup and combined with meat such as chicken or pork. I guess you could say lentils are the Philip Seymour Hoffman of the legume world, pretty unassuming at first glance yet they play some pretty amazing supporting roles!

I happened across this recipe for Lentils with Red Wine and Herbs in the January issue of Food and Wine Magazine. It was contributed by Sophie Dahl, granddaughter of famed British author Roald Dahl, and appears in her cookbook Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights. In the book, she fondly refers to it as Paris Mash since she would make it regularly while visiting her friend in Paris. Dahl uses very little meat in her cooking and focuses instead on fish, vegetables and whole grains; however, like her grandfather with his penchant for Burgundy, borscht and dark chocolate, she is no fan of deprivation! Dahl advocates using small amounts of 'voluptuous delights' in her cooking including crème fraîche, butter and cream. She definitely sounds like my kind of girl! 

When making this recipe, French green lentils work best since they hold their shape really well during cooking. For the red wine, I used a 2010 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Morgon but any light- to medium-bodied red wine would work just fine. If you were planning on serving this dish with a protein, I would opt for a leaner cut of red meat. The smoky, earthy flavor of the lentils begs for something a bit heavier than fish or white meat chicken. I hope you enjoy this recipe, it is currently on regular rotation at my house!
Cheers,


 
Lentils with Red Wine and Herbs
from Food and Wine Magazine, courtesy of Sophie Dahl
1 1/2 cups French green lentils (12 ounces)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 packed cup baby spinach (2 ounces)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
4 lightly packed cups mâche (2 ounces) or arugula
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro 

Salt
Freshly ground pepper


In a large saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and simmer over moderate heat until tender, 40 minutes. Drain the lentils.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the red onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and the wine and simmer until the wine has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche. Add the mâche, parsley and cilantro and cook until barely wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.
Serves 4 
 
Notes: One serving = 291 cal, 44 gm carb, 5 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 18 gm protein,11 gm fiber

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Year, New You - Healthy Ingredient #1: Quinoa!

As many of you know, writing about health food is not really my thing. Rice cakes, tofu and bean spouts are not exactly the most glamorous or flavorful ingredients out there and, truth be told, I have usually avoided them at all costs. While I don't consider myself quite as naughty as a certain Ms. Paula Deen, I have to admit I usually prefer a little decadence in my dishes.

That being said, I have recently found that healthy and delicious need not be mutually exclusive. This week I'll be highlighting three healthy ingredients that are chock full of flavor and nutrients, a culinary "win-win" if you will. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to the first healthy ingredient you simply must try in 2012.

Quinoa (pronouced 'keen-wah', accent on the first syllable) is considered to be an "ancient grain" and was of great nutritional importance in Pre-Colombian Andean civilizations. While usually considered a whole grain, quinoa is actually a grain-like plant grown for its edible seeds. It is not a member of the grass family at all and is more closely related to species including beets, spinach and tumbleweeds. Don't let that deter you, however, because quinoa is actually prepared in much the same way as whole grains like rice or barley. Cooked quinoa has a lovely light, fluffy texture and a mild, nutty flavor and is incredibly versatile! As an added bonus, it's also gluten-free, cholesterol-free, kosher and almost always found in an organic form. Unlike wheat or rice products though, quinoa contains a balanced set of amino acids making it a complete protein source which is highly unusual among plant foods. It is also a good source of fiber and is high in magnesium and iron as well.

I discovered this delicious quinoa recipe in the January 2012 issue of Bon Appétit magazine. The article was entitled "The New Veg" and featured the cuisine of Israeli-born, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi who is the current undisputed master of vegetable cookery. A hallmark of Ottolenghi's style is his attention to the texture, color and overall look of a dish with an emphasis on creating beautiful as well as delicious food. I have to hand it to him, this quinoa dish is brilliant! Not only is it beautiful, I can't believe how well all the flavors and textures worked together. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did and have fun exploring the various incarnations of this 'Ancient Grain'!

Cheers,


Quinoa, Fennel & Pomegranate Salad 
from Bon Appetit Magazine; recipe contributed by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi
Ingredients
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs (2 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/4"-thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup quinoa, rinsed 
1 lemon 
1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped 
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint 
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill 
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1/2 small pomegranate)
  
Directions 
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is just tender and lightly golden, 10–12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, cumin, and sugar; cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain; return to pan. Cover; let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork; transfer to a large bowl. 

Using a small sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith from lemon. Cut between membranes to release segments; discard membranes and roughly chop. Add lemon with any juices and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to quinoa; stir. Add fennel mixture, chile, and herbs. Toss gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer salad to a platter; sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Year, New You - Part 1: Three Wines to Try in 2012!

Well, my Fabulous Foodie Friends, 2012 is off and running and if you're looking to make some changes in your food and wine routine, The Glamorous Gourmet has got you covered! Whether it's breaking out of your ho-hum wine routine, experimenting with healthy new ingredients, or possibly finding a career in the wine world I've got some creative suggestions and fabulous interviews that I'm very excited to share with you this month. I hope you enjoy January's focus on new food and wine discoveries in the new year.

Before reaching for the same bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, remember what Newt Gingrich will probably tell you, "variety is the spice of life!" Here are three fabulous grapes you need to know in 2012:

If you are a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris or even unoaked Chardonnay, give Argentina's signature grape Torrontés a try. Torrontés produces white wines that are fresh, aromatic and brimming with notes of citrus, apricot and peach. This grape thrives in the arid climate of Argentina, especially in vineyards located at altitudes of over 5,250 feet. There are actually three varieties of the Torrontés grape (Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés  Sanjuanino and Torrontés Mendocino) however, Torrontés Riojano is the highest quality and most widely planted. This is a great wine for sipping on its own, yet is very versatile and pairs nicely with a variety of dishes.

If you prefer lighter-bodied red wines, give the Gamay grape a whirl. While grown in other areas of the world, Gamay is probably best know for its history in France's Burgundy wine region where it is used to produce Beaujolais, a light, fruity red wine made primarily using the carbonic maceration method. Instead of reaching for that bottle of Beajolais Nouveau however, try one of the region's cru offerings which are noted for their distinctive style and quality. Keep an eye out for bottles bearing the name of one of the ten Cru Beajolais communes including Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côtes de Brouilly

If you enjoy medium to fuller-bodied reds like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, give Mourvèdre a try. This international grape variety can be found around the globe answering to aliases such as Monastrell (Spain) and Mataro (Australia). Mourvèdre is a late-ripening variety that does best in warm climates where it produces wines with big tannins, high alcohol and flavors of red fruit, mocha, earth and game. Originally from Spain, Mourvèdre found success in France's Rhone Valley where it is a primary component of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It has also been grown in California for over a century where it is currently gaining popularity as a varietal wine.

So stop reading and start drinking already! I hope you enjoy these three new wines to try in 2012. As always, I'd love to hear what you think of them.

Cheers,

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Glamorous Gourmet's Upcoming Events and a Big 2012 Thank You!

After taking a week off to recover from all that Champagne, I am happy to announce a few upcoming wine and food events you won't want to miss in 2012.

First, let me start by saying, after a very challenging 2011, I am thrilled to be participating in many of the events I missed last year due to my injury. I am so thankful to everyone who continued reading my blog and attending my events during that difficult time, I'd like to raise a glass to each and every one of you - thank you so much for your support! That being said, I am very happy to announce these fabulous food and wine events to add to your 2012 culinary calendar:

American Fine Wine Competition: I am honored to be included on the Judges panel for the 5th Annual American Fine Wine Competition on January 15th & 16th. The AFWC is the world's largest and most prestigious invitational devoted solely to fine wines produced in the United States. While the judging event is for judges, sponsors and media only, the AFWC gala will be held Thursday, April 19th at the Boca Raton Resort & Club where guests will enjoy an evening of award winning wines and dinner prepared by Chef Emeril Lagasse! For more information, please visit www.americanfinewinecompetition.com. 

"Bacchus Beckons" Kick-Off Party for the 10th Annual Boca Bacchanal: As many of you know, Steve and I have been involved with Boca Bacchanal, the largest fundraiser for the Boca Raton Historical Society, for quite a few years and it is especially near and dear to our hearts. We are very excited to be General Chairs for the 10th Anniversary celebration this year which will take place March 23rd-25th. I hope you will also join us for the "Bacchus Beckons" Kick-Off Party next Thursday, January 19th at the Boca Raton Resort & Club when the Chef and Vintner Pairings will be announced. It is sure to be an exciting evening! For more information, please visit www.bocabacchanal.com. 

"The Art of Wine & Food" at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale: our monthly series at The Museum of Art continues and we're kicking off 2012 in style with the return of guest speaker and James Beard Award-winning wine writer Lyn Farmer. This month he'll be teaching us about the nuances of understanding and enjoying Port, the fortified wine hailing exclusively from Portugal's Douro Valley. Please join us for this fun and informative evening of food and wine on Thursday, January 26th at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Gail Vilone at 965-262-0249. Hope to see you there!


Inaugural Country Club Chef Showdown, Hospice of Palm Beach County: I'm also honored to be included on the esteemed Judges panel along with Chef Norman Van Aken and Master Sommelier Virginia Philip for the Inaugural Country Club Chef Showdown to benefit Hospice of Palm Beach County. This event will feature Chefs from some of Boca Raton's finest Country Clubs, who will be asked to create a signature dish from the same main ingredient - can you say "Allez Cuisine!"? The event will be held Thursday, February 2nd at Broken Sound Country Club, and guests will be able to sample each of the Chef's creations, sip cocktails and enjoy jazz and a wonderful silent auction as well. For more information, please visit www.hpbcf.org.

I hope your 2012 is off to a fabulous start and I look forward to seeing you soon at an upcoming event in the near future! 

Cheers,

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