Porcini Wild Rice

Wild Rice

Porcini Wild Rice

One of my favorite things are grain-type salads that can be eaten hot or cold. While I’m absolutely a hot-food person (have you ever seen a sandwich on this blog? uh, no), once in a while it’s nice to have something filling and healthy in the fridge that I can easily munch on. This porcini and wild rice dish fits the bill: it’s fantastic heated and served with beef, chicken or fish, and just as good chilled with a few greens.

The key to this recipe is that it’s all about texture. The silky smooth umami-esque reconstituted porcini mushrooms, the rough wild rice, chewy dried cranberries, and crunchy pecans all make for an incredible mouthful. Plus, it has that whole sweet-savory thing going on that I love so much.

I first ate the porcini wild rice salad for dinner with steelhead trout that had been marinated in a garlic and balsamic vinegar reduction, then had leftovers for lunch the next day with a piece of leftover steak. Both times it was fabulous and incredibly nutritious with a small side salad or wilted baby spinach.

Porcini Wild Rice

Porcini Wild Rice

Here’s the recipe:

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Lobsta Fest Part II: Thai Lobster Bisque

Thai Lobster Bisque

Thai Lobster Bisque

A great thing to remember when cooking is to use every part of every ingredient. Just like a roast chicken can turn into a rich chicken stock, which then can be used to make an amazing soup, lobster shells also make a flavorful stock. This recipe for Thai Lobster Bisque is all about getting your money’s worth in the most delightful way.

To make the soup, I took the shells from two cooked lobsters and used a small amount of the meat as a garnish (the rest was eaten with butter or used in this marvelous Champagne lobster salad). The shells were simmered with water and a lot of aromatics including garlic, ginger and lemongrass, and eventually finished with coconut milk.

Lobster Claw (photo requested by my mom)

Lobster Claw (photo requested by my mom)

While this isn’t exactly authentic Thai food, the flavors and aromas reminded me of Tom Kha soup, one of my favorites.

Try this soup for yourself the next time you find yourself with leftover lobster shells.

Here’s the recipe:

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Ten in ’10: Reflections and Week Two Goals

Bar Method

Motivation to attend Bar Method class (photo from BarMethod.com)

Before heading into my goals for week two of the Ten in ’10 challenge, let’s reflect a bit on week one.

It was an interesting week and one I think was successful in setting up the habits I hope become permanent. These include journaling all the food/drink/vitamins/air I consume and working out on a regular schedule.

Food: Always a challenge for me. I mean, come on, I’m a chef. I LOVE food and my career centers around it. Luckily, I’m no longer spending most of my time in kitchens testing and tasting food, but still it’s tough.

Through a LOT of trial and error, I’ve found that I do best when I record everything I eat. This is something that I’ll have to continue doing even when I reach my goal weight because it holds me accountable and (sometimes) stops me from the mindless snacking I’m so fond of.

I’ve been using SparkPeople to keep track of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and fiber, and only went above my recommended total calorie intake three times. Yes, that was three times too many but it’s a start. My only complaint with SparkPeople is the amount of protein they recommend seems too high and there were two days where I didn’t even meet the minimum requirements.

Fitness: Even a bigger challenge for me than food, if you can believe that. The truth is I don’t like to sweat and I’m kinda lazy. There, I said it for all to read. Motivating myself to get to Bar Method classes was hard, especially on the days I went after work and had to walk 15 minutes in negative temperatures to reach the studio. These classes are killer and I’ve been sore constantly, but I did attend three days last week. The main thing that keeps me going is the photo at the top of the post from the Bar Method website that is also framed in one of the studios. Someday my butt will look like that…

As for weight loss, well, there was none. I can’t quite figure that out except to say that just like I don’t like to throw anything out, neither does my body like to get rid of fat. Once it’s there it’s near impossible to get rid of, like gunk caked onto a pot that even soaking and elbow-grease won’t release. But I do feel a little stronger, so I’m trying to focus on that so I don’t lose my motivation.

As for the plan of starting to take vitamin supplements, as of yesterday I’m now taking a D3 vitamin every day, and will be for another 598 days (it’s a massive bottle from Costco). I still haven’t gotten around to buying calcium supplements but plan on doing so this week.

Week 2 goals:

  1. Continue journaling all food consumed.
  2. Stay within allotted calories EVERY day.
  3. Attend three Bar Method classes no matter how sore or tired I am.
  4. Buy calcium supplements.
  5. Warm up to the idea of adding two days of cardio workouts.
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Lobsta Fest Part I: Champagne Lobster Salad

Lobster Salad

Champagne Lobster Salad

My favorite part of New Years has recently become the annual tradition of feasting on lobster, although I should probably credit the grocery store across the street that delightfully has the tradition of putting live lobsters on sale the last week of the year. Lobster isn’t something I cook often and I never order it in restaurants, which is why this once-a-year treat is so special.

This year I went all out with the lobsters, which usually comes out sounding like lobstas. Try saying it out loud like that: lob-stah. Isn’t that more fun than lobster?

Shallot for vinaigrette, before roasting Roasted shallot for vinaigrette

Anyways, I decided to make the day extra special and bought two lobsters, which I then turned into three meals eaten over four days. Of course it took all my restraint not to eat both lobsters at once, but enjoying it in three variations totally paid off.

On New Years day I cooked both lobsters and ate one whole with melted butter and served alongside rice and black eyed peas to symbolize luck in the new year. I cleaned the other lobster and reserved the meat and shells for the remaining two dishes: soup and salad, but not just any soup and salad, these were special.

Grapefruit segments Roasted Shallot Champagne Vinaigrette

The following day I used the shells from both lobsters to make an incredibly rich and fragrant soup (recipe coming soon), and finally an amazing salad, which was a wonderful contrast to the unhealthy and heavy foods I’d eaten during the holidays. The Champagne lobster salad included lobster meat, avocado, grapefruit and a roasted shallot champagne vinaigrette.

I can’t wait to make this salad again next year! In the meantime, I’ll enjoy it with crab meat or shrimp, keeping lobsta a special New Years treat!

Champagne Lobster Salad

Champagne Lobster Salad

Here’s the recipe for Champagne Lobster Salad:

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Marshmallow Treats

Marshmallow Treats

Marshmallow Treats

For years I’ve thought about buying a candy thermometer but never quite got around to it. Sort of like joining a gym… a good idea in theory that just never seemed convenient. And now, somehow, I’m talking about gyms and candy at the same time, which probably is an analysis best left for another time.

Regardless, a few weeks ago I finally bought a candy thermometer so I could make English toffee and ever since it’s like a new world has opened up to me. I generally don’t like to make pastries because they’re too fussy, but candy is a different story.

The most difficult part is patience because the goal (usually) is to slowly heat the sugar mixture to a specific temperature. And the second hardest part is remembering not to touch it! It’s so tempting, but I always think back to my baking and pastry class where another student burnt her fingers really badly by touching hot sugar. {shiver}

Now that you’ve been adequately warned, it’s time to make these incredibly delectable, light and fluffy, ooey and gooey marshmallow treats.

I made the marshmallow treats for a New Years Eve party and had so much fun experimenting that I wound up with two different toppings: semisweet chocolate with crushed candy canes and peanut butter milk chocolate! The candy cane topping was the easiest because it only required one round of dipping, whereas the peanut butter milk chocolate was more time-consuming by first dipping the marshmallows in melted peanut butter, freezing, then dipping in melted milk chocolate.

Either way, both types of marshmallow treats were a huge hit, although I slightly favored the peanut butter version because it reminded me of a gooey Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. But you don’t have to dip them at all. These marshmallows would be fantastic toasted on their own or as s’mores, or even with hot chocolate.

Please make these, I beg you. It’s for your own good! You’ll be loved and worshipped by everyone who tastes them. And let me know how you top your marshmallow treats!

Here’s the recipe:

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