Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Blue "Cheese"

This week I am trying to eat a vegan diet. If you know me, or have followed my blog for a while, then you know that I eat 80% vegetarian, and enjoy seafood or poultry every now and then. I love a good steak too, but that is usually a once-every-few-months treat.

Now as a "Mostly Vegetarian", I have felt justified in leaving the dairy in my diet. After all, dairy products are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and yadda yadda yadda...Thus making the leap to veganism is not as easy as one might think. I love cheese. No, seriously, I really LOVE and ADORE cheese. I have been known to tell people that cheese is proof the Universe wants us to be happy! So, going Vegan was not even on my radar until I stumbled across a recipe for Vegan Blue Cheese and Vegan Cheddar spread. Naturally I altered both recipes a bit, and with very good results. They are both actually pretty delicious, and I'll be darned if they don't actually come frighteningly close to the real deal!

Here is my new recipe for Vegan Blue Cheese. Don't let the ingredients list frighten you. Everything you need can be gotten at your local Whole Foods.

Vega Blue "Cheese"
1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2-3 hours in warm water
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. white miso
1 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp. nutritional yeast *(see note below)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. kelp granuals

1/8 tsp. spirulina powder

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a food processor. Purée until very smooth. Scrape into a plastic container

-reserving 2 Tbs. in a different bowl-and smooth out the mixture so that it lays flat. Add the spirulina to the smaller bowl of cheese mix and stir until homogenized and you have a dark green color throughout. 

Spread the green cheese mix over the top of the rest of the cheese mix. swirl a knife around a few times just to get a marbled effect.

DO NOT COVER, and chill open 12-24 hours to let the cheese dry out and harden a bit. This will still not be a "crumbly" blue cheese, but more of a creamy style. Scoop out in small spoonfuls to use as a topping for burgers, fruit, or crackers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fried Rice-The Lighter Version

Fried Rice-The Lighter Version

I love fried rice. This is one of those dishes that I have a long memory of eating. I have loved every version that I have ever eaten-pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, veggies, etc... It can be the Standard Chinese Fried rice, or Japanese Cha-han, or Spicy Thai style basic fried rice, or any of a dozen other cultural ways to do it...I just love fried rice. You get the jist!

There isn't a plate of fried rice out there that I haven't scarfed down with reckless abandon.

My favorite version is what the Japanese call Cha-Han, and it is a very simple affair of rice, sesame oil, sesame seeds, a few diced onions, and scrambled egg tossed in at the last minute.

Lately, though, I have been trying to avoid white rice, because it is a bit starchy and heavy on calories. ENTER...BROWN RICE! What's the difference? Brown rice is loaded with fiber and protein, both of which white rice is lacking in. Here is an quick article from http://www.fitday.com/ that explains the difference in plain English:

When it comes to rice, looks are deceiving. Chefs and food stylists like the attractive, photogenic qualities of fluffy white rice. Brown rice, however, when compared to white rice, wins as the superior choice for a number of other reasons. Much research concludes that color is not the only factor that separates these two types of rice. Brown rice and white rice are different in some very important ways that can affect your health.


Here is a recipe for what I think is a really good version of fried rice that is way healthier and lower in calories than the standard Chinese/Japanese restaurant version. I will warn you though, you have to be very careful not to add too much liquid to the leftover brown rice, or it will become very gummy and unpalatable! You need:
1 tsp. sesame oil
Pam (or other brand) cooking spray
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cups leftover, cold brown rice
1 tsp. black or plain sesame seeds
3 eggs lightly beaten
1-2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 nonstick skillet heat over a medium high flame

Spray a large skillet with Pam. then add the sesame oil-"But Julie Dear, why the Pam if you are using cooking oil?" I am glad you asked.

The Pam contains something called lecithin. It is an emusifyer, and acts as an agent to help the sesame oil spread out thinly instead of just beading up in one little pool. Swirl the oil around and add the onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are browned and translucent. Add the rice and toss. place a lid on your skillet and let the rice cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes until the bottom is browned and fragrant.


Stir the rice once or twice, if you need to, in order to prevent burning. Toss in the sesame seeds, and remove the rice to a plate and keep warm. scramble the eggs in the pan. Once the eggs are cooked add the rice back to the pan, toss everything together and sprinkle in the soy sauce. give the mix one final toss and serve hot.

This and a bowl of Miso soup are my favorite Meatless Monday Meal!

White Rice: Diabetic Risks

Diabetics are often warned about the link between eating white rice and bringing on a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. The message is that if you are a diabetic or are at risk, stay away from white rice. Medical experts advocate replacing white rice with brown rice if you have diabetes. A study team at the Harvard School of Public Health recently found that eating five servings per week of white rice increased the risk of diabetes. They also found that replacing white rice with brown rice lowered the risk.

Brown Rice: Fiber Advantages

Brown rice has more fiber than white rice, and the difference is due to the way both types are processed. White rice is brown rice that has gone through some changes in the milling process. With brown rice, only the husk is removed. White rice is polished and pre-cooked or parboiled. The bran is also removed. The bran is kept intact in brown rice, and that bran gives you a healthy dose of fiber.
Brown rice contains nutrients like magnesium, manganese and zinc. White rice has less amounts of these nutrients, but is fortified with iron and some B vitamins. Brown rice is the only form of the grain that contains vitamin E.

Global Call for Brown Rice

The difference between brown rice and white rice is taking on global importance, because aid agencies have become more aware of nutrition deficiencies in poorer nations where rice is often a diet staple. Research groups and aid agencies are saying that, in these countries, the consumption of brown, or as they call it, whole-grain rice instead of white rice should be encouraged. Even with all this evidence mounting in favor of brown rice, Americans apparently do not eat more of the brown variety. Most of the rice eaten by Americans is white rice that has gone through the refining process.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My New Gig


 Hello Fellow Foodies!

Lately I have been keeping a secret. I found a new career (or at the very least a paid hobby) as a food writer. In late November, I decided to throw caution to the wind and apply for a writer's position with a wonderful local periodical- Mount Pleasant Magazine. They liked me and my writing samples, and the rest is history! Last month, my editor ( I love being able to say that!) sent me out to do two business profiles on local restaurants. I got to sit down and interview the chefs, eat some amazing complimentary food, and then write about it!

You can see what I wrote on pages 60 and 62. If you want to check out my Bio; it is in page 21. Happy reading!!!


 Mount Pleasant January/February 2015 Magazine Online Green Edition
http://mountpleasantmagazine.com/green/

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Creamy Collards

Happy New year's Eve! Today in Charleston, people are cooking up a storm of Hoppin' John, collard greens, and usually something deep fried (I'm making buttermilk brined fried chicken so look for that recipe another day).

I am originally from Boston, where collard greens are not something that most people eat. Thus I did not grow up eating them. I have been blessed with years of restaurant experience here in the Holy City, and every restaurant I have worked in has had their own version. My favorite, BY FAR, is the recipe that Jimmy Snede made at Tristan. I never got the actual recipe, but I have-through trial and error-managed to replicate his collard greens with excellent results. The BEST part of this recipe is that you won't stink up your house with collard smell.

Creamy Collards

1-2 bunches of collard greens-stems removed and the leaves torn into pieces (totaling 1.5Lbs of leaves)

1 Lb. smoked bacon-diced
1 Medium onion-diced
1/4 cup flour
2 Tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbs. Ham bouillon
3 1/2 cups milk
3 1/2 cups heavy cream
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91saXg9g9oL._SX425_.jpg
 Fill a sink with cool water and wash the collards, as they tend to be very gritty with sand. In an large pot of salted water, blanch the collards for 4-5 minutes.

Drain, and shock the leaves in ice water to retain their color. Once the collards are cooled, drain, squeeze dry, and set aside.

In a large pot, cook the diced bacon over medium-low heat until all the fat has been rendered out,  and the bacon is super-crispy. Spoon out the bacon, and measure the fat to be sure that you have 1/4 cup in the pot. Add a little butter if you need it. Keeping the heat to medium-low add the diced onions.

Simmer the onions for 8-10 minutes until they caramelize slightly. Add the flour, paprika, and cayenne. Whisk until the flour absorbs all the fat.

Add the ham bouillon, milk, and cream. Turn the heat to high, and while gently stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, bring the mix to a boil. Add the collards, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Pour into a serving bowl, garnish with reserved bacon bits and serve hot.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hoppin John for New Year's Eve

Here in the Low Country tradition is everything. One of the most time-honored traditions is to eat Hoppin John and collard greens on New Year's Eve to ensure good fortune in the year to come.

This recipe is a new and modern riff on the old standard. It may not be the traditional way of making Hoppin John, but I promise you; it is one of the most delicious versions out there.

Happy New Year!!!!!

City-Girl Hoppin John
2Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. chicken base (bouillon)
2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
8 oz. smoked ham-diced


Melt the butter and stir in the raw rice. Toss in the diced ham and bouillon, and cook according to the package directions.While the rice is cooking assemble:
2 Tbs. butter
2 cups diced oinions
1 large green bell pepper-dicced
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 Tsp. dried thyme
2 cans of black eyed peas-drained and rinsed very well 


Melt the butter in a 14 inch sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the diced veggies and cook tossing occasionally to prevent burning until the onions are translucent and slightly browned: About ten minutes.Turn off the heat, and toss in the thyme.
Once the rice is cooked, in a very large bowl, gently fold everything together.

 Serve hot with collard greens on New Year's Eve, for Health and good fortune the whole year through!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake


Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake

People everywhere, but especially Charlestonians love their chocolate cake. Here is a recipe I did once or twice in my old restaurant. It always sold wildly well! Don't let the long list of ingredients fool you: It is way easier to make than you think. Give it a go!!!

Cake 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups mayo (not low or no fat!)
1 Tbs. Vanilla
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water

Frosting
24 ounces dark or bitter sweet chocolate chopped into small bits
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 tsp. salt
3 cups (6 sticks-24 oz.) unsalted butter-at room temperature

1, 12oz. bag of Heath Bar Toffee Bits


Cake Assembly
Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly coat 2 nine inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper; spray again.

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a big bowl. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add mayo and vanilla and whip on high two minutes more. Turn the mixer off and add 1/3 of the dry mix. Turn the mixer onto low speed and slowly add 1/2 of the water. Mix until the batter is smooth. Add 1/3 more dry mix and the remainder of the water. Mix again on low speed until the batter is smooth. Add the last 1/3 of the dry mix and continue to run the mixer on low until you have a smooth creamy batter. Pour into your waiting cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing the cake layers from the pans (about 45 minutes).

Frosting Assembly
Put the chopped chocolate in a medium medal bowl. Find a pot that the bowl will fit on top of without falling into. Pour about 1 inch of water into the pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off, but leave the pot on the burner and place the chocolate over the hot water, being very sure that the bowl does not come into direct contact with the water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in your tallest pot, pour in the sugar, water, and corn syrup. bring this mixture to a boil, trying not to stir it more than once or twice. Allow the sugar mix to boil until it reaches a nice golden brown hue (about 315F on a candy thermometer). This take somewhere between 9-13 minutes, but please don't leave it unattended or you could have a mess of smoking burnt sugar on your hands-and no one wants that!

Once the mix has reached a golden brown hue, turn the heat down to medium low, and add a little cream-THIS WILL ERUPT AND BUBBLE VIOLENTLY-which is why you need your tallest pot. once the bubbles subside stir with a wire whisk and continue to add the cream a little at time until you have a smooth creamy caramel sauce. Add the salt and cook stirring for about two minutes to ensure all the sugar has dissolved. Pour the caramel over your now mostly melted chocolate, and gently whisk together. Place the mix on the counter and allow to cool to room temperature.

Using your electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place, whip the butter for about 5 minutes until it is fluffy. Add the chocolate caramel mix and whip on high for about 3 minutes more. Place the frosting in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes to chill it to a spreadable temperature.

Cut your cake layers on half horizontally, making four thin cake layers. Place on onto a round cake board or serving platter. And evenly cover with a thin layer (about 1/4 inch) of frosting. Repeat with your remaining layers. Evenly ice the cake's sides and top with remaining frosting. Hold your cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Right before serving, pour the Heath Toffee Bits into a bowl, and scoop some into the palm of your hand. moving from bottom to top, smooth the bits into the side of the cake. This is a bit messy and you'll have toffee bits falling here and there. Just wipe them up with your hand and put back in the bowl as you  work. You should use the entire bag of bits on your cake.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sticky Buns for Christmas!

I'm pretty sure that if you polled the Charlestonian population; they would tell you that some of the finest Sticky Buns on Earth come from here!

This is one of my favorite holiday foods. It take some time and effort, but it's Christmas and my family is totally worth it. 

Have 3 stick of butter on the counter over night to 24 hours, before beginning.

First you need to make a sweet, Sally Lund, style dough. You need:

2/3 cup whole milk (I used skim without a problem)
5 Tbs. sugar
1 3/4 tsp. active dry yeast (one 1/4 oz. packet)
2 large eggs at room temp
2 3/4 cups All Purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 stick butter  (that you have left on the counter overnight) cut into 8 pieces
pan spray

Heat the milk in the microwave to 110-115F. Stir in 1 Tbs of the sugar and the yeast. Whisk gently to dissolve the yeast. Allow the milk mix to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast becomes frothy. Whisk in the eggs.

Combine the rest of the sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, or in the food processor with the blade attached. turn on the machine and add the liquid. Once you have a soft, sticky dough (you may need to add a little more milk), add the butter one piece at a time allowing the butter to fully disappear before adding the then next piece. This will take about 10 minutes (5 in the food processor).

Spray a large bowl with Pam. Scrape the dough into the bowl, and spray a little Pam over the dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the fridge 2-24 hours.

Topping

1 stick of the butter you left on the counter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup honey (or 100% pure maple syrup-DON'T USE THE FAKE STUFF!!!!!)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1 3/4 cups chopped toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc...

Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan. stir in the brown sugar, cream, salt, and honey. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 4 minutes until you have a thick syrupy caramel. Spray a 9inch cake pan with Pam. Pour one cup of the caramel into the oiled cake pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the nuts into the caramel in the pan. set aside.

Filling
1 stick of the butter that you left out overnight
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup nutmeg
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
Beat in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in your food processor, until you have a smooth, even, fluffy mixture.

On a lightly floured surface-roll out your sweet dough to a 12x16 rectangle. Evenly spread the filling onto the dough leaving about a one inch boarder on the long sides of the dough clean. Sprinkle the dough with  the remaining 1/2 of nuts. Roll up your dough sheet starting from one long edge. Once that is done, cut the dough into 9 round pieces. Place them in the caramel prepped pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, turn the pan 180 degrees, and bake at 350F for 25 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Pout the remaining caramel/nut mix over the buns, spread out a little to coat them evenly.

Allow to cool 10-30 minutes more and serve fresh from the pan!

Yes this one takes a good bit of time to prepare, but if you do make these, I guarentee you, you will be the most popular person in the house!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Food Police Need a Holiday!

Hola Fellow Foodies! Let me be one of the first people to wish you a happy holiday season filled with amazing food, and good cheer (which as far as I am concerned go hand in hand).

I have ALREADY started to see the Damned Food Police out on TV waggling their boney fingers at us, and telling us all how to avoid excess holiday calories! Every year since I first read it (in 2003), I have sent out this OpEd from the USA Today newspaper about holiday eating to friends and family. I am posting it here so everyone can read and enjoy it.


THOU SHALT NOT SKIM FLAVOR FROM THE HOLIDAYS
 By Craig Wilson, USA TODAY

 I hate this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it's the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holiday without gaining 10 pounds. You can't pick up a magazine without finding a list of holiday eating do's and don'ts. Eliminate second helpings, high-calorie sauces and cookies made with butter, they say. Fill up on vegetable sticks, they say. Good grief. Is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas a carrot stick? I didn't think so. Isn't mine, either. A carrot was something you left for Rudolph. I have my own list of tips for holiday eating. I assure you, if you follow them, you'll be fat and
happy. So what if you don't make it to New Year's? Your pants won't fit anymore, anyway.

 1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

 2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an egg- nonalcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

 3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

 4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

 5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?
 6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the

buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
 7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can't leave them behind. You're not going to see them again.

 8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

 9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards, mate.

 10. And one final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over. But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Broccoli (gluten free)



I loathe fad food diets. The Adkins diet back in the 80's started the trend. I have seen the Zero-fat diet, Low (to zero) carbohydrate (CARBs) diet, The Japanese diet, the Mediterranean diet, the Paleo Diet, the Sonomoa diet, the French diet.....Oh My Goodness, where will it end???

The newest one, that I quite particularly despise is the gluten-free diet. I know a couple of Celiacs, and I feel all these thousands of people suddenly "discovering" late in life that they are gluten sensitive/allergic cheapens and degrades the people in the world who truly suffer with the affliction of Celiac Syndrome.

All that being said, Asian cuisine is naturally low in gluten. this is a recipe that I have had in my arsenal for a long time, and I only just realized this week that it is 'gluten free'. I am not sharing this recipe for all the FREAKS that seem to have every new allergy and bad reaction because they read about some celebrity giving up bread and having their life changed. I an sharing this recipe because it is delicious, and my Celiac friends and family members can have a pasta dish that is amazing! 
Don’t let the ingredients list scare you. You can get most or all of the items below at your local grocery store these days, but if you cannot find them, then simply make a trip to Rivers Ave. You will find-right off the I-526 connector-a great Asian Grocery called H&L Supermarket. It’s worth checking out!


Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Broccoli

3 Tbs. wheat free tamari
3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. freshly ground ginger
1 Tbs. finely minced chives
2 Tbs. chili garlic sauce
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tsp. sesame seeds

1 Tbs. Fresh minced garlic ( about 3 cloves)
12 oz. broccoli florets
16 oz. bag of wide rice noodles
1-2 Tbs. sesame oil

Combine the first 7 ingredients together in a glass measuring cup, or a jar. Whisk to make a smooth thick sauce.

Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. In the meantime, place a 12-14 inch skillet over very high heat. Once the skillet is hot, spray it with a little nonstick food spray. Add the broccoli and allow it to brown on one side. 

Toss, and add ¼ cup of water, and allow this to completely evaporate while continuing to toss the broccoli. Be careful not to overcook it, as broccoli loses nutrients during the cooking process. The longer you cook it, the more goodness escapes!

Once the water begins to boil; add the rice noodles and turn the heat down to low. Soak the noodles according the package directions (about 7-9 minutes).

When the broccoli is done cooking remove it from the skillet, and add the sesame oil. Turn the heat off and add the minced garlic, gently brown it by tossing it vigorously to keep it from burning.


Add the reserved sauce. 

When the noodles are done drain them thoroughly, turn the sauce mixture up to medium-high heat and allow it to begin to simmer. Add the noodles and broccoli and toss together.  

 Serve immediately.  

Yields 4-6 portions. 



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Lighter Fried Rice

I love fried rice. This is one of those dishes that I have a long memory of eating. I love every version that I have ever eaten-pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, veggies, etc...

There isn't a plate of fried rice out there that I haven't scarfed down with reckless abandon.

My favorite version is what the Japanese call ChaHan, and it is a very simple affair of rice, sea salt, sesame oil, sesame seeds, a few diced onions, and scrambled egg tossed in at the last minute. The addition of soy sauce is left to the individual after it is served.

Lately, though, I have been trying to avoid white rice, because it is a bit starchy and heavy on calories. ENTER...BROWN RICE! What's the difference? Brown rice is loaded with fiber and protein, both of which white rice is lacking in. Here is an quick article from http://www.fitday.com/ that explains the difference in plain English:

When it comes to rice, looks are deceiving. Chefs and food stylists like the attractive, photogenic qualities of fluffy white rice. Brown rice, however, when compared to white rice, wins as the superior choice for a number of other reasons. Much research concludes that color is not the only factor that separates these two types of rice. Brown rice and white rice are different in some very important ways that can affect your health.

White Rice: Diabetic Risks

Diabetics are often warned about the link between eating white rice and bringing on a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. The message is that if you are a diabetic or are at risk, stay away from white rice. Medical experts advocate replacing white rice with brown rice if you have diabetes. A study team at the Harvard School of Public Health recently found that eating five servings per week of white rice increased the risk of diabetes. They also found that replacing white rice with brown rice lowered the risk.

Brown Rice: Fiber Advantages

Brown rice has more fiber than white rice, and the difference is due to the way both types are processed. White rice is brown rice that has gone through some changes in the milling process. With brown rice, only the husk is removed. White rice is polished and pre-cooked or parboiled. The bran is also removed. The bran is kept intact in brown rice, and that bran gives you a healthy dose of fiber.
Brown rice contains nutrients like magnesium, manganese and zinc. White rice has less amounts of these nutrients, but is fortified with iron and some B vitamins. Brown rice is the only form of the grain that contains vitamin E.

Global Call for Brown Rice

The difference between brown rice and white rice is taking on global importance, because aid agencies have become more aware of nutrition deficiencies in poorer nations where rice is often a diet staple. Research groups and aid agencies are saying that, in these countries, the consumption of brown, or as they call it, whole-grain rice instead of white rice should be encouraged. Even with all this evidence mounting in favor of brown rice, Americans apparently do not eat more of the brown variety. Most of the rice eaten by Americans is white rice that has gone through the refining process.

Here is a recipe for what I think is a really good version of fried rice that is way healthier and lower in calories than the standard Chinese/Japanese restaurant version. I will warn you though, you have to be very careful no to add too much liquid to the leftover brown rice, or it will become very gummy and unpalatable! You need:
1 tsp. sesame oil
Pam (or other brand) cooking spray
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cups leftover, cold brown rice
1 tsp. black or plain sesame seeds
3 eggs lightly beaten
1-2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 nonstick skillet heat over a medium high flame

Spray a large skillet with Pam. Then add the sesame oil-"But Julie Dear, why the Pam if you are using cooking oil?" I am glad you asked. The Pam contains something called lecithin. It is an emusifier, and acts as an agent to help the sesame oil spread out thinly instead of just beading up in one little pool. Swirl the oil around and add the onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are browned and translucent. Add the rice and toss. place a lid on your skillet and let the rice cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes until the bottom is browned and fragrant.

Toss if you need to in order to prevent burning. Toss in the sesame seeds, and remove the rice to a plate and keep warm. scramble the eggs in the pan. Once the eggs are cooked add the rice back to the pan, toss everything together and sprinkle in the soy sauce. give the mix one final toss and serve hot.

This and a bowl of Miso soup are my favorite Meatless Monday Meal!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vitamix Tomato Soup

The clouds are rolling in, and the forecast is predicting cooler temperatures and rain on the way for the Charleston area. This has me feeling a lot like it's "soup weather". I have recently perfected my tomato soup recipe for the Vitamixer. I have discovered that using fresh garlic and onions made the soup very harsh in flavor. So I have toned down the strength of flavor by using powdered spices and bouillon. The carrots add the sweetness you need without adding sugar. The low fat sour cream add smoothness and tang without making the soup unhealthy. You can omit the peppercorns if you don't like zesty flavors as well. BON APPETITE!!!!

Don't despair if you don't have a Vitamixer. Just puree your soup in any blender and cook it on the stove top for about 15 minutes.

Vitamixer Tomato Carrot Soup
5-6 Roma tomatoes
1 cup baby carrots
2 Tbs. low far sour cream
1 Knorr Chicken bouillon cube
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
5-8 black peppercorns.

Place everything into you carafe in the order listed.


Starting on the lowest speed, and slowly turning the machine all the way to high, puree the mixture until smooth. If you are using your vita mixer, set a times for seven minutes and allow the soup to cook in the carafe.

If you are using a mere mortal blender, once the soup is smooth, transfer it to a sauce pan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Serve with a little spoonful of sour cream or creme fraiche on the and top and garnish as you like.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Irish Potato Hash

I love potatoes. Lately I have been craving a recipe from a restaurant I used to be head chef of in Ireland- The Kingswood Country House in Clondalkin (just outside of Dublin on the Naas Road). Here is the recipe. It is so amazingly delicious and so versatile. I use it as a side for breakfast and dinner too. Don't be scared of the involved process either. It is much easier than you think, and the results are sooooooooo worth it!!! Enjoy!


Hash in a Hurry
1 onion diced
1/2 Lb bacon-diced
3 potatoes-diced
1 clove garlic-crushed and minced
1/2 bell pepper-minced
1/2-1 cup frozen peas
season salt to taste (I use Lawry's)
In a very large saute pan, over medium heat, cook the onions and bacon 10-12 minutes until the onions are browned lightly.


Add the potatoes and cover.

 Cook for 15 minutes stirring every 4-5 minutes to prevent burning. Once the potatoes are fork tender, turn the heat to high and allow the mixture to brown, about 5 minutes stirring once or twice. Toss in the peppers and peas, and allow them to heat through.

Adjust the seasoning with the seasoned salt and serve hot.