Over the past few years many of my newsletters have featured diets to help my clients find a balanced healthy meal plan that best works for them! Paleo, Keto, Pegan, Anti- Inflammatory, Whole 30 and more! But ironically the diet that I most enjoy cooking, as well as trying to follow, is the Mediterranean Diet because there are so many benefits. Check out this link for more details
Funnily enough, I wasn’t that familiar with Mediterranean food until I got my first job out of culinary school at The Purple Onion. The Onion specializes in Mediterranean flavors and uses all organic products. From that experience, I have continued to expand my menus using the foundation of the Mediterranean diet for salads, soups, casseroles and entrees. Many of you have asked for my Greek Salad Dressing Recipe. I use it to marinate my meats as well as the base for pasta and potato salads.
Greek Salad Dressing
1 large clove garlic *more if you like garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Measure all ingredients into a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well blended and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings. If doing a big batch place everything except the extra virgin olive oil in a blender than slowly add the extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. Store in a sealed container.
Fall in the air makes you think of soups!
Having worked in several commercial kitchens, it always surprised me that most Chefs hate to make soup so they always dumped that responsibility onto me! Not only did I hone my chopping skills, but my love for creating soups blossomed into 30 recipes and continues to grow. Just the smell of a soup simmering on the stove brings comfort and for me soups are the perfect meal. Many of my soups were crafted from a favorite comfort food and several have an international theme!
Remember the key to a great soup is the stock. If you don’t know the difference between stock and broth check out this link explaining the difference. If you would like the recipe for any of my favorite soups below, I’ll send you the recipe! Just fill out the form below.
Chicken A La King
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice
Creamy Chicken and Mushroom
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Lemony Greek Chicken and Artichoke
Italian Wedding and Lemony Kale
Thai Chicken and Rice
Shrimp and Corn Chowder or New England or Manhattan Chowder
Brazilian Shrimp Stew
Cream of Mushroom
Lentil (Can add Sausage)
Minestrone (Vegetarian Available)
Vegetarian Moroccan Chick Pea
Tuscan White Bean and Baby Kale (Can add Chicken Sausage)
Rosemary Crusted Ham Split Pea (Vegetarian Available)
Vegetarian 5 Bean Chili
Loaded Beef Barley
Broken Lasagna Beef
Whole 30 Hamburger
Stuffed Sausage and Peppers
With so much information out there on what to eat and what not to eat it can be really confusing to make good choices! As a vegetarian, I struggle to maintain a balanced diet while managing my anti-inflammatory issues. Ongoing inflammation is problematic and can cause several chronic conditions. Food plays a pivotal role and filling your plate with more anti-inflammatory foods while dialing back on the ones that cause inflammation will improve your body’s ability to ward off future diseases and slow down the aging process. Check out Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Food Pyramid, very informative.
For me, diet isn’t the only issue that effects my inflammation. The heat is a big factor! I use cold pressed juices for their cooling effect and as another weapon to reduce my inflammation. A bonus is each bottle of juice contains a large percentage of my daily requirement of fruits and vegetables! I have added this anti-inflammatory elixir to my juice rotation from Mountain Juicery and have had amazing results. Ashley Covington co-owner of Mountain Juicery was nice enough to share the below recipe give it a try.
Inflammation and Skin Elixir
1 oz liquid Turmeric
Drizzle of honey
1 /2 Lemon squeeze
Dash of Water
Sprinkle Black Pepper
Orange Wedge (Eat after you finish)
Each month I try to feature food trends, post recipes and answer your questions. A few months back, the hot topic was chicken https://www.chefpatricia.com/tips-for-cooking-chicken-breasts-perfectly/. But recently, I have been getting just as many questions on how I cook shrimp. After all, shrimp are the most widely served seafood in the United States. Shrimp and related prawns have so much versatility. They are a perfect candidate for ceviches, stews and soups and can be baked, boiled, fried and grilled, but my go to method is roasting! Each and every time they come out moist and juicy. So, give the recipe below a try and see what you think. Bonus I added my Green Goddess dressing recipe it’s the perfect dip for the shrimp.
FOR THE SHRIMP:
2 pounds large shrimp (14 to 16 shrimp per pound)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. I often times use old bay seasoning it really amps up the flavor.
FOR THE GREEN GODDESS DRESSING:
1 cup good mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (5 to 6 scallions)
1 cup chopped basil leaves (18 to 20 leaves)
1/2 cup chopped parsley I prefer curly
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Be sure to pat them dry. Place in bowl and toss them until evenly coated. Pour on to a foil lined sheet pan and spread them in one layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes depending on the size. Check at 8 minutes as there will be carryover cooking. If you think they are getting to done place in fridge to cool down. If not set aside to cool.
- For the dressing, place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Serve as a dip for the shrimp with the crudités.
- 1-2 heads cauliflower depending on the size leaves trimmed
- 8 tablespoons plant butter, cut into 8 pieces maybe more *can use regular butter
- 3-4 potatoes peeled and quartered, I like Yukon gold
- 1-2 shallots, roughly chopped *can use 1 medium onion or 1 leek sliced and rinsed
- White wine *optional
- Coarse kosher salt (more than you think)
- Lemon infused olive oil *cooks note: I use this to roast my florets
- 4 1/2–5 cups water more or less depending on size of cauliflower and potatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Garnishes 2 tablespoons of a combination of fresh parsley, thyme, basil, green onion, white and light green parts, sliced thinly for garnish whatever you have
1. Pull off outer leaves of cauliflower and trim stem. Using paring knife, cut around core to remove, cut up into large florets. Cut heaping 1 cup of 1/2-inch florets from head of cauliflower, set aside. Quarter potatoes make sure potatoes are a little smaller they take a little longer.
2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. If using wine, cover shallots and let simmer (you can use water). Cook until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.
3. Add large chunks of cauliflower and potatoes, salt and cover 4 1/2 cups water. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes until cauliflower and potatoes are tender and crumbles easily, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add reserved florets and cook, stirring often, until florets are golden brown and butter is browned and has nutty aroma, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to transfer florets to small bowl lined with paper towel. Any leftover butter save for when you puree the soup. Or toss florets in lemon olive oil and roast florets in 425 oven for 20-25 until golden brown.
5. Process cauliflower and potatoes in batches in blender with some of the cooking water until smooth and desired thickness. Return pureed soup to clean pot, bring to brief simmer over medium heat, and adjust consistency with remaining water as needed (soup should have thick, velvety texture but should be thin enough to settle with flat surface after being stirred). Season with salt to taste and maybe more butter. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with browned florets, fresh herbs. Dash of hot sauce.
With everyone home and cooking 3 meals a day and several more weeks of staying home on the horizon, why not perfect your meatball skills! Once you get the base right there are endless possibilities, I use them in appetizers, soups, sandwiches and entrees. Meatballs are not just for Spaghetti, every country has a version check out this link https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/meatball-style-guide-varieties-around-the-world.html
Tips for the Perfect Meatball:
- It’s all about the base decide on what meat you want to use. If a recipe calls for pork and you don’t eat pork, substitute it for turkey or whatever you like. *Note the classic meatloaf and meatball combination is ½ pound each pork, veal and beef.
- Breadcrumb and Milk Binder. One trick to making sure meatballs are totally tender once they are cooked is to use a binder. Place a combination of fresh and dry breadcrumbs such as Panko, Italian or even Saltines in a bowl and add enough milk, crème, ricotta to cover or a few eggs to create a binder or a panade. This will add moisture to the meat and prevent the meat proteins from becoming tough during the cooking process.
- Don’t skip the flavor profile! Make sure to add fresh and dry herbs, cheese, vegetables, sauces or any flavors that when finished make the meatball the star.
- Avoid overworking the meat. Mix the meat with the binder and other ingredients until combined. Using your hands form the meatballs into desired shape.
- Roasting, Frying or Simmering. For me, if the quantity isn’t to large, I go for a combination. Frying to get that color and caramelization and finishing in the oven to keep them moist.
- Freezer Friendly. The beauty of meatballs is that they freeze perfectly and make a quick dinner in a pinch. So double up on your recipe when you decide to make them.
My go to recipe for meatballs is organic chicken with scratch made marinara check it out:
FOR THE SAUCE:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans imported Italian San Marzano crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes
6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces
Pinch of dried oregano
Salt and ground black pepper (I use red pepper flake)
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
1-pound ground white meat organic chicken *Can use beef or meatloaf mix
½ cup fresh bread crumbs can use dried Italian bread crumbs or a combination of both
Half n half
1 cup diced peppers, zucchini, squash and purple onion (can omit but adds flavor)
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and a pinch or 2 red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder *Can use fresh garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Yields 10-15 Meatballs depending on size
1. Make the sauce: Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Sauté onion with salt until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté just until softened. Add tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Add the basil, oregano, parm rind and reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. If adding meatballs, place in sauce to simmer.
2. Make the meatballs: Toss peppers (no green pepper), vegetables and onions in evoo, garlic powder, salt and pepper and roast in 350-degree oven until tender about 15 minutes, let cool. While vegetables are cooking, soak fresh breadcrumb combination in half n half in a large mixing bowl. After liquid is absorbed, add chicken and balance of items, plus cooled vegetables. Do not over work. Shape into desired shape of meatballs. *Cooks Tip I take a small amount of meatball mixture and test in Skillet to make sure flavors are balanced.
3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches and taking care not to crowd the pan, add meatballs and fry until undersides are brown and slightly crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides, about 5 minutes more. Transfer meatballs to 350 oven and finish cooking about 10 minutes then add to the marinara sauce. * You can Bake the Meatballs on Parchment Paper 35-40 minutes make sure internal temperature is 160 they will continue to cook in Sauce.