Why I Follow the Mediterranean Diet and My Famous Greek Salad Dressing Recipe

Why I Follow the Mediterranean Diet and My Famous Greek Salad Dressing Recipe

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Eat to Beat Inflammation – Inflammation and Skin Elixir

Eat to Beat Inflammation – Inflammation and Skin Elixir

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)

 

Favorite Flavor/Umami Boosters to Take Your Recipes to the Next Level

Favorite Flavor/Umami Boosters to Take Your Recipes to the Next Level

One of the things that drives me crazy as a Chef is when you ask an owner of a cafe or a restaurant for a recipe and you get a resounding no. My reply each and every time is if every famous chef in the world in addition to magazines, several networks and countless informational sources can publish their recipes, then what’s the harm in sharing? I always come away with what in the heck am I going to do, steal their recipe and take over their business? It hurts my head!
For myself it is the ultimate compliment when one of you wants to know how I made something. There isn’t an original recipe out there, the trick is what you do to it to make it your own….

Also, check out this link on You Think You Know Umami that has some great information on what umami is and how it’s used in modern cuisine.

Soy Sauce is not just for Asian recipes it is a great substitute for salt. I use it in my beef based soups, darker gravies and caramelizing mushrooms it deepens the overall flavor.

Anchovies, I know most people can’t stand them and I was one of those folks, but not anymore! Now to be fair, I just could not use the whole anchovies in the glass jars so I compromised and starting using the tube. The smooth texture and the flexibility to use a few squirts then put back in the fridge made me a believer. I use it in several of my dressings, puttanesca and other tomato sauces, tapenades and crispy breadcrumbs. Here is a link to some great recipes.

Chef Tools and Products I Can’t Live Without!

Chef Tools and Products I Can’t Live Without!

Last week, my beloved ricer broke in the middle of making 30lbs of mashed potatoes and it almost broke your Chef!  My creamless mashed potatoes are one of my signature dishes.  So after having a complete melt down and calling everyone I know, I found one and the crisis was averted. If you haven’t used a ricer to make mashed potatoes, you are missing out!

Also check out this link for other creative ways to use it-  4 Ways to Use a Ricer

Another tool that is essential to my cooking is a zester. I use it to infuse citrus into my breadcrumbs and dressings. I also grate onions, garlic and whole spices like nutmeg, it’s super handy.

But probably the most amazing tool I own is this nifty julienne peeler.   There are so many different types out there but none that have the precision and technique to make vegetables like carrots, zucchini, potatoes and squash look so beautiful.

Lastly, I am addicted to lemon infused olive oil.  Just a few lovely drops take all my recipes to the next level.

Chef Products You Want to Find plus Lemon Parmesan Herb Breadcrumbs Recipe

Chef Products You Want to Find plus Lemon Parmesan Herb Breadcrumbs Recipe

Part of my service is to create a total experience for my clients. In doing so I am constantly on the lookout for ingredients that have loads of flavor and pair up with what I am featuring!  These items may be store bought, semi-homemade or homemade. I spend lots of time purchasing and tasting several versions to come up with what I think are the best! Many of you ask me where I purchase some of these items so here is the information.

Organic Cracker Bites actually come in 3 Flavors:
https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Partners-Naturals-Organic-Artisan/dp/B0156G1A3S/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_tr_img_2

Rosemary Crackers can be purchased on line but if you haven’t checked out the Gourmet Food Section at World Market it is a must!
https://www.worldmarket.com/product/la+panzanella+rosemary+croccantini+crackers.do

Nut Crumbs. It seems like the entire world is Gluten Free but finding items that taste like the real thing is really a challenge! Finally, a product that just tastes so delicious you don’t even know it’s Gluten Free. The Italian are my favorite:
https://nutcrumbs.com

Whenever I make a Casserole I always add a Crunchy topping so here is my Recipe….

 

Lemon Parmesan Herb Breadcrumbs

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2cups Panko breadcrumbs * Also available in Gluten Free
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2tablespoons parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
  • 1teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoonlemon zest
  • 4tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4cup fresh lemon juice

PREPARATION: 

  1. Melt butter in microwave.
  2. Combine rest of ingredients
  3. Sprinkle on top of casseroles or pan fry to top salads and vegetables

Cooks Note: Gluten Free Option replace Panko with Italian Nut Crumbs. These breadcrumbs Freeze beautifully make a big batch and keep them in the Freezer. Use them in your meatballs or breading for chicken and fish.

Chef Tips for a Perfect Holiday Celebration

Chef Tips for a Perfect Holiday Celebration

Food Tips for the Perfect Holiday Celebration

holidayparty

With a little planning this just might be your best holiday yet!

Tip #1: For a successful celebration – “Keep it Simple.”

Here is a formula that works: 2-2-2. It works this way, I like to offer six items: two that are store bought, two that are semi-homemade and two homemade. That lets you take time to focus on your special recipes while keeping the other prep easy. Next you want to make sure you have something for everyone in the mix. These days that can be challenging. So many people are gluten-free, vegan, aren’t eating dairy and such so make sure you have that information when crafting the menu. In a perfect world offer vegetarian, seafood and meat options so it feels like a meal. People are moving more towards tapas so the basic crudité, meat and cheese board doesn’t cut it anymore. There is no shortage for ideas on the internet so menu planning is just a click away! If you find yourself stumped just take a look at my catering options and I am happy to help.

Tip #2: Focus on the Platters and Decorations and keep the dishes in the cupboard! Select nice napkins, small paper plates, if needed, and plastic cups rather than creating extra work that comes with lots of dishes.They are perfectly fine for these holiday gatherings. You can then put some thought and design into your selection of platters and decorations to create a lovely setting. I have yet to hear anyone complain, especially when the food is tasty.

Tip #3: A Simple Self-Serve Bar – Provide a selection of beverages that includes sparkling water, craft beer, red wine and maybe a signature cocktail like an Aperol spritzer.

Tip #4: Bites per Person – People always ask me this and its the larger groups that can be challenging. The rule of thumb is 4-6 bites if a meal is being served and 8-10 bites without a meal. Having gourmet nuts, chips and olives and maybe a dip like pimento cheese with crackers staged in several areas will always help to fill people up!

Tip #5: Deserts- This is the time of year when people splurge! Either make your favorite holiday deserts or save yourself time and go to the local bakery and pick up a few unusual items. Consider placing a special order ahead of time to make sure you are covered. Actually, this is where fruit and cheese can also work well. A beautiful platter of warm brie drizzled with honey surrounded by dried and fresh fruit and chocolate covered almonds it’s just enough to finish off the evening!

Tip #5: One Bunch of Flowers Will Do – There is no need to spend lots on elaborate flower arrangements. You can save a bundle by picking up a loose bunch of flowers from the grocery or florist and add to it with simple greens and berries from the yard or local garden center. With this inexpensive combination you can create stunning and memorable decorations without breaking the bank.

Tip #6: Cooks Tip: No need to feel overwhelmed this holiday season. Look to your closest grocery store, like Ingles. They can make stunning holiday platters with just 24-hours notice. By delegating those labor intensive items like tea sandwiches and deviled eggs you will have more time to do the holiday prep that you find the most fun.

 

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