Monday, December 30, 2013

Visualizing Data

Cool video about visualizing data and the bigger picture you get.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Escarole and White Bean Soup

It's that time of year again.  The CSA has closed down, our backyard gardens or local farm stands are closing and WE STILL NEED TO KEEP LEAFY GREENS in our diet.  One of my fall/winter favorites is Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (escarole and white bean soup).  Escarole is one of those leafy greens that grows late into the growing season; it's a hearty veggie.

Escarole is actually an endive.  The perks of this endive are that its leaves are broader, paler, and less bitter than others in the endive family.  One fun fact I found while researching is that the endive is a member of the daisy family.  It is a chicory and cousins to romaine lettuce but somewhere along the lines they co-mingling among the daisies.

Escarole is really good for you!  It contains 6 times the dietary fiber as romaine lettuce, its high in Vitamin A, K and folate.  It contains minerals and antioxidants; all good for inhibiting free radicals from damaging your DNA.

Eat it and enjoy it!

Escarole and White Bean Soup                                                 servings: 6

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, sliced in 1" pieces
1 small red pepper, 1" chunks
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 head of escarole, easily found at the grocery store, coarsely chopped
5 cups liquid (I use a combination of broth, water, and veggie bouillon
1 can (12 oz) chopped tomatoes
1 can (1 5oz) small white beans (though if you prefer, you could do cannellini/ Great Northern White beans
salt and pepper
grating cheese


Heat oil in a large soup pot.  Gently saute onion and red pepper  for 10 minutes, stirring often and lowering heat to prevent burning.  Next add your garlic.  Cook for about 30 seconds and add rosemary and pepper flakes.  Stir in escarole just long enough to coat with oil and begin to wilt 2-4 minutes.  Add in water, broth and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes.  With 5 minutes left stir in beans (make sure you rinsed them first!) and salt and pepper to taste.  Turn heat off.  Add 2 Tbs of grating cheese and stir.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Serve.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Baked May Sunshine

Yes, ‘they say: April showers bring May flowers’, but foodies have put a twist on this.  How about May shower brunches bring hoards of people together to celebrate new arrivals, embarking relationships, sunny mornings with friends; however you do it, brunch is a happening thing this time of year and to celebrate this, I’ll cook up one of my all time favorites: an egg bake (some call this one an egg strata, crust-less quiche, it’s an baked egg dish that is light and delicious and really doesn't matter what you call it).

More formally, egg bakes are actually quiches without the crust.  Since flour and gluten are faux pas, or less the social, cultural, and health-wise norm, I like to make my quiche without the crust.  Plus, without the butter and flour crust, the flavors/veggies  I add to my eggs get extra special attention.  And the greatest thing about the crust-less quiche , in my opinion, is literally anything can go into it; it’s really all about your palette’s preference.  Because this recipe is for a one-pan meal, I have added French bread, therefore, it becomes non-gluten free but please feel free to add or omit whatever you choose to make your baked egg masterpiece.

For today, we’ll make an egg strata because of the layers of goodness and we’ll  call it “Baked May Sunshine”.  Early spring vegetables, such as, asparagus, are shooting out and are the perfect highlight to this dish.  We’ll add other ingredients for flavor and color and
 “Le viola” French or “Eccola” Italian…here is it!            


Baked May Sunshine                                                                                                          serves 6                                                                                                      


½ an onion, sliced thinly
½ a red pepper, sliced      
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ lb asparagus, cut in 2" rods
one head of broccoli
~ ½ loaf of French bread
½ - 1 c of shredded cheddar, your preference
8 eggs
3 c. milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mustard
¼ tsp pepper 

Instructions egg bake creation:
1 – Butter baking dish and preheat oven to 325°.
2 РSaut̩ onions and peppers in oil over medium heat until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally.
3 – Meanwhile, steam the asparagus and then the broccoli; just until tender.
4 – Prep bread by slicing the bread and then cut them once again in triangles.
5 – Now we’re going to layer or strata the ingredients.  First lay down half of the bread triangles.  On top of that evenly spread the green vegetables, then the sautéed ones, top with cheese.  I don’t like a  lot so I sprinkle about ½ cup.  Now top with the last layer – the remaining bread triangles.
6 – In a separate bowl, blend eggs, milk, salt, ground mustard, and pepper.   Pour egg mixture over layers in baking pan.  Be sure to be even.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese (here I do only about ¼ cup).
7 -  Cover pan with foil.  The next step is to cool the strata, so place in fridge.  You can leave it in up to 24 hours; I wait only 20 minutes to pop mine in the oven.
8 – Bake cover for 30 minutes.  Then uncover and continue baking for another 35-45 minutes.
9 – Allow your dish to cool and meld.  Lastly, serve and enjoy.

Sauteed just lightly since they'll be cooked in the oven.

Layers before egg mixture added

Just out of the oven.  Time to cool.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baked Haddock and Sweet Potato Fritters

I have always had a hard time coming up with a resolution at New Year’s.  I think it is because I live my life pretty consistently and true to my nature.  But this year was different.  I've felt like this before in years passed;  just not timed with a calendar new year.  It was dairy and a definitive moment when I would cut it out of my diet.  I've cut one other thing out for a period of time and that was caffeine.  Well, this New Year’s timing has me thinking about what in my life could change and would make me feel better.  And I got a very clear answer: meat.  I’m so excited to announce my new year’s resolution is to eat less meat.  I won’t go into the reasons among meat mass production, environmental degradation, human nutrition, environmental and social responsibilities, and ME. 

Eating less meat tonight meant a salad with steamed asparagus and hearts of romaine, steamed clams, baked haddock, and sweet potato corn fritters.  Eating less meat doesn't mean I’ll load up on fish.  Look forward to hearing more about tofu, beans and other ways of cooking with protein but without the meat.   I realized, however,  the haddock recipe was worth blogging as soon as I put that first soft, flaky, warm, buttery, bit in my mouth.

Baked Haddock                                                                       serves 3 as protein portion

1 lb. wild caught haddock
1 ½ T. butter, melted
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Paprika, parsley, salt and pepper
1 T. pecorino romano grated cheese

Instructions for meal creation:

1 –Drizzle oil on the bottom of a baking dish that will fit your fish.  Preheat oven to 350°.
2 – With 2 filets, cut each into about 3 inch wide steaks.
3 – Dip in milk and then pat dry.
4 – Lay flat in baking dish.
5–Make butter mixture combining melted butter, lemon and garlic.  Stir well.  Brush onto fish.
6 – Sprinkle all of the seasons, very lightly just dispersing a pinch of each steak.
7- Sprinkle cheese evenly.
8 – Bake for 25-35 minutes.  Raise heat to 375° after 20 minutes.
9 – Serve and enjoy.

Serve this Haddock dish with…

Sweet Potato Corn Fritters                                                                     serves 4-6

2 sweet potatoes, cooked, mashed                                         ¼ c. shredded cheddar (optional)
3 scallions, chopped                                                                        ¾ c. breadcrumbs
1 c. corn                                                                                               Vegetable oil for frying
3 T. corn meal
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c. grating cheese
½ t. paprika
Salt and pepper

Instructions for meal creation:

1 –Combine all ingredients in the first column.  Mix well.
2 – Make patties with about 2 Tablespoons of mixture each.
3 – Chill patties in refrigerator for 15 minutes. (This is a key step to encourage the patties to stay together while frying.)
4 – After chilling, roll patties in breadcrumbs, covering all sides.
5–Heat oil.
6 – Fry patties in hot oil for about two minutes on each side, until lightly golden.
7- Line a plate with paper towels and transfer cooked patties unto plate to absorb some of the oil.
8 – Serve and enjoy.                       

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