Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Pasta with Lemon, Arugula and Golden Beets

Recently I was at the organic market and saw that they had fresh, seasonal golden beets.  Until recently, I had only had golden beets in restaurants and had only cooked with regular beets which turn everything they touch bright pink.  I love golden beets - they are easier to work with in the kitchen and have a pleasant sweet taste.  I can't really describe the difference but as a beet fan, I like them better than the typical magenta variety.

I decided to create a pasta dish that was light and refreshing and that would showcase the fresh summer beets.  This pasta dish is basically a salad, but for the pasta.  It can be served cold or warm and showcases the bitterness of the arugula with the sweetness of the beets.  I added goat cheese, but you could certainly use parmesan or pecorino. The lemon is the perfect accompaniment for this dish - it adds a pleasant refreshing quality to the light olive oil based sauce. This is the perfect healthy summer meal.

Sasha's Summer Pasta with Lemon, Arugula & Golden Beets
1 box of spiral pasta (fuselli)
2 golden beets, cooked and peeled
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz baby arugula
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (a lemon flavored olive oil would be a delightful substitute)
6 oz goat cheese crumble

To prepare this dish, make the pasta al dente. Prepare the beets by boiling them for about a half an hour.  Rinse them in cold water so they are cooler to the touch and peel off the skin with your hands.  Slice the beets and mix them in the pasta dish with the lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil.  When the pasta has cooled slightly, mix in the goat cheese crumble and the arugula.  This was delicious!

Pasta on FoodistaPasta

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Michelle's Kitchen in Toronto - Low Fat Summer Berry Shortcake

In my continuing quest to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain my 60 pound weight loss, I am contantly trying to find new low fat recipes for sweets; my downfall and - I'm sure - the downfall of many of us. One of my go-to substitutions is angel food cake. Spongy, sticky and delicious it has way fewer calories of other cakes; two points per serving on my program. Angel food cake pairs beautifully with fruit and makes a great treat.

When I used to work in a professional kitchen as a gardemanger we used to make the most amazing strawberry shortcake. When I was in the grocery store the other day I found the sweetest individual angel food cakes and decided I needed a shortcake! I started playing in my kitchen, and this is the delicious result!

Low Fat Summer Berry Shortcake

1 kg (2.2 lb) mixed berries (you could use frozen if you like for the sauce, but get some fresh for garnish)
1/2 c white wine
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 mini packaged angel food cakes
2 individual vanilla pudding packs (4 oz each)

Put the fruit, wine and salt in a medium pot to cook over moderate to high heat until the alcohol burns off. Add the cinnamon, lemon and honey. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the sauce has reduced to be a bit syrupy.

In your dish layer a little of the fruit mix, torn up pieces of cake, then a layer of pudding (one pudding cup per layer in the dish I used). Repeat the layers until your dish is full (I got in two layers). Let the shortcake set up - covered - in the fridge for about four hours (or overnight); this gets better the more you let everything sink in together. Garnish with fresh fruit. Mine made 3-4 servings.
In lieu of the honey, you could use sugar, but I didn't have any at the time so I substituted with the honey. Also, I used a mini cassarole ramekin as I don't like having lots of sweets in my house, but the sauce makes enough that you could either have leftovers for topping yogurt, ice cream etc. or you could make one big dessert by just increasing the cake and pudding portions.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Summer Peach Cobbler

Peaches are my absolute favorite summer fruit.  In fact, a fresh, sweet, succulent peach is just about one of the best part of summer.  As the peach comes into season in June, I thought it would be time to start cooking with some fresh peaches from the local farmer's market here in Brooklyn.

There's quite a few summer recipes that incorporate peaches, and I plan on sharing my quintessential summer peach salad soon. But there's nothing that says classic summer peach better than a peach cobbler or a peach crisp.  For this recipe, I started with Martha Stewart, but adapted and adjusted to get thing exactly to my liking.  This is the second peach cobbler I've made (the first was last summer) and this one was perfect. Then I baked it in my lovely Mackenzie Childs pie dish (one of my favorite items from our wedding registry).

Peach Cobbler (adapted from this recipe)
8 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced (Martha calls for 10, but I used pretty large peaches)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 T dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Slice the peaches and combine with the cornstarch, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Pour mixture into an 8 inch circular pie dish that has been sprayed with Pam.

In the basin of your mixer (or a large bowl, using a fork if you do not have a stand mixer) combine the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with the flour, salt and butter.  Beat for several minutes to cut in the butter, until the mixture looks like a coarse meal.

Whisk together the heavy cream and egg and combine in the mixer until it comes together into a dough with the dry ingredients.  Cut dough into circular shaped portions (about 12 or so) and use to cover the top of the peach mixture.  Top with the remaining two tablespoons of granulated sugar. Bake for about 45 minutes until golden brown and until the inside bubbles.  Allow to cool a bit before serving warm.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Michelle's Kitchen in Toronto - Farmer's Market Salad

It's almost summer and so brings one of my favorite times of the year culinarily; outdoor farmer's market time! I was off a bit early one Thursday and remembered that there is a farmer's market just near my apartment on Thursday evenings behind the North Toronto Community Centre. I grabbed my cloth bag and off I went. I ended up buying farm fresh spinach, assorted bell peppers, halloumi cheese (a feta-like cheese that crumbles) and some amazing olive-cilantro bread from the St. John bakery who had a stall there. When I got home, I knew just what to do with this bounty; it was salad time!

Michelle's Farmer's Market Salad

1 1/2 cup mixed greens (I used my fresh spinach and romaine)
1/2 bell pepper, in strips (I used yellow)
5 walnut halves, in pieces (1 tbsp of pieces)
1 tbsp crumbled halloumi cheese (you could use feta)
1 tbsp cranberries
1 tbsp Renee's Sundried Tomato and Black Olive dressing

Mix everything together and chow down! If you want to make this into a full meal, add some cut up chicken, sauteed tofu or tempeh.

Serves 1

Please excuse my picture, I only remembered to take the picture halfway through eating the salad! I've been eating this salad every few days for the last week and it's divine!
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