Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Cheese-Inspired Cocktails

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One of the nice things about the holiday season is all the festivities and food. On Wednesday, December 9, I got to do something a little different—I went to a cheese-tasting event at The French Cheese Board on 39th Street in Manhattan. It’s a chic, clean, modern space where you can purchase your favorite French cheeses.IMAG3515

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Wheel of Raclette

The event was promoted by The Baddish Group, a PR firm that specializes in food and beverage marketing, and they offered a sumptuous spread of several different cheeses, from Camembert and brie to Raclette and butter made with sea salt. They were all so fresh and flavorful that I couldn’t help going back for more. I watched as others kept going back as well, which made me feel kind of bad for the kitchen staff. They were definitely being kept hopping trying to replenish the table. A server came by with a few different hors d’oeuvres: Mac & Mimolette, Brie and Grapes on a canape, and Raclette & Potatoes. The mac ’n’ cheese was so good in its simplicity, cheese and grapes is a classic combination that can never go wrong, and a potato slice with a piece of Raclette on top was divine.

IMAG3504It was a warm, friendly gathering of people in different segments of the food industry. A couple of us were food bloggers, while others were buyers, chefs, and marketers. I’m sure that other professions were represented. Despite the incredible and uncharacteristic warm weather, a simple, lovely Christmas tree along one wall reminded us that it was the holiday season. I think that always puts people in a better mood.

Mimolette

Mimolette

My favorite cheese, by far, was the Mimolette, a pumpkin-colored cow’s milk cheese. It’s a firm cheese, which is my favorite kind, but I really liked it for its smooth, sweet flavor. Which leads me to my favorite drink of the evening.

They asked mixologist Natasha David from Nitecap, a bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, to come up with some cheese-inspired cocktails for the event.IMAG3516

Natasha created cocktails that were not only inspired by cheese but that actually used cheese. And not just in the final concoction—her creations were made with spirits that were infused with cheese.

I asked Natasha what her method for the infusions was, and here’s what she said:

The infusions were quite simpleI let the cheese sit in the booze for a certain amount of time, then strained them and froze them so that all the fat would rise to the top and then strained again. I did that twice over 48 hours.

For the Mimolette RindI used 50 g of rind to 1 750 ml bottle of Calvados for 7 hours.

For CamembertI did 60 g of Camembert to 1 750 ml bottle of Dorothy Parker gin for 5 hours.

For BleuI did 50 g to 1 750 ml bottle of Linie for 2 hours.

From there, the mixologists at the event concocted the three drinks below to accompany the hors d’oeuvres. I’m going to give an infusion a try at some point—it will definitely be a new experience for me. If you do it yourself, let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!IMAG3506

Cheese-Infused Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail #1: To accompany the Mac & Mimolette, a Mimolette Rind-Infused Calvados cocktail

2 oz. Rind-infused Busnel Calvados
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
1 barspoon Bon Mama Fig Preserves
Egg White

Method:      Shake, Strain
Glass:        Double Rocks glass with Big Block of Ice
Garnish:     Grated Mimolette

 

Cocktail #2: To accompany Brie and Grapes, a Camembert-infused Gin cocktailIMAG3508

2 oz. Camembert-infused Dorothy Parker Gin
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Ginger Syrup
1 barspoon Lingonberry Preserves
Seltzer

Method:      Shake, Strain, Top w/ Seltzer
Glass:        Highball with Kold Draft
Garnish:     Candied Ginger

 

Cocktail #3: To accompany Racelette & Potatoes, a Bleu d’Auvergen-infused Aquavit

1.5 oz. Blue-infused Linie Aquavit
0.75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.75 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 tsp. Pickled Tomato Brine

Method:      Stir, Strain
Glass:        Nick and Nora or Martini
Garnish:     Blue cheese stuffed Pickled Tomato

This is my friend Tucker. He wanted to do something classy this holiday season.

This is my friend Tucker. He wanted to do something classy this holiday season.


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Beet Green Rolls Stuffed with Millet and Eggplant

IMG_5427This recipe is another example of just how good leftovers can be. You can transform the things you have in your refrigerator and pantry, the little bits and pieces that remained behind, into something new and interesting.

I had purchased beets from the farmers’ market and wanted to do something different with the leaves than the usual saute with olive oil and garlic. As much as I like that particular dish, I think I’ve O.D.d on it. So I started thinking about other ways of using them.IMG_5398

I also happened to have leftover roasted eggplant slices and some millet in the pantry. After some thought I came up with this recipe: beet green rolls stuffed with millet and eggplant. Millet is the perfect grain for stuffing because it’s sticky and you won’t have little individual grains skittering across your plate. It will hold everything together. It’s also gluten free, so those of you with (or who have loved ones with) Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, this is a great recipe for you. Further, beet greens are loaded with iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, and antioxidants.

Since I will assume that you don’t just happen to have roasted eggplant slices already in the fridge, or perhaps not even millet in your pantry (even if you do, I doubt you’d have both at the same time), I’ve written this recipe so that you can start from scratch. Btu it’s a very easy recipe—you can even make the eggplant a few days in advance so that you can just jump right into this recipe.

This is the perfect autumn/winter dish—hearty, delicious, and great to bring to gatherings. You can serve it as an appetizer, a main course, or side dish. Enjoy!

Beet Green Rolls Stuffed with Millet and Eggplant

½ cup olive oil, plus extra
1 medium Italian eggplant
¾ cup millet
Greens from 1 bunch beets
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. If you’re using foil, grease it with some of the olive oil.

Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices lengthwise and lay them on the baking sheet (use more than one baking sheet if you have to). Set aside 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and use the rest to brush both sides of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning over once, until browned on both sides, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop up the eggplant finely and measure out 2 cups. Reserve the rest for another recipe.IMG_5411Meanwhile, place the millet in a small saucepan with 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 10 minutes.IMG_5399If the water hasn’t been all absorbed, drain the millet in a mesh strainer. If it needs to cook some more, you can add a little more water and continue simmering.IMG_5402Transfer the millet to a bowl. Add the eggplant, parmesan, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper; mix well.IMG_5412IMG_5413Place the beet greens in a large bowl of water and wash the greens in several changes of water.

IMG_5400Pick out the largest, nicest leaves (you’ll need about 14) and place them on a kitchen towel to dry.IMG_5408Cut off the stems of the leaves. You may need to cut out a little bit of the ribs a the bottom if you find the leaves difficult to roll. IMG_5415Place 1/4 cup of the filling—less, if the leaf is smaller–at the base of a leaf and roll the leaf up. (It’s okay if the leaf tears a bit or the rib pokes through—you’re not making rolls that people will eat with their hand. These are fork rolls!)

IMG_5414Place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining leaves. Pack the rolls close together. Gently brush olive oil over them.IMG_5419Cover tightly with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Transfer them to a serving platter, sprinkle more parmesan over the top, then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.IMG_5423Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes about 14 rolls.IMG_5430

 

 

 


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Mediterranean White Bean Spread

IMG_5318I recently found myself with an abundance of dried Great Northern beans, and if you stopped by here last time, you saw that I took some of those beans to make Tomato-y White Beans.

I had cooked up a huge batch, so I needed to come up with something else. And, as I also said last time, because it’s summer, I’ve had access to a bunch of tomatoes. Well, both they went into a food processor for a white bean spread. With a few additional ingredients, this is a flavorful, filling, yet light, snack. It’s also perfect to taking to a picnic or barbecue.IMG_5309

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Bedeviled Egg Salad

IMG_4556Earlier this year, I learned about Barnraiser.us, whose mission it is to promote sustainable farming by raising and providing funds for farmers and food producers who want to provide sustainable products. When they were helping Carole Morison, a farmer, go free range, I contributed an egg recipe for a promotional collection they were putting together. I thought I’d share it with you.

This is a cross between deviled eggs and egg salad. What makes this egg salad special is the dressing, which bursts with flavor, partly from the balsamic vinegar and partly from the mustard, and it’s healthier because rather than using the typical mayonnaise, I used Greek yogurt.

Choose a good-quality, flavored mustard—I first tried this with a wonderful bourbon-molasses mustard and it was a huge hit. Also, I suggest using whole-milk yogurt because low- or non-fat yogurt can be tarter and grainier than whole milk yogurt.

Try this at your next party, barbecue, or picnic. Enjoy!

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Bedeviled Egg Salad

12 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more
½ cup Geek yogurt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon flavored mustard (like honey, beer, or bourbon or a fruit mustard)
1/3 cup finely minced celery
2 tablespoons minced green pepper
Black pepper to taste
Garnish: slivered red onion, chopped green pepper, minced parsley and/or celery leaves

Place the eggs in a pot big enough to hold them without crowding them. Fill pot with cold water to cover by at least an inch. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and let them sit for 10 minutes off heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, balsamic vinegar, shallot, mustard, celery, green pepper, pepper, and remaining salt. Taste and adjust, as needed. Set aside.

Drain the eggs and place them in a bowl with cold water. Drain and refill with cold water a couple of times. Gently tap and roll the eggs on a counter or plate to crack the shells then place them back in cold water and let them sit about 15 minutes (this allows the water to seep underneath the shells, making them easier to peel).

Peel and rinse to remove all shell remnants. Dry on paper towels. Cut into quarters lengthwise and arrange them neatly on a platter.

Place dollops of the dressing over the eggs, spreading it out so that all the eggs are covered. Garnish as desired. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Makes 48 pieces (about 24 servings).

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Red & Golden Beet Carpaccio

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I went to the Greenmarket this past week and found golden beets, which is not something I encounter often. So I bought a bunch and finally got around to roastingfarmer's market 8-14 them. I love beets and so happened to also have some red beets left over as well.

I wondered what I should do with all these beets. Well, as it turns out, today was a pretty hot day and I just didn’t have the energy or desire to do too much food prep.

So I pulled out my mandoline and just sliced these little jewels up. My mandoline is old and cheap and it sucks, so I didn’t really get nice clean edges. But it didn’t matter. Some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and thinly sliced red onions (which I also got at the IMG_3207Greenmarket), and I had a simple, flavorful, and attractive light summer dish. The herbs from my garden and a few olives topped it off.

Do not discard the leafy greens. Those are amazing sauteed in olive oil and garlic. Trim off the tough stems. Fill a big bowl with cold water and soak the leaves for about 15 minutes (swish them around a couple of times). Lift the leaves out of the bowl and place them in another bowl. Repeat this a couple of times until you feel the leaves are clean. Saute garlic in olive oil, sprinkle in some paprika, then add the greens and some salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until wilted, about 10 minutes. This is both delicious and nutritious—they contain antioxidants, vitamins B6 and A, calcium, and they help fight osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. The beets themselves have vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, folate, and manganese. They help prevent prevent anemia, build muscle and maintain nerve function, build bone strength, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote a healthy immune system. And its betaine, an amino acid, helps fight against colon and stomach cancers.

Red & Golden Beet Carpaccio

2 large red beets
2 large golden beets
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and trip beets (snip off long roots and cut off stems). Wrap beets up tightly in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierce with the tip of a knife, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and unwrap. When cool enough to handle, peel off skin with the help of a paring knife.

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice beets as thinly as possible. Arrange on a plate, along with the red onion. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Season with salt and pepper.

Add olives, herbs, or any other seasonings you’d like.

Serves 2.

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Avocado Slaw Canapes

I love avocados. They’re so rich, buttery, and delicious, yet healthy. There are so few things in life that can’t be said to be decadent and heart-healthy at the same time. This is one of them.

Avocados—technically, fruits—are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium (more per weight than bananas), folate, B5, B6, and B9. One avocado contains more than one-third the daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K. People often avoid avocados because they think they’re high in fat. And they are. But the good kind of fat—monounsaturated, in the form of oleic acid, which reduces levels of bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Avocados have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and, due to their phytochemicals, prevent cancer. Studies have also found that people who ate avocados were more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI (body mass index), and waist circumference. An average avocado contains around 4 grams of protein, more than most other fruits, and only .4 grams of sugar, less than most other fruits.

I didn’t have my first avocado until I was an adult. We didn’t eat avocados in our family—it simply wasn’t a typical Italian ingredient. I was probably in my 20s when I had my first taste. Initially, I didn’t care for them; I didn’t appreciate their butteriness. It felt to me like I was eating…well, a stick of butter. Then I was introduced to guacamole, and my world changed. Guacamole became the secret treasure I would seek out at parties. And if there wasn’t any, I was very disappointed and marked that party off as a failure. I then began to appreciate avocados on their own and in other dishes.

Avocados go well with so many other ingredients, including cabbage. I was inspired to create this recipe by a dinner I worked to fulfill a class requirement at The Natural Gourmet Institute. By using your hands to squeeze the ingredients together, the cabbage softens and it creates a tender, creamy slaw. You can put your own swerve on it by adding other ingredients, such as poppy seeds, chopped pickle, or shredded carrot.

Avocado Slaw Canapes

Makes 16.DSCF0039

1 large ripe Haas avocado, diced
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 (6-inch) tortillas (corn or wheat)
Olive oil for brushing
2 medium plum tomatoes, diced small

1. Combine the avocado, cabbage, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. With your hands, squeeze the ingredients together until cabbage has softened and ingredients are well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.

2. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut out 2 circles from each tortilla. Brush the circles lightly with olive oil and brown them on both sides on a grill or in a frying pan.

3. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the slaw onto each tortilla round and garnish with the tomato.