Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christine's Recipe For Creamy, Garlicky Chevre Sauce With Steamed Green Beans And Toasted Pecans

While it's true that I'm no longer eating pasta, it is not true that I can't enjoy a thick and deliciously creamy pasta sauce from time to time. I just drizzle it over steamed, sautéed or roasted vegetables and I'm completely happy.

Intensely garlicky, beginning with a white wine reduction, this is a sauce that will compliment a number of vegetables served as an entrée or a side dish. (Mr CC even enjoyed it on his lunch tacos!)

Last week we roasted purple potatoes and topped them with this sauce along with some freshly chopped basil.

Decidedly unphotogenic in its white-on-white demeanor, roasted cauliflower nonetheless is the perfect compliment to the garlic and goat cheese flavors imbued here.

For its debut, however, green beans steamed to a tender crispness were the perfect vehicle to showcase this bright white saucy offering, needing only a sprinkling of chopped toasted pecans to round out the visual feast.

This sauce can be made with full, low or no fat dairy. The amount you use will need to be adjusted to achieve the creaminess you desire. It's ready for your vegetables in less than 25 minutes and will keep in the refrigerator for one week.

Christine's Creamy, Garlicky Chevre Sauce
6-ounces dry white wine
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 pinches kosher salt
1 cup cream (or 1/2 & 1/2, or milk)
11-ounces good chevre (goat cheese), crumbled
Place the white wine and the minced garlic in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the wine has reduced by one-half, about 6 minutes.
Add the salt and stir.
Add the chevre and the cream and whisk over low heat until the mixture is smooth. The amount of milk product will vary depending on its fat content.
Serve over your favorite vegetables or roasted potatoes, or, gasp!, pasta.
Reserve left over sauce in the refrigerator.

Copyright © 2005-2009, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christine's Recipe for Thai-Style Sausage and Vegetable Soup

Inspiration for this what can I do with all those vegetables lounging in the vegetable crispers? soup came from the Thai-spiced sausage I picked up at the market recently. After that the soup practically made itself.
Cilantro grows year-round in my garden, even when it snows. Just when the summer crop is winding down, little volunteers start coming up and, hardy souls that they are, manage to make it through the winter.

I didn't get a photo, but one of our local inland farmers has a kaffir lime tree and is now selling fresh-picked leaves at the farmers market. I couldn't resist buying a packet.

Add to these beginnings, some garlic, fresh ginger, lots of fresh farmers market vegetables and some lite coconut milk and there you have it. A soup full of zingy fresh flavor, bright colors, and wholesome goodness.

Christine's Thai-Style Sausage and Vegetable Soup
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 Kaffir lime leaves
1 and 1/2 cups low to no-sodium chicken stock, preferrably home made
2 cans organic, lite coconut milk
12-15 crimini mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 large red jalapeno pepper, seeds and veins removed, finely minced
4 Thai Style uncured sausage by Niman Ranch, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers or sweet Italian peppers, chopped small
2 carrots, pared and thinly sliced
2 small golden zucchini (from my garden!), thinly sliced
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
handful of fresh garden pea pods, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
juice from 2 small limes

Prepare all ingredients as specified above.
Place the chicken stock in a large pot over low heat, waiting to receive the fixins.
Sauté the sausage slices in a large, heavy skillet (I use cast iron) until lightly browned. Using tongs, transfer the sausage to the soup pot. Reserve the rendered fat in the skillet.
Sauté the shallots, garlic and ginger in the skillet over medium heat until soft and golden. Transfer to the soup pot and increase the heat to medium high. You are finished with the skillet now and all your attention should be on the soup pot.
Allow the stock to come to just under a boil and add the carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers. Let these cook for about 6 minutes or until they are softly cooked.
Add the green beans and pea pods and cook for 5 minutes more.
Check to see that the vegetables are almost cooked through.
Lower the heat to medium low and add the coconut milk. Simmer until everything is done to your liking. Don't allow the soup to boil.
To finish the soup, remove the lime leaves if you can find them, add the lime juice and chopped cilantro.
Stir gently, remove from the heat and serve.

Cook's Notes:
A gentle reminder that I link to products only to help those who wish to make my recipes to the letter. I do not receive requests to link to these products, nor do I receive any remuneration for doing so.

Copyright © 2005-2009, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vanilla Yogurt Ice Cream With Sherry-Soaked Bing Cherries

. . . But first:

I could just jump right into the recipe, sidestepping the obvious fact that I haven't been around for, oh, more than a month, giving no explanation for my absence, but you all know I won't be able to leave that alone.

So here's my story. Thus far.

Way back at the beginning of July, I quit eating wheat, along with its related grains (oats, barley, etc.), and cut out all forms of added sugar, including agave and honey. Turns out it wasn't a hardship for me at all. I experienced no sugar withdrawal and no cravings for bread and pasta in the middle of the night. I ate loads of fresh fruits and vegetables along with eggs, small amounts of cheese and even smaller amounts of meat - mostly seafood.

I didn't do this because I wanted to be on a diet. Quite by accident I'd stumbled upon some information about the role that wheat and sugars may play in causing inflammation not only in the bowel, but also in the arteries, brain, heart and joints. (Of course we have the South Beach Diet that combats just those things, but it never really worked for me - I never got over those cravings for what I wasn't allowed to eat - as after Phase 2 I got to add wheat back into my regimen, putting me right back where I started.)

What I read made enough sense to me to give it a try. That was back in July. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and weighed more than I wanted to. Giving my doctor fits as I refused to take statins or blood pressure meds, I kept telling him I could just eat better and exercise more and I would be fine. But my numbers never changed.

Now at least two of them have. Blood pressure is normal, I've lost 20 pounds, twenty! without trying, I actually think with more clarity, and this week I'm finally going to have my cholesterol checked. If that has dropped as well, I will have hit a triple header and will be a very happy, person indeed.

This may be a bit too much sharing for many of you - as in get to the recipe, Christine - but trust me, it had to come out so I can move forward on this business of blogging. I mean, how can I just stop cooking the way I've been cooking without telling you why?

Which brings me back to why I haven't been blogging: The food we've been eating for the past fours months has been fresh, organic, local, all those good things, and . . .

Very Plain.

Very Simple.

Barely blogworthy in my estimation, compared to what I have done in the past.

Recently though I've made a few dishes that have more pizazz, more oompf, and found that they haven't had any adverse affects on me. Of course, I wouldn't pig out on the ice cream I'm about to show you, and, on the whole, I still eat mostly fruits and vegetables, occasionally brown rice or a potato, but I'm finally settling into a comfortable niche and am ready to offer up my repertoire.

If you have an aversion to Splenda, you can always use sugar, but you won't see sugar here. I use so little sweetening for anything these days, preferring the sweet taste that fruits and vegetables can impart, that the amount of Splenda I do use is minimal.

Thank you for indulging me. Now you can have dessert.

There are so many things to like about this recipe: Organic dried Bing cherries; no added sugar, just five small packets of Splenda, allowing the tang of the yogurt to shine through; and possibly best of all, no cooking (no custard making) which allows it to be ready to serve in just a few hours and allows you to adjust for the sweetness at any time.

One more thing: this ice cream is best when served right out of the machine. It can be placed in the freezer, but loses its creamy texture in the process.

Before you begin making the ice cream, you must drain the excess liquid from the yogurt and soak the cherries for several hours. Here's how.
Dampen and wring out a piece of cheesecloth large enough to hang over the sides of a large strainer.
Line the strainer with the cheesecloth and set it over a large measuring cup or bowl.
Spoon the yogurt into the cheesecloth and place the whole thing into the fridge for several hours.
When the liquid has drained from the yogurt, you should have about half the amount of yogurt you started with. Keep cold until ready to use.

Place the dried Bing cherries in a medium bowl and pour the sherry over, stir the cherries a bit to settle the sherry. You want just enough sherry so that the cherries are barely covered.
Let sit at room temperature until most of the sherry has been absorbed and the cherries and plump and very drunk. This took several hours. Strain the remaining very delicious Bing Cherry Sherry into a small glass and save it for making sauces, or give it to your significant other to sip while watching you cook.

Christine's Vanilla Yogurt Ice Cream with Sherry-Soaked Bing Cherries (and you thought we'd never get here)
2 cups non or low fat plain, organic yogurt, drained of liquid
3/4 cup organic, non-sweetened dried Bing cherries soaked in 1/2 cup dry Sherry
4-5 packets Splenda, adjust to your taste
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
3/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
Place drained yogurt in a large bowl and stir in Splenda until fully blended.
Stir in the milk, cream and vanilla and mix well.
Adjust for sweetness, remembering that the cherries will impart their own natural sweetness.
Place the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions.
When the mixture is softly frozen, slowly drop the strained cherries into the ice cream and finish processing.
Serve directly from the machine, or pack into a container with a tight-fitting lid and put in your freezer for one hour.

Cook's Notes:
I suppose I could have called this Drunken Bing Cherry Yogurt Ice Cream, as the lovely dried Bing cherries are indeed soused by the time it's their turn to be churned, but I think folks might have a hard time doing a Google search for it.
In the interest of explaining what may seem to be a contradicion, remember that banana strawberry galette I made back in August? I didn't eat it, although others did. No, honestly. I didn't.

Copyright © 2005-2009, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved