Monday, November 29, 2010

Sandwiches?

Yep.

After all, Thanksgiving Day just passed and many of you "had" to make sandwiches to deal with the leftovers.

So here is The Gourmet-O-Matic way to approach the 6-layer sandwich - a year round good eatin':
1. Bread/topper - white, wheat, whole grain, baguette, French, pumpernickel, waffle, pancake, tortilla, more. Toasted, grilled or not.
2. Sauce - mayo with or without spices or chiles or tabasco or herbs; mustard with or without honey or herbs; dijon mustard, stone ground mustard, spicy mustard, more.
3. Veggies - pickled carrots or cabbage (add vinegar and sweetener, let sit) with or without daikon radish, watercress, sprouts (bean, radish, alfalfa, more), lettuce.
4. Protein - turkey, chicken, beef, pork, seitan, tempeh, tofu (hot or cold).
5. Herbs - basil, mint, cilantro, more.
6. Bread/bottomer - See 1 above. Mix or match.
Eat. Enjoy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Easy Thanksgiving!

Without a doubt, the one kitchen appliance that is set and forget, versatile and a real time-saver, is the crockpot.

A slow cooker can do just about anything.

For Thanksgiving, using the slow cooker can make life simpler.

You can cook it all:
Appetizers
Turkey
Stuffing - traditional, cornbread
Potatoes - sweet potatoes (with or without marshmallows)
Sides - rice, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce
Dessert - cake, pudding, cheescake
Make life less hectic.

Give the crockpot a shot.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Maybe even a happier one from using the slow cooker.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Soup vs. Stew

Colder weather is acomin'.

And with cold weather come the comfort foods known as soups and stews.

These two forms of food are together because they are so closely related. One person’s stew is another’s soup. One person’s soup is another’s stew.

If you visit en.wikipedia.org and look up the definition of “stew” this is what you will find:
A stew is a common food made of vegetables and meat in some sort of broth or sauce. The line between stew and soup is a fine one, but generally a stew's ingredients are cut in larger pieces, and a stew is more likely to be eaten as a main course than as a starter. But there are many exceptions - an oyster stew is more like a soup, for example. Stewing has a long tradition in cookery.
For “soup”:
Soup is a savoury liquid food that is made by boiling ingredients, such as meat, vegetables and beans in stock or hot water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a broth...

Over the centuries, the terms gruel— a thin porridge— and potage have become separated from broth, and stock and their refinement, consomm√©, have all been used to describe this pot-boiling cooking method. The terms have shifted over time, but the modern definition of soup and stew were established in the eighteenth century. Soups usually are more liquid, while stews are thicker; contain more solid ingredients. Stews are cooked in covered containers for longer periods of time, at a gentle boil with less water and at a lower heat.

Traditionally, soup is classified into two broad groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French classification of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used...
Bottom line: each method cooks solids in liquid and then both the solids and liquid are eaten.

These ways of preparing food have a decided advantage for those among you interested in consuming fewer Calories.

The liquid in them, almost always water, helps fill you up, obviating the need to consume more calorie-containing substances for satiation.

There is no need to present any specific recipes here, only direction.

The promise is quick, easy, healthful meals.

When it comes to soups and stews, go directly to the crock pot, do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200. Follow the directions for cooking in the slow cooker that appear in the “Kitchen Basics-Cooking” chapter in The FitnessMed (tm) Guide To Healthy Eating and that is all.

As a rule of thumb, add approximately 50% more water for soup than you would for making a stew.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Textures

Experiment with mouth feel.

The three food textures at The Gourmet-O-Matic tm are:
Crunchy
Chewy
Creamy
Crunchy:

To add crunch to a food, try the following:
Almonds
Banana Chips
Bean Sprouts
Brittles - e.g., peanut, cashew, macadamia
Cashews
Cereals - e.g., flakes, granola
Chips - e.g., potato, other veggie chips
Crackers
Croutons
Hazelnuts
Macadamias
Other Nuts
Peanuts
Pepitas
Pine Nuts
Pistachios
Pomegranate Seeds
Pretzels
Pumpkin Seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Taco Shells
Toffees
Walnuts
Chewy:

To add chewiness to a food, try the following:
Candied Ginger
Chewy Grain/Fruit Bars
Dried Apples
Dried Apricots
Dried Cherries
Dried Cranberries
Dried Dates – especially pieces which tend to be even drier than whole/pitted
Dried Figs
Dried Hibiscus Flowers
Dried Kiwi
Dried Mango
Dried Nectarines
Dried Papaya
Dried Peaches
Dried Pineapple
Dried Pears
Dried Goji Berries - aka Wolfberries
Fruit Leathers - e.g., apricot, strawberry, raspberry, grape
Other Dried Fruits
Prunes
Raisins
Crunchy - Chewy

As a group, legumes offer a crunchy resistance when first bitten and then add chewiness.

To add crunch and chewiness to a food, try the following:
Black-eyed Peas
Chickpeas
Corn Kernels
Fava Beans
Granola with dried fruit
Green Lentils
Green Peas
Lupini Beans
Other Beans - e.g., azuki, black, kidney, lima, mung, pinto
Other Lentils - e.g., black, brown, red, tan
Other Peas - e.g., snap, snow, split, sugar, yellow
Pigeon Peas
Soybeans (edamame)
Tempeh
Yellow Lentils
Creamy:

Creamy dressings and relishes are made by adding and then blending or stirring:
fat-free yogurt
fat-free cottage cheese or
fat-free tofu
Fat-free products are recommended to cut fat and Calories.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grain Game

Here is a grain dish the Gourmet-O-Matic (tm) way.

Let us make tabouleh and do some variations on it.

Tabouleh, a salad popular in the Middle East, classically contains:
bulghur wheat, tomato, cucumber, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, salt, lemon juice and olive oil.
Note, that you can change the acid from lemon to lime to orange to pineapple to...

Grain substitutions:

Kasha (buckwheat groats), wheatberries, amaranth, barley, quinoa, oat groats, couscous.

Heck, you can even use corn instead of the others and then, if you want, add black or pinto beans, hot peppers, cilantro, cumin and voila! you have traveled from the Middle East to south of the USA border.

Did I hear lentils?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sushi

Sushi refers to the rice which is sweetened and vinegared. Not the food used for filling.

If table sugar is not your thing, go to The Gourmet-O-Matic (tm) Sweetener Substitutions Guide and try some others.

Forget the raw fish/seafood if you are not into it.

Do veggies instead.

Suggestions? You bet.

Mushrooms, soybeans (edamame), tofu (soy-bean curd), cucumbers, carrots, radishes, beets, sweet potatoes, anything...

Want some meat? Why not?

Top with meat chunks or cooked, fish/seafood.

The possibilities are endless.

And you don't even need to roll the rice.

Place your sweetened, vinegared rice in a bowl and top with the foods of your choosing.

Done.

Yum.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sauces

Remember that proteins are basically, though not exactly, the same wherever they are found.

(For example, there are different types of tuna.)

Still, basically...

Chicken is chicken. Catfish is catfish. Tempeh is tempeh.

One thing that differs among cuisines is in what the proteins are served, i.e., sauces.

Try changing sauces to change your meal experience.

Here are some suggestions (recipes for these sauces and more are available in The FitnessMed (tm) Guide To Healthy Eating.)
Tomato Sauce
Watercress Sauce
Red Bell Pepper Sauce
Carrot Sauce
Horseradish Sauce
White Sauce
Asian-Style Sauce
Parsley and Caper Sauce
Have fun!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Root For All Seasons

As fall nears and winter comes into our thoughts, many people feel the season for root vegetables is approaching.

But, it ain't necessarily so.

Root vegetables, especially beets, have a summer presence, too.

Try combining these ingredients, a few at a time, to see how many salads/side dishes you can create.

Then play The Gourmet-O-Matic (tm) substitutions game.
Vegetable - Beets
Flavors - onion (fresh, caramelized), ginger, garlic, scallions
Acid - vinegar, citrus fruit, citrus juice
Green Leafy things - watercress, arugula, mint
Oil or nuts
Texture changers - cheese, rice sticks, crackers, chow mein noodles, toasted bread
Salt and pepper to taste
Enjoy!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Veggie Burgers

TIP:

Here is the tough part about veggie burgers - getting them to stay together.

Some people use egg white as a binder.

That works, but it can result in a loose, less firm patty.

In those instances, grilling becomes harder than frying or baking.

And vegans are left out of the fun.

One trick for a firmer burger is to use overcooked/mushy grain or pasta as a binding agent.

Just mix soft rice or pasta (a macaroni, penne, etc., shape works better than spaghetti) in with your vegetables to keep the whole thing together.

If you want, you can puree the binding agent of choice with or without some of the other vegetables before mixing them all together.

Then cook on the grill, on the stove, in the oven or by nuking.

Works like a charm.

What veggies to use?

Dealers choice. Cut and dice whatever and for you omnivores, you can add some pieces of meat. Just make sure that it is cooked thoroughly.

One way to better your chances of properly cooked meat is to add pre-cooked pieces to the patty.

That way, the veggies are not overcooked, the meat is not undercooked and the whole thing gets nice and hot.

If you are short on rice or pasta, a plain mashed potato will work, too. Try a sweet potato for variety.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Preparation Matters

Sure you can substitute ingredients to make new and interesting dishes.

But suppose you are not in the mood.

Then what?

Well, by simply changing how you prepare a dish you can create a new one.

Take regular salsa for example.

In barest form, the ingredients are:
tomatoes
jalapenos
onion
garlic
salt and pepper to taste
"Mexican flavoring" - e.g., cilantro, cumin
However, if you drop the "Mexican flavoring" and cook the rest of the ingredients you have the basis for a Middle Eastern dish known as Matbucha.

Served hot, warm or cold, Matbucha is a popular food in the Middle East and may be popular in your home, too.

Try it.

And play with other recipes by changing the way they are prepared.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chutney Play

Let's play chutneys.

The generic chutney formula is: acid + fresh, leafy things + vegetable or fruit +/- flavors +/- hot +/- oil

Here is a progression of chutneys going from almond-cilantro to mint cucumber:

Almond-Cilantro Chutney
Acid: Lemon or Lime and Orange Juices
Fresh, Leafy Things: Cilantro
Vegetable or Fruit: Red Bell Pepper
Hot: Jalapenos
Oil: Almonds
Bell Pepper Chutney (change fresh leafy things and hot from preceding)
Acid: Lemon Juice
Fresh, Leafy Things: Mint Leaves
Vegetable or Fruit: Red Bell Pepper
Hot: Cayenne Pepper
Oil: Almonds
Apple Chutney (change vegetable or fruit and hot from preceding, no oil)
Acid: Lemon Juice
Fresh, Leafy Things: Mint Leaves
Vegetable or Fruit: Granny Smith Apples, Onion
Hot: Jalapeno Peppers
Onion Chutney (change fresh, leafy things, flavors and hot, add oil from preceding)
Acid: Lemon Juice
Fresh, Leafy Things: Cilantro Leaves
Vegetable or Fruit: Onion
Flavors: Ginger, Garlic
Hot: Chili Powder
Oil: Yogurt
Minty Cucumber Chutney (change fresh, leafy things, vegetable or fruit, flavors and hot from preceding)
Acid: Lemon Juices
Fresh, Leafy Things: Mint Leaves
Vegetable or Fruit: Cucumber, Onion
Flavors: Cumin
Hot: Crushed Red Pepper
Oil: Yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste any or all of the above. You can use fat-free yogurt in place of fat-containing yogurt. The perceived texture will be "thinner," not as "rich" and with less of a fatty "mouth feel."

Feel welcome to post your progressions for chutneys, relishes, salsas...whatever.

See you soon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Taste of Things To Come

In preparation for posting tips, recipes, strategies, etc., consider the following:

There is a word game wherein you alter one letter to make a new word.

For example:
moms
moas
moan
mean
dean
dead
deed
deer
peer
pear
and so on.

The Gournet-O-Matic tm uses the same approach to making new dishes.

See you soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Welcome

Hello, people.

I will use The Gourmet-O-Matic tm Blog to post at least one gourmet tip, serving suggestion, strategy and/or recipe twice a month.

The posting will demonstrate The Gourmet-O-Matic tm approach and how the application of its principles results in new, gourmet dishes.

The first post will be on June 30, 2010.