Super Granola

20140331-110038.jpgSo I was watching some show on television the other day, I can’t remember what it was so it must have been high quality programming. Anyway, before I stray too far off the path, there was some supermodel babbling on and on about eating healthy. Ding! Caught my attention. She mentioned something about some granola that she made with Quinoa. Sounded interesting. I’m a big Quinoa fan so I devised myself a plan to make some granola, with Quinoa, one of them most prevalent “Superfoods” out there right now.
Why is Quinoa so good for you? I knew someone would ask! Quinoa qualifies as a “Superfood” for several reasons, but its most glaring property is the fact that it is a complete protein. That means that it has all 9 of the essential amino acids, in correct proportions, that your body needs in its diet to function at its best. Some other examples of complete proteins are meats, cheese, fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt, milk. Quinoa is even more valuable to Vegans because most other complete proteins are derived from animals. Quinoa is a plant. I used some rolled oats, rather than quick oats, mainly because I like the texture and size of the rolled oats better than quick oats. See how large the grains are?
I also tossed in some Buckwheat groats. Buckwheat groats are the grain or kernel of the Buckwheat plant. Now relax, Buckwheat is Gluten Free. Actually it is not even related to wheat at all. It is a completely different plant, and the groats give a nice crunch in this recipe.
Next I opted for some Chia seeds. Chia seeds are very healthy as well and are most often seen in smoothies, energy bars, breakfast cereals, or mixed in with yogurt.
These 4 ingredients, The Quinoa,

20140331-111003.jpgRolled Oats,

20140331-111613.jpgBuckwheat groats,

20140331-111739.jpg and Chia seeds,

20140331-112150.jpgcombine to form the base of my Super Granola. Or Grainola. Or Quinola. Whatever.
So I move on to some more familiar ingredients, but also keeping with the healthy theme. I used some sliced raw Almonds,

20140331-112351.jpgraw Pumpkin seeds,

20140331-112537.jpgraw Sunflower seeds,

20140331-112703.jpgraw Walnuts,

20140331-112844.jpgshredded Coconut,


20140331-113306.jpgpure Maple syrup,

20140331-113453.jpgCoconut oil,

20140331-113626.jpgdried Cranberries,

20140331-113751.jpgand dried Blueberries.

20140331-113853.jpgOk pay attention because there might be a quiz afterwards. This is a pretty easy process though, so I expect all of you to ace said quiz!
The first thing you need to do is mix the Quinoa, Oats, Buckwheat and Chia seeds in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Add the Almonds, Pumpkin seeds, Walnuts, Sunflower seeds, Coconut and Cinnamon and stir again to mix.
Add the melted Coconut oil and Maple syrup and stir gently to coat the entire mixture.
Pour the mixture onto baking pan lined with parchment paper.

20140331-114159.jpgSmooth out the mixture into an even layer.

20140331-114329.jpgBake in 225° F oven for 60 minutes.

20140331-114546.jpgRemove from oven and sprinkle dried Blueberries and dried Cranberries over top. Allow to cool completely.

Break it into pieces or it crumbles pretty easily as well.. Store in airtight container and enjoy!



Culinary Terms From All Over

20140322-161025.jpgWhether you’re looking at a menu at some authentic restaurant, or opening a cookbook to try a new recipe that you’ve been dreaming about, culinary terms can be intimidating. Here is a list of worldly cooking methods, ingredients and some other common culinary terms that will help you solve your next culinary mystery.

Items on a menu that are priced and ordered separately.
Italian for “to the bite”. This term is used to describe the proper texture of cooked pasta. Should be firm with just a small amount of bite, but not crunchy in the middle.
A spread or dip made mostly of roasted eggplant. Usually has olive oil and other herbs and spices.
A bundle of herbs usually tied together and added to a dish during cooking to impart flavor. Its is always removed before serving.
Sugar that has been flamed and burned with a torch to the point of caramelization.
Fresh soft Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream.

20140322-161358.jpgA jalapeno pepper that has been smoked. YUMM!
CONFIT: Pronounced “con-fee”. A French cooking method where foods are cooked slowly while submerged in oil or fat.
French condiment similar to the American sour cream, but thicker and more fattening.
Food that is wrapped in pastry dough then baked.
Middle Eastern food made from ground chickpeas. It is formed into balls or patties and then deep fried.
A baked custard made with eggs, cream, and vanilla. May contain gelatin. Usually served as a dessert.
Say Cheese!
A tomato based vegetable soup, served cold.

20140322-161606.jpgItalian pasta like dumplings made typically from potatoes, flour, and ricotta cheese.
Pronounced “Kim-Chee”. Spicy Korean condiment made from fermented cabbage and vegetables.

20140322-161733.jpgMixture of chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Sautéed as a base for many soups and sauces.
Rice shaped pasta.

20140322-161843.jpgUncooked sauce or condiment made from fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
Pronounced “Roo”. Combination of fat(usually butter) and flour cooked together and added to sauces and soups as a thickener.
Extremely expensive spice made from the stigmas of a crocus flower. Each crocus produces only 3 stigmas which are hand picked and dried. It takes 14,000 of these stigmas to produce 1 ounce of saffron.
one of the five basic tastes, the other 4 being (sweet, salty, bitter, and sour). Often defined as “savory with a long lasting mouthwatering sensation”.
Cook. Eat. Repeat.

Any questions???

Kitchenese 101

20140322-152750.jpgChefs speak in a tongue that’s all their own. It is specific, detailed, and descriptive. You won’t learn it from anyone’s Twitter feed, Facebook, or the Food Network. Its something picked up only in the BOH (back of house).

“So, how was it last night?” “Oh man, we had over 200 covers, two 12-tops, a bunch of 4-tops, tons of VIPs. By 9:00, we were really jamming, totally slammed, had already 86’d sea bass and Cheesecake. I was running the window when this huge pick-up was happening, we were doing that really foo foo risotto with shaved truffles—a la minute you know? The pick-up time is like 20 minutes. I had this really green cook on sauté, fired her a 4 by 4 by 3, half a dozen more on order, but when we go to plate she’s short two orders, so they had to order fire two more on the fly, she was totally in the shit! We were so weeded! Food was dying under the lamps. The rail is jammed up with dupes. The salamander stopped working. My steward no-showed. I really thought we might go under.”

If you’ve never worked in a kitchen, that previous paragraph probably sounded like it was written in Greek. Every kitchen has its own twist on the originals, but most of the terms you will hear are common in the industry. So here is a guide to some of the more popular jargon of the food world.


20140322-153709.jpgThe “line” is the kitchen space where the cooking is done, often set up in a horizontal line. Being “on the line” means you are a “line cook or chef”—an important person in any functioning restaurant.

20140322-154047.jpgThe “pass” or the “window” is the long, flat surface where dishes are plated and picked up by wait staff. The chef or high-level cook who “runs the pass” each night is in charge of letting the cooks know what they will be cooking as orders come in. They are in control of the watching the order of the tickets, monitoring the speed and rhythm of the courses, and making sure each dish looks perfect before it goes out to the customer.
Mostly used by wannabe fine-dining douchebags, Foo Foo means elegant. It’s used to describe an exceptionally sexy dish, or when you really nailed a plating presentation.
A la minute is French for “in the minute,” and it refers to making a dish right then, from scratch. Instead of making a big batch of risotto during prep time and reheating portions of it hours later, a dish made “a la minute” is cooked from start to finish only when an order for it comes in.

20140322-154249.jpgShort for mise en place (French for “everything in its place”), pronounced “meece”, this term refers to all of the prepped items and ingredients a cook will need for his specific station, for one night of service.
A “12 Top” refers to a table with 12 diners. A “4 top” has four diners. A “deuce” has two.
A “no-show” is a kitchen employee who doesn’t show up to work. No-shows are unmitigated assholes.
When a chef calls out “fire”, a cook will start cooking that particular dish (FIRE 6 chicken, 3 sea bass, 1 lobster, 1 risotto)
Hot food that is ready to be run that has been sitting on the pass/window for too long, getting cold and losing quality because wait staff are either too slammed or too lazy to pick it up.
When the kitchen runs out of a dish, it’s “86’d.” Dishes can also be 86’d if the chef is unhappy with the preparation and temporarily wants it off the menu.
Used when a kitchen or cook is really really busy, loaded with tickets, and desperately trying to cook and plate their dishes.

20140322-154456.jpgThis is the metal contraption that holds all of the tickets the kitchen is working on. Once a ticket is printed, it’s stuck on “the wheel” or “the board.” “Clearing the board” means the kitchen has just cooked a crap ton of tickets.

20140322-154725.jpgKitchen equipment names often get abbreviated or nick-named. A “salamander” is a high-temperature broiler; a “robocoop” is a food processor; a “sizzler” is a flat, metal broiler plate; “combi” is an oven with a combination of heating functions; “fish spat” is a flat-angled metal spatula good for cooking fish; “china cap” is a cone-shaped colander.There’s a million of them…I could go on and on.
If a piece of meat or fish is slightly undercooked, a chef will “flash it” in the oven or broiler for a minute or two to raise the temperature.
Make it very fast, ASAP. “I forgot to turn this order in so I need it on the fly.”
To cook something well done. Blecch!
Cooking foods very efficiently and orderly, keeping up with a very fast pace.
A total number of all the dishes that a cook or chef is needing. I have 4 chickens, 2 filets, 3 Caesar salads, and 1 burger “all day”.
There you have it. Enough Kulinary terms to launch you into Culinary Infamy!
Cook. Eat. Repeat!

The Health Benefits of Hot Sauce….See Mom, I Told You It Was Good For Me!

molten sauce

Hot Chile peppers have lots of health benefits that most of us don’t ever think about. Say the words “hot sauce” and most people think spicy, pain, heartburn, tears.  Just about anyone who has eaten the really hot stuff would say you must be crazy eating this stuff.  But hot peppers, hot sauce, and hot salsas are some of the healthiest foods on the planet.

There are several studies in the works right now where researchers are trying to link hot peppers to the treatment and / or prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Inflammation, Weight Loss, and some cancers.

Hot Peppers’ Cool Secret

There are literally 1000’s of different types of hot peppers, and they all seem to possess some of the same perks.

They are low in calories, sugars and carbohydrates.  They have almost zero fats and cholesterol.  And perhaps most surprising; they have extraordinary amounts of Vitamin C.  Bet ya didn’t see that one coming, did ya?

Vitamin C is related to increased metabolism, immune functions, healing wounds, is an antioxidant, and is necessary for healthy skin, teeth, and bones.

But the list of benefits doesn’t stop there.  Hot peppers contain Vitamin A and flavonoids which bring health rewards such as anti-aging properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and they even help to lower blood pressure.

The real shocker though, is capsaicin.  Capsaicin is a colorless part of the plant that gives hot peppers their heat, and can also be used for PAIN RELIEF.  Yes capsaicin is so powerful that it’s often used as a main ingredient in lots of pain relieving creams.

Despite the above uses, Capsaicin is found in hot peppers, hot sauces, and hot salsas.  In a fresh hot pepper Capsaicin is found in the tissue that holds the seeds and in the walls of the pepper.capsaicinSo that age old saying that it’s the seeds that bring the heat is false.  The seeds can be hot but the real heat comes from the Capsaicin.

The Scoville Scale is the measure of how hot a pepper is.  The lower end of the scale is a traditional Anaheim Pepper, or Sriracha Sauce, ringing in at 2500 – 5000 Scoville Units.  On the other extreme, the hottest pepper known to man right now is the Carolina Reaper, which rings up 1.5 – 2.5 million Scoville Units.  Pure Capsaicin is about 16 million Scoville units.  Now that’s hot!

Does Cancer Hate Spicy Foods?

The average Chile pepper is a simple plant, but scientists are just beginning to understand peppers. Researchers are working on linking hot peppers to the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, weight loss and cancer.  Capsaicin does something completely incredible. It causes cells – more importantly cancer cells — to undergo cellular suicide.

A Hot Diet Aid

Spicy foods slow your appetite and help with weight loss, which makes sense, because setting fire to your mouth tends to slow down how much you eat while your lips and tongue are blazing.

Researchers at Purdue University found that hot peppers can curb your appetite. Of the 25 participants in the study, 13 liked spicy foods and 12 did not. The study showed that the people who didn’t eat hot peppers regularly but who were given cayenne pepper in their food had a decrease in appetite for fatty, salty and sweet foods.

There is even a  book called “The Hot Sauce Diet: A Journey in Behavior Modification.”

There is a “Hot Sauce Diet” that I’ve heard of that goes something like this – – You eat hot sauce with all of your meals and you will eat less food and drink more water.

Lots of dieticians tell their patients to eat hot peppers.

Don’t forget that Capsaicin IS the same stuff that police spray into unruly crowds. Hence the name “pepper spray”, but the biggest danger to most people who eat hot peppers or hot sauce is getting it on your skin and rubbing it in your eyes, which I can attest to, is the worst feeling in the world.

Foods With Benefits

It turns out there’s a link between upbeat and funky personalities and spicy food preferences. You probably already knew this based on how many gallons of hot sauce yours truly has consumed over a lifetime thus far!!

This brings us to the final benefit: mental health. Eating spicy peppers feels good. Capsaicin fires up pain receptors in the mouth and nose, which creates a burning feeling that gets sent to the brain. The brain reacts by releasing endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the body that produce a feeling of well-being. So do yourself and all of the rest of us a favor and go eat something peppers  It’ll make ya feel good.

The Next Superfood . . .

Imagine eating turkey without mashed potatoes, or Chinese food without rice, meatballs without spaghetti – edible, but not enjoyable.  As popular and effective as low-carb diets are, the truth is a meal without carbohydrates – rice, noodles or potatoes is lame, boring, and unsatisfying.  I know the feeling, as lots of others do.  I’ve seen and known people lose 25 pounds in 2 months on a low-carb diet.  The one thing they all say about these journeys is that once you get back on the road to freedom and put carbs back on your plate, the weight finds its way back in a flash.  Rationing or cutting out certain things like mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, and sugar only makes a person want it more.   So here’s a thought, why not make those things from foods that you’re supposed to eat more of anyway, such as VEGETABLES?

Take Cauliflower for example.head of cauliflower

Chop it.  Steam it.  Mash it.  Blend in some butter or even cream cheese and BAM!  All of a sudden the cruciferous cousin of broccoli looks and tastes like mashed potatoes-cauliflower mash

but with fewer calories and fat, and about 30 % less carbs.

During a recent conversation about Kale being the King of Superfoods, I was asked what I thought would be the next Superfood.  Without hesitation I predicted Cauliflower.

It’s popping up on menus all over the place in all shapes and forms.

Food trend experts have named it a hot commodity for 2014.

The Canadian Press last month crowned it “the new kale”, and cauliflower has been called one of 30 buzzwords in food this year.

Cauliflower is all-purpose, extremely adaptable, and can even be prepared protein.  It is readily available all year round and usually its fairly cheap.

It is Gluten-free (ding sing, another buzzword), good for diabetics because it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels like lots of foods.

I’ve seen it cut crosswise into thick slabs and seared or grilled, much like you would a steak.  I tried this and it’s actually pretty good.

I’ve even heard of chefs grating it into small pieces the size of rice and cooking it risotto style.  Yumm!

I think what I like about cauliflower the most is its versatility.  Raw, florets, chopped, cooked, steamed, roasted, grated and marinated, pureed into a soup, whatever way you want to eat it is good.

Most people don’t realize this but cauliflower is a great source of Vitamin C, and fiber.

Rutgers University says cauliflower also can prevent cancer.  They did a study that showed cooked cauliflower seasoned with turmeric help to defend against prostate cancer.  Who knew?

Just remember one thing – The worst way to cook cauliflower if you’re concerned with its health benefits is boiling it.  Boiling cauliflower seems to kill most of its cancer blocking properties.

The bottom line to get the most out of your cauliflower – – Eat it fresh.  Steve From Scratch Style.  Cook.  Eat.  Repeat!

Words to Live By

Here’s an inspirational quote that I came by the other day that is so true and makes a ton of sense :
“Faith = Taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase!” Think about it.