Monday, June 21, 2010

The Perfect Picnic Snack: Grilled Zucchini Rolls

Today is the first official day of summer! Yesss! Do you have any fun plans for the season? I'm looking forward to taking breezy evening walks, drinking bright pink rose, and squeeeezing back into my jean shorts. Xo

My perfect picnic means serving simple, wholesome food to my very favorite people. My perfect romantic picnic happens at dusk, by the beach, or under an old tree. We'd eat, drink and laugh until the stars twinkle.

This weekend I made simple zucchini rolls; wrapped them in parchment paper to help keep the sand out and a bottle of sparkling chilled red wine was all we needed. As always, when keeping it simple, I believe that the highest quality ingredients make all the difference.
These little appetizers of grilled zucchini wrapped around fluffy fresh goat cheese, basil and citrus should be enough to remind everyone that summer is here, savor every minute of it!


Grilled Zucchini Rolls
Serves 2


3 zucchini
3 oz super fresh goat cheese
1 T freshly minced parsley leaves
1/2 t lemon juice
1/3 cup basil leaves
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Thinly slice the zucchini on a mandolin and discard the outermost slices. Season with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Grill pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Cook the zucchini until tender and grill marks appear (about four minutes per side).
In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley and lemon juice, and season with salt.Put a small spoonful of the cheese mixture on each zucchini slice and top with a basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter.
Repeat with remaining zucchini slices.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The other OTHER white meat - Swordfish Mediterranean en Papillote

Let's be practical- on most days, girls like me don't have time to churn butter and stamp out pasta, let alone wash our hair, so last night when I came home after yoga craving protein and I'm really trying to chill on my red meat addiction. I went to one of my go-to-recipes fish recipes, Swordfish Mediterranean en Papillote (trust me it's alot easier to make than to say!)

It's soo simple, fun and healthy - perfect for a dinner party because everyone get's there own little package to unwrap and the steam and aroma's that waft up are TO DIE FOR!Since I took on the "less-meat-real-food" challenge in 2 weeks ago, my fish consumption shot up like crazy. As a result, I have prepared fish almost every which way, but my favorite way is to apply the parchment paper or brown paper bag trick.

I know some of what I've posted in the past hasn't exactly been a cinch to whip up but I promise you that this is an easy and fool proof recipe. And the perks, it's pretty inexpensive (hi shoe budget, hiii) and healthy (hiii skinny jeans, hiii).
Hopefully this inspires you to get in kitchen and perhaps eat less red meat.

Find out how to whip up this simple healthy dish by watching my quick youtube tutorial.


Chow Bella


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Turkey Burger That Doesn't Suck: Asian Turkey Burger with Sriracha Mayo

Turkey burgers, why?
That's the question I always ask myself when someone rolls up to a BBQ with a whole bunch of them. All too often turkey burgers end up being dry, tasteless patties that pale in comparison to their juicy beef counterpart. So why bother?
While pondering this question further, I came to a clear and concise answer that got my mind whirling with the excitement of possibilities—they're a blank slate just waiting to take on any flavor.

Turkey itself is somewhat tasteless, so it takes on flavors introduced to it quite well, like when brining a Thanksgiving bird. Which I tried for the first time this Thanksgiving, and trust me it makes all the difference in the world!
Solving the taste portion in this recipe by adding a slew of Asian ingredients in with the meat, there was still the turkey dryness—which is a result of the leanness of the turkey meat.
Most turkey meat you buy at the store is white/breast meat, try to find one that is ground in-house with turkey thighs & breast meat a la Citarella market.

All mixed together into what felt like one giant meatball, I formed patties, grilled them until cooked through, then placed them on a bun with some Bibb lettuce, tomato, and Sriracha mayo. The Sriracha mayo is really the icing on the cake. I happen to LOVE Sriracha; it’s an addictively spicy chili sauce. Love the taste and the effects; tingling lips and tongue, sinus clearing, you just want more and more.
Everything mixed with the burgers was coming through, and they remained incredibly juicy. So next time you’re “manning” the grill give this turkey burger recipe a go, my brother’s friends ate them up before I could even put the plate down!


Asian Turkey Burger with Sriracha Mayo
Serves 5

For the mayo:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Sriracha

For the burgers:

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 scallions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Bibb lettuce

1 tomato, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Hamburger buns

1. To make the Sriracha mayo, mix together the mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Using your hands, mix together all of the ingredients for the burgers in a large bowl until just fully incorporated. Scoop out about 1/3 lb of the mixture and form into a patty. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture until all used.
3. Grill the burgers until well browned on both sides and an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the middle of the burger, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.
4. While the burgers are grilling, place the buns cut side down on the grill and cook until lightly browned. Remove from the grill and spread some Sriracha mayo on each side of the buns. Place the finished burgers on the buns, top with Bibb lettuce and tomato slices, and enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dinner in a pinch...Seared Scallops & Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

Last night I got a little caught up at work and was running late to meet my friend Erin at my place. I had promised to cook dinner for her to make up for bailing on our last meeting and she was already on her way over to my apartment in Chelsea for dinner and I was still at the office! I had to think fast, what can I whip up quickly without scrimping on flavor and a little bit of presentation for one of my oldest friends…?

Knowing Erin she's craving something healthy and light, so I’m thinking seafood. What’s the fastest cooking seafood? That would be scallops!

People don't usually cook scallops at home, I think there is some intimidation factor or something. But seared scallops are super simple to make – the reason I usually don’t order them at a restaurant.
The key is to make sure the sea scallops are dry. My little tip is to wrap the scallops in a few paper towel sheets and pop them back in the fridge for a few minutes. Any moisture will make it difficult to get that desirable golden sear which is what its all about. I like my scallops to be the best of both worlds, golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside. Ok I like my scallops raw on the inside, which is totally safe and i think delicious but I know its not for everyone.

I’ve been craving cous cous from my favorite Moroccan restaurant in the East Village so I decided to re-create the dish with the seared scallops.
Cous cous is perfect for my rushed dinner because it's delicious... and yes, it only takes three minutes to cook. Toss in some diced tomatoes, cucumber, fresh parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil and you have yourself a deliciously healthy cous cous salad and the perfect impromptu spring dinner.


Seared Sea Scallops
Serves 2


10 fresh sea scallops
zest of 1 lemon
teas of salt
teas of pepper
tab butter
tab extra virgin olive oil

Season your dry sea scallops on both sides with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.

In a large frying pan, heat the butter + extra virgin olive oil over high heat.

When the pan is virtually smoking hot, gently place the scallops on the pan with ample room in between for 2 -3 minutes per side.
Hint: No peeking or prodding, there is no need to worry about them so let them do their thing!

Cous Cous Salad
Serves 2


1 box of Israeli style Cous Cous
½ cup of diced cucumber
½ cup of diced tomato
¼ cup of diced flat leaf parsley
juice of ½ a lemon
1 tab of extra virgin olive oil
teas of salt
teas of pepper

Boil couscous for 3 minutes or until al dente as you would for pasta, drain well, and toss with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.

Toss together the couscous, tomatoes, cucumber, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Feeling Saucy...Penne a la Vodka

There is this magic thing that happens in cooking when we combine certain ingredients. I refer to them as “food marriages made in heaven” like hazelnut & chocolate, grapefruit & brown sugar, pears & blue cheese, or dates & bacon. On there own these ingredients are good, even fantastic at times but when combined, the ingredients bring out the best in each other and become something mouthwatering and evocative.

Vodka sauce is a very curious recipe for the simple fact that vodka doesn’t really have a flavor, yet when a small amount is added to a tomato sauce such interesting things happen. The tomatoes are actually liberated by the alcohol, making the tomatoes taste, well, more…tomatoey.

Isn't it kind of funny that its called vodka sauce when you can't really taste the vodka. In some restaurants they call it pink sauce, but on the whole I think guys are more inclined to order the vodka sauce over the penne a la pink sauce! While Vodka and tomato are hardly a new combination, they are much loved brunch staple (bloody mary's mmm), and penne alla vodka is favorite order at italian restaurants. But people rarely prepare this dish at home without using the usually mediocre vodka sauce found in a jar, because most simply they don't know how to make it.

This dish is surprisingly simple - creamy and delicious. And I was surprised by how easy it is to make. I really enjoy the subtle smokiness the crisp pancetta brings and I believe it adds a little extra richness to the dish, which allows me to dial back the cream.

Check out my quick youtube video and I'll take you through all the steps to make this deliciously simple dish!


Chow Bella