Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Afternoon Tea on the Patio for One

It was another warm, sunny day today. I had worked in the garden for several hours and was in need of a rest. I decided to make some toast and jam with a cup of hot tea.  I had made a promise to myself at the new year to always take a few minutes to make my table attractive, no matter how small my meal would be or how many people would be at my table. 

I brought out one of my white linen tablecloths  and napkins.

A treasured cup and saucer from a dear friend
Roses and lavender from the garden in an old vase

I sliced a couple of pieces of whole grain bread, topped it with some cream cheese and current jam; put the kettle on the stove while I picked some lavender and bergamot mint for the tea.
A Perfect Cup of Tea,
and a Perfect Ending to a Beautiful Day!

ounces of Trader Joe's Artisan Whole Grain Bread (with millet, sunflower, barley, rye, triticale, oats, flax, rice and soybeans) teaspoons of Cream Cheese, 2 Tablespoons Currant Jam.

Nutritional Information Provided by NutriMirror 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Albondigas Soup, New Mexico Meatball Soup

In this soup from New Mexico, jalapeño-spiked meatballs (Albóndigas) are cooked in a rich beef broth.  My version is very flavorful, but for a heartier soup, add some cubed potatoes and cook them with the meatballs.
Albóndigas Soup
(New Mexico Meatball Soup)

2 medium Eggs
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 ½ cups, chopped Onions
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried Oregano
1½ teaspoons ground Coriander
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 teaspoon dried Red Pepper flakes
½ cup Sweet Red Pepper, diced
½ cup Sweet Yellow Pepper, diced
8¼ cups fat free Beef Broth, no salt added
2 cups whole Plum Tomatoes with juice, no salt added
1 to 2 teaspoons seeded, minced, fresh Jalapeño Pepper
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
½ pound ground Beef, 95% lean
½ pound ground Pork
¼ cup raw Basmati Rice, white
½ teaspoon salt (optional)

Garnish with:
½ cup chopped Scallion, plus tops
½ cup Cilantro leaves, fresh
Avocado slices (optional)

1.       In an 8-quart soup or saucepan, add the ¼ cup beef broth, the onion, garlic, red and yellow peppers, ground cumin, and sauté stirring frequently, until the onion is golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. (By using the beef broth you have omitted the fat and calories you would have added by using a vegetable oil.  I use this method often when sautéing.)

2.       Add the remaining beef broth, tomatoes with their juice, dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of the coriander, ½ to 1 teaspoon of the jalapeño pepper, dried red pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

3.       Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, rice, egg, sea salt, garlic powder, the remaining ½ teaspoon coriander, ½ to 1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.  Knead the ingredients together with your hands and then beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well mixed.  Shape the meatballs by scooping up a tablespoon of the mixture and rolling them into balls.

4.       Drop the meatballs into the simmering soup and stir gently to separate them.  Partially cover and simmer the soup for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  There will be a lot of meatballs!  Makes 8 Servings, with approximately 5 meatballs per serving.

5.       Serve soup hot with a garnish of scallions, cilantro leaves and avocado slices, if desired.

This information has the optional sea salt in the sodium percentages, but not the Avocado.
Nutritional information provided by NutriMirror

Friday, January 14, 2011

Focaccia, Flat Bread with Onions and Rosemary

A wonderful recipe for a traditional Italian Focaccia.  I have added fresh rosemary which happens to be blooming now.  The added flowers makes for a pretty presentation.

Flat Bread with Onion Topping
(Focaccia Con Le Cipolle)

Nutritional information available below

1 envelope Active Dry Yeast (2 ¼teaspoons)
1 cup very warm Water
3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
7 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1 medium-size Onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh Rosemary (in flower if possible)
Coarse Sea Salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

1.   In a large bowl put ¾ cup of the warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let set for 2 minutes.  Add 1 ½ cups of the flour.  Stir with a wooden spoon until mixed.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.  Shape into a ball.

2.   Dust the inside of a large bowl with flour; press dough into bowl.  Cover with a damp towel.  Let rise in a warm place, 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until doubled in volume. 
Hint: I heat my oven to just under 150° F.   Place the covered bowl in the oven and set the timer for 1 ½ hours.  This works very well on colder days.

3.   Punch down dough.  Add remaining 1 ½ cups of flour, remaining warm water, ¼ cup of the Olive Oil and the 2 teaspoons of Sea Salt.  Mix in using a wooden spoon or your hands.  Knead for 8 minutes or until dough feels smooth and elastic.   Let rise in warm place for about 1 ½ hours or until doubled in volume.

4.   Soak the sliced onion in cold water for 15 minutes; changing water 3 times.  Drain onions and dry with paper towels. 

5.   On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out using a rolling pin to about a 12 by 15 inch rectangle, about ¼ inch thick.  You may also make this in a 14 inch round if you would like to use a pizza stone for baking.  I have a few bricks I place in my oven and the rectangle works better for me.  You may also use a sheet pan to bake this on if you don’t have a baking stone.

6.   Transfer the dough to a wooden pizza peel or a flat sheet pan without a rim; which you have dusted with flour to prevent sticking.  Roughen dough by poling the surface with your fingertips, making small indentations that will hold the Olive Oil.  Spread the onions over, pressing in lightly.  Drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of the Olive Oil over.  Sprinkle with a little additional salt if desired, using a coarse salt.

7.   Bake in hot oven (400°) for 15 minutes, if ¼ inch thick, or 5 to 10 minutes longer if thicker.  Sprinkle with fresh Rosemary, cut into 18 pieces and sprinkle with Rosemary flowers if available.  Serve warm; do not refrigerate.
(the optional addition of coarse sea salt is not included in the sodium percentages here)