Thursday, May 24, 2018

Proper Dinner Table Etiquette...

We all know the importance of eating together as a family, yet somehow, the day-to-day gets in the way. Most of our afternoons consist of sports practice, music lessons, dance class and homework. Gone are the days of leisurely meals, with everyone sharing the story of their day and having a chance to practice proper eating etiquette. Sometimes dinner is on the go, sometimes it’s in shifts and sometimes it’s fraught with interruptions.

And though the above scenario seems quite prevalent nationwide, many families do take time to sit together at dinner and rules are in order ... as the sign says. As we read, you/we might want to include: no cellphones at the table or any other electronic devices, remaining at the table until everyone else is finished or at least asking to be excused from the table... for a good reason.

But, what is all too common at the dinner table and why many people don't like eating together is its too noisy. Dinner time is about sharing a meal not having a debate. Its important to eat at the table and being quiet while eating is important too.

Again, its not healthy to eat alone but its not healthy to eat in a noisy environment. The dinner table is a place for the family to come together; its the place where we joyfully acknowledge the family structure and its proper hierarchy. It should not resemble a quarreling parliament. Such an atmosphere at dinner is unhealthy...studies have been done reflecting such outcomes.

There is something to be said for silence at the right time and for the right reasons. Having at least some silence at the table allows the family to become more deeply connected to each other as they recognize each member and respect the role in the family each person has... all the while consuming sustenance together around the family table which they share.  And, a quieter dinner table allows people to appreciate their food and enables better digestion.

When I was a kid and it got too noisy at the dinner table, we got 'the look'... which simple meant to be quite and enjoy the food before you and those who provided it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Chicken and Dumplings ~ Down on th Farm!

When I think about living on the farm, I think of hot steaming comfort food.This dish can be done in one single skillet in no time at all. You need only to have a few chicken pieces: legs, thighs, or breasts with bone in and skin on. You can do all legs, or all thighs or all breasts or a mix. Take from your pantry: olive oil, one onion, chicken stock, flour, buttermilk and seasonings.

Begin by browning one chopped onion in olive oil in your covered skillet on med heat. Once the onion is browned on the edges, add your chicken pieces. Season using: rosemary, mint and oregano along with a dash of red pepper flakes and a dash of garlic powder. Cook the chicken on med heat until all sides have browned nicely.

Next, add 1 cup of chicken stock. Cover and let simmer for 25 min. on med/low heat. Near the end of this timed simmer, prepare your dumplings. Mix about 1 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup of water along with 1 and 1/4 cup of flour (use gluten free if you are on such a diet), 1/4 tsp of baking soda, 1/2 tsp of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Its good to eye ball the consistency of the dumpling dough, it should be sticky but not thick, you may want to add either more flour or liquid.

Just before you drop in your dumplings, add more chicken stock to the chicken in the skillet. The dumplings will need plenty of liquid to cook. Turn up the heat to med high, drop in your dumplings, cover and let them grow up into clouds of yummy.

After 15 min, test the dumplings to make sure that they are completely cooked through, they should appear light and fluffy not gooey. If the are cooked through, then ladle all that goodness onto a large serving plate.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Meatloaf eaten ~ can never be beaten...

Good ole meatloaf...

Use whichever ground meat you prefer: veal, pork, turkey, lamb or beef (1 lb). The key to good juicy meatloaf is to not add egg (s) or oatmeal or crackers. Just add to the ground meat or mix in some bread crumbs, seasonings, heavy cream and Worcestershire sauce.

Form the meatloaf and lay it into a glass dish drizzled with olive oil to bake at 375 for the first 20 min. Then reduce heat to 350, add 1/4 cup of beef stock and continuing 'baking' in the oven for another 25 min. or until just pink inside. You can dress up the meatloaf by adding some sun dried tomatoes or dried plums during the last 25 minutes. Serve with blackened asparagus and wild rice.

meatloaf eaten can never be beaten...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Brainy Gourmet's Chicken Picata...

Summer is approaching ...time to eat out!

You will need to buy boneless skinless chicken breast strips, a jar of capers, one lemon, angel hair pasta, one onion, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Saute one whole chopped onion in a blend of 3 tbs of coconut oil and olive oil, adding to that 2 tbs of butter.

Prior to that, freshen your chicken breast strips in a rinse of squeezed lemon juice. Now, add the strips to the onion, having pushed the onion to one side of the skillet. Brown the strips on med. heat (adding an extra drizzle of olive oil) and then bring back in the onion.

Next, add 3/4 to 1 cup of heavy cream, dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano and half a jar of capers, cover and simmer for 8 min.  Near the end of those eight minutes, slice half a fresh 'washed' lemon, cutting in half the slices and then laying them on top of the chicken to cook covered on low heat for about 4 minutes.

In this time, prepare the pasta by cooking in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and ladle the pasta onto a low lipped serving plate and then top with the rich creamy chicken and sauce; grate Parmesan cheese on top and serve.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mongolian Pork with Wild Black Rice

Mongolian beef, why not with pork... being brainy!

You will need for this dish: pork loin (1lb), garlic, onion, green pepper, young zucchini, reconstituted sun dried tomatoes, wild rice and brown rice (optional mix), and teriyaki sauce. You might ask, "Isn't that kind of sauce 'Japanese'?" Yes, but its also totally Asian in character and since you are being brainy it can be used however you like.

Teriyaki sauce can be made at home. The basic recipe is: ¼ cup soy sauce, ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 4-5 tablespoons honey or brown sugar. To that mixture, also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and diced garlic. For an extra zing, you can half the water with Sherry or sweet Marsala wine.

To begin, chop garlic, onion, zucchini, sun dried tomatoes and green pepper for a quick stir fry in olive oil or coconut oil. Once the stir fry is singed on the edges, remove from heat and place in a warm oven, giving a squeeze of lemon juice over the top. In the same skillet, sear the pork loin cut into medallions in a drizzle of olive oil.

Once seared, add the teriyaki sauce and let simmer while you cook the wild rice in a mix of water and beef stock (brown rice to mix in should be boiled separately).  Additional spices can be added to the simmering pork: rosemary, mint, red pepper flakes and crushed coriander.

When the rice (s) is/are tender, drain and ladle onto a serving plate, top with pork and vegetables from the oven. Pour the sauce, left over in the skillet, into a dipping bowl.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Brainy Veal Marsala...

a 'top deck' Euro-bistro favorite...

Even if you don't have veal, you can make a brainy 'veal' Marsala using beef. To be exact - eye of round steak or you could also use flank steak. To begin, make sure you cut the steak of your choice thin and pound flat with a meat hammer.

After you have pounded the meat, marinate the 'veal' or steak for at least 30-40 minutes in a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of sweet Marsala wine with a brush of garlic infused olive oil adding also a few dashes of sea salt.

This dish requires some lovely brown Bavarian mushrooms and linguine pasta - best is infused with mushroom. So, while the meat marinates in the Marsala, wash and slice whatever mushrooms you bought and then saute in butter along with a few garlic cloves.

Once the mushrooms have browned, push them aside in the skillet and lay in the 'cutlets' of marinated beef. Flash fry on high heat, reduce the heat and bring the mushrooms back in and add 1/4 cup of Marsala wine and 1/4 cup of beef stock...bringing this skillet mixture to a bubbling richness.

Finally, add fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint, and oregano and 1/4 cup of heavy cream (optional), let simmer on very low heat until the pasta is tender.

 *Drain your pasta and pour out the Marsala, top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and dried or fresh green parsley...

~ Tutti a Tavola

Friday, May 11, 2018

What's Your Weekend Look Like?

Take your pasta pick...

*Check out Brainy Archives for these