Fresh, fast and frugal!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What is Buckwheat and Why is it Good for you?

You have probably noticed that as of late, I have been using buckwheat groats inside of rice or even mixed in with rice. I was first introduced to buckwheat on the steppes of Eastern Europe where it is cultivated. The fields are like a bride's bouquet when in bloom and afire when its the harvest.

Buckwheat is energizing and nutritious, buckwheat is available throughout the year and can be served as an alternative to rice or made into porridge. While many people think that buckwheat is a cereal grain, it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel making it a suitable substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein gluten. Buckwheat flowers are very fragrant and are attractive to bees that use them to produce a special, strongly flavored, dark honey.

Diets that contain buckwheat have been linked to lowered risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The Yi people of China consume a diet high in buckwheat (100 grams per day, about 3.5 ounces). When researchers tested blood lipids of 805 Yi Chinese, they found that buckwheat intake was associated with lower total serum cholesterol, lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, the form linked to cardiovascular disease), and a high ratio of HDL (health-promoting cholesterol) to total cholesterol.

Buckwheat's beneficial effects are due in part to its rich supply of flavonoids, particularly rutin. Flavonoids are phytonutrients that protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C and acting as antioxidants.
 Buckwheat's lipid-lowering activity is largely due to rutin and other flavonoid compounds. These compounds help maintain blood flow, keep platelets from clotting excessively (platelets are compounds in blood that, when triggered, clump together, thus preventing excessive blood loss, and protect LDL from free radical oxidation into potentially harmful cholesterol oxides. All these actions help to protect against heart disease.

~ Source -

Monday, September 28, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Braised Pork Butt with Carrots and Onions

Coming home to home cooking...

A simple yet delicious meat is pork butt. It may not sound good, but believe me it is and its brainy. Why? Because, it is a good source of meat protein and its inexpensive. Despite its colorful name, pork butt does not come from anywhere near the butt or behind of the pig. In fact, quite the opposite. Pork butt is a cut of meat coming from the shoulder of the pig. Seriously! Pork butt or pork shoulder needs a long, slow cooking process. It is great barbecued, braised, or used as stew meat.

Today, in just one hour and an additional half hour, I will be serve braised pork butt with carrots and onions.  In fact, while the pork butt 'shoulder' slow cooked, I went for a bike ride.

In a deep enamel 'stew' pot, saute one whole onion with fresh dried herbs in 5 tbs of olive oil on med heat. Next, lay in your pork butt (one pound m/l) and let it sizzle on both sides, moving the onions around and on top of the pork butt, cover and let it simmer for 6 min on med heat... but keep an eye on it. Then turn up the heat and let it bubble a bit, drizzling a bit more olive oil. There will be juices released from the onion and pork which you want to use for braising. Next, add fresh scrubbed cleaned baby carrots. Cover and let simmer for 90 min on low heat.

Prepare potatoes as an additional side.

~Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Moderation is Key to Enjoying Good Food!

This fall, a new report has come out that says recommendations used to draw up the guidelines for good health are flawed. A new draft of the U.S. dietary guidelines comes out every five years and sets the standard both nationally and in much of the Western world. This year’s advice is seeking to make some key changes, notably to stop the demonization of eggs and dietary cholesterol and ease restrictions on salt intake, instead limiting sugar and meat intake — while also giving an OK to moderate coffee consumption. 

The Brainy gourmet has known that sugar is the culprit. Check brainy archives from last year. The latest experts’ advice including several high-profile studies show saturated fat isn’t necessarily linked to disease risk. These studies have shown mixed health outcomes for saturated fats. 

The brainy gourmet has always advocated that the key is moderation to enjoying good food.  What is good food? Ingredients that are as fresh as possible. No boxed or packaged items including spices mixes. Though not easy to come by and afford, there is always something fresh you can buy or can be easily grown and harvested - tomatoes for one. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

There is something so incredibly delicious about Fettuccine Alfredo ... especially, Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.  And, the brainy way is the simple way. All you need is one onion, a glove of garlic, heavy cream, grated parmesan, fettuccine pasta and some boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Take your covered skillet, melt in 3 tbs of coconut oil and the same of olive oil. Chop onion and garlic to add, saute until browned. Then add your chicken either diced or cubed. Smaller children may prefer diced. Saute your chicken in the onion and garlic mixture and then cover to simmer for 6 min on med to low heat. Next, add 3/4 cup of heavy cream along with 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and of course, dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Simmer this on low heat until it thickens and or the pasta has boiled and becomes tender enough to drain and serve.

Ladle your pasta onto a low lipped serving platter and pour out the luscious chicken alfredo sauce. Top with more parmesan and garnish with fresh green parsley.

Tutti a Tavola! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Make it Simple ~ Eggplant Goulash and Pork Medallions with Buckwheat Groats

Sounds complicated - not. Eggplant this time of year is incredibly delicious. Buy a nice big purple skinned  eggplant (unless you have homegrown), wash, slice and cube. The skin can stay on given this season... not out of season as in greenhouse grown. Eggplant Goulash goes like this: saute your cubed eggplant in a bit of coconut oil and as much olive oil as you can afford and throw in some green pepper. Sprinkle in fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano as well as a dash of sea salt and garlic powder. Then add fresh petite diced red tomato and 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Simmer for 10 min.

When that time has passed, remove your goulash and get ready to pan fry in olive oil your pork loin medallions which have lain in red wine and balsamic vinegar for the last 10 min. -while you made the goulash.

Boil your buckwheat groats (mix with brown rice if you like) and ladle onto a low lipped serving platter. Top with goulash and pork.

~Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Who's the Boss of the Applesauce!

Who's the boss of the applesauce at your house?

I say the one who picks the apples, cleans them peels them and makes the sauce! Its that time of year and our tree has done us proud. But, that means a lot of picking, cleaning, peeling and sauce making. But, guess what. Come winter it pays off big time!

You need to buy or pick from your trees all the apples you can work with in one day's canning. Clean, peel, core, dice, and cook adding 1/2 of sugar to every pound. Once the apples appear to be getting sauce like, you know you are ready to jar. The jars must be cleaned in boiling water, lids as well. Keep them hot and ready to be used. Ladle in the sauce and twist on the lids. Set aside and wait for the snap of the lid coming down for a tight seal. This is the key to preserving.

Keep your Kitchen Organized

A good cook knows where her equipment is, ready and waiting to create the next brainy gourmet meal.

Pots, pans and skillets need to be readily accessible as well as serving platters, plates and service. Do not stack Teflon or Calphalon wear one inside the other as over time you can incur scratched surfaces which is not brainy at all as it becomes a health issue. Rethink your cook space and get cookin.

* use circular hard card paper if you do need to stack due to limited space

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Let's Make it Simple ~ Steak and Mushrooms

What could be more simple than simple cube steak and mushrooms. You can also use thin sliced strip steak.
Saute your mushrooms in 1 tbs of coconut oil, 2 tbs of olive oil and 1 tbs of butter. Season with fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Once browned, set aside and in the same pan lay in your steak strips, adding an extra 1 tbs of olive oil. When they sizzle, top with a bit of sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Cower and let simmer for 4-5 minutes, the amount of time to microwave a few yellow gold potatoes. Take a large low lipped serving dish, lay in your steak and mushrooms and pour out the delicious savory sauce from the skillet. Garnish!

~Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Let's Make it Simple ~ Veal Meatballs in a Mint Rosemary Sauce

All you need to buy is ground veal. From the pantry: dried rosemary and mint along with fresh cream and butter. Additionally, some fresh grated parmesan and egg noodle pasta. Mix your ground veal with bread crumbs, dried herbs, sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Pour in 3- 4 tbs of heavy cream and mix.

In a covered skillet, spout off about 5 tbs of olive oil. Add chopped onion and green pepper from the garden. After the onion and pepper have browned, deliver about 1/4 cup of chicken stock to the skillet and then add your meatballs. Simmer on low heat for 8-10 min. Cook your pasta, grate some parmesan and set the table. Drain your pasta once tender, ladle onto a large low lipped serving dish, cover with sauce and meatballs, garnish with fresh green parsley.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Remember how important family is.... gather them round

Monday, September 14, 2015

Medaglioni di maiale Cremosa

Ahh, the Basilicata Region

I wrote before that pork is an integral part of Basilicata's cuisine whether it is roasted on a spit, grilled or made into the mouth watering sausages.

Tonight, I am making pork medallions in a creamy pine nut rosemary sauce. All you need is a boneless pork lion. Slice it thick in pieces the size of a medallion.  Saute your medallions in some coconut oil and olive oil seasoned with fresh dried rosemary along with some sea salt, red pepper flakes and either fresh garlic or powdered garlic. It takes only minutes to brown in both sides. Then you add 1/3/ cup of heavy cream and one tablespoon of pine nut and basil pesto, simmer for 5-6 min.  Finish with a topping of fresh parsley. As a side, you can prepare a simple rice, or pasta... this time of year I like a slice of butternut squash baked in ... butter with applesauce.  ~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ancona ~ Petto di Pollo con Pasta capelli d'angelo

Breast of Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta


The Ancona is a breed of chicken which originated in the Marche region of Italy. In fact, Ancona is the name of a smaller district in the middle of the Marche region. Naturally, Italians in that region take pride in their chickens and that means they love to cook chicken.

Take a large boneless, skinless breast of chicken and slice it down the middle to create two halves or maybe three pieces. Take your covered skillet and melt in 3 tbs of olive oil and the same of coconut oil. Sprinkle in your seasonings: red pepper flakes, black pepper, sea salt, garlic powder and dried herbs of rosemary, mint, oregano. Lay in your chicken when the oils start to spit. Pan fry on both sides until the meat is white. Remove and toss in julienne green peppers and zucchini. Stir fry until brown and remove. Put your chicken back in and add 1/3 cup of heavy cream.

Heat some water to boil your angel hair pasta which takes just minutes to cook. Take a spaghetti ladle and put the pasta directly onto a large lipped serving dish when they are just tender, do not drain or rinse. Place your chicken breasts on top, pour out your sauce and top with the green peppers and zucchini, don't forget the grated parmesan.

Tutti a Tavola! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Emilia Romagna ~ Vitello Parmigian alla Toscana

Veal Parmesan

A few posts back, we introduced / reminded ourselves of the fact that cube steak or any thin meat pounded down is often experienced as a veal or chicken parmesan ~ Parmigiano. But, really any meat 'cubed and pounded' can be made into a 'Parmigiano'. As I posted then, I wrote that there is no other better region than the Emilia Romagna as it is home to wonderful Parma Ham, exquisite Balsamic Vinegar and beautiful Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In fact, many of the Italian delicacies we all know and love seem to come from this very productive region.

Yet, like most Italians, I can imagine that the people of the Emilia Romagna want the best meat for their veal parmesan. As you know, veal is young beef and the best can be found in Tuscany famous for the Chianina breed which is one of the oldest breeds of cattle. The Chianina originated in the area of the Valdichiana from which it takes its name, and the middle Tiber valley. Chianina cattle have been raised in the Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio for at least 2200 years.

Find a nice veal cutlet (s) or even use pork (thin steak 'cutlet' pounded). Lay your veal or pork cutlets in an egg bath (one egg and 1/4 cup of  heavy cream), then pat with bread crumbs and a sprinkle of parmesan as well as dried herb seasonings: rosemary, mint and oregano. Set aside the cutlets while you saute onion and garlic in olive oil until brown, push to the side of your skillet and lay in the cutlets. Richly brown on both sides, pull your onion and garlic back in and over the top of the cutlets, cover and simmer for 2 min. Now, add one small can of crushed tomatoes or fresh chopped from the garden. Cover again and simmer for 10-12 min. Use buckwheat groats mixed with brown rice as a side. Top with parsley and extra parmesan!

Tutti a Tavola!

Beet Roots ~ Good for the Heart

 3 Reasons to eat beets!

1. Red beets have been proven to be a source rich in essential vitamins like vitamin C. Vitamin C is widely known as a potent combatant against the common cold. Vitamin C also guards against nasty diseases like scurvy, which will occur if you are vitamin C deficient. Scurvy manifests itself physically through spongy gums, spots on your skin, and even bleeding from your mucous membranes.

2. Red beets are a rich source of betaine which is vital to good cardiovascular health. Betaine's purpose is to lessen your body’s concentration of homocysteine, a substance which is hurtful to your blood vessels in the sense that it can contribute to peripheral vascular disease, stroke and heart disease.

3. Red beets can be made into beetroot juice which has been actually shown to reduce high blood pressure, a godsend for people with hypertension and those looking to avoid cardiovascular dilemmas.


This past Labor Day weekend, I made a heaping helping of washed, peeled, cooked, cooled and then shredded as in grated red beets which I drenched in delicious virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with parsley, a super healthy side dish to any meal. 

~ That's being brainy.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Wine Makes the Heart Glad ~ Proverbs 104:14

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man's heart glad, oil to make his face shine, and bread which sustains man's heart ~ Psalm 104:14

The quaint town of Valtice is located in the Czech Republic. Valtice is also a historic town situated at the border area with Austria; it is a place where history meets wine making traditions.

The family of Lichtensteins made Valtice into their residence and there developed a 'viticulture'.  Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) or winegrowing (wine growing) is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. ... Viticulturists are often intimately involved with winemakers, because vineyard management and the resulting grape characteristics provide the basis from which winemaking can begin.

Today vine growing, wine making and the presentation of wine are going through a Renaissance period. Vine growing areas and individual villages compete in attracting the connoisseurs and lovers of wine.

Valtice is no exception and so some time ago the town accepted the title “The Capital of Wine”. Valtice accounts for the second largest area of vineyards in the Czech Republic.

On a beautiful autumn day, you can try all the reds and whites and rose wines your heart desires. Wine, when properly produced... naturally, in good earth by caring and qualified hands, can be considered an important consumption in proper amounts complimenting any 'brainy gourmet' meal. There have been numerous studies confirming that wine has many health benefits. So, have a glass and be glad for it!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Emilia Romagna ~ Cubo maiale manzo con zucchine Julienne!

Price per serving for two: $1.95


Little do people know that Italian cooking is based on a simple way of life. It is user friendly because it does not require long hours or expensive ingredients. Most Italian cooking uses inexpensive meats. Cube steak is often used and though it does not 'sound' richly Italian on its own, it is!

We most often experience cubed meat as a 'veal' parmesan ~ Parmigiano. There is no other better region than the Emilia Romagna which is home to the towns of Parma, famous for the its wonderful Parma Ham, Modena with its exquisite Balsamic Vinegar and Reggio Emilia for its beautiful Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In fact, many of the Italian delicacies we all know and love seem to come from this very productive region. Emilia Romagna seems to burst with fresh produces, meats and dishes to die for.

If you are watching your weight or have a problem with cheese 'casein' ... don't panic. Because, you don't have forego cube steak Emilia Romagna. After all, this region's balsamic vinegar is number one. Here is a dish that will forever have you a lover of Emilia Romagna.

You will need to buy as many pork cube steaks as you need. Remember, this recipe is for two but is easily expanded just by increasing all the basic ingredients. Grab a fresh young zucchini and green pepper or two from the garden and you are ready to cook. Wash and julienne your zucchini and green pepper. Then take your covered skillet and melt in 4 tbs of olive oil.

Sprinkle in red pepper flakes, sea salt (dietary recommendation), garlic powder, and dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Once the oil and seasoning is hot, toss in your veggies. Saute on med. heat til browned and tender. Remove and set aside. In the same skillet (no reason to clean or rinse), add coconut oil and a tbs of olive oil. Lay in your cube steaks and sizzle away, browning on both sides. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 6-8 min.

Take a serving platter and place your zucchini julienne on one side and your cube steaks on the other side. Pour over the top the luscious sauce from the skillet and drizzle with that lovely balsamic vinegar of the Reggio Emilia and even leave the bottle on the table.

 Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chicken in Peanut Sauce with Brown Rice and Groats

Price per serving for two: $3.25

Thai culture has been influenced primarily by animism - a belief that non human entities possess a spiritual essence. Chicken in a peanut sauce is a Thai dish which can be quite spicy.

For this not so spicy brainy gourmet version, you will need to buy boneless skinless chicken breast meat. If you prefer a vegetarian version, substitute the chicken with tofu curds or even a firm white fish and including any shellfish. Today, I am using chicken. First, saute one whole onion and one green pepper in coconut oil and olive oil sprinkled with red pepper flakes, garlic powder, sea salt and dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano.

When brown, add your chunk cut chicken breast meat. Brown the meat on high, stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat to med. and add 1/3 cup of apricot nectar. Cover and simmer on med. heat until it starts to  bubble up nicely. Then stir in 1 tbs of organic peanut butter, continue to stir until it is melted into the hot sauce/chicken. As a finale, toss in as many peeled raw 'not roasted' and unsalted peanuts as you like.

As a side dish, prepare a mix of brown rice and buckwheat groats. Ladle the rice and groats onto a large low lipped serving dish and top with your chicken in peanut sauce. Put fresh lime on the table and if you like some chopped cilantro or other green parsley.


Brainy Health and Well Being ~ What's on Your Counter and In your Pantry?

Fresh is best and if you planted a garden this year, you know what I mean.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source of nutrients and vitamins for our bodies. Look around, we have everything our bodies need that is not 'man' made as in a substitute for what has already been abundantly supplied. Vitamins needed for all bodily functions can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables. As all as many important nutrients and including minerals.

Nitric Oxide is found to occur naturally through the consumption of certain fresh vegetables and other foods. Research into its function led to the 1998 Nobel Prize for discovering the role of nitric oxide as a cardiovascular signalling molecule. Nitric oxide (NO) contributes to vessel homeostasis by inhibiting vascular smooth muscle contraction and growth, platelet aggregation, and leukocyte adhesion to the endothelium.

Beets are rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Through a chain reaction, your body changes nitrates into nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow and blood pressure. Other foods that are good for cardiovascular health are: walnuts, dark chocolate, watermelon, pomegranate, brown rice, spinach and more.

Check out these sites.

As for brainy and frugal pantry choices: check out the side bar with the brainy gourmet pantry list. And, past posts about what every brainy chef needs to have on on.  You can also go to the brainy gourmet website and check archives.

*  Consult your doctor for detailed attributes and benefits of vitamin consumption in your daily regime; and consult your doctor first before considering or consuming nitric oxide food sources and or taking otc nitric oxide supplements.