Fresh, fast and frugal!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thai Style Coconut Chicken ~ The Brainy Way!

Even if you have never been to Thailand, you can relish the experience with Thai cooking; either at home or out. For this simple Thai dish, you will need to buy boneless chicken thighs, one small can of coconut milk, fresh ginger and garlic, sesame and coconut oil, fresh grated coconut or packaged and soy sauce along with either homemade or store bought Thai chili ginger garlic sauce. As for a side, julienne zucchini, green pepper, onion and sweet potato which you will stir fry in sesame oil with red pepper flakes and garlic powder.

To begin, take a large covered skillet and on high heat melt in 4 tbs of coconut oil and 1 tsp of sesame oil. Once, the oils spit at you, lay in your thighs. As they start to fry whisk in a dash of 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1 tbs of fresh grated ginger, garlic and crushed dried mint.

As the first side of the thighs sizzle and brown, you can also generously coat the top side with fresh grated coconut or even dry packaged. Turn down the heat to med. and cover for 5 min. after that time, turn over the thighs to cook the coconut topped side. Next, turn up the heat for 2 min, give the skillet a good shake and then cover again, turning the heat back to med.  After 5-6 min. add 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Cover and simmer on low for 15 min. While you prepare your side.

This side is a basic stir fry of veggies: zucchini, green pepper and onion along with a few shavings of sweet potato for color. So...take out another skillet, melt in 3 tbs of sesame oil and 1 tbs of coconut oil. Toss the veggies in when the oils are hot! Sprinkle in some red pepper flakes, garlic powder and stir can also add 2 eggs for a heavier and or heartier stir fry; especially if you are not serving rice.


Put out either soy sauce or chili sauce and dream of Phuket

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pasture Raised Lamb Patties with 'leftover' Pasta and Zucchini

Lamb is eaten in many countries... Italy as well. It is a very flavorful meat and easy to cook.

To begin, place as many lamb patties as you expect to serve in a sizzling hot skillet of 3 tbs of olive oil and 3 tbs of coconut oil. Sprinkle dried herbs over the top of the patties: rosemary, mint and oregano along with some garlic powder, red pepper flakes and a dash of sea salt. Once browned on both sides, turn down the heat to med/low and cover cooking the lamb for about 20 min while you prepare your sides. Be mindful to occasionally turn over the patties and press down to let the juices flow out.

Take this time to either heat up (if using leftover pasta), or start a pot of water to boil; when rolling, toss in the pasta. As for the zucchini, wash and either cut into medallion slices or julienne. Saute the zucchini in 2 dollops of fresh salted butter and 2 tbs of olive oil along with dash of garlic powder and a pinch of salt.

Check the pasta for tenderness, drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving plate, then drop a dollop of butter on the pasta and a shake of Parmesan cheese. Take your lamb and lay them onto another serving plate. Pour out some of the savory juices over the top and garnish.

*with leftover chicken picata

~Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Traverse City Cherry Topped Chops!


Tis the season for cherries...

Pick yourself up a nice package of boneless butterfly pork chops and a half of a pound of dark ripe sweet cherries.  As for a side all you will need are a few yellow small young gold potatoes.

Let's get started. In your covered skillet, melt in 3 tbs of coconut oil and the same of olive oil. I also add a pat of butter. On high to medium heat, melt your oils watch for them to spit; quickly, add your seasonings: red pepper flakes, sea salt, black pepper, some ground coriander plus garlic powder and fresh dried herbs such as rosemary, mint and oregano. Be generous with the mint. Next, lay in your chops and let them sizzle on both sides.

In the meantime, wash as many sweet cherries as you want to use and remove the stems and stones. Then, remove the chops or push them to the other side of the skillet. In that same skillet with all the flavorful pork juices, add your cherries and turn up the heat to get them to caramelize in 2 tbs of honey or agave and 4 tbs of a good Moscato (sweet white wine or a vermouth). After 6 min. reduce the heat to low bring the chops back in and uncovered for 3-4 min.. When you serve, top your chops with this luscious fruity condiment.

As for a complimentary side, potatoes if you like and then ...get ready for a delicious meal!

and maybe dunk a few for desert

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Veal Medallions with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Olives... and a Special Risotto!

Good Italian countryside cooking is fast and frugal. A veal loin can be thickly sliced into nice small medallions. You can saute them in olive oil with dried herbs and sun dried tomatoes. It takes only about 25 minutes on med to high heat. Add a 1/4 cup of heavy cream and this delicious meat dish can top any rice, groat or pasta side. Add the olives on the end, not cooked... just straight out of the jar or deli container.

 ~Tutti a Tavola!

* for risotto recipe ~see brainy archives

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In the Garden Chicken Picata ~ The Brainy Way!

Chicken Picata at home in the garden, no way .... yes way!

All you need to buy is fresh skinless chicken breasts, capers, lemons and angel hair pasta. If you don't have in your pantry/frig then pick up some heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Before cooking, you will need to marinate your chicken (cut into large thick strips) in fresh squeezed lemon juice for twenty or thirty minutes, ten min. the minimum.

When you are ready to cook, pour 3 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs of coconut oil into a covered skillet, and one pat of salted butter along with fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Turn on the heat to med. and once the sizzling of oils begins lay in your chicken. Brown on all sides and then reduce heat to low, cover and let cook thoroughly for 10-12 min.

In this time, take out a large stockpot to cook your angel hair pasta. Add a pinch of salt and when it boils, toss in your pasta. Return to your chicken, pour in 3/4  cup of heavy cream (depending on the amount of chicken), a bit of shaved parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of capers. Slice in some fresh (washed) lemon.

Angel hair pasta cooks fast, so keep an eye on it. Once the pasta is tender, drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving dish; next, pour out your chicken and creamy lemon/capers sauce. You can add some additional fresh lemon with a squeeze and garnish... a bit of green parsley too. Parmesan on the table of course!

Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Form the Hill Country With Love ~ Ravioli with Asparagus!

Ravioli have been called the 'pillows' of Italian love. The hill country of Italy illustrates that nicely.

For this dish, you will need to buy or make cheese or spinach filled ravioli. The Brainy Gourmet is about being fast and frugal so there is no problem stopping off at the local deli to grab a few ravioli on the way home in the fresh or frozen section of the local grocer.

What to do? Boil some salted water to cook the ravioli in. Take a skillet, pour in some olive oil and add seasonings: red pepper flakes, garlic powder, rosemary, mint and oregano or basil. On med heat, stir fry a good handful of medium length fresh washed young asparagus.

Next, if it is rolling, add the ravioli. Back to the asparagus, once they start to blacken, remove from heat and in the same skillet pour in one small can of either roasted or plain diced tomatoes. Let them sizzle away on moderately high heat for 5-6 min. At this time, the ravioli should be tender and ready to be drained.

Ladle the ravioli onto a low lipped serving plate, top with tomato sauce and lay the asparagus along the side.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chicken Tikka Masala ~ The Brainy Gourmet Way!

I like cooking Italian and from time to time, I like to explore other foods. 

The origin of the dish is unclear. One explanation claims that it originated in an Indian restaurant  in Great Britain likely coming from the British Bangladeshi community which supposedly ran a lot of the Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom some time agoIt did not take long for its transformation into western cooking...being fast, frugal and full of flavor!

Chicken Tikka Masala is chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, that is then cooked in a tandoor oven, and served in a Masala ‘spicy’ sauce. Will you need to buy a tandoor oven? No. All you have to be is brainy which means improvise. However, for this dish, there are ingredients that you will need to buy: either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs and rice if you don't have on hand. Also, small potatoes, skinned, diced and pre-cooked which are an important part of the original recipe. You can of course use leftover potatoes, diced and added to the pot. The zesty sauce usually includes tomatoes and or tomato paste, plus heavy cream or yogurt and various spices. The sauce or chicken pieces (or both) are colored orange by using turmeric powder and paprika powder.

Take a deep covered skillet and saute on med. heat your chicken (cubed or small pieces) in 4 tbs of olive oil and 2 tbs of salted fresh cream butter. Once browned, add one small can of tomato paste (or chopped tomatoes) and 1 tbs of organic honey or agave nectar. Turn up the heat to med high and stir until all chicken is coated with the sweetened tomato paste. Then, add either 1/2 cup of heavy cream or yogurt. Stirring until you have a creamy sauce covering your chicken. Now add your spices: 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of coriander and paprika plus dried herbs: mint and parsley. Of course, if you like turmeric, add more to taste. You should add your pre-cooked (left over) potato bits to the chicken and sauce; simmer on low heat for at least 18-20 min. 


Prepare rice and serve!

~ Tutti a Tavola! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Taste of the Italian Countryside

Breast of Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta

Naturally, Italians of any region in Italy take pride in their cooking and especially the source of their ingredients. Chicken for instance is preferred free ranged. It is a favorite meat among Italian chefs whether at home kitchen or restaurant.

For this dish, 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/lavender, and 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, drizzle a little olive oil if needed. Put your chicken back in and add 1/3 cup of heavy cream, assuredly would be best from the cow.

Heat some water to boil your angel hair pasta which takes just minutes to cook. When tender, drain and give them a quick rinse in barely warm water. Take a spaghetti ladle and put the pasta directly onto a large lipped serving dish that has been smeared with fresh creamy butter. 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! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Chicken Cacciatore ~ Brainy Gourmet Style

Mmm, upscale hunting lodge...

Cooking 'cacciatore' means cooking 'hunter style'. In Italian cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a dish that has been prepared "hunter-style" and that means with onions, tomatoes, red peppers, green olives,and herbs not to mention if you dried fruits like plums or apricots.

For this dish, you will need to buy six (or enough for each dinner guest) chicken thighs with the bone in and skin on. Its the rich flavor of the chicken as it cooks with the bone in and skin on which is necessary for this dish to be truly authentic 'hunter style'. Begin by searing the chicken thighs skin side down in 3 tbs of olive oil and the same amount of coconut oil on high heat. Turn over the thighs and brown the under side. Turn down the heat to med. and push the thighs to one side. Following the above ingredients, in the same skillet saute one large chopped onion and one red pepper, adding a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Cover and simmer on low heat until the onion and pepper are tender.

Next, you will want to add your dried herbs: basil, mint and oregano and even a sprig or two of chopped rosemary and chopped chive fresh from the garden. Add to that, two whole large tomatoes diced and 1/2 a cup of diced green olives and lastly, 1/2 cup of whole dried plums. Let this simmer for about 30 min, while you prepare you side of wide egg noodle pasta.

Once the pasta is tender, drain, rinse and then ladle onto a low lipped serving plater. Top with the chicken cacciatore. Its a meal you dream about over and over...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

a splash of parmesan anyone

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Veal with Roasted Red Peppers on a Bed of Linguine

Italian cooking...for the fast and frugal!

Someone said to me recently, "Italians are about fast cars and good food." I said, "and that's why they invented spaghetti bolognese and the Lamborghini".

For this dish you will need to buy: one lean veal loin. One jar of roasted red peppers or do them yourself on the stove top and of course, linguine pasta.

Begin by sauteing in olive oil on med. heat the veal, cut into medallion size chunks. Add these seasonings: rosemary or lavender (ready to use from the garden) and or mint, with some oregano including a dash of garlic powder.

Once the medallions are browned, add your roasted red peppers, including some of the liquid from the jar. To build up a thicker sauce, just mix 1 tbs of flour to 4 tbs of cooking sherry and 1/2 cup of beef stock to make a thickening slurry.  As the meat and sauce bubbles and perks, pour in the slurry; you may want to thin down the sauce adding more beef stock but only a little at a time to retain the consistency of the sauce. Cover and let simmer on low while you boil water for the linguine.

As the pasta become tender, drain, rinse and ladle onto a low lipped serving plate. Top with the veal and peppers in sauce.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sun Dried Tomatoes Bring Extraordinary Flavor to any Meal!

For this dish, you will need to buy chicken thighs with bone in and skin on... there is more flavor. Also, if you don't have on hand, then you will need to buy sun dried tomatoes, kalamata (pitted) olives and green olives along with spinach infused wide noodle pasta.

Begin by sauteing on medium heat your chicken things in 4 tbs. of olive oil along with 1 tbs of coconut oil. Add to the hot oils spitting in your covered frying pan as the thighs sear, dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano along with red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Brown the chicken thighs on all sides, then add one small jar of sun dried tomatoes (fairly drained) and generous amounts of both the dark and green olives.

Cover and cook for 15 min. on med heat, stirring and turning the chicken as it cooks. To finish up, add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and turn up the heat to high, bubbling liquid should consume the chicken. Turn down the heat to low and let the mixture cook covered for another 15 min.

In the meantime, heat water to a boiling to cook your pasta. Once tender, fully drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving dish. Check your chicken, it should be caramelizing into a rich sauce. Turn out the thighs and sauce on top of the pasta and serve.

Tutti a Tavola!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fast and Frugal ~ From Italy with Love!

A friend of mine was visiting a friend who was living in a coastal town near Rome and she brought home this dish. I can't say for sure if its traditional but its certainly Brainy Delicious.

You will need to buy: Fettuccine pasta, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, sour cream, onion and a albacore tuna in oil.  This dish can be served by itself or as a side to meat or fish. Begin by preparing a large pot of salted water to boil your pasta in. Saute one whole onion in 4 tbs of olive oil. Once browned on the edges, add one small can of tuna in oil (do not drain), 3 tbs of sour cream, 1/4 cup of heavy cream. You can also add fresh dried herbs: rosemary, parsley and oregano as well as organic garlic powder and red pepper flakes, as always to taste. Let this mixture simmer on low heat while the pasta cooks until tender. Then drain your pasta and top with this brainy delicious sauce and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese!

*The side was butter poached salmon with dried lavender.