Fresh, fast and frugal!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Lunch in Switzerland... How about Baked Brie!

Incredibly impressive and yet so brainy frugal...

All you need is one cylinder of refrigerated croissant dough and two Brie rounds. This will feed 2-4 people; four if you serve them in halves. Otherwise, plan on one whole Brie per person; and thus, if serving 4 you will need two dough cylinders and 4 Brie rounds.

Heat the oven to 425. Open the cylinder and containers of Brie. Wrap each Brie round with dough slices and place on a pizza pan with foil. 

 Bake for 25 min or until Brie rounds are brown and crusty.

Serve with toast and jam!

~ Tutti a Tavola

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Green Sides and I don't mean Salad...

A green side can be: green beans, asparagus, zucchini, green peppers, spinach and even broccoli or kale. Green vegetables are nature’s multivitamin and are packed with antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamins A, C & K, calcium, potassium and iron, to name a few.

 *Check out these dishes on the Brainy Gourmet Blog - Just type 'green' in the search box!'
 * Source ~

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Simple Home Cooking... Brings em to the Table!

You don't need a fancy kitchen for simple home cooking; i.e. chicken and dumplings. You just need a skillet and hot stove!

Start with thawed out or fresh bought 'skin on, bone in' chicken thighs. On high heat, sear the skin side down in olive oil and fresh dried herbs along with a splash of garlic powder, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Turn the thighs over and let the underside brown a bit too. Then cover for 4 min on med heat. Next, add 1/2 cup of chicken stock, cover again and let simmer for 24-30 min on low heat.

As for preparing the dumpling mixture: 2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of cold milk, 1/4 cup of cold buttermilk, add one egg and beat. If you think it is either too creamy or too stiff, then add either more flour or add a tbs or two vinegar diluted with cold water.

It should look like this -sticking to the whisk as you pull up...

To this add a sprinkle of dried herbs. Remove the chicken from the skillet, leaving all liquid. Turn up the heat until the juices becomes a rolling boil and then drop in your dumpling mixture (a serving spoonful at a time). As they puff and cook, they will absorb the liquid which is good but if they start to stick to the skillet, add a dollop of butter and drop or two of cold water. When they have fluffed up nicely, put the chicken thighs back, cover with the heat off until you are ready to serve!

Prepare the table!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Sharing Food and Offering Food... Its Brainy Positive!

Did you know that food preferences are not shaped in isolation? In saying that, all preferences are not shaped in isolation and that includes who we prefer to 'hang out' with, live with, love and eat with.

Sure, we can wage war against intolerance but whatever we or others say we tolerate is still shaped by preferences which are acquired within a social group including newly formed ones that appear  to offer a social advantage (laws of governing 'social' dynamics).

I always told my university students, to consider and look forward to the day they will eat broccoli or kale (as an example having no prejudice against either) as it will be the day they are either invited to dinner at the boss's house or future in-laws. Yes, it works like this. Sure, you can refuse but you will risk not getting what you really want.

You see, in the larger social reality, we will find ourselves doing things, eating foods that we may not like or ever thought to try. Why? Because, even though we have our preferences, we soon discover that society at large is not restrained to our personal preferences unless it sees an advantage in them and one example is 'pizza' or McDonald's. In those two cases, society at large sees vast benefits in serving up both to the masses.

However and with that in mind, we should remember that to work for food that perishes (Jn 6:27, NASB) to put everything we have into food that goes in and comes out is futile. Truly, it is the sharing of the food, offering of it that counts and coming together to do so whether around your family table or wherever you are.

Food preferences are not shaped in isolation; eating is an inherently social behavior. A meal shared with others is held in higher esteem and regarded as more of a proper meal than food consumed by oneself (Sobal et al., 2002). Infants are fully dependent upon caregivers for food provision and become conditioned to associate having their needs met with the presence of others (Hofer, 2006).

*Source ~

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Brainy West African Delight...

A West African delight ~ exotic food served at home never tasted so good...

Being a Brainy Gourmet means thinking on your feet ~ fast and frugal. As I have said many times before on this blog, you as a home chef should know what you like and don't like; sweet/savory, herbs and spices. You should know which of the five senses works best for you when you cook . For me its smell. Seriously, when I cook, I take a deep breath and I know what I have to add.

For this dish, you can use either chicken or pork (white meat) in stew size chunks. To begin, start a sauce pan with 2 cups of water to boil 1 cup of wild rice. Then saute one onion in olive oil. When browned on the edges, add 3 tbs of butter. Next add the pork and let sizzle slowly until the meat turns from pink to white. Pour in 2/3 cup of peanut butter (the oily self stir brand).

Then, add dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano along with 2-3 tbs of red pesto, 3-4 tbs of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of heavy cream.  As it thickens, you may add water but slowly for the preferred consistency. You can also prepare a side of green beans, adding color.

When the rice is tender, drain and ladle onto a serving plate. Pour over the pork and sauce, lay on the green beans and serve.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Mark's Spicy Pork...

Its great to grill out weather permitting...  but, when there is a will, there is a way to bring back the sun.

For this dish you will need: 2 lbs of pork loin. Marinate in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, sea salt, paprika, basil, rosemary, oregano with red pepper flakes, coriander and brown sugar crumbled over the top. Let sit for about 20 min. Heat the oven to 350. Once the temperature is reached, pop them in the oven. After about 30 min. reduce the heat to 250 and let slow roast for another 25 min.

In the meantime, prepare a side of double baked, mashed potatoes with a couple pats of butter, sour cream, a shake of oregano and parmesan topped with shredded Gouda. Par boil as many potatoes as you will need. Once tender, mash along with all mentioned ingredients. Then bake on 375 for about 20 min. Remove and stir, smooth out the top, pressing down and back into the oven until crispy on top. For an additional side, green beans fresh from the garden if possible.

~ Enjoy ...

 *Guest blogger ~ Mark

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Go all out... Italian Style!

*Chicken Sicilian, Mediterranean Chicken, Chicken Picata, Ravioli, Veal Parmesan, Eggplant Parmesan, Minestrone, and Roasted Italian Chicken...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

International Flavor is the Brainy Gourmet...

Go to the Brainy Gourmet Blog and type in the search box any of these dishes to find your international favorite...

Butter Chicken, Murgh Makhani...

Irish Stew with Bread and gravy...

Spicy African Red Chicken...

Beef Stroganoff or Chicken Cacciatore...

Dovi Chicken...
or a Tangier Stew...
and Asian pork...

~ Tutti a Tavola

* You can also type in key words used in Brainy Dish Titles and be surprised or find exactly what you are looking for!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Rustic Pork Medallions in Creamy Mustard Sauce...

For this dish, you will need: fresh free ranged pork loin, Dijon mustard, heavy cream, one onion, along with sun dried tomatoes and plums. As for a side, potatoes and or roasted root veggies such as: carrots and parsnips.

Begin by chopping one whole onion and sauteing (in a med. size skillet) in olive oil with dried herbs. Cut a one pound pork loin into medallion like chunks. Once the onion is browned, push aside and add the medallions, adding a drizzle more olive oil.... brown on both sides.

Next, to the same skillet, add 7-8 sun dried tomatoes and the same amount of sun dried plums, stir this in with the onion and medallions. Lower the heat to med/low and pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 2 tbs of Dijon mustard. At this point, I like to add a dash of garlic powder and a pinch of salt.

Cover and let simmer on low while you prepare the side of rustic roasted potatoes or root vegetables.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Grandma's Spaghetti and Meatballs....

Whether you make spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti bolognse, its always going to be 'Brainy'. Its one of the simplest dishes you can make and one that is forever grandma used to make.

To begin this favorite, you will need: ground veal or turkey or pork along with onion (one large), heavy cream, bread crumbs, dried herbs, tomatoes (fresh or canned) and spaghetti pasta.

Mix about 1 pound of ground meat with bread crumbs, heavy cream, dried herbs and a pinch of salt and garlic powder. Start adding each ingredient little by little making sure that the meatballs are not too bready or to creamy. Set aside after forming the meatballs. Next, chop the onion and brown in olive oil. Push aside and in the same skillet, brown the meatballs.

Bring the onion back in around the meatballs and pour in one can of Red Gold crushed 'red' tomatoes unless you have fresh (washed, peeled and chopped).  Boil the pasta in salted water until tender, drain and rinse. Ladle onto a low lipped serving plate and top with meatballs and sauce.

... pour on the Parmesan cheese!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Risotto like Grandma's...

Risotto is a delicious side dish to chicken, pork or fish. All you have to do is boil rice (1 cup) in 2 cups of chicken stock, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt to get it cooking on medium heat.

Once the rice is tender having absorbed most of the stock, drop in a pat of butter and pour in one small can of diced tomatoes or dice up fresh if you prefer. Lastly, add to that Parmesan cheese. Let this set on the stove covered for 6-8 min on low/warm.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Italian Veal Marsala... Exquisite

Veal is young beef and is relatively inexpensive. But, finding it can be a problem. So, even if you don't have veal, you can make a brainy 'veal' Marsala using lean pork.... boneless pork loin.

To begin, make sure you cut the pork loin thin and pound flat with a meat hammer. After you have pounded the meat, marinate the 'veal' or pork for at least 30-40 minutes in a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of sweet Marsala wine (or sweet non alcoholic cider with a touch of nutty flavored balsamic vinegar), garlic infused olive oil and a few dashes of sea salt.

This dish works best with some lovely brown Bavarian mushrooms and linguine pasta - infused with mushrooms. While the meat marinates in the Marsala, wash and slice whatever mushrooms you can find (preferably Bavarian) 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 veal/pork. 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 sauce, top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and dried or fresh green parsley...

~ Tutti a Tavola

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Importance of the Family Table... Report!

Abstract: Research demonstrates many benefits of the family meal, especially in protecting adolescents from negative, high-risk behaviors. Unfortunately, families today are less likely to enjoy meal times together than in the past. Given the protective factors that are conveyed to children and adolescents, pediatricians should encourage parents to make every effort to regularly gather around the “Family Table” for meals.
As you read the report the problems faced by families has a lot to do with today's fast paced lifestyle and technology that consumes social interaction.

Benefits of the Family Table
Family meals are powerful for many reasons. First, meal times impact all of our senses – the sight, touch, taste, and smell of food, as well as listening to family conversation. Family meals offer the opportunity to spend time together, reconnect after a busy day, communicate with and listen to each other, share values and ideas, and problem solve. 

Family meals also contribute to traditions that tie families together. A special food for a birthday celebration, a favorite place to eat for special occasions, a cultural or ethnic food unique to the family’s heritage – these become traditions that provide meaning and context to children as they grow.

Family meals provide structure for the day, allowing children to feel more secure and safe, knowing what to expect. They also permit parental monitoring of children’s moods, behavior, and activities, providing parents with insight into the emotional well-being of their children. When extended to neighbors and friends, family meals allow children to learn and appreciate social interactions, understand the importance of community, and experience different ideas while under the guidance of their parents.

The family table is one of the very few places that children can observe their parents interact, negotiate, solve problems, express emotions and treat one another with respect. A child’s world is mostly spent with peers and teachers; the family table gives them a chance to see how adults interact and cooperate.

*Online Source ~

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Why the Brainy Gourmet is all about taking stock...

When looking online/youtube, you can and will find a variety of foodie blogs and some of them are original having 'real' home cooks at the helm while most others are corporate PR put out to drive other market agendas.

Why or how is the Brainy Gourmet different?  Its a food ministry that values frugality and flavor.  You see, the Brainy Gourmet shares tips and real lifetime cooking experiences that introduce and encourage frugality and flavor both of which can had from basic food items thereby stretching your food budget dollar without taking anything away from enjoying a satisfying meal at home.

Frugality is about taking stock in what your taste buds prefer and what you should and can have on hand in the pantry. Its about making a soup stock and turning it into five different soups by the end of the week or using it as a base for sauces or stews. Frugality is about keeping a simple pantry stocked with items that can make any dinner into a gourmet meal.

For instance, at the beginning of the week, buy a piece of meat or a whole chicken.  Take out a stock pot, fill with water and put in your meat. If you are a vegetarian, then use the veggies of your choice.

When the meat/chicken is fully cooked, lift out the meat and you will have stock. The meat can be reserved for other dishes during the week or used the same day for dinner.

In this way, stock can become any soup any day of the week. Stock adds needed flavor and liquid to just about anything else you cook including stir fry. It can also be used to make a sauce or gravy. Now, that's frugality!

Check out the webpage and click on archives - Get Brainy, Be Frugal!