Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving at the LC Home

This year the Lawyer and I decided to have an intimate Thanksgiving dinner at home.  No running around, no multiple trips anywhere, just good food and chill at home.

Many thanks to my talented wife for her fantastic tablescape and decorations.  She put a lot of time and thought into it and knocked it out of the park.

Many thanks to my Mother-in-Law, who is an accomplished baker.  She took care of the dessert portion of the meal by making two wonderful pies.

All in all, a great quiet evening at home, enjoying some good grub.

Roasted corn & bacon "creamed" with an acorn squash puree.

Yukon gold puree.  Turkey gravy with wild chanterelle mushroom & thyme.

"Special Stuffing" 

Black truffled turkey breast, barded with bacon.

Sweet Potato Pie

Pumpkin Pie

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Guest Post Spotlight: Beef and Veal Shepherd's Pie

Today I turn over the LC floor to a member of our 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group, the creative Angela from Spinach Tiger.  She's an artist who always has something interesting share, she cooks with heart and joy.

Her blog is well-written and photographed flawlessly.  Give Spinach Tiger a visit you will come away impressed and also make a new friend.

Here she shares with us one of my favorite dishes Shepherd's Pie.  I would have loved sharing this meal.


It's quite an honor to be asked to guest blog on Lazaro Cooks. I have admired the dishes he puts out for some time. I came to know Laz as one of the co-hosts of the Five Star  Foodie Makeover, a monthly event featuring food bloggers who give a gourmet twist to an assigned theme, that I have participated in every month but one. My blog was under construction the month the theme was cooking with wine, and I was so sorry to miss that challenge, because I had a recipe I was salivating over that I found in a  magazine. The picture was ripped out and sitting in my kitchen for months. I don't often cook from cookbooks because I love the creative process, but sometimes a photo grabs me and a dish is so inviting, I can't get it out of my mind. During the hot summer, I kept looking at the photo and waiting for a cold snap. When Laz asked me to guest blog for November, I knew I would make this dish because I think it deserves attention. And, the funny thing is that I didn't find it in a cooking magazine.

As a former faux artist, I have an incredible passion for design, decorating, and ambiance, and have subscribed to nearly every decorating magazine over the years. The one that stands out for me is Elle Decor for its classic yet contemporary viewpoint. The magazine captures the richness of solid design with a nod to the past, highlighting rooms that are modern while remaining classic and warm. And, it was in Elle Decor that I found a recipe that could be easily served in one of those beautiful rooms. It was the best take on comfort food I had ever seen. Chef Daniel Boulard transformed a country dish of shepherd's pie using beef bourguignon. It's dramatic, rustic, elegant, soulful, and non-stop delicious. 

As one who rearranges everybody's furniture, I changed the recipe a tad and made homemade veal stock instead of beef stock,  and used some veal roast in addition to the rib eye. I moved the cheese around, edited the parsnips and flour, but stayed true to the original intention.

This is fantasy worthy food. And, because the aroma will push comfort from room to room for several hours, it's  maddeningly good for the senses and the soul.

This stew takes all day to make, but that is the kind of thing that turns a house into a home. Please don't let the long recipe deter you. The flavors are complex, but it is not difficult. It still gives you plenty of time in between steps, to nestle with some books in between, or sit by a fire with a favorite movie. But, do set a splendid table and invite friends to share this because it's just too good to eat alone. If Laz lived in my neighborhood, we would have invited him over. 

Recipe for Beef and Veal Shepherd's Pie
(adapted from Daniel Boulard, Elle Decor Magazine)
  • 1 lb. boneless rib eye, cut into 1" cube
  • 1 pound veal cubes (optional, if you don't use veal, use 2 pounds of rib eye steak)
  • 2½ cups Burgundy red wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 medium onions, ½" dice
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, ½" dice
  • 3 stalks celery, ½" dice
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups veal stock (see recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mashed potatoes (see recipe below)
  • 1/2  cup grated manchego cheese (original recipe uses gruyere)
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 sprig rosemary
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 3 stems parsley
• 1 bay leaf
• 6 peppercorns, crushed
  1. Cut the veal off the bone and make the veal stock below. Cut the rib eye into small cubes, discarding the fat.
  2. Cover the cubed veal pieces and rib eye with the wine and marinate for 3 hours.
  3. Put sachet ingredients into a piece of cheesecloth. Prepare vegetables.
  4.  After three hours, remove meat from wine. Reserve wine and reduce in sauce pan with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Add olive oil to large pot or dutch oven. Sear meat on both sides. Remove and set aside, reserving enough fat in pot to saute the vegetables.
  6. Add onion, celery and carrots and saute for four minutes. Add in tomato paste. Cook for two minutes and add meat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook until four is dissolved. Add wine, veal stock and sachet.
  7. Cover and simmer very low for two hours. Season to taste.Put stew into baking pan.
  8. Top with mashed potatoes and manchego cheese.
  9.  Bake at 400 degrees, on top rack for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
Recipe for Veal Stock
  • veal bones
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut in large pieces
  • few sprigs of thyme
  • salt, pepper
  • six cups cold water
  1. Cut away the bone from a veal shoulder. Reserve meat for recipe above.  Place bones, carrots, onion and thyme on shallow roasting sheet. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until vegetables are caramelized.
  3. Place in large pot with 6 cups of  cold water. Add bay leaf, fresh sprig of thyme. Simmer for 2-4 hours or until reduced to 2 cups of broth. You might need to add in some cold water if broth is reducing too fast. Taste along the way. 
 Recipe for Mashed Potatoes
  • 2 pounds white potatoes, peeled (some love yukon golds for a creamier texture.
  • 2 teaspoons salt (for water)
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons whole milk
  • splash of cream (optional)
  • salt, white pepper to season
  • dash nutmeg (about three gratings)
  1. Peel potatoes, and cut into quarters and cut again. Rinse in cold water. Put just enough cold water in pan to cover potatoes by two inches.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to boil and then simmer until fork tender. Drain and put back into pot and add butter. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Scald milk. Smash potatoes with fork or old fashioned masher tool and add a few tablespoons of hot milk and three tablespoons of the butter. Mix with a wooden spoon.
  4. Take through the ricer and return to the pan. Turn the heat on low and add the rest of the milk a little at a time and use wooden spoon to stir.
  5. Add nutmeg. Stir again. Add in last tablespoons of butter. Taste and season again with salt and pepper if necessary.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Post Spotlight: Health Benefits from Organic Eating

Keeping the health theme going on LC, I am happy to introduce Jackie from Jackie's Arc.  Jackie does a fantastic job getting the word out on good nutrition and healthy living.

Please check out the well-written, researched and informative Jackie's Arc.


Health Benefits from Organic Eating
By: Jackie Clark

We all remember being advised to eat our fruits and vegetables, but throughout the past years some of the very things that were to provide us nourishment have become a part of the problem rather than the solution. How then do we go about not merely eating healthily, but finding healthy food? A trip to the local farmer’s market or the organic section of the grocery store is a start. Eating organic food can greatly improve the health and quality of life of anyone, and in some cases provide a little healing for those who suffer from chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases or cancers like mesothelioma.

The healing power of food has long been established, from providing basic metabolic fuel, to the anti-inflammatory properties found in many fruits and vegetables. Eating well can contribute to your general well being. Eating organically specifically can help to nurture and nourish your body while perhaps even treating what ails you.

It is important to eat organically grown food not simply for its nutritive and healing properties, but because the fruits and vegetables are grown without herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers, which can certainly be a detriment to your body. In addition, organic meat and dairy are not treated with hormones that can be harmful to you. It is also now common to find foods that have been genetically modified--genetic manipulation involves splicing the gene of one plant or animal with another. It has been suggested that these genetically modified foods are capable of causing changes to your body or general health in the form of an allergic reaction or perhaps even hormonal fluctuations.

Eating organically is healthier, non-toxic and sustainable, for both people and the environment in which they live. The Centers for Disease Control even provides a link to help you find organic resources.

Now that you have a better idea of why eating organically is the smarter option, it is time to enjoy a meal like the following dish: Spinach Salad with Chicken and Avocado... Enjoy your meal, and enjoy your health. 

You will need: A few cups of raw spinach, five miniature limes, one avocado, one tomato, one chicken breast, onion, salt, pepper and feta cheese.

Mash and mix the avocado with spinach leaves. Add the tomato. Slice the limes and squeeze the juice on to the spinach leaves and avocado. Saute the chicken breast and onion and add it to the salad upon completion. Add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with feta cheese and enjoy a very simple, very tasty, completely organic meal that is perfect for lunch or dinner.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guest Post Spotlight: Shrimp Scampi

This week I am happy to turn the LC floor over to a talented friend.  Jessie from The Happiness in Health.  Jessie is a registered dietitian working on a Masters Degree, she's smart, lovely, and a good cook.  Doesn't seem quite fair, does it?  Also, she's the only person under 100 to use the phrase "By, golly."

For seriously good nutritional education and healthy recipes check out Jessie @ The Happiness in Health.  Her writing style is witty and fun, you will not be bored.


Thanks for having me as a guest poster on your admirable blog, Laz! It truly is an honor to be here!

For those of you who don’t know, I became a registered dietitian last July and I couldn't be more excited to be a part of the nutrition profession. Upon introducing myself to others as a registered dietitian, people will typically ask me some version of the same question. What do you think that question is? Is it:

(a) "By golly, Jessie, how do you stand eating rabbit food all day long?"
(b) "What's a registered dietitian? (Or, even better: "What's a registered dianitian?" )
(c) "Will you avert your gaze from the fried chicken I am cradling in my hand?"
(d) "How should I eat?"

Okay, I need to confess: I've been asked versions of ALL these questions; however, what’s the question I've been asked the most? If you answered (d), a high-five and hearty pat on the back for you!

So, what's my answer? A short version: eat real food. By real food, I mean unprocessed, perishable foods composing a diet that consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and a small amount of healthy fats. Notice I said "perishable" - some packaged foods will have the word "fresh" emblazoned on the front, but you aren't fooled, right? And, notice I said "mostly" - I subscribe to the "always, sometimes" diet.

..."Ah, ha!" you say, "This girl, RD is passing off Michael Pollan's words as her own!" True, Michael Pollan's "Eat Food" mantra brought the current fixation with packaged and processed foods over fresh and unprocessed foods to public prominence. Yet, people have been thinking about - and, even better, unconciously choosing - real foods for time immemorial. We have reached an age where people must turn to experts for guidance on how to eat. Strange, yes? I will do my part, of course, but I mourn the loss of unconsciously healthy food choices.

Luckily, we dietitians have people like Lazaro helping to spread the word! Think of Lazaro as my RD sidekick, if you will (you can give him a mohawk if you wish). His commitment to using fresh, sustainable ingredients in creative ways is part of a trend that I am thrilled to see across the blog world and into the real world. With a little work, I believe we can return to making healthier food choices without a second thought. The choice is OURS.

What can a hungry health- and eco-concious cook do right now? Why, make dishes like "I Choose YOU! Shrimp Scampi", of course!

Unfortunately, most shrimp consumed in the U.S. are imported from other countries where regulations concerning production are poorly controlled. I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat contaminated shrimp if I can help it. I choose U.S.-caught shrimp whenever possible - yes, domestic shrimp often is more expensive than imported shrimp, but I have made a conscious choice to enjoy foods that are better for my health and for the environment. For a good guide on ocean-friendly seafood, check out this link.

Shrimp Scampi
Serves 2

8 oz. shrimp, domestic if possible
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter (omit if desired)
Red pepper flakes
Fresh parsley
Whole wheat pasta or brown rice, cooked

Cook pasta or rice and arrange on warm plates. Defrost shrimp if necessary and make sure shrimp are very dry. Place flour on large plate and mix in smoked paprika if desired (I add the paprika when I want to give the shrimp a little kick). Lightly dredge shrimp in flour and place on another plate.

Place a frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add oil and butter and allow butter to melt. Add shrimp immediately and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once halfway through. Don't overcook! Remove shrimp to the plates with pasta or rice and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary and place over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for no more than 30 seconds. Drizzle garlic/oil mixture over shrimp and pasta/rice, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and torn fresh parsley. Squeeze lemon over all if desired.

Serve immediately and enjoy! I often eat this dish with grilled summer squash or sautéed Swiss chard.

Thanks again for having me as your guest, Lazaro! To all you dear readers: keep it real! Peace.

Please stop by and check out Jessie @ The Happiness in Health.