Sunday, September 12, 2010
I have mentioned a few times that I have been thinking about a blog series regarding relearning to cook. For the past few weeks I have been thinking about how I want to do it because I didn''t to start something I couldn't finish or did half way etc. Last week I decided to get going on it and then I realized it was a holiday weekend and probably not the best time to start something new. So here it is, the very first relearning to cook blog.
You see, food is my life, literally. I am engaged to a chef, I write menu's for the catering company I work for as I run the corporate catering division, I plan parties and events and I love to cook at home. I am one of those weird people who love grocery shopping because I love to see what is new and available. It is actually relaxing. Don't even get me onto farmer's markets, it is my own idea of paradise, and I am a religious watcher of the food network.
When I started SP I got angry. I felt like I would have to give up my love of food and restaurants. Then one day I was standing at my stove grumbling to myself about being healthy and I thought, why am I not making this another food adventure? I put so much time and effort in food in general, why not just put that same energy into healthier foods? It isn't like this is something all of you don't think about as well. So here are my rules...
At first I was only going to alter recipes and make a comparison but honestly that is way too time consuming to do all the time so I will do that but I am also going to make existing recipes that claim to be healthy and see how they turn out.
I will rate them on a 1 to 5 scale for...
Visual appeal-who wants to eat something that looks like cat food?
Time to make-I also don't see myself spending 5 hours to cook something on a week day
Difficulty-both in skill level and in aquiring the ingredients
Portion Size- nothing is more annoying than realizing the portion was not filling at all
I will also post the recipe and photos.
I am always looking for good recipes so pass some along to me if you would like that you might feel deserve to be lightened or that you just think are pretty awesome.
Also please feel free to let me know any parameters you think deserve rating as well that are within reason.
Please remember cooking is not an exact science so feel free alter things anyway you think will work better for you. I chose Eggplant Parmesan because it sounds like it can't be healthy with cheese being in the title, it will provide me with several freezeable portions for work and nights I don't wish to cook, it is vegetarian and even though I am not I am eating at least 1 meal a week that way now (need to work on saving the planet and my health), and it got a killer rating on cooking light. So here we go.
Recipe: Yiels 10 servings, serving size is 1/10 of the pan
2 large eggs, light beaten
1 Tbsp Water
2 cups whole wheat panko (I could not find these at a normal grocery store so I just used regular)
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 (1 lb) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into half inch-thick slices (I didn't bother to peel it as that is where most of the nutrition in eggplant exists and I like the taste of the peel)
Several people have mentioned not liking or never having tried Eggplant. You could certainly use zucchini or portabello mushrooms for a veggie substitute, or chicken breasts pounded out for a meat option. Just remember this will change your cooking times. I hate eggplant normally but for some reason I like eggplant parm.
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (if you family doesn't like spicy food leave this out, I did not think it added significant spice but if you aren't spicy people it isn't necessary)
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 (15oz) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 oz thawed and drained frozen spinach (this was not in the originial recipe but I just love spinach and I wanted to boost the nutritional value of this recipe)
1 (24 oz) jar pasta sauce, I try not to use jarred things as much as possible to avoid sodium and sugar so I made the sauce myself. It was also a cooking light recipe and was DELICIOUS so if you want the recipe let me know and I will post it. If you don't have the time for sauce making Muir Glen makes great healthy sauces
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup finely grated fontina
(I bought a pregrated reduced fat italian cheese blend that worked great to save time and money on the last 2 cheeses, much easier and cheaper in my opinion. It was a 2 cup package and I just used half)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees bake.
2. To make eggplant combine 2 eggs and 1 Tbsp water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup parm cheese in a second shallow bowl.
These eggplants where huge, I really only needed 1!
This is how thick I sliced it.
Dip eggplant in egg mix; dredge in panko mixture, press gently to make it stick. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated in cooking spray.
Bake at 375 degree for 30 minutes or until golden brown, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.
Here is what it looks like all toasty brown.
3. To make filling combine basil through spinach in a medium sized bowl.
This is what it should look like
4. Assemble, spray 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and spoon 1/2 cup of sauce into bottom. Layer half of the eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Spinkle eggplant with salt. Top with about 3/4 cup of sauce; spread with half the ricotta mixture (I just used my hands to kind of smear it around, worked fine lol) and top with half of mozzarella cheese and fontina, repeat.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes to brown the cheese.
Calories 310; fat 15.1; cholesterol 99 mg; calcium 365 mg; carbs 26.8g; sodium 655 mg; protein 19.3 g; fiber 4.8 g; iron 1.6 mg
Because I made the sauce this sodium value would be lower, the addition of the spinach would also increase the iron and fiber content but not significantly alter the calories.
Taste- 5, this was delicious, hardy and comforting. Even my fiance who never likes Italian food raved about it/
Visual appeal- 4, Looked yummy, like the traditional.
Time to make-3, It was very time consuming. The recipe overall with prep etc took over an hour so I would say this is not for a busy week night.
Difficulty-2 skill, 2 for difficulty in finding ingredients. While I wouldn't say this is basic cooking, I don't think it was at all difficult and a breeze for a good cook. The only thing I couldn't find at a local chain grocery store was the whole wheat panko. If I see some I might pick them up somewhere but just too much of a pain to track down.
Texture-5 just like the traditional.
Portion Size- When I read the recipe I thought the portion sounded kind of small but I was surprised by how filling it was. When I finished my piece I really didn't feel any hunger. Add a nice salad and this is more than a generous meal.
I plan to freeze the rest and take some for lunch.
Overall, for my first blog, I would say this is a keeper recipe!