Psychology of Food

Whet your appetite. Explore your thinking. Inspire your cooking.

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Sunday Meatballs

A couple of Sundays ago the temperature hovered in the upper 80’s with 90 percent humidity and a lousy pollen count! Instead of thinking of a cool salad and an even cooler glass of iced tea, I had visions of succulent meatballs and luscious sauce dancing around in my head, kind of like those sugar plums at Christmas time! The source of my obsession was a food blog called French Revolution, describing “tender turkey meatballs.”  

What attracted me was an ingredient that I would never have associated with meatballs, herbs de Provence, commonly used in French cuisine. Feel free to substitute Italian seasoning if you just can’t imagine this taste in a meatball. I chose to be adventurous and my reward was some of the most delicious meatballs that I’d ever tasted!

Wanting to stay at least somewhat loyal to summer and the abundance of zucchini, I did grill some to add to the dish (see the photo below).

TURKEY MEATBALLS

1    pound ground turkey (I used 97% fat free lean)
3    cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2  yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2  cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used panko, instead)
1/2  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1     tablespoon tomato paste
2     tablespoons ketchup
1     tablespoon olive oil
1     tablespoon herbes de Provence
2     tablespoons water
       salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients until just combined, be careful not to over mix or the meatballs will become tough. Form the mixture into  meatballs - the pound of ground turkey yielded 9 meatballs for me -  and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a saute pan with tomato sauce (recipe follows) and simmer covered for 25 minutes.image

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It’s not clear to me that you can have meatballs without sauce. The original recipe suggested using a jarred sauce and that would be fine however, consider this recipe by Marcella Hazan. It is super simple and a surprise in terms of the ingredients. You can view the original recipe on Food 52 or simply Google her website. This is my version of this incredible sauce inspired by Marcella Hazan.  Since I found this recipe, I use it almost exclusively. It’s great on homemade pizza, lasagna, etc. It is also adaptable, you can always add other ingredients to suit your own taste.

Tomato Sauce

2    28 ounce cans of peeled Italian Tomatoes, chopped
1    large onion cut in half
5    tablespoons butter
      salt & pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium/low heat….stirring occasionally for approximately 45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. 

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These meatballs are also wonderful served over pasta for a more traditional take on Sunday Meatballs.

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Two Ways With Salmon

Our time at the Cape is done, but it was a wonderful respite! Beautiful mornings at low tide and watching gorgeous sunsets after dinner…on the beach.

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Because of the abundance of fish, we were able to try so many varieties that aren’t available to us at home however, the fresh, wild caught salmon was the best and we feasted often - see my previous post. My goal was to try to find new ways to enjoy it. 

Forget about new! How about some old-fashioned salmon croquettes, lightened up? My Mom used to make them on Fridays when I was growing up; meat was not allowed on Fridays in the Catholic Church. Alice’s croquettes were delicious, rolled in cornmeal and fried in Crisco.

My goal was to lighten them up, using a very few ingredients. I found just what I was looking for on PBS’s America’s Test Kitchen. I made some modifications to suit our taste but basically, these salmon cakes are light and very flavorful. That they are easy to make is an added bonus.

Easy Salmon Cakes

You will need 1 1/4 lbs of salmon. If you buy salmon with the skin on you will need to purchase 1 1/3 lbs to allow for removal of the skin. Avoid over-processing the fish! Serve these cakes with lemon wedges and/or tarter sauce. Bon Appetite!

3   Tbs plus 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs (I use the seasoned 
     panko for extra flavor)

2   Tbs minced fresh parsley

2   Tbs mayonnaise (the original recipe calls for 3 Tbs)

4   Tsp fresh lemon juice

1   scallion, thin sliced - use both white and green parts

1   small shallot, minced

1   Tsp Dijon Mustard

3/4 Tsp salt

1/4 Tsp pepper

1 1/4 lbs skinless salmon filet, cut into one inch pieces

1/2  cup vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)

1.  Combine 3 tablespoons of the panko, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, scallion, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Working in 3 batches, pulse the salmon pieces in a food processor until coarsely chopped (2-3 pulses) into 1/4 inch pieces, transferring each batch to the bowl with the panko mixture. Gently mix until uniformly combined.image

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2.  Place remaining 3/4 cup of panko on a plate. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop level amounts of the salmon mixture and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat to make 8 cakes. Carefully coat each cake in the panko, gently patting into a disc measuring 2 3/4 inches in diameter - don’t obsess if they aren’t exact - and 1 inch high. Return the coated cakes to the baking sheet.image

3.  Heat oil in a 12” skillet (I used my Lodge Cast Iron Skillet from Amazon over medium high heat until shimmering. Place salmon cakes in the skillet and cook without moving, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the cakes and cook on the second side until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a towel to drain, about 1 minute. Serve and enjoy!

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Okay, I know that this post is titled Two Ways With Salmon and here is the second dish. I had some smoked salmon in the fridge and I wanted to use it in a salad.The original of this recipe suggest using baby spinach but I didn’t have that so I used what I had, baby romaine salad greens and the following:

3   Tbs of light olive oil 

2   Tbs fresh lemon juice

2   Tbs chopped fresh dill

8   cups baby romaine salad greens or use whatever greens you 
     prefer

6   ounces of thinly sliced smoked salmon cut into half inch 
     ribbons

1   medium English cucumber peeled, halved lengthwise,
     seeded, and thinly sliced

4   radishes, halved and thinly sliced

2  scallions, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, wisk the olive oil, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to “marry” and then add the rest of the salad ingredients. This salad is delicious and it can be served as a meal with some good bread and crisp white wine.

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Dinner With Friends at the Cape!

You’ve probably figured out that the Cape is our favorite place to be but it is also a favorite place to cook, especially with friends. After all, isn’t cooking and feeding about nurturing? It is for me. We’ve had some memorable meals and last night’s was no exception

My friend, Lorna, and I went to Mac’s Seafood (you remember Mac’s) to see what was fresh! Too Many choices but we finally decided on wild caught salmon steaks.                                                                                                    image

Next stop was the farm stand for fresh corn, tomatoes and whatever else struck our fancy - turned out to be goat cheese, basil, and a gorgeous onion baguette; wish I had taken a picture. Our menu was set: Corn-on-the-cob with a honey ginger glaze (inspired by a recipe in Gourmet Magazine), and tomatoes (we used red and yellow tomatoes) with goat cheese and fresh basil. 

The salmon was marinated in lime juice, olive oil, scallions, grated ginger and ginger sea salt.
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Both red and yellow tomatoes were used with the goat cheese and basil. It made a beautiful presentation and it was delicious. We topped them with salt and pepper, olive oil, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar.image

The corn was grilled over the coals and glazed with honey and ginger. 
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This is what the finished food and table looked like. Recipe and instructions for the salmon marinade and corn glaze follow.
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Salmon Marinade

2  tbs lime juice
3  tbs olive oil (I used light olive oil)
2  scallions chopped, both green and white parts
1  tbs grated ginger
1  tsp ginger sea salt (use if you can find it however, kosher salt is fine)

A rule of thumb: Marinades should be equal parts vinegar (or citrus) and olive oil.

Mix all of the ingredients and pour over the salmon steaks and marinade for no more than 30 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the marinade and grill over hot coals for approximately 6 minutes per side; the salmon steaks that we grilled were about 1” thick and weight about 8 ounces each. The grilling time was 8 minutes per side. I tented the steaks to allow them to continue cooking as need be. They were moist and the flavor of the ginger was so good.

Honey-Vinegar Barbecue Sauce

I saw this recipe in the June issue of Gourmet Magazine and thought it would be a great addition for corn-on-the cob, to give it a little zip. Of course, this sauce can also be used for chicken or ribs.

1 1/2  cups apple cider vinegar
1/2     cup mild honey (I used Golden Blossom)
1/2     cup ketchup
4        large cloves of garlic minced
2        tbs peeled, minced ginger
1        tsp salt

Stir all of the ingredients together in a 2-2 1/2 quart saucepan. Briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 25-30 minutes. Towards the end, stir frequently to avoid sticking.

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Cape Cod Heaven

July 5, 2013

We’re on vacation at our beloved Cape Cod - so very fortunate to be right on the beach! Wonderful, balmy breezes, good friends that we’ve made over the years, and of course, the best, fresh fish ever! This satisfies my soul….

We frequent Mac’s Seafood  in Truro, MA, for our nightly fix! 

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The selection of fish makes it difficult to decide but we manage to muffle through and we are never disappointed with our choices. Have I mentioned that just a few doors away from Mac’s is a farm stand that sells locally grown fruits and vegetables….an embarrassment of riches! 

Last night we combined halibut filets and fresh, local tomatoes to make:

Pan Seared Halibut with Sauteed Tomatoes


This dish was inspired and adapted from Aaron McCargo of the Food Network. In his dish, he used roasted heirloom tomatoes. I used regular tomatoes and sauteed them. The inclusion of grapeseed oil and lemon make this a light and fresh summer meal. I served garlic couscous as a side…delicious!

INGREDIENTS


2 Tbs grapeseed oil
4 6 oz halibut filets
1 tbs salt
1 tbs cracked black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon juiced (see note)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped garlic (one large clove)
1 1/2 cups tomatoes - quartered
2 tbs chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

 Season the fish with salt and pepper. Heat the grapeseed oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the fish and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side. 

Add the thyme and the juice of half of the lemon and baste the fish with this sauce for approximately 2 minutes. 

Remove the fish from the pan and add the tomatoes, the garlic, and the remainder of the lemon juice and cook for 2-3 minutes - just enough to heat through the tomatoes. 

Add the parsley and stir to combine and serve on top of the fish.

Note: I used white wine in place of the second half of the juiced lemon to avoid an overly strong flavor of lemon..this is just a personal preference. We enjoyed the combined flavors of the lemon and the wine. Enjoy!

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Welcome to my blog!

For years I’ve had a passion for food and psychology. As a practicing psychotherapist, my other passion, I’ve decided to try and merge the two. I’ve been cooking for years, I even remember the first thing that I ever made, popovers for my Dad. I was 12 years old and I was hooked! My love for food and cooking has continued and now, I’d like to try and merge my two passions. 

Food and cooking equals nurturing, relief from a stressful day, and more often than not, pure joy and fun! I hope that you’ll share your kitchen experiences with me.

It’s June and the farmers are bringing the freshest and most beautiful produce to the markets. I love the bright colors and the textures and imagine what can be done with the bounty. For my first post, I found inspiration from a recipe in Gourmet  http://www.gourmet.com/ magazine.

This salad is colorful, filled with texture, and a bonus: it’s nutritious . You can use any vegetable combination that you like. You can also use frozen corn instead of corn on the cob. Use one box of frozen corn.

 

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This salad serves 6 but it can easily be adapted to serve 2 or 4 people.

INGREDIENTS

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar or white-wine vinegar
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 pounds of cherry tomatoes, halved (quartered if large)
3 ears of corn shucked 
1 1/2 pounds of medium zucchini
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, halved diagonally
1 cup small basal leaves, tear the leaves if they’re large
1/2 cup of mint
1/2 cup snipped chives
8-9 ounces dried fettuccine (or egg pappardelle)

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

You will need a good vegetable peeler to make the zucchini ribbons and shavings of Permigiana-Reggiano

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Bring a 6-8 quart of well salted water to a boil for the corn and the pasta.

2.  While water is coming to a boil, mince and mash the garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt then stir this mixture together with the vinegar, oil and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes with and stir gently.

3.  Cook corn in boiling water until tender, about 4-6 minutes, remove with tongs and let cool.

4.  While the corn is cooling, use the veggie peeler to peel lengthwise ribbons from one side of the zucchini. Turn a quarter of a turn and repeat, making more ribbons, you will reach a seedy core. There will be rectangular cores that you can save for another use.

5. Cut cooled corn from the cobs and add it to the tomato mixture.

6.  Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before the pasta is don, stir in the zucchini ribbons and snap peas, and cook 15 seconds. Drain the pasta and vegetable together in a large colander and add the tomato mixture with the onion, then toss gently.

7.  Add the herbs and shavings of Parmigini-Reggiano cheese and enjoy.