FOOD: VEGETABLE SOUP WITH SOME BUBBLY

Westchester, with the cold weather around for a few more months how about trying a healthy, hearty, and nutritious vegetable soup that will warm you right up! It’ll snap you from your sweet Valentine’s Day hangover and put that leftover Champagne or white wine to good use!

Save some time and start by chopping your onions; You can chop your other vegetables while the onions are sweating!

Start buy chopping  1 cup each of Yukon gold potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, onions, and celery. If you have it available I recommend substituting a half a cup of fennel for half a cup of celery to add more depth in flavor.

Place the onions in the largest soup pot you own on low heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sweat the onions until they are translucent. Next drop in all of your vegetables.

Onions breaking a sweat!

Here is where I like to use my leftover prosecco or white wine. Take your leftover 750 bottle and fill the empty part with water. You will want to use 3 750ml bottles worth of liquid in total. I like dropping in the veggies first so that you don’t get any splash on your stove that you would usually get if you dropped the veggies into a pot of water.

Bring the liquid to a boil and then keep at a simmer for an hour. The low and slow cooking will create a flavorful broth. Your veggies should have softened at this point.

Test a potato, if the potato is cooked to taste the. You are almost there. At this point you want to add a can of cannelloni beans, a package of frozen chopped spinach, a tablespoon of roasted minced garlic, a tablespoon of parsley and a tablespoon of basil. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to salt at the end because if you salt early, some of your broth will evaporate and you can end up with a salty soup. Bring the soup to a boil once you have added the last of the ingredients.

 

Healthy, Hearty, Vegetable Soup

Ladle and enjoy.

FOOD: GRILLED MAPLE CHILI GLAZED JUMBO SHRIMP

Good Day Food Finders!

My next dish works well as an appetizer or entrée. Its fresh, simple, and exclusively for WestchesterFoodFinds.com !

Grilled Maple Chili Glazed Jumbo Shrimp

I was lucky enough to find these jumbo shrimp at my local fresh fish monger. It is a special occasion for me so I opted for the fresh, wild caught, Florida variety. Keep in mind the larger the shrimp, the fewer per pound, and the more expensive they get.  If you are on a budget, get the smaller size and follow the recipe as is. The only adjustment you will need to make is that you will skewer your shrimp.

I prefer to clean my own shrimp. If you want to save yourself the effort, you can buy them cleaned and de-veined, but I feel that the shrimp is at its freshest with the shell on.

Wash your shrimp and remove the shell. I also remove the tails at this point as doing so eliminates having your guests having to deal with them on their plates.

Hold your shrimp firmly and make a shallow cut along the back down to the tail. Pull out the vein and nasty stuff and rinse under water. Repeat until all of your shrimp are washed and cleaned.

On to the maple chili glaze. Mix 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 3 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ sauce, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and red pepper flakes to your desired level of heat per pound of shrimp. Place your shrimp in a plastic zip top bag and pour in half of your glaze. You will save the remaining glaze to drizzle over your shrimp once cooked. Seal the bag and move the shrimp around so that they are all covered. Place the bag of shrimp and let them marinate for a few hours before grilling.

Shrimp cook quickly. Preheat your grill so that you get nice grill marks. Place the shrimp on your grill at high heat for a minute on each side with the grill lid closed. Your  shrimp is ready when pink and firm to the touch.

On the Grill

Plate, drizzle, and garnish with some fresh parsley. You can serve as an appetizer as is, or with a side of rice and vegetable and make them a meal.

Enjoy! Please share the recipe with friends and family and please like us on Facebook!

 

 

 

 

 

FOOD: DRUNKEN HONEY HERB CRUSTED FILET MIGNON

Westchester Food Finders, I have a great New Year’s Eve entrée for you!

My Drunken Honey Herb Crusted Filet Mignon is easy to prep and even easier to cook. You can have your decadent and rich meal in the comfort of your own home at a fraction of the high end restaurant prices.

Start out by sourcing your filet mignon. If you have a butcher you like to use regularly, give them a call as ask for a filet mignon roast. They will peel, clean and tied the roast for you.

Some super markets and farm based grocery stored will peel, clean, and cut or tie your filet mignon as long as you purchase the entire tenderloin. The filet when bought whole, is usually priced attractively, so take advantage of buying the whole tenderloin and have them cut some steaks for you to save for another day. Have them prepare the roast to your preferred size.

If you are feeling inspired, you may buy the whole tenderloin and clean it yourself. Remember that you want to remove all of the excess fat. Most importantly you will want to peel off the silver looking lining that wraps the tenderloin. This lining cooks tough and is not something you want to serve yourself or your guests. Tie your tenderloin with two to three inches of spacing. The ties will keep your filet firm while cooking and cutting.

The “trick” to cooking a delicious filet mignon roast is that you have to over season the roast. Since you are cooking a large piece of meat and cutting once cooked, you want the mixture of herbs and spices to be absorbed by your filet.

I like to place all of my favorite herbs and spices in a bowl and add my liquor of choice and some honey to create an herb paste. The paste gets thick and sticky and makes it easy to layer on your roast.

Please follow this list of herbs loosely, as this is your chance to customize the flavor of your roast and make it “yours”.

I like to use a combination of parsley, basil, roasted chopped garlic, pink sea salt, chili powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, paprika,  fennel seed, and chopped sage. I add three parts liquor to one part honey. I prefer a rye, whiskey or bourbon. Some brands actually offer a honey variety which works best in my opinion.

Now if you are like some of my friends, you are scratching your head over the list of herbs and thinking where do I even find fennel seed, and when will I ever use this stuff again. If that is you, pick up a pre-mixed steak seasoning. Something like a Montreal steak or steak house seasoning will do. Add your parsley and basil, and anything flavorful in your liquor cabinet will do just fine!

Place your roast in a pan of choice and wrap your filet in your herb paste. (No shame in using an aluminum pan when your hosting. They cut down your clean up and they can be fully recycled) Cover your roast either with a lid or with aluminum foil and place in the center of your oven’s top rack. Cook at 400 degrees.

Now since not all roasts are created equal, you will have to use a thermometer to test for doneness. I prefer my filet mignon medium-rare. So I cook my roast to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Test your roasted every 20 minutes. You will want to uncover your roast once your internal temperature hits 100 degrees and you will test every 10 minutes from that point on. Uncovering the roast will dry your herb mixture slightly and give you the “roasted” texture to the outside of the meat.

Once your roast is cooked. Remove from the roasting pan and plate. Let the roast rest for 10 minutes and carve table side. Plate with your favorite sides and you will have wowed yourself and your diner guests.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

 

 

SPOT: COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND CARNIVAL- LAKE ISLE EASTCHESTER

Hello again Westchester Food Finders!

I just wanted to let you all know about the carnival taking place this weekend (Oct 7th through Oct 10) at Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester.

It will be a good time for the whole family. Live music, dancing, rides, wine, beer, food, snacks, fireworks and a parade as well. Please check out the link below for Carnival hours, vendors, and a list of special events.

http://eastchestercolumbusday.bandzoogle.com/home

 

 

 

 

 

FOOD: APPLE CINNAMON PANCAKES

Hello Westchester Food Finders and welcome Fall!

fall-is-here2

If you and your families are like ours, you have probably visited your favorite orchard and have brought home an entire 20lb bag of apples that you now don’t know what to do with. Sure you will cut some up, and put slices in your kids’ lunch. You may bring a few to work to share, but 20lbs is still lots of apples.

Time for quick and simple pancakes. They are made with 4 total ingredients and are easy to make and clean up is a breeze!

I have been asked by some readers if I could post some special diet recipes, and this one sure is special. Of course you should always consult with your nutritionist or dietitian if you have possible health concerns with food, but these pancakes are gluten free, lactose free, no sugar added, low fat, and may actually work for those on a paleo diet as well. They are higher in protein than traditional pancakes as they are made with more eggs and no wheat flour.

Enough healthy dietary stuff, these pancakes are delicious and most of all, are easily prepared in a blender.

ingredients

Start with your ingredients:

4 Eggs

4 Tablespoons of Almond flour

1 Apple cored, peeled and quartered

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

pour1time-to-flip2

Put all of your ingredients in a blender and blend until your batter is smooth. You will want to make these pancakes smaller; on the “silver dollar” size side.  Without all of the flour in traditional pancakes, these pancakes will be a little more fragile when flipping. Cook on a griddle or a pan with low heat. Make sure to coat your griddle with your favorite non-stick spray, as we did not add any oil to our batter. Once you see the outside of your pancakes changing color, flip your pancakes so they are golden brown on both sides.

You may plate simply as I have here, with some powdered sugar and fresh fruit or you can dress up the dish with some finely chopped apples, mixed with some sugar and whipped cream.

Enjoy!

with-friut-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOOD: VEGETABLES ON A STICK

Hello Westchester,

A fellow food finder reached out and asked me if I had any ideas on how she can entice her children to eat more vegetables.

The first thing that came to mind is food on a stick. I posted some pictures of some veggies and chicken that we grilled up and the kids ate up.

Food on a Stick Veggies on a Stick

 

Some quick tips and rules.

  1. Supervise your kids while eating food on a stick. If your kids are like mine, they will find new and innovative ways to hurt themselves. Don’t leave them unattended with a wooden stick!
  2. Soak wooden sticks in water for an hour before cooking; this will keep the sticks from burning easily. If you are using stainless steal skewers or ropes, spray them with your favorite non-stick spray. That will keep food from getting stuck.
  3. Cut your proteins and veggies in consistent sizes, this will pay off while cooking. Get creative with the proteins as the kids may surprise you and try new foods.
  4. Season your veggies, and marinate your proteins. Kids have taste buds too.
  5. Try have your kids help in the prep, I feel that they are more eager to have food that they helped make.
  6. Make enough for yourself and leave behind the fork and knife. The experience will be more fun for the kids and you will find yourself being just as silly as they are.

Until next time Westchester Food Finds….

 

 

FOOD: CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES

Chocolate Lava Cakes

cake

Attention all chocolate lovers. This is the dessert for you. It is served warm and made to order. Some of the fancier restaurants will give you the “we will need 30 minutes to get it ready so please order when we deliver your entrée” line. I think they may just be eager to get your wallet open. We’ll never know the truth, but I’m one of those people who are sure to order, whether too full or not.

We’re going to break this chocolate treasure down and make it attainable for all of you at home. Take a brief look at the ingredients list below. I will get into the list as we move forward.

Chocolate- Total of 8 ounces combination of Semi and Bittersweet

Vanilla Extract 1 Teaspoon

Orange Flavor 2 Tablespoons

Butter 1 ¼ sticks

Flour ½ cup All Purpose

Confectioner’s Sugar 1 ½ cups

3 Whole eggs and 3 Egg Yolks

PAM brand spray for baking

6-8 Oven proof Ramekins

Before you get to the cooking, you should prep your ingredients. Let’s start with the Chocolate. I prefer using 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 3 ounces of semisweet. If you prefer your cakes sweeter shift to 4 ounces and 4 ounces. Like your cakes less sweet shift to 6 ounces bitter and 2 semi sweet. Don’t shift more than one ounce in either direction as your flavor will suffer for it.

ingredients

More on the chocolate… If you don’t have a kitchen scale, buy your chocolate in easily measurable chocolate baking squares. If you do have a scale, try and buy your chocolate in morsels or chips. The morsels melt faster and you save yourself a few minutes in the double boiler. I used a combination of different types of bitter/semisweet chocolate as an example.

Sugar, flour and butter are pretty straight forward with measurement. Be sure to cut your butter into small pieces, as the smaller the pieces the easier and faster it will melt in your double boiler.

I put my vanilla extract and orange flavoring in the same prep bowl; they go in the process at the same time, so spare yourself cleaning another bowl. Be sure not to fall for the smell of vanilla extract. Use only what I listed above. It’s pretty potent stuff.

Now onto the orange flavoring… Know your audience. If you plan on your kids taking down these cakes with vanilla ice cream, use orange juice. If you are hosting a grown up dinner and want to impress, my recommendation is to use a little bit of Grand Marnier. (You may want to keep the bottle out and serve with your cake!)

Let’s get to the cooking. You number one objective is to begin by mixing the chocolate and butter. You can accomplish this by using a microwave save bowl and placing the chocolate and butter in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time and then whisking the mixture until silky and smooth. What I like to do is use a double boiler method. I used my kitchen mixer bowl and find pot large enough for it to sit comfortably inside without falling in. I fill my pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, I turn the heat town to the lowest setting and set the mixer bowl on top. I start wisking, and before you know it silky and smooth.

double boiler

The purpose for using the metal mixer bowl is that you can quickly more your melted chocolate from the double boiler to the mixer and have the mixer finish the job for you. Attach the whisk and set to a low setting. Add your flour and sugar and keep your setting to low. Once your powdery white combination turns to a chocolate concoction, add the vanilla, orange, and eggs. Keep the mixing setting on low for a minute and increase the speed to incorporate all of your ingredients. You want to get your mixture to be lump free and have a shiny chocolaty look too it. If you are doing all the whisking by hand it may be time to get one of those 20 buck handheld blender/mixers.

IMG_1466 (2)

Grab your ramekins and your PAM for baking. I recommend using 8, 5 ounce ramekins for a better serving size. You may do 6, 6 ounce ramekins, but I feel that the cake becomes overwhelming as a desert following a good meal.

ramekin

Spray the PAM for baking generously inside your ramekins. I recommend doing this process over your sink. Your sink is a better place for excess spray then your counters or floor.

Split your chocolate mixture evenly in your Ramekins and either place on top of one of those aluminum disposable trays or if you don’t plan on eating immediately, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place in your fridge. (be sure to bring to room temperature before eating later) Preheat your oven to 425 and bake for approx 13 minutes. I will place a disclaimer here.

The only challenge to this amazing cake is the cooking time. Every oven is different so you may need some trial and error. Cook too long and you get a delicious warm cake; cook too little and you get bits of cake in a pool of delicious warm chocolate soup. Cook just right, and you get warm cake on the outside and once you break into that cake, you get the perfect amount of melted chocolate goodness.

So, how do we mitigate soup or straight cake. We use a toothpick similarly to an oil dipstick in a car. Poke your cake in the middle, you are looking for just a little give and then want your toothpick to have little to no more resistance thereafter. Poke the outer part of the cake and you want to feel cake here.My oven’s optimal time is 13 ¾ minutes. You have 6-8 tries on getting it right. If you will be having a dinner party for 6, try your luck with one and test your cook time. If you fail and overcook, reduce your time with the second…I once brought these delights to a friend’s house and the cakes took 20 minutes to get right in their oven. Plus, what fun is making these if you don’t get to at least try them to make sure they are good.

Finally, presentation. I am a fan of simple confectioner’s sugar and berries. Raspberries are good, strawberries as well. If you have the room, you can do ice cream, or whipped cream, or all of the above. If you get ambitious, you may try a berry and port reduction/compote and serve that on top/side. But the compote is favorite food for another day!

cake

Enjoy the cakes and let me know how your attempt goes. We love to hear from or readers!