Move Over Texas Caviar, time to get “Cali-fied”

Photo credit: Montie Stamps. Cali-fied Caviar suited up with vegetable croquettes on the set of California Cooking as part of my upcoming, taped appearance on the show. Will keep you posted on air date.

I have a lot of love for the great state of Texas.

You see the Lone Star state is the birthplace of Texas Caviar, according to documented accounts and urban legend.

Yes, I am a big fan of the black-eyed pea salad that doubles as a side dish and appetizer.

Distinguished beginnings

This humble dish has distinguished beginnings. New York native and Texas transplant Helen Corbitt first featured the dish at a New Year’s Eve event hosted at a Houston, Texas country club nearly 80 years ago.

Photo credit: Amazon. Helen Corbitt was a dietitian, who later became the Director of Food Services for Neiman-Marcus and authored many cookbooks.

One can only imagine the wonder, amazement and perhaps wrinkled noses of  guests as they gazed upon this gussied-up offering of black-eyed peas presented as part of their menu to usher in the new year.  The time honored tradition of eating a bowl of the pale little legumes – often slowed cooked in some kind of animal fat – is surrounded in the folklore that they bring about prosperity and good luck for the new year. But Corbitt’s lucky peas were a whimsical and unexpected way to celebrate the hope and aspiration for a prosperous and happy new year.

Doing it Cali style

Texas does things in a big way. Corbitt’s Texas Caviar and the many variations derived from it, deliver big flavor. I have been a big fan of what some call the “salsa/salad hybrid” for longer than I can remember. But –  and you knew there was a but coming – as a California native with Southern sensibilities, I had to “Cali-fi” it because we do things in a big way here too. And you know what they say, “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

Fresh mint and radishes are cutting board ready.

That is exactly my intent with my “Cali-fied” Caviar recipe. Peeled radishes are used in my recipe to give it texture and depth. Fresh mint and a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing made with a hint of sesame seed oil marry the ingredients and take this salad to that umami zone. If you like Texas Caviar, you will love this version straight from my little California kitchen to yours.

Oh, and you don’t have to wait for the arrival of a shiny new year to make this recipe. No sir, no ma’am, you can make it today, tomorrow or anytime you want to  get a little”Cali-fied.”

Happy cooking and I send you good luck and prosperity all year long.

Cali-fied Caviar

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Cali-fied Caviar is a fresh new take on Texas Caviar, California style.

Ingredients

1 15.5 ounce can Black eye peas, drained and rinsed
2-3 medium sized Roma tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped
½ cup green bell pepper chopped
6 radishes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 ear corn, grilled and removed from cob
1 heaping tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and chopped
Grapeseed oil for grilling corn on stove top

Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Red pepper flakes
Crackled pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ teaspoon sesame seed oil

Directions

1. Add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil to a nonstick skillet set on medium heat.
2. Add corn to skillet and cook, turning frequently, until brown on all sides.
3. Remove from heat. Let cool and cut corn kernels from the cob. Set aside. Drain and rinse black-eyed peas. Add to a large mixing bowl
4. Add all remaining to the black-eyed peas including cut corn.
5. In a separate bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, chopped garlic and sesame seed oil. Whisk well with a metal whisk.
6. Pour vinaigrette over black eye-peas and chopped vegetables and mix well. Add red pepper flakes, cracked pepper and salt to taste.
7. Serve as a side salad or as appetizer with tortilla chips. Recipe can easily be doubled.

A few “good for you goals” for 2019

Happy New Year!

So, have you got that list of New Year’s resolutions all teed up and ready to plow through?

Good for you.

I don’t.

Instead, I decided to piggy back on a theme I recently saw on the Good Housekeeping website and from Family Features which focuses less on resolutions, but more on “good for you goals” that can help improve your health.

I really like that. It just takes the pressure off.

The top two “good for your goals” on the Good Housekeeping list are something I can get my head around and achieve with a sense of accomplishment. They are:

Add more citrus to your vegetable cart to keep your skin looking more youthful and healthy.

Eat vegetables more regularly to help you slim down and feel fit.

The list from Family Features has a few more “good for your goals” that can also help you improve your overall health. I think they are worth checking out. After all they are good for you!

5 Recipes that Can Help Improve Your Health

(Family Features) When it comes to nutritious eating, finding and creating tasty yet healthy recipes is key for many people.

One delicious and nutritious ingredient to add to a variety of dishes: U.S.-grown Montmorency tart cherries, which are abundant in anthocyanins – a natural compound that contributes to the ruby-red color, distinctive sweet-tart taste and is also behind the potential health benefits.

Consider these five ways to incorporate Montmorency tart cherries into your daily routine to help with sleep, inflammation, exercise recovery, heart health and gut health. Find more information and recipes at ChooseCherries.com.

  1. Have that good gut-feeling: Gut health has been the focus of multiple studies in recent years to maintain digestive health. In a first-of-its-kind study published in the “Journal of Biochemistry,” Montmorency tart cherries helped positively impact the gut microbiome – a collection of trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live in the intestinal tract. To help shape and maintain your gut health, add an 8-ounce serving of Montmorency tart cherry juice to your daily diet or try blending this Montmorency Tart Cherry Matcha Smoothie.

 

  1. Catch more zzz’s: With more than 50 million adults in the U.S. suffering from sleep or wakefulness disorders, a natural and flavorful remedy may help. One study, published in the “American Journal of Therapeutics,” extended sleep time by 84 minutes after study participants consumed Montmorency tart cherry juice for two weeks. This Tart Cherry Moon Milk is one way to add tart cherry juice before bed.

 

  1. Make workout gains, not pains: Muscle soreness and pain associated after a tough workout is no longer something to dread. A study from “Medicine in Science and Sports Exercise” showed a reduction in muscle damage after intensive strength training from participants who consumed Montmorency tart cherry juice in comparison to a placebo. Whip up some Tart Cherry Power Gummies for a snack to power up before or after workouts.

 

  1. Help ease arthritis and gout: Many Americans seek natural ways to help manage pain that don’t evoke potential side effects. Research indicates that U.S.-grown Montmorency tart cherries, like those found in this Tart Cherry Granola Smoothie Bowl, may help naturally reduce inflammation related to arthritis and gout.

 

  1. Keep your heart on beat: Adding more fruits packed with heart-healthy compounds is a great way to help your heart keep beating at its best. Montmorency tart cherries are a natural heart-healthy fruit that may lower blood pressure, reduce risk of stroke and decrease cholesterol levels. Incorporate them in a lunch like this Kale Quinoa Montmorency Tart Cherry Salad.

SOURCE:
Cherry Marketing Institute

Happy New Year, happy new food

Resolute.

You just gotta be in 2018.

I am not talking about your list of practical and lofty resolutions.

In all honesty, you probably need to anchor your resolve to straighten up your act in a myriad of areas.  Skip the resolutions. You know what you need to do, so get busy and handle your business, be your best self and live your best life as a 2018 commitment to yourself (in my Oprah voice).

That pot of black-eyed peas is certainly an obligatory tradition  some believe is a lucky charm for each shiny new year. I would never, ever advocate that you toss tradition to the wind. That would be unthinkable. In fact, I subscribe to this annual rite of passage into the New Year and trust me, I did partake and they were – in a word – so good. Ok, that’s two words.  Get my recipe here.

Lucky black-eyed peas

No luck needed

Luck is great,  but it abdicates your participation. I want you to be more resolute about your food choices this year.

Yes its cliché – you are what you eat. And the often unspoken part of that adage is you are how much you eat too. (Ok I made that up, but the point has to be driven home).

If you don’t set your intentions to make better food choices in 2018, when will you?

I love food anthologist, activist and journalist Michael Pollan. In The Pollan Table Family Cookbook, Pollan makes many salient points in the introduction of this beautiful cookbook.

Pollan connects the increase in obesity to the advent and rise of the fast food industry. Pollan also reminds us that humans cook food; corporations manufacture it.

That’s worth a pause. Take a moment to digest that.

Let me cut to the quick and bottom line my intentions for you:

  • You need to take control of your food choices.
  • You need to be mindful about the food you allow in your everyday life and the life of your family.
  • You need to reduce your portion sizes; they are overall just too large.
  • You need to cut back on the number of meals you get passed to you from a drive through window and pick-up counter – yeah you do.

For heavens sake, for your own sake, get back to cooking your own food. I know it sounds so complex, time consuming and mind bending. But it doesn’t have to be. You can do it. Your health and the health of your family depends on this.

Keep it simple dear heart and:

  1. Use fresh ingredients when possible; they provide more nutrients.
  2. Bake, broil, and grill more often than not; take a break from fried foods.
  3. Add flavor with spices and herbs; cut back on added salt and fat.
  4. Read labels and understand typical serving sizes; portion control is not a myth.
  5. Cut back on carbs; you don’t have to have them every meal.
  6. Learn a few easy food preparation techniques and get inspired.

Follow me

If you follow me on Instagram @collardgreenscaviar (and you really should), you will quickly learn that I am a big home cooking advocate. I have put in a lot of sweat equity over a stove top, about 35 years contiguous if I dare do the math.

I am a journalist and food writer first and foremost. Writing about the significant role and value food plays in our lives has been my focus and my passion.

However, I do  post a lot of food pictures on Instagram,  many of which I prepare and actually eat at home. I am not perfect when it comes to what I eat, but I know perfectly well that I when I prepare my own meals more often than not, I make better choices.

Pan grilled chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts

In this post I feature one of my most requested Instagram recipes, well its not really a recipe but a method I use to prepare chicken breast. I make this often, especially after a workout. Its fast and easy to make, in just under 30 minutes. Its delicious, healthy and beautiful to look at.

The chicken breast is seasoned with a spice rub, then pan grilled and finished in the oven. And you probably noticed there are no carbs. Yup. I often skip them at dinner time and opt for pan roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts or brocolli. But if you need or want carbs, I suggest serving this with a baked yam or confetti brown rice chalk full of your favorite sautéed vegetables.

Happy New Year! Bon Appétit.  Chin-chin. Salud.

I predict new food is in your future. Now get cooking.

Chicken so most, tender and flavorful.


Ingredients

2 boneless chicken breasts
Spice rub mix (Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub featured here)
Grapeseed oil

Directions

  1. Wash and pat dry chicken breast.
  2. Place on cutting board and slice in half.
  3. Rub a little Grapeseed oil on both sides of sliced breast and then generally season with spice rub.
  4. Pour about two tablespoon of Grapeseed oil in a grill pan set at medium heat.
  5. Once oil is heated, place breasts  in pan and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes until medium brown in color.
  6. Remove from pan and place on a baking sheet.
  7. Cook remaining breasts and place in 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Wash and pat dry chicken breasts.

Place on cutting board and slice each breast in half.

Rub a little Grapeseed oil on both sides of sliced breast and then generally season with spice rub.

Add chicken breast to grill pan and cook about two minutes on each side.

Remove from pan, place on a baking sheet and place in 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 10minutes.

Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

The year of fearless cooking

Happy New Year all!

?

Simmering pot of Fearless Seafood Chowder

It’s a few weeks into the New Year and I am sure you’ve made a few resolutions.

Let’s see, the list probably includes losing weight, getting fit, making wiser food choices and saving money.

Those are great resolutions and worthy of being on everyone’s list.

Take the challenge

I’d like to challenge you to add another one to your list – cook fearlessly.

Get in the kitchen. Make your own food. Try a new recipe.  Re-image an old recipe. Incorporate a new ingredient. Try a food hack. Bust out of your culinary comfort zone.

Here’s a bit of a food hack that can jump start your fearless foray. Its a pretty bold move, but you can do it!

I love those spicy peel and eat, New Orleans style shrimp bowls. You probably have a favorite restaurant where you like to enjoy the tasty crustaceans.

picmonkey-collage-shrimp-mussels

Left: Killer Shrimp Steamed Mussels. Right: Killer Shrimp Peel and Eat Shrimp Bowl

I live in Los Angeles and one of my favorite restaurants to visit is Killer Shrimp in Marina Del Rey. The shrimp and steamed mussel bowls are amazing. They are served with a basket of sour dough bread for dipping and sopping up all that tasty, luxurious, spicy broth.

Recharge that broth

The flavor infused broth  that remains when the meal is done – it’s good stuff

Both are absolutely delicious. When I’ve eaten all the shrimp and mussels out of the bowls, what remains is a lovely broth that most people just leave to be discarded. But not me. I have my server combine the broth into one take home container which I stash in the freezer. Why? Because this favor infused broth is a great base for seafood chowder. What if you don’t have the tasty broth? No worries, you can substitute a combination of El Pato Jalapeno Salsa  and Mexican beer to your taste.

I’ve made this chowder often and my family and friends love it. This recipe has a delectable flavor and an impressive presentation. It looks like you worked in the kitchen all day.

You can add any seafood you like. For this version, I rendered the fat from bacon and used the fat in making the roux. I also the crumbled bacon and added it to the stock pot along with the seafood.  I used whole kernel corn. If you like, you can experiment with using creamed corn,  sweet peas, celery or even chayote squash.  This is a  great recipe to experiment with because it’s very forgiving and lends itself to improvisation.  After all,  it’s just a gloried soup!

So don’t be squeamish, be fearless.  Give it a try and dazzle the loved ones in your life, or dazzle yourself.

I am gently nudging you to cook fearlessly and  eat well this year my friends. And you are very welcomed.

Happy New Year and may you have sweet mornings, tasty afternoons and delicious evenings. Now – get cooking!

Fearless seafood chowder

fear-seafood-chowder-bowl

Fearless Seafood Chowder

Ingredients
¼ cup flour
¼ cup butter (½ stick butter)
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 cloves, chopped
1 cup or more Killer Shrimp stock (Shrimp Bowl or Mussel Bowl stock)
(or substitute 4 ounces of El Pato Jalapeno Salsa with 1 cup of water or beer)
1 32 ounce carton seafood cooking stock
1  14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
5 medium red potatoes, diced
1 15.25 ounce can whole kernel corn
3 pounds seafood (shrimp, cod, salmon)

Method

Stock ingredients for Fearless Seafood Chowder – including broth container from Killer Shrimp

Add butter to a pan set on medium heat. Add flour. When butter is melted, stir mixture until it is medium in color, about 3 minutes. Add chopped shallots and garlic to pan. Stir another 2 minutes. Remove pan, and empty mixture into a large Dutch oven or 5 quart stock pot. Option:Or you can do this step in large Dutch oven or 5 quart stock pan if you like.

Add Killer Shrimp reserved broth (defrosted) , seafood cooking stock, diced fired roasted tomatoes and diced red potatoes to pot with browned flour, butter, shallots and onion roux mixture. Stir well.

picmonkey-collage-stock-steps

Left top: Add garlic and shallots to roux. Right top: Add Killer Shrimp broth and seafood cooking stock. Left bottom: Add diced, fire roasted tomatoes. Bottom right: Add diced, red potatoes.

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.

After 30 minutes, add seafood and whole kernel corn.

picmonkey-collage-seafood-corn-steps

Left: Add whole kernel sweet corn. Center: Add seafood (shrimp, Alaskan cod, salmon – crab legs are optional).

Add ½ to 1 cup of additional stock if needed. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until seafood is done. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges.