I was astonished to read an article lately on America’s obesity epidemic. Who would have thought that our country has fueled a boom in expensive weight-loss surgery, extra-wide hospital beds and super-sized grave plots?
I am not an expert on the subject but feel the need to share my thoughts on the obesity crisis. As an owner of a cooking school I firmly believe in our motto: We Are What We Eat. Evidentially, there is need to make healthier choices with our diets.
One subject I have wanted to share as it is now in the spotlight – Sugar is the New Food Villain. For years fat and cholesterol were believed to be the culprits. Now a number of nutritionists are pointing their fingers at sugar as the problem. Just look at the consumption of sugar in America’s diets at overwhelming rates. Sugar is everywhere and most concerning, sugar becomes addictive.
My recommendation for a healthier life is to limit your sugar intake and avoid processed foods.
Here’s a great eggplant dish to compliment your springtime lamb and it’s easy to make
3 small eggplants, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
4 medium tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, gently toss eggplant rounds, tomatoes, lemon zest, thyme, garlic, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a 9 inch gratin dish, arrange vegetables in shingled layers while tucking crumbled goat cheese underneath each round. Drizzle with 2 tbsp oil and sprinkle panko on top. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bake gratin until tender and golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Serve hot directly out of the baking dish.
Makes 4 to 5 servings
SOUPING IS THE NEW JUICING
Creamy blender soups are now the rage. Soups can be modified in so many ways and remain healthy for every diet.
BASIC CREAMY VEGETABLE BLENDER SOUP
- Saute 1 chopped small onion and 2 minced garlic gloves in 1 tablespoon oil in saucepan until tender.
- Add ½ cup raw cashews and 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth; simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add Veggies (See below) and enough broth to cover. Simmer until tender.
- Blend with Add-Ins (See below) until super smooth, about 5 minutes. Reheat and season to taste with salt and pepper. If too thick, add more broth. Serve with optional toppings.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Veggies: 4 cups of roasted red peppers, 1 Yukon Gold potato and 1 carrot (each pealed and chopped)
Add-Ins: ¼ cup pomegranate juice
Veggies: 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped
Add-Ins:¼ peeled, pitted avocado, juice of ½ lemon, 2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh dill or parsley
Veggies: 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets, 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and chopped; 1 celery stalk chopped
Add-Ins: Juice of ½ lime and 1 tablespoon white miso
STAY TUNED FOR HEALTHY MEALS TO GO
COMING SOON FROM CLASSIC COOKING ACADEMY
One of our students brought in a recipe that was created by his young son. Too precious!
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons baking soda
I think 1 teaspoon powder
Put the bread in and mix it around with the bread “dougher”. You have to cook it and put it on the stove. Let it sit on a plate for a minute, then you cook it and put it on the stove again. (I like syrup on it.)
Drew was 3 years old when he described his idea for Raisin Bread.
IT’S LEMON SEASON!
This is a great bread pudding recipe we use often at our school. The recipe is from Roland Mesnier’s Dessert University book. Chef Mesnier is the former Executive Pastry Chef of the White House. It has been an honor to be friends and colleagues of Roland Mesnier.
Executive Director/Classic Cooking Academy
BRIOCHE BUTTER PUDDING WITH DRIED BLUEBERRIES AND LEMON SAUCE
One 8 x 4 inch Brioche Loaf (Store bought is okay)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups dried blueberries (Fresh blueberries won’t work here; their juice would make the pudding too watery)
6 large eggs
Pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar
1 quart whole milk
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise, or ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups Light Lemon Sauce (recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the ends off the brioche loaf and discard them. Slice the brioche into ten ¾ inch thick slices. Trim the crusts from each slice and cut each slice in half. Butter one side of each piece of brioche.
- Butter a 7×12 inch baking dish and arrange the blueberries in an even layer on the bottom of the dish. Arrange the brioche slices, buttered side up, overlapping them slightly, over the blueberries.
- Whisk the eggs, salt, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Place the milk in a medium saucepan. Use a sharp paring knife to scrape the seeds from the inside of the split vanilla beans. Add the seeds and the beans (or the extract) to the milk. Very slowly bring the milk to a boil over medium-low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let rest 5 minutes to extract all of the flavor from the vanilla pods and seeds.
- Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer over the bread. Press the bread down with the back of a large spoon so that it is completely soaked.
- Line a roasting pan with a few sheets of brown paper or newspaper. Place the dish in the pan, and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Add enough hot tap water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake until the custard is set around the edges but still a little wobbly in the center when gently shaken, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the brioche pudding cool in the water for 15 minutes. Then remove the baking dish from the roasting pan and let it stand another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with Light Lemon Sauce.
LIGHT LEMON SAUCE
Makes 1 ½ cups
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Mix the cornstarch and sugar together in a small saucepan. Whisk in the boiling water. Place the pan on the stove and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, and cool to room temperature
ROASTED RACK OF LAMB
1 (7 bone) rack of lamb, trimmed and frenched
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F Move oven rack to the center position.
- In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss in 2 tablespoons olive oil to moisten mixture. Set aside.
- Season the rack all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy oven proof skillet over high heat. Sear rack of lamb for 1 to 2 minutes on all sides. Set aside for a few minutes. Brush rack of lamb with the mustard. Roll in the bread crumb mixture until evenly coated. Cover the ends of the bones with foil to prevent charring.
- Arrange the rack bone side down in the skillet. Roast the lamb in preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the degree of doneness you want. Let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes, loosely covered, before carving between the ribs.
I asked one of our former students, Michael, a few questions about his experiences in the kitchen.
So I first knew I wanted to be a Chef after reading Kitchen Confidential (not a great reason, but it’s true,) I’d been working in the industry for about 4 years at that point. I’d always wanted my own restaurant, had been doing Hotel Restaurant Management at NAU, but I had more of a business view on the subject, without really knowing what professional cooking was actually like. When I read the book, it was an epiphany, that was what I wanted, to work the line, put out food, good food, every time, and be a part of the community that goes along with it.
One of the newest additions to our staff is Chef Instructor Adin Husu. He made these kale chips for the CCA staff yesterday and we could not get enough! We’ve all been hearing a lot about kale recently, and with good reason! It is packed with Vitamin A, C, and K, and also has a good dose of calcium, B6, and magnesium.
Q & A with Chef Adin
When did you first know you wanted to be a Chef?
During my college years, I hated my major in Engineering, so I dropped out and asked myself what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I remembered as a young boy (1 of 9 children) I would help my mom with sponge cakes, butter-creams, icings and such. She made wedding cakes for a living, and I was always so fascinated with what she could do w a few eggs, flour, sugar and butter. I couldn’t wrap my head around the science. Years later that memory immediately flooded my mind and I knew I wanted to become a great chef.
Kale Chips w/ Parmesan & Lemon
2 bunches Kale (Green or Purple)
3 T Grated Parmesan
1 Lemon (juiced)
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
S & P to taste
Trim leaves off the stalk; leave absolutely no stalk because it is very tough and fibrous.
Cut leaves into pieces, wash and dry completely. This is necessary to get a crisp texture.
Toss leaves in a bowl with Parmesan, lemon, salt and enough oil to cover the kale. The kale needs to be covered well so that it doesn’t burn.
Place dressed kale on a wire rack on a sheet pan, or on a sheet pan with oil. Bake at 275 degrees for 10-15 till crisp. Try to avoid browning.
Let chips cool, and serve.