breaking bread is a universal ritual that brings us together. a good meal has the power to heal us, body and soul. all my cooking comes from the heart.

Monday, January 26, 2015

adventures in the galley

Here's a twist on the classic caprese salad. I don't like tomatoes unless they are beaten into submission (i.e., pureed) so this is sans tomatoes and the protein is revved up with some chicken. A classic caprese is alternated slices of fresh mozzarella, fresh roma tomatoes, and basil leaves, and then the whole thing is drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Here I made a pile of chopped grilled chicken (which had been marinated for a few days in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper) (5 oz is about 170 calories, I think I just put about 3 oz here), then I added two ounces of fresh mozzarella (170 calories), chopped fresh basil (the calories are so negligible they don't really matter), drizzled it with a tablespoon olive oil (120 calories), and then with a tablespoon of balsamic vinger (10 calories). I topped it off with fresh ground pepper and a bit of pink Himalayan salt. Yum!

Next up in making my grilled chicken multitask, chicken with Italian sausage, gemelli, and broccoli. I made four servings using one mild sweet Italian sausage, (that and the chicken both purchased from The Fresh Market), and ten ounces of grilled chicken, (about two breasts depending on how big they are). The anise in the sausage is key in getting the defining flavor for this very versatile combination. I sauteed onions and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, added the grilled chicken and sausage, (already cut up into bite-sized pieces), then added a cup of vegetable broth, (I used Rapunzel powdered broth), fresh ground pepper, and kosher salt, and let them simmer together. Meanwhile, I boiled the water and cooked up about 8 ounces (dry) of gemelli pasta. The spiral in the gemelli is nice for grabbing onto sauces. Once the pasta was al dente and drained, I added it to the pan and stirred it in. I also added a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. I often make this with white wine, but didn't have any, so the vinegar added some needed sweetness. The combination of chicken with Italian sausage is very versatile. You can play around with the ingredients you happen to have and serve it with pasta, brown rice, risotto, or whatever mild starch suits your taste. To make it saucy I usually use vegetable broth and white white, but broth and Madeira or Marsala wine is also tasty. To jazz up the color and bulk up the volume with minimal calories I added a cup of lightly steamed broccoli to each serving.

Finally, I went really "iron chef" with what I had to work with and was thrilled with how well it turned out. I boiled up vegetable broth and mixed red and white quinoa. I like to make a few servings worth so I can have some on hand for random leftovers. Unless I'm making white basmati rice for curry, I always cook rice, quinoa, or cous cous with vegetable broth to give it flavor. While the quinoa was underway, I simmered haricot verts, i.e., snooty French string beans, in about a quarter cup of water in a saute pan. Once they were cooked but not overdone, I drained out the water, added a tablespoon of olive oil, and added three slices of julienned hard salami and a quarter of an orange bell pepper. Season to taste with a bit of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Next up I mixed a can of garbanzo beans a/k/a chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. I topped the haricot verts and garbanzos (1/3 of a can here) with an ounce of light feta cheese. (The dinner plate above was full and came in under 500 calories). The salami really gave the haricot verts some zip, and while bacon is classic and would also be delish, salami was a fast and simple option to pull out of the reefer. 

My fridge is a converted icebox and is very small and very unpredictable. It freezes things I don't want frozen (lettuce, yogurt...), doesn't chill other things enough, it's just a constant challenge. Thus, I have to work with small quantities of groceries and pick items that will survive the haphazard conditions aboard, rather than what I might prefer under the best of circumstances. But life is all about making the best of the unpredictable and unexpected, so just go for it and have some adventures in your galley.

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