Skip to content
All original content on these pages is fingerprinted and certified by Digiprove
My experiment for this batch of fresh pasta was to try white all purpose whole wheat flour and it worked beautifully. Cooked in salted water and dressing with say Roman artichokes, grated parmigiano, and extra virgin olive oil, the final product was delicious. I used a hand cranked pasta machine with a four inch roller and “fettuccine” cutters for this batch.
makes 1/3 pound (150 grams) fresh pasta
cost $2.70 per pound
serves 2 to 4 depending on portion size
white whole wheat flour, ¾ to ⅞ cup (100g)
egg, 1 large
Weigh out (or measure) flour. Place in bowl or on a board. Add the egg. Knead until the moisture from the egg has absorbed as much flour as it can hold. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about an hour. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Working one piece at a time, finish the kneading process by putting each piece through the large rollers until it is soft and pliable. Then flatten the piece by progressing from the wide roller setting to the narrow roller setting and cut the piece using one of the two cutting blades. Form into a nest, use immediately, or freeze.
The exact amount of flour depends on the moisture content of the flour and the moisture in the egg. The goal is just the right amount of flour and moisture and is more dependent of getting a feel for the dough than on an exact measurement. If the dough is too dry, it becomes brittle, lacks pliability, and cannot be rolled or cut successfully. If the dough is too moist, it gets stuck in the rollers and the cutters and ends up making a sticky mess.
Using the same ratio of 100 grams flour to 1 extra large egg, different combinations of flour can be used: all purpose unbleached white flour, whole wheat all purpose flour. You can also experiment with using semolina flour, up to 25% of the total amount. Because the recipe is weight based, proportions are expandable.
NB: Making fresh pasta requires a pasta making machine. Models available today come with a wider cutting surface which makes the process go faster. If I were getting one today, I would get the wider cutting surface. But I don’t make enough pasta to warrant replacing the one I have and my machine has a lot of sentimental value for me because I bought it on my first trip to Rome and hand carried it back home.
Cost. I priced fresh pasta and it runs $3.50 to $4.00 per pound in one of my local supermarkets. Making it at home cost me less, but the difference is not significant enough however to justify my labor. Pasta only gets made at home if you like the taste better and you think it is fun.
Calories. Proportions for fresh pasta used consistently in my Italian source books are 200 grams flour and 2 eggs for 4 people. These classic proportions are a little larger that our current Serving Size for pasta which is 1 about cup. I prefer a smaller portion, say half the size of the classic Italian portion.
Classic Italian Portion (163g): Calories 210, Fat 3.5g, Saturated Fat 1g, Sodium 270mg, Carbohydrate 36g, Fiber 5g, Protein 10g.
My Smaller Portion (82g cooked): Calories 100, Fat 2g, Saturated Fat 0g, Sodium 135mg, Carbohydrate 18g, Fiber 3g, Protein 5g.
A dense, delicious, intensely chocolate cake. Serve as is or accompany with whipped cream, frozen yogurt, or ice cream. The origins for this cake are certainly European, but exactly were remains unclear. I found one version, gâteau au chocolate et aux amandes, in Elizabeth David’s book French Provincial Cooking. An internet search brought up multiple listings for an Italian version, La Torte Caprese. And I found a third version, pastel de chocolate alemendras, in Claudia Roden’s recent book The Food of Spain. These versions all use bar chocolate. My version uses high fat cocoa powder (20-25%) because, in my opinion, cocoa powder is easier to source and easier to work with. Just don’t use Dutch Process cocoa powder because the process changes the acid base balance and may keep the eggs from setting.
310 calories per serving
4 extra large eggs
7 tablespoons / 100 g butter
1 cup / 100 g cocoa powder
7 tablespoons / 100 ml strong coffee
1 cup / 100 g almond flour
½ cup / 100 g white sugar
⅛ teaspoon / 0.4 g salt
a spoonful or two of brandy
Bring butter and eggs to room temperature before starting. Assemble one large stainless steel bowl for egg whites, one medium mixing bowl, one small mixing bowl for egg yolks, and one 8 inch (20cm) high sided cake pan. An electric hand mixer helps immensely. Wash all equipment, utensils, and bowls in hot soapy water before starting. Line the bottom of cake pan with parchment paper. Make coffee and put aside to cool. Preheat oven 325°F / 160°C. Measure or weigh out sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and butter.
Start by melting butter in double boiler or small pan sitting in a larger pan of gently boiling water. Stir ground almonds into melted butter and add a pinch of salt. Then, using the medium mixing bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder in the cooled coffee. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons brandy as needed ensure the cocoa is completed dissolved. The mixture should resemble a very thick paste and will form a ball.
Now incorporate the cocoa-coffee mixture into the butter-almond mixture. Keep stirring until the mixtures are thoroughly incorporated and become very smooth. Do not let the temperature go above 125°F / 50°C. Transfer back to medium bowl and set aside to cool. Separate egg whites from egg yolks. Using the electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar in small mixing bowl until yolks froth up and turn pale yellow. Fold egg yolk mixture into cooled chocolate-butter-almond mixture.
Finally whip the egg whites into a foam that holds a soft peak but does not look dry. Remember egg whites whip best at room temperature in a stainless steel bowl. Use electric mixer with the balloon whip at high speed. Both over beating and under beating produce lower volumes. Once the egg whites are whipped, move fast because whites start to soften as soon as you stop beating. Gently fold whites into chocolate mixture a third at a time using a spatula and a cutting motion. Fold only until no visible streaks of white remain. Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake in non-convection oven and bake until the sides are set, the center is slightly soft, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Usually takes somewhere between 35 minutes and 45 minutes. Let the cake cool completely, remove from pan, and transfer to a plate. Hold in the refrigerator or freeze for future use. Bring cake to room temperature and dust with grated orange peel or powdered sugar before serving.
As one of my dietitian colleagues shared with me in a moment of candor “The last think I want to know when I order dessert is how many calories are in a chocolate mousse!” Many people feel this way. So if you are one of those people don’t want to know, read no farther.
There is another way to look at the situation. Indulgences are a significant source of calories and knowing the count enables you to manage the impact. This cake is made with whole, minimally processed ingredients and provides nutritional value as you can see referenced below. The problem is the calorie density. No more, no less than any other chocolate cake out there, but still significant. For smaller portions, divide cake in 10 pieces at 250 calories each. For larger portions, divide cake in 6 pieces at 410 calories each. In my experience, most people just want to enjoy, so when I serve this cake I keep the numbers to myself.
Per Serving (80g): Calories 310, Fat 22g, Saturated Fat 9g, Sodium 65mg, Carbohydrate 22g, Fiber 5g, Protein 8g.
Excellent source fiber and magnesium (cocoa, almond flour).
Good source protein (eggs, almond flour), vitamin A (butter), vitamin E (almond flour), iron (cocoa).
Cocoa is a natural source of flavonoids.
See nutrition label per serving for fat and saturated fat because values exceed reference limits.
We all love cheese. But it is the French who have mastered the art of serving cheese and setting it within the structure of a meal. Try serving cheese accompanied with fruit after the meal instead of a dessert. Most people do not complain and for those who do, just serve a “real” dessert too. If you have never tried, you may find cheese is more satisfying at the end of a meal than something sweet and syrupy. Cheese is fun to experiment with. Most people quickly determine which types they like and which types they can do without. Each cheese has its own unique character and its own finite shelf life. A hard cheese like parmiggiano or aged cheddar will keep months as long as it is stored correctly. A fresh cheese like goat should be eaten relatively quickly. A camembert will keep a while. The delicate aromas and textures of cheese are enhanced when served at room temperature, so remove cheese from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. Pictured below is the local Hudson Valley Camember cheese (5.6 ounces/156g) I picked up at my Greenmarket.
one camembert cheese 6-8 ounces (150g-250g)
cost $7.00 – $10.00
calories depends on size
serves 6 to 10
140 calories per serving
Pictured here on the left are the green Pepin apples I also picked up at the Greenmarket. Thin crispbreads, water thins, or a good baguette are a must. Crispbreads or water thins are my preference because they provide a surface for tasting and savoring cheese but are less calorie dense than bread. A plain wooden board makes the best serving plate. The best garnish is an attractive cheese knife.
camembert cheese, count 1 ounce (25g-30g) per person
box of crispbreads
crisp fall apples, count 1/2 apple per person
Cheese is a good source of calcium and protein, but is also high in butterfat and for sodium for some people. See nutrition information for fat content. So here is the question — can we eat our cheese and be healthy too? Guess the answer to this one has got to be it depends …
A serving of cheese on my plate is about an ounce or 25 to 30 grams. Small is beautiful!
Comparing my cheese plate to the calories in an equivalent dessert say a piece of cheesecake, the camembert does well. A classic restaurant style cheesecake will run about 550 calories, considerable more than my camembert plate. More extravagant cheesecakes go up exponentially up from there to 1000 calories or more. As for salt, comparing my camembert to an equivalent weight of American process cheese, the camembert has less sodium.
Liz Thorpe has written a wonderful book chronicling how local cheese makers across our country have reinvented European traditions for American consumption. Check out The Cheese Chronicles: A Journey through the Making and Selling of Cheese in American, from Field to Farm to Table, 2009.
Per Serving of cheese,crispbread, and apple (103 g): Calories 140, Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 290mg, Carbohydrate 14g, Fiber 1g, Protein 6g.
Fresh, local, and in season depends on where you live and what is accessible. During the summer, I have easy access to clams because my local greenmarket is on the south shore of Long Island and offers a constant supply of fresh, local fish and shellfish. All last summer I cooked flounder, bluefish, porgies, tuna, even a swordfish caught off Montauk Point. And all last year I kept looking at those delicate Long Island little neck clams. I never bought them because I’m just not used to clams. Love to eat them and never cooked them. So this year I decided to do it. How else can you keep on learning if you don’t try new things? I pulled out my best reference sources, put together a starting structure, and am ready to share the results. Steaming little neck clams open is easy once you get the hang of it. I used a 3 liter pot (actually the bottom of my steamer) as you can see in the picture below. White wine or dry vermouth can be substituted for all or part of the water needed to steam the clams. 100 grams linguine gripped firmly in the hand measures about ¾ inches or 2 cm in diameter. You will also need a medium sized sauté pan and a 2 liter saucepan to cook the pasta. Proportions listed below are for 2 modest servings.
makes 2 cups
440 calories per serving
2 dozen little neck clams (about 900g measured raw in shell), scrubbed and de-sanded as required
1 cup water (¼ liter) for steaming
4 robust cloves fresh garlic (25g), peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (30ml)
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon oregano
3 ½ ounces dry linguine (100g), made with 100% hard durum wheat or semolina flour
½ cup chopped parsley (15g)
Assemble all ingredients before starting.
Bring water to boil in the bottom of a large pot. When the water is boiling, add the clams. As the clams open, remove each one carefully to a bowl retaining every drop of the flavorful liquid. Steaming the clams open takes about 5 minutes. As soon as the shells are cool, remove clams from shells. Keep clams in a small bowl and strain the remaining liquid to remove any remaining sand or grit. Put aside keeping clams and juice separate. As the clams are steaming, add olive oil to the sauté pan and slowly soften garlic over low heat. Add crushed red pepper and oregano to garlic oil, letting the mixture steep for about five minutes. Add reserved clam juice, increase heat, and reduce volume to about half. Keep sauce warm.
Cook linguine al dente in salted water. Remove with a pasta fork and transfer to the sauté pan. Retain cooking water. Stir in clams and parsley. If more liquid is required, add some from the pasta cooking water. Serve immediately.
Clams are a significant source of protein as well as many essential vitamins and minerals. Olive oil is a natural source of oleic acid.
Total fat exceeds “healthy” limits, but please remember to put this disclaimer in the context of the great fat debate. Saturated fats are within “healthy” range. Your may be asking where does the saturated fat come from? It is the olive oil. Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, olive also contains a fraction (14%) saturated fatty acid so a couple tablespoons adds up. Sodium is within the current standard of less than 480mg per serving and 140mg per 100 grams. Now let’s step back a moment and consider carbohydrate metrics. My favorite Italian recipe source, Le Reccette Regionali Italiane, lists 100 grams dry pasta per person. My version reduces that amount by half to 50 grams per person. My preference is less pasta and more clams. But that’s the joy of cooking! It is completely up to you.
References: Le Riccette Regionali Italiane (La Cucina Italiana, Quart edizione: settembre 1976), Fish without a doubt, Rick Moonen (Houghton Mifflin Company 2008)
Pper Serving (255g): 440 Calories, Fat 17g, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Sodium 240mg, Carbohydrate 45g, Fiber 3g, Protein 25g.
Excellent Source: Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B12, Vitamin C, Folate, Iron.
Good Source: Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc.
Being from California, I have had to adjust to New York’s limited growing season. Strawberry season is short and sweet beginning about mid-June and lasting into July as weather conditions permit. Fresh local berries are fragile and perishable. Pictured below are 1 dry quart (liter) of a variety called Honeoye. Grown upstate New York, transported downstate, and sold at my local GreenMarket, they were held in my refrigerator from late that afternoon to the next day when I took the picture. Notice how the berries differ in size and color. It’s normal because that is how nature grew them. Most local strawberries are sold by the dry quart (liter) and a dry quart of strawberries weighs about 570 grams.
Fresh local strawberries are expensive, perishable, and special. They are the first fruit of the season and announce good things to come!
yield 4 cups (1 liter)
45 calories per serving
Fresh Local Strawberries: Can something this simple really be called a recipe?
1 dry quart fresh, local strawberries, picked within the last 24 hours
Hold in refrigerator, wash just before serving leaving stems intact.Serve with brown sugar as needed.
Nature is prolific producing lots of berries all at once. So what is to be done with the berries you can’t eat? My preferred approach is sugar and brandy. It is not the only approach, but it is definitely my favorite. Sugar acts like salt pulling the juices out of the berries which then mixes in with the brandy to form a bright red slightly alcoholic syrup. Strawberries macerated in sugar and brandy hold well for at least another couple days.
yield 3 cups (700ml)
70 calories per serving
1 dry quart fresh, local strawberries, washed, stems removed (540 gram)
3 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
6 tablespoons 0% strained Greek yogurt for garnish
Place washed and stemmed berries in a bowl. Add sugar and brandy and carefully stir in berries. Cover and let macerate in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Serve garnished with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt.
METRICS FOR 1 DRY QUART (1 LITER)
Notice the calories. Adding sugar, brandy, and yogurt nearly doubles the calories per serving. Compared to a calorie dense real dessert, however, macerated berries are a much better choice. Now notice the cost. Fresh, local berries are expensive. I know most people choose a “real” dessert, but I have always preferred to end a meal with a fruit. Less calorie dense, sweetness balanced against a mild acidity, and unfortunately a lot more costly!
All berries scores well on what is called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all grouped near the top of the scale keeping good company with almonds and pomegranate. ORAC is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in laboratory test tubes and as Wikipedia points out “there exists no physiological proof in vivo that this theory is valid.” Besides a good ORAC score, fresh strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Per Serving fresh (135g): 45 Calories, Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Sodium 0mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 3g, Protein 1g.
Per Serving macerated (117g): 70 Calories, Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Sodium 10mg, Carbohydrate 13g, Fiber 2g, Protein 2g.
A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.
Salads are quicker to make when the dressing is handy, so I have always had a bottle of one of the respectable brand names waiting and ready to go. Then one day about a year ago, I read the label. No extra virgin olive oil! I checked other labels and discovered that most of the bottled dressings had no olive oil. Even the most expensive, most prestigious brands! The best I could find was a mention of extra virgin in the list of ingredients along with other oils. So I started experimenting and ended up with this superb dressing. It is significantly more expensive to make and somewhat more cumbersome to use, but the exceptionally fine flavors and clean taste of the vinaigrette for me at least are worth any extra effort and cost.
makes 14 fluid ounces (400g)
cost $12 per carafe
yield 28 tablespoons
90 calories per tablespoon
300 ml (1 ¼ cup) moderately priced extra virgin olive oil
100 ml (6 tablespoons, 2 teaspoons) sherry vinegar, at least 6% acidity
2 teaspoons flake style salt (5.6g )
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make the vinaigrette in a standard glass 2 cup (500ml) measuring cup. Measure out ingredients in the order listed. Using the metric side of the cup simplifies the process, but standard cup, tablespoon, teaspoon equivalents are also listed. Beat the mixture into a state of emulsification using a wire whisk and pour vinaigrette into a 14 fluid ounce (420ml) storage carafe with a pouring spout.
Like some cooks and some dietitians I know, olive oil and vinegar need encouragement to share the same plate. There are two options: an emulsifier or brute force. This vinaigrette has no emulsifier and therefore requires a lot of agitation. It is easy to make, but can be cumbersome to use. Once made, the carafe of vinaigrette should be stored in the refrigerator. Olive oil gets cloudy and starts to congeal at that temperature. Bring the vinaigrette to room temperature and shake vigorously before pouring.
How much dressing you use depends on the size and composition of the salad and of course on your personal preference. For a small salad appetizer, 1 tablespoon or ½ serving is usually enough for me. Extra virgin olive oil gets very expensive really fast. This carafe was made with a moderately priced oil $16.99 per 500ml. Sometimes I use an even more moderately priced oil $11.99 per 500ml and the carafe only costs me about $9. Going even cheaper, say $15.99 per liter (34 oz), the cost drops to under $7. Expensive extra virgin olive oils start about $21.99 per 500ml and goes exponentially up from there.
Salad greens and intensely colored raw vegetables are loaded with carotenoids and other fat soluble phytonutrients. Full fat salad dressings increase absorption rate so any oil based dressing is preferably to fat free dressings. Extra virgin olive oil is a natural source of both monounsaturated fat and polyphenols. Research on the antioxidant effects of dietary polyphenols has been promising and the FDA actually permits a qualified health claim for monounsaturated fat from olive oil and reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
My vinaigrette has a good sodium profile. The 2014 National Salt Reduction Initiative sodium target for salad dressing is 570mg per 100g and my homemade version has 560 mg per 100g. For comparison sake, a commercial off the shelf brand can be as high as 1500mg per 100g or more ….
While the health arguments are comforting and provide rational justification, the real reason I continue to make my own comes down to it just tastes better!
Per Tablespoon (14g): Calories 90, Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Sodium 80mg, Carbohydrate 0g, Fiber 0g, Protein 0g.
A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.
I love sardine sandwiches. Always have. I learned how to make them from my mom. She used red onion, some mustard, some lettuce, and always a robust whole grain wheat bread. So I was pleased to see two version of the sandwich honored recently in The Sandwich Issue of SAVEUR Magazine and delighted to fine both versions were provided by Michael Colameco, an engaging and knowledgeable New York City food writer and broadcaster.
The moment was right and the version with the horseradish mayonnaise caught my eye. A can of slightly smoked Portuguese sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil was sitting in my cupboard ready to go. Next to the sardines was a jar of imported roasted red peppers from Italy. With some improvisation in the making of the horseradish cream and a quick switch from lettuce to arugula, I put together my amateur’s version. But I stayed with the whole wheat bread. We never used rye bread when I was growing up in California. And it is heresy to admit this, but I have never really developed a taste for rye despite the great selection that is now available to me living in New York.
My amateur version is detailed below. For Chef Mike’s version, check out SAVEUR #137 The Sandwich Issue for his Sardine Sandwich with Horseradish Cream.
makes 2 open faced sandwiches
330 calories per serving
2 to 4 pieces thinly sliced red onion (30g)
2 tablespoons (30g) mayonnaise
1 teaspoon (1.6g) horseradish powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
2 large pieces (100g) multi grain or whole grain wheat bread
10 arugula leaves (20g), trimmed and washed
4 ¼ ounce tin sardines (120g), packed in oil and drained
1 piece roasted red pepper (85g) cut into slices
Incorporate the horseradish powder into the mayonnaise about 20 minutes before assembling the sandwich and keep refrigerated. Assemble the rest of the ingredients. Toast the bread. Start by spreading the horseradish sauce on the toasted bread. Place the arugula leaves and sliced onion on next. Remove the sardines from the tin, divide in half, and arrange on top of the onion slices. Now garnish with the slices of roasted red pepper. Finish with some black pepper and an optional dash of salt.
There are many good nutrition based reasons to enjoy this sardine sandwich. In return for slightly “unhealthy” levels of fat and sodium, you get exceptionally “healthy” levels protein and fiber, an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, and a respectable amount of omega-3 fatty acids. This one really needs to be put in a manageable context. When going out to a diner or a deli, comparatively speaking the sardine sandwich is one of the healthiest items on the menu. When deciding between a tuna sandwich or a sardine sandwich, the sardine sandwich definitely has the edge.
How to determine when the risks out way the benefits continues to be a raging debate. There is a saying I heard first in the business world but which, I have just discovered, can actually be attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire: The perfect is the enemy of the good. I am beginning to wish the nutrition experts were better read in Enlightenment philosophy.
Per Serving (162g): Calories 320, Fat 19g, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Sodium 630mg, Carbohydrate 18g, Fiber 5g, Protein 17g.
Excellent Source: protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin D, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B12.
Good Source: iron, niacin.
makes 2 cups
150 calories per serving
This complex richly flavored dish is best balanced against a simple braised protein like fish or served on its own as an appetizer. A robust, loose leaf spinach works best, but sometimes this spinach can be hard to find. I am lucky enough to have a local grocer who carries the real thing all year round. And since I live in New York City, that means shipping spinach in from California or Texas when local product is not available. Alternatives are bagged, pre-washed, or hydroponically grown spinach. For me the taste and texture of the real thing are worth it, but it is a personal decision. Waiting for local product would have reduced the cost, but what can I say. I was impatient!
Spinach grows best in sandy soil and each leaf requires washing several times to remove any little pieces of grit that may have lodged in the crevices. So spinach whether transported or grown locally can be time consuming. My first encounter with the combination of spinach, nuts, and fruit was in Claudia Rodin’s wonderful book The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Her version calls for pine nuts but I use walnuts. I always have a few walnuts on hand and I prefer the taste.
1 ⅓ pound spinach as purchased fresh and untrimmed (600g)
1 whole shallot (65g) peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (15ml)
¼ teaspoon flake salt
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts (30g), about 6 walnuts as purchased in shell
2 tablespoons currants (30g)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (15ml)
2 teaspoon first cold pressed olive oil (10ml)
Trim stems and roots from the spinach, wash thoroughly, chop into large pieces, and spin dry in a salad spinner. Remove walnuts from shell and chop. Refresh currants by covering with hot water and letting them soften for about 10 minutes. Assemble other ingredients.
Sauté scallions in olive oil using a sauté pan that comes with a cover and is large enough to hold all the spinach. When the shallots have softened and turned translucent, add balsamic vinegar and let most of it evaporate. Then add the chopped walnuts, softened currants, and finally the spinach, pressing the spinach down into the pan. Do not add any additional water. Cover and leave over low heat until the spinach softens into a mass. Incorporate the walnuts and currant evenly into the spinach and finish with remaining cold pressed olive oil. Tastes as good at room temperature as it does served hot.
The experts agree that spinach is a healthy food. A dark green vegetable as per MyPyramid. A source of essential micro-nutrients as per Nutrition Facts Label. The experts however do not agree about fat. Using olive oil in classic proportions will always exceed the austere requirement of 3 grams per serving* required by the FDA to label a preparation “healthy.” The role of fat in the diet, especially unsaturated fats and oils, is becoming controversial and consensus has not been reached yet.
My friends and family take a liberalized approach to fats and olive oil and devour my spinach faster as I can wash the leaves with comments like “I can eat this all day!” If good cooking is the art of creating food people love to eat, than smart cooking is using those skills to encourage people to eat healthy food. So wouldn’t that mean that olive oil is serving a noble purpose? But there I go again – me and my simplistic mind!
Per Serving (114g): Calories 150, Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Sodium 125mg, Carbohydrate 12g, Fiber 3g, Protein 4g.
Excellent source vitamin A as beta-carotene, folate, magnesium.
Good source fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin E, potassium.
A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.
As with so many of life’s important decisions, the choice of red, curly, or black kale comes down to your taste, your personal preference, and your pocketbook
Curly kale has broad based deep green leaves and a robust, pungent, fully developed favor. It is cultivated all year long and is easy to pick up in most supermarket chains. Some cooks blanch the leaves first, while others add a grated carrot to the pan to soften and sweeten the somewhat bitter taste.
makes about 2 cups (500ml)
cost $6.00 for black kale / $3.00 for curly kale
160 calories per serving
More exotic and expensive are red kale (pictured on the right) and black kale (pictured on the left). A little milder and a little less pungent, these kales can be found in green markets starting in fall through early winter and in specialty supermarkets all year long. My favorite is cavolo nero or black kale. Alternatively called dinosaur or laciniato kale, this blackish-green leafy kale is favored by the Tuscans who have developed a special affection for its distinctive taste and gnarled appearance. Chicken stock enhances flavor and a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice before serving sharpens the flavor. Check to be sure that excess stock or water has been completely evaporated so the final dish does not weep.
An excellent choice of greens to accompany a ham, a rack of pork, or a roast beef, keep kale in mind as you plan for the upcoming holidays. Each pound (½ kilo) kale as purchased yields 2 to 2½ cups cooked.
2 bunches (15 ounces/430g) curly, red, or black kale, washed, stemmed, and chopped into medium sized pieces
2 tablespoons (25g) extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves (10g) fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1 – 2 cups (250ml – 500ml) low sodium chicken stock
¼ teaspoon (.7g) flake salt
Lemon juice or Balsamic vinegar
Warm oil in sauté pan and soften crushed garlic. Add kale a handful or two at a time using medium heat and stirring as you add each handful. Sauté the kale until the pieces start to wilt and the oil is evenly distributed, usually about 5 minutes. Add the salt and start adding stock or water a half cup (100ml) at a time. Keep adding the stock until the kale is softened. Keep heat high enough to evaporate each addition of stock. If more liquid is required, use water. Braise the kale for another 20 minutes. Reduce the heat when the kale is softened and all liquid is absorbed or evaporated. Adjust seasonings and finish with some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. At this point, the kale will hold nicely for at least 30 minutes. Check before serving to be sure that excess stock or water has been completely evaporated so the final dish does not weep.
Note: Both piece size and cooking time effect the texture of the final product. The smaller the pieces or the longer the cooking time, the softer and smoother the kale. Start with medium sized pieces and about 20 minutes, then adjust according to taste.
Kale is not cheap, but it is incredible healthy. MyPyramid classifies kale as a dark green vegetable and recommends 2 cups dark greens per week. Whole Foods uses the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) to numerically rate foods and kale is on top with a score of 1000. For those of you like me who love kale and are willing to pay the price, we get both flavor and nutrition with each bite. The question I wrestle with is how to make this incredibly healthy vegetable appealing and acceptable to those of you who do not share my taste for slightly bitter greens. I can’t guarantee success, but I know where to start. A judicious amount of salt, a generous amount of fat, some acid, some culinary expertise, and a few discretionary dollars to invest in healthy greens.
Encouraging more people to eat and enjoy a healthy vegetable like kale is the best kind of healthy eating. So I choose to focus more on the sourcing and cooking end and less on the limits to sodium and fat end. To my simplistic mind, flexing a little on olive oil and salt makes good nutrition sense as long as more people eat more kale.
Per Serving (130g): Calories 160, Fat 13g, Saturated Fat 2.0g, Sodium 240mg, Carbohydrate 8g, Fiber 2g, Protein 3g.
A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.
Everyone loves Thanksgiving. It is our national family social get together and our yearly communal sit down. Probably the only American meal where we actually sit down and eat the same basic set of items. Roast turkey and gravy. Cranberries. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes. Squash or pumpkin. Checking my facsimile edition of The Original Boston School Cooking Book published in 1896, the menu items are pretty much the same. The notable exception is oyster soup. Does anyone serve that anymore? Certainly not me. I have made many Thanksgiving dinners for family and friends over the years because the tradition deserves to be honored. But turkey is not my favorite. A little too bland. And sometimes a little too dry. Do I love the day any less? Absolutely not! It just means I put aside my taste for a really gamey bird and cook to please the less adventurous who come to my table to indulge.
Looking at a whole meal has always fascinated me. Eating is holistic. People eat meals as opposed to individual items and since Americans eat pretty much the same set of items, Thanksgiving is a perfect meal to look at. Using recipes from my software data base, prices from various local markets, and some off the shelf preparations, here is the menu board for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Onion Soup, ¾ cup (180ml)
Roast Turkey with Skin, 6 ounces (170g)
Turkey Gravy, ¼ cup (60ml)
Bread Stuffing, ½ cup (100g)
Cranberry Sauce, 2 Tablespoons (35g)
Mashed Potato, ½ cup (105g)
Green Beans with Almonds, ½ cup (120g)
Sparkling Apple Cider, 8 fl oz (230ml)
Pumpkin Pie, 1 piece (155g)
total cost $7.40 ● total calories 1240 per serving
Let’s talk dollars first. Any foodie worth his salt can drive the cost up by sourcing specialty items. Free range grain fed turkeys. Even better heirloom wild turkeys (my personal choice). Maybe a bottle of vintage wine… But Thanksgiving is not complex and perhaps it is more in keeping with tradition to keep the meal simple. Besides, many people prefer the taste of turkey, not the more gamey flavor of a heirloom bird. My first surprise was how reasonably priced a traditional Thanksgiving could be.
My second surprise was how much time the analysis took. What I thought would be a straightforward exercise ended up getting complex. Some items have incomplete data and due diligence is required every step of the way to determine a reasonably accurate calorie count. That may be one of the reasons why so few meals seem to get analyzed.
Besides the time commitment, however, there may be another reason meals, especially great meals, do not get analyzed. Companionship, cooking, setting, sharing, savoring – the magic of a great meal is what my fellow foodies love and cherish. The risk of analysis is that it can break the magic of the moment. And that is a valid observation.
But let’s just try a bit of analysis by putting the calories into the context of who may be sitting at table. Aunt Sally is over 50, never exercises, sometimes indulges in sweets but otherwise eats like a bird – miniscule portions, no skin, no dark meat, no gravy, and a whole piece of pumpkin pie. Makes sense because her daily requirement is about 1600 calories. She will also get full benefit of the only deep orange vegetable on the table. Then there is cousin Jeremy. On the move, physically active, into sports, early twenties, always hungry. He eats double portions of everything in sight. Makes sense because his daily requirement is about 3000 calories. And then there is everyone else in between, but that is enough for now. A little bit of analysis goes a long way and I need to get cooking …
Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the meal!