This recipe was inspired by a post from blogger Emily Levenson, Zucchini Patties with Tahini Sauce. The zucchini patties are quite versatile and can also be served in a pita with a yogurt sauce or done with tahini dipping sauce and a small side salad.

What I really like about this recipe is how quick and flavorful the patties are. They take about five minutes to make when using a food processor and only about 10 minutes to cook.

Spinach Salad with Zucchini Patties and Champagne Vinegar Dressing
Serves 4

1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 zucchinis
1 red onion
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp of salt

Baby Spinach
4 strawberries, thinly sliced

Champagne Dressing
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
ground pepper to taste

 

Mash chickpeas into a paste. Combine the rest of the first 6 ingredients into the mashed chickpea mixture.

Combine and then form patties.

Pan fry zucchini patties in saute pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and tablespoon of butter.

Prepare the Champagne vinegar and plate spinach and strawberries.  Add patties on top of salad and drizzle vinaigrette.

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Whole Foods Goes Sustainable in the Seafood Aisle

On April 23, 2012, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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If you love seafood, you might notice this blog isn’t very helpful when it comes to seafood recipes that’s due to my wife not liking seafood and my being quite picky about it.  While I am an infrequent eater of seafood, I was impressed today about Whole Foods decision to ban unsustainable fishing. See this article in today’s New York Times: A Ban on Some Seafood Has Fisherman Fuming.

While it isn’t a very popular decision in the eyes of East coast fisherman, it is the right decision and sorry but as our food decisions become more considerate this kind of trend will stop being a trend and become more mainstream.

My favorite quote in the article is this bit of misconception, “It’s a marketing ploy, that’s all.”

It may be a bit of a ‘marketing ploy’, but it’s mostly about the care of our food sources and the fact that some areas and types of fish are over-fished and this is causing some major ecological damage that more and more consumers care about.  What’s happening here is not a ‘ploy’ it’s education.  Like the old Saturday morning spots called “The More You Know”, knowledge is power and that power is being converted into buying decisions at the grocery store.

Whole Foods implemented a Seafood Sustainability Rating system back in 2010 (see image at top of this article.)  That information gave consumers more choices while making decisions shopping.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that the new decision to stop carrying foods with Red rating is any surprise. This was coming.  Give consumers more information and they will opt for betting choices.

This is a good change and I’m happy to be a Whole Foods customer because they do respond to their most loyal customers and this change of food sourcing is one such change. Now, hopefully we’ll see more meat choices like pork, lamb, chicken and beef come from more sustainable sources.  Whole Foods has a few options for grass fed and no options for truly pasture raised chickens today, but it is a positive step to see changes at the meat and seafood counter, learn more about their 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating on their blog.

Thank you Whole Foods!

Here is the video back from 2010 showcasing the rating system they implemented almost 2 years ago:

Chickpea Biryani

On April 21, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love Biryani. Usually I’ll order it with chicken, but it makes a decent vegetarian option for a Meatless Monday.

 

This simple recipe is worth trying. My only change is use 1 serrano pepper instead of two.  We found the two peppers too spicy.  Adjust to your preference.

Full Recipe: Chickpea Biryani

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Mario Batali’s Mint Love Letters

On April 21, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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If you are ever in New York City, I highly recommend Babbo.  It’s an Italian restaurant from celebrity chef Mario Batali.  It’s amazing.  I say Mario is a “celebrity chef” but he is the real deal and is by far my favorite chef. His approach to Italian food that used to be featured in his Food TV Network show Molto Mario, back when Food TV had good shows instead of all of this competitive reality crap.

My favorite two dishes of Babbo’s are the oxtail gnocchi and mint love letters.  I’ve tried making both but have been more successful with my attempts at the latter than the former.  Nothing I’ve made is equal or better to what I’ve had a Babbo’s.  That said this is a very impressive dish and it is definitely worth your time and effort, especially considering how Babbo’s isn’t around the corner from my home.

This dish took about a hour and half to make, so do it on a weekend, not after work.

First thing you’ll want to do is make the Basic Red Sauce. I did this the day before.. The recipe is simple and uses these few ingredients.

First start with making your pasta dough, I use a basic recipe that requires 30 minutes after the dough is made making sure it is not sticky and wrap it in plastic. Let it sit and make your filling.

For the Mint Love Letters, ie the Ravioli, you’ll want to start with the filling.  Blend peas, mint, Parmigiano Reggiano, heavy cream and salt and pepper using a food processor. I’d advise adding the heavy cream separately until you develop a thick paste that will hold as the filling in the pasta sheets.

Now work with your pasta creating two sheets of similar size and shape that you’ll use to create about 3 to 4 raviolis.  I run the pasta through the rollers starting at thickness 1 working down to thickness 5. You can go as low as 6, but you will have some rip. I recommend thinning the sheets to size 5 thickness.

Prepare each ravioli using two thin sheets of pasta dough and small dollop of filing making sure it’s not too large as you don’t want it bursting later when boiling.

Continue making your raviolis and dust with flour so they will not stick to each other. Also start heating your water to bring to a boil, lightly salt.

Start your sauce by lightly browning your spicy ground lamb. If you do not like lamb, use ground beef and add a 1 teaspoon of each of basil and oregano and add a few flakes of dried red pepper.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, being careful not to overcook or undercook.

While the ravioli is boiling and the meat is lightly browned, add the red sauce and about 5 chiffon leaves of fresh mint before serving. Cook the red sauce and meat for about 3 minutes.

Add several raviolis to each plate and complete with the meat sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve.


Recipes:

Basic Red Sauce

Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage 

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Nespresso Marinated Steak

On April 12, 2012, in Featured, Food, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Last night I went to a food event with other writers and bloggers hosted by Nespresso USA (@NespressoUSA on Twitter.)  It was an event hosted at the popular Private Social restaurant here in Dallas, restaurant of Top Chef contestant Tiffany Derry.

There were several coffee inspired tastings being sampled that evening including an excellent halibut appetizer and an impressive fried green tomato snack too.  Of course there were plenty of drinks including a Chai coffee signature drink prepared and presented by one of the Top Chef hosts, Padma Lakshmi.

I should probably confess here that I’ve never watched Top Chef so I had no clue who Padma was until about the middle of the event.  Most impressive was hearing how she was married to writer Salman Rushdie.

Anyway, back to the food and coffee, since I’m obviously not a celebrity blogger and while Padma and Tiffany I’m sure are great people I really wanted to try some food and sample some drinks.

The event was excellent and it was great hanging out with some other food bloggers and writers.  Bonus is I came away with a beautiful Nespresso Pixie machine, a milk frother, and several other coffee accessories.

The coffee maker now sits in my office, affectionately known to all as my “Snobby Keurig.”  Before coming to the office, I decide to cook with some coffee and went with a rib-eye steak marinade. It’s fantastic and if you don’t have a “Snobby Keurig”, you should get one, but if that’s not an option replace the 2 tablespoons of espresso with 3 tablespoons of your favorite coffee.

Nespresso Marinated Steak
Serves 2

2 Rib-eye steaks
2 tablespoons roasted Nespresso espresso
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients together and pour into a freezer lock bag or airtight container.  Add the steaks and seal.  Put it into the refrigerator for 4-8 hours, I do this before leaving for work.

Remove from the refrigerator and preheat grill. Cook on grill until desired rareness is reached and serve.

Serve with roasted potatoes, asparagus or other side dish.

Disclosure: Nespresso USA provided drinks, food, and gifts at the event I attended.  I did use the Nespresso Pixie coffee maker that was received by me at no charge for this recipe. Opinions are my own.

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Mushroom Pasta Divine

On April 1, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Since moving from Michigan, I have definitely missed the bounty of fresh pasta I could buy at Ventimiglia Italian Market. Tired of the occasional dry pasta I decided it was time to take action and by action I mean using some of my American Express member reward points to do some Williams Sonoma shopping.

A well-reviewed pasta maker kept coming up high in my research. The KitchenAid Pasta Press attachment looked like a great solution so I went ahead and ordered one. Today I finally had some time to use it.

Making pasta is quite simple and takes all of about 5 minutes. To make enough pasta for four people here is how I made some quick pasta dough.

I made some rigatoni noodles which was super easy and boiled a pot of water with a little bit of salt. Added the pasta and cooked it for 3 minutes.

This time I went with a mushroom cream pasta recipe I found on Pinterest at the Sweet Paul blog. It turned out great and was a wonderful debut breaking in for my new pasta shape maker.

Pasta Dough
Serves 4

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water

Mix first three ingredients in stand mixer. In a sparate bowl, mix the last three ingredients.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry with the KitchenAid mixer on a low speed. Let it combine. If a ball is not forming, add a little olive oil.  It should combine.

Now remove from mixer. If it is not sticky, then wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes.  It’s ready then to use.

If it is sticky, just kneed with a little bit of flour on a cutting board, then wrap in plastic and let it sit for 20 minutes. Use after that.

Full Recipe: Mushroom Pasta Divine.

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