Monthly Archives: August 2010

Mexican Spiced Flank Steak and Chipotle Caesar Salad

I have to apologize. I lied to you guys. I said I was going to cook up some meat recipes for you this summer even though they aren’t what I eat so that you could see what it means to eat “greener” meat (“green” eggs and ham anyone?)… but I’ve failed. I gave you guys one chicken recipe that wasn’t even all that wonderful and then I pretty much wiped my hands of the idea of cooking up some “green” meat. I apologize. This blog is so that I can hopefully have even one person try to cook a little bit more eco-friendly than they might be doing right now and I couldn’t even spend the time to teach all of you non-pescetarians how to grill up some meat. This recipe, however, is sure to make you forgive me. My dad said it was quite delicious and I’ll give you tons of tips on how to eat your beef and not feel all of the guilt I’ve been heaping on you. And I’ll even give you the recipe for a delicious Mexican-style caesar salad.

Mexican Spiced Flank Steak

  • Flank Steak
  • 1 small box Vegetable Stock
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced as small as possible
  • fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Cumin, ground
  • dried Mexican Oregano
  • Chili Powder

Poke holes in the flank steak with a fork. Place the veggie stock (which gives the tomato flavor so present in many Mexican dishes) with the lime juice and all of the yummy Mexican seasonings in a plastic bag with the flank steak. Let marinate completely covered (you may need more lime juice or veggie stock if you’re feeding more than 2 people) for at least an hour (but the longer the better!). Then grill the flank steak for about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side (my dad likes his closer to medium rare so if you’re a medium-> well type go for a little longer). Slice the meat in 1/2 inch strips against the grain. It should be super tender and full of the flavors of Mexico. 🙂

I don’t know if you guys have figured this out yet, but I’m a HUGE fan of Mexican food. Maybe it’s the whole living in Southern California thing (and having worked at a Mexican restaurant) but it’s definitely my cuisine of choice when I can’t decide what else to eat. This salad is inspired by a recipe I found in a Mexican cookbook I got while I was in Baja, Cocina de la Familia and I thought it was absolutely wonderful. I hope you guys like it too.

Chipotle Caesar Salad (Ensalada Cesar con Chile Chipotle)

Serves 2 as a Side or 1 as a Meal

  • 2 Hearts of Romaine, torn and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Stale French Bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 can Anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 canned Chipotle Chile en adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1/2 tbsp. Peanut Oil

Preheat oven to 275 F. Warm the 1 tbsp. of EVOO and 1 tbsp. of unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic. When the garlic begins to lightly brown, add the bread and toss until just starting to brown as well. Then place the bread cubes in the oven for about 20 minutes. Turn while they are cooking to toast evenly.

Meanwhile, place the anchovies, garlic, cheese, mustard, and the chipotle chile, vinegar, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. (If needed add more chile). Pour in the 3 tbsp. EVOO and 1/2 tbsp. peanut oil while motor is running. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together romaine leaves, croutons, and dressing to coat then toss the salad.

I hope that the recipe makes up for my lagging on the eco-information about beef. If not, here’s some real tips to keep your foodprint as small as possible even when you’re craving red meat.

  1. Because meat, especially cow and pig, has such a huge foodprint I can’t stress this enough: ORGANIC ORGANIC ORGANIC. Opt for organic, grass-fed and especially local if you can find it! Organic meat means organic feed means no harmful pesticides or gross antibiotics or growth hormones. Local means less transportation. Grass-fed leads to less cow flatulence leads to less greenhouse gas emissions. It’s better for you, better for the environment, and some people say it tastes better.
  2. Choose a meat such as flank steak that can be sliced (and in this case is meant to be). Then give everyone a smaller portion of meat and a larger amount of sides. Less meat= greener, however, you still get the protein you’re craving.
  3. Since you’re getting meat, pay attention to what else you’re serving. Opt for local and organic produce, quick-fix grains (such as bulgar wheat or quinoa), less dairy, and meat and sides with less packaging (recyclable packaging is best).
  4. Eat less beef. Make the days you do eat it count and then cut back on how often you make it. This recipe is perfect for that. Super yummy so you’ll be satiated until your next beef-fix. If everyone cut back a little bit on their beef intake, there’d be a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. If you were to cut back on 2 oz of meat a day, you’d save 819 lbs CO2 a year. If you were to cut back on 16 oz of meat a day you could save 6,548 lbs CO2 a year. That’s HUGE! –Go Green Get Lean
  5. In Go Green Get Lean, it shows that it takes: about 7 lbs of corn and 2, 500 gallons of water to produce 1 lb or body weight on cattle, more than 200 gallons of fuel to raise a 1,200-lb steer on a feedlot, about 5 times as much water to grow feed grains as it does to grow fruits and veggies, and roughly half of all irrigation water in the US goes to livestock… so think about the changes. I’m not saying stop eating meat. I’m just saying think about cutting back a little. Cows take a lot of land, water, and food. Even if you don’t believe in the “green” movement, think about the fact that that could be going to humans.

eco-benefits

  1. This meal used a lot of the techniques stated above to “green” up the meat. Smaller portion of meat to a larger portion of a side dish, organic grass-fed beef raised in CA (which is local for me), organic local salad ingredients, etc.

The Compost Experiment Continued

This summer, my dad and I have been throwing all of our fruit peels, coffee, etc. into a tiny kitchen-top composter. It filled up pretty quickly and we kind of forgot that it existed at all. Recently, when we opened it up, not only were bugs thriving in there but we also realized just how fertile composters can be. In just a month everything seems to have melded into a great nutritious dirt that is actually growing plants! Check it out:

So if you didn’t believe me before when I told you that you HAVE to get a compost because there’s really no reason not to (it’s environmentally friendly and really is a great way to recycle–>your old gross products can be nutrition for your new yummy ones) you should believe me now. We didn’t plant whatever is sprouting up! And it was all covered up! Composts are just that magical :).

Halibut and Scallop Ceviche

I have been cooking up a storm lately, however, it seems that I continue to have a sort of writers block. So I’m going to let this delicious recipe talk for itself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Halibut and Scallop Ceviche

  • Wild-caught Pacific Halibut
  • A couple of scallops for added flavor
  • 1 cup Lime or other citrus Juice (I actually mixed lime and grapefruit)
  • 1 medium Tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Jalapenos, diced (add more if you really like it spicy)
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper, and Mexican dried Oregano, to taste
  • 1/2 Avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped, to top
  • Cilantro, to top

Put the fish into a nonmetallic bowl and cover with the citrus juice. Mix thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Drain off excess juice and an hour before serving, stir in the tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos. Add enough olive oil to coat. Add the salt, pepper, and oregano, and return to the refrigerator until just before serving. Taste for seasoning and mix in the avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Eco-Benefits

  1. My dad’s friends son was staying with us for the summer and actually went to Alaska and fished. The halibut that I used was one of the fish he caught. Non-commercial catching of fish is much healthier for the environment because there is no damage done to the ecosystem such as with nets and dredging.
  2. Pacific, wild-caught halibut is a sustainable fish according to Seafood Watch. Other types of halibut, are not sustainable so be careful what you’re buying.
  3. I used left-over scallops in this and ceviche really is a great way to use any excess fish you may have on hand.
  4. Buying seasonal and local vegetables helps allow for a greater flavor in this dish and it is more sustainable to not have to get ingredients transported large distances.
  5. Ceviche needs absolutely no cooking. Your gas bill and the environment will thank you.

And if you happen to be worried about fish parasites or other nasty no-cooking diseases, I recommend that you freeze your seafood for at least two days and then thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. The freezing will get rid of anything on the fish.

Seared Scallops and Penne in a Marsala Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Thank goodness it’s back to the blog for me! I finally found the inspiration to get back to the kitchen (complete with a busted oven–>my mom found that out the hard way when she was trying to bake cookies and coffee cake) and continue informing you all about “greener” and a lot of the time healthier (not so much today) ways to cook.

Seared Scallops and Penne in a Marsala Sun-Dried TomatoCream Sauce

Serves 2

  • 1/2 box Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
  • 3 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 10 large Scallops
  • 1/2 Shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup Marsala
  • Pinch of Saffron Threads
  • 5 Sun-dried Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Basil, sliced, to taste
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Parmiggiano-Reggiano, grated, to taste

For the sauce: Melt 1 tbsp. of the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until translucent. Add the Marsala and cook until reduced by half. Add the saffron, sun-dried tomatoes, and cream and lower to a simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile: cook the penne in a pot of boiling salted water. Melt the rest of the butter (2 tbsp.) in a pan and saute the scallops until lightly browned. Top pasta with sauce and scallops. Then add the basil and Parmiggiano-Reggiano (if used).

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Scallops come in many varieties and are an acceptable fish to eat, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List.
  2. Using organic heavy whipping cream means that the cow the cream came from is eating an organic diet: no pesticides are entering the water or permeating the ground since they are not used in organic farming!
  3. Basil is easily grown at home or found locally. Less food miles means less gas is being used to get the product to your table! Hooray for reducing your carbon footprint!
  4. Whole wheat pasta is better for you and the earth! It does not need as much refining as it’s bleached white alternative. Plus there are less chemicals used and sent into the environment.
  5. Check out the packaging you’re getting your pasta in as well. Many pastas now come in recyclable cardboard packaging.

Summer

Summer means a lot of different things to different people. To me, it means traveling, eating, resting after a long school year, and, most importantly, seeing family and friends. When I was little my family often traveled together in the summers. We explored places like Tahiti, Europe, and Australia. As I’ve grown up and, in doing so, caused my parents the financial burden of my college education, family vacations have consisted more of all of us together in a fun staycation. My older sister comes home from law school, my mom comes home from Nashville, and I come home from college to stay with my dad and play games, watch movies, and talk about what has been going on in our lives. I used to leave half-way through nights like these to go hang out with friends, yet, as I’ve grown older I’ve begun to realize how important nights like these are. We each have our own adventures and we’re all so busy that a lot of times we can’t hash them out on the phone. As we travel as a family a little less, I now go on adventures myself: to Europe, to India, and most recently to Baja. I find that keeping a journal on these adventures allowed me to bring my family into the trip and give them much of the experience that I had. As a family, we still travel, however, it is now to see one another or our extended family. For example, this summer, I went with my parents to visit my mom’s side of the family in Washington. None of the other cousins could make it (two came for the first day) because we all have such different schedules and such busy lives; so, for the first time, I experienced the stories and lives of the adults. I feel much more connected to my aunts and uncles and I finally see the importance in that as well. Furthermore, as my friends and I have started different adventures at different schools with different friends, summer has become the prime time to see them and catch up with their busy lives. We have crazy random adventures (like going to the roller rink, riding the free trolley around my town at night, or trying to sew our own clothes–>which can be super eco-friendly) while discussing the past year and what our plans are for the future. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope you all appreciate the people in your lives. I know that I’ve had times where I didn’t and I wish that at those times I would have realized how important spending time with them is. So if you’re still on summer (as I am), I recommend spending some time catching up with the people that are important to you and getting stories out of them. This summer I’ve spent a lot of time listening to other people’s stories and I’ve learned a lot about that person through them.

Last night, I was all pumped up to power out a delicious meal when I got a phone call from one of my best friends inviting me to dinner at his house. And let me tell you about his mom’s cooking: you don’t say no to eating it. It was the most delicious and summery dinner and I’m totally drooling just thinking about it. It was also really easy to make so I’m going to tell you all about it so you can someday make it as well. Keep in mind most of the ingredients came straight from my friend’s mom’s garden. It’s also the perfect summer meal for you to enjoy with friends (though to green it up I suggest switching the tuna for something a bit less over-fished such as salmon).

Salad Niçoise with Seared Ahi Tuna

  • Greens of your choice (I suggest Romaine Lettuce)
  • Cooked and cooled Green Beans
  • Hard-boiled Eggs, sliced
  • Boiled and cooled Potatoes (of a smaller variety)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Niçoise Olives
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Ahi Tuna, seared
  • Salad Dressing of your choosing (I recommend a Vinaigrette)

Set all ingredients out separately and allow each guest to choose what they would like. You can add or subtract whatever ingredients you like/dislike. It’s the perfect summer meal.

I’m sorry to say that I do not have a picture for you guys, so I’m going to dazzle you with a picture of me with a whale shark. Let me remind you: the sharks on average were about 20 feet long (though we were dealing with adolescents–>the adults are on average 40 feet long).

Farmers Market

So I was getting myself inspired yesterday so I stopped by the local farmers market for some inspiration… and totally found it! What other season offers yummies as good as watermelon, yellow peaches, yellow nectarines, and sweet corn? And where can you get such amazing local and often organic (just ask the farmers or look for a seal) products. The farmers are often very informative about their practices and will even help you pick out products to your specifications. Do you want to eat the item that day? They can help you find the ripest fruit. And if you’re determined to put it off for a little they can help you find fruit that is only days away from being ripe. What I’m saying is this: if you haven’t checked out your local farmers market lately (and I’m sure you have one somewhere close by) stop by the next one! You’ll be surprised at how much better the produce that you get there tastes.

I will be cooking up a storm starting today but I have a question for you guys. What would you like to see? Does anyone have a favorite food that they would like to learn how to make?

And for now I’ll leave you with a little something to think about:

The BP Coffee Spill-This made me giggle so I hope you appreciate it as well.

Hola!

First off: let me just say that I’m so sorry that I’ve taken such a long leave of absence. I got home from Baja and had culture shock for a couple of days and since then I’ve just had a bit of a block when it comes to food. I think that I’ve actually over-stimulated my brain with different cultures and food styles and it has made me question a lot about my cooking. BUT I’m back! And on the days that cooking doesn’t come to me (and I prefer to eat yummy summer fruit… watermelon and peaches anyone?) I’ll write some environmental tips for you to follow or look into.

Second: Baja was an amazing experience! Aside from the research I did on whale sharks, I learned a lot about invertebrates, dolphins, and other fish species. Further, we spent a lot of time looking into the way the ecosystem functions as a whole. It was an amazing trip and I would go back in a split second. It also allowed me to understand how little I really need to live on. Since we were in the ocean all day, we took very few showers (and luckily didn’t smell too bad) and we cooked on some iffy propane burners (talk about different from what I’m used to). I’m definitely off of PBJs and quesadillas for a while. 🙂 If you’re interested in any of the research we did or if you want to hear more about the trip just comment and I’ll give you some more info.

For now, however, here is your eco-tip for the day:

Reduce the amount of stuff you buy at the grocery store (and therefore your waste) by planning your weekly meals ahead of time. It helps you save money $$$ and it can help you stay healthy! A lot of times, the days you binge are the days you don’t really know what you’re in the mood for so you snack on a little of everything. If you have a plan already, you have to stick to it so that your food doesn’t go to waste. As in many other food endeavors, going green can keep you looking leaner :).

Stay tuned for some bomb recipes that I’ll be cooking up soon. I have my mojo back so they should be better than ever!