Tidewater Kitchen - October 2009

Grazing

by

Pamela Meredith-Doyle

   With our busy schedules these days, do you find yourself grazing through the kitchen? Grazing is something most of us will never stop doing, so it is very important to have good snack items on hand. Tasty low-fat snack alternatives can make the difference.
    Always have a variety of fruits and vegetables in the house. Even teenagers can be tempted by these if they are already cleaned and cut and ready to nibble on. But if it comes to digging a carrot out of the produce drawer, washing, scraping and cutting it or just reaching for a candy bar, the latter is going to win every time.
    Grazing Best Picks: A small bag of plain pretzels – not honey-mustard or any other flavor, which can add fat. Pretzels are a satisfying low-fat crunch without any trans fats or added sugar, and a single-serving bag means you get built-in portion control. A close second is a small bag of peanuts or almonds, which are packed with protein that will fill you up. The petite package can also prevent mindless eating from a big jar, which can be a danger.
    Another good option is whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter. These little sandwiches can be higher in fat or calories than a serving of pretzels, but they have good fat and a little fiber, which will keep you fuller longer.
    Your worst options are potato chips, corn chips and tortilla chips. They’ll give you greasy fingers, but that’s not the worst of it. Most snack chips are low in protein and fiber, and some are high in the two worst kinds of fat: saturated and trans fats.

CHICKPEA and BALSAMIC VINEGAR BRUSCHETTA DIP
½ baguette, sliced
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
¾ t. kosher salt
¼ t. black pepper

   Thinly slice the baguette. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and broil them until they’re golden brown (about 1½ minutes per side).
    In a medium bowl combine the chickpeas, parsley leaves, garlic, oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture on the rounds and serve.

SMASHED PEAS with MINT BRUSCHETTA
½ baguette, sliced
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen peas, thawed
1 T. chopped fresh mint
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
¾ t. sea salt
¼ t. black pepper

   Thinly slice the baguette. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and broil them until golden brown (about 1½ minutes per side).
    Process the peas in a food processor until roughly chopped. Stir in mint, oil, salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture on the rounds and serve.

WALNUTS and PARMESAN CHEESE BAGUETTE TOASTS
½ baguette, sliced
1 cup walnuts
1 cup grated Parmesan
½ t. sea salt
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. lemon zest
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

   Thinly slice the baguette. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and broil them until golden brown (about 1½ minutes per side).
    Pulse the walnuts, Parmesan and salt in a food processor until crumbly. Add the lemon juice and zest. While the machine is running, add the oil until it blends together like a paste. Use this as a dip for your rounds.

BLUE CHEESE and HONEY CRUNCH
½ baguette, sliced
3 oz. blue cheese
2 T. honey

   Thinly slice the baguette. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and broil them until golden brown (about 1½ minutes per side).
    Divide the blue cheese on each bruschetta and drizzle with honey.

POTATO and ONION FLAT BREAD
2 T. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced into circles
1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 T. whole rosemary sprigs
1 t. sea salt
¼ t. black pepper
Cornmeal for the skillet
1 pkg. (about 1 lb.) refrigerated pizza dough

   Preheat oven to 450° F. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the onion to a bowl. Add the potato, rosemary, salt, and pepper and toss; set aside.
    Wipe out skillet, turn it upside down, and sprinkle the bottom with the cornmeal. Place the dough on a work surface. With your hands or a rolling pin, gently shape the dough into a round the same size as the skillet. Place the dough on the bottom of the skillet.
    Arrange the potato mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Slice into wedges.

GRILLED FLAT BREAD
1 pkg. (about 1 lb.) refrigerated pizza dough
flour for work surface
4 T. olive oil
1 t. sea salt
½ t. black pepper
2 T. fresh basil or oregano leaves

    Heat grill to medium.
    Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Roll each portion into a rectangle approximately ¼-inch thick.
    Brush one side of each rectangle with ½ T. of oil and season with ¼ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper.
    Transfer the dough to the grill, oiled-side down. Close the cover. Cook until the dough begins to bubble on the top, about 3 minutes. Working quickly, brush each rectangle with ½ T. of oil and season with the remaining salt and pepper.
    Turn and cook until golden and crisp on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes more. Brush each piece of flat bread with the remaining oil and sprinkle with your favorite herb. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

PROVOLONE and ROASTED PEPPER CRISPS
2 pitas, sliced in half to make 4 round pieces
4 T. olive oil
1 t. paprika
½ t. dried oregano
½ t. kosher salt
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
4 slices lemon
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cup grated provolone

    Heat broiler to high. Arrange the pitas on a baking sheet, cut-side up. Brush with 2 T. of the oil, then sprinkle with the paprika, oregano, and ¼ t. of salt. Place under broiler to crisp, about 2 minutes; set aside.
    Heat the remaining 2 T. of oil in a skillet. Add the peppers, lemon, garlic, and the remaining salt. Sauté until the peppers are hot and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
    Spread the peppers evenly over the pita halves and sprinkle with the provolone. Return to broiler and cook until the provolone is melted, about 3 minutes. Cut into strips, if desired.

SMOKED SALMON on SHALLOT TOASTS
Makes 30 toasts

2 cups crème fraîche or sour cream
3 T. Dijon mustard
½ cup fresh dill, chopped
1 t. sea salt
2 loaves thinly sliced white bread
4 shallots, peeled and halved
1 side presliced smoked salmon (about 1½ lbs.)
4 lemons, halved and sliced

   Combine the crème fraîche, mustard, dill and salt. Cover and refrigerate up to a day ahead.
    Heat broiler. Arrange the bread slices on baking sheets. Toast until lightly browned; turn and toast the other side.
    Remove from oven and rub 1 side of the toasts with a cut shallot. Cut each slice into 4 triangles. Serve with the salmon, sauce, toasts and lemon slices and enjoy!

Dips with Chips and Vegetables:
Dips are the near-perfect party food – they are fast to make, quick to clean up and easy to eat. Here are some light, low-fat dips. By using healthy foods, such as mashed beans, pureed vegetables and yogurt, the natural flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables come alive. The addition of sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, capers and olives will add the final boost of flavor without the fat.

WHITE BEAN, RED PEPPER and BASIL DIP

2 cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 T. olive oil
½ cup fresh basil
Basil leaves for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

   In a food processor, combine beans, peppers and garlic, and pulse briefly to chop. Add oil and basil, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with grilled flat bread, halved cherry tomatoes, cauliflower and broccoli florets.

OLIVE TAPENADE with SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
½ cup pitted Cerignola green olives
1 cup pitted, Kalamata black olives
3 anchovies
1 T. capers
2 garlic cloves, pressed
¼ cup oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes
2 T. olive oil

   In a food processor, combine green olives, black olives, anchovies, caper, garlic and drained sun-dried tomatoes. Pulse briefly to chop. Add olive oil and puree until almost smooth. Serve with breadsticks, chunks of red pepper and rye krisp crackers.

SWEET POTATO DIP
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 T. white miso
2 T. tahini
½ cup apple juice
½ t. pepper
1 t. sesame oil
3 T. sesame seeds
1 T. or more black sesame seeds

   Scrub the sweet potatoes, cover with water and boil in saucepan for 20 to 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water; remove the skins with a paring knife and combine the sweet potato flesh, miso, tahini, apple juice, pepper and sesame oil and puree until smooth. Season with sea salt. Stir in white sesame seeds and place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and serve with grilled flat bread or toasted baguette slices.

CURRIED VEGETABLE DIP
2 cups plain yogurt
1 English hothouse cucumber,
unpeeled, seeded and grated
2 T. sea salt
¼ minced red onion
½ cup shredded carrot
3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 t. curry powder

   Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over a deep bowl. Place yogurt in strainer, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (yogurt will drain and thicken). Discard liquid in bowl and reserve yogurt in strainer.
    In a small bowl, combine cucumber and sea salt. Cover and let stand for l hour.
    Place drained yogurt in a medium bowl, and add onion, carrot, garlic and curry. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from cucumber and add to yogurt mixture. Season with pepper and serve with cucumber spears, cherry tomatoes, snow peas and carrot sticks.

MARINATED VEGETABLES
This is a recipe that the health-conscious can truly be thankful for!

1 10-oz. can jumbo ripe olives
1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
6 scallions, cut into small pieces
16 oz. baby portabella mushrooms
2 green peppers, cut into pieces
3 carrots, cut into sticks
½ pint cherry tomatoes

Combine:
½ cup olive oil
½ cup Expeller Pressed Organic Canola Oil
1½ cups red wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar
¾ t. pepper
2 t. sea salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed

   Bring the dressing to a boil, cool slightly. Pour over washed, prepared veggies (except tomatoes). Add tomatoes when marinade has cooled. Refrigerate for 24 hours, mixing frequently. Drain marinade (but be sure to save as it may be re-used and will keep several weeks) before serving veggies.

CHOCOLATE BARK
9½ oz. very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz. very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup roasted walnuts
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1½ cups dried cranberries

   Melt the two chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
    Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9- by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper facedown on the baking sheet.
    Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the cashews, walnuts, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1- by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature.