Thursday, July 30, 2009

Garden Chef Video: Vegetarian Rice Rolls

Vegetarian Rice Paper Rolls
with Prawns, Ginger Soy Sauce & Lime Herb Salad

by Australian GardenChef Amanda Athis
from Cafe Belle Fleur

My dream restaurant would have an herb and vegetable garden just outside the door. There are many Chefs that have just that -- how fabulous is that? Chef Amanda Athis of Flower Power Garden Center (Glenhaven, Australia) is one of those lucky Chefs. She can walk into her garden and pick fresh herbs, lettuce, shallots and other foods. Cafe Belle Fleur, a nursery cafe, has a lake view, for people to relax and enjoy their GardenCuizine. I wish we lived closer, we would surely stop in. Maybe you can. Their address is:

Cafe Belle Fleur
609 Old Northern Road

Glenhaven 2156
(02) 9899 7783

Chef Amanda's Ingredients include:
  • Fresh Garden Herbs: Coriander and Mint
  • Mixed Salad Greens
  • Garden Shallots
  • Rice Noodles
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Roasted Peanuts (optional)
  • Yellow and Red Capsicum
  • Grated Carrot
  • Organic Snow Pea Sprouts
  • Lime Juice
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Prawns (optional)
Click here to visit and view Amanda's recipe.

Also, I am writing an article about Chefs that have Gardens. Please let me know the "Gardening Chefs" you know. I'll be sure to mention them.
And, if I get to it, I'll do a Nutrition Analysis for this recipe, I'm sure it would be a winner with all those wonderful fresh and organic veggies and little fat!

Gardening Central is Australia's online gardening community featuring articles, ideas, inspiration, facts, recipes, videos and a lot more. Check it out, it's great! Within their site you will find: GardenChef, Gardenbook (social networking for gardeners), Gardening Directory and Gardenshopper, as well as a YouTube channel, which features all of their videos (Gardenchef Recipes, Gardening Central growing/planting tips plus more).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Classic Italian Pomodoro Sauce

Pomodoro Sauce
Classic Italian Pasta Sauce
Treat your family to the best sauce around -- yours!
Italian Regional Cuisine
In general, many sauces in northern Italy are based on dairy, with a lot of butter used. You’ll find more olive oil and tomato sauces in southern Italy, with more of a Mediterranean style to the cuisine.

Shapes paired with sauces
Pasta shapes are often paired with sauces. Creamy, robust sauces are best served with macaroni or fettuccine and thick chunky sauces, such a Bolognese is best served with shells or ziti. Thin pasta strands like angel hair, spaghetti or linguine are best served with a sauce like this -- a classic Pomodoro (Tomato) Sauce.

We make red sauce weekly and never seem to grow enough large tomatoes in our garden for the volume of sauce we consume, so we use canned San Marzano peeled plum tomatoes. The best San Marzano tomatoes are grown in Italy. If you have better luck than we do with homegrown tomatoes, by all means turn them into Pomodoro sauce. Baskets of tomatoes, 'seconds', or really ripe tomatoes from farm markets are another option too.

Pomodoro sauce is low in sodium and fat and is a source of Dietary Fiber and Iron. Pomodoro sauce is also an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K.

GardenCuizine recipe

Copyright (c) 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.

GardenCuizine Recipe: Pomodoro Sauce

Pomodoro (Tomato) Sauce
~ Low Fat, Low Sodium ~
Make a large batch of sauce the day you need to use it and freeze the leftover. For a family of 3 adults, we get 3 pasta dinners from this recipe.

Yields: 3 quarts.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.
  • (3) 28 oz (794g) cans undrained San Marzano peeled tomatoes with or without added basil
  • (1) 6oz (170g) small can tomato paste
  • ½ medium onion chopped (110g)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves, 18g)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 chiltepin hot pepper (optional)
  •  handful Basil (1 cup leaves, 6g) fresh picked and washed, or 1-2 tablespoons pesto*
Putting it all together:
Wash your hands and put on a cooks apron. Add the olive oil to a large sauce pot over medium heat. When hot add the onion - sauté until the onion becomes translucent, but not brown. Add the garlic and optional hot pepper - stir with a wooden spoon. Avoid over browning the garlic, immediately add the peeled tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you drop them in the pot. Add the paste. Stir well, bring to simmer. Reduce heat and cover. 
If your sauce seems too thick, thin it with some of the cooked pasta water.

Contrary to popular belief, pasta sauce does not need to simmer all day or for hours -- unless of course, you include a large piece of pork as some Italians do. Meatless Pomodoro sauce is finished after simmering for one hour or less. That being said, beneficial lycopene (a disease-fighting antioxidant found in tomatoes) may be better absorbed if the tomato sauce cooks longer.
Ohio State University research Scientist, Steven Schwartz, found that the molecular structure of lycopene changes when tomato sauce is heated for a long period of time with fat such as olive oil. For more read: TURNING UP THE HEAT ON TOMATOES BOOSTS ABSORPTION OF LYCOPENE
*To preserve your garden basil harvest, make pesto during the summer when fresh basil is plentiful and freeze it in small containers. Pesto freezes quite well and adds excellent basil flavor to homemade pasta sauce and other recipes during the winter months when garden fresh basil is not available and the market price for fresh is high.

Buon Appetito

GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis calculated from USDA nutrient analysis
Good source: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K

Serving size 1/9 of recipe (120g), enough for one good size bowl of pasta
Calories 67, Total fat: 3g (5%DV), Saturated fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 91mg (4%DV), Total Carbohydrates: 8g (3%DV), Dietary Fiber: 2g (9%DV), Vitamin A: 784IU (16%DV), Vitamin C: 9.2mg (15%DV), Iron: 1.6mg (9%DV), Vitamin K: ~13.3mcg (~17%DV)

Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories for adults and children age 4 or older

Related Reading 

Lidia Bastianich: Lidia's Italian Table: More Than 200 Recipes From The First Lady Of Italian Cooking 
Mario Batali: Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages 
Frank Pellegrino: Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking
Henry Hill and Priscilla Davis: The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run

In Culinary school they taught us that Italians do not over sauce
their pasta…obviously they never met my mother!

Tomato Sauce on Foodista
Photograph and blog article copyright (c) 2009 Wind. All rights reserved. rev 11/18/11.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

GardenCuizine Recipe: Blueberry Lemon Balm Muffins

Blueberry, Lemon Balm Muffins

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a 12-18” perennial herb, hardy to USDA zones 4a-9b. This easy-to-grow, drought tolerant herb likes full sun and grows well in part shade too. Once you plant it you will always have it; some folks find it invasive, as it likes to spread. Therefore it's no surprise, Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee). Lemon Balm can be used in teas and adds eye appeal -- along with a hint of lemon flavor -- to baked goods.

Yields: 12 muffins (805g, 1 muffin=67g)
Preheat oven to 425º F

  • 1 1/2cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flakes (available at health food stores, can sub with ap flour if you can’t get it)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds or fortified flax (optional: available at health food stores, can sub bran or wheat germ)
  • ¼ teaspoon iodized salt
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 cup 2% organic milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
  • lemon balm (if available from your garden, use however many leaves you would like)
Putting it all together:
Prepare muffin tin (for 12 muffins) with a light spray of non-stick cooking spray. In a small fry pan, melt the butter and the canola oil together. Set aside to cool.

Sift dry ingredients (except the quinoa flakes and flax) into a medium sized bowl. Add the quinoa flakes and flax. Give the dry mixture a quick stir using a whisk to combine.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk, egg, cooled butter/oil mixture and lemon zest. Gently whisk these ingredients, trying not to incorporate too much of the flour -- then incorporate the flour mixture. Be careful not to over stir. Mix until almost, but not quite, fully blended.

Using a rubber spatula stir in the blueberries and lemon balm. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes, cool on wire rack then depan and serve muffins in a napkin lined country basket.

Buon Appetito

GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis calculated from USDA nutrient values:
serving size 1 muffin: Calories: 163 (8%DV), Total Fat: 5.6g (9%DV), Cholesterol: 24.3mg (8%DV), Sodium: 183mg (8%DV), Total Carbohydrate: 25.1g (8%DV), Dietary Fiber: 1.0g (4%DV), Calcium: 96.9mg (10%DV), Riboflavin: ~0.2mg (~12%DV)

Copyright (c) 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Understanding Food Label % Daily Values

 Understanding Percent Daily Values
(%DV) on Food Labels

Why are Percent Daily Values on food labels? Nutrition Facts Labels contain a list of Percent Daily Values (%DV) to aide consumers (us) in comparing and interpreting the level of nutrition content in the food. 

Percent Daily Value is a measurement between 0 and 100%, based on a 2,000 calorie a day intake by adults and children age 4, and older. A total daily nutrient intake of 100% represents the highest limit recommended by public health experts for the foods total fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and certain vitamins and minerals. 

Food labels include %DV to assist us in comparing and interpreting the level of nutrition content in the food. Values can be low, good or high.  

  • Daily Values less than 5% are considered 'LOW'
  • Daily Values between 10 and 19% indicate a 'GOOD' source of the nutrient.
  • Daily Values greater than 20% indicate the food is an 'EXCELLENT' source, or in the case of cholesterol, sodium, and fat -- a 'HIGH' source.

Reading the Label
Referring to the candy bar label shown above: The product label indicates 10g of saturated fat with a %DV of 50% for a serving size of 45 grams (3 bite size squares). 50% is well above 20%, meaning the product has a 'high' amount of saturated fat. 

A %DV of 50% means you would receive half of the saturated fat suggested for the entire day! Obviously, limited consumption of this product would be recommended, since it is high in saturated fat. Some products are not so obvious as to what they may contain, making the nutrition facts label a real help.

Your Caloric Needs are Unique
Allow for some adjustments based on your age, sex, weight and activity level from the 2,000 calories a day that the DVs are based on. Caloric energy needs vary with each individual; yours may be higher or lower than 2,000 calories a day.

Food Labels~ A Useful Reference
Food labels are meant to be used as reference guide for you, your family and friends as an aide in selecting products better for optimum health. 

Prudent food selections based on label reading, along with portion control and daily physical activity, will greatly benefit you and your family's health and well being. For more information on how to read Nutrition Facts Labels on product packaging, see the related links posted below. 

%DV does not pertain to infants or children under four years old. Pregnant, lactating women and persons with metabolic disorders and disease may have different nutrient needs as well; consulting with a licensed medical Doctor and Registered Dietitian is recommended.  
Related Links: 
Reading Food Nutrition Labels
Interactive Nutrition Facts Label
The New Nutrition Facts Label
Copyright © 2009 wind rev 08/22/2021

Cooking with Haddock

Photo Credits: Haddock, Melanogrammus aeglefinus. Drawing by H. L. Todd, from: No. 10440, U.S. National Museum, collected at Eastport, Me., 1872, by U.S. Fish Commission, Public domain image, Wikipedia.

Haddock Dinner

A nutritious and balanced dinner entree includes a protein, starch or whole grain and a generous serving of vegetables. For this Haddock dinner (recipe in separate post), the protein was fish. Out of the many healthy cooking options -- baking, broiling, poaching or grilling -- we decided on baking the haddock. For the starch or grain, we looked over what we had in the pantry (potatoes, pasta, millet, whole wheat cous cous, quinoa, wild rice or brown rice) and decided on millet pilaf with steamed broccoli as the vegetable.

Haddock is a good white fish to try if you like varying your fish menus. Variety is important in eating right. The benefits of varying your protein choices are that you get a balance of nutrients, minimize mercury exposure and increase your consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. Some fish, like salmon, trout or herring have higher levels of Omega-3's and fish in general, when compared to meats, is very low in saturated fat.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 ounces of cooked fish per day, and at least 2 servings of fish each week. Portion control is important in eating right, not just to watch excess calories, but because meat and fish proteins can be high in cholesterol or environmental contaminants. For example, shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish are high in mercury. Haddock is not high in mercury, but is high in cholesterol like many fish (proteins). Flounder, tilapia and farmed salmon also have high cholesterol with a combined average, for a 5oz fish serving, of 89 mg (30%DV) - when calculated for cooked fish using a dry heat method, such as baking or grilling.

The good news is most all fish and seafood have some content of beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown in epidemiological and clinical trials to reduce cardiovascular disease. Haddock is a firm fleshed white fish, mild in flavor and very low in total Fat. A 5oz serving is an excellent source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B-12, Phosphorus, Selenium and Magnesium. A 5oz portion of Haddock is also a very good source of Potassium and Magnesium.

%DV = Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet
Copyright (c) 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

GardenCuizine Recipe: Baked Haddock with Millet Pilaf and Steamed Broccoli

Haddock Dinner Recipe
Baked Haddock with millet pilaf and steamed broccoli

Yields: Dinner for 3
(easy to modify to suit your family size)
Preheat oven to 350ºF


  • 15 oz. Haddock (for 3 people, we usually order a little less than one pound of fish - Approx 15 oz. so each adult serving is approximately 5 oz.)
  • Broccoli
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 cup Millet (found in health food or gourmet stores, in packages or bulk)
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: your preference (we used: salt-free Spike, salt (dash), paprika, tumeric, onion powder, black pepper, hot pepper, curry powder)
  • Garden herbs: your preference (we used: garden fresh thyme and parsley)
Putting it all together

Rinse and pat the Haddock fillets dry with a paper towel. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season, turning to coat. Season as you prefer, we used salt, paprika, tumeric, onion powder and salt-free spike (I like salt-free seasoning blends best, so we can better control the amount of salt added). Cover and bake at 350ºF until fish is opaque white in color and flakes with a fork, approximately 20-30 minutes.


The millet only takes 20 minutes. Ratio of water to millet is 2:1. One cup of millet will yield 898g of pilaf and serve 4-6. Rough chop (small size) some carrots, celery and onion (mirepoix). Use however much of this aromatic trio you desire -- it can be more or less than 1/2 cup -- no need to get hung up on the measure (more carrots = more vitamin A). Saute using a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil directly in the pot you will be cooking the millet in. I regularly cook in old-fashioned, 'Cornflower Blue' CorningWare, since it can be used on a stove-top. Alternatively, stainless steel pots with tight fitting lids work great too. Add whatever seasonings suit your fancy. Again, we used salt-free Spike seasoning, black pepper and a pinch of salt; we also added hot pepper* and curry powder.
Stir in the millet and then add the water. Bring to a boil over med/high heat, then cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed - about 20 minutes. If desired, stir in some fresh cut garden herbs just before serving.
  • *The GardenCuizine pantry is never without a stash of Chiltepin peppers (Capsicum annuum var. aviculare). These tiny peppers are HOT stuff (50,000 - 100,000 Scoville Units) a little goes a long way! They are known as bird peppers and are small (only ¼ inch round in diameter). Just one adds the perfect amount of heat and will not overpower the dish. Your food will still be palatable to those who don’t like things too hot. And adding a little heat makes food tasty, and allows you to decrease the salt used in your cooking.
Steaming is easy and preserves the water soluble vitamins. First wash and trim off enough florets to serve 3 people or however many you are cooking for. Place in a covered dish with a little water added - microwave until tender, but still bright green in color, approximately 3-5 minutes. We never add salt. A low fat salad dressing can be added to the broccoli at the table for those who don't like it plain.


Pick something fresh from your garden. I simply used a parsley sprig, if we had been making dinner for company, you may have seen a nasturtium bloom or two.

Buon Appetito

GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis
calculated from USDA nutrient values:

5oz Baked Haddock:
Calories: 158, Total Fat: 1.32g (2%DV), Cholesterol: 105mg (35%DV), Potassium 565mg (16%DV), Protein: 34.3g (68%DV), Niacin: 6.55mg (33%DV), Vitamin B6: .49mg (25%DV), Vitamin B-12: 1.97mcg (32%DV), Magnesium: 70mg (18%DV), Selenium: 57.3mcg (81%DV)

140g Millet Pilaf
: Calories: 165, Total Fat: 5.61g (8%DV), Cholesterol: 0, Protein: 3.74g (7%DV), Dietary Fiber 3.27g (13%DV), Vitamin A: 1706 IU (34%DV), Manganese .55mg (27%DV)

Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories for adults and children age 4 or older

Copyright (c) 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.

Have a Food Safe holiday

Watch this Video
Before you fire up the Grill
for Holiday Weekend Festivities

This weekend, as we all get ready to party and cook with friends and family, be alert to the importance of Food Safety. I recently posted a few relevant links (shown below) on Twitter. The instant read thermometers I referred to, don't cost much and work great for temperature checking. Chefs usually carry one (or two) in their chef coat pockets, home cooks should too.

Check out this video, it makes the point and at the same time will bring a smile to your face, "Don't get Sicky Wit it." Be sure to turn up the volume.

Related Links:
A parody of Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," as performed by Carl Winter. (c) Copyright 2007. Carl Winter, Food Safety Music. UC Davis.
The animations were produced at New Mexico State University as part of USDA CSREES National Integrated Food Safety Initiative Project Number CD-D-FST-7057-CG.