Thursday, August 2, 2012

Expensive Diet Continued... Tasty Double Duty Seafood Stew!

When trying to watch her calorie intake my mother would make an amazing codfish dish that was as easy as it was delicious.  I tried to recreate it the other day, but my version came out a bit brothy so I decided to use the leftover broth to create the above seafood stew. The irony of my creation is that I have attempted to make bouillabaisse on several occasions and it never came out as well as I thought it should have.  This dish literally took me 10 minutes to make today and 15-20 minutes the day before.  We were fed two days in a row and there was no guilt since it is incredibly low in fat and calories.  Although I tend to be quite meticulous about ingredients and measurements, this recipe was improvised so I will do my best.  I am not sure that you can mess it up (so long as you don't over cook the seafood) since it is the quality of the ingredients and not the cook, that make this dish shine.  It serves two well, but I am confident that it can serve up to four if you just add extra seafood.  You also may want to add some zucchini (like I did) or serve it over some couscous to make it a heartier dish.

First Meal:


- 10 oz codfish cut in two pieces
- One 22 oz can of peeled tomatoes
- half a yellow onion sliced
- 4 sliced garlic cloves
- 4 oz of white wine
- 4 oz water
- large bay leaf, or two small ones
- handful of fresh basil
- pinch of oregano
- one tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste


In a saucier or deep saute pan, saute the garlic and sliced onions until soft. Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until reduced a bit.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, the water, oregano and bay leaf. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Mash them with a fork or spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add chili flakes. Add the basil and codfish. Cook until the fish is opaque and flakes easily.  Serve the fish with a bit of the sauce over mashed potatoes or couscous.  You can also add sliced zucchini in with the fish to get your veggie and protein all in one dish.

Second Meal:


- Tbs olive oil with a tsp butter
- small fennel bulb, sliced thinly
- remaining tomato sauce from above (or if you prefer you can create the sauce beforehand on the same day and add the fish with the shellfish)
- 4 oz white wine
- 3 oz clam juice
- 6 large shrimp
- 12 clams (scrubbed and cleaned)
- 1/2 lb bay scallops
- tsp chili flakes (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste


Melt the butter and the oil in a large pan that has a lid.  Add the chili flakes and fennel. Cook until the fennel is soft.  Add the white wine and clam juice.  Reduce for a minute or two.  Add the tomato sauce (that you made the day, or up to two days before) and heat through. Season to taste. Once hot add the clams and cover.  When the clams start to open add the shrimp and the scallops. Cover again and cook until the shrimp are pink and curled and the clams have opened. Discard any cracked or unopened clams.

I imagine this would be equally good with calamari or mussels.

Serve with crusty bread, over couscous, or on its own.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Zucchini and Couscous

As a passionate cook and food blogger, I have been very frustrated trying to get my little 16 month old boy to eat. Granted the first year I was lazy and would cook my own dinner after he went to bed, but when we finally started dining together at the dinner table, I became exhausted trying to get him to eat. He hated anything with texture and preferred sheee sheee (Cheerios) and Puuuuffffs to pasta bolognese.  It was getting so bad that at one point it was recommended by his doctor that we take him to a swallow specialist.  We saw the specialist last month and since she had some concerns, we scheduled a tentative Barium x-ray exam for late July.

Well that has all changed and I am pleased to announce that on doctor's orders the exam has been cancelled!!!  Two weeks ago it was a lovely evening in Astoria and I decided to take Christian to Brick Cafe.  I ordered a Coq au Vin (wine cooks out), my husband got the braised short ribs and Christian got a side of mash potatoes.  You can imagine my surprise when Christian ate everything! The chicken, the meat, even the petit pois! I was so excited that I kept telling the waitress how happy I was,  I actually think I scared her a bit. The following week we tried Navrattan Korma, Veggie Samosas and Raita from Seva and he ate it all! Yesterday, Fejoida for lunch and last night a Moroccan chicken tagine with apricots and zucchini (the recipe that I will post today).  Next week he may be back to Cheerios and English Muffins, but for now I am one happy mommy!

Adapted from the "Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger" Recipe from the book Tagine, by Gillie Basan


- 2 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs olive oil
- 4 chicken thighs and 2 sliced chicken breasts (you can get the pre-sliced chicken tenders, I opted to choose skinless)
- 3 zucchinis sliced in half moons
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of rosemary, one chopped the other two cut in half
- 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup quartered dried apricots
- 2 Tbs clear honey
- 1 x 14-oz can plum tomatoes with their juice (I chop the tomatoes a little)
- salt and pepper
- fresh basil leaves

* 2 red chilies (optional) I love using chilies when making this for myself, but omitted them when making this dish for Christian. If you do use them, finely chop them and saute with the onions.

- 1 2/3 cup traditional cous cous
- 1 3/4 cup water (or the broth from above for extra flavor)
- 2 Tbs butter or olive oil
- pinch of salt


Salt and pepper the chicken.  Heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted. Add the onion, chopped rosemary and ginger* and saute until the onion has softened.  Add the chicken and brown. Make sure the onions do not burn. Add the tomatoes with their juice, honey, apricots, cinnamon and rosemary sprigs. Add additional water if needed so that the chicken is covered.  I have made this dish in a traditional tagine from Morocco (actually from the Morocco at Epcot) or a saucier.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cover and cook gently for 35 to 40 minutes.  About 15 minutes before it is done, add the sliced zucchini. (The broth will sweeten the zucchini which is why Christian ate them). When its done, season to taste and add torn pieces of basil as depicted above.

For the couscous, bring the liquid with the butter or oil and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous and shut off the flame. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork. You can also make couscous in the oven, or the traditional way in a couscousier (which you can find in a Moroccan market), but stovetop works for me.

In the past I have served this dish with a basic baby arugula salad in a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Hope you and your little ones enjoy this dish as much as we do!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Expensive (And it Works) Diet!

Yesterday I went out for lunch with a high school friend and since we are both new mothers, kind of, the conversation inevitably went to how to lose baby weight. In early January 2012, I realized I had to stop telling people that I just had a baby, when in fact it had been over a year! When my friend asked me how I lost weight, I had to contain my laughter when I told her "The Expensive Diet." The Expensive Diet is not something you can register for online, or pay a nutritionist to tell you about, it is simply based on my experiences over the years. I noticed that when I was on a budget, I always put on weight! My diet didn't seem that crazy since we were sitting at the Pesce counter in Eataly, which was amazing btw, eating grilled shrimp and seared scallops.

I believe that when you are trying to lose weight, you cannot cut corners. For example, shrimp, scallops, lobsters are all delicious, but they are not cheap. I find that smaller portions of interesting foods keep my palate engaged and me on track! Even if the diet costs a little more in the long run, it is a lot cheaper than new diet books and a personal trainer. I cook 4-5 days out of the week, usually a small piece of protein, large portions of vegetables and a little bit of rice or bread. For a treat, good chocolate or a glass (or two) of wine. For lunch I make my own (posts to follow) or eat spicy tuna hand rolls (hold the rice), poached salmon from Grand Central Market, salads or wraps from Pret-a-Manger or soups from Cipriani Specialita.

I have decided that since I already have a platform upon which I could share these tips, I will dedicate my next months of posts to new mothers, or anyone else that is trying to lose weight!
Some recipes will be mine, others from books and at the end of this hopefully we will all be ready for bikini (or speedo) season! Feel free to contact me with any questions, or post your own gourmet recipes that have kept you fit!

Today's Post! One egg, one egg white omelette with goat cheese and baby spinach!

-1 egg, 1 egg white
-dash of milk
-1 oz goat cheese
-handful of baby spinach
-cooking spray or good non stick pan (I use a scanpan which you can find in my store below)

Beat the eggs together with a dash of milk and a bit of black pepper. Heat the pan and spray with a thin coat of oil. (Sometimes I will wipe my pan with a thin layer of olive oil.) Add the eggs to the pan and after about 30 seconds, crumble on the goat cheese and add the spinach. Cook until you get a nice golden crust on the underside of the omelette. Roll onto a plate and serve with a small fruit salad, good tea or coffee, half a whole wheat English Muffin, pita or toast.

Other ideas are peppers and onions with cheddar, asparagus and salmon, parmesan with a spritz of truffle oil, feta and tomatoes, or one of my favorites, just Sriracha! Yes, I add Sriracha to almost everything and at least once a week I add it to my eggs.

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10.5 lbs lost since January 1, 2012 and still counting!