08/31/15

Dealing with Zucchini ~ Grilled Ratatouille

Grilled Ratatouille

In gardens, piled high in grocery stores and farmer’s markets, appearing mysteriously on doorsteps, blocking out the sun and overtaking small mid-west towns… it’s zucchini season, and I couldn’t be happier!

Fresh zucchini recipesWe’re pulling some lovely zukes out of our own garden right now, as well!

I love the stuff! Diced into my salad, tossed, just-warmed, with pasta, or sauteed in the juices from a pan-seared steak.

It’s all good!

One of my favorites, though…is grilled ratatouille.

“Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious.” – Linguini

With all respect to Monsieur Linguini, while ratatouille may not sound delicious, it tastes awesome! This is one of my all-time favorite side dish recipes for grilled or rotisserie chicken.

Ratatouille (pronounced rat-eh-too-ee) is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise.

There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille. One method is to simply saute all of the vegetables together. Some cooks, including Julia Child, insist on a layering approach, where the aubergine and the courgettes are sautéed separately, while the tomatoes, onion, garlic and bell peppers are made into a sauce.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

American chef Thomas Keller Zucchini Day popularized a contemporary variation, confit byaldi, for the 2007 animated film Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a dish extremely popular with dieters. This is because not only is it low in fat and calories, but high in nutrients.

Personally, I think the most flavorful way or preparing ratatouille is on the grill, creating a deep smoky flavor while maintaining the integrity of very delicate veggies like squash and eggplant.

Here’s how we do it…

2 zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 eggplant, halved lengthwise
2 yellow squash, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 red onions, quartered
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat the grill to medium-high.

Toss all veggies in a bowl with the 1/2 cup of olive oil, and coat well. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Grill veggies, cut side down for 5 to 6 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Remove the tomatoes, cover your grill, and cook the remaining vegetables for 2 more minutes, or until almost cooked through.

Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and coarsely chop (leave the tomatoes whole).

Put the chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve at room temperature, with toasted pita wedges and goat cheese.

Note: The leftovers, if you have any, are great the next morning over eggs scrambled with a little feta cheese!

If the weather isn’t conducive to firing up the grill, roast the vegetables in a 500° oven for 25 minutes instead of grilling them.

And, of course…there’s Remy’s way…


Enjoy those zukes!

-Chef Perry

08/28/15

Bohemian Rhapsody: Star Wars Edition

Bohemian Rhapsody: Star Wars Edition

We take a momentary pause from our regular food-related programming to share the greatest YouTube Video ever…

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

 

08/27/15

Last Chance!

Le Couteaux Trois_2

Hey everyone,

11855346_10203456624051350_339855298_nWe’re two weeks away from the opening (and only) night of our tapas themed fund-raising pop-up restaurant, Le Couteaux Trois!

The menu has grown to 15 from-scratch courses (don’t worry, they’re small, lol)

We are down to 4 remaining seats available in general seating, and 2 remaining at the Chef’s Table.
IMG_4655
100% of proceeds from this event will be used to support the MY KITCHEN Outreach Program: feeding the hungry, and teaching cooking skills for low-income, and at-risk kids!

If you are planning to attend this evening of amazing food for an amazing cause, you need to sign up NOW, at this link.

RESERVATIONS CLOSE TOMORROW!

Clams2Hope to see you there!

Chefs Perry, Terry, & Chris
Le Couteaux Trois

PS – If you can’t make it to the dinner, but would still like to contribute to this fund-raiser, you can do that, as well, at the link above. Thanks!

 

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

 

08/25/15

MY KITCHEN Cookbook Giveaway!

MY KITCHEN CookbookWoo-Hoo! We are currently at 919 subscribers to our free weekly SimplySmartDinnerPlans eNewsletter!

But…I want to see four digits. (See how I am?)

So, here’s the deal:

If we hit the 1K mark by September 1st, I will choose 1 new subscriber to the list (starting today), and both they AND the subscriber who recommended them* will receive a complimentary copy of our (very) soon to be released fund-raising “MY KITCHEN Cookbook”, BEFORE IT’S AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ANYWHERE!

So, who do you know who could use some great, simple, healthy recipes each week, as well as the satisfaction of helping at-risk and underprivileged children learn important life skills?

Just share this post with them, and have them sign up here!



PLEASE feel free to share!

-Chef Perry

*If the new subscriber I choose was not recommended by a current subscriber, I will choose 1 current member at random for the second book.

08/24/15

“How Hot Dogs Are Made!!!” (Today’s stupidity alert…)

 

Okay, so THIS bit of Facebook idiocy has been shared with me a half-dozen times this morning, typically with the all-caps subject line, “OMG…IS THIS TRUE???????????”

Short answer? “OMG…NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

*sigh*

My friends…please, PLEASE, engage your higher reasoning capabilities before you swallow (or God forbid, share) an enormous load of BS like this:

No, this AIN’T how hot dogs are made!

I have been to hot dog processing plants, and there is no machine that grinds up whole pigs like that grinder, nor in there need for one. That video is scrapped together from several different processing plants (note the different logos and uniforms).

First of all, those are whole, un-gutted animals they’re throwing in those grinders, which would violate about a million FDA laws. My guess is that that shot is taken from a dog-food plant somewhere.

Also, any hunter will tell you that the introduction of bile, fecal matter, urine, etc., would make the meat inedible (believe me, you would taste it!)

Most of the rest of the scenes were stolen from THIS video, which shows the real process:

Second, it would be an enormously expensive waste to use the whole pig, prime cuts and all, for hot dogs. The wholesale cost for whole hogs is $2-3 per lb. (believe me, I know) while John Morrell Hot Dogs sell for .99 for a 16oz package…you do the math.

Typically, it’s just going to be the scrap parts and trimmings from the butchering process…which is what sausages and terrines have been made out of for centuries.

This is simply one more ham-handed propaganda attempt (you can tell by the manipulative, slightly-creepy background music) to dupe the slack-jawed hordes of FB members who will run, quacking in panic, at anything the see online.

My guess is that if you could track it’s origins back far enough, you’d end up at the desk of some militant vegan or animal-rights organization.

Which makes me want to go buy a hot dog for lunch.

My point? ~ Please stop helping the ministry of disinformation by believing, or distributing, this kind of stupidity.

Thank you,

Chef Perry

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

 

08/23/15

The Truth About “Super-Foods”

https://pacificsource.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/superfood.jpgIn our over-priced, over-lit, over-hyped media-crazed society, it should come as no surprise that there has been some serious lily-gilding on the subject of “super-foods.”

Oh, it’s not that these new and exotic foods from far-away lands aren’t really, really good for you. Acia and goji berries are loaded with phytochemicals, quinoa is a solid source of meat-free protein (which, unfortunately has become so hyped that it’s now too expensive for the native peoples who grow the stuff to eat anymore…)

It’s not that “super-foods aren’t, well…super, it’s just that there are lots and lots of amazing, if not quite so exotic, foods (blueberries, legumes, nuts, etc.,) that are every bit as good for you, with a much less over-hyped price tag, and a vastly smaller carbon footprint.

The only difference is that big-media isn’t blasting us 24/7/365 with revenue-greedy hype over the amazing power of a kidney bean, while we stand, en-mass, mouths agape, credit cards in hand, nodding like a bunch of glassy-eyes children of the (non-GMO) corn.

Take a look at this great infographic from EVOKE.ie



the truth about superfoods

08/15/15

Happy Birthday Julia!

http://i1.wp.com/ww2.kqed.org/bayareabites/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2013/08/julia.jpg?resize=363%2C298

Julia Carolyn Child (August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author, and television personality.

She is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her subsequent television programs, the most notable of which was The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.

She was, in this cook’s opinion, the single most important and positive influence on cooking in America that we have ever had, or likely ever will have.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

Chef Perry


MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this post, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

08/11/15

Thai Pork Packets with Sesame Rice

Thai pork with Basmati Rice

Here’s a super-simple way to make an awesome Thai dish. We like to make these ahead of time, freeze a few and take them camping. A fantastic, easy-to-cook, almost no clean-up dinner!

This would be a great “hands-on” recipe for cooking with kids, as well!

Here it is…

Thai Pork Packets with Sesame Basmati Rice

This simple recipe is full of flavor. You can also use chicken breast slices instead of the pork if you’d like.


  • 3/4 lb. boneless pork ribs
  • 1 med. head of cabbage*
  • 2 medium carrots*
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 dash white pepper

Mise en Place

Prepare and preheat grill* to medium. Core and shred the cabbage. Shred the carrots and combine with cabbage. Cut pork ribs crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Skin and mince the garlic. Juice the orange.

In a bowl, combine the salsa, peanut butter, honey, orange juice, water, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and white pepper.

Prepare the Dish

Divide the pork evenly among the sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil (spray each sheet with a bit of cooking spray, first).

Top each with equal amounts of cabbage and carrot mixture.

Pour the liquid mixture evenly over each packet.

Seal with double folds.

Grill**, covered, 6″ inches from medium high coals for 15-20 minutes or until pork is fully cooked and vegetables are tender, turning once and rearranging packets on grill.

Notes: *Cabbage/Carrots: time-saver – replace the cabbage and carrots above with 2 cups julienned carrots and cabbage mix.

**Grill: You can also bake the packets in a preheated 450 degrees oven for 20-25 minutes or until done.


MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

Sesame Basmati Rice


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. butter
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

In a large sieve, rinse the rice under cold running water, 2-3 minutes, and drain.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine water with the rice, sesame oil, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; stir once.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Put a clean dishtowel under the lid, and let stand off the heat, covered, for 5 minutes.

Add the sesame seeds, fluff with a fork, and serve.


08/10/15

Cooking with your kids

Cooking with Kids

I thought I’d share one of my favorite websites today: Kids Cooking Activities.

Cooking with kids

Me with my own little chef!

You know that teaching kids to cook is a subject near and dear to our hearts, and the focus of our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, so it’s no surprise that I love this website, which is packed with great information, resources, and activities that help teach kids that cooking can be fun!

Here are 10 reasons, from Kid’s Cooking Activities, why you should do cooking activities with your children.

Learning to cook helps children to learn about nutrition and healthy eating. They are growing up with fast food and junk food at their fingertips, which is part of the reason why child obesity is on the rise! Teaching kids to cook will help instill skills to last them a lifetime.

Boost their self esteem. If your child needs a boost of self confidence, (and who doesn’t!) cooking in the kitchen will do just that. They are accomplishing a task, learning something important and contributing to the family.

Create family time and bonding. Take time to cook with your children and they will have memories that they, in turn, can pass on to their families. It may take a longer time to get the meal or snack done but the moments with your children will be priceless. (Just remember to have patience. Don’t worry about flour on the floor or spilled milk).

Kids will be more apt to eat what they make. Perhaps, it is the enthusiasm of creating something themselves, but they will be more likely to eat whatever they had a hand in making.

Read the rest of this list, and check out tons of great activities on the Kids Cooking Activities site, and be sure to join their club to receive 20 free “Kids Cooking Recipes Cards!”

And remember, make it fun!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

 

08/4/15

Caprese Cherry Tomato Bites

http://i1.wp.com/burninlovebbq.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/tomatobitesb.jpg

I love the combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil (a taste from the Italian region of Campania) in these bite-size appetizers. The juicy explosion you get when you pop one into your mouth is the genuine taste of springtime.

This is a new spin on a classic Italian dish, and no one knows how to showcase the tomato like the Italians. In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish).

We made hundreds of these little suckers for our friend Dani’s wedding…and the still went fast! :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Caprese Tomato Bites
1 pint cherry tomatoes, about 16
2 mozzarella cheese sticks
16 fresh basil leaves, small
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Scoop out and discard pulp an stem of the cherry tomatoes.

Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.

Slice each mozzarella stick into eight rounds.

Turn tomato halves over; drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Wrap a leaf of basil around a slice of cheese (like a taco) and insert into a tomato.

Chill and serve.

Makes 16 single servings.

Note: This is the super-simple version, and it’s awesome, as is. If, however, you’d like to take this to the next level, replace the cheese sticks with some fresh mozzarella.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.