Thursday, June 17, 2010

Healthful decadence

I had my wonderful friend Gery over for dinner last night. We both like simple food that's rich in flavors of its own, and we like to indulge in greater variety after training hard at the gym. Having a nutritious meal post training is vital to recovery and this is the best time to place a larger amount of your daily calories.

Let me introduce you to some of the recipes I played with for that enjoyable evening.

Homemade fresh cheese with herbs

Shaping the cheese like a log makes presentation easy and nice!

You prepare this cheese this similar to paneer or ricotta. Here is what you need:

1 gallon milk (full fat, in my case, from a local farm)
4 lemons, juiced
tablespoon salt
2 cups yogurt

Boil the milk and while still warm, add the lemon juice, the yogurt and the salt. Let it rest for a while, until you see the whey separating from the curd. Place the mixture in a strainer lined with cheese cloth and let the whey drain overnight. In the morning, or in 8-10 hours, you will have cheese that you can shape into a log. I rolled my cheese log in dried oregano, fresh oregano, fresh thyme and sun dried tomatoes. To prepare the dry mix for rolling, all I did was to combine the herbs and the tomatoes in a blender.

Piece of herbed cheese over slow roasted tomato and topped with simple olive/basil pesto

Mini casseroles with slow roasted tomato sauce

To make traditional lasagna or casserole would result in two issues: you always end up wanting to have a second serving and it's hard not to overeat on it. Making mini casseroles in muffin pans allows for better presentation and easier portion control.

For 12 mini casseroles, you need:

2 cups quinoa pasta, cooked
1 cup slow roasted tomato sauce (just blend the slow roasted tomatoes with a touch of black pepper)
1 cup grated cheese (Swiss is best)

Slow roasted tomato, quinoa pasta and melted cheese on top

Place quinoa pasta at the bottom, cover with a tablespoon of tomato sauce and then top with cheese. Bake in a medium heated oven for 10 minutes or until all cheese has melted and turned golden. Serve with pesto sauce.

We really liked the casseroles and we actually used the leftover ones to take to work the next day. They taste really good cold, too.

Gery seemed to like the cherry on top of my Baked Cherries Vanilla Cream

What is dinner with a friend without dessert? Earlier in the week, I decided to bake some cherries. All you do is take the cherries, place in a small baking pan, add 1-2 tbsp of water, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and you bake for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Once out of the oven and cooled off, you can take the pits out after smashing the cherries with a fork. The tasty, caramelized aromatic meat is what I used in this

Baked Cherries Vanilla Cream

To feed two dessert connoisseurs, you need:

1/2 cup baked cherries with the juice reduction from baking
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup Philadelphia cheese
1/6 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp dried cherries
1 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare two bowls. In one, place 3/4 cup of the Mascarpone cheese and all of the Philadelphia. Add the baked cherries, saving 4 for the bottoms of the bowls. Mix well, preferably with an immersion blender. Set aside and mix the remaining 1/4 cup Mascarpone with the heavy cream, vanilla extract and dried cherries. Start filling the bowls, putting 2 baked cherries on the bottom, continuing with the pink cream and topping with the white cream. Use the remaining reduction juice from baking the cherries to drizzle on top. Enjoy responsibly as it may lead to overindulgence.

Dinner with friends make friendship last longer if you share not only stories, but also healthy, nutritious food. Let me know how you do it!

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