Friday, July 16, 2010

Zucchini, Tomato, and Corn Salad

Nothing tastes like summer more than ripe tomatoes, sweet corn, and toothsome zucchini. Here is one of my summertime favorites. Enjoy!

1 1/2 lb medium zucchini
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 2 ears)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise (2 cups)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Special equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer with julienne cutter or a julienne peeler
Working with 1 zucchini at a time, cut lengthwise into very thin (julienne) strips with slicer, turning zucchini and avoiding core. Discard core.

2. Toss zucchini strips with 1 teaspoon salt and let drain in a colander set over a bowl, covered and chilled, 1 hour.

3. Gently squeeze handfuls of zucchini to remove excess water and pat dry with paper towels.

4. Cook corn in a small saucepan of boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold water and pat dry.

5. Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking. Add zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and basil and toss well.

Cooks' note: Salad (without dressing and basil) can be made ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chocolate and Cinnamon Rubbed Rib Eyes

Chocolate and Cinnamon Rubbed Rib Eyes
Serves 8

2 T coarse sea salt
2 T cocoa powder
1 t dried thyme
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t freshly ground pepper
pinch of cayenne (if desired)
4 lbs rib eye steaks

In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except the steaks and oil.

Rub the mixture into both sides of each steak. Wrap each steak in plastic wrapped and refrigerate overnight, turning once.

Remove steak from the fridge then heat grill. Unwrap steaks and rub grill with oil.

Grill steaks (turning once), cook to desired doneness, and let rest 5-7 minutes. Serve.

Grilled Fish with Sherry Tarragon Vinaigrette

Grilled Fish with Sherry Tarragon Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6

4 of your favorite skinless white fleshed fish (I like to use either swordfish, halibut, mahi mahi)
Olive oil for brushing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup aged sherry vinegar
1 small shallot, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup olive oil

Heat grill to high. Brush fish on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill fish for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until just cooked through.

Combine vinegar, shallot, mustard, tarragon, and salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until emulsified. Adjust seasoning. Drizzle vinaigrette over the fish and serve.

Grilled Chicken with Eastern NC BBQ Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Eastern NC Style BBQ Sauce
(serves 4)

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 T chopped garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 T hot sauce
1 T sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts (can also use bone in but cooking time will be longer)

Heat grill. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, garlic, red pepper, hot sauce, and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer 15 minutes then remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to cool completely.

Transfer half of BBQ sauce to a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag and reserve remaining sauce. Add chicken to bag, seal, and shake to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Remove chicken from the marinade. Discard bag with marinade. Grill chicken until nicely marked (about 4 minutes) and turn. Brush with reserved sauce and continue grilling until just cooked through about 4 more minutes.

Plate chicken and add more sauce if desired (or you can serve the sauce on the side).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Are you worth your weight in salt?

Now, they’re going too far.

What is happening to our freedom? Smoking bans, oil and fat bans, foie gras bans, snack food bans, soda bans (to name a few) and now a salt ban. Lawmakers are telling us what we can and can’t put in mouths. Yet, they will not bring the FDA out of the Dark Ages. They will not make the commitment to make our produce, meat, seafood, and poultry safe but they will dictate what we should and should not eat. They will not put pressure on “food manufacturers” (who process food so much that it is completly different from its natural state) relying on large amounts of chemicals and sodium (that’s right, salt) to make their products shelve stable as well as edible. They will not put the burden on companies who process salt and add more sodium (and chemicals) to natural salt but they are trying to deprive chefs of a crucial ingredient.

Here’s what scientists have found:

An eight-year study of a New York City hypertensive population stratified for sodium intake levels found those on low-salt diets had more than four times as many heart attacks as those on normal-sodium diets – the exact opposite of what the “salt hypothesis” would have predicted. (1995)

A ten-year follow-up study to the huge Scottish Heart Health Study found no improved health outcomes for those on low-salt diets. (1997)

An analysis of the health outcomes, over a twenty year period, from those in the massive US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) documented a 20% greater incidence of heart attacks among those on low-salt diets compared to normal-salt diets (1998)

A health outcomes study in Finland, reported to the American Heart Association that no health benefits could be identified and concluded “…our results do not support the recommendations for entire populations to reduce dietary sodium intake to prevent coronary heart disease.” (1998)

A Finnish study reported an increase in cardiovascular events for obese men (but not women or normal-weight individuals of either gender) – the article, however, failed to adjust for potassium intake levels which many researchers consider a key associated variable. (2001)

In September of 2002, the latest and highest-quality meta-analysis of clinical trials was published in the British Medical Journal confirming earlier meta-analyses' conclusions that significant salt reduction would lead to very small blood pressure changes in sensitive populations and no health benefits. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has also reviewed the evidence and concluded:
"There is insufficient evidence that, for the general population, reducing dietary sodium intake or increasing dietary intake of iron, beta-carotene, or other antioxidants results in improved health outcomes." (2002)

America’s pre-eminent scientific journal, Science, published by the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science, investigated the source of this confusion. The report in Science won author Gary Taubes the Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers. He concluded:
“After interviews with some 80 researchers, clinicians, and administrators around the world, it is safe to say that if ever there were a controversy over the interpretation of scientific data, this is it….After decades of intensive research, the apparent benefits of avoiding salt have only diminished. This suggests that either the true benefit has now been revealed and is indeed small or that it is non-existent and researchers believing they have detected such benefits have been deluded by the confounding of other variables.”

So, is it because people can’t control themselves that we have to cook (and eat) inferior, poorly seasoned food?

You decide. I already have.

For more information, you can look up: The Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford University (UK) Centre for Evidence-based Medicine, the Health Information Research Unit (McMaster University), or the Canadian Centres for Health Evidence.

You can also visit the following websites:

To order a soon to be released book on all things salt, check out:

"Let's drink to the salt of the Earth" - M. Jagger/K. Richards