To soup or not to soup all depends on you

With the arrival of warmer weather, it's all too often that soup begins to take a back seat to its more fair weather friend, la salade. Well, the time has come to break from traditional habits. Soup is perfectly comfortable as the days and nights warm up. In fact, if you carefully pick and choose the type of soup, it makes perfect sense as a first course for a July evening dinner.

Think lighter fare when choosing what soup you plan to prepare. We're not talking about the heavy and hearty guns here, but more in the line of light and creamy soups that a simple ladle or two will suffice. Think of a light and silky scarf around your neck as you stroll through the city park on a warm Summer's eve, instead of that thick, old, and scratchy wool muffler that's been hanging in your closet that you can't wait to re-gift. Now you're beginning to envision a wonderful cream of red lentils and carrots with a light scent of ginger and golden curry as you close your eyes and your mind wanders to the sandy beaches of Panaji with subtle, warm breezes blowing in from the Arabian Sea as the Sun gives its last kiss good night.

Snap out of it! It's time to make soup and you've no time for day dreaming. Get yourself a fan and pretend. Here are the ingredients for Red Lentil and Carrot Ginger Soup:

2 cups of carrots, chopped in one inch pieces
1 cup of dry red lentils, well rinsed
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh peeled young ginger
6 cups of chicken stock
3/4 cups of coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon of golden curry power or turmeric (your choice)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of butter

Begin by bringing the chicken stock to a full boil in a medium to large pot. Add the carrots and the red lentils and boil for about 15 minutes uncovered over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. You will begin to see some foaming around the edges. Take a soup spoon and carefully skim this off and discard it. Reduce heat to medium and add the ginger. Cover and continue cooking for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender and lentils are soft to the bite. Check back occasionally and stir.  Liquid should have reduced a bit and lentils should have absorbed some liquid as well.

Now transfer the carrots and lentils, along with the liquid to a food processor in 3 equal amounts and process for about 3 minutes each. Once processed, return the soup to the pot by way of straining through a fine mesh strainer. Take your time and don't rush the straining, as you want to have a silky smooth consistency. You can use a spoon to keep the mesh clear as you strain, but don't try to push it through. Any solids left in the strainer can be discarded. This process can take 10 minutes, but be patient. The finer the mesh the better.

Once the soup has been put through the strainer and back in the pot, stir in the coconut milk, the curry powder (or turmeric), salt, pepper, and honey. Make sure the cook top is reduced to low. Stir well until all ingredients are well blended. If you desire less thickness to your soup, add more cream or coconut milk and stir well.  Taste for flavor and add a bit more salt if needed. Continue to cook on low for about 15 minutes until it comes to a very very low boil, all the while stirring frequently. Once it comes to a boil, cook for just about 5 more minutes, remove from heat, and melt 1 tablespoon of butter until completely blended. Serve hot with sprinkled parsley or a nob of sour cream. Settle in the back yard, hit the fan, and go back to your day dream. Enjoy!

The Two Faces of Salads

It's the month of May and that means Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. With the coming of warmer weather,  the focus begins to shift towards more outdoor activities such as jogging, boating, swimming, and oh yes, dieting!

One of the most versatile foods that pairs so well with Spring and calorie watching are salads. The recipes are endless and so all encompassing. Think about it, name a vegetable, fruit, grain, legume, fowl, seafood, or meat, and odds are there is a salad for that. Another great advantage of salads is that more likely than not, they will be made of fresh items. And finally, they tend to be healthier for you, providing good vitamins and nutrients, lower fat and calories, and high dietary fiber.

STOP THE PRESSES! Salads can be dangerous to your health! They are loaded with calories, fat, and cholesterol. Yes, like all other foods,the claims are true, if we turn these wonderful salads into a hodgepodge of   everything we can find in the fridge to pile onto our plates. All too often, we Americans tend to go overboard when putting together a salad and end up with high fat and high cholesterol dressings, high sodium processed cheeses and meats, all served in a large bowl as opposed to a dinner plate. The end result is a total defeat of why we had a salad instead of Mac n Cheese or Lasagna. We end up consuming nearly 1,000 calories, not to mention the saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol we were trying to avoid.

Salads are great for all of us; however, we must take into account several factors in order to maintain the "goodness" integrity. First, serve your portions on a plate as opposed to a bowl. This will ensure measured quantity, thereby controlling the amount consumed. There is certainly where size does matter, smaller is better. Second, stay with fresh and non packaged ingredients when putting together your salad. Processed goods like cold cuts are loaded with sodium, more dangerous than cholesterol to your health in the opinions of many. Read the package of  sliced ham or turkey the next time you're in the store and be prepared for a shock! It is better to roast your own chicken or saute your own beef strips as you will have more control over sodium and flavor.

Finally, the third thing to take into account when preparing a healthy salad deserves its own paragraph as it is far and away the greatest culprit in how bad for your health things can be. Think hard before you decide what dressing you are going to pour over your salad and how much you will use. Your dressing will contain most of the bad ingredients including most of the fat and saturated fat, bad cholesterol, sodium, and sugars. Be energetic and adventurous and make your own dressing. Doing so gives you total control over everything! You can control quantity by pouring your dressing into all the salad servings, tossing the salad, and then serving it in individual dinner plates as opposed to individually pouring it into each dish. Pouring the dressing onto your own serving will most likely double the quantity you would otherwise need, hence double the calories. And if you just can't do without that Thousand Island or Blue Cheese dressing, dilute it a bit with water before pouring. You'll use a lot less of it without sacrificing flavor.

Pictured above is a Roasted Chicken Breast Salad served with a Dijon style dressing of olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic,  and pepper. The fat contained in this dressing is healthy and the mustard enriches the flavor without fat, sodium, or cholesterol. The salad itself contains:

Bib or Boston Lettuce (Butter lettuce)
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced avocado
Diced fresh garlic
Sliced roasted chicken breast
2 sliced medium fresh mushrooms
6 diced Kalamato olives

Notice that nowhere in this recipe (salad or dressing) does it call for salt. The reason is that the olives provide the salt you need for flavor enhancement. Served with a nice loaf of olive bread, this entree is perfect for lunch and will satisfy all the while being very healthy for you. Play with the ingredients, substituting some for your favorite ones. Just be careful and conscientious of what you use so as to keep it healthy.

During the next six months of Spring and Summer,  if you consume 3 salads as part of your 14 lunches and dinners each week, you will eat about 1,500 fewer calories each week. That's 39,000 fewer calories over the next six months! Now that's food for thought.

Thai Peanut Sauce Fried Rice Recipe

This rice dish pairs very well with the Basil Baked Game Hen entree. The flavors are exquisite with just a touch of heat. Each bite will have you going back for more (you may even find yourself sneaking a small bowl of it as a later evening snack). Not only will this rice dish hold its head high against the best of restaurant fried rice dishes, but it's so simple to prepare that you'll want to make it often, with variations on the ingredients.

  • 4 oz. of pork loin, diced
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped leek
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh red pepper
  • 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup of fresh sweet Thai basil, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of Thai peanut sauce
  • 2 pinches of dried chili pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 cup of uncooked short grain rice
  • 1/2 cup of white rice wine
  • 1 2/3 cup of water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Begin by bringing water to a boil in a medium pan.
  2. Add the rice, some salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bring back to a boil, stir well, lower heat to low, and cover. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
  3. While rice is cooking, prepare all other ingredients, chopping and mincing. Be sure to use the lower part of the leek stalk (the white part). You may substitute 1/2 finely chopped onion for the leek if you prefer.
  4. Heat the olive and sesame oil in a large fry pan or wok over medium high heat.
  5. Saute the meat until browned, then add the leek and red pepper. Continue to saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  6. Next add the garlic, stir, and continue cooking for another few minutes.
  7. Add the rice wine and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  8. Lower heat to medium low and stir in the peanut sauce. Then stir in the fresh basil and 2 pinches of the red pepper flakes. Taste for flavor, add your desired pepper and salt if needed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  9. Wipe the fry pan (or wok) with a clean paper towel. Add a bit of olive oil enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat over a medium high heat.
  10. Flake the cooked rice with a fork and add it to the fry pan. Stir quickly and saute rice for about 2 minutes.
  11. Add the cooked ingredients you set aside to the rice and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated with the rice. Sprinkle in a bit of sesame oil and do one final stir. Remove from heat and transfer to a large serving bowl. Serve hot.  

Basil Roasted Game Hen

An incredible savory dish, Basil Roasted Game Hen offers a depth of flavors down to the bone. You'll forget that you're eating white meat from the chicken family. Let's be honest, chicken white meat can be very bland and if roasted or baked beyond the "point", it tends to become very dry. Fear not, follow this recipe and these little game hens will succulent and tender down to the last bite of breast meat.

Hear is your shopping list:


  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200c).
  2. Rinse and pat dry each game hen and set aside.
  3. Place butter, olive oil, basil, parsley, mustard, garlic salt, black pepper, salt, and Cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  4. With a spoon, mix all ingredients until well incorporated.
  5. With each game hen, carefully separate the skin from the breast and back meat, including thighs with your index finger.
  6. Once skin is loosened, carefully add a level teaspoon of the butter mixture to each quadrant between the skin and the meat.
  7. Massage the surface of the skin with your thumb until butter mixture is well distributed throughout the back, thighs, and breast of each game hen.
  8. Place hens in a large greased baking dish that is at least 1 inch deep.
  9. Place in oven and bake at 400 (200) for 15 minutes, then turn down heat to 375 and continue baking for an additional 45 minutes, basting with some of the remaining butter mixture every 15 minutes, with a brush.
  10. When ready, remove from the oven, place hens on a large serving platter.
  11. Over medium heat, place baking dish with pan drippings on stove top burner and add the peanut sauce to liquid.
  12. Use a spatula to deglaze the pan and stir until peanut sauce is well blended and sauce comes to a slow bubbling boil.
  13. Remove from heat and add any remaining butter mixture to the sauce and stir until butter is well incorporated into sauce.
  14. Pour a few spoons of the sauce over each game hen and pour remaining sauce in a sauce bowl. Serve hot, 1/2 game hen per person.

Napoleon is not just dessert anymore!

Whenever you think of a Napoleon, instantly your mind envisions wonderful layers of thin puff pastry, vanilla, cream, and custard, ever so sweet, every bite begging another. Mille-Feuilles in French, this dessert goes back to the 17 Th  Century, some having it go back hundreds of years earlier.

Well, now you can wake up and take those visions out of your head. Think savory! This Napoleon is like no other and sugar is no closer  than the sun is to the earth. Furthermore, as opposed to the final course, Pork Tenderloin Napoleon sneaks in at the beginning. No less pleasing to the eyes, this wonderful dish will impress your guests from the aromas coming out of your kitchen to the last bite.

Elegant as it looks, Pork Tenderloin Napoleon is very easy to make and assemble. If you've been following this blog, you've already prepared each of the components in the past. Each serving consists of slices of Pork Tenderloin, puff pastry, and a wonderful Port or Madeira wine sauce with sauteed shallots, garlic, and thinly sliced Portabella mushrooms.

To start out, gather all your ingredients:

1 Pork Tenderloin roast (about 1.5 lbs)
1 Puff Pastry sheet, thawed, refrigerator chilled until ready to use
2 Portabella mushrooms, sliced 1/8 inch thick
3 medium shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of capers
1 teaspoon of green peppercorns (if dried, soak in warm water for 30 minutes)
1 cup of Port or Madeira Wine
1/2 cup of beef stock
3 tablespoons of butter
olive oil
salt and pepper (to taste)