She’s No Angel: Holiday Musings on Victuals and Vice.

Pig's Punch

Pig’s Punch

Like a thunder of army boots marching into town, I dread the inevitable scourge of New Year’s insight promoting radical behavioral shifts sure to trample me next month.

December offers us carte blanche; Eat, Drink and Be Merry. But January draws nigh, when some of us find ourselves hamsters on a double wheel of  guilt trips, agonizing over the previous year’s excess of food and drink.

Are New Year’s dietary resolutions punishment for last year’s  sins? Pain aside, self-flaggelation can be so boring.

At the moment, I’m trying on  a more enlightened approach, modifying behavior that could steer me to 2019 self-loathing in the first place. I’ll begin with alcohol–my poison, my friend.

Special Occasion Punch (champagne on the side).

Long gone are the days of pounding hangovers, when I couldn’t remember if I served that dessert at my dinner party the previous evening.

These days I sip slowly, enjoying the complexity of a vintner’s blend or bartender’s house concoction (Pig’s Punch featured in above pic; an alcohol-optional punch on the left; additional beverage recipes in the Beverages pull-down in the right column).

Yet, I remain no angel. Nor do I wish to be. But do I really need that second or third I’m-taking-an-Uber glass  just because the buzz is fading? My health certainly doesn’t. Every doctor and medical website will tell you this so don’t believe me.

Of late, I’ve been stocking my fridge with coconut water, fruit juices, seltzer waters and assorted bitters. I can make myself a mean non-alcoholic cocktail (yes bitters have alcohol, but really?) while binging with hubby on Sharp Objects.

Out and about, I can begin with seltzer and lime and move onto my high-octane treat mid-stream. Or vice versa. Must I have another? Well, alright. I’ll have a Sweet Vermouth and Soda, thank you very much.

Onto food. Alcohol may taunt me, but when it comes to food, I lucked out. Well-prepared, nutritious food is no sacrifice for this writer.

Dinnerfeed.com is clearly not a dietary site. But in the pull-down tab above, Peggy’s Healthy Pics, through the years I’ve blogged about dozens of reduced fat recipes where no flavor sacrifice is made. (In the above pic, Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Manchego, Fried Shallots and Marcona Almonds .)

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Of late, I’ve been craving pastas with creamy Alfredos. Here’s a treat, an Alfredo recipe with chicken and broccoli with half the calories you’d devour in a restaurant.  I will indulge in the things that tempt me (I’m looking at you Sweet Potato-Pecan Pie) but not to egregious excess.

You readers are compassionate souls, folks intended to be on this planet for a reason. So give yourself a break. Hold hands with me (I need your support!) as we tread gently through December, ready to face the advent of 2019, tummy’s tight (gut or no gut), heads held high and clear.

Need help with holiday menu planning? Tap the Holiday Cookbook (the golden ball in the column on your right) and you’ll find dozens of my holiday favorites. Have a safe and happy season, friends!

 

 

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Pintxos––The Backbone of San Sebastian’s Culinary Landscape

Just returned from a journey that I cobbled together with a close friend. Like myself, she’s a food and travel-junky.

We meandered through the Basque region of Spain and France, finishing the trip in Fes, the heart and gastronomic capital of Morocco.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking in San Sebastian, Spain, sharing with you our exploration of their pinxto culture, one bite at a time.

San Sebastian––heck, the Basque region, in general—is a food lover’s dream date, pintxos being the elaborate crown jewels of the city.

Canapé/tapas/appetizer-styled morsals––Picassos on a plate–– they’re the staple of the local food culture here, as well as all across the Basque landscape. Wherever you turn, that elusive perfect bite awaits.

Eating pinxtos is what one does—tourists and locals alike––in San Sebastian, and the art of composing and consuming these delectables is serious sport.

Bars are continuously trying to outdo their competition with the spoils delighting the consumer. On several occasions, my friend and I went on pinxto crawls through the old town  eating a pintxo or two before moving on to the next bar.

Pintxo is the Basque take of the Spanish word, pincho, derived from the verb ‘pinchar’, which means to pierce.

These succulent treats are traditionally pieced with a cocktail skewer but as Basque food has evolved, the bites are not necessarily pierced or composed atop a bread slice.

It’s forgiveable to confuse pintxos with tapas and the differences depends on where you’re travelling in Spain and the custom of how they’re served.

In the Basque country, the  bites are NEVER called tapas as their Andalusian brothers, skewer or no skewer. As well, a pintxos doesn’t necessarily have to be served on a piece of bread. Witness the above pic of this beautifully wrapped piece of cod–my idea of the perfect holiday gift (-:

Some of the more common toppings on bread slices are the best salt and vinegar-cured anchovies you’ve ever tasted; fluffy, sweet crab meat; delicious local beef; seared cod; suckling pig and the list goes on and on. Acorn-fed, black-hoofed Iberian ham has to be the most ubiquitous of the toppings and, to this writer, the finest ham on the planet. Pictured left is me getting a lesson from San Sebastian’s Master Iberian Ham Carver. Could be a novel in the making (-:

Stacked Shrimp & Avocado Tapas

Stacked Shrimp & Avocado Tapas

Several years ago I wrote a blog christening the recipe:  “Stacked Shrimp and Avocado Tapas“.

Back then, I’d never known pinxtos were a thing. Now I know better. Note the skewer: a name change is clearly in order.

I’d like to continue sharing our culinary adventures in Fes, Morocco with you, but with Thanksgiving around the bend, let me direct your attention to  my Holiday Cookbook on the Gold Ball icon up and on your right. Perhaps you can create your own towering cathedral of texture and flavor as a starter for your feast.

Eat well, my friends. Safe holidays!

 

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Turmeric Pasta with a Roasted Cauliflower-Lentil Ragu

Must pasta insist we default to basil and oregano when seasoning the accompanying sauce? Does Indian cuisine demand we pay homage to  proteins with basmati rice, potatoes or Naan?

Break free the chains! Particularly now since Al Dente’s latest line of Piccola Pastas have hit market shelves to switch things up.

My last post, Pastazanella, was  inspired by local tomatoes and Al Dente’s new Bonneti Pasta. The duo created a tantalizing riff on a classic Panzanella substituting  pasta for bread.

Lentils are substituted for grinds in this not-so-typical Ragu.

Today’s blog substitutes their new Turmeric Pinchetti Pasta for the starches used in traditional Indian food. I substituted, as well, lentils for the expected meaty grinds typically used in classic Italian ragus.

The switch-a-roos make for a lovely October plate–– especially nice when we want to warm up to the heat and spice of sub-continent food and use cauliflower in the peak of  her crowning glory.

The recipe accommodates six healthy appetites––leftovers always a bonus.

I can’t sign off without alerting those interested that my publisher slashed the price of THE PROMISE KITCHEN to only $6.99 through October.

It may be a good way to share your love ~not to mention cross an early gift off the list~ with great food fiction accompanied by a slew of well-tested recipes.

“… what a story! You will WANT to read this.”

[Five Stars, Goodreads]

Recipe: Turmeric Pasta with a Roasted Cauliflower-Lentil Ragu

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 (28-0unce can) whole Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1-2 cups vegetable, chicken stock or water
  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter (optional)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
  • 4 cups Al Dente Turmeric Pasta

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in ginger, garlic, curry, cumin and coriander and continue cooking an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir tomatoes into seasoned onions; break up tomatoes with a fork. Simmer tomatoes an additional minute and then stir in lentils.
  4. Cook lentils in sauce until tender, about 35-45 minutes, stirring in 1/2 cup stock or water as needed to insure lentils don’t stick to pan, as you would do when making a risotto.
  5. While lentils are simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Toss cauliflower florets with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Roast cauliflower on middle-rack of oven 6-8 minutes or until florets are tender and golden brown. When lentils are tender, stir roasted cauliflower into the pan. For extra richness, if desired, stir ghee or butter into ragu. Season with cilantro and pepper flakes.
  7. Boil pasta for five minutes, according to package instructions, and drain. Serve with Lentil-Roasted Cauliflower Ragu.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: apx, 40 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 6-8 (leftover ragu keeps, refrigerated, several days

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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