Archive for ‘Cold dishes’

June 6, 2011

Savory Broccoli and Spinach Cheesecake

WHOA! Hold the phone! What’s that I read? CHEESECAKE?

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… “Sonia, didn’t you just say you were going to keep your calorie intake in check and cook more light and low cal dishes for a while? And yet, here you are, making CHEESECAKE? Are you, like, out of your mind or something?

Well, not exactly! 😉 While cheesecake isn’t exactly you typical low cal dish, believe it or not, one serving of this baby will only set you back about 425 calories.

Not bad for such a rich and decadent dish. While eating it, you would never guess that it was so healthy and surprisingly light. It definitely feels super rich and creamy and oh so cheesy.

You see, I was initially planning on making a quiche, but I suddenly remembered that I had bought about a million packages of low fat cream cheese last time it came on sale (I know, I have to work on that…) and so my mind immediately went “SAVORY CHEESECAKE” and this huge grin came across my face.

Then I remembered: “-Low cal”. D’OH!

I had to think of a way to make this happen. HAD TO!

And I did!

How? I remembered that one could also use cottage cheese to make cheesecakes! Bingo, problem solved. I used one package of low fat cream cheese, one container of 1% cottage cheese and a little bit of Feta cheese for added flavour and texture.

All in all, I am EXTREMELY happy with the results. The texture is rich and creamy with nice chunks of vegetables and the pie as a whole doesn’t feel heavy at all despite being loaded with cheese. The taste? Hard to describe… but definitely YUMMY!

There’s only one tiny little detail that didn’t quite work out… the crust isn’t of the cuddly kind and doesn’t seem to want to cling to the cheese filling. That’s why I decided to garnish with arugula leaves, to hide the gap that had formed between the crust and the filling. Problem solved? Not quite that easily…

The slices are a little tricky to cut, but if you make a small “starter” indentation in the crust, the rest goes pretty good. However, once a slice is cut, the “gap” transforms into a drawbridge, so you sort of have to hold it in place with a toothpick.

Not sure how to solve that problem… I will have to think of something… Edible superglue?

Anywho, that won’t stop me from making this wonderful savory cheesecake again, or even from bringing it to an eventual party. I am truly happy with this experiment and the way it turned out.

And, now that I’ve got a good base, I can play with different flavour combinations!

Oh! food, how I love thee!

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • ¾ cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup no fat plain yogurt
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp oranic no salt seasoning
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 140g spinach, chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 250g low fat cream cheese
  • 500g 1% fat cottage cheese
  • the zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 whole eggs
  • ¼ cup egg whites (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
  • 100g Feta cheese, crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS
(serves 6)

Crust

  1. Whisk flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk oil, yogurt and egg; pour over flour.
  2. Stir to form fairly smooth dough.
  3. On floured surface, knead until smooth, 2 minutes.
  4. Press into disc; wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. On floured surface, roll out dough to form a 12-13 inch disc. Fit into 9 inch spring form pan, letting excess hang over edge. Set aside.

Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a skillet coated with cooking spray, cook onion, bell pepper and seasoning over medium heat, until fragrant and onion becomes translcent, about 2-3 minutes. Add broccoli and continue cooking for another minute or two.
  3. Add water and balsamic vinegar. Cook until all water has evaporated. Turn off the heat and add chopped spinach and nutmeg. Stir until the spinach is wilted. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a food processor, blend cream cheese and cottage cheese together until smooth. Scrape the sides once or twice during process to make sure all cheese is well incorporated.
  5. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, Dijon mustard and give a quick stir.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, blending until smooth between each addition. Add the egg whites and take the mixture for a final spin.
  7. Transfer cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add crumbled feta and creamy cheese mixture. Fold delicately until well combined.
  8. Transfer this mixture into the reserved crust. Immediately put in the oven and lower temperature to 325F.
  9. Cook for 55-60 minutes, until cake is set.
  10. Allow cake to cool completely before unmolding.
  11. Garnish with arugula leaves right before serving.

May 25, 2011

Wheat Berry and Lobster Salad

This is another recipe that was on my Must Try List and that I had been really looking forward to trying. I guess I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to arise. An opportunity such as having some beautiful leftover lobster meat to use it in.

You see, the other night when we had our “summer kick-off” steaks, there was also lobster, but there was no way I could eat mine: it was wayyyyy too much food!!  So I ended up cleaning it and putting it away, knowing EXACTLY what I was going to do with it! I thought it would work perfectly with this salad

AND I THOUGHT RIGHT!!

This salad was just plain insane. In fact, I think I would buy lobster just to do it again! Of course, I guess, if lobster was  not available, shrimp would probably work fine too, but I am telling you, the chewiness of the lobster matched that of the wheat berries just beautifully! And the flavor combination was also superb.

Heidi’s recipe called for carrots but I decided to use orange bell peppers instead. Same color, different texture and taste. It turned out to be an excellent choice. It too, matched the lobster quite well.

The best thing about this salad is that if you have all the ingredients ready, it really comes together in no time. 10 minutes and you’re done. Sure, wheat berries do take a long time to cook, but the trick is to do them ahead of time, then you’re all set!

I guess the best way to go about it is to cook your wheat berries the previous day. Put them to soak in the morning before you leave for work, then cook them in the evening while you are making supper (they require no attention whatsoever, so they won’t even disrupt your schedule) and leave them in the fridge to cool until the next day (or until you are ready to use them… just don’t wait a month, you know!).

And if you have never tried wheat berries before, this, right here, is the perfect excuse for you to give them a go!

INGREDIENTS
(serves 1)

Salad

  • The meat of one lobster, cooked and cooled
  • ½ cup wheat berries, cooked and cooled
  • ½ orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Dressing

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp za’atar (or dried oregano)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. [The previous day] Soak wheat berries for 8 to 12 hours, then drain, rinse and cook in salted water (at least 4 parts water to 1 part berries) in a pot for an hour to an hour and a half, until chewy but tender and all water is absorbed.  Cool completely before adding to the salad.
  2. Chop veggies and lobster meat in small bite sized pieces and mix all together in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Mix together dressing and pour over the salad.
  4. You can serve this immediately or refrigerate for a half hour to an hour to allow flavors to fully develop.

May 10, 2011

Summer Is Almost Here Lobster Salad

I had bought an extra lobster, just in case… I wasn’t sure whether my son would be home for dinner or not, so I decided to play it safe. Turns out he didn’t, so I ended up with one leftover lobster.

Great!!! I was gonna get to make lobster something. But lobster what? I never made lobster anything before. I always had lobster lobster, period.

I thought about it for a long time, came up with many ideas, but I don’t know, for some reason, none of them seemed to really inspire me.

Creamy Lobster Pasta? Naaah, way too similar to the creamy salmon pasta I just had…

Lobster crêpes? Nope. Way too fancy. Not in the mood for fancy.

Lobster pizza? Yeeaaah, maybe… that could be an option, but on a weeknight? I don’t know… Plus, I really have my heart set on that chicken, sundried tomatoes and goatcheese pizza and having lobster pizza now would mean I’d have to push the chicken one back another month or so. Not good.

Lobster sandwich? Han han, I think that would be a waste… You don’t make a sandwich out of something you only get to eat once a year.

I needed to find something that would be visually pleasing, (I really wanted to eat that lobster with my eyes first), and that wouldn’t completely overpower the delicate flavour of the lobster flesh. Something light, something fresh… something that would celebrate that little bit of sunshine we’re finally getting…

A SALAD! What else? And there you have it…

Summer is almost here Lobster Salad.

It fit the bill, perfectly!

Ingredients
(serves 1)

  • 175g cooked lobster meat (the meat of one lobster)
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • ½ tomato, diced
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ¼ cup black olives, sliced
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1tsp fresh oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • A handful of arugula

Instructions

  1. Cook the corn according to directions on package (use your preferred method) then rinse it under cold running water to cool it down. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add lemon juice, mustard, thyme, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork or whisk until well incorporated.
  3. Add all other ingredients except arugula. Toss lightly until well combined
  4. Lay arugula on a serving plate and mound lobster salad in the middle.
  5. Serve with whole grain tortilla or bread.