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    Gourmet Healthy Recipes by Chef Brien Seay
So, my culinary training included using and eating a lot of not-so-good-for-you foods. Oh did I love the pork rillettes on a fresh baguette from Pig by the Tail, the triple cream cheeses from the Cheese Board (both conveniently right across the street from Chez Panisse), and then there was that dense chocolate mascarpone torte . . . oh my. On occasion I even ate donuts, drank soda and I could polish off an inordinate amount of french fries. I won't go on but rest assured that I consumed a lot of great-tasting food that could have turned me into a big-bellied guy. Yes, I had some small love handles but luckily for me I have always been active, so my body remained reasonably fit. The more I learned about nutrition, the more I wanted to transform my way of eating. I found that with a few adjustments I could easily create flavorful foods without excess fat and sugar. Some things, like the rillettes and foie gras, I gave up. As my body acclimated itself to leaner, healthier fare, I found that too much rich food literally weighed me down. I felt slower and uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I still indulge in some rich treats every once in awhile (thank goodness dark chocolate has been proven to be good in moderation!), but overall my tastes always gravitate toward healthier options. What follows are recipes that use healthful ingredients which are prepared with 'clean' cooking techniques. I enjoy flavorful food, so I try to squeeze as much flavor out of what I prepare as possible. Recipes are merely a starting point, I encourage you to explore and modify. Please feel free to give us feedback and suggestions!

 

 
       
RECIPES
 
Sun-Dried Tomato Dip   SUN-DRIED TOMATO CREAM CHEESE DIP

One of the main lessons I learned at Chez Panisse was that simple can be better. This dip mix demonstrates that concept. Three ingredients + one food processor + 5 minutes = a great, healthy dip. This is always popular at our samplings and we get lots of requests for the recipe. . .

Ingredients: 8oz Low Fat Cream Cheese (or regular) - 1/4 cup dry sun-dried tomatoes - 1/2 teaspoon (or more, depending on your preference) Culinary Collection Herbs of Italy - 1/4 to 1/3 cup water (depending on how dry the tomatoes are). Assembly: 1) Leave cream cheese at room temperature for about 45 minutes. 2) Combine tomatoes and Herbs of Italy. 3) Boil water and add to tomatoes. Let sit for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. If you are in a hurry, you can just pop the tomatoes and water into the microwave. 4) Add all ingredients to food processor and blend a few seconds until just mixed. Note: this dip will increase in flavor overnight and keep safely refrigerated for at least 5 days.

Sun-dried tomatoes are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. They are also high in Lycopene, which is a heart-healthy anti-oxidant. Try adding some roasted red bell bepper, or roasted eggplant, nicoise olives, minced grilled shrimp, or just some lemon juice as variations.

         
 
Chipotle/Cilantro Shrimp   CHIPOTLE CILANTRO GRILLED SHRIMP KEBABS W/LIME

I love a little heat in my foods. Not the sweat-producing, hyperventilating, nose-running kind of heat. I'm not a masochist. That said, chilies are a great, flavorful way to add both nutrition and an exclamation point to a dish. I can think of no better, more flavorful spice to do this than chipotle. Chipotle is a smoked jalapeno pepper, which ends up being medium hot and wonderfully rich and aromatic. Our Chipotle & Cilantro spice mix is a wonderful salt-free combination of chilies, herbs and spices and it goes particularly well with meats (I love it on grilled foods).

Ingredients: 8oz shrimp (I like rock shrimp but any will do) - 1/2 tablespoon Culinary Collection Seasoned Salt - 1 tablespoon Culinary Collection Chipotle & Cilantro - Juice from 2 limes - 2 tablespoons olive oil. 6 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes. Assembly: combine Chipotle & Cilnatro, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of the marinade and set aside. Place shrimp in bowl and poke repeatedly with a fork (helping marinade penetrate) and then add marinade and shrimp to a zip-lock bag. Massage shrimp in bag and then let sit for 1 hour. Remove, wipe off marinade, skewer and season with Seasoned Salt. Place on hot grill and cook quickly on each side, while basting with remaining marinade. Remove when done. Try adding these shrimp to your favorite salad, serve them with guacamole and use them instead of chips, dice and add them to an omelette, mix with fresh tomatoes, pasta or diced fresh mangoes or fresh fruit salsa. They are flavor-packed bites and addictive. Try substituting shrimp with a 2" dice of firm-fleshed fish like ahi tuna (or really, any other meat).

Chipotle peppers are good a source of Vitamin C, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Riboflavin. Cilantro is very high in Vitamins C and K, among other vitamins and minerals and of course limes are very high in Vitamin C. It is true that shrimp are higher in cholesterol than most other meats but they are a very good source of protein and they are high in vitamins and minerals.

 

         

 
Toasted Brown Rice   TOASTED BROWN RICE

Brown rice is made by removing just the outer hull of the rice, while white rice becomes white by additionally stripping away the nutritious bran and germ layers. I like brown rice but it isn't very flavorful and one can only do so much with soy sauce. This simple recipe will transform your rice into a rich, elegant and delicious new side dish.

Ingredients: 1 Cup Brown Rice - 1 1/2 teaspoon Culinary Collection Seasoned Salt - 2 Cups Water. Assembly: 1) Place water in sauce pan, add Seasoned Salt and bring to a boil. In a medium-sized saute pan, heat rice over medium hot to hot heat. Dry roast the rice in the pan for about 5 minutes, stirring or tossing frequently, so the rice won't burn. The rice will crackle and some kernels will 'pop,' similar to popcorn and then the color of the rice will start to turn a golden brown. It will start to smoke a little bit - don't worry. 2) Remove from heat immediately and quickly cool on a baking pan or large plate, so as not to burn the rice (it will continue to cook, even after removed from the heat). 3) Once cool, add to the boiling water, turn the heat to low and cover. Cook approximately 30 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. 4) Remove from heat, let cool 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork.

The Culinary Seasoned Salt is a great substitute for stock or just plain water. It imparts a mild but rich flavor to the rice and unlike stock which will turn the rice rancid in a few days, it allows the rice to be safely kept for up to 5 days. Try adding some sauteed shiitake, shallots and grilled lightly marinated teriyaki chicken. Ummmm!

 

 

         

 
Cajun Turkey Burger   LOUISIANA CAJUN TURKEY BURGER

I don't eat much red meat and tofu only satisfies me when I need a light meal, so that limits my selection of protein somewhat. Turkey is a wonderful lean source of protein and it's a very versatile meat. Surprisingly, I have rarely found a good turkey burger, most are predictably dry and lacking flavor. This confounds me because with the meat being ground, it is so easy to season and mix with things to retain its moisture. This burger has a subtle punch, ok, more like a playful wake-up slap in the face. It's spicy, but not hot. Just warm enough to grab your attention.

Ingredients: 16oz Ground Turkey - 1 1/2 tablespoons Culinary Collection Louisiana Cajun Mix - 1 tablespoon Culinary Collection Dried Shallots - 3/4 tablespoon Culinary Collection Seasoning Salt - 2 tablespoons Low Fat Yogurt - Spray Olive Oil Assembly: 1) Combine the seasonings and yogurt in a medium-sized mixing bowl and then add turkey and mix well. 2) Form into patties and spray one side with olive oil. 3) Heat grill or saute pan until hot and place burgers on, oiled side down, sear well, flip and cook until done. 4) Remove, let rest 3 minutes or so and serve with your favorite preparation. As a variation, try adding minced sun-dried tomatoes, minced apples, some Toasted Brown Rice (see above), minced red bell peppers, etc.

 

         

 
Curried Lentil Salad   ROASTED CURRY LENTIL SALAD w/ POTATOES

I love lentils. They are a true superfood, packed with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. And, they have a great flavor. Curry, more specifically the a natural compound curcumin in turmeric (a key ingredient in curry), was shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by stopping the growth of cancer prone stem cells. Curcumin has also shown promise in lowering the risk of heart failure and studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology indicate its use lessens cognitive decline attributed to aging. Besides the health benefits, it just tastes great! Our Roasted Curry is made by toasting some of the ingredients,which brings out their flavor and adds another layer of complexity to the mix.

Ingredients: 1 cup green lentils - 5 cups water - 1 tablespoon Culinary Seasoning Salt - 1 1/2 tablespoons Culinary Collection Roasted Curry (can substitute Culinary Collection Cajun Curry for milder version) - 1/4 cup Olive Oil - 1/8 cup Red Wine Vinegar - 3 medium Red Potatoes - 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (or cilantro) as garnish. Assembly: 1) Cook potatoes in lightly salted water until done. Peel and set aside to cool. 2) Add Seasoning Salt and 1 tablespoon Roasted Curry to water and bring to a boil. 3) Add lentils, cover and reduce to simmer. Cook until just soft (about 30 minutes) 4) Strain lentils, cover with olive oil and RETAIN COOKING BROTH. You should have at least 1 cup of broth 5) Dice potatoes and add to lentils. 6) Combine broth and red wine vinegar. Adjust seasoning with additional curry and salt if necessary and add to lentil/potato mix. Mix gently, so as not to break up potatoes. Note: the lentils and potatoes will absorb the 'dressing' after awhile. Just add a little water to thin dressing so it coats well. Serve at room temperature as a salad or serve hot for a side dish.

Variations abound, but the key to the success of this dish is in the broth. That is where most of the flavors reside. Try adding cooked apples or a mirepoix (onions, carrots & celery) instead of potatoes. Add a little chutney if you like it sweet & hot. Or, add more water or stock, puree half and make it into a soup. If you are worried about experiencing flatulence, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of Culinary Collection Asafoetida. It smells a bit stinky but will transform into a wonderful oniony flavor once added to this dish (it is a natural anti-flatulent too).

 

         

 
Chai Tea   THE BEST CHAI TEA

I love a good cup of coffee and Peet's is my favorite (no offense Starbucks). But sometimes too much caffeine makes me jittery and then there is the post caffeine 'low' which is challenging to deal with. I find that this chai tea is not only delicious but gives me a subtle energy boost. It also curbs my appetite a little bit and there are nutritional and health benefits from the black tea and spices. It's a win/win/win!

Ingredients: 1/3 Cup of Black Tea leaves - 2 teaspoons Culinary Collection Pumpkin Pie Spice - 5 Green Cardamom Pods - 2 teaspoons Culinary Collection Fennel Seeds - 1 3" Culinary Collection Cinnamon Stick - 18 Whole Cloves - 1 teaspoon Ginger - 1/2 teaspoon Orange Zest - pinch of Culinary Collection Marash Chiles - 4 CC Bay Leaves - 40 oz Water - Honey and Milk (or Soymilk) to taste. Assembly: 1) Crush the Cardamom, Fennel and Cinnamon (you could leave this whole) with mortar and pestle or spice grinder. 2) Place all ingredients except the honey and milk in a medium-sized sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 - 10 minutes. 3) Strain into another sauce pan. Add honey to taste and (optional) add milk and heat until hot.