Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Low Carb & Livin' with it...

In this day of beautiful bodies, there are a few of us who actually watch the carbs and fat because – hey it’s the HEALTHY thing to do. I don’t know about you but I would like to stick around for a while! And yeah, I wouldn’t mind lookin’ good doin’ it either. But like I said for some of us it’s just necessity, not vanity. Be it family history or poor diet in my youth, I now need to watch the stuff I throw down my throat. So, I dutifully belly up to the apothecary bar every morning for vitamin shooters with fish oil chasers. Then it is off to punish the treadmill or stepper for a while. I consider it punishment for the equipment because it has to endure being stomped on everyday, sweated on every day and what reward does it get? We affectionately call our home gym the torture chamber.

The real problem is I kinda don’t like to eat things that don’t taste good…silly me. I am always looking for something yummy that doesn’t trash my carb count for the day or pump me full of fat.

Zuccuccini! Okay so it’s not a word. In plain English it is zucchini cut with a mandolin to the depth and width of fettuccini. Now, with this dandy little low carb, low fat, high fiber “noodle” you can make some really neat dishes that don’t feel like low carb. Okay so it ain’t pasta, but remember we are being healthy today…Saut√© these ”noodles” up in a bit of olive oil, butter (remember I said bit not block) and a little garlic and you have a nice fresh side dish – add some fresh grated GOOD parmesan, increase the portion and you have your self a nice meal. If fat is an issue, well you can drop the butter, but parmesan is not really that bad calorie wise… a little goes a long way. Weigh it you’ll see.

I don’t steam because, well, then its just skinny zucchini and no added flavor.

This little cheater is also a pretty sauce holder too. We use it to replace noodles for some of our favorite dishes. It seems to be better suited for creamy sauces, tomato or clear sauces tend to over power and not stick very well.

This recipe is not quite fat free but if you moderate the sauce, it is a healthier alternative to heavy real pasta.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Chocolatier wanna be...

Okay, so in my header is says I am a chocolatier wanna be and you have yet to see any serious chocolate yet right? Well, that is because I only “go into production” once or twice a year now due to time constraints – and waistline constraints. But, that time has come around so strap yourself in ‘cause I am about to make Willie Wonka blush!!

You won’t see recipes, because I read somewhere that if you have a secret recipe that everyone raves over, don’t give it away. Otherwise you will never be able to show up at a function and have something unique. Ya, I know; how selfish of me, but, someday these yummies may be smiling back at ya from a shiny glass case with my name and a price tag next to them! Besides, there are jillions of candy recipes out there and since I feel candy making is a very personal thing I think you should find something you like and make it your own.

My gift baskets are my pride and joy, and I hope, people look forward to receiving one every year. I make a variety of things to go into every one of my gift baskets, everything has chocolate in or on it except one – periodically I make pecan pralines because they are the absolute favorite of my dearest friend Claire. I never put baked goods in my baskets – I save that for just plain giving, but I do sometimes add a nice champagne or sweet wine.

I really do love chocolate, and I’m picky. As you can see from the photos, I use a wide variety of chocolate. I use certain brands for certain things, sometimes coverture, sometimes eating chocolate, depends on what I am making. I really do prefer a very good eating chocolate for many of my truffle centers – they just seem smoother and creamier. And no I am not talking Hershey’s here; although I like a Hershey bar as much as the next guy. It’s all a science really, fruitier chocolates for fruit, nuttier chocolates for nuts and so on. There really are differences and if you want to really give yourself a sugar high, stop by a very good candy shop or go on line to one of my favorite places Chocolate Source and buy a few different kinds. Try some Callebaut, or Valrhona, or maybe Lindt coverture (yes folks it does exist!). Have yourself a little tasting session and see what I mean – you’ll be amazed.

I try to make something new every year, just to keep my regular recipients guessing. Everyone has their favorites, and I was surprised to find out that for some people truffles were not at the top of their list. Sheesh, how could that be! I will admit the year I introduced Turkish Delights (rosewater geleé in milk chocolate) it was not a huge hit among my American friends, although my European friends were quite thrilled for a taste of home. Wonder how people are gonna feel about Orange Blossom Water and Bitter Sweet Chocolate?

Cointreau Truffle
Swiss White Chocolate Truffle with Cointreau Enrobed in Belgian Bitter-Sweet Chocolate

Chambord Truffle
Swiss WHite Chocolate Truffle with Chambord Enrobed in Belgian White Chocolate

Baileys Truffle
Belgian Semi-Sweet Chocolate Truffle with Baileys Irish Cream Enrobed in French Milk Chocolate

Amaretto Truffle
French Milk Chocolate Truffle with Amaretto Enrobed in Belgian Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Ginger Coins
Belgian Bitter-Sweet Chocolate and Australian Crystalized Ginger

Mint Patties
Buttery Mint Patty Enrobed in Belgian Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Peanut Butter Dreams
Peanut Butter & Swiss White Chocolate Enrobed in French Milk Chocolate