Recipes! We Have Recipes! from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, Entertaining with the Sopranos, and the Ultimate Tea Diet
At first I wasn’t too sure what to make of this Skinny Bitch series by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I especially have issues with the proposed title for the authors’ new cookbook, “Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven.” (Please tell me this is a joke. Please tell me we are not encouraging pregnant mamas to be skinny. Girls, when you are pregnant and nursing, really, you need to eat. Eat as healthfully as you can, but eat.)
Anyway, their recipes are alright. Especially since you know I’ll go low-fat, but I am not so keen on the vegan cheese. But vegan does not have to be scary! OK, I’ll go for it if you will. You first. Who doesn’t want to “Start Looking Hot!”?? Sure, that’s all of us, right? Blech. Let’s start right here with…
POTATO SKINS WITH ALL THE FIXINS
Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer
3 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
Refined coconut oil, for the potatoes and the cooking sheet
6 slices vegan bacon, cooked according to package directions
4 ounces shredded vegan cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
4 ounces shredded vegan Jack cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup vegan sour cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Rub the potatoes with oil and place them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Set the potatoes aside until they’re cool enough to handle, but keep the oven on.
Meanwhile, chop the bacon. In a medium bowl, combine the bacon, cheeses and parsley; aside.
Cut each potato into lengthwise quarters. Scoop out the insides, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of potato on the skins (save the insides for another use). Oil the baking sheet. Place the skins, skin side down and one inch apart, on the sheet. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and the cheese mixture, dividing them evenly. Bake until the skins are crisp and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the skins to plates or a platter. Sprinkle with the scallions and dollop with sour cream, dividing evenly.
Next? Carmela Soprano, how I love you. She’d slap a bitch, but she wouldn’t tell anyone she should try harder to get skinny or “look hot!” I love you, Carmela. “Entertaining with the Sopranos” is a pretty fun cookbook — lots of tips for entertaining, wine pairings, what to do with out-of-control guests, etc. Plus it’s a hefty book, not some scrawny little paperback like those Skinny Bitches. Carmela looks good, but the girl likes to cook and eat. (My favorite food-related Sopranos episodes: The one where the Sopranos are “cheating” on Artie Bucco by trying another Italian restaurant; the one where she and Tony discover sushi; and the episode where Janice tries to pass Carmela’s lasagne off as her own and is busted by Uncle Junior, who knows it’s Carmela’s, with the “sweet sausage and the basil leaves under the cheese.” Oh, wait! Here’s the recipe:
CARMELA’S LASAGNA WITH BASIL LEAVES
1 lb. dried lasagna
5 to 6 cups meat sauce
2 pounds ricotta
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
1 large bunch basil, leaves removed, rinsed and dried
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil. Add a few pieces of lasagna and cook, stirring gently, until tender but slightly underdone. Scoop the pasta out of the water with a sieve, and cool it in a bowl of cold water. Cook remaining pasta. When cool enough to handle, lay the lasagna out flat on lint-free (not terry cloth) kitchen towels. The towels can be stacked.
2. In a bowl, beat the ricotta and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Spread a thin layer of the sauce in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with a little sauce. Place a few sheets of lasagna in the pan in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Spread evenly with about one-third of the ricotta mixture and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of the grated cheese. Make a layer of basil leaves and another of mozzarella slices on top. Make two more layers the same way. Top with a final layer of lasagna, sauce and remaining grated cheese. (The lasagna can be made ahead to this point. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.)
4. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
5. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes. If the lasagna is browning too much, cover it loosely with foil. Bake 15 minutes more (longer if it has been refrigerated), or until top is browned and sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Serves 8 to 10.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. sweet Italian-style sausage, casings removed
1 lb. ground beef sirloin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 35-oz. can Italian peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 28-oz. can tomato puree
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
1. In a large saucepan, cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.
2. Stir in the sausage meat. Add the beef and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the meat is nicely browned and crumbly. Tip pan and discard fat.
3. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, then add about 1/2 cup water to each can and swirl it around to rinse out the can. Add the liquid to the pan, along with salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the oil has separated from the tomatoes, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Stir in the basil and cook 5 minutes more.
5. Serve immediately.
Now that we’ve all gained six pounds, let’s talk about diets some more, shall we? Because I know you didn’t drain all the fat from the sausage, and you sure didn’t use plain yogurt instead of sour cream on the potato skins.
I don’t like diets. But before I go any further, let me advise you to please go talk with your family physician before deciding to get all crazeee on a diet, OK? Okay. I am not a medical professional here, and neither is the author, Mark “Dr. Tea” Ukra. (dr. tea’s is the name of the tea shop he and his family own in L.A.) (I am kind of a big expert on Dr. Tea, after reading this book. He seems like a decent enough guy, and he’s not trying to trick anybody into buying any cellulite-shaking machines or anything.)
As I was saying — I don’t care for the diets so much. But I also do not like these extra pounds I’ve put on. So when “The Ultimate Tea Diet: Boost Your Metabolism, Shrink Your Appetite, & Kick-Start Remarkable Weight Loss” showed up in the mail, sometime around the New Year, well. I think you know what I did. I put it into the nightstand drawer and pretended it wasn’t there. Turns out it is a great book. Mr. Ukra had me at grilled salmon and asparagus with roasted tomatoes and rice, right there on the cover, alongside a nice cup of tea with a slice of lemon floating in it.
However. I do not think so much caffeine is good for you, even if it is only half as strong as the black coffee I hold so dear. I know, I know. “Medical benefits,” “scientific proof,” etc. And a lot of the suggestions in the book are for decaf teas — mint, blueberry, lemon-ginger. But there’s a whole lot in here about the “stimulating” benefits of caffeinated black and green teas. He suggests you maybe add a little loose black tea to your decaf, and OK, I can see that. He also includes a yummy recipe for a Apple Pie Hot Todtea, and I was all into that. Until I realized I had no Apple Pie Black Tea in the house. Nor did my fridge contain any fat- and sugar-free whipped topping (optional). That’s the problem with reading cookbooks — especially if you’re in bed, late at night. You generally need to make a shopping trip or two to get the goods. And you know we just didn’t get out much this week. So I improvised.
Here’s what I did: Diced half a pear. Put it in the bottom of my tea pot. Sprinkled cinnamon and drizzled a little honey and vanilla extract on top of the pears. Added two black tea bags. Poured boiling water over the lot. Let it steep. Enjoyed some tea. By the end of the day I had lost three pounds.
Dr. Tea = my new guru.
It makes sense, if you’re saying no to the mochas with extra whip, the hot dogs and the whatever else — you will drop the pounds. I’ve started exercising again, too. Am spurred on by Y.
Happy Saturday, everyone.
Here is a little recipe from the book:
STRAWBERRY CHOCOLATE MINT TEA FROZEN YOGURT
Â½ cup filtered water
3 tablespoons dry Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Rooibos, or any dry chocolate tea
1 quart plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup sugar-free frozen strawberries
Bring the filtered water to a boil and remove from the heat. Add the dry tea and steep for 5 to 7 minutes. Strain the tea into a blender or food processor. Add yogurt and strawberries to the tea mixture, and blend until smooth. Place into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 2 hours, or until you are ready to serve.
Makes about 1 quart; serves 4
Nutrition per serving: calories 120, fat 0g, protein 13g, carb 22g