Oct 272011

Last week in my food science class it was meat week.  We learned how to grill, braise, and pan sear meat. But I barely even remember the meat, because the sides we made were by far the best part about it.  Between the 5 groups, we made tabbouleh, potato and zucchini latkes, mashed butternut squash with hazelnuts, mushroom barley pilaf, and roasted beets and carrots, and baked apples with pecan-maple filling among others.    Not a bad spread.

My favorites of the night were probably the tabbouleh (something i’ve always wanted to make but never gotten around to) and the barley mushroom pilaf.  The butternut squash mash was definitely tasty and healthy, but I prefer roasted butternut squash in chunks, and it made my sad to have to mash up the beautifully roasted gems.  There was also a celery root puree and a curry cauliflower mash that weren’t my favorite.  You also can’t go wrong with stuffed apples–a relatively healthy and simple dessert with major wow factor.  Enjoy a few of these recipes…and expect remake of the mushroom barley soon with a tush cook twist :)

Butternut Squash Mash with toasted hazelnuts


  • 2 medium butternut squashes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cute toasted coarsely chopped hazelnuts
  • salt and black pepper to taste
Directions:  Toss squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes (or until tender) at 425 degrees.  Remove from baking sheet and mash with butter, stir in toasted hazelnuts and sprinkle a few on top. 

Traditional Tabbouleh

  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups finely chopped parsley
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 cup dived ripe plum tomato
  • 1/2 cup diced seedless cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • Vinaigrette: 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablessons fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Directions:  Bring water to biol in small saucepan.  Stir in bulgar, remove from heat, cover, and let sit one hour.  Drain and press out excess moisture and place in serving bowl.  Combine the parsley, scallions, tomato, cucumber, and mint with the bulgur.  Whisk together the vinaigrette and toss with the salad. 

Potato and Zucchini Latkes 
(not the healthiest of these three but TASTY!)


  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large waxy potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
Directions:  Place grated veggies in a clean dishtowel, twist tightly to squeeze out as much water as possible.  Crack egg in a bowl and beat lightly.  Add vegetables, flour, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Fill a large skillet with 1/4 inch of oil and heat over high heat.  Place heaping tablespoons of the mixture in the oil and flatten slightly.  Cook for 3 minutes, turn, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spatula and place on paper towel lined sheet to drain.  Serve immediately.
Oct 192011

After a great apple picking trip in Westchester, I was left with a ton of apples–a problem I’m always happy to have.  I wanted to make something outside of the typical pie or crisp box with these apples, and I stumbled across this “Autumn Loaf” recipe.  Although the apples aren’t necessarily the star, they are costars with some of my favorite fall flavors–pumpkin, walnuts, and dates.  I know it’s an aggressive statement, but I think this is my favorite quick bread recipe I’ve ever made.

The only flaw in this recipe is that there were so many components and steps–soaking the dates, brown sugar and white sugar, whole wheat flour and all purpose, chopping nuts, peeling apples…you get the gist.  But that being said, I think it was completely worth the effort.  This is the perfect bread for a semi healthy breakfast/snack/or dessert.  It’s also the kind of recipe you can make infinite twists on–say, pears instead of apple, pecans instead of walnuts, or dried cranberries instead of dates.  I doubled the recipe and made 3 loaves, which were devouerd almost immediately by my coworkers, roommates and family.  

Nutritional Highlights:  This bread is a healthier version than most, as it doesn’t need much fat to stay super moist.  The apples, apple sauce, pumpkin do that for you.  It also uses mostly whole wheat flour, and not an excessive amount of added sugar (since you get so much sweetness from the other ingredients).  Pumpkin, like many other winter squash, has lots of beta carotene, a form of vitamin A and is packed with antioxidants.  

Harvest Loaf (with apples, walnuts, dates, and pumpkin)
adapted from Ellysaysopa.com

Pumpkin-Date-Apple-Nut Bread
Makes 1 loaf (*note: i doubled the recipe and it made 3 smallish loaves)

1 cup dates, chopped
2/3 cup very hot or boiling water
1.25 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp.  applesauce
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a loaf pan.
Place chopped dates in a small bowl, and then cover with hot water. Allow to stand until the 
water comes to room temperature.
Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and 
nutmeg in a large bowl.
In another bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the canola oil and sugars until well 
blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla, just until incorporated; then add the pumpkin puree 
and applesauce.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Repeat 
with another 1/3. Then, add the dates, with their water and beat for just a few seconds. 
Finally, add the remaining flour and mix until blended (I like using a spatula towards the 
ends to keep the batter light). Fold in the apples and walnuts. Pour the batter into the loaf 
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes 
before placing on a rack to cool completely.

Oct 132011
A new special series is about to hit Tush Cook.  It’s the “what did I cook in my Food Science class this week” series.  A little history behind this:  For my clinical nutrition program, Intro to Food Science is a required course.  I wasn’t so thrilled at first about a class that had a lecture and a lab, until I read the required materials for the lab: chef’s knife, thermometer, chef’s coat.  HEAVEN. Every week in lab, we learn different cooking techniques for different food groups.  This week was legumes, and we made some awesome recipes and I wanted to share my three favorites: White Bean and Tomato Stew, Mexican Black Bean Dip, and Chickpea Salad with olives.  (There’s also a split pea soup in the bottom right of this photo but it was nothing to write home about).  

The white bean and vegetable stew was probably the only one that could stand alone as a meal–comforting, warm, and filling–packed with veggies, beans, parmesan, and fresh herbs.  The black bean dip with baked whole wheat pita chips would make a great appetizer. And the chickpea salad, which had tons of flavor from olives and pepperocini (two things I never knew I liked) would make a great side or lunch.  

Nutritional Highlights:  Legumes are an excellent source of soluble fiber.  What you might not know about soluble fiber, is that its actually great for your heart.  It helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol) by binding it and removing it from the body.  Legumes are also rich in folic acid, copper, iron, and magnesium — nutrients many of us could use more of in our diets.  It’s also a great non meat protein source.  We could all stand to incorporate a few more legumes into our lives.

And look at the cool kitchen my “lab” takes place in:

Recipes to be posted soon…to tired to type them up now!
Oct 062011

My two favorite things about fall: 1- It becomes acceptable to eat soup again and I don’t sweat just thinking about it, and 2- My favorite fall fruits and veggies return, like butternut squash, pomegranate, etc.  So, I decided to combine those things I love about the cooler weather into one delicious and unique chili.  

It’s spicy and hearty like you want in a chili but with a hint of sweetness from the squash.  The swiss chard adds another fresh fall ingredient and makes this chili even healthier.  Topped with some cheese and avocado, it’s so filling and comforting…almost makes you forget that we are beginning the slow descent into the dark cold abyss that is winter. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

Nutritional highlights:  So many good things going on in this soup.  Butternut squash has carotenoids, a pigment with antioxidant properties.  The swiss chard is up there with spinach as one of the healthiest veggies out there and is packed with vitamin K, A, and C.  Like beets, chards has the phytonutrient betalin (which gives the red color).  Then we’ve got the main ingredient in the chili–black beans.  Like most legumes, black beans are full of fiber, folate, and protein.  Plus, leave off the cheese on top and it’s vegan.  And also gluten free if that’s important to you.  Making a pot of this gave me six healthy lunches to grab on my way out the door in the morning.  Saves money and calories! Double win.  

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili
adapted from epicurious

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained (I substituted one of the cans of beans with a cup of frozen corn because I only had 2 cans of beans)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves (from 1 small bunch)
  • Garnish: diced avocado, shredded cheese, cilantro leaves
  • Directions: Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender and golden, about 9 minutes. Add squash; stir 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chard; simmer until chard is tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.