Thursday, August 28, 2008

Low Calorie Garden Burgers

In many areas of the US, barbecuing season is almost over with Labor Day marking the end of the summer, and thoughts turning to fall.

These easy to make are ideal for outdoors, or broiling indoors, and can be made with turkey, veal or lean beef, and are a low cholesterol, low calorie alternative to some of the burgers you buy in the stores.

Preparation Time 12 minutes; Grilling Time 16 minutes; Low Cholesterol
Ingredients (makes 4 burgers)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound ground turkey, veal, or lean beef
  • nonstick spray coating
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
Method (for Grilling)
  1. In a large bowl combine egg white and bread crumbs. (If using veal or beef, stir in 2 tablespoons water). Stir in carrot, onion, green pepper, salt and pepper. Add Parmesan cheese and ground meat; mix well. Shape meat mixture into four 3/4-inch patties.
  2. Spray a cold grill rack with non-stick spray coating. Then, place rack on grill.
  3. Grill burgers on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 7 minutes. Turn and grill 8 to 11 minutes more or until no pink remains. Place 1 tomato slice on top of each burger and grill 1 minute more.
Broiling Directions: Place burgers on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 7 minutes. Turn and broil 8 to 11 minutes more or until no pink remains. Place 1 tomato slice on top of each burger and broil for a further minute.

Nutrition Information per serving:
290 calories, 23 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat, 79 mg cholesterol, 441 mg sodium, 351 mg potassium.

Recipe and nutritional information can be found in the New Dieter's Cook Book by Better Homes and Gardens.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick Low Calorie Chicken Fajitas

If you want to invite people round for a casual meal, but don't want to spend hours preparing and cooking when they get there, these chicken are a sure way to please everyone. Not only do they taste wonderful, but they have only 297 calories per serving (2 tortillas per person).

The recipe is taken from the New Dieter's Cookbook (Better Homes and Garden) that bases its slimming concept on variety, balance and moderation. By not giving up all your favorite foods, you can continue eating the same type of foods after you have reached your goal. The belief is that if a diet doesn't fit your likes and needs, you probably won't stick to it. In this recipe plain low-fat yogurt replaces the usual sour cream used in Mexican dishes.

Chicken Fajitas (Preparation Time 10 mins; Cooking time 10 mins; Low Fat; Low Cholesterol)
  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas
  • Nonstick spray coating
  • 1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sweet red or green pepper, cut into bite-size strips
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil or olive oil
  • 9 ounces boned skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size strips
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  1. Wrap tortillas in foil. Place in a 300 degrees oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through.
  2. Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with nonstick spray coating.
  3. Add onion and garlic; stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add red pepper and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from skillet.
  6. Add oil to skillet. Add chicken and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.
  7. Return vegetables to skillet and add salsa.
  8. Cook and stir until heated through.
  9. To serve, divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce. Dollop with yogurt and sprinkle with green onion. Roll up tortillas.
Nutrition information per serving: 297 calories; 24 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 7 g fat; 55 mg cholesterol; 197 mg sodium; 373 mg potassium.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Essential Chinese Knife

Although technique is of primary importance, there are a few pieces of basic equipment used in cooking which will make your life much easier. Most of the items are inexpensive, will last for a long time, and are extremely versatile. One such item is the Chinese Cleaver.

This basic cutting tool can be used for chopping all kinds of foods, from the smallest garlic clove to the largest piece of meat. You can use the flat of the blade to smash ginger or scallions to release their fragrances, its spine for pulverizing meat to a paste, and held horizontally, the knife is perfect for transferring cut foods to the wok or serving dish. They can be made of stainless or carbon steel. If using a carbon steel knife, it must be kept completely dry and lightly-oiled to prevent from rusting.

A Chinese cook will usually have three kinds of : lightweight, with a narrow blade for cutting delicate foods, including vegetables; medium-weight, for general cutting, chopping and crushing purposes; and heavy, for heavy duty chopping. You can, of course, prepare Chinese food with a regular sharp knife, but a medium-weight, all-round cleaver, is incredibly versatile, and easy to use.

The one we have pictured is actually slightly smaller than the traditional Chinese cleaver, and is part of the Helen Chen Asian Kitchen collection. It is made of a high-performance stainless steel with a superb razor-sharp blade, and can be found at the Gourmet Fusion store. It is lighter than the traditional Chinese cleaver, making it more agile and less weighty.

If you are still wondering about the different cutting techniques used in Chinese cooking, here is a quick summary of the dicing and slicing that you will encounter in your recipes.

Diagonal Slicing
Angle the knife or cleaver at a slant and cut. This technique is used for cutting vegetables, such as carrots or scallions. The purpose is to expose more of the surface of the vegetable for quicker cooking.

This is simply cutting food into small cubes or dice. The food should first be cut into slices. Stack the slices and cut them again lengthwise into sticks, as you would for shredding. Then stack the strips or sticks and cut crosswise into evenly sliced cubes or dice.

This method is ideal for larger vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant or squash. As with diagonal slicing, this technique allows more of the surface of the vegetable to be exposed to the heat. Start by making one diagonal slice at one end of the vegetable. Then roll it 180 degrees, and make the next diagonal slice. Continue in this way until you have chopped the entire vegetable into evenly sized, diamond-shaped pieces. This shape gives an attractive appearance to your dish.

This technique pierces the surface of the food to help it cook faster and more evenly. It also gives an attractive appearance to your end result. Use a cleaver or sharp knife, then make cuts into the food at a slight angle to a depth of about 1/8 inch. Do not cut all the way through. Make cuts all over the surface, cutting criss-cross, to give a wide diamond-shaped pattern. This works especially well when steaming whole fish, as it allows the heat to penetrate the thicker portions. When hot sauce is poured over the cooked fish, the flavor penetrates right through the flesh.

First cut the food into slices and then pile several slices on top of one another, and cut them lengthwise into fine strips.

To shred raw meat or poultry, first place the meat in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until it is firm to the touch. Then cut it, against the grain, into slices and shred.

This is the conventional method of slicing food. Hold the food firmly on the chopping board with one hand and slice straight down into very thin slices. If you use a cleaver, hold the cleaver with your index finger over the far side of the top of the cleaver and your thumb on the side nearest you to guide the cutting edge firmly. Hold the food with your other hand, turning your fingers under for safety. Your knuckles should act as a guide for the blade.

Of course, if you are not feeling this adventurous, and just want a quick stir-fry without the authentic cutting techniques, you can always chop the vegetables in your food processor!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Unbreakable Tumblers at the Gourmet Fusion Store

The Gourmet Fusion store has just added Unbreakable Tumblers to its line of summer products. They have been available in the Solana Beach store for some time, but have only just become available online.

Made from tough , they really are impossible to break - even if you drop them on a tiled floor, they bounce right off without a scratch.

They come in three designs. The 16 ounce size is in Citrus (shown) and Cheers, and the 24 ounce is available in Flip Flop.

All are microwave and dishwasher safe, and are a great addition to your barbecue and picnic items.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Simple Grilled King Crab Legs

If you are looking for something easy to make, and are tired of the usual steak or salmon on the grill, try these King which are plentiful at the moment, and often on sale, as these were at my local Vons store.

Serve with pita bread, and a simple green salad tossed in oil and vinegar, and you have a great meal in minutes.

Ingredients (serves 2)

Approx. 1 lb King Crab Legs
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 scallions
Lemon Pepper
Olive Oil
1/2 ounce Butter
English Parsley to garnish

  1. Rinse the Crab Legs and cut into pieces approximately 2-3 inches long.
  2. Place in a foil tray, or make a tray from double folded tin foil and scrunching up the edges.
  3. Brush with olive oil and lemon juice.
  4. Cut the scallions into pieces approximately 2 inches long and place on top of crab.
  5. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.
  6. Dot butter on top of crab and cover with foil.
  7. Grill outdoors over medium heat for 8-10 minutes
  8. Remove from grill and place in serving dish. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.
A Mediterranean salad served with pita bread, or crunchy French bread makes a great side dish with this meal.

To make the , simply chop cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, spring greens (or any vegetable you like). Mix all ingredients together in a salad bowl, and toss with light olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a dash of sea salt.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Raffles Singapore Sling

As the weather has been so hot recently, there has been a great deal of interest in the Super-Sized Watermelon Martini that was featured in the Gourmet Fusion store blog several months ago. It is a wonderfully cool and refreshing cocktail, and the signature drink of the New Asia Bar in 's landmark Raffles City Complex, inside the Equinox Complex.

When I was researching this Bar, I discovered that Equinox is owned by Raffles International, which also runs the famous Raffles Hotel - the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. This brought back to mind an incredible cocktail that we used to make years ago, The Raffles Singapore Sling, which is fun to serve as a before dinner and is great on a hot afternoon.

It tastes just like a pineapple, orange fruity drink with a kick - but this is no ordinary fruit juice, it is packed with interesting ingredients like Triple Sec, Benedictine, Cherry Brandy and Angostura Bitters - so beware!


Dash Angostura Bitters
1 ounce Gin
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/2 ounce Cherry Brandy
1/2 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
1 ounce Pineapple Juice
1 ounce Fresh Orange Juice

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Pour all the ingredients, one after the other, into the serving glass.
  3. Stir gently with a swizzle stick.
  4. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry

Friday, August 8, 2008

Banana Daiquiri & Passion

The summer is really heating up now - even here in Southern California, so I thought I would include two recipes for ice which are ideal on a hot, sunny afternoon. They are also great served as a dessert.

The Daiquiri contains alcohol, but Passion (a delicious fruity drink) does not - both will wow your barbecue guests, and they're very simple to make.

Banana Daiquiri

1 ounce Bacardi
1 ounce Pure Lemon Juice
1 ounce Sugar Syrup*
3/4 fresh Banana
  1. Pour all the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a serving glass.
  4. Garnish with banana slice and a cherry
* To make the sugar syrup, mix equal parts of sugar and water. Boil until the sugar is dissolved. This can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Passion is a fruity, non-alcoholic blended drink that will make you think you are on a Caribbean island!


1 Banana
2 ounces Pineapple Juice
1 ounce Orange Juice
1 ounce Mango Juice
3 teaspoons Passion fruit pulp

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a serving glass.
  4. Garnish with banana and pineapple slice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Fall Travel Tumblers at Gourmet Fusion

With the end of summer just around the corner, and back to on everyone's mind, we are starting to bring in the first of our products.

These versatile travel tumblers available online at the Gourmet Fusion store are ideal for taking your favorite drink to work, college, or school - a must for anyone on the go.

The tumbler has a stainless steel lining and black plastic push on open/close sip lid, and is designed to keep your drinks hot or cold for an extended period of time.

They feature a 16-ounce capacity, a durable translucent plastic and stainless steel outer case, stainless steel lining, non-slip rubber pad at base, and are even top-rack dishwasher safe!

This stylish, modern travel tumbler / mug would make a sleek and sophisticated addition to your travel wardrobe.

The travel tumbler shown above is in a copper color, and is also available in clear, blue, charcoal and green for $11.99. Currently available online only, they will be available in the Solana Beach store later this month.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mediterranean Sale at Gourmet Fusion

Summer is passing quickly, and so we are having a Mediterranean summer at our Gourmet Fusion online store. All Mediterranean products have 20% off through August 17th.

Items on sale include our elegant white ceramic tagines - great for ; our ever popular paella pan, olive oils, and paprika.

The entire line of Typhoon "Italian Job" striped bowls and oil and vinegar drizzlers are also on sale. These co-ordinate well with most modern kitchens, and also make great host/hostess gifts.