Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gourmet Fusion's Mediterranean Diet

We at Gourmet Fusion have long been advocates of the Mediterranean diet - mainly because we love Mediterranean food, and most of the meals we cook at home have a Mediterranean influence. We also carry several types of virgin and extra virgin olive oil in the Gourmet Fusion store, and oil and vinegar dressings are always the first choice on our salads.

Many of us have read of the benefits of a diet rich in olive oil, whole grains, fish and fruit, because of its low cholesterol and benefit to a healthy heart, but a new study finds that such a diet may also protect aging brains from damage linked to cognitive problems.

The latest study was carried out at Columbia University Medical Center, New york City, and all of the participants, who averaged 80 years old, had no history of strokes, and had MRIs to look for brain infarcts - that is, tissues that have died because of reduced or cut-off blood supply (these infarcts are in fact strokes, but are so small that they escape notice).

The participants were divided into three groups - those who followed the the diet to a high degree, those who followed to a moderate extent, and those who followed very little at all during the previous six years. The people who strictly adhered to the Mediterranean diet had a 36 percent reduced risk of stroke compared with those who followed in the least.

Other studies have already found that this type of diet also lowers the risk for depression, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and premature death, and as it tastes so good anyway, it is probably something we should all consider including as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lobster Cocktail

I recently read a survey that said 79 percent of American people believe that Valentine's Day is romantic because they eat special food that they have prepared for, or with, someone special. It also found that 65 percent of those questioned were planning to celebrate Valentine's Day by cooking and sharing a romantic evening at home this year, rather than going out to eat in a restaurant.

With that in mind, I thought I would share this recipe that I have made many times over the years for special occasions, and its elegant simplicity has never failed to impress and delight our guests. The recipe uses lobster, which is expensive, and may be difficult to obtain in some areas, so the lobster could be replaced with large shrimp (fresh or frozen) with equally good results.

  • 1 lobster (about 1 1/2 lbs), boiled
  • 1 lettuce heart
  • 4oz mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon cognac, or brandy
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
  • generous pinch of ground ginger
  • 12-15 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 4 slices lime
  • 4 black olives
  1. Shell and slice the lobster.
  2. Arrange the lettuce leaves in four glasses and top with the lobster slices.
  3. Beat the mayonnaise with the tomato puree, cognac or brandy, and lime or lemon juice.
  4. Season with ginger, Tabasco, paprika and salt.
  5. Stir in half the whipped cream.
  6. Pour the dressing over the lobster and garnish with the remaining cream, the lime and the olive.
To make sure this cocktail is a winner, choose to serve it in tall, elegant glasses.

You can prepare these cocktails ahead of time, and refrigerate for up to an hour, then simply add the remaining cream and garnishes just before serving.

To make the evening really special serve with champagne, or a dry white wine, and melba toasts or crispy bread.

This recipe, along with many other delicious shellfish recipes and cooking tips can be found in the amazing book, Shellfish, by award winning chef Anton Mosimann.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Strawberries at Little Italy's Mercato

One of the great things about living in San Diego's beautiful climate is that strawberry season starts at the end of January. How awesome is that? As Gourmet Fusion is a vendor at the local farmers' markets on Saturdays and Sundays, this means we have first pick of the freshest, tastiest food San Diego County has to offer.

At the Little Italy Mercato on Date Street, Kawano Farms of Oceanside is selling these juicy, field-fresh strawberries every Saturday morning. They are great to use in smoothies, desserts or just to snack on, and as well as their amazing taste, strawberries are full of goodness too, falling into the category of foods known as "super foods".

If you are looking for a yummy snack on super bowl Sunday, why not try this favorite that we published in our blog some time ago, but that proved to be so popular it is worth mentioning again.

This recipe is from "The Deen Brothers Cookbook", who if you didn't know, are Jamie and Bobby Deen, the sons of the Food Network's Paula Deen.

This simple, yet wonderful , makes use of the abundant at the farmers market (or supermarket) right now.

They make an elegant looking dessert as part of a buffet, or can be served at a fancy brunch or as part of a tray.

  • 32 whole large strawberries, hulled
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
1. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut sides down, on a serving platter. Carefully, cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms. Fan the wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the stuffed strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Little Italy Mercato takes place every Saturday between 9 am and 1:30 pm on Date Street, San Diego, between India and Union Street.