As the holidays approach with the promise of abundant mouth-watering food, many of us, searching for a balance between deprivation and overindulgence.
We find ourselves musing over a childhood dream. Why can’t Brussels sprouts and broccoli be as tasty as mashed potatoes and apple pie?
This holiday season Chef Mary Nearn makes wishes come true. Her bold, flavorful, and delicious holiday recipes, low in fat and calories, allow holiday foods to be a source of guilt-free pleasure. Mary would also love to put a healthy spin on your readers’ favorite traditional recipes.
This season you will be able to greet New Years with uninhibited enthusiasm. Gleefully slip into that slinky new dress stashed in your closet!
Begin your meal and delight your guests with the delectable Charred Roma Tomato and Basil Soup with Balsamic Onions and Parmesan Crackers, or the seasonal Toasted Barley and Apple Salad.
Serve a traditional Roasted Turkey as your main course. Follow Mary’s instructions to baste your turkey in her special Achiote Paste rather than fat or butter. Further enhance your turkey with the suggested spices and seasonal vegetables.
Pleasantly surprise guests by serving Roast Root Vegetables with Wild Mushroom Crusted Tenderloin of Beef Port Wine Glaze and Horseradish Aioli.
Delectable desserts are a staple of celebration and once again Mary manages to create healthy low calorie dishes with no compromise to taste. Complete your meal with an irresistible Baked Apple Tortelli or the succulent Chocolate Napoleon Sheets with Pumpkin Mouse.
Here are some of Mary’s delectable holiday recipes:
Charred Roma tomato and basil soup with balsamic onions and Parmesan crackers
To serve the soup, ladle equal amounts into bowls, place a teaspoon of the balsamic onions in the middle of each bowl and top with the chiffonade. Set the cracker on top or on the side.
16 each Roma Tomatoes – charred and chopped- large dice
1 each small White Onion- medium dice
3 small cloves Garlic – minced
3 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 teaspoons Basil Chiffonade
Yield: 4 servings
Heat the oil in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, basil and garlic and let sauté until onions are just translucent. Add in the tomatoes and broth. Let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes. Depending on the amount of moisture in the tomatoes you may need to add more liquid.
Place the soup in small batches in a blender, puree until smooth and pour through a strainer to remove skins and seeds. Place soup back in the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Adjust seasoning and set aside.
Balsamic onion relish
1/2 each small red onion- small dice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 Tablespoon oil
Heat oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add in onions and cook until caramelized and soft. Add the Balsamic Vinegar and let cook until onions are evenly coated and the vinegar is only on the onions not in the pan. Set aside.
Parmesan and olive crackers
4 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan
1 teaspoon chopped Kalamata olives
Pinch dried basil
Use a silpat non-stick mat. Sprinkle each Tablespoon of Parmesan cheese in a pile separate from the others. Spread the cheese evenly, then sprinkle with the olives and then the dried basil. Place in 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes, check to see that the cheese is not browning too much let cool for a few minutes and remove from the silpat.
Toasted barley and apple salad
2 cups barley
5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 red delicious apple, cored and sliced
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
1/4cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup flavored rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fruit sweet or honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Yield: 9 Cups
Heat barley in a medium sauce pan. Stirring constantly until lightly browned. Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 25 until barley is soft. Remove from heat and drain. Combing barley, remaining salad ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in another mixing bowl. Add to barley and mix well.
Roast root vegetables with wild mushroom crusted tenderloin of beef Port wine glaze and horseradish aioli
1 recipe for roasted root vegetables
6 (4ounce) beef tenderloin with wild mushroom crust
3/4 cup horseradish aioli
3/4 cup port wine glaze
To plate: On each plate arrange a mound of root vegetables, divide among the 6 plates. Slice the tenderloins into thin slices and fan over the vegetables. Shape 1 tablespoon size quenelles out of the aioli and place 2 on each place. Drizzle each plate with 2 tablespoons of port wine glaze.
Roast root vegetables
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into 2-inch sticks
1 medium parsnip, peeled, cut into 2-inch sticks
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled, cut into 2 inch sticks
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 2-inch sticks
1 large turnip, peeled, cut into 2-inch sticks
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh herb mix
Makes: 6 servings
Preheat the oven to 450°F
Place the vegetables on banking sheet and mix with the olive oil. Season with the salt, pepper, and herbs. Roast the vegetables for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned and just starting to soften. Remove the vegetables from the oven and transfer to a clean dish. Keep warm in 200-degree oven.
Beef tenderloin with wild mushroom crust
6 (4ounce) beef tenderloins
For the mushroom Crust
2 cups assorted dry wild mushrooms to include chanterelles, shiitakes, morels and ceps
1 tablespoon fresh herb mix-basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Yield: 1 cup ground mix
Place mushrooms in a clean coffee grinder and process until a fine meal. You may need to repeat a few times to process all mushrooms. Combing mushrooms and remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Coat the beef or chicken on both sides with the mushroom crust.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat an oven proof sauté pan over medium high heat and lightly coat bottom of the pan with cooking spray. Place the mushroom crusted tenderloins in the pan and brown on one side for about 2 minutes. Turn over and brown for one minute. Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 7 minutes for medium rare beef.
1 tablespoon roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 cup mayonnaise substitute or low-fat mayonnaise, or soy based mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh horseradish
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Yield: 1 cup
Place the roasted garlic, fresh garlic, mayonnaise, and tarragon in a blender and process until smooth. Add the pepper, salt and olive oil. Pulse to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made 1 day ahead. Will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator.
Port wine glaze
2 cups (16 ounces) port wine
2 tablespoons corn syrup
Yield: 1/2 cup
Heat a small saucepan over the medium heat and add the wine and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced to a syrup consistency, about 10 minutes.
Chocolate Napoleon sheets with pumpkin mousse
To assembly, place one phyllo rectangle on a plate. Place a layer of pumpkin mousse on top with either a spoon or pastry bag. Cover with another layer of phyllo and repeat one more time ending with phyllo on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, and garnish with strawberry fan and fresh mint sprig.
2 sheets chocolate phyllo dough
Vegetable cooking spray and hazelnut oil
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar (for sprinkling)
Yield: 4 napoleon
For the napoleon sheets, place one sheet of phyllo dough on a flat, clean surface. Spray sheet evenly with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Repeat this process 1 time. On the 2nd layer, spray and sprinkle again, then fold the sheets in half. Cut into 12 even rectangles and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
1/4 cup fruit sweet
1 cup packed pumpkin
4 gelatin sheets or 4 tsp. of gelatin powder
1/2 cup white chocolate
3/4 cup pasteurized egg whites
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoon water
Yield: 1 quart
For the mousse, melt the chocolate over a double boiler and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin with spices. Add the white chocolate to the pumpkin mixture. Soften the gelatin in 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the fruit sweet in a small saucepan and add the soften, drained gelatin. Stir until melted. Add to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine.
Using an electric mixer whip the egg whites with sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture. Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours until the gelatin has set.