Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sourdough Apple Cobbler

It's apple season here in West Virginia and the magazines are full of recipes made with apples. This filling is made with a double dose of local apples-mixing the apple chunks with apple butter made the day before with the same apples! This one has a drop biscuit dough made with a sourdough starter-but you can add any of your favorite cobbler toppings.

Apple Butter Cobbler 

(Serves 8)

Toss apples with brown sugar and flour.
42 ounce apples, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoon whole wheat flour

Melt butter in 12 inch skillet on stove top.
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon buttery spread
Add apple-sugar-flour mix. Cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Remove apples from heat.  Stir in apple butter
2/3 cup slow cooker *apple butter (made with simply apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)

Add lemon zest, juice and salt. Stir.
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Place apples in 9 inch baking dish. Place baking tray under dish to catch juice overflow.
Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. 

Drop Biscuits
Mix flour, salt and baking soda in small food processor.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon baking soda

Add butter to processor, pulse about 45 seconds to mix.
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon butter, cut in small pieces

Add buttery flour mix to sourdough starter and stir. Add milk to thin.
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoon nonfat milk

Drop dough onto top of apples using a 1 tablespoon scoop.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 
Cinnamon Sugar
Bake at 425 F for 18 minutes, reducing heat by 25 degrees if necessary to prevent over browning.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

*For the apple butter, I peeled and cut 2 1/2 pounds of apples in 1/2 inch chunks. Mixed in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon cloves. Cooked on high in slow cooker for 3 hours. Blended when cooled.



Saturday, August 22, 2020

Merging Health into 21st Century Menus

Equipment upgrades, service awards and nutrition labels spotlight enticements to the Health Sciences Center Cafeteria in the early 2000s. 

Over a long weekend in January of 2005, aging serving area equipment was replaced with custom ceramic tile furnishings and black outlined sneeze guards. Thanks to a dedicated Facilities Staff, service was not interrupted.

The entire HSC Cafeteria Staff was recognized by hospital administration, each receiving a quality award. A favorite activity of the staff was a trophy award, given by peers and passed to another team member monthly. Each outgoing awardee gifted personal items-like bubble bath and flowers-to the new recipient.

Community outreach included booths at the annual Health Fair-the first focusing on sanitation, hand washing and protecting hazardous foods.

By 2004, nutrition labels accompanied all menu items at point of service. Since most items were made from scratch, and nutrition labels were not required on institutional packaging-this was no easy feat. The nutrition labels also listed ingredients.

In 2007, the cafeteria was recognized by the Whole Grains Council as a leader in Healthcare. Whole grains were purchased from a nearby farm, with whole wheat and whole corn meal grown and ground on site. Desserts and muffins were made with half whole grain flour. Whole grains, like Kamut, quinoa, oat groats and bulgur were made into entrees, sides, salads and soup. Brown rice replaced white across the menu.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables were served daily. The popular salad bar featured 24 colorful fruits and salads-all (except spinach) cleaned and cut on site.

Dried beans were cooked on site and made into salsas, soups, salads and hummus. The vegetarian bean soup sold for 25 cents less than other soups.

Because made from scratch menu items were nutrient dense, these were easy to combine as meal deals to fit into low to moderate calorie plans with less than 500 mg sodium per meal. These complemented guidelines for My Plate and the New American Plate. The few processed snack foods available were sold in smaller packages. Deli sides included a grainy item and a traditional item. 

We were lucky to have a customer base that wanted to choose healthy-students, faculty and staff in health professions. Yes there were naysayers, yet there was something for everyone. It wasn't about forcing customers to choose healthy-it was about enticing them. That took a productive, committed and customer oriented food service staff to achieve.

Martha Nesser, a mentor, was a local wellness champ. She taught us to promote the good things we did and to practice good sanitation techniques. This is her recipe, a favorite of the Health Sciences Center Cafeteria and served to her family of 13:

Martha's Vegetarian Chili

(Serves 6)

2 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans

Place bulgur wheat in bowl. Heat tomatoes to boiling and add to the bulgur wheat. Stir and let stand approximately 15 minutes.
1 cup bulgur wheat
14 ounces diced tomatoes, canned in juice

Heat remaining ingredients in kettle and simmer. 
1/3 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and diced
6 ounces tomato paste
2 1/4 cups water
2 teaspoon basil
2 teaspooon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Just 15 minutes before serving, add bulgur/tomato mixture and beans.  Keep hot for service.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Reliving Food Service in the 90s

I spent much of my career in retail services, working as a manager for the university hospital. In the early 90s, the focus was on changing the institutional image to one of retail. Employees wore chef coats and hats to carve turkey and beef on the serving line. 

Cakes were baked in round pans and cut in wedges instead of squares. The made to order deli line with carved bread was a popular station. 

"Individual" round pizzas were baked in a conveyor oven at service. Stainless steel serving containers were replaced with black bowls and pans. Stainless steel tables were covered with linen.

I was fortunate to work in health care where fruits and vegetables were always encouraged. Most of the entrees were made from scratch. In the low fat era of the 90s, we served lots of boneless skinless chicken breasts. We offered daily selections of low fat desserts, even reducing the added sugar. Whole grains were limited to whole wheat bread on the deli with white rice and pasta the staples. The jumbo craze extended to muffins and bagels-like the "individual" pizzas, 2-3 times the recommended serving size, with little fiber.

We purchased our first espresso machine which proved to be so popular, it now has it's own cafe. A panini machine was added to the deli in the snack bar.

The 90s brought layoffs in the supervisory staff. When I moved to the Health Sciences Center in 1997, I went solo. The merchandising skills I'd learned proved valuable when improving the surroundings in the run down 50 year old cafeteria. Customer service was the focus in eliminating the 1/2 hour cafeteria shut down between breakfast and lunch, the same time the facilities staff took their lunch break.

In the 19 remaining years I managed that cafeteria, I blended my nutritional knowledge with the service and merchandising skills. Every year I made a change, based on current nutritional recommendations, to encourage customers to make healthy selections. What I'd learned is that doesn't just focus on the menu, but also the service and the surroundings.

It was in the 80s when local restaurateur, Joe Sesisto, shared his Vegetable Lasagna recipe with us. It was one of many heart healthy recipes the American Heart Association endorsed. Well into his 90s, he came back to share that recipe with us. I did not save but a few from my 37 years at the hospital, but this one was a keeper because his memory I want to cherish.

Joe's Vegetable Lasagna

(Serves 12)

10 each uncooked lasagna noodles
12 ounce zucchini, sliced and quartered
8 ounce carrots, sliced in rounds
4 ounce green peppers, 2 inch strips
1 pound whole tomatoes, cubed
6 ounce cauliflower, 1/4 inch slices
6 ounce broccoli, 1/4 inch slices
1 pound low fat cottage cheese
12 ounce part skim mozzarella cheese
1 pound 12 ounce pizza sauce
3 3/4 ounce Parmesan cheese

Spray no-stick product on baking dish.  Place a layer of noodles on bottom of pan.  Arrange the following in layers in the pan.  1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup tomatoes, ½  cup peppers, 1 ½ cup broccoli, 1 ¼ cup zucchini, ¾ cup cottage cheese, ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, 1 ½ cups pizza sauce, ½ cup Parmesan cheese.  Add another layer of noodles and repeat step # 3.  Cover pan with foil which has been sprayed with no-stick product.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours.  Cut lasagna 3 x 4 and serve.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Plum Job

Yes, I like everything about the plum- the color, the texture, the taste. Plums are in season now locally-though, because they aren't the easiest to grow near my hometown, we travel about 200 miles to the Western Maryland Mountain town of Thurmont to visit an orchard where the produce is prime. Pryors Orchard has Santa Rosa plums now at their peak. In their open market, they pick and pack the produce by hand. With the COVID restrictions, masks are required and the workers do the handling. 

Plums are good sources of soluble fiber and Vitamin C. They have a low glycemic index and phytochemicals, that may function as antioxidants in our diets.

The sourdough "upside down cake" pictured above is a recipe from Valerie at Beets and Bones.  The cake is made with my whole rye sourdough starter, Kamut and spelt grains. Since I grind my grains at home in the counter top flour mill, this recipe had my name on it. This recipe is whole grain, without much added sugar. The grains are good sources of iron, magnesium, the B vitamins, Manganese and Selenium. Whole grains are good sources of fiber, combined with that in the plums-we have a winner!

I made these mini plum cakes earlier in the week when I only had 1 plum.

Mini Plum Cakes

(Makes 4 individual servings)

Beat sugar and egg well.
1 egg
3 tablespoon sugar

Cream with butter.
5 Tablespoon butter (at room temperature)

In a separate bowl, mix almond meal, baking powder, salt and flours. Stir in grated lemon.
3 Tablespoon almond meal
5/8 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup spelt flour
3 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
Zest from 1 lemon

Mix yogurt with lemon juice.
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Alternately add dry flour mix to mixing bowl with liquid ingredients. Mix just until flours are incorporated. Divide into small baking dishes or muffins cups. (about 1/4 cup batter each).

Mix plums and remaining almond meal.
1 large plum, seeded and chopped
1 Tablespoon almond meal

Sprinkle over top of each baking dish.

Bake in 350 F oven for 30 minutes.

 I will make the Plum Clafouti later when only the smaller plums are available.