Cooking with Mayo

Not the creamy eggy emulsified condiment kind of Mayo, but the doctors- and nurses-in-white-uniforms kind—as in Mayo Clinic, that giant of medical care with—in its own words on its own website—physicians from every medical specialty working together, caring for patients, united in a philosophy that says “the needs of the patient come first.” Every patient must eat, right? And every patient should eat well to get healthy, right? So it makes sense the Mayo Clinic would be in the business of cookbooks.

Shortly before we left the country this past summer, I was sent a review copy of The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, updated and expanded. It’s a hefty thing. It’s a big, scrumptious book with 200 recipes using the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid as a guide. Fruits and veggies form the foundation of this diet.

But fear not—even if you’re the type to hate your vegetables. These are vibrant recipes, and that’s what I admire so much about this healthy book. There isn’t a boring dish on these pages. The foreword states: “It’s a common belief that what tastes good and what’s good for you are two different things. You might think in order to eat healthy, you have to forego flavor and embrace a lifetime of mediocre meals. But as this cookbook elegantly demonstrates, that doesn’t need to be the case. What you eat does directly affect your health, as research has shown and our own clinical experience has confirmed.” Amen to that. If people think healthy eating is boring, as a rule, they just haven’t found the right healthy foods….yet.

I love this book. (And I might just have to wrestle my mother-in-law for it. I gave it to her. It sits in her California kitchen. I miss it. I. Hope. She’s. Using. It. [said/written with all love and tenderness]).

My complaints about this book are few—but I’ll list them first before diving into the kitchen and cooking up a delicious storm. I’d use more herbs and spices. More, more more! Instead of ¼ teaspoon or ½ teaspoon, why not several spoonfuls? Herbs and spices are some of nature’s most underrated medicines, little bombs of goodness that can help improve our overall health. Most recipes won’t suffer from a few extra sprinkles of this or that—including chile. And that is another complaint I have of this book: I wish it stated clearly the many potential benefits of peppers. (If that message was in the book, I missed it.)

I also wish the book looked more at the health—human, animal, environment—of producing and consuming meat and non-organic vegetables (no small topic today!).

Some recipes recommend low-fat milk, advice some scientists are questioning. Other dishes called for soy milk, which has its own issues.

But all in all, this is a keeper. Below are seven recipes and my notes about them. Beyond those, here’s a small sampling of other dishes you will encounter in this book:

~Portobello mushrooms grilled with thyme and garlic
~Blueberry citrus salad
~Fresh figs with walnuts and mascarpone
~Grilled salmon and grapefruit salad with blood-orange vinaigrette
~Corn chowder with roasted poblanos
~Provencal fish stew
~West African peanut stew
~Quinoa risotto with arugula and Parmesan
~Lima bean ragout with tomatoes and thyme
~Shrimp and mango curry….

Are you ready to cook?

The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, 2nd Edition
By Mayo Clinic Physicians

Rosemary-Garlic White Bean Spread

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 can reduced sodium Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon salt
Rosemary sprig for garnish

Method:
In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Place garlic mixture, beans and next three ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with rosemary sprig if desired.

NOTES:
Yum. I used Portobello olive oil from Santa Fe Olive Oil, and that added an extra, earthy twist. Give this recipe a little more garlic and a pinch of smoked paprika, if you like.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Roasted Yellow Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
4 yellow tomatoes, halved crosswise and seeded
1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 5 oz (155 g) each
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Method:
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4-6 inches from the heat source.

Arrange the tomatoes skin side down on the grill rack or skin side up on a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil. Grill or broil until the skins begin to blacken, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let steam until the skins loosen, about 10 minutes.

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Core and peel the tomatoes. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, the garlic with the oil, and the vinegar. Pulse until well blended. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the basil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper.

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. In a shallow dish, stir together the parsley, thyme, and the remaining 2 tablespoons basil. Dredge the chicken in the herb mixture, coating completely. Grill or broil the chicken, turning once, until browned on both sides and no longer pink on the inside, about 4 minutes on each side.

Transfer the chicken breasts to warmed individual plates. Spoon the tomato sauce on top, dividing evenly, and serve immediately.

NOTES:
Very flavorful, but add more herbs, more garlic. The smoky sweet sauce is enough to douse the chicken and have leftovers. These recipes don’t discuss the type of meat to buy—such as antibiotic-free chicken, which is just as important to me as any other health consideration in a meal. And cooking spray? I’m not a fan.

Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Roasted Corn Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
3 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen kernels, thawed
½ cup vegetable stock or broth
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ lb flank steak
1 large head romain lettuce trimmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
¾ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 ½ cups cooked black beans

Method:
Place a dry, large cast-iron or heavy nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring often, until the corn begins to brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the stock, lime juice, bell pepper and 1 cup of the roasted corn. Pulse to purée. Add the olive oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper and the cilantro. Pulse once to blend. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4-6 inches from the heat source.

In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Rub on both sides of the steak.

Place the steak on the grill rack or broiler pan and grill or broil, turning once, until browned, 4-5 minutes on each side. Cut into the center to check for doneness. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut across the grain into thin slices. Cut the slices into pieces 2 inches long.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, onion, black beans and remaining roasted corn. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently to mix well and coat evenly.

To serve, divide the salad among individual plates. Top each serving with slices of grilled steak.

NOTES:
OK, I confess. I messed up on this one. See, we had a friend over that night, and we got to talking, and we had a couple of drinks on the patio, it got late (nearly 10 p.m. by the time we really got cooking) and… well, I accidentally switched the vinaigrette for this recipe with the dressing for the following potato recipe. But you know what? It all tasted great. (You know what they say: It all goes together in the stomach anyway.) Aside from that, I do think a health book that recommends nonstick pans should include discussion of PFOA.

Warm Potato Salad

Ingredients:
1 lb small red or white new potatoes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or sherry
2 tablespoons minced shallot
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Method:
Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and let stand until just cool enough to handle. Cut each potato in half or quarters and place in a armed serving dish.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, the vinegars, and the shallot until well blended. While whisking slowly drizzle in the olive oil to make a thick dressing. Stir in the parsley, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the warm potatoes, mix gently and serve immediately.

NOTES:
This was the second half of the screw-up. The dressing for this was wonderful even though I poured it over the steak salad. More parsley, perhaps? Definitely more pepper. Also—all bickering aside on recent reports scrutinizing organic vs. non-organic foods—I would like to see noted which foods have the highest levels of pesticides. Potatoes are among them.

Ginger-Apple Salad

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples
2 cups chopped Gala apples
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
¼ cup dried sweet cherries
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons thawed orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey

Method:
Combine all ingredients in large bowl; toss well. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES:
I made this for breakfast. It’s quite sweet, even if eaten for dessert (although I’m not huge on sweets). I recommend cutting the sugar even further and using fresh ginger. Delicious.

Baby Beets and Carrots with Dill

Ingredients:
1 lb red and yellow baby beets, about 1 ½ inches diameter (I used only yellow)
½ lb baby carrots peeled
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Method:
If the beet greens are still attached, cut them off, leaving about 1 inch of the stem intact. In a large pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add the unpeeled beets, cover and steam until tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the pot and let stand until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into quarters. Set aside and keep warm.

Check the pot, add water to a depth of 1 inch if necessary and return to a boil. Add the baby carrots, cover and steam until tender, 5-7 minutes. If the carrots are varied sizes, cut the larger ones into halves or thirds for even cooking. Remove from pot.

In a large bowl toss the carrots with the butter, olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped dill. Add the beets, toss gently to combine, and transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately, garnished with the dill sprigs.

NOTES:
Needs salt. I have a salt tooth, but this needs a bit. Otherwise, it’s tasty and colorful.

Lemon-Sage Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:
1 (2 lb) spaghetti squash
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons stick butter
¼ cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons small fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Method:
Pierce squash several times with a fork; place in an 11×7-inch baking dish. Microwave uncovered on high 6 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Place squash, cut sides up, in baking dish; add water to dish. Cover yet allow steam to escape. Microwave on high 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool 15 minutes.

While squash cools, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender.

Using a fork, remove spaghetti-like strands from squash. Add strands (about 3 cups) to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Transfer to a bowl; add Parmesan and remaining ingredients and toss well.

NOTES:
I love this recipe! But it needs more sage and lemon. It could actually use less butter (I made it the other night with grapeseed oil, and that worked beautifully). Again, same note on the nonstick pan. Also, I toast my squash seeds for an easy, healthy snack. (Likewise, with the beet recipe: don’t toss the greens! Cook ‘em and eat ‘em.)

8 thoughts on “Cooking with Mayo

  1. I love the idea that The Mayo Clinic are in the business of publishing cookbooks. I keep hearing about individuals putting out themed cookbooks but if respected groups paired up with local chefs and cookbook writers it just makes good sense.

  2. Love your blog and the super photos.
    But, the steak vinaigrette has no vinegar? Or the potato vinaigrette is the one for the steak?

  3. Roz, that recipe continues to haunt me! Thank you for pointing out the error. The steak vinaigrette should have 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice. I’ve corrected the recipe.

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