Ye are the salt of the Earth

25 02 2010


Salt has been around a long time. Therefore there are lots of references available. A fantastic comprehensive read, if you are really interested is Salt, by Mark Kurlansky. There are even some documentaries on the subject of salt, as well as a movie this summer with the same name for Angelina Jolie fans. Our fascination with salt goes back even further than our collective fascination for Bradjolina.

Evidence of humans seeking out salt predates recorded history. Early prehistoric man seemed to settle preferentially in areas where salt could be obtained. Since animals in the wild seek the same, this is a logical place to set up shop and hunt. It is the earliest form of delivery. Until fairly recently, salt formed the basis of entire economies and empires from Africa and Asia to Europe and America. It was considered so valuable that Roman soldiers were often paid in salt. The Latin salarium is the origin of our word, “salary”; the root for both being the Latin word salarius meaning “of salt.”

Yet what is this compound we call “salt”? In chemical terms a salt is any ionic compound produced by replacing a hydrogen ion of an acid with another positive ion. What we refer to as “salt” is actually sodium chloride. It is a compound composed of a positively charged sodium ion (Na+) and a negatively charged chloride ion (Cl). The hydrogen ion of hydrochloric acid (HCl) is replaced by a sodium ion. The neutral NaCl (+1 and -1 equals 0) when exposed to water splits into its respective components, Na+ and Cl, each of which are surrounded by water molecules. Putting salt in water gives us the salt water we are all accustomed to tasting when the ocean wave drops some up our nose and down our throat. In fact, the salinity of our very blood matches the salinity of the ocean about the time our very distant ancestors wriggled out of the slime and onto the beaches. Over the millions of years since, the oceans have gotten saltier which is why today the salt content of the ocean is higher than that of your blood and plasma. As such, when you drink salt water you actually are ingesting salt in excess of your internal salt-liquid balance and thus act to dehydrate yourself. “Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink” as the saying goes for the Iron Maiden or Samuel Taylor Coleridge fans out there.

Next we will discuss the way our body uses the salt we ingest.


Worth Its Weight

24 02 2010


Everybody loves salt. Everybody needs salt. How much is enough and how much is too much. As a chef I encourage people to season every layer of their cooking for maximum flavor. As a physician, especially as an interventional cardiologist, I am often asked how to limit, or how much to limit salt intake. It is a confusing conundrum. Over the next several days, I’d like to try to answer, from both ends of the equation. We will attempt a bipartisan solution by exploring the brief history of salt, its vital role in our well-being, and how too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. So check back over the next several days as we take on this topic in well seasoned bites.

South of the Border

23 02 2010

OK, with tacos (and food porn) as the segue, a break or two as I move into new digs in Fla. Already checked out some potential supply posts, and when we get the kitchen unpacked….

Taco Taco

21 02 2010

Taco Taco

Who the hell doesn’t love a taco? Here’s a great “leftover” recipe for delicious snacks. We took the leftover chicken wings, thighs and legs from breaking down the chickens we used to make the stuffed breasts, some salsa and guacamole. We made a fajita marinade (all the recipes in the sidebar) and marinated the chicken. We made some fresh tortillas and added a little lime juice and 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro. All this done in maybe 30 minutes prep at most. Some grilled chicken parts later, street worthy tacos.

Herb and Chevre Stuffed Chicken Breasts

20 02 2010


Herb and Chevre Stuffed Chicken Breast


  Chevre and Herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts

The daffodils are peeking, the buds are bursting and the clear sky brings a breeze that hints of sun kissed warmth. It is almost Spring. Spring brings to mind for me the crisp clear tastes of garden fresh produce. While the produce may still be weeks away, here’s a dish to preview what’s in store. I use organic free range chicken breasts from a whole bird I break down myself. I do this because I find they have a better flavor, and with this herb dish the flavors are subtle. As with all of Doc’s Grassroots Cooking recipes, this one is exceptionally nutritious and delicious and comes in at less than 450 calories per breast (8 oz serving).

·         4 skinless chicken breasts, pounded to between ¼ inch thick

·         2 oz chevre

·         1 oz fresh chopped oregano

·         1 oz fresh chopped thyme

·         1/2 oz fresh chopped sage

·         2 tsp smoked paprika

·         1 tsp salt

·         ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

·         1/4 tsp piri-piri other hot sauce (optional)

·         ¼ cup (about 1 oz) toasted pine nuts

·         1/3 cup seasoned AP flour (for dredging)

·         1 well beaten egg (for dredging)

·         ¼ cup seasoned panko

·         ¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs

·         ¼ cup crushed corn flakes

·         ¼ cup olive oil for frying

·         Butcher’s twine

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pound out the chicken breasts into approximately ¼ inch thickness and season. Mix the chevre, herbs, seasonings and pine nuts into a small bowl. Place the mixture into the chicken breast, and then roll up the chicken breast into a cylindrical roll. Secure with butcher’s twine. Set up a breading station; 1 bowl with seasoned flour, 1 bowl with beaten egg and 1 bowl with bread crumb mixture. Bread the breasts by dipping in flour (shaking off excess), dip in egg (shaking off excess) and then dipping in bread crumb mixture (shaking off excess). Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Brown the breast in the oil, turning quickly. When the breasts are brown, finish them in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with oven roasted rosemary potatoes.

New Video

18 02 2010

Here is the video of the smoked spiced leg of lamb, which we did for Savory Tv over Superbowl weekend.

Guest Post

17 02 2010

Doc’s doing the guesting today. Check out the post at

See you there!