Lacinato Kale and Mint Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

October 24, 2014 § 30 Comments

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Admittedly, we don’t eat much kale in our house, and really for no other reason than I just don’t notice it when I’m at the market (as if it doesn’t exist).  Humph!  It’s the season for kale right now and I have been noticing towering stalks growing in gardens while walking around the neighborhood, and needless to say, sparking my eagerness to pick some up on my next trip to the market.

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I found this recipe on Food 52 and only made one minor change by switching out the walnuts for pecans.  It’s out of this world delicious.  Now I have a reason to plant lacinato kale in my garden next season.  Perfect hearty salad for this time of year.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • bunch of lacinato kale, chopped very small, almost minced
  • cup fresh mint, minced
  • cup pecans, chopped

spicy peanut dressing

  • tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter
  • 3-6 tablespoons warm water (to achieve desired consistency)
  • tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • tablespoon soy sauce
  • teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • teaspoon sesame oil
  • teaspoon dried red chili flakes
Toss the chopped kale, chopped mint and pecans together.Add all dressing ingredients into a blender, starting with only 3 tablespoons of warm water and whirl until smooth.  Add more warm water until you achieve a drizzly dressing consistency.Toss half of the dressing with the salad.  Add more as desired.  I only used 1/2 of the dressing for one large bunch of kale.

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luscious cauliflower soup

October 17, 2014 § 69 Comments

DSCN2940 Someone asked me the other day if I usually know in advance what I am making for dinner.  I had to pause and think about the answer for a moment because I am always aware of what’s in my refrigerator and have a general idea of what I will be cooking for dinner.  However, a majority of the time I don’t actually make what I originally had in mind when I bought the ingredients.  This cauliflower soup is a perfect example.   We have been enjoying  this wonderful warm cauliflower cous cous with chili and lime and this was part of my plan for dinner last Wednesday, and the reason I purchased cauliflower. IMG_2755 Fall weather is definitely here and it happened to be a cool wet day.  I spent some time outside and admittedly a bit unprepared for the cool misty day in my canvas Converse sneakers, which left me chilled and damp footed for the rest of the day.  As I was driving home from work, with the heater blasting my feet, I thought about the warm cauliflower salad and I couldn’t wait for dinner.   Nevertheless with the chill in the air (and cold feet) I couldn’t get my mind off of a pot of soup simmering on the stove.  By the time I reached home I decided to make cauliflower soup instead.  This soup is very creamy and irresistible.  And to think I actually had creme fraiche in the refrigerator, unheard of!

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut up
  • 3 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 cups stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 7 ounces creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup good cheddar cheese
  • several chives for snipping on top

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft, 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and coat well.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes and add the cauliflower.  After cauliflower is well coated add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low continue to slow boil until potatoes are tender.  Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until desired consistency.  We like our soup to have a small amount of texture, so leaving some cauliflower and potato whole is preferred.  Add cheese, half & half and creme fraiche.  Stir in chive snippets and serve. DSCN2940

chili lime cucumber noodles

October 10, 2014 § 86 Comments

DSCN2913 Hello. It’s hard to imagine it’s October and I haven’t posted a single recipe since August 27th. Well, it isn’t because I haven’t been in the kitchen because I have been making dinner everyday and breakfast on the weekends.  Actually, the kitchen is my favorite place to be during these very busy times.  While some folks can not imagine entering the kitchen and cooking a meal after working all day; I happen to thrive on it.  I guess it can be considered my happy place!   Well, I’m back.  And I am  here to share some of my recent favorites.   I simply cannot get enough of these sensational pots of goodness.  First, if you share my sentiment for chana dal, try this recipe.  Wonderfully spicy, comforting and It happens to be my teenage son’s favorite dinner now and the leftovers are great for breakfast.  Another dish on high rotation in our kitchen is this french green lentil recipe I posted back in March; a truly delicious early spring dinner and even better in autumn.  Lastly, today’s recipe, chili lime cucumber noodles. Thank goodness my family enjoys cucumbers, and spicy chipotle, and arugula because this salad has been in the middle of  our dinner table on a number of  occasions for the past two months.  And it all started with this. DSCN2922 This is my new julienne peeler made by OXO.  A dear friend gave this to me a few months ago and I have been using it like I have never used a kitchen tool before.  Not only is it fun to use but it produces a satisfying texture to cucumbers, carrots, zucchini and even potatoes for hash browns.  It is a game changer.  Spring for it, you will be glad you did.  :) DSCN2909 This salad is very attractive and texturally crunchy.  It’s a little sweet from the honey, spicy from chipotle powder and plenty of salt, pepper and lime juice. There’s just a bit of olive oil and a big handful of arugula, mint and basil.  It’s delicious.  And you could use zucchini instead of cucumber, it is equally delightful.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • juice of one lime
  • chipotle chili powder, to taste
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1 english cucumber, peeled into noodles with a julienne peeler
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • little squeeze of raw honey
  • 2-3 handfuls of arugula
  • 2 sprigs of mint, leaves chopped
  • 3 sprigs of basil, leaves chopped
  • ground black pepper

Combine the lime juice, salt, chipotle powder, olive oil, and honey in a small bowl.  Taste and add more chipotle heat or honey to your liking.  Toss with the cucumber noodles and arugula until evenly mixed. Add mint and basil and pepper to taste and give a few tosses to combine. Eat right away. DSCN2914

bacon “leafy green” tomato pasta

August 27, 2014 § 64 Comments

bacon lettuce tomato pasta

There is something exceptionally comforting about a bowl of pasta tossed with your favorite ingredients.   Even in the summertime a lovely herbaceous parsley pesto with a sprinkling of dry chili flakes is a perfect way to wind down and and enjoy the end of a hot summer day.  BLT sandwiches happen to be a favorite around here, so why not toss the ingredients together with a nice pasta such as mezze penne?  Rather than lettuce we used spinach.  Bacon “leafy green” tomato pasta.

garden fresh cherry tomatoes

The steps are quite simple.  You put eight slices of center cut bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and a pot of water on the stove to boil.  After the bacon is cooked to a crisp remove from the skillet and set aside.  Prepare the pesto and set aside.  Leave the kitchen for five minutes with both a pile of cooked bacon sitting on the counter and your hungry sixteen year old son sitting at the kitchen table with his computer.  Return to the kitchen and find there are only 4 slices left!  What?  Yes, that is exactly what happened.  Our BLT pasta only had a total of four slices of bacon.  Although wonderfully delicious, next time I make this (and I will) I’ll keep a better eye on that bacon!

parsley pesto

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound mezze penne pasta
  • 8 center cut bacon slices
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

pesto

  • handful fresh parsley (about 1 cup once it is finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon; cook 6 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, slice and set aside.  Keep the skillet on the stove (no heat) with the bacon fat in it.

To make the pesto, put the parsley, parmesan, garlic, and salt in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then pulse again.  Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running just long enough to incorporate the oil.  Set aside while waiting for the pasta to cook.

Reheat skillet and add tomatoes to the bacon drippings;  cook 3 minutes or until tomatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Drain the penne and return to the pot.  Toss with the pesto sauce until well coated.  Add the tomatoes and spinach to pasta and gently toss.

Serve with crumbled bacon and a sprinkling of parmesan.

 

 

plum kuchen

August 21, 2014 § 77 Comments

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Plum season is upon us and it is time to bake a delicious plum cake!   I don’t typically do a whole lot of baking. I’m more of a savory kind of person as opposed to sweet (unless it’s a fruity pie or cake).  This is the kind of dessert that gets me baking, especially with stone fruit in season.  The wonderful thing about this cake is as the fruit bakes on top, the plums soften into a jammy consistency, which contrasts nicely with the light bready cake underneath.

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I was bit surprised when I released the edge of the 9-inch spring form pan and the cake was only an inch and a half tall.  Not what I expected, but still humbly impressive with it’s beautfiully baked plums.  As it turns out I liked the thin cake, it was much lighter, a little less decadent.   Although there are several ways to make plum kuchen this recipe is wonderfully rustic and light. You could use a mix of black, red and yellow plums for contrasting flavor and color, or forego the plums and use your favorite stone fruit, such as apricots or peaches.

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 – 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups plue 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt (a pinch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 7 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use full fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 pounds plums, quartered and pitted
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Combine flour, 2 tablespoon sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt and cardamom in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Cut in 4 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine milk, vanilla and egg in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.

Spoon batter onto a 9-inch (prepared) springform pan.  Arrange plums in a circular patter over batter.   Combine remaining 2/3 cup sugar, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and lemon rind in a small bowl, stirring well.  Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter either on stovetop or microwave and stir into sugar mixture.  Sprinkle plums evenly with sugar mixture.  Bake at 425°F for 35 minutes or until browned and bubble.  Cool in pan 1 hour on a wire rack before removing springform.

radish leaf pesto

August 15, 2014 § 85 Comments

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Did you know you can make a delicious pesto sauce with radish leaves?  Up until now I always tossed the leaves into the compost bin without much thought.  I brought home two fresh bunches of radishes from the market the other day and the greens were wonderfully alive, crisp and vibrantly green; I just had to use them instead of throwing them away.

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Radish leaves don’t stay fresh for very long, and it’s best to separate them from the roots soon after harvesting or bringing them home from the market. Wash, dry and store the leaves like other salad greens and eat them within a day or two.

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Garlic, fresh oregano, lemon juice, almonds, red pepper flakes and parmesan are all you need to add to your radish leaves for this wonderful pesto.  So, instead of throwing out the greens when you buy a bunch of radishes, turn them into a delicious pesto.

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To blanch almonds simply drop raw almonds into boiling water for one minute.  Drain and rinse with cold water and the skins slip off effortlessly when pinched.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 cups lightly packed radish leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup blanched whole almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound linguine

Put the radish leaves, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, blanched almonds, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse to form a coarse purée.  With the motor running, pour in the olive oil and process until smooth.  Add half the cheese and pulse a few more times.  Taste and add more salt or pepper if you like.  Set aside until ready to dress the pasta.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.  Scoop out 3 cups of the cooking liquid and reserve, drain the pasta.

After draining the pasta return to the cooking pot, add the pesto, and gently fold together.  Add reserved pasta water as needed to keep the consistency creamy rather than sticky.  Serve in shallow pasta bowls right away, with the remaining cheese on the side.

green beans with eggs, jalapeño and cilantro

August 12, 2014 § 45 Comments

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Young and tender green beans are in the markets right now.  Typically we steam them until just soft and simply dress them with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  This has such a lovely combination of textures and flavors with the soft scrambled egg, tender green beans, spicy jalapeño and nutty pecans.  I found this recipe skimming through a 2011 Food & Wine magazine.  Apparently, this is a Georgian dish called lobio (bean dish). The Georgian word ‘lobio’ means ‘beans’ and there are a number of varieties of lobio dishes. This green lobio dish is typically served cool, but with its buttery scrambled eggs and tender green beans, it’s equally delicious hot. We served it warm and it was wonderful.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, plus small sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 small red chile, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds, ground

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the green beans until tender, 6 minutes. Drain and let cool. Transfer to a bowl.

In a large skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the eggs are scrambled, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs to the beans.

Stir in the chopped cilantro, pecans, garlic, jalapeño, red chile and dill seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro sprigs just before serving.

The green lobio can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

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