Archive for April 2013


Ramp and Mozzarella Pizza

April 29th, 2013 — 11:38am

April 2013 112One of the highlights of my weekend was discovering the debut of ramps at the farmers’ market (Harmony Valley Farm).  Ramps are only available a few weeks each spring, so there’s no time to lose. We immediately scooped up six bunches.

I had already set aside several new recipes to try once ramps appeared at the market—a galette with wild mushrooms and ramps, ramp risotto, and ramp and goat cheese toasts. We hoped to do some pickling again, too.

But all of those plans were put on hold once I came across a recipe for ramp pizza on the Smitten Kitchen blog last week. The recipe immediately went to the top of my cue. I have a weak spot for pizza.

It turned into more of a production than we anticipated, mostly due to my failed attempt at making dough (darn yeast). But after a quick run to Trader Joe’s to purchase pizza dough, we were back on track. By 9 p.m., we were finally eating dinner. And man, was it worth the wait. The flavors are phenomenal.

Ramp and Mozzarella Pizza (from Smitten Kitchen; makes one 12-inch round or 9 x 13 rectangular pizza)

1 bunch of ramps (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt
Cornmeal
1 12-ounce pizza dough
1/3 to 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 small garlic clove, minced
Pinch of sugar or drops of red wine vinegar (if needed)
3 to 4 ounces mozzarella, sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated

Trim off ends of ramp bulbs. Separate the ramp bulbs from the leafy ends. Thinly slice the stem ends; cut the leafier ends into 1/2-inch thick ribbons.

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the sliced bulbs and saute until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add ramp leaves and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet or pizza pan lightly with cornmeal. Roll or stretch pizza dough into a very thin 11 to 12-inch round or large rectangle.

In a small bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes with garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Add a drop or two of vinegar for extra brightness or a pinch of sugar if needed. Spread the tomato sauce thinly over the dough almost to the edges.

Arrange the mozzarella slices over the tomato sauce. Scatter sauteed ramps over pizza. Season with additional salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake in heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crust is golden and mozzarella is melted. Remove pizza from oven, sprinkle immediately with Pecorino Romano cheese and serve in slices.

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2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Team Unicorn Apocalypse

April 26th, 2013 — 10:44am

April 2013 083Last weekend I participated in a five-person relay team for the MadCity 50k. My friend Krista recruited Pat, Shayla, Melissa and me as teammates after realizing she no longer wanted to run the race solo. Krista and I both ran the race solo last March, but found ourselves in different places this year—Krista, burnt out on training and racing long distances, and me, recovering from a string of running injuries.

Though I was initially disappointed I wouldn’t be able to run the race solo again, being part of a relay with friends seemed like a great option, too. Krista named our team “Unicorn Apocalypse,” obviously a force to be reckoned with. Each of us would run a 10k loop around Lake Wingra, and then pass off the gold baton and ankle timing chip to the next runner. Our combined ages (163) put us in a category with other teams aged 151-175 year old.April 2013 082

Saturday was a brisk, but sunny morning. Shayla kicked things off with a strong first leg, then Krista, Mel (and her friend Megan) and me, then Pat brought it home with a speedy anchor leg. One of my favorite parts of the race was when Pat came running through the home stretch with the gold baton held up to his forehead—clearly a nod to Team Unicorn Apocalypse. It was a great morning of running with good friends. We even ended up 4th in our age division. Not bad.

1 comment » | Racing and Training

Black Bean and Cilantro Pesto Wrap

April 24th, 2013 — 9:04am

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I was recently introduced to a new food blog: Thug Kitchen. I realize some (many?) may be turned off by the spew of expletives  (you’ve been warned), and I admit that even I have a love-hate relationship with the whole concept. But, I’ve also never found myself laughing out loud while reading a recipe. And laughter in my day is always a welcome addition. Plus, yesterday Thug Kitchen was named the “Best New Blog” of the Saveur 4th Annual Food Blog Awards. That’s legit. And impressive.

So if you’re the kind of person like me that enjoys trying healthy new recipes, generally doesn’t use expletives, but every once in a while finds herself indulging in a release of profanity, then Thug Kitchen is worth checking out. If nothing else, consider trying these Black Bean and Cilantro Pesto Wraps. A non-expletive version of the recipe is below.

Black Bean and Cilantro Pesto Wrap (from Thug Kitchen; makes 1 cup cilantro pesto, enough for 8 wraps)

1 large bunch of cilantro (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup almonds
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Makes 1 cup of cilantro pesto. Mix the pesto with black beans (use 1/4  cup of pesto for every 1 1/2 cups of beans, which is also a 15 ounce can) and wrap in a corn tortilla with an assortment of vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, lettuce, avocado, corn, etc. Add salsa or lime juice and serve.

2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Five Years of Kentucky Derby Invites

April 23rd, 2013 — 11:16am

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Je vais à Paris demain!

April 8th, 2013 — 12:23pm

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Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Iron Chef Dinner Avocado

April 8th, 2013 — 6:28am

At last night’s Iron Chef Avocado Dinner – from left to right, top to bottom: Avocado Ice Cream; Roasted Jalapeño Guacamole with Blackberry-Mezcal Jewels; Frozen Avocado Margaritas; Avocado Baked Egg with Bacon, Tomatoes and Chives; Guacamole with Banana Chips; Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole with Crunchy Chicharrón; Avocado Toasts with Tomatoes and Lemon Ricotta; Avocado Cheesecake with Pistachio Shortbread Crust; Chocolate Avocado Cookies.

Comment » | Iron Chef Dinners

A Culinary Tour of Oaxaca

April 6th, 2013 — 6:11am

A two-day excursion to Oaxaca was the highlight of my recent trip to Mexico with Larry, which also included visits to Veracruz, Córdoba and Ingenio El Potrero Nuevo, the hometown of our friend, Andrés. As a whole, this trip to Mexico was very different than the two others I’ve made that mainly involved lying around pools at all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and Acapulco.

Oaxaca is a beautiful city in southeastern Mexico that is one of the most well-known culinary destinations. I was eager to try all of its many specialties—everything from moles to chapulines (spicy fried grasshoppers).

For culinary inspiration, we drew largely upon recommendations from Rick Bayless in his Guide to Oaxaca. Admittedly, our first two picks from the list were a bust. Tlamanalli in the small village of Teotitlán del Valle (20 miles outside of Oaxaca, and seemingly Bayless’s strongest recommendation) was closed for part of Semana Santa (Easter week). And our second pick, El Naranjo, back in Oaxaca, has apparently been closed for three years. Clearly, the guide needs some updating. But, I get it, Rick Bayless is a busy guy. At that point, we were almost ready to abandon the guide, but thankfully held on for a few more recommendations. His suggestions for market and street vendors were particularly useful.

Our first meal was comida (main meal of the day) late Thursday afternoon at El Asador Vasco. I ordered the sopa de tortilla and shared the Botana Oaxaqueña, a platter filled with an assortment of Oaxacan specialties. The best part was  the view of the lively zócalo, or main square, from our table on the balcony. The meal was good, but I was most excited about trying Oaxaca’s market and street vendor foods.

Later that night, after exploring town and enjoying poolside drinks at the fabulous Quinta Real Hotel, we indulged in the popular Oaxacan street food at Las Tlayudas de Libres, on Libres street between Murguía and Miguel Bravo streets (hours are 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.). We ordered tlayudas, oversized hand-made tortillas grilled over hot coals served with black beans, salsa and tasajo (half-dried salted beef). We also snacked on an order of pickled pigs feet and sipped from hot cups of tejate and champurrado. Patrons have the option of eating inside the restaurant or on picnic tables on the street. We chose the latter as a way to experience the food being made in front of us. It’s also worth noting that there is another tlayudas stand next to Las Tlayudas de Libres, which appears to be connected but is not. This was one my favorite meals of the trip.

The next morning, while our friends Andrés and Leonor took a day trip to see the “petrified water falls” at Hierve el Agua, Larry and I continued our culinary explorations with breakfast at Mercado de la Democracia (located eight blocks east of the zócalo). We enjoyed empanadas with huitlacoche (corn mushroom), quesillo (shredded string cheese), and flor de calabaza (squash blossoms) from La Güerita. For drinks we wandered directly across the aisle to Jugos Petrita, for fresh orange juice and a licuado de fresa (strawberry smoothie). We wandered the market for a bit, and although we were still quite full, we couldn’t help but try a tamál de mole negro wrapped in banana leaves from Tamales Leti, and a sweeter version, a tamál de dulce (sweet pineapple), from Tamales Geno. It was an excellent extended breakfast that should have left us full until dinner, but…

Early that afternoon we made our way to the market near the zócalo for nieves (fruit ices) and aguas frescas (fruit drinks). We enjoyed four flavors of fruit ice from Chagüita—fresa (strawberry), mango, limón and guanábana. It tasted very similar to fruit ice cream and was probably my favorite sweet treat in Oaxaca. After the fact, we learned that there is very little price difference (just three pesos) between the small and large-sized cups, so I’d recommend sizing up. Afterwards, we ordered three varieties of aguas frescas at Casilda. Disappointingly, the beverages tasted more sugary than fruity. It might help to hold the sugar. Our favorite flavor was fresa. According to Rick Bayless, both stands use safe water, which helps visitors like ourselves feel comfortable indulging in this treat.

After Andrés and Leonor returned from their adventure, we all headed to Zandunga for an enjoyable cena. I liked the restaurant’s energy and vibe—a modern, open and well-lit space with colorful, wooden ceiling lanterns and tables draped in bold-patterned oilcloth. I sipped a bit of Leonor’s mescal, a Mexican liquor distilled from the maguey plant (a form of agave), enjoyed my own bottle of Montejo (a pilsner), and snacked on molotes de plátano (plantain croquettes), enchiladas with mole negro, consomé de pollo (chicken soup), and arroz con leche for dessert.

The next morning we enjoyed one final market breakfast before leaving Oaxaca. Based on Rick Bayless’s recommendation, we picked La Abuelita, well-known for its Oaxacan specialties, at the Mercado 20 de Noviembre (market near the zócalo). We enjoyed enchiladas with mole and Oaxaca’s famous hot chocolate with pan de yema (sweet egg bread). Leanor also purchased a bag of chapulines (spicy fried grasshoppers) from a market vendor, which she tossed in her quesadilla by the handful and told me I had to try. Apparently, a popular legend says that if you eat chapulines, you’ll return to Oaxaca some day. I sampled one in hopes of a return trip, simultaneously exploring the crunchiness of a dead insect in my mouth and the unexpected spiciness, while savoring the many new experiences I found in Oaxaca.

Comment » | Restaurant Reviews, Vacation and Travel

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