Archive for March 2014

Tapas Plate with Marinated Chickpeas

March 31st, 2014 — 11:05am

DSC02312We made a tapas plate for dinner one night last week with Manchego cheese, mixed olives, a baguette, prosciutto, olive oil, and marinated chickpeas. The flavors and the wonderful simplicity of the meal brought me back to Spain. It makes for a great appetizer spread or meal. The marinated chickpeas are also a delicious side on their own.

Marinated Chickpeas (from Real Simple, June 2010; serves 4)

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, raisins, roasted peppers, parsley, scallions, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

DLS Presents Alice Waters

March 28th, 2014 — 5:39am

DSC02373Last night I went to see Alice Waters speak as part of UW’s Distinguished Lecture Series. I was surprised and pleased to find myself surrounded by hundreds of other people who seemed to prefer the lecture over watching the big Badger basketball game. Alice Waters seemed surprised, too.

Alice waters is known as the mother of the farm to table movement. She is the owner of Chez Panisse, the famous restaurant in Berkley, California that pioneered the locally grown, organic food movement. She’s a chef, author, food activist, and vice president of Slow Food International.

Waters recounted the incredible meals she enjoyed in Madison during the day. I was especially pleased that she gave students from Slow Food UW accolades for a delicious dinner they had prepared for her that evening. People say it all the time, that Madison is the Berkley of the Midwest. It really is, said Waters. She also gave props to Madison’s farmers’ market, which is known as the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the United States. While she is pleased with the growth of the Ferry Plaza farmers’ market in San Francisco, we don’t have 300 vendors like you do!

Waters then launched into her prepared remarks, opening with a quote from Gloria Steinem: public education is our last truly democratic institution. She then built a case for how all of the issues in our lives are an outgrowth of one bigger thing—a deeper, systemic problem: our fast food nation. Waters explained how it dominates the way people eat in this country, and it’s not only bad food, it also affects our culture, behaviors, expressions, work, architecture, politics, and the way we interact with each other (or don’t). Fast food nation degrades our human experience and produces uniformity—everyone is the same everywhere.

Waters also talked about how our expectations are warped—we want things now. But the best things in life take time. Like cooking, learning, getting to know someone. Furthermore, she talked about how we have a very twisted idea of availability—you can buy a tomato in the middle of winter in Switzerland, or a papaya in the Midwest. Seasons stop mattering. The local culture, and what’s happening here, becomes devalued.

One of her biggest pet peeves, she shared, is the the confusion between affordability and cheapness. A discounted price is artificial—there is a cost somewhere, whether it be our health, livestock, the environment, human rights, international relations, etc. Things can be affordable, but they can never be cheap. The deals cost us so much more.

Waters also talked about words that have become elusive—like organic, local, natural, fair trade, and fresh. They’ve been used and misused. What do these words really mean anymore? Words that once had meaning have been highjacked and used for presentation and marketing. She used the example of how you can feed cattle grass for two weeks and call them “grass fed.”

Underneath every problem, we have fast food culture, Waters summarized. She recounted a bumper sticker she had seen a while back: If we are what we eat, I’m fast, cheap and easy.

So if that’s fast food nation, then slow food culture is the complete opposite. Waters painted the picture of how slow food is richer, deeper. It’s not flashy. It’s involves customs, it’s connected to nature, and it’s traditional. Slow food has it’s own set of values like ripeness, integrity, community, friendship, and honesty. It’s enduring, enriching, and joyful. Pleasureful and meaningful. Slow food values are inside each of us—we’re just waiting for them to be awakened. All it takes is a spark for that part of us to come alive, for behaviors to shift.

Waters then shared several of the transformational edible education projects she’s either been part of or initiated—like The Edible Schoolyard at a middle school in Berkely that has inspired a movement and thousands of similar programs around the world, or The Garden Project at the San Francisco Jail. Education has to be the number one priority. We have to lift up the teacher and the farmer. Once our senses are stimulated and opened, we’re empowered.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music, Madtown Lovin'

Marigold Kitchen’s Breakfast Sandwich

March 27th, 2014 — 6:22am

DSC02276Many Madisonians would argue that Marigold Kitchen’s breakfast sandwich is the best in town. It’s a wonderfully rich and  hearty sandwich with a fried egg, cheddar-spiked Boursin, applewood smoked bacon, tomato and green onion on toasted ciabatta.

Several years ago, I tore out the recipe from an issue of Madison Magazine, and as I was organizing recipes last week, this one stood out. I still haven’t made this sandwich. Why haven’t I made this sandwich? And so I set to work last Saturday to create a homemade version of “the best breakfast sandwich in town.” When I compared the recipe to the description of the sandwich on Marigold Kitchen’s breakfast menu, I realized it was missing one thing: cheddar. So I adapted the recipe slightly and sprinkled about two tablespoons of finely chopped sharp white cheddar over the Boursin cheese spread. After five minutes in the oven to melt the cheeses, I gently moved the sandwich to a plate and realized I was in for something great. One bite, and I was in breakfast sandwich heaven.

Marigold Kitchen’s Breakfast Sandwich (slightly adapted from a recipe printed in Madison Magazine several years ago; makes one sandwich)

1 toasted ciabatta roll
1 fried egg
2 slices cooked applewood smoked bacon
2 tablespoons Boursin cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped sharp white cheddar
3 tomato slices
1 chopped green onion
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place roll on sheet pan. Spread Boursin and sprinkle the chopped white cheddar on both sides of bread.
2. Cut slices of bacon in half and place on one side of sandwich.
3. Top with egg and put in oven for 5 minutes until cheese has melted.
4. Add tomato and green onion slices. Salt and pepper to taste.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Magical Moments in Paris

March 26th, 2014 — 4:34am

It’s taken me a while to write about my first trip to Paris last spring. Almost a year, actually. When I think about past vacations, I fondly reminisce about all of the best parts of the trip. Paris is no different. Although they seemed like big deals at the time—the delayed flights, missed connections, lost luggage and rain—those aspects of the trip have faded from my memory. Instead, it’s all of the magical moments that stand out now: sipping a tiny cup of the richest hot chocolate imaginable (L’Africain) from the elegant tea room of Angelina, biting into my first pistachio eclair from Erik Kayser, seeing the Eiffel Tower light up at night, sitting around with my girlfriends late into the night laughing and drinking red wine, and waking up to the sounds of the bells from Notre-Dame. It was an incredible trip. And I realize it even more now since I’ve had time to reflect on the experience. Below are my trip notes with my recommendations in bold.

Wednesday, April 10
• Arrive in Paris; took the train to our first apartment (Rue Huchette). Booked through Airbnb.
• Wine and appetizers at Relais Odéon – 132 Boulevard Saint-Germain
• Dinner at Café Le Conti – 1 Rue de Nuci

Thursday, April 11
• Pastries and L’Africain hot chocolate at Angelina – 226 Rue de Rivoli
• Stroll through Jardin des Tuleries
Bateaux-Mouches boat ride along the River Seine
• Botanical gardens at Musée du quai Branly
• Eiffel Tower
• Lunch at Le Café du Marché – 38 Rue Cler
• Nutella crepe from vendor on Rue Huchette
• Pink Martini at Le Grand Rex
Fromage crepe at Deli’s Café
• Drinks at Chez Georges – 11 Rue des Canettes

Friday, April 12
• Pastries at La Boulangerie de Papa – 1 Rue de la Harpe
Lock bridge
Musée d’Orsay
• Lunch at Le Colibri Café – 8 Place de la Madeleine
• Desserts at Ladurée – 21 Rue Bonaparte
• Fauchon – 24-26 Place de la Madeleine
• Hediard – 21 Place de la Madeleine
• Walking and shopping along Avenue des Champs-Élysées
• Arc de Triomphe
• Talking and drinking wine; late-night dinner of pizza and crepes on Rue Huchette

Saturday, April 13
• Breakfast at La boulangerie de Papa – 1 Rue de la Harpe
Notre-Dame Cathedral
French Holocaust Memorial
Shakespeare and Company – 37 Rue de la Bûcherie
• Checked into our second apartment (Montorgueil/Sentier area). Emile Zola was born in the building in 1840. Also booked through Airbnb.
• Walk through Montmartre neighborhood
• Lunch at Le Sancerre Café – 87 Rue des Archives
I love you wall
La Basilique du Sacré Coeur
• Dinner at Le Refuge des Fondus – 17 Rue des 3 Frères
• Moulin Rouge
• Drinks at Glass – 7 Rue Frochot

Sunday, April 14
Rue Montorgueil (street in the 1st arrondissement and 2nd arrondissement, in the Montorgueil-Saint Denis-Les Halles district)
• Breakfast at Boulangerie Blouet – 4 Rue des Petits Carreaux
• Purchased cheese and fruit from market vendors
• Coffee at café
• Lunch at Le Soufflot Café – 63 Boulevard Saint-Michel
• Picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg (second largest public park in Paris; also the first warm day of the year in Paris, so the park packed)
• Pierre Hermé – 72 Rue Bonaparte
• Stopped to see the outside of the Louvre
• Wine and dessert buffet back at the apartment

Monday, April 15
• Pastries from Stohrer – 51 Rue Montorgueil, oldest bakery in Paris (1730) and Eric Kayser – 16 Rue des Petits Carreaux.
• Walked by the Opera House
• Shopping at department stores: Galeries Lafayette – 40 Boulevard Haussmann, and Printemps – 64 Boulevard Haussmann
• Drinks on the rooftop terrace of Printemps (great views of Paris)
• Dinner at Frenchie Wine Bar – 5-5 Rue du Nil
• Second dinner at restaurant on Rue Montorgueil

Tuesday, April 16
• Pastries from Stohrer – 51 Rue Montorgueil and Eric Kayser – 16 Rue des Petits Carreaux.
• Tour of Jill’s old neighborhood (12th arrondissement) – walking path, old apartment and program building, crepe stand, etc.
Marché Beauvau Market et Rue d’Aligre
Le Marais neighborhood
• Lunch at L’as du Fallafel – 34 Rue des Rosiers
• Walked to Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
• Drinks on the rooftop terrace at Printemps
• Dinner at Café Constant – 139 Rue Saint-Dominique
Eiffel tower at night – light show at 10pm and 11pm, while enjoying a bottle of champagne

Wednesday, April 17
• Fly to Chicago; bus from Chicago to Madison
• Larry and Ryan with welcome home sign (MSN > Paris, Pourquoi??…Les Hommes!)

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

March 25th, 2014 — 4:41am

DSC02308I was recently paging through Giada De Laurentiis’ latest cookbook, Giada’s Feel Good Foodwhen I found a recipe for banana blueberry muffins. I had an aha moment when I realized I had two overripe bananas that were looking for a purpose. The recipe is both gluten and dairy free. I left out the blueberries so the banana flavor could really stand out. The muffins are delicious, and just like banana bread, they keep improving each day.

Giada’s Feel Good Food is a “personal look into how she keeps her body and mind in a happy and healthy balance.” Instead of the hearty Italian and pasta meals Giada is most well known for, the book includes recipes that “make your body run best,” many of which are gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and/or vegan.

Giada also includes lifestyle tips like the details on her beauty and exercise routine, as well as a list of items she keeps in her purse. And of course, it wouldn’t be a cookbook from Giada without countless pictures of herself and her cleavage. All of this I could do without. But I will say I like the variety of recipes she includes and their practicality for everyday life. It’s the kind of food that makes you feel good about what you’re putting in your body. I also appreciate Giada’s approach to food—she obviously loves food, is quick to point out she doesn’t advocate diets, and instead, tries to focus on eating foods that increase her energy levels and overall health. But she doesn’t seem to deprive herself of anything. That’s a philosophy I can get behind.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins (slightly adapted from Giada’s Feel Good Food; makes 12 muffins)

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup safflower or grapeseed oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 small bananas)
1 cup fresh blueberries (optional, I left these out)

Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Stir in the bananas and blueberries. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon 1/3 cup of the batter into each muffin liner. Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the muffins comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

March 24th, 2014 — 5:31am


One of my culinary goals this winter was to make Zuni Roast Chicken, the legendary dish from Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. The recipes is included in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, a 500-page collection of recipes from Chef-owner Judy Rodgers.

I checked out a copy of the cookbook from the library and dove into page after page of delicious sounding recipes. But one thing I realized is that the recipes seemed needlessly detailed and complicated. The recipe for roast chicken alone takes up four-and-a-half pages. I almost aborted my mission right then. But luckily, Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen simplified the recipe down to the basics, creating a more user-friendly version for home cooks. I referred to both the original recipe and Deb’s “cliffs notes” version as I made this dish.

The roast chicken is actually remarkably simple. According to Judy Rodgers, Zuni Roast Chicken depends on three things—a small bird (ideally free range), high heat, and salting the bird at least 24 hours in advance. Rodgers is a big proponent of “the practice of salting early,” which “improves the flavor [of the chicken], keeps it moist and makes it tender.”

I also made the accompanying bread salad, which Rodgers describes as “sort of a scrappy extramural stuffing, it is a warm mix of crispy, tender and chewy chunks of bread, a little slivered garlic and scallion, a scatter of currants and pine nuts, and a handful of greens, all moistened with vinaigrette and chicken drippings.” The bread salad certainly ups the complexity of the dish, however, so only include it in your plans if you have amble time and patience.

This chicken is, without a doubt, the best chicken I have ever tasted. The bread salad is also incredibly tasty. Below is the recipe for the roast chicken, along with a link for the bread salad, if you’re so inclined. If nothing else, try to the roast chicken. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Zuni Roast Chicken With Bread Salad (from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook and Smitten Kitchen; serves 2-4)

One small chicken, 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 pounds
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage
About 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
A little water
Bread Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts, for serving

Seasoning the chicken
(1-3 days before serving; for 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 pound chickens, at least 2 days)
Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts and thighs, and stuff an herb spring under the skin in each pocket. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally all over the chicken (3/4 teaspoon sea salt per pound of chicken). Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Roasting the chicken
Preheat the oven to 475°. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Put the chicken in the skillet, breast side up, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken breast side down and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a board and let rest for 10 minutes; carve.

Skim the fat from the juices in the skillet. Arrange the Bread Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts on a platter and top with the chicken. Pour the juices over all and serve.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Swiss Chard Tart

March 18th, 2014 — 8:14am

DSC01615Around the Farm Table is a new series on Wisconsin Public Television that provides an intimate look at Wisconsin’s farmers and artisan food providers. The show’s host, fourth generation organic dairy farmer Inga Witscher, was at this year’s Garden Expo to meet viewers and host stage demonstrations about making homemade salad dressings. Inga also distributed recipe cards for one of her favorite dishes, Swiss Chard Tart.

Of course I grabbed one of those recipe cards, and I finally had a chance to make the tart recently. Since Swiss chard is not currently in season, you could certainly substitute with spinach or other greens, but I found a great-looking bunch of rainbow Swiss chard at Fresh Market. The addition of chopped pistachios on top is my favorite part. It just looked so beautiful. I’m also continually amazed by tart pans—and the perfectly sculptured crust that reveals itself when I lift a baked tart from the pan.

Swiss Chard Tart (from Around the Farm Table, adapted from The Joy of Cooking; serves 6)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sunflower oil (I used Driftless Organics)
1/3 cup milk

2 tbs. sunflower oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
3/4 lb. Swiss chard leaves, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
3 large eggs
1/3 cup cream
1 1/4 cup grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan
1/4 cup crushed pistachios

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

To prepare the pastry, whisk together flour, salt, sunflower oil and milk in a medium bowl. The pastry will be very crumbly and difficult to roll out. Press it evenly into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure to press pastry up the sides of the pan. Prick the bottom of the pan all over with a fork so that bubbles do not form. Bake the tart shell for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, cook 2 tablespoons sunflower oil and red onion in a large skillet over medium-low heat until well softened, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes.

Add chard, garlic, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and cook until tender.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, cream and 1 cup grated hard cheese.

Add the chard mixture, then scrape the mixture into the prepared tart shell. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and add 1/4 cup crushed pistachios. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until filling is firm, 25 to 35 minutes.DSC01605

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Black Bean Brownies

March 17th, 2014 — 8:54am


I first became intrigued with the idea of black bean brownies when I enjoyed my first one at a Slow Food UW Cafe lunch this past November. I was amazed by how good they tasted. And had I not known, I would’ve never guessed they contained black beans. My mind was racing—do black beans make them healthy brownies? Yes, definitely, I’d argue. My partner loves to challenge such logic (K: These are my healthy brownies. L: There’s no such thing as healthy brownies. K: Well, they’re healthier than other brownies.)

Wanting to recreate my own healthy brownies at home, I recently searched online for a recipe. I wanted a recipe with very little (or no) processed sugar. The recipe below makes relatively thin brownies similar to flour-less chocolate cake. I really enjoyed the flavor from the coconut oil. These brownies are also great saved and eaten straight out of the freezer—though they didn’t last long in any spot at our place.

Black Bean Brownies (recipe from this blog; makes 9-12 brownies)

1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
2 tbsp cocoa powder- dutch or regular
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave
2 nunaturals stevia packs or 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips
optional: more chips, for presentation

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes. Makes 9-12 brownies.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Toasted Farro and Scallions with Cauliflower and Eggs

March 13th, 2014 — 10:44am

DSC01447This dish is inspired by a Moroccan porridge-like soup called Herbel, which is most often served for breakfast. This particular recipe is more of a savory take, with farro, cauliflower florets and a poached egg. The one mistake I made in preparing the dish was using whole farro, which took longer to cook and didn’t provide the creamy, risotto-like texture that makes this recipe great. I’d recommend using semi-pearled farro, which still has a lot of fiber-and nutrient-rich bran intact (more than pearled farro), but takes less time to prepare than whole farro. I especially enjoyed the addition of scallions (I sliced a few into long, very thin strips) and a poached egg on top that made the dish more visually interesting.

Toasted Farro and Scallions with Cauliflower and Eggs (from Food & Wine, January 2013; makes 4 servings)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 scallions, white and tender green parts only, sliced
8 ounces (pearled) farro (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
Freshly ground pepper
1 quart vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups 1-inch cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
4 large eggs

In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the scallions and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the farro, season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until it is absorbed before adding more. The farro is done when it’s al dente, about 30 minutes.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until tender and browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower to the farro along with the vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and keep warm.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the eggs and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Spoon the farro into 4 bowls. Peel the eggs and carefully remove the egg whites to keep the yolks whole. Carefully place the intact yolks in the center of each bowl of farro; discard the whites. Serve right away.

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 3/12

March 13th, 2014 — 9:58am



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