Archive for June 2014

Iron Chef Strawberry

June 24th, 2014 — 11:11am

Left to right, top to bottom: Strawberry, tomato and fennel gazpacho; our view of the capitol from the rooftop balcony; arugula and strawberry salad; strawberry soup; goat cheese stuffed strawberries with balsamic glaze; strawberry mustard sauce with prosciutto and smoked salmon; strawberry chicken salad lettuce wraps; strawberry goat cheese bruschetta; strawberry rhubarb tart with pistachios.

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Chickpea Tabbouleh

June 18th, 2014 — 11:19am

DSC03439I found this recipe posted at Thug Kitchen a few weeks ago, and since then, I haven’t been able to get enough of this tabbouleh. It’s quite simple—mash up some chickpeas (either cooked or canned is fine), chop up a bunch of vegetables (tomatoes, celery, radishes, mint, etc.), throw it all in a big bowl and add some fresh squeezed lemon juice. I love how I can buy so many of the ingredients fresh from the farmers’ market this time of the year—I found the tomatoes, radishes, mint and green onions at last week’s market, and the list will only continue to grow throughout the season. The tabbouleh makes a great meal on its own (the chickpeas add heartiness), or you could serve it with slices of pita bread for a nice appetizer. For lunch, I enjoy a few scoops of the tabbouleh and sliced avocado over a bed of spinach leaves.

Chickpea Tabbouleh (from Mark Bittman‘s VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good; serves 2-4)

3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 radishes, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Drain the chickpeas; if they’re canned, rinse them before draining. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and mash with a fork or a potato masher until the beans break up a bit. Add the remaining ingredients and toss until everything is combined and coated in dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding lemon juice as needed. Serve right away or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

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Beet and Rhubarb Salad

June 16th, 2014 — 6:53am


I’ve mentioned before that I’m always on the lookout for savory rhubarb recipes, or at least ways to use rhubarb that don’t involve a ton of sugar. I was intrigued by this beet and rhubarb salad printed in the latest issue of The Willy Street Co-Op Reader. And 1/4 cup of powdered sugar didn’t sound too bad. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I really enjoyed the colors, flavors and textures of the salad. The thinly sliced red onions take on the flavor of the dressing, and the color of the beets. It was beautiful. I’m not usually a big blue cheese eater, but I enjoyed the flavor in this salad. We packed it to enjoy with our picnic at Jazz in the Park at Wingra Park this past Saturday night. A beautiful night, a glass of white wine, and MadiSalsa on stage (and a little dancing!) against a backdrop of Lake Wingra made for a memorable evening.

Beet and Rhubarb Salad (from The Willy Street Co-Co Reader, June 2014; serves 4)

1 3/4 lbs. beets
3/4 lb. rhubarb
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon champagne or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled creamy blue cheese
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil, and bake for 40-70 minutes, depending on how large they are, until tender when pierced through the middle. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and chop.

Combine the rhubarb and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, stirring well. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast for 10-12 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, olive oil, allspice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the red onion and allow to sit for a few minutes in the dressing. Add the beets and parsley, and gently fold to combine. Taste, and add more salt and pepper as needed. Just before serving, gently fold in the rhubarb and its juices. Serve topped with crumbled blue cheese.DSC03436

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Spring Vegetable Pasta

June 13th, 2014 — 11:23am

DSC03337This recipe is inspired by the once wildly popular Pasta Primavera served at Le Cirque in Manhattan. According to this New York Times article, the dish was “meant to be an expression of spring.” Thankfully, the experts at Cook’s Illustrated were able to take a complex, extremely time consuming recipe and simplify it down to the basics for home cooks, so it now takes a fraction of the time. I bought most of the ingredients at the farmers’ market last weekend. Because I didn’t properly read the recipe beforehand, this also included fresh campanelle from RP’s, which I later realized I couldn’t use with this recipe. It turns out you really need dried pasta. That’s because the whole basis of the recipe is cooking the pasta in the classic risotto method—first toasting the pasta, then pouring in some dry white wine and then vegetable broth until they’re absorbed. The resulting pasta is extremely flavorful—“bright tasting vegetables and nutty pasta in a complex, richly flavored sauce [that] truly tastes like spring.” With its leeks, asparagus, baby peas, mint leaves, and chives on full display, I can’t think of a more lovely expression of spring.

Spring Vegetable Pasta (from Cook’s Illustrated; May & June 2011; serves 4-6)

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups); 3 cups roughly chopped dark green parts reserved
1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, chopped coarsely, and reserved; spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Table salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound campanelle
1 cup dray white wine
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
Ground black pepper

1. Place dark green leek trimmings, asparagus trimmings, 1 cup peas, 2 teaspoons garlic, vegetable broth, and water in large saucepan. Bring to simmer over high heat, then lower heat to medium-low and gently simmer 10 minutes. White broth simmers, combine mint, chives, and lemon zest in small bowl; set aside.

2. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into 8-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have 5 cups broth; add water as needed to measure 5 cups). Discard solids and return broth to saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add sliced leeks and pinch salt; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until leeks begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus pieces and cook until tender-crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Add remaining 2 teaspoons garlic and pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining cup peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside. Wipe out pot.

4. Heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil in now empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

5. When wine is fully absorbed, add hot broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

6. Remove pot from heat, stir in lemon juice, Parmesan, half of herb mixture, and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan cheese and remaining herb mixture separately.DSC03334


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Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas

June 11th, 2014 — 7:53am

DSC03317Leave it to Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen to take a classic French carrot salad and elevate it to new heights with tahini dressing, chopped pistachios and—this part is truly genius—roasted chickpeas. I love roasted chickpeas—they’re addicting like potato chips—except, they’re chickpeas. So have another. And thankfully, the recipe makes more than enough chickpeas for the salad—because believe me, you’re going to want to snack on them while you work. This salad is one of my new favorites.

Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas (from Smitten Kitchen; makes 6-8 servings)

1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and patted dry on paper towels
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup shelled, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Roast chickpeas: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt and cumin until they’re all coated. Spread them on a baking sheet or pan and roast them in the oven until they’re browned and crisp. This can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and firmness of your chickpeas. Toss them occasionally to make sure they’re toasting evenly. Set aside until needed.

Make dressing: Whisk all ingredients together until smooth, adding more water if needed to thin the dressing slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning; don’t worry if it tastes a little sharp on the lemon, it will marry perfectly with the sweet grated carrots.

Assemble salad: Place grated carrots in large bowl and toss with parsley. Mix in 2/3 of the dressing, adding more if desired. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with a large handful of chickpeas (you’ll have extra and if you’re like us, won’t regret it) and pistachios and dig in.

Do ahead: Salad keeps well in the fridge for two days, however, I’d add the chickpeas and pistachios right before serving, so they don’t get soft.

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Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream

June 9th, 2014 — 4:34am

DSC02752Lately I’ve been cooking from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom, With Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes.” This recipe for carrot almond cake was the first recipe I tried. The cake is moist and flavorful, not too sweet, with a glowing color from two cups of grated carrots. A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of ricotta cream finish off this understated cake. It’s a really nice alternative to carrot cake, which oftentimes seems so heavy and sweet.

Carrot Almond Cake With Ricotta Cream (from The Washington Post, adapted from Vegetable Literacy; 8-10 servings)

For the cake
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups finely ground blanched almonds or slivered almonds (skinned) (may substitute almond flour)
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups unbleached cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Scant 2 cups grated carrots, preferably yellow

For the ricotta cream
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup regular or low-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

For the cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat 375 degrees. Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and let it cool.

Combine the ground almonds, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little butter, then dust the sides with some of the almond-zest mixture, shaking out any excess.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the eggs and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low, then high speed until pale, foamy and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low; add the remaining almond-zest mixture, the almond extract and the flour mixture, beating until well incorporated. Pour the cooled butter over the batter and quickly fold it in, followed by the carrots.

Scrape the batter into the pan, smoothing the surface. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees; bake the cake until it is springy to the touch in the center, lightly browned and beginning to pull away from the pan sides, about 40 minutes. Let it cool completely in its pan, then release the springform and slide the cake onto a platter.

For the ricotta cream: Work together the ricotta, sour cream, honey and zest by hand or with a mixer on low speed, until smooth. Taste, and add more of any of the ingredients as needed. The cream will thin out as it sits, forming a nice sauce for the cake.

Just before serving, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve the sauce alongside.

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A Bike Ride to Festa Italia

June 5th, 2014 — 7:55am

DSC03291Last Friday night, we were racking our brains for something to do that would incorporate a bike ride and dinner. For inspiration, I turned to Isthmus’ “critic’s choice” event listing, always included in the middle of the weekly newspaper. Of the Friday options, Festa Italia in Fitchburg stood out to me because a) I’d never been before, b) the event’s location was very close to one of our regular bike routes, and c) the advertised spaghetti dinner with meatballs.

So we took a leisurely ride out the Seminole bike path toward Paoli, and turned back toward Festa Italia just as soon as our stomachs started to grumble. Upon arriving, we locked up our bikes and Larry asked a few men in newsboy-style caps smoking stogies and holding court at the entrance (clearly the old guard of the Italian Workmen’s Club) where we could find the spaghetti dinner. They pointed toward the back of the park near the shelter and said, “Oh, you’ll see the line.”

Needless to say, we found the line for the spaghetti dinner. I think we stuck out a little  in our spandex bike kits—I noticed a few stares. But more than anything, I was focused on our progress in line. Eventually, we were rewarded with heaping styrofoam plates of spaghetti with marinara sauce, meatballs, and salad. All for $7. We plopped down in a patch of grass and began feasting. With the Italian Workmen’s Club involved, I had high expectations for the meal. The marinara sauce was especially flavorful, and despite its appearance, the iceberg lettuce salad was tasty. I also really enjoyed the meatballs. They were nearly the size of baseballs. And of course, we needed dessert afterward. It’s been way too long since I’ve had cannoli. I savored every bite of the crunchy, fried pastry dough exterior and the rich, smooth ricotta cheese punctuated by mini chocolate chips. Not too sweet, just right.

And with bellies full of Italian goodness, we got back on our bikes and rode home. DSC03289



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No-Bake Granola Bars

June 4th, 2014 — 8:35am

DSC03322I’m continually searching for the perfect granola bar recipe. This time I got closer to perfection than I’ve ever gotten before. I used a recipe (adapted from a few others) from David Lebovitz. He calls them “no-bake granola bars,” but that’s a little deceiving. While the bars themselves don’t spend any time in the oven (just the freezer, actually), the recipe does include some oven time with the toasting of rolled oats and almonds. So if you’re looking for a way to avoid cranking up your oven during the summer months, this isn’t the recipe. Unless you skip the toasting step—which is entirely possible.

But these bars. They’re really good. Rolled oats, sesame seeds, almonds, dates, chocolate chips, dried cherries, peanuts, peanut butter and honey—they’re a power house of fuel and delicious ingredients. One pan makes about ten bars, which I individually wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and stick in the refrigerator. They’re perfect for a snack or pre-workout fuel. I found that the bars are easier to cut while still in the pan. I also chopped a few squares of Lindt 70% dark chocolate in place of the chocolate chips.

Finally, I have found a homemade granola bar I love.

No-Bake Granola Bars (from David Lebovitz; makes one 8-inch square pan, approximately 10 bars)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 cup pitted and diced dates
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt

Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until they are slightly browned. Scrape them into a large bowl. Spread the almonds on the baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop and add the almonds to the oats.

Add the dates, chocolate chips, cherries, and peanuts to the bowl.

Heat the peanut butter, honey, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring until warm, but not boiling. Pour the peanut butter and honey over the mixture in the bowl and stir until it’s completely incorporated; using your hands is the best way to go. Transfer the mixture to the pan and pat it down so it’s as flat as possible. Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the freezer and run a knife around the edge to release it from the pan. Tip the mixture out, remove the parchment paper, and cut into rectangles. If the mixture looks like it’s going to crumble, cut bars directly from the pan.

Store the granola bars in the refrigerator.



2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Sunchoke-Kale Hash with Farro

June 3rd, 2014 — 4:25am

DSC02852What I liked most about this recipe is that I was able to find so many of the ingredients at the farmers’ market—sunchokes, oyster mushrooms and Tuscan kale. I remember when I first saw sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) at the farmers’ market a few years ago. I had no idea what to do with them. Since then, they’ve become one of the things I look forward to most about the spring market. We also enjoy sunchokes sliced over a spinach salad with pickled ramps and Bleu Mont bandaged cheddar. This hash makes a great side, or a hearty main dish. I enjoyed it with a poached egg for dinner. The recipe is more time intensive than I initially realized, so it’s a good weekend dish when you have ample time and a good bottle of wine to enjoy.

Sunchoke-Kale Hash with Farro (from Food & Wine; serves 10)

3/4 cup farro
2 1/2 pounds large sunchokes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound Tuscan kale, tough stems discarded
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil blended with 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 small red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, halved if large
Freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, cover the farro with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat until the farro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the farro.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the sunchokes with water and add a pinch of salt. Boil until the sunchokes are tender, 10 minutes; drain. Slice the sunchokes 1/4 inch thick.

Fill the large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the Tuscan kale and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the kale and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the kale leaves and then coarsely chop them.

In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the sunchokes in an even layer and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the sunchokes, reduce the heat to moderately high and continue cooking until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Push the sunchokes to the side of the skillet.

Add 1 more tablespoon of the oil and the oyster mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil along with the farro, kale and onion and cook, stirring, until hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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