Archive for September 2014


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Pepita Dip

September 26th, 2014 — 5:58am

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I have a new favorite fall recipe, and this is it. Each part of this dish—the roasted sweet potatoes, the spicy black beans, and the avocado-pepita dip—are truly remarkable on their own. But put it all together in a taco, and it’s a combination that is just out of this world. There’s something about the cayenne pepper in the sweet potatoes, the cumin in the black beans, and the avocado-pepita dip topping, that elevate these tacos to gourmet status. This is a dish that I will most certainly make again and again this fall.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Pepita Dip (from Cookie + kate; serves 4)

Roasted sweet potatoes
2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Spicy black beans
2 cans black black beans, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked black beans)
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
⅓ cup water
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or lime juice
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Avocado-pepita dip
2 avocados, pitted and sliced
1 cup cilantro, packed (mostly leaves, some small stems are ok)
½ cup pepitas
1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped (or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small lime, juiced or 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tortillas and garnishes
8 to 10 small corn tortillas
Crumbled feta
Toasted pepitas
Optional: finely sliced radishes, quick-pickled cabbage, chopped green onions, cilantro, hot sauce, etc.

Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the prepared sweet potatoes with olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway, until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelizing at the edges.

Prepare the black beans: Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds while stirring. Pour in the beans and ⅓ cup water. Stir, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and use the back of a fork to mash up at least half of the beans. Remove from heat, stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and cover until you’re ready to serve.

Make the avocado dip: First, toast the pepitas in a skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant and starting to make little popping noises. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In a food processor or blender, combine the avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, water and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor/blender as necessary. Add almost all of the pepitas (reserve a couple tablespoons for garnish) and blend until the pepitas are chopped small (some remaining texture is desirable).

Warm the tortillas: Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and warm each tortilla individually, flipping occasionally. Alternatively, you can warm them directly over a low flame on a gas range.

Assemble the tacos: Spread black beans down the middle of the tortilla, top with sweet potatoes and avocado-pepita dip. Garnish with feta, pepitas, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Repeat with remaining tortillas and serve.

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Sh*tty Barn Sessions

September 25th, 2014 — 10:52am

DSC04776Last week we headed to the Sh*tty Barn in Spring Green to see S. Carey and Asumaya. It was my first time out to the Sh*tty Barn, an intimate performance space nestled in the hills of southwest Wisconsin that has featured emerging artists from a variety of genres since opening its doors in 2011.

Beforehand, we enjoyed dinner outside served by Enos Farms—an incredibly tasty beef Burgundy stew, an heirloom tomato salad, a blue cheese and caramelized onion graham flour scone, plum tart with ginger pastry cream and salted caramel frozen custard. We couldn’t help but order just about everything on the menu, and it was all as amazing as it sounds.

I loved the concert venue and how intimate it felt. Most people brought lawn chairs (and claimed spots as soon as they arrived). Since we didn’t bring chairs, we were thankfully able to snag a few movie-style seats on the side of the floor. Both performances were great, though I wish we would have been able to stay for more of the S. Carey show. For $15 a piece, the tickets were a steal, and I would definitely head back to the Sh*tty Barn for another show. It’s a really special place.

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2 comments » | Madtown Lovin'

Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 9/24

September 24th, 2014 — 10:30am

DSC04808I was excited for today’s North African inspired Cafe lunch. I chose the North African curried sweet potato sandwich with cream cheese on wheat sourdough, the herbed couscous with caramelized leeks and carrots, and the the plum cake dessert.

The sweet potato sandwich was interesting and flavorful, but ultimately too spicy for my tastes. My entire face was on fire for about 10 minutes afterward. My dining companions and I had seen the warning that the beef sandwich was spicy, but we didn’t realize that the sweet potato sandwich was also spicy. About half of my friends thought the spice level was just right, and the other half thought it was too much. No one at my table sampled the beef sandwich, so I don’t know if that one was more or equally spicy. Regardless, it seems like there should have been at least one mild sandwich option.

The herbed couscous side was delicious and incredibly fluffy. My favorite part of the meal, however, was the plum cake, which was so fresh, buttery, moist and dense, punctuated with just the right amount of plum.

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Kale, Bacon and Egg Sandwich

September 23rd, 2014 — 5:52am

DSC04731I love a good breakfast sandwich. One of my favorites in Madison is breakfast sandwich #2 from 4 & 20 Cafe, which includes a Pearl Valley Farms egg with Hook’s cheddar or swiss on a buttermilk biscuit. There is something about that biscuit that is transcendent. In my most recent attempt at homemade breakfast sandwich bliss, I aimed to re-create the fluffy biscuits at 4 & 20, in whole wheat form. Then, inspired by a recipe from the kitchn, I topped a biscuit, still warm from the oven, with sauteed kale, a piece of bacon, a bit of mayo, and a fried egg. It was delicious. Although it was pretty quick and easy to make whole wheat biscuits (and certainly elevated the taste), you can simplify by using store-bought buns, bread or English muffins.

Kale, Bacon and Egg Breakfast Sandwich (from the kitchn; makes one sandwich)

1 piece bacon
1 1/2 cups kale, chopped into 1/2″ ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 whole wheat biscuit, bun, or English muffin, toasted (I made these Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
Mayonnaise or softened butter (optional)

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off the bacon grease, leaving just a thin film on the pan. Add the garlic and kale to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, tossing frequently and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste and add salt if needed. Cook until kale is tender, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if needed to keep kale moist as it cooks. Sprinkle with vinegar, then remove from pan and set aside.

Wipe skillet clean and add vegetable oil (or 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon grease, if you’re feeling frisky). Over medium heat, fry the egg. While it cooks, assemble the rest of the sandwich: place the kale on the bottom half of the bun. Cut the bacon in half crosswise and place on top of the kale. Spread mayonnaise or butter on the top half of the bun.

Top the kale and bacon with the fried egg and the top bun. Serve immediately, cutting in half just before eating.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Spicy Roasted Ratatouille with Spaghetti

September 19th, 2014 — 9:30am

DSC04749The farmers’ market is brimming with eggplant, zucchini, squash and peppers this time of year. When a co-worker recommended this recipe for spicy roasted ratatoille and spaghetti, it seemed like a great way to savor the season’s bounty. I love how this dish features more vegetables than pasta, and how the roasted veggies take on the flavors of balsamic vinegar, garlic and olive oil from roasting. It was a very good meal—perfect for early fall. Oh, and if you haven’t checked out Cookie + Kate, it’s an excellent blog that focuses on fresh, vegetarian recipes.

Spicy Roasted Ratatouille with Spaghetti (from Cookie + Kate; serves 6)

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 medium red bell pepper (or orange or yellow), diced
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
½ pound (8 ounces) whole grain spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with two racks in the middle positions. On a quarter pan or small baking dish, toss the whole baby tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper and onion. Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, a few generous twists black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Drizzle it over the vegetables and toss with your hands or a large spoon until the vegetables are evenly coated.
On a half-sheet pan or other large, rimmed baking sheet, arrange the vegetables in a single layer. Place the tomatoes on the lower oven rack and the vegetables on the upper rack. Set the timer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large post of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup pasta cooking water. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large serving bowl.

After 20 minutes, remove both pans from the oven. The tomatoes should be bursting and juicy by now, in which case, they’re done cooking. Use a spatula to toss the vegetables, then arrange them in a single layer again and put them back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or so, until they are cooked through and golden.

Pour the cherry tomatoes and their juices over the spaghetti into the serving bowl. If you want your pasta to be pretty cheesy, now’s the time to sprinkle on a generous handful of shredded Parmesan. Add a baby splash of pasta cooking water and toss until the pasta is coated with a light tomato sauce. Add the cooked vegetables to the bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs and season with additional salt, pepper and red pepper flakes until the flavors really sing. Serve with Parmesan on the side.

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 9/17

September 17th, 2014 — 8:24am

DSC04770Today was the first Slow Food UW Cafe lunch of the semester. I was thrilled to be back in the basement of the Crossing enjoying locally sourced, sustainable food for affordable and transparent prices prepared and served by UW-Madison students.

This week’s end-of-summer menu included two sandwiches: chicken and brie with raspberry, and ratatouille with chevre. There were also two sides: roasted new potatoes with sorrel sauce, and a cherry tomato salad with arugula, basil, and honey-roasted-garlic vinaigrette. The soup was sweet corn bisque with cilantro garnish. And for dessert—Peach tarragon bread pudding.

I chose the ratatouille sandwich, the potatoes and the bread pudding. I really enjoyed the ratatouille sandwich—the bread was amazingly fresh, and I loved the combination of sauteed veggies like yellow squash, zucchini and eggplant with chevre cheese. The potatoes were also quite tasty, especially with the sorrel sauce served on top. The bread pudding was egg-y and had an understated sweetness—and would definitely make a great addition to any brunch table.

It seemed extra busy at this week’s cafe. Even though I arrived about ten minutes after 11:30 a.m., the line already stretched out the door and down the hallway. And the line only continued to lengthen while I was there. My friends and I remember it being pretty dead last year at this time. Either it’s just getting more popular, the kick-off was promoted more heavily this semester, or the line was moving extra slow (there seemed to be a bit of that—and other small hiccups like no napkins). Who knows. But I do know I’m super excited for what the Cafe interns have in store for this semester.

2 comments » | Uncategorized

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

September 16th, 2014 — 9:02am

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How could I not fall for a zucchini bread recipe that has “chocolate” in its title, not just once, but twice? When a friend posted a picture and link to this recipe, it immediately caught my attention. I had quite a few zucchini at home to use, and an undeniable craving for chocolate cake. So I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone by whipping up some chocolate chocolate chip zucchini bread. While there are some healthier ingredient substitutions—Greek yogurt, canola oil, and of course, zucchini—I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “healthy recipe,” and nor does it taste like one. It’s moist and heavenly chocolate cake at its core. Chocolate chocolate chip cake. But calling it zucchini bread sure makes it feel like less of an indulgence.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread (from Barbara Bakes; makes 2 standard or 4 mini loaves)

2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (6 oz.) non-fat Greek yogurt
3 cups grated zucchini (squeeze out excess water)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans and set aside.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Add yogurt and beat to combine.

Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Mix in zucchini and chocolate chips coated in 2 tablespoons flour.

Divide batter between pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Bake mini loaves for 30 – 35 minutes or muffins for 18 minutes.)

Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Avocado and Egg Breakfast Pizza

September 10th, 2014 — 10:32am

DSC04607It’s been a crazy summer and I completely fell off the blogging bandwagon. But as fall rolls around—my favorite time of the year to cook—and as I continue to find my footing in a new kitchen, I’m eager to try some new recipes and share my favorites.

Last week I tried a new recipe for avocado and egg breakfast pizza. In all honesty, I made it for dinner. I love pizza, avocados, and fried eggs, so it seemed bound to be a winner. I bought pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s and portioned it into four equal parts. I rolled out the dough and cooked each round in a cast iron pan. I spread the cilantro/avocado/lime mixture on top, and then added a fried egg. It was great on its own, and even better with a drizzle of hot sauce (I used Sriracha).

Avocado and Egg Breakfast Pizza (from the kitchn; serves 4)

1 large Hass avocado
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, remove the pit and, with a large spoon, scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Add the cilantro, lime juice and salt. Mash with a fork until smooth with a few chunks of avocado. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a well-floured cutting board, roll each piece into a thin, 6-inch circle.

Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Place one of the dough circles in the center of the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the underside is browned and the top surface is bubbly. Flip and cook other side until browned, pressing down with a spatula if the dough puffs up off the bottom of the pan. It may be charred in spots, which is fine. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining dough circles.

Spread 1/4 of the avocado mixture onto each cooked piece of dough.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. (If using the same skillet you used for the dough, first let it cool slightly and clean out any burned flour that may be sticking to it.) Fry eggs to desired doneness and place each one on top of a pizza. Serve immediately, with or without a drizzle of hot sauce.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

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