Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lemon Kale Chips

Kale is a super veggie considered to be high in anti-oxidants and to have anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin K, vitamin C, beta carotene, lutein, and calcium. Kale is also delicious in salads, soups, or as I just discovered, as CHIPS! I've been hearing lately about how awesome Kale Chips are, so when I found this recipe on Elena's Pantry, I couldn't wait to try to make my own. These chips do not disappoint, they are crunchy, salty, full of flavor, and you don't have to worry about them ruining your diet.  Elena says her kids love them, and I now know why; I think "kids" of all ages will love these Kale Chips.  You could probably experiment with other flavors as well.  NOTE: Storing Kale Chips is not easy.  Unfortunately, I don't have ravenous children hanging around my apartment so my chips got soggy when I stored them, EVEN after waiting until they had completely cooled.   Some tips: don't use too much olive oil, dehydrate all the way, store them in the fridge OR eat them all at once!

Kelsey's new obsession...

Lemon Kale Chips
from Elena's Pantry

1 bunch kale (prepared and washed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon 
celtic sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Chop kale into ½ inch pieces
  • Place kale in a large bowl
  • With hands massage oil, lemon juice and salt into kale
  • Place kale on parchment lined baking sheet
  • Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes until kale is dark green and crispy (Shauna from Gluten-Free Girlhas a great Baked Kale Chips recipe on her site. She says the 12 minute mark is the perfect done time)
  • Cool and serve

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jamie Oliver's "Mad Dog" Salad

Today at Costco, I bought Jamie Oliver's new cookbook "Jamie's America."  The premise of the cookbook is that Jamie Oliver traveled all over America experiencing local cuisine and gathering inspiration for his own recipes. There are sections on New York City, Louisiana, the Southwest, Los Angeles, Georgia, and the "Wild West" (Wyoming and Montana).  The book is filled with gorgeous pictures, stories about locals, and delicious twists on classic American foods.

I decided my first test would be the "Mad Dog" Salad, inspired by the flavors of Arizona.  The idea of roasting avocado really intrigued me, and I have to say it is quite amazing how much flavor is brought out when an avocado is roasted.  The salad was great, tons of flavor and filling enough to be a meal in itself (though I did add steak that I grilled on my Emeril stove top cast iron grill to mine). I also grilled a jalapeño instead of using scotch bonnets (a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper on the jalapeños before grilling makes them delicious!)

Mad Dog Salad
Serves 4

3 ripe avocados
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cumin seeds (or ground cumin works too)
2 large handfuls of regular tortilla chips (I used multigrain)
A large handful of freshly grated white cheddar cheese
A handful of pine nuts
A handful of pumpkin seeds
A large handful of cress or alfalfa (sprouts)
4 good handfuls of mixed, interesting salad leaves, washed and spun dry
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
2 Scotch bonnets or other interesting chiles, seeded and thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to full whack. Halve, pit, and peel your avocados and lay them on a sheet pan. Drizzle some olive oil and season generously with salt, pepper, and a really good pinch of cumin seeds.  Toss until nicely coated, then roast in the oven for about 15 minutes so they get a bit of color.  While this is happening, get another sheet pan, lay out your tortilla chips, and sprinkle over your cheddar, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds.  You're going to pop this pan into the oven about 4 minutes before the avocado is ready to come out, so the cheese has time to melt and the nuts and seeds toast a little.

Mix your cress or alfalfa and salad leaves together. Drizzle over the lemon juice and 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Quickly toss together so everything is perfectly dressed.  Take your avocados and pan of tortillas out of the oven.

Put your cheesy tortilla chips, nuts, and seeds on a platter or divide between plates., slice or tear over the avocado, then scatter your lovely dressed salad over the top.  Finish by sprinkling over as much fresh chile as you dare.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grain Salad with Asparagus and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

This weekend I found a ton of new recipes to try out and this grain salad was one of the recipes from The Kitchn (a fantastic blog- recipes, kitchen renos, cool kitchen gadgets, and lots of advice).  Grain based salads are a really easy weekday lunch and this is the second week that I've made one for work. The salads can be eaten cold and are very filling due to the grains.  If you are celiac, this salad can be made with a gluten-free grain like quinoa.  

I really liked this salad and I am excited because the original recipe says that the Meyer lemon flavor only gets more intense and delicious as the salad sits in the fridge! It was the first time I had ever cooked with Spelt or Couscous (I used Israeli Couscous).  My suggestion is to rinse the couscous before cooking it or rinse it under cold water after cooked. The spelt also needs to be watched and stirred constantly as it cooks, which makes this dish slightly more labor intensive.  It is also a bit difficult to find spelt at regular grocery stores, but bulk or specialty health food stores may have it.  I didn't have any walnut oil, and though I'm sure it would have made the salad taste a bit different, it is good without it as well.

Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese
serves 6
8 ounces uncooked spelt or farro
3 cups water
8 ounces uncooked pearl couscous, or Trader Joe's Harvest Grain Blend
1 3/4 cups water
1 pound asparagus
Olive oil
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
4 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled
2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
Salt and pepper
Cook the spelt or farro in a large saucepan or sauté pan over medium heat, adding one cup of water at a time and stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep cooking and stirring until the grain is al dente and dry with no water remaining to be absorbed.
Meanwhile, simmer 1 3/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Add the Harvest Grains blend, stir, cover and turn to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and cook, stirring, until any remaining moistness evaporates. Mix the two cooked grains in a large bowl and set aside.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut each spear into a 2-inch piece. Rinse out the large sauté pan and dry. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat, and cook the asparagus until just barely crisp-tender - about 1-2 minutes. Add to the grains and toss.
Also toss in the sliced toasted almonds, goat cheese and lemon zest.
Mix the Meyer lemon juice with the oils, taste, and adjust. Pour over grain salad and toss, along with salt and pepper to taste.
This salad lasts very well in the fridge; the herbal flavors of the Meyer lemons bloom nicely when it sits.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

Today I hosted a brunch for some friends, I made quiche and these delicious Cinnamon Sugar Muffins from Beekman 1802. Beekman 1802 is a farm in New York state that was founded by two city slickers, who decided they wanted to live more "naturally, seasonally, and stylishly" so moved from Manhattan to the country.

These muffins, though definitely not healthy, are a nice morning treat. (I used light sour cream at least though!) I think the consensus from the brunch bunch was that these muffins are yummy! Thanks to Anne for her help in the kitchen!

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
from Beekman 1802

Softened butter for muffin tin
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
2 extra large eggs
¼ cup canola oil
¾ cup sugar, plus extra for muffin tin
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sour cream
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

for topping
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter muffin tin and sprinkle each cup with sugar, being sure to coat all sides.
3. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla.
5. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until combined.
6. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cup.
7. Bake 18 – 22 min.
8. When the muffins come out of the oven, melt butter in a saucepan.
9. In a separate bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.
10. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, brush the tops with melted butter, and then dip into the cinnamon sugar mix.

Pasta with Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

This pasta recipe is from the Kitchn via Patent and the Pantry. Ever since my sister made me brussels sprouts in the fall, I've fallen in love with them.  As a kid, I remember finding brussels sprouts to be repulsive, but now I can't get enough.  If you are someone who "hates" brussels sprouts, I suggest trying out this recipe and I am almost certain that you will be converted into a brussels sprouts lover.  This pasta dish is light and tasty, it  was fairly easy to make, but it's a very elegant dish.  Probably not the most healthy, due to the pancetta, but that is why it is so delicious! I would recommend adding a little bit more than 1/4 cup of chicken broth, to make sure the pasta doesn't stick together (I also used capellini instead of spaghetti). I left out the shallots as well.

Pasta with Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta
  • 1 lb (500 g) brussels sprouts
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 6oz (170g)pancetta, diced or cut into strips
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) chicken broth
  • 1/2lb (250g)spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) pine nuts, toasted
  • salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season generously with salt. Trim the ends off of the brussels sprouts and remove the toughest outer leaves. Shred them in a food processor, using the slicing attachment, or slice them carefully on a mandoline or as thinly as possible with a knife.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until fairly crispy and cooked through. Clear some space in the middle of the pan and add the shallots. (If you don’t have enough room in your pan to create space, you can remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and add it back in when you add the sprouts.) Cook for about 5 minutes, until the shallots are soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute or so.
While the shallots are cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
Add the brussels sprouts and the chicken broth to the large skillet, season with salt and pepper, and toss all of the ingredients together. (Go easy on the salt initially because pancetta can be quite salty.) Cook, tossing occasionally, until the brussels sprouts are tender but not too soft, about 5 minutes.
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and add it to the skillet. You can add a splash of the pasta water (or more broth) if the mixture seems dry. Add pine nuts, toss everything together, season to taste and serve. Serves 3 to 4.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Beet Hummus

It's been a busy, Birthday Sunday! The third experiment of the day: Beet Hummus!! I am obsessed with beets and I also love hummus, so what better combination could there be?I also saw how beautiful the hummus turned out, so I really wanted to try to make it. This recipe was posted on Elena's Pantry, Elena posts her own and others' recipes for organic, gluten-free food, so for those of you who have those dietary requirements, this recipe works for you.

The hummus is great, it is sweet from the beets, but has the same tahini, lemon juice flavors of traditional hummus. It is also much lower in fat, with the only fat coming from the tahini (9 grams for the whole recipe).  I could have been a bit more patient, since my hummus wasn't as smooth as I would have liked it to be, but beet hummus is definitely a keeper, it would make a gorgeous appetizer or snack at a party!

Beet Hummus 
from ( via Elena's Pantry)

4 medium sized beets, scrubbed, cooked and cubed
¼ cup raw tahini paste
¼ cup lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruit and Nuts

Lately, quinoa has become a very "trendy" addition to many meals, soups, and salads. The trend is not unfounded since quinoa is actually very healthy. It is a complete protein, so for vegetarians and vegans, it's a great source of protein, and for the rest of us, it is very filling and has a pleasant, nutty taste.  This salad from FineCooking (via YumSugar) is very refreshing and filling. It is easy to make, and you won't feel as guilty eating this as you will if you make the Nanaimo Bars too!

Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruit and Nuts

3 Tbs. cranberries
2 Tbs. dried apricots, thinly sliced
1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
Kosher salt
1 large lemon
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
2 medium firm-ripe avocados (6 to 7 oz. each), pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 to 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped toasted almonds
Freshly ground black pepper
1.       In a medium bowl, soak the cranberries and apricots in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2.       In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (The outer germ rings of the grain will remain chewy and white. Some germ rings may separate from the grain and will look like white squiggles.) Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and turn it out onto a baking sheet to cool to room temperature.
3.       Finely grate the zest from the lemon and then squeeze 1 Tbs. juice. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with the olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/4 tsp. salt. In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa, cranberries, apricots, avocado, scallions, and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Serves 4.

Notes: I was surprised how good this actually was, it will definitely become something I make often!

Traditional Nanaimo Bars

I have loved Nanaimo Bars for a very long time. I remember taking the ferry to Vancouver Island and having them on the ride over.  Now that I live in Canada and can get Bird's Custard at the store, I decided to make Nanaimo Bars (they are also for my and my co-worker's birthday!)  The Bird's Custard really is the key to creating the creamy, delicious center layer of authentic Nanaimo Bars.  After making Nanaimo Bars myself, I can say that the cream filling is still by far the most delicious part... and of course I couldn't resist licking the bowl clean. I also, however, discovered what makes the cream so delicious, a half cup of butter! So, these are by no means healthy, but they are surprisingly easy and extremely yummy to make for a special occasion!

Very important to use Bird's!!!

Nanaimo Bar Recipe
(From the City of Nanaimo)

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

nanaimo bar recipe

Monday, April 5, 2010

Alice Waters' Chicken Noodle Soup

I was introduced to Alice Waters by an old friend who was to put it mildly, OBSESSED with her. I finally caved in and decided to try her chicken noodle soup recipe. It is simple in terms of ingredients, but anything but simple to make (though it may have been easier if I wasn't trying to make myself dinner at the same time!). I've only had a few bites of the soup, because I made it for my lunches this week, but so far, it is pretty good. It isn't the most exciting soup ever, but definitely good to have in the repertoire to make for a sick loved one.

Alice Waters' Chicken Noodle Soup

serves 4 

Adapted from The Art of Simple Cooking by Alice Waters.
1 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
1 quart chicken stock
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small parsnip, diced
1 sprig parsley
1/4 pound egg noodles or fettuccine noodles broken up into pieces
Chopped fresh dill, for finishing
1. In a large pot, combine the stock and the breast. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the top, then lower to a simmer. Skim any remaining foam, then add half of the onion, carrot, celery, and parsnip, plus the sprig of parsley. Cook at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes.
2. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken carefully to a plate to cool and strain the broth to remove the cooked vegetables. Return the broth to the pot and taste for salt. Start a second pot of boiling water to cook the noodles. When the chicken is cool, separate the meat from the skin and bones and shred it. Place in a small bowl and ladle some hot broth over it to keep it moist.
3. Add the remaining onion, carrot, celery, and parsnip to the broth. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until soft. In the meantime, cook the noodles in boiling salted water until tender.
4. Add the cooked noodles, chicken and its broth, and taste for seasoning. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the fresh dill.

Capellini with Ricotta

Last week, I made Capellini with Ricotta from Serious Eats (I didn't use capellini, I used fresh pasta). The recipe is really simple, so I am just going to post a picture of what the end result was... believe me it was DELICIOUS! So good, so easy. A simple way to make spaghetti and tomato sauce a little bit more exciting: 

(I cheated on this recipe... I didn't make my own sauce or my own ricotta... I will try to make ricotta though soon!!)
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