Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring veggie risotto with pancetta, lemon & mint


I start to get really excited this time of year because the things that are popping up at farmer's markets & grocery stores are a welcome sight after these winter months. BYE BYE! heavy, winter comfort food and HELLO! beautiful, bright, fresh spring veggies! 

This dish is a perfect way to highlight that pretty produce...it has fresh asparagus & peas (don't worry - you can use frozen peas if:  A)you can't find fresh, or B) you just don't feel like dealing) and the zesty flavors of mint & lemon.  It's a green extravaganza.  Oh, and the little crispy pancetta bits on top are kind of the best thing ever...like fancy bacon bits :)!

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a first course

4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 c. water
8 oz. asparagus - cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 c. peas - from 1 pound fresh, whole peas, or frozen & defrosted

3 oz. thinly sliced pancetta - chopped
1 small onion - chopped
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine

2 T. butter
1/2 c. grated Parmesan + more for serving
zest of 1 lemon
2 T. fresh mint - chopped

Combine broth & water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Add chopped asparagus and cook 3 minutes.  Add peas to liquid & cook 1 minute more.  Remove veggies from broth with a slotted spoon (do not drain out broth - we need it for the risotto) and place directly into an ice bath to stop cooking.  Leave broth/water combo on the stove & keep at a low simmer.

Heat a large, heavy pot over medium to heat.  Add chopped pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta pieces are separated, brown & crispy - about 4 minutes.  Remove pancetta and drain on a paper towel.  (the pancetta is a garnish for the finished risotto)

Add chopped onion to pancetta fat and saute over medium-low heat until softened - about 5 minutes.  Turn heat to medium and add Arborio rice.  Cook 1 minute, stirring to coat rice with oil.  Add wine and stir until completely absorbed.

Begin adding the simmering broth to the rice 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. When broth is almost absorbed, add the next 1/2 c. and continue this process for about 18-20 minutes.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  You want the rice to be tender & creamy but still have a little firmness to the bite - al dente, people :)!  The risotto should be slightly soupy in consistency.

Drain the asparagus & peas and add to the risotto & stir.  Stir in butter, Parmesan, lemon zest & mint.  Add a little more broth mixture if it seems too dry (you will probably have leftover broth).  Serve immediately topped with crispy pancetta more Parmesan!  Yum!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Banana-coconut almond bread


This is a slightly modern interpretation of a tried-and-true classic.  I love swapping in almond flour for part of the regular flour in baking.  It's a nutritious addition that creates a subtle change in flavor and texture without tasting too "healthy" or heavy or bland.  You could also sub in gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour if you are eating sans gluten these days.

I'm a huge lover of the coconut so this recipe uses coconut oil & some shredded, unsweetened coconut in the batter.  The flavor is there but it's super mellow & not overpowering at all (my son, Brando, claims he hates coconut didn't even know it was in there).  I love the walnuts in this recipe because they are slightly bitter and balance out the sweetness of everything else!

3 ripe bananas - mashed
2 eggs - beaten
1/2 c. coconut oil - melted
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. almond flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
 3/4 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 c. walnuts - roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 3 x 5 loaf pan with butter or oil.

In a bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, beaten eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla until all the coconut oil is well incorporated.  Add the sugar and brown sugar and whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, add the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & cinnamon.  Whisk to combine. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir.  Fold in the coconut and walnuts until well incorporated. 

Pour batter into your prepared loaf pan.  Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 1 hour to 1 hour & 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven & cool 15 minutes in the pan.  Invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cheddar-pistachio cheese crisps


These little nibbles are pretty freaking amazing.  First of all, their main ingredient in cheese so they are, of course, delicious.  They are crisp & tangy and kind of like a cracker-cheese hybrid.

There are a zillion ways to use these tasty tidbits.  I love them on an appetizer platter served alongside charcuterie with a nice glass of red, but they are also great salad toppers or an unexpected crunchy garnish for a soup.  Or just snack on them...they are kind of addicting!

They are quick & easy, beautiful, versatile and delish - what's not to love?

1/4 c. chopped roasted, unsalted pistachios
1/2 c. grated, aged cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
1 t. finely chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a bowl, toss together the cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, panko and rosemary.  Spread evenly over the lined baking sheet into approximately a 9 x 11 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle pistachios over cheese.

Bake 12-15 minutes until golden & crispy on the edges.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Break into rough, asymmetrical shapes.



If you want to see a video version of this recipe from Kin Community & me, click HERE or on the video screen below.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ruby red grapefruit, avocado & jicama salad


Who says a salad has to involve lettuce?  

I'm a huge fan of combining raw veggies & fruits (or nuts...herbs...whatever!) into non-traditional salads.  This one is an especially vibrant mix of flavors & textures - tart, tangy grapefruit combined with creamy, decadent avocado & a pop of crunchy jicama.  Yum!

It's a refreshing, bright little dish that would pair great with simple grilled fish or chicken.  Plus, it is the prettiest palette of color...you're bound to impress if you serve this at a dinner party :)

Serves 4

2 ruby red grapefruits
1 avocado - ripe but slightly firm
1/2 medium bulb of jicama

dressing:
1 shallot - minced
1 T. white wine or champagne vinegar
2 T. blood orange olive oil
a pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper

a pinch of cayenne or togarashi (optional)

Cut peel from grapefruit with a knife and carefully remove sections from between the membranes.  Place in a bowl.

Remove peel of jicama with a knife.  Cut jicama crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.  Stack slices and cut into 1/4 inch batons.  Make about one cup. Place in bowl with grapefruit.

Quarter the avocado and slice crosswise. Place in bowl with grapefruit & jicama.

To make dressing, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, blood orange olive oil, and salt & pepper. Pour dressing over grapefruit, avocado, & jicama. VERY GENTLY stir to combine.

Serve with a sprinkle of cayenne or togarashi if desired.


Click HERE or on the video screen below to check out the cute video I made with Kin Community:


Friday, March 14, 2014

Pappardelle with braised kale & chard


This dish is an excellent way to make a meal out of those nutrient-packed, dark, leafy greens everyone is always taking about.  Combined with delicate, buttery egg pappardelle, this is a satisfying, soul-warming comfort food with max veggie benefits.  I love this as a vegetarian entree but it also would be a great side dish to roasted chicken dinner...yum!

I used cavalo nero kale (aka, dinosaur or lacinato kale) instead of curly kale in this recipe because I love it's texture when braised, but if you can't find it, regular kale is totally fine.  

I also use my newest obsession - Swiss chard - in combination with the kale.  To be honest, sometimes I feel a little "kale-d out" and I'm loving the chard these days.  Feel free to add whatever greens strike your fancy...collards, beets greens, broccoli rabe...you can't really go wrong :).

Serves 4

2 T. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch cavalo nero kale
1 bunch chard
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
a couple large pinches kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. water
8.8 oz package egg pappardelle

3 T. butter
1/4 c. grated Parmesan + more for serving

To prep greens:

Wash kale.  Tear leaves to remove from the tough middle stems.  Discard stems and roughly rip leaves into approximately 2 inch pieces.

Wash chard.  Tear leaves from stems into approximately 2 inch pieces and combine with kale.  Thinly slice chard stems (yes, they are edible!) and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pot that had a lid (for braising) over medium heat.  Add onion and cook 5-7 minutes, until translucent.  Add chopped carrot, stir and cook 2 minutes.  Add garlic, sliced chard stems, salt & pepper and red chili flakes and stir.  Cook for 1 minute.

Add your big heap o’ greens and 1/4 c. water.  Cover and turn heat to low.  Braise greens 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove lid, turn heat to high and boil off any excess water in the pot.  Season with salt & pepper.

Cook pappardelle according to directions on the package.  Drain and return to cooking pot.  Add braised greens, 2 T. of butter and parmesan.  Mix gently (this pasta is delicate) and season with more salt & pepper to taste.

Serve in bowls with more Parmesan sprinkled on top!









Friday, March 7, 2014

Sweet potato & kale hash


Say good morning to a hipper, healthier version of standard breakfast hash.  I've replaced the regular white spuds with nutrient-rich sweet potatoes and added kale...two of nature's "superfoods."  It's a meal packed with veggies & protein and better yet...it tastes freaking awesome.

This is an obvious choice for breakfast or brunch, but also makes a very satisfying dinner (I'm a huge fan of eggs for any meal).  It's super simple to prepare and covers sweet, savory, & spicy in one big, tasty combo.  Plus it looks really pretty when you serve it out of the cast iron skillet.  Enjoy!

Serves 6

2 medium orange-flesh sweet potatoes/yams, about 1 1/2 pounds
4 T. olive oil, divided
1 t. chili powder
kosher salt & pepper

1 onion - thinly sliced
1 c. red pepper, chopped
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic - chopped
3 c. baby kale, roughly chopped
4-6 eggs

Garnishes:
1/2 c. crumbled Cotija or Greek Feta cheese
Chopped cilantro
A couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce, if desired (I recommend Sriracha on this one!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces, leaving skin on.  Place on baking sheet, toss with 2 T. olive oil, chili powder and season with salt & pepper.  Roast in oven until potatoes are soft and beginning to brown, 35 to 40 minutes. 

When potatoes are almost finished roasting, heat 2 T. olive oil in a heavy, 10-12 inch ovenproof skillet.  Saute onions over medium heat about 5 minutes.  And red pepper and thyme and cook another 3-4 minutes until onions are are cooked and beginning to brown slightly.  Add garlic and saute one minute.  Add kale and 2 T. water and cook, stirring, until kale is wilted and water had evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Add sweet potatoes to skillet and stir to combine.  Evenly spread vegetables on the bottom of the pan.  Make 4-6 small wells in sweet potato mixture and crack in eggs.  Place skillet in the oven and cook until eggs are set but still have runny yolks (if desired), about 9-11 minutes.

Remove from oven and season eggs with salt & pepper.   Crumble the cheese over the hash.  Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro & hot sauce.

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Please click HERE or on the video screen below to enjoy the live video version of this recipe from Kin Community and me!



Friday, February 28, 2014

Shrimp with fire-roasted tomatoes & cannellini beans over pearl couscous


This is a really tasty dinner that comes together in minutes.  It's light & healthy & tangy but still satisfying and heart-warming all at the same time.

The 2 things to remember when cooking this dish is: 1 ) get your pan super smokin' hot to sear the shrimp (a cast iron pan is best) and 2) do not overcook the shrimp!  3-4 minutes in your hot skillet, tops.  Rubbery, overcooked shrimp = no bueno.

I love to serve this over toasted Israeli (aka pearl) couscous - it's got such a great consistency.  If you can't find this at your market, regular couscous or some rice would be delish as well.

serves 4

1 T. olive oil
6.3 ounce box of Israeli or pearl couscous
2 c. chicken broth

1 pound large shrimp - peeled & deveined, tails removed & patted dry
2 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic - chopped, divided
zest of one lemon
1/2 t. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

1 T. olive oil
15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. chopped parsley

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add dry couscous and toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned - about 5 minutes.  Add 2 c. chicken broth, bring to a boil & cover.  Turn heat to a simmer and cook 10-12 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

In a bowl, combine shrimp, 2 T. olive oil, half of the chopped garlic, the lemon zest, salt & pepper.  Allow flavors to combine for 10 minutes.

In a saucepan heat, 1 T. olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add remaining garlic and cook one minute. Add fire-roasted tomatoes, cannellini beans, tomato sauce, oregano & red chili flakes.  Increase to medium heat and let flavors simmer together for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottom skillet (preferable cast iron) over medium high heat - it should be smoking hot!  Add shrimp in a single layer and cook 1-2 minutes per side.  Do not overcook!  Pour the tomato & beans over the shrimp & stir to combine.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Add the parsley at the very end.

Ladle shrimp, tomato & bean mixture over couscous in bowls.  Serve steaming hot.