Friday, June 28, 2013

A Plum Sandwich, with Prosciutto, Provolone, Arugula, and Sage

There is nothing like ever so carefully building up the foundation of a lovely day in your head... and then having it all come crashing down.

Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration.  But not by much (I can be extremely melodramatic).

I thought I was going to have a nice Saturday with the tot.  It was a gorgeous day, and Seth was at work, so I figured I would put on my fun-mom hat (okay, more like a slightly embarrassing sun hat) and go to the beach - play in the sand, prance around in the water, then grab some food in the harbor and watch some boats sail on by.

We arrived at the beach.  Within 2 minutes, Max was found throwing sand.  Totally not allowed. A thing he has been banned from doing.  I'm not really sure why sand looks so appealing to throw, as opposed to say, scooping into funnel shaped toys that have wheels that spin when sand is dumped into them.  But I digress.

So I gave him a warning.  If you throw the sand again, we are leaving.  His response was a gleeful "go bye-bye."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes and wonder how he could possibly be okay with leaving the beach.  Why wouldn't someone want to play here for awhile?

I got us away from the ever-so-temping sand and into the water.  We frolicked and splashed in the water for about 20 minutes.  Then we got out of the water.

As soon as we got back to our towels, the sand throwing began anew.  Another warning was given, and subsequently ignored.  And thus we left the beach after all of 30 minutes. And out of those 30, about 1/5 were taken up with admonishments.

So we trekked home, no longer stopping for lunch.  And as we made our way home, I called Seth to complain, pointing out that none of the other kids were throwing sand.  He tried to comfort me by offering up the explanation that the other sand-throwing kids were already taken home.

So once we got home, I needed food.  Something comforting.  Something interesting.  Something that would make up for the shattering of my Saturday plans. Something that would help assuage my fears that my offspring will forever be the annoying kid throwing sand.

Sometimes our best laid plans are thwarted by toddlers.  And I suppose when life gives you lemons you are supposed to make lemonade.  I didn't make lemonade.  But I made a grilled cheese stuffed with things like provolone, prosciutto, arugula, sage, plums, and a lemony spread.  I guess there are worse things in life than having a Saturday turn into a warm crispy sandwich.

For more information about one of my very favorite fruits, the plum, check out this slideshow from Cooking Light! Sooooo many varieties of plums that I need to try!

2 slices sourdough bread
2 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
1 slice provolone
4-6 sage leaves
1 plum, sliced
handful arugula leaves
drizzle of olive oil
lemon wedge
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil, for cooking

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste

Mix mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sumac in bowl.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate.

On slice of bread, make a bed of arugula leaves.  Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Next add the prosciutto, then the provolone, the sage leaves, the slices of plum, then, finally, the desired amount of the sauce.  Heat some oil in cast iron skillet or other frying pan.  Add sandwich, brown on one side (about 2-3 minutes).  Flip, and brown on the other.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kettle Chips with a Cheesy, Caramelized Onion, Malt Vinegar Dip

Max and I recently had a dispute.

A handful of toys were lying on the bedroom floor.  I told the tot that we could go to the park, but only after he picked up his toys.

He refused.  Seriously, if I showed you the picture of the toys you would be like wow, that would take all of 5 seconds to clean up.  But nonetheless, it was the principle…toys get cleaned up and then we can go to the park.

I decided to relax a bit and sprawled out on the bed with a book, hoping to force Max to be in continuous confrontation with the “mess” and, subsequently, clean it up.   And then afterwards, we could head out to bask in the sunshine and blue skies and climb the big toy.

I sat.  Max sat.  After a long while, Max asked to use the potty, which was downstairs.  So I said of course!  We went down the stairs and he bolted… right for the front door.  Not the bathroom.  But the front door.  And he frantically tried to open it and kept making the ASL sign for "swing" and saying park.

He tricked me!  Or at least tried to.  I mean, it is hard to imagine that he thought that by just getting me to go down the stairs would be enough for me to say of course, of course we can go to the park.  But you know, he is still at the toddler stage in life, so I’m guessing his analytic and reasoning skills have yet to really come together.

Unlike my offspring, kettle chips are not here to deceive us.

Kettle chips are made with all-natural, non-GMO products.  No weird ingredients.  They take unpeeled potatoes, cook in small batches, and season with delicious flavors.  That's it.

And you can taste the amazingness.  So crunchy and potato-y.  Everything a potato chip should be.

We made a dip to go along with our chips.  We liked both the Backyard Barbecue and the Sea Salt and Pepper chips with our Cheesy Caramelized Onion Dip, with Malt Vinegar.  Even our deceptive tot was captivated by the wonderful, real Kettle Chips.  Perhaps he can learn something from them.

Don't forget to show some love for Kettle Chips on social media - here for Twitter (#TheRealKettleChips), and here for Facebook.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup grated smoked Gouda
1 cup caramelized onions
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 sprig thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
favorite Kettle Chips (we used Salt and Pepper and Backyard Barbecue)

Heat oven to 400.  In mixing bowl, stir together cream cheese, sour cream, Gruyere, smoked Gouda, onions, vinegar, seasonings, and thyme leaves.  Place in ovenproof bowl, sprinkle top with 1/4 cup Gruyere.  Bake for about 20 minutes until bubbly, and brown on top. Serve with Kettle Chips.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kettle Brand. The opinions and text are all mine.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fettucine with Citrus and Tons of Fresh Herbs

There are two sides to grilling. One is done in front of the grill – the part where someone lights the charcoals and actually cooks food over flames. The part where one determines the “done-ness” of things while basking in the charcoal-laden fumes.

The other part of grilling is done behind the scenes. The prep work – cutting vegetables, marinating, creating sauces, doing dishes – the less glamorous stuff.

Seth performs the first set of tasks. I do the second set.

In a similar creation of (possibly false) binaries, some dishes are meant to be oohed and aahed over.  To stand in the limelight, garnering accolades and affection from admirers.  Like food that is served on a stick.  Or a big, meaty burger.

These noodles are not one of those dramatic dishes.

Instead, they play a supporting role in our grilling adventures.  I'm not sure why we only make it when grilling.  But just like the blue of the sky and the green of the grass, that's just how things are.

Perhaps my admiration for these noodles comes less from a gastronomical place and more of an emotional one.

The noodles are flavorful - brimming with fresh herbs and citrus, but it isn't hard to put together in between prepping the dishes to be made on the grill.

It might not be the main event, but it serves as a consistently good counterpoint to the grilled, meaty things.  And despite its lack of dramatic flair, I always find myself going back for more.

1 pound fettuccine
1 cup chopped parsley
2 cups chopped basil
4 chopped scallions
2 cups arugula
1/4 cup snipped chives
salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh citrus juice  (I like using a mixture of lemons and limes)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch cayenne
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large pot of salted water, make fettuccine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss parsley, basil, scallions, arugula, and chives.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Mix together butter, olive oil, citrus juice, kosher salt, cayenne, and garlic clove.

Once the fettuccine has cooked, toss with the herb mixture.  Drizzle with the olive oil and citrus juice dressing.   Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and black pepper.  Toss to coat.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stuffed Red Peppers with Red Rice and Buffalo, topped with Strawberries and Red Jalapeno - The Red Dish

The internet is stuffed with articles telling you what your favorite color means.

When we got our next Creative Cooking Crew Challenge, to create a monochromatic dish, it probably means something that my first response was to do something all black.  Though if I really think about it, I don't have a particular fondness for black beans, black rice or squid ink. So maybe the world is correct.  Maybe it does mean something.

According to one article, a preference for black says "I want to give the appearance of mystery," but also that my preference could possibly "indicate a suppression of desires and worldly aims."

I'm not sure I would say I was trying to cultivate an appearance of mystery, per se.  But I am known in these parts to be "moody," a word often associated with black.  However, I can, without a doubt, attest to not suppressing my desires or worldly aims.  I have good relationships with all the ice creams and milkshakes and cookies.

Seth's response was to make a red dish. The same article helpfully explains that "red is often the color chosen by someone outgoing, aggressive, vigorous and impulsive—or someone who would like to be!"  Which is one of the most absurd descriptions of Seth that one could possibly write.

Apparently red won. There isn't really a compromise position to be had in a monochromatic color scheme.  Unless - you look at our final result! Where, we somehow managed (despite using annato, paprika, and tomatoes in our buffalo mixture) to make a completely red dish if, and only if, you use a very loose definition of "brick red."

So apparently the dish compromised with itself.  While the descriptions of black and red don't match up with us (or at least we don't want to believe they do) (ugh, what if the descriptions are right and what we know to be true isn't actually true - we don't actually know ourselves!), perhaps the dish itself wanted to be all these things.  Being a stuffed pepper, there is indeed an appearance of mystery.  You never quite know what you will bite into.  And if I were to ascribe human characteristics to a plate a food, I would perhaps use "outgoing and "aggressive" to talk about the fruity, spicy. smoky, meaty flavors it holds.  So it might be safe to say this dish represents the qualities of both our favorite colors, even if not so much our personalities.

For the rice:
1 1/2 rice cups red rice
chicken stock for cooking liquid
pinch ground shrimp
pinch annato
pinch paprika
pinch saffron

For the red pepper tomato sauce:
2 red peppers, quartered and deseeded
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
ground pasilla
6 ounces tomato paste
splash truffle oil
pinch paprika
pinch passila
crushed red pepper
1 red jalapeno, minced
lemon wedge

For the buffalo mixture:
1 pound buffalo
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon roasted cinnamon
1 teapsoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon annato
1/2 teaspoon ground pasilla
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 celery stalks, minced
kosher salt, to taste

For assembly and serving:
3-4 red bell peppers, halved and cleaned
3-4 sliced red jalapenos
1-2 cups minced strawberries
lime wedges

To make the red rice:  We use a rice cooker to make our rice.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups with the rice measuring cup.  Add chicken stock for the cooking liquid.  Add a pinch each of ground dried shrimp, annato, paprika, and saffron.  Cook according to manufacturer's directions.

To roast the red peppers: Heat oven to 425. Place red peppers on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt, freshly ground black pepper, paprika, and ground pasilla over pieces. Once one side of the veggie has a nice brown color, flip; then continue roasting for a total of about 35 minutes.

To make the roasted red pepper/tomato sauce:  Place the roasted red peppers, tomato paste, splash truffle oil, paprika, pasilla, and crushed red pepper in a mixing bowl.  Blend with immersion blender.  Stir in minced jalapeno and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Mix the rice into the sauce.  Adjust salt to taste.

To make the buffalo mixture:  In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil.  Brown the meat over high heat.  Lower the heat and add the red onion.  Once soft, add the garlic cloves.Stir in the cinnamon, smoked paprika, annato, pasilla, ancho chile powder, and paprika.  Once the meat has been coated, add the crushed tomatoes, raspberry vinegar, and liquid smoke.  Let the mixture come together for just a few minutes.  Stir in the celery stalks.  Adjust salt to taste.

To assemble:  We placed a layer of the rice mixture in each red pepper half, followed by a layer of the buffalo mixture.  Each half was topped with a few slices of red jalapeno.  Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes, until softened and brown on the bottom.  Serve with a spoonful of minced strawberries and a lime wedge.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fried Egg with Kale Pesto

Now that I spend more time reading books with pictures than without, it can perhaps be said that I relate waaaay too many things to toddler stories.  For example, in A Sick Day for Amos McGee, we meet a kindly old man named Amos.

The book states that "Amos McGee was an early riser. Every morning when the alarm clock clanged, he swung his legs out of bed and swapped his pajamas for a fresh-pressed uniform. He would wind his watch and set a pot of water to boil - saying to the sugar bowl, "a spoonful for my oatmeal, please, and two for my teacup."

While Amos McGee (or just McGee, as Max likes to say, as though he is on familiar terms with him) sounds like a very lovely gentleman, he does seem like a man stuck in his ways. I'm not sure how one eats oatmeal every day. Or at all, quite frankly. And how does he swing his legs out of bed as soon as that alarm goes off?  How does that happen?

Anyway, I am not Amos McGee. I do not eat oatmeal every day. I do not eat oatmeal.  I am a woman who needs variety. So when the food gods beatifically smile on us and give us both pesto and eggs in the fridge, I take it as a sign that pesto eggs need to be made. It is such a ridiculously simple dish, but the richness of the eggs are just such a perfect fit for pesto.  I won't eat this every day.  But knowing I can make it for breakfast makes swinging my legs out of bed just a little easier.

1 egg
crushed red pepper
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons kale pesto (or whatever you have on hand!)
Parmesan cheese, for serving

For the pesto:
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
4 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice from 1 lemon
smoked sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper

To make the pesto: Place garlic, walnuts, lemon zest, and kale in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse. Slowly pour in the olive oil and lemon juice while the food processor is still running. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

To make the egg: Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Crack egg into pan, and use fork or spatula to break apart the whites immediately around the yolk as it cooks. Continue to fry just until egg white is cooked, or sunny-side up style, roughly 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle the egg with Parmesan cheese and a scoop of the pesto.  Serve with toast.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dark Cocoa and Roasted Kumquat Egg-Free Ice Cream

It is hard to not be taken in by the kumquat.  So small and vibrantly hued, they are just begging to thrown in your bag and carried home and loved.

Last time I fell for their charms, I wasn't enamored.  It wasn't a bad experience, but there are so many other foods I love with so much more fervor.

So you would think I would just leave things well enough alone and bypass them next time I encountered them.

You would think that.  But that is absolutely not what happened.  Next time I saw them, I found myself stuffing them by the fistful into my bag.  I knew logically that this wasn't the best idea in life.  But emotionally I was attached.

Since I'm impetuous and the opposite of rational, these adorable little fruits were indeed coming home with me.  Again.

After sitting in the fridge for a few days (weeks?), I knew the time had come to finally do something - anything - with the little guys.  I've always liked the taste, but not the way they feel in your mouth.  So I tried to do something about that issue - and I pureed them after roasting them, turning them into a cocoa ice cream.  And now I'm absolutely falling in love.

1 cup halved kumquats
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

For the kumquats:  Heat oven to 400.  Toss the kumquats with the oil.  Spread on baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until they have softened and are brown on the bottom.  Let cool.

For the ice cream: Put the kumquats in a large bowl.  Add the cream and milk.  Use an immersion blender to blend the kumquats into the liquid.  Stir in cocoa powder, sugar, and the extracts.  Pour into the ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's directions.  Serve immediately.  If freezing, you may find it it best to let the ice cream set out for a bit before serving.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Strawberries with Minty Dip

Sometimes, our time together is fleeting.  We don't intend for it to be like that, but so it goes.

I'm not one to make friends easily.  But one day at the park, I started chatting with another mom, her son being of a similar age to Max.  We somehow managed to get the kids happily playing together in the sandbox. She helped me with some Spanish words, I helped her with some English.  We made plans to meet up the following morning at a designated time.  I thought it would be the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

Alas, Max and I were the only ones at the park the next day.

At the farmer's market, I spotted a giant bunch of mint leaves.  So fresh and vibrant and green, I couldn't possibly not take home these leaves of freshness.  I placed the bunch in the fridge for safekeeping.  Or so I thought.  Just a few short hours later, I realized the mint leaves were rapidly deteriorating.  It was apparent that they needed to be used quickly.

Sometimes, there isn't any lesson to be learned.  No lesson or narrative to retroactively give meaning to events.  I'll never know why they never showed up at the park.  But I did learn that one must use farmer's market mint quickly.  This time, as a dip for strawberries.

And next time, I'll consult this Cooking Light slideshow for more ideas to use my mint.

1 large bunch of mint leaves
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
touch of honey
pinch salt
fresh strawberries, for serving

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended together like a pesto.  Serve with fresh strawberries.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hazelnut & Vanilla Milkshake with Orange and Strawberries

An astonishingly large portion of my pre-teen and teen years were spent on the telephone.  A landline telephone.  And not one of the fancy cordless models.  One of those bulky models with a short corkscrew cord that makes it difficult to move.  But I somehow made it work.

Practice makes perfect, as they say.
I should probably note that we didn't have call waiting or caller ID, so my high levels of telephone usage got me in trouble.  Often.

And an astonishingly large portion of my time was (is?) on the phone - with one person.  Jess.  We met in 4th grade. And we have been friends ever since.

It was around 5th or 6th grade that we started spending hours at a time on the phone.  Just talking about everything and about nothing.  We would clean our closets and pick out outfits and paint our nails, all whilst engaged in some chatting.  We sort of just assumed that as adults we would live right next door to each other in order to facilitate our incessant need to talk.  We still hold on to a sliver of hope that this will actually happen.
As of now, instead of living right next door to each other, we live on opposite sides of the country.

So we still use that handy phone.  Looking back, I like to pretend that Jess and I were just practicing and perfecting our phone habits for adulthood.  So I really don't think I should have gotten in trouble for my phone use.  Right, mom?  I'm pretty sure I'm owed some reparations here.

I seriously don't understand what we would have done in a pre-cell phone era.  I can't imagine that sending a telegram would have been a convenient thing to do in life.

So unlike most adults, we engage in our teenage behavior.  Because practice makes perfect, we are able to talk while scrubbing toilets, and washing dishes, and making dinners.  We talk about our favorite television obsessions, our favorite recipes, the big things, the small things.

Like coffee and coffee creamers.  This subject actually comes up an inordinate amount of the time.  I'm not really sure why.  It appears I have a fondness for the ever-classic hazelnut flavor.  Jess refuses to be tied down to a favorite, preferring to use whatever catches her fancy at the moment.

And we share ideas for creating delicious foodstuffs.  Like this hazelnut vanilla milkshake.  Instead of adding milk to the milkshake, I used hazelnut creamer.  I then upped the nuttiness with some toasted, ground hazelnuts.  Orange juice and orange zest add a bit of brightness, while cooled coffee brings some depth of flavor.  I added chopped strawberries because chopped strawberries should be added to everything (okay, maybe not everything but soooo many things).  The perfect accompaniment to a late night chat session.

What's Your ID? International Delight is looking for their most passionate flavor fans. Put your ID on the map to enter to win a Magical Trip, play games and discover more unexpected delight. Share your ID flavor at

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

2/3 cup International Delight Hazelnut Coffee Creamer
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, ground in a food processor
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspooon fresh orange juice
2-4 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled, optional
handful of chopped strawberries

Using a blender, mix the creamer, ice cream, hazelnuts, orange juice, orange zest, and the coffee (if using).  Once blended, pour in a glass and top with a handful of chopped strawberries.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grilled Corn with Gorgonzola, Apple, Chive Spread

9 years ago, Seth gave me a stuffed unicorn.  So soft and perfectly sized for hugging, it became necessary for sleeping.  Yes, I am aware that it is ridiculous to need a stuffed animal to sleep when you are approaching 30.

Max recently became attached to this unicorn.  And put his own spin on it, placing a sock on one and only one hoof.  It can now be found sporting an old tee-shirt of his - one featuring the solar system and a rocket ship - as well as a diaper.  You know, in case the unicorn has to go.

I guess I have to accept that it has become his.  Though now I am left without my own sleeping buddy (Seth - umm help please?).  And my sleep has been suffering as a result.

Instead of a unicorn, I can drown my sorrows in some corn on the cob.  Max's word for unicorn and corn are one and the same.  Both are referred to as "na."  And he apparently won't touch this "na."  So this is my "na."  And the unicorn is his.  If only the corn could be used as my stuffed animal.  Then everyone would be happy.

4-8 ears of corn

For the spread:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon grated Granny Smith apple
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1 teaspoon ground toasted hazelnuts
1 teaspoon lemon juice
lots of fresh snipped chives - for both the spread and for sprinkling on the corn

Grill corn using favorite method.  For this batch, we brushed olive oil over the corn, wrapped it in its own husk, and placed on the grill.  Once the corn was mostly cooked (Popping a kernel produces juices), we unwrapped it and placed directly on grates to get a little char.  In the past, we've grilled the corn directly on the grates exclusively (medium to medium high heat).

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, grated apple, Gorgonzola, ground hazelnuts, and lemon juice.  Refrigerate until serving.  Before using, stir in a liberal amount of snipped chives and use remaining as garnish.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...