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Pane Cotta

January 15, 2019

I first saw this dish called Pane Cotta on the author Jane Green’s Instagram page – she had it at a restaurant and it was so good she went home and made it and posted a rough recipe of it! It translates to Baked Bread, it’s an Italian peasant meal (read: rustic and delicious). 

This was one of the most original things I’ve eaten lately, with totally surprising flavors and textures that worked so well together. The braised escarole mixed with the pancetta and leeks were all somewhat delicate, then mixed with the sharp saltiness of the melted cheese, the meatiness of the white beans (you can use any kind here) and cubes of herby, garlicky bread…

The recipe calls for herbs and garlic and it’s really forgiving – I just sprinkled on some garlic salt, olive oil, and thyme. While the bread is toasting, everything else cooks in the same pan. First you cook some pancetta, then in the same pan you add some butter and some leeks…

Then you braise some escarole in chicken broth, and add some white beans…

Then the thing that really ties the whole dish together is the cheese. I tasted it a little with just parm, and just asiago, then with both of them together, and I liked them combined. But don’t let having only one kind of cheese keep you from making this because its just delicious.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the best part! My kids loved it. This seems like it should be a grown up dish, but really its just a twist on things kids love anyway – bread and cheese. If your kid won’t touch anything green, then I can’t speak for them, but mine will and they asked for seconds.

Like many peasant dishes, it was meant to use up left overs, and I think that is what this dish will be for my kitchen – an amazing way to use up a loaf of bread that is starting to get hard. But really it is nice enough to bring to a pot luck or serve for company, or just to have a nice side dish for a roast over the weekend.

Hope you try this soon, it is such a special dish, and will transport you to Italy for a minute or five, I promise.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Pane Cotta (printer version here):

Ingredients:

3 cups day-old bread, torn up into crouton sized pieces

2 T. olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves or 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Fresh herbs, salt and pepper

8 oz. pancetta, diced

2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)

2 T. butter

1 head of escarole, rinsed and torn into small pieces

1 cup chicken stock

1 can white beans, rinsed

1 cup of parmesan and/or asiago (I used ½ cup of each)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Place bread on cookie sheet, and toss with olive oil, garlic salt (or minced garlic), fresh herbs if desired, salt and pepper.

While that bakes, cook pancetta on medium high heat until browned, then remove and set aside. Place butter in same pan, and add sliced leeks. Saute until soft, then remove from pan and set aside (can put them on same plate as pancetta). Add escarole with a cup of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer with the lid on for a few minutes until escarole is soft. Mix in a can of rinsed white beans, and add all the other ingredients (bread, pancetta, leeks, etc) to the same pan. Top with grated parmesan and/or asiago cheese, and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

 

A Southern Dinner

February 26, 2017

(Hi Food Lovers – just a note to say as I completed my edits for my book I got behind on everything, including blogging here. I am attempting to make it up to you with not just one recipe, but a whole meal. These recipes are truly all new favorites on our rotation, and it feels so good to be back sharing a love of food with you here.) 

It’s hard to step your baby toe into a love of food without feeling the effects of Southern Cuisine on America. Southern Cooking has become synonymous with cooking with soul, or love, or heart, or something approximating all three. But you don’t need to get philosophical to know that southern food just tastes good. With its mixture of rich fatty meat, an ample supply of butter and cheese, and tangy, vinegary liquids, most of which have been cooked long and slow, its hard not to end up with something that will make your belly and your soul very happy.

So when my southern friend Christy sent me her recipe for Collard Greens around New Years, followed up with some lovely gifts and priceless staples like grits and seasoning they use in their kitchen to achieve that authentic flavor, I knew I wanted to see if my Northern Kitchen could make those flavors appear.

Turns out, it can. I thought I’d use some of these gifts for a whole southern meal, complete with a rib recipe that we’ve been loving. The result was amazing fall-apart ribs, collard greens that were so flavorful, they tasted like they were from a restaurant in the south, and baked cheddar grits that were so good they’ll make your toes curl. Or at least make you want to curl up for a nap. All of these make up such quintessential comfort food, it’s no wonder it’s called soul food.

So let’s start with the my favorite:

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Collard Greens à la Christy

 

This recipe has a short cut that I highly recommend: buy the seasoning packet from Uncle Wiley’s which my friend sent me. Whatever kind of magic is in there, it sure makes for some delicious greens. If you don’t want to bother, just play around with your garlic powder, salt and pepper until it tastes seasoned. The salt pork adds some salt too so go easy at the start of it simmering.

This recipe delivers you a huge pot of good for you greens, plus a whole bunch of broth that I sipped for the next three days and just made me feel amazing. I was writing a lot that week, and I would get so excited when I brought up a hot, salty mug to sip while I worked. Christy said it’s called “pot likker” and all I know is its pretty life affirming. Or at least during editing season. I found my collard greens at my local store so hope yours carries it too.

Collard Greens à la Christy (printer version here):

When I got the photo of the recipe, it was officially titled “Collards and Peas” which just sounds like a great dish, doesn’t it? She said her husband traditionally makes the peas separate from the collards by boiling them in a little chicken broth, which is what I did. Then you just serve it together. But here is the cast of characters:

“Collards and Peas” 

3/4 container of peas, soaked overnight, then cooked in chicken broth (can use frozen)

1/2 an onion

3 bunches collards, sliced

1 salted pork pack (I had a large package and just used a slice that was about one inch thick and it was just right)

garlic, salt and pepper (or use Uncle Wiley’s seasoning packet)

3 stalks celery (I sliced them and loved them, but you don’t have to if you want to just use it for flavor)

dollop of chicken bullion

Optional: add a splash of malt vinegar at the end.

Directions:

Trim collards from stems which are bitter. Then chop them up and place them in a huge pot of water. Add pork, onion, spices, and a huge dollop of chicken bullion. There is no right or wrong ratio for the peas and collards, essentially just throw everything into a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer until leaves are tender. You can also served with black-eyed peas and diced tomato. 

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Oven-To-Grill-Ribs

So you’re going to want to pin this recipe too.

I don’t know about you, but after having eaten great ribs from friends and restaurants, I was sort of in the camp that I would let them make them and I’ll happily eat them.

But then I found this recipe from Chef Charlie McKenna in Better Homes & Gardens, who has some deep southern roots and an award winning BBQ restaurant in Chicago. He made ribs seem…doable. So when my daughter asked for ribs for her birthday a while ago, I tried them, and they were SO easy and SO good: falling of the bone, smokey, juicy, and well-seasoned.

The secret is you flavor them up with mustard and the rub, then cook them low for 2 hours, sealed in a tin foil envelope, so they stay really juicy. Then flash grill them for 10 minutes with BBQ sauce. The rub mixture makes enough for 3-4 rack of ribs, and I store mine in a tightly sealed jar. And I have made my own sauce, but in a pinch, I have used a good jar too.

I love that you can cook these all year round if you use an indoor grill pan. One rack of ribs feeds our family very comfortably.

Oven-to-Grill Ribs (printer version here):

Ingredients

  • 13 1/2 pound rack pork loin back ribs
  • 1/4cup yellow mustard
  • 1cup BBQ Rub
  • 1/2cup BBQ Sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With a pastry brush, spread the mustard all over both sides of the ribs. Generously sprinkle the rub all over both sides of the ribs.
  2. Place ribs in the middle of a double thickness of heavy foil cut 6 inches longer than the ribs. Wrap ribs in the foil. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender (the two middle bones of the rack should start to pull apart easily).
  3. Remove ribs to a tray (discard liquid in foil packet). Spread the sauce all over both sides of the ribs. Grill on the rack of a covered grill directly over medium heat for 15 minutes, brushing with additional sauce every 5 minutes, turning once. Adjust heat as necessary to prevent burning.

BBQ Rub

Directions

  1.  Place celery seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Mix together with remaining ingredients. Store leftovers in a dry, cool place.

BBQ Sauce

Directions

  1.  Whisk all ingredients together in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill up to 2 weeks.

Recipe originally printed in Better Homes and Gardens.

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Baked Cheesy Grits

Normally I test totally new recipes like this, but turns out Baked Grits are very easy and with the help of butter and cheese turn out delicious no matter what you do. (Ok, scorching the bottom of pan might not work). I merged a number of recipes online, which were all very similar, keeping notes as I went, and they turned out just the way I was hoping. Maybe it was the authentic grits sent from Georgia? Now my mind is dreaming about fried polenta.

Baked Cheesy Grits (printer version here):

5 cups chicken broth

1 1/4 cups grits, rinsed

4T.  Butter

1/2 t. garlic salt

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 cup (4 oz) sharp cheddar, divided

1 cup (4 oz) monterey jack

1/2 cup milk

3 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bring chicken broth just to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in butter and grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until grits are done. Remove from heat.
  2. Add seasoning, milk, half the cheddar cheese and all of the monteray jack cheese. Stir until completely combined and cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning, adjusting if needed. Add eggs and combine well. Pour into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining half cup of cheddar cheese.
  3. Bake, covered, at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until mixture is set. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

I hope you take a trip to the South via your taste buds and try these out! They are delicious and memorable, and with friends like Christy, definitely Soul Food.

xoxo, Katie

Cranberry Pear Chutney

November 16, 2016

Are you in as much shock as I am that Thanksgiving is next week?

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Luckily my first attempt at getting ready for it was this easy Cranberry Pear Chutney that is LOADED with flavor. It also nicely solves the whole cranberry debate: We think the pilgrims used them, so we have to have them, but how? Cranberry bread? Not if there is pie around. In a can? Um, I am just going to pass on that one. My mom loves this fresh chunky side salad with chopped cranberries, orange zest, and sugar, but it is just a little too hard to eat raw cranberries for moi. image

Enter Cranberry Pear Chutney. You may have gathered from the sheer number of curries I have posted on this site that I love everything about Indian food, but especially their condiments. And chutney is tops. The acid with sweet with vinegar. YUM.

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And I just want to use pear in everything right now, so I am so happy to put these gorgeous things to work:

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There is so much going on from all these flavors. It is like fireworks in your mouth. Even if Aunt Flo brings frozen peas, this will bring some excitement to your plate. And can you even IMAGINE a leftover turkey sandwich with stuffing and CHUTNEY? Good thing this recipe makes two ball jars because I might have to keep one just to make a left over Thanksgiving sandwich. I already warned my mom to skip the can and the pseudo-salsa and to make room for this guy (and you know I am bringing that Turkey bowl to serve it in too.)

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I also feel like this makes the best gift if you are going to someone else’s house. I am planning on bringing it over to win some daughter points looking like this:

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I might even make these for Christmas gifts too if they look that cute.

But the best part is this comes together SO fast. 20 minutes tops.

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Hope this rocks your Thanksgiving as much as it will mine.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Cranberry Pear Chutney (printer version here):

Ingredients:

1 bag cranberries

Zest of 1 orange

3 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated

3 Bosc (they stay firmer but use whatever you have) pears, diced

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 cup brown sugar, packed

3 Tablespoons lemon

3 Tablespoons Apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups Apple cider

1/2 water

Pinch of salt

Directions:

In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except pears. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until cranberries soften. Add pears and cook for 5 more minutes.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Swiss Pumpkin

October 20, 2016

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Now that the leaves are starting to look like the color of pumpkins, I am so excited to share this recipe that I actually guest posted on the Ella Claire Blog last year. It is so so good.

I found this recipe in Ruth Reichl’s food memoir Comfort Me with Apples (a sequel to Tender at the Bone). I am a big fan of food memoirs at the moment since I am writing one of my own about growing up in a big Irish family in Chicago (I am one of eight) and we had a huge passion for food. In Comfort Me with Apples, one of the lasting images I had was how her husband said he wanted a divorce, and all she could do was make Cream of Mushroom soup. I just feel like food does that healing thing. She ended up being the editor for Gourmet Magazine and remarrying and having a son. So her story ends well.image

Happily, when I made this recipe it was a great story. I made it for my husband for a date night at home. The smell when you take this out of the oven is like nothing else – a mix between pumpkin pie, creamy squash soup, and French onion soup. The fragrance will transport you. After we took the first bite, we just looked up at each other, silent, the fire roaring, and then in unison went, “mmmmhhh”. Or something close to blubbering adults. It warms your insides like nothing I have ever had – the pillow soft pumpkin, creamy buttery soup, and nutmeg infused bread tastes like heaven, all mixed with the saltiness of the gruyere cheese. It is such a special dish. The best part? I wrote all this a year ago, and I can still go back to that exact moment we tasted this and I am there.

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This dish is perfect for Holiday parties or special family winter dinners. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year but if I was, everyone should start with a little Swiss Pumpkin on their plate. But it also seems like something you could easily bring to a family with an illness or a new baby since it has its own (disposable) transporting vehicle.

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I hope you get to taste it. Or at least read Ruth Reichl. Happy fall everyone!

xoxo, Katie

Savory Baked Pumpkin (serves 4) 

**Slightly altered from Ruth Reichl’s original recipe.

2 small pumpkins (about 6 – 8 inches in diameter)

Sliced French bread; several pieces, toasted

Grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (about 4 oz)

Half and half, about 2 cups

2 eggs

1 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. pepper

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg (makes all the difference)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off of your pumpkin leaving the stem intact. With a spoon, scrape out the innards of the pumpkin and discard. (You can reserve the seeds if you like for a latter use.)

Next, rinse the pumpkin both inside and out and pat dry. Place a layer of your toasted bread on the very bottom of the pumpkin cavity. If you need to break up your toasted bread to fit, that is fine. You just want a light layer; you do not need to pack it in. Over the top of your bread sprinkle a bit of your cheese; just enough to cover the bread. You will want to repeat this until you fill the cavity of the pumpkin to its rim, about 2-3 times.

Then, pour the half and half mixture over the layered bread and cheese and into the pumpkin cavity. I like to do this slowly to be sure the half and half is filling in the crevices and not ready to overflow the pumpkin filling. Place the pumpkin top you cut off back onto the pumpkin and place on a baking sheet.

Finally, place the pumpkin on the baking sheet into the center of your oven for about 2 hours. Your baking time will depend on the size of your pumpkin and how much you fill it, so I always check it after one and a half hours of baking. You want to bake it until a knife can easily pierce through the flesh of your pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and wait about 15 minutes before serving.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Arugula and Avocado

August 3, 2016

imageI could write a big post that is just an ode to the summer salad. We’ve been growing fresh romain and red leaf lettuce in our back yard, and I’ve been making big batches of this homemade Panara Greek Dressing.

But this salad is AH-mazing. Get ready for a flavor blast of lemon, garlic, and feta along with a texture explosion of crunchy radishes and nuts, creamy avocado, and meaty shrimp. You can make this for a party, or you can make it for yourself and halve the recipe. Either way, you’re going to wanna make it. Because its amazing.

I think I was laying by a pool while my kids swam when I dreamed it up. Most likely it was the lingering effects of Tamara Adler and her urge that a salad have something crunchy, creamy, acidic, and oily. Plus I totally crave shrimp in the summer for some reason – it cooks so fast so the kitchen doesn’t get hot and the lighter protein is my jam.  If your people don’t love shrimp you can totally substitute two cubed chicken breasts. 

I was having lunch with my mom and sister the next day, and had a bottle of my favorite Sancerre and wanted to bring something to go with it.

The garlick-y lemony dressing, and the crunch, not to mention how pretty it is, made us so happy.

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I used some of the flavors from the dressing to marinate the shrimp. (A garlic spicy kick on shrimp makes me swoon). I made a marinade from the juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. I put the raw shrimp in a zip lock bag with this and let it sit for a half hour. (You can do longer).

I started the dressing right after since it is very similar, and the longer the garlic hangs out with the lemon the more flavorful it will be so you want to give it some time to mingle. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced shallot, 1 small grated (or minced) garlic clove. Let it hang. Go listen to some music. 

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When you are ready to start the salad, put some sliced almonds (or whole almonds or another favorite nut) in a pan and toast them. For some reason, I feel compelled to toast nuts in my cast iron skillet. It heats them so evenly.

Here is where you can choose your own adventure: I kept feeling like couscous would be a great texture to this salad. But when I assembled it, it looked too pretty to add it! So I served it in a bowl with a bed of couscous underneath and it was amazing. So experiment! Maybe put it under the arugula in a big bowl if you were taking it to a party. Or leave it out. The couscous does such a great job of soaking up the yummy dressing so it is a thumbs up, but the salad is great on its own too.

While everything is marinating and toasting and couscous is (optionally) fluffing up, start slicing your radishes. I can’t get enough radishes these days, so in they went. And I wanted a creamy element, so in went avocados too.
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This dish comes together fast, because although there are a lot of steps you can do them at the same time. The only thing that this salad requires one you get past cooking the shrimp is assembly. Yay for some easiness.

Whether you are headed to a big Labor Day bash, or some relaxed get togethers with friends and family, delight everyone and make this. (But even if you eat it at home with Netflix, it’s still pretty great.)

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You will thank me when you make this! I promise.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Radishes and Arugula (Printer Version Here):

For the Marinaded Shrimp:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ lb. raw shrimp, peeled

 

For the Salad:

2 cups arugula, thinly sliced

1 avocado, sliced lengthwise

1 cup radishes, sliced

½ cup toasted almonds

½ cup crumbled feta (I used low fat)

 

For the Dressing:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

2 teaspoons chopped parsely

½ teaspoon salt, pinch of black ground pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions:

If shrimp is frozen, soak in warm water until it is thawed (about 5-10 minutes.) Peel and removed tails. Mix marinade ingredients together, then pour over peeled raw shrimp in a ziplock bag. Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes-4 hours.

Start the dressing by mixing all the ingredients except the olive oil. Let sit to allow flavors to blend.

If serving with couscous, prepare according to package directions.

Toast almonds by pouring into skillet or pan, shaking to evenly distribute in one even layer in pan so they toast evenly. Checking for doneness every few minutes (set a timer if needed) shaking pan to toss and redistribute nuts. Repeat as necessary until toasted. (Note: you can tell when they are done by noticing when there is a toasted nut smell, but the timer is more reliable, which is helpful since they burn easily). Remove from heat when done and let rest until use.

When shrimp is done marinating, heat large pan on medium-high heat. Pour shrimp in pan, give one small sprinkle of salt and pepper, turning after cooking 1-2 minutes or when pink. Let cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, then transfer to a plate to cool.

Meanwhile, place arugula in large bowl. Slice radishes and scatter around the top. Slice avocado, squeezing with lemon juice to prevent browning, then lay on top of salad. Scatter evenly the feta, nuts, and shrimp around top.

When read to eat, pour dressing evenly over top. Serve immediately.

 

Shrimp Ceviche

July 14, 2016

Is there anything better to eat on a hot summer night then ceviche?

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The first time I ever tasted ceviche was on my Honeymoon in Aruba, and I have been in love ever since (both with the dish and my husband).

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I went to a tapas party last night, and decided to make ceviche because holy humidity. When I got there, it was the most amazing spread, filled with families from all over the globe, and the best food I have ever eaten. Rice and beans with octopus and mussels, garbanzo beans with spinach and buttered bread crumbs, stuffed fried sardines, manchego and olives and dates, spicy cheese fondu-type dips with cubes of bread, something amazing and creamy with chicken and mushrooms that was supposed to go into a tortilla but I ate it without and it was delicious, and flan for dessert. Plus there was plenty of Spanish wine and sangria. Can we discuss the amazing flavor of peach sangria? It tastes like a glass full of sunshine and fresh sweet peach flavor. There are a ton of recipes for this (this one looks amazing with rasperries), but what made it was the peaches were diced very fine, so they swirled in your mouth and infused flavor into every sip.

It was such a magical night, and as I left and went to my car, the stars were so bright, and the half moon echoed their glow, the heat of the day had turned into one of those sweet summer breezes that feel like a kiss from summer.

IMG_9234Usually, ceviche is made with raw fish that gets cooked in the acids of the citrus juices it is tossed with. (Mind blown, right?) I love it too, but I also love shrimp which can sit around in my freezer until I am ready to make this, unlike fresh fish ceviche. It also uses a lot of the same ingredients as gazpacho, my other favorite summer heat buster (there was so many amazing gazpachos last night too.)

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I actually just ordered this on vacation and I was so excited to eat it when it came to the table. And it turned out just…meh. So when I went to make it for tapas, I turned to the recipe at Simply Recipes since I trust everything Elise makes, though I tweaked it with my own touches, like using the less spicy jalapeño rather then serrano chili so my kids could eat it, adding garlic (which I loved) and since I only had parsley I substituted that for cilantro and it tasted great, very fresh. Often at parties there are people who don’t love cilantro, so it is good to know you can make it with either herb.

Hope you are staying cool, having a lovely summer, and plenty of delicious summer dishes. Or just some cucs and cheese and bread, which is the best kind of summer eating.

xoxo Katie

 

Shrimp Ceviche Recipe (printer version found here):

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium-small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lime juice (juice from 4-6 limes)
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (juice from 2-3 lemons)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 cucumber, peeled diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seed removed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Directions

1 In a large pot, bring to a boil water salted like pasta water. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute to 2 minutes. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.(You can also defrost a bag of cooked shrimp if it is too hot in your kitchen, but I recommend cooking them yourself).

2 Drain the shrimp. Cut each piece of shrimp in half, or into inch-long pieces. Place shrimp in a glass or ceramic bowl. Mix in the lime and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.

3 Mix in the chopped red onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Refrigerate an additional half hour.

4 Right before serving, add the cucumber and avocado. Add olive oil and more lemon or lime to taste, depending on if it is too acidic or not enough. (I loved it with 1-2 T. of olive oil, it seemed to meld all the flavors).

Adapted from Simply Recipes.