Sunday, April 22, 2018

From Spain: Tomato Bread with Iberico

Lately, I've been hooked on toast with all kinds of goodies piled on. I blame Ina. The addiction started when I made Ina's Butternut Squash & Ricotta Bruschetta. I love that dish and crave it regularly. When butternut squash went out of season I grew quite fond of avocado toast. After that addiction passed,  I topped my toast with refried beans, a fried egg, salsa and/or hot sauce. Then I made Giada's Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde Bruschetta and I looked for any and every excuse to eat burrata. I think I had toast with some kind of pesto and burrata for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

To be fair, I'm still into toast with pesto and burrata. It's crunchy, flavorful, and the burrata is so creamy and cloudlike. It satisfies about every craving I have. However, I'm willing to venture out, so this week it was either Eric Ripert's Tomato Bread with Iberico or his Green Olive Tapenade, on toast, of course.

I decided on the Tomato Bread with Iberico only because I had some Marcona almonds and Manchego cheese on hand and I thought it would be a perfect pairing! I was so glad I had the Manchego on hand because I found that I liked the Tomato Bread with Iberico ok, but I liked it much better with some of the cheese on top. This dish lacked that layer of creaminess, and while I would eat it if it were served to me, I'd rather have one of the other toasts mentioned above.

Tomato Bread with Iberico
Adapted from Avec Eric
by Eric Ripert
Serves 1-6, depending

1/4 loaf crusty bread such as a country loaf, baguette, ciabatta
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 ripe tomatoes, cut inhalf
1/2 pound thinly sliced Iberico ham or Serrano ham
extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut the loaf of bread crosswise into 1/2" thick slices. Toaste the bread slices until they are golden brown (I placed my sliced bread into the oven for about 10 minutes at 350). Lightly rub the toasted bread with the garlic cloves, then rub the tomato, cut side down, thoroughly into the toasts. Top the toasts witha couple slices of Iberico ham, drizzle with a touch of olive oil, and season with a few flakes of coarse sea salt and pepper.

Theme: From The Mediterranean

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Giada's Spicy Calabrian Shrimp

On one of my visits to Target I spotted Giada's latest cookbook, Giada's Italy. I didn't even hesitate. I just put it directly into my shopping cart. I am in love with everything about this cookbook, starting with the cover, the recipes, the gorgeous photos of Italy, and the stories Giada shares about her time in Italy. It is probably one of my favorite Giada cookbooks!

For now, I chose the recipe with the ingredient I've been wanting to cook with for ages: Calabrian chili peppers! Those darn peppers, and the Calabrian chili paste, are hard to find! I finally spotted some of the Calabrian chili peppers at my market and I knew right away I would make this recipe for Spicy Calabrian Shrimp.

Calabrian chili peppers are from the Calabrian region of Italy, which is known for it's hot peppers. These peppers are of a medium heat and can also be referred to as red cherry peppers or devil's kiss peppers. For comparison, Giada refers to Calabrian Chili Paste as the Italian version of sriracha and I think that is a fairly accurate comparison.

I couldn't source the paste, so I looked up the description of Calabrian Chili Paste and saw that it was a combination of Calabrian peppers and oil. My Calabrian chili peppers were packed in a jar with oil so I decided to make my own paste by dicing up the peppers, along with some of their oil, and using the back of my knife to create a paste.

In this recipe, the Calabrian Chili Paste is mixed with Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and oregano to create a marinade for the shrimp.  You simply bake the shrimp for about 8 minutes. This was the perfect amount of time because my shrimp were perfectly cooked! All that's left is to sprinkle some lemon juice and basil over the top and you have one amazing appetizer or main course!

Skeptics will question the heavy hand of Parmigiano-Reggiano, but trust me it totally works! I baked my shrimp in a cast iron skillet and the cheese just oozed and melted over the shrimp creating somewhat of a crust (if you look close in the pics you can see). I loved the spiciness of the Calabrian peppers - they can in fact be quite spicy! I absolutely loved this dish and will be making it again this week.  I will admit that I did miss the garlic in this recipe and will definitely be adding a clove, or two, the next time around! Give this a try. Shrimp lovers will love this recipe!!

Spicy Calabrian Shrimp
Adapted from Giada's Italy
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Calabrian chile paste
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teasoon dried oregano
salt, to taste
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
High suggest/but optional: one or two cloves of garlic*

Note:  This is a wonderful recipe and while some people will bulk at the idea of adding cheese to shrimp, I will say that I really enjoyed it and would highly suggest it! I definitely suggest adding one or two cloves of minced garlic to the marinade. There is no garlic and this recipe and I did miss it!

Preheat the oven to 425F. 

In a medium bowl,whisk together the Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, chile paste, lemon zest, oregano, and salt. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Allow the shrimp to marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Spread the shrimp evenly on a rimmed baking sheet (or cast iron skillet) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and opaque all the way through. Sprinkle the lemon juice and basil over the shrimp. Serve immediately.

Theme: Healthy and Delicious!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

My Top Ten Ina Garten Favorites {Plus an Honorable Mention}

It's hard to make a list of Ina Garten Favorites. In fact, it's fair to say that EVERY  Ina dish is a favorite. She is known for her time-tested foolproof recipes, and truly they are. I have loved every Ina recipe I've ever made, except for one, which was the result of a mistake I made.

We spent a delicious six months cooking Ina's recipes over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, but I was cooking with Ina long before that. Some of these favorites I shared recently, while others I shared years ago. If you'd like the recipe, please click on the recipe title to be directed back to the original post.

 This is my number one favorite Ina recipe! Not only is this a fun and unique take on mashed potatoes, but it was something that my Mom loved. She always grew her own basil and one year we had more basil than we knew what to do with, so I tried this recipe. At first, she thought I was silly making green mashed potatoes, but once she had a bite she fell in love. My mom talked about these potatoes a lot saying things like "these are so special" and "this is the freshest potatoes have ever had it."  We truly loved them and I think you will too!

I love to eat cookies, but I don't love the process of scooping them onto the cookie sheet and baking sheet after sheet, allowing them to cool, and trying to store them. I much prefer a bar cookie because you can just put all the dough in a baking pan, remove it, allow to cool, slice, and store right in the pan. How's that for lazy? I also prefer my cookies to be chewy and a cookie bar is a sure bet for chewiness because of the thickness. Ina's recipe for Chocolate Chunk Blondies a pound of chocolate, so this is definitely one for the chocolate lovers! Make these next time you don't have all afternoon to stand by your stove!

I made this recipe because I was curious about the combination of butternut squash with cheese on bruschetta. I think this recipe takes the award for completely blowing my mind! I wasn't sure what to expect with this dish, but I was absolutely blown away by the combination of flavors and textures. This is a mind-blowing, delicious, must-make dish! You won't be sorry!

I'll keep this brief because these cookies pretty much speak for themselves. A fluffy peanut butter cookie base with loads of chocolate chips running throughout? Sign me up!

This is another dish with special meaning. I made this Panko-Crusted Salmon seven years ago for my Mom on Mother's Day. Mom and I used to have frequent conversations about how much we loved fish and seafood and how completely tired we were of anything meat-related. So, for Mother's Day in 2011, I cooked up this Panko-Crusted Salmon. It was the first time Mom had panko on anything and she instantly fell in love with the crispy and crunchy texture. I could rarely get Mom onboard with any specialty or newfangled ingredients, but she did have a have a lasting love affair with panko. We both loved this dish and got on a jag with it, making it often when my meat-loving husband was out of town for work.

This recipe caught my attention because it was different. I really enjoyed this baked pasta dish with three different kinds of cheese, cauliflower, capers, and crunchy panko topping. It was definitely up there on my list of Ina Garten faves!

I love egg dishes and this one is not only easy but perfect for entertaining. I love that you can customize the eggs to include different veggies and cheeses. I see this as a classic go-to recipe!

 I lightened up Ina's original recipe considerably and this was still an outstanding dish! You really can't go wrong with shrimp, butter, garlic, lemon, and breadcrumbs. This is a delicious and satisfying meal for anyone, especially if you are eating healthy and looking for something indulgent!

The very best roast chicken. There are no other words!

These Tri-Berry Oven Pancakes are so pretty and colorful! Kids love the way they puff up in the oven and they love the idea of topping their individual pancake with whatever goodies they chose! Who doesn't?

This Lemon Drop Cocktail earns an Honorable Mention because it is one of those easy things you can keep on hand for when you need, or want, a quick cocktail in a hurry. A quick squeeze of lemon, a touch of sugar, and some vodka and you're set.  This is a cocktail worth having up your sleeve! 

Theme: IHCC March Potluck and Goodbye Ina!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Baked Shrimp Scampi

I love Ina Garten's recipes, but sometimes she makes me chuckle over the amount of butter and/or oil she uses. Let's take her Baked Shrimp Scampi, for example. I know that shrimp are delicious with butter and garlic, but 12 tablespoons of butter, Ina? That's one and half sticks! In addition to all that butter, she also has you drizzling the shrimp with 3 tablespoons of olive oil before topping with the butter mixture. Sometimes you just gotta say Oh, Ina!

So, needless to say, I took Ina's original recipe, which you can find on the Food Network, and scaled the amount of butter and oil way down. Instead of 12 tablespoons of butter I used 2 tablespoons and instead of 3 tablespoons of olive oil I used 2 teaspoons. And you know what....the scampi was still delicious, if not better!

I'll be the first to admit that hot buttery garlicky shrimp are absolutely heavenly, but I also think people have a tendency to drown their shrimp in butter and sauce, which in my opinion can take away from the shrimp itself. In this scaled down healthier version, the shrimp definitely take center stage! You get the freshness of the shrimp with hints of lemon, garlic, herbs and spicy red pepper flakes. Of course, for me, the best part is getting a shrimp with a little bit of the crispy breadcrumb topping. It's the perfect bite! Yum!

Baked Shrimp Scampi
Adapted from Food Network
by Ina Garten
Serves 1 or 2

1 pound (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup breadcrumbs, homemade or panko
lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425F. Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, and panko or breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper, to taste.  

Starting from the outer edge of an 8-inch cast iron pan or oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a singlelayer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Giada's Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde Bruschetta

I was completely uninspired about what to make this week until my good friend Deb, of Kahakai Kitchen, messaged to tell me she made Giada's Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde Bruschetta and loved it! There is was...the perfect dish. A nice healthy dose of my favorite green, kale, and the perfect excuse to buy some luscious and creamy burrata. Score!

I'm a big fan of bruschetta. There's something about the crunch from the bread, a colorful spread or flavorful sauce, and the creaminess of the cheese that I find very compelling. This Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde Brushetta is no exception. 

Kale salsa verde is a combination of kale, capers, garlic, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, anchovy paste, and olive oil. It is beautiful green color that really pops on the plate and has nice bright garlicky flavor with hints of brininess from the capers and a slight bitterness from the kale and vinegar. The salsa verde pairs beautifully with the sweet chewy sun-dried tomatoes and the decadent and creamy burrata. 

Not only is this a gorgeous bruschetta, with colors resembling the Italian flag, but it's also bursting with flavor and texture. I loved biting into the crunchy ciabatta bread and tasting all the elements: the hint of char on the bread, the bright fresh flavor from kale salsa verde, the sweet chewy sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and decadently creamy and lucsious burrata cheese. I want another piece just thinking about it!

 Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde Bruschetta
Adaped from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6

Salsa Verde
1-1/2 cups chopped Tuscan kale
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons caper, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 cup olive oil*
salt and pepper, to taste*

1 loaf ciabatta bread, cut in half horizontally
1/4 cup olive oil, for brushing on bread
8 ounces burrata or mozzarella (about 2 medium balls)
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
8 oil-marinated sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

For the Salsa Verde: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the kale and garlic until roughly chopped. Add the capers, vinegar, Dijon mustard, anchovy paste and salt (if using) and pulse 1 or 2 times more. Add the olive oil and run the processor for 5 seconds. Set aside to let the flavors marry.

To Assemble the Bruschetta:  Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Drizzle both halves of the bread evenly with the olive oil. Grill on each side until golden brown and charredin a few spots, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the bread to a cutting board. Spoon the salsa verde evenly over each half of the bread. Tear the burrata over the salsa verde and sprinkle the pine nuts and tomatoes evenly over the tops. Cut each bread half into slices and serve.

*Notes: I reduced the olive oil in the salsa verde by half and borrowed a method I used from my good friend Deb, of Kahakai Kitchen. I washed my kale and did not dry it. I used the leftover water clinging to the kale to help loosen up my salsa verde so I wouldn't have to use all the oil. Also, I did not drizzle my ciabatta with olive oil. I brushed a small amount of oil onto my bread with a brush. I absolutely love salt, but I do not think you need to add any salt to the salsa verde. It is plenty salty between the use of the capers and anchovy paste. In fact, if you are sensitive to salt you may want to be sure to drain and rinse your capers and go easy on the anchovy paste.

Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Tri-berry Oven Pancakes

If you're looking for the perfect dish for your spring brunch, Ina Garten's Tri-berry Oven Pancakes are just the thing! A colorful mix of fresh berries nestled in a puffy oven pancake drizzled with honey and a dusting of powdered sugar. I'm convinced there is no better way to start the day!

Oven pancakes are perfect for entertataining. Mix up a batch, fill your ramekins, and let the pancakes puff away in the oven while you talk with your guests. I love how customizable this recipe is. I have visions of a beautiful buffet brimming with a colorful array of fruit and a fun variety of toppings: Greek yogurt, whipped cream, lemon curd, grated chocolate, and cinnamon sugar just to name a few. I think it has potential to be the best brunch party ever!

Tri-berry Oven Pancakes
Adapted from Back To Basics
by Ina Garten
Serves 4

1 cup each raspberries, blueberries, and sliced strawberries*
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 4 teaspoons for the dishes
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk*
12 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
Maple syrup/honey and confectioners' sugar, for garnish

*Notes: My store was out of blueberries, so I used blackberries. Your gratin dishes should measure 6 inches in diameter across the bottom and 7 inches across the top. I used skim milk in place of whole milk.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Gently combine the berries and sugar in a small bowl and set aside while you make the pancakes. Place 4 (6 to 7 inch) individual gratin dishes on two sheet pans. Place 1 teaspoon of butter in each gratin dish and set aside.

Place the eggs in the bowlof an electric mixer fitted with a whick attachment and beat on medium speed until mixed. Add the milk and combine. Slowly add the flour, vanilla, orange zest, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and the salt and mix just until smooth. Whisk by hand if the mixture is lumpy.

Place the gratin dishes in the oven for 3 minutes, until the butter is hot and bubbly. Make sure the butter cover the bottom of each dish. Immediately divide the batter equally among the gratin dishes and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned. Divide the berries among the dishes, drizzle with maple syrup or honey, dust with confectioners sugar, and serve hot.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Chips, Chips, and More Chips {Apple, Kale, and Sweet Potato...oh my!}

Let there be chips of all colors! Red, Orange, and Green! Veggie chips and fruit chips. Chips for days.

I was feeling snacky, and healthy, and couldn't decide between Giada's Baked Kale and Sweet Potato Chips or her Spiced Apple Chips with Sweet Yogurt Dip, so I made both! In the process, I made friends with my mandoline, and my oven, because I spent the better part of the afternoon slicing apples and sweet potatoes into thin slices. Then I spent even more time standing guard over my thinly sliced beauties while they crisped up in the oven. It was somewhat of an endeavor, but a tasty one!

Giada's Baked Kale and Sweet Potato Chips are seasoned with a small amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper for a very simple preparation. I thought they made for a very colorful and unique snack and enjoyed both chips, but I definitely preferred the kale chips to the sweet potato chips. I love the kale's light airy texture and find them quite addictive! Both chips really satisfied that salty crunchy craving.

 Baked Kale and Sweet Potato Chips
Adapted from Giada's Feel Good Food
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

1 medium sweet potato (8 ounces)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
3 large kale leaves

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife, slice the potato into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Put in a bowl and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss well. Arrange in a single layer (without overlapping) on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 12 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue to bake, checking every 2 minutes, until brown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Season the chips with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove the thick stem from the kale leaves and discard. Cut the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Put in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss well. Arrange the kale in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake the kale until crisp and slightly dark on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let the chips cool before serving. 

The Spiced Apple Chips with Sweet Yogurt Dip were a fun sweet treat! The apple chips were paper thin and had a very light and delicate "melt in your mouth" texture. I wasn't sure if  I would like the chips dipped into the yogurt dip, but I have to say that I enjoyed the sweet creamy yogurt with the thin crispy apple chips and found it to be a very delightful combination. It really satisfied my sweet tooth!

Making homemade chips was a somewhat lengthy process, but it was a fun one. The best part was I didn't have to feel guilty about snacking along the way! While I enjoyed all the chips, I will say the kale chips were my ultimate favorite. I can see myself making a lot of kale chips in the future. I'm already toying with the idea of making a garlic and parmesan flavored kale chip in the very soon! Yum!

Please note: Cooking and cooling times will depend on your oven and the thickness of your chips.  You will need to check your chips every so often to make sure they are not overcooking.

Spiced Apples Chips w/ Sweet Yogurt Dip
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

Apple Chips
1 red apple, such as Honeycrisp
1 green apple, such as Granny Smith
Vegetable cooking spray
1/4 cup sugar
 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sweet Yogurt Dip
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the chips: Place 1 rack at the top and 1 at the bottom position and preheat the oven to 275F. Line 2 large heavy baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly coat the parchment with nonstick spray.

For the topping: In a small bowl, stir the sugar, cinnamon, and salt until blended.

For the apple chips: Stand each apple upright. Cut 1/4 inch vertically off the right and left sides of each apple (this creates a steady surface for slicing on the mandoline and makes things much safer). Set the mandoline or v-slicer for cutting 1/16-inch-thick slices (should be paper thin and transparent). Cut slices until the apple core is exposed. Turn the apple over and cut slices off the remaining apple until the core is exposed. Arrange the apple slices in a single layer on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the second apple. (If you're like me then all of your slices will not fit onto the baking pans. Make another batch or select only your nicest slices and eat the rest).

Using your fingertips, sprinkle the apple slices generously with the topping (I sprinkled generously but only used half the topping).  Bake until the edges curl and the chips are golden and feel crisp, 40 to 45 minutes. Pull the parchment with the apples onto the work surface and cool completely, 20 to 30 minutes (the chips will crisp more as they cool). NOTE: My chips cooked and cooled in half the time

For the dip: In a medium bowl, stir the yogurt, honey/syrup, vanilla, and salt until blended. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve the dip alongside the apple chips.