Showing posts with label Two for Tuesdays Event. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Two for Tuesdays Event. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mark Bittman's Pasta with Browned Butter, Sage and Parmesan

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs our theme is "Damn That's Sexy!" -- finding our own interpretation of sexy food through the recipes of Mark Bittman. I find Bittman's Pasta with Butter, Sage and Parmesan to be a sexy dish. It's composed of a few, simple, quality ingredients--that's sexy. It's pasta--a sexy food, slightly messy and perfect for slurping and twirling, also sexy. Butter is very sexy, especially when browned so that the rich, nuttiness comes out. I find fresh sage to be a sexy herb--rich, woodsy, slightly minty, especially sexy when it's just gathered from the herb garden and crisped up in all that sexy butter. ;-) Fluffy clouds of Parmigiano-Reggiano, zested with a microplane...yeah that's pretty sexy too.

The fact that you can have this delicious dish on the table in basically just the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta, now Damn, That's Sexy!

Pasta with Browned Butter, Sage and Parmesan
"How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman

A classic when made with brown butter, almost as good with olive oil."

1 lb long pasta like spaghetti or linguine, or other pasta
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy; drain it, reserving some of the cooking water.

Heat 4 or more tablespoons butter with 20 or 30 fresh sage leaves over medium heat for about 3 minutes; the butter should brown and the sage sizzle. Toss cooked pasta with the butter, sage, and Parmesan, thinning the sauce with pasta cooking liquid if necessary. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Notes/Results: Luscious and sexy! Brown butter and sage is a perfect flavor combination, and the cheese only makes it better. With simple dishes like this, you want to use the best quality ingredients possible. I used my favorite fresh tagliatelle pasta, creamy organic butter, freshly picked sage, and of course the Parmigiano-Reggiano. It all adds up to a big bowl of deliciousness. Serve with a simple salad, a glass or your favorite wine, and something chocolate for dessert for a sexy dinner. I will make this again.

You can see what food the other IHCC participants found sexy this week by going to the post (here) and following the links.

Also since this sexy pasta dish is made with the goodness of real foods, I am linking it to the Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop co-hosted by my friend girlichef and some other terrific bloggers.

And of course since it's yummy pasta, I am also sending it to Ruth's weekly Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Nic from Lemon and Cheese.

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pineapple Cooler--A Unique & Tasty Simple Saturday Sipper (Or...What Do You Do With YOUR Pineapple Rinds?!)

We have a saying here; "Lucky we live Hawaii" that can pertain to many things--the weather, the gorgeous scenery, the friendly people and laid-back island culture, even the abundance of things like sweet juicy local pineapple. They are so sweet and good that you hate to waste any part of them so I was excited to find a recipe for a unique Pineapple Cooler in my copy of "Delia's Summer Collection" by Delia Smith. (Purchased for $1 at the Friends of the Library sale. Yes, I know I keep repeating that, but I loves me a bargain!)

What makes this drink so unusual is that it is made by fermenting the rind of the watermelon, which normally gets tossed away. The pineapple, (this one from the farmers market), is carefully washed, the rind cut off (the pineapple flesh can be eaten or saved for something else), and the skin chopped into pieces and soaked in a bowl of water on the counter for several days, before it is strained and mixed with a sweetener. Easy-peasy, eco-friendly, & fun--a perfect summery Simple Saturday Sipper!

Delia says, "This is a most extraordinary drink. It sounds so unlikely, but it really does taste good--not like pineapple juice but more like cider. It's very refreshing on a hot summer's day, and it's great fun to make in that it uses only the skin of the pineapple which is normally thrown away--so there is nothing to lose!"

Pineapple Cooler
"Delia's Summer Collection" by Delia Smith
(Serves 6-8)

the rind of 1 ripe medium pineapple, well rinsed
approximately 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar (I used honey)
sprigs of fresh mint

First of all cut the stalky top and the base off the pineapple and discard these. Now stand the pineapple upright on its base and, using a sharp knife, cut away the skin in long strips, working your way all around the fruit. Reserve the fruit itself for a dessert.

Now to get to work with a sharp knife, chopping the skin into small pieces about 1 inch (2.5 cm) square. Then pile them into a bowl, pour over 1 1/2 pints (850 ml) cold water, then cover the bowl with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 3-4 days or until the mixture is bubbly and fermenting. Strain it into a jug, add sugar to taste and serve with lots of ice and sprigs of mint.

Notes/Results: Refreshing and really good. I worried that the drink wouldn't have much flavor but it does. The pineapple flavor is there although it isn't as sweet, and it has a certain edge to it, the "cider-ish" taste that Delia Smith describes. Although the recipe calls for sugar, I used a local artisan honey and liked the flavor it added. Serve this one really cold over ice and it's quite a thirst-quencher--plus it's very fun to use something that you normally throw away to make a delicious drink. I will definitely make this again.

So what happened to the inside of the pineapple? Well, it is in the process of becoming homemade pineapple liqueur. It has been steeping in a mix of vodka and rum for a week, the chunks will be removed tomorrow and will be squeezed, the juice strained and sweetener added (more local honey for me.) Then it gets aged for a month before it is ready to use, so more on how the liqueur turns out and how I use in a later post. ;-)

I'm linking this post to girlichef for Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival. Check out her site here, (or one of the other 5 bloggers hosting) on Tuesday for all the links to the wholesome, natural "real food" out there in blogland. This Pineapple Cooler is made from local pineapple, and in this case local honey, simple, natural, whole food ingredients.

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Dinner for Isabelle--Cook The Books: "The School of Essential Ingredients"

Our current selection for Cook The Books, (the virtual foodie book club co-hosted by Rachel, The Crispy Cook, Johanna from Food Junkie Not Junk Food and yours truly), is "The School of Essential Ingredients"--the first novel by Erica Bauermeister. I had actually read and enjoyed this book a few months before Rachel, our host for this round selected it and I was happy to do a little re-reading to help me decide what to make from the endless possibilities.

"The School of Essential Ingredients" is the story of Lillian, a chef and restaurateur who holds a monthly cooking class on Monday evenings. The book gives us a peek into the lives of the eight students, and Lillian herself as they are brought together by food, friendship and love. It is a charming, well written book, and one that I was sorry to see end, as I grew to care about each of the characters and wanted to know more about them and their lives. Although at Lillian's restaurant to take a cooking class, each of the students learns not just how to create delicious food, but learns something about themselves in the process.

For my Cook The Books entry, I was drawn to the meal Lillian serves Isabelle, an older woman losing her short-term memories, who shows up on the wrong night, thinking it is time for cooking class. Not only did the simple yet elegant dinner of a glass of sparkling white wine, a salad of mixed lettuces, dried cranberries, pear and almonds, salmon on cannellini beans with fried sage and a lemon tart for dessert sound delicious, I was touched by the grace, love and care that Lillian gave Isabelle. Delicious, nourishing food, served from the heart--which is where the best meals come from. The meal involves all of Isabelle's senses and takes her back through her past. I decided to recreate my interpretation of the dinner, just putting things together either in the way I imagine they might be, or the way I wanted them--but all inspired by the book.

"The taste was the first day of spring, with the sharp bite of the cranberries, quickly following the firm crunch of nuts, the softness of pear flesh. Each taste here, defined, gone, mellowed only slightly by the touch of champagne vinegar in the dressing."

Champagne Vinaigrette
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1/2 cup)

1 shallot, peeled and very finely minced
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Serve with salad of mixed baby lettuces, dried cranberries, toasted, thin sliced almonds, and thinly sliced pear.

"Isabelle looked down--the empty salad plate was gone without her noticing, replaced by a dinner plate of white cannellini beans, atop of which sat a perfect piece of salmon, garnished with strips of fried green leaves. Isabelle picked up one of them experimentally and brought it to her nose. Dusty green, the smell of life made out of sun and little water, the driest of perfumes. Sage."

For my salmon and beans, I decided to simply roast a piece of salmon (in this case a piece of Wild Alaskan King Salmon), in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. For the beans, I soaked dried cannellini beans, then cooked them in water with sauteed onions, garlic, and a couple of sage sprigs. I took some liberties and added some crisped prosciutto because the only thing better than creamy beans with sage, is creamy beans with sage and crisp prosciutto! ;-) Then I quick-fried some sage leaves for the garnish.

Simple Roasted Salmon
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 (5 to 6 oz) pieces salmon fillet with skin
2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Drizzle salmon all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast (skin side down), on a foil-lined baking sheet until fish is just cooked through, about 12-14 minutes. Carefully lift flesh from skin with a metal spatula and transfer salmon to a serving plate.

Creamy Cannellini Beans with Prosciutto & Fried Sage
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 4 cups)

2 cups dried cannellini (white kidney beans)
water--enough to cover beans
1 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 slices prosciutto, chopped coarsely
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small sprigs fresh sage
sea salt & black pepper to taste

Place dried beans in large bowl, cover with cold water and let soak overnight. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat, add prosciutto and cook until crisp--about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, drain on paper towels and set aside. Add onions to same pan and cook about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add
drained beans to onions and garlic and add enough water to cover beans by about 1 inch or so. Add sage sprigs and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer beans uncovered about 1 1/2 hours or longer, stirring occasionally until beans are tender, adding more water if needed to keep beans just covered. Remove sage sprigs, season beans to taste with salt and pepper, add prosciutto and warm through. Serve with fried sage leaves.

Fried Sage Leaves

about 10-12 fresh sage leaves
olive or canola oil
sea salt (optional)

Rinse sage leaves and lay flat on a double layer of paper towels, then cover with more towels and press gently to dry and flatten out leaves. Pour oil into a small pan to a depth of about 1/4 inch, and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, lower heat to medium and gently add sage, a few leaves at a time. Fry just until oil stops bubbling around leaves--about 10 to 12 seconds (do not let sage brown), then remove carefully with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on more paper towels. If desired, sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Serve warm.

Notes/Results: Excellent dinner! The salad was a great combination of flavor and texture. I also think it would be nice with a little goat cheese added but it was quite delicious as it was. The salmon ended up cooked perfectly, tender and "like buttah" (Why roasting salmon is my favorite way to prepare good quality, wild salmon.) The beans were creamy and delicious with lots of flavor from the onion, garlic, sage and prosciutto. I found myself going back to snag bites of them from the fridge later--they were so good. The crunchy fried sage leaves added great texture and more good flavor and with the salmon it was pretty perfect. I would make it all again, happily! ;-)

"They ate in an easy silence, reveling in the creamy lemon tart in front of them. After a while, Isabelle spoke again. "You know," she said, holding up a forkful, "I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I remember it later or not."

For dessert, I could pretend I made a lemon tart, but I didn't for a number of reasons:
  1. Remember, I am NOT A BAKER!
  2. The weather has been humid and not conducive to baking
  3. I don't need a whole lemon tart!
When buying my salmon and things at Whole Foods, I happened to glance at the pastry case and saw the cutest little one-bite lemon and lemon raspberry tarts. Automatic portion control! So I bought a couple of the tarts to serve with the meal. I am sure Lillian's tart would have been amazing but these were pretty tasty and much more figure-friendly than a whole tart would have been. ;-)

So there it is...a delicious dinner for Isabelle and for me. Simply prepared, real food made from quality ingredients, and the epitome of comfort--like a big hug for the belly and the soul. (Much like "The School of Essential Ingredients" itself.) Thanks to Rachel for picking another wonderful book that provided great inspiration. If you want to join us for this round of CTB, you have until July 30th to read the book and submit a dish inspired by it. Rachel will be rounding up all of the entries at the end of the month and a winner selected by our author, Erica Bauermeister herself. Hope you join us!

I am also linking this post and particularly the salmon and cannellini bean dish to Two for Tuesdays at the blog of my friend girlichef, who co-hosts this event celebrating real food, wholesome and natural with 5 other fabulous bloggers each week. With Lillian's love of good, soulful food, it seems only fitting. ;-)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

It's been a few weeks since my last Things I Am Loving This Week post, (those mostly food-related things I am enjoying and want to share), so I thought I better get busy and find some.

First up...I love hummus and after making my own homemade tahini the other day, I decided to use some in some hummus. Now I'll admit that I make a good hummus, but it usually involves opening a few cans of garbanzo beans and a jar of tahini. For this one I cooked dried chickpeas and along with the homemade tahini and some yummy roasted garlic, made a big old batch of delicious hummus. I have been enjoying it all week with warm flat bread, cut veggies and tortilla chips. It is amazing that with a little extra effort, how much better it tastes than my normal hummus and especially better than store-bought.

Hummus with Homemade Tahini
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2 cups) (I doubled the recipe)

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid)
1/4 cup tahini (recipe here)
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
olive oil as needed
salt and black pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients except the olive oil and reserved cooking liquid from beans in food processor. Add a combination of bean cooking liquid and olive oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

I am linking this hummus to Two For Tuesdays hosted by girlichef and some other wonderful bloggers and featuring real, wholesome and homemade food.

I also love cookbooks, libraries, and library sales that sell used cookbooks. Although I vowed not to attend the giant Friends of the Library book sale because I really do not need more cookbooks for obvious reasons, I found myself nearby with 30 minutes to kill so of course I went. I set myself a budget of no more than $20.00 and ended up with a small stack of books for $11.52--not too shabby! ;-)

What did I buy? A book on Indonesian Cookery published in 1963 ($3), a book on dessert sweetened with fruit juice purees ($1), a pressure cooking book ($2), the cookbook from a favorite Bainbridge Island WA diner ($2), Better Homes and Gardens "Best Buffets Cookbook" from 1974 ($1)--had to buy that one because of the cover picture--loving the guy in the turtleneck and leisure suit. ;-) Last but not least, two books from famous British cook, Delia Smith: Summer and Winter ($1 each). Not bad huh? I already have multiple recipes tagged, and it is for the local libraries--always a good cause.

Finally who doesn't love house guests that come bearing chocolate?! My friends Jonathan and Dale came for a too-brief visit recently and brought me a stack of Theo chocolate bars. Love that! The Madagascar 74% dark chocolate ended up in my Frozen Hot Chocolate (delicious!) but I have been enjoying the other ones bit by bit. The Spicy Chili is especially good--just the right amount of heat. Ahh chocolate... the quickest way to my heart.

So those are the Things I Am Loving This Week.

How about you? What things are you enjoying?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing (& Homemade Tahini!)

Sure this Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing is delicious, and healthy, and reportedly Greek so it is going to Regional Recipes: Greece, hosted by my blogging buddy Joanne at Eats Well With Others but the really important thing is…I MADE Tahini! And by “made” I don’t mean I opened the jar, I actually toasted and ground up sesame seeds and made some pretty tasty tahini and it was easy, and economical too.

I go through a fair amount of tahini here at Kahakai Kitchen—it’s how I get through much of the unending kale and other dark leafy greens in my CSA box—sautéed leafy greens with tahini sauce = yum. Here, depending on the brand and type, it is around $9-$11 a jar—unless I can find it on sale. My trial batch of tahini used 2 cups of organic, hulled sesame seeds which came to $2.64 at my local co-op and netted me about 1 1/2 cups of tahini. I’d say that for a minimum amount of effort (cleaning the food processor is the hardest part), and with bulk sesame seeds, homemade tahini is quite a bargain and it tastes great--even better than most of the store-bought brands I have tried. I can't believe I never attempted to make my own before now.

There were several recipes for homemade tahini but I went with this one and then adjusted it a bit. The instructions said to pulse the toasted seeds in the food processor for 3-5 minutes, I just left it running, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides until it became smooth. I also added a bit of sesame oil at the end for a little extra flavor. Great taste and the texture ended up much smoother than some of the ones I saw online. I don’t know if that is due to keeping the processor running, the fact I toasted the sesame seeds pretty lightly, or I was busy and impatient and didn’t wait for the seeds to cool…so I think much more tahini experimentation is in order to figure it out.

Homemade Tahini
Adapted from D.I.Y. Tahini from Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups white sesame seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp sesame seed oil

Heat a heavy wide-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast lightly - about 2 minutes, shaking the pan so they toast evenly. Let cool completely.

Put sesame seeds into a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Process for 3-5 minutes, or until it's as smooth as you can get it, stopping to scrape down the sides periodically. When mostly smooth, drizzle sesame oil in and pulse a few times to blend. Refrigerate.

I promptly used 1/2 cup of my tahini in this fresh-tasting parsley salad. The tahini is mixed with lemon juice, garlic, and other seasonings into a delicious dressing that is then mixed with chopped parsley, green onion and toasted pine nuts to make a meze-style salad. The salad is from “Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings” by Joyce Goldstein, a book that should have been pulled off my cookbook shelves and used long ago. I served it with some homemade pita chips, seasoned with cumin.

Goldstein says, “While called a salad, this is really a meze spread to be served with pita bread. I sometimes add toasted pine nuts to the parsley and tahini mixture, as I think they add texture and sweetness. If you don’t have green onions on hand, you can use 4 tablespoons chopped chives instead.

Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing (Tahini Salata)
Mediterranean Fresh” by Joyce Goldstein
(Serves 4-6)

1/2 cup tahini dressing (see recipe below), plus more if needed
sea salt, if needed
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
pita bread, cut into triangles and warmed

Put the tahini dressing in a blender or small food processor and beat in a bit of water to make it thin enough to coat the leaves. Salt is crucial for the balance of flavor, so dip a leaf of parsley into the dressing and add salt if needed.

In a salad bowl, toss the parley, green onions, and toasted pine nuts with the dressing. Serve with the pita bread for scooping.

Tahini Dressing
(Makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 cup sesame tahini
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup cold water, plus more if needed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp toasted cumin seed, ground (optional)
pinch of cayenne (optional)
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Combine the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor or blender and puree. Add water as needed to thin to a spreadable consistency for a dip and even thinner for salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and with cumin and cayenne if you like.

To serve as a dip, spoon into a shallow bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley. (Some cooks stir the parsley into the dressing.)

Variation: Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and ½ tsp cayenne to the tahini mixture when pureeing.

Notes/Results: Really good! I wasn’t too sure I would like all of that parsley but the tahini dressing softens it and the toasted pine nuts add nice texture. I think it would make an awesome sandwich spread too. The dressing is better than my usual tahini dressing (is it the recipe or my HOMEMADE tahini? Hmmm…), so I think it may become a staple. I will make all three recipes—tahini, the salad and the dressing again. The rest of my tahini is destined for some yummy hummus. ;-)

In addition to Regional Recipes Greece (which Joanne will be rounding up at the end of the month), this post is being linked to Two for Tuesdays co-hosted by my good friend girlichef. Two for Tuesdays focuses on “real” and hand prepared foods and this homemade tahini and salad definitely qualify. girlichef and the other Two for Tuesday hosts will have the links of all the recipes submitted this week on their blogs, so go check them out.


In case you are a regular reader of my blog and were wondering…next week it’s back to my normal semi-regular Tuesday “Things I Am Loving This Week” post.