7/21/14

Farro Salad with Nectarines and Corn Adapted from Vibrant Food Cookbook


Last month I received a preview copy of a cookbook called Vibrant Food written by Kimberley Hasselbrink, the creator of The Year In Food blog.

Kimberley's recipes are divided into categories based on four seasons and highlight the best ingredients each season has to offer. The photos are vibrant, not fussy, and make you want to get into your kitchen and start cooking!

Oh, and you know what else is cool about this book? There is a photo for each recipe!!! No need to guess what the final dish will look like: it's all there for you.

The first recipe I wanted to try was Green Rice Salad with Nectarines and Corn. Once I came back from the grocery store, turned on salsa music and went into my kitchen to start cooking, I realized that I actually did not have the brown basmati rice in my pantry as I thought I had.

Note: by pantry, I mean one of my little kitchen cabinets. God, I wish I had a real pantry!

After a mild panic attack, I decided to make the recipe using farro! I also made a few other changes to Kimberley's recipe. The main changes were these: I sauteed corn kernels instead of grilling the whole corn and I used goat cheese instead of queso fresco because I've noticed that queso fresco always spoils way too quickly in my fridge.

Farro Salad with Nectarines and Corn Adapted from Vibrant Food Cookbook
Ingredients
3/4 cups farro
1 1/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon for the sauce
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, extra for garnish
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, extra for garnish
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
olive oil for sautéing the corn
2 small ears of corn, kernels cut off
2 medium-ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese 


Directions
1. Cook farro in salted water: bring everything to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, and cook farro covered for about 20-30 minutes.
2. In a blender combine cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, lime zest and juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon water. Blend until smooth.
3. Add the sauce to the cooked farro while it's still warm so that the flavors would combine better.
4. Meanwhile, saute the corn kernels in a bit of olive oil. Add to the farro.
5. Serve the salad topped with nectarines, goat cheese and remaining herbs.


This was a fantastic salad! I liked the chewy texture of farro mixed with the creamy goat cheese. My favorite parts of the salad were the sautéed corn, sweet nectarines and the goat cheese ;)

What are your favorite summer salads?

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the Vibrant Food cookbook by the publisher but was not paid for this post. All opinions are my own.

7/18/14

Recycling in the Kitchen: Cheater Refrigerator Green Beans


Do you recycle in your kitchen? I try my best to recycle plastic bottles, boxes from pasta, occasional can of Diet Pepsi and metal cans from tomatoes.

What about recycling ingredients though? One of the simplest ingredients to recycle is the liquid from your favorite jar of pickles. Use that liquid to make quick Refrigerator Green Beans!!

Recycling in the Kitchen: Cheater Refrigerator Green Beans

All you need is the following
1) jar of your favorite pickles: eat the pickles, save the liquid
2) green beans, ends trimmed
3) large pot of boiling water

Here's what you do:
1) add the beans to the pot of boiling water for just a few minutes
2) drain the beans and add directly to the liquid remaining in the pickle jar
3) let the beans cool down on your kitchen counter and then refrigerate for a few days before eating




How easy is that????

You can do the same with broccoli, summer squash, peppers and even watermelon!! Do NOT boil the watermelon though ;)


How do YOU recycle in your kitchen?

Any fun cooking weekend plans?

7/16/14

How to Grill Green Beans Without a Grill? Panini Maker!!


Last week my friend Sylvie tweeted that her mother in law was bringing her a bunch of fresh green beans. I asked what she was planning to do with them, and Sylvie tweeted back that she was just going to grill them.

Well, unlike Sylvie, I don't have either a mother in law or a grill. I did, however, had quite a large amount of green beans from my latest Washington Green Grocer order.

In the past, I've pan sautéed the green beans, pickled them, and roasted them. This time, inspired by Sylvie's grilling idea, I decided to do just that. Grill them. But how did I do that without a grill?

How to Grill Green Beans Without a Grill? Panini Maker!!

I think this was quite a brilliant idea on my part. There's no need to heat the oven. Just heat your Panini maker, season the beans with olive oil, salt and spices, and then put them perpendicular (those math classes really come in handy!!) to the Panini maker's grilling thingies in a single layer. 10 minutes later you have grilled beans!!!

There's no need to turn/flip the beans as you'd have to do if you were to roast them or use a grill pan because the Panini makers grills them from top and bottom. Your house doesn't get overheated. You end up with tender beans with adorable grill marks!

This is going to be my favorite method from now on!

What spice did I use? Green zatar. But you can use whatever you want!



Eat these beans as is, add them to salads or serve on top of farro. They are also great topped with goat cheese.


What's your favorite method for cooking green beans?

7/14/14

Potato Free Hash!? Yes! Kohlrabi Hash with Corn and Chevre


What comes to mind when you hear the word hash? For me, it's an image of brunch, perfectly cooked crispy cubes of potatoes mixed with onions and maybe pulled pork topped with an egg.

But what if you did not have neither the potatoes nor the eggs? Guess what? You can still make a flavorful breakfast or brunch hash. In this particular variation of hash I used kohlrabi!!

Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked, which means it takes less time to cook than potatoes. I added a few other ingredients to the dish for color, texture and flavor and created something that is great eaten directly from a skillet piping hot or the next day straight out of the refrigerator.

Potato Free Hash!? Yes! Kohlrabi Hash with Corn and Chevre
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium kohlrabi bulbs, peeled, diced ~ 1/4"
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
kernels from 1 ear of corn
salt to taste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 roasted red pepper, diced {I used red roasted pepper from a jar, but you can roast your own}
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4-1/3 cups chevre {aka goat cheese!}


Directions
1. Heat a cast iron skillet. Add oil and allow the oil to get hot. Add kohlrabi, onions, green pepper and corn. Season with salt and smoked paprika and sauté for 15-20 minutes. You want the kohlrabi to be cooked through and slightly caramelized.
2. Add roasted red pepper and allow to heat through.
3. Serve topped with parsley and chevre.



I loved how the cheese immediately started to melt once it hit the hot vegetables. If I had eggs in my fridge, I would have definitely poached or fried them to add to this dish, but it's not a requirement.


Want a few other ideas for hash? Check out my previous posts!

 

7/9/14

Greek Culinary Vacation: Kea Artisanal

Today I bring you a photo essay about my experience at the Kea Artisanal Cooking School on the Island of Kea in Greece last year. {Don't forget Monday's post about Tomato Bread!}
 
This, of course, is also my I haven't cooked or photographed anything for the blog so you get photos from my vacation instead of a blank screen ;)
 
Enjoy!
"KEA ARTISANAL introduces visitors to the Mediterranean way of eating, entertaining, and living. Award-winning and internationally renowned cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi with her husband and a select group of friends lead you on a fascinating journey through authentic Greek island food.
The program includes hands-on cooking classes, wine, cheese, olive oil and honey tastings, as well as explorations of the beaches, villages, and unique archaeological sites of the island."
 
Above is the official description. Below is my photo evidence! Please note that my time at the Kea Artisanal was not a media trip: I paid my own way and found it completely worth the $$$. I am not getting any compensation whatsoever to share this information with you. I just want to inspire you to think about your next vacation and to dream a little and to try something new! Why not a culinary trip to Greece?
 
Costas educating the group about Greek cuisine

Aglaia demonstrating a recipe for bread before we all had a chance to make our own

Cheese tasting


Honey tasting

Yogurt tasting: seriously the best yogurt I've ever had. I also got to bring this terracotta pots home!!!

Make sure to come back Friday for one more post!!!

Have you ever taking a culinary vacation? Or taken a cooking class while visiting a new place? What did you think?

7/7/14

Aglaia Kremezi's "Tomato Salad" Bread: Memories of Greek Vacation

Happy Monday! This is my first full week being back at work after coming back from Italy. I haven't really been cooking much, so today I'll share a recipe with you that I learned how to make when I went on a culinary vacation with my friend Cecilia to GREECE!

Last September, Cecilia and I flew to Athens, then took a cab, then a ferry, then another cab to attend a culinary program on the island of Kea: Kea Artisanal. It was a great way to splurge, learn about Greek cuisine, drink a lot of wine, and be in the company of wonderful people.

Aglaia Kremezi and her husband Costas were warm, welcoming, and wonderful hosts. I felt like I was visiting long lost aunt and uncle. Each morning we would arrive to their house, drink coffee, learn a few recipes, have a fabulous lunch outside followed by wine tasting (or honey or olive oil or yogurt), then go back to our own hotel for a nap and then meet again for evening activities. The experience was something I'll never forget.

One of the things we learned how to make was "Tomato Salad" Bread. Carbs and tomatoes? What's not to like. I'm sad to say I haven't made the Recipe since coming back, but that's easy enough to change. I bet looking at the photos below you'd want to make that recipe too!!




What have you been cooking lately?

7/1/14

Chicken Dip with Mango, Red Curry Powder & Stonefire Naan Crisps



A while back I received a box of Stonefire's new crisps to try. As someone who loves snacking, carbs, and crispy things, I was happy to create a recipe inspired by one of the flavors: Tandoori Spice Naan Crisps.

"We spent years perfecting the authentic recipe for our Stonefire® Naan Flatbread. That same quest for authenticity drove the creation of our Stonefire® Naan Crisps. Flame-baked, using no artificial preservatives, Stonefire® Naan Crisps are a versatile snack paired with your favorite toppings or enjoyed plain right out of the bag. We present them to you with the same promise of great taste and authenticity as all of our Stonefire® products."



Chicken Dip with Mango, Red Curry Powder & Stonefire Naan Crisps
Ingredients
1 large skinless boneless chicken breast, poached, shredded and then chopped
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2 mango, peeled, diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 Asian pear, diced
red curry powder to taste {start with a few teaspoons, and add more for a spicier flavor}
mayo to combine
salt to taste
to serve: Stonefire Tandoori Spice Naan Crisps


Directions
1. Combine all ingredients but naan crisps. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.



Disclosure: I was provided with sample products but was under no obligations to create a recipe. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

6/25/14

Super Duper Easy Recipe with Rhubarb: Rhubarb Syrup from TheKitchn


This is a super quick and simple post. If you can still find rhubarb at your grocery store or farmers' market, you MUST make this awesome Rhubarb Syrup from TheKitchn.

All you have to do is cook rhubarb with a bit of sugar and water and then put the mixture through a sieve. You'll get a gorgeous pink syrup that you can add to sparkling water or pour over vanilla ice cream or mix with a bit of vodka and serve over ice.

The "mush" that's left in the sieve is great on top of toast with peanut butter or with a slice of cheese.



How beautiful is this rhubarb syrup???



Thank you TheKitchn for a great idea!!!

What's your go-to rhubarb recipe?

6/23/14

What to Make with Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi and Potato Soup with Chili Oil and Chives


Who says you can't have soup in the summer? This Kohlrabi and Potato Soup with Chili Oil and Chives can be served hot, warm or chilled. It has the most incredibly smooth texture and a great contrast between the sweetness of the kohlrabi and the heat of the chili oil. Plus, it looks sooooo pretty!

What to Make with Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi and Potato Soup with Chili Oil and Chives


Kohlrabi and Potato Soup with Chili Oil and Chives
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and diced
2 golden potatoes, peeled and diced
32 ounces vegetable broth
salt & pepper to taste
splash of milk
chili oil
chopped chives


Directions
1. In a soup pot, cover the cubed kohlrabi and potatoes with the vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are completely cooked through.
2. Puree the soup using a stick blender.
3. Do NOT skip this step: put the pureed soup through a fine sieve. This will ensure you get the smoothest possible texture. Seriously, do not skip this step or you'll get a bunch of stringy pieces of kohlrabi stuck in your teeth.
4. Finish the soup with a splash of milk and serve topped with chili oil and chopped chives.


This soup would be a great first course for a party and can be served in shot glasses: no spoons necessary! As I have mentioned before, you can serve it at almost any temperature you wish. The soup thickens up as it sits in the refrigerator, so you may want to thin it out slightly the following day.

If you choose not to add the milk, you'll have a great vegan soup!


Have you cooked with kohlrabi before? What did you make?

6/18/14

Red, White & Green Shakshouka: Arrivederci!


Guess what? As you are reading this, I'm getting ready to fly to ITALY!!!! This is a well welcomed vacation with good friends, and I cannot wait. Don't worry: I have a few posts scheduled for the time when I'll be away, and if you get bored, make sure to follow me on instagram for all the trip updates.

But let's get back to this Red, White & Green Shakshouka.  Not only does this recipe represent the colors of the Italian flag, but it's also a great dish to make in order to clean up your refrigerator before a trip and to have a substantial but not overly caloric meal.

Red, White & Green Shakshouka
Serves 2-4 depending on your appetite

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
salt & pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1 bunch red chard, chopped
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes
2-4 eggs
1/2 cup crumbled feta

optional: bread

Directions
1. In a large skillet heat the oil. Add zucchini and onions. Season with salt & pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
2. Add red chard and sauté until it has wilted.
3. Add canned tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer.
4. Make wells in the vegetable mixture and carefully drop an egg into each well. Cover the skillet and allow the eggs to get cooked so that the whites are opaque but the yolks are still runny.
5. Serve sprinkled with feta and an optional chunk of bread.

Arrivederci!!!!!!!!!!!!