Kale salad with cranberry vinaigrette

December 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Over the course of the month that I spent more time in a plane than in a car due to travels both to see family and flying all over the country for work, I was happy to frivolously spend money on the cooking magazines that I don’t subscribe to (Fine Cooking in this case). Since they don’t really feed you on the plane any more, I just like to look at pretty pictures of delicious meals in hopes that that’ll be satisfying enough. As a bonus, I also discover new dishes to make.

This is one of those that I waited months for the perfect group to test it out, and man was it a huge success. I like a good kale salad, but I had never made one before. I know that kale and kale salads have been the trendy thing for a while now, but I couldn’t resist. This recipe with bright flavorful kale and a cranberry vinaigrette (and who knew writing a food blog would teach me how to spell vinaigrette!) seemed like a perfect and colorful addition to the holiday table.

We all decided that this dressing was really a star on its own and could work with so many different things. I’ll definitely be making this recipe again and again and playing around with different additions and substitutions here and there. I dressed the kale about an hour before we ate; the kale was perfectly tender. The orange provided a nice counter point to the cranberry, and the fresh ginger provided a really nice brightness to the overall dish.

I didn’t have access to a food processor and so chopped the fresh cranberries into small bits, but they were just loosely minced. I’m not convinced that the salad needs the fresh cranberries. Dried cranberries would be too sweet, however, and the dressing doesn’t need any more sweetness. Perhaps mincing frozen ones when fresh can’t be found any more would work, and since you only need a half a cup you can just take a small portion of the frozen ones at a time. That’ll be my next test for sure.

IMG_4716

The Stuff

5oz of mature curly kale leaves, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and minced

2 tbs red wine vinegar

1 tbs cranberry juice

1 tbs honey

4 tbs olive oil

1 – 2 tsp freshly grated ginger (add ginger to taste, I liked it closer to 1)

salt and pepper to taste

1 medium navel orange in 1/4-1/2 inch pieces (cut the top and bottom off of the orange, stand it on it’s end and with a paring knife cut off the peal and pith in strips, cut out the orange segments)

The Dressing

1. Whisk the vinegar, cranberry juice and honey in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Whisk in the ginger and minced cranberries. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Toss the kale in the dressing, season with salt and pepper.

3. Let sit for at least 15 minutes but up to an hour and a half. Toss in the orange pieces and eat it up!

Samosas (re-creating a long time accompaniment to our tikka dinners)

July 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

So for a dinner gathering, the task at hand was to bring a side dish to go along with curry. I was assuming rice was already included, so I needed to stay away from grain options. Basically at a loss with what to make, I thought of the samosa’s that we used to have, quite a bit ago now, with tikka (i.e. this one that’s still my favorite go to recipe) while watching project runway or just hanging out.

Basically I used an Emeril recipe as a general guide for the filling, the one pictured for how to bake them (because I really didn’t want to mess with oil and frying), and then an epicurious one for the Cilantro Mint Chutney/sauce that was super easy and really did add a nice dimension to the finished product. Though I made tweaks and changed to each bit, so I can say this is my own creation well enough.

I’ve got to say they turned out pretty darn well.

ZA0106_Baked-Samosas-with-Mint-Chutney_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape(Of course I neglected to take a picture, this one is from the Food Network recipe that I used as a guide for the baking instructions, but not really anything else).

 

The stuff

Samosa filling

2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2-1 cup frozen peas, left out to thaw

1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil (our oil of choice at the moment) or whatever you want to use–ghee I think would be more traditional and I think you can find it at Trader Joe’s if you feel the need

1/2 cup minced/finely diced onion

2 carrots, chopped into tiny cubes

2-3 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

2-3 minced/grated cloves of garlic

2 minced serrano chile peppers (or your choice pepper)

1 heaping teaspoon of ground coriander

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of garam masala (or a little more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)

1 teaspoon salt

Either ~2 tablespoons of Chutney (see below) or 1 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 2 teaspoons lemon juice

 

Cilantro-Mint Sauce

2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 cup packed fresh mint

1/2 cup roughly chopped white onion

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon minced chile (like a bit of a serrano chile), or to taste

1-2 teaspoons of grated ginger (optional, to taste)

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)

 

Crust/dough

1 package of puff pastry dough (e.g. Pepperidge farm) containing 2 sheets) made about 18, though it could make up to 24 I think.

Thawed and rolled out a little bit.

I cut each of the three sections of a sheet into 3 pieces. If you roll out the dough a little bit, then I think you can cut each section into 4 pieces. I don’t think this would be a bad idea as it would possible have a slightly better filling to dough ratio.

This filling probably makes enough to make easily 30-40 (enough to use 3-4 sheets of puff pastry). So I froze the leftover filling to throw in a curry or to make more samosas later.

 

The plan

Filling

1. Boil potatoes until just tender. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large saute pan or skillet and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and ginger, and cook, stirring, until starting to caramelize, about 5-8 minutes.

3. Add the garlic, chile peppers, garam masala, salt, turmeric, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.

4. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring until the potatoes start to color and become dry, about 3-5 minutes. Add the peas and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

5. Remove from the heat and add the chutney or the cilantro and lemon juice. Stir to combine, then adjust the seasoning, to taste. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

6.  Thaw the puff pastry dough and rolled out a little bit. I cut each of the three sections of a sheet into 3 pieces. If you roll out the dough a little bit, then I think you can cut each section into 4 pieces. I don’t think this would be a bad idea as it would possibly have a slightly better filling to dough ratio.

7. You can do lots of fancy things to stuff the samosas so that they look more like traditional ones. I just did a basic thing and made them like a mini-turnover of sorts. Put about a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center. Spread a little water along the edges of the dough and folded it over. Seal using a fork.

8. Arrange the samosas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

9. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and 1 teaspoon water with a fork until thoroughly combined. Brush the tops of the samosas with the egg wash.

10. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then turn heat down to 375 and bake for 10 more minutes. You can flip them over just before you turn the heat down, if you like. We did and they were nicely golden brown on all sides.

11. Serve warm with the chutney/sauce and eat them up!

The chutney

Puree all of the ingredients, listed. Adjust seasonings. Serve along side the warm samosas.

 

 

“THE” chili cheese dip

March 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Fine, I’ll admit it.  I love me some seriously unclassy food.  This dip, while not much to look at, is probably the appetizer I make most.  Why?  People LOVE IT.  They snarf it when no one is looking (lest they be dubbed gauche), but trust me – people adore it.  It’s delicious and it takes 2 minutes to put together, and then requires ‘cooking’ in the microwave.  Done and done, where’s the party?!

Ingredients

  • two (2) 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese, room temp if possible as it makes it easier to spread
  • 1 can of chili with beans (yes, a CAN of chili.  deal with it.)
  • 1 bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
  • If you want to be fancy, a scallion or two, for decoration once it comes out of the microwave

“Directions”

  1. Get a shallow large dish – a dinner plate works well.
  2. Smear the cream cheese on the bottom of the dish, leaving a slight border (otherwise it’ll be messy)
  3. Dump the chili on top and spread it around.
  4. Dump as much grated cheese on top as you want (at LEAST a cup, don’t be cheap)
  5. Microwave for 5 minutes or until the cheddar is melted.  If you’re posh, slice up a scallion and sprinkle on top for ‘garnish’ once it’s out of the microwave.

You are done.  Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy the compliments, or more likely, just notice it’s the first appetizer to be gone.

Baked brie with apples, pecans, and cranberries

October 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

baked brie

Baked brie, right out of the oven!

I got this wonderful recipe from a close friend.  It is a simple, delicious appetizer that is perfect for this time of year when the air is crisp and the leaves start to turn.  And it couldn’t be easier to make – it just needs to be assembled and heated!  Photos courtesy of the lovely Brigid.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz brie  – I used a 7 oz wedge because I couldn’t find an 8 oz wheel
  • 1/2 cup apple diced small, give or take (precision is not necessary here!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (eg, Craisins)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter (or just super soft butter)

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Combine the apples, pecans, cranberries, cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter
  • Slice the brie in half horizontally (like you’re making a sandwich) and separate the two halves
  • Place one half of the brie on an oven proof plate, cut side up.   Cover with half the apple mixture.
  • Put the top half of the brie sandwich on (rind side up), then cover it with the other half of the apples
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, basically until the cheese is as gooey as you want it!  Serve with crackers or french bread, or eat with a spoon when no one is looking.
Pre-baked brie, ready for the oven

Pre-baked brie, ready for the oven

Asparagus and goat cheese galette – YUMMY!

September 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Guys , this was delicious.  Brigid and I made it for our Project Runway night!  I think a critical part of the yum-factor was that I took the time to make dough from scratch.   It was SO GOOD.  It was earthy and sweet.  Sure I made some  alterations from the original recipe, and I will share those with you! It was based super-alot on this recipe, sourced by Miss B: http://www.simplebites.net/asparagus-goat-cheese-galette/

Ingredients:

Crust:
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • LEMON zest (YES, Just zest a whole lemon, and put 1/4 of it in the crust and the rest in the cheese mixture.  OK?!)
Filling:
  • 4 oz  goat cheese (chevre), softened
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella
  • ~ 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2/3 lb asparagus, maybe even less – whatever will fit
  • lemon zest – like, as much as possible
  • Pine nuts – a sprinkling
Glaze:
  • 1 egg (for an EGG WASH)

Instructions:

1.  Put flour, salt and butter in a food processor (CUISINART) and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal – like 5-10 times.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together yogurt, water,  lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour over flour mixture and use hands or a wooden spoon to form dough into a ball.  You guys, this is the craggiest, dryest dough ever.  Just trust in the dough gods and wrap it all up.  My dough was SO dry I added a bit more water – just enough til it seemed not TOO DRY.   USE YOUR JUDGEMENT.  Then, wrap in plastic and store in freezer for 20 minutes (or fridge for several hours – this is what WE DID).

2.  For filling:

Whisk together 1.5  T olive oil and garlic clove in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the three cheeses and stir in 1-2 teaspoon of the olive oil mixture you just made. Refrigerate cheese mix until ready for use.

Raw galette

Raw galette

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

4.  Roll the chilled dough into a 12-inch circle, trimming edges until smooth. Transfer dough to lined baking sheet. Leaving a 2-inch border, spread the cheese mixture evenly over dough. Arrange asparagus over the cheese then drizzle remaining olive oil mixture over the top.   Sprinkle the heck out of the top with pine nuts.

5. Fold over the edges of dough, pleating to make it fit.  OKAY SURE – you caught us, YES then we grated a bunch of yummy at-hand cheese over the top of all of it.  So sue us.

6.  Whisk  egg . Brush over the crust and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is puffed, asparagus is tender, and crust is golden brown.   YUM!  Let rest for like 5 minutes otherwise YOU’LL REGRET IT! (because cheese etc will drip out everywhere and make a big mess).

Baked galette - divine!

Baked galette – divine!

Yeah.

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