Sunday, February 22, 2015

Diana Henry's Kale Pesto with Pasta

Snowmageddon '15 arrived this week.  Early Monday morning it started snowing here in Kentucky.  Now let me preface this by saying that a mere inch of snow is enough to cause widespread panic here in the Bluegrass.  So you can imagine what happened when we received over a foot of snow Monday afternoon.  No school all week. No mail.  No garbage collection. No anything (and that's not an exaggeration). Then later in the week the arctic temps came in.  Again, when I say arctic I mean it. On Friday it was colder here in Kentucky than it was in Alaska or Antarctica. Record breaking weather for Kentucky. Everything froze up, even the battery in my car died.  Then came the news that we were going to receive another winter storm, this one bringing ice, sleet, freezing rain, and another several inches of snow.  This news gave the term 'widespread panic' new meaning.
While everyone else was out braving the weather for  the last of the bread, milk, eggs, or ground beef (as pictured here) I was warm and cozy inside.  I was thankful for my food hoarding tendencies.  I like to keep a very well stocked pantry, especially in the winter months, because you never know when bad weather will strike.  Lots of pasta, rice, cereal, broth, cheese, frozen veggies, etc.  This way I don't have to venture out in the bad weather and I can throw together dishes like this Kale Pesto with Pasta.

This Kale Pesto with Pasta sounds super virtuous, and it is fairly healthy, but don't let that fool you.  It is  delicious, hearty, and ultra-comforting!  It really hits the spot! Even my non-kale lovers enjoyed it!  The kale pesto is perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of garlic and cheese.  The addition of red pepper flakes is perfect as the spicy heat from the pepper flakes does a subtle job of spicing things up just right. I enjoyed the pesto with larger pieces of kale still remaining for texture, but you could blend the pesto smooth if you were so inclined.  I will definitely make this dish again!

Kale Pesto with Pasta
Adapted from Diana Henry's 
A Change of Apettite
Serves 4-6

1 pound pasta*
12 oz kale (about 4 cups stemmed and chopped)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
2 good quality anchovies, drained
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino
really good pinch of dried red pepper flakes (optional)

Notes: Use any pasta you like.  Whole wheat, multigrain, or semolina.  The recipe uses linguine, but I also think fusilli, bowtie, or any other smaller shape would be nice as well. 

 Wash the kale well and strip the fibrous leaves from their stems.  At the same time, bring a large pot of water to a boil, plunge the leaves in, and cook for five minutes.  After five minutes, remove the kale from the boiling water and place into a bowl.  Once the kale is removed add in the pasta and cook until al dente.   

While the pasta is cooking make the pesto.  Place the cooked kale into a food processor with the butter, extra virgin olive oil, parsley, anchovies, garlic and 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Add the red pepper flakes (if using).  Process, using the pulse-blend button.  I like this pesto when it isn't completely pureed but still has quite large flecks in it, so best not to overdo it. Taste the pesto, add the rest of the cheese, salt, and pepper, red pepper flakes, etc. to taste.  Drain the pasta, return it to the pan with a little of it's cooking water, mix in the pesto and serve immediately. Garnish with cheese, if desired.
Theme: Curds & Whey

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Asian Pork Balls with Chili Dipping Sauce

Juicy pork meatballs filled with garlic....lots of garlic, jalapeno, green onions, cilantro, lime and ginger.  A colorful mix of ingredients add up to make one mouthwatering and flavorful pork ball.
Serve these pork balls as an appetizer dunked in a sweet chili dipping sauce or serve them as a main course along with rice and stir fried veggies.  Either way, you simply can't go wrong!  These flavorful little meatballs were a huge hit at my house!  We ate them straight from the pan.  We ate them on their own. We loved them dunked in the sweet chili dipping sauce.  We served them over rice and edamame. We absolutely devoured them.

I chose to bake the pork balls instead of frying because I'm convinced baking yields a superior result.  It's not that I think baking meatballs is more virtuous than frying, because I still use the same amount of oil, but I think the oven does a better job of cooking the meat balls more evenly.  Frying tends to be rather messy and has to be done in batches.  Also, fried meatballs oftentimes end up misshapen, some undercooked, some overcooked.  I find that baking meatballs results in nicer shaped balls that are perfectly browned with a lightly crusted exterior and perfectly tender interior.  Therefore I almost always bake any meatball recipe.  Simply set your oven to 350F, oil a baking sheet, place your meatballs on the baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and bake for around 20-25 minutes.  Throw the baking sheet in the oven and walk away!  Easy peasy! No messy clean up. No standing over the stove frying batch after batch of meatballs. I highly recommend it. 

I want to thank my friend Joyce, at Kitchen Flavours, for pointing out this delectable pork ball recipe! Like Joyce, I went ahead and used a sweet chili dipping sauce that I had in my pantry, but I have included the recipe for Diana Henry's homemade chili dipping sauce below.
Asian Pork Balls with Chili Dipping Sauce
Inspired by Diana Henry
recipe found on Kitchen Flavours
Serves 4-6

For the Chili Sauce
6 large red chillies, 3 deseeded and roughly chopped
5cm (2in) root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
grated zest of 3 and juice of 2 limes
12 garlic cloves
1 large bunch of coriander, leaves only
300gm (10-1/2oz) caster sugar
50ml (2fl oz) Thai fish sauce
120ml (4fl oz) white wine vinegar
For the Pork Balls
2 pounds ground pork
7 oz. of bacon, finely chopped*
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm (3/4in) fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chili (jalapeno), deseeded and chopped
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
grated zest of 1 and juice of 1/2 lime
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped
salt and pepper
canola oil, for frying or baking

First make the chilli sauce: Put the chillies, ginger, lime zest and juice, garlic and coriander leaves into a food processor and puree into a coarse puree. Put the sugar into a thick-bottomed pan with 6 tbsp water and place on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat slowly and gradually boil until the syrup becomes a caramel colour. Stir in the paste, fish sauce and vinegar and simmer for 2 minutes. Leave to cool.
For the Pork Balls: Mix everything for the pork balls (not the oil) together in a large bowl, combining all the ingredients with your hands to make sure they get well mixed. Season well. Pull off chunks and form into balls about the size of a walnut. It is better to chill these before cooking them, otherwise they tend to fall apart, so lay them on a baking sheet, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour or so.
To Cook Pork Balls:  Heat about 1cm (1/2 in) oil in a frying pan and cook the pork balls in batches, colouring them all over. It takes about 4 minutes, but do check you are frying them long enough for the pork in the middle to be cooked.  Or, bake the pork balls as I have done by oiling a baking sheet, placing the pork balls on the sheet, drizzling with more oil, and baking at 350F for about 25 minutes.

To Serve: Serve with the chilli sauce (or indeed a bought dipping sauce, such as Thai chilli or plum) and eat with plain boiled rice and stir-fried vegetables.

Theme: East Meets West

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Diana Henry's Broccoli with Ricotta, Lemon, and Parmesan

 So it's Superbowl weekend and I'm serving up broccoli? Well, to be fair we are celebrating veggies over at I Heart Cooking Clubs and to the people in my household there is really only one vegetable: broccoli!  Here at my house we fight over broccoli.  It's the house vegetable.  Yes, we have a house vegetable.  So much so, that at any given time, I usually have at least 4 heads of broccoli in my fridge. 

Most times I serve broccoli steamed with a bit of Parmesan butter. When I'm feeling ambitious I saute the broccoli with butter, garlic, and breadcrumbs. Either way, there is never a spare spear left in the bowl. The broccoli gets snarfed down like it's candy.

This recipe with ricotta cheese, lemon, and Parmesan is a new way to serve broccoli and I must say that everyone loved it!  The cheese doesn't overpower the broccoli at all.  We loved the way the ricotta added creaminess and the Parmesan added that sharp nutty flavor.  The lemon went a long way in brightening up this dish, which was very welcome since we're experiencing a bad case of the winter doldrums at the moment.  This was a winning broccoli recipe that's sure to be repeated in my kitchen.

Broccoli with Ricotta, Lemon, and Parmesan
Adapted from Diana Henry
Serves 2-4

One head of broccoli
1/2 cup of fresh ricotta
half a lemon, zested 
1 lemon, juice only
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
cracked black pepper and salt, to taste

Note: These measurements are a guide only.  Feel free to adorn your broccoli with more cheese, oil, lemon, etc.  This dish is easily customizable to suit your taste.

 Steam the broccoli for around 4-5 minutes. Place the hot broccoli onto a serving plate and decorate with dollops of ricotta and nice curls of shaved parmesan (I forgot my parmesan in the pictures).  Sprinkle on the lemon zest and squeeze the lemon over the broccoli.  Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and black pepper, and serve.

Theme: Veggie Variations

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce and Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks

Let's talk tomato sauce.  Sometimes tomato sauce can be somewhat acidic. When my daughter was little she didn't care for that sharp flavor so I would tone down the tomato sauce by adding a little cream.  As a bonus, the cream caused the tomato sauce to turn pink, and since pink was her favorite color it was an all around success.  The addition of cream was such a hit that I rarely make any tomato sauce without adding a splash, or two.  

This recipe for Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce caught my attention because it calls for ricotta cheese to be melted into the tomato sauce.  I was interested in trying this new version of creamy tomato sauce and I must say we did enjoy it.  After all, it's certainly hard to argue with idea of adding any kind of cheese to tomato sauce.  This ravioli was a fast and easy family dinner that was loved by all.  We also loved dunking the cheesy breadsticks into the leftover sauce.  Delicious!
Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce
Recipe found on Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds spinach ravioli 
 1 cup purchased marinara sauce
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil to the water to help prevent pasta from sticking. Add the ravioli and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain the ravioli, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss the ravioli with the remaining oil to coat.

Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking often. Whisk in the ricotta and enough reserved cooking water to thin the sauce to desired consistency. For a thicker sauce, use less pasta water; for a thinner sauce, add more water. Return the sauce to a simmer. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Gently toss the ravioli with the creamy tomato sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil, and serve immediately.
Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks
Recipe found on Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup grated Gruyere
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 (11-ounce) container refrigerated breadstick dough (recommended: Pillsbury)
Finely ground sea salt, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper. In a food processor, chop the Parmesan, Gruyere and rosemary together until coarsely chopped. Set the cheese mixture aside. Separate the dough strips. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut each dough strip in half lengthwise to form thin strips. Working with dough strip at a time, coat each strip with the cheese mixture, pressing very gently. Twist each cheese covered dough strip and place onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with the salt, if you wish.

Bake until the breadsticks are golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the warm breadsticks to a basket and serve.

Theme: January Potluck!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kayi Korma Curry

 The sound of mustard seeds popping in a pan always reminds me of Madhur Jaffrey.  Back when we spent six months cooking with Madhur Jaffrey I swear I went through an entire container of mustard seeds.  I was popping mustard seeds like no one's business in those days.   

While this recipe starts off like a Madhur Jaffrey recipe that's where the comparison ends for me.  Madhur's recipes were always full of spice and lots and lots of flavor. This recipe for Kayi Korma Curry is courtesy of Diana Henry and it's an extremely mild vegetable curry.  It's packed with onions, garlic, chilis, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, and green beans. These ingredients usually produce big flavors but not so much in this case. This was an extremely mild curry that just didn't deliver the big flavors I was craving.  nstead I found myself adding more chili, ginger, garlic, coriander, and lots of pepper and salt.  I never seemed to find a good balance and in the end it just fell flat for me.  That's okay though.  I enjoy learning what works for me and what doesn't.
Kayi Korma Curry
by Diana Henry
Serves 4-6
1½ tsp black mustard seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4cm (1½in) cube fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1-2 green chillis, halved, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
200g (7oz) tomatoes, cut into chunks
250g (9oz) carrots, cut into chunks
350g (12oz) potatoes, waxy or floury (peeled if floury)
250ml (9fl oz) coconut cream
100g (3½oz) frozen peas
125g (4½oz) French or dwarf beans, topped and halved
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra sprigs to serve 

 Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop add the onions. Fry over a medium heat until they are a good brown colour. Do watch to make sure they don’t burn. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further five minutes or so, then add the ground coriander and turmeric and cook for a minute to release the spices’ fragrance. Add the tomatoes, carrots and potatoes, stir everything round and cook for about four minutes to soften the tomatoes, then add enough water just to cover the vegetables, followed by the coconut cream. Season and bring to just under the boil. Turn down to a simmer and allow the vegetables to cook until they are almost tender. You may have to add more water. The sauce should just coat the vegetables. The peas and beans only need to cook for about three minutes, so add them towards the end of the cooking time. Add half the lime juice, taste, adjust the seasoning and decide whether you want more lime juice. Stir in the chopped coriander just before serving and decorate with a few whole sprigs. Serve with plain boiled basmati rice.

Theme: Along The Spice Trail

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sausage and Potato Goulash

It's Mystery Box Madness week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  Mystery Box week is quite a challenge mainly because the possibilities are endless.  We have a list of ten mystery ingredients from which we need to choose at least three ingredients and then we choose any recipe from one of our eleven IHCC chefs.  It's always somewhat overwhelming for me because there are so many different ways to combine the ingredients and so many different chefs' recipes to chose from.  Decision making...not my strong suit.

This week our mystery ingredients were: potatoes, buttermilk, flour, paprika, onion, any kind of leafy green, lemon, honey, shrimp, and feta.  Originally I wanted to make fried chicken but I waited until the last minute and my chicken didn't have enough time to marinate in the buttermilk.  Procrastination...the story of my life.  So, I chose to look through my Tessa Kiros cookbooks and when I saw her recipe for Sausage and Potato Goulash I knew I had a winner.  Tessa's goulash featured three of the mystery box ingredients (potatoes, onion, and paprika), it's easy with quick clean up (one pot meal); and extremely family friendly! This recipe was so fabulous! We loved the thick creamy paprika flavored sauce and the velvety texture of the potatoes.  It was a definite crowd pleaser! Highly recommend it if you have some meat and potato lovers.

Sausage and Potato Goulash
Adapted from Apples for Jam
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 8

1-3/4 pounds good quality sausages
2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 cups hot water
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh parsley, to taste
1 tablespoon, cornstarch, optional*

Note: The goulash wasn't as thick as I'd hoped so I took out 4-5 tablespoons of the sauce, added 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to it, mixed well, and stirring it into the goulash and continued to cook until thick, as desired.

Slice the sausages into rounds about 1/2 inch thick.  Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron is best) and saute the onion for a couple of minutes over medium heat.  Stir in the paprika, cook for 30 seconds or so, and then add the sausages.  Continue cooking, stirring fairly often, until the sausages turn golden in places.  Add the potatoes, tomatoes, cinnamon, bay leaf, and 2 cups of hot water.  Season with salt and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are softened and the goulash is thick and stewy.  Stir with a wooden spoon from time to time and loosen the bits at the bottom to make sure they don't stick.  If the potatoes are not quite done after that time, take the pan off the heat and leave it with the lid on for the potatoes to continue steaming (see also note above regarding thickness of goulash.* Mix the parsley through and serve hot directly out of the skillet.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

{Sunday Supper} Roast Chicken with Baby Potatoes and Green Beans with Garlic Cream Dressing

No school and no work for the last 16 days, but like all good things, that ends tomorrow. Back to the grindstone.  So as we prepare the backpacks and the lunchboxes we slow down and enjoy one last lazy day before the madness ensues.  Start your ovens.  Cue the Netflix.  Get comfy.

This is a cozy little Sunday Supper.  A cast iron skillet brimming with simple roasted chicken and baby potatoes adorned with fresh steamed green beans and a good drizzle of the most bright and refreshing garlic cream dressing.  Wow does that dressing jazz things up a bit! This is everything I want winter comfort food to be.  It's familiar but has a fun little twist with the dressing, it's healthy yet very comforting, and most of all it's a great family-pleasing meal! It was the perfect thing to enjoy on our last lazy day of Christmas break.

Roast Chicken with Baby Potatoes and Green Beans with Garlic Cream Dressing
Serves 4-6
6 or 7 chicken legs or thighs, skin on
1 pound baby red potatoes, quartered
chopped leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  1 pound green beans, topped and tailed

For the Dressing:
smidgen of Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 400F.   Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Place the oil in a large (12") cast iron skillet over medium heat.  When the skillet is ready (hot), add the chicken legs and sear for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.  Place the quartered potatoes and rosemary (if using) in the skillet with the chicken and put the skillet into the oven.   Roast for about one and a half hours, until the potatoes are tender and golden.  Shake the potatoes around a bit while cooking – dark, crusty edges are especially nice.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare the dressing. Put the mustard, garlic, balsamic and lemon juice into a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Season and whisk in the oil followed by the cream. Check for seasoning – it might seem slightly strong but it's going to dress potatoes so needs to balance them.

Also, during this time, steam or boil the beans for three to four minutes or until slightly tender but still al dente. Rinse in cold water, drain and gently pat dry with a clean tea towel.

Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven and place onto a platter with the green beans.  Drizzle the garlic cream dressing over top the platter, reserving some dressing to serve on the side.  Garnish platter with lemons and herbs, if desired.  Serve immediately and enjoy!
Theme: Happy, Healthy!

Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen