Kale Pesto

June 9, 2013

Kale Pesto - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I love pesto, but I’ve been wanting to try new things besides basil pesto.  This kale pesto is really yummy, and can be used in a number of ways: on a sandwich, in an egg scramble, on chicken or fish, on pizza (which we did the night after we had it on pasta…yum!), or, of course, on pasta.  This recipe is enough to cover a pound of pasta, plus extra for other things on later days.  It really freezes well, too!

Kale Pesto

1 bunch kale, stems removed

1/3 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts

1 clove garlic

zest and juice from one lemon

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup or more olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add kale and boil for about 30 seconds.  Immediately drain kale and run cold water over it to cool it off.  Squeeze off excess water and put in food processor, along with nuts, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.  Process for about 30 seconds, until its all ground to a fine meal.  Scrape down the sides and pulse a few more times.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.  Scrape down the sides again, taste, and add more olive oil if needed (and salt and pepper), and pulse a few more times.  The consistency isn’t as creamy as basil pesto, and I found that I needed more olive oil than with basil pesto.  I think I used almost 1/3 cup.

If making pasta, cook your desired type of noodle to al dente and place it in a large bowl, reserving some of the pasta water.  Add about half the pesto to the pasta, and combine thoroughly, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water as needed.  Serve immediately, topping with parmesan cheese, and maybe a little toasted walnuts for garnish.  It’s also really good with some halved cherry tomatoes stirred in.

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Black-Eyed Pea Salad

June 4, 2013

Black-Eyed Pea Salad - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I’m kind of a salad fanatic, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about having warm weather finally! So far I’ve made this pasta salad, several quinoa salads, including this one and this (which is one of my favorites), and I can’t wait to make potato salads, especially this one. Platter salads are another favorite for us, and we’ve already had my favorite Cobb salad, even when it wasn’t that warm yet. I couldn’t wait.

This is a salad that has become kind of a summer standard here over the past few years. When my son was an infant and I was stuck to the couch for hours on end either nursing him or “napping” with him, I would watch endless amounts of TV, a lot of that being the Food Network. I’ve always liked cooking, but I think that’s when I really got my love of cooking, and I would try out tons of the recipes I saw on TV. This was one of them, on “The Neely’s” (a show I didn’t often watch, by the way, but I’m glad I caught this episode). I don’t really ever watch Food Network anymore, but I’m glad I did because a lot of my standard recipes came from that year of watching.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Ingredients
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar (I have also used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained (or 4 cups soaked dried beans…I think that’s about a cup and a half of dried)

Directions
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, canola oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.
Toss all together and let marinate for at up to 8 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Greek Quinoa Salad

June 2, 2013

Greek Quinoa Salad - Sweet and Savory KitchensMargaux says…

In the warmer months, we eat a quinoa salad at least once a week. Everyone loves it…including my picky son, it’s super quick and easy, and nice and healthy. I should really call this one “clean out the fridge” salad, because I often make it when I really need to go shopping and I have to just use up whatever is left in the fridge. We always have most of these things on hand because they’re all favorites of my son. I find that you can add or subtract any ingredient, based on what you might have on hand. Some other things that would be good tossed into this are avocado, parsley, chopped fresh spinach, mint, celery, zucchini, green onion, radishes, pine nuts or white beans.

Greek Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 red onion, fine chop
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (leave out for vegan)
1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Rinse and drain quinoa. Add water and quinoa to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as it starts boiling, cover, run down heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Dump immediately into a large serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies. When the quinoa is cool, add all veggies and beans to it and mix.

Make dressing: Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over salad and mix well. Carefully stir in feta. Serve at room temperature with warmed pita and white wine as a main dish. Also great as a side at a BBQ, or with chicken.

Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We’ve started something new here at Sweet and Savory Kitchens – Pasta Wednesdays. The idea is something quick and easy to make on a weeknight without sacrificing freshness and deliciousness. I got the idea when I made the Garlic and Kale Linguine a while back, so technically that could be considered our first Pasta Wednesday post. While this recipe (from last month’s Bon Appetit) isn’t quite as fast, it definitely fits. It caught my eye because I had some Garlic-Rosemary oil in the fridge left over from when I last made this soup. The quantities in that recipe always make more of the oil than we use at the time so I was happy to learn of a good additional use for it. And this is good! This can be a weeknight main dish or you can serve it, as we did, as a side to roast chicken or fish. Delicious with a creamy Italian white wine.

Margaux says…

I’m loving Pasta Wednesdays! Mainly because it helps give me a sort of direction when I’m meal planning for the week. We do Meatless Mondays at my house, so that’s two days now that I have narrowed down a little more. Now maybe I should add a pizza night in there, to make my job even easier…

This dish is fantastic…even my finicky 4-year-old gave it a thumbs up. We ate it as a main dish, with plenty of leftovers (which I love…makes lunches easy!!) I made it with white beans and penne pasta (as seen on Smitten Kitchen…see cook’s notes below). The white beans because that’s what I had on hand, and the penne because that’s what my son chose, and these days I’ll make anything he picks just so he’ll eat what I make for us. I probably would have chosen rotini, because i like the way sauces like this stick to the pasta. It was really great with the white beans, but next time I’m going to try it with the chick peas, which sounds really fantastic.

Use this recipe to make the Garlic-Rosemary Oil

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut in chunks
1 celery stalk, cut in chunks
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10-ounces small pasta shapes (I used Lumachine – see Cook’s Notes)

Place the first 6 ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place into a bowl and clean the food processor bowl. Set both aside. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can finely chop these ingredients and then blend together in a bowl.

Place the olive oil into a large heavy pot or skillet (I used a saute pan) over medium heat. Once shimmering add the chopped vegetables. Saute for 10 or so minutes, until golden, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into 1 cup of water to blend. When vegetables are cooked, add the tomato water and blend thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, 5-8 minutes.

Creamy Chickpea Sauce

Add the chickpeas and 2 cups water to the pan. Stir to blend and then simmer for 15 minutes covered and 5 or so uncovered. Put 1 cup of this mixture into the food processor and puree. (You could use a blender for this in the absence of a food processor.) Add back to the pan and stir to blend. Taste and add salt, if needed. I did not add salt to the sauce – even with rinsing, there was plenty of salt in the chickpeas.*

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to directions. I emphasize al dente because otherwise I think you could end up with a gloppy mess. Part of the goodness of this dish is mouth appeal, and you do not want to lose that with overcooked pasta! Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the chickpea sauce. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water if necessary to coat the pasta and attain a creamy consistency. Pass the Garlic-Rosemary oil so it can be drizzled on individual servings. Don’t hold back on this key component of the finished dish!

COOK’S NOTES: I was looking at Smitten Kitchen the other day and saw something that looked similar to this except with white beans and penne pasta. On closer look, it was her take on the Bon Appetit recipe. (You can check it out to see several great photos of the cooking process.) Regarding the pasta, the original recipe called for a full pound of Ditalini and suggested elbow macaroni as a substitute. I think any small pasta shape would work well. I cooked the whole pound as instructed, but felt that it was way too much pasta and didn’t stir it all into the sauce. I will definitely make this again and try whole wheat pasta, thinking it will add to both taste and texture.

*Margaux’s note on the salt…my boys like their food on the saltier side, so I definitely needed to add more salt. I added about a teaspoon of it.

S’mores Cupcakes

February 8, 2013

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Margaux says…

I got this idea from a pin on Pinterest, where I get most of my baking ideas lately. The recipe that I found was a little more complicated than I was wanting to deal with, so I simplified it by using a one-bowl chocolate cake. The cupcakes were a hit…some even said they were the best I’ve ever made. Yay! I’ve made them twice in the last two months already.

This cake recipe is one of my old stand-bys. I’ve been meaning to post it for ages, but I’m always rushed when I make it, so never take the time to take any photos. This is an updated version of the original that I’ve been baking since I was in college, the original being a recipe from my “Betty Crocker” cookbook, which was my first cookbook. The original recipe just uses chocolate chips, and in a pinch I still do that for ease, thrift and to save time. Also, with the original recipe, you just mix the cake directly in the pan…but I find that its actually easier to mix in a bowl. It’s a great recipe to throw together when you have surprise company coming, or if you suddenly find yourself needing something sweet to eat. I always store excess frosting in the freezer, and use it to top the cake (I’ve used everything from leftover chocolate frosting to leftover orange-cream cheese frosting), or if it’s just a last minute thing that I’ve thrown together, I leave it in the pan and top with powdered sugar. Both ways are delicious. Lastly, the reason I put this recipe in the vegan category is because of the cake…it’s completely vegan (just make sure you’re using vegan chocolate-very easy to find!), and is really great just topped with powdered sugar as a vegan treat. Another way I’ve made it for vegan friends also is by baking it into cupcakes (without the graham cracker crust it makes about 12 cupcakes), and frosting with vegan whipped cream.

S’mores Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them in the baking aisle)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter, and stir in with graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Line 20 muffin cups with paper liners, and place 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture in each cup, pressing down with a small flat-bottomed cup. Bake for about 5 minutes, until base hardens. Set aside and make cake batter.

Chocolate Cake *see note below

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water, oil and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated completely. Add chocolate and stir until just incorporated. Fill prepared cupcake papers 3/4 full with batter. Should stretch to make about 20 cupcakes. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean of cake batter (it may have a little melted chocolate on it, and that’s ok). Allow to cool for 10 minutes on cooling rack, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely.

Marshmallow Frosting (or 7-minute frosting)

6 large egg whites**
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over medium saucepan of barely simmering water (you can put it in a double boiler, but then you have to transfer it to a mixer bowl, and this way is much easier). Stir the mixture with a whisk, cooking until the sugar has completely melted, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed, adding the vanilla while mixing, for about 7 minutes.

To pipe the frosting: Place pastry bag with tip cut off (or ziplock bag with one corner cut off) in a large glass and fold the sides of the pastry bag over the sides of the glass (if you shop at Trader Joe’s and use their coffee, I’ve found that their coffee containers work perfectly for this!). Fill bag with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes. If you have a kitchen torch, AWESOME! Use it to “toast the marshmallow.” Otherwise, you can do what I did and just sprinkle some extra graham cracker crumbs on top. Voila! S’mores!

*Note about cake: to make a plain chocolate snack cake, prepare an 8×8 square pan or a 9″ round pan by spraying with baking spray with flour, pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. You can either leave it in the pan and allow to cool completely, then just serve from the pan, or you can cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a simple weeknight dessert, or frost with about a cup of whatever frosting you’d like.

**Note about egg whites: I’m always looking for things to do with my egg yolks, and vice-versa.  You can store yolks in the fridge for up to two days, covered with water.  You can store whites in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze them for a year!  Anyway, here’s an idea for your yolks: meyer lemon bars...I made them, and they’re fantastic!!

 

Garlic and Kale Linguine

January 18, 2013

Garlic and Kale Linguine

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

The basis for this dish is a great recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for classic spaghetti with garlic and olive oil which I made recently.   Last week I saw another recipe for spaghetti and kale with similar ingredients but without the scientific technique of the CI recipe.  Randy and I both agreed that with or without the kale, the CI dish is outstanding.  The kale makes it just that much better and healthier!  This could be a main dish or a side.  Shown is a main dish portion, and we have also served with sauteed boneless/skinless chicken breast.  Either way, an Italian white,  Orivetto or Pinot Grigio, is a great accompaniment!

Makes 4 main dish or 6-8 first course servings

4 garlic cloves, peeled and processed through a garlic pressOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 teaspoon water

1/3 cup high quality EV olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional or to taste

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a skillet

1/2-1 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano (omit for vegan)

3/4-1 pound whole wheat, regular or GF linguine or spaghetti

Place processed garlic in a small bowl and add the teaspoon of water.  Heat the olive oil to a little over medium in a saute pan.  Add the garlic, optional pepper flakes and kale and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until garlic is golden and kale is soft.  Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat.  Shake the pan regularly and watch carefully so they don’t burn!  At today’s prices especially that would be a shame. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Before draining, save 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta and rinse briefly.  Put the pasta back in the pot it was cooked in and place over medium heat.  Add the reserved kale mixture along with part or all of the pasta water and toss to combine thoroughly.  Heat through, stirring.

Place on individual plates and top with a little cheese, if using, and some pine nuts.  Alternatively, if you will be eating all of what was cooked, you can stir the cheese into the pasta before serving.  Then top with the pine nuts.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

September 4, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I’ve wanted to make oven roasted tomatoes for a couple of years, but never got around to it.  My brother John made some recently which spurred me into taking the plunge.  In addition to asking friends and family for recipes and tips, I looked at several online to get a picture for various approaches.  There are a lot of recipes out there, but with only slight differences in cooking temps, times and methods.  There are two definite camps, however, when it comes to seasoning.  One camp uses only salt and pepper and the other adds herbs and garlic.  So, always one to see for myself and draw conclusions, I made a batch of each.  The results were great in both cases!  I have already used the plain in ratatouille in place of some of the fresh tomatoes, and we had the seasoned ones on pizza last night (yum!).  I look forward to making more while it’s still tomato season and to experimenting further with both types for appetizers and in sauces and pastas.

I used 10 Roma tomatoes in each batch, but you can use as many tomatoes as you’d like and regular garden tomatoes as well as Romas.  My hunch is that if the tomatoes are very juicy,  squeezing out some of the juice would aid in the carmelization, but I can’t say for sure.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375°.  Have handy baking dishes or jelly roll pans.

Plum (or regular) tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters for very large tomatoes)

Olive Oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Optional seasoning:  oregano, thyme, chopped garlic

Place tomatoes, cut side up,  in a baking dish or jelly roll pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper and seasoning of your choice.  Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, until tomatoes start to carmelize.  Remove from oven, cool slightly and then remove to a platter to cool completely.  Once cooled, remove the skins – they will slip off very easily.  These will keep several days in the fridge or you can freeze using freezer bags or containers.  I hope to freeze a few packs of these because I can picture how fabulous it would be to get a hit of summer in January!

COOK’S NOTES:

Be judicious about the amount of salt.  I used about a teaspoon of kosher salt on the plain tomatoes and felt they were too salty.

I used just oregano and thyme for the seasoned version, but I think rosemary and basil would also be good.

Don’t be daunted by what the pans look like after!  I soaked these for about 30 minutes in very hot water and dish washing liquid and they wiped clean easily – no elbow grease required!  I used a Pyrex dish and a Le Creuset cast iron lasagna pan.  Both worked, but I think the Pyrex had a slight edge in terms of results.