Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shrimp with Lemon, Feta, and Capers over Orzo

Have you checked out Thyme for Cooking? Katie is an American living in France with her husband who is remodeling the old house they live in; great food, audacious stories and hilarity is always guaranteed! (check out her rants against the thieving bunnies or any of the funny life stories, worth at least a chuckle but often a belly laugh will erupt. And great food!

I didn't even have to see a picture to know I would make this dish; combining almost all of my favorite ingredients of shrimp, oregano, olives, capers and feta, this was a done deal. Best of all, it was practically a pantry meal which I whipped up in less than 30 minutes (take that Rachel Ray!) For those of you who fear this is too many briney ingredients for one dish, let me assure you that my sweet-palated diners loved it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fresh Mozzarella Pizza with Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce

Ahhh, pizza, the true love of my life. It comforts and soothes me after a rough day, makes me feel warm and gooey on the inside, and conjures up so many happy memories. Offer me a slice from anywhere and I will probably eat it but some of the best pizza is made in my own kitchen.

Making a homemade pizza sauce can be very time consuming - hours of simmering on the back burner, if you choose - or as quick as 30 minutes. When I'm looking for comfort food the 30 minute option always wins. Pizza really is so forgiving because the magical combination of bread, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese is so miraculous; for me it is one of the most perfect food combinations, ever. Period.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Braised Red Cabbage with Cranberries and Mint

Red cabbage is high up on my list of seductive vegetables along with eggplant, red bell peppers and artichokes. It's color is so vibrant and beautiful that sometimes I wonder if I buy it just to look at it in my basket. Luckily I love how it tastes as well!

Most often red cabbage finds itself in my salads or as part of a coleslaw, traditional or Asian style. But occasionally I cook it up and then its brilliant hue becomes even more vibrant before it transitions to indigo. It always astounds me what colors are found in nature!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beet and Orange Salad with Feta and Mint

Beets are the quintessential root - earthy and rich and sweet and potent - depending on how you prepare them. Simple preparations are my favorite and adding the oranges in this case with the mint and feta created a perfect harmony. These are naval oranges, rather than the blood oranges I have been featuring lately. The beet juice simply "bled" on them a bit, lending a bloody orange appearance.

As the citrus season comes to a close (and presumably the beet season as well, if you have been cellaring them since the fall!) this is an excellent way to pay tribute to both orbs. I was feeling sort of Moroccan-ish when I was cooking up the beets, hence the feta and mint. A preserved lemon vinaigrette was a possibility but I decided simplicity would rule the day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Decadently Simple Roasted Broccoli

Broccoli is much loved by my family. We eat it steamed, roasted, hot, room temperature or chilled. Generally all we require is salt, olive oil and pepper, and deliciousness ensues. But once in a while, you need to dress it up, kind of like pulling those designer shoes out of the closet and showing them off. That is where this recipe comes in handy.

Roasted broccoli and garlic, tossed with lemon juice and zest, and dusted with parmesan cheese. Magic in your mouth! While this recipe is originally Ina Garten's (aka The Barefoot Contessa), I followed the paired down version that The Amateur Gourmet offered, who left out the toasted pine nuts and shredded fresh basil. No doubt the dish would not suffer from these additions but I can attest most fervently that it certainly shone despite their absence!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tagliatelle with Green Herb Pistou

One of my favorite vegetables is...flat leaf parsley. I know it is technically an herb and not a vegetable, but in my kitchen it gets treated like a green. I use it equally as a base for salads or as a garnish or base for a pasta sauce. Ounce per ounce it has more iron than kale, and is packed with important minerals and vitamins - potassium, calcium, manganese, and magnesium in addition to vitamins A, C and most of the Bs - as well as being a great source of anti-oxidants. But the truth is, I love it for the taste!

I buy a bunch of it at least once a week and sometimes that isn't enough. Along with cilantro, it is the green that you will always find in my refrigerator. But if you are not a certified parsley lover like myself, there are lots of ways to prepare it to get all of the benefits without having to chew on it like a rabbit, as I am known to do!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Soda Bread (with Rye and Caraway)

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! The patron saint of Ireland's feast day is more celebrated in the U.S. than Ireland, due in large part to early Irish immigrants desire for a connection to their homeland. While modern celebrations tend toward much imbibing of green beer and other libations, it always gives me a good excuse to highlight some of the peasant food the Irish do so well.

Last year I wrote of Colcannon - traditionally mashed potatoes with leeks and cabbage (or another green). This year I made soda bread, which was new for me, and I am hooked! While most recipes call for buttermilk, there is a substitution of yogurt, milk and white vinegar that worked very nicely for me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shrimp Scampi - Rebel Style

What happens when you cross international lines and mix up some classics - you get a yummy dinner! A few nights ago, still settling into my new home and tired of unpacking, I looked in the freezer and saw gougeres and shrimp and spied garlic on the counter. Mama mia! Shrimp Scampi over Gougeres it was!

French everywhere are shuddering in horror, Italians are wondering why I would sully scampi with a cheese puff. Welcome to Kirsten's Rebel cooking!

It had been eons since I made scampi so I actually had to recheck a recipe and sure enough, it is simplicity itself; garlic, shrimp, white wine, butter, parsley and red pepper flakes. Presto! Fantastic meal in minutes (the gougeres took longer to bake than the actual food prep.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stir Fried Rice Vermicelli with Garlic and Scallions

I have to confess, I cart dry goods around with me that can be more than 1 year old (and sometimes a lot more than 1 year old!) But they are dried goods, and I think that they probably are still edible, I just need to do something with them! This phenomenon has been particularly problematic in the past couple of years when I have had much of my belongings in a storage unit. So now that I have moved into my own place and all said storage unit items are now being unpacked, it is time to cook up my warehouse of dried goods!

Vermicelli Rice noodles definitely fell into this category and in the quest to find a fun and easy recipe (kitchen is still in an unpacked stage) I found this recipe. Super simple and really delicious! I did not have red onions but tons of scallions so that substitution was made. In the time it takes to chop the garlic, ginger and onions the rice noodles soak and then cooking taking no time at all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Cumin and Paprika

I cook and eat greens several times a week, and mostly they are simply sauteed in garlic and olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Yum! But sometimes a girl wants a little excitement in her life, so she trolls the food blogs until she finds something like this recipe. Not too much work but oh so exciting!

The original recipe used kale and an herb paste with zingy spices like cumin and paprika to disguise the bitterness of kale. While I am a huge kale fan, I am not as high on Swiss Chard so I thought I would use this technique on some green chard waiting patiently to be used. Fantastic!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chipotle Corn Chowder

While most of the northern hemisphere is still praying for spring to arrive soon (very soon if you're still seeing white!) all of those smug cooks who froze sweet corn last summer can make this delicious chowder and pretend they have fast forwarded to the end of August!

In preparation for moving house I took a hard look at my freezer hoard to see how I could thin its ranks. Frozen sweet corn plus homemade corn stock made this soup an easy choice. While I grew up on New England Style chowders, heavy with cream and savory herbs, I decided to honor my new home - Santa Monica - and added some chipotle creaminess instead. Delicious!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cranberry Relish with Blood Orange Juice

Yes, I know, Thanksgiving is long gone and cranberries are out of season. However, blood oranges ARE in season and when I was cleaning out the freezer I found a bag of cranberries tucked away in the corner. Eureka! Cranberries with blood orange juice was born.

My personal favorite cranberry relish for Thanksgiving is the fairly straight forward and traditional pairing of orange juice and zest with cranberries. Substituting blood oranges would simply add a bit of citrusy tartness. It was lovely!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Carpaccio of Blood Orange with Green Olives

It is blood orange season and you have to get them while the getting is good because when they are gone, that's all she wrote folks! Originally from Sicily, these tart and yes bloody looking citrus are so worth the extra bucks.

Unlike other oranges, these are not the kind you peel and eat - their peels are so thin that it is really hard to eat them in that manner.  So, juice them for an amazing margarita or make this easy side dish or hors d'oeuvres. Do not stray from the recipe since it is key, and just a few quality ingredients makes all the difference.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract - Fresh Whipped Cream

Do you know how simple it is to make homemade vanilla extract? It is almost ridiculous, because it takes two ingredients and nearly no effort. Cut three dried but supple vanilla beans in half like a hinge and soak in your desired alcohol - vodka, rum - and in 8 weeks, voila, you have home brewed vanilla extract.

And let me tell you, nothing smells as good as this homebrewed extract! It's richness is unbelievable! You will want to add it to everything. And the best part, is that it is renewable. As you use a teaspoon here (in fresh whipped cream) and a tablespoon there (in homemade granola) you simple top off the jar with more of the alcohol and it will continue to renew for years!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Venetian Warm Escarole

Here we go again, simple ingredients, and fantastic flavor. It is the gift of the Italians that they can create these amazing dishes.  Call it cucina povera or peasant food. No matter what you call it, it is delicious!

My memory fails me as to why I suddenly needed to have escarole, but there it was, the urge was strong, it was in the store and I bought it. Searching the web this recipe caught my eye and I gave it a whirl. Wow! Really, really, good! I guess I will be adding escarole to my list of veggies going in my new garden. And trust me, if you think you do not like so called bitter greens, just try this dish out. You will be amazed! I only wish that I had made two heads instead of one (and thank the gods that I was the only one eating because I ate the whole plate!

Venetian Warm Escarole
from this recipe at In My Box

1 head escarole, destemmed, washed, dried and sliced in 1/2 inch ribbons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Heat oil and butter over high heat in deep skillet or cast iron pan. Add and cook until softened but not browned. Add escarole, red pepper flakes and sugar and saute for 3-5 minutes until escarole is wilted and turns bright green, stirring up the garlic. Season with salt remove from pan. Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before serving (the flavor really marry well during the rest). Serve.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Chu Chee Eggplant at Chez Cayenne
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies at 101 Cookbooks
Guanciale for Charcutepalooza at Honey From Rock