Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Marinated Olives Moroccan Style

Read enough of my blog and you'll notice a theme, a Mediterranean one that is, and for me what most defines Mediterranean cuisines is olives. Olive oil has been a staple in my pantry ever since my first cookbook stated that it was the best oil to cook with, bar none. But it is the fruit itself that has my supreme adoration. I have never met an olive I didn't like.

Marinating olives is very simple and the taste is so gratifying! Mix a few seasonings, whether it be herbs, fruit zest or spices, add some olive oil and allow to marry for a few days and voila! You have marinated olives. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chick Pea Soup with Thyme

 Most summer recipes are all about keeping the cook out of the hot kitchen - grilling outside, cold salads, or do ahead dinners that do not require too much attention. But sometimes you want hot food, despite the heat.

All of you cubicle workers shuddering under that air-conditioning vent know exactly what I'm talking about! Working in a grocery store, in the cheese section no less, my time is spent in refrigerated conditions - checking backstock in the walk-in cooler or stocking the cheese case for hours at a time. Soup is often the best remedy to warm me up! When the urge for inner warmth surfaces, make this soup. It is so easy, so simple, and so incredibly delicious that I have made it four - count 'em - four times in the last two weeks!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Potato and Green Beans with Dijon Vinaigrette

Thanks to the efficiencies of the blogworld, you wouldn't know that I have kind of been on hiatus. Sure, my blog has been updating every couple of days thanks to some serious advance planning. But I have taken a little leave of absence of worrying (obsessing to be honest) over my blog posts. It has given me a little perspective, and isn't that what time away from anything should do?

This post at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy was my original inspiration for this dish and since the green beans are still super fresh and tasty, it still holds true - even a month later.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pan Roasted Frying Peppers

Cruising around Kalofagas I was so inspired by this vision of fried peppers that three different types landed in my shopping cart the next day: Italian Frying Peppers, Hungarian Peppers and some fresh Cayenne peppers. Surprisingly, it was the Hungarian peppers that were the hottest!

If you like the roasted pepper flavors of Mexican foods, you will love pan roasted peppers. That smoky, distinctive pepper taste is so satisfyingly delicious that you will be surprised at how quickly people will devour them!

Like everything I prepare lately, these are quick and easy. Simply heat a heavy skillet over high heat until the pan is literally smoking. Add the peppers and allow them to char (blacken) on most sides. Then sprinkle with a little olive oil and lots of salt and eat! They are delicious pipping hot or after they have cooled down. Either way, do not skimp on the salt, it works magic!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Spicy Shrimp Salad from Bittman's Minimalist Video Series

Summertime is salad heaven, but even with scorching temperatures outside, cold salads can start to get boring. And while no one wants to heat up their kitchen, this salad is fast, easy, and so tasty!

The directions probably take longer than it does to actually cook up the shrimp! I always make sure to prepare more shrimp than I think I need, since I always want more! If you buy shrimp that needs to be deshelled and deveined, place them in cold water and work with your hands in the water; it helps prevent the mild irritation that shrimp shells can produce.

And if you get the chance, watch Bittman's video; he's such a hoot! Unfortunately, wouldn't let me copy the video link, so just go to the Food and Wine page and search for spicy shrimp salad; it should pop up.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Almond Cake

Reading other food blogs is so inspiring - it's often a highlight of my day. It can lead to a dramatic change in plans as with these jalapeno cheese dishes here and here or a complete flight of fancy with garlic butter roasted mushrooms. Then there was the time I bought a box of marzipan because Joanne made Italian Rainbow cookies, stoking memories of my childhood and I just had to make some of my own. Until I saw the directions (!) and realized how many sinfully delicious (and seriously sweet) cookies I would have at the end of my baking fun.

So I put it off, and put it off until that marzipan sat in my cupboard for months! The other day I realized it was getting perilously close to the expiration date so it was now or never. Then David Lebowitz's site popped up with this easy cake and the marzipan was liberated from its box.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gremolata and Happy Birthday to Me!

When I was a sophomore in college I started taking Italian language classes, just for the fun of it. Not to meet any particular liberal arts requirements, just on a whim. I adored it! Loved my teacher, the sound of it, the heartiness and rustic nature of the culture. It was a sort of homecoming, even before I fell in love with the food and the wine. I even tried pasta for my Italian teacher and found that I actually loved it (spaghetti was something that repulsed me as a child). Helping my classmates make homemade lasagne at the end of the semester? I was smitten! I bought my first cookbook after that experience, Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook (naturally) and made my first homemade lasagna with an empty wine bottle. Apparently no one was using rolling pins in those days since they were nowhere to be found in my neighborhood grocery stores!

Years (decades!) later I still am discovering great Italian food ideas and gremolata is one of them. I have attested to my love of parsley here and here so it should be little surprise that I love this herbal concoction; lots of fresh parsley, some garlic and lemon zest pounded (or pulsed) with olive oil and salt to create a very zesty spread, sauce or condiment, depending on your pleasure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DIY Cornichons - French Tarragon Pickles

Canning, putting up, preserving, however you want to call it, it is what you should be doing right about now if you've got a DIY bent or a garden or just want to hold onto some of that summer freshness that actually can be "bottled"!

But it doesn't all have to be "canned." This is the time of year I will boil lots of corn for scraping off the cob and freezing for mid-winter corny cornbread. Trust me, when you taste that summer fresh taste when you pull it out of the freezer in January, it is so worth the time and effort!

To help nudge all of us towards doing some more "putting up" my friend Eve of Garden of Eating is hosting a "Can you Can it? Yes you can!" event and has even created this cute badge to display if you participate! Check out her post with all of the potential fun colors it comes in and send over your entry to her by August 17. Such fun!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Corn, Lime, Jalpeno, Cilantro Pizza

Here's one from the archives - white pizza with corn, jalapeno, lime and cilantro - with an updated photo. It is a fabulous combination that too few people know about unless you live near the Berkeley Cheeseboard, which makes it often!

Adding the jalapenos is optional; my original post only had green onions. But I wanted some spice for this version. Placing them on top of everything else makes it easy to pick them off if you prefer.

This time around I had a store bought crust - cornmeal and wheat to be exact and the perfect two serving size at 9 inches round. As a result the recipe below is for a "personal" size pie so refer to the earlier post for a larger pizza for 3-4.

As always, do not forgo the lime - it brings out the goat cheese and cilantro flavors so beautifully!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moroccan Carrot Salad with Cumin and Cilantro

My love for Mark Bittman has been acknowledged here, here, and here and here! And still he tosses out more new and easy ideas. This salad is just one of the 101 Salads he posted on the Minimalist in 2009. It was reposted this summer and instead of just reading them with delight, I copied a few to try.

"14. A classic Moroccan thing: Thinly slice carrots, or grate or shred them (the food processor makes quick work of this). Toss with toasted cumin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and cilantro. Raisins are good in here, too. There is no better use of raw carrots."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Composed Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Happy Lughnasadh! That would be August 1 for all of you non-Gaelic or non-pagan worshipers. It's the first feast of the harvest according to old Gaelic culture. I always think fondly of the Meryl Streep movie, "Dancing at Lughnasadh" since that was one of the traditions, to dance around the fires set up around the fields to light the workers' way as they toiled after dark to get in the first harvests.  This salad is a perfect harvest feast, and with so little fuss!

Lydia of The Perfect Pantry inspired me to come up with my version, but it really is a catch all of the fresh produce coming out of gardens right now (whether it be yours or the local markets!) It's so easy to tailor it to your own tastes from the protein to the dressing to the greens. Laying it out on the plate allows everyone to pick and choose what they want to layer over their greens.