CHEESY LOW-CARB ZUCCHINI TARTS

After a week of fun and over-indulging a bit in Colorado, it was time to get back into a more attentive approach to cooking for a few days. For my body, nothing works better than controlling carbs. I respond quite well to it, and don’t find it that hard to do. Whenever I feel like reducing carbs, I think of Kalyn’s blog, her site is a great source of wonderful recipes. I had this one saved in my Pinterest board for a while, and  even got the exact same pan she used. It was too cute to resist. And I must tell you, it works great, very sturdy, I can see it will be around my kitchen for many many years, and maybe it will find its way into Greenlee’s home one day. If you don’t know, Greenlee is my 2 and a half-year old grand-daughter. Yeap, that’s how sturdy this pan seems. But back to the recipe. If you like omelettes and frittatas, this one is for you. And, of course, you don’t need to splurge and get the pan, use a large muffin tin, or you might even pour it into a pie dish, I suspect you can fill two regular size pans, although not too deeply. You might have to adjust the baking time a little. It is easy to judge when it’s done – just a little jiggly in the center, and getting a nice golden brown look on the surface.

CRUSTLESS LOW-CARB ZUCCHINI TARTS
(slightly modified from Kalyn’s Kitchen)

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled and softened
3 small zucchini, julienned or cut with spiral cutter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes)
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup coconut milk (or heavy cream)
8 eggs, well beaten
6 T coarsely grated sharp white cheddar
1/4 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish if desired

Heat the oven to 375F/190C. Crumble 4 oz. of feta cheese into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and let it come to room temperature.  Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the zucchini, sprinkle with Herbes de Provence, Aleppo pepper, a little salt and black pepper to taste.  Cook the zucchini a few minutes over medium-high heat, just until it’s barely starting to soften.

Spray the tart pan with olive oil  and divide the cooked zucchini among the tart wells. Top with a generous tablespoon of coarsely grated sharp cheddar and a pinch of green onions. Then use a fork to stir the now-softened goat cheese and add the coconut milk (or heavy cream) and whisk well.  Beat eggs in another bowl and add to the goat cheese/milk mixture a little at a time, stirring until fully blended.

Fill each tart well with the feta-cheese and egg mixture, being careful not to fill too full.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until tarts are firm and lightly browned. Serve hot.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am quite fond of frittatas and omelettes, but sometimes they can taste too eggy. I know, what kind of a statement is that?  But, there is such a thing as “too eggy,” at least for my taste buds. I find that using coconut milk mellows down quite nicely that flavor, making it more subtle, and the texture quite creamy. Heavy whipping cream does a similar job, but in my personal experience, coconut milk is the winner. The recipe makes six tarts, which means after Phil and I enjoyed two on a Sunday lunch, I still had four left. I kept them in the fridge for four days, wrapped individually in Saran wrap, and they were still excellent on the last day, warmed up for 60 seconds – exactly – in the microwave. I bet they freeze well too.

It is so nice to be able to have lunch at home, these tarts go well with just about anything.  Kalyn conceived them as breakfast items, but since I don’t normally have breakfast, they turn into a perfect lunch item.  Of course, the possibilities are endless as far as what other goodies to add… sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, maybe some prosciutto or diced ham. Just add whatever you like to the sautéed zucchini and proceed with the recipe.

Kalyn, thanks so much for your constant inspiration, and for “twisting my arm” (virtually at least) to get this great tart pan. Very nice addition to the Bewitching Kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Blogging Hiatus

TWO YEARS AGO: Apricots, Three Ways

THREE YEARS AGO: Up Close and Personal with Kale

FOUR YEARS AGOBlack Berry Cherry Sorbet

FIVE YEARS AGO: Asparagus Pesto

SIX YEARS AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

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ZUCCHINI FRITTATA WITH ROASTED TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE

Sometimes inspiration for a meal comes from unexpected sources. My friend Denise sent me a message with a photo of her dinner and four simple words: you must make this. She got it in a publication from her grocery store in England, showcasing their seasonal fresh ingredients. It joined zucchini with roast tomatoes and goat cheese, and looked great.  I ask you, what’s not to love? To make things even more interesting,  the zucchini receives the spiralizer treatment, although you could obviously do a coarse shred or a fine slicing. Don’t let the lack of a spiral cutter stop you. I used my Tarte Tatin pan, which sits patiently in the pantry waiting for the opportunity to shine. It is simply perfect for this type of recipe, so if you own one, open your horizons beyond the classic French dessert.

ZUCCHINI, ROASTED TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE FRITTATA
(adapted from Lakeland, UK)

12 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
15g butter
1 medium shallot, sliced
1 large zucchini, spiralized (use green or yellow, depending on availability)
5 eggs
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp herbes de Provence
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
125g goat cheese, crumbled
kalamata olives, pitted and halved, to taste

Heat the oven to 400 F (200 C).  Place the cherry tomatoes on a small roasting tray and drizzle over the olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a round, non-stick 8-inch pan that can go in the oven,  brushing it over the entire base and up the sides to prevent the frittata from sticking. Cook the sliced shallot over a medium heat until softened. Add the spiralized courgette and cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly softened.

Whisk the eggs in a Pyrex cup, add the herbs the Provence and season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the pan with the crumbled cheese, and top with the roasted tomatoes and black kalamata olives.

Cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the frittata is beginning to set, but the top is still a little runny. Finish off under a hot oven until the top of the frittata acquires a golden color. Leave in the pan for 1-2 minutes before turning out onto a plate and cutting into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This goes for our regular rotation, for sure! I think I slightly overcooked the bottom of the frittata this time, but it did not compromise the flavor at all. From the original, I had three modifications. Used herbes de Provence instead of rosemary (a texture thing for me), added a little heavy cream to the egg mixture, and included kalamata olives as topping.  Because, as you might have heard years ago, I am a kalamata-cheerleader. We had a couple of very tiny slices as leftovers, and they were still quite amazing after a brief heating in our small electric oven, just to kill the cold from the fridge.

A very simple and flavorful dish, that you can modify to suit your taste with different veggies, herbs, and maybe adding some coconut milk instead of heavy cream. Yes, that could work quite well…

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ONE YEAR AGO: Playing with Pectinase

TWO YEARS AGO: Poached White Asparagus with Lemon and Pistachios

THREE YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard’s Saffron Bloomer

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

SIX YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

 

 

AIR-FRIED CARROTS, TWO WAYS

No air-fryer? No worries. Both recipes can be prepared without it.

Lolita, the newest member of our gadget family, has been pretty busy these days. I had only one failure: air-frying broccoli, but even that was not a major catastrophic event. It was just a bit tricky to control the cooking of the crowns. Some bits of their external surface got overcooked and ended up with a harsh texture. Maybe a lower temperature would work better. At any rate, that recipe needs tweaking before I share with you. Moving to carrots, I offer two recipes that could not be simpler. First, air-fried carrots with a touch of honey. And then, a batch of shoestring fried carrots that were pretty much inhaled by the two of us. A bit of an argument happened when two lonely strands were left in the bowl. As often happens, the tropical charm spoke louder, and they both went into my belly. Oh, well. By the way, if you don’t have an air-fryer, follow the link to the recipe as shown in The Kitchen, that calls for deep-frying. It will be a bit more caloric, but still less so than the potato version. Plus, I bet kids will love them. One efficient way to deliver veggies to picky eaters.

AIR-FRIED CARROTS WITH HONEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 to 3 cups of carrots, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
tiny drizzle of soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Set air-fryer to 390 F.

Place the cut carrots in a bowl, add olive oil, honey and soy, toss gently to coat, trying to cover all surfaces with a bit of oil. Season carrots with salt and ground black pepper. Place in the basket of your air-fryer and cook for about 12 minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while.  Serve right away.

If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast in the oven at 420F until done.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve made these carrots three times. Compared to roasting them in the oven, I would say Lolita is faster, and also gives a different texture, quite pleasing. Leftovers were still very nice with a brief encounter with microwaves. Probably even better warmed up in a regular oven, but when lunch time comes, we opt for the simplest, fastest route to go back to work.

And now for a nice variation on shoestring potato fries. These are much lighter and surprisingly tasty!

 

SHOESTRING AIR-FRIED CARROTS
(adapted from Food TV The Kitchen)

1 bag (10 ounces) of julienned carrots (sold for cole-slaw)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle
1 teaspoon orange zest

In a medium bowl, mix the carrots with the olive oil, coating them lightly. Try to coat all pieces of carrots. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the carrots in the air-fryer set at 390F. Cook for 13 to 16 minutes, mixing them around every few minutes.

Remove when they start to get nicely brown, watch them closely because pieces might get too dark very quickly. Transfer them to a serving bowl, add orange zest, spray a little apple cider vinegar, adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I will warn you that the air-fryer (at least the model we have) will not hold more than one 10-ounce bag of shredded carrots. And they will shrink A LOT  during frying, as the water content of carrots is pretty high. At first you will see them shrinking, shrinking, getting kind of limp. Until all the water evaporates, they won’t brown.  So you will be left with a small amount of carrots, but perfect for two.  I would say that the main concern with the air-fryer is the amount of food it can handle. For a couple with no kids, it’s a very nice gadget. If you have kids around, you might have to cook food in batches. However, my niece in Brazil has three young kids and she still loves her fryer, so take my comment with a grain of salt.

The idea of using mini-spray bottles for vinegar is pure genius! It allows you to add just a little touch on the food. You can find those for very cheap in grocery stores, sold usually in a bag together with other types of bottles for traveling. I had no use for the spray one, it was hanging around my bathroom, neglected and lonely. Well, it’s now in my pantry, ready to play!

I’ve made these carrots twice already, first time I simply shook the basket every few minutes, and did not notice that the bottom layer was getting very dark and not moving around with my delicate shaking. Second time I used tongs to move the carrot pieces more efficiently. Worked like a charm.  Of course, if you don’t have an air-fryer, you can deep fry them and they will turn out delicious. I just hate dealing with the leftover oil, and find deep-fried food a bit heavy and hard to digest. Bottom line is, Lolita is working quite nicely for us!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Five Minutes in L.I.T (a tour of our laboratory!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Capers

THREE YEARS AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

SIX YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

LOLITA JOINS THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN!

Please allow me to introduce the newest member of the family,
Lolita, our air-fryer!

She arrived last week, after a lot exchanges between me and my niece Raquel in Brazil, who owns the exact same model and had been twisting my arm to get one. Then, my friend Karen joined forces with Raquel, even though they’ve never met. A virtual conspiracy of sorts. Karen brought her air-fryer to play and teased me with drool-inducing chicken wings. Take a look at them here. So, I went back and forth, back and forth, bought a cookbook to help me decide, lost hours of sleep tossing in bed. Turn to the left, I’m going to buy it. Turn to the right, do I really need it?  Of course, Phil was close witness to my personal drama. It is possible that he got a bit tired of some of my evening monologues as I walked around the kitchen, cookbook in hand, reading some of the recipes out loud. Although, seriously, who could get annoyed by that? Right? Anyway, all I know is that one morning he informed me that a Philips air-fryer was on its way. Sorry, ladies, the husband is taken.

First experiment: Russet Potato Fries

This is really a non-recipe.  Get Russet potatoes and cut them in slices, mine were around 1/2 inch, but quite variable. I wanted to see how the fryer behaved and optimize the size for the next time around. To a pot of salted boiling water, add the slices and parboil them for 4 minutes. Drain and dry. Once they are dry, place them in a bag or container and gently toss with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt (you will add more salt later once they come out of the fryer).  Try to coat each slice with oil, but no need to go crazy with it. Some recipes recommend you shake them in a bag, I was afraid they would start breaking, so I just tossed them with my hands inside a bowl.

Add them to the fryer set at the highest temperature, which in my model is 390F. Set the timer for 25 minutes, place the potato slices in the basket, and fry away. Shake the basket every 5 minutes or so, and keep an eye on them. Depending on the thickness of the slices and the power of your machine, they can take a little more or a little less to get brown and cooked.

Remove the fries to a serving dish, season with more salt and pepper to taste, and ENJOY!

Comments: I was over the moon with these fries, because of course I was worried about my beloved’s investment. They were really good. One thing that becomes evident is how much oil we consume when enjoying “regular”, deep-fried potatoes. These have a nice crust, but the inside feels more like a boiled potato, creamy, no taste of fat. You know how when you grab fries your fingers get all oily, and your lips might end up a bit oily too? None of that happens here. Are they as good as regular fries? That is a tough question. In all honesty, when you have regular fries for some reason it is easy to over-indulge. These are satisfying but don’t make you compulsively inhale them. I made three Russet potatoes into fries, they were not very big, medium size. We had enough for our dinner and offered some to certain four-legged beings that were nearby. Happy tail wagging was observed. Experiment concluded.

Second experiment: Sweet Potato Chips

Or, if you happen to be in Great Britain, Sweep Potato Crisps. I confess I like that name even better…


For this adventure, I enlisted help of another interesting kitchen gadget, the spiralizer. I used the ribbon blade to cut two sweet potatoes. With regular veggies, you’ll end up with long ribbons, perfect to mimic pasta, think of a very large pappardelle. The sweet potato is hard, so the ribbons break and turn into pieces quite suitable for frying.

Of course, you can use your knife skills and cut them uniformly. After slicing, I decided to soak them in cold water. Some recipes skip that step, but it’s clear that doing it results in crisper chips, which was my ultimate goal. I did that on a Sunday afternoon, just placed them in the bowl of water and there they stayed for a few hours. You could do the step of soaking and drying several hours in advance, if pressed for time. Then it’s all a matter of adding the slices to a bowl, coating them with olive oil, seasoning with salt, or any other spices you’d like, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, chili. I set the temperature to 360F, which is what I saw recommended in the Phillips manual. They were ready in about 25 minutes, with shaking at several time points, as I could not stop opening the basket and peeking inside.  The photo below gives a glimpse into their frying progression. Loads of fun.


From top to bottom, clockwise… The slices just ready to start air-frying, then after 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes (ten minutes left on the timer). They were actually ready before the timer went off, for a total air-frying of 22 minutes. Not bad at all…  If you get your prep work done in advance, sweet potato chips can be enjoyed pretty quickly. And yes, they were very crispy and delicious!  The Philips model heats up very fast, they advise you to wait 2 to 3 minutes before placing the food inside. Experiment concluded. Scientists happy and well-fed.

I have quite a few recipes lined up for future experiments. If you have an air-fryer, I highly recommend this cookbook by Meredith Laurence. it is the one with the best reviews at amazon, and I can understand why. Very creative use of the fryer, with recipes that might surprise you a little. Like Molten Chocolate Almond Cakes… See? I told you!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

THREE YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

FOUR YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

SIX YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

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THE JOYS OF GRATING SQUASH

Have you ever thought of eating raw butternut squash? Probably not. Well, I am here to tell you it is surprisingly good, but I cannot take credit for this mind-blowing gastronomic twist. I saw this recipe years ago watching Southern at Heart, hosted by Damaris Phillips. Made a note to try, in fact I went as far as printing the recipe and filing it in my gigantic folder entitled “To Make Soon” ideas. Forgot about it until last month, when our friend Cindy visited us and mentioned that she makes it often, it is now one of her favorite salads. That nudged me in the right direction. Now, I will not lie to you, grating butternut squash is not fun. But once you try this simple, but super flavorful salad, you will grate it wearing a smile of anticipation. Ok, that might be a bit of a stretch…

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SLAW
(adapted from Damaris Phillips)

2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, grated on a box grater
1/4 cup dried green raisins (or substitute regular raisins)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk together the maple syrup, vegetable oil and sherry vinegar in a large bowl. Add the squash, green raisins, and sunflower seeds; toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For this salad, I used a new (to me) ingredient, green raisins. I first learned about them in a cookbook called Bowls of Plenty, by Carolynn Carreno. She confessed being addicted. I was lucky enough to find a bag in our special Oriental grocer in town, and brought it home. They look exactly the way a green raisin should look. Green. Not yellow, not brown. They are delicious indeed. I would say less sweet, almost lemony. Perfect for this salad, in place of dried cherries used by Damaris.  Feel free to substitute any dried fruit of your choice. All it matters in the salad is some bits of sweetness.  The raw butternut squash considerably mellows down by sitting with the dressing.  Leftovers were still very good next day, actually. And a tiny bit that was left on day three was incorporated in a stir-fry with ground turkey. I felt virtuous, even if the resulting dish was not exactly eye-candy. But, it all looked pretty nice on the first time around, as you can see below…

Dinner served: Butternut Slaw, Asparagus, and Grilled Pork Tenderloin.
Life is pretty good.

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ONE YEAR AGO: Auberge-Pecan Walnut Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Gluten-free and Vegan Raspberry Bars

THREE YEARS AGO: Lasserre, a French Classic

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

FIVE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

SIX YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

ROASTED VEGGIES WITH QUESO COTIJA DRESSING

roasted-veggies-with-cotija

I hope it’s not a faux-pas to blog about too many takes on roasted veggies. Is anyone keeping track, though?  But I cannot help it, not only the weather is perfect for turning the oven on, but roasted veggies go well with pretty much any main dish, from beef to seafood, and if you like to go vegetarian, they can be the star of the show.  I saw this recipe featured in a PBS cooking show that is new to me, Pati’s Mexican Table. Like Marcela Valladolid, Pati cooks Mexican food, but with a more down to earth demeanor. She has an adorable accent, and that friendly aura that captivates the viewer right away. Anyway, this is such a simple recipe, you can memorize it in a second (quiz to follow) : equal parts of orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil. Salt and pepper. You are done. Then, there’s the Cotija dressing, but no quiz on that one, because I am a kind teacher, and want you to get an A+.

roastedveggies

 

ROASTED BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER WITH QUESO COTIJA DRESSING
(adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table)

for the veggies:
1/4
 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head of broccoli cut into 1/4″ vertical slices
1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1/4″ vertical slices

for the dressing:
1/2 cup crumbled queso Cotija
1/2 cup Mexican crema
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 475 degrees F. 

Mix the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk very well to combine.

Brush 2 large baking sheets with olive oil. Place the broccoli and cauliflower on each baking sheet, making sure that it is well spread out and not crowded. Evenly pour the orange juice mixture all over the vegetables.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once in between, until well roasted and considerably charred. Remove from the oven. 

While the veggies are roasting, combine in the jar of a blender the queso cotija, Mexican crema, vegetable oil, sherry vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adjust with water if desired. 

Serve the broccoli and cauliflower and ladle the queso cotija right on top, or pass the sauce at the table so that everyone can add as much as they want. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

 

Comments: What made me want to try this recipe was the unusual way to slice the veggies. Vertically, including the stems. Essentially no waste, and they look so cute laying flat on the baking sheet. That also gives a nice amount of char all over, which means a ton of flavor. The citric component gets intensified by reduction, the veggies tender but still retaining some bite.  The Cotija dressing is super flavorful. The recipe makes more than needed for a light drizzle all over the veggies. Leftover keeps quite well in the fridge and next day you can drizzle over avocados, tomatoes, or even some grilled meat.

Speaking of grilled meat, we paired these saucy grilled veggies with grilled pork tenderloin, for a delicious, quick and easy dinner.

served

Life is good…

and now for the quiz. What do we add to the veggies before roasting them at 475 F?
No cheating!
😉

Note to self: adapt this recipe for the steam-roasting technique from Fine Cooking. Maybe using just the florets will work better in that case. Worth playing with, that’s for sure.

roasted-veggies-with-cotija-dressing-from-bewitching-kitchen

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ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

TWO YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

THREE YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

SIX YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

TWO SALADS AND A BLOG AWARD!

Three reasons to smile today, how about that? Two very colorful salads to counteract the somber days of winter and the even more somber political scenario.  Plus, the joy of receiving a blog award. Not bad to close the first month of 2017!

The first salad was inspired by a very nice food blog, Hanady Kitchen. She is a veteran food blogger, but only recently I got to know her site. Better late than never. Love her cooking style. The star ingredient is Halloumi cheese, very unique ingredient that is worth trying to find in your grocery store. Depending on where you live it could be tricky. It is a grilling cheese originated in Cyprus, made of goat and sheep’s milk. Instead of melting away as a regular cheese would, it stands up to the heat and develops a crust that will leave a lasting impression in your gustative memory. Instead of the grill, I used my All Clad fish pan, and it worked like a charm.

salad

HALLOUMI SALAD WITH TOMATOES AND AVOCADO
(inspired by Hanady Kitchen)

1 block of Halloumi, cut in small squares
1 tablespoon olive oil
a few grape tomatoes, cut in half or large tomatoes cut in chunks
1 avocado, cut in chunks
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 tablespoons Verjus (or lemon juice)
1/4 teaspoon sumac
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil on a non-stick skillet. Add the squares of Halloumi and fry until golden brown, flip to fry the other side. Remove slices to drain on a paper towel, squeeze a little lemon juice over them. Reserve.

Add the tomatoes and avocado chunks to a medium size bowl. Make a dressing with the grape seed oil, Verjus (or lemon juice), whisking well to combine. Add sumac, salt, and pepper, whisk again.

Add the dressing to the veggies, then the pieces of Halloumi. Mix gently, adjust seasoning. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Comments: Halloumi will definitely become a constant guest in our kitchen. Nothing quite like it. That crust is perfect, the texture inside still firm with that delicate sharpness of the cheese. Perfect to nibble all by itself, or added to salads such as this one.

Moving on, the second salad comes from Fine Cooking magazine, and uses white asparagus as the main ingredient, but here’s the kick: it is raw and sliced very thinly. I know, mind-blowing…

shaved-asparagus-salad

WHITE ASPARAGUS, PARSLEY AND CRANBERRY SALAD
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine)

12 oz. white asparagus, trimmed, sliced very thinly on a sharp diagonal
1/2 oz. (about 1 cup) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 Tbs. Sherry vinegar
1 tsp. honey
lettuce leaves, for serving

In a medium bowl, toss the asparagus with the parsley leaves and cranberries. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper until emulsified. Toss the salad with enough dressing to lightly coat, and serve over lettuce leaves.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The only “problem” with this salad is that one bunch of asparagus will make enough for two, three people tops. Making this for a crowd could be tricky, unless you don’t mind spending considerable amount of time slicing asparagus. Nothing wrong with that if it suits your mood… Be Zen, though. I was not sure Phil would like the salad, but he absolutely loved it, thought it was different from anything he’d ever had before.  I tell you, the combination of raw white asparagus with cranberries is perfect. Plus they look nice together too.

And now for the Blog Award!  I was surprised with a comment from Bernadine (Bern Bakes) telling me that she awarded me the Mystery Blogger Award.  Stop by here to read more about it.

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WHAT IS MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD?

“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.  Okoto Enigma

There are some rules, and of course I will break some of them, because as I mentioned before, I do not forward awards, so I hope I don’t offend anyone by it.

  • Display award on blog  DONE.
  • List rules DONE.
  • Mention creator of the award & provide link  DONE.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link DONE.
  • Say three things about yourself. CHECK BELOW
  • Answer five questions from your nominee CHECK BELOW
  • Write five questions for your nominees to answer (sorry, not nominating anyone)
  • Nominate from ten to 20 other bloggers. (see above)
  • Notify nominees by commenting on their blog (see above)
  • Share your best post CHECK BELOW

THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF

I decided to ask Phil to help me out, as I got in a kind of paralyzed mode trying to come up with something. Here is what he said, almost without blinking…

You are very determined (that is 100% true)
You are very organized (he is not talking about my bench, I can tell you that)
You respect people who are intelligent AND work hard (good sense of humor gets me too)

I guess these will do.  I think I’ll add I am very good at multi-tasking, but maybe that comes with organization?  And obviously it all melts away when faced with cake baking.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS FROM BERNADINE

Whats your current favorite T.V. show?
Big Bang Theory

What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
White chocolate

Do you have a bad habit?
Worrying

Do you have a good habit?
My exercise routine. And I am very proud of it too…  (since you asked.. 😉

If you could meet one celebrity or person you admire who would it be? Why?
President Obama. I don’t think explanations are needed.

SHARE YOUR BEST POST

After almost 8 years of blogging, it’s very hard to choose my favorite. Instead, I will share the most popular on the blog, which happens to be one of my favorite cakes, I’ve made it plenty of times.

Here we go… The Ultimate Apple Cake

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH, BERNADINE!
Nice to be recognized!

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: When Three is Better than Two

TWO YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

THREE YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

SIX YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

 

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