Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Trying to keep it green is a challenge for us all during the crazy red & green holiday season. Try not to fall into the fast food, easy junk, eating-on-the-fly, cookie monster diet rut during this busy, busy time. Roast some broccoli tonight. OMG, I am NOT kidding. I'm all about vegetables and high heat. I love to fry asparagus, grill eggplant, onions, peppers, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. and i LOVE to roast a million vegetables in the oven. Easy, exaggerator. The possibilities are endless and the method is simple. Douse with olive oil, generously sprinkle with kosher salt, toss onto a sheet pan and roast at a high temperature, like 425. Don't remove them from the oven prematurely, ok? Let the dry heat of the oven do it's thing. Use your judgment on the amount of time. I think I had the broccoli in the oven for about 20 or 25 minutes. Maybe longer. I did turn the pieces over once. You WANT caramelization. C = F. Caramelization Equals Flavor. This method works for so many vegetables, it's pretty foolproof. Hey, if you have a problem, don't blame me. Just sayin'. Try this method with cauliflower, fresh halved brussel sprouts, carrots or whatever you like during this cold wintery season. Elevate your veg from bland to fab tonight.
If you were hoping for a little broccoli nutritional value information, your hopes have been answered. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber AND it's packed with anti-carcinogenic stuff called isothiocyanates. That means it helps to fight and prevent cancer. It is soooooo good for you. Did you know that broccoli has more calcium than a glass of milk? It might even have more Vitamin C than that glass of OJ you had this morning. Don't ask me about quantities and specifics, OK? This is not the Weggie Wikipedia. Look it up.
In complete contrast, I will be throwing in an obligatory cookie post sometime between now and Xmas. Ha Ha! Call me Jekyll Hyde. It's cool, LOL.
Eat More Green, Feel Mo Betta,
Happy Holidays My Friends,
Monday, November 16, 2009
For a refreshing and delicious "salad", try this tonight. You won't be sorry. The colors. The flavor. The aroma. Healthy AND beautiful.
Cavolfiore Insalata ala Fioretti
One head of cauliflower, steamed
One head of broccoflower, steamed
One or two roasted red peppers (jarred is fine), cut into thin strips
2 cloves of fresh garlic, each cut in half
the juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
fresh herbs, finely chopped (if you have them on hand)
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
While you're steaming the vegetables, cut the peppers into thin strips. Place them in a bowl with the garlic and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Add the olive oil, herbs, salt & pepper. Mix together and let the flavors mingle. The garlic will nicely flavor the dressing without overpowering. Arrange the cauliflower and broccoflower on a platter. Drizzle the pepper strips and dressing onto the hot vegetables, sprinkle with a little more salt & pepper to taste, if you like. Allow to cool to room temperature. Serve.
Ciao for now,
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
AN APPLE A DAY . . .
Nothing against Affy Tapples, it's just that these may be a tad more decadent. Tons of caramel, toasted pecans and tons of chocolate. But you're like, hey, that's a turtle . . . and I'm like, no it's not, silly, it's an apple. It's GOOD for you! Oh yeah. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Indulge! I had too much fun with these apples. First, the homework. I've made homemade caramel twice and it was good, but there were issues with it becoming too hard and . . .
I was not completely satisfied.
Too much of a P-I-T-A with exact temperature when it's so much simpler to melt store-bought caramels and not worry about the temperature. It makes it the whole process so much more relaxed and fun. And . . . I found a wonderful product (new?/ not sure) but it's caramel "bits" from Kraft and guess what? They're smaller than regular square caramels and they are not wrapped. How nice is that? No unwrapping and they melt faster cuz their eentsy- weentsy. Simple. So, you melt the caramels in a pot with two tablespoons of water per bag of caramels. Each bag of caramels is enough for 4-5 apples.
KPK Tips for making gourmet apples in YOUR kitchen (I know, I know, don't mention it, you're welcome):
1) Dip your apples in hot water to remove the waxy polish. Towel dry and make sure they are nice and dry and wax-free. Unless, of course, you'd prefer your caramel to set up in a nice pool at the base of your naked apple. 2) Guess what, the apples that got poked from the rear ended up turning out nicer than the ones which were poked from the top. LOL. Hey, that's the truth! I can't help it. 3) Toast your nuts. I'm serious. Stop laughing. 4) Set out paper plates of nuts and other various toppings so that you'll be ready to roll. Literally. 5) Be creative with your toppings. You can use everything from dried fruit like tart cherries or apricot bits, coconut, endless varieties of nuts, toffee brickle (Heath bits), mini chips. Sheesh, you could even use cereal. I loaded some of the apples with toasted pecans, toasted walnuts, sliced almonds, dried cherries, Heath bar bits, coconut and mini chocolate chips. Then, I coated the big girls with tons of melted chocolate. I named that particular topping combo "OMG". Don't steal that. 6) Cool the apples quickly after dipping and topping to firm up the caramel quickly. 7) I keep the loaded up final products in either the basement or the garage where it's nice and cool, but not as cold as the fridge.
You don't want condensation on your chocolate from the fridge, do you? Right answer. I don't either. 8) Decorate for the season OR to reflect your personality. Unless you're a dud (or a bad apple) Can't stop LOL. Wow, all of this apple humor is really making me hungry. Might have to go check out the LAST one. It's pictured above, right (with the foofy "white collar"). Kind of like a Mounds bar covered apple. Just coconut and chocolate. Oh yeah, caramel, too. OK, my friends, remember, a caramel apple a day keeps the doctor away. Am I wrong?
Apples & Love from Katie's Passion Kitchen,
I almost forgot.... KPK Fave Apple ~ The crisp, juicy, sweet/tart, amazingly delicious, seductive . . . (drum roll please . . .) . . . HONEYCRISP!*
*The Honeycrisp apple was born in 1960 when the Macoun apple was crossed with a Honeygold apple as part of the apple breeding program at the University of Minnesota. So, the Honeycrisp has been around about as long as I have. : )
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
It's 12:13 am and time for a KPK Special Report. I think I have a weird food twitter thing happening. Recent dishes in the KPK . . .
Hot Spicy Chili with Beef Brisket and New Mexico Chiles - This chili was developed using the usual chili suspects like onion and green pepper with some new tricks and ingredients I learned from a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. Really Texy-Mexi and flavorful.
Joey's Garden Green Bell Peppers Stuffed with Italian Sausage, Risotto, Tomatoes & Cheese - This was a dish that evolved without a recipe and with conflicting thoughts of cooking or not cooking the filling. I think the extra steps paid off with a juicy, flavorful filling of spicy sausage and moist risotto.
Polpette di Melanzane - Eggplant, grated Pecorino, garlic, fresh bread crumbs, fresh parsley and a beaten egg. Shaped into balls, dusted with flour, fried until brown in olive oil. I intend to perfect this recipe in my quest to replicate Uncle Benny's fond memories of the delicioso polpette di melanzane from the "old country". I think I'll pick Uncle Tony's brain in the next step of my research.
Kale - Geeez, I love kale. It's delicious and addictive. OK. Here it is. Wash the kale. Shake off the water. Heat some olive oil in a nice big frying pan. Add a bit of butter. Add the kale. Add a sprinkle of kosher salt. Cover the pan. Cook and crackle until the kale actually browns a bit. Toss it around with your tongs. Cover and cook a little longer. Eat it ALL. It is sooooo good for you. It's a little chewy and it doesn't wimp out like spinach does when prepared in the same manner. It needs nothing else. Don't bail on kale. Eat your greens, will ya?
Salads - I really do try to keep the salads new and fun by changing them up all the time with different vegetables, new dressing ingredients and interesting combinations. This salad featured little "light bulb" pickled tomatoes that we bought at the Farmer's Market in a jar labeled "Martini Pickles".
Um, I must work in the morning, so I guess I'll hit Katie's Passion Pillow. I'd rather make caramel apples but I think I'll save that project for later this week. My brain is in the caramel apple think-tank once again. In search of caramel perfection. It can be done.
Until then, I wish you good food, good friends and good health. Thank you for stopping by Katie's Passion Kitchen where you are always a welcome guest. Come back soon! My kitchen is always open.
Katie's Passion Kitchen
Friday, October 9, 2009
Here's the scoop. Stock your pantry. Stock your fridge. You can make a delicious and nutritious soup right off the shelf in a snap!
Here's what's usually in stock in Katie's Passion Pantry:
Dei Fratelli whole canned tomatoes (Fioretti family favorite)
Swanson 100% Fat Free Chicken Broth (Fine Cooking Magazine's Taste Test Winner)
Beef and/or Chicken Stock
Star brand porcini mushroom cubes
Dried peppers (like Ancho and Guajillo)
Canned beans ~ cannelini, light and dark red kidney, garbanzo, red, black, pinto
Dried pasta ~ many shapes and sizes to suit all of my soup moods
Rice ~ Arborio, Carnaroli, long grain
Olive Oil ~ Filippo Berio is my everyday go-to olive oil, but I am constantly experimenting with other brands for various uses ~ I don't use the extra-virgin for everyday cooking.
Onions ~ red, sweet, yellow, cippoline
Dried Split Peas
Katie's Passion Fridge Staples
Various greens like kale, escarole, arugula or spinach
Cheese (endless varieties but always a hard grating cheese like Grana Padano, Parmaggiano Reggiano or Romano ~ save the rock-hard rinds and toss them into your soup pot to add richness and delicious flavor
I made this wonderfully delicious potato soup for Mark & I a week or so ago from what I had on hand and I swear, it's one of our all-time favorites. Peasant food is where it's at. You don't need to be fancy to eat well. That's for sure. My dad always says that if you have potatoes and eggs, you will never go hungry.
Potato Soup with Arugula
This is so easy, I can hardly call it a recipe. It's just so basic. Here's what you'll need:
Arugula (or spinach or any green of your choice!)
Toss a few tablespoons of butter into your favorite soup pot. Melt and add a few sliced onions. Sweat the onions until they begin to soften. Add some chopped fresh sage. I'm lucky enough to still have fresh sage in the garden. Add cubed potatoes (I used around 5 medium russet potatoes) and about 6 or 8 cups of chicken broth or a combination of chicken and vegetable broth. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Check for salt and adjust seasonings by adding kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. When the potatoes are tender, add the arugula (or spinach) and stir. The greens will quickly wilt and become tender. If you don't overcook, they will remain a beautiful bright green. Serve with freshly ground black pepper, a crumble of cheese if you like (farmer's cheese pictured) and a swirl of olive oil if you like. Honestly though, the basic flavors of this soup are delicious without adornment.
Watch for upcoming posts about Ribollita with Lacinato Kale and an incredibly delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup with lots of garnishes and tons of flavor. Both delicious. The tortilla soup was such a treat that I didn't take the time to photograph it before we dove in. Sad, but true. I guess I'll have to make it again for a photo shoot. Oh darn, I guess we'll suffer through it. LOL.
So, here's the scoop on soup. Stock well to eat well. Keep it simple. Enjoy the most simple foods from the earth and you can't go wrong! Mangia Zuppa!
Love & The Soup Scoop,
Monday, September 21, 2009
Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Goat Cheese
2 large Portabella mushrooms
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
Filling ~ about 2 oz. of goat cheese (1 oz. each)
about 1/2 cup of fresh bread crumbs
some freshly grated cheese (a few tablespoons)
finely chopped fresh herbs (about 2 tablespoons)
a pinch of kosher salt & a few grinds of black pepper
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Scrape out the gills of the mushrooms with a spoon, cut out the stems and reserve. Line a small cookie sheet with foil (for easy cleanup), place the mushrooms, caps down on the cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub around in the oil and vinegar on both sides and roast in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, caps down. Meanwhile, finely chop the stems. Mix the bread crumbs, grated cheese, herbs, finely chopped stems, s & p and olive oil in a small bowl. Once you have removed the mushrooms from the oven, let cool. Top each mushroom with goat cheese (about one ounce on each mushroom, broken into chunks) and then top with the crumb mixture. Pop back into the oven for about 6 minutes until the bread crumbs are brown and crisp and the goat cheese is oozy. Serve alongside or on top of a simple salad. Tonight, I used baby arugula and thinly sliced red onion, dressed with olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, s & p, and shards of Parmesan. With some fresh bread and butter, this was a filling and delicious late night meal. It would make an elegant lunch, too!
This is the type of meal that's a cinch, providing you have the stuff on hand. I always try to have fresh bread crumbs in stock (I keep them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer). Thankfully, fresh herbs are still plentiful in the yard. Goat cheese lasts a long time in the fridge. Keep some on hand for fast appetizers or to add to a salad. I try to always have fresh greens on hand in the fridge. Arugula tonight. Or....baby romaine, mixed greens or a mixed herb combination. Something tender and delicate. Lemons.... always on hand. Olive oil. Never without it. Hard cheese like Parmesan or Romano. Always. If you're stocked, you will ALWAYS have something wonderful to eat!
Stay stocked. Stay inspired. Stay with me.
Wishing you a fully stocked life and a fully stocked pantry,
Love, from Katie's Late Night Passion Kitchen
aka Katharine Fioretti
Note: The lovely orange nectar in the glass is actually Prosecco with a splash of Aperol, an ice cube, and a nectarine slice. Gorgeous color for this time of year and a refreshing late night sip.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
From a recent trip to the European Farmers Market in Chesterton, I had some nice large bell peppers, a huge sweet white onion, and some bright and beautiful round yellow squash. With carrots and celery on hand along with a couple of potatoes, I knew I had the basics for a nice late summer vegetable soup. I sauteed chopped onion with sliced carrots and celery in olive oil, in a large pot. Chopped bell peppers were added to the aromatics along with some chicken broth and beef stock. I once read that combining chicken and beef stock/broth together produces a slow-cooked, veal stock flavor that is really delicious, so I have often combined the two in soups with excellent results. To brighten the flavor of the broth, I added a can of whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and 4 small but potent fresh red chiles, sliced, seeds and all. What a difference between fresh chiles and dried crushed red pepper flakes. Wonderful freshness. As the soup simmered away, I quickly mixed a pound of ground turkey with freshly grated Parmesan, fresh bread crumbs, salt, pepper, one egg and some chopped freshly picked parsley from the yard. As I rolled marble sized balls and dropped them into the simmering pot, I wished I could have taken a sip of wine from the glass that was calling my name. My hands, were, of course, too gooey to pick up my glass. Pity. Patience is a virtue. I had to wait. Pinch, roll, drop, pinch, roll, drop. You get the picture. Making tiny meatballs for soup is a bit time consuming. You really must resist the temptation to make the meatballs progressively larger in an effort to finish the job faster. Patience. The wine?
Panilonco 2007 Reserve Carmenere from Chile. Red wine-winos . . . make a note. This wine is light but lush. It's smooth. It's food-friendly. It goes down easy. I think it would be an excellent choice for red-wine-newbies. It is lovely to me from the first sip. Silky tannins is what they say. I LOVE this wine and I think you will too! Try it today. Guess what friends? It's only around 5 measly bucks at Trader Joe's!!! You'll thank me for this, I know. I really really like it, so feel free to bring a bottle if you're coming over for dinner any time soon.
Back to the zuppa now. The turkey meatballs are simmering. I cut the squash and a couple of potatoes into bite size cubes and added them to the pot. Check your seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add kosher salt and your favorite pasta. I found this really beautiful pasta at Jewel. Check it out when you have a chance. The brand is Culinary Circle, which I believe is a Jewel brand name. The pasta is authentic bronze cut pasta made in Italy of semolina flour. Look for the white bags that look like waxed paper. The pasta I used in the soup is called "Trottole" and they are shaped like large rings that kind of wind around a center stem. I am very selective when it comes to pasta because I am not a happy camper when the pasta turns to mush. Don't you hate that? This pasta holds its shape and stays firm and al dente'. Just like it should. Tip: I never cook the pasta in the broth unless I am making a small batch which will be eaten in one meal because the noodles will S W E L L and become softer and softer from sitting in the broth, and before you know it, your rich and wonderful broth will be absorbed into the pasta and disappear! I learned this from my mom, Emily, many, many years ago when I amazed myself by re-creating her homemade chicken soup for the very first time. I was ecstatic, needless to say. My mom often makes orzo or acini de pepe pasta for her chicken soup. Always in a separate pot.
So, the soup was served with the pasta and topped with a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. I baked a loaf of Asiago cheese bread from Jewel (you can buy those frozen and bake them yourself, if you like) and we had the pleasure of dunking buttered cheesy bread into our healthy vegetable soup, LOL.
I can barely breathe right now. Talk about swelling.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Good cooking is when things taste of what they are. What a wonderful and simple statement. Curnonsky was the most celebrated writer on gastronomy in France in the 20th century. He advocated simple food over complicated, rustic over refined, and often repeated the phrase,La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le goût de ce qu'elles sont. I have always believed this to be true, as well. Take for example, the grand simplicity of a perfectly ripened, home grown tomato.
The amazing beauty, flavor and freshness of this luscious fruit is truly a highlight of late summer. Chewy, crusty bread, the awesome tomato, fragrant, tender, freshly picked basil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and you have a memorable, summertime treat that you can only dream about in the dreary winter months. At the office yesterday, many of us enjoyed home grown tomatoes, thickly sliced and served up on buttered, mayonnaised, toasted, country Italian bread. Topped with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few basil leaves, we happily finished off a couple of loaves of bread, a variety of tomatoes, an abundance of freshly picked basil, a few hunks of fresh Asiago and some aged Grana Padano. It was a fun and lingering snack time that could only be held at this time of the year. Thank you to brother, Joe, for contributing so much goodness from your healthy and productive organic garden. We enjoyed your cucumbers and tomatoes! We eagerly await each year's crop and appreciate each and every bean, zucchini and tomato. And, thanks, also, to Ray's Quality Greenhouse in Steger, IL where I purchased my awesome tomato plants this year. Heirloom tomatoes like "Rainbow Striped" and "Lynn's Mahogany Garnet" are beautiful and delectable tomatoes. The "Brandywine" is also an amazing, sweet, pinkish, weighty and flavorful tomato. It matures s l o w l y. I'm trying to do the same. In the large closeup above, the smaller red tomatoes with metallic olive green stripes are "Lynn's Mahogany Garnets", the large golden tomatoes pictured front center and right are the "Rainbow Striped". The big beefy tomato in the background is a "Brandywine". I just picked those this morning and set them on the patio step for their photo shoot. The "Rainbow Striped" is probably my favorite. A large, beautiful golden yellow tomato with a sweet, mild flavor and few seeds. Smooth skin with a pinkish red bottom and a round swirl of the pinky red in each mouth-watering slice. Amazing tomato. I wouldn't think of cooking with any of these because their pure flavor must be enjoyed "au naturale" at the peak of ripeness......
Simple food, pure and true flavors. Enjoy all that summer has to offer as we wind it up for 2009. September is a wonderful month to savor what the earth is still gifting. Enjoy it all . . . Et surtout, faites simple! . . . And above all, keep it simple!
Wishing you love and life's simple pleasures,
Monday, September 7, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I have a new Mac! . . . I'm learning, I'm searching, I'm reading, I'm exploring and I'm anxious to push this new Apple into many different directions. I definitely will not push it into any hot caramel, though. LOL. All new. Big screen. Tons of storage. No virus threats. Amazing photo and video options for organizing, editing and sharing. Let's see how creative we can be with this wonderful technology. I'm pumped. All I need now is time! What am I talking about? I have time. It's only 1:50 a.m. and there are quite a few hours until the sun comes up. No complaints. I'm taking a nice big bite out of this apple. Thank you Mark. It's really suh-weeeeet.
Since my last post, I have had some delays with transferring files from my old computer to the new Apple, a really busy schedule with my "real" job ($ 4 Clunkers, anyone?), many various blog neglect justifications, but, NEVER MIND
all of that b.s.! Let's talk about F O O D !
Here are a few things I have eaten, cooked, drank, thought about cooking (or eating), read about, did (or thought about doing) . . . you get the point. OK. Let's see . . .
First, there was Mom's Stuffed Cabbage. Talk about comfort. Mmmmm. This was simply delicious and simple to make. Emily & I used an old, old recipe from the Antoinette Pope Cooking School Cookbook, my mom's "go-to" reference for pretty much everything. Ground beef and cooled, cooked rice, rolled up in partially cooked savoy cabbage leaves . . . piled up, covered with canned tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and slowly cooked in my grandmother's Magnalite roaster. I love that roaster so much that my mom just gave me the rest of her stash. Now I have a total of 5 Magnalite pots/roasters. These babies are built to last! Love your vessels. That's what I say. Here's a shot of the gawooomkees (LOL) on top of homemade mashed potatoes. Oh yeah. In the background is a cool and creamy cucumber and onion salad with radishes, sour cream, white balsamic vinegar, and just a pinch of sugar. Another Mom delight. Thanks, Em. It was a great night and a delicious meal.
unusual. I woke up on a Sunday morning and had
to bake it before I did anything else. That was
the only thing I wanted to do that morning. To
make a long story longer, LOL, I cheerfully whipped up the egg whites to stiff peaks (while
videotaping the entire process), I beat the yolks with sugar until they were thick. I sifted the flour. I reminisced about using the Vin Santo that Mark and I brought home from Santorini several years ago along with extra virgin olive oil. I was for sure in my KPK element. The entire process exhilarated me as I sipped the Vin Santo and brushed my springform pan with olive oil. I was so happy. I was happy as the lovely aromas filled Katie's Passion Kitchen. I was happy as the cake rose and domed nicely as it was becoming a lovely golden brown. I was happy when I peeked through the oven window. I was still happy while I was washing the dishes. Then, happy turned to leery as I questioned the length of time the cake was to bake. It seemed much too long and the cake looked really brown. But, it smelled nice. It was not burned and it rose beautifully, right? I gingerly removed it from the oven and inspected it carefully. Of course, I was taking pictures and even videotaping my concerns. As the sides of the cake shrunk away from the sides of the pan, the gap between the cake and the pan became more substantial. Hmmmmm. As the cake cooled, it kept shrinking. After I unbuckled the springform pan and removed it from the sides of cake, the cake looked as if I had tied a ribbon around it and squeezed it a bit. Kind of like a squashed hourglass. Or a UFO. After pondering what may have caused the shrinkage, I continued my inspection. Nice crumb, but too dense at the bottom. Nice flavor. Kind of eggy. Moist. I liked it. I knew that it had to be served by the slice with a brightly flavored fruit compote and definitely not on a pristine, show-off pedestal because this cake was NOT a looker. I tossed some berries into a pot with a few drops of water, some sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and a chunk of lemon rind. Just FYI, the natural pectin in the lemon rind (the white pith) acts as a thickener when you're heating fruit for dessert. You don't need to add any other junk to thicken your fruit. Mother Nature is awesome. I believe I heated strawberries and raspberries that day, maybe blackberries, too. I love this method of heating fruits, for example, plums and raspberries, yum. It really enhances their naturally perfect flavors and it's great to top ice cream or cake or frozen yogurt. You get the picture. Try it some time, if you haven't yet. Cool? No. Warm.
Next, there was the grilled zucchini parmesan.
This was really delicious. It was not really intended to be our main course the night I made it, but it was a perfectly satisfying main course along with a salad and some great bread. Everyone knows about Eggplant Parmesan, right? Well, this is a little lighter, since the zucchini is grilled and not fried, and it's definitely less of a mess in the kitchen. So, I had 2 blemish-free, large, firm zucchinis from my brother, Joe's, organic summer garden. We have been enjoying the fruits of Joe's labor all summer. Zucchini, baby eggplant, heavenly beans, perfect tomatoes, endless cucumbers, firm, shiny peppers, and more . . . I sliced the zucchini, tossed them in a bit of olive oil, sprinkled them with kosher salt and grilled them on my gas grill with the heat set to medium. 5 to 10 minutes on each side until they were firm-tender with nice grill marks. Before I grilled them, I made a batch of tomato sauce with some onions, garlic, fresh basil, some red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. Fave brand of canned tomato sauce and canned whole tomatoes: Dei Fratelli. My fave. Mom's fave. Teri's fave. Any fave brand switches must be immediately reported to all family members to avoid feelings of neglect or paranoia. Like, when my mom switched from Charmin to Charmin Ultra, without telling Teri, there was a problem. And . . . I don't remember Mom telling me about the switch from Tide With Bleach Alternative to Gain. Come to think of it, is Mom using Saran Wrap or Glad Wrap? If she switched without an APB, there will be trouble. These changes must be promptly communicated. Um, did I digress? Back to the zuke parm. OK. Baking dish. Layer of sauce on the bottom. Layer of zuke slices. Drizzle of sauce. Showers of grated cheese. I used Grana Padano and it was DELICIOUS. Nuther layer of zuke slices. More sauce. Lots of cheese. Then. top the whole kit and kaboodle with homemade fresh bread crumbs that you have tossed with olive oil, kosher salt, more grated cheese and a little pepper. Pop it into a pre-heated 375 degree oven, uncovered. Oh my. I love dishes like this one. Simple and hearty. I like to have fresh bread crumbs on hand at all times. I toss stale bread into the food processor and pulse it a few times. I store the crumbs in a freezer bag and use them as needed for meatballs or crusty toppings like this one!
Plus, we had wonderful evening with the Garcias and the Byttows on Sunday night, August 30th for a celebratory Italian meal. Antipasto on the patio, a little vino, a little Dean Martin, some Jerry Vale, and a couple of pounds of Pasta Bolognese in the dining room. Wish we could do that every night! Happy Birthday Steve! Thank you to our wonderful guests and hope to see Elsa and David soon in Zacatecas!
Until my next post, Buon Appetito my friends, family and fellow lovers of food and wine. By the way, read Julia Child's My Life in France when you have the time. It is a lovely and inspiring book. I am enjoying every word and every adventure with utter delight. Julia was joyful and funny and so very passionate about French food. Devour it today! You won't be disappointed. Ciao familia!
Owner, Creator, Author, Head Cook & Bottle Washer
KATIE'S PASSION KITCHEN
Sunday, July 26, 2009
E-mails are once again circulating about the woman who had lunch at Neiman Marcus with her daughter, ordered their cookies for dessert, asked for the recipe, and was charged $250.00 (the story goes that the waitress said "two-fifty", which she interpreted as $2.50). She subsequently disputed the charge and N-M stuck to their guns, since she already had the recipe. Her revenge was to circulate the recipe all over the internet. So the story goes............
Make someone happy today with homemade cookies from your passion kitchen. They'll be more impressed that you made them than they would be if you bought them from NM for $24.00......17.75 ounces in an exclusive NM tin. Not sure if the tin is included in the 17.75, LOL.
I baked the cookies this week and they are pretty delicious. I do remember trying the recipe a few years back (whenever the last e-mail blast worked it's way to my computer and I don't remember being impressed). This time, I was happy with the cookies, so I have listed the recipe below including my personal tweaks and tips at no extra charge to KPK bloggers. LOL. BTW, if you're comparing this recipe to an e-mail that you received, please note, this is one-half of the e-mailed recipe AND I re-organized the ingredients in order of use, AND re-organized the directions according to ease of preparation, making it, in general, a much easier to follow, nicer, neater, baker-friendly package for KPK bloggers. You're welcome.
Urban Myth NM Cookie Recipe
with KPK Tweaks
Hey, Titles are Important
2 sticks of butter (I used one each, salted and unsalted)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (table salt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups oatmeal (regular old-fashioned)
12 ounces chocolate chips (I used half semi-sweet, half bittersweet)
3 to 4 ounce Hershey bar, grated (I used two 1.55 oz. bars)
2 cups coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans but I love them all)
Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter and the sugars in an electric mixer. Toss the oatmeal into your blender and blend a bit until it's ground. In a seperate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients . . . flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the blended oatmeal. Add the eggs and vanilla to the creamed mixture. Then, add the dry ingredients and mix slowly on low speed until just combined. Don't overmix. Stir in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate and the nuts. I used an ice cream scoop to make consistently sized cookies, but you can use heaping rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough, also. The e-mailed recipe calls for rolling the dough into balls. We all know that's a P-I-T-A. I scooped the dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets and popped them into the oven for almost exactly 12 minutes. The original recipe indicates 10 minutes. You may want to set your timer for 10 minutes and keep checking until they're lightly browned. I guess 10 minutes would be just right if the cookies are a little on the small side. Smaller, shorter. Bigger, longer. LOL.
Curious and skeptical of the legend, I needed to do a little investigating. With one lightning fast Google search, the REAL recipe popped up in the number one position of the search, stomping out the myth forever. The recipe is completely different than the e-mailed recipe listed below!!!!! Here's a link for your ease and information: THE REAL DEAL. Click, read, bake and report back to the KPK. I would love to hear about your success with either recipe. I must now go bake the REAL NM chocolate chip cookies and provide you with an update to this story!
Make someone happy today with homemade cookies from your passion kitchen. They'll be more impressed that you made them than they would be if you bought them from NM for $24.00......17.75 ounces in an exclusive NM tin. Not sure if the tin is included in the 17.75, LOL.
Nothing Chocolate, Nothing Gained
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I pledge allegiance to this KPK blog and the United . . . . . HI EVERYONE! Really, on this beautiful July morning, I am making a pledge of fidelity to my blog and my blog family because I have been gone way tooooo long! I love to share my current favorite things with you and let you know what's been happening in KPK as well as the rest of Katie's life.
"Summer Summary" 2009 thus
far . . .
On June 14th, we celebrated Betty & Norm's 50th Wedding Anniversary
with a party at their home. Lots of friends and family enjoyed good food
and libations in celebration of this
momentous occasion. 50 Years! Pictured at left is a peek at the fresh flowers and traditional 50th gold that was used to decorate for the occasion. Tiny bottles of wine were personalized with small mosaic style collages of vintage pics of BJ & Norm over the past 50. The labels were bordered in gold and the bottles were dressed with custom Happy Anniversary cards attached with blue and gold ribbons. Each little favor was embellished with an irridescent gemstone on the top of each cap. Guests went home with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and BJ's fave, White Zinfandel as mementos of the day.
Happy Anniversary Norm & Betty!
In early July, Norma hosted a Book Club dinner party and wowed her fellow book club members with a creative and delicious menu to enjoy over discussions about her recommended book selection, Freakonomics. I created these fun bookmark menus for her special night and themed the menu as a Table of Contents with special links and references to the book. Bookmark edges were cut using decorative edge scissors and each were embellished with red, purple and green fabric ribbon. Norma's hostess skills definitely raised the book club bar.
I hosted a Girls BBQ Night last week as a fun and interactive way to introduce virgin grillers and grill fearers to some delicious, nutritious and exciting ways they can use their grills all year long. I love grilling so much that I even have grilling soundtracks like "Winter Barbecue" and other compilations to energize and enhance the grilling creativity and experience.
Everyone joined in as we snapped asparagus, prepped red and green bell peppers, patted dry sea scallops, oiled up some eggplant and zucchini slices, wiped portabellas, sliced onions, grilled bread, sampled cheeses, drizzled olive oil, squeezed lemons, all while consuming a respectablenumber of pomegranate martinis and fruit-filled glasses of homemade red sangria. Now, that's what I call multi-tasking. Actually, I was amazed at how cool it was to show someone how I wanted something done, for example, how I wanted the peppers sliced for the grill . . . and a mere five minutes later, it was DONE! The power of numbers! I am really amazed at how fast things get done with extra helping hands! I think I need a party crew every night. There's nothing more beautiful than everyone working together for fun and entertainment with a lot of laughs along the way. It was really a fun night and my new favorite party concept. Talk about no pressure on the hostess. It was an "all hands on deck" night. Thank you to all of the willing and efficient party guests who made "Girls BBQ" a really great event! At left, check out Stephanie's avocado love, as evidenced by the traces of green, smack dab on each boob in the pic. At right, Gianna demonstrates her snapping skills. Ladies, light up those grills!
More about what I've been doing lately...... Sheesh, can I fit all of this in? Yes I can...... Quick recap (I know, I know, quick , my _ _ _ is what you're thinking). LOL. I'm just throwing this out there . . . Ready? OK. Stuffed Sardinian style eggplant - Check me out, showing off the big fat beauties before they're popped into the oven. These babies were filled with a mixture of sauteed eggplant, onion, garlic, ground veal, bread crumbs, eggs, and fresh herbs. Topped with hand crushed tomatoes and freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
Um, yeah, they rocked. Also, check out the tooty fruity cupcakes I brought to my co-workers last Monday. Sugar cookie flavored cupcakes were topped with cream cheese frosting (my personal fave) and fresh fruit. They were colorful and summery. How do you like my green tinted piped frosting? Too cute.
I am also throwing in a few pictures of my garden (pre-deer smorgasbord).
Damn, I LOVE basil.
Hey, you don't have to tell me I'm all over the board. LOL.
Here's wishing you a passion-filled summer of love, food, wine, friends, family and everything that keeps YOU all over the board.
With love from Katie's Passion Kitchen,
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
COOK PLANT WEED WORK EAT SELL LAUGH TALK BAKE LEARN WRITE LISTEN DRINK LIVE HELP LOVE READ SHOP CLEAN PRAY BUY KISS WALK SMILE INSPIRE
SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?
RAPINI & "CALAMARATA" (DE CECCO PASTA THAT LOOKS LIKE CALAMARI) - - - OH MY, THIS PASTA IS SMOTHERED IN A MELTINGLY DELICIOUS NATURAL SAUCE OF SPICY ITALIAN SAUSAGE, ADDICTIVE RAPINI, FRESHLY GRATED PARMESAN AND PECORINO ROMANO. I THINK I GAINED 5 LBS THE NIGHT WE FEASTED ON THIS. OH WELL. REMEMBER THE GIRL FROM THE MOVIE, PULP FICTION? SHE THOUGHT POTS WERE SEXY.
TRY THIS FOR YOUR NEXT QUICK, HEALTHY SALAD. THINLY SLICE A NICE BIG PORTABELLA MUSHROOM AND SOME SWEET ONION. COMBINE WITH A SMALL AMOUNT OF FRESH BABY SPINACH (MORE MUSHROOMS THAN SPINACH) . . . ADD A LITTLE CRUMBLED BLUE CHEESE OR GORGONZOLA, A DRIZZLE OF OLIVE OIL, A SPLASH OF WHITE BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND SOME SALT & PEPPER. DELICIOUS AND NUTRITIOUS. MAYBE WE'LL CALL THAT "DAN". I LOVE ACRONYMS.
THESE PRETTY LITTLE DEVILED EGGS WERE SPIKED WITH FINELY MINCED CHIPOTLE CHILES AND A DAB OF ADOBO SAUCE. A SPRINKLING OF SMOKY SPANISH PAPRIKA AND CAYENNE PEPPER ADORNED THE TOPS AND THEN FINALLY, A LITTLE MORE FOOD JEWELRY, FRESHLY PICKED CHIVES AND CHIVE BLOSSOMS. OH SO CUTE FOR A MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND SNACK. I KNOW. I KNOW. WHAT CAN I SAY? THOSE CHIVE BLOSSOMS WERE CALLING MY NAME.
DO YOU HAVE AN ICE CREAM MAKER? IF YOU DO, TRY THIS. IT'S THE WORLD'S EASIEST LEMON SORBET. CREAMY AND TART. REFRESHING AND FAT FREE. OK, WHATEVER, IT HAS TONS OF SUGAR, YOU'RE THINKING, RIGHT? QUIT BEING A BUZZ-KILL. MAKE SOME TODAY. ASK HANNAH. IT'S A CINCH. 1 CUP OF SUGAR. 1 CUP OF WATER. 1 CUP OF FRESHLY SQUEEZED LEMON JUICE. 1 TABLESPOON OF LEMON ZEST. GOT IT? BRING THE SUGAR AND WATER JUST TO A BOIL, WHILE STIRRING TO DISSOLVE THE SUGAR. REMOVE FROM THE HEAT TO COOL. IN THE MEANTIME, ZEST A LEMON OR TWO UNTIL YOU HAVE ABOUT A TABLESPOON OF ZEST. JUICE ENOUGH LEMONS UNTIL YOU HAVE 1 CUP OF JUICE. ONCE THE SIMPLE SYRUP HAS COOLED (TOSS THE POT IN THE FRIDGE TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS). IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COLD. JUST NOT HOT, OK? ADD THE JUICE AND ZEST TO THE SYRUP. POUR INTO YOUR ICE CREAM MAKER AND CHURN AWAY FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES OR SO UNTIL YOU HAVE A CREAMY AND MOUTHWATERING SORBET. CLEANSE YOUR PALATE TODAY.
Wishing you a summer filled with everything you savor.
With love from Katie, under the June moon.
MORE 4 U
From here, you can continue scrolling down to check out some of my favorite dishes and KPK highlights.
Love, Katie ~ I am so glad you're here! Stay awhile!
For more posts (articles), recipes, stories and pictures, you can scroll up (in the right column under "What You Missed") and click on 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013. As of June, 2013, there are are total of 139 posts in KPK. You can spend more time here when you know where to look, right?! Another way to enjoy my kitchen is to click on any items of interest in the section entitled "Passion Posts", also up above in the right column.
Love, Katie ~ I am so glad you're here! Stay awhile!