Thursday Night Nicoise Salad

Thursday Night Nicoise Salad
Allow all of your salad stars to shine on their own. Dress each component of your salad individually and pile onto a platter. Simple food is just so darn pretty. Make something like this whatever you have on hand!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Move Over, Mrs. Prindable


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,

Katie

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

KPK Special Report

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.

Katharine Fioretti
Katie's Passion Kitchen

Friday, October 9, 2009

Soup Scoop

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)
Vegetable broth
Beef broth
Beef and/or Chicken Stock
Star brand porcini mushroom cubes
Dried porcinis
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.
Fresh garlic
Onions ~ red, sweet, yellow, cippoline
Shallots
Potatoes
Dried Beans
Dried Split Peas
Dried Lentils

Katie's Passion Fridge Staples

Eggs
Carrots
Celery
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:

Butter
Onions
Fresh Sage
Potatoes
Chicken Broth
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,
Katie

Mediterranean Fish Stew

Mediterranean Fish Stew
A KPK cross between Spanish style Cod and French Boullabaisse

Smoky Spanish Albondigas Soup

Smoky Spanish Albondigas Soup

Summer Vegetable Soup

Summer Vegetable Soup
aka "Got-To-Go" Soup, inspired by Louie

MORE 4 U

From here, you can continue scrolling down to check out some of my favorite dishes and KPK highlights.

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!

Super Healthy Salad

Super Healthy Salad
. . . featuring Roasted Rutabagas (or Swede Turnips, if you wish)

Grilled Corn with Tarragon Cream

Grilled Corn with Tarragon Cream
Click on the image to link to a simple and lovely recipe at Fine Cooking

Cinnamon Pecan Katies

Cinnamon Pecan Katies
Yes I Did

Forbidden Rice Salad

Forbidden Rice Salad
Black "Forbidden Rice" from China is delicious and loaded with antioxidants

Pasta with Hot Pancetta, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Parmesan & Power Greens

Pasta with Hot Pancetta, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Parmesan & Power Greens

Indian Carrot Salad

Indian Carrot Salad

Fluffy Milk Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Softly Whipped Cocoa Cream

Fluffy Milk Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Softly Whipped Cocoa Cream

Asparagus & Mozzarella Frittata

Asparagus & Mozzarella Frittata

Grilled Eggplant is Layered Up for an Eggplant Gratin with Fresh Basil and 4 Cheeses

Grilled Eggplant is Layered Up for an Eggplant Gratin with Fresh Basil and 4 Cheeses

Oven Roasted Plum Tomatoes

Oven Roasted Plum Tomatoes

Oven Roasted Herb Butter Turkey Breast, Gemstone Potatoes & Buttery Peas

Oven Roasted Herb Butter Turkey Breast, Gemstone Potatoes & Buttery Peas

Egg Ribbon Salad with Pancetta & Shaved Parmesan

Egg Ribbon Salad with Pancetta & Shaved Parmesan

Fresh Strawberry Slices & Whole Raspberries tucked into cream cheese frosted vanilla cupcakes

Fresh Strawberry Slices & Whole Raspberries tucked into cream cheese frosted vanilla cupcakes

Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops

Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops
an outdoor grill regular at the crib

Smokin' Beets

Smokin' Beets

Roasted Beet & Potato Salad

Roasted Beet & Potato Salad

Rosemary Flatbread

Rosemary Flatbread

"Hola" from Mi Pueblo, San Jose, CA

"Hola" from Mi Pueblo, San Jose, CA

Rapini Frittata

Rapini Frittata

Healthy Portabella

Healthy Portabella

Italian Tuna & Cannellini Bean Salad with D'Amato's Focaccia

Italian Tuna & Cannellini Bean Salad with D'Amato's Focaccia

Fried Asparagus

Fried Asparagus

Day Off Breakfast

Day Off Breakfast
Boiled Eggs & Whole Grain Toast ~ Simple Pleasures are the BEST!

Last Minute Lentil Soup

Last Minute Lentil Soup
with carrots, celery, and a little kale . . . topped with a heap of conchigliette pasta and parmigiano reggiano

A Sampling of Christmas

A Sampling of Christmas
KPK Pecan Shortbread Cookies and Almond Cookies