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!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What To Bake?

March 8, 2012 Update: My brother, Franki, laughingly asked me the other day, "Why is there a pile of potpourri in the middle of all of these cookie pictures?" I explained that I was having difficulty that day trying to properly caption all of the pictures that I had uploaded into this post. Blah blah blah. Long story short. I blew off the need for captions and simply posted the images. So, today, I feel the need to quickly list what's shown below, in order of appearance:
1) Coconut cherry thumbprint cookies, 2) Grand Marnier & Chocolate Biscotti (baked loaves, before slicing and re-baking) 3 & 4) Earl Grey shortbread cookies 5) whole Chai tea from Teavana (the potpourri, lol) before it was ground up into a powder in the coffee grinder - more specifically White Ayurvedic Chai and Samurai Chai Mate 6,7,8 & 9) Chai tea shortbread cookies, 10) toasted coconut and 11 & 12) Cashew & Chocolate Toasted Coconut cookies. There you have it. The reason for the "potpourri". Thank Franki. Love you !















































































Keep in touch for recipes, ideas and more . . . Send me a note if you'd like a recipe now!

Love, Katie

12/16/2011 Update: Click HERE for a printable version of the Chai Tea Shortbread Cookie recipe and the Earl Grey Shortbread Cookie recipe (same recipe). Enjoy!

Also, friends, please click HERE to check out last year's holiday cookie lineup with a few more recipes for your homemade gift-giving repertoire.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

B4 We Go Vegan

Big, fat, juicy grilled burgers topped with gorgonzola cheese and served on grilled and buttered sesame semolina bread, with all the fixins' on the side. Very very bad. LOL.
Marinated grilled mushrooms from Cousin Mary's girlfriend's mushroom farm! You really need to have FUN with your FUNghi. These shrooms were marinated with sweet onions in olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and freshly picked thyme, rosemary and sage. Throw it all onto the grill for about 5 minutes or so, toss a bit and grill for about another 5 until done to juicy perfection. Garnish with more fresh herbs. Chow down with some great bread or pile onto a salad or burger.

Sunday nights are so nice, aren't they?

We can go vegan next week.

Anyway, the mushrooms and the salad are vegan.... so are the toppers (homegrown tomatoes plus radishes, onions and avocado, right?)

Selective Veganism.

Love,

Katie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bolognese Ragu al Forno


If you read up on the city of Bologna, you will learn that one of it's nicknames is La Grassa (The Fat). I love that. Think mortadella, salame rosa, tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle. Ohhhhhh my. Bologna is the capital of the region of Emilia~Romagna and to many, the gastronomic capital of all of Italy. Time to hop on another virtual flight. I NEED to go there. Oh, and speaking of wine (were we?), Emilia is known for Lambrusco, while Romagna is known for Sangiovese. And speaking of hogs (were we?), lots of cattle and lots of hogs around there. If I ever make it to Bologna, I will share it ALL with you right here in KPK.

Let's talk about the sauce, shall we? Classic Bolognese ragu' is made with pancetta, beef, carrots, celery, onion, wine, a small amount of tomato sauce, milk, salt & pepper. It's a standard process of beginning with the soffrito, adding ingredients, cooking, simmering and reducing for a long time on the stovetop to really develop the flavors. There are so many versions, it's impossible to write about all of them. Some cooks like to add chicken livers, or ground pork, or some Italian sausage. Fresh or dried herbs can be added. I like to add earthiness with porcini and/or portabella mushrooms if I'm feelin' it. Some people add cream instead of milk for extra richness. The soffrito (onion, carrots, celery) can be started with butter or olive oil. I could go on forever. The truth is that nowadays, folks are calling any meat sauce "Bolognese". This version is definitely another KPK recipe that you can adjust to your liking. If you don't like Rosemary, don't date her. I mean, if you prefer thyme, use thyme. I must admit, when I watched Jamie Oliver (one of my idols) prepare this dish in a 2002 episode of "Oliver's Twist" (which is available for your viewing and educational pleasure on Netflix), I was skeptical of using a large amount of fresh rosemary because I would not ordinarily use fresh rosemary OR dried oregano, for that matter, in a Bolognese sauce. News: I have been converted.

I am really ticked at myself for not snapping photos during the process of making this sauce. It looked and smelled divine and I was more into cooking than I was photography on Tuesday night. Below is the recipe which I have modified to make your life easy. When I watched Jamie make the sauce, he did not give exact quantities, but was really easy to follow and used few ingredients.

Bolognese Ragu al Forno
(Bolognese Sauce in the Oven)

Ingredients (in order of appearance) : )

a drizzle of olive oil (for the pan)
12 oz. center cut bacon, cut into small pieces
5 or 6 stalks of fresh rosemary, stripped from stems and finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
dried oregano to taste (about a tablespoon or so)
1-2 large (28 oz.) cans of whole peeled tomatoes (you know I like Dei Fratelli brand)
(I used 1 1/2 cans)
red wine (I used about 1 wineglass)

The Process (I love this)

You'll need an ovenproof vessel. Ideally, something like a casserole type pan that can go from stovetop to oven (like LeCreuset or other enameled, heavy duty casserole). I used a vintage Magnalite roaster from my Amelia DePalma Fioretti collection. Thanks Mom.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

OK. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into the pot/pan. Add the bacon which you have cut into nice small pieces. Cook until the fat renders and the bacon becomes crispy. Add the chopped rosemary. Sniff. Admire. Stir.

Add the onion. Cook a bit. Add the garlic. Cook a bit more. Don't burn.
Add the beef. Cook and brown on medium heat for awhile. Then, add the remaining ingredients. The oregano, the tomatoes and the wine. Break the tomatoes up a bit with a wooden spoon. Bring the whole shebang up to a boil and let it do it's thing for about 5 minutes or so.

Then, here's the part I really like.

Turn off the burner. Place a sheet of parchment paper directly on top of the sauce, covering it completely. You can easily tear or cut the parchment to fit. The parchment will keep the sauce from forming a crusty edge and it will also keep all of the flavor locked in while this delicious and meaty sauce is baking in your oven. Place your parchment-topped, Bolognese-filled casserole on the middle rack in your oven. Bake for one hour.

Here's the other part I really like.

Now, you can drink wine, enjoy your company, wash dishes, tidy up, make a salad, drink more wine and eagerly anticipate the perfection of your finished product. Throw a pot of water on to boil during the last 15 minutes or so. Boil your favorite pasta in the water to which you have added a good amount of kosher salt. Don't skimp on the salt. Unless you like bland pasta. Note: I honestly did not season the sauce with salt because of the salt in the bacon and it turned out beautifully. Pasta Note: Thick and hearty, meaty sauces like this one are better with thicker pastas (in my opinion) even though "Spaghetti Bolognese" is popular worldwide. I would prefer a chunkier pasta or a thicker pasta. The pictured dish above was a beautiful Pappardelle but I think Rigatoni would be nice or that gorgeous Trottole (you can buy Culinary Circle brand at Jewel), or of course, the classic Tagliatelle. When you remove the sauce from the oven, stir it and taste it. I know you'll love it. Toss your pasta with some of the sauce and top each serving with more sauce plus a freshly grated mountain of Parmigiano cheese. Geeeeez, you do know that Parmigiano comes from Parma which is located, guess where? In Emilia~Romagna. And, my friends, if you are making your salad with good balsamic vinegar from Modena, guess where Modena is located? Right. Emilia~Romagna.

Click HERE for a printable version of the recipe (for Sharon M)

Our wine of choice for this dinner was

I know, it's not from Emilia~Romagna, but it is from Tuscany, which is right next door. This was a lovely wine, 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo, 10% Colorino. 100% good. Juicy and delicious from the hills of Fiesole.

WOW! How can you NOT love Italian food?

Make something Italian today.

Amore,
Katarina

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gourmet Caramel Apples 2011





It's apple season and I'm ecstatic. I'm an apple girl all year long, but ESPECIALLY now when I can eat all of the Honeycrisp apples I can handle. Not to mention, dip, roll and drip. Dipped in caramel, rolled in nuts and dripped and drizzled with chocolate galore. Just sit down with a nice sharp knife and a dinner plate and go to town. Delicious, sweet, salty, crunchy, gooey, crisp, tart, fabulous and sure to yank every filling out of your mouth. Mark and I just "tore one up" for a snack. It was a "Toasted Coconut Roasted Pecan Double Chocolate" special. Seriously good. Everyone needs fruit, right? That's what the Diamonds tell us in Fit For Life.

Buy some Honeycrisp apples. Melt some Kraft caramels. (I'm over my need for homemade caramel. I know, but I had to try it a few times to be convinced). Follow the package directions. One bag = 50 caramels. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Melt over medium low heat. Let the caramel cool a bit. Dunk your first apple and get a feel for the caramel. (btw, Kraft provides 5 sticks in each bag). I like to set mine on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Pop in the fridge to set up. If you're into nuts, immediately roll your apple into the nuts; press into the caramel if necessary. You can keep the pan in the fridge and add your apples as you dip and roll......

Here's what I do when I'm ready to make these guys:

1) Buy perfect apples from the farmstand if possible so that you won't have to wash off the wax that's used at the grocery stores. If you buy them at the grocery store, be sure to rinse well in hot water and then wipe vigorously with a kitchen towel. You do that anyway no matter what but it's really important to get that slick waxy stuff off so that the caramel won't completely slide to the bottom.
2) Wash and dry the apples well.
3) Toast nuts in the oven (pecans are awesome, walnuts, hazelnuts, whatever you're into)
4) Buy other nuts also (great ideas: honey roasted peanuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, dry roasted peanuts, cinnamon almonds, sliced almonds, etc.)
5) Chop nuts as you like them (chunky or fine)
6) Check out your chocolate stash. You can use any of your favorite chocolates. I melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. I use a plastic piping bag or a thick freezer zip bag for the slightly cooled melted chocolate. Snip off a corner and rock-n-roll.

Once you have done the prep work, the actual process is fun and goes quickly. If you've read my previous posts about caramel apples, you'll see that I've done some experimenting. I learn something new each time and I really do love making them.

You'll be able to get about 4-5 apples from one bag of caramel. The temperature of the caramel is a real key to your success. Too hot and it will run down the apple quickly into a pool. Too cool and it's not dippable. You WILL get the feel of it after one or two. After dipping, scrape the bottom excess caramel off and place the apple on the parchment lined sheet. If you're going to roll in nuts, roll immediately. I recommend using paper plates for the nuts instead of bowls because it's easier the roll the apples and easier to use your hands to pile the nuts up and around the apple. Let the apples cool and set up in the fridge, as previously mentioned. You can keep them in longer if you wish and add the chocolate later. In any case, it's a good idea to make sure they have firmly set up before decorating with warm chocolate. Decorate with the chocolate and then keep in a cool place (like the garage or basement) or in the fridge if you like...... If you do store the finished apples in the fridge, you may want to set them out at room temperature for a bit before serving in order to soften up the caramel.

I'll be making more of these this month and if I come up with any new tips or ideas, I'll let ya know. I brought some to NSH today to spread the Octoberyness around the dealership.

Apples from my Apple to Y-O-U

Wishing you love and Honeycrisps,

Katie

KPK Plea: PLEAse don't use Red Delicious apples for your KPK Gourmet Caramel Apples. They were simply misnamed. They should have been named Red Delicious-NOT. Seriously friends, ick. Tasteless, mealy-textured, thick skinned and not at all refreshing to the palate. Nice looking, but that's where it ends. Sorry, I'm not usually that judgmental. LOL. Think tart & crisp. Prettier is definitely not better. Honeycrisps are not shaped as nicely and they have a few flaws and bumps (who doesn't?) but they ROCK! Go to the farmstand or your well-stocked local grocery store and buy one of each apple variety you can find. Now's the best time. Try Cortland, McIntosh, Ida Red, Jonathan, Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, etc. etc. Lots and lots from Michigan right now. Do your own taste-test. It's fun ~ You will be amazed by the differences from one variety to another. You are sure to pick a favorite. Did you know that there are over 7,500 varieties of apples grown throughout the world? Holy _ _ _ _! Amazing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fresh Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes with Lemon Honey Cream Cheese Icing


These are seriously delicious. Sweet, moist and creamy with a bit of tart freshness. Add these pretty cupcakes to your repertoire today! Your friends will be asking you to bake them for years to come!




Cupcake Ingredients:

Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries ~ plus more for embellishing
1 tbsp flour
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature (I friggin' LOVE buttermilk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups sugar

Get Busy:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Zest your lemons! Toss the raspberries with the tablespoon of flour. Set aside. Sift flour with the baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Beat the butter, lemon zest, and sugar for a full 5 minutes at medium speed until super light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each addition. Add a quarter of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Then add the vanilla and a third of the buttermilk. Repeat, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and scraping well after each addition. Gently fold in the raspberries. Pour batter into prepared muffin pans. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely.













Ice the cooled cupcakes and top each with fresh raspberries.


Icing

8 oz. softened cream cheese

1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)

1/3 cup honey

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Large pinch of kosher salt

2 cups confectioners sugar

In a mixer, combine all of the ingredients except the confectioners sugar and beat until completely smooth. Add the confectioners sugar (sift first, if lumpy) and beat until well combined and nice and creamy.

RB Note: Raspberries can't hang out too long in your fridge. Buy them. Eat them. Don't buy them today to bake them next weekend, ok? They are delicate and will spoil after being in the fridge for just a few days, so, use the freshest and the best raspberries you can find : )! Look for firm beauties and don't be afraid to open the plastic container to make sure they're perfect berries with no moldy or mushy ones spoiling the bunch.

I wonder if I could get busted if I advertised these beautiful little cakes as FAT BURNING FRESH LEMON RASPBERRY CUPCAKES WITH LEMON HONEY CREAM CHEESE ICING. Raspberries are packed with fiber and manganese. Fiber helps slow the digestive process so you feel full longer. Manganese is a trace mineral that helps keep your metabolic rate high, which in turn burns fat. So, therefore, who CARES about the BUTTER and the CREAM CHEESE, peeps!? The berries will save your ass!


Save YOUR ( | ) today & have one!

Love, Laughs, Lemons & More,

Katie

Katie's Passion Kitchen 2011


Monday, August 22, 2011

Polpette di Zucchine

A marvelous way to showcase your summer zucchini when your garden is gifting you in abundance. After seeing David Rocco whip these up on the Cooking Channel's David Rocco's Dolce Vita, I could NOT wait to try these (especially after he took a bite and the cheese was stringy and scrumptious looking). The recipe is perfect. I have adapted it here by simply cutting it in half and adding my own notes and tips so that you can try these out for the first time. I made 15 zucchini balls from this batch which would be just right if you're having dinner for 4. You could serve 3 on each tomato salad and eat the other 3 to make sure they're just right! By the way, I tried reheating the leftover balls tonight (I made them yesterday) and they reheated beautifully in a 350 degree oven. I popped them in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for no more than 10 minutes. They were crisp on the outside and tender and gooey on the inside. I would definitely recommend the oven or toaster oven over the microwave for reheating (if you actually have any leftovers).
Polpette di Zucchine

Ingredients

1 1/2 large zucchini (that's one and one-half)
1/2 cup cubed or chopped Scamorza cheese (hey, did you know that Chellino brand is made right here in Joliet, Illinois? - the best friggin' ricotta anywhere AND the Sca-mortz!) Who knew?
1/2 cup chopped or grated Pecorino
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg
fresh mint
kosher salt to taste





Process

Cut the zucchini into cubes (large dice)
Drop into boiling salted water and cook for 4 minutes
Drain well in a colander (or scola-past, lol)
Toss onto tray in a single layer to cool completely
Dice the cheeses
Chop the mint
Remove excess water from the zucchini (I do this by lining a mesh strainer with cheese cloth and filling it with the cooled and drained zuke chunks. I then twist the cheese cloth up and around the zuke and gently twist and squeeze all of the excess water from the zucchini)
Mix the zucchini with the cheeses, bread crumbs, egg, mint and salt
Form into balls
Roll in bread crumbs
Place on a sheet (I use a parchment lined sheet pan)
Heat olive oil in a skillet
Gently lower polpette into oil and brown
Flip with tongs or spatula and brown on other side
Remove carefully to paper towel lined tray or plate to drain and cool slightly




Serve warm on top of a summer tomato and basil salad for an excellent light lunch or for a colorful and delicious first course for dinner. Enjoy! Thank you David Rocco for the recipe and the inspiration!

Love, Katie
KATIE'S PASSION KITCHEN
August 2011


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pecan & Fresh Herb Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

Pecan and Fresh Herb Crusted Goat Cheese, served warm on a salad of baby red butter lettuce, baby spinach and Vidalia onions, dressed in a honey balsamic vinaigrette. Dried herb crostini on the side . . . (perfect for a smear
of that creamy goat cheese).

Try this - no mess - no frying - Inspired by a lovely salad of roasted beets and grapefruit segments that appeared in this month's "Expressions of The Vine" newsletter (I will try that one, as well)....Simply combine some finely chopped toasted pecans (4 oz.) with finely chopped fresh basil, fresh parsley and fresh chives (about 1 teaspoon each). Take a small log of plain goat cheese (serves 4) and cut into 4 equal slices. Coat each slice generously in the nut mixture and place in small baking dish. Just before serving, pop into a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (no more). Toss a salad of your favorite tender greens and a few wisps of sweet onion with olive oil and a sweet vinegar (white balsamic, gold balsamic, raspberry or regular balsamic would be delicious- something a little sweet) . . . I used honey balsamic. Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Pile onto a plate and top with a warm crusted goat cheese round. Serve with crusty bread or crostini.

Easy, cheesy, breezy. Love to all on this easy, breezy day . . . from KLF in KPK.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Herb Blurb plus a Recipe for Green Pea Crostini with Prosciutto


Fresh mint is growing like crazy right now, just outside of the garage on the sunny south side of our house. Lucia decided to plant a few sprigs for me last summer and the mint has now overwhelmed my rose bushes. It's taking over. I did read, coincidentally, that growing mint near your rosebushes will help deter aphids. OK. I'm cool with that. How about the dreaded Japanese beetles though? They are the real bastichas.

A couple of summers ago, my dad's oregano (which also grows like weeds) took over that same
area and I had to pull a bunch of plants and move them to a new spot. We all have my dad's oregano growing here and there. He would pick the plants, place them on some newspaper, wet them down with water and roll up the wet newspaper to keep the plants cool and moist before bringing them to friends and family. I'm sure all of my brothers and sisters have some growing somewhere.We love and cherish this oregano. I have never been able to find the same variety at any nursery. It's totally different than the Greek variety that is readily available. The leaves are much tinier and therefore, easier to crumble when dried. We grow it, wash it and hang it to dry. We use it regularly and share it with our friends and co-workers. My dad would store the oregano in brown paper bags, labeled "Oragano" (misspelled) along with the year it was grown and harvested. I have one of those very bags on the ledge along my stairway to the basement and I'm sure I will never throw it away. He would also stash the dried herb in small cans with plastic lids, labeled "Prime" if the plants had been pulled, washed and dried at the peak of perfection. Not too early, not too late. If we had more time last summer, we considered handing out little clay pots
with small oregano
plant cuttings to give to friends and family who attended
our dad's wake. That way, everyone would
think of Pops as they
admired it, watched it grow and used it in their cooking. If anyone would like some of Frank's oregano, let us know and we'll hook you up! Salute' Pops!

Back to the mint, here's an interesting fact: I love this story . . . In Greek mythology, the naiad (let's just say water nymph - not to be confused with today's "nympho", ok?), Minthe (a.k.a. Menthe), was metamorphosed into mint (as we know it), by Queen Persephone, just as she was about to be seduced by Hades. Who knew? I love this stuff. Got it? "Queen P" zapped Minthe into a plant before she reached the point of no return with Hades. . . LOL. Be careful of who you're lusting after.... some queen may poof you into a weed when you least expect it.

So, here's my advice about fresh herbs. Grow some. You won't be sorry. Your cooking will improve tremendously with the use of fresh herbs. I promise. I plant herbs around and in between flowers and other stuff in our yard. No need to be fancy. No need for a designated herb garden. BASIL. There is no comparison to the matching of homegrown tomatoes and freshly picked basil. An avocado salad with sweet onions, tomato, fresh basil and feta. OMG. A bright red, summery marinara sauce will be greatly enhanced by the addition of freshly picked thyme and a few basil leaves added at the last minute. MINT. Great with peas. Great with eggplant. Great with chocolate. Great in a simple syrup. Great in cocktails. Mojitos anyone? Caipirinhas anyone? Great in fruit salads. THYME. A fabulous match for onions, tomatoes and wild game. A wonderful addition to soups and sauces. CHIVES. Oh geeeez, great in dressings, with sour cream on potatoes, added fresh to your bowl of soup, with cream cheese, of course... in egg salad, potato salad, cheese balls, yada yada yada. Italian PARSLEY is delicious in braciole, mediterranean salads like tabbouleh, in meatballs or hamburgers, etc., etc. LEMON BALM. I love this bright green, aromatic beauty floating around in a pitcher of lemonade or white sangria, or beautifying a big icy scoop of lemon sorbet. OREGANO. Fresh in sauces and marinades. Dried and rubbed in salads, on bruschetta or crostini, as a pizza topping and on roasted tomatoes. Add some coarsely torn or chopped fresh herbs to your salads. Your salads will be "born again" and will taste so much fresher, I swear! I could go on for days. You know I could. But, here's what you need to know:

Plant some perennial herbs. I have a boatload of each herb on this list right now and I have not yet done one thing this spring.... Maybe that's cuz it's 43 degrees right now, windy and raining.....These herbs are perennials, so you don't have to plant them every year and they will show up in abundance in early spring!!!!

Chives
Italian (flat leaf) Parsley (technically, biennial)
Mint
Thyme
Lemon Balm
Oregano will begin to grow a little later as it becomes warmer.....

Plant some annual herbs too (these need to be planted every year - in pots if you have limited space, or in the ground....)

Basil
Sage (perennial, grown as an annual because it's not that hardy - around here, anyway)
Summer Savory

Obviously, there are many, many other herbs, both annual and perennial, that are not shown above. Go to your local nursery, investigate, buy some potted herbs even if you just like the way they look (you can be so superficial sometimes), bring them home, plant, water, sit back and let them flourish. Love them. Sniff them. Enjoy them. You deserve herbs. You really do.

Green Pea Crostini (with Fresh Mint) & Prosciutto
Here's a special recipe to incorporate fresh and flavorful mint into this outstanding springtime appetizer. The recipe has been adapted from a Giada DeLaurentis recipe. It has been tested in KPK and enjoyed often. Especially in the spring. Try it! Click HERE for the Green Pea Crostini with Prosciutto recipe.

Enjoy the herbs, enjoy the season, enjoy your life and “If someone asks for help in the herb garden, you can certainly give Sage advice if you have Thyme.”

Katie's Passion Kitchen
Finally something new
May 15, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fresh Fruit Crisp - Easier Than Pie! Way Way!

Here's the formula. This is so friggin' easy. I learned the basics from an old Betty Crocker cookbook (from the 70's) and I have simplified, adapted, enjoyed, shared, eaten and served it over and over again with much success. Teri makes it often too, with fresh pears from the Brenner "Back 40". I taught her everything she knows. (OK, not the zucchini pies).........

Topping Ingredients:

1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats (you know, oatmeal)
3/4 cup of brown sugar (I sometimes use less)
3/4 cup of flour
1 stick of butter, slightly softened (salted or unsalted - doesn't matter)
pinch of salt
handful of nuts if you have them (just break them up in your hands and toss them in)
pinch or more of cinnamon (if you like) (I like)

Toss everything into a bowl (except you may want to add the nuts last)..... Mash with a fork, a pastry blender or God's gifts at the ends of your arms.....until everything is well incorporated and the butter is mashed up into small pieces and coated with the dry ingredients..... add the nuts.

The fruit: Seriously, I would try ANYTHING. SSShhhhh, don't tell anyone. It's a SECRET. OK. Ideas for y-o-u! Blueberries. Any berries. Apples. Pears. Nectarines or peaches in season. Right now, try some Granny Smith apples since they are nice and tart. Toss in a handful of dried cherries (OMG, really tart, chewy and delicious). Whatever you're into. It's hard to screw this up. The pictured serving above was mostly berries. Fresh blueberries, fresh raspberries, a few fresh strawberries and one Pink Lady apple that I peeled and cut into chunks since I needed a little more fruit. My fruit to topping ratio would have been a little off (like moi') without the apple.

If you use all berries, I'd toss in a tablespoon of flour and just toss them about.... just to prevent a really drippy, juicy, runny crisp. If you use apples, no need for flour. I like to squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the apples and then sprinkle them with some cinnamon. It will keep them tasting nice and bright. Any dried fruit like bits of apricot or dried cranberries or raisins can be added to these great desserts.

So, place your favorite fruit(s) in a glass baking dish. I use a Corningware French White round baking dish with straight sides (like a souffle' dish). You can use whatever fits. You really can't go wrong. No messy prep needed. Toss the fruit in the dish. Add a spoonful of flour if it's berries and you'd like the juice to thicken a bit. Don't add flour to other fruits. It's not necessary. Dump the topping onto the fruit. Pat down slightly. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Less time for shallow baking dishes. More time for deeper dishes. I usually bake mine for around 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, a swirl of regular cream, a dollop of Greek style yogurt or some homemade whipped cream. Or naked. For breakfast, you can warm up a nice bowlful and top it with yogurt. It's pretty healthy (don't worry about the butter - or the brown sugar) . . . Just think . . . Oatmeal!

Keep this recipe in your repertoire because you can make it in a pinch for a homey and comforting delicious dessert. You'll memorize the recipe and even if you don't, you can change it up and it will STILL taste great. Crisps, unlike pies, are very forgiving. I like that about them. See what you have in your fruit basket or the drawer in your fridge and throw one together. Call me. We'll have tea. If not, I'll forgive you. I already do. Very forgiving. Just like the crisp.

LOVE YA,

Katie






Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Make This Ginger Dressing ASAP!


Here is an AMAZING copycat recipe for Benihana (or House of Kobe) or any great Japanese Teppanyaki style steakhouse GINGER SALAD DRESSING. I promise you that this is a delicious, easy, outstanding, flavorful and fabulous rendition of that mouthwatering favorite. There are quite a few versions online, but I find this recipe to be the "bomb". It is just right, so follow it exactly, at least the first time. After that, you can doctor it to suit your taste, but if you want it to be as close to the real deal as possible, use the amounts shown below. Double it if you wish. It will keep in the fridge for awhile. And no kidding, it will really freshen and excite your palate. If you're making anything with an Asian flair, be sure to throw this together and top some fresh greens for a perfect salad. It's excellent on a combination of super fresh butter lettuce and radicchio. Add some sliced radishes and some shredded carrot for color. Also, a bit of thinly sliced sweet onion, if you like. OMG, I know you will LOVE it! Let me know!

GINGER SALAD DRESSING

1/4 C. chopped onion
1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. chopped ginger root
1 Tbsp. chopped celery
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process until almost smooth. Store unused dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator.

エンジョイ

Love, Katie

KPK Tips: Use low-sodium soy sauce if you are a fluid retention professional as I am, : ) ~ Also, buy your tomato paste by the tube, rather than the can. That way, you can use what you need and just keep rolling the tube from the bottom . . . kinda like your toothpaste tube.


P.S. Pictured above is a Norma-inspired, Asian-influenced dinner of ginger and mirin marinated salmon, served with a soy-honey-lime sauce, wasabi, jasmine rice and thin green beans. It was a delectable flavor-packed trip to the far east. . . in the far south (side of Chicago, that is)...... lol........ xo, klf

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard Zuppa!


So, we're all snowed in, right? I had the idea earlier in the week to make a gigantic pot of vegetable soup and eat it all week long. Weight Watchers has a cabbage soup that's really simple and completely fat-free. What a great idea to have a hearty bowl of soup and eat as much as you want, without a worry! That recipe/idea has been around for years, I believe. I remember a "cabbage soup" diet from the 80's. Anyway, that was partially my motivation. The other part is that I really love a bowl of spicy and flavorful soup, brimming with vegetables and beans, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with freshly grated cheese. It's warming, satisfying and simply delicious. So, during the storm, I was storming the produce department to stock up on color. I was short on everything, so, I picked up the following vegetables:

Onions
Celery
Carrots
Parsnips
Kale
Cabbage
Red Bell Pepper
Jalapeno Peppers
Red Potatoes

Unlike the Weight Watchers soup, I like a little more flavor and a little more fat. It's all healthy, no matter what. It's kind of a vegetarian (not vegan because of the chicken broth) minnestrone without the pasta. I used all of the above vegetables, plus the following ingredients which I had in stock:

Garlic
Cannelini Beans
Light Red Kidney Beans
Garbanzo Beans
Black Beans
Swanson 100% Fat Free Chicken Broth
Passata di Pomodoro*
Bay Leaves
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Pepper
Chili Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Ground Red Pepper
Adobo Seasoning

So, I coated the bottom of my 16 quart pot with olive oil and then sauteed these chopped veg: onions, garlic, carrots, celery, parsnip, red bell pepper and jalapeno peppers...... in quantity! Then, salt, pepper, a couple of bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Then I added the kale (ribs removed, chopped coarsely) and the cabbage (chopped coarsely). If you make this (or something similar), just add, stir and cook. Then, I added the chicken broth and the passata di pomodoro* (you can also add canned whole tomatoes, broken up, or tomato sauce, or fresh or canned chopped tomatoes or whatever you like). Season with your favorite seasonings. I used chili powder, ground red pepper and some Adobo seasoning. Use whatever makes you happy. If you don't add enough salt and seasonings, your soup is going to be bland. So, don't be shy. Once the soup simmers for awhile, the vegetables become tender and the flavor develops. Then, add peeled and cubed potatoes (red potatoes work well since they're waxy, they won't disintegrate . . . what potatoes? lol) and also add the beans, rinsed and drained. I always rinse and drain canned beans because I find that the liquid is sometimes salty and kind of gooey. I do believe that canned beans are a great product and one of the few canned items (plus tomatoes, for sure) that I have the utmost faith in....

OK... Taste, Taste, Taste. Adjust. You don't want to end up with a huge pot of bland and boring soup. I love the way ground red pepper and fresh hot peppers plus the tomatoes add zippiness to zuppa! Don't forget the salt because the broth is low sodium and it's up to you to flavor your food : ) : ) : ).

Barley or farro would be an outstanding addition to this soup, but be careful not to add too much or all of your flavorful broth will be absorbed and it won't be soup anymore. : )..... Pasta is always great. Make it separately and add it when you reheat a small pot or just add it in the bowl..... Ditalini or orzo would be great if you want to add more carbs and make it really filling. In any case, here's the best way to serve it up:

Drizzle with olive oil
Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, Grana Padano or aged Asiago
Add freshly ground black pepper
Crusty, chewy, fresh, rustic bread on the side ~ buttered and ready to dunk
*Passata di Pomodoro - Try some! Super-fresh tasting, seeded & sieved tomatoes, imported from Italy. You can find them in bottles at your local Italian import store. Just tomatoes and salt. Really a nice addition for soups or even for a really fresh and simple pasta sauce.

Um, I'll ttyl. I'm gonna go eat another bowl. One of the bowls most people use as a serving dish. LOL.

Love ya,

Enjoy the snow and the soup,

Love,

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!

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