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!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Beans!

When Mark & I were heading home from San Francisco after visiting David and Jason, we had the last minute opportunity for a little gourmet shopping at the Napa Farms Market at the San Francisco Airport. Wonderful options for healthy snacks and great stuff to bring home from San Francisco area producers. Acme sourdough bread. Napa Valley wines. Cowgirl Creamery cheese. You know I was happy. One great find were these heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, a Napa farm offering wonderful beans and corn and chiles and more. They had several varieties to choose from. We brought home two bags. Snowcaps and Rio Zapes.


I made the Snowcaps yesterday and they were delicious. I decided to prepare them simply and used Jamie Oliver's method for making what he calls "humble beans" (from his book, JAMIE AT HOME). His recipe calls for cannelini or borlotti beans but I'm sure it's a great method for many varieties of dried beans, such as these Snowcaps.

Here's a picture of these beautiful Snowcap beans after a good rinse.






Next, a picture of the swollen, wrinkly beans after having been soaked for about 7 1/2 hours in cold water. That's what we would like too, lol.
Now, a nice shot of the pre-soaked beans after being drained and then refreshed with cold water. As you can see, I added three bay leaves, one small peeled potato, cut in half, two cherry tomatoes, halved, a trimmed celery stalk, a sprig of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme and three cloves of unpeeled garlic. Then, you slowly bring them up to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until tender. Click here for the recipe.





Jamie's method worked well and the beans were simple and delicious. Once the beans were tender, I think it only took about an hour or so. . . you drain them and reserve the liquid. You remove the potato, the garlic cloves and the tomato halves. Remarkably, the tomato halves are perfectly in tact. The cloves of garlic are also in tact since they were unpeeled. So, when cool enough to handle, you kind of pinch the tomato halves from the skin and the skin is easily removed. You squeeze the garlic cloves also, removing their papery skins. You mash the potato, the cooked and softened garlic and the skinned tomatoes together along with a little bean liquid and a spoonful of beans. After fishing out the herbs, bay leaves and celery, return the beans to the pot. Add reserved bean liquid to cover (more or less depending on your preference) and add the mashed potato mixture to thicken a bit. At this point, you must add salt since no salt has been added yet. This is critical because if you don't, these beans will have no flavor. So, thoughtfully add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. When serving, add a swirl of olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, some finely chopped fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper. The addition of that shot of vinegar makes all the difference and really elevates the flavor to just the perfect and most delicious balance. Louie agrees!



So, "cucina di povera" continues in Katie's Passion Kitchen. It's really easy to eat well AND eat cheap! Beans are so good for you. Think phytochemicals, protein and antioxidants. Dried beans are virtually fat free and contain more fiber than most whole grain foods.

Delicious and nutritious.


Love, Katie

BTW, do you know where YOUR beans are coming from?

The #1 dried bean producing state in the U.S. is North Dakota (who knew?) and the #2 - Michigan! California is #7.

Hey, you can rely on me for the Bean 411 anytime.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wine Lover's Sorbet

I LOVE this. You will need an ice cream maker for this recipe. Go buy one. Spring has sprung. Sorbets are simple and refreshing to make any day of the week! And they're FAT FREE. Don't worry about the sugar. I always keep the cylinder bowl of my ice cream maker in the freezer. That way, I can whip up a batch of sorbet anytime the mood strikes. The flavor of this particular sorbet is intense, fruity and sure to please all of your red wine loving friends. Palate cleanse anyone? I bet this sorbet would probably appeal to your non-red-wine-loving friends, as well! I made this with Cabernet Sauvignon at last weekend's "Sunday in Paris" dinner. C'est si bon!

If you already have an ice cream maker, dust it off and place the cylinder bowl in the freezer and let's get this party started. Here's all you'll need:

Triple Berry Red Wine Sorbet

1 bottle of your favorite red wine
(like Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Beaujolais)
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of water
about 3 cups of berries*
(1 small package each: blueberries, blackberries & raspberries)

Heat the wine, sugar and water in a pot, stirring to melt the sugar. Bring to a boil. Boil for about a minute. Add the fresh fruit, cover and allow to steep for about an hour. Press through a sieve, making sure to push as much fruit through the sieve as possible. A rubber spatula works well for this job. Chill thoroughly in the fridge. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn away. Enjoy as soon as it's ready (this usually takes around 20-30 minutes with my ice cream maker) or freeze in plastic container(s). NOTE: My machine's capacity is about one quart of liquid (32 ounces), so I go two rounds with this. You should have about a quart and a half or so of liquid, so, pour in about a quart. When it's finished, spoon into a plastic container with a lid and store in the freezer immediately. Pour in the rest and go another 20-30 minutes.

The sorbet will not become rock-hard (neither will I, I'm thinkin'). It should be nice, creamy and scoopable. Keep frozen. Serve as is or with fresh berries and/or a drizzle of some orange or other fruity liqueur. Another way to love red wine. YES!

My next sorbet will be Triple "S" instead of Triple Berry. A "Sangria Sorbet Special" which I will share with you after a little experimentation. I know. Tough job. I'm sure it will include Grand Marnier and some freshly squeezed orange juice. I'm excited!

Cleanse YOUR palate with some fresh and fruity red wine sorbet today! How can you go wrong?

Love, Katie

*another note: Teri just told me that I should mention the use of frozen berries in this recipe. Truth be told, I have not made it with frozen berries yet, but I guess I must now and then I can report back. OK, T? I'll try it later today : ). XO, Thanks Coach!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday in Paris


"Sunday in Paris" was a private celebration dinner for Grace & Barney McShane, as a gift from their daughters in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. Grace, Barney and best friends, Dolly & George spent "Sunday in Paris" on March 18, 2012.

Grace & Barney

Félicitations pour votre 50e anniversaire!


Click here to view the "Sunday in Paris" Menu

Click here to see the food, the people and the story: "Sunday in Paris" Pictorial













Bon Appetit!

Somebody pinch me. Are we in the City of Light?


Amour,
Katie

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guinness Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Celebrate with these awesome shot & beer cupcakes. Dark, damp, decadent chocolate cake made with Guinness stout. Of course, there's more . . . A rich, smooth, whiskey laced ganache filling and an astoundingly creamy, fluffy frosting, characteristic of the head of a nice pint glass of Guinness Stout.

Here's a little pictorial of the process . . . and a link to the printable version of this recipe. No kidding. These are kick-a_ _ cupcakes. Sure to be a new standard in the KPK cupcake repertoire. I admit, there are a few steps to the process, but they are worth the effort.






I have done all of the research and the testing for your ease and convenience. Wasn't that nice of me? This KPK recipe adaptation has been revised, combined, tweaked and adjusted from a few different sources including Nigella, Smitten Kitchen and the Brown Eyed Baker. I was really happy with the cupcakes before the ganache filling but when I told Em that I was thinking of my dad because of the smell of that stout, she laughed and said that he'd rather have a shot than a beer. That conversation led to even more research and was the inspiration for winding up with the whiskey ganache filling! In my dad's honor, I used Canadian Club instead of Irish whiskey. He loved Canadian whiskey and who'll know (besides you)!

It's a tough job providing seasonal and holiday inspiration and ideas, but that's what I'm here for. Use me. Go ahead.

Click here for the printable version of Guinness Stout Chocolate Cupcakes!

Love & Happy Saint Patty's!
Drink Up!

Katie

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cauliflower & Tomato Soup with Pasta

Capturing the spirit of "la cucina Italiana", or more accurately, cucina di povera, the cooking of the poor, this dish will make you feel happy to be home whether you can afford to go out for truffles and foie gras or not! Amelia always says there's elegance in simplicity. I think that applies to food also. Few ingredients. A lot of flavor. This is one of those combinations that you're going to think is NOT good, but it's GREAT! Like this one time (....at band camp, lol) when I was making a classic Tuscan style salad of celery, portabella mushrooms, Parmesan, olive oil and lemon juice, my sis-in-law, KPK cohort member and videographer, Norma, gave me that "not-so-sure-ick" look like it was going to suck. It is, of course, now, her favorite salad. See how this works? So, grab a head of cauliflower and get your peasant on. Let's make minestra di cavolfiore. If you have an iPad, make sure you download Mario Batali's app (which is the source of the original recipe where I watched him make this soup). He has some really straight-up, simplistic Italian classics in nice short video presentations. Great inspiration and instruction. I modified this recipe (I didn't realize it until I re-reviewed it - for example, I use more sauce and water/broth and a lot less garlic). You can definitely adjust the quantities and it will be good no matter what. Make it your own. You'll cook it and eat it again and again. I can't explain it. You just will. Right, Tom?

Cauliflower & Tomato Soup with Pasta
~ Minestra di Cavolfiore ~

about 4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 head of cauliflower, separated into large florets, (cut up and use as much as possible without the fibrous base)
1 large onion - red or sweet or whatever you have on hand, cut in large dice or sliced
a few bay leaves (3)
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large can of tomato sauce (28 oz.) (I use Dei Fratelli Tomato Sauce - you can use your favorite prepared sauce)
about 7 cups of water or chicken broth (2 tomato cans full) : )
red pepper flakes to taste
about 6 oz. of your favorite pasta*
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower, onion and bay leaves. Season with a little salt and cook over medium high heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook a bit more. Add the tomato sauce and rinse out the can with water or broth twice (2 cans = about 7 cups of liquid). Add some red pepper flakes and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 25-30 minutes. At this point, the soup still won't seem terribly interesting. But now, check the seasoning and adjust if needed. If you're using water, you'll most likely need a little more kosher salt. Then, add the pasta and cook at a low boil until the pasta reaches desired doneness. This should be the same amount of time that is shown on the package directions. As it boils, the soup will become thick and wonderful from the pasta starch...Transformation occurs. OOOoooohhhhh.... Deliciousness. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Bread and butter. Salad. That's all. I feel like making another pot right now.

*Pasta note: If you use a rustic thick and starchy pasta, you will have a thick and hearty soup. You can also use little shells or macaroni elbows or mezzi rigatoni. Sky's the limit here. I love Conte brand Fusilli del Contadino. It's one of those 100% durum wheat semolina pastas which just happens to be from Calabria. I just grab a big handful or two and break them in half so the soup is a little easier to eat. Just the right amount of slurp. Mmmmmm.....

If you're pretty well stocked, you'll just have to run out and buy one head of cauliflower. Whatrya' waitin' for? Go now! Click HERE for the printable version of the recipe (for Sharon M & other printers) . . . . .

Love, Katie

Katie's Passione Cucina di Povera (hey, I just quit my day job, so there will probably be a lot more of these recipes for awhile, lol)

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