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 17, 2012

Making KPK Te de Canela

Making KPK Te de Canela for a crowd.  Grab your biggest pot. I use a 16 quart Farberware. One of my faves. Fill it almost to the top with cold water. Toss in a huge bunch (a few handfuls) of fresh basil, about 2 1/2 cups of sugar (I use organic) and 20-25 Mexican cinnamon sticks. Canela! You can find Canela in most grocery stores in the aisle with the bags of dried peppers and other spices; this is usually in the ethnic aisle or the Hispanic aisle of aromatics! Inexpensive, large cinnamon sticks that don't even smell like cinnamon when you rip open the bag (?) I was shocked because there was no aroma wafting under my nose like you would expect when you open a bag of "ordinary" cinnamon. It actually smelled kind of like dill. I was like, huh? Then I was like WT? JK. I think the canela is much more mild and mellow for tea. Slightly citrusy even.The flavor AND the AROMA blossom after boiling the sticks in water and then steeping. I love this tea. I especially love it with a nice big squirt of fresh lime. We serve this at the market with a fresh squeeze and then we throw in the scrunched lime wedge along with a fresh basil leaf. The lime adds a nice fresh and tart twang to the sweeter, heavier flavor of cinnamon. So, back to what you need to do. Stir the pot (I happen to know some pot-stirrers). Bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boil/high simmer for about 20 minutes or until the cinnamon sticks unroll and the tea becomes a nice dark amber color. All of the basil will be wilted. Let cool, strain and reheat later or strain into a cup right away, add lime (or lemon) if you wish (and/or honey would be great if it's not too sweet). Enjoy. For me, one delicious cup delivered not only a lovely treat, but a full-blown mock-hormonal hot flash. Hey, I don't make this _ _ _ _ up. Have a fab day today and once it gets a bit colder out there, indulge in some Te de Canela. We promise our customers at the market that it will be sure to warm their cockles. I know. I overuse that word.

Notes: If you don't like sugar. Go without. I like it. : ) - or use less . . .

Also: I have made this tea with fresh mint, but I like the basil betta! P.S. This was inspired by a phone call from Franki telling me that he was having a cup of wonderful tea that one of the cooks threw together at Fio's while working in the kitchen. I tried it with ordinary cinnamon and I think I made it a bit too strong. After a speedy Google-fied hot cinnamon tea research blast, I found my way to the Mexican Canela at the grocery store. And she lived happily ever after.

Oh, also, I have done much cinnamon research in the past after being intrigued by a Fine Cooking article which had me taste-testing and baking with Chinese vs. Indonesian vs. Viet Namese Cassia Cinnamons. Too much to talk about here. Let's just say it turned me into kind of a Cinnamon snob-freak for a moment of time. Someday, I can bake you a batch of Espresso & Chocolate Mini Chip Cookies with Chinese Cassia Cinnamon (I think I like long names). They rock. Really, they do.

OK. I'm done.

Cinnamon Love to All, um, I meant . . .
Canela Amor to All, (don't hate me cuz I'm bilingual)

Katie



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In The Soup Loop

Making Peruvian Vegetable Soup

I LOVE SOUP SEASON. Get geared up for making flavorful, healthful and beautiful soups for lunch, for dinner, or a cozy late night "snack". There are so many great soups out there and still so many I've yet to discover. If you stock a few staples (what? not those staples, silly), you can make soup in a snap anytime. It's so easy and it's so delicious! Today, I'm going to share an easy and wonderful soup recipe that's quick, versatile and sure to satisfy. This Spinach and Rice Soup is going to quickly become one of your favorite dishes. Promise. Before the recipe though, I'd like to share with you a few tips to help you cook "off the shelf". Everyone will think you're a soup afficianado and you'll earn tons of respect from your friends who simply aren't "In The Soup Loop". As you know, I just want to make you look good. So, I just spent a bunch of time thinking of all of the things that are important to have on hand..... stuff that I have in KPK at all times. While I was typing away on the keyboard, I had a flashback that told me that I wrote about this in the past. BINGO! Here's the link to my "Soup Scoop" article which contains a great list of items to stock up on so that you're ready to make a fab pot of soup when the urge strikes! That link also features a ridiculously SIMPLE and DELICIOUS recipe for another all-time favorite soup . . . Potato & Arugula. You'll love it. When you're finished reading there, simply click on the "back" button and come back to finish reading THIS article!

Try this when you have 15 minutes!

Spinach & Rice Soup
Spinach & Rice Soup
I added just one carrot and one potato to the recipe here

1 10-ounce bag of fresh spinach (I love DeJong's Spinach for use in soups because it doesn't wimp out, plus they grow it right in our backyard - what a bonus!)
3 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pot)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely, minced, grated or crushed (how's that for options?)
1 small fresh red chile, seeded and minced (or some red pepper flakes ~ no prob)
heaping 1/2 cup of risotto rice (either Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano )
1 1/2 quarts of either vegetable broth or chicken broth (your choice ~ see how easy this is : ) ~ a 48 oz. box of Swanson 100% fat free chicken broth is perfect
S & P (aka kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper)
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano for serving, if you have it on hand . . . if not,  it's still great  : )

OK - Let's keep this as simple as possible. Prep first. Wash and dry the spinach unless it's already washed. Peel and chop the onion. Peel and finely chop or mince the garlic. Prep the chile, if using. OK. That's done. Now, heat the oil over medium heat in a nice pot. Add the onion, garlic and chile. Cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Stir in the rice and coat well with the onions, garlic and oil. Pour in the stock. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered. While the soup is simmering, coarsely chop the spinach if it's the hearty, thicker spinach (I just cut it quickly into ribbons by piling it up and running the knife through it a few times. If you're using tender baby spinach - there's no need for chopping). The rice should be nearly done now. Add the spinach and cook about 5 more minutes until tender. Check for seasoning. This means add salt & pepper to please your palate. Now, I challenge you to eat the whole pot. I bet I could. Serve with grated cheese if you like. Or not.  Also, a few notes, you can use HALF the amount of spinach if you want, you could add a grated or finely chopped carrot if you like, you can add a cubed potato, if you like........ Make it your OWN. It's just a great, simple, soup and you can monkey with it, cool?

Below is a shot of a bowl of Chick Pea, Potato & Spinach Soup that was our first soup of the fall season at the Frankfort Country Market (just a few days ago on October 7th). A spicy and delicious vegetarian soup that is now an official member of the KPK soup repertoire. Freshly ground coriander and cumin add amazing aroma and flavor while cream and tahini add thick and glossy richness. I found the recipe in a book entitled "The Soup Bible" which Mark gifted to me over 10 years ago; I came across it while in search of a recipe for a classic Indian soup, Mulligatawny. Right! The one made famous by the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. Click here for a few laughs.



Chick Pea, Potato & Spinach Soup... with Indian spices 
The photo at the beginning of this post was taken while prepping for a  Peruvian Vegetable Soup which was inspired by my dear friend, Uma, who described it to me after enjoying it in many restaurants on a recent trip to Peru. Her enthusiastic description of this aromatic and healthy soup prompted me to try it out and I was so pleased that I did. Extremely healthy quinoa, a variety of vegetables like green beans, onion, squash and zucchini, flavored with freshly grated ginger, cumin and hot chile pepper. Served with fresh cilantro, some diced onion and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. Fabulous. I'll have to make it again, keep track of the ingredients and post it here on the KPK blog for you. First, I'll need to get Uma's thumbs-up blessing on the flavor and authenticity.
Starting a pot of  Chanterelle & Barley Soup

Eat some soup and warm YOUR cockles,

Love,

Katie

I'll be posting more great and easy soup recipes as I make them, photograph them and eat them all!

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