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!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Piri Piri Query

Piri Piri Vegetable Bean Soup with Brown Basmati Rice
I am now in love with Piri Piri. I made this killer pot of soup last night with a Piri Piri blend that was given to me by my friend, Joann who purchased the precious farrago of flavor from the Dual Specialty Store, a spice shop in New York City. Keep in mind that she was in NYC several MONTHS ago and FINALLY brought me my spices after much textual harassment like  . . . " . . . bring me my  #%*$&#!  ALEPPO PEPPER NOW!!!!! . . . " I guess you had to be there. Joann's been toting these awesome spices and forgetting to give them to me for awhile. I told her that I was miffed because I had to sub paprika for aleppo pepper in a recent request for authentic Middle Eastern style lamb kebabs . Joann brought me three interesting blends. Honestly, I'm not usually into spice blends, but I'm SOLD on this mouthwatering Piri Piri concoction.  My other aromatic gifts include a trio of Aleppo/Halaby/Marash (which are all peppers, by the way) ~ a Syrian blend ~ AND a bag of golden wonder which brings pure joy to my accessory olfactory system (i.e., makes my schnozz as happy as a pig in doodoo), the Vadouvan Spice Blend. This blend includes cardamom, cumin, clove, fenugreek, nutmeg, mustard, turmeric, curry leaf and red pepper flakes. I cannot wait to try these blends!

Back to the Piri Piri blend. First of all, piri piri (or peri peri) is pepper pepper in Swahili. You can read up on the origins back to Portugal and so on, but basically, it's the delicious African Bird's Eye Chili (pepper). This particular blend exudes the amazing flavors of South Africa . . . paprika, black pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, sesame, oregano, cardamom, nutmeg and mace. I KID YOU NOT, I added this blend to a pot of soup and I was instantly hooked! It was love at first waft, not to mention first slurp. I was making a pot of what my brother Lou calls "Got-To-Go" Soup, meaning, everything's got to go (like whatever's in the fridge and whatever else that's in the pantry or on the shelf that needs to be consumed while it's still fresh). I had a hankering for a great bowl of soup yesterday.

So, I started with a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of my favorite soup pot. I added sliced shallots (about 4 large) that I had from the farmer's market. They were beautiful. I added one medium, roughly chopped sweet onion, a large sliced carrot, a few bay leaves and about a quarter of a head of purple (red) cabbage, thinly sliced. After letting everything cook with a bit of kosher salt, pepper and cayenne, I added one large can of whole tomatoes, with their juice, crushed by hand, one 48 ounce box of Swanson 100% fat free chicken broth, one 32 ounce box of Swanson Organic Vegetable broth, a few new yellow potatoes, cut into large cubes (unpeeled) and about a heaping 1/2 cup of brown Basmati rice. Remember, this soup was all about what I had on hand. I love cooking "off the shelf".  I also added about 1/2 can of water (to rinse out the tomato can). This is when I decided to go for it with the Piri Piri blend. On one hand, I was worried about "ruining" a whole pot of soup with an unknown outcome. On the other hand, I was ready to try something new. So, I added about a heaping teaspoon of the delectable mix. It smelled fabulous and the broth tasted fabulous, like immediately! I let the soup come to a boil and let it continue to boil (or high simmer) until the rice and potatoes were tender. This actually took 20-30 minutes, I think, for the rice to really cook. During this time, I tasted the soup several times because I LOVED the flavor. I adjusted the salt and added more cayenne pepper and black pepper. It tasted so delicious, I added about another heaping teaspoon of the Piri Piri blend. The last thing I added was one can of rinsed and drained cannelini beans and one can of rinsed and drained black beans. I usually add canned beans to soups last since they are already cooked. They just need to heat through. Once the rice was tender, the soup had thickened nicely from the rice and potatoes and the beans made the soup even more filling and healthy. I CANNOT wait to experiment further with these incredibly fragrant and flavorful spices. I want to make another pot of soup now but I may try something else like Piri Piri Grilled Chicken or something. I know this will be an addiction. OK. Don't tell anyone but I actually ate like 4 bowls of soup. They were small. Not. It was impossible to stop. That happens.

So, here's the moral of the story. Try something new today or this weekend when you have a chance to cook from scratch. Changing up your spices can transport you to a different country with a shake. You can go to the Far East, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India, South America, or in this case, South Africa, in a pinch! (or a teaspoon) : ) --------- xo

Heat up your life - and your soup,

Love,

Katie

This just in: After I published this post, I was back in KPK concocting another simmering pot of exotica using the Vadouvan spice blend, fresh spinach, multi-colored organic quinoa and chick peas. OMG I can't wait to tell you about it . . . when I get back from Pondicherry. PEACE!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Salad Sublimity

 Marinated Haricots Verts and Roasted Tomato Caprese
I know what you're probably thinking. Is "sublimity" a word? Ha! YES. Don't you like the title "Salad Sublimity" much better than "Sublime Salads"? Anyhoo, let's discuss Salad Creativity. Salad Inventiveness. Salad Happiness. Salad Satisfaction. Salad-Outside-The-Box, Salad Love, if you will. What constitutes a salad? The ubercoolness of salads is that it DOESN'T MATTER ! ! ! They're so non-committal. So free-wheelin'. So all-over-the-board. When you go home tonight and you KNOW you need to be eating something GREEN, please think of something other than iceberg lettuce and an under-ripe, mealy pink tomato with some bottled dressing that has too many ingredients . . . like xanthan gum, for example. I know that stuff's in a lot of things from salad dressings to medicines to friggin' drilling mud to concrete (really!) and I understand that it's a USDA approved food additive, but, if you want viscosity, use your dang whisk! Nuff Sed. OK. Gettin' back down off that high horse.
Warm Gnocchi & Broccoli Salad with Spinach and Tomato
Roasted Turkey Breast Salad
with lots of vegetables and
homemade ranch dressing
Be creative tonight. Think about all of the things that you might have on hand to lead you up the path to "Salad Sublimity". Peas in the freezer. Cannelini beans in the pantry. Interesting cheese in the fridge. Onions in the bin. Maybe a few potatoes somewhere. Eggs? Carrots? Mushrooms? Celery? Apples? Pears? Beets? Nuts? Berries? Herbs? Cabbage? Lettuce? You get the picture. If poached chicken with mayo is a salad, and apple chunks with strawberries is a salad, if tuna, onions and mayo are a salad, if "macaroni" and Miracle Whip is a salad, if apples, peanuts and Cool Whip are a salad, etc., ANYTHING can be a salad! You are the creator! The architect! The Salad Queen or King! Think about the flavors you love. Consider combining cooked vegetables with raw vegetables. Cooked protein (like chicken or fish or eggs) with raw vegetables and/or cooked vegetables. Think about textures. Crispy. Crunchy. Velvety smooth. Hard. Soft. Chewy. Think about sweet, savory, tart, salty. Hot. Cold. Room temperature.
Roasted Beets and Pink Grapefruit Salad




After being forever influenced by the book "Fit For Life"about 20 years ago, I am always thinking about the proper combining of foods, according to Harvey & Marilyn Diamond. They're vegetarians, right? Among a lot of other stuff, they advocate something like a diet that consists of 70% high water content foods. To me, that's raw fruits and vegetables. They also explained their theory about the importance of not eating starches and proteins in the same meal, having to do with slowing your digestion and zapping your energy and so on. I'm just going by my memory and my personal interpretation of the book. Wow, talk about the condensed version. What I walked away with was this "forget traditional sandwiches" idea and goodbye to meat and bread at the same meal. Say no to meat and potatoes (at the same time). Then, my choice was always like . . . do I want to eat meat or bread with my salad????? Of course, bread always won and still wins. I love bread. I gave it up for Lent once. That won't happen again.
Traditional Greek Salad with "Pop's" Homegrown Oregano
Now, think of the amazing salad options! After reading that book, one of my absolute favorite salads became the KPK (B4 KPK) Fried Potato Salad. OMG. I haven't made it in awhile. Imagine your favorite greens. Romaine is what I was into at that time, I believe. Slices of sweet onion. Sliced potatoes, fried in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Pile the hot crusty potatoes onto the greens and onions. Top with homemade ranch or blue cheese dressing. More freshly ground black pepper. Ridiculously good. I know what you're thinkin' again! Don't judge. We all know that the dressing is fattening, but if it's homemade, it's definitely better for you than the mass-produced, processed, gummier stuff. You can make a killer dressing with fat free Greek yogurt, buttermilk (which is LOW FAT, my friends), lots of fresh herbs, a bit of white balsamic vinegar, kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Obviously, if you add some sour cream and some mayonnaise, it will be even more fantabulous, just more fattening! My KPK logic is that if you're eating a huge pile of GREEN, you can get away with the stuff that's NOT GREEN! I know it's wrong, but too bad, too sad. If you have leftover baked potatoes, make this salad by slicing them and frying them in olive oil. Mmmmmm. Oh, bummer. I have no pictures of the Fried Potato Salad. Guess I'll have to make one and resist it long enough to snap a few good shots.
Cherry Tomato and Onion Salad with Polpette di Zucchini

Lately, I'm on a kick with steaming vegetables like carrots, green beans and new potatoes separately, dressing them and then piling them  on platters with raw vegetables like red cabbage, fresh spinach, avocado slices, tomatoes and more. The KEY is that you dress each vegetable separately so that everything is delicious and flavorful on its own. Whether it's simply oil and vinegar or lemon juice & herbs, dress them first. When you pile everything separately rather than mixing it all together, your salad will have much more eye appeal and make a striking and naturally beautiful presentation. No need for a curly parsley garnish here, that's for sure!

Isn't nature magnificent? 

COLOR YOUR DIET. EAT A GREAT SALAD EVERY DAY. 
 A KPK Signature "VIBRANT" Salad

LOVE, KATIE

Wow, that was a long post, Katie, haha ~ lqtm. Seriously, I have way too much more to write here about salads. It's another passion problem . . . but, it's 2:12 am (hey, 2/12, that's my birthday) and it's time (way past time) to hit the K P Pillow. Night foodies  : ) ~ Colorful dreams . . . . .

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