Sunday, January 29, 2017

Nigella's Gnocchi Gratin

Winter hasn't arrived to Kentucky yet. Instead, we're having rainy dreary weather, with a slight chill in the air, and it is enough to drive anyone batty. Nothing but rain, rain, rain. Day after day. Car pool line at school in the rain, getting kids on and off the bus in rain, inside recess--day after day. Spending half the day wet. Not ideal. Not ideal at all. We've reached the point where teachers are praying for a snow day. 

All hope was placed on tomorrow since the forecast showed a few inches of snow possible tonight. And yet, as I write this I can see the snow turning to rain midair and I know that the even if the snow makes it to the ground it won't stick. At this point the best we can hope for is black ice.

So we turn to comfort food to get through these rainy dreary days with no hope of snow in sight. Nigella's Gnocchi Gratin is rich and ultimately indulgent. Plump little potato dumplings in a creamy cheesy sauce with a crispy breadcrumb topping will certainly help cure all your woes. Served in my new find, a vintage enamelware casserole pan. I just love rustic look of the worn out edges and the character it adds to the overall dish.

I'd definitely recommend this if you're in the mood to try something different. The flavors of this dish are very reminiscent to a potato au gratin and for good reason. Similar ingredients. Different consistency. You really can't go wrong here. I think everyone is a sucker for those little plump potato dumplings, especially when tossed in a cheesy sauce. This would be wonderful served with a roast of some sort and also just as good served on it's own with a salad. Of course it would be even better served on a snowy day! One can only dream!

Gnochhi Gratin
Adapted from
by Nigella Lawson
Serves 4

1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
454g pkg fresh or frozen gnocchi
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Position oven racks in top third and center of oven. Preheat to 400F.

Whisk mascarpone with milk in a shallow oven safe saucepan (wide enough to hold gnocchi in a single layer) and set over medium. When mixture starts to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes, turn off heat. Add 1/4 cup parmesan and whisk until it melts.

Grind black pepper and nutmeg over cheese mixture. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Cook gnocchi in a medium pot according to pkg. directions, about 2 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen. Drain gnocchi and stir into cheese mixture until coated. Spread out into an even layer.

Stir remaining parmesan with bread crumbs and sprinkle over gnocchi.

Bake in center of oven until bubbly, about 15 minutes. Adjust heat to broil.  Broil in top third of oven until top turns dark golden, about 2 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Theme: January Potluck @ IHCC!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Green Chile Whipped Cream Cheese

Most mornings before work I make an egg scramble using whatever veggies, meat, and/or cheese that is leftover. It is a quick way to get out the door in the morning and it always satisfies me until lunch. Although I love eggs, from time to time I like to switch it up. My absolute favorite breakfast during the weekday is a carb-loaded bagel with some sort of cream cheese.  Even though it slows me down and leaves me peckish before lunch, it is always a delight for my taste buds.

This morning I passed by Panera and decided to grab a few bagels to enjoy with Heidi Swanson's Green Chile Whipped Cream Cheese. Originally her recipe was written using goat cheese, and I certainly like goat cheese, but I happen to have lots of cream cheese leftover from the holidays that needs using up. In truth, you could use goat cheese, ricotta cheese, yogurt cheese, cream cheese, or any other spreadable cheese available to you.

This quick cream cheese falls in line with my new year resolution to keep things simple. A handful of ingredients come together to turn your bagel into a spicy delight.  Often times when you have condiments available they can be used for many other things. I think this cream cheese is a prime example of that. It would be perfect for either filling or dipping veggies, fabulous slathered on a sandwich or burger, and a flavor sensation mixed into your scrambled eggs.We absolutely loved this spread as it was extremely flavorful with a slight kick from the serrano. I highly recommend it and think it is a perfect way to help you wake up and face the day!

Green Chile Whipped Cream Cheese
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
by Heidi Swanson
Makes about 1 cup

8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons half & half, cream, milk or other liquid
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed & minced
1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds 
salt, to taste

In a medium bowl whisk together the cream cheese and half & half. A hand blender makes quick work of this if you have one. It should become light, and easily spreadable.

Combine the olive oil, chile, and garlic, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to cook for five minutes or so - it's ok if the garlic takes on a bit of color, but you don't want it to get too dark. Use a slotted spoon or fork to transfer most of the solids to the cream cheese, and stir in. Season with salt to taste. Allow the chile oil to cool a bit. When ready to serve, transfer the cream cheese to a serving bowl, and finish by drizzling with the oil, and remaining garlic and chile solids. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Winter Citrus Tart with Rosemary Whipped Cream

I'm keeping it short and simple with this post. Curtis Stone's Winter Citrus Tart with Rosemary Whipped Cream is one of my favorite new desserts! It's a triple threat.




It's even economical as well. Three ingredients if need be: puff pastry, oranges, and orange marmalade. If you want to be fussy whip some cream or buy some vanilla ice cream.

This is a heavenly dessert. The puff pastry is buttery and flaky and the oranges are sweet and juicy - not to mention they get all caramelized and yummy.

 I love this one so much I plan to keep the ingredients on hand so I can make this whenever the mood strikes. I'm in love!

Winter Citrus Tart with Rosemary Whipped Cream
Adapted from Good Food, Good Life
by Curtis Stone
Serves 6

2 oranges (navel, Cara Cara, or blood oranges), tangerines or tangelos
1 (9x9-inch sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed but still very cold
1/3 cup orange marmalade
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up.

Using a sharp knife, remove the peel and all the bitter white pith from the oranges. Slice each orange into about 8 thin slices.

 Lay the pastry on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the marmalade over the pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Arrange the orange slices on top, tuning to coat them with the marmalade as you go.

Bake the tart for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is a dark golden brown and cooked through. Halfway through baking, use a pastry brush to brush any juices from the oranges that have accumulated in the center over the pastry edges.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whip the cream with the powdered sugar (I used a touch more than what was called for in the recipe) and the rosemary until thickened. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

After you remove the tart from the oven, brush any more accumulated juices over the oranges and pastry edges. Lightly dust the top of the tart with powdered sugar. Cut the tart into squares and serve warm with the cream.


We are celebrating all things lemon and/or citrus related this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and these are my top three lemony delights!

Hands down one of my favorite recipes on my blog, and consequently one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth, is Yotam Ottolenghi's Hummus Kawarma (Lamb) with Lemon Sauce. It is a must make if you're a hummus fan!
If you find yourself in need of some winter comfort food, but you want to try a new take on the traditional recipe, then try Tessa Kiros' Lemonato Beef with Patates Fournou Lemonates (Lemoned Beef with Roast Lemon Potatoes). Surprisingly, the lemon doesn't overtake either dish, but it does help to brighten the flavors.
Finally, when it comes to lemon, this Lemon Meringue Fool by the one and only Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson, is a winner! Four simple ingredients mixed together quickly and topped with a cookie. Much like Lemon Meringue Pie, without all the work. Total heaven!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poached Eggs In White Wine #FOODGOALS

One of my philosophies on cooking, and eating, for that matter is simply "to put an egg on it." Got leftovers? Chances are you can reheat them and "put an egg on it." Cooking something and want it to be more satisfying, "put an egg on it." Haven't been to the store and don't have much to eat, bet you can find something to "put an egg on."

Eggs are a staple for me because they are delicious, keep well, and go with so many flavors. They are easily one of my top five foods and for that reason my New Year's #FOODGOALS include lots of eggs. Another one of my #FOODGOALS is to use the very best ingredients I can find and prepare them simply. I've noticed lately that it's the simple recipes we love the most and return to again and again. The ones with the really good ingredients topped with a simple sauce, a colorful salsa, or a flourish of herbs, for instance.

This dish, Heidi's Poached Eggs In White Wine, meets all of my current #FOODGOALS. Plus, it brings to light the question, "why not poach eggs in all sorts of liquids?". Why stop at water, or white wine, or tomato sauce? A fun challenge for this egg lover.

I chose a dry Chardonnay, one that I wouldn't mind drinking on it's own. I combined it with the shallots, water, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and boiled the mixture down a bit. I slid the eggs in and watched them as they started to turn opaque, before putting the lid on. I was most excited about the prospect of a white wine sauce, so once the eggs were cooked through I relished the thought of adding the butter and flour and watching the sauce to come life.  A crisp piece of toast, some sliced avocado, my freshly poached egg, topped by a glorious white wine that is a breakfast fit for a queen!

Poached Eggs In White Wine
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
by Heidi Swanson
Serves 2-4

1 cup dry white wine*
1 cup water
2 shallots, minced
1 bay leaf
sprig of thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
2 -4 large eggs, depending on who you're feeding
1 tablespoon butter, room temp
2 teaspoons flour
to serve: toasted bread, avocado, chives, herbs, etc. 

Notes:  I used a Chardonnay wine.  Take care to chose a dry wine and one that isn't too sweet.  You definitely do not want to have a sweet poached egg with a sweet sauce- totally not the goal.
In a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat combine the wine, water, shallots, bay leaf, thyme, and salt. Boil for five minutes. Dial back the heat a bit, before carefully cracking eggs into the skillet (you can crack each egg into a separate small bowl, and then transfer, if you're not comfortable going direct to the skillet). Cover and simmer for another five minutes (mine were a little overcooked at 5 minutes so I'd go with 3 or 4 minutes, especially if you want an over easy poached egg) or so - until the eggs whites are opaque, and the yolks are set to your liking. Once poached, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon from the skillet and set aside. Cook the liquid in the pan down a bit more, until you have about 1/2 cup of liquid left, then strain the liquid into a small saucepan. Whisk the butter and flour into a paste, then add this to the strained sauce, stirring until smooth, taste and add a bit of salt if needed.

Serve each egg on a piece of toast over a bit of smashed avocado, drizzled with a bit of sauce, and sprinkled with chives.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

White Bean and Chorizo Soup w/ Crostini

Happy New Year! Resolutions and goals are all the talk right now, and like I do every year, I've made one of my own.

Now this resolution has been a long time coming. If you know me personally then you'll understand, and if not, well let me just say I'm a little unorganized. I've always been a fly-by-the-seat-kinda girl and you know what? It worked well for me, all my life, until I had kids. After kids, well let's just say I've been in denial, about 15 years of denial to be exact. During this time I've refused to write anything down, insisting that I can simply remember every appointment, after school activity, and obligation for everyone in my household simply because I used to be able to back in the day. You can imagine how well this worked out for me!

So, after years of missing appointments and various deadlines, I've decided it is time to GET ORGANIZED! To help myself with this task I bought myself one of those fancy planners that all of my friends carry, and will therefore submit to being an adult who has to consult her planner, prior to making plans. Ugh!

Now while this planner is somewhat of a chore to me, the one thing I do like about it is the meal planning section.  Meal planning is something that I do like to do.

My current meal planning goal is to use up foods in my freezer and pantry.  So this week I have planned a menu that helps me to clear things out.  Lucky for me, there are a lot of special and unique things that I had been saving, so this menu plan was quite fun!

Spanish chorizo is hard to find around my parts, so when I was lucky enough to find some, I held on to it for way too long (I like to procrastinate too). Lucky for me it kept well and came in handy for making a recipe that had been on my to-do list forever, Curtis Stone's White Bean and Chorizo Soup.

A simple glance might have you thinking this is a tomato-based soup, but it is not! The soup gets its reddish color based solely on the chorizo itself - now how's that for flavor! The combination of the chorizo and the white beans is quite hearty and satisfying. We found this soup to be great right after it was made, but even better the next day! Perfect with a side of crusty bread for dunking.

Wishing everyone luck with their new year's resolutions!

White Bean & Chorizo Soup w/ Crostini
Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces smoked Spanish chorizo links, 
(casings removed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4" half moons)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carots, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch thick round slices
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
Two (15-oz.) cans small white beans, drained and rinsed
demi baguette, cut on diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices
extra virgin olive oil, for serving

Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until browned. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5minutes, or until tender. Add the carrots, celery, fennel, garlic, thyme, and rosemary, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Stir in the broth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. 

Stir in the beans and simmer gently for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove and discard the thyme and rosemary stems.

Meanwhile, brush the baguette slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Toast in a toaster oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with crostini.

Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen

Theme: December Potluck!