Sunday, May 21, 2017

Welsh Rarebit {Two Ways + Endless Variations}

Oftentimes, when I'm out for drinks, I find myself craving a little something cheesy. Nothing too heavy, but something with a little bit of heft to it, and usually a little naughty. This Welsh Rarebit is just the thing. Cheese, glorious bubbly melted cheese, served over toasty hearty bread and maybe even some veggies. It's just a thing of beauty, really.

Hugh shares three ways to add veggies and change up your rarebit: tomatoes, celery, and kale or broccolini. All of these are good choice, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say you could easily use about anything hanging out in your fridge. Eggs of any kind, cooked peppers (bell or jalapeno), bits of meat, slices of apple or pear, spinach, artichokes, and even olives would be lovely. The sky is really the limit! Always feel free to make it your own!

This time around I opted to follow two of Hugh's recipes, tomato and kale. While I do believe that tomato is the most common, and also the most well-liked; I'm willing to say that I love the combo of greens with cheese way more than the tomato version. Either way you simply cannot go wrong.

There a couple of things worth nothing. First, use a really good English Cheddar. I used an English Cheddar straight from Dorset.  Next, do not worry when the butter, flour, and milk mixture resembles glue, or straight up paste. This is exactly what you want! When you add the cheese to the mixture you will have to use a lot of muscle to stir it into the "sauce" and get it to melt. The cheese sauce isn't going to seem very saucy when you spread it on the bread and that is exactly the texture you're going for! Don't worry, this is a thick and luscious sauce that is so dreamy and satisfying!  Slather it on some good toasted bread and enjoy as is or with veggies, bits of meat, and/or egg. This Welsh Rarebit is a real treat!

Welsh Rarebit
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4

1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion
salt and black pepper, to taste
3-1/2 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 ounces fairly strong English cheddar, grated
1/2 teaspoon English mustard, or to taste
dash of Worcestershire sauce
4 slices of good bread or 4 small flat breads

Put the milk in a saucepan, with the bay leaf and onion if you have them on hand, along with a grinding of black pepper. Bring the milk to just below a simmer, then turn off the heat.

Melt the butter in another saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a smooth roux and let it bubble and seethe for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat. If you've infused the milk with bay and onion, strain them out. Add the milk to the roux in three or four batches, beating well after each addition to create a smooth sauce.

Return the thick sauce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in in the cheese until melted, then add the mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you like.

Preheat the broiler and toast the bread. If you're serving rarebit just as it comes, then spread the cheese sauce thickly on the toast. Alternatively, add your veggie extras before spreading on the toast.  Either way, broil the rarebit reasonably slowly, not too close to the heat, so the thick sauce is bubbling hot all the way through before the top gets too brown. Serve right away.

Tomato Rarebit: Top the cheese sauce with a few thick slices of tomato and sprinkle with pepper before placing under the broiler

Celery Rarebit: Thinly slice 4 celery stalks and saute them in a tablespoon of butter for 5 minutes, until tender but still a bit crunchy.  Season and stir into the rarebit mixture before spreading on toast and broiling.

Broccolini or Kale Rarebit: Lay some lightly cooked broccolini or kale across your toast before smothering with cheese sauce and broiling.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Favorite Bready Things!

This week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are featuring all Bready Things! It just so happens that in my home we are carb-obsessed and so Bready Things are right up our alley! I didn't get around to making a dish this week, but I do want to shout out some of my FAVORITE BREADY THINGS!

Every single one of these recipes have seen repeated visits in my kitchen. They are tried and true favorites. Click on the recipe link to be directed to the original post, which includes the recipe!

A pizza dough crust with a creamy and dreamy sweet Mascarpone base topped with an array of fresh berries makes for a wonderful breakfast or dessert. In fact, this dish is so pretty it is perfect for bridal showers, baby showers, or any other kind of celebration where you need to take a dish!

You wouldn't think an English-born chef would be your go-to for one killer Chicken Po'Boy, but Nigel Slater really delivered on this sandwich. It is quite simple, just a few ingredients, but it is total perfection.  Just looking at that hot and juicy sandwich gets my mouth watering every single time!

Rick Bayless is well represented in this Bready Things roundup and these enchiladas are absolutely amazing!  Do a quick search on Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas and you'll see that they were quite popular with several food bloggers. This is more of a casserole-style enchilada in that the corn tortillas aren't rolled, but layered.  A sauce is made from poblano peppers and spinach and layered in with corn tortillas, chicken, and Monterey cheese. This is an incredible dish!

Don't let the look of this one fool you! It isn't much to look at, but it is one of my favorites in this entire roundup. Just imagine a crusty telera roll smeared with black beans, chorizo, feta cheese, and slices of avocado. Some of my very favorite ingredients all coming together in one sandwich. It is absolutely crave-worthy!


Again, Rick Bayless comes through with another amazing torta. My mom loves this sandwich so much she asks for it for her birthday every year.  Now, this sandwich is a lot of work. You'll need a breading station for the crispy chicken and you'll also need to prepare the garlicky black bean smash, but once you've completed that you have one crazy-good sandwich that will have everyone asking for it again and again.

These corn muffins called my name for the entire six months that we cooked with Curtis Stone. The reason why: one of my favorite bready things is any type of corn muffin.  I just tend to gravitate to them and I knew, without a doubt, that these corn muffins filled with white cheddar cheese, corn, and bacon would be a huge hit in my home! We scarfed these down with some chive butter in record time. Now they've become a staple!

Sometimes I just crave bacon and Jamie Oliver's Bacon Sarnie is a fantastic, and easy way, to satisfy that craving. If you haven't made a Bacon Sarnie, then you need to!

Last, but not least, is my very favorite Banana Bread! Tessa's recipe for banana bread is a little different than other recipes I've tried. There are two different things about this banana bread recipe. The first is that this recipe only uses brown sugar, no white sugar whatsoever, and the brown sugar really shines. Not only can you taste the difference with the brown sugar, but you can also smell the difference and it is so much more complimentary to the banana bread. Secondly, Tessa has you add the baking soda to warm milk, which is a step I've never taken with banana bread, and I swear it makes a difference in both the texture and the overall rising power of the bread.  This banana bread rises so much faster and higher than any other loaf and the overall texture is so much better than others. If you're a banana bread lover, then this recipe is a must try!

Those are some of my favorite bready things! 

What are some of your favorites?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Baked Gruyere and Sausage Omelet

Today I'm bringing you a hearty and satisfying baked omelet with some of my very favorite ingredients: Gruyere, eggs, and sausage! I first discovered real cave-aged Gruyere cheese while I was cooking the recipes of Jacques Pepin and let me just tell was love at first bite! The nutty robust flavor combined with the ooey-gooey melt factor... there is no other cheese quite like it!

Nowadays, I am never without a wedge of Gruyere. It comes in handy for making one incredible French Onion Soup, is delicious grated over pasta, and is a star ingredient in many egg dishes, such as this recipe. 

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand to make this flavor-filled baked omelet, although I will say that you could just as easily cater this dish to whatever you have on hand, just keeping the ratios in tact.  Of course I highly recommend using a good Gruyere no matter what, but this is a perfect recipe to make your own and is well-suited for entertaining. We enjoyed this straight out of the oven for breakfast and it was also just as good leftover the next day. A staple recipe for any cook to keep in their arsenal!

Baked Gruyere and Sausage Omelet
Adapted from Food Network
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

Butter, for greasing baking dish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 pound mild sausage, casings removed
8 large eggs
1/3 cup milk (whole preferably)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced
1-1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup plus a few tablespoons freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Set the pan aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper, to taste, until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the red bell pepper, 1 cup of Gruyere cheese and 1/4 cup of parsley. Stir in the onion mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut the baked omelet into wedges and sprinkle with remaining parsley before serving.

Cook's Note: To make individual servings, divide the batter between 4 buttered 8-ounce ramekins. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Upside-Down Onion Tart

This Upside-Down Onion Tart is something you can throw together with "bare-bones" ingredients. You only need two essential ingredients: puff pastry and onions!

Now, if you do not consider puff pastry a pantry, or rather a freezer essential, then you should.  Having a couple sheets of puff pastry around is like having an insurance always comes in handy.  It's not only perfect for throwing together a quick and fruity dessert, like this gorgeous Winter Citrus Tart with Rosemary Whipped Cream, but it's also a lifesaver if you want to whip appetizers, or top a soup or stew, like this Irish Beef Stew with Puff Pastry Dippers, or even use as a make shift pie crust, like I did when I made these Mini Corned Beef Pot Pies. I am simply never without a box (or two) in my freezer!

And hopefully, we all have onions in our pantry! Not only are they the base of so many dishes, but they are even better when they are allowed to shine as the featured ingredient, such as in this absolutely incredible Onion Soup Lyonnaise-Style. Trust me when I say that soup has become such a staple, and I am never without the ingredients to make it.

This tart is another way for the humble onion to play center stage.  Pair this with a green salad, or even on the side of any beef dish, and you're in for a true caramelized onion delight!

Upside-Down Onion Tart
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4-6

About 7 ounces/200g all butter, ready made puff pastry
3 or 4 onions (about 12 ounces/350g)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
salt and ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Optional: Sprinkling of thyme leaves and/or cheese of your choice. I used opted for a few crumbles of blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8 inch thickness and cut out an 8-inch circle. Wrap the pastry disk and place it in the fridge.

Peel the onions and slice each one into 6 or 8 wedges, keeping the root end attached. Heat the butter and oil in an 8-inch tarte tatin pan or ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, arranging them roughly in a pinwheel pattern. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once or twice, until they are fairly tender and starting to caramelize around the edges.

Trickle the balsamic vinegar over the onions and cook for a couple of minutes more, so the vinegar reduces a little.  Remove from the heat and make sure the onions are fairly evenly spread around the pan.

Lay the pastry disk over the onions and put the pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is fully puffed up and golden.

Invert the tart onto a plate so the sticky caramelized onions are facing up, on top of the crispy pastry. Serve right away, ideally with a green leafy salad. You could also crumble or grate over a favorite cheese.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Bowl {Plus a Roundup of my Favorite Egg Dishes}

Okay friends, so this week we're celebrating the wonderful and versatile world of eggs over at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Since eggs are one of my favorite ingredients I knew that I wanted to come up with a special dish, something more original. After browsing through hundreds of egg recipes this week I ended up taking inspiration from Jamie Oliver's Mexican Fried Beans served with beautiful poached eggs on top.

Now, believe me, I use the term "inspiration" loosely. My inspiration comes in the form of being lazy. So there I am standing over the black beans in my cast iron pan and I'm thinking...I do not want to get out another pan and mess with the fussy poaching of these eggs SO...what can I do to get around that? A simple glance over at my cast iron casserole dishes gave me the answer. Bake it!

This solved two dilemmas. The first being the fussy poached eggs mentioned above. The second being the lack of cheese in Jamie's recipe. Problem solved! Baking this dish makes cooking the eggs and adding cheese a cinch!

So, it went like this. Add a diced jalapeno, clove of garlic, and handful of cilantro to a skillet with a touch of oil and butter and allow to soften.  Stir in the drained black beans until mixed with jalapeno mixture and warmed. Spoon mixture into ovenproof casserole dish, or dishes.  At this point I wanted cheese so I dolloped about a tablespoon of cream cheese evenly over both casserole dishes. You could use any cheese you like. Take a tip from me and use whatever cheese you see first or whatever cheese  is the easiest, because, you know...that's how it is. Then top with four eggs, or if making individual dishes, then two eggs each.  If you want to be all dainty then you can even make four servings.  Totally up to you. Bake at 350F according to how you like your eggs. In all, I think 10 minutes is a good jumping off point. Then garnish to your liking, but do not leave off green onions. I didn't add them to this dish and wish I had! They bring it all together. Serve immediately!

This comforting and satisfying dish would be perfect for so many occasions. Today it was the perfect consolation prize after my ten year old son woke up at 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. What can I say....nothing will wake a kid up faster than Easter candy!

Happy Easter!!

A Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Bowl
Inspired by this Jamie Oliver recipe
Serves 2

1 jalapeno pepper, cored, deseeded, and diced
1 large clove garlic, diced
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
a drizzle of oil and bit of butter
1 (15 oz. can) black beans, drained
2 tablespoons cream cheese, divided*
4 large eggs
tortillas, for serving
Optional: sliced green onions, diced red onion, avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, lime, salsa, and/or cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

 In a skillet, add the oil and butter. Once butter is melted add in the diced jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the jalapeno is softened, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Once softened, add the rinsed and drained black beans, mixing together the jalapeno mixture with the black beans until warmed through.  You can add the cheese at this point and mix it through the beans OR add the beans (dividing the beans) to your ovenproof casserole dish and add the cheese on top of the beans.  Your choice! At this point you could also add additional cilantro, salsa, red onion or green onion OR not. Again, this is your bowl and your choice. They can be customized to your liking! Add two eggs to the top of the beans and again, your choice....garnish the eggs to your liking if you chose. 

Bake the eggs to your liking.  Again, if you like your eggs over easy then bake for around 9-10 minutes. If you like them overhard, bake for around 12 minutes. Remember, depending on the size of your egg, the times will vary so carefully watch your eggs! I used 4 extra large eggs because it's what I had on hand and baked mine for 12 minutes.  Once the eggs are to your liking, quickly garnish the dish with whatever you chose. It's worth noting that green onions should be a must! Their flavor really rounds out the whole dish. Serve immediately, with warm tortillas.

If you've been with me awhile, you know I am absolutely crazy for eggs! In fact, eggs are my go to when all else fails. I always have them on hand and I can almost always put together an amazing egg dish with very little ingredients. Below are some of my current favorites, in order. If you make one, let it be Jacques Pepin's Egg and Onion Gratin. It is surprisingly delicious. Click on recipe names below to be directed to the original post.

This humble dish will surprise you. Hard-boiled eggs tossed in a creamy Gruyere cheese and onion me, this is heavenly! In fact, it is one of my hands down favorite dishes on my blog! Serve a little bit of of the gratin on a slice of toast and you will be in for a mind-blowing treat!

 Jacques Pepin sure does know how to write a tasty egg recipe and this one is certainly a favorite. Easy, healthy, and simple this is a breakfast I could wake up to each morning.  An egg baked into a softened poblano pepper and then topped with cheese. It really hits the spot!

 In my opinion, you simply will not find a tastier quiche or breakfast casserole than Giada's Breakfast Tart! This one packs a punch in the flavor department with a hefty dose of pancetta and green onions and it is extremely creamy and cheesy with both Mascarpone and Gruyere. Perfect for entertaining! It is hands down incredible. Definitely worth a little extra fuss in the morning.

 If you're suffering from the effects of a long night out, or simply in the mood for something light and healthy, Jamie Oliver's Nasi Goreng is a unique and tasty way to start your day! A fried egg sits atop a spicy fried rice mixture with some fresh pickles on the side. A bright and snazzy meal that will really wake you up and put some pep in your step!

 Donna Hay's Potato and Ham Fritters are a must make with your leftover Easter ham. Fluffy little cakes of mashed potato, peas, and bits of ham come together with a crispy crust to bring you all kinds of spring goodness on a plate. I love to dip these in a little Dijon mustard, but they are fabulous on their own. A must make this spring!

What's your favorite egg dish?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall's Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are beginning a new adventure as we cook the recipes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the next six months! I didn't have any of Hugh's books in my cookbook collection, so I began my adventure by purchasing his River Cottage Veg cookbook, which happens to be chock-full of purely veggie recipes.

The first recipe that jumped off the page was Hugh's Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad.  This salad initially caught my eye because it was so very gorgeous! Long strands of noodles tossed in a fresh Asian-inspired dressing with lots of verdant green veggies and a sprinkling of crunchy peanuts. Who wouldn't enjoy something with all that color and texture? Of course it helped that I had all the ingredients on hand and I also knew the dish would keep extremely well.

So I got started by whisking together a bright and zingy dressing composed of lime juice, chile, garlic, rice vinegar, with a touch of brown sugar, oil, and soy sauce. Then I mixed the dressing with a couple handfuls of steamed snow peas and snap peas, noodles, thinly sliced cucumber, and topped it all off with crunchy roasted peanuts and a good hearty sprinkling of mint, basil, and cilantro for a very light and refreshing pasta salad that satisfies.

This is the type of thing that is even better the next day and is therefore great for packing up in mason jars and taking on the go. I plan on throwing it in my bag to enjoy for lunch throughout the week.

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
By Hugh Fearnley-Whittstall
Serves 4-6 generously

1/2 cup raw peanuts
 7 ounces noodles (spaghetti or similar)
5 ounces green beans or snow peas, or combo
1/2 English cucumber
6 green onions
12 basil leaves (Thai, if possible) coarsely torn
small bunch of mint, coarsely chopped
small batch cilantro, coarsely chopped 

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime (depends on how juicy)
small fresh red chile, finely chopped or hot pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus extra to serve

Roast peanuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool, then lightly bash the nuts to break them up a bit, or leave whole if preferred.

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain and rinse under cold water. Add to the dressing and toss until well coated. Leave to cool completely in the dressing.

Cook the beans and/or snow peas in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water until just tender and still a bit crunchy, about 3 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water, then drain well. 

Halve the cucumber lengthwise and slice thinly.  Finely slice the green onions on the diagonal.

Toss the cooled noodles with the peanuts, cucumber, green onions, beans and/or snow peas and herbs. Serve with soy sauce on the side, for everyone to help themselves.

Welcome Hugh to I Heart Cooking Clubs!
Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Top Five Heidi Swanson Favorites!

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we've spent the last six months cooking the recipes of  Heidi Swanson.  Usually I like to wrap up each six months with a final dish and a recap of my top favorites, but this week I'm out of town and didn't get a chance to make a final dish, so instead I'm just sharing my top five favorites.  In order.

I didn't realize how much we loved this Green Chile Whipped Cream Cheese until after I blogged about it. We finished the dish in record time by smearing it on bagels, layering it on sandwiches, and dipping our veggies in. The heat from the serrano paired with the garlic just makes this incredibly flavorful. I can see this being my most repeated Heidi Swanson recipe.

In her cookbook, Heidi says she gets more requests for this recipe than any other and I can understand why.  The beans go all crispy with rich and creamy centers and the greens add an extra punch of flavor. I could eat this meal every night for dinner and be perfectly happy.

Barley and I did not make friends until I made this Risotto-Style Barley w/ Winter Citrus & Arugula. This slow cooking risotto method produced the most fun-to-eat little balls of barley and I was instantly in love with the unique texture. I found myself hoarding this recipe, not wanting to share at all. I'd go so far as to say that I like barley risotto better than the original arborio rice risotto!

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits so it was a given that I would be crazy for this recipe! If you find yourself craving fresh cherries and they're out of season, as they're prone to be, then whip up this smoothie using frozen cherries. I love that this smoothie is full of fruit: banana, orange, pineapple, and cherries.  A delicious way to meet your five a day!

Last, but not least, is this glorious and simple way to enjoy one of my favorite veggies: Brussels Sprouts!  We all know and love Brussels prepared with bacon or pancetta, but this preparation with melted crusty Parmesan cheese is right up there with that, and much healthier.  Try it if you're looking for a new way to prepare your sprouts and I guarantee you'll be impressed!

Big Thanks to Heidi for all of the fabulous recipes and kitchen adventures!  Next up I Heart Cooking Clubs will be tackling the recipes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Pea Salad

Today I'm ushering in spring with a beautiful Spring Pea Salad from Ellie Krieger's newest, You Have It Made. This salad is a delightful mix of snow peas, sugar snap peas, and regular peas tossed in a lemony shallot and mint vinaigrette with some thinly sliced red radishes for both color and crunch. It is crunchy and sweet while being both light and refreshing and I absolutely love it!

This recipe yields a whole lot of salad and keeps well, which means it is perfect for packing in lunches or on picnics. I packed mine away in 8 ounce mason jars so that I can enjoy it for my lunch all week long.  This would be perfect for any upcoming potlucks,as well as the perfect and easy take-a-long if you need to contribute a dish for Easter dinner!

Happy Spring!

Spring Pea Salad
Adapted from You Have It Made
by Ellie Krieger
Makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 cups shelled fresh peas, or frozen, thawed (10 ounces)
1 pound sugar snap peas (5 cups), trimmed and halved on the diagonal
1/4 pound snow peas (1-1/2 cups) trimmed and halved on the diagonal
1 cup thinly sliced radishes (about a small bunch)

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, zest, mustard, and salt ad pepper. Stir in the mint and shallot.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and have ready a large bowl of ice water. If using fresh peas, add them to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 3 minutes, then transfer them with a slotted spoon to the bowl of ice water to cool.  Drain from the ice water and transfer to a large bowl.  If using frozen, then place them in a large bowl.

Add the sugar snap peas and snow peas to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Drain and add to the bowl of ice water until cooled. Then drain well and transfer to the large bowl with the other peas. Add the radish and toss to combine.

Just before serving, toss with the vinaigrette until well combined. 

Nutritional Info: Serving Size: 3/4 cup; Calories: 100; Fat 3.5g; Protein: 4g; Carbs: 12g; Fiber 4g; Sodium: 270mg

Theme: March Potluck @ IHCC
Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Homemade Celery Salt

Celery salt is one of my favorite things in the spice cabinet.  I love a hefty dose of it in potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw. I love it sprinkled over potatoes, eggs, as well as fish and seafood. To be honest, it goes perfectly fine in any dish where you add would add celery, such as soups and stews.

When I saw that Heidi Swanson made her own celery salt I knew I wanted to give it a try. I looked in several markets for really leafy celery, but none of it appeared overly leafy. I finally decided I'd just have to go with it and I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the leaves were trapped inside.  I'd say I got about a cup of leaves in total. Plenty of leaves for what I needed.

Heidi provides two methods for dehydrating the celery leaves: the stove top and the oven. I decided to go the oven route.  I feel like it was the safest option for me since I have a tendency to forget things when they're on the stove top. The oven method took about 6-7 minutes.

In no time at all I had my own homemade celery salt, perfect for sprinkling on just about anything!

Homemade Celery Salt
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
by Heidi Swanson

Leaves from one bunch of celery
Flaky sea salt (coarse, not fine)

Pick the leaves from each celery stalk, leaving the stems behind. The outer leaves tend to be dark green and hearty, the inner leaves pale green and tender. I use them all.

Rinse the leaves with cold water in a strainer, then shake off as much of the water as you can. At this point you want to dry the leaves as much as possible, so they toast  (not steam) when you cook them. Gently pat them dry in a clean dish towel, or paper towels. Once dry you have two options for toasting the leaves.

Option 1: If I have a lot of leaves, I arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake in in a 350F oven for about 5-7 minutes. Bake until dehydrated and crispy, but not browned.

Option 2: If I have fewer leaves, or just don't feel like heating the oven, I'll throw them in a large skillet. Single layer if possible, over medium-low heat. Again, you want to barely toast them, not brown them much at all.

In either case, when you're done cooking, remove from heat and let the leaves cool completely. They'll crispy up even more at this point. When cool, use your fingers to crumble the leaves completely, discarding any leaves that aren't crispy.

Combine equal parts celery leaves and salt in a jar, and either stir or shake to distribute the celery leaves evenly throughout.

Accompaniments @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter and a Pasta Roundup!

My love letter to pasta - 

I am so very thankful for your quick cooking time and your ability to please. How kind of you to come in all shapes and sizes, too! You have a remarkable ability to play well with other ingredients. I'm so proud of you! I also love that you represent various cuisines around the world. You are so politically correct! Pasta, you are so comforting. Maybe you could bring about world peace?  If anyone can do it, you can.


Seriously though, I know we all love pasta... and for so many reasons, right? I mean you simply can't go wrong. Pasta is a cook's, and a diner's, best friend. It's quick and easy, it pairs well with just about anything, and it is certainly fun to eat. 

This week I made a delicious and extremely quick pasta dish that is sure to be a repeat in my kitchen! Giada's Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter comes together in the time it takes to boil a pot of water and cook some store-bought ravioli! While the water is coming a boil you roast a handful of walnuts in a 350F oven and start some butter melting on the stove top. When the walnuts are all toasty, and the butter has stopped foaming and turned a lovely golden brown, spoon in some balsamic vinegar. By this time your water should be at a boil so you can toss in your ravioli, get out your Parmesan cheese, and be ready to enjoy! Twenty minutes, tops!

This is an delicious weekday meal!  I love the nuttiness of the brown butter with the crunch of the toasted walnuts.  It goes perfectly with the nutty flavor of Parmesan cheese. Simple, quick, and totally delightful! We loved it!

Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada DeLaurentiis
Serves 4

18 to 20 ounces store-bought ravioli 
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain ravioli onto a large serving platter.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan cook the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the foam subsides, and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes, turn off the heat. Let cool for about 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Transfer the ravioli to the saucepan with the butter. Sprinkle with walnuts and Parmesan over the top and serve immediately.

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we're celebrating all things pasta. I had a great time looking through old blogs posts this morning and choosing some of my favorites. Most of these are from way back, around six years ago.

The pasta dish that I've made over and over again, more so than any other, is Jamie Oliver's Farfalle with a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce. It was about six years ago when I first made this dish and I bet I've made it at least 20 to 30 times since then. It is quick meal that always pleases the entire family and better still, I almost always have the ingredients on hand to make it. I highly recommend this one!

One of my personal favorites is Giada's Orechiette with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone. This pasta dish is hearty and extremely flavorful, but it also contains three of my very favorite things: pasta, beans, and cheese.  It's delicious!

 Another family favorite is Giada's Orechiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs. This pasta recipe is light and fresh with fun little mini-sized meatballs and creamy balls of fresh mozzarella. It's kid-friendly, fun to eat, and on the lighter side. The only problem is that it's hard to stop eating!


  Giada's Pastina with Peas and Carrots is a great alternative to macaroni and cheese and is definitely a hit with kids! Mascarpone cheese provides creaminess and the peas and carrots provide a nice splash of color in a dish that can be served as a main course or on the side. Perfect for spring!

How about you? What are some of your favorite pasta dishes?