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.

Sincerely,
 Kim

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?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Simple Carrot Soup



The color orange is sunny and appealing. It reminds me of all things bright and happy. It's for that very reason I find carrot soup so appealing. For years now, I've had my eye on carrot soup. I knew I wanted to make it, but I just couldn't find the right recipe. Until now.

This carrot soup is simple enough to make; but, there are a few touches that take it to the next level, without making it too fussy.  Firstly, I love the addition of coconut milk which makes things a little creamier and thick.  However, the thing that sold me on this soup was the addition of red curry paste.  Red curry paste is a lovely and very aromatic paste made with red chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, shallot, kaffir limes and various spices. When the paste hits the pan it is rather seductive and for that reason I am always looking for a reason to use it. While both the coconut milk and red curry paste add consistency and remarkable flavor to the soup, it is the condiments that initially drew me in to this recipe. I can assure you these condiments are not just for looks. The toasted almonds lend a wonderful crunch and flavor to the dish and they definitely steal the show in this soup. In fact, they are a must if making this soup! I also love the brightness that a squeeze of fresh lime adds, as well as the subtle spiciness from a couple shakes of chili oil. The cilantro does it's part to help the dish look colorful, while adding the touch that only herbs can. This, my friends, is the carrot soup to try. It is sure to brighten your day like a ray of sunshine.



A Simple Carrot Soup
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
by Heidi Swanson
Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
scant 1 tablespoon red curry paste, or to taste
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped - 1/2-inch chunks (about 10-11 medium-sized carrots)
1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste
1-1/2 cups water, or to cover
1 lemon or lime
To serve: micro greens, cilantro, chopped & toasted almonds, chile oil, etc.

In a large soup pan over medium-high heat add the butter and onion.  Stir until the onions are well-coated, and allow to saute until translucent, a few minutes. Stir in the curry paste, and then the carrots. Allow to cook another minute or two, and then add the coconut milk, salt, and water, adding more water to cover if needed. Allow to simmer until the carrots are tender, 10 - 15 minutes, and then puree using a blender or hand blender until the soup is completely silky smooth.  This next part is important (with any soup)- make any needed adjustments. Add more water if the consistency needs to be thinned out a bit. After that taste for salt, adding more if needed.  I also like to season this soup with a great big squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Serve topped with whatever you have on hand. I like it with a little something crunchy (almonds), and a lot of something green (micro greens & cilantro).



Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen