Sunday, June 29, 2014

Peppers Stuffed with Pork

Cheese, beef, veggies, rice and lentils...those are just a few ways I've stuffed peppers over the years. This version, by Nigel Slater, caught my eye because the peppers are stuffed with a simple ground pork filling.  Nigel goes on to say that he's tried lots of fillings for peppers, but that this pork filling is his favorite.  I can see why.  These stuffed peppers were succulent and flavorful.  A go to recipe that I will be making again and again.   

It all begins with by combining onion, garlic, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning until it breaks down in the pan and becomes a saucy mixture. 
Then you simply add the raw ground pork to the pan, along with the breadcrumbs, and mix until everything is combined.  Halve and seed the peppers, boil them for about 5 minutes, then place on a baking sheet and fill with the pork mixture. Bake for 35 minutes and you're all set for one delicious dinner!  Really couldn't be easier.

Peppers Stuffed with Pork
Adapted from Tender
by Nigel Slater
Enough for 4

a large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more
2 cloves garlic
rosemary or other Italian herbs
2 large tomatoes
1 pound ground pork
1 cup breadcrumbs
6 smallish bell peppers
grated Parmesan, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Peel and finely chop the onion, then put it into a large, shallow pan with the oil over medium heat.  Let the onion soften without coloring.  Peel and slice the garlic, chop the leaves from the sprigs of rosemary (or other Italian herbs), and add to the onion. When all is soft and fragrant, chop the tomatoes and stir them in.  Continue cooking until the tomatoes have collapsed into the sauce.  Season with salt and black pepper, then stir in the ground pork and the breadcrumbs.  Remove from the heat.  Note: Pork will be raw at this point.  It will cook in the oven.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, then lower them into a pan of boiling water and cook for six to eight minutes, until they are slightly limp.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them, skin side down, in an ovenproof baking dish.

Divide the pork mixture among the peppers, then moisten with a little olive oil.  Scatter grated Parmesan over the top and bake for thirty-five minutes, until sizzling.

Theme: Mediterranean Magic!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Family Friendly Lunch: {Mini Meatball Sammies; Veggies with Mint; and Oatmeal, Cranberry, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies}

Are you familiar with The Incredible Hulk? If so then you are likely picturing images of The Hulk busting out of his clothing and screaming at the top of his lungs. That is what my children turn into when they are hungry and wanting to eat. It's as if they need to convey their intense hunger to everyone within a 500 miles radius.     

Now I love having my kiddos home with me in the summertime, but feeding them is a real issue.  There are two constant battles.  The first issue being that they are always hungry.  The second being that they crave junk constantly.  It is a constant battle to keep enough healthy food in the house that they are willing to eat.

This is definitely a family friendly meal that worked for us.  The kids were tricked into eating the meatballs because they were placed inside a fluffy, soft, sweet little roll.  Plus, ketchup and kids just go together.  Put a little ketchup on that meatball and you're good to go.  Zucchini and summer squash are somewhat mild in flavor and I can almost always get my kiddos to eat them.  It helps that they love the yellow and green color. Of course, if for any reason they refuse the veggies, then I go ahead and bribe them with the cookies.  At least the cookies have oats and dried fruit and don't come from a package or the ice cream truck. It's all about compromise!

Mini Meatball Sammies
Adapted from Weeknights With Giada
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

1/4 cup finely crushed corn flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons ketchup, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons grated pecorino romano cheese
8 ounces ground beef, lean 90%
salt and pepper, to taste
12 (2-1/2 inch) sweet dinner rolls, such as King's Hawaiian, halved

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir together the corn flakes, parsley, egg, oil, 2 tablespoons ketchup, the romano cheese, salt and pepper.  Add the ground beef and gently stir to combine.  With damp hands, roll the mixture into 12 mini meatballs.  Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through.  Cool for 10 minutes.

Make an indentation in the center of the bottom halves of the rolls.  Slice the meatballs in half and place two halves in each indentation.  Add about 1 teaspoon of ketchup to each one and place the top half of the roll on top.  Arrange sandwiches on a platter and serve. 

Roasted Zucchini and Summer Squash with Mint
Adapted from Weeknights with Giada
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
3 medium zucchini
3 medium yellow summer squash
1 leek, sliced into rings or 1 onion, quartered and sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven.  Spray a heavy baking sheet with vegetable oil. 

Trim the zucchini and squash, and then cut each one in half lengthwise.  Cut the halves crosswise into 1-inch half moons.

Arrange the zucchini, squash, leek/onion, and garlic in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn the vegetables over and continue to bake for 5 minutes longer.  (Be careful not to roast for too long or the veggies will become very soft).

Transfer the vegetables to a platter.  Add the mint, toss to combine, and serve.

Oatmeal, Cranberry, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Weeknights with Giada
by Giada De Laurentiis
Makes 12 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temp
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 (4-ounce) 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate bar*

*Notes: I used regular semisweet chocolate and bought Ghiradelli 

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.  With the machine running, gradually add the flour mixture.  Add the oats, cranberries, and chocolate chunks.  Mix until just incorporated; it will be stiff.

Using a 4-ounce cookie scoop or 1/4-cup measure, scoop 12 (2-inch) slightly rounded mounds of the dough.  Place 6 balls of dough, spaced evenly apart, on each baking sheet.  Using the back of a spoon, flatten the tops slightly.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the cookies are slightly golden on the edges.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
June Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs!

Souper Sundays every Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Asparagus Tarts with Lemon and Cream

When my friend Susan, of The Spice Garden, shared these Asparagus Tarts with Lemon and Cream I knew I had to make them straight away.  The combination of glorious fresh spring asparagus, a creamy parmesan cheese sauce, and crispy flaky puff pastry.  Ooh la la!  This dish is the very definition of spring eating!

We enjoyed these tarts all on their own, but I think they would be wonderful served alongside some scrambled eggs.  A little mimosa, glass of champagne, white wine, or maybe even a peach bellini would be a nice way to top things off.

Asapargus Tarts with Lemon and Cream
Recipe by Nigel Slater, also found at
Makes 5
1 box puff pastry sheets, cut into five rectangular strips about 3" wide and longer than the asparagus
10 perfect asparagus spears, blanced for 2 minutes in boiling water and place in an ice bath 
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon yellow mustard, or to taste* Optional
flat leaf parsley, a few sprigs, finely chopped
zest of ½ lemon
Note: I added a teaspoon or so or mustard to the cheese and cream base.
Making the Tarts 
 Preheat the oven to 400F.  Place the puff pastry strips on a rimmed cookie sheet and score a rectangular "frame" in the dough with a sharp knife. Dry the blanched asparagus spears on paper towels while you make the cream sauce.  Place the cream and cheese in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the cheese is almost melted. Drizzle a generous teaspoon of the sauce on the inner rectangle space of each pastry strip.  Lay the spears atop the sauce, and drizzle the rest of the sauce over top the spears.  Sprinkle on the black pepper.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes in the preheated oven or until the pastry is golden and the sauce is bubbly and golden.  Serve right from oven. 
Theme: Let's Do Brunch!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Nigel Slater's Green Chicken Minestrone

Nothing like starting off your Memorial Day Weekend with a nice case of the flu.  Not just a silly case of the stomach flu either.  The real flu.  As in Strain B.  So yeah, that cough I thought was just allergies.  Not so much.  It was the real deal flu.  My doctor was baffled.  Said he never saw a case of the flu so late in the year.  

Now I work at the schools and so the general consensus was that I picked up the flu from work, but funny enough that wasn't the case.  A quick glance through my facebook feed revealed the real culprit.  The Jazzercise Center.  Can you believe I got the flu from working out?  Turns out I wasn't the only one with the flu.  There were several of us from the center that were down for the count.  The funny part?  My doctor's married to the instructor who owns the Jazzercise center.  Something tells me he saw a few more patients with the flu as the week wore on.   

All week long I fantasized about eating a nice healing bowl of soup. So my first foray back into the kitchen is in fact a huge pot of soup filled with green veggies, beans, pasta, and tender chicken.  In fact, the name Green Chicken Minestrone just sounds like it should nurse you back to health, doesn't it?  I know I certainly feel better after enjoying a bowl. Good thing cause I gotta get my strength back up so I can return to Jazzercise tomorrow. 

Green Chicken Minestrone
 by Nigel Slater
recipe found on The Guardian
Serves 3-4

The recipe: Season four chicken thighs then brown them on both sides in a little oil in a casserole or heavy deep-sided pan. Roughly chop and thoroughly wash two small leeks, an onion, or 2 shallots. Lift out the browned thighs and set aside, then tip the chopped leeks (onions or shallots) into the pan and let them soften over a low heat, stirring regularly so they do not brown. Return the chicken thighs to the pan, pour over a litre of chicken stock, and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove the pods from 450g of broad beans. Break 50g of linguine into short lengths (about 2cm) and add to the pan, turning the heat up so the liquid boils, then cook for eight or nine minutes until the pasta is cooked. A few minutes before the pasta is ready, add the podded beans and 200g (shelled weight) of peas to the soup. I didn't use broad beans. I used about 2 cups of frozen peas. I also added about 2 cups of kale torn into smallish pieces and added a can of cannellini beans that had been drained. Finish with a good handful of freshly chopped parsley, check the seasoning and serve.

The Trick:  Brown the chicken thoroughly, a little more than usual, so the caramelised notes enrich the stock. The chicken pieces will also look better that way. You can use chicken or vegetable stock for this. I like to lift the chicken out of the cooking liquor before I add the pasta, then return it just as the pasta is ready. It won't come to grief if you leave it in, but by removing the chicken you will reduce the risk of overcooking.

The Twist: Instead of broad beans, use green French beans, chopped into short lengths, like the pasta. Add a hit of lemon by adding lemon thyme and a good tablespoon of chopped leaves. At the last moment, fold a handful of young spinach or garlic leaves into the stock.

Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen

Theme: Veg Out!