Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Fun Little Fiesta {Inspired by Rick Bayless}

Put on some festive music, pour yourself an ice cold beverage,  and dance around.  It's time for a little fiesta, courtesy of Rick Bayless, and his fabulous recipes. Here's what's on the menu.

 Fiesta Menu
Late Summer Salsa Mexicana
Simple Guacamole
Tortilla Chips
Pollo Monterrey
Garlicky White Rice
Watermelon Cooler
The only way to kick off a fiesta is with this  Late Summer Salsa Mexicana.  You may even have all the ingredients in your very own garden! Gather up some ripe tomatoes and dice them up with some white onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.  Toss it all together with some lime juice and a little salt and you have one fresh summer fresh salsa! Serve with chips as an appetizer or use it as a topping to brighten any meal.
Add a little more color to your fiesta with this Simple Guacamole.  Ripe avocado along with some white onion, lime juice, serrano peppers, and garlic come together to make one luscious and creamy dip or topping for your Mexican fiesta!
Since we're building layers of flavor, a little of Rick Bayless' Garlicky White Rice, can only help things out, right?  This simple and fluffy white rice has six cloves of garlic goodness and is definitely a welcome change from the typical Red Chile or Mexican rice served in most Mexican restaurants.  If garlic is your thing then I definitely urge you to give it a try.
 For the main course, I made my own version of a family favorite, Pollo Monterrey, or simply put...chicken topped with cheese sauce.  I seasoned thin chicken cutlets with Sazon and seared both sides in a hot skillet.  I topped the chicken breasts with shredded monterey jack cheese and covered the skillet for a few minutes to melt the cheese.  Delicious, easy and simple. I served my version of Pollo Monterrey with warm flour tortillas, the salsa, simple guacamole, shredded lettuce, cilantro, and all the ingredients to build your own taco.  It was a fun, flavorful, family-friendly meal. 
To wash it all down I made Rick's Watermelon Cooler, a refreshing blend of fresh watermelon, lime juice, and sugar.  This was by far our favorite part of the meal. Perhaps it had something to do with the extreme heat and humidity outside?  Not to mention, I think the kiddos felt like they were drinking a grown up drink.  If you're in the mood for a special little sipper I would highly suggest making this while watermelon in season!

*click on the recipe titles for the link to each recipe

Theme: August Potluck with Rick Bayless!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches with Lemon Mascarpone Filling

What's better than one oatmeal cookie? TWO! Two is always better than one. 

Two chewy oatmeal cookies sandwiched between a creamy lemony filling.  Trust me.  You need these in your life. 

Remember those old fashioned oatmeal cookie sandwiches with the fluffy vanilla filling?  The ones from your childhood? These are like that, but with a unique twist.  A more adult version. The lemon filling provides a refreshing change from the original.  They are addictive and crave-worthy all on their own, especially for those of us who enjoy lemony desserts.

It's a good thing the recipe only makes a handful or two because these babies were gone, gone gone.

Oat Cookies with Lemon Mascarpone Filling
Adapted from The Guardian
by Nigel Slater
Makes 8-10 sandwich cookies

For the cookies:
120g butter
120g light brown sugar
one egg yolk
120g old fashioned oats
90g all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

For the filling:
100g mascarpone cheese
100g lemon curd

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Dice the butter and put it into the bowl of a food mixer. Add the brown sugar and beat till light and creamy, then mix in the egg yolk. Mix together the oats, flour, baking powder and salt.

Divide the mixture into 8-12 cookies depending on how large you want them to be. Roll into balls then flatten and place on a baking sheet. They should be quite thick, so they remain chewy after baking.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until they are lightly colored but not yet crisp. Remove the tray from the oven, leave to cool for a minute or two, then transfer to a cooling rack. As they cool they will crisp up.

Make the filling. Put the mascarpone in a mixing bowl, stir in the lemon curd, then use to sandwich the cookies together.

Theme: Zest It Up!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nigel Slater's Classic Peach Melba

Juice dripping...first down your chin, then onto your hands, and eventually all the way down your elbows.  That can only mean one's peach season!  To me, there is nothing better than a ripe, juicy peach!  It's one of my favorite things in the world.

Most times I eat my peaches hunched over the kitchen sink with peach juice dripping everywhere.  Messy as all get out but oh, so delicious!  Easily my favorite way to enjoy a peach! When I'm feeling a little more dignified I like to slice my peach and serve it in a bowl with raspberries on top.  Peaches and of those most heavenly combinations ever! So colorful and pretty.

Peach Melba has been on my to-make list for years and years.  Not sure why I haven't got around to making this sooner, but I'm so very glad I finally did!  Sweet and tender peaches poached in a light sugar syrup, with a bright red raspberry sauce, topped off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  It's a beautiful classic dessert that pleases your eye with it's vibrant colors and sweet and tart flavor. It will definitely leave you wanting more!

Classic Peach Melba
Adapted from The Guardian
by Nigel Slater
Makes 4 sundaes

The Recipe
Poach 4 small peaches in a syrup made from 400mls of water, sweetened with 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. When they are tender, skin them, halve them and remove their stones. Whizz 250g raspberries in a food processor together with a tablespoon or two of the poaching syrup, then push through a sieve to remove the seeds. Place a ball of ice cream and two peach halves in each dish, then spoon over the raspberry sauce. A white peach looks very elegant here.

The Trick
Peaches need to be poached in sugar syrup for a dessert such as Peach Melba, but too often they come out cloyingly sweet. Use only a small amount of sugar in the syrup and add both a little twist of orange and some lemon juice to brighten the flavour of the fruit. Peaches need to be poached with their skins on, then slipped off after cooking. Use your thumb. It's a sign that the fruit is ready when the skin starts to pucker and can be slipped off with ease. If it sticks, the fruit won't be soft enough yet. Although it's a drag, the raspberry purée needs to be pushed through a sieve. Even the most sabre-toothed of food processors won't turn those pesky seeds to crimson purée.

The Twist
A wafer is not obligatory. Most people tend to stick to the classic interpretation above, lest Dame Nellie Melba turns in her grave, but a modern version might include a blackcurrant – or more fashionable blueberry – sauce instead of raspberry. This involves cooking the raw fruit with a small amount of sugar, then blending to a purée. Unlike the classic raspberry version, the berries must be cooked first. The ingredients can also be made into an ice cream terrine, with layers of vanilla ice and peaches studded with raspberries, and served with a sauce made from the fruit.

Theme: Moreish Meals

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Salad of Lettuce, Peas, and Ham with Creamy Dressing

So I'm driving down the road holding a tablespoon of mustard. Dijon mustard to be exact.  Can't really do that with a straight face so I'm shaking my head and laughing a little.  What a sight I must be driving home in my workout clothes, sweat dripping down my face, holding a heaping tablespoon of mustard in my hand.  All in the name of saving myself a trip to the store. 

I borrowed a tablespoon of Dijon from my friend Gina when I dropped her off.  She offered to give me the whole bottle and I should've taken it, but I said "I only need like a tablespoon."  A minute later, she comes back out with a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard and we're both cracking up in her driveway.  Life is full of silly little things.  Laugh whenever you can.

I walked in the house with my mustard and started on the salad dressing immediately.  A creamy dressing of Dijon mustard, champagne vinegar, olive oil, heavy cream, salt, lots of black pepper and pretty green flecks of parsley.  Dressing with heavy know that's good stuff!

Then it came time to put the salad together and we're talking lots of deliciousness.  Soft butter lettuce with warmed peas, savory bites of ham, buttery homemade croutons, and shards of really good farmhouse cheddar.  Pour that creamy dressing on and you're talking one incredible, satisfying, and totally crave-worthy salad.

A Salad of Lettuce, Peas, and Ham 
with Creamy Dressing
Adapted from Tender
by Nigel Slater
Serves 4

For the Salad
8 ounces cooked ham
1-1/4 cups shelled fresh peas
3 thin slices white bread
about 3-4 tablespoons butter
a head of large, soft-leaved lettuce
5 oz. Deep-flavored/farmhouse cheddar cheese

Creamy Dressing
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Champagne/White Wine Vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
salt, to taste and lots of black pepper
a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

To make the dressing:  Mix the mustard, vinegar, and olive oil with a small whisk, then stir in the cream.  Coarsely chop the parsley leaves and add them.  Season with salt and black pepper.

To make the salad: Shred the ham into large bite-sized pieces.  Cook the peas briefly in deep, lightly salted water, then drain.  Tear the bread into small pieces.  Fry in a shallow layer of butter in a nonstick pan.  As soon as they are nicely golden, remove to paper towels to drain.  Salt them lightly.  While the bread is cooking, wash the lettuce, separate the leaves, tear them into manageable pieces, and put them in a serving bowl.  Take shavings or shards of the cheese with a vegetable peeler, or knife, and toss them into the lettuce leaves with the peas, golden bread, and shredded ham.  Pour the dressing onto the salad and toss gently.  

Every Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen