Sunday, July 28, 2019

Two Summer Sippers To Help Cool You Down {Berry Spa Water & Cucumber and Lemon Verbena}

 Are you really posting water, Kim? Yes, yes I am. You see, I'm not a fussy person by any means.  I drink plenty of plain old water and I love it just the way it is. Lots of my friends have been troubling themselves by sprucing up their water for years. Lemons, limes, oranges, cucumbers, berries and all kinds of fussy preparations. I always think it looks pretty. I always think, "sure I'll make some of that fancy flavored water too." Then I just never do probably because I forget about it, but then also because I don't really care. I just like water.

So, since I've had spa waters, or flavored waters, on my to-do list for years, you can bet I'm sharing them. Look Ma, I finally did it! And not just one fancy water...I've got two!

The first version is Giada's Spa Water and it's basically lots of quartered strawberries, blueberries, and water. My daughter and I really liked both of the waters, but if I had to pick my favorite this one would be it. I love that it's a bit different and the skewer of fruit on top goes a long way in selling it for me. Plus, I took to spearing the fruit inside the glass with the skewer which upped the satisfaction of the water greatly.

 Spa Water
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 pound strawberries
1 cup blueberries
10 cups cold water

Hull the strawberries, set aside 4 whole small berries (for garnish) and quarter the rest. Add the quartered strawberries to a large pitcher. Set aside 8 blueberries (for garnish) and add the remainder of the cup to the pitcher. Top with the cold water and allow it to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

On 4 small skewers or toothpicks, thread 1 blueberry, then a strawberry, followed by 1 more blueberry. Set aside until ready to serve.

Pour the spa water into four 16-ounce water glasses filled with ice. Serve garnished with the fruit skewers.

Whilst (I really like that word) vacationing in Gettysburg, our hotel had some lovely cucumber lemon water in the lobby and I was rather fond of it! I will confess that I liked it so well  I actually poured two glasses each and every chance I got.  

Giada's Cucumber and Lemon Verbena Water reminded me of the water I had in Gettysburg, so I wanted to give it a try. I didn't have lemon verbena, but I do have lemon mint that my mom planted years ago. It grows very well, like all mint, so I gave it a good haircut and put it in the pitcher with some cucumber. It wasn't quite lemony enough, and I really wanted to add lemon slices anyway, so I added a sliced up lemon to the pitcher as well. Delicious and refreshing, much like the water on vacation. This water was my daughter's favorite and she took to eating the cucumbers right out of her glass with her hands. Don't we sound classy?

So there we have it. I finally made flavored waters. We liked them, and I would definitely drink them again, but I don't know if I'd fuss enough to make them myself. Nothing against them.  I'm just not that fussy when left to my own devices.

Cucumber and Lemon Verbena Water
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
6 sprigs fresh lemon verbena, torn
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 lemon, thinly sliced* (optional)

Put the cucumber slices in the bottom of a large pitcher. Gently roll the lemon verbena sprigs back and forth a few times in your hands to release the scent, then add them to the pitcher along with the water. Add sliced lemon, if using. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Theme: Summer Sippers & Icy Cold Treats

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Giada's Italian Egg Sandwich

My family isn't Italian, but my friend's family is. When I was younger I absolutely loved going to her house and watching all the different things they made in the kitchen. The day before Thanksgiving the whole family would gather round the big dining room table and make a dozens of homemade ravioli for the big day. When they took a break from making ravioli they made Italian nachos, which was essentially tortilla chips topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese baked in the oven until the cheese melted, but to me it was genius! In the early morning after a sleepover, or in the middle of the afternoon for a quick lunch, they would make Italian Egg Sandwiches, just like the one I'm sharing today.

Giada's recipe is an open-face Italian Egg Sandwich, but my friend's family used to make their Italian Egg Sandwiches with two slices of bread, more like a grilled cheese, with a slice of mozzarella and maybe even pepperoni or salami. To me, this was a brilliant idea! Why hadn't I ever thought of it myself? 

It's almost 40 years later and I still love going to their house, seeing all the amazing things that come out of their kitchen. It was always so clear that ewvery recipe was carefully considered and made with love, together. Enjoyed, together. In my opinion, that's how it should be. Food is important. It should be made as a family and enjoyed as a family.

So here is a delicious Italian Egg Sandwich that can be enjoyed as a breakfast, light lunch, or a snack. You could go with a jarred sauce, but I don't think that you should. It is much more gratifying, and delicious, to make the Simple Tomato Sauce that is shared below.

Italian Egg Sandwich
Adapted from Food Network
from Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 1

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large egg
salt and pepper
1 slice rustic white bread (1/2" thick)
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1/4 cup warm Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows,
 or store-bought chunky marinara sauce, drained of excess liquid

Simple Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
salt and black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter, optional

For the Italian Egg Sandwich: Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a heavy small skillet over medium heat. Crack the egg into the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the white is firm and the yolk is almost set, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown. Rub the garlic over the toast. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Spoon the drained marinara sauce over the Parmesan. Top with the egg. Place the open-faced sandwich on a plate and serve.

Simple Tomato Sauce: In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce. If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ottolenghi's Hummus with Ful

Hummus is one of my very favorite things to eat.

If I had to guess, I'd say hummus is beloved the world all over the world. How do I know that? They sell over 20 variations and dedicate an entire refrigerator case to it in the supermarket.

If you love hummus as I do, then leave that storebought hummus at the supermarket because NO ONE will ever write a better hummus recipe than Yotam Ottolenghi. I've made several versions, and all of them are good....come on, it's hummus people, HOWEVER Yotam Ottolenghi takes hummus to a whole new level. EVERY SINGLE TIME!

Years ago I made Ottolenghi's Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce which is his basic hummus recipe with chunks of seasoned lamb, toasted buttered pine nuts, and the most flavorful lemon sauce. It was heaven on earth, and to this day, it remains one of the best dishes I've ever made on my blog. You probably already know this because I have not stopped talking about it and I likely never will.

Ottolenghi's Heavenly Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce

Today's hummus recipe is much different than Ottolenghi's Hummus Kawarma, starting with the hummus itself. Ottolenghi's Hummus with Ful begins with a tahini-based hummus, much thicker and heartier than his basic hummus. This hummus with the tahini is like velvet. It's so smooth and creamy and decadent. Top that hummus with ful, a paste made of fava beans, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and cumin. The ful is delightfully zingy from the hefty dose of lemon juice and carries a punch of flavor from the garlic and the cumin. When you pour the ful over the hummus you are in for a double bean flavor explosion. Then come more toppings: whole cooked chickpeas for texture, chopped parsley to add that herbaceous quality, a good dusting of paprika to add some earthiness, and more olive oil and lemon juice to round things out.

Proceed to have your hummus loving mind blown. This hummus was very good warm, but my eyes nearly rolled back in my head when I tasted it chilled. How in the world can something as humble as beans taste so very extrodinary? Is it just me?

Ottolenghi says to serve this hummus with onion wedges and quartered hard-boiled egg, which was very different than anything I've served with hummus before. I like onions, so I dunked an onion wedge in to the hummus and used it as a scoop...different, delicious, and not overwhelmingly oniony. Goes very well together. I love hard-boiled eggs and hummus, but thought they were just OK together so I'm not sure I'd mix the two together again. However, I absolutely LOVED eating this hummus with some warmed naan bread that I tore up and dunked right in. The naan bread is so soft and fluffy and it is so wonderful for dunking into this rich, decadent, heavenly hummus.

So, what are you waiting for? You have hummus to make! Go look up ANY Yotam Ottolenghi hummus recipe and get busy. It will change your life!

Hummus with Ful
Adapted from Plenty
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves an army

For The Hummus:
2-1/2 cups dried chickpeas
1-1/2 tablespoons baking soda
1-1/4 cups tahini paste
3 tablespoons lemon juice*
6 garlic cloves, crushed*
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Ful:
1-1/2 cups dried fava beans
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt

For the Garnish:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
6 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
3 eggs, hard-boiled and quartered
1 medium red onion, cut into 6 wedges

Pita, naan, crackers, and/or veggies for dipping and dunking

Soak the chickpeas and fava beans overnight. Place them in two separate bowls and cover with double their volume of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda to the chickpeas. Set both aside. The next day, drain and rinse both.

Place the soaked chickpeas and remaining baking soda in a medium saucepan and cover with double their volume of cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer very gently for 2 to 3 hours (mine were cooked in less than 2 hours), or until totally soft and easy to mush. Add more water during cooking, if necessary, to keep them immersed. Drain them, retaining the cooking liquid**

Transfer the warm chickpeas to a food processor, reserving a few to garnish at the end, and add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Blitz for a minute or two until totally smooth. Add some of the cooking liquid and blitz again. You want the mixture to be very soft, almost runny, but just holding its shape. Taste and add more salt if you like. (I found that I needed to add another clove of garlic and a few more tablespoons of lemon juice for more flavor). 

To make the ful place the fava beans in a medium saucepan and cover with double their volume of water. Simmer gently for about 3 hours (they may take longer), adding more water if necessary. By the end of the cooking time, hardly any liquid should be left in the pan (drain it out if needed) and the beans should have begun to disintegrate, or will do so easily when crushed with a fork. Remove from the heat and add the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To serve, spread the warm hummus in small individual plates. Spoon the ful in the center and drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice on top and around. Sprinkle with paprika, garnish with the reserved chickpeas, plenty of parsley, and serve egg and onion on the side. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

My Top Five Favorite Pasta Salads!

As far as I'm concerned, pasta makes the world go round.  I've posted more than my fair share of pasta recipes here at Stirring The Pot and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

In fact, I've posted so many pasta recipes, I think it's about time to do a couple roundup posts sharing all of my top favorite recipes. So, in the next little while, there will definitely be a My Favorite Pasta Recipes and maybe even My Favorite Macaroni and Cheese Recipes.

For now, since it's a thousand degrees outside, let's focus on refreshing, light, and healthy pasta salads. I think my all-time favorite may surprise you (and give you a new recipe to add to your "to-do" list).

(click on any recipe title to be directed to the original post and recipe)

Ellie's Tuscan Lentil and Macaroni Salad is hands down my FAVORITE pasta salad on my blog! Does that surprise you? While I enjoy a more traditional pasta salad, like the one directly below, Ellie's Tuscan Lentil and Macaroni Salad centers around hearty lentils and whole-grain pasta, which is such a welcome change and makes for a very hearty and satisfying dish.  I adore the mustard vinaigrette, as well as the addition of artichokes, carrots, and tomatoes. This is a terrific recipe and one that I have made again and again. Perfect for packing in your lunch, taking to picnics, or making just because. If these ingredients appeal to you at all, then I highly recommend this recipe!

If I'm craving a more traditional pasta salad, then Curtis Stone's Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette is my typical go to. There are several chefs who have an orzo salad recipe that is similar to this and truth be told, you could probably use any of their recipes, but I am definitely vouching for this one! I love this pasta salad with a hefty, and I do mean hefty, dose of feta cheese. I also love to have this salad with some salmon served on the side!

I've made my share of sesame peanut noodles and I've got to say, Ruth Reichl's recipe is the silkiest and creamiest version around! I made my version very simple here, mostly because I wasn't in the mood for any interference (read extra ingredients getting in the way of the noodles), however I will tell you that these noodles are worthy of entertaining. I think you could grace the top of these noodles much like a Cobb Salad, with bits of chicken, veggies, seeds, herbs, etc and really make a show piece that people would go crazy for! This is THE peanut sesame noodle recipe!

Hugh's Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad wins the award for the most veggie-centric pasta salad! If you're looking for a pasta salad that is light, refreshing, and crisp...look no further. The crunch from the veggies and the peanuts in this recipe is addictive and the zingy lime vinaigrette is ultimately refreshing, making this salad perfect for even the hottest of days! 

There's just something about pasta shells, isn't there? I love how the peas and little bits of cheese get stuck inside the shells. This is a delightful spring pasta salad that is lemony and light!

Soup, Salad, and Sammie Sundays@ Kahakai Kitchen
Those are my favorite pasta salad recipes. What are some of yours?